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!
Look, we’re not qualified to discuss the scientific data on the sun. We don’t have that kind of education. That’s for specialists to debate among themselves. All we know is that there’s a strong case for the sun being the “center” of our galaxy and an equally strong case for us, Earth, being the “center” of the galaxy. Obviously, it’s all very complicated. Rushing to final judgment on this issue would be a mistake.
And why does it even have to be an issue? Can’t we all just agree to disagree? Respect everyone’s point of view, even if it’s not outlined in the Bible?
It’s not like we’re claiming the sun isn’t the center of our galaxy. We’re just saying there’s some very strong data out there that makes you wonder…and isn’t skepticism one of the lynchpins of scientific inquiry?
Originally posted April 6th, 2014
By Michael Konik
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
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 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 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 June 30th, 2013
By Michael Konik
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
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
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
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 [...]