Luckily for Barack Obama, news of improper shenanigans at the IRS stole attention from the week’s biggest story: that the President’s Justice Department had secretly seized call information from at least 20 phone lines belonging to Associated Press reporters, including personal cell phones and the main switchboard of the AP’s Washington bureau. While Obama thundered on about “inexcusable behavior” at the IRS, he said he would “make no apology” for his latest foray into Nixonian dirty tricks.
Most people are more concerned with money and power than privacy and freedom. Therefore the word “impeachment” was never uttered, not even by the most impolite members of the press.
America’s sense of outrage at the IRS fiasco is misplaced. The real scandal at the IRS is that they allow hundreds – thousands? – of 501 (c)4 non-profit organizations to receive tax-exempt status as “educational” organizations. What these groups really . . . → Read More: The War on Leakers
News comes from Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, that a disastrous fire swept through a garment factory there, killing eight people. A factory fire in November killed more than 100.
The garment industry in Bangladesh is euphemistically called “loosely regulated,” so, regrettably, these things (fires and so forth) tend to happen with alarming regularity. An entire building collapsed there not long ago, killing more than 1,000. It’s a delicate balance, isn’t it? Between protecting human life and encouraging business investment? You don’t want thousands of people dying every year in preventable accidents, but on the other hand you don’t want to add a few cents to the price of a finished t-shirt.
Were you aware that bottled water is “bad for the environment,” “bad for public water sources,” and “bad for your wallet”?
Neither were we! It’s pretty funny to think of something so obviously good – so amazing, when you think about it – as inherently evil, or something. Bottled water is, like, one of the greatest innovations of the last thirty years. Before bottled water was introduced in the marketplace, people had to drink out of taps, or “water fountains.” (This water was more or less free, but, hey, you get what you pay for.) Instead of having a conveniently disposable plastic bottle, people used to have to drink out of cups and thermoses and such, which, you can imagine, was very inconvenient.
Bottled water = convenient. And if that’s not a good enough reason to embrace a life-improving product, we can’t think of a better one.
Originally posted April 28th, 2013
By Michael Konik
The commonly understood reason why terrorists wish to kill and maim Americans is because they hate our freedoms. That’s what’s behind all the civilian violence: they hate our freedoms. You can go ahead and enumerate all the freedoms the terrorists hate, but it doesn’t really matter which ones –freedom to assemble publicly with unmarried members of the opposite sex; freedom to participate in an electoral charade; freedom to watch nudity on television. The very concept of freedom is an affront to these heartless killers.
After the Boston Marathon bombs, there might be another reason worth considering, a reason that some unpatriotic thinkers have been suggesting since September 11, 2001.
Maybe terrorists don’t hate our freedoms. Maybe they hate our policies.
The surviving suspect in Boston indicated that his brother and he were outraged at U.S. involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Other captured evildoers have indicated . . . → Read More: Why Terrorists Hate America
Originally posted April 14th, 2013
By Michael Konik
The whole world is worried about North Korea. We’re not. We think locally. The area around which we can walk or ride our bike is our concern. We’re civic-minded that way.
Hollywood Boulevard is nearby. We walk on its sidewalks almost every day, often to access the subway, which serves our neighborhood with a Hollywood & Highland stop. If you’ve not been to Hollywood & Highland, picture a summer-stock version of Times Square, with fewer lights, people and energy, but the same frantically commercial vibe, the same “souvenirs are mandatory” ethos.
The “Walk of Fame,” a sidewalk with inlaid pentagrams and the name of someone famous or formerly so, has a high weirdness-to-cheesiness ratio. But at certain spots, such as where Stevie Wonder’s star touches Miles Davis’s – right near that venerable Hollywood landmark Buffalo Wild Wings – you’d swear universal harmonic convergences are possible.
Originally posted April 7th, 2013
By Michael Konik
We’ll never win a popularity contest, that’s for certain. We’re OK with that. To us, it’s more important to do what’s right than to be liked and admired and affirmed. That’s why we feel comfortable sticking up for society’s downtrodden, the friendless, powerless folks who bear the daily aspersions and derision of those who think them inferior. We love all our brothers and sisters. Even the ones no one else does.
Let us hereby celebrate smokers and litterbugs, two groups of people that consistently suffer unfair, unkind, and unhelpful criticisms.
The Los Angeles Times recently ran an editorial declaring that employers looking for job applicants who don’t smoke are making a big mistake. The paper thinks that avoiding smokers is a lamentable and unwarranted intrusion into an applicant’s private life. We agree! Employers with an eye on the bottom line – and is there another kind? – . . . → Read More: Sticking Up for Society’s Most Unloved
Originally posted April 1st, 2013
By Michael Konik
Some professor type at an East Coast university just presented a detailed analysis of how much the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will ultimately cost the American people, when you figure in healthcare costs for wounded and maimed veterans. And all the other stuff: bombs and radios and what have you. Supposedly the price tag will eventually be about $6 trillion. Or, $6,000,000,000,000, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
Six trillion dollars! It sounds like a lot of money, and it is. Our current annual budget — like, to run the whole country and keep our brave military protectors well fed — is around $3.8 trillion. So, yeah, it’s going to take some time to pay for these two wars. Maybe around thirty or forty years, unless we find soon another resource-rich nation we can annex, perhaps Mexico. Some economists predict that America won’t feel the full cost of these wars for . . . → Read More: No Cost Too High in the Fight for Freedom
Originally posted March 24th, 2013
By Michael Konik
Thanks to our good looks, superior intelligence, and unimaginable privilege, we’re rich! Do you know how much calla lilies cost at a reputable flower purveyor? We’ve got hundreds of them in our garden. Blood oranges? Also hundreds.
We can’t eat them all, so we give them away. Same thing with our money. Since we’re into sharing, spreading the goodness around, we’ve decided this year to take a portion of our vast wealth and endow a nonprofit foundation – a charitable foundation – to serve our brothers and sisters, to lessen the suffering of every living creature, to leave the world a slightly better place than we found it.
So many issues. So many problems. So many broken people needing to be fixed. If we were Bill Gates or Carlos Slim, we’d have the kind of money to back an infinite number of projects. Alas, we’re not that . . . → Read More: Sharing, Caring, Giving
Originally posted March 17th, 2013
By Michael Konik
Howard “Buck” McKeon represents California’s Twenty-fifth Congressional District, which is home to an Army fort, an Air Force base, a Navy weapons station, and a Marines mountain warfare training area. So if anyone is perfectly qualified to head the House Armed Services Committee it’s old Buck.
Thank God that conflict of interest concerns don’t disqualify the honorable McKeon from guiding where and how our military money is spent. Because without defense hawks like old Buck to keep an eye on our security, we might get lackadaisical and let our guard down, and the next thing you know a bunch of Al Qaeda will be waltzing into the Wal-Mart with nuclear bombs in their backpacks.
We’ve previously mentioned in this space that the peace-loving U.S. of A. spends more on defense than all of the other nations of the world combined. There’s a good reason for that: We’re . . . → Read More: In Defense of Defense
Luckily for Barack Obama, news of improper shenanigans at the IRS stole attention from the week’s biggest story: that the President’s Justice Department had secretly seized call information from at least 20 phone lines belonging to Associated Press reporters, including personal cell phones and the main switchboard of the AP’s Washington bureau. While Obama thundered on about “inexcusable behavior” at the IRS, he said he would “make no apology” for his latest foray into Nixonian…
The commonly understood reason why terrorists wish to kill and maim Americans is because they hate our freedoms. That’s what’s behind all the civilian violence: they hate our freedoms. You can go ahead and enumerate all the freedoms the terrorists hate, but it doesn’t really matter which ones –freedom to…
Author James Goodale was chief counsel for the New York Times during the Nixon era. His new book, “Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles,” outlines our government’s pernicious (and ongoing) threat to media freedom. Some prescient authors get all the luck: Every morning it seems we’re greeted to [...]