Tuesday, March 29, 2005


If I could be in love with weather, then I was in love last night. I walked around Griffith Park just before sunset. A mild breeze blew, not too cold, not too warm. The breeze started the tree leaves rustling which evoke memories I've never lived. Memories infused with intrigue and adventure. On the breeze wafted the frangrance of plumeria trees and jasmine. Chartreuse leaves and dark bark glowed in the setting sun. How easily I could have missed a moment of pure sensory pleasure. A taste of heaven on earth.

To top off the experience I strolled through a row of 40 ft high Cyprus that flank the sidewalk. I look straight up so that the trees and sky fill my vision dwarfing me. I feel like I spent five seconds in a David Lynch movie with the song Harmony as the soundtrack.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The State of Nature

I've been reading Aidan Hartley's book The Zanzibar Chest. I couldn't put it down once started and once finisished started bawling. The horror, misery, and destruction of life in Rwanda and Somalia overwhelmed me. In my heart I wondered how people could do such horrorific violence to their neighbors, yet in my head, I knew the answer. Human nature is depraved and prone to evil. Here's one passage from the book:

The city was a fragment of what it had been but the atmosphere was electric. The militias had liberated the nation not only from dictatorship but also from modern civilization. A Dionysian orgy of destruction was now taking place across Mogadishu in which everything was smashed within the space of hours: priceless Muslim artifacts from the museum and the mosques, hospital equipment, factory plants, power cables, computers, libraries, telephone exchanges. The Somalis thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I got a contact high off them. On days like this in the news business I grew to understand how easy it must be for normally ordinary people to want ot participate in riots adn football match hooliganism.

A queue of civilians was huddled at a roadblock before a gang of rebels. As each person was waved through, another came forward and began uttering a litany of names. My guide with the flaming red hair said the people were reciting their clan family trees. The genealogies tumbled back generation after generation to a founding ancestor. it was like a DNA helix, or a fingerprint, or an encyclopedia of peace treaties and blood debts left to fester down the torrid centuries. I was thinking how poetic this idea was, when bang; a gunman shot one of the civilians, who fell with blood gushing from his head and was pushed aside onto a heap of corpses.
"Wrong clan," said my flaming-haired friend. "He should have borrowed the ancestors of a friend."

What infuriates me about this is their delight in destroying, in tearing down. The casualness with which they kill. It takes but a few moments to obliterate what took centuries to build. I wonder how many of those brutalized by this civil war think they are better off now than when they were under colonial rule. Since "liberation" from the colonialists, their quality of life as descended dramatically to where they are now living out Thomas Hobbes description of the state of nature: "The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." No rule of law, no beauty, no clean water, no life. They simply exist waiting for the day they die.

Where is God in all this? Perhaps He is waiting for one heart to turn towards Him. One heart that acknowledges the evil and wastefulness of the present situation and cries out to God to end it all.

It's been over ten years and to this day Somalia still doesn't have a real government. The new Transitional Federal Government is trying to step in; however, they haven't been able to move to Mogadishu the capital of Somalia since warlords still control the city and don't want to give up their power.


While gazing out my window at work, I noticed what appeared to be leaves blowing in the wind. But they weren't scuttling along the ground like most leaves gusted by a draft, they were higher than head level. I thought to myself, "my there must be a strong wind blowing" until I looked closer and determined they were butterflies! Hundreds of butterflies fluttering down Burbank Blvd. They look tipsy. They aren't en masse, but a constant stream of little groupings. They must be migrating Monarchs from Mexico heading to Northern California. One year around Easter I visited Santa Cruz and the migrated butterflies had settled in a thicket of trees completely covering the trunk and limbs. Today is gorgeous with brilliant blue sky edged with plump white and silver clouds, the air is clean, crisp, the type of day that gives you extra clarity because of the intensity of colors. And then the butterflies came making today perfect.

UPDATE: The Monarchs turned out to be Painted Ladies. A variety that also swarms in from Mexico every now and again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More Mark Steyn

Steyn identifies why the left is in a dither over Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the U.N.:

Yet the assumption behind much of the criticism of Bolton from the likes of Kerry is that, regardless of his government's foreign policy, a U.N. ambassador has to be at some level a U.N. booster. Twenty years ago, Secretary of State George Schulz used to welcome the Reagan administration's ambassadorial appointments to his office and invite each chap to identify his country on the map. The guy who'd just landed the embassy in Chad would invariably point to Chad. "No," Schulz would say, "this is your country" -- and point to the United States. Nobody would expect a U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union to be a big booster for the Soviets. And, given that in a unipolar world the most plausible challenger to the United States is transnationalism, these days the Schulz test is even more pertinent for the U.N. ambassador: his country is the United States, not the ersatz jurisdiction of Annan's embryo world government.

Reporting on the Bolton appointment in the Financial Times, James Harding wrote,''Mr. Bush is eager to re-engage with allies, but is unapologetic about the Iraq war, the policy of preemption and the transformational agenda." "Unapologetic"? What exactly should he be apologizing for? The toppling of Saddam? The Iraq election? The first green shoots of liberty in the desert of Middle Eastern "stability"? When you unpick the assumptions behind Harding's sentence, Bush's principal offense is that he remains "unapologetic" about doing all this without the blessing of the formal transnational decision-making process.

He ends with:
Bolton's sin isn't that he's "undiplomatic," but that he's correct.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Of Words

I do believe today was the first time I've ever seen this word in use. It's not a common word either in speech or writing. You'd think it would be used more often since its antonym enjoys frequent use.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Cat Stevens Schmevens

If PBS was on life-support, it's now dead based on this listing:

Cat Stevens: Majikat PBS 28 Mar 18 09:30pm Add to My Calendar
Special/Music, 30 Mins. The concert recorded on Cat Stevens' Majikat North American tour in 1976 in Williamsburg, Va.
Original Airdate: March 5, 2005.

Am I missing something? Is there a groundswell of love for Cat Stevens these days? Is a revival afoot? Why do we need to view his 1976 Majikat (the name alone makes me shudder, shudder) concert twice in one month? Why does PBS persist in thinking viewers care about this crap? Seriously Pom Pom, who is their audience? Perhaps it's a closed circle, they air what they want to watch and the public be damned.

Lies, Lies, and More Lies

What do Abortion-On-Demand and Campaign Finance Reform have in common? Lies, lies, and more lies. Although different causes, the same "truth be damned" arrogance drove both.

As reported in the New York Sun, Sean Treglia's job while at Pew Charitable Trusts, was to "create" the "truth" for why Campaign Finance Reform was needed:

Charged with promoting campaign-finance reform when he joined Pew in the mid-1990s, Treglia came up with a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform. (emphasis mine)

"The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," Treglia says — 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot — that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform." (emphasis mine)

How is this similar to the abortion issue? Read on, read on!

Dr. Bernand Nathanson, one of the original founders of NARAL who performed 75,000 abortions himself, had this to say about the foundational lies of the abortion-on-demand movement:

Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls. We announced to the media that we had taken polls and that 60% of Americans were in favour of permissive abortion. This is the tactic of the self-fulfilling lie. Few people care to be in the minority. We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law. Another myth we fed to the public through the media was that legalising abortion would only mean that the abortions taking place illegally would thenbe done legally. In fact, of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1500% since legalisation. (emphasis mine)

Because the decision was taken away from the law-makers and given to an un-elected judiciary, the lies were not exposed during normal debate and inquiry in the legislative branch.

I'm not saying that abortion on demand and campaign finance reform are morally equivalent. Abortions kill millions of human beings. Campaign Finance Reform has only "killed" political speech, which although it's a cherished freedom and necessary right for a democracy, it's not the same thing as a dead human being. However, I thought it noteworthy that when the truth of their positions doesn't sit well with the American public, the Left resorts to lying and manufacturing "facts". They don't attempt to persuade using the truth, but instead manipulate public opinion through well-placed lies. In both cases the American public believed the oft-repeated lie. Most likely neither abortion-on-demand nor CFR would have been enacted, if the public knew the truth.


Read the ugly truth about ANWR.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

America is not Saudi Arabia

We are different than most parts of the world. We are humane and decent in our treatment of prisoners who are terrorists NOT prisoners of war as understood under the Geneva Convention. Abu Graib was an anomoly not a norm. The Church report gives evidence that our interrogators are scared more of being victims of political correctness, than of being victims of terrorism, which is why they are "clamping up". At least that's how I'm interpreting their actions. When women interrogators using their femininity to psychologically confuse and disorient terrorists is considered "torture", then you know the West has been castrated by political correctness.

What's that you say, the Lebanese Love America?

As reported by Claudia Rosset in Lebanon during the LARGEST pro-democracy rally EVER in the Middle East. Let those words sink in....the largest in Middle East HISTORY:

In Beirut yesterday, it was clear that message has been heard. Unlike the Hezbollah demonstrators with their chants of "Death to America," many in the crowd were friendly to Americans. "Thank's Free World," (sic) said one poster, held high by a woman in a bright red jacket, Rawya Okal, who told me: "We thank Mr. Bush for his position." Overhearing this in the throng, a middle-aged man in a green baseball cap, Louis Nahanna, leaned over to say, "We love the American people" - adding, "Please don't let Bush forget us. Your support is very important."

Asking more people what they thought of Americans turned up the same refrain. From a young driver, Fadi Mrad, came the message: "We want to change. We need freedom. Please don't let Bush forget us." From a group of young men came not only the message "Our hope is America," and "We believe in democracy in the Middle East," but also praise for Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. There was also an invitation from one of them, young Edgard Baradhy, for his heroine, Ms. Rice, to come to Beirut "and I am ready to take her for coffee."

America cannot waste this opportunity to pressure Syria to end their occupation of Lebanon. Look what true lovers of democracy and freedom have done to help the Lebanese regain their sovereignty. Perhaps Bush should push aside all the leftists for a Free Tibet and take a whack at ending the Chinese occupation of that country. I'm sure he could accomplish more in a month then the leftists could do with a lifetime supply of bumper stickers.

Have you had your Lileks today?

I read the man every day with my morning cup of tea. Sample a bit of his writing:

That’s what William Wallace shouted to rouse the troops. I’m not quite sure what it means – it’s one of those sentiments that falls apart when you interrogate it too closely, but on the other hand it makes sense, somehow. Except that you would be dead, but free. But Free! But dead. On the other hand, if you quibble about such things, you live in a society where Quibbling is the main intellectual activity, because the real struggles of life took place before you came along, and you’ve inherited peace and stability and freedom, and define “tyranny” as the actions of a town council that votes to ban body-piercing parlors within 1000 feet of an elementary school. Fargin’ fascists, man.

There's more:

And what of Syria then? Assad has been taking pains to assure the world he is not Saddam – which might well mean he’s a dead man. Saddam would have purged things to his liking long ago. Assad, I suspect, may well suffer at the hands of the people in his government who are stronger and more serious. The sort of guys who flip between pictures of him and his dad and ask the old eye-doctor question: Better? Worse? Better? Worse? How about now?

If I could rip off the writing styles of three people they would be James Lileks, Jonah Goldberg, and Mark Steyn. Do your civic duty and check them out.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"God is a Person, Not a Pudding"

So said Peter Kreeft my favorite teacher of philosophy. He's erudite yet accessible; serious yet witty. The above quote is from his article "The Divinity of Christ" found under Arguments for God's Existence. Kreeft is also a Christian apologist who uses logic and philosophy to argue for the Christian faith. If it's logic you're interested in (and really, all of us should be if we're at all interested in the truth), check out his book Socratic Logic. It's extensive without being overwhelming.


Could the LA Mayoral race have been more uninspired and lacklustre? LA needs a Rudy Guilliani, someone with charisma, smarts, and VISION. On to the May runoff between Hahn and Villaraigosa. Now I have to decide IF I will vote. If I vote, it has to be for Hahn since Villaraigosa is a snake. I don't get the sense that Villaraigosa loves America or even California as much as he loves what America /California has done for him politically. He strikes me as one who would jump at the chance to annex California to Mexico. As a member of MECHA, it must have been a dream of his. Without the huge Latino population /illegal immigrants would there even be a Villaraigosa? Probably not. Which suggests to me that his loyalties lie south of the border.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Al Gore Was Right...sorta.

The answer to Social Security reform IS a lockbox. A lockbox in the form of a Personal Retirement Account. Donald Luskin of NRO sums it up nicely:

The fact is that personal accounts are nothing less than a Social Security lockbox. Yes, a lockbox — what Al Gore went on and on about in the 2000 election.
It’s obvious when you think about it. When your payroll tax dollars go into your own personal account — which you can invest in private markets, and in which you have heritable property rights — that account is a lockbox. Government can’t spend the money in there, because it’s yours, and you’ve invested it.
(emphasis mine)

Under the current system, some of your tax dollars pay for the benefits of today’s retirees. Whatever’s left over goes into the Social Security Trust Funds, which use the money to buy Treasury bonds. That means, effectively, that the Trust Funds get an IOU from the general fund of the government — and the government gets to spend the money.

Sure, as the Left always points out, those IOUs are legitimate moral claims on the government, just like any Treasury bond. But they don’t represent actual savings — because the government spends the money the moment it receives the money. When it comes time to redeem the bonds in the Trust Funds to pay benefits, the government will have to either tax or borrow to raise the needed money.

To me, the most important point is that the Government cannot spend the money you put into your Personal Retirement Account. That's all I need to hear to know I want Social Security changed now. Read the rest of Luskin's argument here.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Left on the Wrong Side of History

The Left has been on the wrong side of history for at least half of the twentieth century and all of the twenty-first. They were wrong about Vietnam, wrong about central America, wrong about the Soviet Union, and wrong about the Middle East. They couldn't bring themselves to call Communism or Islamism evil like Reagan and Bush had the moral clarity to do. As such, they have zero credibility on the freedom, liberty, and democracy issues. As Mark Steyn says:

I hope if ever I find myself one of the unfortunate subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship, that it’s Bush and the Republicans who take up my cause rather than the Left.

Hear, Hear!

Who for Mayor?

Yup, I'm still so very not impressed with any of the candidates. I did get a message from Tony Strickland (propane and propane assecories) urging me NOT to vote for Hertzberg since he's just a "partisan Democrat pandering to get Republican votes". Thanks for the update Tony. Hertzberg has been stricken from the list. Who does that leave? Ah yes, Villaraigosa. No way, no how am I ever voting for a man who once was (and is?) a member of the racist organization MECHA. He wants illegal immigrants to have more rights than honest citizens. Villaraigosa is a socialist at heart who wants to solve problems through government mandates. His own constituents are trying to recall him as their councilman since he reneged on a promise, a promise that got him elected in the first place. The promise? He said he wouldn't run for mayor, but would complete all four years of his councilman duties. If the man cannot keep a promise over which he has complete control to accomplish; a promise that simply requires character to fulfill (i.e. he's a man of his word), then why should we trust him to keep any of the promises he's spouting now as a mayoral candidate? If he can't handle the most basic and ethical promise of keeping his word to his constituents, then I don't trust him to keep any other promise that may be more difficult to accomplish. The "V" in Villaraigosa stands for vile.

Can You Believe It?!

I just read the following in the Corner on National Review Online. More good news regarding the Middle East and Lebanon in particular. You know its bad for Syria when both Egypt and Saudia Arabia are pressuring them to get out of Dodge. When was the last time you read about Arabs urging other Arabs to do the right thing!

IRAQ, ETC. [Rich Lowry]
Just talked to someone in-the-know about administration Middle East policy. I took a quick tour of the region with him. He warned against giddiness, but says things are definitely heading in the right direction.
He says attacks against Americans in Iraq are ebbing near an all-time low since the insurgency really got going. Attacks against Iraqis, of course, continue unabated. But the public seems to be turning increasingly against the insurgency, especially in Baghdad, partly under the influence of a nightly anti-insurgency television program. We're locking up more of the bad guys, which means we need more prisons (something we should have taken care of a long time ago). Overall we seem to be at--to use a terrible cliche--a potential “tipping point” in Iraq. The elections changed the entire atmosphere, although if the process of choosing a prime minister goes on much longer it will begin to test the patience of the Iraqi public and squander good will.
In Afghanistan, Taliban attacks on both Americans and the government have hit an all-time low.
Of course, events in Lebanon have been stunning. The administration is using every possible lever against the Syrians--pushing them in a serious, serious way. That the Saudis have gotten on board is a sign that they know which way the tide is headed and that it is no longer sustainable to look the other way over an Arab country's occupation of another Arab country. There has been a useful convergence of interests between the US and France over Syria, prompted by Chirac's personal relationship with Hariri and outrage at his assassination.
On Iran, the administration seems to be coming to the conclusion that the EU3 approach will fail one way or another, so it is better if the US is part of the process so it can't be conveninetly blamed when it doesn't work. We may see the administration dangling some carrots Tehran's way. If (when) this doesn't work, perhaps we will apply the lesson we are learning with Syria--pressure works.
In general, people shouldn't be unrealistic. There will still be plenty of bad news in the future. But the tectonic plates have shifted in the Middle East the last few weeks and there's no pushing them back.
Posted at 08:50 PM

If you're not reading National Review regardless of your political persuasion, you should be. They've been the heart, mind, and soul of the conservative movement since William F. Buckeley started the magazine back in the day. Check it out NOW! Go already....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Voting Update

Ok so I was wrong about the Republican voter guide. I was wrong to doubt. When I expressed my incredulity to Steve that the Republican party endorsed Parks, he dryly noted that the piece of literature in question was probably sent out by Parks' campaign. He was right. A slick ad with Republican endorsements suckered me.

More info on Egypt

Read this article for more information about the pro-democracy forces happening in Egypt. I cannot wait to read the history books regarding what's happening in the Middle East today. Who will get it right?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Confused Voter

Back to the LA Mayoral race. So I'm thinking about who I should vote for. I ask my friends and none of them know what to do either. What's a Republican to do? Well, according to the Republican voting guide that just came in the mail, they say I should be voting for Parks. What?! My concern is that Parks will attempt to remove Bratton as Chief of Police if he's elected and that would be bad for LA. Thus, the question is, how much do pride and ego control Parks? 'Cause if he becomes Mayor wouldn't he be obliged to can Bratton to save face? Or could he play the bigger wiser man and acknowledge the gains Bratton has made in fighting crime? My other concern is that Parks has only focused on issues that effect his black constituents. What does he have to say to the rest of us? What's his big picture view of the problems and opportunities for LA? What vision does he have that can inspire a cross section of LA populace? I'm still searching for the answers.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Exciting Times Part II

President Bush's resolve to bring down Saddam Hussein has led to exciting changes in the Middle East. For the first time in years, people in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and even Syria (!) are protesting FOR democratic reforms with positive results. This ain't your mama's Middle East! Hopefully Iran will be next through the peaceful demonstrations and protests of the huge student movement. Even the Palestinians are acting more responsibly at news of the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. You'd think we entered the Twilight Zone. All of us were getting far too comfortable with the status quo thinking that the Middle East could only be "contained" but not reformed. Granted we're in the early stages yet, but hopefully these sparks will start a flame of freedom that cannot be extinguished. Michael Ledeen of National Review has an excellent article summing up the revolutionary fervor that has spread and is spreading throughout the world

The Iraqis are protesting the terrorists and in doing so they're taking ownership of their own safety.

Lebanon asserts their right to sovereignty and protests the Syrian occupation of their country. Assad may even comply and pull out his troops! Following is the sentiment of a Druze leader long a critic of the US, as reported by David Ignatius:,

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

For more info about exciting times in Lebanon check out the Muslim American Society.

Protests in Egypt forced Mubarak to change the constitution to allow other candidates to run against him in the next election. Condi Rice played a huge role in encouraging the protestors by cancelling her visit to Mubarak after he arrested a dissident political voice.

After witnessing the effects of the protesting in Lebanon, intellectuals and dissidents are attempting to protest the tyrannical government of Assad.

Remember all the dancing in the streets whenever Israelis were killed by suicide bombers? Not this time. They want the truce to hold between them and Israel so they're not real happy about the lastest suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

Students will bring down the mullahs in favor of democracy.