Archive for March, 2013

New war same as the old Iraq war?

March 22, 2013

Last week, on the Armstrong and Getty radio show, one of the voices pointed out that in 2012 when there were 20,000 Americans killed by guns only 400 of the victims were killed by assault rifles and so the fussing over an insignificant portion of the total seemed like a complete waste of time and energy; this week Senate Majority leader Harry Reed agreed.  Some treehugging hippies responded by stealing a page from the right to life playbook and lamented that every life is precious and that each and every one of the bullet riddled corpses was a tragedy that could have been saved with a renewed assault weapons ban.

 

The hippies’ favorite conservative villains (billionaires) hate the poor and middle class and when their views are challenged, they usually respond by destroying the critics’ reputation and character and so the treehuggers weren’t surprised when, immediately after the new Pope’s program of helping the poor was announced, a whisper campaign started about his activities during Argentina’s Dirty War.  Journalists responded in the Oklahoma land rush fashion and immediately inflated the rumors to news item level because they know that helping the billionaires is a shortcut to media fame and success.  

 

After veterans who served in Vietnam started criticizing the level of support they were receiving, the biggest group that was sympathetic to their complaints was the peaceniks who had opposed the war itself.  Are the wounded and crippled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, who are alleging that they need more help and support services, getting any more than brief mentions in the “pro left” corporate media?

 

Did any conservative show any remorse or regret about the expensive search for the WMD’s in Iraq on the tenth anniversary of the Invasion or did they leave it up to the hippies to get surly and sound righteous in retrospect about that bit of American history?

 

At least the Faux Facts Folks who dedicate their lives to fair and balanced propaganda didn’t wallow in the usual tsunami of “never again” commentary.  As a matter of fact, the day after the 10th Anniversary, President Obama was sounding bellicose about the fate of the FSA (Freien Syrishen Armee) and the Iranian WMD development program. Is there some reason why they aren’t called the SLA (Syrian Liberation Army)?

 

Will the allegations of chemical attacks in Syria provide a convenient rational for sending American military to that country to fight and die for democracy? 

 

In a country that (ostensibly) honors a free press as one of the cornerstones of democracy, it would be sad and pathetic if very few pundits and commentators remarked on the preceding items, but how ominous would it be for champions of truth, justice, and the American Way, if the World’s Laziest Journalist was the only columnist to gather those four items of concern together in one posting?  Yeah, we know folks just skim the Internets but if a columnist doesn’t mention several items how can do-it-yourselfer analysts do a comprehensive connect the dots summation type overview?

 

These items ripped from the headlines from early 2013 might just be symptoms of a malady that was predicted by St. Ronald Reagan and George Carlin.  WTF?  St. Ronald Reagan emphatically informed voters that Social Security and the deficit are separate and unrelated items.  The sound byte of him explaining that is frequently played by Norman Goldman on his radio show and is available on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

 

George Carlin, some years ago, explained, in  a bit titled “The American Dream,” that bankers don’t care about voters in an expletive laden diatribe which is also available on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

 

If both of those diverse sources are correct in their assessments, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to well informed voters that a coherent, coordinated program is being conducted to deliver the money in the Social Security’s “locked box” into the hands of greedy bankers and that part of the program is a distorted view of reality that has been just as carefully crafted as the Propaganda produced by the Third Reich.

 

Our ability to read French has suffered from a lack of constant practice and so we may be wrong but a columnist in the most recent available issue of Paris Match magazine seemed to be saying that Europe is on the edge of a massive united upheaval of civil unrest. 

 

This week the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (ACTF) compound was buzzing with speculation wondering if (subjunctive mood alert) the Syrian rebels are using a false flag attack on their own ranks to precipitate American intervention. 

 

Another topic on the ACTF agenda recently brought up the possibility that the World’s Laziest Journalist didn’t participate in the national discussion on gun control because he had been tipped by a high placed source in Washington that such an effort would be an exercise in futility. 

 

The Internets seems to be bringing out a lot of amateur treehuggers who have aspirations of becoming a member of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s Research and Development Department.  For example one amateur has suggested that there might be a basis for a new Conspiracy Theory in the fact that St. Ronald Reagan worked on getting Public Displays of Weapons declared illegal when the Black Panthers’ urged their members to be strapped (i.e. carry a weapon) as a way of defending themselves from racists, but when the Tea Party folks urged people to carry a weapon to rallies for a candidate for a  the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination that was strongly endorsed by the folks who had previously opposed it back in the day.

 

Remember when a bandoleer for rifle cartridges was a de rigueur fashion accessory?

 

This week, Mike Malloy reported that most news organizations reporting on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq Invasion had missed the story (in the Financial Times) that Haliburton made 39 and a half billion dollars on the War in Iraq while Armstrong and Getty were ridiculing the fact that any reevaluation of the Bush/Cheney decisions would be a waste of time and brain cells.

 

The only relevant question for political pundits this week is:  “Will American Intervention in Syria help speed up the privatization of the Social Security program?”

 

[Note: Supporters of the Global Warming theory might see some art decorating a storage unit building in Berkeley at Adeline and Shattuck as a subtle endorsement of their opinion and so we snapped a photo and will run it with this column.  Were network news videos of cars traffic slipping and sliding in the latest blizzard meant to be a subtle way for providing traction for the Global Warming theory?]

 

If reevaluations of the invasion of Iraq had any social relevance wouldn’t the network news organizations have interviewed Honey Booboo to get a cogent quote about the historic event?  What would they do if she repeated Carlin’s “American Dream” rant?

 

Isolde Kurz wrote:  “The only people who have a completely untroubled conscience are the great criminals.”

Now the disk jockey will play Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets,” Ed Sanders’ “Beer cans on the Moon,” and CCR’s “Someday Never Comes.”  We have to toddle off to San Fancisco to see the new “On the Road” movie.  Have an “American Dream” type week.

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Doublethink = doubleplusgood?

March 15, 2013

The St. Patrick’s Day weekend of 2013 is the perfect time for a pundit with Irish heritage to score a scoop from the grounds of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory.  After spotting some white smoke coming from the chimney for the ACTF conference center, we learned that they have determined that JEB Bush is the front runner for becoming the 2016 Republican Party’s Presidential nominee. 

 

Folks who believe that the Bush Dynasty brand had been irrevocably damaged by the Dubya term in the White House haven’t been paying attention to the fact that President Obama has retroactively approved George W. Bush’s war crimes, profligate spending, torture and executions without a trail and therefore has granted Dubya and the Republican Party full unconditional absolution which, in turn, provides a level playing field for JEB to make an unfettered run for his party’s nomination.

 

The stealth magnanimous gesture by President Obama has rendered the 2016 election to the tabla rosa level as far as the list of issues is concerned and that will give the Republicans the option (which they always covet greatly) of framing the debate by virtue of the fact that the lame duck incumbent will be ignored by the media as far as picking the election issues is concerned. 

 

If the media fawn over the Republican frontrunner for the next three and a half years, and he also happens to be a member of the Bush family, there should not be any residual bad karma attached to the name by the time the unhackable electronic voting machines produce the new President via unverifiable results.  (Does using the phrases “Bush family” and “unhackable electronic voting machines” and the words karma and unverifiable in the same sentence offend conservatives?  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

 

Isn’t it so convenient that the election of the new Pope is diverting attention away from the rapidly approaching debt ceiling deadline?  Next week, won’t March Madness be the next diversion?

 

America’s voters are being conditioned to rely on one Democrat’s quote balanced by a Republican’s sound byte as qualifying as a legitimate example of the fulfillment of the free press’ mission of providing the facts that the voters will need to make an informed choice at the polls.

 

The skeptics who think that citizen journalists will get access to the inner workings of a particular politician’s strategic planning may not be aware of the possibility of the existence in the mainstream media of some good old fashioned horse trading in the guise of providing scoops and “exclusive” interviews as payment for unquestioningly participating in a bucket brigade style propaganda machine.

 

If (subjunctive mood) media stars are obliged to provide glowing reports on a politicians work in return for some puny scoops, how can a citizen journalist possibly get access to the politicians? 

 

Are any of he media stars confronting Republicans and asking if they are participating in a de facto sit down strike? 

 

Are any of Britain’s top star journalists asking questions about the Queen’s health?  Are they hacking her e-mails? 

 

Will any media star ask Pope Frank about his program for handling the priests caught with their hand in the cookie jar (so to speak as it were).

 

Will interviews with starving families that end in crying provide anything other than propaganda value? 

 

If the XL Pipeline is a ticking toxic time bomb, will the media play their cheerleader role if polls show that voters don’t believe the hogwash propaganda about jobs and energy independence? 

 

If the voters of California are indifferent, at best, to the need for a bullet train, why are politicians, coping with austerity budgets, continuing to authorize funds for this boondoggle?  Didn’t St. Ronald Reagan explain that forty years ago when the governor with White House aspirations said:  “If you’ve seen one redwood tree; you’ve seen them all.”

 

Will any of journalism’s super stars have the chutzpah to ask question about the fact that tax payers’ money will have to be used to cover the shortfall of funds necessary for the rich boys to hold the boating races on San Francisco Bay later this year?

 

Do any journalists ask any of the members of the Supreme Court of the United States to elaborate on their partisan decisions?  Do any of the media stars covering SCOTUS do anything but rewrite news releases from the Courts’ spokesman?

 

What happened when Bradley Manning went to the New York Times and the Washington Post and offered them evidence that the USA was cutting corners with regard to being “the good guys” team in both the Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan?

 

If media stars believe that “ya got to go along to get along,” and live that lifestyle, how will citizen journalists manage to outmaneuver the pros who have immediate access to all the news makers?

 

The possibility of fun, fame, and fortune are given as the motivating factors for inspiring altruistic efforts for providing a viable alternative to the work of media stars.  The Internets stars are the people who have a gigantic amount of publicity thanks to their association with major media companies.  Newcomers who “don’t play ball” will be trashed as conspiracy theory lunatics if they dare to offer some new points of view.  So scratch fame off the list.  The media that get unquestioned obedience from their stars aren’t going to hire a rookie and hope that they aren’t “high maintenance employees,” so scratch that off the list.  That leaves only fun.

 

Anyone who is not of Irish heritage will never understand how or why a columnist would get any fun out of naming JEB Bush the Republican frontrunner in March of 2013.  Media stars won’t “second the motion” because they are expected to build suspense and expectations for the contest that will be decided by the unverifiable results produced by “unhackable” electronic voting machines. 

 

If, for example, if some ads on some buses in San Francisco spawn a lively debate about freedom of speech over the meaning of the word “jihad,” and if a columnist is the first to bring that dispute to his audience’s attention, then the Managing Editor (ME) might be disposed to be tolerant of other more frivolous items.

 

In an era when the staffs at various media have been reduced greatly because of austerity budgets, a citizen columnist might (just might mind you) manage to be the first to bring this to the attention of readers outside the Bay Area. 

 

If the San Francisco street car company starts in March to use a trolly car from Brighton England that has a top that folds away like a convertible car’s top does, at a time when the rest of the USA is struggling with an excess of snow, that might catch the attention of readers who are tired of shoveling the snow off their sidewalks, and it just might catch the attention of the assignment editors for other websites (such as Jalopnik or the Huffington Post?), but the bottom line is that at best it will provide a columnist with an example of a unique attraction in a city that is rife with items to amuse and entertain tourists.

 

If the CBS Evening News staff wants to drop a subtle hint that Global Warming might be a valid concept, they could run some video of the tourists on that street car enjoying summer weather in March but if Fox doesn’t want to acknowledge that the “scientists” are on to something, they will just ignore the feature story potential for the vehicle that Brits might call a drophead trolley car.

 

Radio talk show host Randi Rhodes thought that Pope Frank looks like a dead ringer for her mentor Neil Rogers.  We concur.  On Thursday March 14, 2013, she played a bleep filled explanation by George Carlin of the current political stalemate.

 

Is there an audience for unique insights?  Why did two conservative Bay Area talk show hosts find the preemptive prison sentence for a thought crime by the cannibal cop caused them some horripulation (goose bumps) but the Invasion of Iraq has not yet caused them any retroactive regrets?  Is Double think regarding crimethink, an example of an oxymoron? 

 

Conservative media stars can’t admit that Dubya’s belligerent foreign policy was questionable and the liberal talk show folks can’t criticize the cannibal cop’s conviction because they don’t want to sound like they are sympathetic to the efforts of a Hannibal Lector wannabe.  So neither group will be permitted to see any basis for a comparison and it will be up to a rogue columnist to point out the similarities.  Dubya did not commit crimethink; the cop did.

 

The Invasion of Iraq was OK because Dubya thought they had WMD’s, but the cannibal cop gets convicted of a crime he obviously intended to commit and that wasn’t OK.  Did any pundit call the cannibal cop’s offense an example of “crimethink”? 

 

George Orwell, in “1984,” wrote:  “Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play John Wayne singing “Wild Colonial Boy” (from the “Quiet Man”), Mick Jagger singing “Wild Colonial Boy” (from “Ned Kelley”), the Pogue’s (what do they have to do with St. Patrick’s Day?) album “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash,” and memorial playings of the first “Yes” album featuring Peter Banks on guitar and Iron Maiden’s album “The Number of the Beast” featuring Clive Burr on drums.  We have to go buy some more Girl Scout cookies.  Have a “Pogue Mahone” type week.

Really?

March 13, 2013

Really?

We saw this bumper-sticker in Berkeley CA. Shouldn’t it be accompanied by a flower power bumper-sticker?

Think Jalopnik will run this photo or link to this page?

Seeing the future in the past

March 8, 2013

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is featuring an exhibition of photographs by Garry Winogrand which will be on display until June 2 and will provide photographic critics with a basis for comparing and contrasting the featured artist with his contemporaries Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Robert Frank.  Ultimate it may even spawn arguments about Winogrand’s status compared to other practitioners of street photography such as Henri Cartier Bresson or the Los Angeles based Gary Leonard.

 

Old school reporters who got the opportunity to attend the show’s press preview were shocked and delighted to find that the Press Kit was delivered in the form of a computer memory stick.  Gadzooks!  In the old days, selling off the 8 X 10 glossies from a new movie’s press kit was a welcome source of additional money for unscrupulous hacks covering the Hollywood beat.  Will collectors of movie memorabilia be willing to pay top dollar for a memory stick?

 

The e-press kit contained a press release in adobe reader pdf file form that permitted columnists to copy and paste relevant sentences such as:  “The exhibition has been conceived and guest-curated by photographer and author Leo Rubinfien with Erin O’Toole, assistant curator of photography at SFMOMA, and Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photographs at the National Gallery of Art.”

 

We have invented the term e-tearsheet and will use it to designate sending people the URL where the exhibition is mentioned in a column.  Who says we are a Luddite?

 

Any political pundit who happens to stumble upon this display of approximately 100 photographs, which were produced from undeveloped film and therefore are previously unseen by the public and the artist himself, will be stung by the poignancy of the opportunity for seeing America in an earlier more innocent (?) time.

 

Beehive hairdos, cars with monstrous tail fins, and other subtle clues will evoke a sense of nostalgia but a closer look at that period of time will give commentators a chance to note that a look at America’s darker side is conspicuous by its absence. 

 

In the 1960 Presidential election, one candidate evoked the phrases “animal magnetism” and “charisma,” while the other party’s candidate seemed to have mastered the challenging task of smiling and scowling simultaneously.  Are cynical pundits the only people concerned by the fact that elections in the land of the free are handled like a marketing challenge facing companies with competing products?

 

The show contains some feature shots from the Democratic Party’s 1960 Presidential Convention and one of Nixon campaigning in New York City.

 

Can an unbiased observer look at the photos of JFK and Nixon and not see the seeds for a very partisan culture in the future?  Fifty years later, some folks can castigate a President for exaggerating the impact of the sequester to make political points and denounce it as unacceptable lies while simultaneously giving lies (from a member of their party) that rationalized a new war, a dismissive shrug of the shoulders. 

 

At the same time that John Kennedy was challenging Americans to ask themselves what they could do for their country, some of those same people were listening to items such as Lenny Bruce’s album that contained the cut “Non Skeddo Flies Again,” which is a comedy monologue about Jack G. Graham who blew up an airplane on November 1. 1955, to collect insurance on his mother’s life. 

 

In it, Bruce says:  “He blew up a plane with forty people and his mother and for that the States sent him to the Gas Chamber proving, actually, that the American people are losing their sense of humor… You just think about it, anybody who blows up a plane with forty people and his mother can’t be all bad.”

 

Can you imagine what Bruce would have said about the Connecticut school shooting, if he had lived long enough to comment on that tragedy?  Could Jon Stewart or Bill Maher be that outrageous today?

 

While Winogrand was taking some of his best shots in the Sixties, a popular song was bragging “we don’t let our hair grow long and shaggy like the hippies out in San Francisco do.”

 

The symbolism of a photo of a young lady laying in the gutter of a street in Hollywood while a sports car drives past, taken in 1984, would not escape many observers.

 

The traveling exhibit will ultimately arrive in Paris in 2015. 

 

Some things, of course, never change.  Some folks who have never heard a song with the lyrics “When you’re running down our coutry, hoss, you’re walking on the fightin’ side of me” agree with the sentiment 100%.

 

Some folks might wonder why a columnist would write about a photo exhibition during a week when the talk show radio was obsessing on drones.  For pragmatists, writing a column that might help publicize an exhibition at a museum and might help boost attendance seemed worth the effort but joining the discussion on drones at this point in history would be a total waste of time and effort with a fool’s errand level of appeal.  Don’t bother it won’t do a damn bit to change things.  A columnist who wants to produce an exorcise in futility might just as well make a video showing a fellow lighting his own farts and post it on Youtube.

 

The drone abides.  Dig it or don’t; just don’t expect the world’s laziest journalist to spend time and keystrokes thinking he can have an effect on a topic that is already a “done deal.” 

 

Is it an example of irony to hear a Public Service Announcement urging parents to stop their kids from tolerating bullying on a conservative station that is endorsing the unfettered use of drone strikes?

 

President John F. Kennedy said (Bartlett’s page 892):  “Washington is a city of southern efficiency and northern charm.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play Merle Haggard’s “A working mman can’t get nowhere today,” Randy Newman’s “Please, Mr. President,” Hank Snow’s “Ninety miles an hour (down a dead end street)” and a memorial playing of “I’d love to change the world,” featuring the late Alvin Lee on guitar.  We have to go check on the medical condition of Just One Beaver (he must be a Native American, eh?).  Have a “silly un American filibuster” type week.

 

Cut to the chase

March 4, 2013

“Dogging Steinbeck:  Discovering America and Exposing the truth about ‘Travels with Charlie,’” by Bill Steigerwald, was reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday and we stumbled on that review just after we had decided to write a column lamenting the fact that books about traveling on the road in the USA have become an extinct subgenre of literature.  It was accompanied by a review of Dan Baum’s new book “Gun Guys: A Road Trip.” 

Last week, we had just glommed on to a bargain bin copy of “Home Country,” by Ernie Pyle, which describes his search all across the USA for good feature stories. It was in mint condition at the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s bookstore. We intend on writing several columns this year about the topic of roaming about in the USA for several reasons and so finding out about two brand new books that fall into a category that we find irresistible didn’t discourage us; it strengthened our resolve to write several columns on this rather esoteric topic. Maybe that sub genre isn’t dead, maybe we just had to change the lead.

Pyle, who wrote approximately a million words about traveling around in America, sort of like a pitcher warming up in the bullpen, later achieved international fame as a war correspondent during WWII.  In “Home Country,” he wrote a piece about Adolph and “Plinky” Topperwein, who were a husband and wife team of famous shooters who worked for the Winchester Arms Company. We wondered if they were mentioned in Baum’s new book.

“Travels with Charlie,” and Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” had whet our appetite for the open road while we were in school.  Not long after finishing college, we had stuck out our thumb in a rural area in Pennsylvania and hoped to catch a ride to San Francisco hoping that maybe literary lightning could strike twice.

Two of our high school classmates had made different, more rational, decisions about the course their lives would take.  One of them is a retired Army colonel now living in Germany and the other is a retired teacher living across the Hudson River from NYC.  Both of them have decided to drive across the USA this year and since the World’s Laziest Journalist has accumulated a vast supply of travel experience, we have offered both of them our opinion on how to maximize the enjoyment of their adventure.

There are so many books we would like to recommend that they read.  Here are some of the lesser known “on the road” books we wish they could read before shoving off:  “I see by your outfit,” by Peter S. Beagle, “America day by day,” by Simone de Beauvoir, Alistair Cooke’s “The American Home Front 1941 – 1942,” and “It isn’t a bus pioneering motorhomers cross the USA,” by Martha French Patterson and Sally Patterson Tubach (no relations).  This columnist has read the Beagle book and is halfway through all of the others.

The school teacher (AKA “Jersey Bill”) has strongly recommended that we read “Blue Moon Highway,” and some day we intend to do that.

Jersey Bill has driven from his adopted state to Oregon and another time he went the southern route and got as far as Joshua Tree National Park just inside of Cali, but he has studiously avoided exploring California.

The Colonel wants to drive the Southern route but notes that this trip of a lifetime will be a one time only, “get ’er done” operation.  He has budgeted only two weeks to achieve his goal.  He wants to follow a portion of Route 66. 

Jack Kerouac concentrated on the personalities he met while on the road.  Our first night in Paris (France, not Texas) we went to Cactus Charlie’s and had a marvelous conversation about the specifics of the politics in California.  As we walked out, we regretted our decision.  “We could have had a great conversation about local politics at any bar in L. A. but we wouldn’t have had to buy an airplane ticket to get that payoff.”  So we resolved to “go native” and shun the ex-pat scene and see the things that are only available there.  We still follow that philosophy when traveling.

If the Colonel wants to talk to fellow Americans he can visit some wounded soldiers at the Landstuhl hospital. 

My advice in both cases will be something they won’t want to hear, so maybe if they read it in a column posted for all the world to see, it might have a better chance of making a point and influencing their thinking (and if not, at least the Managing Editor [M. E.] will get a new batch of Google bate to lure others to the sites where this will be posted).

Jersey Bill and his wife like “the great outdoors,” nature and the like.  If a city slicker like the World’s Laziest Journalist can be profoundly impressed with Yosemite National Park, just think how much the teacher and his wife will like it.  Oh, yeah, California also has another park with big trees that are very old.  He might like that, too.  Some alarmists think that park will suffer if new bullet train routs are built.  Isn’t zipping past those trees at 100 mph better than never seeing them at all? 

Jersey Bill likes automobiles and so we wonder why he has hung back from visiting a state that has two world class car museums in the L. A. area (across the street for each other) and two others that are still on our bucketlist.  Is he saving the best for last?

Jack London (reportedly) called the Monterey Peninsula the finest example of seashore scenery in the world.  We concur.

Our tourist exploration of Australia lasted ten fun filled weeks and we know that we barely scratched the surface of the subject but the colonel intends to make his jaunt across the USA a two weeks long venture.  Yikes!  We have to say that we strongly recommend that he forgets about an epicurean ten course meal approach to the task and cut directly to dissert and drive night and day until he gets to the state that offers Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the redwood trees, the Golden Gate Bridge, and some last vestiges of beatnik history.  Or he could make the arrangements necessary to extend the time spent on making the trek.

Telling a colonel what to do is one thing but someone who can remember his mom telling a story about how a baseball hit by Babe Ruth fell into her lap might get away with offering him our very strongly felt opinion base on experience.  [We have hitchhiked from Pennsylvania to Tonkawa and traveled by Greyhound coast to coast at least three times.] 

Getting him to read “Watergate The Hidden History: Nixon, the Mafia, and the CIA,” by Lamar Waldron (from Counterpoint in Berkeley CA!) before the next round in our continuing Nixon vs. Kennedy debate will be a bit more of a challenge.

Our hope is that the colonel will change his own ground rules and take longer to do the trip or perhaps make the trip in annual installments of two weeks each for the next several years.  If he wants to see as many American icons as possible, we can’t offer much of an opinion about what to see until he gets to Route 66in Oklahoma, but we can strongly recommend that if he wants spectacular scenery, he should get to the Grand Canyon ASAP, and then budget time to see Yosemite, the redwoods, Lake Tahoe, and the Monterey Peninsula.  California is a very big state and it will take a few days just to skim the highlights.  At that point he can run down PCH and see Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, and the Bixby Bridge.  He’ll wind up in Santa Monica, where he can visit Venice Beach before going to the airport, turning in his rental and jumping on a plane back to Germany.

Our hope for the teacher is that he will get to California, have a St. Paul’s moment and when he returns to his luxurious home within sight of the Manhattan skyline sell it, put the money in a safe investment, and then jump back in his motor home and become a motorhome vagabond inside the California borders for the next 12 months (or more).

The hippie will (we hope) get to some California towns we have never seen and finally get to live out his Fred C. Dobbs wishes to find some nuggets of gold in a miner’s pan.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote (Ibid page 136):  “We do not see much of San Francisco because we stay only four days and don’t know anyone.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Cantina Band’s song “Out in California,” Glenn Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” and “Living on Tulsa Time.”  We have to go and contact the National Parks people and ask two questions:  “What state has the most National Parks? And “How many National Parks are in California?”  Have a “life is short; eat dessert first” type week.

Oakland beat the Jets; Heidi married the goat herder

March 1, 2013

Reading Mark Kurlansky’s book “1968 The Year that Rocked the World” during the last week of February 2013 might cause some folks to wonder if this New Year will challenge 1968 in the realm of nostalgia for the right to be remembered as the most history packed year since 1918.  Obviously 2013 will be at a distinct disadvantage because it will not be a Presidential election year in the USA and there are no anti-war rallies to protest an unpopular military adventure but as the year’s third month began 2013 had already put two very impressive (historically speaking) months on the score board.

 

In January the USA was temporarily distracted by a surge in the level of the gun control debate and Americans remained blissfully uninformed about mostly all of the foreign news because of a de facto embargo protecting them from any remote chance of questioning the wisdom of believing that “USA, we’re #1! ! !” is the title of a chapter in the Bible.

 

In the last week of February 2013, a news story that indicated Afghanistan may not be going as well as reported was heard briefly.  It wasn’t as ominous an omen as the Tet offensive but for the Americans that did catch it, it was a comedown.

 

Americans did get to learn that the Pope was gong to retire and perhaps take some time to go trout fishing.  Church spin doctors will no doubt plant some carefully orchestrated photos of the ex-Pope “relaxing” by clearing brush on his Castle Gandolfo ranch to reinforce his macho image in the world.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) had a chance on Wednesday to expand their powers to include a judicial variation of veto power but the exact score of the decision for making that historic power grab won’t be known for some time but wags are admitting that the point spread will probably be a 5 to 4 blowout.  The Republicans have been wanting a repeal of the Voting Rights Act since the day it was signed into law by LBJ.  A late veto by SCOTUS will be a historic first.  Justice Scalia’s remark about ethnic entitlement might be an early contender for quote of the year.

 

In March, SCOTUS will get a chance to either approve or veto the gay marriage issue.  The political lapdogs in the land of punditry are being well paid to whip up a pretense of being in suspense about the inevitable decision.  Then they will consider a chance to cast a new example of their veto power in a case for the Defense of Marriage Act but Vegas odds makers are saying:  “Not bloody well likely, mate!”

 

On Wednesday the dynamic duo of Armstrong and Getty were suggesting that the Republicans might use a clever chess fork-ish maneuver to legislatively force President Obama to specify what exactly the Sequestration cuts would be and where specifically they would be made.

 

At that point the Obama apologists would portray the innovative legislative move as a victory for the President.  The Republicans have for years wanted to start down the slippery slope known as “the line item veto.” and so by “forcing” Obama to take possession of the painful cuts they may be gaining in return something they have been working years to achieve.

 

Did President Obama back the Republicans into a dead end street where they had no choice but to give in to the President and let him initiate a new display of executive power with a line item vetoes.   Did the Republicans back a lame duck President into taking the blame for painful austerity measures they (the Republicans) want?  Who is fooling whom and who is being left holding the bag?    

 

This week Uncle Rushbo continued to denigrate Democrats as low information voters.  Isn’t that an example of what is meant by the folk wisdom axiom about a pot calling a kettle black?

 

Yahoo made headlines this week by telling the world that the telecommute revolution in the work world was a failure and that their employees who may have been goofing off too much will have to get their asses into the office on time just like any other wage slave must do or they can forget about getting a paycheck.  Isn’t the death knoll for the work at home fad a historic event?

 

Speaking of wage slaves, perhaps the Republicans will be successful in their attempt to make the concept of Over Time pay obsolete by claiming that it would be a way to create new jobs.  Can an illogical premise work?  Don’t teabaggers have a thorough knowledge of logic and analytical thinking?  Aren’t Democrats the low information boobs? 

 

Will Seth MacFarlane ever host the Oscars and sing some off color songs again or was that a unique historic installment in the annals of entertainment history?

 

Will Iran get nuclear weapons this year?  Could a brand new war be used to prevent that from happening?

 

Will sending aid to rebels in Syria mean that the conflict there will someday be compared to the Prague Spring of 1968?  Stay tuned.

 

February presented some excellent opportunities for news photographers in the San Francisco Bay area to take some pictures of workers enjoying a warm lunch hour in the sun.  In 1968 a photo editor might have told a staff photographer to go out, wander around, and get some good feature shots showing the unseasonably warm weather.  Do the austerity budget constrictions used lately mean that such an assignment is an obsolete luxury?

 

[Note: The World’s Laziest Journalist took some shots but (Spring Fever already?) failed to do the preliminary “back shop” work necessary to post them with this column.  That will be a pleasant identifying anomaly for the area residents who, in the future, look back at that particular month.  Will 2013 be the year that skeptics start wondering if the concept of “Global Warming” is valid rather than a humorous display for use in the Mad Scientists Hall of Fame?  Stay tuned.]

 

Flipping through Kurlansky’s book and then asking if this year will be more historic than 1968 may (at this point) sound like a maudlin ploy by a desperate pundit, but for someone who can remember seeing Bobby Kennedy campaign in Los Angeles for votes in the 1968 California Primary and got the distinct impression (premonition?) that he was witnessing history in the making, getting a similar feeling watching the CBS Evening News on the last day of February of 2013 produced an identical reaction.  Subjective responses can not be fact checked. 

 

Historians tend to separate and dissect different aspects of a particular time period and so the fact that Bobby Kennedy was shot on the same night that Don Drysdale threw his record setting sixth consecutive shutout might not be remembered, even by folks who were in that city at that time, unless they read Kurlansky’s book’s mentions of both those  events in the same sentence.

 

Would anyone who wasn’t there in that year understand what the hell it mean when a New York City local anchor said:  “Oakland beat the Jets and Heidi married the goat herder.”?   One local newscast featured video footage of the game accompanied by the reporter reading passages from the children’s classic novel “Heidi.”

 

Premonitions, hunches, and the “nose for news” might sound like a journalist’s version of mythology and a columnist may be very wrong to go on “high alert” for starting in February to make a conscious effort to savor every moment of this year but the possibility that it would be easy to have one’s attention diverted and then miss the spectacle as it unfolds is a much more scary thought.  That would be like scarfing down a gourmet meal.

 

Hunter S. Thompson, in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (page 65) explained the feeling a bit more eloquently:  “History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time – and which never explain in retrospect, what actually happened.”

Now from the top 100 list of hits from 1968, the disk jockey will play:  Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days,”  Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA,” and Hugo Montenegro’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”  Now we have to go find a copy of “Europe on $5 a Day” and “Coffee, Tea, or Me?”  Have a historic groovy flower power filled week.