(Page 4 of 7)
During the 1980s, Kern County (California) District Attorney Ed Jagels led the nation in prosecuting bogus Satanic child molestation cases. Without any physical evidence, Jagels, his prosecutors, and local police coached and cajoled children into accusing their parents and neighbors of sexual abuse that never actually happened. Years later, when witnesses recanted, Jagels called them liars. Eventually, 25 of his 26 Satanic molestation convictions were overturned.
19. Leon Kass
As the propounder of the idea of “the wisdom of repugnance,” philosopher Leon Kass holds that viscera trump reason. Kass opposed in vitro fertilization on the grounds that it was dehumanizing, but the more than 5 million IVF babies born since then have been quite human. As head of George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics, Kass sought to ban research on potentially lifesaving technologies such as human embryonic stem cells and cloning. He argues against using human ingenuity to liberate ourselves from the natural horrors of disease, disability, and death.
20. Ruhollah Khomeini
Leader of the Iranian revolution that overthrew the Shah, the ayatollah created the modern blueprint for an atavistic, Islamic revolution. As Iran’s supreme leader, Khomeini ordered the murder of his political opponents, waged a deadly war with Iraq, supported the sacking of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and offered a bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie.
21. Henry Kissinger
As secretary of state and national security advisor under presidents Nixon and Ford, Kissinger embodied a ruthless, amoral vision of America’s place in the world. From the “secret” bombing of Cambodia to the “Christmas” bombing of North Vietnam, from his complicity in the coup that installed a repressive dictatorship in Chile to his green light for Indonesia’s bloody occupation of East Timor, Kissinger may not be the only answer to the question “Why do they hate us?”—but he’s a far larger part of the answer than any one man should be.
22. Naomi Klein
Before her 2007 book Shock Doctrine slandered all of modern libertarian thought as a scam dreamed up by the dictator-loving rich to screw over the poor, Klein had a noisy and altogether self-defeating career as an anti-branding activist. Her “No Logo” campaign and 2000 book, designed to ride the wave of anti-globalization to lead a revolt against advertising, instead became a go-to manual for marketers seeking to exploit the yearning for authenticity. Meanwhile, the anti-globalization movement died a richly deserved death.
23. Paul Krugman
The Nobel-winning economist and New York Times columnist is a reliable advocate of economic intervention and deficit spending, arguing that the problem with failed government stimulus programs to fight the recession of the ’00s was that they didn’t go far enough. Krugman’s low point in 2012 was recommending (only mostly in jest) that it would be a good thing if the government wasted huge sums of taxpayer money preparing for an alien invasion. Keep this man’s hands away from any rocks—he might try to break nearby windows to “stimulate” the economy.
The sneering (fictional) baddie in the 2012 superhero blockbuster, The Avengers, sticks to a familiar supervillain playbook: His aim is world domination, and he’s got a cosmic doohicky and an army of alien invaders to make it happen. But the justification he offers for his global power grab sounds more like a terrestrial dictator: “It’s the unspoken truth of humanity,” he tells a cowering crowd, “that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled.” Fortunately, like all supervillains, he was made to be defeated.
25. Jeffrey Loria
A successful New York art dealer (unlike you, he owns an original Picasso), Loria spent years pleading poverty to the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County so that they would pay for a fancy new stadium to house his professional baseball franchise, the Marlins. Locals finally agreed to cover what’s projected to be $2.4 billion in costs, only to discover that Loria had actually been turning large profits while fielding a mediocre, underpaid team. With his stadium safely finished, Loria promptly dismantled his club, which is now the worst in Major League Baseball.