Archive for February, 2010

Was JFK killed by a jealous husband?

February 28, 2010

[Note:  <B>Conspiracy theories, like astrological forecasts, should be read only for their entertainment value.  They belong in the file labeled:  “fictionalized speculation.”</B>]

When the <a href => Ayatollah Khomeini</a> shot to the top of the current events chart for his shenanigans in Iran, it seemed to this columnist, like we had seen him before.  One day while plowing through our massive collection of totally irrelevant cultural events file, we stumbled upon a photo of   <a href =>Howard Hughes</a>.

Voila!  It wasn’t just one of those identical twins separated at birth things; it was a “same guy, different photos at different ages” type deal (IMHO).  Just compare a photo of the Ayatollah and one of Hughes.  Note the similarity of the folds in the ears, the nostrils, and the eyes. Eliminatory, my dear Watson, it’s obviously the same guy in different stages in his life.

We asked around.  No one had ever seen Howie (we used to live in Marina del Rey, which has Hughes Aircraft as an adjacent neighbor) and the Ayatollah in the same room at the same time. 

“Lois, have you ever noticed how Clark Kent always misses being able to write an eyewitness account of Superman’s greatest feats?”  Nudge, nudge.  Wink, wink.  If you know what we mean.

We tried our best to pedal our theory to the mavens of contemporary American culture but alas we garnered as much attention as a voice crying in the wilderness would.

If a conspiracy theory (CT) is to flourish, it has to be theoretically possible.  You can’t go for stories about the captain of the Titanic being found 60 years later with his pipe still lit.  You have to cook up something that just might squeak by on a level of marginal feasibility.

We went back to the drawing board.

James Dean and Elvis were rumored to be still alive long after their deaths had been reported in the news media.  So we asked our self:  How much documentation was there for the death of Che Guevara? 

What if he had promised to turn states evidence and rat out his amigos in the Cuban Revolution in return for amnesty?  Could he have been taken in to the “Witness Protection Program” and given some phony ID and a few bucks to start life over after allegedly being “shot down in an attempt to flee”? 

We came up with a mental image of Che being on a city council in a small University somewhere in California and fighting with the college kids.  (Gosh now that we live in such a city, maybe one of these Tueday nights, we should skip Qi Gong class and attend a city council meeting?)

We ran this bit of unsubstantiated speculation past a high school buddy, several years ago, and he did his best to refute our theory.  He reassured us that he personally had seen a photo on the desk of the guy who worked next to his that showed Che dead on the ground.  Our good buddy mumbled some esoteric exotica about JM/Wave, Ted Shackley, Phat City, and the like as his evidence to substantiate his claim that Che was buried in Bolivia. 

We countered that this guy, whom he called Felix Rodriguez, was most likely in on the ruse and had agreed to pose with Che’s prone figure for the photographic proof that the revolutionary had been mortally wounded while attempting to flee.  (Didja know that in the days of B&W movies Hershey’s chocolate syrup was often used to simulate blood?)  In return, we asserted, Che spilled the beans about such things as the kidnapping of Juan Manuel Fangio and other historic Cuban events which preceded Fidel’s putsch. 

Now that photoshopping changes are readily available to any photographer with the bucks to buy the program and a lap top where he can run it, photographs are (to the best of our knowledge) no longer accepted as evidence in any court proceedings.

We used to work with an ad sales rep who, we adamantly asserted, used an assumed identity that had been provided by the witness protection program folks.  They had assisted her in the efforts to erase all traces of her life as “Eva Braun.”  She did a Dr. Strangelove-like denial of the idea.

Our efforts to dabble in a one man plot to concoct something that would be described as a cutting edge conspiracy theory that belongs in the Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame pale in comparison to what we have recently found on online.  We were Googling around with things like “Blond Ghost” and “Dealey Plaza” when we stumbled on the most outrageous conspiracy theory we’ve ever encountered in a lifelong fascination with conspiracy theories for fun and profit.

If we couch the views in the form of a question that means that this columnist doesn’t personally substantiate their wild assertions.  We just want to bring some new theories to the attention of the people who are connoisseurs of concocted conjecture.

Cub reporters are always urged, for legal reasons, to pepper their stories with words like “allegedly,” “reportedly,” “assert,” and to inundate the readers with phrases like “according to a police spokesman,” and “unsubstantiated conjecture.” 

So we were sure that we found the next candidate for the Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame when we found folks asking:  “Was George W. Bush’s real father JFK?”  They follow that up by asking “Did George H. W. Bush, play the role of jealous husband, and hire killers to rub him out in Dallas?”

Their wild assertions do seem to tie up loose ends and nagging question concerning JFK’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, in an Occam’s razor sort of way.

Folks (not just the good ole boys in Texas) can readily comprehend the “jealous husband” rational for using a gun. 

According to this new way of explaining the Dallas Assassination, the common connecting thread is the CIA.  Here are some links for readers who want to do their own play-along-at-home sleuthing and fact checking about this wild bit of speculation.  (Embedded links seem so Tyler Durdin-ish.)

If a columnist writes about a new dance craze sweeping the discos, that doesn’t mean he has to be the fellow who “invented” the dance.  It doesn’t mean that he has to be able to do the dance.  It just means that, as a reporter and critic of the contemporary culture, he wants to point out what the latest development in that sphere of culture is.  For those who are fascinated by conspiracy theories, this columnist just wants to bring their wild, intriguing question to the attention conspiracy theory fans.  When it comes to drawing conclusions; you are on your own.

Herb Caen, who has his own room in the (imaginary) Columnists’ Hall of Fame, defended his columnistic style thus (From “Don’t Call it Frisco” Doubleday hardback pages 25 – 26):  “That brings us to the third type – the “scattershot” column, crammed with short items on a variety of subjects.  This kind of column is, obviously, a lot more work, but it attracts a wider audience, at least theoretically.  As that great practitioner of the art, Walter Winchell, once expressed it:  ‘People don’t get bored if you change the subject often enough.’” 

Now, our disk jockey will play:  Jimmy Dean’s song “Big, Bad John,” Dion’s song “Abraham, Martin, and John,” and Tom Clay’s overdubbed version of “What the World Needs Now.”  (It is on Youtube and guaranteed to make surviving hippies weep.)  Now, we gotta skedaddle.  Have a “you’re not gonna believe this . . .” type of week.

A trip in the Wayback Machine

February 23, 2010

Since it is slowly becoming obvious that the Bush Administration will accomplish what the Nazis couldn’t (be forgiven for committing war crimes); it seems concomitant to find some other topics for columns to be posted online.  It would be best to come up with topics which will be previously untouched but will proved a “Eurika!” moment/reaction with this site’s regulars.

One hypothetical question which has always been a concern for this columnist has been:  “If you could travel back in time to anyplace to see history happen; where would you be going when (not if) they actually invent and activate the “Wayback Machine”?

At this point we direct readers’ attention to the comments section below.

For this columnist, the first response has always been:  I’d go to Paris to watch the Liberation during WWII occur.

We used to work with a guy who was, according to the judgment of  the other workers, very boring.  We made a specific effort to get to know him hoping that he would have some hidden trove of memories that we could get him to share.  We’ve always been anxious to hear the experiences of the men who fought in WWII.  When this fellow mentioned the Army, we hauled out our verbal questionnaire form.  What theater of operations, what unit, what time frame, etc.

The guy didn’t offer any spectacular possibilities for combat stories.  He had been wounded in action but it wasn’t life threatening.  Then he proved my point by dropping a game winner:  while he was in a military hospital, he and a nurse who spoke French went AWOL and snuck into Paris three weeks after the Liberation.  He succinctly reported “We had a good time.” 

The highlight, according to his reminiscences,  occurred when he went into one of the best restaurants and ordered up a “once in a lifetime” dining experience.  When the bill wasn’t presented, he asked for it.  The waiter explained that it was impossible to present a bill to a member of the very same Army that had Liberated Paris.  Sweet.

One might assume that living in Berkeley wouldn’t offer much possibility for finding some vicarious material for flashbacks to the aforementioned historical series of events that transpired in August 1944.  Thanks to some items found in the Berkeley Public Library book store, such an assumption would be misguided.

In a copy of “By-line:  Ernest Hemingway,” we found (on pages 382 – 3):  “We ran through the road where the munitions dump was exploding, with Archie (his driver), who has bright red hair, six years of regular Army, four words of French, a missing front tooth, and a <em>Frere</em> in a guerrilla outfit, laughing heartily at the noise the big stuff was making as it blew. . .  .

“We were going downhill now, and I knew that road and what we could see when we made the next turn. . . .

“‘Yeah,’ I said.  I couldn’t say anything more then, because I had a funny choke in my throat and I had to clean my glasses because there now, below us, gray and always beautiful, was spread the city I love best in all the world.”

A day or so later, in “Wayward Reporter:  The Life of A. J. Liebling,” we found (pages 4 – 5): “For the first time in my life and probably the last, I have lived for a week in a great city where everybody is happy.  Moreover, since this city is Paris, everybody makes this euphoria manifest.”

We’ve read some of the articles that Albert Camus wrote for <em>Combat</em>, the resistance newspaper, but were surprised to find that Liebling had written a book that critically evaluated the journalism produced in Paris during the Occupation.  Where the heck are we ever going to find a copy of “The Republic of Silence”?  Now we have a reason to go to bookstores.

Somehow George W. Bush thought that the troops he sent into Baghdad would get the same tumultuous reception that the Parisians gave to the American troops who arrived in Paris in 1944.  Unfortunately, Bush miscalculated.  Bush ultimately came off looking like a guy standing in the rain watching his girlfriend and her husband boarding a train that was leaving Paris.

When we started flipping through a recently acquired copy of “Anthology:  Selected essays from the first 30 years of The New York Review of Books,” we came across Bruce Chatwin’s piece titled “An Aesthete at War.”  It tells about the life of Captain Ernst Junger who won Iron Crosses in both World Wars. 

Part of fact finding for our imaginary time travel trip had been a reading of “Is Paris Burning?” many years ago.  “An Aesthete at War” mentions that General Speidel “forgot” the order to V-bomb Paris.  How did we miss that bit of trivia?  It seems that Paris was doubly lucky to survive the Liberation relatively unscathed.  We also just read (In Joseph Harsch’s book about covering WWII?) that the night they left Paris, the Germans did send some airplanes on a bombing raid over Paris’ outskirts.

Junger loved war, but he also loved Paris.  According to Chatwin’s article it seems likely that Rush Limbaugh would cherish Junger’s book about WWI titled “Storm of Steel.” Apparently, if you like war; you will love Junger’s book “Storm of Steel.”  A guy who was wounded 14 times in World War I and then fought again in World War II would be the kind of guy Uncle Rushbo would urge all American kids to emulate.  Uncle Rushbo would agree with the warmonger aspect of Junger’s personality and it isn’t hard to imagine the fat man also wishing for an alternative history where Paris was leveled by the retreating German Army. 

It seems that Dick Cheney will never stand trial for war crimes and that time travel back to the days when the Americans were “the good guys” will never be perfected, but a columnist can dream, can’t he?

Chatwin delivers an occupation era quote from Madame (Mrs. Paul) Morand:  “For me the art of living is the art of making other people work and keeping pleasure for myself.”  (Does Uncle Rushbo need a motto for his radio program?)

Now, we’ll pry the disk jockey away from his transistor radio (where the True Oldies Channel delivers a limited dose of time travel) and have him play “The Last Time I Saw Paris (the song was inspired by the fall of France),” “Paris vor Hundert Jahren” and Waylon Jenning’s song, “He Went to Paris.”  (What?  You were expecting “As Time Goes By”?  The boss don’t like to hear that song.)  It’s time for us to go do some fact finding about the new John Cusack movie with the intriguing title “Hot Tub Time Machine.”  Have a “filled with those events which alter and illuminate our times” type week.

Imagining Lenny Bruce on Fox News

February 12, 2010

It was about six o’clock in the evening of February 9, 2010, the sun was gone and there was a threat of hard rain in the cold crisp air of the Berkeley evening.  I was wearing powder-blue jeans with a dark blue T-shirt, black sneakers, and black socks.  I was neat, clean, shaved and sober and I didn’t care who knew it.  I was on my way to the Pacific Film Archive to see “Pull My Daisy” written and narrated by Jack Kerouac.

In a video introduction, film maker Alfred Leslie told the audience about a time when the film was just being shown for the first times.  In San Francisco, Lucius Beebe hosted a social event, at a restaurant he owned, for the beat poet/novelist and the film maker.  Leslie told about how the two were sulking at the bar when actor David Niven arrived and was escorted to a table which would obviously be the social hub for the evening’s activities.  Niven quickly invited Kerouac and Leslie to sit at his table and immediately offered a toast for the guests of honor.  It was at that point, according to Leslie’s anecdote, the film maker and writer both realized that they had just been anointed into San Francisco’s high society and had graduated up from the ranks of the bikers, beatniks and bay area bohemians. 

Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg had been Berkeley residents and so we wondered if any of the graybeards in the audience were living links to the celebrated hitchhiking legend from the past.  We wondered if the Digihitch web site would cover the PFA program.  We were disappointed to note that the proprietor of the Beatnik Museum over in Frisco was, as best as we could tell, missing from the audience. 

“Pull My Daisy” is a specialty item.  The film would not hold much interest for anyone who was not interested in the subject of “The Beats.”  For those who do like that particular era of literary history, the thirty minute long film was a chance to see members of the famed writing group when they were young and vibrant.

On the walk back to the World’s Laziest Journalist Headquarters, we noted that Berkeley had also been a hometown for Philip K. Dick and since he was the author of “The Man in the High Tower,” Berkeley could legitimately make a claim to being where the cottage industry producing fictional alternative history was born. 

[It seems that this columnist is the only person in the universe who thinks that “The Man in the High Tower” accurately predicts the role Hunter S. Thompson would play in the history of the state of Colorado.]

Riffing on the idea of alternative history, we turned our back to Sproul Plaza and started walking down Telegraph Avenue.  We wondered:  If he were still alive would Fox News hire Lenny Bruce as a political pundit?  That idea seemed absurd, which consequently made it seem like something Fox News might try.

Our expectations of Fox News after the midterm elections are that they will increase the level of subtle racism in their attitude towards and coverage of the 44th President.  How would Lenny Bruce be fitted into such a strategy? 

Wasn’t Bruce a free speech martyr who got arrested and thus became synonymous with a nasty four letter word?  Didn’t George Carlin and the United States Supreme Court collaborate to prove that Bruce’s favorite word had to be bleeped off the airwaves?  Today that word is splashed all over the bleeping Internets and would be of no use to the Fox News game plan.  Unless . . . ?  Is there one word that Bruce could say and maybe get arrested on the air for using?

[Back in the Sixies, this columnist saw a local new reader in the New York City area get arrested on air, for possession, immediately after displaying a marijuana cigarette which had been sent to his station.   It looked a bit contrived.  Why did a cop just happen to be in the TV studio?  Who was that guy?  How did the case play out?]

Let’s see.  Could Bruce get arrested for calling the President a nincompoop, nitwit, nefarious or a nematocyst?  Nope!  Is there some other word that could produce a dramatic freedom of speech arrest of (hypothetically) Lenny Bruce these days?  NNNNNahhh?  Wait, what about if Bruce uttered a one word racial slur?  That might, with a bit of preparation on the Fox News producer’s part, work. 

How would liberals react?  Would they back the attack him or would they defend their darling?  If the Liberals defended Bruce for using the word, they’d look like racists; if they attacked him (in this alternate history case) they’d look like hypocrites.  Either way Fox News could just sit back and chortle. 

Fox likes to lull their audience into a hypnotic state and then download some Republican talking points so that they can be activated later, Manchurian Candidate style.  Lenny Bruce liked to shock and push things to the limit.  Could Fox use Bruce’s psychological quirks and drives to seduce him into their studio to say the most outrageous imaginable thing possible?  Wasn’t his specialty breaking social taboos?  Wasn’t he compelled to be bad when he faced any taboo?  How could the bad boy inside him decline any such invitation from Fox?

WWPKDD?  What would Philip K. Dick do?  It seems like many (most?) of Dick’s tales start with someone going somewhere (just as this column did?) and then running afoul of the fascists in charge of the country.   Their destiny seems to be a doomed existence.  It seems likely that Dick would endorse the idea of Lenny Bruce becoming a free speech martyr again, only this time as a pawn on the set of Fox News for a cause he didn’t believe and to prove the complete reprehensibility of “selling out to the establishment” by doing it.

Ursula K. McGuinn (who was born in Berkeley) has been quoted as saying:  “What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?”

Now, in an effort to prove that he’s a hep cat and familiar with the contemporary music scene, the disk jockey will play Daisy Dares You’s “Number One Enemy,” Me$ha’s  “Kiss and Tell,” and Seasick Steve’s “Cut My Wings.”  It’s time for us to go take a nap.  Have a “you are a card, sir!” type week.

The Cheshire cat billboard

February 10, 2010

[Note:  <B>Spoiler warning:  Some of Houdini’s methods will be revealed below in this column.  If you don’t want to lose the wonder of “how did he do that?” stop reading this column now</B>.]

Recently, when this columnist saw a used copy of Jim Steinmeyer’s 2003 copyrighted book, “Hiding the Elephant,” for sale, we had a dual motivation for glomming on to it; we’ve always been interested in how to saw a woman in half and there was a chance that, perhaps, if the author explained how Houdini made an elephant disappear, there would be the basis for a column explaining how Generalisimo Bush was able to perform the magic needed to get a gentle and peace loving nation to invading Iraq. 

By page 13, Steinmeyer is extolling the qualities that made Howard Thurston a much more superior magician than Houdini.  He notes the irony of Thurston telling his audience “I wouldn’t deceive you for the world” knowing that they had paid good hard earned dollars just to be there when he did exactly that.

On page 17, all tricks are explained:  “The audience is taken by the hand and led to deceive themselves.”  Ahhhh, now we see how Bush did it.  America had regressed to the days of the Roman gladiators and given Dubya the signal that is copyrighted by Roger Ebert to designate approval for a bloodbath.  (Does Ebert get royalties from the Caesar Agustus family estate?)

When the “Shock and Awe” TV special was being broadcast live; this columnist went to the home of a friend and found him cheering wildly while watching the carnage being delivered.  My buddy has long been a big Ed Gein fan.

Obviously some of the Liberals have been a bit slower than others in accepting the “Immaculate Deception” lesson in their hearts.  President Obama seems to have become hip to the message:  America wanted the war with Iraq. 

Now, as the slow on the uptake Liberals try to object to the use of depleted uranium, because of the allegations of a perceptible increase in birth defects in areas where that substance has been used, they are still trying to use facts and logic to persuade the Conservatives that such material should be banned from the battlefield. 

The Liberals petition the media with requests to delineate the effects that depleted uranium causes.  “Oh, please tell us how Houdini made the Elephant disappear!”  Boys and girls:  “You cannot petition the media with prayers!”  The New York Times public editor will only read letters pertaining to stories that publication has run.  Trying to bring stories that need to be covered to their attention is a “Myth of Sisyphus” task.  Don’t waste your time or his.

This year as the world celebrates another Valentine’s Day, note the complete lack of enthusiasm the media has for the topic of using depleted uranium in the war zones.  Think of it as America’s Valentine’s Day gift to the world.

Steinmeyer notes that Houdini’s appeal was derived from his skill as a master escape artist. 

Walter Gibson wrote books about magic and one in particular explains some of the secrets to Houdini’s escapes.  If you are of a mind to learn all about how magicians work their magic, you can acquire much of that esoteric knowledge, if you read enough books.

If you do go to the trouble of learning the secrets of magic, you will then watch magicians from a completely different viewpoint.  You will pay attention to the way they distract an audience’s attention.  Magician assistants (usually very attractive women in scanty costumes) are called “box jumpers.”  You will appreciate them as showmen and not people who can perform impossible feats.

Sometimes when Houdini was about to perform a dangerous escape, his wife would give him a passionate kiss as a show of support and encouragement.  She would (sometimes) also pass a key from her mouth to his during the steamy public display of affection.

In an effort to show that “there’s nothing hidden up my sleeves,” Houdini would sometimes perform his escapes clad only in shorts which preserved his modesty.  If, for instance, his hands were tied spread eagle fashion to the floor, the audience wouldn’t get to see that he was agile and flexible and could untie knots with his bare feet.  Many people who don’t have hands develop a similar level of agility for using their feet. 

Ohhhhh Kay!  So people want to be fooled and join with my buddy in making a festival setting for watching “Shock and Awe.” 

In other words:  no body gave a fig about the possibility that there were no WMD’s in Iraq.  America wanted to see a tyrant get spanked and the WMD excuse was good enough for them.  The crybaby liberals who fretted about a long and costly war were just trying to run interference for their pet social programs which (obviously) are destined to become metaphorical casualties in a long, expensive war.  Boo-hoo! 

Liberals are decrying the rising costs of a college education.  Wake up, people!  Cannon fodder doesn’t need the chance to be given an affordable college degree.  The sons and daughters of millionaire politicians need not be concerned about such mundane matters as what it costs to go to a fine University.  Hence rising tuition costs are a non-issue.

This year, as the world celebrates another St. Valentine’s Day, there won’t be but a handful of mentions from “bleeding heart liberals” about the use of depleted uranium in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the land where Jesus walked.  Want to know the secret behind that trick?  How can concern for such a serious topic vanish?  Americans don’t care about deformed babies in other countries. 

Young folks recently were reminded that the movie “Love Story” spawned the popularity for the line “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  War crimes trials?  Hell, no!  Not even an apology.  (Did you see the photos of the “<a href =;

Do you miss me yet?</a>” billboard?)

Now, the disk jockey will play “Please Mr. Custer,” “Bless ‘em all” (ask a WWII vet about the way they changed that song’s lyrics) and “Praise the Lord and Pass the ammunition.”  Now, it’s time to say abracadabra and disappear.  Have a week full of magic and wonderment.

Is Writ of Habeas Corpus obsolete?

February 8, 2010

The Liberals, who fret ceaselessly about the idea that if individuals who qualify can be secretly sequestered in Guantanimo then it won’t be long until American citizens will start disappearing, are in for a big adrenaline jolt if and when they learn the particulars of about attorney Richard Fine in Los Angeles.  If that case is ever reported in the New York Times, Time magazine, or the NBC Nightly News, the Liberals are not going to need a laxative for a month or more.

One of the basic precepts of Republican proselytizing and propagandizing is that the enemy (be they al Qadea or Democrats) are never right.   Therefore if the MSM ever report the case, it would be a tacit way of saying that the “Ducky Lucky” branch of the Democrats was right to be alarmed about the detentions in Gitmo.  If they can’t be right then the story is classified as a conspiracy theory generated by a bunch of hysterical enemy sympathizers and thus doesn’t qualify for use on Fox’s hilariously one-sided “fair and balanced” pseudojournalism satire programs. 

The idea that an American lawyer can be put in “coercive confinement” and left without recourse to the writ of <em>habeas corpus</em> might be a concept to discourage tourism in certain remote lands, but Americans are smugly reassure by Republican propagandists:  “It can’t happen here.”  Dick Cheney and Co. would never have done anything to endanger real Americans.

Attorney Richard Fine brought a lawsuit to the courts in Los Angeles for residents of an apartment house in Marina del Rey.  The unincorporated area of Los Angeles County is controlled by the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

Fine objected to the fact that the judge received monies from the county of Los Angeles and thus was open to conflict of interest factors which might affect the judge’s ability to remain unbiased about the case.  The money is a supplement added by the county of Los Angeles to the basic wage they receive from the US government for their services in the courts.  The extra money is justified by the assertion that they need the extra cash to live and work in the Los Angeles area. 

Perish the thought that the extra money could sway any judicial decisions in any case involving the county of Los Angeles.  If (hypothetically) such a case were to be put on the docket, the lawyer could ask the judge to recuse (step aside from the case) himself because of the conflict of interests. 

When a lawyer (Richard Fine) was faced with the necessity to ask a judge to do so for a case involving an apartment house in Marina del Rey, which is under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the judge refused the request to recuse.

One thing led to another and the lawyer was disbarred and held in contempt and placed in “coercive custody.”  In essence that meant that if he cried “Uncle!” and dropped the case, he would be free to leave jail and go home.

[Note:  Many of the links for any online material which would explain the lawyer’s plight will mostly lead to the one site  Leslie Dutton has been covering the story since the beginning.] 

This columnist has (because of doing some volunteer work for the Marina (del Rey, CA) Tenants Association), accepted collect calls from Mr. Fine, which were offered on the collect basis as originating from a prisoner in the Los Angeles County jail. 

Since the columnist has spoken to the prisoner at length, it became obvious that if a publication of the stature of (for instance) the New York Times were to do a story on Richard Fine, they most likely would assign a reporter who was also a lawyer, to cover the complex legal maneuvers necessitated by the case. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff has not responded to the attorney’s attempt to be granted his write of habius corpus rights.    

A Los Angeles Time writer (somehow) gained access to the prisoner for an interview for a story. 

Leslie Dutton’s request to Sheriff Bocca for an interview has been denied.

(Wouldn’t the New York Time be anxious (if only on a sophomoric prank level) to do a story spotlighting the preferential treatment their West Coast colleagues were granted and that the TV show was denied?)  

Fine was disbarred and in March of 2009, was ordered to be put in a cell until he dropped his objections to the possibility that the pay bonus added by the County of Los Angeles, might have had an derogatory influence on the presiding judge.  In the meantime, in Sacramento, the state legislature passed (on an emergency priority basis) a law which (allegedly) granted retroactive immunity to the judges should any appearance of impropriety be raised.  Some information is available online by doing a Google search for “SBX 211.”  Or go to

The Los Angeles Newspaper, the Daily Journal, devoted to coverage of all news in their area about judicial issues, is monitoring the Richard Fine case and has posted some information on their blog.

Judicial Watch has covered the Fine case.

If Fine remains adamant and refused to recant and if the judge continues to keep Fine in jail, the case could  become a modern version of the Prisoner of Chillon story, which would, if it became widely reported in the pro-Liberal mainstream media (which presumably is relentless in their effort to find stories which will delight Democratic Party members and simultaneously infuriate Republicans) would cause a massive “see we tried to warn you” reaction from the Democrats who have continuously and strenuously objected to the Bush solution to “enemy combatants” as the start of an alarming trend. 

One other aspect of the continuing debate about the rights of prisoners, which seems to have also slipped below the nation’s journalistic radar screen is a recent trial balloon statement that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger casually mentioned recently was a possibility that it might save money to use prisons in Mexico to house Californians found guilty of crimes and worth of a jail sentence.   Why didn’t Fox or the pro-Liberal media mention this?  Is there any danger that any such efforts to outsource the detention of prisoners would have a downside?

On the other hand, wouldn’t Fox be delighted with the prospect of being able to cover the plight of any Democratic politician who might suffer the fate of a jail term that would be served south of the border?  Wouldn’t Fox relish the advantage that would arise should any Democratic politician facing such a fate and be reluctant to serve a jail term in Mexico?  Wouldn’t Fox assert that any such objections smacked of hypocrisy on the part of the Democrats?

Curiously, a Los Angeles Times gained access to the prisoner for a story, but reporter Leslie Dutton, of Full Disclosure, has been denied her request for a similar opportunity for an interview with the lawyer while he remains in custody.

Fine is approaching the first anniversary of the start of his period of “coercive confinement.”  He has submitted various legal motions including a petition to the Los Angeles County Sheriff asking for his writ of habius corpus rights.  Fine has received no reply.  It has been traditional under some obscure clause in a thing called the Magna Carta (from Great Britain!) for prisoners in the country which evolved from British colonies, to be entitled to such a reply.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah go cry on the King’s shoulder.)

In early 2009, the California legislature passed an emergency measure to retroactively cover the judges’ interests.  Unfortunately in the hast to pass the measure, a bit of a bit of “crack in the floor” unfortunate wording may have provided Fine with the basis for taking his particular case into “extra innings” (i.e. “all the way to the Supreme Court”).

Most county jails are used for periods of confinement of less than a year’s duration, and so the Fine team may now be pinning their hopes of release on a technicality that could work in the prisoner’s favor.  A question of basic rights may occur if Fine is transferred to a prison without any specific sentence time.

[Here, for any blogger or New York Times reporter, who is just starting to do some fact finding about this new aspect of the old “debtor’s prison” concept of confinement, are some links to some online material which might be of assistance in getting a handle on this complex legal issue.

Jan 2009 Victoria Kim story link

Kim jail interview link,0,206146.story

Leslie Dutton denied interview link

Link to story about L. A. judges pay]

[Note:  Yes the html is sloppy, but working on a portable laptop that’ running out of battery juice, in a public library does have its limitations.  Sorry!]

The Republican defenders of Freedom may well (and ironically) endorse “coercive confinement” for dissenters.  Isn’t it sad that “The Disappeared” may be a new aspect of life for those living in the Land of the Free?

In “The Prisoner of Chillon,” Lord Byron wrote:
“I learn’d to love despair.
And thus when they appear’d at last,
And all my bond aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage – and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home”

Now, the disk jockey will play Johnny Paycheck’s “11 Months and 29 Days,” the Kingston Trio’s “Everglades” and the thought of getting out of jail necessitates that the DJ also play David Allen Coe’s “You Don’t Have to Call Me ‘Darlin’,’ Darlin’.”  It’s time for us to go out for a breath of fresh air.  Have a “Stay down, Luke!” type week.

Does GWB belong in the Existentialists Hall of Fame?

February 1, 2010

If you think that it is highly likely that it will be a very long time until the Republicans and Democrats agree on anything whatsoever, then there is an experiment you should try.  If you make a serious suggestion that former President George W. Bush deserves a place of honor in the Existentialists Hall of Fame; Democrats will want to tar and feather you, and Republicans will form a lynch mob.  Both will be very adamant and be in full agreement that you shouldn’t say that.

The Republicans are trying so hard to disavow any hints of <em>elitisim</em> in their agenda and conduct and, instead, want to do the branding necessary to firmly establish their political party as a populist movement that only wants to improve the lot of the union worker and the bank clerk.  There’s a rumor (which is being started right here) that the theme song for the Next Republican National Convention will be the Rolling Stones rendition of “Salt of the Earth.”

A Republican consulting firm has established the guiding principle that more Americans like corn than caviar. 

The concept of lumping George W. Bush in with the likes of French Intellectuals such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre will be sufficient to send most of Ronald Reagan’s disciples staggering off to the nearest emergency room (where all immigrants and some Americans get free medical services?).

Democrats, on the other hand, will recoil in horror at any hint of seriousness in the suggestion that George W. Bush is an Existentialist because it will be misinterpreted to mean that they think that you think George W. Bush was smart enough to be ranked as a genius deserving a place alongside the likes of Camus or Sartre.  The Democrats will react as quickly and as energetically as a bull at the rodeo when the gate is opened. 

It would be easier to preach the gospel of Ferdinand at a bull fight than it would be to get the Hartman, Maddow, and Malloy fans to second the idea that Bush was an outstanding example of Existentialism in action.  Note the words “in action.”  Isn’t a part of Existentialism the “to be is to do” school of thought?  If George W. Bush instinctively acted in an Existential way, without bothering to put “<em>Being and Nothingness</em>” on his famed reading list, then he was an Existentialist and thus eligible for membership in the Existentialists Hall of Fame.

Didn’t 43 cause a ruckus when he casually mentioned that “Le Stranger” was on his reading list?

On the web site for Princeton University this definition of an existentialist will be found:  “a philosopher who emphasizes freedom of choice and personal responsibility but who regards human existence in a hostile universe as unexplainable.”  So Bush and Cheney decide they gonna kick Saddam’s ass, they get a convenient excuse, they replace a Congressional Declaration of War with a clause in the doctrine of Executive Privilege, they replace the Chancellor-for-life title with Commander-in-Chief, and then when the war goes into extra innings, they hide behind a tsunami of “no one could have possibly forseen” bullshit, and if that doesn’t fit the definition of Existentialist, then this columnist had better start singing the song  with the line about “gimme three steps towards the door.”

In “The Rebel,” Camus wrote:  “The advocate of crime really only respects two kinds of power: one, which he finds in his own class, founded on the accident of birth, and the other by which, through sheer villainy, an underdog raises himself to the level of the libertines of noble birth whom Sade makes his heroes.”  Do you seriously think, if Camus were alive today, that he would be doing political punditry for Fox.  They just couldn’t hire the man who said:  “A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.”

Camus again:  “I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules.”  Does that mean that sidestepping the Geneva conventions and leading the Christians for Torture posse qualifies Dubya for membership in the Existentialists Hall of Fame?  Isn’t the Bush Family motto:  “Fuck your rules!”?

“When one has served in a war, one hardly knows what a dead man is, after a while. And since a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination.”  Isn’t it obvious that George W. Bush would concur completely with that Camus quote?  When one has served as a pilot in an Air National Guard unit that can’t provide the type of aircraft that one had been trained to fly, doesn’t that leave the fellow free to choose to become the Commander-in-chief and thus be free of messy encumbrances derived from dead bodies?

George W. Bush might not agree that he is an existentialist, but most of the existentialists also rejected the suggestion that they be dumped into that category.

Sartre said:  “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism.”  Thus if a man becomes the Commander-in-Chief by fiat of the United States Supreme Court, that’s just as good and better than being elected by the voters.

Can we get a witness from Nietzsche?  In “<em>Thus Spoke Zarathustra</em>,” Nietzsche said:  “But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! Verily, their souls lack more than honey. And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be Pharisees, if only they had – power.”  Sometimes, by God, they get it!

So would that be referring to the members of the Bush family?

When Camus said “You know what charm is:  a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question” was he referring to the Dubya challenge to America:  “Come on, what say, we invade Iraq!”?

Wasn’t saying “I’m the decider” tantamount to openly declaring himself to be an Existentialist of the highest rank and thus qualified to be considered for a place in the Existentialists Hall of Fame?

At this point some readers may challenge the columnist’s credentials to elaborate on the subject of Existentialism.  If a man chooses to call himself an expert on Existentialism; isn’t that sufficient?  Isn’t a self-proclaimed expert on Existentialism a walking, talking personification of the philosophy of “to do is to be”?   Would it be better to get a philosophy professor from Cal Berkeley to fact check this column?  Wouldn’t that be a repudiation of the Republican/Existentialist heroic reliance on the code of self determination?  “If I say this beach is safe to surf; it’s safe to surf! 

It was best said in some graffiti from the Sixties:

Camus:  “To do is to be.”

Sartre:  “To be is to do.”

Sinatra:  “To be, do be, do.”

Now, the disk jockey will play Edith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regretted rien” (Bush’s theme song?), Les Baxter’s “Poor People of Paris,” and Bobby Darren’s “Mack the Knife.”  It’s time for us to cut out.  Have a “le jazz hot” type week.