When the Ex-Hippies and Campus Radicals Are Fully in Control . . .

In a brilliant little post titled “The Hysterical Style” Victor Davis Hanson writes, in part:

If anyone wished to know what the baby-boomer generation would do when, in its full maturity, it hit its first self-created, big-time recession, I think we are seeing the hysterical results. After two decades of unprecedented economic growth, rampant consumer spending, and unimaginable borrowing to satisfy our insatiable appetites, we are suddenly going into even larger debt and printing trillions of dollars in paper money to ensure that someone else after we are gone pays the debt. As if the permanent solution to a financial panic and years of spending wealth we didn’t create were a government take-over of the economy in the manner we currently witness in Spain, Italy, and Greece—or the high-tax, high-spend ethos of a bankrupt California.

Do read the rest.

And Another Thing . . .

obama-speech

A few thoughts about the inaugural address–a speech that seemed to want to please everyone. But first, some context.

It makes sense that a kid who learned how to adapt and fit in in places as diverse as Hawaii and Indonesia, and with relatives from places as disparate as Kansas and Kenya, gets really good at being all things to all people.

This is something that several knowledgeable, sympathetic observers noted throughout the campaign. For example in David Mendell’s semi-official biography, Obama: From Promise to Power we are told that Barack Obama “is an exceptionally gifted politician whom throughout his life, has been able to make people of widely divergent vantage points see in him exactly what they want to see.”

And Cassandra Butts, a friend of the President’s from law school days and now an associate at the ultra-liberal Center for American Progress was quoted in a worshipful article in Rolling Stone thusly: “Barack has become a kind of human Rorschach test.People see in him what they want to see.”

Of course, this gift for blending, chameleon-like, into variety of surroundings created the only real problems candidate Obama experienced on his otherwise charmed campaign journey.

Remember the video tape that surfaced of the candidate speaking to a group of super rich elites in San Francisco? It was there he made the comment about us hillbilly folks clinging to guns and religion out of economic frustration. The comments were perfectly tailored for his immediate, homogeneous audience but disastrous when exposed to to a wider public.

President Obama’s brilliant shape-shifting superpower also illuminates the great mystery that had an entire nation collectively scratching its collective head. Namely, how do we reconcile the Barack Obama we see on the campaign trail with a guy who would be an admiring member of Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years?

It also explains why a few intelligent prolife advocates like Doug Kmiec could rationalize voting for the man who repeatedly promised to use his presidential powers to authorize appropriating your and my tax dollars to fund abortions around the world–and who arguably has one of the most extreme pro-abortion stances in the history of presidential politics.

And it explains why the logic of small government champions like Christopher Buckley could get twisted into a pretzeline shape that leads to voting for the man whose campaign promises add up to creating the hugest government in the history of either hugeness or governments.

As noted, people tend to see in him what they want to see. And he knows it.

Which leads us to yesterday’s inaugural speech. . .

The speech seemed to underwhelm almost everyone who heard it. Of course, expectations were impossibly high. But the speech giver was also faced with an impossible challenge–the entire world was watching.  Instead of a speaking to a largely homogeneous group like Democratic primary voters, he had the most diverse audience possible.

So what’s a chameleon to do when standing against a rainbow striped wall?

Which is precisely why the speech contained a little morsel of something for everyone but didn’t satisfy the appetite of anyone.

Yes there was some soaring and inspiring language that would have been just as at home in a Ronald Reagan address. I particularly liked:

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

But there were also a number of petty swipes at the outgoing administration. For example:

We will restore science to its rightful place . . .

Right. No more making national security decisions using Urim and Thummim. We can now release all the brainiacs President Bush had rounded up and locked in the White House basement.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Oh yes, I forgot. George W. Bush liked to use terrorism as an excuse to trample of civil liberties. It amused him.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

Actually, Great Britain in 1940 didn’t find our sturdy alliance or our convictions all that helpful as they were being blitzkrieged by the Luftwaffe. But they dang sure appreciated the bombs and tanks.

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

So up until yesterday we were being indifferent to suffering outside our borders? Really? $15 billion in African AIDS relief since 2003. Back in May, the left-leaning Center for Global Development wrote: “The administration of George W. Bush has ramped up foreign aid spending to unprecedented levels and has implemented a number of important foreign aid initiatives . . .”

Higher and higher the moral condescension rolled:

“. . . we are ready to lead once more.”

“. . . guided by these principles once more. . .”

Of course, these elements of the speech were custom tailored to reflect the mixture of Bush loathing and relief of the gathered multitude and the billions of other Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferers around the world. To paraphrase Churchill: Never in the field of political conflict have so many felt so superior with so little cause.

Clearly, the crafting of this speech was a tightrope walk. Every phrase, every word, is analyzed, debated and parsed. And one paragraph in particular embodies the highwire balancing act President Obama attempted to walk. At first hearing, it sounded like an admirable and honorable shout out to our men and women and uniform and our fallen heroes:

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

Go back and take a look at that “not only” in that third sentence. There is some brilliant wordsmithing going on here.

Ordinarily, any praise of military service or speaking in honoring terms of soldiers starts eyes rolling and molars grinding among big swaths of the Democratic base. The Code Pink protesters screaming obscenities at the Marine recruiters on college campuses didn’t just work their guts out to get Obama elected only to hear their sensitive guy hero start talking like B1 Bob Dornan. That’s why the second half of that paragraph is there.

What the President is telling his pacifist, America-has-always-been-the-bad-guy fans is this:  The sacrificial impulse that leads young people to enlist in the military is good, just misdirected. It is “this spirit that must inhabit us all.”

Keep in mind that candidate Obama raised eyebrows when, back in July, he told a Colorado Springs audience:

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

At the time of the statement, the most common responses were, “Huh?,” “Wha?,” and “What in sheol is the man talking about?”

Certainly at a practical level, the statement makes no sense. But in the light of President Obama’s frequent and forceful statements about universal “service” and “sacrifice,” the statement tends to send a chill down the spine. As did that paragraph in his inaugural.

For a full view of President Obama’s campaign rhetoric on national service, check out this American Thinker piece.

As the saying goes, “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” And it seems that to a community organizer, every challenge looks like . . . a reason to draft all of us into a new kind of army.

What Today Meant. And What It Didn't.

change

Today was historic. It was meaningful. And there is a lot about it that was moving. Barack Obama is a great American story.

But there is also much about the way the media and the popular culture are viewing this milestone that is wildly annoying and more than a little offensive. Allow me to explain.

Here is the narrative we are being sold over and over:

“Through great struggle and by some miracle, traditionally racist America found a way to shake itself free of its deeply rooted bigotry just long enough to finally elect a black man to the White House. It’s been a long time coming, but somehow, this inherently racist culture finally became ready for an African-American in the White House.”

Do I exaggerate? Here’s a small sampling:

Barack Obama’s Jan. 20 inauguration could be a line where future scholars mark the start of a new era of racial tolerance in America. (McClatchy Newspapers)

. . . it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago. (New York Times)

Of course  this is all nonsense on stilts but it is consistent with the way liberals view our country and with Hollywood’s standard caricature of Republicans, conservatives and fly-over-country-dwellers respectively. Ironically, the most vocal and visible racist in the previous election cycle was Jeremiah Wright.

Here’s the real narrative for this election victory: For some years now Americans have not only been ready to put a black person in the White House, they’ve been eager to do so. And the first opportunity they were given to vote for an African-American who wasn’t a grievance-mongering, race-baiting, shakedown artist (see: Jackson, Jesse; or Sharpton, Rev. Al) they pounced on it. Barack Obama didn’t win in spite of being black. He won in large measure because he was black. A white guy with his resume’ and ideology would have never made it into the primaries.

I have always assumed that the first black president would be a conservative Republican. And if Colin Powell had been a real-deal conservative instead of a RINO, he probably would have been.

Liberals reflexively view everything through the lens of race (or gender, or orientation, etc., etc.). And the powerful appeal of the politics of grievance and victimhood make it impossible for many liberals to see the truth that is so plainly in front of them. With the exception of a tiny, nutty fringe, white Americans are not racist. On the contrary, they will fall all over themselves to avoid even the appearance of racism.

The civil rights industry could seize this moment to declare victory and start working on some of the real problems that hold young black people back . . . like hip hop culture for example. But it won’t. As Rev. Joseph Lowery’s benediction at today’s ceremony illustrates

Certainly, today’s ceremony was meaningful and marvelous in the light of the fact that a mere 50 or 60 years ago a black man couldn’t even walk through the front door of the White House but would have forced to use the service entrance. But America didn’t just suddenly become some better, nobler place. It has been that place for a long time.

And now, in the midst of some of the most pressing challenges we’ve seen in 100 years, the stewardship of this wonderful place is in decent but inexperienced hands, and at the very moment both houses of Congress have been taken over by childish, power-grubbing, know-nothings.

I’ll be praying for him.

Back Up On the Hobby Horse

2267-reg-hobby-horse

I still haven’t gotten a breakthrough on restoring all the history of this blog. But thanks to the helpful suggestion of faithful reader, Ted, I did utilize Google’s cache feature to retrieve the text from eight or nine of the posts I’d be most saddened to lose. (Ted, if you’re not currently frozen solid there in Minnesota, I thank you.”

Now that I have retrieved those old posts, I may re-post a few of them and also bring back some of my favorite header graphics from the past (like the one above). Sort of a “greatest hits” approach, except for the fact the nothing was great and none of them were hits.

Now on to current events . . .

Longtime readers of this blog know that border security and illegal immigration are prize hobby horses of mine.  Not surprisingly, this headline picked up by various news agencies from a story in the El Paso Times caught my eye:

Joint Forces Warns of Mexico Collapse

Opening paragraphs:

Mexico is one of two countries that “bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse,” according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.

The command’s “Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)” report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. “In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

What is the “Joint Forces Command”? Wikipedia has a good summary here.

It’s easy for the pro-open-borders guys on the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal and other East Coast elites to wax philosophical about immigration and border security. Living in the Manhattan to D.C. corridor, it’s all very theoretical.

For those of us living on the neglected border with a populous, poor nation rapidly being taken over by drug lords–the issue is a lot less abstract.

Catching Up

dah-palo-duro-1

Much to tell. But where to start?

The picture above is me, last week. Wandering in the wilderness.

On January 6th I rose before dawn and drove alone to Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas panhandle for a few days of solitude, inventory-taking, prayer, and blessed isolation from media bombardment. I had rented one of the old stone cabins that the CCC built back in the 1930s–they hang on the rim of the canyon with a 700 foot vertical drop right outside the window.

They are very spartan–a bed, two wooden chairs, a small refigerator and microwave, and a fireplace in each of the cabin’s two rooms. No phone. No television. No internet, of course. And not even a mobile phone signal unless I walked about 100 yards to the top of a nearby hill.

But what it lacked in frills, it more that compensated me in inspiration. This was the side view from the porch.

dah-palo-duro-3

Bible, notebook, pen, a little food and water–and I was set. I did regret failing to take my binoculars and a proper camera. I ended up having to shoot these pictures with the little one-megapixel camera in my mobile phone. But I think you can get a sense of the place . . .

dah-palo-duro-2

I was blessed with perfect weather on this trip. Chilly 30s at night which made a fire welcome. Mid-60s during the day for walking the trails and climbing stuff. My second day there, I hiked and climbed up to a famous rock formation called, for obvious reasons, “The Lighthouse.”

dah-palo-duro-51

Being early January, I pretty much had the park to myself. For several days the only human voice I heard was my own, in ultra-frank conversation with the gracious God who’s gotten way too small a share of my time and attention over the last couple of years. And I heard His voice, too . . . more clearly than in many, many years.

Just a few hours after my arrival on the first day, I sat at the edge of a dancing, singing stream (I later learned it was the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River), took a deep breath of crisp, clear air, looked past terracotta and salmon-striped cliffs up to an implausibly blue sky and said exactly what I was thinking:

“This is a good thing.”

And it was.

Sober Optimism as a New Year Begins

First the sober part.

I don’t claim any special insight (natural or spiritual) into the future but I strongly suspect we’re in for a truly wild ride this year. After all, we’re only three days into 2009 and we already have a shooting war going in the Middle East with Israeli tanks rolling in Gaza.

Not to be Mr. buzz kill or an alarmist, but here’s what I’m anticipating for the coming year based upon my extensive reading and my expanding gut:

Economy–More shocks and convulsions. Lot’s of volatility in the markets and at some point, a whipsaw out of our current deflationary recession into inflation with a vengeance. Why? Check out this graph of the money supply courtesy of the Federal Reserve. Or this one.

There will be increasing use of the D-word (Depression).And  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few riots in some urban areas in which both unemployment and a union-legacy sense of entitlement are running high.

Russia–will continue its ongoing policy of creating headaches and hazards for the United States at every possible point around the world. And they will deliver that “international crisis” Joe Biden warned about a few months ago.

China–is headed for some ugly economic territory and they are already experiencing unrest among the masses.

Iran–has been fighting a proxy war against Israel with Hamas as the proxy — and Israel has finally decided to fight back. Israel will crush Hamas (with Fatah Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan and the Saudis silently cheering) and then it will turn its attention directly to Iran (again with the Sunni Arab powers publically condemning while quietly approving and even assisting.)

Of course, the potential for all of the above has the survivalists, conspiratorialists, apocolypticists and anti-semites worked into a frothy lather.

So let me be clear that I do not expect any of the following in the next 12 to 24 months: martial law, a bird flu pandemic, a barter economy with food and gold, the break up of the United States, the rise of our Jewish overlords, the rise of our Bilderberger overlords, the rise of our Raelian overlords, or the rise of “the machines.”

I do expect that as a nation and as a people, will see sterner times than my generation has known or  thought it ever would know.

So why the optimism?

I’m optimistic because I am a “Kingdom” man and stern times present Kingdom opportunities.  Because God’s mercies are new every morning. Because the path of the just is like the dawn–growing brighter and brighter until the full day (Prov. 4:18). Because Jacob sowed in famine and reaped 100-fold in the same year (Genesis 26). Because “everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall.”

So let the adventure begin.