Archive for June, 2011

USA on the road to political perdition?

June 30, 2011

Here are the elements, which would indicate that all the ingredients for America’s worst political nightmare, are now simultaneously, in play:

1.  Congress has twice in recent weeks gone on record saying that President Obama exceeded his authority and committed a violation of the War Powers Act.

2.  President Obama has already delivered evidence that his much vaunted political negotiation skills are overvalued and may be inconsequential at best.

3.  The Republicans would not hesitate to use the threat of Impeachment proceedings as a bargaining chip in the budget crises negotiations.

The Republicans have delivered circumstantial evidence that they are all in accord regarding a reevaluation of values for the tax structure, Medicare, the Social Security Program, the President’s power to pick and choose America’s wars, the mission of the United States Supreme Court, and union busting (to name just a few).  Asking if they are unscrupulous enough to initiate political blackmail to further their agenda seems to be an unnecessary diversion into an irrelevant debating point.  Wouldn’t the harshest critics of the Republican Party concede that the disciples of Ayn S. Rand would cheerfully be willing to do anything to achieve their goals?

If President Obama is vulnerable to political blackmail in the form of Republican threats to immediately initiate Impeachment proceedings for violations of the War Powers Act, then his effectiveness as a President is crippled and rendered useless.

If the Congress has twice voted to endorse the idea that he exceeded his authority with his military actions against Libya (which they have) then, at any moment of the Republican leadership’s choosing, they can use the threat of  immediate impeachment proceedings as a bargaining chip during any closed door negotiating sessions for other issues (such as the debt ceiling).

When that threat was delivered, the President would then have an extremely difficult decision to make:  He could remove the Republican advantage by immediately resigning or he could put his selfish instincts for political survival ahead of his patriotic instincts and blithely ignore his own vulnerability to manipulation via extortion and blackmail threats and quietly give in.  Using his past negotiating record as the basis for any “tells,” how well do you think he would be able to stand up against any such hypothetical coercion? 

At any moment, the debt limit negotiations may turn into a variation of the “Let’s Play Master and Slave” game. 

If President Obama chooses to ignore the implications of complete ineffectiveness for his party (and the country); then the Democrats will have a very difficult choice to make.  They can either make the impeachment threat themselves “Resign tonight or we will make the move to start impeachment proceedings in the morning” or they can let Obama undertake a kamikaze reelection campaign which will reek of self-destructive hubris. 

If the Republicans want to impeach President Obama and have the grounds to do so available today, why would they hold off on making their dream come true?  The Sadistic appeal of getting every possible negotiation concession first and then impeaching him should be rather obvious. 

An ineffective negotiator who wishes to sell his meager accomplishments as his credentials for reelection might remind some cynical critics of the ridiculous spectacle of an extremely old woman walking down the street in a scanty showgirl’s costume. 

The Democratic Party option of using political blackmail to force one of their own to resign from the Presidency may be repugnant but it would give them a slim chance of starting an immediate reorganization effort and a valiant effort to hold onto the Presidency for their Party. 

If Obama resigns or is impeached out of office, Joseph Biden would have the monumental challenge of simultaneously contending with the challenges of an administration transition, budget decisions for this and the following year, and (if he chooses) a reelection campaign with about a year until the 2012 Elections would be held.

If Obama does not resign immediately, then the Republicans could use the extortion ploy to gain every possible concession from Obama, then they could cripple his reelection bid with a delayed Impeachment Proceedings for a violation of the War Powers Act. 

Early in President Obama’s term in office, columnist Ted Rall called for Obama to resign.  Rall may have been a tad premature, but as time goes on it is becoming clearer and clearer to partisan pundits that Rall may have been exceedingly accurate in his assessment.

The conservative partisan pundits will delight in a prolonged period of tormenting the President and his supporters.  It would be variation of the concept of a Sadist’sValhalla.

The progressive pundits will be prone to encouraging a rapid transition and reinvigorating the efforts to produce a larger voter turnout in the fall of 2012.

Columnists who perceive that their mission is to produce a constant stream of disapproval of the <I>status quo</I> will have an abundance of available topics in the next few weeks, no matter what happens.  

Have any of the nation’s elite political pundits done a critical evaluation of this year’s football season from the point of view that it might be a part of a coordinated Republican union busting agenda? 

Will any of the partisan progressive pundits ask if the air strikes againstLibyaare being conducted by the Condor Legion?

Will any Democratic Party toady propagandist say when the “not days or weeks” air campaign againstLibyabecomes an event of longer duration than the Battle of Britain? 

Is news inAmericaskewed?  How many updates have you seen or heard about the meltdowns inJapan? 

Portrayals of the Palin vs. Bachman rivalry as a cat fight between harpies may have great entertainment value, but it also carries the subliminal message that the Republican Party has women (plural) who are qualified to seek the nomination and that, for the men in the liberal media, means it is business as usual to ridicule the women.  The implication is that the Republicans are more prone to taking women seriously and they expect women voters to vote accordingly.

Is having a negotiator in the budget talks who has been compromised, better than having no negotiator at all?  To some cynical columnists President Obama’s chances of using negotiations to avoid an impending disaster, based on his past negotiating track record, are nil and none.

One more thing before we do the closing quote:  The commentators are all noticing the strange Republican behavior.  Could their seemingly irrational, arrogant, reckless, and belligerent attitude be explained (by those pesky conspiracy theory nuts) by the idea that they are relying on the electronic voting machines to protect them from any possibility November 2012 Election revenge that any disgruntled voters might wish to inflict on them?

In the book “The American Home Front 1941 – 1942” (Grove Press paperback copyright 2006 on page 3), Alistair Cooke wrote:  “It has become the habit of historical narrative in our day to assume that history is an inveterate believer in dramatic irony and throws out to sensitive people, and to journalists with a flair for the dramatic, hints and early symptoms of impending glory or disaster.”   

Now the disk jockey will play “Tom Dooley,” “Marie Leveau” and “I surrender, dear.”  We have to go watch a fireworks display.  Have an “If not now, when?” type week.

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The case of the missing 5 grand

June 26, 2011

The new special collectors edition cigarette packs with photos on them came out recently, but since the World’s Laziest Journalist doesn’t smoke, we are not going to be buying them.  Their debut did remind us of how a long ago opportunity to get started on the cigarette addiction boiled down to an odd choice:  a free pack of cigarettes or a trip to Paris.

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a young Ernie Pyle wannabe who was attending parochial school.  After the lunch hour break, the classes would line up outside the schoolhouse and march in at the sound of the start bell.  

On one particular day (was it during seventh grade or eighth?  In all the intervening years we kinda lost track of the exact number), a group of adults approached and began handing out small sample packs of cigarettes.  Some of the more sophisticated students (the boys were required to wear a suit coat and tie and the red jacket, white t-shirt, blue jeans uniform of the rebels was strictly <I>verboten</I>) snatched up the items with enthusiasm and then turned to the ones who seemed perplexed with the windfall and asked “You gonna use ‘em?  If not; can I have yours?”

The columnist aspirant had been exposed to smokes many years previously.  When he, at the age of seven, asked his mom about cigarettes; she pulled one out from her pack, told him to put it in his mouth and lit it up.  She coached him through a few drags and a vehement coughing spell and continued the lesson in existentialism:  “You can learn to overcome that taste and the negative reaction and learn to enjoy it if you so choose.”  She added:  “In the future your friends may start to try smoking in secret.  If you want to smoke, come see me for your next lesson.  Don’t let them goad you into sneaking them.  You have permission to try again if you want another attempt to learn to like it.” 

The free sample packs held no allure of the forbidden for the young Walter Winchell fan.  He did, however, venture to ask his aunt why a company would give away a product that they usually sold.  She responded with a lesson in marketing saying the product was habit forming and that if they could give away samples and get a customer for life in return it would be cost effective.  (She may not have used that exact terminology.)  Then she prompted the lad to see if he could use mathematics to figure out what one of his classmates could expect to spend for a life time supply of smokes.

At a quarter a day and seven days a week with 52 weeks in a year, it worked out to $91 a year.  Since the UShad not become embroiled in Vietnam, it was logical to assume that all his classmates would live to retirement age.  (As it turned out some didn’t make it to their 25th birthday.)  That would bring the expected cost up to $4,823.00.  Then the aunt introduced the concept of inflation and added expected rises in price to the formula.

Can you believe that some conspiracy theory nuts in the fifties thought that a package of cigarettes would eventually go to a dollar a pack? 

Five grand would surely cover a deluxe two week vacation inParis.  It was just about then that some guy named Papa Hemingstein coined the marketing slogan “Moveable Feast” for use in reference to trips to the City ofLight.  (Did he write for Clipper, which was Pan Am’s inflight magazine?)  An opinion poll survey at the time said that a majority of high school students listed a trip toParisas one of their lifetime goals. 

Pariswas considered the new destination of choice for young folks who yeaned to go on the road.

At one time in his career, wasn’t that Hemingway guy also a columnist?  If columnists likeParis, it must be good.

The young non smoker finally made it toParismuch later in life.  The first night inParis, he didn’t expect that a trip on the Subway (to Cactus Charley’s place) would become a memorable part of the vacation.  [InParisthey call the subway “le metro;” but what do they call a “Big Mac”?]  InNew Yorkthe subway toNew Jerseygoes under the Hudson River, but inParisthe subway comes up from under ground and goes over the Sein to get to the other side.  When it emerged from below ground and came to a stop, between the rows of buildings adjacent to the subway station he could see a bit further away, a tower that was such an eyeful they actually call it theEiffelTower.  He thought “Holy cow, batman, we’ve finally made it!  We are inParis!”  It was a “lump in the throat” moment.  It was time to scratch “Get toParis” off his bucket list.  Who’dda thunk that a subway trip could be such an emotional experience?

Sometime later, when a coworker complained to the boss that the nonsmoker, who was getting paid less than the complainer, could afford a two week vacation inParisand he couldn’t, the columnist used math to explain why life isn’t fair. 

The fellow (Let’s call him “Jim”) smoked a pack a day (which by the late Eighties had broken the buck a pack cost barrier).  Jim usually drank a six pack a day.  Jim went out to one ofSanta Monica’s many fine coffee shops (Alas Zucky’s, the Broken Drum, and the former drive-in at Wilshire and Harvard [?] are history) for lunch, which would chew up (pun alert?) at least five dollars a day with more if he left a tip.  The economical minded fellow (Let’s call him WLJ) had made sandwiches and did the brownbag lunch routine during the work week.  The extra cost for the cigs, brewskis, and eat-out chow computed out to be almost exactly what it had cost the cheapskate to get toParisand back.

Some fine minds are paid very well to come up with strong anti-smoking Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) for use on Television.  You never see any of them use the “It’s the economy, stupid” approach.  Who did the old comedy routine about telling kids they can do anything they want to do except they must not put beans into their ears?  Isn’t telling them they could get cancer a lot like saying “we dare you to . . .”?

What would happen if someone did a PSA <I>reductio ad absurdum</I> ad offering kids a free (smaller than normal) sample pack of “coffin nails” or a trip to Paris and included a cost comparison?

Speaking of cigarettes, is it true that CBS radio is looking for a fearless journalist to do a series of live reports titled:  “Tripolicalling!”?

Bartlett’s reminds us that it was Rudyard Kipling who wrote:  “And a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room,” Smokey Robinson (and the Miracles)’s album “I’ll Try Something New,” and Patsy Cline’s song “Three cigarettes in an ash tray.”  We have to go see where we can buy a pack of the Fatima brand of smokes.  Have a “memories of theTimes Squarebillboard” type week.

Searching for a new trend-spotting story

June 13, 2011

If the assignment editor for the Features Department of the New York Times newspaper just happens to read this column he may be very glad that he did if he gets a “heads-up” about an art story that he can assign, but what about everybody else in the world with access to the Internets?  Is it possible that a citizen-columnist might be the first writer to notice a story that is that good?  Or is it more likely that people will be very amused by the opportunity of seeing a self-deluded fool in action?  Isn’t that the very same reason why the news coverage (such as it is) of the Republican efforts to get their party’s 2012 Presidential Nomination is so fascinating?  Don’t those folks realize that JEB has a lock on it?

Columnists, much like journalists, are trained to turn on their cultural radar the moment they wake up and keep it scanning the contemporary scene until they drift off to sleep that night.

Were the college kids on KALX the first to play a trend setting song of the future on this morning’s program?  Did a localBerkeleyCAweb site break a story that will resonate with all the young people staying at the Sydney Central Backpackers Hostel?  Would it be worth the effort to buy a brand new book at Moe’s Bookstore, read it, and then review it for the entire world? 

Is it possible that a columnist could visit the used bookstore run by friends of the Berkeley Public Library and find some new (and shocking?) information about the Bush Junta in a book by Laura Flanders (Bushwomen Vero hardback) that was published outside the United States (in the American colony called London?) in 2004?  Isn’t Bush-bashing out of date?  Isn’t it too early now to be of relevance to the next installment in the saga of the Bush Dynasty?

Suppose that a columnist notices what seems to be a local trend in graffiti? 

Artists inCaliforniahave tended in the past to be at the vanguard of new national fads in many areas of contemporary American culturd.  Aren’t most of the journalists inCali, who work for a nationally known media headquartered inManhattan, especially keen to find a trend-spotting story?  (and thus get an “attaboy” from the home office?)

After purchasing a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, about a year ago, we were anxious to try out the close up setting and so we began to notice small examples of graffiti in the form of stickers affixed to inconspicuous locations aroundBerkeley,Oakland, andSan Francisco.  Since this columnist isn’t well versed in botany, and since flowers tend to vibrate in the wind, and since stickers don’t; we began to concentrate more on collecting images of the stickers. 

Some seemed to be mug shots of John Wayne Gaycie.  Was that a subtle political statement?  Are capitalists eating the poor?  Is it a call to action?  Is it an expression of a bit of sarcasm? 

One day, we noticed one particular example of this subcategory of graffiti that had been created on what had been a post office address label that was (in haste?) rather poorly stuck on an abandoned newspaper dispenser box.  We carefully removed the fresh example of folk art and took it back to the World’s Laziest Journalist news organization headquarters.  If these labels are hard to scrape off their location, does that mean that original examples are desirable collectables?  Who collects them?  How do they acquire them?

We went to Fantastic Comics, inBerkeleyCA, and 1 AM art gallery inSan Franciscoin an effort to track down more facts about this art trend.  The more we learned, the bigger the topic seemed to become.  While we were out and about trying to tack down the story, we were missing time when we could have been dispensing opinions online about some recent high profile celebrity sexual escapades such as the Ricky Nixon and St. Kilda schoolgirl scandal.  (Do a search on Google News for that exoteric bit of Australian celebrity gossip.)

We learned that the use of quickly applied pre-made examples of graffiti is called “slap art” or “sticker bombing.” 

Painting a mural sized graffiti painting takes time; slapping a label on a hard surface, doesn’t. 

Using spray paint cans to create graffiti can mean some sever problems if the artists are caught <I>en flagrante delicto</I> and their artistic efforts are construed as constituting vandalism.  There can be major problems with any offense involving the spray can school of graffiti art.  The legal penalties for putting up slap art are not (we are told) as stringent.  

You do the math.

Several more time consuming attempts to gather more information, such as trying to get contact information about the leading practitioners of slap art, only produced enough of a feint trail to indicate that it would take a lot more work to get an interview with either Broke or Euro.  (You want to talk to Banksy?  Fergedaboudit.)  Since graffiti artist don’t  often seek publicity in the pages of People magazine, that reluctance is precisely what would make a story in the Sunday editon of the New York Times so appealing to the aforementioned assignment editor.

Obviously being out in the sunshine and fresh air (what ever happened to the news coverage of the readings for nuclear fall-out downwind from the disaster in Japan?) is preferable to sitting in a dingy writer’s hovel at a computer pounding out some sarcastic snarky remarks about the teabaggers’ (wet) dream ticket of Palin-Bachman for the Republicans in 2012 (where would the lefties be with regard to gender equality and that pair?). 

[Would it be shameless bragging to repeat the anecdote about the time the guy who would become Time magazine’s White House correspondent entered my apartment in Marina del Rey and exclaimed:  “My god, Bob, it is a hovel!”?] 

Isn’t a unique individual initiative story with some trend spotting in Art, much more commendable than an anemic example of me too-ism wolf-pack punditry?

What if an online columnist combined into one story all this information: Congress is considering giving the President the power to declare war, a recent article by Semour Hersh in the New Yorker magazine suggesting that some intelligence agencies are cherry picking information that will indicate that Iran’s nuclar program is a threat to the USA, and Brad Friedman’s continuing efforts to undermine his audience’s confidence in the reliability of the electronic voting machines? 

What if such a hypothetical endeavor ultimately became a remarkably accurate forecast about JEB’s role in the Story of the Bush Dynasty in American History?  If that happened, wouldn’t the lone but perceptive pundit ultimately get many main stream media employment offers? 

BerkeleyCAhas a large much respected school of journalism, so it isn’t surprising to find a wide assortment of used books for sale that offer an insider’s close up look at the collapse ofAmerica’s free press.  How could there be that many books offering that idea whileAmericais lulled into a false sense of being well informed by a tsunami of Fox Political Propaganda? 

Has Journalism disintegrated into a farce where obedience to the political policy of the corporate masters is more important than “truth, Justice and the American way”?  Don’t the corporate owners prefer an obedient worker who will unquestioningly follow orders rather than a high maintenance rogue who gets it right?  Ostracism to the Internets’Siberiais its own reward?  What does that mean?

Andy Rooney, who is best known for his commentary on CBS TV’s Sixty Minutes program, has been quoted (Masters of the Air by Donald L. Miller Simon & Schuster hardback page 121) as saying:  “the worst kind of censorship has always been the kind that newspaper people impose on themselves.” 

Now, the disk jockey will play “Stuck on you,” the Drop-kick Murphy hit “Fuck you – I’m drunk” (did that get a lot of airplay?) and the unreleased music project known as the Rolling Stones’ contractual obligation album.

We have to go do some fact finding about the rumor that Banksy is teaching economics classes at a well known institution of higher learning in theSan Franciscobay area.  Have a “know when to run, know when to freeze” type week.

Inspirational words for the class of 1961

June 10, 2011

People who graduated from high school fifty years ago this month may want to indulge in a bit of nostalgia by exhuming a transcript of their commencement speech and having their lawyer take a closer look at it.  Were all of that year’s inspiring words more of a variation of the “campaign promises” concept or did those inspirational words come with an implied guarantee?  If so, it might be time to adhere to one of the basic principles established in the Constitution, byAmerica’s founding fathers:  “Sue the bastards!”

Would it be an example of poignancy if a kid who got a brand new car as a high school graduation present in June of 1961 were still driving that same car today?  In the Spring of 1961, the last B-52 rolled off the Boeing production line and many of them are still in use to this very day. 

What else hasn’t changed since the class of 1961 was promised a better world?

Before turning the keys to the White House over to Jack Kennedy, the departing president (a general from WWII), had warned folks not to let the military industrial complex becomeAmerica’s guiding light (at the end of the tunnel?).  It didn’t take long for the new young President to send American troops, as advisors, abroad doing the political version of what “location scouts” do for movie making.

Radio soap operas were transitioning into TV series, but when that class had started high school in the Fall of 1957, many of them were still available on radio.  The radio audience had wondered, like Helen Trent, could a woman, after her 35th birthday, find romance?  It would be well into the 70’s before that question would become relevant to the class of 1961.

What ever happened to “Our Gal Sunday”?  She was, as listeners were informed at the start of each broadcast, someone “from the little mining town ofSilver Creek,Colorado,” and she had “in young womanhood marriedEngland’s most handsome lord, Lord Henry Brinthrope.”  How did that work out for her?

What ever happened to:  “Aunt Jenny,” “Young Doctor Malone,” “Just Plain Bill,” “Ma Perkins,” and/or “Nora Drake”?

The members of the graduation class of 1961 are sure to be retired and collecting their Social Security checks by now and so they will have plenty of leisure time to look up the fate of those fictional characters on the Internets.

Was it a remarkable co-inky-dink or symbolism that one high school inScrantonPa, for their class trip, went toNew York Cityand saw “Pollyanna” at theRadioCityMusic Hall”?

For the class of 1961, it was just like Bill Graham would put it a bit later in time:  “Ladies and gentlemen; it’s all about to happen!”  Back then, the Nostalgia craze wouldn’t start until Susan Suntag’s essay “Notes on Camp” got published.

By the time the class of 1961 would celebrate the tenth anniversary of their graduation,Americawould make numerous cultural changes.  The Beatles would erase Duane Eddy from the position of favorite guitarist.  The Ford Motor Company would produce the first Mustang (and Carol Shelby would work his magic on them).  Folks would also learn the geography lesson that answered the question:  “Where the hell isVietnam?”

When the class of 1961 entered high school in the Fall of 1957, one of the Dorsey brothers would release the last Big Band hit, “So Rare.”  By the time they graduated, “On the Road” had been reprinted in a paperback edition and coffee house poetry was all the rage.  The adults were very alarmed that the beatnik lifestyle seemed to have a hypnotic appeal to the youngsters who wanted to be “hep.”  Hep became hip and that generation embraced all sorts of aberrant behavior that didn’t sit well with true Americans such as those who lived inMuskogee.   

In the Fall of 1963, Capital Records, inHollywood, handed out 3,000 layoff notices to the folks inScrantonworking at the record pressing plant because record sales were in a slump.  The layoffs were to take effect the day after Thanksgiving.  While the nation mourned the assassination of its young President, the layoff notices were rescinded on the Monday before Thanksgiving because of a music phenomenon that was spreading like a highly contagious disease.  It was called “Beatlemania.”

Rock and Roll was battling to replace the folk songs that dominated the pop music charts.  Eventually, Rock got it very own separate chart and Fats Domino shared it with newer, younger musicians.

Tail fins on cars had reached their high water mark with the 1959 Cadillac.  At one point the J. C. Whitney catalogue offered champagne glasses made from the distinctively shaped ’59 Caddy bullet style tail lights. 

While gettingAmericafrom the Marshall Program to the Bush Doctrine, patriots would come to realize that charity is permissible only if it also functions as a bribe or is part of an extortion plan. 

If a person graduated from high school in 1961 and proceeded directly on to a four year college, he would graduate just in time to see President Johnson, in June of 1965, send several (was it six or eight?) Marine Divisions toVietnamto straighten out that mess (it was well understood that they would be home in time for Christmas).

In 1961, all was well.  The World’s Laziest Journalist knows of one member of the class of 1961, who joined the Navy, was assigned to a destroyer that circled the globe, came back home toScrantonand declined all additional opportunities to travel.  “I’ve been around the world.  I likeScranton.  Why would I want to leave?”

Soldiers from Scranton, in the 28th Division’s 109th Regiment, had fought at the battle of the bulge and so America was determined to make sure that those war atrocities, such as the ones that Germany had committed during World War II, would never again be permitted in the world that was beckoning to the eager and enthusiastic members of the class of 1961. 

The world in 1961 wasn’t perfect.  The designers at Chevrolet were trying to develop a coupe model for the popular Corvette roadster. Americadidn’t need a Desoto car.  TV would be better in “living color.”  Pan Am, Eastern Airlines (“The wings of man”) and TWA stood ready to flyAmerica’s youth to places where they could face the “Europeon $5 a day” challenge. 

Americans didn’t have to buy a WMCA t-shirt to know that they were one of a special breed.  Who didn’t want a T-shirt that proclaimed that the wearer was a “Good Guy”?

Wasn’t “The Ugly American” a Commie propaganda ruse?  Didn’t the East German authorities have to build a wall to hold back their young people with curiosity about freedom?

The graduates who got married and started having kids didn’t have to worry about the draft.  The guys who went on to college did.  Did the lamestream media do feature stories about the last guy to be drafted?  Who was it?  Lord knows the lamestream sure did cover the story when Elvis got drafted and when Cascius Clay turned down his draft board’s invitation.  When Elvis left the Army, there was a TV special on which Frank Sinatra welcomed Elvis back home. 

There was one TV special (was it part of Ford’s 50th anniversary celebration?) that featured the best science based predictions for the future.  As we recall it, that program predicted that newspapers would deliver their stories directly into homes via a machine that was a combination of calculator, telephone, TV set, and printing press. 

Back in 1961 the icon of the American Dream was expressed in visual terms by a home with a white picket fence around it.  That house has been seized by the foreclosure process.  The lefties who are losing their homes think that Sarah Palin is dumb.  How did they come to that conclusion? On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural address, said:  “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” 

The disk jockey went to the <a href =http://www.tfdutch.com/topten.htm#1961>Flying Dutchman’s web site for a list of the hits from 1961</a>.  He culled out: “Big Bad John,” “Wonderland by Night,” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

We have to go put some dead flowers on a friend’s grave.  Have a “The torch is passed to a new generation” type week.

“But, George W. Bush’s ma let him do it!”

June 6, 2011

President Obama’s propensity for inept bungling has delivered a no-win choice of profound importance to the Democratic Party’s doorstep.  After delivering a rebuke to Obama on Friday for his aggressive policy towardsLibya, the Democrats can either take it to the next logical level by impeaching Obama or they can ignore the President’s failure to abide by the War Powers Act and thereby affirm the Bush Administration policy that the Constitution had become obsolete and irrelevant toAmerica. 

Has President Obama become the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to be subject to arrest inThe Haguefor war crimes?  We dare him to go there and prove us wrong.

President Obama’s rash decision to oust Col. Qaddafi may have provided the Republicans with an opportunity to make their dream scenario of Impeaching America’s first President of Pan-african heritage come true. 

If President Bush’s invasion ofIraqwas an impeachable offense, the Democrats can now either move to impeach Obama for ignoring the War Powers Act or they can, by letting a second blatant violation of the law slide past, scrap that inconvenient part of the Constitution.

If Obama failed to get the Congressional approval necessary for the attempt to intervene inLibya’s internal affairs, then it would seem logical that he must be impeached for such a flagrant violation of his oath of office.  If the Bush program of using Presidential authority to violate the Constitution and order troops into battle has replaced the method specifically established in the Constitution, then the question of immediate concern becomes:  When will the Republicans make the determination of what other parts of the Constitution have also become outdated? 

The Republicans, to participate in a move to impeach Obama, would have to completely ignore the fact that George W. Bush set the precedence with the invasion of Iraq and, like a woman with an “A” brand on her forehead giving a speech urging chastity, blithely make the case for the immediate impeachment of the President who has ignored the Constitution and the law of the land.

Such a brazen move would seem to be a bit hypocritical, but, in the past, the Republicans have never let a trivial matter such as blatant hypocrisy inhibit their efforts, so why should they suddenly let scruples hinder their program now?

Lefties and Progressives have always asserted that the Republicans were sanctimonious hypocrites so why should the party of “don’t do as I do; do as I say” stop inches short of the goal line just because of the threat of a bit of name-calling?  Didn’t their mothers teach them the axiom about sticks and stones?

The World’s Laziest Journalist has speculated during the George W. Bush “lame duck” period about how long it would take the Republicans to find a basis for moving to impeach the (then) President-elect.  Expecting Republicans to let a chance to make their dreams come true pass as a show of good sportsmanship may be a tad overly optimistic.

If the Republicans moved at a slow deliberate pace, they could spend all summer besmirching the President, and then make their move in the Fall.  

If they were successful, my former classmate (in first and second grade), Joe Biden, would be sworn in and immediately have to contend with rebuilding the Democratic Party brand while (presumably) running his own reelection campaign and competing in the various primary elections in early 2012, while simultaneously conducting the business of day to day politics as usual.

If they failed to get Obama impeached, he would then have to fight to improve his image of being a Bush family clone, while raising funds for his own reelection, and contending with the various primary elections, which usually are not a high priority activity for a sitting President.

His critics on the Fox Network would be relentless in their unfair and biased condemnation of him for doing what George W. Bush had previously done.  Obviously such heavy-handed punditry would generate some “sympathy backlash,” which would benefit Obama, but since most folks are reluctant (especially if they are not of Irish heritage) to assert an unpopular opinion, the majority of the country would be in a mood to treat the President very harshly. 

The word temerity (which has the ironical meaning of being “ballsy”) would be bandied about recklessly if the Republicans did try to impeach Obama for doing that which George W. Bush had previously done, but that would be countered by the folk axiom that “Nature favors the brave.”  Foreigner Rupert Murdock would make damn sure that Americans were continually assaulted by “pro-impeachment” partisan punditry.

Democrats who feared being tainted by an association with a President facing both reelection and immanent impeachment, would get very tired of hearing Fox talking heads tell the joke in which the Lone Ranger says to Tonto:  “Look at all those Indians, Tonto, we’re in a very untenable strategic position!”  (or words to that effect.)

Will Uncle Rushbo (will both he and Mike Malloy read this column?) be reluctant to gush about the vulnerability of Obama for impeachment proceedings or will he perceive it as an opportunity to be a leader of the <I>de facto</I> lynch mob?

Progressive bloggers will be reluctant to mention Obama’s vulnerability because they will not want to take the chance that they have inadvertently opened Republican eyes to a gambit they had not already noted.  (Karl Rove enthusiastically encourages all underestimations of his cunning and shrewdness.  [You don’t believe that?  Just ask him if the World’s Laziest Journalist has him pegged with complete accuracy.  Go ahead.  We dare you to ask him.  {He will probably deny knowing me.}]) 

Cynical columnists, who delight in venturing into taboo territory, might write a spoiler column about this opening for a possible Republican strategy.  Any such renegade pundit would probably get more Democratic appreciation if they just inject obscure and esoteric cultural minutiae into their efforts.  Such as?

Up until Thursday, June 2, 2011, this columnist had never heard of the writer fromDublinnamed Charles Lever.  On that day we betook ourselves to the location inBerkeleyCAwhich is our secret source of pop cultural delights and bought four books:

Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara,” H. G. Wells’ “Tono-Bungay,” Hesketh Pearson’s “Oscar Wilde His Life and Wit,” and Robert L. Heilbroner’s “ The Worldly Philosophers.”  We purchase all four for less than a quarter of a dollar.

Two of the books, Pearson’s and Shaw’s, mentioned the Irish writer named Charles Lever.  We consulted “The Penguin Companion to English Literature,” edited by David Daiches, and learned about the existence of a 34 volume collection of his work or a 37 volume collection edited by Lever’s daughter. 

The four books contained enough raw materials for about a thousand columns in the Life-Arts field.

However, on Friday June 3, 2011, a friend lent us a copy of Douglas Brinkley’s “The Majic Bus,” and since we are very enthusiastic about road books we will have to read that one. 

Then we went for a walk and stumbled across a bargain bin copy of Donald L. Miller’s “Masters of the Air,” and since we have a mystical connection to B-17 bombers from WWII, we will have to read every word of that book before writing a review.

That night we finished watching a VHS tape of “Mr. Smith Goes toWashington,” and realized there was enough new material in that old film for several columns.  The year 1939 is considered by some critics to have beenHollywood’s Halcyon Year and Mr. Smith was nominated for 11 Oscars™.  The theme of an honest man fighting a political machine backed by media ownership, might have some relevance for non Fox-addicted political thinkers.  The idea that patriotic idealism is preferable to greed and bribery might be worth a column. 

Form follows function as any fan of architecture knows so it’s obvious why today’s bloggers are flocking to the “thee dot journalism” style of column writing. 

In Atlas shrugged, Ayn S. Rand wrote:  “You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island – it is on a desert island that he would need it most. Let him try to claim . . . that a rock is a home . . . reality will wipe him out . . . .”  Slyly injecting a problem in semantics into a discussion about morality might fool some Democrats (in an Irish pub?) but teabaggers won’t let such a blatant verbal equivalent of thee card Monty chicanery slid by unchallenged. 

Perhaps we should do a column about Ms. Rand’s use of poor logic to confuse the audience?  Maybe we could slip some references to James Norman Hall’s novel, “LostIsland,” into the discussion of morality on remote Pacific atolls?  Maybe we could couch this debate in a column about the Tiki sub-culture inAmerica?  Then again applying the rules of logic to the words of Ayn S. Rand would, as far as her fanatical supporters are concerned, be as futile as trying to pick the fly’s excrement out of the salad.  Why didn’t she use “Triumph of the Will” as the title for her book about John Gault?

Didn’t Ms. Rand use her middle name of Sally while performing a bawdy Vaudeville act before her first book was published?

We have just exceeded our self imposed “three e-takes” limit and so we will call the disk jockey in from the bullpen and he will play Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” “It’s All the Same” (from “Man of La Mancha”), and Lynn Anderson’s “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.”  (Making promises in the Rose Garden isn’t the same thing?)

We have to go buy some more bargain used books.  Have an “I, Don Quixote” type week.

Define Extortion

June 3, 2011

The American Heritage Dictionary says that one meaning for the word extortion is “the criminal offense of using one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage to which one is not entitled.”  It can also mean “the exaction of an exorbitant price.”  No nationally known and respected political pundits are using that word to describe the political maneuvering that the Republicans are using to get the Democrats to agree to some harsh budget cuts.  One or two radical bloggers who are jealous of the media attention given to the nobility of journalism, such as Bart the Bright, might bandy that word about recklessly in the hopes of landing a guest expert gig on a fair and balanced political TV debate program, but such rogues would also be prone to be card carrying members of the Associated Secret Society of Konspiracy Investigation Scholars and Students (You figure out their acronym) and the transparency of their grandstanding attempt would be apparent.

The National Lampoon magazine cover that depicted a cowering dog with a gun aimed at his head had the headline:  “Buy this magazine or we’ll shoot the dog!”  That was a funny example of extortion but to use that word with regard to what the Republicans are doing is reprehensible. 

Is it extortion if the threat of reprisals is only implied?  At this point, the Democrats have to ask themselves one more question:  “Do I feel lucky?”

Is the military action againstLibyalisted as an active “war”?  In all the excitement of the Arab Spring, we’ve kinda lost track of the exact count.  Is it two or thee active wars?

The Scientists have learned how to manipulate the media to their own advantage by using polar bears (<I>Ursis Maritimus</I>) to extort alarmist reactions from the journalists and now they are doubling down with a crazy story about cell phones causing sterility in human males.  Really?  “Don’t worry, baby, we won’t need a condom because we are protected by my constant cell phone use!”?

Recently Karl Rove was a guest on Shaun Hannity’s radio program and when he was asked to evaluate all the Republicans trying to become their party’s next Presidential candidate, he forgot JEB Bush.  Rove has worked for the Bush family since 1973 and he forgot JEB.  How come journalists think Rove is a master of political strategy if he can forget JEB?  . . . Say, you don’t think that was what the real political pundits call a “ploy,” do ya?

As the 2011 anniversary of D-Day approaches, theUSA’s population of homeless is growing even as the number of empty homes that have been foreclosed increases rapidly. 

When President Obama said that the bombing ofLibyato protect its citizens from a ruthless leader wouldn’t last for days or weeks, was he trying to say that he knew then that it would take months? 

If the part of the Constitution that says that Congress must vote to approve any new wars is obsolete, what other parts of that document are no longer viable?

What ever happened to the news reports from the folks who started releasing information about radiation levels in theUSAfollowing the nuclear disaster inJapan?  Would it be accurate to make a snide reference to “Gone With The Wind,” if the prevailing weather patterns might actually be increasing the amount of atomic fallout?

Speaking of the all time greatest movies, has any political pundit pointed out the window of opportunity for a sequel to “The Blob”?  The monster is flown to the artic and put in a de facto state of suspended animation.  The victims agree that they will have no worries “as long as the Artic stays cold.”  This columnist has been told that there is at least one palm tree living (in retirement?) in Paris (France, notTexas).

The residual good will generated by the American led efforts to liberateEuropein WWII, is rapidly diminishing.  Could it be compared to a melting snowman? 

AreAmerica’s claims to being “the Good Guys” perceived inThe Haguemuch like the spectacle of an old woman traipsing downMain Streetin scanty attire?

Wouldn’t being a paid staff member of an American news organization stationed inThe Haguebe an example of a sinecure?  (Note:  being a lazy journalist requires doing some work; doing none at all disqualifies a person from competing in any lazy journalism competition.)  Was using a story that warned an American that he would be arrested if he showed up inSwitzerlandfor a speaking engagement an example of journalism or a tip-off?  What is President Obama’s status as far as a visit toThe Hagueis concerned?  If you don’t know, then we rest our case.

Speaking of Freedom of the Press and the Normandy Invasion, did you know that there was one printing plant that transitioned from printing <I>Wehrmacht</I> to producing theParisedition of YANK?  We culled that tidbit of information from the Introduction to “The Best from YANK the Army Weekly” (E. P. Dutton & Co. hardback 1945)

The American TV program “Boston Legal” used to feature some eloquent oratory that questioned the wisdom ofAmerica’s invasion ofIraq.  What ever happened to that program?  We liked the traditional “balcony time” closing sequences.

On Memorial Day, the morning shift DJ on KALX threw an excerpt from President St. Ronald Reagan’s first Inaugural Address into the mix.  He thoroughly denounced deficit spending before he started doing just that.  The Republicans made fun of Senator John Kerry for “flip-flopping.”  It’s only bad when a Democrat does it.  Double standards can be so convenient.  Life is so much easier when your theology is extrapolated from the novels of Ayn S. Rand.

On Thursday, June 2, 2011, liberal talk show host Mike Malloy was aghast at the fact that folks from the Food Not Bombs organization had been arrested in OrlandFloridafor feeding the homeless.  To him, there was a massive amount of irony involved in compassionate conservative Christians passing the law that was broken. 

Malloy has made references to George Orwell’s novel, 1984, but he has obviously failed to master the basic concept of <I>double think</I>.  Mike, baby, when ya going to learn?  If thine enemy strikes thee, turn the other cheek . . . then commit war crimes! 

Ayn S. Rand, in <I>Atlas Shrugged</I> (was Atlas a nihilist?), wrote:  “Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.”  Didn’t Capt. Queeg use logic to prove conclusively that there was another key?

If you don’t think that arresting people who think they are Jesus doing the loaves and fishes routine isn’t a rational move to protect the public interest, then there’s no hope for you.  Hunger is eternal.  Is there a final solution to the problem of hungry homeless people?  Isn’t removing the symptoms (from view) the same as curing the disease? 

Now the disk jockey will play:  “Faithful Forever,” “I Poured My Heart into a Song,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Wishing” (all of which were nominated for the Best Song Oscar™ in 1939).  We have to go use the time machine to buy some Tono-Bungay.  Have a “Fred C. Dobbs don’t say nothin’ he don’t mean” type week.