Tanks? Or “No Thanks!”?

The Lenco BearCat, which is best described by the phrase “armored personnel carrier,” is often called “a tank” in the media and at a recent city council meeting, during a routine report by the Berkeley Police Department the members of the city council were surprised to be informed that thanks to a grant from the Urban Areas Security Initiative, one was coming to Berkeley.  They were told that the vehicle will be jointly owned by the Berkeley, Albany, and the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) Police Departments and that it will be housed at UCB. 

If this bit of news had occurred in 1968, it probably would have been reported in a wide variety of media ranging from the weekly Berkeley Barb newspaper to the New York Times (which needs no introduction).  As it is, times have changed and the Barb is gone and the New York Times has to cope with a smaller full time staff, smaller stringer budget, and a shrinking amount of space for news in the printed hard copy.  Getting a surfeit of celebrity gossip is not a problem.  Fill in the blank ­­_________ with your own favorite irrelevant example from the current events page.  (Did an online news site just use a public domain photo of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle to illustrate a feature news story on obesity?) 

Since the vehicle will be acquired via the joint three department grant and will not require the authorization of funds, the Berkeley Police Department did not see a need to consult with the City Council about the matter.  At the last city council meeting in June of 2012, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to reexamine the questions raised by getting a tank.

Since many local police departments are getting similar vehicles, the fact that one is coming to Berkeley has a low priority for use on websites with national audiences, but what does make it relevant is the fact that a local decision seems to have been made for Berkeley by people who don’t live in the area.

When one national political party makes a campaign issue out of the idea that there is too much government involvement in citizens lives, seeing people outside the area make the decision for bringing a tank to Berkeley (Oakland already has one.) seems to be an egregious example of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite. 

By Tuesday of the first week of July 2012, it was being reported online via Patch that Albany would not participate in the joint cooperation deal.  On Thursday morning, the UCB student newspaper, The Daily Californian, was reporting that Albany was pulling out of the tank deal.  By Thursday afternoon, the Berkeleyside website was reporting that all three police agencies had dropped out of the agreement.

An odd facet of the tank story was that on Monday Google News was leading fact checkers to a story in the San Jose Mercury News.  By Tuesday, it was very difficult to go back to and reread that story.  Reality, it seems, is becoming gelatinous in the Internets Era.

While doing some Google-news searching to see if Lenco BearCat is an issue in Concordia Kansa, we learned that the Cancun Underwater Museum is about to open.  Do they have a Scuba Dive shop in Concordia?  Do they have a tank?

Have you read much (any?) news coverage about the scuba team that is doing some wreck diving on the Graf Zeppelin, Germany’s only WWII aircraft carrier?  (We leaned about that topic in a recent copy of Wreck Diving Magazine.)

Early in the first week of July 2012, we heard a report on KCBS news radio that the legislators in Sacramento were considering making a law that would permit a child to have more than two parents. 

Does Uncle Rushbo read our columns?  If he uses new topics after some World’s Laziest Journalist’s columns about those items are posted online, that might provide some circumstantial evidence to support the claim. 

The case that inspired the move to pass this new law is rather complex and involves a married pair of lesbians and two guys who are married, with (according to the news report) one of those fellows being the biological parent of the child in question.  It is sure to spawn a massive amount of righteous indignation from the ranks of the family values party.

This week CBS News was getting a lot of credit for breaking a story about the inner workings of the Supreme Court of the United States that preceded the announcement of the decision for the Obamacare cases.  Uncle Rushbo asserted that secret “in-fighting” was unprecedented.  Doesn’t that claim completely invalidate the credibility of Bob Woodward’s book “The Brethren”?  

On Tuesday, the police made a sweep and emptied the protesters at Lakeview school in Oakland from the school grounds.  Online reports indicated two people were cited and released in the process.

If the Republicans had to make a binary choice between getting high speed rail service between San Francisco and ultimately destroying California’s famed Redwood trees, or not spending the money for the boondoggle and thereby saving the sequoias for posterity; which way do you think they’d flop?  What better use could a giant sequoia tree be put to than to supply gavels for conservative judges for all eternity?

Have we plugged the Tree Museum on the UCB campus?  Shouldn’t they include a new puppy giant sequoia (What it grow!) on their roster?  It ought to be rather tall when the time capsule from the 1939 New York World’s Fair is opened in 6539.  We are learning all about the World of Tomorrow in James Mauro’s book about the aforementioned extravaganza from the past.

Speaking of the past, we learned on the Bradblog website that Ireland has scrapped their electronic voting machines recently because of questions about the reliability and accuracy of the results.  If those futuristic machines reduce taxes and increase employment isn’t that reason enough to rely completely on them?  Wasn’t there a poem in Yank during World War II saying that the troops were not fighting for electronic voting machines?  (see the closing quote below)

Does the United States Supreme Court use some kind of computer to tabulate the voting on the questions they decide?  What if (subjunctive mood alert) that computer produced results that were very unexpected? 

The union workers at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory were not amused to see that a CBS television reporter was straying into their territory and they were considering a boycott charging her with “crossing the craft.”  Wouldn’t it be better for them to start a recall petition against that reporter?  It would be just like what happened to Ann Curry.  Wasn’t her recall petition signed by just one person who happened to be one of her coworkers?  When it comes to buying into conspiracy theories, always look for the union label.

Speaking of crossing the craft, we noticed that a certain well known person from the realm of journalism management recently posted some interesting tweets that were widely referenced on the Internets.  Can management tweet?  Shouldn’t only members of the tweeters union be posting that material?  Is it true that the motto of the tweeters union is:  “I though I saw a pussy cat!”? 

At the World’s Laziest Journalist World Headquarters we are always on the watch for fascinating new ideas from the lunatic fringe and so we are trying to figure out what the . .  . heck . . . is the significance of the rumors that the Edward Gough Whitlam Fan Club is planning to give this year’s “Hit the showers, kid, you were found wanting” award to . . . Mitt Romney. 

What will the Republicans think if the electronic voting machines that tabulate the results at the Republican National Convention say that some other guy gets the nomination?  Assertions that the results were absolute and unverifiable would cause some grumbling but that could easily be mollified by charging that such dissention was spawned by a conspiracy theory concocted by lunatics.  Didn’t the host city get a tank earlier this year?

If, for example, when the first roll call vote is taken at the National Convention and if the final results are tabulated by an electronic voting machine, what will happen if the omnipotent machine says that JEB Bush gets the nomination? 

In the poem “A Plea to the Post-war Planners (or, Please don’t streamline mother while I’m gone)” T/Sgt. Philip Reisman Jr. (USMC) wrote:  “I’ve little use for synthesized soup, or operas (soapy) televised, . . . or wireless ballots for brainless voters, . . . .”

Now the disk jockey will play the Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil” (because it mentions tanks), the soundtrack album for “Patton,” and Bob Hope’s theme song “Tanks for the Memories.”  We gotta make tracks outta here.  Have a “The Crimes of Patriots” type week.

[Note:  A staff photo of a BearCat was not available but a photo showing a possible example of the results of patient dumping was ready for use.  We thought the photo had some relevance to a column about tanks for American cities.  Compassionate Christian Conservatives are endorsing a trend towards militarizing Police Departments while cutting social programs, but when the possibility of patient dumping was mentioned to one of the city council persons in Berkeley CA, corrective measures were begun immediately.  Seeing that same city decline an armored personnel carrier, which would have been touted as costing nothing (Houdini did not actually make the elephant disappear. {Using federal funds rather than city money does not mean that the item doesn’t cost the local taxpayers one cent.  It just means some creative accounting made it seem that way.}), causes a cynical columnist to experience a momentary glimmer of optimism.]


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