Posts Tagged ‘War’

The one most important issue of 2012

May 11, 2012

The Conservatives’ prayers have been answered and this year’s Presidential Election will ignore jobs, taxes, and wars and concentrate on an emotional wedge issue.  On Thursday, May 10, 2012, the top headline on the front page of the New York Times was about the gay marriage issue and it was augmented by a “news analysis” on that very same topic.

Traditionally conservatives have preferred to use a highly charged tangential emotional issue rather than focus on problems that are integral to the lives and livelihoods of the voters.

Last weekend, this columnist went to the Oakland Museum of California to see “The 1968 Project” which is a traveling exhibition focusing on the social, political, and economic events of 1968 because we anticipated that it would provide a convenient frame for a column comparing and contrasting that year with the situation in this election year.

Jobs, fair and equitable taxation and necessary wars are complex issues that can confuse voters.  Obviously both Republican and Democratic candidates want to offer the citizens a program that will reduce taxes, increase employment and preserve the peace, but both political parties can not make identical speeches.  They have to achieve brand identity and loyalty for their message and their party.  If they don’t; elections would seem like a variation on the Ford vs. Chevrolet debate.

Sales representatives (such as the one portrayed in the classical “Death of a Sales Rep” by Arthur Miller [Did you get the memo on the new politically correct title for that play?]) are always told to sell the sizzle and not the steak, so the two parties need an issue that will represent their “sizzle.”

If both Republicans and Democrats agree that taxes for the wealthy must be reduced or completely eliminated, then what’s to stop the voters from using a coin toss to make their choices?

If both parties know that the military industrial complex thrives on war, then the question is not whether to go to war or not; it is which wars can be sold as necessary for the protection of the citizens?

If the TV at night is clogged with ads urging addiction to products produced by the pharmaceutical industry, then wouldn’t it be hypocritical for Republicans or Democrats to denounce a cottage industry that offers an herbal product that promises similar miraculous medial results?  Obviously the large companies would not want amateurs cutting into their profit margin anymore than a bootlegger would want his regular customers to spend their money on some locally produced bathtub gin.

During the Roaring Twenties did any American pundit go to a bar in Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, or Australia and ask the locals why their country didn’t outlaw booze?

Were jobs, taxes, and wars important during the Twenties?  Was it easier to judge a politician on his stand for or against Prohibition or was it worth the effort to listen to some long and boring debate about the Smoot-Hawley Act?  (“They say it could cause a depression!”)  What about the Kellogg Briand Treaty and the London Naval Treaty of 1930?  (“What do you mean pave the way for a new World War?”)

The Republican strategists love to frame the debate and set the agenda for the Presidential Elections and as Americans celebrate May 11, 2012, as Twilight Zone Day one only has to casually peruse the usual sources for contemporary political opinion to see that the “there you go again” assessment can be applied to the attention being paid to the issue of gay marriage this week.

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, a reconnaissance patrol on the Internets revealed that some gays were urging the Democratic Party to move the location for their National Convention out of North Carolina to somewhere else.

If they are successful in manipulating the Democrats into making such a change of venue, then many of the party’s management staff will be distracted from the Presidential race by the nuts and bolts decisions that will accompany such a maneuver; if they don’t make the change the gay activists will resent the “my way or the highway” attitude implicit in such an example of fascist control over the splinter group.  Either way, the President will look bad and the Republican voters will have occasion to celebrate the success of the architect of their campaign strategy.

On Monday, August 5, the opening day of the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, California Governor St. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the Presidency.  Was that a tad late in the primary season to make that announcement?

He had only been governor for two years.  Was he rushing things?

Since many pundits are neglecting to point out that the focus on gay marriage would be a textbook perfect example of Republicans hijacking the national political debate, and that brings up another item that is being neglected in the age of meticulously scrupulous (?) punditry.  Is there an ulterior motive which would explain the late date for the Republican National Convention this year?

Traditionally the period between the Conventions and the Labor Day weekend, are devoted to resting up from the primary campaign and concocting the specifics of the Presidential Election campaign, but since the Republican Convention is scheduled to begin on August 27 in Tampa Bay, that means that when it is over (presumably) by the end of the week, it will be the start of the Labor Day weekend and the “go for broke” Presidential Campaign.

Many of the journalists in the realm of national politics seem to prefer channeling the spirit of psychics such as Carnac the Magnificent, on election night and tell the audience what the voters were thinking and what it all means.

The World’s Laziest Journalist will buck the trend and offer readers a chance for some do-it-yourself analysis.  What if some Republican decides to imitate the 1968 spirit of St. Ronald Reagan and announce on the Monday of the Republican Convention that he (in the spirit of breaking a deadlocked convention) would accept the Party’s nomination?

What if such a late last minute attempt were successful?  If the convention ended and someone other than Romney was the Presidential Candidate, wouldn’t that leave the strategists for the Obama campaign in panic mode?  Since the campaign would start on Labor Day, they would have just three or four days to reconfigure the President’s game plan for contenting with the new opponent.

After a week full of unexpected developments that has left the Obama team scrambling to reestablish an image of a confident leader who is in control, doesn’t it seem as if such a last minute new Republican Candidate would be well positioned to push the “Obama isn’t in command” meme on the voters?

There will be a surfeit of commentary available on the weekend after Twilight Zone Day full of near hysterical emotional examples of partisan mind-fuck and the World’s Laziest Journalist realizes that we could never add any noteworthy insights to the array that will be offered.  We can, however, try to add a dash of uniqueness by asking about any ulterior motivation there might be for the long (smoke and mirrors) lull between the last primary election in June and the Convention which will fill the news hole during the last week in August.

This week has had other topics to distract voters such as the possibility of a new banking crisis, the controversial Time magazine cover photo, continued Occupy protests such as the looming confrontation between protesters and the University of California Berkeley administration, and the possibility of a change of venue for the Democratic National Convention, but it is very likely that the gay marriage issue will get the undivided attention of most pundits this weekend.

If the Republicans produce an unanticipated candidate in late August, could the confusion that would cause be compared to the consternation produced by the Tet Offensive?

[Note from the photographer:  many museums have a rule against using flash.  If you have to use available light, be sure to use something (such as a doorway) to brace the camera for the long exposure and take several shots.]

Walter Lippmann allegedly said:  “Brains, you know, are suspect in the Republican Party.”

Now the disk jockey will play Pink Floyd’s “The Wall Album” for those folks who can’t get to San Francisco the night this column is posted (for their version of “Call to the Wall”), the Doors’ “The Doors” album, and the “Wild in the Streets” soundtrack album (from 1968).  We have to go register for the draft.  Have a “girls say ‘yes’ to guys who say ‘no’” type week.


New guy gives the standard Bush war speech

March 29, 2011

In response to requests to explain why the USA has intervened in a civil war in Libya, the President asserted that the reason was to protect American interests.  He followed that up with a smorgasbord of campaign style patriotic platitudes.  He did not present any evidence to prove his contention that American interests “were at stake.”

His speech brought to mind Lord Byron’s snarky assessment of a Wordsworth poem:  “I wish he would explain his explanation.”

The progressive radio station in the San Francisco Bay area cut away from the speech before the “God Bless America” ending.

In California, the speech was heard live at the end of the work day right before the start of the evening commute hour.

It seems to this columnist that the President’s “whole lotta nada” speech will not assuage his Republican critics nor will it satisfy the skeptics in his own party.

In the morning preceding the speech, this columnist wrote up some additional material in anticipation of the speech.  Here are our expectations for the speech:

There is a very vulgar colloquialism which accurately describes the challenge facing the President in his speech delivered on the night of Monday, March 28, 2011, but we won’t quote it verbatim.  Bush’s successor has “soiled the nest” and will attempt to use his (alleged) eloquence and charm to convince the Democrats who voted for him to forgive and forget his war crimes record, just as he has done with and for George W. Bush.

The best indicator of the most likely result of President Jackass’ attempt at a Myth of Sisyphus task was contained in an article for Esquire magazine written by Norman Mailer in response to an appearance by Madonna on a late night TV show.  In it, Mailer made the assertion that Americans will forgive a celebrity any transgression so long as it doesn’t involve a “going against type” aspect regarding the celebrity’s public image.

Mailer pointed out that Andrew Dice Clay, who was known for making caustic remarks, fell from grace when he apologized for one of his quotes.  Conversely, since Americans expected scandalous behavior from Madonna, Mailer (accurately) predicted she would quickly be forgiven the appearance on the Letterman show which was marked by repeated use of the “f-word.” 

If Mailer’s theorem is correct, the President’s attempt to convince his supporters that he is still the same old hero worth of their love and campaign donations will fall on deaf ears.  Rather than preaching to the choir, it will be as warmly received by the rank and file Democrats as would be accorded to a missionary’s attempt to proselytize to a gang of inebriated members of a famous motorcycle club.  The challenge facing Scheherazade pales in comparison to the task that the Democratic Party’s choice has chosen for himself (and his legacy). 

The President, very early in his term, suggested that he would be comfortable with being a one term entry in the history books.  It’s a very good thing that he feels that way because his supporters might soon have to interpret his previous remark as a self fulfilling prophesy with a  dash of the “be careful what you wish for” aspect to it.

George W. Bush often used America’s Free Press to help substantiate his newest “Black is White” lie.  The  press would dutifully relay an endorsement of the fallacy and the public would be left scratching their heads.  Is the media doing a good job of spreading the “war for humanitarian reasons” oxymoron or are they being skeptical?

There is an old journalism tradition for writing two diametrically opposed stories in anticipation of a binary choice event.  The most egregious example of the danger of such a practice came in the news photo image of a triumphant Harry S. Truman holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune that featured a headline proclaiming:  “Dewey Defeats Truman.” 

With that in mind, this columnist wrote a preliminary draft of this version of this column on the morning of Monday, March 28, 2011.  It is possible that, like the forgiving wife of an abusive husband, Democrats could respond to the Monday night speech with the political version of “make-up sex” and welcome the President back into their good graces with open arms.  We won’t waste the time and energy needed to do the keystrokes for a column comparing the President’s speech to the first appearance of the Beatles on live TV in the USA.

The Democrats may be dumb, but this columnist’s pre-speech opinion is that the Democrats can’t be that stupid.

The Democrats who voted for the incumbent wanted a viable alternative to the Bush Dynasty and not a carbon copy of Dubya. 

There was one popular speaker who could literally turn water into wine, but for a guy to expect to use one speech to sell a capricious and very expensive new war to supporters, who projected a “peace maker” image onto a fellow who subsequently gave his <I>imprimatur</I> to his predecessor’s war crimes and then decided to go him one better, isn’t just a difficult challenge it (IMHO is now officially, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a real word) is a stellar example of insanity in action.

The advantage of the situation is that it makes the task of being prepared to analyze speeches where the incumbent says whatever will rationalize the Bush-Obama War Crimes Agenda so much easier because all that’s needed is some old anti-Bush invective with the names changed to update the diatribe. 

The current President once made a casual remark about expecting liberal bloggers to provide approval on demand because that was what they were paid to do.  Since this columnist has no fiduciary relationship with the current occupant of the White House, we feel free to blurt out our opinions much as if it were part of a Rorschach test and not a opportunity to display unquestioning party loyalty.  Has America become the land of:  “One Country, one Party, one Dynasty!”?

[Wouldn’t it be überironic if both Uncle Rushbo and Mike Malloy peruse these columns looking for relevant insights and clever metaphors?  Shall we test our theory?  If he is reading this; here’s a bone for Uncle Rushbo:  Have American troops ever before in their history been under the command of any leadership that was not that of the American President?]

To cynics, it might seem as if the current Commander-in-chief has not only taken over where George W. Bush left off, but he has also taken over a military effort that will begin almost exactly where General Erwin Rommel’s career reached the turning point in a military career that had, up to that point, been described as “brilliant.” 

Most Americans are familiar with Abraham Lincoln’s words of wisdom about fooling the people.  The current resident in the White House should refresh his memory and become aware of the sentence preceding the famous often quoted one.  It says:  “If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.”  Lincoln did not elaborate about how that advice might apply to an effort to be reelected.

Now the disk jockey will play several of Madonna’s albums.  We have to get up early and scramble out to a place with a wifi connection to post this column.  Have a “What’s so civil about civil war?” type week.

Afterword:  We posted this column on Monday night.

Journalism does the ostrich act

March 20, 2011

Americans who read their daily papers very assiduously during the week of March 13 – 19, 2011, were informed that something bad happened in Japan and that a “no fly zone” had been authorized to be implemented over Libya, but there were some aspects of the news that were (like the rest of the Cheshire cat in back of the smile) missing.

This week, a Democrat President did what George W. Bush tried and failed miserably to accomplish;  Obama got America into a new military venture without a word of dissent from any Democrat politician. 

There was (ironically) a series of demonstrations marking the anniversary of the shock and awe TV special that marked the beginning of America’s continuing invasion of Iraq.  Since the paucity (paw city = cat pun?) of news coverage of the war’s various birthday parties left news junkies to wonder did those “protests” really happen? 

The writers’ strike against the Huffington Post was mentioned by <a href =>Romenesko’s Media News</a>, the  href =>Columbia Journalism Review’s website</a>, and in a column by the World’s Laziest Journalist, but since Rupert Murdock has nothing but distain for the journalist’s mission, he used “interline courtesy” rules and his band of clowns will stay mum and not embarrass fellow mogul Arianna Huffington.

Other than feature stories about some radiation in food which is at “no cause for alarm” level (why bother mentioning it then?), has anyone reported any other facts about the nuclear disaster in Japan?  There was an erroneous report that the frantic workers had been given the “abandon ship” order, but that was later denied.  They are trying to cool the reactors down. 

If the workers were trying to exacerbate the situation, that would be news, but spending all that money to send reporters into the danger zone just to come up with “trying to cool the reactors down” stories seems a bit too obvious to warrant network evening news round-up time. 

Has any major media reporter done a sidebar story about the possibility that the surrounding area might (like happened in the Chernobyl region?) become a radio active leper colony? 

The academics who teach atomic science at the University of California at Berkeley have been reported to be measuring the fallout in that city of the radiation coming from Japan.  There are no specific details about the readings, only the “second the motion” platitudes about Obama’s announcement that there is nothing happening that merits alarm.  They can’t or won’t say what the readings are, but no worries, mate, don’t sweat that bit of unnecessary news.

A judge in Wisconsin ordered a stay on that state’s law to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights.  Uncle Rushbo was urging the governor of Wisconsin to choose to ignore the stay, just as (he asserted) President Obama had ignored a ruling on the Health Care Package that was passed last year.  Why upset union workers with breaking details on that story when it was clearly important to run stories telling them that there were no worries about the situation in Japan?

It’s not like the news media failed completely during the week of March 13 – 19; on page E-1 of the San Francisco Chronicle, for Friday, March 18, 2011, David Wiegand reported that Charlie Sheen’s “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option” tour will feature an appearance in San Francisco (on April 30).  Perhaps Charlie will reveal details about the cooling efforts in Japan? 

Adolph Hitler used the threat of physical torture to keep journalists in line during the Third Reich era.  He had an official state run newspaper (just like Uncle Rushbo would like to see in the USA?) and journalists who wished to stray outside the prescribed boundaries did so at their own peril.  His torture specialists had a high “complete recant and sincere apology” level rating. 

In the USA, Freedom of the Press is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, but the journalists seem to be very willing to accept an unwritten “ya gotta go along to get along” codicil to that scrap of paper.

Perhaps, if America’s journalists offered to voluntarily subscribe to the Volkischer Beobachter standards of reporting, a nasty round of lay-offs could be avoided?  If the reporters want a Dan Rather-Keith Olbermann ticket to oblivion, that can be arranged.  Is any news story worth the loss of facetime on the networks?

Apparently there will be no effort on the part of the news media to relay to the public assurances from a reputable politician that:  “It isn’t about oil.” 

Speaking of scraps of paper, have you read about the 29th Annual Napkin Art Contest being held by Mama’s Royal Café, in Oakland CA?

On page 539 of “Murrow:  His Life and Times,” (Freundlich Books hardback ©1986) A. M. Sperber quotes Edward R. Murrow:  “Surely we shall pay for using the most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which are to be faced if we are to survive.  I mean the word ‘survive’ literally . . . .”  Has anyone thought that Murrow might have been a very early example of the conspiracy theory nut?

[Can anyone explain why the annual list of the names of the individuals being inducted, this year, into the Conspiracy Nuts’ Hall of Fame are being kept secret?]

Now the disk jockey will play “Zippidy Do Dah,” “I’m the Pied Pipper,” and “The Warsaw Concerto.”  We have to go check and see how the Fremantle **ckers (An American pants company won’t let us use their team name) are doing.  Have a “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” type week.

[Afterword]  After writing this column, we bought the New York Times Sunday edition for March 20, 2011, and learned, in the lead story on the front page, that in order to protect the citizens of Libya from their leader, a series of air strikes had begun.  How many citizens of Libya will be inadvertently killed in the effort to protect them was undetermined.   

We learned on page 12 of the front news section that questions were being asked about the possibility that the Tokyoy Electric Power Company executives may have wasted time in their response to the emergency. 

On page 23, in a photo caption, the Sunday Times informed readers that “protesters were arrested in Washington on Saturday.”

Abandon ship!

January 4, 2010

The chance that an online columnist (aren’t bloggers now eligible to join the National Association of Newspaper Columnists?) can find a topic that no one else had touched (a virgin topic?) is about the same as hoping to find a $100 bill on the ground.  If, however, a columnist has twice in his lifetime found a C-note just waiting to be scooped (bad journalism pun – 15 yard penalty) up, then he might be justified in pounding out the keystrokes required for a column with a “Has Anyone Else Noticed . . . ?” style headline

Such as?

Over this new decade’s first weekend, there was a story found online indicating that the United States and Great Britain were closing their embassies in Yemen.  Isn’t the closing of embassies usually the last mileage signpost on the road to war?  It was the lead story in some Monday morning newspapers.

Our copy of “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” is several hundred miles away and so we have to use memory to work without a net, but back then, wasn’t closing down an embassy, the final diplomatic move before declaring war on the country where the embassy was being vacated?  Has that rash move been demoted down to a diplomatic move in the game of mind-mess (some folks use a much more vulgar term) or do the old rules still apply?

Isn’t closing an embassy with Yemen like burning diplomatic bridges?  Isn’t that equal to the Bush era assessment of “they’re askin’ for it!”?  Wasn’t this weekend’s closing the subtle signal that bombs will talk louder than worn out diplomatic clichés?  Isn’t closing an embassy because of the possibility of a terrorist strike going to be perceived in the Macho Muslim world as a sign of weakness and retreat?

With airport security, health care, Joe Lieberman, downsizing at newspapers, football head injuries, and Tiger Wood having a hypnotic hold on current public discourse, there hasn’t been much commentary on the impending Afghanistan surge. 

Since the Republican Noise Machine has usurped the task of setting the agenda for public debate, it seems evident that if the Fox Journalism Juggernaut doesn’t use the news from Yemen for a taking point, then bringing it up is an existentialist’s exorcise in futility.

George W. Bush changed a good amount of America’s diplomatic modus operandi and so things may have changed since September of 1939. 

If Americans are too distracted to weigh the pros and cons of the Afghanistan surge, then it seems futile to think that they would be interested in any historic footnotes about the fine points of diplomatic protocol.

On the morning of Sunday, December, 1941, wasn’t the Japanese Embassy staff busy burning diplomatic papers and packing suitcases? 

Did you know that the New York Giants vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers (not a typo) football game in Yankee Stadium, which was played on Dec. 7, 1941, coincided with a tribute to a member of the Giants team?  It was Alphonse “Tuffy” Leemans Day and the Dodgers won 21 to 7.  The crowd (according to information found online) was not informed of the events happening at Pearl Harbor.

Would it be worth the effort, today, to write instead a column about the fact that Sean Hannity’s theme song (Independence Day) is actually (if you listen to the lyrics for the entire song) about a woman who kills her wife beating husband?  Gees talk about promoting family values; doesn’t that song nail the Republican philosophy about women?

We’ll keep an eye on Fox News and get back to you if they upgrade the closing of the American Embassy in Yemen to a talking point that indicates a “preemptive strike” is warranted. 

Rubin Blades has been quoted as saying:  “I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.”

Now, the disk jockey will play Bobby Bare’s song “Don’t it make you wanna go home?” the full version of Carrie Underwood’s rendition of “Independence Day,” and “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.”  We’ll toddle on out of here and go looking for yet another $100 bill.  Have a “We won’t be back, ‘til it’s over, over there” type week.

Who Can Forget Remembrance Day?

November 11, 2009

As this year’s Remembrance Day was approaching, folks in the Los Angeles area were noticing that radio station KGIL has a new format and is calling itself retro1260 (dot com) because they are playing pop music from the Fifties and Sixties and that, in turn, reminds this columnist of some “never to be forgotten” lessons that seem to have become as obscure as some of the songs that haven’t been heard on the radio for forty years.  What would the soldiers who died in Vietnam have to say about the very likely scenario that President Obama is about to send another 40,000 troops to Afghanistan?  Can an entire country get Alzheimer’s disease?

Last year, this columnist was in Sydney on Remembrance Day and was very moved by the news coverage of that day’s events in their country. 

Anyone who graduated from college in May of 1965 will surely recall that the very next month LBJ sent six divisions of U. S. Marines to South Vietnam to clean the mess up. 

In May of  1965, Ford Motor Company’s Mustangs were all “fresh out of the box” new and the really shrewd guys were buying the ones souped up by Carroll Shelby’s team.  Some really smart fellows were renting “competition ready” Mustangs from Hertz and taking them out to a nearby track and using them to compete.  Why put that kind of wear and tear on a car that you own?

The bunnies at the Playboy Club served drinks with a maneuver known as the bunny slouch so that their cups wouldn’t runneth over.

If KGIL really wants to bring back memories, why don’t they use some recordings of the classic sixties disk jockeys introducing the songs?  Who can forget the voice of Wolfman Jack which was heard “coast to coast, border to border, wall to wall and tree-top tall”?  Didn’t Don Sherwood modestly call himself the world’s greatest disk jockey?  Isn’t Cousin  Brucie heard outside of Manhattan on satellite radio these days?

Leaving Scranton to take a job in New York City meant being exposed to unorthodox ideas.  Scranton’s own 109th Infantry Regiment from the 28th Infantry Division had been among the troops capture at Bastogne and they were the loudest warning the local kids that anyone advocating less than full commitment to the Vietnam war effort was probably a Communist.  Wasn’t the proof the fact that the only people against the War in Vietnam (in 1965) were college professors and show business people?  You didn’t have to be a big fan of the House Un-American Activities Committee to know what that meant.

In 1965, FM radio was a phenomenon that (mostly) hadn’t yet happened.  In Scranton, WEJL used the feed (with station identification blurbs) from WQXR which featured classical music.  Heck this columnist had listening habits that meant he was a fan of both Johnny Cash and Wagner (and that was long before the German got such a memorable plug in the movie “Apocalypse Now.”)

Back then the expression “Bookrow of America” referred to more than just the Strand Bookstore.  The one and only Barnes and Nobel bookstore was just a short walk away. 

Does the Wannamaker store still have that bridge that carried shoppers from one building to another over the street?

Back then, a policy called “the Hayes code” mandated that any criminal portrayed in any film had to be apprehended.  Thus young people were constantly reminded that the bad guys would always get caught.  The thought that an American could commit war crimes and then get a pass was a complete contradiction.  It would never happen, so don’t waste time worrying about that.  The WWII vets backed that philosophy with very strong assertions that Americans were the good guys and would never think of torturing a prisoner. 

Who had the “good guys” T-shirts?  Were they offered by WABC or WMCA?

Scranton may not have been a candidate city for housing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but it was the home for WARMland and WICK.  It was rumored that the Sunday morning programming in the Polish language earned enough money to underwrite the rest of WICK’s programs featuring the pioneers of Rock.

Will Fox News mention the irony of the fact that this year’s observance of Remembrance Day comes at a time when a new Afghanistan strategy is about to be revealed and that example of poor timing seems to make a mockery of the “never be forgotten” oratory that abounds each year when America marks “Veterans’ Day”?  Doesn’t the word “veteran” apply only to those who survived the carnage?

When KGIL plays “My Way,” we half expect them to dedicate it to George W. Bush.  “Through it all/when there were doubts/I ate them all . . . and did it my way!” 

Folks shouldn’t say “we will never forget,” if it’s obvious that they damn well have.

Youtube offers a clip of Cousin Brucie from 42 years ago promoting an effort to send a shipment of Christmas items to the troops serving in Vietnam.  That will suffice for this column’s ending quotation.  Here’s the link to that clip.

When the Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam played Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” that was the signal that the final evacuation of Saigon was commencing, so now, just because he’s a sentimental old fool, our disk jockey will tear himself away from KGIL long enough to play that very song.  Maybe it’s time to contact America’s “granny war correspondent” and find out how to apply for an embed in Afghanistan and get out of Cali.  Have a week full of “foonman brothers” ads (or have you forgotten that “Laugh-In” shtick?). 


Awards Surprise?

October 13, 2009

Speaking of unexpected winners, over the weekend this columnist saw the just released movie “An Education” because of the rash of reviews suggesting that Carey Mulligan’s portrayal of a 16 year old school girl, Jenny, who has an affair with an older man, should earn her a nomination for the Best Actress Oscar.  We concur with the extremely enthusiastic reviews.   She does a superb job in a film which delivers a memorable cinematic experience.

Unfortunately, it seems likely that when the Oscar nominations are announced, most Americans are going to say:  “I missed that movie.”  That will cause them to question the motivation of the Academy voters for selecting an obscure acting job.  The Oscars are not a popularity contest, nor are they meant to be awards for selling the most number of tickets in the previous year.

Does a young person deserve the nomination because of accomplishment or is the expectation that Ms. Mulligan will deliver marvelous performances in the future reason enough to nominate her for the next Best Actress Oscar?

If any patriotic conservative Republican Christians do see “An Education,” they may voice strenuous objections about letting anyone else see a story of illicit love, which will bring up a delicious bit of curious misdirected attempts to promote public morality. 

Rush Limbaugh and other well paid guardians of public morality and enthusiastic advocates of war crimes will blithely see a duty to shut down an entertainment which subtly advocates letting individuals make their own decisions about selecting sex partners at a time when the country in which the film is playing is almost a decade into a war that was based on some misperceptions and might drag on in the unwinable mode for quite some time.

Could it be that these well meaning hypocrites know that since they might be able to shut down the movie but that since the liberals will never convince politicians to shutdown a war that can’t be won, the conservative prudes might as well prove their potency by taking whatever victory they can achieve and let the liberals grumble?

It’s not like the Republicans have established an unblemished record of living up to their vows of fidelity, isn’t it more like a golden opportunity to display the psychological phenomenon known as projection?  They can accuse the degenerate Democrats of nurturing horrible, despicable tendencies to lewd and lascivious conduct, which they themselves can not control in their own lives.  Such a move is very therapeutic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that conservative Christians love being able to use Democrats as scapegoats, thus avoiding the necessity for confessing their own sins.

Isn’t it odd that a movie about love can be condemned and a war involving needless slaughter of civilians goes mostly unnoticed?

Recently the Nobel Prize committee made it even more necessary to find a new topic to divert public attention away from the war because they gave the prestigious award to the American President (is he the first to win while still in office?) mostly for the reason that such a move would hold up to world wide ridicule the fellow who instigated two wars.  President Obama inherited those two wars when he took office and hence faces a bigger than usual challenge regarding efforts to establish Peace, worldwide fellowship of man, and a reduction of the level of nuclear armament in the world.

So, in a world full of war, a movie about love which doesn’t meet the war mongers’ standard of morality will be harshly received if they notice it.

So, what else is new?

We saw “An Education” at a mall in Los Angeles that had a movie arcade that specializes in attract the audience that prefers “art house” type movies.  While we were walking out we came across some activists from a group that fights puppy mills, so, since we couldn’t fork over a large $ grant to help them, we promised to run a plug for bestfriends dot org because, as we noted, back in our days at Lake Tahoe we were part owner of Sigfied L. von Richthofen, the greatest dog who ever lived. 

Siggy set a standard that will never be equaled, but that doesn’t mean that folks should feel free to patronize puppy mill outlets in their efforts to find a modern day companion who can at least come close?

Actor comedian W. C. Fields is often credited with being the source for the quote “anybody who hates kids and dogs can’t be all bad.”

Now, while the disk jockey plays Patti Page’s song, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window,” we’ll mush on out of here.  Have a “win the Iditarod” type week.

Where have all the hippies gone?

September 17, 2009

Published on The Smirking Chimp ( have all the hippies gone?By Bob PattersonCreated Sep 17 2009 – 2:00pm

[Note: This column was written and posted while listening to the Rush Limbaugh program for Thursday September 17, 2009.]

Just as the Sixties were beginning, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a farewell speech [1] which warned about the emerging power grab from the Military Industrial Complex in the United States. Vietnam was a former French colony know mostly only to Americans who got A’s in geography, when he said: “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

On a day when Rush Limbaugh is doing his best to refute the wisdom of the move to scrap plans to build a missile shield in Europe, the lesson of America’s war in Vietnam seems to be this: if a long war was good, a state of permanent war is even better.

On September 11, 2001, Hunter S. Thompson (Kingdom of Fear page 161) wrote: “Make no mistake about it: We are At War now – with somebody – and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.”

Finally the hawks can relax and not worry that those damn hippies are going to keep singing their peacenik songs until World Peace arrives.

The author of Operation Chaos is asserting that President Obama is promoting the chaos and furor about race that is currently the top topic of conversation. Listening to Rush on Thursday morning, September 17, 2009, it seems like the Freedom Marches never happened.

Reading news reports that President Obama is deciding about sending more troops to Afghanistan, it seems like now more than ever hippies would need to hear some inspiring songs to encourage peace, love, and understanding.

Rush has informed his audience that the racism issue is being used to obscure the fact that Obama is (as el Rushbo wishes) failing.

Sociologists may well mark the week of September 13 – 19, 2009 as the week when the Sixties really ended.

Back in the Sixties, the City of New York urged citizens: “Give a damn!” Now, the Supreme Court seems to be on the verge of pitting large corporations against individuals and assessing it as an even fight. Surely the hippies who wanted to get involved will be smart enough to realize that if “you can’t fight city hall,” then it’s total insanity to try to buck Wall Street. (Wouldn’t real hippies use a slogan with a word spelled just s tad different from “buck”?)

Would Mario Savio back Rush’s sarcastic remarks about President Obama as an example of Free Speech that had to be defended or would he condemn it?

Aren’t any anti-war rallies, these days, more like a hippie reunion than they are an expression of a “youth-quake”?

Rush says that if President Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan (and Rush knows that he will), then any Democrats who speak out against it are racists.

The news on Wednesday that Mary Travers had passed away makes it obvious that the peacnik movement of hippies and older activists lies in the past. Peace activism must be laid to rest. It brings to mind the title of a Waylon Jennings song: “Living Legends Are a Dying Breed.”

It’s time for hippies to face the truth: RIP the Sixties [2].

Joni Mitchel put it this way: “They won’t give peace a chance, that’s just a dream some of us had.”

(What were the best songs of the Sixties [3]?) Now, the disk jockey will play “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
Maybe we’ll spend the afternoon in San Francisco. Have a groovy week.


Salvaging Obama’s Legacy

May 11, 2009

Historians may say that the effort to salvage President Obama’s legacy began on Thursday May 7, 2009, when the New York Times published an <a href => Oped piece by Hassina Sherjan</a> which included this quote:  “Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, put it very clearly: “The Taliban were united under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Omar. All the fighters follow and obey orders of one central command. The existence of moderates and extremist elements within the rank and file of Taliban is wishful thinking of the West and the Afghan government.”

If the Taliban won’t negotiate, that means there can not be a negotiated end of the war and if that’s true then the war must come to a conclusion via a military victory.  Since the Democrats don’t want to go into a round of national elections (be it 2010, 2012, 2014, or 2016) after losing the War in Iraq, that means that President Obama must not, under any circumstances, let Baghdad become another version of Ho Chi Minh City “on his watrch.” 

Since the number of troops necessary to impose a military victory in Iraq and Afghanistan would require a staggering amount of expenditures in both cash and lives, that would seem to be (realistically speaking) an unattainable goal.

That leaves only one course of action for President Obama.  He has to fight a holding action and pass the problem on to his successor and that, in turn, means that he has to concede the fact that there will not be a VI Day (Victory in Iraq) and that means that he and his advisers will have to focus on building his future assessment by historians with other accomplishments such as the economy and innovative social programs. 

Unfortunately the current economic outlook indicates that lofty goals will have to be put on hold for the time being. 

President Obama’s spin specialists will have to approach their challenge very aggressively because to some the Obama Administration’s program resembles that portrayed in cartoons when the fast running bird (ostrich?) hands a stick of dynamite (trinitrotoluene) to the dog/wolf/coyote character and with a “beep beep” and sound effects indicating that he is departing a the same rate of speed achieved by a bullet, letting the hapless mutt “holding the bag” and then giving the audience a perplexed look after the inevitable big Kaboom!

If the cost of maintaining a military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan remains stable during President Obama’s term in office and if the economic recover is slow, that would tend to indicate that social programs will have to be downsized and or eliminated during the interim.  If those cost skyrocket, then cutting social programs will become manditory.

The President will have to build a perception that he entered office with optimistic expectations and then use the old WMD explanation when it becomes apparent that a negotiated settlement is impossible:  “He didn’t know there was no possibility of a negotiated settlement.” 

So, just as Bush supporters did in the WMD debate, he can use the old “blindsided by reality” explanation and slowly spread the perception that radical al Qaeda members would rather die than sign a peace settlement.

As this process unfolds liberal pundits can use clever and poetical metaphors to explain the impasse, such as saying that asking al Qeda to convene a Peace conference would be very much like sending the chaplain to talk to a kamikaze pilot about the assertion that suicide is an unforgivable sin.

Maybe the President should do something more constructive such as helping Al Franken get started now in his efforts to raise funds for a reelection campaign?

Perhaps a good diversion will be to start a committee to decide where to locate the Obama Presidential Library?

Comedian W. C. Fields has said:  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”

Now the disk jockey will be permitted to replay Supertramp’s “<a href=>Logical Song</a>,” which he has played at least once before.  The Pasadena City Council will have an interesting meeting tonight, so we gotta run along.  Have a week in which you never hear the word “immutable.”  (As Dick Martin used to say:  “Look that up in your Funken and Wagnall.”)

It’s a Blunder-ful Life?

April 3, 2009

For fans of on-line games, Leeroy Jenkins has become the equivalent of General George Armstrong Custer, because while playing World of Warfare, he made a big blunder and his group suffered annihilation.  Cynics who learn the particulars of Jenkins tactical mistake may worry that President Obama’s plans to send more troops into Afghanistan may be comparable to Jenkins charge into enemy territory and worry that the results will be even more catastrophic than Jenkins’ fictional massacre.

In the realm of on-line games, the thought that the guy who makes the biggest blunders can become a winner by losing is an amusing concept.  The fellow has parlayed his ignominious game playing skill into an appearance on the Howard Stren radio show, and a role in a TV ad for a charge card company.

At this point, the columnist asked himself: “Is it too soon to use a contemporary cultural reference to take a cheap shot at the President?”  When George Bush stood on the edge of a war that seemed unnecessary and irrelevant, there was no hesitation and a new President shouldn’t get any more slack than his predecessor.

After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book “blink,” it seemed that if the President’s announced plans make us shudder, then we should continue and finish the column.

Taking troops out of Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan also seems misguided.  If they must be sent to Afghanistan because of the high level of experience in dealing with the enemy, isn’t that unfair?  Haven’t the troops in Iraq earned a rest period?  Shouldn’t a fresh group be sent into Afghanistan while the vets who served in Iraq come home?

That brings up another worry.  At some point when the troop level in Iraq gets rather low, won’t the remaining soldiers be very tempting targets for those Muslims who want to kill them? 

We realize that the Bush era magic explanation is that the Iraqis will cover them while the Americans draw down.  Are Americans supposed to believe the old “we got your back” type of reassurance will work? 

Haven’t the various factions in Iraq proved earlier in the war that they aren’t playing by the Marquis of Queensberry rules and that when the time comes the bad guys will offer some gold coins to Iraqis in trusted positions to take the money and deal out some (what they see as) punishment to the despised departing army of occupation and consider it payback for some of the “collateral damage” inflicted by the Americans?  Won’t they get a lot of eager Iraqis who will find the offer irresistible?  Past performance is the best indicator of future performance?  If so, what’s going to happen?

Folks who would like to post a comment noting it is too early to tell how well President Obama will be as the military commander in chief should read the Gladwell book before they hit the “submit” for their opinion.

Allan Masse said: “Blunders are an inescapable feature of war, because choice in military affairs lies generally between the bad and the worse.”

Now, the disk jockey will play Larry Verne’s “Please, Mr. Custer, I don’t wanna go.”  We’ll charge out of here yelling Leeroy Jenkins’ name.  Have the kind of week that will win you a spot on the Howard Stern radio show.