Archive for November, 2012

Early 2016 elections punditry!

November 30, 2012

America’s journey to Election Day 2016 began with a single step in the form of a front page article in the New York Times on November 23, 2012, which effectively anointed JEB Bush as the Republican frontrunner.  Since the World’s Laziest Journalist rarely gets news tips and doesn’t have well placed sources who will provide him with newsworthy inside information such as we read in a recent Tom Hartman column that described some astounding chicanery used by Richard Nixon in his second bid for the Presidency in 1968, we will have to continue relying on our usual <I>modus operandi</I> of occasionally attempting to point out the obvious in the “naked emperor” manner, ridiculing pomposity, while mixing in some obscure facts and names (which we call Google bait), and pop culture references, as a way to inform and entertain the regular readers while simultaneously conducting the search for topics which we (occasionally) manage to find before the mainstream media does.

 

For those who doubt that there are any “naked emperor” stories that journalists in America haven’t explored fully, we would ask: Why haven’t they asked these questions?:

 

Why did George W. Bush get a pass on Questions (Building 7, the vanished airplane wreckage near in and near the Pentagon, and the mysterious entities who profited from short sales of airline stocks) regarding Sept. 11, while President Obama is being held accountable for a full and immediate explanation of what happened in Benghazi?

 

Why did the press sit silent when George W. Bush expanded Presidential powers yet they join the chorus denouncing it when the Egyptian President makes a power grab?

 

Now that voices from the left are virtually extinct, where are the howls of outrage about the “liberal media”?  In a country that says it values free speech, shouldn’t there be patriots asking: Where did it go?

 

Was coach John Madden serious when he suggested on his KCBS radio show that it was a good idea to slather mayonnaise on a peanut butter sandwich?

 

It is a bit too early for a rogue pundit to start assessing the likelihood of a 2016 contest between Hilary and JEB that will be compared to a horse race, so we will try to find some interesting and entertaining topics that are available to a pundit without “reliable sources” and let the mainstream media report the latest poll results.

 

On Black Friday, we encountered five young guys from Belgium whose quest for adventure had brought them to San Francisco.  They were part of a group of artists calling themselves Harmony Street (which has a Facebook page) and they were selling hand made post cards to augment their finances to sustain their “on the road” lifestyle.  If we run an item about the San Francisco phase of their journey in one of our columns, isn’t it likely that several of their friends back home will be sent some links which will provide an infinitesimally small bump in the total number of hits?

 

Later that same day we encountered a young man from San Diego who was interviewing people about their assessment of the annual deluge of holiday films.  We told him that we personally were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the film version of “On the Road.”  We managed to give him our opinion without having to forfeit our record of keeping the Internets clear of images of our face.  To see it, click this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfIfyqZHoaY&feature=plcp

 

If a blogger can be considered a “digital Kerouac, then we have a reason to mention that postings have resumed on the blog that describes the “on the road” facet of life for “<a href =http://thehitzels.blogspot.com/>

the Hitzels</a>.”

 

The road to the next Presidential Election Day is littered with hazards but there is one possibility that all political pundits both conservative and liberal are completely (until earlier this week) discounting:  what if the Republicans want to drive the economy off the fiscal cliff?  (Who will be the first pundit to compare the political showdown for the fiscal cliff to the game of chicken sequence in the film “Rebel without a Cause”?)

 

The Liberal pundits can not conceive of choosing to make that move so they use the psychological phenomenon called projection to assume that since they wouldn’t do that, then neither would the conservatives.

 

It would take a fair amount of work to write a column suggesting that the “please don’t throw me in the briar patch” strategy (from the Uncle Remos stories about B’rer Rabbit) might be lurking in the Republican leaders’ minds and neither liberals nor conservatives would give such a column serious consideration, so scratch that idea . . . but if that’s exactly what does happen don’t blame the World’s Laziest Journalist for not writing a tip-off alert column.

 

On Black Friday, we went to the Union Square in San Francisco to see how the convention of shoppers, political activists of the animal rights variety, protesters, office workers, tourists, police, and journalists was going.  The contingent of police was augmented by mounted patrolmen who were riding horses wearing badges and Santa hats.

 

After a referendum in Berkeley CA to enact a sit-lie law was narrowly defeated, Mayor Tom Bates brought up a variation of the issue of who should sit where by requesting that the seating chart for the city council be adjusted so that his colleague and political opponent councilman Kris Worthington would not be sitting next to the Mayor.

 

When the local web site Berkeleyside asked the Mayor why, his quick quip answer (“So I don’t strangle him.”) brought renewed intensive journalistic scrutiny to the Berkeley City Council.  Mayor Bates told a local TV crew “It was just a joke!”

 

 

In the Go-go era, would an independent citizen journalist have been able to report the possibility for an ecological disaster because of the gold mining efforts in the Pascua Lama area before the BBC ran a similar item about that business story from South America?

 

What about beating the New York Times with mentions of the 1939 BMW replica motorcycle, smoking bath salts, and pointing out that the opening statement by the lead American prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials crippled the Bush supporters “he didn’t know” argument?  Do they count as “scoops”?

 

The famous, fictional San Francisco cop, Dirty Harry (Cling Eastwood) said:  “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  In the new era of overextended news staffs, rogue pundits who report information which will appeal to liberals has got to expect that conservatives will disparage any items that don’t fit the conservatives’ narrative and they will marginalize any such independent commentators.

 

Could the Myth Busters TV program be plotting an expose that makes the assertion that the World’s Laziest Journalist works very hard to maintain his laid-back, happy-go-lucky ersatz Gonzo style of column writing?

 

The conservative critics who think that the über-cynical World’s Laziest Journalist is being led astray on his path to an eternal reward will be glad to learn that he has been provided with an autographed copy of “Turtle on the Fencepost:  Finding Faith through Doubt” (Richard B. Patterson Liguori Publications) and will read every word of it.

 

Back when Sean Connery was slipping into the role of James Bond and the Rolling Stones were trying to land a deal with a recording company, we were trying to improvise a plan that would deliver a life consisting of: meeting interesting people, seeing interesting sights, and witnessing interesting events.  As this column was being written CBS radio news ran an item noting that the film “Casablanca” opened on November 26, 1942, and we were delighted to realize that would give us plenty of conversational opportunities to resort to this comment:  “I’ve been to Casablanca and I’ve been to Paris – I prefer Paris.”  Sometime between now and the 2016 Election Day, we will write a column that will go under the headline:  “Raspberries, Jim Morrison’s grave, and the missing sewer tour.”

 

The road to the 2016 Presidential Election will be a tough slog so why should a freelance pundit bother to make that journey?  Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream offer bumper stickers that advise “If it isn’t fun, why do it?”  According to the philosophy of Ben and Jerry and the guiding principles of Gonzo Journalism, if it looks like fun then have at it.

 

Robert Louis Stevenson, in “An Inland Voyage,” wrote:  “To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play Dave Dudley’s “Six Days on the Road,” the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road,” and Johnny Cash’s “I’ve been everywhere.”  We have to go and prepare to attend the “Winter Pow Wow.”   Have a “Why do we do this, Buzz?” type week.

Journalism in the USA is AFU

November 9, 2012

In a country known around the world for its free press, the people who most need to know about Project Censored, which annually publishes a collection of the top 25 examples of important news stories that have been suppressed in the USA, and would derive the most benefit from reading the new 2012 collection, are the least likely to buy this year’s edition.

Liberals who know that Freedom of the Press is on “death watch” status will buy the new collection of hushed up news and not be able to get closed minded conservatives to flip through it let alone read it cover to cover.

America’s Freedom of the Press has always been revered because of its role as “the watchdog of Democracy” but in the past 25 years Project Censored has been carving out its niche in pop culture by proclaiming itself to be the watchdog’s watchdog.

The fact that the newest installment in the annual publication series features a photo of an event at University of California’s campus at Davis, which was seen around the world the day it happened, might seem to contradict the Project Censored mission statement but this year a different approach has been implemented.  The mace in the face for the students was very well reported but the underlying hidden trend spotting story has not.

The 2012 book lists the emergence of a Police State, which is exemplified by the photos showing the “pepper stray” attack, as being one of 2012’s most under reported stories.  It is the centerpiece for a collection of events which leads readers to the conclusion that American locations provide the dateline for a long list of “Police State” activities and thus the Police State assertion falls into the “if it quacks like a duck” category for examples of deductive reasoning.

Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley presented a publication and author signing event on Saturday November 3, 2012.  The World’s Laziest Journalist didn’t want to run a Presidential Election Analysis column that might get lost in the sandstorm of unique and perceptive analysis that was sure to become available at the conclusion of election week, so we decided to write about the new example of Project Censored in action.

We picked up some good column items such as: the Project Censorship team can be heard in the Berkeley CA area on KPFA FM radio on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 9 and is available online.

We paid particular attention to the speaker who outlined how to submit suggestions to Project Censored because one of the stories that we would suggest to their tip editor for next year is that in addition to suppressing stories, Journalism in America is also suffering a “death of a thousand cuts” style loss of quality reporting by switching to an emphasis of work by “citizen journalists” as a cost cutting measure.

Like it or not, when one person makes all the editorial decisions there will be a detrimental increase in arbitrary and capricious factors which can only diminish the true journalism quality rating for the finished project.  The use of work contributed by citizen journalists must, inevitably, lead to a reduction in the quality level of content.

Since it seems very unlikely that hard working content providers would own up to providing content that would make a professor of journalism barf, perhaps we should begin gathering material via the Gonzo Journalism method for such an expose?  We could provide some columns in the Q & D (Quick and Dirty) style and then point out in the piece for use in a future installment of the Project Censored series, just what we got away with.  (Such as using a preposition at the end of a sentence?)

Here’s another example of how the amateurs do sloppy work theory works:  If a newspaper were to assign a staff writer the task of reviewing the Project Censored 2012 edition, they would give him/her a copy of the book and expect the reviewer to read it before writing pronouncements describing what it is about.

Keen makes the assertion that online content providers often cut and paste material found online for their story and think it is a marvelous example of journalism.  Rather than reading the new book, we will paste a list of this year’s chapters:

 

The alternative method of doing the html work to present an active link which would take readers to the list

http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/censored-2013-dispatches-from-the-media-revolution/

requires more time and effort and may take readers away from the site where they are reading the “review” of this year’s installment in the series of books, so the cut and paste method does have some advantages.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has, in the past (see review of “Smoking Typewriters” by John McMillian) bought a copy of a new book to be able to write a column about a book he intended to read.  However when it came time to spend $20 for a book that we couldn’t possibly finish reading by the time our self set deadline for this particular column had arrived, let alone read it and then get the column written on time; we balked at the prospect of the expenditure of personal funds and rationalized the shoddy short cut.  That would be an example of how Gonzo style provides the writer with an example of substandard shortcuts for a hypothetical expose proving Andrew Keen’s contention.

Since one of the columnists personal crusades is helping the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association in their decades old efforts to draw attention to the cozy relationship between members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the real estate developers who make magnanimous campaign contributions to the various board members reelection campaigns, we suggested that the Project Censored staff might be intrigued by the current plight of the Los Angeles County Assessor who has been jailed and is having trouble raising funds for his bail.

That particular news tip may be for a story that doesn’t have obvious national relevancy, but perhaps they can use that as an example in a new trend spotting story.

You want another illustration of an arbitrary and capricious editorial decision?  We don’t know exactly what connection the Red Bull glider competition will have to political analysis but since it is something we want to see and photograph, we intend on going to the event at McCovey Cove in San Francisco on Saturday November 10, 2012 and then write the next installment of our column about precisely that event.

http://sf.funcheap.com/red-bull-flugtag-san-francisco/

Perhaps images of folks shoving bulky creations off the edge of a precipice and watching to see if it floats in the air like a butterfly or if it immediately sinks down to the water, will be handy to have as illustrations for a column about the perils of the “fiscal cliff” that is looming on America’s political horizon.

Since we had stumbled across a copy of Andrew Keen’s book, “The Cult of the Amateur” before attending the event for Project Censored at Moe’s Books, the thought that we might need a copy of that particular book, after suggesting a story about “citizen journalists” exacerbating Journalism’s death of a thousand cuts, caused us to go back to the Thrift Store on University Ave., where we had seen it, and buy it . . . just in case.  We were able to rationalize the bargain price for the purchase.

In fact checking the Red Bull event we learned that this Saturday is being reported online as being Free Admission at National Parks Day.  Heck even staunch conservatives who are muttering derisive remarks at their computer screen as they read this column, might (as good red blooded American patriots) want to know that!

Did any of the American media note that Tuesday was Melbourne Cup day down where summer is just a few days away?

While we were reading the Berkeley Public Library’s latest edition of <I>Muy Interesante</I> magazine, we came up with an item for our Stupid Fun on the Internets Department.  Do an Google image search for “tadas cerniauskas.”

Speaking of low budget = no budget; when we went to the event at  Moe’s we took one photo of Mickey Huff before the rechargeable batteries conked out on us, so the Photo editor had relatively little work to do this week.

In “the cult of the amateur,” Andrew Keen (on page 27) wrote:  “Every defunct record label, or laid-off newspaper reporter, or bankrupt independent bookstore is a consequence of ‘free’ user-generated Internet content – from Craigslist’s free advertising, to YouTube’s free music videos, to Wikipedia’s free information.”

Now, the disk jockey will play “Lady Godiva,” and the Rolling Stones songs “Star f****r,” and “C********r Blues.”  We have to go look for the definition of unexpurgated.  Have a “Banned in Boston” type of week.

Those who are about to vote ignore reality

November 2, 2012

The 2012 Election Day in the USA may well become known as the day that Journalism died because no matter what happens the actual results will be the subject for an eternal debate.  Brad Friedman, who is the leading spokesman for the critics of the unverifiable results produced by the electronic voting machines, has, in a preemptive move, been labeled as the voice for a conspiracy theory and thus all skeptical responses to the final counts will have been neutralized before they can be printed in the next day’s newspapers.

If Mitt Romney wins, there can and will be no criticism of the outcome.  Any Progressive voice who dares to contradict the news will be trashed as a conspiracy theory lunatic by the conservative noise machine just as Friedman was.

If President Obama wins, the conservative propagandists will discredit his win without in the least way casting any doubt on the electronic voting machines.

Either way partisan gridlock will ignore any attempts to let fully fact checked journalism play the roll of umpire or referee.  Then on one side or the other major segments of the American population will have serious doubts about the validity of the next President’s right to occupy the White House.

If Journalism per se is DOA, what then will columnists, who don’t want to be a cheerleader for either side, write about?

Lucy, the building in Margate, New Jersey, which resembles an elephant, apparently escaped major damage in Hurricane Sandy.  That fact may not be of much importance to readers in Western Australia, but anybody who flocked to the Jersey Shore during their formative years, will be glad to know about Lucy’s good fortune.  Folks who have never heard of this bit of unique American architecture, will probably appreciate the chance to click on a link that will produce a photo of the storm’s photogenic survivor.

http://boingboing.net/2012/10/30/lucy-the-elephant-1881-novelty.html

 

The folks in France and Germany may possibly get some reliable journalism about the election, but will the people in Australia and Great Britain get unbiased reports in their national media which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch?

We could write a column that asks what happens to the personal belongings of people who lose their homes when banks foreclose.  If the personal belongings and furniture are not moved, do the banks have a legal right to sell the items left behind?  Are the people who buy those goods still known as shinnies or is the use of that word forbidden in the land that was built on the principle of freedom of speech?

In Berekley CA, the voters will decide about enacting a sit-lie law.  According to information we received from a member of the city council, Berkeley has, in the past, enacted a sit-lie law and lost a sum of money when the ACLU took the municipality to court.  Berkeley lost that past case and perhaps could become the target for some “those who forget the past” criticism if history repeats itself.

Has the national news media reported that California Governor Brown has stated that the California Highway Patrol may be used to supply some law enforcement services in the cash strapped cities that are struggling with smaller local police forces?  Would using the California Highway Patrol that way be similar to sending members of nationally known baseball teams to substitute for the professional hockey players who have been locked out by the team owners?  (Just asking.)

The debate in California over Prop 32 has us asking this question:  If businessmen can not run ads which make fraudulent statements, why then can the people known as corporations run political ads which make fraudulent claims?  If two political PACs run contradictory statements, wouldn’t one of those ads have to be making some false statements?

If Mitt Romney had been elected President in 2008, would FEMA already have been disbanded?  If so, would America see the wisdom of cutting taxes for the billionaires while simultaneously dividing the job FEMA does among 50 different state levels of bureaucracy?  What’s not to love about duplicating the miracle of the loaves and fishes using bureaucrats?

If Mitt had been elected President in 2008 would the government be sticking its nose into the management decisions of a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company or would a sincere apology to the victims’ families have already been issued and the matter dropped by now?

Has the Los Angeles county assessor finally raised bail money or is he still in jail?  If so, why haven’t his campaign donors rushed to help him?  Will his plight be used as leverage to put pressure on him to cooperate with Federal investigators in return for leniency?

San Francisco politicians are hinting that it might be nice if Superbowl L (what the hell is “L”?) is played in their fair city.

In a country where having a prominent political father was enough of a resume to make Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney qualified Presidential candidates, we were doing some prep work for a column that would ask if John Allen Cassady is a genuine Beatnik.

John Allen Cassady is named John because his mother had an affair with Jack Kerouac.  He is named Allen because his mother had an affair with Allen Ginsberg.  He is named Cassady because his father was Neal Cassady.

We were talking to Cassady at a recent event held at the Beat Museum in San Francisco and mentioned that we had read somewhere that Kerouac had met Hemingway at a party.  A fellow who was listening to our conversation said:  “Oh, that was in my book.”  It turned out he was Gerald Nicosia, author of the Kerouac biography titled “Memory Babe.”  He offered to sign a copy of his new book “One and Only:  the Untold Story of ‘On the Road,’” which was for sale in the gift shop section of the Museum.  We bought one, had him sign it, and then asked John Allen Cassady to sign it as “witness,” which he graciously did.

Nicosia’s Kerouac biography reported that the fact that the famous beatnik had met Hemingway at a party in the Greenwich Village section of New York City in the late forties had been supplied to him by Kerouac’s wife and he felt safe in putting that bit of hearsay evidence in the book.  Kerouac fans can learn more about Gerald Nicosia at the <a href =http://www.millvalleylit.com/> Mill Valley Lit</a> website.

For recreational reading, we have been perusing “The Wolves are at the Door: the story of America’s Greatest Female Spy” by Judith L. Pearson and the title reminded us of some liberal pundits cynical assessment of Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency.

Some cynical California pundits are promoting the easy way out by urging “Vote ‘yes’ on all odd numbered ballot propositions and ‘no’ on the even numbered ones.”

[Note from the Photo Editor:  If citizen journalists have limited access to Presidential candidates for getting photos, then you have to go with the photos you can get.  If photo op access for citizen journalists is very limited; does that same principle also apply to the facts available for pundits to use in their assessments of the candidates?  The photos are posted over at https://worldslaziestjournalist.wordpress.com%5D

John Quincy Adams said:  “I can not ask of heaven success, even for my country,  in a cause where she should be in the wrong.”

Now the disk jockey will play Hank Williams Jr.’s “I’ve got rights,” Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots,” and Jacob Dillon’s song “War is kind.”  We have to go over to Frisco to see the art exhibition, by Wes Anderson, at the Spoke Art Gallery, titled “Bad Dads.”  Have a “just following a family tradition” type week.