Monday, June 22, 2009


I can't get over the video that has now gone around the world of a young Iranian woman murdered by the guns of Iran's oppressive regime. If you haven't seen it, watch it now:

If you don't want to watch someone dying, watch it. If you think that her death has no bearing on your life, watch it. If you want to go on living your life, oblivious to the cost other people are paying for freedom, a cost, I might add, that your ancestors were willing to pay so you could sit in your comfortable home, surrounded by your loved ones, watch it. Watch the video, and witness Neda's death. You and I and everyone else, complacent in our comfortable lives, have no idea what it is like to put yourself on the line for values and rights we take for granted. Watch the video and bow your head in honor of Neda's sacrifice. Watch the video and witness someone who paid the ultimate price for her love of freedom. Watch the video and feel shame at your easy life. Watch the video, and look at Neda's eyes. She knows she is dying, and from that fleeting bastion, she hands the torch of freedom to you. Watch her eyes. WATCH HER EYES AS SHE DIES.

Now ask yourself: Would you be willing to hazard your life for freedom? If not, why not? What else better are you going to do with your life?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Riot! The unbeatable high!

On Sunday, a major metropolitan area was locked down. Excited civilians chanted, yelled, burned and fought with police. The sticky-sweet odor of tear gas drifted on the summer breeze, mingling with the choking odor of smoke from scattered bonfires in the streets of the city. Innocent people nervously scurried away from the chanting crowds, fearful for their safety should the threat of violence in the air flash into the real thing. Nervous cops lined their barricades, and out of control crowds worked themselves up into a fevered mass of white hot emotion. Riot was in the air.

Believe it or not, this scene was repeated in not one but two cities yesterday. In Tehran the issue was fair and free elections. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reelected in a sweeping landslide, opposition leaders claim that the vote was rigged. While I'm certainly not naive enough to believe that any of the candidates would have substantially changed Iran's basic intransigence in international affairs (the real "power behind the throne" is the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and he's dedicated to a nuclear Iran and the destruction of Israel), I am encouraged that the citizens of Iran are willing to go to the mat for their perceived right to vote in a fair election. From such tiny acorns, great forests of freedom can eventually grow. Iran has, in it's people, it's history and it's resources, the ability to be a first world nation. The only thing keeping it from that status is the unfortunate policies of it's ruling council.

In Los Angeles, people rioted because the Lakers won the NBA title.


Photo credit: Tehran Live

Los Angeles:

Photo credit: L.A. Times

I've never been ashamed of my country compared to Iran before. It's an odd feeling.

Friday, June 5, 2009

From an email

How the media refers to politicians:

If you have spent time in Washington:

Conservative…you are part of the problem.
Liberal…you have experience.

If you don’t have time in Washington:

Conservative….you have no experience.
Liberal….you represent change.

If you have wealth:

Conservative …you are greedy and a cheat who had advantages in life.
Liberal…you are successful and your life story is an inspiration.

If you don’t have wealth:

Conservative…you are low class.
Liberal…you are disadvantaged.

If you went to college:

Conservative…your academic pedigree is scrutinized.
Liberal….your degree speaks for itself.

If you didn’t go to college:

Conservative…you are un-educated.
Liberal…you are an artist/activist.

If you own a business:

Conservative…you are a profiteer.
Liberal…you provide jobs to the community.

If you are working class:

Conservative….you’re just a (insert job title or trade).
Liberal…you are a proletariat who finds strength in numbers.

If you believe in the wisdom of the constitution:

Conservative…you are narrow minded.
Liberal…you are a civil libertarian.

If you believe in individual freedoms:

Conservative….you have made peace with inequality.
Liberal….you are for choice.

If you take to the streets to voice your opinions:

Conservative…you are a thug.
Liberal…you are a demonstrator.

If you are religious:

Conservative….you are a fundamentalist.
Liberal…you are spiritual.

If you are serving in the military:

Conservative…you are a mindless killer.
Liberal…you wear the uniform of your country.

If you are popular:

Conservative….you have blind sheep followers.
Liberal…you are leading a movement.

If you are attractive:

Conservative…you are shallow and empty.
Liberal…you are stunning and a trend setter.

If you are un-attractive:

Conservative…you are just ugly.
Liberal…you are too intellectual to be concerned with your appearance.

If you enjoy an outdoors lifestyle:

Conservative…you are a hick.
Liberal…you are earthy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The murder of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder this past week has brought this contentious issue to the forefront of public debate. Let me start out by saying unequivocally that Roeder, assuming he is found guilty of the crime by a jury of his peers, should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. In that the murder was by all accounts premeditated, I would support his execution for the crime, no question. There is never ANY excuse or justification for what he did. In a society of laws, there can be no other verdict, nor would I support any.

On the other hand, I also firmly believe that the man he killed was one of the most evil men in America today, and we as a country are better off without him in it.

Abortion is the one issue that I have changed my opinion on the most in the last twenty years. About twenty years ago, there was a referendum on the ballot here in Maryland to ensure that abortion would remain legal in the state even if Roe were to be overturned. I went out and lobbied in support of that resolution, even volunteering to hand out literature at a polling place in Towson. I was young, passionate, and completely wrong in my beliefs. I thought that anyone should be able to have an abortion, on demand, for any reason or for no reason at all. What was all the fuss about, I reasoned, we were only talking about a small collection of cells, it's not like it was an actual person or anything, and if I'm completely honest, I'll admit that I wanted abortion available to my sexual partners should the unanticipated happen and they turned up pregnant. I wasn't anywhere near ready to be a parent, but I sure liked to screw, abortion seemed like a tailor made, no harm, no foul, get-out-of-jail-free card if the unthinkable happened. At the time a baby was just another hazard of sex, much like herpes or the clap or the worry that she would have second thoughts the next day and not want to sleep with me anymore.

Yea, I was a selfish idiot.

So what has changed since then? A couple of things. Number one, I grew up a bit and realized that what was convenient for me was not the end all be all of existence. Number two, as part of my personal maturation process, I came to understand that other people were as important as myself and that babies were, surprise, actual people. Number three I married a wonderful woman who was, at the time I met her, a single mother. SHE hadn't chosen the easy way out when she got pregnant with our son (I adopted him several years ago), even though my son's biological father had tricked her into getting pregnant (he poked a pin through the end of the condom he was using), for what reason I'll never know because he didn't even contest the adoption. Number four, my wife and I had a second son and he has become the apple of my eye, nurturing his life and growth is the absolute best thing is my life, and number five I have come to realize that personal responsibility is the one true bedrock that is absolutely required for someone to be a complete person. All of these things combined have changed my personal opinion of abortion from "It's always the woman's choice, and should be forever and ever amen" to "weakly pro choice but anti abortion".

The problem with abortion is that it is all too often used as a dodge to avoid responsibility for one's own actions. Sex is fun, almost everyone likes it, and I have no problem with that. Sometimes sex results in pregnancy. Such is life. If one engages in the fun of sex, one should be prepared to accept the consequences of that act if a pregnancy results. Drinking is fun, but if one drinks and drives and kills an innocent bystander, then one has to live with the consequences of that, why is sex any different? All too often abortion is used, as I saw it for myself lo those many years ago, as a get-out-of-jail-free card, as a way to avoid taking responsibility for one's actions.

Abortion is a choice. I think in almost all cases it is a bad choice, an easy choice, and I really think we would be better served as a society if we could honestly call it what it is: killing an unborn human. The aborted fetus is a nascent human life, and as such it has value. Pre-viability it's value is subordinate to that of it's mother, which is why I do not have a problem if an abortion is performed because the mother's life is in danger, or because the fetus has been determined to be malformed or otherwise defective, but baring that, abortion needs to be called what it is: the termination of a viable human being. Calling abortion anything else is just dishonest, if you're aborting a viable fetus, you are killing what will be in the fullness of time a baby. I might not like it, I will speak out against it, but I do recognize that a fetus is potential life inside a woman, just as I realize that it has to be subordinate to her existing life. Just be honest about what exactly abortion is.

POST viability, however, all that changes, and that is why I think Dr. (what a pathetic joke of a title that is) Tiller was an evil, evil man. Dr. Tiller made a living, a very good living, he was a millionaire many times over, killing viable humans for the convenience of the mother. This is inexcusable. Once a fetus is capable of life outside the womb, it becomes an entirely different category of being. It becomes a person. Consider the procedure: Dr. Tiller pierces the baby's brain, killing it. The mother then expels the dead baby from her body. If that baby was located just one foot over, outside the mother's body, what he did would be unconscionable. Because this completely viable, living human being happens to be inside a woman's body, we say it's OK. It is quite simply, sick. I don't like abortion, in fact I hate it, but I still recognize that it is not my place to dictate to others what they can and can't do, and as long as the fetus is not viable apart from it's mother, it remains her choice whether to nurture it or to kill it. Once it becomes independently viable, however, all bets are off. After that it is entitled to the protections of personhood, including the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, just like the rest of us. Somehow I don't think that being murdered and burned as medical waste meets the standards of that basic human right.