Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Aug. 9
What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, Aug. 10
I wake to a report on Fox News or MSNBC or some such channel that usually concerns itself with the disappearances/deaths of white girls, to see the words “TERRORIST PLOT” on the screen. I learn that British officials have arrested numerous people who were allegedly planning to blow up airliners leaving London for the U.S. They say the terrorists were going to try a “dry run” on Saturday, then execute their plan in two weeks. Um, my daughter is flying to London on Saturday. She's coming back—after performing in Edinburgh's Fringe Festival—in two weeks. One might say I'm interested in this story. One might even say that I am frothing about the mouth: upon meeting colleague Dave Wielenga in the Weekly parking garage, I may have uttered the phrase “Kill 'em all” while describing various ways to circumvent the Constitution. I am calmed a bit upon hearing the cool, proficient tones of British officials. Then our leader, a Mr. George W. Bush, is broadcast live on an airport runway. I now know how the folks in New Orleans felt. At a time like this, when that which is most precious to you is in danger, you don't care about ideology or the 2000 election or that you disagree with him on every major and minor issue, all you want is competence. COMPETENCE! You just want him to tell you what he is doing to protect the American people, but mostly my daughter. He starts talking, and for five minutes hems and haws and informs us that blowing up planes is bad. He closes his remarks by meandering down the runway before his people track him and redirect him as one does children at a Christmas pageant. Hope drowns.

Friday, Aug. 11
Just received an e-mail from Dr. Yaron Brook, who heads the Irvine-based Ayn Rand Institute. “We should demand that the government start profiling travelers now,” Brook says. “There is no reason to ask old ladies and little blond girls to discard their shampoo; there is no reason to treat all passengers equally, as is now happening at our airports, creating massive delays.” The e-mail goes on to say that “President Bush himself acknowledged the threat comes from Islamist fascists. It is immoral to disregard this knowledge as we search for those trying to kill us. The focus of our vigilance must be directed toward those most likely to be Islamist fascists. Religion and race are relevant to this search.” You know, we may hate these dicks, but we have got to respect their murder IQ. First, Dr. Brook should be reminded that there are, in fact, blond, blue-eyed Muslims—read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Chechnya mean anything to you? Second, you don't think Arab terrorists have the smarts to appear non-Arab? Ever heard of plastic surgery? Head over to Fashion Island: it's walking around shopping for a pair of Manolo Blahniks as we speak. You don't think a plastic surgeon would be able to outwardly change someone's appearance? Have you seen Michael Jackson? Forget ethnicity and race: they can make someone look non-human. And you want to give blondes a pass? These people figured out how to make Gatorade into a weapon of mass destruction. You don't think they could figure out what to do with a bottle of hair dye? We have so overused the word “fanatic” that we forget what it means. Here's what it means: Canada's Globe and Mail reports that a husband-and-wife team implicated in the London plot was willing to sacrifice their baby to kill mine.

Saturday, Aug. 12
After 10 hours of a mostly bumpy flight, my daughter arrives in England, groggy but excited. The U.S. Constitution, for now, is safe.

Sunday, Aug. 13
The Los Angeles Times' Sunday magazine—West—names Irvine Co. deity Donald Bren the most influential man in Southern California. “Simply put, Orange County looks like Orange County—much of it uniformly manicured and catering to the high lie and high tech—because of the influence of one man,” the Times says. I am curious to see what Bren looks like these days, so I search the article for his photograph. But though the cover features such heavyweights as billionaire Eli Broad and greatest man ever Magic Johnson, there's no Bren. Big surprise. The “publicity-shy” Bren (as the Times calls him) has his image reproduced slightly less than the Prophet Mohammed. There's a total of 100 people on the list. Not making it is Congressman Gary Miller, who represents bits of Orange County along with Diamond Bar and those areas of the Inland Empire one travels to for discount furniture/RVs. Miller does appear on the Times' front page in a story that says he sold 165 acres to the city of Monrovia in 2002. That deal earned him more than $10 million, but Miller didn't pay the usual state and federal taxes. Instead, he claimed that Monrovia forced him to sell the property under threat of eminent domain—when the government takes land it believes is essential to the public good—allowing him to shelter the profits from capital gains taxes for more than two years before having to reinvest it. But Monrovia officials say that Miller sold the land willingly, which is just not true. Miller didn't sell the land willingly. He begged Monrovia officials to buy his land. There's video of Miller at a 2000 Monrovia City Council meeting pleading with city officials four times to buy his land. “Why don't you buy my property?” Miller asks. “I've asked you repeatedly.” “Repeatedly” turns out to be the key: Miller claimed the same eminent domain exemption in two other property sales in Fontana. In Monrovia and Fontana, the purchasers said eminent domain was neither used nor threatened. Plus, who would ever argue that anything in Fontana was in the public interest? Whether Miller's actions anger voters remains to be seen, since he ran his last campaign under the slogan “Representation Without Taxation.”

Monday, Aug. 14

Tuesday, Aug. 15
The Gary Miller dirtwagon just keeps rolling. Today, The Hill—”The Newspaper for and About the U.S. Congress”—says Miller may have violated House ethics rules when he took out nearly $7.5 million in promissory notes in 2004 from Lewis Operating Corp., a campaign contributor and business partner. He used the cash to purchase real estate from the same company. An ethics violation? You think? Not that the deal had any effect on Miller. Well, except that as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Miller pushed for a provision in the bill that allowed the city to close Rialto's municipal airport, the first time an act of Congress has ever shuttered an airport. (Funny thing: Rialto municipal? Only offers departing flights.) The closing of the airport paved the way for Lewis Operating to win a multimillion-dollar contract from the city of Rialto to develop the airport land and build a planned community consisting of 2,500 homes, parks and 80 acres of retail space on the former airport and adjacent land. Other than that . . .


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