Archive for September, 2012

September 28, 2012

Labor dispute in progress!  This column has not been fact checked.

Good officiating is just as important in American politics as it is in the NFL and some curmudgeonly columnists will not be surprised if the Presidential Election ends with a call by the referees (or Supreme Court?) that gives the win to someone who was an ineligible receiver.

Rush Limbaugh early in the week was cackling with delight over the furor the poor officiating by the replacement referees over the weekend (and the Monday night Sea Hawks vs. Greenbay game) had generated among football fans.  Uncle Rushbo was gleefully asserting that the dispute points out the underlying fault in the liberal argument that the replacements are equal to the referees with years of experience.

It is a clever way to make the central issue (for Uncle Rushbo) seem to be that inexperienced rookies make excellent examples for the principle of giving quota hires the same priority as more qualified job applicants.

That, in turn, is a slick way of diverting the focus away from the idea that (economic) might makes right makes sense to the one percent.

It seems quite likely that Uncle Rushbo wouldn’t want to read any commentary that makes the assertion that the team owners might (metaphorically speaking) wanted to do to football fans, players, and bookies, what the Republican politicians would like to do to America’s voters.

Since a goodly number of media owners seem to relish the opportunity to cozy up to Uncle Rushbo and the team owners, it could be that there was an unwritten edict is in effect in the mainstream media to ignore the arrogance and greed of the team owners and focus on the ineptness of the scab laborers.  Didn’t Ayn Rand advise team owners involved in labor disputes that “winning isn’t everything . . . it’s the only thing!”?

Americans have traditionally supported the underdog and so folks like Uncle Rushbo derive a certain level of perverse pleasure when the conservative punderati have to defend the poor persecuted minority of people who own sports franchises against the unwashed rabble who are howling like a crowd at the gladiator games to see the team owners eaten alive by high tax rates.  It is up to the likes of Uncle Rushbo and the Republican politicians to come to the defense of the one percenters.

The Billionaires for Bush organization has morphed into Billionaires for Wealthfare and is recording their antics for posterity online.  Has a spokesperson for that group been a guest on Jon Stewart or the Colbert Report show?  If not; why not?

Speaking of cash bonuses for debilitating hits, are the TV networks giving out any bonus money to the cameramen if they record vignettes of people reduced to tears?  We have noticed that lately CBS Evening News does seem to be helping reinforce the conservative selling point that Obama has failed by showing someone crying each night because they can’t cope with the contemporary American economic situation.  It kinda seems like the managing editors are specifically sending the news reporters into the field to get shots of weepy women saying they don’t know how they are going to feed their kids and pay for college.  Did they show that kind of melodrama journalism back when George W. Bush was President?

Do network owners bother to get involved with the story selection process?  Would it build ratings if we had Ed Murrow interview Marilyn Monroe on “Person to Person”?

Do Americans want celebrity gossip or do they want a full explanation of what happened to Harold Holt?

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, recently made a comment about the Republican Party in the USA being taken over by “cranks and crazies.”  Did Fox News run any story about that bit of international criticism?  If not, why not?

Stanford University released a study, titled “Living Under Drones,” that asserted that the American drone bombers were spawning a great deal of resentment in the Middle East because of the high number of civilian casualties they caused.  The authors of the study seemed to be implying that the carnage would motivate future retaliation against the USA and thus prove that President George W. Bush was accurate in calling the conflict the “Forever War.”

President Obama was quoted as saying that the drones attacked high value military targets and that civilian casualties were “exceedingly rare.”  Will Uncle Rushbo validate Obama’s claim or will America’s anchor side with the Muslims and dispute the President’s claim?

Didn’t Reich Marshal Hermann Goering assure journalists during WWII that the V2 buzz bombs were only used against military sites and that very few Brits were being sent to the hospital (or morgue) as a result?

President Obama went to the UN this week and delivered a speech that stressed the point that Muslim countries should use the “freedom of speech” principle to ignore a film that they say is offensive to their religion.  Would he be just as tolerant of the freedom of speech principle if some Muslim clerics arrived in the United States and preached that NFL team owners should be permitted to have multiple wives harem style?

Is Religious freedom available to the Native Americans who believe that peyote should be used in some of their religious ceremonies?

Are any young Americans becoming enthusiastic about reforming the Lincoln Brigade and going to Spain to help the miners fight against the miserly mine owners?

Is there any talk about forming a new Lincoln Brigade and sending the boys to Syria to do for Syrians what Ernst Hemingway et al did for the Spanish people in the Thirties?

During the last week of September of 2012, Rush Limbaugh in a casual toss away line unveiled the concept of “media fraud.”  It was his contention (has he been sipping the Coolade seved in the employee mess at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory?) that all the polls predicting that President Obama will steamroll over Mitt Romney in the November Election are part of a concerted, coordinated premeditated effort to cast doubt on the “upset” victory news for conservatives who “know” Mitt will get the most votes on the electronic voting machines.

Wouldn’t any political party that plans to use covert methods of election cheating be wise to launch a preemptive strike aimed at media credibility as a way of discrediting any subsequent voting results that defy logic?  If the electronic voting machines are going to be manipulated to deliver an “upset” victory to Mitt Romney wouldn’t it be wise to start criticizing the media’s credibility now?

Isn’t the leftist media always goading the hoipolloi  into selecting Barabbas?

Did Barabbas have a horse that could participate in a dressage competition or did he just ride a fast quarter horse (for quick getaways?)?  Is there really a place called “Rose’s Cantina” in El Paso?  Do you know where the only foreign military base inside the United State is located?  Shouldn’t every American military base be named “Fort Bliss”?

Speaking of the Museum for the U. S. Cavalry, isn’t it remarkable that Errol Flynn did such a good job of portraying General George A. Custer?

Speaking of a massacre, can’t Karl Rove invoke the Whitlam rule and replace Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket before he makes political history similar to that achieved by Alf Landon and George McGovern?

Ahhh, but won’t the concept of “Media Fraud” (essentially) lay the foundation for a counter-conspiracy propaganda blitzkrieg substantiating a Mitt win (via the electronic voting machines with no verifiable results) that contradicts all expectations?  So it is that the results of the November election have already been rendered irrefutable and thus irrelevant.  (Whatever!)

The People who expect honest results from the team that gave George W. Bush two disputed “Touchdown!” calls haven’t been paying attention.  Do they skim read the Gospel of St. Ayn Rand?

The party that wins the White House in November will proudly proclaim that Democracy is alive and well in the USA.  The party that loses will hold a press conference on the campus of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory and label the election a fraud and a farce.

In “The Fountainhead” St. Ayn Rand wrote:  “Don’t bother to examine a folly – ask yourself only what it accomplishes. . . . You don’t have to be too clear about it.  Use big words. . . . The farce has been going on for centuries and men still fall for it.”

Now the disk jockey will play Andy William’s “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” the tearjerker classic about football, “The blind man in the bleachers,” and  AC/DC’s song “Walk all over you.”  We have to go look for a good photo for next week’s column.    Have a “Mr. Gotti says:  ‘Get in the fuckin’ car!’” type week.

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The Internets = Nihilist’s Valhalla?

September 24, 2012

Would it be worth the blood, sweat, and keystrokes necessary, if an online political pundit wrote a column comparing the passive aggressive tactics of the Republicans in the House and Senate to the autoworkers sit down strikes in the Thirties and then kicked back and waited to see that metaphor “go viral” on the Intenets?

What’s the payoff if a writer posts a column online about Germany’s Pirate Party three or four days before the New York Times publishes a piece about it on the OpEd Page?

After a severe cold interrupted the string of consecutive weekly political punditry columns, the World’s Laziest Journalist made a rash decision to go “cold turkey” and spend a week without accessing the Internets and to write the next column about the experience of going a week without a digital “fix.”

Don’t most Americans love to experience addiction vicariously?  Maybe a week offline would produce something like “The Lost Weekend Column,” “The Man with the Golden Arms Deal Column,” or William Burroughs’s lost masterpiece, “The Naked Bunch” column?

Staying off the Internets for a week would mean delaying the opportunity to inform our audience about an update regarding the <a href =www.calpirateparty.org>California Pirate Party </a>.  The California residents have a weekly chat room on Monday nights and the<a href =www.pirate-party.us>National Pirate Party</a> has a nation wide chat room on Tuesday nights.  Maybe we could suggest a mock “Jack Sparrrow for President” movement and if they thought it would bring them publicity from the national mainstream media that suggestion could go viral.  If no one else is going to offer them that idea won’t the “better late than never” rule apply?

During the “week in the penalty box,” we got the bright idea of sending an e-mail to Norm Goldman alerting him to the idea that we would write a column comparing Bishop Romney to MacHeath in “The Three Penny Opera.”  If Norm liked the possibility of an opera that portrays beggars as thieves being a variation of Bishop Romney’s political philosophy, then maybe we’d hear a reference to the World’s Laziest Journalist on Goldman’s nationwide radio show.  Aren’t the chances of that happening just about the same as our chances of getting an on air mention on the next Wolfman Jack broadcast?

What would happen if we wrote a column that asked the question:  “Is the controversial online movie critical of the founder of the Muslim religion being used as a rationale for staging riots that are payback for the killing of Osama bin Laden?”

After buying the book “No man knows my history,” by Fawn M. Brodie (Alfred A. Knopf 1963), the World’s Laziest Journalist was intimidated by the task of reading all that material just to get a thumbnail sketch of the life of the founder of the Mormon religion; so we went to an encyclopedia in the Berkeley Public Library and learned that Joe Smith (will there be Mormon riots in the Middle East if this column is perceived to be disrespectful in its regard for that religion’s founding father?) kept the details of his biography well obscured and that he co-mingled the concepts of religion and politics with a political philosophy he called “theodemocracy” and that he left some investors feeling cheated in the wake of a church-bank experiment.  Could Mitt be trying (consciously or unconsciously) to make the story of his life a duplicate of Joe Smith’s biography?

Many conservative commentators are completely disregarding St. Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment (“Never speak ill of a fellow Republican”) and dishing out some severe criticism of Bishop Romney’s campaign tactics.  Should we pound out a column asking “What up wid dat?” or should we try something more unique such as attempting to find a common thread connecting the Republican Presidential Nominee’s political career with those of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt and America’s Senator Paul Wellstone?

With the music group, Puss Riot, getting extensive news coverage, we noticed that Der Spiegel also reported recently that Honor Blackman, who played Pussy Galore in the movie “Goldfinger,” has a supporting role in the new film “Cockneys vs. Zombies.”

Didn’t a famous newspaper columnist (Herbus Caenus?) in the era of Julius Caesar X once state that all web content falls into one of two categories: either bread or circuses?  Hell’s bells, it ain’t no fun waiting around to become a nationally known pundit.

As the week progressed, we became more and more aware that getting access to the Internets was often a cure for boredom and that if we filled the lulls with books, we wouldn’t really have much need for going online.

We were beginning to think that for every perceptive and insightful posting online, there are tens of thousands of inane and asinine entries that praise some acquaintance’s effort to post a link to a video of a kitten dancing on a typewriter’s keyboard and tapping out a carbon copy of the first page of “Tropic of Cancer.”

On the night of Thursday September 20 to Friday September 21, we caught a local TV news broadcast that delivered the information that the Space Shuttle Endeavor would do a fly-by at the Golden Gate Bridge between 8:30 and 9 a.m. on Friday morning.  We calculated that if we got up early and took some busses, we could be in position for a great news photo opportunity before mid morning.

Fatigue, which may have been a residual effect of the aforementioned cold, convinced us that some extra sleep might be a better executive decision.

We had breakfast and then aimlessly wandered over to the area in Berkeley where the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory “campus” is located and had a chat with a fellow who was on a smoke break enjoying his cigarette amid some magnificent Indian Summer in Berkeley weather.

We heard an airplane and when we looked up there was the Space Shuttle Endeavor on top of a Boeing that was banking west for a landside approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.  We wondered if the airplane’s itinerary had been selected as a way to pay tribute to the hard working staff at the Amalgamated Factory.  Would the Government say they were paying tribute, instead, to a nearby weapons laboratory?

We pulled out our beloved Nikon Coolpix and commenced to avail our self of the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.  The Nikon Coolpix viewing screen in daylight is not as clear and sharp as is the viewfinder image provided by a Nikon F, but that old reliable workhorse doesn’t fit into the front pocket of our jeans; so you go with whatcha got.

We have always been vaguely aware that watching something happened and taking photos of the same event are two different activities and so while we scrambled and fumbled with the various factors (such as a the telephoto zoom option and the hard to see screen) that needed our immediate attention, we sacrificed the option to just stand there and “drink in” the spectacle.

Simultaneously we had a variation of the St. Paul moment and our lifelong fascination with the category of philosophy called nihilism snapped into focus because we realized that we had thee options:  A. We could suspend our weeklong experiment with Internets avoidance and immediately start the process of editing, preparing, and posting the images we had taken.  B.  We could maintain our boycott and post the results on Monday.  C.  We could skip over the results and put them away in our digital shoebox photo storage area.  That was when we had the St. Paul epiphany moment.  Ultimately, in the grand scheme of “the History of the World,” the result for all thee options was (in Texting talk) IDFM.  (It Doesn’t F****** Matter!)

Posting on the Internets and Solipsism have a great deal in common.  Often, posting a column is like delivering a grandiose soliloquy at a dress rehearsal.

LIFE magazine had been posting the best newsphotos of the day on their website, but they dropped that feature awhile back.  We have been intending to write a column lamenting the lack of one major resource for still photos online.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a magnificent photo of the flyby at the Golden Gate Bridge on their front page Saturday morning.  The shot will probably win more than a few regional photojournalism clip contest awards and become a historic image (similar to the shot of a Pan Am China Clipper doing the same thing) in the future.  Our humble efforts pale in comparison.

The weeklong experiment provided the World’s Laziest Journalist with a reality challenge.  In a country where a fellow who’s business experience seems to mimic the antics of the cartoon character Snidely Whiplash, and where that same fellow becomes the Republican Party’s Presidential nominee, who consistently gets fifty percent of likely voters to say they will vote for him; then the tendency to rely on nihilism to provide the narrative thread for the writer’s lifetime becomes expedient again.  IDFM.

So why continue writing columns?  We find it amusing to think that in the future some unknown (but pop culture savvy) historian will chortle over a snide online comment that asserts that Bishop Romney’s secret plan to end the Recession will ultimately remind some folks of a Twilight Zone episode that ended with the line:  “It’s a cookbook1”

Now the disk jockey will play Bobby Darin’s song “Mack the Knife,” the Doors’ “Alabama Song,” and the Three Penny Opera.  We have to go do some fact checking for a possible column on the current state of football in the USA.  Have a “so what?” (Just like a noteworthy NY Daily News front page headline?) type week.

What’s not to like about the Euthanasia Coaster?

September 6, 2012

In the annals of Los Angles Political History there is a half century old story about a fiery challenger who, in the best David vs. Goliath tradition, issued bold and provocative challenges to a powerful incumbent to hold a debate.  The conventional wisdom at the time held that the fellow in office had nothing to gain by sharing the spotlight with an unknown underdog.  Finally the exasperated hopeful bought some local TV time and debated an empty chair.  This bit of extreme stunt campaigning helped deliver a stunning upset victory for the outsider.

Since Clint Eastwood, who was born in San Francisco in 1930, started a Hollywood acting career that was underway in the late Fifties, it could well be that he was trying to imitate that obscure, but successful, bit of political strategy when he spoke at the Republican National Convention last week.

The media storm caused by Eastwood’s speech may have been partisan payback for the “meltdown” allegations that were hurled at Howard Dean when he let out an enthusiastic yell at a primary election victory rally.

The fact that the critics of the Clint Eastwood’s empty chair shtick were supposed to be journalist and not partisan political hacks made the omission of a mention of the Los Angeles precedence, and its relevancy to last week’s event and the subsequent analysis, seem shoddy and inadequate.  Some of the Eastwood speech did seem to be a bit rambling and disjointed and thus provide a basis for the comparisons to Grandpa Simpson but the L. A. connection with the chair was just too obscure to be appreciated by folks who were not well versed in L. A. political history.  Repeated efforts to find out what L. A. personality successfully used the debate with a chair ploy were unsuccessful.

The first time this columnist encountered the phrase “a senior moment” was in a movie line delivered by Clint Eastwood.

As this year’s Presidential election draws closer the atmosphere in journalism is becoming very partisan and that makes the World’s Laziest Journalist reluctant to attempt to deliver snide remarks about either or both candidates.

A columnist who works with limited access to the Internets has to rely on instinct and personal preferences to select the material to be included.  It could be that while pounding out the keystrokes for a column that mentions an obscure bit of political history in Los Angeles, people have been inundated with similar mentions of it among the vast variety of commentary available to them.  Or not.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist stumbles across a mention somewhere (Muy Interesante magazine perhaps?) of the photos being made by South American artist Cecilia Paredes and they, in turn, remind us of some <I>trompe l’oeil </I> work featured in Popular Photography magazine a few decades back; would it be worth the effort to do all the work necessary to get permission to reprint some of her work plus examples of the images from American media past?  Isn’t it easier to let interested readers do their own Google Image search?    (Google Image hint:  Cecilia Paredes Photography)

Form follows function and to produce a variety of items quickly, a columnist has to use the “put it on a bumper sticker” attitude to get the column posted and get the collection of material for the next one started.

If the readers of this column have had numerous encounters with the news stories about the “Euthanasia Coaster,” which is supposed to be a design for an extreme roller coaster ride that will kill the riders, and it is mentioned here; it is up to them to say “Can’t this columnist find something new?” or, if this is their first encounter with that news item, they can choose to do a Google Image search and “be the first on their block” to make a reference to it on their Facebook page.

One wag suggested that the Euthanasia Coaster could be a conservative scheme to give folks a cheap solution to use when the Republicans start using death panels to cut medical costs.

If Bishop Romney announced that his plan to solve the recession problem was to wave a magic wand, saying “Poof!  Be gone” to unemployment, would that generate any skepticism among journalists with a national audience?

Since it should be obvious to this columnist that he will never deliver a column that is a tie breaker for a Presidential race that is continually reported to be a virtual photo finish race, we will settle for doing the work necessary for amusing a small online audience.

What if doing the necessary fact checking also provides a chance to cross an item off the columnist’s bucket list?  It could be that writing columns is the excuse for the worker going out, taking pictures, seeing interesting things, having fun and that writing about the process and posting the results online is just a bonus for  readers who want to enjoy the process vicariously.  We like to think that Hunter S. Thompson would approve.

Eventually one photo op for pictures of protesters getting arrested looks like the next and so some weeks the columnist with a Nikon Coolpix may have to settle for getting one image that includes kink, pop culture, and a shopping destination for tourists.  Is the pop culture scene being shortchanged by journalism because the smaller news staffs are often overworked?

We have written a column about walking around the ATT ballpark in San Francisco while a World Series Game was being played.  Would a report on the hi-jinks going on inside the press room at a World Series Game provide some juicy reading for both the regulars and new arrivals in the audience?  Maybe we should start to apply for a press pass for any AT&T Park World Series games this year?

Should we self-subsidize the expenses that would occur if we apply for and get a press credential to go back to the Oscars™?

Most Americans (both Liberal and Conservative) don’t want to read about the implications about the quality of the results that the electronic voting machines produce.  No one seems concerned about the possibility that “they” might steal another election.  If, as some people assert, “they” stole two, why the heck would they want to do it again?

The Conservatives don’t want to see or hear any reports that cast aspersions on Republican candidates or even on Ayn Rand.

The Liberals want to make a concerted effort to get out the vote and not be distracted by the possibility that the electronic voting machines may render their efforts ineffective.

Apparently the slim number of people concerned with the question of whether the Euthanasia Coaster or the Electronic Voting Machines has a better reliability rating means that those topics are only worth a quick mention.  If the Euthanasia Coaster and the Electronic Voting Machines were important topics wouldn’t either one or both be mentioned on the Jon Stewart Show?

Do people in other areas of the world want to read about the debate in Berkeley this fall over a proposed sit-lie ordinance?  Probably not.

Do citizens want to read a column about a new book that reports that the FBI got very involved in investigating the anti-war protesters at the University of California Berkeley campus in the Sixties?  In the era of Homeland Security are over zealous security measures from fifty years ago important?  Maybe not.  (Google News Search hints: “Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals and Reagan’s Rise to Power” and “Seth Rosenfeld”)

Recently we noticed that the Mediteranium Café in Berkeley offers a beer float.  Not a root beer float, but a regular brewski with a scoop of ice cream in it.  We checked online and found a few mentions of the concept so we figure it is worth a mention.

That made us wonder about the news items about beer being brewed by the Obamas.  How much does one bottle cost?  Who gets the proceeds?  Do any profits go to the daughters’ college fund?  Are bottles sold at outrageously high prices to campaign donors?  Does the Democratic Party profit?   Are the answers to these questions available in print or electronic media or is quality journalism deteriorating that badly?

What topics are left for a columnist who puts a high priority on the “just for the fun of it” factor of fact finding and material gathering?  That is the recurring challenge.

In a country that seems to be on the brink of electing Bishop Romney President, perhaps a series of columns about the general atmosphere in the USA in the fall of 2012 will be of interest to future historians who want material that wasn’t part of the wolf pack journalism produced at the two Political Conventions.

Samuel Johnson wrote:  “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”  We have a suggestion for those ads for a certain credit card company because an “all access” backstage pass to a Rolling Stones concert would be (let’s all say it together) <I>Priceless</I> .

Now the disk jockey will play the Inconcevables song “Hamburger Patti,” The Daddy O’s “Got a match?,” and Hayley Mills’ “Johnny Jingo.”  We have to check to see what effect sit-lie ordinances are having in San Francisco and Santa Monica. Have a “hurray for our side” type week.