How Police With Grenade Launchers Makes Us a Better America

well protected protector

As tax-paying property owners who love America primarily for its ability to deliver security to the landed gentry, we were reassured in the aftermath of Ferguson to see that law and order would be maintained properly, with military-grade weaponry. Because when citizens congregate in large (and potentially unruly groups) to shout and wave signs they often resemble invading armies and should be treated with commensurate shows of force.

Recently released audit reports suggest that hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars in used Defense Department equipment were donated to local police forces in every region of our vast democracy. After keeping America safe from terrorists in Yemen, the sophisticated gear is now keeping us safe(r) at home.

Our city’s school district, the LAUSD, received three grenade launchers through the federal program. Whether or not this addition to the teaching arsenal will raise test scores remains to be seen. But it’s a terrific first step in keeping . . . → Read More: How Police With Grenade Launchers Makes Us a Better America

We Didn’t Know

the good life

If, like us, you don’t watch much television and, therefore, effectively shield yourself from the indignities of all the marketing/messaging/propaganda used to sell products and “lifestyles,” when you come face-to-face with the fire-breathing beast, your ignorance of Basic Ideas might take your breath away.

It did ours. We were forced from our hermetically sealed cave not long ago in search of a small piece of hardware for an art project. While wandering through the Avenues of Commerce, we “watched” a little TV during a short wait for expert assistance. Seldom have we felt so stupid.

Like, we didn’t know that the surest way to earn a woman’s adoration, devotion, and abiding love – the kind of love that can be communicated with one radiant smile – is to present her with a sparkly pebble.

We didn’t know that the most comprehensive health crisis – pandemic levels, it seems — facing . . . → Read More: We Didn’t Know

The Nuclear Option

expression our our large penises

Now’s the perfect time to assess our nuclear option. (We would have said “re-assess,” but for most of us a critical assessment hasn’t ever happened.) Now’s the time to make a big change. A series of scandals involving our nuclear weapons force has spurred leading war-makers, like Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel, to call for an overhaul, one that will cost, for now, an estimated $12 billion. The Strangelovian details of the scandals — a maintenance wrench required for fastening warheads to missiles was FedExed between three bases, because there was only one wrench — the absurd folly of how we handle the most dangerous items on Earth served as catalytic alarm, apparently, because now it’s been decided we’re going handle our nuclear arms the right way. We’re going to polish them up and guard them with the best watchers money can buy.

And then they’re going to do what . . . → Read More: The Nuclear Option

Rob Greenfield’s “Goodfluence”

Food-Waste-Fiasco-2-776x415

Rob Greenfield, 27, grew up in Northern Wisconsin planning to be a millionaire. He reasoned that having buckets of money bought one freedom. Eventually, he learned that the truth is precisely the opposite: money, acquisitiveness, and conspicuous consumption enslave us. Now, Greenfield lives a nearly moneyless life. His main food source? Dumpster diving. He’s dined at more than 500, powered himself through two cross-country bike treks, and never gotten ill. His latest cycle-across-America, entitled “Food Waste Fiasco,” shines the light of truth on one of our darkest American secrets: we eat half of what we make and throw away enough food to feed an entire duplicate America. Follow Rob’s adventures at #DonateNotDump

Poem: A Good Education

MJ Auditorium at Gardner

At the Middle School two driveways down the street,

Hollywood safari vans tote tipsy tourists and King of Pop-culture purists

to contemplate like jurists the Michael Jackson Auditorium, whose much-lauded eponym

was sleek and slim, and boyishly indiscreet.

At this school, Russian parents take parking spots and umbrage,

when their children start to bleat

about the Czech (or Slovak?) wreck teaching home ec with no respect for Moscow discotheques, who expects to check classwork bereft of facts about the colossal crime in Crimea carried out by the usual suspects.

To my American neighbors, it sounds like the indirect vivisection of Vladimir Putin’s next election. Dollars and cents, rubles and shekels.

Garbage cans moved. Emotions operatic. Blissful harmony, discordant static.

Who’s more entitled, the white men born between borders or the white men with connections to the Kremlin? No one’s starving. No one drives a Gremlin.

When the SUVs and minivans . . . → Read More: Poem: A Good Education

Pavlov’s Dogs

lemur face

On a recent trip to Madagascar in search of wildlife in its natural habitat, we visited the magnificent Andasibe National Park, where a dozen species of lemur monkeys found nowhere else in the world make their home in the forest canopy. Viewing sifaka (“dancing lemurs”) normally seen only in captivity cavorting in the wild, leaping from branch to branch with an athleticism and grace touched by Terpsichore, moved us deeply. We felt reconnected to everything that modern life inexorably cleaves away. The best part was that our education and amusement didn’t come at the expense of another living creature’s freedom. We observed the lemurs — and the chameleons and birds and tree frogs — on their turf, on their terms. We were respectful guests.

One afternoon, however, we were mislead into visiting what had been billed as a conservatorship, a rehabilitation facility for lemurs. The place was called Lemur Island, . . . → Read More: Pavlov’s Dogs

We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists

The Bad Guys

The Enemy Who Hates Our Freedoms has gotten unruly, crossing borders dreamed up by imperial empires. Impudent weeds with AK-47s and machetes impertinently raise their masked heads, taunting, braying, slashing American throats and luring the big bad bully into yet another unwinnable war. It’s time to mow the grass. Here we go. Again.

It’s been 13 years since the Bad Guys got our attention and, barely trying, won the War on Terror. They left us terrified and flummoxed and hysterical, perfectly prepared to plunder our treasury in exchange for the delusional belief that we would be more secure, that somehow – and this would all work itself out, we were assured – our drones and bombs and torture camps would eliminate the threat, not increase it.

Well, reader, you and your neighbors have spent trillions to feel better. You and your precious children are altogether safer today than ever before, . . . → Read More: We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists

More Work, Less Money = Progress

income-inequality-gap

This year the United States economy recovered all of the jobs lost during the great Wall Street Recession.

But here’s the even better news: The newly created jobs pay an average of 23% less than the ones lost in the “downsizing.” According to a report issued by the United States Conference of Mayors based on 2012 Census data, higher-paying jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors have been replaced by jobs in the lower-paying sectors of healthcare and hospitality.

It gets better. From 2005 to 2012, the analysis shows, the top 20% of earners were responsible for more than 60% of all income gains in our fine and fair republic. The bottom 40% enjoyed a 6.5% increase.

. . . → Read More: More Work, Less Money = Progress

Honoring Our Laborers

Laboring

As we make final preparations for the most solemn American holiday, Labor Day, our mind turns to ways that we, and perhaps all of us, can make Monday’s national celebration of workers into a perfect expression of how we all really feel about laborers.

Vegas, baby!

Disneyland?

Another less exalted way of honoring those of us who actually work is to take a small slice of time out of our vacation – thirty minutes maybe? – to ask ourselves a simple question: Why do I believe what I believe?

It’s a useful line of inquiry. Had the millions of Americans . . . → Read More: Honoring Our Laborers

Israel’s Final Solution

Conflict Ender

Enough already. We’re sick and tired of hearing about the conflict in Gaza, especially when there’s a new turtle movie coming out.

Sure, our tax dollars pay for Israeli and Egyptian weaponry, and, yeah, OK, that sort of makes us involved. But, really, what does this decades-old grudge match have to do with us here in America? Can’t it just end so our newspapers can return to reporting good news, like the discovery of more frackable shale in North Dakota?

Supposedly there’s no way out of this deplorable situation. Supposedly there’s no answer acceptable to all three parties (Hamas, Israel, and USA). Upon first and repeated consideration, that seems about right. Water and oil will never mix – unless you add a bonding agent, but never mind. It’s a foregone conclusion: Israel and Hamas will never come to terms.

Have you not read the Hamas Covenant? Are . . . → Read More: Israel’s Final Solution