Thursday, December 24, 2009


I confess that I missed the Extra interview and the Inside Edition interview and any other interviews that might now have been given by Tiger Woods’ Escondido connection, Jaimee Grubbs—aka Mistress #2.

But having perused Ms. Grubbs’ comments on the Internet, I think they warrant enshrinement as a premier paradigm of the moral doublespeak that pervades our nation—thanks to four decades of intense Hollywood tutelage.

Not since skater Tonya Harding apologized for letting herself down after the Nancy Kerrigan knee-whacking has a putative expression of regret been so totally self-referential.

“I couldn’t describe how remorseful that I am to have hurt her family and her emotionally,” said Grubbs of Tiger’s wife—just before dishing dirt that even a VH1 Reality Show ditz would know was immensely painful for Woods’ spouse.

Of that “first kiss” the Extra interviewee gushed, “It was very gentle, very sweet. It wasn’t quick, but it wasn’t a makeout session or anything like that. It was very respectable.” I doubt that Elin Woods was comforted to know that her spouse was cheating on her “respectably.”

Ms. Grubbs was also eager to note that her twenty something meetings over a three-year period with another woman’s husband weren’t done “for superficial reasons.” On the contrary, this extended affair was performed for the most profound reasons—but reasons that fell short of discussing Tiger’s family or using the word “love.” Said Grubbs, “I didn’t let myself get that far”—and apparently neither did Mr. Woods.

Perhaps the most astounding observation made by the former cocktail waitress was this stunner: “If it wasn’t me, it was going to be other girls”—a line delivered before saying that she “did care about him” and that the affair wasn’t done “to purposely hurt” Tiger’s wife.

Such comments are breathtaking in their moral vacuity. The first statement transforms human moral agents into interchangeable droids for the purpose of self-justification. Put simply, if several folks are doing the wrong thing, it might as well be me!

The remark about not “purposely” hurting the wife only serves to put a happy face on utter self-absorption. Stated otherwise, “I guess if I were to think about it, I did feel guilty that he was spending his time with somebody that isn’t his wife.” The conclusion that #2 drew from this unpleasant correlation was obvious: “I never thought about it.”

Elsewhere Grubbs describes her relationship with Tiger as “sacred” and employs the words “respect” and “trust” to characterize their periodic trysts. “No part of the relationship,” she insists, “was fake.” Ah, yes—“genuine” adultery.

On the down side, Grubbs was quite upset to learn that she wasn’t Tiger’s only mistress: “Seeing that was devastating. It hurts.”

Tonya Harding in her 1994 apology said, “It will be difficult to forgive myself.” Somehow I don’t think Jaimee Grubbs will have a similar problem.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Last Tuesday’s North County Times editorial page featured a fortuitous pairing: Richard Cohen’s syndicated column about war deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and a local article praising secular humanism.

The latter piece suggested that secular humanists have no problem with Christmas—an odd assertion in view of aggressive, ongoing efforts by the ACLU and likeminded “humanists” to ban religious symbols from the public square. Indeed, in cities throughout the country battles are annually waged about the propriety of Christmas symbolism during the “holiday season.”

To give just one local example, “Christmas on the Prado” was changed in 2001 to “December Nights” in deference to folks who couldn’t tolerate using the word “Christmas” for an extended celebratory period in a public venue. Various retailers have also omitted the “offensive” word from their advertising in the name of “diversity.” (One might have thought that the addition of “Hanukkah” and other festivals to the decorative mix would represent diversity better than omitting “Christmas.”)

One school district (in Plano, Texas, of all places) went so far as to ban red and green decorative utensils and religion-themed gifts during its “Winter Break Party”—lest these tokens offend those “tolerant” folks whose offspring might be reminded of the “holy day” whose name dare not be mentioned.

The idea that this kind of widespread anti-religious activism has been consistent and ongoing since the fourteenth century, as the local column suggested, is strange—especially when applied to the U.S. Even the deist Thomas Jefferson, for example, regularly attended religious services in the Capitol building itself—services that continued to be held there until 1866.

Richard Cohen’s article doesn’t use the word “humanist” or “secular,” but he does ponder the implications of a society in which “Religion has lost (its) mystery,” and “Dying has become harder.” “We remain a religious nation,” Cohen says, “but not as we were in the Civil War, when the dying tried to take comfort from the certainty…that a better life awaited them.”

Putting a semi-happy face on this state of affairs—which contrasts sharply with the perspective of suicide bombers who embrace that other religion that must not be named—the columnist observes, “Maybe we have come to cherish life too much.”

Cohen has put his finger on the ethical and practical dilemma faced by those who insist that life is a bowl of self-actualizing cherries, that you only go around once, and that (in the words of an in-your-face Humanist Association “seasonal” ad) “No God, No Problem.”

Folks don’t seem to be willing to fight and die for subjective values posited by creatures that have evolved from random mutations lacking any transcendent purpose. Heck, as Western Europe’s dismal demography illustrates, they don’t seem committed enough to future generations to reproduce themselves.

Christmas, by contrast, is a child-focused holiday that affirms the joyous existence of “absolutes” worth both living by and dying for.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


The Devil’s Delusion, so says author David Berlinski, was a book written for those who feel that “the scientific community holds them in contempt.” This fall’s paperback edition would make a provocative stocking-stuffer for that snooty uncle who’s always touting the superiority of fact-based science to religious superstition.

Composed with characteristic panache, Berlinski’s intellectual exposé targets an audience with a fair degree of scientific and philosophical sophistication. Richard Dawkins, chief priest of the Church of Darwin and author of The God Delusion, comes in for the lion’s share of Berlinski’s fire. Sam Harris (The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation) and Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great) are among other atheistic oracles whose “scientific pretensions” are delightfully deconstructed by Berlinski’s wide scholarship and rapier wit.

For starters, Berlinski notes that atheism, far from being a philosophical conclusion supported by an impressive pyramid of scientific facts, is actually “an ideology with no truly distinct center and the fuzziest of boundaries.” Berlinski supports that assertion with a number of poignant philosophical and scientific observations. In the former case he shows that Aquinas’ arguments for God’s existence can’t be dismissed as cavalierly as they are by Richard Dawkins—with sophomoric protests about the creator’s creator. In the latter case Berlinski lays bare, with unflagging gusto, ad hoc scientific creations largely designed to circumvent inconvenient cosmic singularities, non-compliant fossil records, and head-spinning biological complexities that make a mockery of Darwin’s quaint conjecture that life might have arisen spontaneously in a “warm little pond.”

Berlinski claims that these scientific theories are motivated as much by a fervent desire to counter arguments for divine causation as they are by sober assessments of relevant data. In terms of logic and evidence, for example, it’s hardly less reasonable to posit an intelligent designer as the final cause for biological development, human complexity, and the universe’s finely tuned physical laws than it is to assert that a bubbly, creative, god-free “Landscape” exists somewhere beyond our own universe from which an infinite number of universes randomly emerge—each with its own idiosyncratic physical laws.

Ever the skeptic and seeker, Berlinski doesn’t commit himself to any particular conclusion in this God vs. Hyper-Nature argument—except to say that science most certainly has not demonstrated that religious explanations are false. Other negative conclusions embraced by the author are that biology has little, if any, idea how life actually began on earth and that the sciences can say nothing of interest about the human soul (i.e. human consciousness, moral and aesthetic sensibilities, aspirations, etc.).

Berlinski’s pen is sharpest when eviscerating preposterous statements promulgated by members of the atheist hierarchy. Responding to the “shockingly happy picture” that Steven Pinker sees painted by an increasingly secular twentieth century, Berlinski counters with a litany of “excess deaths” during that same hundred year period, a litany that includes two world wars, Mao’s and Stalin’s victims, Khmer Rouge brutalities, and dozens of miscellaneous killing fields—categories that collectively approach 200 million “excess deaths.”

Rather than validating Pinker’s rosy historical scenario, these appalling figures seem to confirm Ivan Karamazov’s assertion that if God does not exist, everything is permitted. They also make mincemeat of physicist Steven Weinberg’s warmly received declaration that it takes religion, and religion in particular, “for good people to do evil things.” Berlinski responds to this dogmatic assertion by noting that the Nazi soldier who forced an Hasidic Jew to dig his own grave did not appear phased by his victim’s final malediction, “God is watching what you are doing.” “As far as we can tell,” Berlinski writes, “very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing…. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.”

Berlinski’s tone and approach is generally more lighthearted—as it is when taking on scientists who essentially equate the mind with the brain. Berlinski notes wryly that the reduction of other people’s passions, dreams, and sacrifices to various chemical inter-actions isn’t an analytical approach employed by scientists when focusing on their own motivations. Thus, to Dean Hamer’s conjecture that God-beliefs are connected to certain brain chemicals Berlinski responds, “Why not (the) urine?” The author modestly refrains from linking Hamer’s own interest in genetics to correlative bodily secretions.

Throughout this intellectual and literary romp, Berlinski repeatedly observes that it isn’t compelling scientific data but rather an atheistic “faith” that stands behind the pretentious declarations put forward by Dawkins and his cohorts—a faith that’s blind to the horrors perpetrated by its political comrades and obsessively eager to link poisonous effects to “everything” religious (cf. Christopher Hitchens). At times, however, this naturalistic faith is honestly admitted, as it is with geneticist Richard Lewontin: “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories.” Lewontin explains in The New York Review of Books why this is so: “…we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Berlinski ends his work with an intriguing historical allegory that provides a mirror-image of the dilemma facing pensive church officials at the time of Galileo’s inquisition. Today’s steely Cardinal works within the Cathedral of science—and has done so for the last four hundred years. Yet the impressive edifice constructed by the faithful remains unfinished. Indeed, it seems destined to remain that way—its various sections aesthetically at odds with each other. Berlinski confesses that he has labored within this Cathedral his whole life, but “if science in the twentieth century has demonstrated anything, it is that there are limits to what we can know.”

In an earlier chapter, after lampooning a prominent physicist’s misbegotten foray into philosophical cosmology, Berlinski paraphrases a famous movie line spoken by Clint Eastwood: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” The modern Cathedral of science stands as a testament to that cinematic aphorism. It’s a state of affairs that suits Berlinski’s skeptical temperament as much as it rankles true believers from the church of scientific atheism.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


On October 11 Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill designating May 22 as Harvey Milk Day—the date on which California schools will be encouraged to perform “suitable commemorative exercises” based on the late San Francisco Supervisor’s life and contributions. That word “suitable” deserves close scrutiny.

What most Californians know about Harvey Milk is based overwhelmingly on the movie for which Sean Penn won an Academy Award. As is typically the case, Hollywood and reality have little in common.

“Metrosexual” British journalist Mark Simpson puts the disconnect this way: “the famously horny middle-aged sexual libertarian in 1970s Free Love San Francisco, who combined cruising and political campaigning—and had a taste for men half his age—is presented in ‘Milk’ as a serially monogamous chap looking for The One to make house with.”

Simpson’s witty observation is based largely on the respected Milk biography by the late gay activist, Randy Shilts. “The Mayor of Castro Street” provides a detailed portrait that’s far from the “pasteurized” Hollywood hagiography. Shilts not only recounts Milk’s fondness for boys as young as 16 but also the martyr’s radically non-monogamous views about sexuality:

"As homosexuals, we can't depend on the heterosexual model. We grow up with the heterosexual model, but we don't have to follow it. We should be developing our own lifestyle. There's no reason you can't love more than one person at a time."

Those words weren’t spoken by Milk during a pre-AIDS conference on gay culture. Rather, according to Shilts, they were directed toward a San Francisco lover while explaining the existence of another boyfriend in Los Angeles.

I can’t think of a “suitable” classroom commemoration for that bit of wisdom. A third grade reading of “Heather has Four Daddies” seems a stretch even for “progressive” Californians—especially in an era when inconvenient political truths are rigorously censored.

Fortunately, no one would know, based on Sean Penn’s Milk, that the slain Supervisor’s life was decidedly more risqué than the serial debauchery celebrated on CBS’s “Two and a Half Men.” Nor would they know that Milk was (in John Podhoretz’s reading of Shilts) an “aggressive, purposely offensive, press-savvy” fellow “who believed the cause of gay rights would be advanced if there were riots in the streets of San Francisco.”

Reality has long been packaged in Hollywood and swallowed by lazy consumers without the wit or backbone to investigate matters for themselves and to stand up for principles not embraced by Oprah Winfrey.

Harvey Milk Day has come to pass based on a Tinseltown deception—just as Americans’ views of JFK’s assassination have been largely shaped by Oliver Stone’s even more egregious cinematic fabrication.

Few are inclined to study (or even to ponder) the actual facts—including those from ancient Greece that give the lie to PC propaganda about homosexuality as a “purely” genetic predisposition akin to eye color.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Obama's Radical Rogues Gallery?
November 20, 2009
by Phyllis Schlafly

Another kooky Barack Obama appointee became publicly known this month and quickly was thrown or voluntarily threw herself under the bus. Anita Dunn, the White House communications director (who led Obama's war on Fox News), said that Mao Tse-tung was one of her two favorite "political philosophers" whom "I turn to most" for answers to important questions. History identifies Mao as a ruthless savage, not as a philosopher. He probably holds the record for ordering the mass murder of more people (50 to 100 million) than anyone else in history. Dunn tried to claim that her statement was a joke, but anyone can look at her actual statement on YouTube and see that she spoke in deadly earnest. Dunn was part of Obama's inner circle and a senior media adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Dunn's husband, Bob Bauer, an expert on campaign financing, fundraising, and voter mobilization, is Obama's personal lawyer. He has just been appointed White House Counsel where he will be in charge of vetting Obama's appointees. Obama's Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones, had to exit in disgrace after he admitted that "I was a Communist." We can thank Glenn Beck for exposing him.

See the entire rogue's gallary of Obama appointees at this link:

Friday, November 13, 2009


It is becoming increasingly clear that Anonymous has not read (and apparently does not intend to read) anything that David Berlinski has written. The book by Berlinski that prompted my original post focused on the "Scientific Pretentions" of "Atheism" as promulgated by individuals like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. The book is overwhelmingly one of philosophical analysis done at a reasonably popular (though fairly sophisticated) level--so that it corresponds roughly to the atheistic offerings of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Unlike these three participants in the debate over God's nonexistence, Berlinski actually has a Ph.D. in philosophy (from Columbia). Harris didn't have even an advanced degree in philosophy when he wrote the widely acclaimed The End of Faith. (I don't think he has had time to pursue further degrees amid the rush of publicity and good fortune that has subsequently been his.) Dawkins has no advanced training in philosophy (and apparently no particular inclination to seriously pursue philosophical issues, content as he is that his unscrutinized naturalism and Darwinianism constitute a basis for understanding as unassailable as the fundamental standards of Aristotelian logic). Hitchens is a journalist with a British education--not a philosopher. By the standards set up by Anonymous for scholarly debate, only Berlinski should be allowed to make comments on matters that are essentially philosophical. Thus, the books by Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens that transcend their areas of expertise, should have warning labels: "NOT A 'PROMINENT SCHOLAR' IN THIS FIELD." Curiously, there has been no popular demand for such a warning label when it comes to the promulgation of naturalism, scientism, and atheism.

The issues that Berlinski and his interlocutors address are not purely disciplinary issues. They concern philosophical issues that transcend the disciplines of physics and biology. Anonymous seems to be unaware of this fact or to believe that the philosophical presuppositions of a Dawkins are only challengable by those who work within a community that dogmatically embraces those assumptions and excludes from their disciplinary communion anyone who doesn't accept those presuppositions (e.g. Gonzales).

At least the "prominent" biologist Richard Lewontin was willing to engage in public intellectual discourse with a non-scientist with significant intellectual and scholarly credentials (Philip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial). The debate at SMU some years ago even got Lewontin to admit or to recognize the degree to which his philosophical presuppositions (naturalism and materialism) informed his 'scientific' analysis of data (an insight that should be familiar to anyone who has read and understood Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). Here are Lewontin's words, quoted The Devil's Delusion: "We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories...we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." Such honesty, as Berlinski notes, is refreshing.

Berlinski highlights in The Devil's Delusion the philosophical foibles of Dawkins and Harris. Berlinski is, after all, a philosopher and a polymath--whereas Harris is a callow Southern Californian (without a doctorate) whose forays into intellectual history and culture seem confined to information culled from articles that appear in the L.A. Times. Berlinski notes, devastatingly, how Harris succeeds in blaming the Jews themselves for the Holocaust--and dismisses (along with Christopher Hitchens) its secular roots. In this regard Harris echoes the sentiments of Hermann Goring and David Irving. (The link between Berlinski's book and the Holocaust becomes ever more relevant as "direct" links between Darwinism's social manifestations and Nazism are articulated and even echoed by Darwin's modern defenders. See From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, by Richard Weikart.)

Anonymous seems to assume that the philosophical and theological assertions of Dawkins et al. are products of their scientific specialities. Berlinski clearly shows, for those who care to read him, that this assumption is preposterous. The idea that Berlinski is a religious shill is simply an ad hominem argument that ignores the fact that Berlinski is a secular Jew, a "seeker" (in his own words), and even a critic of Intelligent Design. The fact that Berlinski criticizes scientific pretensions--along with everything else--is apparently too much for Anonymous, tied as he/she apparently is to the dogmas of secularism.

As for my presumed "religious" bias (Anonymous excels in ad hominem argument--in this case genetic ad hominem), anyone who actually READ my posts and columns over the last 15 years would know that I have never appealed to religious authority in ANY article. On the contrary, my perspective on things scientific and "divine" are primarily informed by and largely congruent with the writings of Alfred North Whitehead--whose book Science and the Modern World (written in 1925) still accurately denounces the materialistic dogmatism that permeates the scientific establishment. Here is the most succinct relevant comment in SMW for Anonymous--whose standards for authorized commentators should include Whitehead (as a seminal thinker in mathematics before he moved his intellectual focus to philosophy):

"There persists, however, throughout the whole period the fixed scientific cosmology which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread throughout space in a flux of configurations. In itself such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what it does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations, which do not spring from the nature of its being. It is this assumption that I call 'scientific materialism.' Also it is an assumption which I shall challenge as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived.... Thought is abstract; and the intolerant use of abstractions is the major vice of the intellect."

Berlinski exposes the intolerant use of abstractions by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and others (especially scientists who pretend that their disciplines reveal much much more than they do and have accomplished much much more than they actually have). I commend to Anonymous, and to anyone who wishes to question the philosophical pontifications of "scientists," Berlinski's devastating statistical response to Steven Pinker's philosophical (not scientific) declaration that science has created for the world a "shockingly happy picture." See Chapter 2, "Nights of Doubt," The Devil's Delusion.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Anonymous asks me to justify the use of the word “prominent” in describing David Berlinski’s scholarship. The term “prominent” covers a wide range of meaning from “noticeable” and “widely known” (which Berlinski is by virtue of his writings) to someone who is “favorably known” within a particular discipline (which Berlinski is not by reason of his dissent from regnant Darwinian Orthodoxy). I provide a list of books written by Berlinski along with his educational and professional background as evidence that Berlinski is qualified to make observations worthy of consideration—which is the point of presenting his material on my blog.

Anonymous then says I am using an illegitimate appeal to “authority” by responding to Anonymous’ own objection about Berlinski’s qualifications to participate in this discussion.

Oddly, Anonymous fails to provide his/her list of qualifications that qualifies him/her to sort out who can participate in the discussion of evolutionary theory. Heck, Anonymous fails to provide a name. Nevertheless, Anonymous suggests that I am not on an intellectual level that would permit me to post Berlinski’s criticism of Darwinism. Well, at least I have some graduate school and post-graduate background in the topic (which Anonymous is somehow aware of but, unsurprisingly, discounts). What I wish to know are the credentials that qualify Anonymous to fill the august role of Pontificator of Legitimate Evolutionary Discourse.

The “argument from authority” is Anonymous’ fallacy, not mine. I never said Berlinski is right or wrong because of his educational background. I ask folks to listen to his well-articulated and succinct statement of basic arguments—which are not unique to Berlinski. They concern the patently dishonest “evolutionary tree”--which any honest participant in the discussion knows is a fabrication that doesn’t remotely reflect the actual fossil record. These arguments also concern the statistical improbability of emergent life and macro-evolutionary changes, given the fundamental Darwinian belief in the random alignment of protein-chains within DNA. Berlinski adds that computer programs based on algorithms honestly consistent with evolutionary presuppositions produce nothing but gibberish.

Anyone familiar with the historical debate about Darwinism knows the degree of deception and intimidation that is employed by Darwinist Orthodoxy to squelch debate. (Cf. the ontology / phylogny hoax of E. H. Haeckel that continues to be found in biology textbooks; the denial of tenure to anyone outside the Orthodox Darwinian establishment, e.g. Guillermo Gonzales; the after-the-fact pulling of articles from prominent science publications if they are critical of Darwinian orthodoxy.)

Given that record of intimidation and dishonesty (a tradition with which Anonymous seems quite comfortable) it is entirely appropriate to note the obvious connection between Darwinian thought (which was “prominent” in Germany prior to Hitler) and the Holocaust that directly affected Berlinski’s extended family—a “link” that may help explain his courage in speaking out in the face of "academic" intimidation.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

David Berlinski: The Devil's Delusion & The Deniable Darwin

Here is a succinct (but detailed and precise) summary of the fatal flaws of Darwinian evolution, presented by a prominent scholar and critic of the theory. Berlinski, it should be noted, is a (self-described) secular Jew--not a "religious partisan."

Here is a link to a article published in 1996 in Commentary Magazine and included in the recently released anthology of essays: THE DENIABLE DARWIN. The last section, "On the Derivation of Ulysses from Don Quixote," is priceless--a literary tour de force.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


“What are they so upset about? What’s wrong with these folks?” That’s the typical news spin put on the Tea Parties that sprang up across the country this spring—climaxing in the huge September 12, Washington D.C. march that was undercovered and diminished by the mainstream media.

The North County Times has provided prominent coverage of specific local events, but the paper’s natural reliance on AP for national news means that folks who don’t follow talk radio or Fox News probably don’t have a clue about much of the hostility directed toward the Obama Administration.

Case in point: The Oceanside rally on September 3 had several signs denouncing former Green Jobs “Czar” Van Jones, but most of the paper’s readers, thanks to AP, would have to faithfully scan the Letters Page to obtain any detailed information about this “special advisor” to the President.

For those still in the dark, Jones’ radical background included a stint in the early 90s with a Bay-area Maoist group called STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement). His more recent rhetoric is available on Internet videos and clearly displays a political persona that blends racial animosity, green rhetoric, and statist (arguably Marxist) objectives.

That image isn’t part of the initial biographical overview on Wikipedia, which has been scrubbed to give the impression of an idea-rich activist instead of a “Truther” whose name was number 46 on a petition that clearly implied the Bush Administration was behind the 9/11 attacks. Jones’ convenient claim that he didn’t know what he was signing should be viewed alongside this pre-czar remark: “I am willing to forego the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of the radical ends.”

Now comes White House Communications Director Anita Dunn with a stunning reference to one of her “favorite political philosophers,” Chairman Mao—in a high school graduation address no less. There’s a good chance that most of the public knows nothing about this revelatory blunder, thanks to the mainstream media.

Granted that Dunn’s appreciative citation of the world’s most prolific mass murderer is more a vestige of dilettantish campus socialism than of conviction, it’s still a matter that deserves wide dissemination—especially in an administration whose Commander in Chief chummed around with former Weatherman Bill Ayers, sat in a pew for two decades absorbing Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America” invectives, and had significant ties to an organization called ACORN.

It’s likely that those angry folks carrying signs at Tea Parties know a good deal more about these and other troubling stories than individuals who rely on the mainstream media for their news. What’s even more troubling, however, is the attempt of Obama (and many of his Letters-page fans) to marginalize or silence critics like Fox News, Glenn Beck, and Michelle Malkin—sources whose importance is magnified precisely because most mainstream journalists are little more than administration lap-dogs.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Almost two years ago to the day my column in the North County Times asked whether a Montebello schoolteacher named John Monti was being “Nifonged” by then San Diego City Attorney, Mike Aguirre.

“Nifonged” is the verb coined to describe the prosecution of an innocent individual for political purposes—as the North Carolina D.A., Mike Nifong, did to three Duke lacrosse players. Nifong’s brazen misconduct not only cost him his job, it also cost him his law license. Aguirre is now out of office but only because he was defeated at the polls last November.

A jury acquitted Monti in September of 2007 of the assault charges brought against him—a prosecution whose motivation seemed designed to punish Monti for attempting to expose the underage sex-trafficking he believes occurs in illegal migrant camps like those in Rancho Penasquitos’ McGonigle Canyon.

At least four 9-1-1 calls identified Monti as the victim, not the perpetrator, of an assault at Highway 56 and Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard where he was taking pictures of laborers. Those lost, suppressed, or ignored calls made on November 18, 2006, did not deter Aguirre’s team—whose case against Monti was in no small measure organized by the Executive Director of California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Claudia Smith.

Smith apparently spoke with migrants after the initial police investigation and discovered the laborer (a previously deported felon) whose arm was allegedly injured by Monti. According to a sworn statement by private investigator Robert Harris, Smith also interfered with his subpoena service of laborers who were being summoned to testify on Monti’s behalf. Harris said that Smith apparently called in a false police report in which she said he had threatened workers with a gun—a report the San Diego Police couldn’t subsequently locate.

Monti’s legal problems didn’t end with his acquittal. A civil suit was brought against Fox News and Monti on behalf of the migrants whose reputations and job prospects had been damaged by the network’s “Manhunt on the Border” story--a piece that featured Monti’s pictures of men that had allegedly attacked him.

The defamation suit against Monti and Fox was recently dismissed by the California Supreme Court, upholding a prior Appeals Court ruling. But the question remains why Monti, and not his apparent attackers, was targeted for prosecution by Aguirre and SDPD.

Aguirre’s political connections might account for some of the “inverted justice” aspect of this case, but a good deal of malfeasance appears to lie with SDPD. The most benign explanation of this misconduct is that SDPD doesn’t want to be bothered with illegal immigration issues. One can also imagine more sinister motivations for ignored 9-1-1 calls and what appears to be activist-inspired reshaping of reports and testimony.

Such actions were indispensable to putting on trial a bilingual elementary school teacher whose Colombian wife and in-laws speak the same language as many of his students--some of whom (Monti told me) possess intimate knowledge of cross-border sex-trafficking.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Plans for President Obama’s nationally televised back-to-school speech had local superintendents and board members scrambling to come up with various opt-out compromises that might satisfy parents who feared the worst.

After the speech, however, there’s been a lot of back-pedaling by school officials who found the address innocuous and heavy on personal responsibility. Several Letters to the Editor have ridiculed these officials for needlessly politicizing an uplifting event about which only deranged conservatives could have qualms.

This finger-wagging indignation might be tempered if one conducted a thought experiment and asked what these lefties would have done had George Bush made a similar address. My experience-based opinion is that the President’s opponents would have to be scraped off the ceiling.

I say experienced-based not only because of the hate that was constantly directed toward the former president (without media concern) but also because George Bush did, in fact, make an address to school children—George H. W. Bush, that is.

The after-speech response to Papa Bush’s less-ballyhooed talk in 1991 included denunciations by the National Education Association and an investigation of the speech’s production costs. Indeed, the Democrat Congress summoned top administration officials to defend this supposedly outrageous use of 26,000 government dollars.

I was teaching high school in 1991 and can safely say that the President’s speech was on none of our curricular agendas. And I seriously doubt that the White House mailed lesson plans for teachers in conjunction with this lightly-covered address.

By contrast, it should be remembered that the tripwire for the Obama controversy was the politically charged “lesson plans” created by the Department of Education. It asked young children to “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president”—a directive omitted after the uproar it precipitated.

Revised lesson plans still contained questions like these: “What do you think the President wants us to do? Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?” and “Is President Obama inspiring you to do anything?”

One commentator recently opined that teachers are fair-minded folk who don’t inject their own politics into the classroom. Anyone who believes that assertion should be confined to a home for the criminally naïve—or sentenced to attend an NEA convention.

Schools have been politicized for decades and are full of passionate leftists eager to indoctrinate youngsters on everything from global warming to the evils of capitalism. A recent example is the infamous Youtube video of New Jersey elementary students learning to praise Barack Hussein Obama: “He said that all must lend a hand, to make this country strong again…Barack Hussein Obama. He said we must be fair today, equal work means equal pay…Barack Hussein Obama.”

The song goes on, as does the cult of personality that surrounds this President—a Dear Leader mentality deeply embedded in government lesson plans and in Obama’s staunch NEA supporters.

Note to local school officials: Stop back-pedaling!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Walt Whitman described his poetic musings as a “barbaric yawp.” The phrase more accurately describes the character of collective democratic discourse.

When three thousand citizens come together to demonstrate their unhappiness—as happened at Oceanside’s amphitheater on Thursday before Labor Day weekend—you can bet that the ideas expressed won’t be nuanced. Detailed arguments don’t fit on a poster.

“Don’t Tread On Me” was typical of democracy’s revolutionary voice. At Oceanside, “Give Me Liberty, Not Debt” was the prevalent theme amid a group energized to oppose what they see as an unprecedented and dangerous expansion of government power.

In any sizeable group some comments will test the boundaries of respectability. But the idea that the word “socialism” somehow crosses that boundary is risible. After all, those European parties most in tune with the Democrats now in power in Washington explicitly call themselves “socialist.” (Nuance alert: Socialism and communism are not exactly the same thing.)

Words such as “traitor” and “psycho” weren’t prevalent at the rally, but they were present—and, of course, they were picked up by media cameras eager to focus on what was most provocative among people who have been slimed as brown-shirts by no less than the Democrat Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Indeed, a major reason for the collective yawp that took place at Oceanside a few weeks ago (and more impressively at the huge, underreported rally in Washington D.C. nine days later) is the double standard that mainstream media regularly apply to gatherings of this sort. The vile and hate-filled epithets regularly hurled at former President George W. Bush, for example, were seldom, if ever, reported as signs of left-wing derangement or neo-fascist thuggery.

Even when some agitators suggested that a Bush assassination would be nice, the mainstream media response was essentially “ho-hum.” The protests, they implied, only highlighted flaws in the President and his policies. How things change when the presidential shoe is on the other foot and protestors themselves become problems to be vilified as racists or (as with Cindy Sheehan at Martha’s Vineyard) ignored.

By most group standards, tea-party demonstrations have been rather civil—as one might expect from a largely conservative group. The protestors decry a government that appears intent on using last year’s financial crisis as a pretext for socializing as much of the economy as possible. They are frightened at the prospect of trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. They are dumbfounded that a nut-job racist like Van Jones (who believed 9/11 might be a Bush-inspired plot) could be made a Presidential Czar—and could resign without significant comment by the mainstream media.

They are upset that news reports uncritically parrot the preposterous administration claim that a “stimulus” package (that’s hardly been spent) has “saved or created” a million jobs.

Then they see President Obama siding with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro against the democratic nation of Honduras and know something is desperately wrong.

Therefore, yawp!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Was it an imbroglio, a kerfuffle, or an assault? And if the latter, who was assaulted? Was the hostess of Francine Busby’s Encinitas rally assaulted by a rogue policeman or was the officer assaulted by a gaggle of Busby supporters who were mightily offended at having standard police procedures applied to their better-than-thou coastal selves?

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis decided that discretion was the better part of law enforcement in this case and declined to prosecute anyone. Nevertheless, the D.A.’s statement isn’t exactly an exercise in agnosticism. Indeed, Dumanis observed that a “review of the evidence indicates there has been a misdemeanor violation of the law by both Ms. Barman and Ms. Morgan” who “delayed and obstructed the officer while he was performing his duties.”

The decision not to prosecute, in other words, was based on the prudential calculation that “conflicting accounts” made a conviction doubtful. I’m sure the desire to have a relatively minor but politically-charged case in the rear view mirror also weighed heavily on Dumanis’s decision.

If I had to make a bet on what actually happened that night, my money would go with the testimony of the mental health professional who was on a ride-along with Deputy Abbott and was, according to Dumanis’s report, “shoved, elbowed and kicked” during the incident.

Another bet is that Busby’s upscale supporters possess a similar view of law- enforcement-applied-to-them as was on display in the recent case of Professor Henry Gates. The Harvard Prof apparently went ballistic when he was interrogated by Cambridge police officer James Crowley about a possible break-in at his own residence. A telling line in the police report has Gates indignantly yelling, “You don’t know who you’re messing with.”

A couple of years ago San Diego Congressman Bob Filner exhibited this same entitlement mentality when he disregarded airport regulations and dissed a “lowly” airport baggage worker at Dulles Airport in Washington. The one nice thing about the Filner fracas was that the very important Congressman eventually pled “sort of guilty” (via a “no contest” Alford Plea) to the reduced trespassing charges that were brought against him.

More importantly, and as part of the terms of his plea, Filner issued this apology in a written statement released after his hearing: “I want to say that I’m sorry. In particular, I would like to apologize to people at the baggage counter. I overreacted, I behaved discourteously and I shouldn’t have.”

Based on available evidence, I suspect the officer at Busby’s rally regrets reaching out to take the arm of an uncooperative hostess. Whether that action was prudent or justified, under the circumstances, is under departmental review.

What clearly seems in order, however, is a Filner-like letter of apology directed to Officer Abbott by those Busby supporters who felt entitled to diss and assault him. That letter, absent a court order, is as unlikely as a mea culpa from the Harvard Prof who treated a distinguished Cambridge police officer like dirt.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Last month I highlighted a speech by NEA chief counsel Bob Chanin to the union’s national convention in San Diego—an invective-laced stem-winder that could be summarized as follows: What’s good for the union is good for public education.

There was no evidence presented that corroborated this self-serving assertion, but the idea obviously had a receptive audience—including officials of the Vista Teachers Association who seem to have the local school board on a short leash.

That muscle was on display last spring when a cost-saving vote to do away with Class-Size Reduction was immediately followed by a flurry of union-inspired actions that resulted in an apparently illegal meeting of three union-responsive board members (Herrera, Chunka, and Jaka) in the wee hours of the morning—and a two-step reversal of the CSR vote that included a “decent interval” to remedy any violation of the Brown Act.

Another example of union muscle is the money and effort that goes into the district’s school board elections—clout whose real dollar-value is obscured by an organizational machine that’s deft at minimizing its electoral footprints.

Also telling is the salary paid by the district to the President of Vista’s Teachers Association—not for teaching but for doing union business. Indeed, based on records available to the public, the VTA President has received some $200,000 over the last six years for which the district hasn’t been reimbursed.

As Mrs. Jill Parvin noted in an August 6 presentation before the board, this union subsidy is occurring “at a time when the district has to lay off teachers and is having to ask parents to raise money for basic classroom supplies and activities.”

Indeed, it seems that this $30,000-plus per annum gift to the VTA President is not just improper but also illegal—at least based on a plausible interpretation of California government code 8314 and penal code 424. But don’t look for a board whose majority had campaigns overwhelmingly managed by the VTA to promptly and meticulously scrutinize this legal issue.

Rather, board members whose elections were more than greased by the VTA have every reason to adopt a lenient interpretation of relevant codes and to agree that, in the final analysis, what’s good for the union is good for pupils in the Vista Unified School District.

In 1985, the long-time President of the American Federation of Teachers, Al Shanker, made this statement: “When school children start paying union dues, that 's when I'll start representing the interests of school children.” It was a rare moment of candor on the topic—not the kind of comment that would pass the lips of a hardboiled institutional flack like Bob Chanin.

For those who compare achievement data with union salaries and growing Sacramento-bound union dues (over $950 a year for full-time teachers), it’s hard to deny that unions are doing much better than the pupils whose interests they purport to serve--by serving themselves.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Solutions to California’s budget woes frequently echo the type of wishful thinking displayed by President Obama last month when he responded to a question about what Americans would have to give up for government-managed health care.

The President observed that Americans would have to “give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier”—then provided a simplistic example that assumed his audience was largely composed of Sesame Street viewers.

“If there's a blue pill and a red pill and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that's going to make you well?”

Adults listening to this response might have asked why, if matters are really that simple, a thousand pages of unscrutinized laws need to be rushed through Congress--laws that radically rearrange America’s health system but sidestep significant changes when it comes to tort reform and malpractice insurance.

(The answer to the latter query is that Democrats are in the hip pocket of trial lawyers who give generously to party candidates.)

Adults might also have pondered the dismal fiscal scenarios facing various state-sponsored health-care programs or asked about the June 16 CBO estimate that a Senate version of Obama-care would cost 1.6 trillion dollars over ten years.

Like the President, many Californians seem to have a tenuous grasp on fiscal reality and regularly vote for more government spending to be paid for by “special interests,” by no one in particular, or by funds dedicated to that non-existent budgetary line: Waste, Fraud, Abuse.

Last November’s vote for a ten- to twenty-billion dollar high-speed rail program (in the midst of a massive budget crisis) is the best example of wishful thinking. The legislature’s unwillingness to expand oil leases off the state’s coast ranks second on the unreality list.

Other California dreamers would like to shrink the deficit by putting a liquor-size tax on the legal production of medical marijuana—a change that would reportedly raise over a billion dollars. It would also, of course, contradict the notion that “medical marijuana” is primarily about medicine—since legal grass would be put in the same category as a “hard recreational beverage.”

The next logical step would be a push for the legalization and taxation of weed—naturally for the sake of the state’s economy. Indeed, according to a July 19 Associated Press article in the North County Times, marijuana (legal and illegal) is the multi-billion dollar crop that’s keeping many Northern California counties (and thousands of giddy Californians) afloat.

Wishful adolescent thinking touts cheap blue pills, pricey red pills, ubiquitous green jobs, debt-free bonds, silver “doobie” bullets, and Big-Spin lotteries that pay for schools. Adults ask what things really cost, where substantial savings can be achieved, and what production–based revenues can be generated.

But just as Obama won’t offend trial lawyers, so California’s legislature won’t require significant concessions from the government employee unions that rule Sacramento.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


It’s not the kind of news AP generally cares to print—and I found no local reportage on the story. I refer to a speech given by the National Education Association’s retiring General Counsel Bob Chanin at the group’s convention in San Diego during the long Fourth of July weekend. The entire presentation is on YouTube. I provide a few salient snippets below:

About the NEA’s effectiveness as an advocate, Chanin said, “It is not because of our creative ideas, it is not because of the merit of our positions, it is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power and we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.” (Standing ovation)

Concerning student achievement, dropout rates, and teacher quality, Chanin observed, “These are the goals that guide the work we do, but they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay.”

Reemphasizing his union-centered theme, Chanin had this to say: “When all is said and done NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members. If we do that and if we do it well, the rest will fall into place. NEA and its affiliates will remain powerful and that power will in turn enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child.”

Chanin’s rhetorical coup de grace was this bit of gutterly eloquence: "Why are these conservative and right-wing bastards picking on NEA and its affiliates? … It is the price we pay for success. NEA and its affiliates have been singled out because they are the most effective unions in the United States, and they are the nation’s leading advocates for public education and the type of liberal social and economic agenda that these groups find unacceptable.”

Chanin can at least be credited with honesty, if not civility. Note, however, the absurd invisible hand he assumes will work to the benefit of students once union demands have been satisfied—a benefits-results correlation that’s clearly nonexistent, as the late Senator Patrick Moynihan observed.

Anyone who isn’t blinded by self-interest can see that the “successful” unionization and politicization of teachers over the last forty years has been paired with a general decline in public education that’s often been catastrophic.

By the way, NEA and CTA dues will be increasing this fall--despite the recession.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


“Legoland cancels tribute to Jackson.” That’s a local headline that catches the eye.

According to this July 3 North County Times story, the Carlsbad amusement park was planning to install “a 4-inch-tall model of the ‘King of Pop’ in the park’s popular Miniland Southern California attraction” but pulled the pint-sized plug on the project because of “unresolved legal issues.” The article also noted that members with annual passes had been consulted about the proposal and were “sharply divided” in their opinions. What a shock.

The thought was to install a tiny Michael exiting a limousine by Miniland’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Diminutive paparazzi and fans, desperate to get peek of Lego-Jacko, would add to the display’s charm and verisimilitude.

Assuming that troublesome “legal issues” are resolved, here are some additional suggestions the park’s creative team might consider:

Construct an entire Miniland suburb devoted to various periods in MJ’s career. One spot could focus on little Michael and the Jackson Five. Then there would be a patch of land dedicated to the entertainer’s distinctive crotch-grabbing choreography—a position more easily Legoized than an animated Moonwalk.

A third bit of soil could provide mini-portraits of Jackson’s surgical reincarnations—perhaps with a hands-on mix-and-match computer where young patrons are given the opportunity to create their own favorite look from various facial components and tints.

Of course no tribute to Michael would be complete without a Neverland presentation that includes a scene where the Gloved One is engaging in an activity he repeatedly said was perfectly ok in an interview with Martin Bashir—sharing his bed with a child.

Another Wacko-Jacko section could portray the King of Pop in court in jammies, MJ with his surrogate breeders and motherless kids, MJ dangling his infant child over a balcony rail, and Michael paying several million Lego-dollars to an abuse accuser who never went to court. That set of visuals should attract a lot of attention from inquiring tiny-tot minds.

Obviously these “suggestions” take the recent idol-worshiping coverage of Jackson to its morally absurd conclusion. But given the debased “Family Guy” and “Two and a Half Men” fare that appears daily on the boob tube, the aforementioned “pushing the envelope” scenarios might not be so far-fetched.

Admittedly, Jackson was dealt a bad hand with a professionalized childhood engineered by an overbearing father. But on the other side of this lottery-of-life coin, Michael had talent and wealth that’s granted to precious few. To honor even a four-inch MJ in a park for kids puts a tacit seal of approval on the whole tawdry package.

The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once said, “Moral education is impossible without the habitual vision of greatness.” In recent decades visions of moral greatness have seldom been emphasized by popular media that routinely prostitute themselves for the sake of money and celebrity. A theme park dedicated to the dreams of kids should set a higher standard.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Paul Begala is having a grand time celebrating the infidelities of Nevada Senator John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Both Republicans resigned party posts after their extra-marital affairs were exposed, and both know their futures within the party are greatly diminished or nonexistent.

Fortunately for Democrats, cheating entails no comparable sanctions on their side of the aisle. Consider Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In 2007 his relationship with a Telemundo reporter coincided with the breakup of his twenty-year marriage. This breach of fidelity was apparently one of many—the most egregious being a shades-of-John Edwards affair that occurred in 1994 while his wife was receiving treatment for thyroid cancer. That dubious fidelity resume, however, didn’t prevent “his honor” from being easily re-elected earlier this year. Further north, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s affair with his campaign manager’s wife in 2007 stunningly combined adultery and personal betrayal—all without losing his job, foiling a same-year re-election bid (73%), or derailing gubernatorial ambitions for 2010.

Returning to the Republican side, in 2006 the overtures of Mark Foley toward a 16-year-old male page not only prompted the Congressman’s resignation but also became a cause celebre for institutional change. By contrast, an actual “tryst” in 1973 between Congressman Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) and a 17-year-old male page resulted, ten years later, in a motion of censure that was scorned not only by Studds but also his New England constituents—who proudly returned the page-bopper to Congress for another fourteen years.

One can continue with these contrasts ad nauseam. GOP Speaker-to-be Bob Livingston resigned from Congress because of extra-marital affairs, whereas Barney Frank’s cozy domestic, ticket-fixing relationship with a male prostitute was flushed down the media’s memory hole. Former Senator Larry Craig’s feet-shuffling antics in an airport stall transformed him into an ongoing late-night joke and political pariah, but Ted Kennedy’s deadly dalliance at Chappaquiddick served only to postpone his race for the White House till 1980 and didn’t prevent the morally-challenged legatee from attaining his “Lion of the Senate” moniker.

Most famously, Bill Clinton was sexually serviced in the White House by a young intern-turned-employee and lied about it under oath. Yet he’s revered in MSM circles. “On the other hand” (a la Obama’s absurd Cairo comparison), the honest and articulate Bill Bennett was widely vilified for engaging in the perfectly legal activity of gambling, an arguable vice never explicitly discussed in the former Education Secretary’s popular Book of Virtues.

The justification for this selective indignation, as Begala asserts in his largely partisan rant, is that Republicans claim to have “cornered the market on morality.” Consequently, they show themselves to be hypocrites when moral imperfections are exposed. Here are Begala’s exact words:

“For decades Republicans have sanctimoniously lectured the rest of us—that they’re better husbands, better Christians, better fathers, better wives, better patriots.”

The rhetorical sleight of hand in this apologia for vice is equating the promotion of high moral standards with personal preening. Begala assumes, in other words, that “lecturing” about morality amounts to patting oneself on the back for moral superiority. Accordingly, anyone who embraces the ideal of chastity is simultaneously saying, “Look at me. I’m always chaste and faithful to my spouse.”

The other side of this semantic equation is left blank—for obvious reasons. After all, if defending virtue is the same as saying, “I am virtuous,” then silence on the topic should be a tacit admission of corruption. Not surprisingly, Begala doesn’t follow this train of thought. Instead, he suggests that his party’s reticence to “lecture” about personal morality should be interpreted as a badge of humility. (In times past such reticence would be seen as a mark of cowardice or indifference.)

The practical effect of these new ground rules is that individuals who proclaim substantive moral ideals transform themselves into targets for public abuse—for being “hypocrites.” Meanwhile, individuals who forswear “lectures” are given moral indulgences and are praised for humility. This logic—promoted vigorously by media folk who profit from peddling decadence—explains why advocates for personal responsibility (like Dr. Laura) regularly receive more public grief than the likes of Howard Stern.

For those who adopt this way of thinking, the only personal moral duty a society must promote is the minimalist obligation to do no harm. (In the not-so-original words of Sam Donaldson, “My right to swing my fist ends at your nose.”) In place of “lectures” about chastity, modesty, caring for one’s family, and marrying the mother of one’s children, Begalians substitute insufferably arrogant and theoretically dubious sermons about global warming and gay marriage. Simultaneously they vilify as “hypocritical” any non-perfect promoter of traditional virtues.

The redefinition of the word “hypocrite” has been critical to this new approach to moral discourse. Linguistically, the term refers to persons who “pretend” to be better than they really are. It doesn’t apply to individuals who admit their faults. Today, however, the term no longer denotes deception or “wearing a mask.” Instead, it’s employed whenever someone doesn’t live up to standards he or she publicly endorses.

By this linguistic legerdemain all morally serious persons—those whose ideals exceed their grasp—are happily condemned as “hypocrites” by Sex and the City aficionados who don’t fancy living in a world where high standards of personal propriety are constantly reiterated. On the other side of this newly minted rhetorical coin, even moral zeroes can be called “honest” or “true to themselves” or (in Begala-la-la-land) “humble”—just as long as they keep their mouths shut.

These rules are obviously slanted in favor of creeps who would like social standards for personal behavior to be set as low as possible. Put succinctly, in Begala’s world the higher the moral standards endorsed, the greater the hypocrisy--the less any personal standards are promoted, the greater the humility. It’s an adolescent’s dream world where non-judgmentalism and silence are prized uber alles and where the old aphorism, “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice gives to virtue,” has become a subversive thought.

That long-forgotten cliché was employed in a society where a reputation for virtue was actually an advantage—even for rogues. In our post-modern world where scandal is often the ticket to wealth and fame, what is “valued” most highly is congruence between one’s stated values and one’s actions—especially if one’s values are of the “flexible” variety. This construct (for which we can thank the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, d. 1980) was the intellectual justification for transforming hypocrisy from a “tribute to virtue” to the one and only deadly sin of an otherwise morality-free philosophy. Only in a world without objective moral standards could someone who consistently fails to clear a moral bar set at 7 feet be considered a “hypocrite” and inferior to a lout who places the moral bar flat on the ground and then steps triumphantly over it.

The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said, “Moral education is impossible without the habitual vision of greatness.” This “vision of greatness” clearly includes “lectures” about virtues that need to be exemplified as widely as possible throughout an always imperfect society. Even Mr. Begala can relate to this principle—provided it’s linked to cases that resonate in the “left hemisphere” of his brain. It is important, for example, for individuals to exhibit and promote unprejudiced speech and deportment, regardless of latent ethnic or racial stereotypes. Similarly, an addict who’s struggling to overcome dependence on drugs isn’t a “hypocrite” for warning teenagers about the torments he’s undergoing. The same principle applies, extraordinarily enough, for people who tout personal virtues like fidelity and temperance. It’s important to trumpet these virtues precisely because all of us are imperfect and need to have an exalted moral vision habitually placed before us—by persons from both sides of the political aisles.

I suspect that Mr. Begala is as oblivious to these philosophical and linguistic points as he is to the demoralizing consequences of a “shut your mouth” approach to moral discourse. I continue to hope, however, that somewhere in the recesses of his soul, a small, barely perceptible but persistent voice will whisper this revised aphorism: “Crying hypocrisy—that’s the tribute faux virtue gives to vice.”

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Here is an IBD article by a Canadian on that nation's much-ballyhooed and little-publicized socialized health care system--a deadly model of rationed and delayed care that even seeks to control the number of babies delivered by hospital!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Three anecdotes come to mind when I consider the hysteria that greets any cost-cutting proposal for California’s 20-billion-plus budget deficit.

The first is a classroom comment made decades ago by a naïve seminary student who’d obviously never paid a water bill in his life. The young man opined that various public services should be provided at no cost—just like water is.

The second was an observation made by a putative adult who declared that people should not have to pay for health care. Rather, she said, the government should pay.

Anecdote number three concerns a recent trip to the United States post office adjacent Ocean’s Eleven Casino in Oceanside. I was seventh in line upon entering the queue. Three employees stood behind the counter. Fifteen minutes later I was addressing the only one who’d been slowly serving a line that was now twice as long and stretched into the next room.

For a minute or two astonished patrons stood opposite three “next window please” signs, with no active server at all—perhaps victims of an ingenious Candid Camera ruse where employees busy themselves in position, raise hopes, then walk away.

These incidents dovetail nicely with California’s budget debacle. A substantial portion of the state’s population have been trained to expect services for which no one has to foot the bill—or for which “big oil” serves as the goose that can simultaneously be cooked and periodically utilized for golden egg production.

The result of such magical thinking (as a trip to California’s DMV makes clear) is a situation where results and revenues can’t possibly match expectations. This is especially true when one throws into the mix the clout of public employee unions whose pensions have done for state and local budgets what UAW contracts did for GM.

This something-for-nothing mania has fed the regular expectation that Washington or corporate villains or Sacramento will pay for things that cost “us” nothing—as if government “for the people” isn’t also a government that’s paid for “by the people.”

Indicative of the sad state of the state is an ingenious proposal to pay parents to look after their own kids—an idea that theoretically saves money on CalWorks recipients who receive education assistance and also get their child care expenses subsidized.

When government is in the business of paying parents to look after their own kids, something has gone desperately wrong. How far off course things are can be gauged by the strange sound of this Grover Cleveland quotation: “It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government. It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.”

Today, by contrast, it’s “cash for clunkers” and bailouts for bad mortgages. Locals take from Sacramento. The state returns the favor.

Under this system “free medical care” will doubtless operate like Oceanside’s I-5 post office—with Sacramento and Washington balance sheets.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A letter writer to the North County Times recently complained because I noted in a column that “Obama’s minions” are intent on undoing conservative talk radio. The objector, who claimed that no facts supported my assertion, is doubtless dependent on the MSM for his view of things and oblivious to the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as Senators Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Dianne Feinstein have all expressed support for the absurdly labeled “Fairness Doctrine.” And that’s only the short list.

Of course the anti-democratic elites who now govern America are clever enough to disguise their latest assault on free speech in the language of “diversity” and “localism.” The document that serves as the intellectual pretext for this new dose of liberal fascism was written in June, 2007, by a gaggle of “Progressives” at the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress. Its title: “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.”

The problem, it seems, is not that listeners simply prefer Rush and Hannity to Al Franken, Air America, and NPR. Nor is it that Americans get their fill of leftist rhetoric from Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and “Law and Order” reruns. No, the problem “is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly …the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.”

“Structural problems” is bureaucratese for “the way things are now,” while “public interest requirements” and “local participation” refer to government controls and oversight powers given to leftist activists. (Think ACORN and El Grupo.)

If “Obama’s minions” get their way, the composition of newly envisioned “local diversity boards” will doubtless resemble the makeup of a recently appointed FCC “Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age”—a group chaired by a liberal activist and filled with MSM types, politically active minority groups, and representatives of leftist organizations.

Skeptics should note that then Senator Barack Obama signed on to this covert speech-muzzling strategy in September, 2007, when he endorsed “new rules promoting coverage of local issues” as well as “greater FCC scrutiny” and more frequent public input “to ensure that broadcasters are complying with their public interest obligations.”

No wonder dozens of talk radio hosts met in Washington in late April to discuss this impending assault on free speech. San Diego’s Roger Hedgecock was elected chairman of a new foundation whose slogan is “Don’t touch my dial.”

Perhaps as a preemptive move to head off this backdoor censorship, Salem affiliate KCBQ recently reinstated a hometown broadcaster to its morning lineup—Mark Larson. That strategy might be effective if the ideologues currently crying “localism” really meant what they say. (Consider, however, candidate Obama’s broken pledge to use public financing.) The real problem is that leftists loathe popular dissent and will do whatever they can to stifle it—as they already have in education, popular entertainment, and the “global warming” news media.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


The sociologist Peter Berger once famously observed that if India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden the least religious, then America is a nation of Indians governed by Swedes.

The November vote on Proposition 8 that reaffirmed the definition of marriage as the legal union of a man and a woman illustrated that even in Euro-leaning California, a gap between ruling class and people remains intact—at least for the time being.

Last year, despite the wishes of voters as overwhelmingly expressed by Prop 22, a bare 4-3 State Supreme Court majority imposed its enlightened mores on those ignorant masses who audaciously imagined in the year 2000 that they could stop the transmogrification of an institution that’s functioned for millennia as a civilizing institution for children.

Even candidate Obama gave lip service to these exotic “Indian” sentiments by publicly asserting his “personal belief” that marriage should be male-female. This wink-and-a-nod concession to popular mores was understood as exactly the political ruse it was by opponents of Prop 8—who didn’t hammer Obama for hypocrisy the way they recently savaged Miss California for being gushingly polite and honest about her beliefs.

Last week the California Supreme Court, by a 6-1 majority, allowed the state’s obstreperous “Indians” to have their way--for the most part. The justices did let stand several thousand same-sex marriages that were only made possible by the slick legal machinations that black-robed “Swedes” typically employ to deconstruct the laws of “their” state.

Outside of the law, the most effective means for imposing “Swedish” values on reluctant “Indians” is the mainstream media. Anyone with a modest capacity for honesty will acknowledge that the sympathies of those golden throats who selectively frame the news for viewers lie overwhelmingly with the pro-same-sex position.

Indeed, given the overwhelming barrage of dramatic and educational propaganda in favor of same-sex relationships (from “Day of Silence” school indoctrination to nightly TV portraits of traditionalists as dimwitted hatemongers) it’s surprising that an electoral majority could still be mustered in California in favor of the “bigoted” idea that male-female is a salient marital distinction.

Governor Schwarzenegger recently opined that the cultural tide in California lies with those on the anti-8 side of the issue. However, when advocates for that position point to Iowa as an impressive case in point, they’re engaging in a rhetorical shell game. It was the court in Iowa, not Midwestern voters, that legislated this radical change from the bench. The same is true of Massachusetts, where “Swedish” legislators went to extraordinary lengths to avoid letting New England’s “Indians” have their say.

Avoiding the public isn’t so easy in California, much to the chagrin of our Nordic nabobs. Still, absent a profound popular epiphany about the immense power concentrated in the hands of elites who still admire Fidel Castro, the “Swedes” residing in Sacramento, Hollywood, New York, and Washington will soon be setting the rules for marriage—and everything else.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

John Rosemond: Flannery O'Connor on Educating Children

Here is family psychologist John Rosemond's take on the proper education of children--a position that draws on the insight of writer Flannery O'Connor:

In her 1963 essay, "Total Effect and the Eighth Grade," Flannery O'Connor's purpose was to argue for requiring children to read the classics that defined Western Civilization. In the course of making her case, she said something that every parent should be required to read and regurgitate on a regular basis: The whims and preferences of children should always, always be sublimated to the sense and judgment of their elders (paraphrase by Caitlin Flanagan, "The High Cost of Coddling," Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2009, page W11).

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Thursday, May 14, 2009


The Donald has declared that Carrie Prejean can keep her Miss California title. Trump’s “you’re not fired” decision ended a chapter in the media frenzy swirling around the Vista High School graduate--but it didn’t close the book.

Following Trump’s announcement, Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s prime-time hatemonger, launched a six-minute tirade against Prejean that showed the leftist network’s verbal inquisition against Miss California wasn’t quite over.

Ten days earlier Olbermann had chuckled through a hate-fest with the Village Voice’s Michael Musto. Olbermann began by observing that Miss California “has fully endorsed…marriage between a man and a woman who’s partially made out of plastic.”

Musto was more blunt. “She’s dumb and twisted…a human Klaus Barbie doll… This is the kind of girl who sits on the TV and watches the sofa.” Olbermann added that Prejean is “not just a boob, but a fake boob.”

The interview goes on in the spirit of the vile, vicious, and morally vacuous Perez Hilton—the talentless judge whose question about same-sex marriage assured one of two possible outcomes: either Prejean would toe the gay-marriage line or she would be vilified, ridiculed, and destroyed by press lackeys like Access Hollywood, Musto, and Olbermann.

Locally, our TV hairdos couldn’t get enough of the “nude” photos that weren’t really nude, weren’t taken for publication, and were about as risqué as the bikinis worn at the Miss USA competition.

The bottom line of this brouhaha isn’t so much the courage and conviction of Prejean. As I noted in a prior column, Miss California’s response to the same-sex marriage question (“That’s how I was raised.”) was apologetic and shallow. The answer was, however, on an intellectual level appropriate for a pageant judged by the likes of Perez Hilton.

The real bottom line is the power and willingness of the mainstream media to slime and destroy anyone who gets in the way of its cultural agenda—a power that was nakedly displayed last fall to transform a popular and effective pro-life governor of Alaska into a Saturday Night Live caricature.

These media advocates regularly turn reality on its head. An apologetic utterance in defense of traditional marriage is labeled “divisive” and “controversial.” Meanwhile, Hilton, Olbermann, and crew viciously trash a decent person with impunity. The “1984” Ministry of Truth moment occurred when the supremely intolerant and self-infatuated Olbermann accused Prejean of “holier than thou…know it allism.”

Make no mistake, the left and the mainstream media will not tolerate dissent—especially on their “entertainment” turf. And now Obama’s minions are out to muzzle talk radio.

The same intolerance was on full display when opponents were targeted for financial reprisals during and following the Proposition 8 election—and when a member of the arts community had to resign for voting the wrong way.

If anyone wants to see the future of California, it isn’t “Carrie Prejean Day,” as Vista school board trustee Jim Gibson would have it. Rather, it’s “Harvey Milk Day”—or else!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Miss California, Carrie Prejean, 2005 Vista High graduate and student body president, is asked a politically charged question about gay marriage by a gay activist and blogger who calls himself Perez Hilton. She provides an almost apologetic response at the conclusion of which she expresses her belief that marriage should continue to be—as it has been throughout history—between a man and a woman. “No offense to anybody… but that’s how I was raised.”

As a result, for perhaps the first time in Miss USA history, a contestant is booed for her answer—though there are also cheers and applause. Another result is that “judge” Perez Hilton, and probably his nearly-as-undistinguished colleagues on the pageant panel, ding Prejean’s scores—almost certainly costing her the Miss USA title.

The aftermath of this incident illustrates the depths of mendacity that surrounds the word “tolerance” in post-modern, deconstructed America.

Hilton, a talentless boor tagged “the queen of mean” by no less an authority than Rolling Stone Magazine, proceeds to publicly insult Prejean on his profitable and unprintably crude trash-blog. Hilton later apologizes for calling Miss California the “b” word. The very next day, however, Hilton retracts his apology while being more-than-respectfully interviewed by MSNBC’s Nora O’Donnell. O’Donnell doesn’t flinch when Hilton says he was actually thinking of the “c” word.

Later Hilton adds to his verbal insult a vile blog depiction of Prejean that can’t be euphemistically described in a newspaper destined for the eyes of decent citizens. All the while it is Prejean who is interrogated by the Fairness doctrine media about whether her answer was divisive!

Can anyone imagine the furor that would have ensued had an oddball judge zeroed out a contestant for giving a pro-gay marriage answer and then proceeded to insult her in terms that are increasingly punishable as hate-speech?

Can anyone imagine San Diego public relations representative Roger Neal urging a pro-gay Miss USA “to heal some wounds” with the traditional marriage crowd—a crowd that presumably, if disingenuously, includes the President of the United States?

Neal, a putative “advisor” to Prejean, went on to accuse Miss California of lying when she said recently at a North County church that she was told by pageant officials to apologize to the gay community and to avoid mentioning religion in her TV interviews.

It doesn’t take a lawyer to know that the word “lie” in this case is a pejorative way of parsing the legal difference between “solemnly encouraged” and “told.” Those who think Prejean wasn’t pressured by the same people who selected Perez Hilton as a pageant official probably also believe that Fidel Castro is Santa Claus.

So tolerance in America now means this: No gay marriage, no Miss USA. It means that one is free to insult and degrade a young woman for timidly supporting traditional moral views. It means that Hollywood sleazebags like Perez Hilton now define cultural mores and that decent individuals like Carrie Prejean will be trashed if they dare open their mouths.

Friday, April 17, 2009


On April 15th dangerous homegrown terrorist types in hundreds of cities around the country gathered to peacefully protest what they see as an unprecedented expansion of government authority and spending that promises to triple the national debt in eight years.

In Oceanside, scores of these Timothy McVeigh wannabes were cleverly disguised as mothers with kids or mature ladies tastefully garbed in informal attire. Elderly, middle-aged, and young males were also present for this “hate-group” demonstration. Somehow these ticking time-bombs managed to conceal their “cling(ing) to guns and religion” rage while displaying signs that denounced high taxes, generational theft, and government bailouts.

If the previous paragraphs seem oxymoronic, readers should seek clarification from Janet Napolitano’s Homeland Security Department—the bureaucracy that recently composed an intelligence report warning of right-wing extremists who might exploit the current economic and political climate for nefarious, anti-government ends.

Here’s a sample of the drivel (based on “no specific information” of planned violence) that now passes for “intelligence” at DHS:

“Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented…and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

By this expansive definition, Texas Governor Rick Perry got himself placed on an extremist watch-list for recently declaring that America’s federal system is being shredded by an overreaching national government that’s aggressively inserting itself into matters that were formerly the Tenth Amendment preserve of states.

The anti-tax multitude gathered in Oceanside was clearly teeming with terrorist types since the DHS assessment also included “disgruntled military veterans” in their potential extremist list—alongside groups worried about firearm confiscation. (Listen up, El Cajon gun shop.)

Following this DHS logic, one Obamaland blogger issued the following alert: “These Tea Parties bear watching. It could be the birth not of a nation but (of) a dangerous terrorist network.”

Unfortunately for Napolitano and this internet nutcase, the closest thing to an “incident” at Oceanside’s massive tea party involved a surly-looking bearded guy who at least twice shouted insults at demonstrators, then grabbed his black sports-bag and stalked away. Amazingly, none of the protestors returned his insults or pulled out AK-47s to blow him away.

From what I saw, the tea party “terrorists” at Pier View Way and Coast Highway were overwhelmingly focused on lower taxes, limited government, and a projected national debt of eleven trillion dollars. A few banners were explicitly anti-Obama or anti-Schwarzenegger, but none were as incendiary as comments routinely directed toward the prior Commander-in-Chief.

The sign that best summarized collective sentiment was this one: “Give Me Liberty, Not Debt”—not exactly the rhetoric of extremists. Instead, it sounds like an epigram for citizens who are deeply concerned about governments that no longer recognize reasonable limits—in spending, competence, or terrorist threat assessments.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The irony of this incident tempts even the skeptical to wonder whether some "invisible hand" was at work in this "accident" that ended the life of the owner of the nation's largest for-profit abortion chain at a Catholic Cemetery where a memorial is dedicated to the unborn victims of abortion.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Watermelons: “green” on the outside, “red” on the inside. That popular definition of environmental statists is what Czech President Vaclav Klaus had in mind when he denounced global warming zealots for promoting “a new religion” that “threatens to undermine freedom and the world’s economic and social order.”

Klaus would not have been welcome a week ago Saturday when lights were dimmed in San Diego and other local communities to celebrate “Earth Hour”—a global PR event sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to tout the profound dangers of manmade climate change.

As is typically the case, our local television hairdos enthusiastically aired the proceedings without providing (as an honest “Fairness Doctrine” would require) comment from team-Klaus or team-Richard Lindzen (MIT Professor of Meteorology) or team-Freeman Dyson (Princeton physicist emeritus) or team-Bjorn Lomborg (Danish author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist”).

That’s only a short list of dissenters who possess credentials at least as impressive as those held by members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Indeed, “climate criminal” Christopher Horner notes in his book, “Red Hot Lies,” that the IPCC is chock full of government-picked “scientists” with degrees in sociology, economics, and even “transport management.” That unimpressive list includes IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, who as an economist and industrial engineer felt sufficiently qualified in atmospheric dynamics and psychohistory to compare critic Bjorn Lomborg with Adolf Hitler.

Horner supplements his analysis of the IPCC’s general scientific expertise with two lengthy chapters that document IPCC malfeasance—exemplified in the practice of hyping summaries for policymakers months before completion of the work purportedly being summarized. New Zealand climate scientist Dr. Vincent Gray provides his own succinct institutional summary: “The IPCC is fundamentally corrupt.”

Horner, Klaus, and others have explained why today’s global warming propagandists are knee-deep in statistical manipulation, character assassination, intimidation, and censorship.

First, financial incentives for jumping on the global warming gravy train are enormous—dwarfing the alleged “buying” of scientists by Exxon-Mobil. Billions are now headed toward alarmists like Al Gore who stand to gain billions more from their ties to favored green industries. Ironically, this idea of “monotizing” environmental groups was made famous by Enron’s Ken Lay.

Secondly, climate hysteria creates an opportunity for top-down statist policies—the preferred governmental arrangement of “Watermelons” whose political dreams revolve around the redistribution of wealth and ever-expanding social controls.

A prime example of the hugely successful indoctrination tactics employed by alarmists is the shameless targeting of intellectually defenseless children. One prominent proselytizer recently spoke at a San Marcos high school and was described in a North County Times headline as a “Nobel Prize winner” and “expert in global climate change.” Paragraph thirteen noted that the “author” (actually one of many authors) of an IPCC climate change report teaches “conservation biology.”

Nowhere was it mentioned that Antarctica’s ice-mass is actually increasing or that polar bears are flourishing. Least of all, I’d wager, did the feted butterfly specialist divulge any such inconvenient truths to her captive audience.