Originally posted December 14th, 2014
By Michael Konik
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
Originally posted June 17th, 2014
By Michael Konik
Do you agree? Check this box to proceed…after reading several pages of legalese rendered in 6-point type. Didn’t bother? If you care about the increasingly obscure concept of “privacy,” the film “Terms and Conditions May Apply” is mandatory — and frightening — viewing. Director Cullen Hoback carefully examines those “T&C”s that we “agree” to millions of times a day, and shows with chilling clarity how Facebook, Google, Amazon, YouTube, and all our other favorite Interweb sites are knowingly and happily serving as giant data collection centers for themselves and for the government. You may not care now, but one day when your browsing habits become the basis of an FBI visit you’ll look back at this groundbreaking 2013 film and sigh.
Do you know what legislators do? Besides collect bribes disguised as “donations”? They make laws! We need each and every one of these laws, because they help all of us behave better. Without these laws, we’d all revert to our natural instincts and behave very badly toward everyone but ourselves. Thankfully, when we feel like behaving badly toward ourselves, there are other laws in place to discourage us. Laws, you see, are what civilize us. They distinguish us from the other great apes, who aren’t familiar with concepts like “justice,” “regulation,” and “economic warfare.”
Since we can’t all make the laws – that would be confusing! — each of us is lucky to be represented by professional lawmakers, probably more of them than most of us realize. These learned and exceptionally intelligent individuals, whose main job is to express the will of the folks . . . → Read More: There Oughta Be a Law!
Originally posted February 23rd, 2014
By Michael Konik
The comedian Todd Glass does a podcast I like for its improvisational spirit and quirky humor. “The Todd Glass Show” is popular with stoners, comics, anti-establishmentarians and everyone else who digs Todd’s antic energy and nimble mind. Todd is Todd. He’s real. He’s honest and open and entertainingly transparent, and what you mostly hear is a kind and compassionate soul who really does believe We, the collective We, can and will do better. Todd’s an optimist.
He’s also, paradoxically, a big fan of police “ride-alongs.” He’s done many over more than 30 years, and throughout the 140+ episodes of his show Todd’s talked about them occasionally, usually to convey the sense of excitement of being in a real live police car with lights and sirens and real live policeman with a uniform and badge and a gun.
Many of us have a thing for men in uniform, . . . → Read More: No Good Cops
Originally posted February 16th, 2014
By Michael Konik
The comedian Pete Holmes used to do a bit about how Facebook was actually a giant government conspiracy to get us to give up our privacy rights. Three years ago, it seemed funny.
That a shockingly large percentage of Americans believe Edward Snowden ought to be tried for high crimes – treason is the offense of choice – instead of lauded as an activist making all of us wiser suggests that Pete’s joke might in fact be the truth.
As Lawrence Wright recently reported in The New Yorker, the CIA knew Al Qaeda was in the USA two years before 9/11. None of the sixty or more people at the Agency who knew about the operatives cooperated with colleagues at the FBI. (Many of these folks were subsequently promoted for reasons that remain unclear.) Edward Snowden broke the law, and war-mongers like California’s grouchy . . . → Read More: Privacy Shmrivacy
Originally posted January 5th, 2014
By Michael Konik
There once was a magic crystal ball that “fell” to Times Square on the stroke of Midnight. When the magic ball dropped, 2013 changed into 2014. And suddenly everything was different.
Well, not everything. Orwellian doublespeak was still flourishing. Time Warner was still telling their customers that an impending 18% price increase was in fact a new and, in their words, “great” promotional rate extended to their most valued patrons. Auntie Dianne Feinstein, she of the oxymoronically named Senate Intelligence Committee, was still insisting that Edward Snowden was a traitor, not an American hero, even though a federal judge had found that the secret government surveillance programs he exposed (the ones Auntie Dianne and her legislative cabal secretly authorized) were illegal, and even though the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Guardian were calling on the Obama administration to offer clemency to Snowden in . . . → Read More: What Has 2014 Wrought?
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 November 20th, 2013
By Michael Konik
Eugene Jarecki’s award-winning documentary, “The House I Live In,” is necessary viewing for anyone who mistakenly thinks continuing our disastrous War on Drugs, declared by Richard Nixon in 1971, is a good idea. The genius of this film is that it examines the toll our national folly and hypocrisy takes not only on entire communities of poor people, but also on the law enforcement personnel who do the manual labor for America’s splendid Prison Industry. By systematically dismantling the Drug War’s lies and propaganda, “The House I Live In” speaks truth to power. There’s plenty of shame to go around — but the bulk of it rests on the conscience of anyone (such as Barack Obama) who thinks incarcerating drug users accomplishes anything but the destruction of lives.
All the regulars at Marty Erndel’s Thursday night poker game had nicknames calculated to offend anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to be invited to Erndel’s exclusive weekly affair. To the players, this was a big joke: Aside from the seven regulars, the Lucky Seven they called themselves, no one knew the game existed. Not the wives, the girlfriends, the media, the congregations, the board members, the secretaries, the IRS. No one.
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.
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…
“Revolutionary Words.” Sounds intriguing, and possibly…violent?
Not that kind of revolution. We’re talking about the bloodless kind, the mind revolution, each individual looking deep and changing the one and only person he/she/we are able: ourselves, one at a time. “Revolutionary Words” are those that dare to speak the truth out…
If a candidate pledged to legalize drugs and prostitution, end imprisonment of all but the violent, rig the financial system to operate in reverse (making the rich get poorer and the poor get richer), slash military spending by at least 50% and then repatriate all the brave men and women…
The Los Angeles-based Filipino-American singer-songwriter Kira Hooks has a beautiful life ahead of her. Based on her debut recording, “Elephant Heart,” twelve well-produced original songs that defy strict genre categorization — think “jazz and soul-inflected pop” — almost anything’s possible for this extravagantly talented musician. Hooks is a good writer, and a good instrumentalist. But […]