Sunday, February 27, 2005

Why is America so slow to reform Social Security?

Social Security has to be reformed. There are no other options except reform. The status quo will lead to a full collapse of the system. I'm surprised (not really) at how vehement Democrats (and even some Republicans) get about the possibility of change to the system. Their only "solution" is Gore's, leave the money in a lock box. If that's the solution, why haven't they done it before now? Because they know that should a pet project come up that will make them look good to to their constituents they will be the first to grab the money "saved" for retirement. For a political party made up of the baby boomers who spent their youth squawking about how the government can't be trusted, how can they then, with a straight face, tell us that placing our social security tax into a general fund that can be raided by the government is the best thing for us? Do they think we're stupid? Who really thinks the government knows best about how to INVEST or SAVE for retirement? Given the choice of putting my money into a personal retirement account that is mine alone and that I can then pass onto my children OR putting it into a pool of money that the government then uses for other pet projects and says I can't will to my next of kin if I die before retirement, why would I EVER want to choose option two, complete government control of my retirement fund? When is the government more efficient than the free market ESPECIALLY when it comes to investing? Not only that, but America is BEHIND the rest of the world on this. I read the following at the National Center for Policy Analysis:

Currently, some 80 million workers in 20 countries have access to personal retirement accounts. These countries include Chile, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Uruguay, Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, Latvia, Sweden, Hong Kong, El Salvador and Croatia (roughly in the order in which they adopted the plans).
Macedonia, the Dominican Republic, Kosovo and even China have passed reform laws, which they are now in the process of implementing. Other countries are moving in that direction. Interestingly, the United States is not yet on this list.

Exactly. The US is not on the list. Why are we behind BOLIVIA in getting PRA's?

If the liberals really want us to keep Social Security the way it is, then they need to reverse themselves on the abortion issue. You can't advocate for the current social security system, but then allow women to kill the generations needed to keep the system afloat.

Social Security was supposedly to help people have money for their retirement. It was a reaction against the depression. Now that we've entered the 21st Century, let's all admit that we've come a long, long way in understanding investing since the reign of FDR. The government will screw all us future retirees for the short term benefits OUR money will give them with their constituents. MY money will not be there for me if I have to retire on social security. The government isn't accountable for all the money they've taken so far through social security taxes. Who do I complain to and demand satisfaction from when I reach 65 or 70 and want to retire, but can't 'cause I've been robbed blind by Big Daddy Govmint who supposedly had my best interests at heart. Social Security is a big slap in the face to any reasonably sane and responsible person since it assumes we're too stupid to know how to save for our own retirements. Why not hand over all major life responsiblities that require vision and planning to the government? Why stop at retirement? I'm sure the government knows me better than I know myself. That sounds like government thinks its God. Oh wait, that's exactly what the lefty liberals DO think about government. They love playing God and that's their crack.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Vaclav Havel Supports Cuban Dissidents

Vaclav Havel supports Cuban dissidents. Does the liberal left? Probably not. The American left is more interested in using Castro as a stick to beat America with than in using their liberty to end a tyrannous regime that jails dissidents who would like the freedom to protest but can do so only with the threat of arrest and the gulag. I'm on the side of Havel. If you had to choose between the panderings of Chirac and Schroeder who haven't met a dictator they didn't want to appease, or a courageous one time imprisoned dissident of a brutal communist regime who then played a massive role in overthrowing through peaceful means that oppressive government, who would you listen to? Havel every time. You listen to Havel because he knows oppression. You listen to Havel because he knows brutality. You listen to Havel because he knows evil. And you listen to Havel because he speaks the sweet sweet words of truth, freedom and liberty to the pampered bureaucrats of the EU to shame them. How sad that the countries of Old Europe who once believed in freedom have to be shamed into doing what's right by the New Europe. Havel is my hero.

George W. Bush's Speech in Slovakia

This speech made me cry. I'm a sucker for heroic people. I'm a sucker for people who have suffered, and yet overcome. I'm a sucker for great and noble causes that call for courage and sacrifice. I'm a sucker for oppressed people who know that some things are worth dying for. What an honor it is to have the Slovakian people, a people who know what it means to fight for truth, as our ally. My hope is that Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Estonia and all the other countries who freed themselves from the chains of communism will be beacons of light during the coming dark ages of Old Europe. My hope is that New Europe will not succumb to the philosophies that have crippled the mental and moral faculties of Old Europe. How ironic it will be when Old Europe is enslaved by radical Islamists using the weapons of multiculturism and pluralism to deal the death blow, all while the Middle East experiences a democratic revolution.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Rotten Apples

In choosing a candidate for LA Mayor we're simply choosing the least rotten apple from an entire basket of rotten apples. I'm registered Republican, but I may be voting Democrat this election given the options. This is the first time in my voting history that I have ever even considered punching the chad for a Democrat. I'm tempted to ignore the whole race and just not vote, but the thought of a possible Villaraigosa win sickens me. Too bad we can't check off all the people we don't want to win and then let the leftovers duke it out. I can easily identify those I absolutely without hesistation do not want to win, but I'm having a difficult time determining who should win. They're all political wankers with no real passion or vision for this great city.

Bernard Parks

Bernard Parks is next up on the docket for mayoral consideration. I can honestly say he's a distinguished looking man. If Hollywood were making a movie about an LA mayor, he could play the part 'cause he looks so good. But that's the problem with Parks, he can only play the part if someone else is feeding him all the good lines. There's nothing in Parks professional history, especially as head of the LAPD, that distinguishes him as a leader. In fact, he made a complete mess of the LAPD and now he wants to focus his "strengths" on the city? Uh, please no. Although this article by City Beat tries to show he has turned himself into a model pol since he was fired as police chief. His run for mayor is a personal vendetta against Hahn for having him replaced as Chief of Police with William Bratton. Politics is much too personal for Parks. So ixnay on arkspay.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Voting Guide for LA Mayor

I have no idea who any of the mayoral candidates are other than Hahn, Villairagosa, and Parks. So this is an uninformed guide to voting based on the one minute video clips KCAL 9 News is doing each evening for those candidates who cannot afford a TV ad and on first impressions from the very brief description given of them in the voter guides put out by the city.

First up is Wendy Lyons. She's a meatpacker and is registered with the Socialist Workers Party. That should be enough information to make a very informed "no" decision. The gist of what she said in her one minute TV clip was that she will work hard to make the streets safer for criminals and illegal aliens and do everything she can to jail cops. She wants to make LA a city of crime and protest. Oh, and she wants to bring back the troops from Iraq. So not only is she wiggedty wiggedty whacked on local policy, her larger agenda is irrelevant to LA politics. YEAH! She didn't exude much authority or presence of mind when she couldn't manage to memorize a one minute speech. She kept looking at her notes and "umming" her way from one bullet point to the next. Her ideas (if you can call them that) were not complex so the fact she couldn't remember them doesn't bode well for a future Mayor. Also, if she couldn't persuade any of the many millionaires in Los Angeles to give money to her campaign for an actual TV ad, how is she going to persuade key players to cooperate with her "agenda" for the city? Is she just trying to gain street creds to run for a foreman (forewoman?) position at the local meatpacking plant? Lyons promises, if elected, to create "a massive federally funded public works program to put millions to work at union wages building housing, schools, mass transit, hospitals." To sum up, Wendy Lyons is a joke.

Friday, February 18, 2005

I'm not a Philistine!

I want it to be known that I do appreciate and enjoy art, a lot of art. I'm not a complete philistine just because I don't like conceptual art. I love the work of Andy Goldsworthy. I'm amazed at what he can create using only the effects of nature as both content and tools. One of my all time favorite pieces is the tree stump encircled with icicles (what a lovely word icicle is. When you start to spell it out the sounds describe what it is: i-c-i-c...!). Another artist who fascinates me is Sophie Calle. I don't know if she's considered a conceptual or performance artist (both forms that don't appeal to me much) or something completely different, but I like what she does. Probably because I feel an affinity to her desire to snoop, investigate, and generally pry into strangers' lives. She appeals to the voyeur in me. However, if she did to me what she does to her subjects, I'd be quite angry at the invasion of privacy. I think of her as a guilty pleasure.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

If THIS is art, what ISN'T?

Is this really art, some woman gnawing her way through apartment walls for a conceptual "art" project with the LMAK galleries in Chelsea, NY. Whatever. It reminded me of a piece (if it can be called that) I saw at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago a couple years ago. The "artist" had bought several hundred old photographs from garage sales and estate sales. Some were of family vacations, others were candid shots, or school portraits etc. The photos were all pinned to the wall in a space about 10 feet by 8 feet, but with the picture side turned into the wall so only the white backs faced the viewer. That was it. The artist didn't even come to the gallery to arrange the photos; the gallery workers put up the entire "piece". There obviously was no right or wrong way to pin each photo other than to make sure the picture couldn't be seen. What is the friggin' point of such "art"? Conceptual art is for "artists" who can't create real art, but can't write either. They're like the million and one wannabe script writers that haunt hollywood saying they have a great idea for a movie they just need someone to help them write it. Right. Anyone can have an idea, but getting the idea on paper in such a way that people want to read it or into a physical piece of art that doesn't suck is what separates the wannabes from the pro's. Most conceptual artists are just wannabes.

Eason Jordan and Sharon Stone?

I just read this from Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column for NRO:

"Hang on, did you read in the gossip pages that Eason Jordan has wound up with SS (I'm speaking of the actress, not Germans)? Not a bad deal for having offended his way out of CNN."

My first thought: Is Sharon Stone a masochist? Eason Jordan is probably in full fulmination mode right now. I can just imagine the two of them together. Jordan whining and moaning about how unfair it was that he had to resign because of tenacious no-name bloggers oblivious to the beautiful, glamorous woman by his side. How galling to be taken down by nobodies! He moping and pouting replaying the moment in Davos when he stated what he thought was an obvious fact even if it couldn't be proven with evidence, her whispering and cooing about what a powerful and great man he was (no, is, she meant is!) soothing his ego making him feel like a man again (or ever). ACK! What was she thinking?! Is it method acting? Perhaps she's preparing for a part.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Brouhaha in Central Park: the Gates

Apparently you either love the Gates or you hate them. I'm impressed that Christo and Co. footed the entire bill of $21 million! I'm not a fan of conceptual art, but I do appreciate that Christo and Jean-Claude did not feel compelled to bloviate on the "meaning" of their orange gates. They simply said you need to experience them. I will never "experience" the Gates, but I must admit that I like the idea of large, colorful structures arching over the footpath. Like much of their other work, I find it whimsical. If I lived in New York and had to endure its harsh and dismal winters, I'd like a bit of color in my park to perk me up. Is it necessary? No, but then most art isn't. Does it need to have a purpose or meaning to be enjoyed? I don't think so. However, I read this quote in city-journal by Myron Magnet:

"The opposite of cheerful, the gates are oppressive, claustrophobic, even on a brilliant winter Sunday. They crowd as inescapably together as riot police, and are just as lumpish in their inelegant proportions and angular profiles. Like the riot police’s plastic shield and shiny helmets, their materials proclaim Industrial Man’s brute mastery over the elements, producing by unimaginably powerful forces, in white-hot furnaces and giant petrochemical vats that only legions of technicians could design and run, the steel and nylon that shoulders aside the trees and sky."

Now this description seems a bit overwrought, but after reading it I looked at the photos of the Gates again and I understand his point. They do look like lumbering robots draped with frippery to soften their hard edges. So maybe the execution wasn't as successful as it could have been, but would Mr. Magnet be happier if the Gates were in the Art Nouveau style? They wouldn't match his criticism above then. So is the problem with how the gates were built, or with the very idea of having colorful Gates trail the footpath? If it's the former, then I would agree. However if it's the latter, then I think it's much fuss over nothing and only shows a lack of imagination. However, if the very IDEA of the Gates is that they should be bulky behemoths so as to make us feel small and oppressed, then I too would say Kick Christo Out!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Little Red in the Face

Originally uploaded by heliotrope.
That's me in the bottle.

We Live in Exciting Times

I love this quote from Michael Ledeen in Nation Review Online:

"Thus, the great force of the democratic revolution is now in collision with the firmly rooted tyrannical objects in Tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh. In one of history's fine little ironies, the "Arab street," long considered our mortal enemy, now threatens Muslim tyrants, and yearns for support from us. That is our immediate task."

America is on the right side of history in supporting freedom and democracy in countries currently oppressed by dictators or tyrannical oligarchies. Regardless if we're ultimately successful in helping form long-term democracies, the process of shaking up the middle east was alone worth it. How was it advantageous for us or the oppressed people to accept the status quo? They were tyrannized and we were terrorized. Something had to change. At least now, the Iraqi, Afghani, and (hopefully soon) the Iranian people have a chance at something different. As President Bush has said, freedom is not a western concept but is yearned for by all those under oppression. The desire for freedom is not culturally bound. However, they need to accept responsibility for the opportunity that has been presented to them. America cannot make the tough decisions for these people or force them to value the same things we do such as free speech, rule of law, open business practices and fiscal accountability etc. The new "Arab Street" must determine what they want their future to look like, and their vision will lead to a brighter more hopeful system of government, or it will lead to more of the same.

David Horowitz Rocks!

David Horowitz has created a powerful tool for learning about the key people, players, and organizations of the political left at his new website Discover The Network. Ever wonder who is buying the Democratic Party? Curious about who funds all those lefty causes? Puzzled why someone would want to DEFEND Saddam Hussein? Look no further, for the answers are all here in one helpful location. Check it out!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Perfect Pot (tea that is)

Every tea must have lovely pots to showcase the leaves which is why these pots are fabulous. Mst if not all are made in Germany, which is fantastic since they make sturdy durable pots. I would love to have the wagenfeld special at a mere (!) $94. For that price, it better last long enough for me to bequeath it to the next generation!

Tea for me

I love tea. It has more refinement than coffee not only in taste but also in its rituals. Going through the ritual of boiling the water, choosing the tea, picking the pot, steeping the leaves, to finlly sipping the fragrant brew helps me transition from the stress of traffic and work to the tranquility of home. This Saturday I'm creating a Valentines Tea for some special friends. On the menu: shortcake biscuits, strawberries and lime curd, asparagus quiche, green apple and brie on pumpernickle, chocolate raspberry tart, lemon cake, and miniature pecan pies with whipped cream. Accompanying this feast of delicacies is a superb Blueberry /Pomegranate loose leaf tea (I abhor the bag!). Of course this menu was completely different yesterday and will probably change an hour before the guests arrive. I rarely bake although it's something I love to do, which is why I put on teas. It gives me the chance to try new recipes, but unfortunately that means I'm baking test cases (and realizing the result is not teaworthy) when I should be baking the done deal. All of which means that I'm baking until midnight on Fridays and slathering sandwiches up until the guests arrive. It's all part of the MO of a procrastinator i.e. me.


Originally uploaded by heliotrope.
A step back into the early seventies including the wait staff, this pie shop's specialty is the chicken pot pie. But from what I tasted, I don't know how they got famous for their pot pies, unless their fame is for being awful. Granted it was real chicken meat, but the crust was anything but flaky and the sauce was mostly a goopy cornstarchy slop. Still, I ate all but the last bite. And yes, I'd go back 'cause where else can you get soup AND salad, dinner roles that will remind you of your high school caf, the entree with potato of your choice, AND dessert for $6? Exactly.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Free Tibet

I recently saw the above bumper sticker on a Volvo and it got me to thinking. This is such a lefty trendy cause, but one that I totally agree with. In fact the website states, "Free Tibet Campaign stands for the Tibetans' right to determine their own future. It campaigns for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the Tibetans' fundamental human rights to be respected." Nothing to disagree with there. So why am I fussing about this? Because the same people who put Free Tibet bumber stickers on their cars for the ostensible reason that they believe in human rights and self-determiniation, don't believe it applies to other countries such as Iraq (under Hussein) Lebanon (invaded by Syria), Cuba, or North Korea. In the case of these countries, bumper sticker liberals are just fine with tyrranical dictators marching in, occupying the land, and killing off its inhabitants. There are no protest marches for these people's fundamental human rights. When was the last time ANSWER protested Castro or lil' Kim of North Korea?