Archive for September, 2010

A coincidence for liberals?

September 29, 2010

The fact that the Smirking Chimp website could run out of funding on the last day of September is not without a heavy dose of irony for James Dean fans because of the symbolism of the death of a voice of nonconformity.  James Dean’s death, <a href =http://www.jamesdeanmemorialjunction.com/>on a remote highway on September 30, 1955, near Cholame CA</a>, put a crimp in the rebel image that was popular during the mid-Fifties and if Smirking Chimp runs out of funds, that would diminish even more the limited amount of anticonservative voices being heard in contemporary American culture and might be seen by some staunch Republicans as the removal of the last voice of objection protesting the fact that Jeb Bush is the Bush family heir apparent and their main hope for a restoration of the Bush Dynasty.  They might perceive the death of Smirking Chimp as a green light for Jeb.  Most pundits seem to think that Jeb Bush has as much chance of winning in November of 2012, as Jett Rink (James Dean) had in the movie Giant of striking oil. 

Do liberal Democrats really expect Fox news to point out that the expected Republican majority in the House and Senate for the next two years may be part of a coordinated plan to deliver the Republican Presidential nomination and 2012 win to one specific Republican candidate?  Fox will be content to infer that a generic Republican candidate may benefit from Republican guerrilla war in the legislative branch of government, but does any intelligent analyst, looking at the situation in the Republican Party, think that Karl Rove has worked for the Bush family since 1973 with the objective of helping Mitt Romney win the 2012 election?

Will Fox point out that the party that claims they want to reduce the size of government was the same one that permanently (and enthusiastically) added the Department of Homeland Security to the list of the government agencies swelling the national budget?

If the rookie witch and the chicken lady become U. S. Senators, will Fox feature them consistently or will Fox focus on the President’s efforts to cope with simultaneous sit down strikes in the House and Senate?  Either way they will be distracting voters and obscuring legitimate news topics with tangential news of questionable quality.  Would Fox frame obstreperous Republicans as “bad sports” or would they be hailed as modern equivalents of the rebellious colonialists who became America’s founding fathers?  Will Fox use the phrase “Triumph of the Will” in any reports about Republican obstructionism? 

Didn’t Fox News contribute to a fund for Republican candidates running for the Senate?  What are the odds that Fox will, in an effort to promote a lively debate about national issues, contribute to the Smirking Chimp fund raising effort?

For liberals to ignore the distinct possibility that Jeb will be elected President in 2012 is like living in Concordia Kansas and dismissing tornados as just another way to scare kids as Halloween approaches.

There is a Hollywood legend that asserts that there is enough unused footage from the movie Giant to edit together a sequel.  Would Jett Rink (James Dean) use Texas oil money to fuel a successful bid to become a U. S. Senator? 

What are the chances that in the next two years, Fox News will advise anyone who fears the possibility that Jeb Bush will be declared (2000 style?) the winner of the 2012 Presidential election, to read Hans Fellada’s 1932 novel “Little Man, What Now?”  Forewarned is forearmed. 

This columnist may be the only person seriously unnerved by the idea that Jeb will be inaugurated in January of 2013, but the idea is just as much a conviction as was the certainty that Joe Nameth and the Jets would manage a win over Johnny Unitas and the Colts.  This time, however, we will enlist the aid of a colleague in Great Britain to get a wager with good odds down before the long shot candidate becomes more of an even-money bet.

A country which continually boasts that one of its main strong points is freedom of speech might seem a bit hypocritical if it lets an outlet for expressions of dissention fail.  Did Germany in the Thirties welcome or fund any opposition points of view? 

Hans Fallada’s two greatest novels bookended the Hitler Administration and reading those two obscure literary works from the past, now, produces a chilling feeling of familiarity.

More work for less money?  In the earlier of the aforementioned novels, Hans Fallada wrote:  “Damned robbers, what do they care how people like us are to live?” 

Now the disk jockey will play “Yellow Rose of Texas,” Randy Newman’s “Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man),” and the Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers.”  We have to get back to our copy of “Every Man Dies Alone.”  Have an “I’m a rich ‘un” type week.

http://www.smirkingchimp.com

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The Philip K Dick effect in Berkeley

September 19, 2010

Walking around in Berkeley, recently, some very Philip-K-Dickish thoughts and storylines about time travel began to inspire some efforts at fiction writing.  When that was followed up by a chance to return to the City of Angeles it didn’t take long for it to seem like we had traveled back in time to when we used to go to work in the 90403 zip code every day.  The first column by this writer to get cross-posted online was one written several years back when it seemed like the topic of a Presidential Library for a fellow who didn’t like writing things down and was very secretive presented an irresistible opportunity to express some cynical skepticism about the prospect.

When we thought back to that column, during a stroll on the Santa Monica Mall, it seemed like it needed to be updated and rewritten to make some new points regarding the concept of a Presidential Library for Barack Obama. 

It’s not that Barack Obama is like George W. Bush at all, but it does seem that the idea of a Presidential Library for President Barack Obama will be as distasteful to the Republicans as the thought of a Presidential Library for Dubya was for the Democrats.

Let’s be blunt.  The Conservatives and the Republicans hate President Obama and if, as most of the high priced pundits think, the Republicans gain a majority in the House in the fall elections, not a single one of them will vote for the spending of one damn cent (or more) for a Presidential Library for Obama.  Thus any Obama Presidential Library will have to be a partisan effort and that, in turn, will only infuriate the Republicans even more.

The thought of an Obama Presidential Library at any time in the future will spur the Republican majority in the new Congress to work very hard to find a reason, any reason at all will do, for them to start impeachment proceedings the day after they pick their new House majority leader.

When the aforementioned column about the possibility of a George W. Bush Presidential Library was posted online, a good number of comedians just happened to come up with jokes about such a facility and what might be displayed in it.  Many of the jokes suggested coloring books.

The Republicans have indicated that if they gain a majority in the House in the 2010 elections, they will produce political gridlock.  We’ve suggested that the Republican strategy is tantamount to a de facto sit down strike but no one else has used that metaphor. 

This columnist can not recall seeing any other commentary about the challenges an Obama Presidential Library will face and so it will be interesting to see if anyone subsequently brings this up soon after this column is posted.

Won’t Rush Limbaugh become apoplectic when he realizes the strong likelihood that there will someday be a President Obama Presidential Library?

It will be virtually impossible to listen to Rush’s program during the coming week and so if someone reads this column and then hears Rush risking a coronary by talking about the prospect for an Obama Presidential Library during next week, we would ask that they post a comment noting the coincidence.

Ths idea of an Obama Presidential Library will upset Rush just as much as the phrase “Jeb Bush Presidential Library” would rile up most Democrats.  We’ll leave that prospect for inclusion in a future column about the unreliability of the electronic voting machines, which we intend to write some time in the future.

Note:  This column was written in and will be posted from a coffee house in Venice CA.  We are having a great time visiting L. A., but (there’s always a “but,” in these columns, eh?) we would rather be writing science-fiction in Berkeley!

Before we run the final quote, we’ll just point out that big forest fires are never blamed on terrorists.  (Nor are accidents in San Bruno.)

In “A Scanner Darkly,” Philip K. Dick wrote:  “One of the most effective forms of industrial or military sabotage limits itself to damage that can never be thoroughly proven – or even proven at all – to be anything deliberate. It is like an invisible political movement; perhaps it isn’t there at all. If a bomb is wired to a car’s ignition, then obviously there is an enemy; if public building or a political headquarters is blown up, then there is a political enemy. But if an accident, or a series of accidents, occurs, if equipment merely fails to function, if it appears faulty, especially in a slow fashion, over a period of natural time, with numerous small failures and misfiring- then the victim, whether a person or a party or a country, can never marshal itself to defend itself.” “One of the most effective forms of industrial or military sabotage limits itself to damage that can never be thoroughly proven – or even proven at all – to be anything deliberate. It is like an invisible political movement; perhaps it isn’t there at all. If a bomb is wired to a car’s ignition, then obviously there is an enemy; if public building or a political headquarters is blown up, then there is a political enemy. But if an accident, or a series of accidents, occurs, if equipment merely fails to function, if it appears faulty, especially in a slow fashion, over a period of natural time, with numerous small failures and misfiring- then the victim, whether a person or a party or a country, can never marshal itself to defend itself.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Night on Bald Mountain,” “Thus Spoke Zarthustra,” and Iron Butterfly’s “Inna Godda Davida.”  We have got to go back in time to point out to H. G. Wells where he got the basic principles of time travel wrong.  Have a “been there; done that” type week.

Richard Fine released from jail

September 18, 2010

The World’s Laziest Journalist has written several columns about the plight of Marina Tenants Association’s lawyer, Richard Fine.

We were delighted to learn

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/09/attorney-richard-fine-spent-a-year-and-a-half-in-jail-on-contempt-of-court-charges-is-that-justice.html

that he was released from jail on Friday.

We posted the above link on the Smirking Chimp site ASAP.   We’ll try to write and post a column chop-chop.

A visit to La-la Land

September 17, 2010

Report from La-la Land

(Venice CA)  Moving to Berkeley seemed like a good idea and when an opportunity to go back to Shakeytown came along, we thought that it might be a chance to do one of those ridicule L. A. columns that are a synch to bang out on the laptop while enjoying a hot white-chocolate at a café in close proximity to the Venice pier but when the recent election results were reported, it suddenly occurred to us that despite all the blasé assessments from the professional pundits about how Delaware just handed an easy Senate win to the Democrats perhaps the real La-la land in the USA will be in Washington after the mid term freshmen politicians are sworn in.

Recently the USA saw how easily a minister in Florida could command the national media’s attention (just like Balloon dad) and that makes it very easy to project what the cable news will be like if the two noteworthy Teabag Party ladies become Senators.  Does anyone think that the President can command the media’s attention if  those two media magnets are sworn in?  Obama will fade into obscurity while those two ladies take their opportunities to make Sarah Palin seem shy in comparison. 

This columnist has been kicked off the Daily Kos site because mentioning the electronic voting machines and rigged elections is considered a conspiracy theory and that is verboten on that site.

However, just for the sake of speculation, imagine that somehow with or without an assist from the electronic voting machines those two ladies win and become Senators.  If someone had expressed the desire to establish the Republican Party in a dominant role in American politics for the next one thousand years and if they wanted to set the stage for delivering a Democratic incumbent a “no hitter” shutout term in office, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to deliver an Abbot and Costello pair of Senators to distract and disrupt the second half of Obama’s first (only?) term in office?

The New York Times reported on September 14, 2010 that things were not going very smoothly in the polling places in the state of New York.  After that, it seems like the topic of election difficulties was ignored by the mainstream media.  If they won’t take time to give the public a heads-up for the potential for a very tumultuous bit of media circus as serious journalism, then we will.  The World’s Laziest Journalist prides himself on delivering off-beat ideas and insights.  Anyone who wants boring but pedantic assessments can find them without much effort. 

Are Americans getting sick of unexpected election results that the highly paid professionals can not adequately explain?  The cliché about “the voters have once again embarrassed the polling companies with results that were not predicted.”  After a bunch of time hearing that shouldn’t people be asking:  “WTF”?  Shouldn’t someone write a column about Learning to love unexplained phenomenon? 

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/7/12/883772/-Learning-to-stop-worrying-and-to-love-unexplained-phenomenon-

People seem to be getting used to the “unexpected upset” election results just like folks who live in La-la Land get used to the unusual aspects of their home town and get upset when visitors (mostly from New York City) arrive and start spewing out “reporting live” material that focuses on the weird and whacky feature stories that abound in Hollyweird.

You want that too?

We were a bit surprised to see a gas station on the north west corner of Lincoln and Rose., in the Venice section of L. A., that featured mirrors so that the customers at the self serve pumps could check out their hair-do.  Don’t people in Scranton know that you have to look your very best always in a town where a person (even a columnist?) could bump into a casting director at any moment?  Folks in Berkeley might point out that if a person pumping gas wanted to see themselves in a mirror, they could (most likely) use the one on the driver side of their vehicle.  It’s not the same.  A mirror where you can stand up straight and tall and see how the hair-do is doing in the wind, is a valuable public service.  Bending over to use the car mirror distorts reality. 

We took a photo but may not be able to get it posted on <a href =http://floppyphotos.wordpress.com>our photo blog</a> by the time this column is posted.

A few minutes later, at the same location, we noticed a dumpster diver guy.  In most cities, a fellow who fishes bottles and cans from the trash may use a “borrowed” supermarket shopping cart (called a “Venice Cadillac in this famous beach area) but we were surprised to see a fellow pull up in a golf cart to collect his treasures from the trash bins.  Where else can such a dumpster diver achieve such panache? 

The saying in L. A. is:  “Go big; or go home.”

Since the last time we strolled the Vencie Beach something new has been added to fashion conscious Southern California.

What is your doggie wearing this season?  In Venice, they can choose elegant shoes, clothes and accessories.  Does your mutt refuse to dress up while strolling along Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton?  Hasn’t watching several seasons of “The Office” taught you anything about how style is everything in Tinseltown?

Hasn’t watching Parenthood hipped Berkeley to trendy fashions even for the middle class dogs?

We took photos of the array offered by the Vendor on the Ocean Front Walk, but were unable to find the website for Doggie Fashion by Sue.

Los Angeles never fails to deliver for the journalist looking for a way to spin it as a town that reminds some cynics of a bowl a granola but the real La-la Land story could well be a Senate with an electronic voting machine assisted pair of wins for two very distinctive politicians.  What if Alvin Greene wins a Senate seat also?

Washington may well soon be positioned to challenge Los Angeles for the right to be called La-la Land.  It sure looks to this conspiracy theory advocate that Washington will soon make the Marx brothers’ movies look tame in comparison.  If that happens, don’t say we didn’t give you a heads-up a full month before the mid term elections were held.

Dorothy Parker said:  “Los Angeles is 72 suburbs in search of a city.”

Now the disk jockey will play “I Love L.A.,” “L. A. Woman,” and the theme music from Dragnet.  We gotta go try the burgers at “The Counter.”  Have a “that’s a wrap!” type week.  This is the World’s Laziest Journalist reporting live from the Cow’s End Coffee House (where we take fiendish delight in provoking conservative trolls by using the Imperial “we”!).

A symbolic disaster

September 6, 2010

 

On September 8, 1934, the Morro Castle, caught fire off the coast of New Jersey, and the maritime disaster that ensued, might be a better symbol of the war in Afghanistan than the much better known sinking of the Titanic in 1912.  On the evening of Friday, September 7, 1934, the “farewell dinner,” on the ocean liner Morro Castle, had been marred by the fact that Captain Robert Willmott fell ill and retired to his cabin.  He died and the second in command, chief officer William Warms, who had worked a Friday shift that ended at 8 p.m., took command of a ship which was contending with a storm.  At 2:56 a.m., on September 8, 1934, his first day in command, Warms heard the fire alarm sound.  Warms made some decisions which were questionable at best.  He maintained speed and headed into the gale.

While spending a portion of the 2012 Labor Day weekend as a sick day, this writer did some recreational reading with a new column not being on the agenda in the least way.  One of the books, The Aspirin Age 1919 – 1941, yielded up some twenty five pages for an article by William McFee titled:  “The Peculiar Fate of the Morro Castle” and suddenly it seemed like a column needed to be written. 

One of the first lifeboats, boat 3, which was able to carry 70, took sixteen of the crew and no passengers to safety.  On line sources list the number of passengers who died as 86 and the number of crew members who died as 49.

Rescue operation chose to tow the burned ship into New York harbor.  The ship broke free and drifted to Asbury Park, where the city manager, Carl Bischoff, tried to use the right of salvage to claim the vessel with the aim of using it as a tourist attraction to help his resort city gain a business edge during the Depression.

When the Bush Administration began to set the stage for their wars, the predominant figure of speech was “the Pottery Barn Rule,” meaning that when the war broke out, the American taxpayers would be obliged to pay for the damages. 

When President Obama was declared the winner of the 2008 Presidental election, the Bush team quietly reverted to the private party used car rule.  When a person offers a vehicle for sale in the classified ads, the conventional attitude is that it is offered in the “as is” condition and if the buyer drives it three blocks and the engine seizes, that’s just too darn bad for the buyer.

Similarly Captain Warms took command of a ship that wasn’t going to make it through to dawn in working condition and President Obama took command of a similarly unenviable situation.
Cynical Obama suporters, who view the War in Afghanistan in terms of “a millstone around his neck,” will immediately grok to the concept that some Republicans might very well have preferred to have a Democratic candidate be George W. Bush’s successor because they perceived that the “as is” clause would work against the next occupant in the White House and they didn’t want one of their own to get rooked into playing the role of sucker.

Critics of Richard M. Nixon used to ask:  “Would you buy a used car from this man?”  (Reportedly, U. S. Senator John F. Kennedy did buy a used car from his colleague from California.) 

It seems like after the 1934 tragedy everybody tried to escape suspicion by doing their best to make sure the blame was directed at others.  The insurance company, the lawyers for the Ward Line, the survivors, and the union representatives did their best to make the official inquiry look like an outtake from one of the Marx brothers’ movies.

This columnist does not want this column to seem to make light of a tragedy, but it should be noted that most Americans seem to have a very cavalier attitude about the unfolding tragedies in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking of the Marx brothers, there was some politically motivated attempts made to blame the Communists for the Morro Castle tragedy.  On page 331, of the aforementioned book, author William McFee wrote:  “For a while, after the Morro Castle fire, every fire in a ship’s hold was blamed on “Reds” or sabotage, as though ships had never had any fires in their hold before the Russian Revolution.

Now, the disk jockey will play Frankie Ford’s “Sea Cruise,” Jody Reynolds’ “Endless Sleep,” and Bruce Springsteen’s album “Greetings from Asbury Park.”  We have to go get some chicken soup and maybe start reading “On Genocide” by Jean-Paul Sartre to see if there’s a column to be had there.  Have a “you’re in command, now” type week.

Head for the lifeboats?

September 2, 2010

 

As the 2010 Labor Day Weekend approaches, an impulse to write another column about the impending ambush of democracy by the electronic voting machines reminded the writer of the initial efforts of the crew of the Titanic to get passengers into the lifeboats.  The members of the crew strenuously urged the passengers to get into the lifeboats, but their efforts were largely ignored.  Is an entertaining and amusing column better than yet another tirade about the horrible nasty possibilities inherent in the electronic voting machines?

One prominent liberal website considers any trepidations about the possibilities of an ambush by electronic voting machines as conspiracy lunacy and totally unacceptable. 

Apparently it isn’t neighborly to assume that if the Republicans could rig the elections; they would.  It seems that the liberals want to give the Republicans the benefit of the doubt until such time as Republican majority in the House and Senate impeach Obama.  Until then, “be nice.”  O.K.  Fine.  We’ll do just that and use the Titanic reference to transition to a less contentious topic.

The Titanic was the first ship to use the Morris code for S, O, and S again as a distress signal and so some recent promotional efforts for San Francisco radio station KCBS on the AM dial, got us to wondering if <a href =

http://kcbs.cbslocal.com/2010/06/28/the-history-of-kcbs-the-worlds-first-broadcasting-station/

>KCBS is 100 years old</a> as they claim, did they broadcast voices or did they do the 1910 traffic reports in Morris code?  If they could broadcast voices, whey couldn’t the Titanic radio man yell:  “Help!”?

We contacted the radio station and learned that the century old radio station started with efforts by a guy named <a href =http://www.charlesherrold.org/

>Charles Herrold</a> in San Jose that offered the public information and music daily from 1908 to 1917.

After getting that entertaining bit of information, we wondered about the weather reports for <a href =http://bumbershoot.org/fresh/2010/06/music-lineup-2/

>the Labor Day Weekend Bumbershoot Music Festival in Seattle</a>. 

Thinking about that reminded us that recently we learned about another interesting bit of news emanating from the state of Washington, about folks who are looking for <a href =http://www.uslhs.org/resources_be_a_keeper.php

>people who want to run a lighthouse</a>.  Maybe if the Democrats score a landslide reaffirming their mandate in the November elections, this columnist might want to hide out for a year or so in a remote location such as a lighthouse.

That, in turn, reminded us that the efforts to get the Marina (del Rey) Tenant Association lawyer out of jail have still not achieved their goal of setting Richard Fine free.

Speaking of innocent people being in jail, that reminded us that President Obama seems to still be willing to let George W. Bush play his “stay out of jail” card.

Is George W. Bush getting an additional break by the tight budget constrictions?  During the Great Depression, the government funded some efforts at writing and taking photos recording the historical event as it was happening.  One of the pictures taken by Dorothea Lang became an icon for the miserable decade.  Where are the historians and photojournalists during the Bush debacle? 

If the future is supposed to depend on bloggers to chronicle the misery of the post-Dubya era; good luck!  Accounting departments around the world are satisfied to let amateurs replace skilled professionals, but the end product might be inferior. 

Do bloggers have the funds to sustain an effort to record what’s happening in America now?  Only an independently wealthy dilettante would have the funds to go off on an exploration of the USA for an extended length of time.   Back in the Thirties, journalists such as Ernie Pyle, were commissioned by their employer to go out among the people and report what they saw and heard.  Do you seriously expect Fox to commission such a venture?  Their reporters went to the Gulf for the oil spill and asked:  “Where’s the oil?” 

If Fox sends the new Geraldo Rivera out to the rust belt, wouldn’t his boss require him to stand in the midst of an abandoned factory, look directly at the camera, and ask:  “Where’s this Bush Depression we keep hearing about?”?

The Republicans have the opportunity to seize control with doctored electronic voting machine results.  They have the motivation; their hatred of Obama and their love of giving millionaires tax cuts.  They have the opportunity; polls show them holding an unexplained sudden edge.  So why wouldn’t they adhere to the old <I>carpe diem</a> philosophy and seal the deal?  Is there such a thing as Weimar Republicans?  Don’t the real Republicans want to see a restoration drama with a return of a member of the Bush family to the White House?  Didn’t the Weimar Republicans endorse the idea of letting a dictator run the country?

Wait, just a darn minute!  This column is supposed to amuse and entertain. 

On Wednesday, we spotted a column on Huff-Po <a herf =http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stefan-beck/tiki-drinks-cocktails-culture_b_698358.html>by Stefan Beck about the Tiki culture</a>.  He didn’t mention that the Tiki bar fad started in Oakland.  He didn’t mention Tiki literature.  He didn’t do much except throw Tiki food references around.

This columnist just happens to know a fellow (former co-worker at the Santa Monica Outlook) who knows all about Tiki culture and who throws Tiki-themed parties that have been featured in a cover story in the L. A. Weekly.

Maybe we should pitch “The Nation” on a trend-spotting story?

Whatever!  Ready or not, here comes the Labor Day Weekend.

It may turn out that H. L. Mencken played the “John the Baptist” role for the Teabaggers Party because he said:  “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Now the disk jockey will play Don Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles,” Martin Denny’s “Quiet Village,” and Spike Jone’s “Hawiian War Chant.”  We have to go look for some used books by <a href =http://www.rdfsociety.com/>Robert Dean Frisbie</a>.  Have a “Life is a Cabaret, old chum!” type week.

Hide in a lighthouse?

September 1, 2010

We get a lot of hits for folks who want to read the postings about running away to join a hippie commune elsewhere on this blog.

So

When we found out that folks can stay in lighthouses we copied down the URL and will post it here.

http://www.uslhs.org/resources_be_a_keeper.php

For people who want to be alone, getting a lighthouse gig might be better than joining a hippie commune.