Archive for May, 2012

Boardroom brawl ethics

May 25, 2012

Barroom brawls used to be an integral part of the cinematic formula for a Western movie, but the one and only time the World’s Laziest Journalist witnessed a real life mêlée in a tavern occurred just about fifty years ago.  The long dormant memories were quickly revived this past week during an effort to assess the trend spotting potential for connecting several business news stories from the San Francisco Bay area.

The Golden State Warriors (née Philadelphia Warriors) announced that since they have gotten a sweetheart real estate deal in Frisco, it was time to say <I>adios</I> to Oakland.  It seems that the team owners will be gifted with some prime property on the waterfront and will provide their own funding for the construction of a new sports stadium entertainment complex in the postcard perfect setting.

The dramatic business news development occurred in “sucker punch” quick fashion this week.  On Monday, the sports reporters were saying that something was developing.  On Tuesday, a press conference on a pier on the bayside of fog city was being held.

The Sacramento Kings are scrambling to get a development deal from their hometown.  In Los Angeles, efforts to get the L. A. City Council to build a football stadium in the downtown area and make offers to lure a new tenant into it, are a recurring political refrain.  The Forty-niners football team has announced plans to split from San Francisco.

On Tuesday morning, John Madden, on his daily radio commentary show on KCBS radio, noted that Oakland had been there for professional sports in the past and that some reciprocal loyalty seemed to be conspicuous by its absence.

Meanwhile the business news seemed to be obsessing on the Facebook stock imbroglio.  It seems that one particular company advised their best clients to sit on the bench while the suckers took a bath.  The good ole boys take care of their own; the rest can fend for themselves.  Business has adopted W. C. Field’s advice, “Never Give a Sucker and even break,” as the new code of ethics.

Jamie Diamon (Jamie Diamond sounds like a good name for a go-go dancer, eh?) and his merry band of pranksters seem to be positioning their company for a new rendition of the ever popular “Too Big to Fail” song and dance routine that precedes a bid for a government bail-out.

Legally the paper work for home foreclosures (at least in California) seems questionable at best and possibly unlawful, but the foreclosures roll on like a bad dream.

President Obama led supporters to believe that he was sympathetic to the needs of people who derived medicinal value from cannabis.  Now, the government efforts to shut down the sites where pot can be sold as a remedy for a variety of medical conditions are occurring much more frequently.

 

What politician was the first to use the philosophy:  “Don’t listen to what I say; watch what I do!”?

 

In 1968, Richard Nixon got elected President by promising to end the war in Vietnam.  He used the same platform to get reelected in 1972.  President Obama intimated to the voters in 2008, that he would take care of two unpopular wars.  In 2012, Obama seems content to recycle the Roosevelt slogan “Prosperity is just around the corner.”

During the Vietnam War, the clergy of the Catholic Church was more concerned with the birth control issue than with the morality of using Agent Orange.  Now Notre Dame is drawing a line in the sand over the inclusion of contraceptives in health programs rather than worrying about any possible similarities between America’s drone strikes and the Condor Legion’s bombing of Guernica.

The paradigm for all this is that capitalists use the barrroom brawl ethics of a motorcycle gang to content with any opposition.  If you pick a fight with a motorcycle gang member other members of that club who are there will respond <I>en masse</I>.  If you take on a one percenter, he and the politicians, the police, the press, and the clergy will form a line of defense that will wear out any attacker.

On Tuesday, a very random casual poll of folks in San Francisco indicated that the person in the street didn’t care about where the Golden State Warriors called home.  (One year, several decades ago, they played six “home” games in San Diego.)

A one percenter sports team owner realizes that sports fans are just like the motor oil used to lubricate an engine.  A complete change is recommended for maximum efficiency or to increase profit margin.

Isn’t it rather poignant to note that immediately after the Facebook debacle, President Obama showed up in Silicone Valley to solicit campaign donations and the folks who bought the stock without the benefit of the brokers’ warning for high rollers have to hope some long drawn out law suit helps them recover their losses?

The good ole boys network survives!  Wasn’t there a Johnny Paycheck song that noted “the big man plays while the little man pays”?

Isn’t it very odd how politicians seem to be oblivious to the little people getting fleeced in America, but they get their panties all in a wad when some Secret Service members sew their wild oats in a foreign country?  (Isn’t prostitution legal in the country where the incident occurred?)

Is there one TV network that is becoming synonymous with sports?

Is there one TV network that is synonymous with politics?

Is there one TV network that has the audience with the lowest “well informed” ratings?

Wouldn’t it be a co-inky-dink if one name was the correct answer to all three of those questions?  You know; the network with the motto:  “We deceive; you pick up the check.”  What was the country song with the line:  “Six rounds were bought, and I bought five!”?

This columnist has heard that the police in Berkeley have started a program of waking up sleeping vagrants in the middle of the night.  (Who else got the sleep deprivation treatment?)  One source indicated that tickets were being issued but our efforts to fact check that aspect of the story have been inconclusive.

How many politicians talk to the homeless?  We have seen one member of the Berkeley City council talking to a homeless man recently, but when was the last time that President Obama talked to a homeless person?  When was the last time the governor of California talked to a homeless person?

In the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” a turning point came when the congressman got some fellow politicians to visit a refugee camp and talk with some of the victims of the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan.

Wait!  There is a subtle difference here.  The one percenters can make a profit on a war in a foreign country and feel good about helping the poor wretches who live near the battlefield, but they are also making scads of money on the foreclosure trend so why change that?

If the owners of the Golden State Warriors can turn a profit on the valuable real estate, could any subsequent sizable campaign contributions they might make to the politicians who helped expedite the change of venue be misconstrued as being “commission checks”?

The fact is that capitalists don’t care who get hurt by their ruthless pursuit of increased profits, but barroom brawlers do have some regard for innocent bystanders.  In the aforementioned donnybrook in the gin mill, in the mid Sixties, the columnist and his buddy were surrounded by ten to fifteen pairs of guys engaged in fisticuffs, but since we were perceived as two outsiders (it was our first visit to that city and that “watering hole”), who were not recognized by either of the fray’s rival factions, as being members of the opposition group, we were able to stroll away from the fracas unscathed.  Our reaction was to resort to the common cliché of “wow that was just like a scene in a John Wayne Western.”

[Note from the Photo Desk:  Reportedly the Golden State Warriors will use the Bay Bridge in their new logo.  The Golden Gate Bridge will celebrate its 75 birthday this weekend.

If the battleship Iowa’s departure for its new home in San Pedro and the Golden Gate Bridge’s birthday celebration occur simultaneously, during the Memorial Day Weekend; do ya think that an aerial photo showing the Iowa approaching the Golden Gate Bridge (this will be the last time an American battleship ever passes under the Golden Gate Bridge) will be used above the fold on page one of the next day’s edition of the New York Times?  That image for the Memorial Day issue would be <I>priceless</I>.]

Oliver Goldsmith wrote:  “Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.”

Now, the disk jockey will play “Ballroom Blitz,” Roger Miller’s “Dang me!,” and the Sir Douglas Quintet song “I’m Just Tired of Getting’ Burned.”  We have to go donate some of our used satin sheets to the local shelter for the homeless.  Have a “posh soiree at Wayne Manor” type week.

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The one most important issue of 2012

May 11, 2012

The Conservatives’ prayers have been answered and this year’s Presidential Election will ignore jobs, taxes, and wars and concentrate on an emotional wedge issue.  On Thursday, May 10, 2012, the top headline on the front page of the New York Times was about the gay marriage issue and it was augmented by a “news analysis” on that very same topic.

Traditionally conservatives have preferred to use a highly charged tangential emotional issue rather than focus on problems that are integral to the lives and livelihoods of the voters.

Last weekend, this columnist went to the Oakland Museum of California to see “The 1968 Project” which is a traveling exhibition focusing on the social, political, and economic events of 1968 because we anticipated that it would provide a convenient frame for a column comparing and contrasting that year with the situation in this election year.

Jobs, fair and equitable taxation and necessary wars are complex issues that can confuse voters.  Obviously both Republican and Democratic candidates want to offer the citizens a program that will reduce taxes, increase employment and preserve the peace, but both political parties can not make identical speeches.  They have to achieve brand identity and loyalty for their message and their party.  If they don’t; elections would seem like a variation on the Ford vs. Chevrolet debate.

Sales representatives (such as the one portrayed in the classical “Death of a Sales Rep” by Arthur Miller [Did you get the memo on the new politically correct title for that play?]) are always told to sell the sizzle and not the steak, so the two parties need an issue that will represent their “sizzle.”

If both Republicans and Democrats agree that taxes for the wealthy must be reduced or completely eliminated, then what’s to stop the voters from using a coin toss to make their choices?

If both parties know that the military industrial complex thrives on war, then the question is not whether to go to war or not; it is which wars can be sold as necessary for the protection of the citizens?

If the TV at night is clogged with ads urging addiction to products produced by the pharmaceutical industry, then wouldn’t it be hypocritical for Republicans or Democrats to denounce a cottage industry that offers an herbal product that promises similar miraculous medial results?  Obviously the large companies would not want amateurs cutting into their profit margin anymore than a bootlegger would want his regular customers to spend their money on some locally produced bathtub gin.

During the Roaring Twenties did any American pundit go to a bar in Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, or Australia and ask the locals why their country didn’t outlaw booze?

Were jobs, taxes, and wars important during the Twenties?  Was it easier to judge a politician on his stand for or against Prohibition or was it worth the effort to listen to some long and boring debate about the Smoot-Hawley Act?  (“They say it could cause a depression!”)  What about the Kellogg Briand Treaty and the London Naval Treaty of 1930?  (“What do you mean pave the way for a new World War?”)

The Republican strategists love to frame the debate and set the agenda for the Presidential Elections and as Americans celebrate May 11, 2012, as Twilight Zone Day one only has to casually peruse the usual sources for contemporary political opinion to see that the “there you go again” assessment can be applied to the attention being paid to the issue of gay marriage this week.

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, a reconnaissance patrol on the Internets revealed that some gays were urging the Democratic Party to move the location for their National Convention out of North Carolina to somewhere else.

If they are successful in manipulating the Democrats into making such a change of venue, then many of the party’s management staff will be distracted from the Presidential race by the nuts and bolts decisions that will accompany such a maneuver; if they don’t make the change the gay activists will resent the “my way or the highway” attitude implicit in such an example of fascist control over the splinter group.  Either way, the President will look bad and the Republican voters will have occasion to celebrate the success of the architect of their campaign strategy.

On Monday, August 5, the opening day of the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, California Governor St. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the Presidency.  Was that a tad late in the primary season to make that announcement?

He had only been governor for two years.  Was he rushing things?

Since many pundits are neglecting to point out that the focus on gay marriage would be a textbook perfect example of Republicans hijacking the national political debate, and that brings up another item that is being neglected in the age of meticulously scrupulous (?) punditry.  Is there an ulterior motive which would explain the late date for the Republican National Convention this year?

Traditionally the period between the Conventions and the Labor Day weekend, are devoted to resting up from the primary campaign and concocting the specifics of the Presidential Election campaign, but since the Republican Convention is scheduled to begin on August 27 in Tampa Bay, that means that when it is over (presumably) by the end of the week, it will be the start of the Labor Day weekend and the “go for broke” Presidential Campaign.

Many of the journalists in the realm of national politics seem to prefer channeling the spirit of psychics such as Carnac the Magnificent, on election night and tell the audience what the voters were thinking and what it all means.

The World’s Laziest Journalist will buck the trend and offer readers a chance for some do-it-yourself analysis.  What if some Republican decides to imitate the 1968 spirit of St. Ronald Reagan and announce on the Monday of the Republican Convention that he (in the spirit of breaking a deadlocked convention) would accept the Party’s nomination?

What if such a late last minute attempt were successful?  If the convention ended and someone other than Romney was the Presidential Candidate, wouldn’t that leave the strategists for the Obama campaign in panic mode?  Since the campaign would start on Labor Day, they would have just three or four days to reconfigure the President’s game plan for contenting with the new opponent.

After a week full of unexpected developments that has left the Obama team scrambling to reestablish an image of a confident leader who is in control, doesn’t it seem as if such a last minute new Republican Candidate would be well positioned to push the “Obama isn’t in command” meme on the voters?

There will be a surfeit of commentary available on the weekend after Twilight Zone Day full of near hysterical emotional examples of partisan mind-fuck and the World’s Laziest Journalist realizes that we could never add any noteworthy insights to the array that will be offered.  We can, however, try to add a dash of uniqueness by asking about any ulterior motivation there might be for the long (smoke and mirrors) lull between the last primary election in June and the Convention which will fill the news hole during the last week in August.

This week has had other topics to distract voters such as the possibility of a new banking crisis, the controversial Time magazine cover photo, continued Occupy protests such as the looming confrontation between protesters and the University of California Berkeley administration, and the possibility of a change of venue for the Democratic National Convention, but it is very likely that the gay marriage issue will get the undivided attention of most pundits this weekend.

If the Republicans produce an unanticipated candidate in late August, could the confusion that would cause be compared to the consternation produced by the Tet Offensive?

[Note from the photographer:  many museums have a rule against using flash.  If you have to use available light, be sure to use something (such as a doorway) to brace the camera for the long exposure and take several shots.]

Walter Lippmann allegedly said:  “Brains, you know, are suspect in the Republican Party.”

Now the disk jockey will play Pink Floyd’s “The Wall Album” for those folks who can’t get to San Francisco the night this column is posted (for their version of “Call to the Wall”), the Doors’ “The Doors” album, and the “Wild in the Streets” soundtrack album (from 1968).  We have to go register for the draft.  Have a “girls say ‘yes’ to guys who say ‘no’” type week.

Got Anarchy?

May 4, 2012

On Sunday, April 29, 2012, under the headline “In Oakland, Officials Say Police Used Illegal Tactics,” the New York Times reported that the Oakland Police Department would use changes recommended by the Frazier Group to cope with the May Day Occupy Oakland protests.

 

On May Day night, KCBS radio reporter Chris Filippi was describing the specifics of the new tactics that were being used to add approximately 20 new arrests to the OPD’s total for the day.

 

In the East Bay Express edition published on Wednesday May 2, 2012, a story by Ali Winston, under the headline “OPD Takes More Steps Backward,” on page 16, was accompanied by photo with a caption that informed readers the OPD faces the prospect of federal receivership. 

 

While taking photographs Tuesday at an Occupy Oakland protest, this columnist noticed that there were police vehicles present from the Office of Homeland Security.  (They have Homeland Security license plates.)  Unsubstantiated rumors in the area suggest that if and when the OPD goes into receivership, Homeland Security will step in and take over.

 

On May Day night a reporter from CopWatch said he had taken videos earlier in the day of police using tasers.

 

When the World’s Laziest Journalist makes political predictions, such as our contention that JEB Bush will be the winning candidate when Presidential Election is held in November of this year, the level of skepticism from Liberals is quite strong and they are adamant in their refusal to evaluate any information used to arrive at that conclusion.

Got indigestion?

 

If we write a column reporting the appearance of the Pirate Party on the political scene in Europe and post it on April 27, 2012, and if the AP runs a news story on the birth of the Pirate Party on April 28 and the New York Times runs a story about German’s Pirate Party on May 2, 2012, friends and regular readers don’t much care if we point out the coincidence.

 

Got a Tums tablet handy?  Here’s our next prediction:  If JEB wins in November, the World’s Laziest Journalist will write a column that will ask the question:  Did Liberals ignore the JEB prediction because subconsciously they wanted that precise outcome to occur? 

 

If Liberals don’t secretly want a return of the Bush Dynasty wouldn’t they look closely at the material used to make the prediction and evaluate it to see if they could possibly do anything (everything?) to prevent such a (hypothetical) result? 

 

Until the November election results are <s>counted</s> – strike that word because the electronic voting machines do not leave any verifiable results – until the November election results are being reported, we will use all the self-restraint we can muster to abstain from jumping to conclusions and/or making political predictions. 

 

We were wrong in our Kentucky Derby prediction about Native Dancer, so for tomorrow’s race, you’re on your own, pal.

 

Didn’t forecasts, predictions, and educated guesses about “the most likely outcome” provide the bulk of the Sunday morning talk shows’ appeal until the Murdochization of Journalism occurred and American citizens were conditioned to watch and accept unexpected events without questions?

 

George Clayton Johnson, who wrote for “The Twilight Zone” TV series, advises young writers to be creative by rejecting the laws of logic and ask themselves “What if?”  What would happen if political pundits rejected the Murdoch syndrome and began to ask “What if?” and (perhaps) achieve Twilight Zone levels of entertainment value in their evaluations of politics?

 

Here is an example:  After a primary season where all Republicans enunciated radical policies for keeping the women folk under control, giving businesses unrestricted disregard for laws in an effort to provide more jobs, and asserting that the Social Security Program was about to go broke; what if a deadlocked convention turned and begged JEB to (in the name of family tradition and patriotic duty) accept the Republican Party nomination to be their Presidential Candidate? 

 

If (hypothetically) the electronic voting machines with unverifiable results delivered a win to JEB, wouldn’t he then be able to say he had a “mandate” to carry out the program formulated during the Primary process?  If a deadlocked convention hands JEB the nomination, he won’t be shackled by any campaign statements or promises. 

 

Once a member of the Bush Dynasty gets a mandate, does Fox News bother with any debates about what the voters meant by their decision?  When Fox decrees, does any other team in the Journalism game dare to risk being labeled “conspiracy theory nutcases” and deviate from the norm established by Fox?

 

A promise not to make any new political predictions doesn’t mean that we won’t occasionally make snarky remarks such as noting that President Obama seems to be sanctioning the closure of places where medical pot is available and that Occupy protests are getting the same swift reaction that student anti-war demonstrations got in 1968 from the governor of California and then asking:  “Does that prove that Obama is a Reagan Democrat?”

 

Is there irony in the fact that Occupy Protesters tents were removed from public parks, but in the travel section of the April 29, 2012, edition of the New York Times, an article by Elaine Glusac suggested using a web site named Campinmygarden to find places in Great Britain to rent urban space where tourists could pitch their tents during the Olympic games?

 

In theUSAthe streets are filled with homeless people who are told that the empty buildings are off limits. 

 

Will cash strappedSan Franciscorent out park space for the yacht owners to camp out during theAmerica’s Cup preliminary races this summer?

 

In the Thirties atmosphere of class struggle, some wealthy people voiced the opinion that if a homeless person were on fire, the swells wouldn’t urinate on them to put out the fire.  Would it be an example of sadism if people condoned (symbolically) urinating on a worker struggling with payments for a house that is “under water”?

 

When it was discovered that banks were using improper procedures for home foreclosures, did any court issue an immediate injunction on additional foreclosure proceedings or no?  Perhaps in all the excitement, the banks have lost count of how many foreclosures they made.  Was it 500,000 or was it 600,000?  Now you have to ask yourself another question.  “Doe it matter?”  Well does it?

 

What if the World’s Laziest Journalist is wrong predicting a November win by JEB?

 

If we are accurate in the prediction, we will gloat; if our projection for the results is not correct, we will do an unabashed version of the Murdoch response and blame midlevel management (at the World’s Laziest Journalist headquarters) for being inept and providing us with inaccurate information.

 

[Note from the Photo Desk:  After taking and posting photos from the morning portion of the Occupy Oakland May Day protest, we returned toFrankOgawaPlazanear sundown and took some photos of the police coming out of the City Hall in riot gear.  At that point the batteries in the Coolpix camera ran out of juice, so we went home and listened to KCBS news radio to learn about the exact number of inevitable arrests.]

 

 

Wright Morris wrote:  “The man who walks alone is soon trailed by the FBI.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play Max Frost and the Troopers’ song “Shape of Things to Come,” Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz,” and (from 1966) the New Breed’s song “I’ve Been Wrong Before.”  [If W. C. Fields were still alive would he say:  “A man’s gotta believe in something and I believe “I’ll Have Another” will win!”?]  We have to go to National Free Comics Day, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, and place a bet on a real horse race.  Have a “frisked for weapons” type week.