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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

Here is a riddle for you:

How could an American city council consider a resolution declaring Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged “WikiLeaker,” a hero? How could such a resolution be placed on the council’s agenda by an officially constituted municipal commission?

And how could that city council decline to act on the resolution under the reasoning that Manning had yet to claim credit for the release of tens of thousands of classified documents? These documents – among other things – revealed U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, as well as the names of Afghans cooperating – at their peril – with NATO forces.

Well, this isn’t much of a riddle, because the obvious answer is, “It’s Berkeley.”

Those of you east of the Sierra Nevada may argue that the answer could as well be, “It’s California.” But vast swaths of the Golden State actually are inhabited by relatively sane folks. The madness that dominates the Legislature and many other government subdivisions comes from the densely populated metroplexes where the cultures of victimhood and dependence are most deeply entrenched.

We’re talking, generally, about the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas.

“Aha!” you say. “Why couldn’t the answer be ‘San Francisco.’”

It’s true that the city by the Bay is a sanctuary city where illegal aliens may commit felonies with impunity because they’re just seeking a better life. But Berkeley is in a league of its own as a kind of “Land that Time Forgot.” (Some may argue the appellation could apply as well to a certain other University of California town, but Santa Cruz is just a branch office for wackos who wish they were real Berkeleyites.)

Berkeley, you see, remains occupied by many of the original exponents of the 1960s’ counterculture movements. Some occupied the UC administration building during the Free Speech Movement in 1964, marched against the war in Vietnam and engaged in irresponsible sex during the Summer of Love. Later, they hurled rocks at cops and smashed store windows during the People’s Park riots and most recently – being too old and brittle to risk climbing themselves – supported the eco-freaks occupying the treetops outside the university’s Memorial Stadium.

These elderly hippies – most of whom suffer from the guilt of becoming petty bourgeoisie – are obsessed with the idea of “keeping the faith” with their radical pasts. A good example is Bob Meola, the Berkeley Peace and Justice commissioner who wrote the “hero” resolution. It’s true that he was at Michigan State University when the ’60s erupted, but clearly was at heart the Berkeleyite he is now.

Keeping the faith? Three years ago he told a reunion of the Students for a Democratic Society at MSU, “I don’t know who I’d be today without the Vietnam War. It made me who I am.” Many Americans might say the same – particularly those who survived firefights in Vietnam’s jungles and rice paddies.

The point is, in Berkeley, Meola and thousands like him can continue to be the people they were in the ’60s. There he sat in last week’s Berkeley City Council meeting, his beard and shoulder-length hair now white, his shirt with an image of Pfc. Manning stretched over has post-middle-age paunch.

A salient feature of these elderly faith-keepers is their hatred of all things military. You may recall the Peace and Justice Commission’s declaration that Marine recruiters were “unwanted intruders” in Berkeley. Thus, Meola and a majority of the Peace and Justice Commission were able to ignore the danger the WikiLeaks documents pose to American soldiers and Afghan allies. Rather, they designated Manning a hero because among the documents WikiLeaks released was a video taken from an American helicopter gunship in Baghdad, showing the tragic slaughter of nearly a dozen Iraqis and a couple of Reuters photographers.

Although the radio transmissions show the Americans thought their targets were hostiles, the resolution refers to the incident as “collateral murder” and proclaims Manning a hero for releasing the video – if he did, which he hasn’t admitted.

You can’t walk the streets of what once was called “The Athens of the West” without encountering dozens of individuals like Meola, who evoke the Bellamy Brothers’ 1985 hit, “Old Hippie”:

He turned thirty-five last Sunday

In his hair he found some gray
But he still ain’t changed his lifestyle

He likes it better the old way …

Just add 30 or 40 years … and that’s Berkeley.


As for state-wide craziness: California is congratulating itself for declaring that in 2012 it will allow companies to offset carbon emissions by supporting “certified” forest protection projects in Brazil and Mexico.

According to the Washington Post, Linda Adams, California’s secretary for environmental protection, said this would “pave the way for others to be part of our carbon market.”

We would ask: Who is going to “certify” that trees are not cut? If you think this doesn’t pave the way for lucrative fraud, you’re certifiable.


May you all have a blessed Christmas.

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