We’re No (April) Fools

We're No Fools

In the spirit of light-hearted playfulness of April Fools Day, the Los Angeles Times tried to pull one over on their (dwindling) readership. But the cleverest among us realized their ruse, and instead of feeling perplexed and outraged we enjoyed a hearty chuckle. All in good fun!

The April 1, 2014 edition’s lead editorial, on page A10, was headlined “Climate change here and now.” The sub-head said: “Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up. A U.N. panel’s report should be a call to action.” The editorial encapsulated the report’s most alarming warnings – impending disruption of the world’s food supply; dying oceans; droughts – and concluded that, in a rational world, the report would be more than enough to propel world leaders into action.

The final sentence: “We [should] discuss how quickly we can reduce [climate change’s] severity by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and which . . . → Read More: We’re No (April) Fools

The Human Rights Litmus Test

weareone_respect

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

Privacy Shmrivacy

Activists Rally In New York In Support Of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden

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

A Los Angeles Worthy of Candide

hollywood's c-list

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.

Los Angeles also earned the (dis)honor of having the largest percentage of residents living in . . . → Read More: A Los Angeles Worthy of Candide

No Better Than Us

vladimir putin barack obama creature

Russia, Brazil, Ecuador – what’s wrong with these people? Have they lost their collective minds? This week alone, the trio of wiseacres each behaved in ways that seem downright rude toward us, in ways that don’t reflect our best interests. Our being “America’s best interest.”

We’ve been the world’s sole Superpower for some time now, so you’d think lesser countries would have the good sense to emulate every little single thing we do, knowing that with imitation and persistence they too might one day be as great and important a republic as the United States of America. You’d think they would recognize that our way of doing things is basically the right way – because the results speak for themselves.

And it all starts with our abiding respect for individual human rights. For the rule of law. For fairness. All the stuff that makes us America (and . . . → Read More: No Better Than Us

The War on Leakers

Brothers in Spirit

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

Why Terrorists Hate America

America Haters

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

In Defense of Defense

Your Duty is to Keep America Safe

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

Getting Good and Bad Mixed Up

Pfc Bradley Manning American Hero

Funny, isn’t it? The way things can get turned around completely backwards so that everything means the opposite? We don’t mean Orwellian doublespeak. We’re talking about common words that don’t seem to have a static definition.

Like, say, the word “villain.” Pfc. Bradley Manning was called a villain, among many other pernicious names, in the three years that he was held without bail while awaiting trial. He was also called dangerous. And a traitor. And anything else that springs to mind when a patriotic American feels incensed.

Manning, of course, is none of these things. He’s a hero. He’s a courageous, conscientious citizen who faces between 20-years and life-in-prison for providing classified documents to WikiLeaks. The Authorities are doing what they must do: crush with impunity any individual with the temerity to challenge the rules (as defined by the Authorities). Despite the unjust sentence and the barbaric . . . → Read More: Getting Good and Bad Mixed Up

Those Ridiculous Clerics!

wagdi ghoneim dispensing wisdom

The nerve of these people!

We are outraged. We are livid. This kind of barbarity cannot be permitted in civilized society.

Mahmoud Shaaban is an “ultraconservative” Islamic cleric in Egypt. “Hard-line,” “orthodox” – whatever. In the name of his great religion, he and his fellow cleric Wagdi Ghoneim have issued fatwas (edicts) calling for the deaths of Egypt’s opposition leaders. Shaaban said on a recently aired TV show that political opponents of the President should be punished. By death.

The reason? According to the Mullahs, Egypt’s opposition leaders, including former Atomic Energy Commission chief Mohamed ElBaradei, are seeking to “bring down” a publicly elected leader, the deeply religious Mohamed Morsi.

Ergo: these political opponents deserve to be eliminated with extreme prejudice.

Composing “kill lists” without judicial oversight — without any oversight — is an offense to human decency. Who do these Islamic clerics think they are, deciding . . . → Read More: Those Ridiculous Clerics!