Archive for July, 2010

Houdini and BP used bacteria?

July 30, 2010

This week Fox News had people (and the Mamas and Papas in song) asking about where has all the oil gone? When will they ever learn that Houdini didn’t really make the elephant disappear? It had to go somewhere. In all the time that Americans have been fighting, dying, and losing assorted limbs to bring Democracy to Iraq, the oil industry there may have lugged along in second gear, but it has never shut down completely; so where the hell did all that oil go? Somebody had to be paying for it; so where did all that money go? Was BP earning up the financial reserves to pay for unexpected, unforeseen future expenses such as the ones cause by the Gulf oil spill? For nine years, the Iraq oil fields have been coughing up “Texas tea,” so inquiring minds want to know: “Where did all that oil go?” Could America be doing all that fighting in Iraq just so that BP could pump out oil to be sold in China?

Has America vaulted past existentialist thinking and begun the epoch of post-absurdism? Any country that conveniently forgets about the dispersants and embraces nonsense about oil eating bacteria causing the oil spill to disappear deserves to be swindled into believing that Houdini used elephant eating bacteria or that when (not “if”) Jeb Bush gets inaugurated in January of 2013, it will have been the result of a legitimate win in the 2012 Presidential election. When a news story about billions of missing dollars is reported, the reaction is: “That only proves that the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy need to be extended!” Isn’t it ironic that Americans shrug off the conspiracy theory lunatics’ idea that George W. Bush committed war crimes but they bristle at any hint that the Republicans would sanction anything that would compromise the sacredness of free elections in the U. S. A.

Americans, who take complacency to heights of achievement undreamed of by the Third Reich, accept the fact that President Obama has continued the war crimes policies of the Bush Administration but they react furiously to the possibility that the Republicans, if they are “given” a majority in the House and Senate via the 2010 midterm elections, will start impeachment proceedings against President Obama by producing a foreign student loan application that swears the applicant was not a native born American. That idea might make some liberals gag, but eventually with repeated haranguing from Fox News, the

Americans will (like Monica Lewinsky?) swallow it and get used to breathless impeachment updates around the clock in lieu of actually doing what the House and Senate is supposed to be doing. Has any pundit ever speculated on the possibility that Monica was deliberately sent (Mata Hari style) to sabotage Bill Clinton’s presidency? Americans might assume that if such a hypothetical news development about a possible student loan perjury existed, Andrew Breitbart would already know about it and would not hesitate to rush the allegation onto the Internet and not wait until it’s just about time for the new Congressional representatives to be sworn in next January. Is it a conspiracy theory to think that he must wait for the Minister of Propaganda to give (like a maestro for a symphony orchestra) the signal to push the “post” button for this (hypothetical) example of citizen journalism in action?

With major elements of the so-called pro-Liberal mainstream media, like trained seals performing on cue, making the case for the oil eating bacteria, the Conservatives will consider any attempts by online pundits to point out that the dispersants caused the oil to dissipate with the same level of amused distain as would be assigned to a cough during a performance of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Where is Arturo Toscanini when Fox News truly needs him? Have you noticed that now that Bush isn’t President the Conservatives don’t need Ann Coulter to act like the rodeo clown to switch the media’s attention away from a possible chance to debate war crimes?

Isn’t it a bit inconsistent for Republicans to say that the unemployed don’t need an extension of benefits but that the Rich must have an extension of the tax cuts? In the one case adding to the cash flow coming into the U. S. treasury would be a bad thing, but stopping money from coming into the bank accounts of the unemployed would be a good thing. How can cutting off the flow of money (into the U. S. Treasury) be bad and shutting off a weekly check into families’ bank accounts be a good thing? The silver tongued devils have convinced America that having the rich’s tax dollars go elsewhere (like into their bank accounts) would have a positive effect on the economy but that putting a few bucks into the hands of folks waiting for the next unemployment check to arrive would not help stimulate the economy. The apparent paradox is ignored by “journalists” who do not try to explain the difference.

The allure of being a Republican member of Congress in 2011 and 2012 is something that the World’s Laziest Journalist can readily appreciate.

The fact that Republican politicians will be well paid just to make sure that no work gets done, makes this columnist green with envy.

Speaking of the Beach Combers’ Hall of Fame, this week this columnist was unable to ascertain if Garland Roark, author of the novel which was the source material for the John Wayne film “Wake of the Red Witch,” ever actually traveled to the South Pacific or if he did his research in the Nacogdoches Public Library. Say, isn’t that the town where this columnist’s newest hero, Joe R. Lansdale, lives? Speaking of Texas, whatever happened to Kinky Friedman? Did he go back to writing mysteries? Which, of course, brings us to this nagging question: Will the new James Bond Cars Museum have taped guided tours and will those tapes feature the voice of Sean Connery? If not; why not? Writing columns for the post-absurdism era won’t be much of a challenge for this writer.

In the introduction to his own book, “The Hoax,” Clifford Irving wrote: “I believe that the past is fiction, the future is fantasy and present for the most part is an ongoing hoax.”

Now the disk jockey will try to embarrass the columnist by playing Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and then throwing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song, and the soundtrack album from “Giant” on the turntable. It’s time to go and take Buzz’s “chickie run” dare. (Isn’t a “chickie run” when fraternity brothers are sent on an emergency mission to find more young ladies to populate a Saturday night party?) Have a “Match me, Sidney!” type week and remember that if Jesus and Fox News can forgive BP’s sins, so can you.

When the truth is found to be irrelevant to newscasts

July 22, 2010

How disconcerting would it be if Rush Limbaugh, Randi Rhodes, and Mike Malloy agreed on something? – Anything?  On Wednesday, July 21, 2012, this columnist was totally flummoxed to hear that all three of those radio personalities were telling their respective audiences that Journalism in America is kaput. 

Rush was asserting that the “state owned” media was giving President Obama a pass on criticism and letting a villainous politician get away with dastardly deeds.  Rush has started to sarcastically refer to the media as “The Ministry of Truth.”  Obviously all the teabag party members will get the sly reference to Orwell’s novel “1984.”

Conversely, Randi Rhodes was very critical of the media for their role as accessories in the Shirley Sherrod brouhaha because they (according to Randi) helped the Republicans take a deceptively edited video and inflated it from a virtual lie up to the major gaff level  news story.

Mike Malloy was charging Fox News in general and Glen Beck in particular of inciting violence on an individual level and attempting to incite race riots.

One of this columnist’s (if not the most) favorite metaphor is the parable of the six blind Hindus touching an elephant and drawing some very diverse conclusions based on the information they had available.  The first touched the tail and thought an elephant was like a rope.  The second ran his hands over the trunk and said that an elephant was very similar to a snake.  Three felt the ear and thought elephants were like a leafy tropical plant.  The stomach made four compare an elephant to a wall.  The guy who felt the leg jumped to the conclusion that elephants were like trees.  The last guy touched the tusk and said with certainty that elephants are like swords.

[For a totally irrelevant aside, we must note that this writer’s favorite book title is “An Elephant is Soft and Mushy.”]

The three radio talkers may not agree on the conclusion to be drawn, but it does seem that on Wednesday July 21, 2010, they were agreed that in the USA Journalism is DOA.

It also seems to this columnist that one of the best reasons to live in Berkeley is that the University of California Berkeley has a journalism school, and that may explain why a goodly number of great books concerning journalism turn up in the Berkeley Public Library’s Used Book store (at very affordable prices).  Hence, when we decided the topic and commenced to write this column, we quickly skimmed through a recently acquired copy of a paperback book we read (approximately) 50 years ago, “Citizen Hearst” by W. A. Swanberg.

William Randolph Hearst made a big success out of the San Francisco Examiner by striving for sensationalism.  Swanberg describes the underlying philosophy of journalism (Bantam Book paperback page 68) thus:  “Any issue that did not cause its reader to rise out of his chair and cry, ‘Great God!’ was counted a failure.”

To build his audience, Hearst exposed political greed and corruption, which sometimes embarrassed his father who was a U. S. Senator. 

Hearst imbued journalism with a tone of sly mischievous rascality that in more recent times was personified by Hunter S. Thompson and not Rupert Murdock.

An incident in Swanberg’s book gives a hint of the devil may care attitude Hearst fostered.  Examiner employees were prone to overindulging in liquor and Hearst was very indulgent in forgiving anyone who became inebriated.  “One day Hearst met a reporter who was perfectly sober, yet was supposed to be on a spree.  ‘On the scamp’s assurance that he had honestly intended to get drunk, but lacked the price,’ (Ambrose) Bierce recalled, ‘Mr. Hearst gave him enough money to reestablish his character for veracity and passed on.’”  (Ibid page 71)

Would William Randolph Hearst or Rupert Murdock be more prone to sending a reporter to the Gulf Region to get arrested in a National Park for snooping on BP? 

During George W. Bush’s Reign of Terror, wasn’t Rush Limbaugh very enthusiastic about shutting up the “pro-liberal” media, but now that a Democrat is in the White House, he seems to be a champion of the free press’ right to criticize any and all Presidents and he seems bent on excoriating the media for not doing so with President Obama.  If the sudden reversal was sparked by party loyalty doesn’t that contradict Limbaugh’s self proclaimed right to be called “America’s Anchor Man”? 

Is it fair to expect a cheerleading squad to be nonpartisan? 

During the Bush regime conservative talk show hosts were always admonishing their audience to avoid any rush to judgment when sensational news was announced.  When the torture at Abu Ghraib prison was first reported, didn’t the entire roster of conservative radio personalities stress the importance of withholding judgment until someone had been convicted in a court of law?  When the Shirley Sherrod scandal erupted, didn’t the conservatives respond like a lynch mob? 

After Bright Bart was confronted with photos of signs at tea party rallies that indicated that racism was alive and well at those events, didn’t he just ignore reality and second the Amy Sample McPherson attitude:  “That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!”? 

Was the “honest mistake” attitude provided for Bright Boy, also extended to Dan Rather when he fell victim to some planted false evidence regarding George W. Bush’s National Air Guard attendance record, which indicated that the (then) President had been a deserter? 

Failure to adhere to reality is fine for writers who hope to emulate Hans Christian Andersen or to produce something that would delight the Brothers Grimm, but when it comes to a standard for reporters why has America suddenly given a pass to Fox and let reality become gelatinous?   Oh, wait!  Mike Malloy pointed out that Fox has established a legal president proclaiming that Fox News has a (God given?) right to lie.  It seem, after refreshing our memory with a skim of the Swanberg book, that even William Randolph Hearst would want to debate Rupert Murdock on that point.

Does that mean that if Fox News reports a sudden “groundswell” of approval for Jeb Bush, that it doesn’t have to be true? 

It seems that Fox has made a newscast into a “play along at home” version of the shell game.  It is up to viewers to ascertain which statements are facts and which are lies.  Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of a newscast?

When a manager asked permission to fire the Examiner’s Managing Editor, Samuel S. Chamberlain, Hearst replied:  “If he is sober one day in thirty that is all I require.”  (Ibid page 77.)  Is it too much to ask Fox News to be unbiased for one day in thirty?

Now the disk jockey will play “Dark side of the moon,” the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and the “Mickey Mouse Club” theme song.  We have to go see if the Berkeley Public Library Bookstore has a bargain copy of Budd Schulberg’s “What Makes Sammy Run?”  Have an “if I saw it on TV; it must be true” type week.

The Brinker-Quixote Syndrome?

July 21, 2010

The New York Time’s recent obituary for Rev. William R. Callahan stated that the death had been announced by the Quixote Center.  That was the first this columnist had ever heard of that group and we wondered if, in this age of ubiquitous awards ceremonies, they hand out kudos and statuettes annually to people who attempt the impossible.  Everyone knows that if God intended for man to fly He would have given homo sapiens wings, but that doesn’t mean that those crazy Wright Brothers don’t deserve an award for trying.

A recent online article by Allison Kilkenny informed readers about a study that concluded that partisan citizens are not prone to being <a href =>converted by facts</a>, so it becomes obvious that the “preaching to the choir” aspect of political commentary carries with it a meager payoff and that is about all those with a liberal point of view can expect for their efforts.

Those two bits of news added together make it extremely poignant for a fellow who learned that any contributed content (to a certain other liberal web site) concerning the possibility that the Republicans would use the electronic voting machines without a paper trail to rig elections in favor of their own candidates earned him a chance to be (as they say in drinker’s terminology) 86’ed off the site.  The very idea was denounced as being a conspiracy theory indicating the writer had lapsed into lunacy.  Whatever.  The bottom line is that only one of two conclusions can be reached.  So what binary choice does that indicate?

Well, if the columnist turns out to have been correct in his assessment of the situation, after the ambush is unleashed and (as a hypothetical example) a Republican, backed by a Republican majority house and Senate, is sworn in as President in January of 2013, then the inauguration will provide the writer with a pyrrhic victory that is filled with a bitter taste and an opportunity to produce eight more years of (Jeb) Bush-bashing columns.

Conversely, if this year’s fall elections and the Presidential election in 2012 turn out to be overwhelming mandates for Obama and the Democrats to “continue doing what you’re doing,” then the ostracism of the “rigged elections” point of view will have been a bit of digital streamlining that – while seeming to be a contradiction in the “free exchange of concepts and ideas” policy espoused by the non-ditto-head faction – will turn out to have been (in retrospect) an example of editing efficiency. 

This columnist knows positively that he has been wrong before (Native Dancer had a lock on the Kentucky Derby’s winner circle until Dark Star blew past in the stretch) and so we’ll try to turn our attention to more mundane matters while we await the mid term mandate for Obama to appear via the election night stats on the TV screens across America.

One of the liberal radio personalities (Tom Hartman?) pointed out that the conservatives are saying that President Obama is taking too many vacation days.  When Bush was President the liberals said the same thing.  At this point in the presidency, Bush had taken 96 vacation days and Obama has taken 36.  Good thing facts can’t be used to dissuade fanatical Republicans, eh?

What compassionate conservative Christian wouldn’t be enthusiastic about ending unemployment benefits for his neighbors as a way of paying for a war that is killing dozens of infidels?  Actually in a country full of homeless people and empty homes that have been foreclosed, a policy of guns not butter makes complete sense.

President Obama has encouraged folks to visit the Gulf region where it is allegedly a case of business as usual.  Trouble is, if we do that and accidentally wind up too close to an oil boom, we can not afford the $40,000 fine for blogging without BP’s permission, so our financially motivated response is:  “We’ll take your word for it, Mr. President.” 

Back in the Vietnam War era, wasn’t it an in thing for celebrities to get arrested in anti-war demonstrations?  If Hunter S. Thompson were still alive wouldn’t he go down to the oil spill and get arrested for reporting just to make a point?  Why can’t Brian Williams be Hunter’s proxy? 

Can’t you just picture Bob Schieffer being hauled off in handcuffs?  Then wouldn’t his brother, Tom Schieffer, call his friend and former business partner George W. Bush and put the fixeroo on that situation? 

Speaking of folks going to jail, it would make a good column if we could find out if Paris Hilton will visit Lindsey Lohan while she is incarcerated.  Ms. Hilton has been maintaining a low profile since her well publicized “house arrest” stint.  We thought she was going to become an activist publicizing the plight of people with claustrophobia who are forced to serve a time in a jail cell. 

Don Quixote spent a lot of time tilting at windmills.  Hans Brinker saved the day for the country of windmills.  When it comes time to write a column that a topic that the writer thinks is extremely important, how can he know if it will be a “saved the day” effort of just another variation of the Sisyphus assignment? 

This columnist has tried to convince folks that the electronic voting machines can and are being used by the Republicans to micromanage the election results, but very few people will listen and fewer can be convinced that it is happening.  (Picture Kevin McCarthy yelling:  “They’re here!”)  Unfortunately, it turns out that the Quixote Center doesn’t seem to hand out awards for exorcises in futility.

The <a href =>Quixote Center</a> describes itself online by saying this:  “a band of ‘impossible dreamers’ who joined together in 1976. We are a multi-issue, grassroots social justice organization with roots in the Catholic social justice tradition. Independent of church and government structures, the Center operates with an understanding that an educated and engaged citizenry is essential to making social change. For over 30 years, the Quixote Center has gathered together people of faith and conscience to organize highly effective campaigns for systemic change.

We draw inspiration from the satiric idealism and gentle madness of Cervantes’ dauntless Don Quixote. We trace our roots to the Gospel and the Catholic social justice tradition; but today, we gather people of faith and conscience from many diverse traditions to share our common quest for justice and peace. We work on issues of justice with people who have few other resources. By laughing a bit in the midst of struggle, we gain strength and heart to sustain our efforts for a more just and peaceful world.”

Since this columnist is a duly ordained minister; by the powers granted to me by the state of California, I hereby declare that the attempt to achieve the impossible will henceforth be yclept “the Brinker-Quixote Syndrome.” 

If the New York Times does a feature story on the Quixote Center, we’ll always wonder:  Did their obit inspire the follow-up, or did this column?

What does that leave to use as a column topic?

Would it take much time (and get many hits?) to bang out a column about:  <a href=> Comic-con 2010</a>, The <a href =>Hemingway Days Look-alike contest at Sloppy Joe’s</a>, or  <a href =>Netroots Nation</a>?

Maybe we could go and cover the annual <a href =>Oskosh Air Show</a> and on the way back stop and see the <a href =>Seventhieth Annual Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis</a>?

Are you aware that there is a Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore, New Zeland? 

Maybe we’ll just stay home and see if we can catch Rush Limaugh in a rare bit of extreme exaggeration or his first flat out fib? 

Wait!  This just in!  It’s about time for this year’s winners of the Emperor Norton Awards to be announced.  The award is given for “extraordinary invention and creativity unhindered by the constraints of paltry reason,” in memory of Joshua Norton I, Emperor of the United States of America and Protector of Mexico.  Heck no conspiracy theories there, eh?

Yogi Berra has (supposedly) said:  “You can’t think and hit at the same time.”  The same principle, during the electronic voting machine era, also applies for watching election eve voting results.

Now the disk jockey will play the “Man of La Mancha” soundtrack album, “When You Wish Upon a Star” and Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound and Down.”  We gotta go check out why our name fell off the voter registration rolls and we had to cast a “provisional” ballot for the recall election when Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly replaced the Democratic governor of California.  On second thought, why bother?  It will only sound like a conspiracy theory.  Have a Barron Munchausen type week.

Deja vu in 2012?

July 16, 2010

[<B>Warning:  Liberals with heart conditions, this column may cause seizures</B>.]

While writing a rough draft for a mostly whimsical column that would assess the summer of 2010 from the hypothetical point of view of a future historian looking back at it, we came across a Huffingtonpost story <a href =

about Jeb Bush</a>  and realized that the Huffington story augmented by a series of similar items might, in retrospect, be recognized as a very important harbinger of the United States’ political future.

To get Jeb Bush elected as the President of the United States (POTUS) in 2012, legitimately or not, one would have to prepare the country in advance for such a potentially (to some) distressing result.  If it is predestined to happen, it would be very prudent to plant a series of “news” stories assuming that such an election result were possible.  Otherwise if it just came to be that Jeb started winning primary contests in early 2012, some of America’s less gullible citizens might raise a hue and cry.  If, however, the free press would show their sportsmanship and help set the stage, it could go a long way towards sidestepping a rancorous national debate about the need for a continuation of the Bush Dynasty.

In the realm of deceptive activity designed to fleece an unsuspecting victim of his/her money a common factor is often an assistant who seemingly is a stranger to both parties and who provides a “count me in” factor to the proceedings that is designed to alleviate any of the victim’s points of objection.  People tend to be reluctant to be the first to make a move but they also tend to have a flock mentality when a trend gains traction. 

Thus, if some political strategist (with a tendency to play his role in a Svengali/Merlin manner) is calling the shots, the press can play the role of the “count me in” accomplice by rehabilitating the rather tarnished image of the Bush family.  A complicit press could help refurbish that image as one of an American tradition that has suffered a temporary setback rather than a total derailment via the low public opinion of the last President.  With the press’ reputation for truthfulness and integrity (imagine it in terms of Edward R. Murrow doing a “Person to Person” interview with Jeb in his home [or is it “one of his homes”?] with lotsa “softball questions.”), they could do a great deal to help restore the tarnished Bush brand name back to its former eminence. 

Obviously this sounds outlandishly implausible, but if someone told the reader back in the “Impeach Clinton now!” phase of the country’s history that the Republicans would win the next election in the conservative majority Supreme Court and then pull off an even more impossible upset in 2004, who would have believed it back then?

Quite often historians find the most fascinating items go mostly unnoticed while they are part of the contemporary news scene.  Hence, we strongly assert that folks, coping with foreclosure or not, pay more attention to the stories about Jeb and ask themselves if such items are a legitimate examples of a “nose for news” journalistic value judgment or if they are part of a concerted effort to set the USA up for yet another con job. 

It could be that the Summer of 2010 will, some day, be remembered in some obscure and esoteric example of historians scholarship as the time when the World’s Laziest Journalist posted the first claxon alarm about the next successful Republican presidential campaign.

For the time being, such a premise will, for the most part, be blithely dismissed as being inconsequential alarmism.  So noted.  We now return you to our regularly scheduled whimsical column about the Summer of 2010:

Mel Gibson made an audition tape for his efforts to be hired as Uncle Rushbo’s occasional fill-in replacement and when it fell into the wrong hands it got misrepresented in the media and that got him into an embarrassing position.  On the tape did he say anything that would cost him his job if he were saying it on the air from the Excellence In Broadcasting studios?

If Lenny Bruce were still alive would he be fostering a comedy genre called “slick” humor?

Being alive in the summer of BP love is providing curmudgeons with a smorgasbord of news stories just bound to please the “you kids stay off my lawn” style grouches while sending the far lefties into the throes of agony.

The Republicans are castigating (careful with that word) President Obama for fighting a war in Afghanistan that is unwinnable (Word spell-check, like many Republicans, refuses to accept the existence of that word).  Didn’t George W. Bush hand his war off to his successor and wasn’t that a bit like when that silly bird hands the coyote the lit stick of trinitrotoluene (AKA TNT)? 

What grump wouldn’t like the Eddie Haskell-ish trick of wrecking the economy and then ridiculing the folks collecting unemployment during the succeeding administration’s effort to restore prosperity?

Is there a misanthrope alive this summer that doesn’t see that the way to explain Alvin Greene’s meteoric rise to fame and political prominence can be explained by the old concept of “charisma”?  

Isn’t it a shame that cartoonist <a href =>Charles Addams</a> didn’t live until “death panels” became one of Uncle Rushbo’s recurring leitmotifs?

Back in the Sixties, liberal writers in the mainstream media (MSM) who couldn’t write about very liberal programs and ideas learned they could pull an end-run on the conservative publishers by doing trend spotting stories about people with liberal points of view.  For instance the New York media heavy hitters who couldn’t be anti Vietnam War in their stories could write about folks who were such as Bob Dylan and Hunter S. Thompson and the Rolling Stone magazine.  That brought bigger audiences to those cultural phenomenons which, in turn, helped them get their message out to a bigger audience.  That way the frustrated writers on the nationally respected media plantations could claim that they had (indirectly) helped spread the liberal memes. 

Does Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly ever mention online sites that pointed out the shortcomings of the Bush Junta?  If there is a new online equivalent of the Berkeley Barb or the East Village Other will they ever become a cultural force thanks to trend spotting stories in the MSM?  Is helping to stifle voices of dissention a stealth way to help conservatives?

Does Murdock’s media ever criticize BP?  Was it a group of rogue miscreants who arranged for the Lockerby prisoner to go free in return for some off shore drilling rights from Libya?

Summer of 2010 was also when scientists made news by studying the DNA of Ozzy Osbourne.  It was when the “cheesy easy song of the day” on the True Oldies Channel was in its first year of existence.  It was also (personal note alert) when this columnist discovered Joe R. Lansdale, the man we proclaim to be the heir to wear the “best living” mantle at the next convention (known as <a href =; Bouchercon</a>) of hard-boiled detective story writers.  BTW the convention will be held in San Francisco!

Will the summer of 2010 be referred to by techies as: “when Apple made their Edsel”?

In the summer of 2010, the conservatives are having a ball laughing at dumpster diving for kids and folks running out of their unemployment checks.  Those compassionate conservative Christians are such cut-ups, aren’t they?  The web site <a href = >Tea Party Jesus</a> puts conservative quotes in the mouth of Christ.  It’s meant as irony.

You can help the restoration of the Bush family dynasty by writing to the managing editors of all national mainstream media and demanding that they omit any mention of , <a href = >Broward Savings and Loan</a> from their suck-up “news” stories.

Senator Jim Bunning’s famous “Tough shit!” line may be a strong contender for the 2010 quote of the year.

Now the disk jockey will play “19th Nervous Breakdown,” the “Easy Rider” soundtrack album, and “Helter Skelter.”  We have to go check out the topic of how to get a bet, on Jeb in 2012, with long odds, down now in Vegas.  Have a “<a href =>Great But Forgotten</a>” type week.

The Column that couldn’t be posted on Daily Kos

July 14, 2010

What would a columnist say if he were assigned to hype a hypothetical cage match between Hitler and George W. Bush?  Could he add a new point that hasn’t been made previously?

Obviously the public is weary of being reminded of the most apparent salient points such as: 

Hitler won his country’s top military honor in battle; George W wasn’t it combat.

Hitler wrote a book that sold widely; George W’s book may have ben ghost written.

Hitler was a mesmerizing public speaker; George W inspired yawns.

George W.  Bush would have to be declared more cunning and conniving than the German who precipitated the Second World War and if you are living in a country going to war, that’s the kind of guy best suited for the driver’s seat.

Hitler took extensive measures to make sure that his people were unaware that he and his men were committing war crimes.  Folks were fearful that bad things would happen to the people who were interrogated by the Geheime Staatspolitzi (AKA Ge-sta-po) but they never knew for sure what the specifics were.  Thus when the details were revealed during the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials, citizens of Germany were genuinely shocked and ashamed to learn what their leader had done in their name.

Hitler didn’t involve the citizens of his country as co-conspirators in his war crimes.

George W. Bush’s diabolical game plan included the 2003 revelation of complete details for his method of questioning terrorism suspects and after those questioning methods were made public there were very few voices raised in opposition.  Thus if (trolls please note the use of the subjunctive mood here) Bush committed any war crimes by using waterboarding and other harsh measures, the citizens of the United States would have to be considered as possible accessories during and after the fact. 

Hitler wasn’t included in the list of defendants at Nuremburg.  He was not even listed as a defendant being tried in absentia.  His team did stand in the prisoners docket and it became obvious during the Nuremburg trials that most of the German citizens were just as shocked and surprised by the offences as was the rest of the world. 

Bush’s use of waterboarding may have helped enliven some barroom debates, but it never spurred any serious denunciations from the country’s mass media, the country’s clergy, nor even much of the citizenry. 

By enlisting the country as accessories to his methodology, George W. Bush insured himself against any serious threat that he would ever face any legal consequences in his own country’s judicial system.  His defense would have to be:  “Sorry, <I>we</I> goofed!”  Any guilty verdict would have to be tantamount to saying:  “<I>We</I> sure did!” and that’s not a bloody well likely scenario in a country that portrays itself as “the Goodguys” (and we don’t mean hippies who scored the famous WMCA T-shirt in the Sixties).

Statistically Germany is a Catholic country and maybe der Fuhrur knew that he couldn’t intimidate the Pope (Pius XII) into giving his imprimatur to the torture, so he kept it hidden, but future dictators (and Presidents) have learned from Bush; if a country is going to sin it is best they do so openly without any hint of an admission of guilt or shame. 

Imagine, if you will, that legendary aviatrix Hanna Reitsch had managed to take Germany’s chancellor with her when she made her legendary escape from Berlin in an Arado 96 airplane as the war came to an end.  Can you envision that it’s two or three years later and you spot a billboard in Berlin during the airlift portraying the former leader (Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz was named as the successor) with the caption:  “Do you miss me yet?”  Obviously it would be in German and use the Schwaben style font. 

To put things in their proper perspective just imagine that sometime in 1955 Huntley or Brinkley traveled to Germany and got an exclusive interview with the retired dictator on his ranch in Bavaria and that he smirked and tossed off a line about “I consulted the best legal minds available before sanctioning the waterboarding.”  That hypothetical scoop will give readers a fair idea of which of the two was a better con man.  It should be a gimme to see that Bush is much more devious and treacherous than the vegetarian (who distained smoking) could ever hope to have been.  Only one of them connived to include all citizens as accessories to their torture program. 

Neither Hitler nor Bush have ever been charged with (let alone convicted of) war crimes in court, so it seems that unless such a hypothetical grudge match could actually be held, their respective fans will (like the continuing sixties debate:  Beatles or Stones) have something to debate every time they meet.

Hitler had a gimpy arm and Bush has been called a bully so our money would be on GWB if (in a Twilight Zone world) the cage match actually were to take place.

We were going to use what Robert Frost wrote (“Most of the change we think we see in life/Is due to truths being in and out of favor.”) as the column’s closing (apropos) quote but on the way to the Berkeley Public Library to use the wifi connection to post this column, we ran the premise of a Bush-Hitler cage match past Allison of Home 101 on Shattuck and she had a better one.  She said:  “They’d just give up and become friends!”

Now the disk jockey will play play Wayne Newton’s “Danker Schoen,” and two by the Andrews sisters:  “The Beer Barrel Polka” and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon.” We have to go to Oakland and post bail for a friend.  Have a “hunker in the bunker” type week.

Just don’t ask; OK?

July 12, 2010

Skeptics might question the assertion that “America is being trained to accept all unexplained phenomenon without asking any questions” and demand some evidence to back it up because nature abhors a vacuum and people just naturally want answers when the “Why?” question pops up.  On the other hand, if they are being trained to do that, they might not bother reading this column.

Can anyone who is not one of those conspiracy theory lunatics provide an explanation for phenomenon such as:Building Seven falls down

No photos of the airplane hitting the Pentagon have ever turned up.

Bush really thought Saddam helped al Qaeda and had WMD’s so an invasion was necessary.  Now, reasons seem so irrelevant. 

John Kerry was going to protest the Ohio results, next day his attitude had suddenly become:  “no problem.”

Candidate Obama disapproved of Americans getting killed in Afghanistan, after being sworn in, it was suddenly a case of needing a new application of the surge strategy.

There were other times when nagging questions went begging.

First accounts of the flight 800 disaster contained descriptions of a missile being seen, then it morphed into “explosion in the fuel tank.”

A swarthy gentleman who got away was reported to be part of the group of suspects for the explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma, and then it became more of a “lone gunman” type operation.

Howard Dean was an inconvenient frontrunner.  He whooped it up at a victory party, and then John Kerry was quickly anointed “frontrunner.”  Did the press ever try to explain that clever bit of politics?

Democrats were concerned that the electronic voting machines were suborning democracy, and then Senator Obama became the first African American to be elected President.  The attitude changed to:  “No worries mate.” 

Immediately after President Obama was inaugurated, the media went wild with conjecture about the prospects for the Republican Party to survive.  Now, the press calmly reports that a shift back to a Republican majority in the Congress and the Senate is to be expected.  What ever happened to the old concept of a “nose for news”?  Isn’t any reporter going to attempt the monumental challenge of explaining just how that big of a change occurred (stealth style) so fast?  If they value a regular paycheck, they won’t.

This columnist notes that no one has resurrected the old cliché about “charisma” to explain the baffling aspect of the Alvin Greene win in the South Carolina Democratic Primary.  Hey, that as good as any other explanation available to the public.

The next “elephant in the room” question seems to be:  If the Republicans have said that they will (in effect) play a passive-aggressive game while Obama is President, why would America opt for a two year stalemate during hard times?  (The Stephanie Miller radio show recently played a sound byte of Republican John Boehner saying, at the time President Obama was sworn in, that the Republicans would in effect use the passive-aggressive tactic to sabotage the Democrat’s entire term in office. )  The prospect of a reversal in Congress and the Senate back to a Republican majority carries with it the implied prospect for giving President Obama the longest “lame duck” period in American History.  Why (the ***k) would America want to do that?  Oh, sorry we forgot:  “don’t ask don’t tell.”

Does the prospect of the longest lame duck period in American History during tough times conjure up the image in the news photo of a fellow holding off police while pointing a gun to is own head?

Here’s a bonus question:  If we have just raised some valid points, why the heck is it up to an online pundit, who would much rather be taking photos at this weekend’s Second Annual <a href =>San Francisco Presidio Concours D Elegance</a> auto event, to bring up these questions? 

If these are valid points will my readers send a link for this column to their favorite paid pundit?  If that’s the case, then shame, shame on the media stars for too many job failulrues. 

If these are not valid points, and if I hip my readers to some interesting obscure items (and resurrect some forgotten musical memories) while asking irrelevant questions, we have to ask:  Is there any harm in that?  Don’t school teachers say that the only stupid questions are the ones that folks don’t ask?

Did someone just say that this columnist can’t produce interesting items that haven’t already appeared on the the Huffington Post website?  Has the Huff-po covered this:  while looking for a website for sharing <a href =>bus-spotting</a> photos, we discovered that the bus spotting site was hipping their readers to the <a href =,2144,3394237,00.html>Deutsche Welle story</a> about the old folks homes in Germany that are finding it useful to build faux bus stops out front where the old people can sit contentedly while waiting for nonexistent buses to arrive?  We passed that along to the Jalopnik tips editor. 

In the July 8, 2010, hard copy edition of “The Daily Californian,” we found on page 2 a story by Rebecca Xing detailing how hard the recession is hitting hotels in the San Francisco bay area.  When we went to e-mail a link for the Internet version of the story to a Berkeley neighbor, we discovered that the story wasn’t available at that paper’s online website.  We were about to ask our self:  “Why?,” but we successfully stifled the impulse immediately.

If (note the use of the subjunctive mood – we don’t want to be labeled a conspiracy nut) the country is being set up to experience the longest lame duck phase of any presidency in the country’s history, why don’t the paid pundits have to explain this anomaly?  They  have no reluctance on election eve to say authoritatively what the voters were thinking, so why are they just ignoring this big (apparent) U-turn in the public’s attitude?  So along comes this big turnabout and the paid pundits worry about a little ole oil spill instead?  Sounds like a diversionary tactic to this columnist. 

In 1968, in his standard campaign speech Senator Bobby Kennedy, used to end by using a George Bernard Shaw quote:  “You see things; and you say:  “Why?”  But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?” 

The press used to use the quote as the signal to head to the press bus to go on to the next stop.  As an inside joke, one time the Senator changed the wording and switched it to “ . . . I dream of things that never were; and I say, ‘Head for the bus.’”  The press got the joke; the audience was baffled.

Now the disk jockey will play the Who’s “The Magic Bus,” Pat Boone’s “Why Baby Why,” and Marinanne Faithful’s “Why’d ya do it?”  We have to head for the bus going to SF (with a flower in our hair?).  Have a “Why ask ‘Why?’” type week.

Is it 1984 again already?

July 5, 2010

Before writing this column, it seemed prudent to do some fact checking.  We intended to start with a reference to a Republican talking point about the statute of limitations for war crimes imposing a shrinking window of opportunity for any war crimes trial for George W. Bush.  Repeated Google searches confirmed that he had been President and some Nazis had been tried for war crimes.  Our recollection of talking points about a statute of limitations for war crimes continued to elude our Google searches.  That, in turn, reminded us of Orwell’s 1984; “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth.” 

We had intended to use a specific quote about Bush racing against the statute of limitations as the basis for this column, but since we don’t have access to Lexis/Nexis; we couldn’t find any such quote and so it becomes an exercise in futility. 

We had intended to ridicule the concept that there is a statue of limitations for war crimes.  If such a concept had been cited as the Bush term in office drew to a close, then America’s free press would have pointed out the absurdity of the idea, wouldn’t they . . .  or is the concept of a free press a false memory?

When both CBS TV and the New York Times ran items about Jeb Bush recently, it was immediately followed by a Chris Wallace reference to the possibility of a third member of the Bush White House dynasty.  That, in turn, reminded this columnist that there is an unrelenting avalanche of pro-Bush propaganda that is cheerfully dumped on a (mostly) unsuspecting audience of gullible rubes by the alleged “free press.” 

If Jeb is going to be the next President, why bother to write a column about the possibility of war crimes committed by a member of the Bush family?

“This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs – to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.”  After 9-11, there were some unsubstantiated reports that movies containing shots with the World Trade Center twin tower buildings were altered and the buildings eliminated from the images.

Could Jeb be elected President while the New York Time refrained from once mentioning the Broward Savings and Loan facet of the Bush Family History?  Didn’t they recently admit that they <a href =>didn’t call waterboarding torture</a> because of a Bush Family edict?  Isn’t it reasonable to assume if they voluntarily submitted once to the Bush Editorial Guidelines, they’d do it again?  (and again . . . and again . . . and again . . .?)

We had a recnet chat with a fellow, Gentle Waters, who covered some of Berkeley’s most famous protests for the now defunct Berkeley Barb weekly newspaper.  He agreed that using the electronic voting machines would facilitate the return of the Bush dynasty to the White House. 

Did the soldiers in WWII fight to establish such a mockery of democracy in action?  At the same time we met the former member of the Barb staff, we came across a 1945 copy of “The Best From YANK The Army Weekly” and were astonished to find that at least one solider specifically said he was against that future phenomenon.  In a poem titled “A Plea to the Post-War Planners, T/Sgt. Philip Reisman USMC wrote (E. P. Dutton & Co hardback p-97):  “ . . . I’ve little use for synthesized soup, or operas (soapy) televised, or trips to Mars in Roman candles, or caskets trimmed with Lucite handles, or wireless ballots for brainless voters, or Buicks with transparent motors . . .”

Here’s a difficult question for a conservative.  Ask: “Will George W. Bush use the statute of limitations to avoid a War Crimes Trial?”  It assumes that Bush was a war criminal and just narrows the focus down to a binary choice:  will he or won’t he skate?  Wouldn’t the concept of a statute of limitations for war crimes give Adolph Eichmann a good laugh? 

When George W. Bush stepped down from the Presidency, some references were made about time running out for any War Crime Trials.  The collaborators in the “free press” kept a straight face and refused to ask the antagonistic question about “Where did you get the absurd notion that war crimes have a statute of limitations?”  Instead they just pass along the phony Republican talking point and essentially become accessories after the fact for the war crimes. 

Chris Wallace will be remembered for being the first to speculate about a Jeb presidency, but the big opportunity for a “journalist” to shamelessly suck up to the Bush family and win brownie points will come this fall after the electronic voting machines are used to prime the pump for a Jeb win in 2012 by giving a Republican majority to both the House and the Senate.  Who will be the first “journalist” to anoint Jeb as the frontrunner? 

Won’t the fellow, who sets the precedence for the rest of the media to meekly follow, get “mega-dittos” praise for his valiant effort to do the John the Baptist routine for the Jebster? 

Would it be good marketing to call the younger Bush Dubya’s Big Brother as a way of reinforcing the dynasty meme?

Since Jeb was the governator of Florida, isn’t there ample opportunity now for him to step up to the network microphones and criticize President Obama for the oil spills that are arriving at the various Florida beaches this summer?  Couldn’t the sycophant “free press” skip over the process of the coronation of Jeb as front runner and cut right to crafting Jeb’s image as the leading spokesman for the Republican Party? 

A journalist might point out that it would be odd to have Jeb blaming Obama for a policy of dispensing with oversight and regulation that was instituted by George W. Bush, but there is precious little danger of a bonafide journalist saying anything about a member of the Bush family that isn’t pure unadulterated admiration.  Only the lunatics known as extreme left bloggers can say anything that smacks of disrespect for the Bush dynasty and they are merely tolerated as if they are America’s official crazy uncle.

For cynical columnists the summer of 2010 may be remembered as being similar to the minutes at a Rolling Stone concert when the audience’s collective nerves are stretched to the breaking point as they wait for Bill Graham to come on stage and say the magic incantation:  “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s all about to happen . . . .”  Just like a concert featuring the greatest Rock and Roll band, America will, this summer, work themselves into a frenzy of anticipation as “America’s next President” sits in the green room and waits for the paperless trail electronic voting machines to do their job.  A Republican majority in the House and Senate will be installed this fall.  Jeb will be anointed “frontrunner.”  He’ll be elected in 2012 and the restoration of the Bush dynasty will be complete. 

The compliant “free press” can do their part by beseeching Jeb for a statement about the arrival of the oil spill on Florida’s beeches and not blink an eye when his unbiased assessment is:  “It’s all Obama’s fault.”

Orwell predicted:  “The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that a past or future agreement with him was impossible.”  Hence an endless war is not just inevitable; it is the ultimate goal.  Isn’t it obvious that Jeb will do a better job than Obama when he takes the helm as commander-in-chief?  The inauguration of a member of a dynasty will convey the proper image for thinking of the fighting for the pipeline in Afghanistan as an endless process that will be passed from generation to generation and not a passing fade.

Marty McFly said:  “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”  He forgot to add that if a member of the Bush family puts his mind to it and if that is augmented by the paper trail-less electronic voting machines; it’s a “gimme.

For those who think that electronic voting machines shouldn’t be a <I>daily cause</I> for concern, maybe they should call the Mike Malloy radio program this week and ask guest host Brad Friedman, if such concern is a bit of “Duckly Lucky” alarmism in action or not.

Perhaps it was Barbara Bush who expressed the Bush family political philosophy when she said:  “This is working out quite well for them; isn’t it?”

Now the disk jockey will play the 1984 hits:  “Ghostbusters,”  “Karma Chameleon” and “Church of the Poison Mind.”  We have to go road test the new Flux Capacitor.  Have a “thought crime” free type week.