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 the difference.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made a little joke last week: “So Ahmadinejad wants to be the first Iranian in space – wasn’t he just there last week?” This was in response to news that Iran had launched monkey into orbit.

This brought a hot response from Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.: “Maybe you should wisen up and not make racist jokes.”

Sensitive journalists, noting that Amash is of Palestinian and Syrian descent, assumed he had taken McCain’s jest as a slur against Arabs and Persians. We think Rep. Amash probably adores the monkey exhibits at his home county’s John Ball Zoo.

He was, no doubt, objecting to the linkage of his beloved simians to the Iranian tyrant.

Public interest or public payback? California’s scandal-plagued Attorney General Kamala Harris has, like the U.S. Justice Department, sued Standard & Poor’s for allegedly inflating the value of mortgage-backed securities.

Perhaps the firm committed this transgression, perhaps not. But we can’t seem to get away from the faint stench of government revenge for S&P embarrassing President Obama by downgrading America’s credit rating.

Slow on the draw: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explained last week that we couldn’t have sent military aid to our beleaguered consular facilities in Benghazi, Libya, because it would have taken “nine to 12 hours” just to get ready.

Perhaps if hostile bombers were approaching our shores, our military would be able to respond with a bit more alacrity then it did when only a few American lives were under threat in a foreign land.

Gun owners hammered: A couple of California assemblymen have introduced a bill that would require gun owners to have the purchase of liability insurance to cover injuries such weapons might cause.

“There’s basically a cost that is born by the taxpayers when accidents occur,” said Assemblyman Philip Ting of San Francisco. “… I don’t think that taxpayers should be footing those bills.”

Next, Ting plans to introduce parallel legislation regarding chainsaws, electric power tools and certain hammers, all of which – if misused – can cause serious damage and attendant public cost.

Legal? So it’s lawful for our president to decide which American citizens should die in drone strikes overseas, based on criteria that are vague, at best. Well then, why shouldn’t the president decide which Americans should die in the homeland, if they pose a threat? You know, like David Koresh and his religious nut-jobs outside Waco, Texas. Or the Occupy radicals actually wreaking havoc and property damage in various American cities.

Oh. Wait. The latter are just disaffected and downtrodden citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Nevertheless, the entire concept makes me a bit nervous about exercising my First Amendment rights, up here among the “bitter clingers” of California Sierra Nevada.

Calling his bluff: Here’s a question for you. If President Obama didn’t like the idea of the so-called “sequester” cuts to the budget, why did he support the bill imposing them? He used the threat of those cuts to force the House to back down around the first of the year. Now, he’s not at all happy that Congress seems willing to take him over the “cliff.” How the worm turns.

Just a dreamer, aren’t we all? A friend, having read a scientific article about United States coal reserves, says, “My dream is that someday a president of the U.S. will reply to a question from the king of Saudi Arabia: ‘I don’t know. I suppose you could drink it.'”

Not exactly vacation: Yours truly will be absent from this space for an undetermined number of weeks following the installation of a new hip.

This has led many to ask, “What’s a crummy joint like this doing in a swell guy like you?”

I have no ready answer, except it seems all the high-intensity miles I pounded when I was “the fastest daily columnist in Sacramento” took their toll. And, apparently, there is something to this age thing.



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