Posts Tagged ‘Bastille Day’

Isn’t turnabout fair play?

July 12, 2013

It’s time to post the columnist’s annual summer reading suggestions

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/50571/spy-vs-spy-wwii-version

 

http://bartblog.bartcop.com/?p=14145

 

Don’t have the link for Op Ed News yet

 

 

 

War protest sign in Berkeley CA

 

“The Irregulars:  Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in wartime Washington” by Jennet Conant (© 2008 by Jennet Conant Simon & Schuster New York N.Y.) is a handy book to have around if you just happen to be surrounded by peacniks in Berkeley who are outraged by the fact that the United States, the country that saved Great Britain with desperately needed supplies for use during the Battle of Britain, has been conducting monitoring of the Internets and phone calls to protect the world from terrorists. 

 

Roald Dahl, who introduced the concept of tiny malicious creatures called Gremlins, was a wounded war hero who was reassigned to diplomatic duties in Washington to help the American President (FDR) decide to break his campaign pledge to not send American boys to fight in Europe’s war by waging an extensive public relations effort via planted stories in the American media to convince the citizens that duty and honor compelled a reversal of the popular (with Americans) policy of non intervention.

 

The pilot and war time casualty was also dashingly handsome and so seducing American Congressional representative Clare Booth Luce (AKA Mrs. Henry “Time magazine” Luce) was part of Dahl’s mission because issues such as cabotage in the post war world were at stake due to the small print in the Lend Lease agreement.

 

The Brits were also more than a little curious about what faction of the French government in exile would be favored by the Americans.  Would FDR be more partial to General de Gaulle or would he favor General Henri Giraud?  Could stories be planted in the American media to swing the choice in de Gaulle’s favor?

 

Fighting for freedom in the Battle of Britain was a highly touted motivation but when it came time to consider an end to colonialism after the war, enthusiasm waned.  If the French didn’t retain ownership of French Indo China after the war would that be a bad omen for the country that owned and operated India as a colony?

 

Having troops in Vietnam during WWII was a great tactical advantage for Japan.  Detailed explanations of how they gained the use of that bit of territory for use by their troops when they fought to take control of places like Burma is usually missing from books about the run up to the War in the Pacific.

 

Otto Friedrich’s 1989 book “the Grave of Alice B. Toklas” also came to our attention this summer and his 1959 article “How to be a war correspondent” was fascinating because it recounted how Friedrich “covered” the war in French Indo China from Paris.  The main challenge was to add phrases such as “wade through turbulent flood-swollen streams,” “knife through sweltering jungles,” and “fighter bombers zooming low” to statistic laden French government press releases handed out in Paris to inform American readers about the progress the fight against a Communist take over in Asia was progressing.

 

Friedrich revealed the secret of being a war correspondent in a far away nation:  “The outside world needs nothing more than a few announcements of enemy casualties and an occasional declaration that the ‘terrorists’ are on the run.”  Don’t the French have a saying about how things never change?

 

Sunday will be Bastille Day and so this week might be a good time to finish reading our bargain used copy of “Americans in Paris:  Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940 – 44,” by Charles Glass.

 

Edward Snowden is in the news this summer and is being accused of treason for revealing information that has been widely known for years.  Since Hans Fallada’s “Every man dies alone” is a cautionary tale about the futility of opposing a government committed to war, we wanted to flip though it again.  It is a fictional retelling of the story of a German couple who left postcards critical of Hitler all over Berlin in the early Forties.  Mostly all of their work was turned over to the Gestapo and proved to be useless.  The hapless war protesters were executed.  Will the real life source for this novel become the patron saints for the bloggers who have been critical of the foreign policy used by both the George W. Bush and Barrack H. Obama administrations? 

 

Book reviewers for the mainstream media have a fiduciary motivation for reading an assigned book all the way through as quickly as possible, but a columnist who is just trying to find a new column topic and simultaneously do some reading for entertainment purposes tends to use a pile of books in the same cavalier way that a couch potato uses his remote clicker.

 

The World’s Laziest Journalist may read a chapter in Lenny Bruce’s “How to talk dirty and influence people,” then pick up Camus’ “The Rebel” and flip through it to see if any of the underlined passages will proved a closing quote for this week’s column, and then because Hunter S. Thompson’s 75th birthday will be July 18, it might be a good idea to go back over the highlighted passages that follow the classic line:  “We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold.”

 

Perhaps we should reread Hemingway’s short story “the Killers” and then do a parody for a column that would compare the Social Security program to Ole Anderson?

 

Berkeley and San Francisco both offer  parsimonious book readers a wealth of bargain opportunities for used book buyers and since Berkeley is known for being liberal and also is home for a very respected school of Journalism, we have acquired (for a modest cost) a vast array of books that offer a very critical analysis of the Bush Administration written (mostly) by well known names from the realm of American Journalism.

 

When future historians look back on the wide assortment of voices warning Americans of impending disaster, they will have to wrestle with the question of why the citizens, in the face of overwhelming number of Cassandra voices, reelected George W. Bush.  Perhaps some future historian will propose a full length book that attempts to see it as an entire nation contending (subconsciously?) with a death wish?

 

Which brings us to the nagging question of the week:  “If Rupert Murdock can use hacking to get scoops, why can’t the NSA monitor e-mails and phone calls to keep the free world safe from terrorists?”

 

The topic of impending disaster brings us back to the large number of books dealing with the events just prior to America’s entry into WWII when Roald Dahl would have to do his spying on the USA.

 

Many of America’s future journalism movers and shakers toured Europe and were inspired to write dire warnings about the implications of the Spanish Civil War and the threat Hitler represented.

 

Low information voters were too occupied by the task of getting a job during the latter stages of the Great Depression to pay close attention to and try to critically analyze the implications of the war in Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War.

 

The children from the low information households would provide the essential manpower for fighting the war that the vagabonding journalists saw on the horizon, so maybe the people who were flocking to see “Gone with the Wind” should have paid more attention to the efforts being produced by the multitude of foreign correspondents churning out content for America’s newspaper readers.

 

The folks in the San Francisco Bay area are being informed that the opening of the new Bay Bridge will have to be delayed while the authorities address the issue of some safety violations.  Will any writer tackle a book assignment sometime in the future for elaborating the real challenge?  The politicians know that the project has to be completed.  What can be done to make that happen in such a way that the only people vulnerable to legal proceedings will be the mid level managers if a disaster strikes in the future?  Aye, lad, there’s the rub.

 

The new issue of the East Bay Express contains an article by Darwin BondGraham, titled “BART’s lead negotiator has a history of illegal behavior.”  It only strengthens our hunch that the true goal in this local labor dispute is to continue the policy of union busting that began by St. Ronald Reagan.

 

[Note from the photo editor:  War protests in Berkeley go back a long way so a sign at a bus bench in the downtown that was critical of the War in Iraq wasn’t attracting many readers this week.  We thought that a photo of the sign would be relevant to a column on reading matter.  The sign shows a drawing of a hand holding a shoe and folks should know that throwing a shoe is an extreme demonstration of disapproval in Iraq.  The only English words on the sign say:  “Iraq is devastated.”  For critics of the Iraq War that tells readers what the sign maker had to say.]

 

 

Lenny Bruce wrote:  “My reading matter ran the gamut from a technical book on intercontinental ballistic missiles to Jean-Paul Sartre’s study of anti-Semitism but all I knew about (George Bernard) Shaw was that he wrote Pygmalion.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play “Summer time,” “Having a heat wave,” and “Summertime Blues.”  We have to go look for our next used book treasure find.  Have a “We’ll always have Paris” type week.

 

 

Hippies, Pot, and War

July 13, 2012

Early in the week, a popular medical pot dispensary closed in San Francisco and caused a flare-up of the baffled pundit syndrome.  Skeptics are asking if President Obama is overlooking a link to the young voters who helped him win in 2008 and perplexed commentators are left scratching their heads.  Why would he do something that seems to spurn the attitude of a large portion of his political base?  Could the well paid experts be overlooking an obvious answer in much the same way folks couldn’t find the purloined letter?  Is there a hypothetical explanation for Obama’s curious failure to let pot dispensaries function without harassment?

Do you want to consider a possible explanation?  Let’s assume that businesses in the pharmaceutical industry make large contributions to both the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates’ campaign funds.  Then let’s assume that those very same firms resent the potential of medicinal pot which is not part of their assortment of products.  Would they hold off on asking the resident in the White House for a bit of payback out of consideration of the therapeutic value that the pot provides for the afflicted or would they remind the President about paybacks and then ask him to pull strings to make life miserable for the interlopers?

On Thursday, a large popular medical marijuana dispensary with outlets in Oakland and San Jose announced they must either find new locations or close.

In Berkeley CA, this week, the city council heard public input on the topic of the sit-lie law which will be on the November ballot.  The measure will, if adopted, prohibit sitting or laying down on sidewalks from early morning until late evening.  If Berkeley gets rid of the hippies, what will be next?  Will anti-Vietnam War demonstrations at Venice Beach be outlawed?

Chalkupy, an activist organization which provides art work for liberal causes, placed a large chalk drawing in downtown Berkeley on Tuesday which showed a seated Buddha and said “arresting people for sitting is unenlightened.”

Chalkupy is brought to the public by Fresh Juice Party (www.freshjuiceparty.com).  According to a flyer handed out to folks who saw the chalk work of art being created, FJP is a politically prejudiced media group.  They also assert “WE have the power to squeeze out the truth.”  (Well if the free press in the US isn’t going to do their job, it would be nice if some other group takes up the slack.)

If the measure is passed it will go into effect in July of 2013.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if the measure removed all the hippie panhandlers at the very same time that someone else started an effort to increase business in Berkeley by holding some events which would commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from on top of a police car in December of 1964?

San Bernardino (AKA San Berdoo) wasn’t the only city making news this week by having financial hardships.  One report on KCBS news radio indicated that part of San Bernardino’s troubles stemmed from the fact that the city contains a large number of foreclosed homes which produce no property tax revenue.

We noticed that Scranton Pa. was also making news by cutting pay for various groups of city employees.  If some Occupy activists came to Scranton and waged an effort to win the restoration of  the full pay rate for police and firemen, who have been reduced to the minimum wage rate; how aggressive would the police be about thwarting such <I>amicus est tanquam alter idem</I> type help?

Why do you suppose it is that the well paid Liberal pundits are failing to point out that American cities are going broke at a time when the United States is still unquestioning about continued funding for the Bush Wars?  Would the old Berkeley Barb let this example of an inconsistent economic philosophy pass unnoticed?

[Is it true that one episode of Star Trek portrayed a visit to earth that revealed that at the end of the 20th century large global wars on earth had ceased and been replaced by smaller regional wars called Bush Wars?]

The Republicans seem to have a platform of:  austerity measures, tax cuts for the rich, and more war and the poles show a virtual tie between Mitt and President Obama.  How can this incongruity be explained?

Wasn’t there a scifi movie, some time back, which predicted that people would eventually become anesthetized by various distractions and not pay any attention to the important issues?  The people became I-pod people and just did not give a damn about anything.  If there was impending political disaster:  “Oh?  That’s interesting, what else is happening?”  Journalism has become sports, weather, celebrity gossip, and innocuous feature stories and the people in America are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about austerity measures, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the chance to send American troops to Syria.

Chill out, dude!  What’s the worst that can happen?  If the Republicans use the Edward Gough Whitlam clause in the Party’s by-laws to disqualify Mitt from getting the nomination, and if they then select a Presidential Candidate who delivers an early Christmas present to the folks who made long odds bets on him, well then maybe some Americans will realize that they better get used to stringent austerity measures and forget about looking for a job.  We’ll write a column that uses the headline:  “Austerity measures will continue until prosperity returns.”

If the people elect a Republican in the fall of 2012, this columnist will concentrate on more superfluous topics.  Who isn’t interested in knowing that the Rolling Stones played their first paid gig fifty years ago on June 12, 1962?

Since Saturday is Bastille Day and since we are continuing with an effort to re-read “Is Paris Burning?,” we intended to write a column for this week that was mostly very upbeat and feature-ish, but reading about all the sacrifices that were made to win the liberation of Paris, we began to wonder what the troops who were killed in WWII would say about the current situation in the USA.  How long will it be until some hippie who is into the occult comes out and claims to have held a séance which revealed that the fallen soldiers complain “the current political impasse in the United Sates wasn’t what we were trying to achieve when we made the ultimate sacrifice”?

It seems to this columnist that the Republican politicians are being passive-aggressive regarding their “jobs” and that the Democrats are shrugging their shoulders and saying they can’t do a damn thing about it because of the filibuster rules.

An employee (unless it’s a bank’s investment specialist) who doesn’t perform gets fired immediately; not when his annual review takes place.  When a pitcher gives up five runs in the first inning, he is told to “hit the showers!”  A soldier who commits dereliction of duty faces harsh consequences.  We’ve called what the Republicans are doing a modern sit-down strike and that concept sure as hell hasn’t “gone viral.”  The Republicans are very critical when any other group of workers use strike tactics.  Should the shirkers (strikers?) be reelected or arrested?  Do the I-pod people care about politics?

Didja know that there is a WTF website?  Maybe, if we write columns that are more insegrvious we can cross post our efforts on that site?  (You got a problem with a columnist using words that don’t exist?)

Have you ever noticed that college radio stations that insist on a culturally eclectic play list almost never play any Native American Music?

James Russell Lowell wrote:  “They have rights who dare maintain them.”

Now the disk jockey will play “The Marseillaise,” “As time goes by,” and Edith Piaf’s “Le vie en rose.”  We have to go get a crepes breakfast.  Have a “le jazz hot” type week.

[The photos for illustrations for this column are over onmy floppyphotos.wordpress  for photos blog.]