Originally posted March 2nd, 2014
By Michael Konik
Straight from the Department of Cruel Irony – actually, the State Department of the United States – our government’s annual report on worldwide human rights is now available to the public.
The 2013 edition graphically outlines all the terrible stuff that’s going on around the globe, a catalogue of affronts to human kindness and decency. Unilaterally murdering American citizens (not to mention civilians of numerous nationalities) with CIA drones, and thereby obliterating the increasingly archaic concept of “due process, is nowhere mentioned. But there’s plenty of other nauseating stuff.
Anti-gay legislation, some with potential death penalties, in 80 countries. Russian and Chinese outrages against civil liberties. And, of course, the ongoing disrespect for life and dignity on display in Syria.
The report also details horrendous human rights abuses in place like Turkey, Qatar and Egypt. Our allies. Our “friends” in the region. These repressive regimes are the . . . → Read More: The Human Rights Litmus Test
Originally posted January 12th, 2014
By Michael Konik
Everything’s working perfectly. The Los Angeles City Council has allowed several major real estate developments, including residential towers, to begin construction in Hollywood on or near major earthquake fault lines. Geologic surveys were never ordered, but the developers, major political donors all, assured everyone that there was no problem, so it was therefore decided that building on the most dangerous land in Los Angeles was no problem.
The chief of the Department of Public Works has resigned for “personal reasons,” just as Sherriff Lee Baca resigned for his personal reasons, an impending FBI probe of his rotten department among them. Ron Nichols, the DWP king, stepped down as questions swirled around him regarding the mysterious use of $40 million in ratepayer money that was funneled into non-profits aimed at improving labor relations.
Originally posted November 24th, 2013
By Michael Konik
Identification, ostracism, confiscation, concentration, and annihilation.
Those are the key steps in all genocides. We haven’t yet accomplished the final solution, the annihilation part, but we’ve done a brilliant job of the first four steps in our slow-motion holocaust against the American Underclass, the perpetually poor lowest ten percent of our society. The clever part, the really insidious part, is that while perpetrating our crime we’ve avoided the international community’s approbation. Indeed, we’ve earned begrudging praise for figuring out how to warehouse our unwanted black males and uneducated white trash behind bars, where they can’t hurt our precious children. And we’ve built a profitable, fast-growing new industry to boot: the for-profit prison business. So long as there are plenty of useless poor folk lying about playing dominoes and smoking weed, we’ll always have plenty of bodies to fill the cells, keeping the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, . . . → Read More: The Slow Motion Holocaust
Originally posted October 6th, 2013
By Michael Konik
We still have a subscription to the Los Angeles Times. The print edition. Seven days a week. And we read it cover-to-cover. We’re old school that way.
One of the abiding reasons to continue paying for something that can be enjoyed largely for free on the Interweb is to vote monetarily, to support some excellent writers whose talent and courage distinguishes them. The Times staff, which, like most major newspapers these days, is mostly voiceless and interchangeable, in the style of classic journalism. But it has its stars. Most of these scribes have a column of some sort, a place where their individual voice may be heard and celebrated, even when that voice is eccentric, edgy, or controversial.
Until last week, one of the truly great writers at the Times was a sports columnist named TJ Simers. His catalytic Page 2 column had been indefinitely shelved for . . . → Read More: TJ and The TIMES
Originally posted September 22nd, 2013
By Michael Konik
Remember back in 2008, when it was decided by those who decide such things that Lehman Brothers wasn’t too big to fail, and the planet’s financial infrastructure melted down? Remember when the mortgage bubble built from “collateralized debt” burst like cheap balloons?
It’s been five years. Memories fade. You may have already forgotten that the bankers behind the economic collapse were permitted to (re)write the legislation regulating their anarchic industry. And that not one of them went to prison. Or ever faced a trial. Or were even charged with any crimes.
Malfeasance of such obviousness and grotesqueness would shame the normal person. The bankers, though, resorted to a kind of persuasiveness typically found at the end of a gun barrel. The masterminds behind the massive fraud convinced their political assets in both of the parties they control that the banks were too big to fail. The banks . . . → Read More: To Fail Too Big
Originally posted September 15th, 2013
By Michael Konik
Opportunistic petty criminals, the kind that go after old lady pocketbooks and unattended bicycles, generally aren’t very organized. They don’t have thorough long-range plans and an extensive network of colleagues to help coordinate their heists. Most unsuccessful criminals are desperate loners, independent contractors of malfeasance who can never stay one step ahead of The Man.
The ones that have their act together, the ones who run their illegal enterprise just like a profit-seeking business would, we call “organized crime.” Various mafias — the Italian, Russian, Mexican, Jamaican, Serbian, and Salvadoran chief among them — have earned our grudging fear and respect for their organizational discipline and managerial excellence. These mafias know what they’re doing. They’d be on the cover of Fortune if only what they were doing was legal – or at least as legal as gaming the energy markets and flipping a distressed homeowner’s property just . . . → Read More: Sanitary Mafias
The time we’re living in is being called the Technology Revolution. It’s given us personal computers and cell phones and devices that, we all agree, make our lives altogether better. Everything is more efficient, more connected. Things can be ordered to appear at your door, getting lost in your car is almost impossible, and you don’t have to wait a whole day (or even hours) to find out what a celebrity thinks about something.
But while life has become more “frictionless,” old-fashioned concerns like wages and buying power haven’t been helped by Tech. On the contrary, they’ve been hurt. Unlike the Industrial Revolution that preceded it, the Technology Revolution has not lifted the mass of humanity out of poverty.
The Technology Revolution has coincided with an extended period of American economic decline. It’s coincided with the systematic evisceration of the Middle Class. It’s coincided with a period . . . → Read More: Tech Solutions
Great news, America! Despite decades of war fighting and tax cutting, and despite a national deficit of nearly $1 trillion, we’re not broke!
Well, we, the citizenry and its treasury, are collectively broke. But we, the collective earning power we, are most definitely not broke.
American corporations, those paragons of civic virtue and societal responsibility, have collectively stashed $1.7 trillion overseas. Apple, the greatest company ever, has about $145 billion in cash on hand, $102 billion of it parked in foreign banks. There’s an excellent reason our very best companies have all their money sitting overseas instead of here in America, where it might give the national economy a nice boost. By parking it in places like Ireland, rich corporations such as Apple – and Google, and just about all the rest of the biggies – avoid paying American taxes!
Who said what?
“This act of violence shocks the conscience of the world.”
A) Eric Holder, on the Boston Marathon bombing.
B) Reverend Al Sharpton, on the slaying of another unarmed black man by American police.
C) Prime Minister David Cameron, on the downing of Malaysian Air #17.
D) None of the above.
“They are killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture…
The original Golden Rule — “treat others as you wish to be treated” — sounds fantastic in theory, but isn’t really possible to apply practically, as evidenced by the lives each of us lead. Or maybe it is being applied and is difficult to recognize. Maybe how people wish to be treated…
America’s religious leaders, some of the most esteemed and respectable citizens in our republic, are helping us understand that our precious freedoms — the ones our brave soldiers fight and die for in faraway dust bowls most of us can’t find on a map — are once again under attack….
Driector Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) is currently flummoxing viewers with his persistently inventive “Mood Indigo.” But of all his blazingly original creations, the 2013 documentary “Is the Tall Man Happy: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky” might be his most densely wonderful work. Gondry and the indispensable linguist and social critic [...]