Civil Discourse: Yesterday, I pulled up behind a bumper sticker that read: “Don’t Hate Me Just Because You’re A Douchebag.” I thought, what kind of a douchebag would have a bumper sticker like that? I like funny bumper stickers, but it saddens me how such verbal preemptive strikes (“First, I’m going to retaliate”), which increasingly pass for humor, simply degrade the public conversation. Privacy Invasion: Also yesterday, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board declared the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records to be illegal, invasive and ineffective, noting also that the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued eight years of orders before ruling on the program’s legality. Other than that, insisted President Obama, the program works fine.
Our Grandchildren: Faced with continuing economic woes, Europe has backed off its commitment to combat climate change. This is tragic because Europe has led the world in such efforts, even as the U.S. has dragged its feet. It is also ironic because big business is finally getting the message: “We believe that climate change, caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, is the greatest threat to our planet,” says Coca Cola’s website.
Nuclear Security: The report that Air Force nuclear missile-launch officers were caught in a drug sting on two continents reminded me of my mother’s flabbergasting stories from her AA meetings of an airline mechanic (anonymous, of course) who arrived on the job so smashed that he gave a whole new dimension to the home-repair expression, “lefty loosy, righty tighty.”