Monday, December 22, 2008


It’s amazing what people focus on in order to avoid having to deal with really serious problems. Psychologists see this phenomenon all the time, where toilet seats and personal ticks become the ostensible reason for huge rows out of all proportion to the alleged offense.

The same mind-games apply in the world of politics. While public budgets and economic activity in California are going to heck in a handbasket, politicians in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and now San Diego are focusing on matters of monumental triviality—such as the urgent need to ban those ultra-thin plastic bags that stores have used for decades.

A committee of the San Diego City Council recently passed a resolution (2-1) to support a ban of these grave environmental hazards that apparently aren’t biodegradable and allegedly have damaged some marine animals. Encinitas is considering a similar proposal.

For retrograde heathens who might persist in the sinful habit of toting their groceries in paper bags, a 25-cent fee per bag is being considered. This “fee” (not a tax, of course) has also been pondered by our nothing-else-to-do state legislators. Perhaps these geniuses hope to close California’s 12 to 20 billion dollar budget deficit with this new assessment—thus balancing their books on the back of seniors who have enough trouble getting purchases from the check-out counter to their deadly carbon-emitting vehicles.

The words of Gaia priestess and city council member Donna Frye sums up the over-the-top argument against these dastardly petro-gauzes: “The fact of the matter is that when you think that almost every single piece of the planet probably has a piece of plastic on it, at some level you have to start asking yourself, 'Is that the kind of planet we want to pass on to our kids?’”

Personally, I can remember when these gossamer-thin containers were considered the P.C. thing to ask for—as opposed to those evil (but biodegradable) paper bags that only “wascally Wepublicans” were insensitive enough to use. Now our cultural commissars want to give us a new choice: Bring your own reusable bag or pay 25 cents for each paper bag.

This polyethylene crisis came upon us quite suddenly, and alternatives to an outright ban have been considered as little as objections raised by that large chorus of scientists who reject global warming alarmism.

What about those biodegradable organic-based bags? What about recycling alternatives? How about providing some definitive evidence of the grave environmental damage done by those wispy polyethylene sacks that have the great virtue of sealing up refuse thrown in trash bins at apartment complexes—thus reducing the bins’ allure to flies and minimizing wind-blown debris?

On the other hand, in the midst of a significant recession with ballooning budget deficits and out of control pension obligations, what better issue for clueless politicians to tackle than plastic bag pollution. Maybe the matter can even be placed on the next ballot as a constitutional amendment—alongside urgent global warming, cow flatulence legislation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Another thousand meters, a matter of seconds, and the F-18 jet would have crossed I-805 and crashed in the uninhabited western terrain of Miramar Air Base. Assuming the pilot’s successful ejection, the event would have been a scary and costly “incident.” As it was, the aircraft destroyed two houses and killed four members of a family—an infant, a 15-month old child, a wife, and her mother. The “incident” thus became a Christmas-season tragedy.

I suspect the pilot was following the railroad valley that separates the apartment-rich area around University Towne Center from the residential housing to the south. I once lived in an apartment to the north and spent many hours walking through the canyon’s trails. Amid the usual finger pointing and outrage that the deadly crash has spawned, the amazing comments of the grieving husband and father, Dong Yun Yoon, haven’t received the attention they deserve.

During a gut-wrenching seven minutes before national media cameras (with jets flying overhead) this simple man of faith, backed by his pastor and members of his religious community, exhibited qualities seldom seen under such circumstances.

Of the pilot Yoon said, “Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident.” Yoon also referred to the pilot as “one of our treasures for the country” and said that he didn’t blame him for the accident: “I know he did everything he could.”

Remarkably, Yoon also said, “I know there are many people who have experienced more terrible things”—a statement that’s certainly true, but not for most Americans whose current “catastrophes” center on 401(k)s, home values, and job security.

Rather than expressing bitterness, Yoon said, “It was God’s blessing that I met her about four years ago… She was such a lovely wife and mother... I just miss her so much.” He also expressed confidence that God would take care of the loved ones that had been so violently ripped from him. Yoon was uncertain, however, what he could say to his father-in-law, whose grief he also took upon himself: “I don’t know if he will ever forgive me.”

Whether this attitude will survive contemporary pressures toward litigation and recrimination is unclear. I recently saw a news scroll that said Yoon was seeking legal representation—a reasonable action for which he can hardly be criticized. I suspect that many folks would be reassured by a more “typical” response from Yoon—especially those folks who discount religious faith and who view Yoon’s willingness to forgive as a sign that he hasn’t yet been Americanized.

Then there are those who feel that Yoon’s response harks back to a spirit of grace and gratitude that many of us have lost—to the ability to think of others and thank God, even in the midst of great suffering. What’s undoubtedly the case is that the spirit exhibited by Dung Yun Yoon reflects the true spirit of Christmas—the spirit of divine hope and forgiveness in a world filled with darkness.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


When belt-tightening time comes, every group has reasons for preserving its share of the public pie—for explaining why a budget cut will precipitate an apocalypse of Katrinaesque proportion.

My favorite self-serving rationale was put forward by an arts group that claimed cuts in its budget constituted an attack on the poor. I don’t know if the perpetrators of this argument actually believed what they were saying or if they were just employing a logical ruse they thought might succeed.

To me it’s clear that the primary beneficiaries of government support for the arts are individuals in the artistic community, especially managers who pull down salaries well north of a hundred grand. I also suspect that poor folks, given a list of government programs, wouldn’t put art subsidies high on their priority list—which brings me to the annual “quo vadis” inquiry about the California Center for the Arts.

I’ve not yet heard the Arts Center called a poverty program, but I suppose anything’s possible, as cutbacks get closer to the bone. What’s true, I think, is that the Center was conceived as a status symbol and merchant magnet by individuals who wished to change Escondido’s image from that of a “migrant-rich” bedroom community to that of an inland haven for artistic sophistication.

The tug-of-war between those two cities played out year after year in terms of program offerings, ticket prices, and empty seats. The winner of that struggle, as burgeoning deficits suggest, is a community more at home with concerts on the green than with a majestic venue comparable to one recently built in Mesa, Arizona—a Phoenix “suburb” with a population nearing 500,000.

This result doesn’t reflect badly on the Hidden Valley, especially given the fact that the arts, at least in recent decades, haven’t clearly served to elevate the culture or to present a reasonably accurate portrait of reality. Instead, what many of the arts have regularly provided has been an elite community’s warped view of the world—a view through the eyes of what critic Lionel Trilling long ago dubbed the “adversarial culture.”

A prime example of this perspective is the Broadway smash musical “Rent”—an “updated” version of Puccini’s “La Boheme” that features a cast of struggling New York artists, half of whom have contracted AIDS or are HIV positive. Not surprisingly, this slice of self-referential artistic life didn’t fare all that well at the CCAE in 2007. By contrast, “Jesus Christ Superstar” packed ‘em in—an audience preference the programming director described as fickle.

I suspect that the avant-garde, Vietnam-centered dance-play “Movin’ Out” ($52-67) and “The Mortified Guide to…Epic Romance” ($27) will meet with the same tepid reception as “Rent.” Clips of the latter production (that invites audiences to “witness personal redemption through public humiliation”) are available online. Here is one of its tamer comic lines: “Social (life) in college means beer drinking and cheap fondling of ugly girls.”

Given fare of this caliber, CCAE budget deficits reflect well on the community.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


In the wake of California’s Proposition 8 vote, the rhetoric against its supporters has grown increasingly strident. In the name of freedom of speech, I presume, letters have been published on the page opposite that blatantly accuse those who oppose same-sex marriage of bigotry.

I doubt that messages exhibiting the same degree of animus toward “No on 8” activists would make it to print (nor should they) given the epithets they might contain. On this issue, and many others, tolerance is a one-way street.

No matter who’s tossing around the slurs, such tactics undermine the essential attitude of respectful disagreement that makes democracy possible. It’s one thing to insult marginal groups whose publications make clear their hostility toward Catholics, Jews, and blacks. It’s something else to employ similar terms to describe people whose views are embraced by a large majority of human beings of earth—views that have been accepted for millennia for reasons as obvious as the complementary biological structure of males and females.

If Prop 8 supporters are bigots, then most Americans and most of the people in the world are bigots. Included in this burgeoning sphere of bigotry are major world religions that have long served to undermine ethnic and racial prejudices and to shape the consciences of men like Martin Luther King Jr. and the great anti-slavery advocate William Wilberforce.

Given the scope of this presumed bigotry, it must also be the case that these same-sex marriage advocates are among the few enlightened individuals who’ve ever lived on the face of the earth—persons whose Hollywood-based insights could only be questioned by rubes whose arguments and votes need not be taken seriously.

Indeed, not only can these adversaries be ignored and vilified, they can also be economically decimated. Developer Doug Manchester was targeted by “No on 8” activists prior to the election. Now like-minded forces have assembled “black-lists” of individuals (several from North County) who contributed sums as little as a thousand dollars to the “Yes on 8” cause.

A Hillcrest businessman whose establishment wrongly appears on one list reported a plethora of hate-messages from individuals who confidently ascribe that trait to their opponents.

In Sacramento the artistic director for the California Musical Theater resigned after his support for Prop 8 was disclosed—a grim but unsurprising reminder of what the term “diversity” really means in the arts community.

Since election day the most convenient target for abuse has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But given the number of “bigots” available, Mormons seem to be receiving an inordinate share of opprobrium.

African-Americans constitute an as-yet unchastised class of bigots—a group whose support of Prop 8 (70 to 30% in one poll) clearly showed what they thought about the “homosexuality equals race” argument.

It’s time for reasonable “No on 8” supporters to reject the heavy-handed tactics being employed by its frenzied partisans before these zealots start aiming fire at blacks and that 64% class of bigots known as parents with kids.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Why are some folks so eager to brand political opponents as hateful bigots? And what follows, logically, from the widespread acceptance of this practice?

One thing that follows from viewing adversaries as ranting haters is sign vandalism—as numerous statewide stories about the disappearance of “Yes on Prop 8” signs indicate. The rationale one enthusiastic North County sign-snatcher gave for her actions was that government should only be in the business of giving rights, not taking them away.

It didn’t occur to this speech-suppressor that she was violating someone else’s First Amendment rights or that the issue in question is precisely what rights California should recognize when it comes to marriage.

I’d be surprised if this petty political thief would cling to her rights-only logic if the topic were smoking cigarettes on the beach or allowing her Carlsbad neighbors the “right” to do whatever they please with their property. In those critical cases (as opposed to the question of changing a basic, millennia-old social institution) pros and cons would surely need to be discussed.

The real beauty of branding political opponents as haters is that one doesn’t have to deal with specific arguments. Mere declarations of rights and ad hominem invective are all that’s required. By stigmatizing the other side as less honorable than pond scum, one can ignore arguments as smokescreens.

A common inference made by advocates of same-sex marriage was that Prop 8 supporters fell in the same class as individuals who denied rights to black Americans or interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. By this logic the reasonable assertion that male-female marriage reflects natural law and promotes the optimum child-rearing framework was transformed into hate-speech—not a category of discourse that voters need to accord a respectful hearing.

It’s ironic that the lion’s share of negative epithets in the marriage campaign came from the supposedly “tolerant” side of the debate. Just check the Letters page and review the TV ads for derogatory terms that concerned personal character.

Moreover, while I’m sure that some “No on 8” signs were snatched or defaced by Prop 8 proponents, every indication I’ve seen (including a prominent YouTube video) is that most of the vandalism came from the side that was utterly convinced it occupied the high political ground.

That’s because traditional folk tend to honor long-established ethical rules (like “Thou shalt not steal”) and are somewhat less likely to violate mom’s oft-repeated injunction against name-calling. “Progressives,” on the other hand, are more likely to embrace an “ends justify the means” philosophy, to view personal morality and f-bomb language as flexible conventions, and to impute the basest of motives to political enemies—all for the sake of political goals that are embraced with religious fervor.

The future of democracy isn’t bright when half the voting population are routinely labeled as bigots. After all, bigots deserve no respect, and trivial democratic procedures needn’t be observed by partisans whose political ideas (like religious dogmas) are considered beyond questioning.


This Wall Street Journal article by James Freeman analyzes the "deregulation" that did NOT occur under the presidency of George W. Bush.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Injustice is good and justice is naiveté. That’s the proposition Socrates’ irascible interlocutor put forward in The Republic—a viewpoint the Greek philosopher admitted was hard to counter because it fell so far outside the norms of ethical discourse.

The debate about gay marriage falls in the same category. Who would have thought twenty years ago that politicians and activists would seriously propose changing the definition of marriage? Who would have suspected that a state Supreme Court majority of one would equate inherently barren same-sex relationships with male-female unions whose reproductive consequences are typically enormous?

Who would have believed that rational individuals would repeatedly declare with a straight face that males and females are essentially identical when it comes to child rearing—or that natural and obvious biological differences are as irrelevant as variations in skin pigmentation and eye color?

Yet same-sex unions for which promiscuity can have absolutely no reproductive consequences are blindly said to be identical to unions for which marriage has constituted (by promoting fidelity and on-going responsibility to offspring) the greatest institutional protection for women and children.

Logically, if these two types of union are the same, then children and sexual fidelity can’t be central to the definition of marriage. Instead, deconstructed marriage will become (even more than it already has) a mere matter of legal benefits between two or more individuals with amorous feelings toward each other.

Only persons with constrained imaginations could assert that this radical redefinition won’t significantly impact society. Indeed, it’s already had an impact.

In San Francisco first-graders in a public school were recently taken on a field trip to witness their teacher’s lesbian wedding—another lesson in diversity by folks who assert, incredibly, that defenders of traditional marriage are injecting government into people’s private lives.

Yet it was gay activists who “injected” their lifestyle into government via parades in which San Diego firemen were ordered to participate. And it was a lesbian who sued a North County doctor for declining to participate in her insemination—thereby “injecting” government into the doctor’s own conscience.

Indeed, were it not for an unprecedented judicial fiat, the issue of gay marriage wouldn’t have been “injected” into politics at all.

Now this radical innovation, justified by the narrowest of legal margins, is being advertised (thanks to Jerry Brown’s linguistic revision of Prop 8's voter summary) as a “right” that presumably existed from eternity alongside the rights to life, liberty, and abortion on demand. Other anti-8 ads claim that same-sex marriage will have no educational consequences—just as the aforementioned first grade field trip was occurring.

Anyone who believes that public schools won’t take the defeat of Proposition 8 as a signal to aggressively promote a “King and King” educational agenda is also probably unaware of the million dollars donated by the California Teachers Association to oppose Prop 8.

Unfortunately, students in public school won’t be the only casualties of calling black, “white”. Children throughout the state will also be victims—along with freedom of conscience.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Princeton Professor Robert George discusses "Obama's Abortion Extremism."

This is a withering critique of Obama's extreme stand on abortion that promises to make all Americans complicit in this slaughter by doing away with the Hyde Amendment, funding abortions with taxpayer money, and ditching parental notification laws in all the states. With Barack, even living babies will be in danger.

"Sen. Barack Obama's views on life issues ranging from abortion to embryonic stem cell research mark him as not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket...."

Monday, October 13, 2008


Obama's treatment of political opponents in Chicago (see THE CASE AGAINST BARACK OBAMA) foreshadows this fascist-style intimidation on the part of Obama workers and the Feds.

Roger Hedgecock's World Net Daily article.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” That’s the simplified version of H. L. Mencken’s sound bite unfriendly proposition.

As evidence in favor of the maxim, I point to the popular wisdom that “deregulation” got America into its current financial straits—a mess whose local consequences are happily exaggerated by gee-whiz graphs that transform a leveling off of prices into a precipitous drop in the rate of price increase, before proceeding to the really bad news. (Graphs that show the huge ups and halfway downs of actual home prices in San Diego aren’t nearly so exciting.)

Returning to the “blame deregulation” line that Pelosi and press pundits are peddling to a docile public, here are the actual facts:

In 1998 the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston produced a document called “Closing the Gap: A Guide to Equal Opportunity Lending.” This influential policy statement asserted that lending standards in the U.S. were “unintentionally” racially biased and urged lenders to employ new underwriting standards that would expunge this moral blot from their books.

These “new and improved” standards essentially pressured banks to abandon prudent norms that had been employed for decades—debt-to-income ratio, credit history, and ability to make down payments from personal savings. While aimed at minorities, these new rules naturally applied to all borrowers. Ignored in the process was the obvious fact that folks who have bad credit, low income, and little money invested in an asset are more likely to walk away when its value declines.

In 1999, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began easing their credit standards, and between 2004 and 2007 these Government Sponsored Enterprises became the biggest purchasers of subprime mortgages. Other lenders, “encouraged” by “fairness” politicians, followed in the steps of Fannie and Freddie—none more aggressively than Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, who was honored by Harvard’s Center for Housing Studies for his “socially conscious” approach to mortgage lending.

When the Bush administration and other Republicans pushed in 2004 to rein in Fannie and Freddie’s irresponsible practices and to expand regulation of these GSEs, they were met with a chorus of Democrat opposition led by that voluble choirmaster, Rep. Barney Frank. (See Their uncritical praise of Fannie and Freddie extended to Fannie CEO, Franklin Raines, the former Clinton budget director whose alleged book-cooking ingenuity netted him a cool $90 million.

Thus, the money kept flowing (especially to the coffers of Democrat Senators Chris Dodd and Barack Obama) as long as prices were going up. When the inevitable happened and prices turned south, then all those homes purchased in Oceanside zip code 92057 by folks who had no business assuming a $500,000 mortgage were transformed into “bad paper” —and Angelo Mozilo was no longer a Harvard hero.

Long story short, it wasn’t deregulation that precipitated the financial seizure we’re now experiencing. It was benighted government lending standards promulgated in the name of fairness and instituted within the framework of K Street cronyism.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Give this article by Peter Ferrara a look if you think deregulation is the root of the financial crisis.

Note especially this YouTube video of Democrat perfidy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Adam Gadahn may be dead. That was the gist of a September 12, North County Times article about the al-Qaida propagandist who was raised in remote Winchester, California, and possibly met his end in Pakistan’s distant Waziristan region. The absence of an annual September 11 video message from Gadahn was taken as another clue that he might have been killed in a January airstrike.

So how did a lad who grew up in Riverside County come to join an Islamic terrorist group and find himself, in 2006, charged with treason by his native country? Or, as the aforementioned article put it, how did “a shy and intelligent boy who played Little League baseball and attended area Christian home schooling support groups” become “Azzam the American”?

The answer to that mystery isn’t as farfetched as the misleading references to Little League and Christian home schooling suggest. In point of fact, the apple didn’t fall that far from the parental tree—as an extensive January, 2007, New Yorker magazine piece demonstrates.

If Adam Gadahn changed his name and rejected his roots, he was only following in the footsteps of his father (the son of a prosperous Santa Ana physician) who dropped the name Pearlman for Gadahn and took very seriously the utopian rhetoric of the 60s counterculture.

If Adam immersed himself in “death metal” music—a subculture in love with its own offensiveness—he was largely reprising his father’s passionate attachment to psychedelic rock during his long-haired days at U.C. Irvine.

If Adam adopted a radical stance toward American society, he was affirming in a different way his father’s decision to reject professionalism and to choose for his family a near subsistence life on a goat farm by the San Jacinto mountains.

If Adam converted to Islam in 1997, the elder Gadahn experienced his own awakening to eco-spirituality in 1975—a self-fashioned religion that the “happenings” musician described in an album called “Relatively Clean Rivers.”

Finally, if Adam’s spiritual journey led him to embrace an uncompromising ideology that saw unbelievers as benighted evildoers, he was only exhibiting a virulent version of his father’s outlook. According to acquaintances, the elder Gadahn, though gentle, was an inflexible perfectionist attracted to people who were “exactly the same (as) he was.”

Adam’s pre-conversion views, summarized by a friend, reflect a similar mind-set: “Most of the people around me are brain-dead, nobody cares about anything that’s going on, we’re wrecking everything that’s good, all the trees are disappearing, everything is being turned into suburbs. I feel like I’m the only one who notices this.”

Only thematic key-shifts are required to change the tune from 60s counterculture to eco-fanaticism, from psychedelic rock to death-metal, from self-serving contempt for those who disagree to ideological solidarity with terrorists.

By contrast, Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence urges a “decent respect (for) the opinions of mankind.” Such humility is absent among ideologues of every stripe—whose opponents are invariably portrayed as liars and fools.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


On July 23rd the North County Times published an editorial written by a Fallbrook High School student that last spring was pulled from the school newspaper by the school principal. The article was a grammatically well-written piece about sex education.

Specifically, the piece decried “abstinence only” programs that are “ideologically, rather than empirically, driven” and faulted the Bush Administration for “forcing” such programs on state and local governments.

The editorial also cited a 2007 study by Mathematica Policy Research to show that abstinence-only programs are ineffective and that “comprehensive” sex-ed programs effectively reduce behaviors that put teenagers at risk of STDs and unintended pregnancy.

While the editorial probably wasn’t pulled from the school newspaper for this reason, most "real-world" editors require documentation (whether included in the piece or not) that vouches for the accuracy of a column’s factual assertions. On those grounds a conscientious editor would have had good reason for deep-sixing the aforementioned article.

One major inaccuracy was the assertion that abstinence-based sex education is a policy being “forced” on schools throughout the country by the Bush Administration. In point of fact this Title V Program began in 1996 (under President Clinton) and isn’t “forced” on anyone.

Rather, it’s a relatively small program that has annually devoted 50 to 150 million dollars to this grant-based project. Ironically, these grants have been rejected by the state of California, and various data suggest that most schools employ more “comprehensive” sex-ed formats—some of the “abstinence-plus” variety.

The article also fails to disclose that its Mathematica study only analyzed four outdated abstinence programs where instruction ended in middle school. Nor does the piece mention that the study showed (not surprisingly under the circumstances) no significant difference between the abstinence cohort and the “comprehensive” sex-ed group.

At worst, this dubious finding suggests that short-lived abstinence-based programs are no less effective than the morality-free sex-ed programs designed by groups like SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the United States), an institution closely associated with the ideologically-driven and fraudulent scientist, Alfred Kinsey. (I direct readers to Dr. Judith Reisman’s exhaustive work on Kinsey.)

To give folks a sense of SIECUS’s ideological baggage, the organization’s first President, Planned Parenthood’s Mary Calderone, once diminished the moral significance of pedophilia by declining to call it “bad” or “wicked.” Later, in 1980, SIECUS published a report entitled “Attacking the Last Taboo.” That article stated that “we are roughly in the same position today regarding incest as we were a hundred years ago with respect to our fears of masturbation.” In short, SIECUS is insanely amoral.

Given that the Federal Forum on Child and Family Statistics last year reported a significant decline in sexual activity among high school students since 1991 (54 to 46%) and given that condom use simultaneously increased among sexually active teens (46 to 63%), I’d be inclined to reinforce both these trends with abstinence-plus programs rather than impose on students morally vacuous curricula designed by the likes of SIECUS.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


On Monday, August 18, the California Supreme Court ruled that doctors may not follow their consciences when deciding whether or not to participate in the artificial insemina-tion of a female homosexual. Instead, medical institutions are obliged to either quit offering fertility services or to participate in a process whose goal is to produce a child within a fatherless, same-sex household.

The ruling was delivered in a case brought by an Oceanside woman who, in 2001, was offended when doctors at the Vista-based North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group referred her to a facility that didn’t exhibit moral scruples about bringing children into the world under the aforementioned circumstances. From now on that same moral indifference to marriage and child welfare has become mandatory in California.

News stories generally portrayed this ruling as a “civil rights” victory for gays and minimized or ignored the religious freedom and child welfare issues. “Docs can’t refuse gay patients” is a headline that fits this template—as if doctors weren’t treating sick individuals because they were gay or as if a potential child (as abortion absolutists would have it) falls in the same category as a malignant tumor.

A similar state court ruling was handed down over two years ago in Massachusetts. In that case Catholic Charities of Boston was given a drop-dead ultimatum that required the charity to offer gay adoptions or to get out of the business. The 100-year-old organization chose the latter option—to the detriment of special-needs kids the group regularly placed in caring homes.

The basis for the California Court’s unanimous ruling against individual conscience was state legislation that “imposes on business establishments certain antidiscrimination obligations.”

Observers who applaud the court’s interpretation of state law typically equate this judgment with rulings against racial discrimination. This analysis clearly ignores natural and complementary differences between males and females that don’t correspond to superficial racial distinctions. To an unprejudiced eye, these sexual differences demand respect—especially when it comes to child-rearing.

Political correctness, however, demands that we close our eyes to the obvious for the sake of “tolerance.” This “tolerance,” however, requires inflexible acceptance of the view that men and women are essentially interchangeable, that marriage is no big deal, and that fathers, in particular, are irrelevant when it comes to a child’s psychological development.

In short, modern tolerance is “intolerance.” Accordingly, the state won’t allow professionals to act on defensible moral principles contrary to the feels-good secularism that’s become an unofficial state religion—a faith promulgated relentlessly by our pop-culture.

Thus, the “free exercise” of religion in California now means the freedom to believe what you want, provided you leave those beliefs in the pew. At work, as the state Supreme Court bluntly put it, those convictions may be ignored as “incidental” conflicts with Sacramento’s social engineering project.

The licentious state religion that now permeates public schools will be intolerantly enforced throughout society (even among private organizations) if Californians no longer give a rip about freedom of conscience.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden on Barack Obama

Barack Obama doesn't have the experience to be President. So says his V.P. pick, Joe Biden, in this You Tube McCain ad.

Barack's Boners

A good article that documents a few (not all) of Barack's boners! This guy makes the much-maligned Dan Quayle look like a genius.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Here is a link to Michael Barone's piece on the CLOSE association between Barack Obama and terrorist William Ayers. And here is another piece on the same topic in The American Thinker.

Monday, August 18, 2008


A recent Public Policy Institute poll shows that Californians now favor (by a 51-45 percent margin) drilling for oil off the state’s coastline. What many Golden Staters may not realize is that offshore production has been going on for decades. What’s currently verboten is new drilling.

In 2005, for example, state and federal offshore wells accounted for more than 40 million of the 255 million barrels of petroleum produced statewide. By the way, those on-shore wells include some discretely camouflaged rigs in Beverly Hills.

The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill was the event that transformed offshore drilling from a profitable state enterprise (one that contributed significant revenues to Governor Pat Brown’s budgets) into an industrial pariah.

I recall walking along a beach near the University of California campus in Santa Barbara in 1991 and being astounded that my sneakers were thoroughly coated with tar—a remnant, I thought, of the ecological disaster of ’69. In point of fact, those tiny pellets were (and are) the result of natural forces—an oozing up of the black gold that lies untapped beneath the surface.

Obviously Mother Gaia hadn’t gotten the memo that these geological excretions don’t fit her recently cultivated image. Indeed, these mini-tar pits are reminiscent of the vision of nature offered by writers like Jack London—namely, indifference.

Whether nature cares about mankind or not, it’s clear that Californians aren’t indifferent to gasoline at and over four dollars a gallon. The good news is that drilling technology has improved greatly over the last four decades—as indicated by all those rigs in the Gulf of Mexico that withstood hurricanes Katrina and Rita without significant spills.

The billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that lie restively off California’s shores represent a boon both in terms of private economic stimulus and public revenue. (Texas and Alaska both sport significant state surpluses.) Moreover, some experts believe these resources can be accessed within a year of lifting existing moratoria.

Equally significant is the fact that increased American production means fewer dollars going abroad to hostile and unstable regimes in Venezuela and the Middle East.

The ace-in-the-hole for anti-drilling forces is the global warming argument—the assertion that petroleum production and consumption harms the planet via its “carbon footprint.” Columnist Charles Krauthammer, however, provides a cogent ecological response to that objection.

Krauthammer notes that sweeping restrictions on domestic drilling or shale oil development inevitably promote environmentally unfriendly exploration (or devastating biofuel production) in areas like the Niger Delta or the Amazon rainforests. Russians, he observes, won’t be concerned about caribou when they start drilling in the Arctic.

HR-6566, a comprehensive energy bill co-sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, includes measures that expedite deep-water drilling in federal waters off California’s shore. The billion barrels off San Diego’s shoreline, however, remain off limits as long as the state legislature continues to dream about how optimum tire pressure can offset burgeoning oil demand in China and India.

Monday, August 04, 2008


In an off-the-teleprompter comment from Springfield, Missouri, the less-than-one-term Illinois Senator, Barack Obama, recently remarked that Americans could save as much fuel as might be obtained from offshore drilling merely by tuning up their cars and keeping tires properly inflated.

Since the MSM hasn’t seen fit to accurately publicize this amazing insight, I must insist that the senator’s complete Obama-fuels program be immediately broadcast to the nation. This bold nine-point initiative will make both oil imports and new domestic drilling completely unnecessary by the end of Barack’s eight-to-ten-year presidency.

In addition to tune-ups and tire inflation, Senator Obama also proposes the following transformative energy measures:

Point two: Diet and exercise. If Americans lose, on average, ten pounds per person, each national car trip will be lighter by three billion pounds—saving enough fuel in a year to offset weeks of ANWR oil production. This healthy-choice initiative will also allow Michael Moore and Al Gore to make outsized personal contributions to energy independence.

Point three: Turn off the auto A/C. Car trips made without activating the air compressor not only save barrels upon barrels of petrol, they also contribute to national fitness targets—especially in Southern states where drivers and passengers can only obtain sauna relief by rolling down their windows.

Point four: Don’t roll down car windows. This simple aerodynamic tip, if followed religiously in gun-toting and bible-clinging regions, will not only marginalize the oil output of a “tiny country” like Iran, it will also bring home to Sunbelt motorists the mortal dangers of global warming.

Point five: Kill the motor when sitting in a drive-through queue and plan half as many trips to fast-food restaurants. This two-pronged fuel- and weight-reduction strategy will make Hugo Chavez’s oil reserves seem as trivial as the ten-year national supply that lies untapped off America’s own shores.

Point six: Roundabouts and tap-the-brake intersections. By transforming busy cross-streets into roundabouts and employing “California stops” at other interchanges, inertial fuel savings throughout the 58 states will more than compensate for the trillion barrels of oil shale available in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Moreover, accidents resulting from these traffic modifications will decrease driving hours in damaged vehicles—further reducing the need for new domestic production. Drivers should remember, however, to kill their engines while waiting for collisions to clear.

Point seven: Charge for petroleum-based water bottles distributed on airplane flights. Fortunately, airlines have already begun to institute this “change we’ve been waiting for.”

Point eight: National Ride-your-bike-to-work Day. Even with only fifty percent compliance, this program could save almost half-a-day’s supply of gasoline—enough to fuel all the cars in America for about thirty minutes. Imagine the extra savings if Al Gore and Michael Moore participate. Moreover, if only twenty percent of Americans make this fitness activity a regular choice, it won’t matter what country decides to drill for the stuff that’s killing us only sixty miles off the coast of Florida.

Point nine: Subsidies for fuel-savvy driving. By going with the gravitational grain, the nation’s auto fleet can get vastly better mileage than by defying Mother Nature. Indeed, experts have estimated that if all auto trips were downhill, Americans could travel in open-air soapboxes and eliminate oil imports in a matter of days.

This extraordinary program represents the kind of visionary thinking that no typical politician has had the audacity to propose. It’s a vision that looks different from the economic policies and presidents of the past. It’s a “yes, we can” initiative that brings all Americans together around the goal of energy independence without drilling for oil, without importing oil from hostile countries, and without constructing CO2-free nuclear reactors. To all those grim alternatives President Obama isn’t about to say, “Merci beaucoup.”

Combined with a global warming policy that includes breath retention, antacids for cows, and Jimmy Carter snuggle sweaters, this incredible “energy package we can believe in” will make Americans, for the first time in their miserable lives, “really proud” of their country—proud of a trim, sweaty, bicycle-riding, non-nuclear, petroleum-averse, inertia-loving, nature-respecting America that’s only going downhill.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


“The average price of unleaded gasoline in San Diego County this week is $4.36. That’s eleven cents less than a week ago but a dollar and thirty cents more than this time last year.”

This mantra has become so familiar that many media hairdos can recite it in their sleep. What’s amusing about this formulaic sound bite is how little “news” it contains. No price in the country is so publicly advertised or so regularly observed by so many individuals.

The example is useful, however, to illustrate the typical depth of analysis offered by television and radio—and sometimes by newspapers. The preferred media storyline is simplistic, with a hero and a villain. The villain-victim format is also immensely popular.

So it is with the mortgage meltdown story where “predatory” lenders take advantage of innocent consumers who are struggling to achieve the dream of home ownership. The heroes are politicians with bailout funds.

The actual dynamics (as economist Thomas Sowell, among others, has recently shown) are more complex. The inconvenient truth for do-gooders is the extent to which the foreclosures that clutter several North County neighborhoods are actually a function of government helpfulness.

The most direct example of this “helpfulness” is the Community Reinvestment Act, a piece of federal legislation that makes sure banks and other lenders aren’t using “arbitrary and outdated criteria that effectively disqualify many urban or low-income minority applicants.” Included among these “arbitrary and outdated criteria” are an individual’s income, net worth, and credit history.

Lax underwriting standards were bound to proliferate when lenders like Countrywide received government kudos for loaning cash to folks who wouldn’t be candidates for home ownership absent regulatory pressure and the “helpful” efforts of community action groups like ACORN. It’s more than ironic that this particular “predatory” lender found itself going belly-up for offering loans that couldn’t all be fobbed off on other financial institutions.

The two government-created institutions for buying up most of these dubious loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, served as financial backstops until the political goal of extending home ownership to every American brought even these huge, amphibious institutions to the brink of insolvency.

Sowell notes that state and local governments also contributed to the mortgage fiasco by putting ever-greater restrictions on home construction—a practice that helped send home prices in California skyrocketing. Those higher prices demanded more “creative” financing, and creative financing was further stimulated by the Federal Reserve’s artificially low interest rates. When rates were finally adjusted upward and home prices peaked, the limits of “helpfulness” became apparent.

Put succinctly, government promoted and guaranteed bad loans, discouraged due diligence, and helped drive up home prices. Now those same governments are called upon to make everything better. Never mind that Sacramento and Washington are awash in red ink and that San Diego’s pension woes persist. The quick-and-easy solution to our problems is always more government control—making sure financial markets work as well as our public schools.

Imagine what gas prices would be if the DMV were in charge.

Friday, July 18, 2008

MAKERS AND TAKERS by Peter Schweizer

Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less . . . and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals by Peter Schweizer. Doubleday, 2008. (258 pages, $24.95, Hardcover)

“I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their political duties, they lead their country, by a short route, to chaos.” So said Robert Bolt’s Sir Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons.

The opposite side of that moral coin is explored by Peter Schweizer in his book, Makers and Takers—namely, the personal consequences of a moral compass that points unswervingly to the political left. Schweizer’s answer is given in his extended subtitle—a list of declarations that clearly suggest the royal road to happiness isn’t paved with fervent commitment to government health care.

In this short, generously spaced work Schweizer debunks the popular notion that liberals are better people than supposedly tight-fisted, hard-hearted, mentally unstable conservatives. After providing a gut-wrenching sample of popular elite opinion—from tendentious “studies” that classify Stalin as a conservative to the vacuous blatherings of Bill Maher—Schweizer proceeds to demolish those opinions with peer-reviewed sociological data that show liberals are generally more selfish, more focused on money, less hardworking, less emotionally satisfied, less honest, and even less knowledgeable about politics than their conservative counterparts.

In addition to anecdotal evidence (like Bill Clinton’s 957-page monument to self obsession) Schweizer cites his favorite source, the “highly regarded General Social Survey,” to show that self-described strong conservatives are much more likely than their liberal counterparts (55-20%) to say they get happiness by putting another person’s happiness ahead of their own. Similar results were obtained in response to queries about caring for a seriously ill spouse or parent. Another study found that students who called themselves “very liberal” or “radical” tended to have a “narcissistic pathology” that exhibited itself in “grandiosity, envy…and a sense of entitlement.” Not surprisingly, these students were not only the most power-oriented but also the most pot-oriented.

This professed gap between liberals and conservatives when it comes to self-centeredness also carries over into practice. While liberals tout their generosity and berate conservative greed, the hard facts (and IRS data) tell another story. That Al Gore gave just $353 to charity in 1998, out of an adjusted gross income of $197,729, appears to be a common occurrence among the former V-P’s ideological associates. The 1040s of leftists like Robert Reich, Andrew Cuomo, Ted Kennedy, and even Franklin Roosevelt tell a similar tale. Indeed, as Schweizer notes, Al Gore looks “downright benevolent” when compared to John Kerry, who gave none of his 126,179 taxable dollars to charity in 1995.

Schweizer’s General Social Survey shows that this anecdotal evidence corresponds with the tendency of conservatives to donate more money than liberals and to volunteer more time to charitable causes. Even after eliminating church activities, conservatives still volunteered for charitable work more frequently than liberals (27-19 %). Professor Brooks, author of Who Really Cares?, calculates the annual giving gap between religious conservatives and liberals at $2,210 to $642. This disparity suggests the accuracy of Merryle Rukeyser’s witty definition of a liberal as someone who’s liberal with other people’s money.

Since liberals squeeze their greenbacks so tightly, it follows that they also value money more highly than conservatives when it comes to job satisfaction, a conclusion born out by Schweizer’s statistics (36-24%). Consistent with their entitlement mentality, liberals also put twice as much value on leisure time than conservatives and considerably more value on a low-stress work environment (56-36%). It clearly takes a government-run Wunder-Village to produce these labor conditions—high pay, leisure time, no pressure. Add to these job priorities the fact that conservatives value hard work more than liberals, and it’s easy to see why Schweizer tells employers to “think long and hard” before hiring someone wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt.

Unrealistic workplace expectations doubtless foster another unpleasant characteristic that pervades the left—envy. This trait is perfectly illustrated by an anecdote Schweizer provides about a student who traded his $15-an-hour pizza job for one paying only $6.25-an-hour. The reason for this counterproductive economic decision was envy over the fact that the enterprising student who started the business was making $50-an-hour. Such reasoning coincides with the thought-patterns of that Russian who, given only one wish by a genie, wished that his neighbor’s barn should burn down.

It should come as no surprise that liberals don’t score as well as conservatives on honesty, since leftists frequently subscribe to a “higher” morality that covers a multitude of stained blue dresses. As radical organizer Saul Alinsky put the matter, “Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times.” Such flexibility is certainly helpful when it come to rationalizing the biographical liberties taken by poet Quincy Troupe, Professor Edward Said, and Yale Professor Paul de Man—to say nothing of the dialogical liberties taken by Robert Reich in his recent “memoir.” Not surprisingly, this ethical flexibility only extends in one political direction.

On another statistical front, Schweizer provides data that show Michael Douglas’ angry character in Falling Down should have been a liberal with a UN-WORLD license plate. It turns out that “very liberal” folks are three times more likely to “let fly” than corresponding conservatives. That lamp-shattering stat corresponds with another from the General Social Survey that shows extreme liberals six times more likely than extreme conservatives to have reported a mental health problem (30-5%). Schweizer notes that the left’s emphasis on victimization contributes to this psychic distress—as does the idea that individual initiative counts for nothing against a “lottery of life” rigged by and for conservatives. Beyond those political factors, the left’s sympathy for philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre also contributes to the frustration of folks who find an absurd universe mentally taxing.

Probably the most distressing assertion in Schweizer’s book, for liberals, is the claim that conservatives generally know more about politics. Indeed, the gap between the political knowledge of strong Republicans and strong Democrats, based on the calculations of George Mason law professor Ilya Somin, equals several years of formal education. “Independent” and “weak” Republicans also scored higher on Somin’s scale than their ideological counterparts. So much for Thomas Frank’s assumption that folks in Kansas are too dumb to know what’s good for them.

Perhaps the most unexpected findings in Schweizer’s statistical and anecdotal compendium were those related to the paranormal: that liberals are more likely to believe in ghosts than conservatives (Gallup, 42-25), that they are more likely to believe in communication with spirits (CBS, 43-29) and that they are significantly more likely to say UFOs have visited the earth. Actually, those ratios shouldn’t come as a surprise—given Hillary’s chats with Eleanor Roosevelt and Dennis Kucinich’s stated views on extraterrestrials. [Note to aliens: Dennis is ready for beaming.] Schweizer explains this data by noting that many liberals, absent a belief in God, have gravitated toward superstition, thus confirming G. K. Chesterton’s assertion that those who don’t believe in God will believe in anything.

In sum, Schweizer has created a compact sociological tour de force that is destined to meet the same fate among the MSM as Dr. Brooks’ book on giving—malign neglect. I suspect that those few leftists who deign to acknowledge its existence will focus on methodological flaws that are bound to exist in any large collection of social science data. But then, what else would one expect from a group of thin-skinned, stingy, ill-informed, and mentally unstable journalists?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


What’s the big deal? Live and let live. It doesn’t affect anyone else. What really matters is the price of gas. Such are the “arguments” put forward by individuals who favor changing society’s most fundamental institution—or think the matter of no consequence.

No amount of fact-based discourse about nature or disease would be sufficient to change the views of folks who think men and women are interchangeable. Nor will essays on child pedagogy or historical precedent influence those who view four mommies from a severed same-sex relationship as equal to a divorced mom and dad, each with new spouses.

What’s harder to deny is the ultimate legal goal involved in a marriage debate of little direct interest to most gays. That goal is to criminalize public opposition to homosexuality and to brand all verbal opposition as hate speech.

It’s not only North County doctors who will find themselves facing an “inseminate or else” alternative vis-à-vis same-sex couples. It’s also photographers like the couple in New Mexico who discovered that freedom of religion in America no longer means freedom of conscience. When this husband and wife team decided against taking photos at a same-sex commitment ceremony, the offended pair appealed to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which fined the photographers $6,000 for discrimination.

In San Diego the county clerk recently discovered that he was unable to fully accommodate the consciences of employees who wished not to be part of joining Party A to Party B in a union whose procreative possibilities are, in every case, nil—to sanction unions that make the terms “husband and wife” offensive and inappropriate on common legal documents. A year earlier San Diego firefighters were ordered, against their expressed desire, to participate in a gay pride parade.

The most distressing portent of what awaits California’s children is a custody dispute in Vermont where a gay plaintiff sued for visitation with a child born to her former partner—a woman now living in Virginia. Last March the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that Lisa Miller must share her own daughter with an individual who isn’t related to the child by blood or adoption, who abhors Lisa’s new Christian values, and who wants the child to call her “mommy.”

Because of a “civil union” formalized on a weekend trip to Vermont in December of 2000, a child is being ripped from its mother and placed in the regular company of a near stranger and her new partner—an arrangement sure to become commonplace if the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is gutted under President Obama. (Kids are always sacrificial lambs on the altar of political correctness.)

Already freedom of religion is being reduced to a shell of the Constitution’s guarantee of “free exercise.” In the future (as now in Canada) columns like this will be classified as hate speech and “the closet” once reserved for same-sex liaisons will become a restrictive holding pen for those who still honor a basic moral tenet that’s guided civilization for millennia.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008


A Bob Hope line that needs to be looped again and again for the sake of George Clooney, Whoopie Goldberg, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Arianna Huffington, and Alec Baldwin.

Friday, June 27, 2008


It was Monday morning at Oceanside’s El Camino High School when a uniformed officer entered a classroom to announce that several students had been killed in a drunk-driving accident. The officer offered a brief eulogy, placed a rose on a deceased student’s empty seat, and left.

This solemn scenario was repeated in twenty junior and senior classrooms. Incredibly, many of the students (and others misinformed via cell phones) were left to marinate in their grief for two hours before an assembly was held that made it clear their classmates were really alive.

In an athletic field demonstration the artificially-bloodied bodies of the presumed-dead students were pulled from a wrecked vehicle by emergency personnel. It was an ironic way of reversing the belief that their friends and acquaintances were dead.

Some students were angry at being emotionally manipulated in order to make a point about prom night safety—at being involuntarily incorporated into a dramatic scheme that makes driving-school’s “Red Asphalt” films seem tame by comparison. Others were consoled at the thought that helping just one person justifies everything. Unfortunately, adults who approved this extreme variant of the “Every 15 Minutes” program offered the same clichéd rationale—a costless benefit analysis.

On the other hand, Richard Yoast, director of the American Medical Association’s Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, claims that data for the effectiveness of this scared-straight approach is lacking—an observation conceded by the program’s national founder, Dean Wilson, who insisted that El Camino’s event was “not what we teach.”

When I read about this well-intentioned deception, it brought to mind the experiments conducted at Yale University by Stanley Milgram in the early 1960s. Milgram’s work involved tricking persons into thinking they were administering electrical shocks to individuals who were taking part in a “learning” program.

Wrong answers to questions called for ever-higher levels of electrical shocks. Things were set up so that control-board operators could hear steadily increasing cries of agony and pleas for help coming from the “learners”—followed at a certain stage by total silence.

The control-board operators didn’t know that they were, in fact, the real subjects of the experiment. Nor did they know that the “learners” were part of an elaborate ruse to see how far the volunteers would go in obeying the voice of authority.

The results of the experiment were surprising on two levels. First, two-thirds of the volunteers continued to obey the man in the white smock even when it appeared that the “learner” was being fried to death. Second, the experiment demonstrated Milgram’s own appalling willingness to manipulate human beings to gain some dissertation material on human motivation.

Today, lying for a “good cause” has become a way of life for many activists. Truth is considered of small value compared to the good that can be done by spreading lies.

To conceal the primary transmission factors in the epidemic, AIDS was declared to be an equal-opportunity disease that’s just as likely to affect heterosexuals—a lie. To promote a health-uber-alles agenda, even occasional contact with secondhand smoke was portrayed as a mortal danger—a lie. To heighten the victimization status of women and to forge a clear link between male contact sports and battery, Super Bowl Sunday was solemnly declared to be the day on which most women are beaten by their spouses—a lie. And to scare gullible lemmings into ceding control of their lives to eco-priests, head charlatan Al Gore inserts lies about twenty-foot ocean-level increases into presentations filled with distortions and speculative half-truths.

In truth, those who are willing to lie for the sake of a political agenda are also willing, for the same cause, to manipulate human beings like maze rats.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Having declared by a 4-3 vote that “husband and wife” are purely accidental terms when it comes to the definition of marriage, the California Supremes are now mulling over a case that promises to stigmatize moral conviction as unlawful bigotry.

The question at issue involves an Oceanside woman whose desire to be impregnated at the medical center of her choice conflicted with the consciences of doctors at the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group. The matter of conscience involved the fact that the mother-to-be was a lesbian.

The patient in her mid-thirties was already a mother but apparently wanted to increase the number of little ones that she and her same-sex partner were caring for. The doctors at the medical center, however, weren’t willing to be directly involved in promoting a state of affairs they deemed immoral.

In taking this stand the doctors’ consciences were in harmony with the scriptures of every major religious tradition in history—none of which recognize same-sex unions. The doctors’ convictions might also have been shaped by the quaint notion that children deserve to have both a father and a mother and that individuals who intentionally deprive their offspring of one or the other are engaging in an act of stunning self-centeredness.

The plaintiff, however, insists that doctors don’t have a right to make judgments that she and her attorney equate with racism. Echoing a similar sentiment, one of the court justices asked how the doctors’ position differed from that of a pharmacist who refused to sell medicine to “people like you.”

Absent from this analogy was any reflection on the doctors’ obligation to consider the welfare of the fatherless children they would be helping to bring into the world. More egregiously, the plaintiff’s race-based argument ignores the fact that men and women are biologically and genetically different in profound ways—despite the academic idiocy of the 1970s that continues to be selectively invoked in elite circles.

More to the point is this complaint by the plaintiff: “It does do a great deal of damage to a person when you tell them they aren’t worthy of having a child or having a family.”
The politically correct grammar of that statement coincides perfectly with the idea that moral judgments (at least those of the traditional variety) make people feel bad and thus must be expunged.

Public opposition to homosexual activity has already been criminalized in a Canadian jurisdiction where a pastor was ordered to apologize and pay $5,000 for the “pain and suffering” his words inflicted on an aggrieved activist. Canada, of course, doesn’t have a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and religion. But the Constitution doesn’t seem to be an obstacle for activist judges when it comes to doing the politically correct thing.

Whatever the court decides in this particular case, I am confident our judicial masters will eventually rule that traditional religious and moral convictions about homosexuality constitute “hate-speech” and must be consigned to the privacy of one’s closet.

So much for freedom of religion.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Here's an ironic twist. If Ted Kennedy had to live under the health care system he favors, he'd be dead!

Click the link.

Friday, May 30, 2008


In the year 2000 about two-thirds of North County voters supported Proposition 22. That’s the margin needed to boost a 55-44 percent San Diego city majority to a 62-38 landslide throughout the county.

Last month by a 4-3 vote the California Supreme Court declared that the traditional male-female definition of marriage violates California’s Constitution and nullified the democratic decision made by 4,618,673 Californians. This ruling not only flies in the face of 5000 years of civilized history, it also establishes another dismal precedent for rule by judicial fiat.

The idea that voters should have a say in changing the terms of a basic social institution wasn’t a thought this quartet of magistrates found compelling. Apparently, for these robed eminences, persons lacking J.D.s don’t have opinions that count when it comes to the definition of marriage.

This imposition of elitist ideology (an ideology that ignores the importance of both fathers and mothers) has staggering implications for child-rearing and educational practice. Such considerations mattered not a whit to these blindered oracles--driven as they were by the same arrogance that’s transformed America’s universities into intolerant reeducation camps.

Combined with the SB 777 legislation that bans “heterosexist” language in California public schools, this ruling virtually guarantees that PC educators will soon be asking little boys and girls whether they plan to marry someone of the same or opposite sex. Similarly, grade school libraries will certainly begin to stock and display copies of “King and King”—making sure that gay marriage is given the same affirmative action treatment that was accorded women’s sports as a result of Title 9 legislation.

In effect, the court’s recent ruling reduces democracy to a means for dealing with matters that judges deem insignificant—since all important issues will be discovered lying furtively (like “penumbras formed by emanations”) within the pages of a “living constitution.” Remember Prop 187—a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters but abandoned after being held legal hostage for years.

If the court were serious about interpreting the law instead of imposing elite opinions on dimwitted proles, it would have considered the implications of their ruling for laws that ban polygamy or incest. Historically, polygamy has much stronger credentials than same-sex marriage. But at present that practice has little cachet in Hollywood and New York.

The case for incest was recently litigated, unsuccessfully, in Germany, but the prime-time TV series “Two and a Half Men” is currently playfully ambiguous about such liaisons. You can bet that when Charlie Sheen and his next half-sister bedmate decide it’s ok, our black-robed betters will also, with all deliberate speed, remove that bigoted taboo.

Fortunately, there are still ways to undo judicial tyranny if voters still care about democracy. One way is to support the state constitutional amendment on marriage that’s likely to qualify for the ballot in November. The second is to vote to retire judges, like Chief Justice Ronald George, who find the notion of self-government a quaint anachronism.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Last spring David Brooks stood “on a hill in East Jerusalem, amid the clash of religious and political orthodoxies” and admired a grand Darwinian narrative that imbues history (and presumably postmodern society) with purpose:

“According to this view, human beings, like all other creatures, are machines for passing along genetic code. We are driven primarily by a desire to perpetuate ourselves and our species.

The logic of evolution explains why people vie for status, form groups, fall in love and cherish their young. It holds that most everything that exists does so for a purpose. If some trait, like emotion, can cause big problems, then it must also provide bigger benefits, because nature will not expend energy on things that don’t enhance the chance of survival….

We have a grand narrative that explains behavior and gives shape to history.”

The sleight of hand in this exposition turns on the word “purpose.” Brooks employs the term to cover retrospective explanations within an evolutionary framework. Strictly speaking, however, the term “reason” is more accurate. After all, orthodox Darwinians regularly assert that evolution itself has no goals—that it is, as Richard Dawkins insists in The Blind Watchmaker, a purposeless process.

Only a year after this misbegotten tribute to Darwin, Brooks is off on another philosophical tangent. This effort starts out well by mentioning Tom Wolfe’s 1996 essay, “Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died.” It ends by taking another detour into philosophical dilettantism.

Brooks summarizes Wolfe’s typically insouciant remarks about the implications of a worldview where genes determine behavior and free will is illusory. Then he proposes a new philosophical perspective—“neural Buddhism.” This viewpoint is an improvement on genetic determinism since it appears to treat emotions, morality, and religion as more than epiphenomena rooted in a blind, mechanistic process. But the extent of this advance turns out to be less than advertised.

Scientists, Brooks informs us, now vouchsafe the reality of these basic human traits because belief and consciousness “seem to emerge mysteriously from idiosyncratic networks of neural firings.” Also, according to this cutting-edge research “elevated spiritual states” can now be associated with “a decrease in activity in the parietal lobe.”

Our vast ignorance about the interplay between “neural networks” and “consciousness” leads Brooks to associate these findings with mysticism and Buddhism. Brooks also implies that micro-neurology somehow supports the idea that “particular religions are just cultural artifacts.” Religion in the most general sense, on the other hand, has a more substantive pedigree—presumably because it can be linked to those all-important neural networks. (One wonders how brain researchers isolate purely general religious vibes in neural networks from vibes infected with “cultural artifacts.”)

The problem with this bio-electrical analysis is that it reduces “reality” to what can be grasped or verified via scientific paradigms. Only on the playing fields of physics, neurology, or biology does one achieve truly significant findings—disciplines where objectification and measurement are essential rules of the game. Naturally, the way Brooks talks about “reality” is also shaped by these disciplines.

Unfortunately, isolating “idiosyncratic networks of neural firings” is as unhelpful to understanding the products of consciousness as discussing Shakespeare’s ink is to discovering the motivations of Hamlet or Richard III. Nor will insights into the nature of love spring from a discipline that sees it as a vehicle for “brain development” (as if that four-letter mystery were an important neural vitamin). A similarly reductive approach, I might note, now touts music education as an effective mental stimulant.

As far as the authority of specific religious traditions are concerned, one doesn’t need conjectures based on neural pyrotechnics to bring absolutist claims into question. The study of religious traditions over the last two centuries has accomplished that task quite well. Likewise, cultural anthropologists are well positioned to make pronouncements about the ubiquity of certain moral norms.

If EEG squiggle-readers wish to interpret their data in similar fashion, they are free to do so, but neurology isn’t designed to address such questions. Nor are truth-claims about religion, morality, and free will obliged to squeeze through that science’s methodological doorway. The unwarranted assumption that all truth statements must quack like a neuro-duck once prompted a medical doctor in my philosophy class to assert, “A thought is a protein”—an observation as meaningless as Brooks’ effusions about “squishy emotions.”

The mathematically gifted philosopher, Blaise Pascal, observed in the 17th century that “the heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.” A more prosaic affirmation would note that religion, morality, and consciousness don’t mesh well with neurology—Buddhist or otherwise. Like Darwinism, its disciplinary structure doesn’t accommodate terms like “purpose,” “good,” “evil,” or “love”—except by draining them of the significance they have in immediate experience.

In his aforementioned essay, Tom Wolfe makes this weighty observation: “We now live in an age in which science is a court from which there is no appeal. And the issue this time around, at the end of the twentieth century, is not the evolution of the species, which can seem a remote business, but the nature of our own precious inner selves.”

The author’s skepticism about the authority of this scientific Supreme Court is communicated via an ironic portrait of a fidgety youngster who (prior to being Ritalinized for Attention Deficit Disorder) spent hours before a television set—watching cartoons and playing video games. Wolfe’s concluding remarks about built-in limits to human knowledge also suggest a less-than-awestruck attitude before scientific findings that have an increasingly short shelf life.

“More skepticism, less awe” would be a good prescription for David Brooks the next time he feels the urge to promote a scientific discipline into the High Court of Metaphysics.

Friday, May 16, 2008


“Someone’s gotta be last.” That’s the motto I once proposed for a Deep South state that regularly found itself at the bottom of statistical comparisons. The positions held by California, San Diego, and North County vis-à-vis high school dropout rates in a recent national study suggest another slogan: “It could be worse.”

According to an analysis conducted by (among others) Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance, graduation rates for the Golden State in 2003-2004 were 70.7%--slightly higher than the national average of 69.9%. San Diego Unified’s 61.6% (15th on the list of big cities) wasn’t half bad when contrasted with Detroit’s abysmal 25% figure. And North County came off looking good, comparatively, with rates ranging from a low of 61% in Oceanside to 75.6% in Escondido and almost 89% in Valley Center. Carlsbad, Fallbrook, and Temecula also boasted diploma ratios above 80%.

As these figures suggest (and as the APA announcement emphasized) suburban areas do much better than central urban districts. That’s hardly a surprise for adults who pay attention. Nor is it a surprise that graduation rates for Hispanics (57.8%) and blacks (53.4%) are much lower than rates for whites (76.2%) and Asians (80.2%).

On a less comparative note, General Powell observed that the nation’s 30% dropout rate represents more than a million students a year and constitutes not just “a problem” but “a catastrophe.” He also declared that “It’s time for a national call to arms”—a rousing martial metaphor reminiscent of the oft-cited 1983 education study, “A Nation at Risk.”

How seriously the education establishment takes this problem is indicated by the fact that no generally accepted formula exists for calculating dropouts. Recent estimates for San Diego County suggested an 85% graduation rate—much higher than the number researchers get by focusing (as the APA estimate does) on dwindling enrollments from ninth to twelfth grade.

Comments by public educators—which include the need to focus more attention on after-school programs, nutrition, and health care—also suggest that they consider the APA data less than “catastrophic.” Then there’s the observation that we need a “culture of respect” toward teachers, a comment that reminds me of Mel Brooks’ comedic prescription for world peace: “If everyone in the world would play a violin…”

Folks love silver bullets—from smaller classrooms to Finnish makerovers to more money. Realistic solutions, however, involve more intractable factors: bureaucracy, unions and tenure, rotten schools of education, lack of competition, illegal immigration, and negative influences at home and in the broader culture.

In his well-known monograph, “Defining Deviancy Down,” the late Sen. Daniel Moynihan noted that the correlation he discovered between school funding and educational achievement was abysmal—that a higher correlation existed between the proximity of state capitals to the Canadian border. Thus, his tongue-in-cheek proposal for improving education was to move states closer to Canada.

The most significant correlation in another study, Moynihan observed, was the parent-child ratio—a finding that’s also illustrated in the APA study, where divorce-averse Asian-Americans stand atop the educational heap.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


“Normal people—those are the folks you don’t know very well.” That saying applies in spades to Carmel Valley wife and mom Marie Walsh, formerly Susan LeFevre.

Who knew that Marie was once Sue in Saginaw, Michigan—or that in 1975 she’d been sent to prison for selling heroin? Who knew she escaped the next year (drastically shortening her stiff 10- to 20-year sentence) then headed west to reinvent herself?

Even Walsh’s husband of twenty-three years was largely unaware of this skeleton in his wife’s closet—a secret that involved a fake Social Security number, a driver’s license that hadn’t been renewed since 1999, alienation from relatives, and a low-grade fear of discovery that continued till the day Marie’s past finally caught up with her.

For those who knew only Marie, her confinement in Santee’s detention facility seems pointless. Why should a 53-year-old wife and mother of three children be put behind bars for a crime that was committed a lifetime ago? What good will it do? And why saddle the state with the cost of an inmate with a thirty-year track record of good behavior?

Friends and neighbors who feel this way have organized an appeal to Michigan’s governor for clemency. An anonymous tipster who knew Marie as Sue, however, employed that knowledge, like the mythical Furies, to avenge a breach of justice.

That person was probably closer to the 19-year-old defendant who, in a court transcript, appears to have been willing and able to sell five spoons of heroin to a longhaired undercover agent. The young woman in that transcript wasn’t, as Walsh implied in a TV interview, a pot-smoking bystander to a friend’s “morphine” transaction. Instead, as the stammering defendant told Judge Joseph McDonald in 1974, “We just did it together.”

Michigan authorities also point to records that indicate a much deeper involvement in drug trafficking than Walsh acknowledges. Those accusations bring into view dozens or hundreds of “victims” that were part of the crime wave that gripped Saginaw in the mid-70s.

Richard Anderson, who participated in the deal for which LeFevre was busted, received the same sentence as she did but was paroled after two years. He was shot dead in 1981.

As I listened to a jailed Marie Walsh speaking to a TV journalist, thirty-two years of self-justification were exposed: “It was the 70’s.” “I was a child.” The Rolling Stones made it seem glamorous. I tried to settle this, but lawyers took the money and did nothing. They promised me a deal. (Judge McDonald made it clear in the transcript that there could be no promises.)

One statement came close to hitting the right tone: “Escaping is a never-ending sentence.” Unfortunately, that sentence includes the husband and family she deceived for so many years. Forthright acknowledgment of that inescapable fact would make it easier to give Sue LeFevre legal credit for turning her life around.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


In this article Goldberg exposes the lie that blacks were "infected" with syphilis for the Tuskegee experiment.

Of equal or greater importance, Goldberg provides the "big government-black complicity" context for this experiment that began in 1932 (the same year FDR's NEW DEAL was embraced by U.S. voters).

This penultimate paragraph is particularly significant:

"Liberals like to invoke Tuskegee as if it’s solely an indictment of what other people did, proof that we need more progressive government. But Tuskegee was in fact the poisoned fruit of progressive government."

Here's the link.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


It was gratifying to have George Will focus last week on statements by the late Sen. Daniel Moynihan that also appeared in my April 15 column about North County graduation rates. Moynihan’s comment about the correlation between the “parent-child ratio” and educational achievement was also illustrated by the America’s Promise Alliance study I cited—where divorce-averse Asian-Americans stand atop the educational heap

In that same column I mentioned schools of education as another intractable obstacle to pedagogical success. That observation leads to Dr. William Ayers, the former Weatherman radical whose views about American society are only slightly different from what they were when his colleagues and ex-terrorist wife, Northwestern Professor Bernadine Dohrn, were plotting to kill American soldiers and their dates at a Fort Dix dance or celebrating the Manson cult’s murder of Sharon Tate.

Ayers is not only a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, but also a man whose textbooks for teachers are among the most popular in schools of education. Moreover, this fellow who declared to the New York Times just prior to 9/11 that he was sorry he didn’t set off more bombs during his youth, was recently elected Vice-President for Curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association—the nation’s largest organization of education school professors and researchers.

Given such leadership, it’s no wonder that Hoover Fellow Thomas Sowell has advocated abolishing schools of education—institutions whose academic reputations are notorious for cookie-cutter curricula that are now laced with anti-American diatribes. The ideas inculcated in teachers and administrators by Ayers and his colleagues are primarily designed to further a political agenda—not to serve the educational needs of students for whom lessons centered on “social outrage” simply exacerbate their cultural alienation.

A teacher recently related to me some experiences in North County classrooms that reflect the Ayers Ed-school mentality and don’t bode well for future graduation rates. Among the problems noted were “gangsta” and ghoulish attire that coordinated well with a common (grade school) refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Classes largely populated with “recent immigrants” often shared this feeling that America was, for them, a foreign nation.

In another classroom Thanksgiving was a day to celebrate Native-American traditions and to mourn the atrocities wrought by the Pilgrims' descendants. Native-American or neo-pagan images also stood front and center during Earth Day penance sessions.

Add to these PC lesson plans various “Day of Silence” observations and state legislation (SB 777) that calls in question heterosexist “mom and dad” language, and it’s no wonder that many parents have given up on public school reform and turned to private or home schooling.

Then along comes a rogue state Appeals Court that says even homeschoolers must endure Ed School indoctrination. PC monopolies, you see, hate competition.

Friday, April 25, 2008


As expected, Ben Stein’s new documentary has been given a chilly reception by most reviewers—by folks inclined to sympathize with the moral stylings of Joy Behar and reluctant to express opinions at odds with gray eminences at The New York Times.

Outside of “the usual suspects” (like Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center) few have been willing to put their heads on the cultural chopping block for the sake of open dialogue about a scientific hypothesis called “Intelligent Design.” Instead, as the movie itself asserts, most commentators are content to reiterate the boilerplate descriptions typically employed whenever this topic is broached.

A San Diego radio newscaster, for example, pigeonholed the production as a “movie about religion.” In fact, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed isn’t a movie about religion. It’s a documentary that shows how academics and other cultural elites are blocking honest discussion of a theory that undercuts purely materialistic explanations of the origin of life.

A common tactic for stifling this debate is to repeat the lie that “intelligent design” is simply a stalking horse for “creationism.” Though the movie doesn’t provide a detailed discussion of ID, it does present enough superbly qualified and articulate advocates of the theory to demonstrate that its proponents aren’t, as advertised, slack-jawed Neanderthals in lab smocks.

The movie also highlights more aggressive tactics for enforcing Darwinist orthodoxy—denial of tenure, blackballing, the denial of grants, and refusing to publish the work of ID dissidents. Professor Guillermo Gonzalez, for example, an astronomer with a stellar publication record, was recently denied tenure at Iowa State University, apparently because of his association with ID theory. Similarly, at Baylor University, Engineering Professor Robert Marks II saw his school web site unplugged and grant money revoked when his work on information theory began interfacing productively with ID. These are only two of several examples presented in the film. Collectively, these cases expose a widespread effort to marginalize academics who raise questions about Darwinian theory and to ignore research that suggests what Sir Isaac Newton assumed—that an intelligent designer sustains the cosmos.

The intolerance suggested by these methods is also exhibited in the interviews Stein conducts with members of the science establishment. Among the words that spring to mind when viewing these exchanges are “pompous, dismissive of criticism,” and “small-minded.” One petty tyrant (who looked every bit the part) was perfectly pleased with the speculative theory that life emerged “on the backs of crystals.” Another critic with a noxious demeanor dismissed ID as incredibly “boring.” A third enforcer of orthodoxy pronounced confidently, and erroneously, that ID proponents had published no peer-reviewed work.

Philosophically speaking, the easiest way to enforce neo-Darwinian orthodoxy is to equate science and inquiry within a materialistic paradigm. Given this definition, any theory that strays beyond materialistic parameters is automatically labeled pseudo-science. These ground rules mean that empirically derived evidence of intelligent causation, no matter how compelling, must be ignored. As Stein’s interview with Richard Dawkins illustrates, it’s OK to speculate (as the late DNA researcher Francis Crick did) that life arose on earth due to seeds planted by space aliens, but scientists aren’t allowed to assert that a cell’s complex information codes point, more simply and broadly, to an intelligent cause. In other words, for the Darwinist establishment, all intelligent causes must have prior unintelligent causes if an explanation is to be considered “science.”

As a philosopher of science, Alfred North Whitehead, observed almost a century ago, this “fixed scientific cosmology” means that all ultimate explanations must be expressed in terms of “senseless, valueless, purposeless” material that is “spread throughout space in a flux of configurations.” Stein’s movie provides a perfect example of this nihilistic perspective in the person of Professor William Provine. Provine’s dogmatic on-screen pronouncements link his devotion to Darwinism to a deterministic creed that reduces moral propositions to meaningless chatter and human beings to insignificant chatterers. Curiously, the Professor persists in exhibiting moral and aesthetic preferences in which he exhibits a degree of pride—as if he had the freedom to accept inferior alternatives.

The most controversial aspect of Stein’s documentary is the way it links Darwinism and The Third Reich. Beyond discussing how Mein Kampf’s terminology and thought structures are deeply indebted to Darwin, Stein also makes visits to Hadamar (where Nazis exterminated thousands of mental “defectives”) and to Dachau (where other sub-Aryans met the same fate at the hands of individuals who embraced the pre-Nazi science of eugenics). Though many viewers will find this focus on a Darwin-Hitler axis objectionable, the clear links that do exist raise a monumental question that’s been studiously ignored by intellectuals who view Darwin as a savior from religion. That question goes as follows: If atheistic, materialistic, Darwinistic explanations permeate society, aren’t actions like those at Hadamar and Dachau made more philosophically plausible? Indeed, aren’t such actions what one should expect in a world where “will to power” and the “struggle for existence” are seen as “real” scientific explanations and “intelligence” is dismissed as a quaint epiphenomenon?

The primary image Stein employs to dramatize the expulsion of open inquiry from science is the Berlin Wall—a metaphor that combines authoritarianism, fear, dogmatism, and the suppression of human freedom. Expelled provides plenty of evidence to suggest that this image is more than a hyperbolic device to magnify a minor disciplinary quarrel. Indeed, the film offers sufficient reason to view The Wall as a grim historical preview of a world divested of moral import—a world where “intelligent” explanations are given no scientific credence.

In 1925, Alfred North Whitehead said that the prevailing materialistic outlook in science was “entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived.” Stein’s ID proponents would add to that assertion arguments taken from cell biology, astronomy, and information theory. More significantly, however, Stein’s film asserts (and Whitehead would probably agree) that scientific materialism is all too compatible with a vision of reality that embraces authoritarianism and eugenic extermination. The latter is clearly a compelling reason for tearing down the ugly wall that currently separates intelligence and science.