Archive for January, 2011

Which World’s Fair are you going to?

January 31, 2011

This column has been cross-posted on other sites such as:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/34020/and-to-the-republic-for-which-it-stands

On the morning of Saturday, January 29, 2011, my columnist colleagues seemed to have the political punditry situation regarding events in Egypt well under control and so we felt free to go in San Francisco and see a double bill consisting of “Blind Alley” and “Secret beyond the Door.”  Because those two movies would be considered to be in the genre known as film noir and since we had a similar experience the previous weekend and had written a column about it, we proposed that the expenditures incurred on the venture at hand might qualify as legitimate funding for a fact finding safari to gather relevant material for the topic of time travel. 

The Republicans lately seem to be obsessed with efforts to get the entire USA to return to an earlier time period with a style of politics that had been envisioned by the founding fathers who are currently being promoted for advancement to the beatification stage on the long and arduous road to sainthood.  What red blooded patriotic American military veteran would not want to see the USA take the necessary steps to return to the era when this country was a Republic as it is still called in both the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag? 

The founding fathers, in their omnipotent wisdom, established a Republic.  Only men who owned land were eligible to vote and they came up with superheroes that included George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  Then along came the Democrats and they soon got voting rights for women, and workers.  They freed the slaves and gave them votes.  Next thing ya know, along come Presidents like Jimmy Carter, Bill “Bubba” Clinton and the fellow who didn’t even have an America father.

Republicans would be sure to be very enthusiastic about a trip back to the a past when there was no tax on income.  The good old days, of the Republic when land owning men being the only people eligible to vote, would be an appealing destination for the Republicans who are constantly calling the USA a Republic.  Time travel and déjà vu go together like ham and eggs.  We were quite confidant that we had a handle on the next column as we put some money from an ATM in our pockets and headed for the trolly car stop in downtown San Francisco.

As we approached the area, we noticed some folks who looked like they were dressed for a visit to the World Fair.  Not the 1939 Fair held on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay; they looked like they needed directions to the World Fair held in Saint Louis in 1896.

The time travelers, known as <a href =http://steampunkworldsfair.com/>Steampunks are planning a World’s Fair</a> of their own that is scheduled to take place in the Somerset – Piscataway area of New Jersey on May 20 to 22 of this year (that’s 2011 for those who may be lost in time.)

Their spokesman informed this columnist that his group was composed of fiends of H. G. Wells and that he had used the famous writer’s time machine to help them achieve a one day installment of time travel tourism so that they could take a look around Frisco and see how marvelous things would be on the last Saturday in January of 2011. 

Ohhhhh Kayyyy!  We took some photos of them to prove to our friends that we hadn’t imagined this encounter.  Someday in the future, we may even learn how to insert those images into one of our columns. 

One of the ground rules for time travel is that the time tourist can not change the past.  Thus, if some of the people who believe in time travel were to travel back to Honolulu on Saturday December 6, 1941, (we are still working on the column about snapshot collecting and might have some nifty photos to run with that column), they could not go to Pearl Harbor and warn them about what will happen the next morning.

There does not seem to be a great deal of information about the practical application of time travel for contemporary espionage purposes.  What if, hypothetically, an American were able to travel back in time a week or two and while cloaked in invisibility this spy were able to look and listen in on a meeting of Hosni Mubarak and his advisors?  Would that modern Mata Hare be able to come back to his mission handlers and tell them what was being said, so that the future could be anticipated and the proper strategy devised? 

Some writers assert that Democrats prefer science fiction and that conservatives are the main audience for mysteries.  The Democrats, they say, are not afraid to envision alternative futures.  Filled with extensive licentious debauchery?  The Conservatives find reassurance (and a “softer side moment”?) in the world of hardboiled detectives where truth, justice and the American way will (always or usually?) prevail.  This columnist doesn’t have any scientific evidence to back those contentions, but what good is it to use scientific studies for fact finding?  Those kooks believe in global warming and (sniff snivel and tears?) the immanent demise of the polar bears (Ursus Maritimus).  

Reality is so boring.  George W. Bush envisioned a wave of democracy sweeping over the Middle East and now that his successor has a chance to bring Egypt into the Democracy tent, it looks like the current U. S. President is going to urge the Egyptian leader to reach out to the other side.  Yeah, he’ll reach out and give them a back hand slap just as cavalierly as if he were a P. I. (private investigator) who was dealing out a business card.

Could it be that hard fisted conservatives in one U. S. intelligence agency are urging on the Egyptian rebels while the “let’s talk this out” American President is backing the dictator?  Has Egypt become the chess board where two diverse American political factions  are locked in a high stakes squabble about the phisosophy for the course of domestic American security?

Speaking of tourism, isn’t it a wonder that the American Teabaggers aren’t flocking to Cairo to see how low maintenance government works when it is put into play?

Herbert George Wells wrote:  “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”  What do you think that dope thought about the scientists’ fairy tale about global warming?

Now the disk jockey will play “Thanks for the Memory,” “Change Partners,” and “The Cowboy and the Lady” (all three were nominated for the 1938 Best Song Oscar).  We have to go check the listings for the time for this Thursday’s showing of “Back to the Future” as part of the Berkeley 7 Flashback film series.  Have a “’tis a far, far better thing I do” type week.

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Does it seem like the summer of 1816 to you?

January 27, 2011

This column has been cross posted at
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/33942/the-return-of-the-year-there-was-no-summer

A volcanic eruption of Biblical proportions is often cited as the cause of the unusual weather experienced around the northern hemisphere in 1816, which is often called “the year there was no summer.”  If, as some of the cutting edge conspiracy theory advocates are alleging, the summer of 2011 does a repeat of its 1816’ disappearing act, because of the Gulf oil spill, pundits will eventually get around to haggling over the topic:  “Did global warming start with the volcanic eruption in 1815?”  This columnist would like to ask that question now, and move on (dot org?) to something else for this summer.

While doing some fact checking about the wagering on various candidates who might be the successful candidate for the Presidency of the USA in 2012, we came across the curious bit of information that one of the overseas bookies is giving a thousand to one odds for bets that Laura Bush will be the winner.<!–break–>

Is it true that only the best journalistic hot dogs cover the <a href =http://www.buchmesse.de/en/fbf/>Frankfurt Book Faire</a>?

Has any columnist laid claim to the boast “the pundit other pundits read first”?  Did Freddie Francisco use that line?  If so, would he be gracious enough to let us “borrow” it in the Internets era?  Didn’t Ambrose Bierce write a San Francisco based column before he went AWOL?  Isn’t there a conspiracy theory that suggests that Bierce sneaked quietly back into “Baghdad by the Bay,” and did ghost writing using Freddie Francisco as his nom de plume?

One of the items included in the wrangling over the city budget in Berkeley CA is some quibbling about the use of medical coverage for city employees who want sex change operations.  Maybe if Rush Limbaugh mentions that in a future broadcast, he’ll attribute the tip to Freddie Francisco?

Will the efforts to orchestrate a boycott of Rush’s sponsors work or will it come off looking like a Chinese fire drill?  Wasn’t the very first boycott over an Irish matter?

Speaking of Oprah, we wonder:  Will Qantas now move on our suggestion that they use bargain fares to lure Netroots Nation into holding one of their conventions in Sydney?  Heck, bloggers could go to Sydney in January of 2013 and then come back and hold a second one somewhere in the USA in July and, then it would be the year with two summers, for those who attended both events.

We’ve lost our copy of “Naked is the best disguise,” by Samuel Rosenberg.  As soon as we find a replacement copy (there are beau coup good used book stores in Berkeley) we will start to write a column on his conspiracy theory that philosopher Fred C. Nietzsche was the real life identity of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty.

Why do polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) get all the publicity?  If global warming is more than a figment of the collective mind of the scientific community, then why don’t penguins get some attention?  If the ice cap in the northern hemisphere is in danger of melting away, then won’t the other one melt too and leave the penguins (Aptenodytes patagonica) homeless too?  If the Southern ice cap isn’t going to melt, why not just send the polar bears down there?
Do the luxury hotels in Antarctica tout surfing on their fine beaches or do they stress the skiing experiences available nearby?

Speaking of San Francisco, that’s where the True Oldies Channel (TOC) has their home office.  One of the top features of the TOC is their daily selection of a sentimental song as the cheesy listening song of the day.  You want schmaltz?  You wanna do a Boener blubber scene because of a song on the radio?  We urge our faithful readers (all dozen of you) to e-mail in this suggestion:  Elvis’ “Old Shep.”  Tell Scott Shannon (the TOC’s answer to Emperor Norton?) that you got the idea from Freddie Francisco.

Did you know that San Francisco has two official songs and that (the last time we checked with the city clerk) Berkeley doesn’t have even one?  We’ll have to see what the official city song is in Concordia Kansas.  Do they have two like Frisco?  Or have they been as lax in that department as has Berkeley?

Did you just ask for some political punditry before we fade to commercial?  Our latest bit of fact checking indicates that the current odds regarding JEB as the winner of the 2012 Presidential Elections are forty to one. 

In “Don’t Call It ‘Frisco” (Double Day & Co 1953 hardback page 195), Herb Caen wrote:  “Books that are banned in Boston are best sellers in San Francisco, and their merits are argued hotley in the finest salons.”  Did he really mean to use just one “o”?

Now the disk jockey will play Fred Astair’s “Mr. Top Hat” album, Paul Evans song “Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the back seat with Fred),” and Freddie and the Dreamers album “Fun Lovin’ Freddie.”  Now, we gotta go get tickets for the Porchlight showing of the film “Brushes with Fame.”  Have the kind of week that only Munro Leaf could chronicle.

“Somebody else wrote this column; it wasn’t me! ! !”

January 24, 2011

[Note this column has also been posted on Smirking Chimp

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/33868/report-from-the-noir-city-film-festival

and elsewhere.]

During an intense effort to convince a Conservative friend that he should listen to some of Mike Malloy’s radio shows, we suddenly realized that we had earned the right to take a short break, so we hopped on a bus and headed out for the Ninth Annual Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco.  A nostalgic trip back in time to an earlier era when all Hollywood movies reinforced the American principle that the bad guys always get caught would be therapeutic.  All the classic examples of the film noir genre were made before some nefarious subversive intellectuals (AKA dirty commies?) were able to get the Hayes code repealed and start making movies hinting that bankers had hearts of stone and that only crooks and liars, not true red-blooded altruistic American patriots, run for public office.       

The theme for this year’s event is:  “Who’s crazy now?” and all 24 examples of the noir genre being shown tell the story of a protagonist who is either insane or suspected of being insane.  Republicans would perceive the movie event as a preview of the next Democratic Party convention to select a Presidential nominee.

The first installment of the film festival presented the double feature of “High Wall,” and “Stranger on the Third Floor.”  The second film is credited with the distinction of being the first appearance of a movie that would be labeled as “film noir.”  It featured some genius examples of black and white cinematography that included images of shadows to tell the story.  It included a surrealistic dream sequence as did many subsequent examples of quality noir.  The leading man is falsely arrested for murder and his frail does the detective work necessary to find a suspicious stranger and thus clear her man. 

The Saturday matinee was up next.  “Strangers in the Night” tells the story of a crazy old lady and her efforts to control the life of a wounded war veteran. 

Then they showed “Gaslight,” the 1944 film featuring an Academy Award Winning (AKA the Oscar™) performance by Ingrid Bergman.  Spoiler warning:  If you haven’t seen this stunning mystery, there will be some plot surprises revealed below.  In it a young singer, Paula Alquist (Ingrid Berman) falls under the control of a man who exudes charm and savoir faire.  They get married and she begins to manifest examples of memory loss.  Her husband gives her a family heirloom broach and she immediately loses it.  It reminded this columnist of how the liberals have lost their memory about the news stories that described how the airplane that had hit the Pentagon was painstakingly reassembled in a hanger in Langley Virginia, and how that provided valuable clues linking the perps to Saddam Hussein.

The wife continues to have distressing examples of losing touch with reality despite her husband’s constant efforts to remind her of the truth.  The husband, Gregory Anton  (Charles Boyer), reminded this reviewer of Donald Rumsfeld.   When they clash over a chance to go to a party, he reluctantly relents and is mortified when she breaks down in tears at the event.  (I’m sure that, in these more compassionate times, some effeminate guys would assert that she was merely showcasing her softer side and not manifesting emotional instability as her husband maintained.) 

Just as the husband is about to take steps to have his wife committed to an insane asylum, a Scotland Yard fellow steps in and proves that a crime has taken place and that the husband is a bigamist, a murderer, and was after some valuable jewelry. 

At that point, we became obsessed with the idea that we should rush back to our pad in Berkeley and do the necessary key strokes to produce a column that compares what the husband did to what the Bush Administration did to the conspiracy theory nuts who thought they understood reality and that the highly paid government staff workers did not. 

By early Sunday morning, we realized that it was senseless to worry about things such as:
How did the US Army lose Osama in the Torra Borra mountains?

Did Building 7 just fall down?

Aren’t the electronic voting machines unhackible? 

Isn’t it best for a conservative majority Supreme Court to decide close elections?

If there is more than one film noir film festivals in the USA, why isn’t there a vampire film festival?

Years and years from now, if someone does start a vampire film festival, and if Dick Cheney is selected as guest of honor, what will the curmudgeonly Democrats say that means?

Sunday the twin bill was “A Double Life” which won the lead actor, Ronald Colman another one of those gold statue awards for acting, and “Among the Living” which was an obscure gem notable for several different reasons.  The second film featured Francis Farmer and Rita Hayward.  In it, Americans were depicted as having a lynch mob mentality, which we now know happens only when justice involves national security factors such as the WikiLeaks case.

We chatted briefly with the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, who is an author and the event host.  Was one of the fans who spoke to him, Freddy Francisco the former columnist known as “Mr. San Francisco”?  Unless that fellow has the life expectancy statistics of a vampire it would be impossible for it to have been the guy Mr. Hearst fired personally two different times.

Noir fans who can’t wait until the Los Angeles event from March 31 to April 17, later this year, might enjoy the <a href =http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=7177>Film Preservation Blogathon (For the Love of Film [Noir</a>]) starting on February 14 being hosted by Ferdy on Films and The self –Styled Siren.

The Film Noir Foundation has been working with the UCLA Film and Television Archive to preserve noir movies which are in danger of disappearing from contemporary culture (like a tiger in the smoke?).

We realized that the World’s Laziest Journalist may have become overworked in his efforts to win the debate with the conservative friend and, perhaps, the columnist needs a bigger and better bit of divertissement than the Noir City event.  We have noticed that a new film playing in Berkeley is titled “<a href =http://www.nurembergfilm.org/>Nuremburg</a>.”  Maybe it’s a travelogue?  Doesn’t Germany have the highest excellent Quality Automobile Museum rating of any country in the entire world? 

Maybe a trip there to see those tourist attractions would take our mind off Bush and our misperception that he has done a bad thing by approving waterboarding?  Yes!  We’ll get our mind right, boss!  We’ll start with a trip to downtown Berkeley to see that travelogue. 

What about a travelogue and a fine meal?  What is chef Lecter serving at his world famous restaurant tonight?

Speaking of conflicting points of view, we are anxiously awaiting the return of Roger Ebert to the TV screens of America, even though the only movie critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize did fail to grasp reality in his review of Van Wilder. 

Which quote doesn’t belong?

“Tell, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!”

“Let’s see, three times 35 – is a hundred and five. I’ll bet you 105,000 dollars that you go to sleep before I do.”

“There was another key . . .”

“How many shots did he fire . . .”

“We have proof that there are WMD’s in Iraq.”

Now, if our disk jockey can find the records he seems to have lost, he will play the theme song from “Laura,” the Vertigo soundtrack album, and “The Ballad of Lucy Jordon.”  We have to go and Buy War Bonds today.  Have a “if it looks suspicious; report it” type week.

Global Warming will happen when Hell freezes over!

January 21, 2011

[Note:  This column has been crossposted on:http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/33804/glenn-beck-gandhi-and-satori  and on http://bartblog.bartcop.com/  and may appear on Op Ed News soon.]

After writing a column speculating about a way to get some Conservative friends to listen to Mike Malloy’s radio program, one replied and said that he would offer me a wager about my effort to read Ayn Rand because he knew I hadn’t read any of her novels and he also offered the opinion that I should listen to Glenn Beck because his philosophy is remarkably similar to Gandhi’s.  It was at that point that I became aware of the fact that I should accept the lesson that President Obama refuses to learn:  the conservative version of open-mindedness is a binary choice between “my way or the highway.” 

Will the subtle message conveyed by the fact that Gandhi’s autobiography was “Experiments with the Truth” escape my notice?  Is that the basis for the comparison to Beck?  Does Beck do with facts what Houdini did with elephants?

Dialogue with Conservatives is impossible.  This columnist would be better served by applying his energy to the task of getting press credentials for the next 24 hour race at Le Mans or finding a copy of “Atlas Shrugged.” 

Why did we specifically pick Mike Malloy rather than some other less acerbic liberal talk show host?  The answer would be because we were including results from a test suggested by Bill O’Reilly.  Back when he had a radio program, the Billster suggested a method to use for selecting reliable sources of information.  O’Reilly, at that time, was crusading against Kitty Kelly’s book about the Bush family and he urged readers to select three items and fact check them.  He pontificated that she would fail such a test and that her book was an unreliable smear job.

We had to go to the research Library at UCLA to find such esoteric resources as a way to check the accuracy of what Kitty Kelly said about one particular story published by a New York newspaper on July 30, 1941.  We not only learned that she was correct, but also we picked up additional facts about Fritz Thyssen, Knight Wooley, and the Union Banking Corporation which came in handy later when Conservatives were discussing arcane items from the Bush family history. 

Doing fact checking about New York newspapers printed in 1941 was possible in Los Angeles and can also be done in Berkeley, but we have some strong doubts about the access to that kind of fact checking resources for residents in Concordia Kansas. 

We checked out the source for the Kelly claim that George W. Bush had, as a child, tormented frogs.  (Kelly blatantly ignored the possibility that the frogs presented a credible security threat.)  [In the past, we have read John Douglas’s book “Mind Hunter.”  He helped pioneer the FBI profiler program.  He said that kids who tortured animals were more likely to become serial killers.]  Her source corroborated Kelly’s contention.  (What does Glenn Beck’s philosophy have to say about corroboration?)

A third example of fact checking (about the time when Poppy Bush bailed out of  his bomber during World War II) was successful and thus by O’Reilly’s own standards, readers could continue relying on “The Bush Family” for accurate information.  Ironically, that simultaneously proved that O’Reilly’s insistence that any such test would discredit the Kelly book was itself wrong and thus O’Reilly was discredited by his own criteria about reliable sources performing at the “no hitter” level of quality. 

At times, when we have fact checked Mike Malloy, he has passed the O’Reilly test and so we believe that if Malloy passes random fact checks that means (by O’Reilly’s own standards) that Malloy can be trusted.  Furthermore, if Malloy’s facts are valid then the Republican track record veers toward war crimes, favoritism (for the rich), and union busting which indicates that the average working man may not get a fair deal.

Therefore we jumped to the conclusion that since Malloy passed the O’Reilly test, he would be the best basis for a recommendation that conservatives should give him a test listen to get a reliable different point of view.

All the foregoing is predicated on the idea that Conservatives might be interested in knowing accurate specifics about opposing points of view.  Wrong!  Weren’t Germans who listened, during World War II, to news not disseminated by the official government news source, automatically considered to be disloyal citizens?  In the conservative mind, isn’t listening to Malloy comparable to urging Germans during World War II to listen to unapproved news?  Reading resistance newspapers in Paris during the occupation meant that the reader would risk his (or her) life to get the information provided. Would you take that risk just to get an opposing point of view that’s wrong? 

Speaking of Combat newspaper, Camus, and Sartre; how far is Le Mans from Paris?  Are their any good hostels close to the race course? 

After JEB is inaugurated (in January of 2013) will he reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and use that to knock Malloy off the airwaves?  (Would any conservative dare assert that Malloy is fair?)  If so, why waste time and energy now getting conservative friends to listen to Malloy? 

The very same liberals who do not see the philosophy of Gandhi in the words of Glenn Beck are the very same people who would assert that Malloy would not be adversely affected by a Republican sponsored measure to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and eliminate unfair biased political punditry of the kind that Mike Malloy delivers to his audience.

Speaking of JEB and his inauguration, we have to do some more fact checking.  The casinos in Las Vegas apparently don’t take bets on political races.  British bookies are reported to accept bets on items outside the realm of sports.  Can good patriotic red blooded Americans legally make an online wager with a British bookie from California?  If not, can Americans send a bet to a bookie in London via snail mail?  If not; perhaps it’s time to start searching for a short duration crash pad in Great Britain before going to Harry’s New York Bar (cinque rue Daunou) and the Le Mans race?

Cynics are implying that things are bad and that the USA has become a nation of sheep.  Conservatives will respond with a trivia question about what fictional character coined the phrase “Silence of the Lambs” and how much was that imaginary guy to be trusted?

Are the same standards applied to what Don Imus says and what Rush Limbaugh says while imitating the comic genius of Sid Caesar?

If the liberals are going to misconstrue the pacifist teaching of St. Glenn into an example of inciting a riot, communication between the opposing factions of the American political scene is impossible and a columnist would be better off researching and writing columns about less factious topics such as the growing popularity of snapshot collecting.

Ayn Rand, in “Atlas Shrugged,” wrote:  “Man has the power to act as his own destroyer – and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.”  OMG!  Doesn’t that sound to you like something a Global Warming theory nut, might say?

Now the disk jockey will be sure to please Conservatives by playing the Elvis version of these songs:  “I Really Don’t Want to Know,” “Known Only to Him,” and “Edge of Reality.”  [Note:  we asked the disk jockey to play Elvis’ “Old Shep,” but he claimed that his rare and valuable copy of that particular song was out on loan to Rev. Dan in L. A. thinking that we couldn’t fact check that, but the Music for Nimrods program is now available for download so we can do some fact checking.]  We have to go to the Zoo and take some snapshots of the polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) because those photos might be collectors’ items someday soon.  Have a “Satori” type week.

A bet for your Conservative friends

January 16, 2011

Journalists on the Trend-spotting beat are always searching for questions, facts, or fads that indicate that a quick and significant shift in the national cultural scene has begun.  When a new man is sworn in as America’s President, that usually unleashes a tsunami of journalistic pontification about how henceforth things will be different, accompanied by sanctimonious efforts to make specific predictions.  Sometimes such a trend-spotting story displays a remarkable level of accuracy such as the time in 1943 when New York based media (and Newsweek in particular?) focused their attention on some innovations being scored by local jazz musicians, such as Charlie “Bird” Parker.  Perhaps the most notable examples of accuracy in trend-spotting can be tarnished by allegations of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” kind.  Look at the incredulity that greeted the simultaneous cover articles done by Time and Newsweek on the then obscure musician named Bruce Springsteen.

Close counts in certain endeavors such as pitching horseshoes, hand grenades, and (as some curmudgeons maintain) love, but it has no validity when it comes to trend-spotting. 

We’ll inject a personal anecdote here to illustrate the point.  Back in the late Sixties, this writer and a buddy went out on reconnaissance “bird watching” mission.  (Back then young ladies were yclept “birds.”)  In the process, we went to a night club that was popular with the college crowd.  In a moment of quiet reflection (“Schaeffer’s is the one beer to have, when you’re having more than one”), this columnist focused his attention on the band and was struck by the thought that the young folks were so intent on the “body exchange” aspect of the place, that they seemed oblivious to the possibility that they could be ignoring a band destined for greatness. 

Did the young folks in Liverpool’s Cavern Club focus on the potential of the house band, or were they concentrating their attention on the mating rituals of the human species?  Could it be, we wondered, that the young people in that Jersey bar were overlooking a band with the potential to sell out arena venues? 

The place where we had that thought, we later learned, was the very same place (the Erlton Bowl in Cherry Hill) where Bruce Springsteen and his band worked for years as the house band and polished their musical skills.  Were they the band that inspired a comparison to the Beatles?  Maybe, but it could also be that Springsteen & Co. got their gig at that place the week after we were there.  We’ll never know how close we came to being a few years ahead of Time and Newsweek in their admiration for Springsteen.

The inciting incident for this maudlin example of “wallowing in nostalgia” was a question about the concept of “point of no return.”  This columnist first encountered that notion when the John Wayne movie “The High and the Mighty” was released.

Some car crash victims have reported that the event seemed to have taken place in “slow-motion.”  If that is true, isn’t there a second in time where thing snap into focus?  Isn’t there one particular moment when the mouse’s perception of the cheese instantly morphs from seeing it as a desirable, easily accessible reward to realizing that it is a parcel of treacherous bait that has been used for an ambush?  Some mice may never have enough time to appreciate the St. Paul’s moment.  But a smarter, more observant mouse may have a blitzkrieg quick moment where he (or she) can (to steal a line from W. C. Fields) take the bull by the tail and face the situation.  The mouse notices that things have become unmanageable and that “this isn’t going to end well.”  The cheese doesn’t move, but the mouse’s perception of it does.

This columnist isn’t the only American who has been fascinated by the history of the Third Reich.  Didn’t “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” make the best seller lists when it was published?  Our (apparently autographed by the author) copy of the English translation of Klaus Hildebrand’s book “the Foreign Policy of the Third Reich” indicates that we aren’t alone in regard to an interest in that academic topic.

[Ready for another personal experience story?  About a year ago, while savoring a hot white chocolate drink at the Cow’s End Café in the Venice Section of Los Angeles, we started chatting with one of the locals.  When he was informed that we write for this website, he became antagonistic in his attitude about America’s first President of Pan-African heritage and eventually we counter-attacked with an allegation that the Republican playbook relied entirely on concepts plagiarized from “Mein Kampf.”  That incensed the fellow and he challenged our basis for making that comparison:  “Have you read it?”  When we said “yes,” he resigned the game snarling that his personal ethics dictated that he couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone who had read that book.  Republicans, it seems, only wish to debate people who are not well informed about the topic to be discussed.]

Initially, approval in Germany for Herr Hitler was sufficient to give him a basis for an attempt to form a coalition government.  Thanks to some subsequent tricky political maneuvers, the influence of his party grew.  Ultimately, Hitler’s approval ratings plummeted in early 1945.  We have often wondered:  At what point did the German people have their “Mousetrap Moment Epiphany”? 

The teabaggers are steeped in unqualified admiration for the Republican agenda.  Will they ever experience a “Mousetrap Moment”?

Have you noticed that lately all the Republicans are calling the USA a Republic and not a Democracy?  What’s the difference?  Does it matter?  Will that subtle bit of semantics provide the basis for a teabag party mousetrap moment some time in the future?  

Some curmudgeonly pundits are making dire predictions that the USA will follow the German path to national disgrace.  If they are accurate in their trend-spotting prognostications, then the Americans will, like the Germans, have a Mousetrap Moment when the majority (some party stalwarts will be enthusiastic about using the cyanide pill) of Americans will have a change of heart about the Republican stealth efforts to scrap the Social Security program and cater only to the welfare needs of the super-rich. 

What small (relatively unnoticed) bit of contemporary American culture will future historians say marked the turning point?  Will it be the fact that Bill O’Reilly lost his radio show?  Will it be the slide in Glenn Beck’s numbers?  Will it be the contemporary spin that denied that President Reagan was suffering from dementia?  (Didn’t the Wall Street Journal run a feature story about emphatic denials being a symptom of guilt, just before the O. J. trial began?)  Will it be something that Rush lies about too blatantly? 

This columnist had been assessed as being out of touch with reality for expressing the opinion that future historians will someday determine that the Mousetrap Moment was when JEB Bush was inaugurated as President in 2013. 

Who was the German leader who made the decision to accept the Allies offer of unconditional surrender?  It wasn’t Hitler.  He was “non en case” by that time. 

Recently we have noticed that Fox Network of Republican Propaganda seems to be loosing their position as de facto squad leader for American media.  Taking a reading of public sentiment in Berkeley CA may not be the most accurate measure of the situation on a national level, but we have noticed that some obstreperous members of the country’s  media seems to be making efforts to establish that Fox no longer gives them the lead that they must follow.

When Fox dictates that the media must marvel at a sudden surge in JEB’s popularity right as the Iowa caucuses are scheduled to be played out, will the rest of the national media do what will be expected of them (by their wealthy owners?)?

For those who would refute this scenario by asserting that Sarah Palin has a “lock” on the nomination, we would respond:  “Look up the definition of ‘stalking horse candidate’!”  She won’t be the first babe to be played for a sucker by the rich guys calling the shots from behind the scenes.

[Here’s a nice irrelevant quote.  In the entry for March 7, 1936, in his book Berlin Diary, William L. Shirer wrote:  “Their hands are raised in slavish salute, their faces now contorted with hysteria, their mouths wide open, shouting, shouting, their eyes, burning with fanaticism, glued on the new god, the Messiah.”]

What if the turning point turns out to be the invention of “The Malloy Challenge” by an obscure blogger?  What, you ask, is “The Malloy Challenge”?  Find a staunch conservative friend and make a small friendly wager.  Bet them they can’t listen to Mike Malloy’s radio program for a week and not have a mousetrap moment conversion.

They have to listen for a full week.  Listening for fifteen minutes and then turning it off and throwing a temper tantrum won’t win the bet.  If terrorism suspects can be repeatedly subjected to waterboarding and they can’t listen to a fellow with an opposing point of view for a full week, doesn’t that smack of hypocrisy and wimpiness?

Challenging a conservative to listen attentively to the Mike Malloy’s radio program for a week in return for $10 pay, won’t work; but if you appeal to their macho side and couch the offer in the terms of a friendly wager that might work.  If they can’t tune in to Malloy for a week to win a bet, then it is obvious they would crumble like a paper tiger, if they had to endure waterboarding for their cause.

Issuing “The Malloy Challenge” to conservative friends isn’t going to stop the inauguration of JEB, but it is going to give you a right to the “I tried to warn you” example of schadenfreude, when you conservative friends are aghast at what they see happening when JEB gets his hands on FDR’s beloved Social Security program.

Klaus Hildebrand (Ibid page 72) wrote:  “Chamberlain’s attitude can only be understood properly if it is seen in the context of his basic plan for peace.”  Isn’t that sortta like Obama’s efforts to “reach out to the other side”?

The disk jockey will, of course, play the haunting theme song from “the High and the Mighty,” “Born to Run,” and the <I>Badenweiler March</I> (to see why that is relevant to this column read Shirer’s Berlin Diary entry for September 5, 1934).  We have to go look up the explanation for Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of <a href =http://www.skepdic.com/morphicres.html>morphic resonance</a>.  Have a “Bugaloo, got a bet going over here!” type week.

Sequoia vs. Newark?

January 14, 2011

We have noted the relative sparse news coverage in American media of the floods in Brisbane Australia and in an effort to write about something that isn’t on this week’s Top Ten Blog Topics in the USA, we thought maybe we’d travel over to Brisbane California and see if there were any local angle stories there about efforts to help the folks in the city in Queensland.  Will the residents of Brisbane California do anything to celebrate  <a href =http://www.australiaday.org.au/experience/>Australia Day on January 26</a>?

In Berkeley, while debating that possible column topic, we encountered Sarah from Fremantle (in Western Australia), who was soliciting donations for the work being done by the Sierra Club.  After chatting about our fond memories of her hometown, we promised to mention the work being done by the Sierra Club and their continuing need for funds. 

Thinking about the group, a favorite of Ansel Adams, and the work they do to preserve the treasures of nature which can be found in the USA, reminded us that in the latest news letter from the Beat Museum they mentioned that the US government was seeking help in manning the fire watch tower on Desolation Peak, which is the very same place where Jack Kerouac once worked on the same job.  It was while working on that job that he gathered the material used in his “Desolation Angels” book.  Here is the link from the newsletter:
http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=94339980#Top

Thinking about the scenic splendors of the American West reminded the writer that one of the big glaring omissions in our efforts to go everywhere and see everything is that we have never been to Sequoia National Park.  Since we have been having some difficulty trying to convince a high school classmate that California offers visitors both remarkable outdoor scenery and world class automobile museums that are just as good (or perhaps fueled by a resident’s pride we might say “better”?) than those available in his adopted home state of New Jersey.  We may have to go there and write a “based on personal observation” column asserting that a visit there is worth the expenditure of some funds and effort for a fellow who owns a camper and lives near Newark.

Ilsa she-wolf of the World’s Laziest Journalist’s accounting department is very parsimonious about authorizing the expenditure of funds in an effort to gather material for use in columns written for posting on liberal websites. 

If we go to the Sequoia National Park, with or without Jersey Bill along on the venture, we would have to drop in occasional references to George W. Bush’s cavalier attitude regarding the preservation of the natural beauty of places such as Yosemite, the Tahoe basin, the Monterey Peninsula, and Joshua Tree.  The inclusion of that partisan information would be an effort to placate Ilsa and various M.E.’s.  

At recent staff meetings at the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office, we have made very tentative inquires to Ilsa about getting enough funds to travel to Germany to assess the various automobile museums there.  Her immediate response was to snarl “Nein!”  We amended the request and couched it in terms of taking a reading of the public opinion regarding America in cities such as Paris and Berlin.  It’s been almost 67 years since the Yanks liberated Paris.  Have the existentialists’ approval ratings of America slipped since then?  Does the Berlin airlift still count for points in the average German citizen’s thinking about the USA?  We could intersperse that kind of information among the critiques of the various automobile museums encountered in the expedition.

The sad fact is that even if the exploration adventures gets Ilsa’s approval, we would still have to be extremely cautious in the expenditure of funds because it’s only the folks from the conservative media who earn exorbitant salaries and are not constricted by the rigors of  a tight budget.

The conservative propagandists have fewer restraints about the truthfulness of what they can say.  We were again made aware of the conservatives’ liberal (oxymoron?) interpretation of the journalist’s obligation to report only true facts while listening to a recent broadcast done by “America’s anchor” Rush Limbaugh.  He astounded us by casually asserting that because the Tucson shooter was involved in a traffic stop early on Saturday morning, the local sheriff knew what evidence was in a safe at the home of the perp’s parents. Does he do piece work and get paid so much for each and every lie he tells?

If el Rushbo’s audience can’t figure out that such a statement is absurd because the law enforcement officers couldn’t know information gathered after the crime when something happened before the shooting started.  If logical contradictions don’t’ bother his legions of teabagging listeners, then the task facing those presenting an opposing point of view is tougher than the Sisyphus challenge.  Name for me one teabagger who insists that:  An argument is valid if and only if its <I>corresponding  conditional</I> is a logical truth.

Doesn’t Rush’s salary compute out to something like three dollar a second, one hundred eighty dollars a minute (exceptionalism?  Do you think that he is personally concerned by the pragmatic effects of lowering the minimum wage rate?), ten thou an hour, 32+ thou  for a three hour day, 160+ thou a week, $8 mil a year and doesn’t that add up to make the reports of a 5 year contract worth $45 mil?  It’s no wonder that he sounds so folksy and just like one of the boys in the local pub.  Not!  Think he has a personal interest in lower taxes for the rich?

Tossing casual references concerning inductive and deductive reasoning, syllogisms, and <I>ad hominem</I> arguments at a bunch of college educated liberals is one thing, but throwing them at teabaggers, who are certain that Rush is infallible, is an act of futility raised to the tenth power.  That existentialist errand brings to mind the old joke about the expert mule skinner who always started his first training session by whacking the animal in the face with a piece of lumber saying:  “First, ya gotta get their attention.”

In “The Politics of Protest” (The Skolnick Report to the National Commission on the causes and prevention of violence) it states:  “The most violent single force in American history outside of war has been a minority of militant whites, defending home, family, or country from forces considered alien or threatening.”  (Ballantine Books paperback 1969 contained in the summary on page xxiii)  Do teabaggers give a tinker’s damn about that?

Wouldn’t el Rushbo dismiss the entire report with a snarky one liner?

If teabaggers are not going to be concerned with facts; why should a columnist, who isn’t being paid scads of money, bother with finding factual material just to preach to the choir (as it were)?

Speaking of talk show hosts, lately our efforts to listen to the Mike Malloy radio show have been complicated by the fact that numerous times the station switches to Dons Basketball. 

That, in turn, reminded us that Herb Graffis, writing in the September 1943 issue of Esquire magazine (reporting on that magazine’s Sports Poll on page 104) quoted Professor Scott Nearing (a poll participant) who had commented:  “professional sport, including horse racing, is a dope peddled by the ruling class to keep the masses diverted and to prevent them from thinking about their troubles.”  Which TV network is the leading brand for sports programming?

There has been numerous times recently when this columnist has written something and then not posted it for a variety of reasons. 

We’ve thought about doing the work necessary to gather the material for a potential column and then balked at the daunting task.

This week CBS radio news alerted us to the story about the opening of the first Gay Museum in the USA.  (If Rush talks about that topic after you have read this column, would it be a valid example of the <I> post hoc; ergo propter hoc</I> school of reasoning, to jump to the conclusion that he must read my columns?)

There is going to be a gun show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco this weekend.  Is it worth the effort to go there and then write a column about the event?  Wouldn’t the results be rather predictable?

Do the readers of this website care about the fact that the tenth annual <a href =http://www.sfsketchfest.com/home/> S. F. Sketchfest</a> opened and will run until February 5? 

A total lack of motivation had paralyzed activities at the World’s Laziest Journalist home office.  Then, on January 13, we broke our New Year’s resolution to abstain from drinking coffee and immediately, despite the fact that it was a drizzly day, overcoming the obstacles to gathering column topics, writing them up, and getting to a web connection to post them disappeared.  Look out, world, here we come!

Is the courtroom in Nuremburg, where the War Crimes Trials were held, still in existence?  Is there a good automobile museum nearby?

Will Jim Romenesko plug our efforts if we write and post our annual Columnists’ Day column early this year? 

One of the basic principles for happy vagabonding is “travel light,” and we might not take along our laptop.  Heck, there were plenty of internet cafes in Australia, so maybe France and Germany have kept pace?

Maybe, before we go, we will do the work necessary to get the Berkeley City Council to name Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “Mrs. Robinson,” as the city’s official song?  That song was in the iconic Sixties film of the same name.  Who can think of the Sixties without thinking of Berkeley and Sproul Plaza?  That might get some good column material, eh?

San Francisco’s ninth annual <a href =http://www.noircity.com/>Noir City film Festival</a> is about to commence.  Seeing some of the films that will be shown is sure to inspire some heavy duty political punditry on our part.

If a writer has a good cup of coffee available at six in the morning; who needs obscene amounts of dollars?  Especially if the columns that get written help inspire Jersey Bill to cross the California state line.  (At other times he’s gotten as close as Oregon and Arizona.)  How much would Rush have earned in the time it took you to read this far?

On the topic of writing columns, George Will has been quoted (in “Pundits, Poets, & Wits:  An Omnibus of American Newspaper Columns” gathered by Karl E. Meyer Oxford University Press 1990) as saying:  “The amazing thing is that something this much fun isn’t illegal.”   Yeah, well if JEB Bush gets elected, he may figure out a way to have a law which makes columns written by liberals illegal; so it may be a case of enjoy it while can.

Now the disk jockey will play the “Best of Edith Piaf” album, the soundtrack album for “Cabaret,” and John Wayne’s album, “America Why I Love Her.”  We have to go and look for a copy of “Europe on $5 a day.”  Have a “Triumph of the Will” type week.

This all seems so familiar

January 11, 2011

On the day that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, this columnist was scheduled to attend a French class in mid afternoon.  The students who arrived early expected that the teacher would cancel the class.  When the professor arrived, he briefly acknowledge the historical aspect of the day and explained that he had learned, from very gory incidents he had witnessed while living in Algeria, that, eventually, impressionable young lads (back then women were only permitted to attend classes held by the Night Sessions School) would learn that “these things happen” and not let them interfere with daily existence.

So it was that, after posting a column considering Der Spiegel’s assertion that the USA had gone collectively nuts, when we saw the news online that a congresswoman had been shot; we thought “these things happen” and prepared to carry out the plan to spend that afternoon researching the topic of snapshot collecting.

An assassination will bring out the conspiracy theory crazies like no other part of contemporary society does. 

After Kennedy was shot, the Warren Commission did an in depth investigation and determined that it was the work of one solitary gunman who had his own agenda for world events.  By the time the mid seventies rolled around, a second Congressional Investigation sided with the conspiracy theory loons and concluded that there had to be more than one fellow at work on the assassination that day.

What ever happened to the American spirit of good sportsmanship?  If the lone gunman advocates won one bout and the crazies won the next; shouldn’t there be another one so that it would be obvious that the two out of three team was the winner?

The CBS radio news broadcast at 6 a.m. PST, on the day after the Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot, couldn’t wait to get to the possibility that there might have been a second person was involved.  They were so anxious to get to the fertile topic of a plot involving more than one person; they skipped mentioning the medical condition of the Congresswoman.

By Sunday afternoon, law enforcement officials were dismissing the topic of the other fellow as a non issue which they described as a taxi driver seeking change for his client. 

If the conspiracy theory madmen had their way, all the history books would be different.  If they’re so smart, why isn’t there a book called:  “the Conspiracy Association of Nuts’ History of America”?  To hear the lunatics tell it, there is a long continuous thread of unexplained phenomenon running through the course of American history.

According to those with “the inside scoop,” FDR knew Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed by the Japanese just like the British Intelligence had broken the German code and knew Coventry was going to be bombed. 

They also believe that:

Poppy Bush should have been court marshaled for bailing out too soon in WWII.

Poppy Bush participated in the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Poppy Bush and “the Blond Ghost” (who really was involved in the CIA operation known as JMWave) were both in Dallas on the day Kennedy was shot.  (Poppy couldn’t remember where he was on that day.)

Weren’t Richard Nixon and E. Howard Hunt also in Dallas on that fateful day?

Where was Felix Rodriguez that day?

Was it more than just a coincidence to that Congressman Jerry Ford was in charge of the Warren Commission and became President without ever being elected either President or Vice-President?

Once the conspiracy theorists get going, there’s no stopping them.  Which one of them would not also gleefully raise questions about:

The news reports that a stinger missal was seen going towards TWA flight 800.

The name of the top American responsible for security in the World Trade Center.

Broward Savings and Loan

The  PR firm which was hired to drum up popular support in favor of an American military mission to liberate the oil company (partially owned by the Bush family?) holdings in Kuwait.  The best they could do was to get 45% of Americans to favor the move.

Will the “taxi driver” explanation hold up to the inevitable scrutiny of the army of conspiracy theory citizen investigators?  There was a taxi driver?  His name didn’t happen to be Travis Bickel, did it?  Are you talkin’ to me?

By Monday, both liberal and conservative talk shows on radio were in full dudgeon complete with generous portions of righteous indignation.  It was obvious that both sides were having a great deal of fun performing their jobs.

We read some information online that indicated that (the Republican majority) congress can vote to declare Congresswoman Giffords’ seat vacant if she seems destined to remain in the hospital for a long time and then Arizona’s (Republican) governor can name someone else to fill the vacancy.  If that happens, don’t expect the radio talk shows to let the matter quietly fade into the past. 

Thus, it seems likely that the French class for November 22, 1963 may have included the most important thing we learned while in college:  these things happen.

There was a famous trial, but isn’t the Hall-Mills case still unsolved?  After years of hearing about the case, we finally discovered an article about that famous case.  We found one written by James Thurber in a book titled “Alarms and Diversions.”

Was Bruno Hauptman framed by zealous law enforcement officials? 

Wasn’t Giuseppe Zangara executed less than three months after he opened fire?  Do you expect Justice to be served that fast in this case?   Please note he fired a gun at FDR on February 15, 1933 and was executed for it on March 20, 1933.  How’s that for speedy justice that leaves no time for the conspiracy theory nuts start their conjecturing?

Weren’t certain files in the Lee Harvey Oswald matter sealed for fifty years?  Doesn’t that mean that those files should soon be available to the public?  Will that finally answer the questions . . . or will it just mean more questions?

Patrick Henry said:  “I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.”

Now the disk jockey will (if he wants to keep his job) play Cher’s “Bang, Bang” “Stagger Lee,” and the doctored version of “What the World Needs Now” – the one with news sound bytes added.  We have to head out to Purple Porpoise to investigate the possibility that Elvis is still alive.  Have a “Tu Phat” type week.

January 8, 2011

Going Totally ******* Insane is not usually considered an option for rational sane people, so when an adult cracks under the strain of living, it is usually others who notice the change.  Initially a member of society can qualify for the use of adjectives such as madcap, eccentric, or edgy, but then there comes a day when a man sees his wife dive into the fountain near a famous New York City Hotel and he has to begin thinking of getting help for her with or without her consent.

Back during the Clinton era, the New York Times published a column (by William Safire?) that framed the challenge in the Middle East as a need to “out crazy the crazies.”  The premise was that if folks like Saddam Hussein were crazy, it would take a totally nuts United States foreign policy to get their attention and instill a measure of fear in them. 

If you listen to Mike Malloy’s radio program regularly, he makes it sound like the Republican Party’s agenda for the new Congress has been scripted by Andre Breton or Anton LaVey.

Teabaggers, beauty queens, and war criminals have become ingredients in the contemporary American Political scene and the chance to turn back to a more normal course may be as impossible to contemplate as is a chance for Charlie Manson to be freed on parole.

Der Stern and Der Spiegel weekly news magazines watched Germany slide into madness many years ago.  Their colleagues at Time and Newsweek tried to provide a more fair and balanced approach to assessing the Third Reich’s Foreign Policy but the news magazines being published in Germany were too close to the source to see the overall picture clearly. 

Recently Der Spiegel has asserted that the United States may be <a href =http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,726447,00.html>in decline</a>.  Time and Newsweek don’t seem to be very ready to second the motion.  Is it time to use the “turnabout is fair play” axiom? 

Some of the best examples of the film noir genre use amnesia as a way to tell a story about an innocent man who has to convince the world that he didn’t commit some heinous crime.  Could it be that the United States is facing a similar situation regarding the implications being made by Julian Assange?  Maybe while seeing portions of this year’s Noir City Film Festival, in San Francisco, this columnist will be able to produce a column which proves to the world that Bush was a good ole boy and that Assange is a fiend plotting to besmirch the Bush family’s reputation?

When Senator Ed Muskie cried during a quest to become the Democratic Presidential Candidate, it proved he was emotionally unstable and disqualified him from running.  When the orange man, who is after the Vice President in the line of succession, cries it just shows his softer side. 

In a country where people are hungry, how much food is thrown away every day?

In a country full of empty foreclosed homes, how many people are homeless?

Have you seen the news item reporting that South Carolina is considering selling special auto license plates for Coon Hunters?

What Republican recently said that the poor are spoiling America for the Rich?

In a country that features separate branches of government, the Conservative majority Supreme Court decided to hand the Presidency to a Republican.

Doesn’t American exceptionalism really mean that everyone should pay taxes, except the very rich.

When a small group that included 15 Saudi citizens attacked the World Trade Center, the US retaliated by invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

Germany was guilty of war crimes for using waterboarding.  The Supreme Court of Germany rejected electronic voting machines because they were too vulnerable to unscrupulous manipulation.  In the US those voting machines are in wide use and no one has been indicted for a single war crime.

In a country where Fox News personalities are paid substantial wages and citizen journalists write for free, isn’t the ultimate outcome obvious?  Isn’t it like hypothetically sending your high school’s baseball team to play the 1927 Yankees roster?  Aren’t the volunteer propagandists going to run out of energy and enthusiasm long before Rupert Murdock runs out of funds to pay his hacks?

Here’s an example of the challenge that lefties face:  a columnist who has only a barely discernable amount of enthusiasm for the incumbent and who has been grinding out criticism of the political and military agenda of George W. Bush’s administration for a decade can continue to do what he has been doing (hoping for a different result) or he can apply for a grant from the Gonzo Journalism Foundation and use the money to pay for the expenses incurred by becoming an online amateur Automobile Museum critic with, perhaps, a side trip to the next installment of the Le Mans car race.  (Is a political commentator eligible to be issued a press pass to that annual automotive event?)

Either way, it seems like JEB is being groomed (by Karl Rove?) to be America’s last hope for fiscal responsibility and a Christian defense of the overtaxed wealthy.  The fact that he might be the Republican who finally manages to privatize Social Security will be sufficient credentials to win the election.  The opportunity for JEB to complete the total dismantling of the New Deal would assure that he will be ranked by Conservatives as the Greatest President of all times and thus inspire them to <I>do whatever it takes</I> to see him sworn into office in January of 2013.

Some stalwarts will assert that the fatigued writer should continue: cranking out columns that restate facts already mentioned, recycling some of the best snappy headlines, and wearing out some quotes and song titles by repeated use (remember when that would happen with the 78 rpm records?); and that he should (if he tries hard enough) expect different results in the 2012 Presidential Election, so that he can feel a tiny bit of satisfaction.  Isn’t that a variation of one of the folk definitions of insanity?

With a writing grant from the Gonzo Journalism Foundation in our wallet, we could (dare I say it?) comb streets of Paris, Prague, and Berlin gathering column material for stories  that are not being covered by the patriotic wolf pack of journalists in the United States.  When Hitler was ruling Germany, it seemed that the number of American Journalists doing “local color” in Europe was legions.  These days what happens in Europe, stays in Europe. 

Speaking of the Gonzo Journalism Foundation, fans of Hunter S. Thompson will find that the graphic novel “Transmetropolitan:  Back on the Street,” makes fictional journalist Spider Jerusalem look and sound very much like the beloved Uncle Duke.  When Jerusalem says “If anyone in this ******** city gave *** **** of a dead dog’s **** about Truth, this wouldn’t be happening;” doesn’t that remind you of something the author of Kingdom of Fear would be saying these days if he were still alive today?

If the Republicans are so fanatical in their commitment to the Constitution, does that mean that they endorse the concept that slaves are to be regarded as three fifths of a person?  Do Republicans endorse the founding fathers’ compromises regarding slavery?

For uberskeptics, the conclusive proof that America has gone mad will be the Inauguration, in January 2013, of JEB as the 45th President.  Some, of course, will watch that news event and respond that the Democrats will have to work even harder to win the 2016 election and only conspiracy theory crazies, who are “too Liberal for Berkeley,”  would be discourage by the task. 

Could anyone in the midst of the “Jazz Age” have accurately predicted the Republicans attitude during the first decade of the next century?  In the opening lines of “Save Me the Waltz,” Zelda Fitzgerald wrote:  “Most people hew the battlements of life from compromise, erecting their impregnable keeps from judicious submissions, fabricating their philosophical drawbridges from emotional reactions, and scalding marauders in the boiling oil of sour grapes.”

Wait!  Didn’t Louis G. Carroll (AKA Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) say it better?  In the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” he wrote: 

“‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,

‘To talk of many things:

Of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax –

Of cabbages – and kings –

And why the sea is boiling hot-

And whether pigs have wings.’”

Now the disk jockey will play “Mrs. Robinson,” Charlie Manson’s “Oh Garbage Dump!,” and Marianne Faithfull’s “The Ballad of Lucy Jordon.”  We have to go see the film “Blue Valentine,” because some scenes were filmed in Scranton Pa.  Have an “adequate” type week.