Tuesday, December 11, 2012


As a (self) righteous child of the Sixties, I was inspired and enthralled by John Lennon’s iconic Imagine, released in 1971. “Yeah,” I thought, “it’s all those stupid grownups with their ‘countries’ and their suffocating ‘religions’ that are the problem…not the inherently sinful nature of humans.”
Though many ‘grownups’ at the time, I’m sure, saw through the shallow pop philosophy of Lennon’s ode to utopian humanism, it took me a long while.  Even today, the song is still very poetic and lyrical to me---and just by changing a few words (as apparently some musicians like Cee Lo Green have done, to the dismay of their fans), the song could be re-written as a psalm, exhorting the faithful to be Christ-like and love their neighbors. 

Except the word “love” would have to be inserted—imagine a Beatle writing a song and omitting that word!  But that’s what happens, when even (or especially) intelligent and thoughtful writers like Lennon get swept up by the group-think of their tribe and culture (wait, that sounds like a religion!) and fail to continue seeking the truth.  They abandon the fresh thinking that propelled them to fame and fortune. They come to confuse their popularity with wisdom.  Although, I do believe, had Lennon lived long enough, he might have “changed his tune”—even when he was alive, he was quoted as saying that if he could, he’d vote for Reagan (maybe only for the tax savings Reagan promised--but Lennon wasn’t echoing his peers, that’s for sure).
But the enduring theme of this song, providing consolation to its supporters and ammunition for its detractors, is the title and oft-repeated word, “imagine.”  With that word, the song disparages the stereotyped limited intellectual capacity of the faithful who “imagine” an afterlife but can’t imagine it occurring here on earth in real time (“I wonder if you can”)---yet praises the dreamers who envision an earthly paradise created and maintained not by God but by ordinary humans.

Which is more fanciful—the existence of heaven and hell, or a utopia where humans live like saints, “sharing all the world”?  We have no visible, universal, physical evidence of either –all we really have is the history of how these competing beliefs have affected human behavior and happiness.  We can’t imagine a world without religion because it has never existed, except in the confines of Communist or other totalitarian systems (and how have those worked out?).  Religion exists because people need it, because they crave meaning, structure and moral guidance—because they are not super-humans.  Super-humans, of the kind imagined by secular humanists, have evolved beyond sin, self-interest, and arrogance.  Super-humans never stumble and fail, and are all-knowing when it comes to how best to organize the lives of others.  In short, they are supernatural gods and don’t exist, except in the imaginations of humanists who believe in the potential evolution of the human soul, absent any historical evidence of this possibility. 
This Christmas, I’m trying hard, in the wake of the election, to imagine that we may someday live in a nation in which children are universally understood to be gifts from God---welcomed into loving families and raised by committed two-parent (gay or straight!) families—families which do not think themselves entitled to happiness, but which know they must work for it, every day.  If you don’t share my vision (and sorry, if you voted for Obama, you don’t), well, I’m not the only one—I hope someday you’ll join us. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Peggy Noonan's Love Potion

Peggy Noonan’s prescription of love for the depraved London rioters (Wall Street Journal, After the London Riots, August 13th) may sound to secularists as too close to the Christian message to love thy neighbor as we love ourselves, especially the poor and the poor in spirit (as these young insurgents so obviously are).  Even those more devout might scorn her less-than-novel “cure” as weak-kneed and as impotent as the social welfare advocates defending the urchins.   

Though Ms. Noonan hesitates to proselytize, the lack of other good refuges in the face of fear and uncertainty has often led wise and curious men back to God.  Really, what else is there? The bureaucracies and promulgations of the UN? The ignorant, albeit often well-intended, machinations of men making plans for other men’s lives?
What the UK (and the USA) could use right now is a modern-day C.S. Lewis reading out loud to the nation (as he did to a besieged Britain in 1942-44), reminding us that the strength and courage to confront terror in the streets and timidity in our hearts are close at hand, if only we open (or re-open) our minds to the possibility that God can help us.

And really, how can the nation with the highest abortion rate in Europe pretend to be interested in the welfare of its children?  Countries like ours and the UK, where adults can take fertility drugs to achieve pregnancy late in their child-bearing years and then abort one or more of the multiple babies conceived (too much work for an older mother), where less-than-perfect (in human eyes) Down’s syndrome babies are swiftly aborted--cultures where abortion is acceptable and spanking is not—might consider the possibility that even the stupidest of our offspring may have picked up the idea that they, not the Church or God or their parents, ought to be the arbiters of their own moral fitness.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tribal Bible

Several years ago I watched a PBS documentary about the declining number of abortion clinics in the South. The filmmakers interviewed the clinic operators, who bemoaned the community pressure to close the clinics, and filmed (but didn’t interview, as I recall) the protestors outside one of the clinics.

As I watched, I realized how “tribal” personal philosophy often is---all the operators of the clinic were college-educated, sophisticated, well-spoken white women with whom I would have felt fairly comfortable at a social gathering---professional women like the ones I went to college with.

The women protesting outside looked the stereotype of a Deep South Christian fundamentalist—also white, with big hair, Southern drawls and lacking evident erudition (they were yelling things to the young, mostly black women entering the clinic, things like, “Can you hear your baby? She’s saying, Mommy, please don’t kill me!”).

It struck me that, in background, culture and education, I was much more like the clinic operators than the protesters. But in belief, ideology, and “world view”, I was becoming much more like the women outside the clinic, with whom I probably had very little in common culturally.

I was becoming an apostate of the elitist “tribe” that convinces itself that a female’s need for personal comfort and economic security is paramount--far more important than the life of a child, or a woman's own unrecognized need for a moral anchor in a modern sea of unprincipled relativity .

To which tribe would you rather belong, the class-based one, or the ideologically-based one?

Perhaps none of us feel as though we belong to the former type: we’re certain that we've chosen to associate with people based on their ideas and world view, not their similar social class. And, since like backgrounds and experiences often generate comparable political beliefs, it’s not surprising when world view and social class coincide---just painful for those of us who lose friends when we challenge tribal ideology.  Is it equally painful for those who remain in the tribe?  Not painful enough, it seems to me, for extant members to examine and defend their beliefs to the apostate.

The usual response, in my experience, is strained politeness and topic avoidance---unpleasant, but petty compared to the risks undertaken by those who leave the tribe of Islam---a religion that dictates not only spiritual beliefs, but political, commercial and social actions as well.

God bless those brave souls trying to reform Islam from within--modern day Martin Luthers such as Dr. Zuhdi Jasser or Irshad Manji.  May their tribe increase!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Diversity Is the New Racism

I was going to write a letter on this topic until I saw that someone else had pretty much said all I had to say on the subject..  Thought I was an original thinker---but that old objectivist and standard bearer for the individual, Ayn Rand, apparently inspired some other individuals who, on this subject, think exactly like I do (how conformist).

The only Ayn Rand novel I've read, a long time ago, is Fountainhead.  I loved it, as a self-righteous young landscape architect expecting to take the world by storm--always staying true to my singular creative vision, of course.  Since then, the "world" and I have become much less sanguine about my exceptionalism, and I've lost much of my admiration for the sanctity of talent over wise and observant experience. (Too bad the 2008 electorate didn't share this insight.) 

But have I gone full circle philosophically and returned to my youthful fling with objectivism just because I agree with Ayn Rand adherents on the issue of multiculturism? I shy away from objectivism now, unwilling to invest time in a re-examination of that philosophy, perhaps for some of the same reasons otherwise intelligent liberal Democrats refuse to honestly engage Republican ideas of self-reliance and limited government intervention as superior to the (ineffective, but emotionally satsifying) "compassion" agenda of the Welfare State. These Democrats instinctively and permanently attach the stigma of greed and self-interest to Republicans, much as I cannot align myself wholeheartedly with libertarianism (which I--mistakenly or not-- identify as part and parcel with objectivism) due to its proponents' rabid isolationism (international and domestic).  And since I've found a moral and intellectual home in neoconservatism, I've no need to try to squeeze into the libertarian/objectivist box.  I would hazard an unresearched guess that many neocons agree with Ayn Rand and me about the virutes of Diversity Programs anyway.

The dream of a post-racial America, seemingly within our grasp with the election of a purportedly moderate African-American President, is still far from realization.  In my mind, every new diversity "training" workshop and affirmative action program  pushes that goal further away.

In response to legislation that would provide dollars and power to "ethnic" Hawaiians by virtue of their race, Ray Parker, of Annapolis, expresses my sentiments exactly:
          Letter To The Editor, Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2010

        "The current congressional effort to grant ethnic Hawaiians the powers and privileges of self-government--including authority to tax and of eminent domain--is the latest example of the Democratic Party's schizophrenia when it comes to race relations. On the one hand, the Party encourages and exploits ethnic identities and grievances to build its big-tent coalition, while on the other hand it preaches an idealistic "we are one" sermon to anyone who's not in the tent. Those who are not supportive of ethnic-based privileges are labeled racists and bigots; to avoid those labels, one must be colorblind but in favor of racial preferences."



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Democrats, Remember JFK? Part Two

Democrats seem to think that by repeating the words “small business” they demonstrate sufficient economic knowledge to fix the currently bleak employment situation. If today’s Democrats would emulate JFK’s rather than FDR’s economic policies, not only would the national economy improve, so would Democrats’ political fortunes.

A tax credit to hire new employees is useless to small businesses until customers are knocking on doors to spend their money. Since most of these potential customers are corporations or individuals whose taxable income exceeds $250,000, the Obama administration could do far more to help generate jobs and growth if they would extend the Bush tax cuts for “the rich”, cut the corporate tax rate (second highest in the world), cut the dividend rate, and keep the capital gains tax rate at 15%. Even better, Congress should adopt the Ryan Road Map tax reforms!!!

The rich are the customers of and investors in small businesses---they are the de-facto “job creators” without whom small businesses fail. You can’t on the one hand laud small businesses for creating two-thirds of the nation’s jobs and on the other hand force their customers to spend more of their disposable income on taxes instead of purchases and investments.

Remember the ill-fated “luxury tax” on new yachts (and other items deemed extravagant by the egalitarian elitists) in 1990? Enacted as a “tax on the wealthy”, it was repealed three years later due to the depressing economic effect it had on the boat-building industry and its blue collar employees. Obama’s War on the Wealthy/Banks/Business will have the same effect on industries and employees if he continues on his ill-conceived crusade.

If Obama were as diligent a student of the Bush administration’s successes as he is of its failures, he might have discovered the truth of the 2003 Bush tax cuts---they created record tax revenues in 2005-2007---because the cuts spurred investment and growth. Unemployment was half of what it is today—because the economy was booming, not because Bush raised taxes on the wealthy.

Promoting class warfare and spouting faux-populist demagoguery will not restore the nation’s economy. It will take leadership that is serious about cutting spending and taxes—leadership I’ve only seen coming from the likes of Congressman Paul Ryan. I’ve read his GOP Road Map; I’m 55 and I’d volunteer for reduced benefits, vouchers, or personal Social Security savings accounts even if my age would exempt me. Our experience with H.S.A. s (my husband and I have had one for the past three years) and 529 plans (all three of our children have or will soon graduate from college debt-free) has shown me the value of placing personal financial decisions in the hands of the taxpayers who actually earn the money, not the legislators who would like to spend it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Gettysburg Address Redux: Obama-Style

Two score and seven years ago, my father brought forth, on this country’s far flung island state, the handsome man who is now your President. I was conceived out of wedlock and soon abandoned by my father, dedicated as he was to the proposition that his happiness superseded that of his family’s.

Now I am engaged in a four-to-eight-year speaking tour, testing whether this nation, or any other nation so conceived, can long endure the constant repetition of my inspirational and multicultural biography.

We are met on a great ideological battlefield, the final resting place for those hapless conservatives crushed by the Big Government Steamroller that I have won the right to drive.

It is altogether fitting and proper that I continue to whine and blame my predecessor for his failures of leadership, without yet exhibiting any sign of becoming a great national leader myself.

But, in a larger sense, as a wise African-American (but totally post-racial) male, I cannot consecrate our national struggle for unity and prosperity by championing our virtues and achievements, or by vigorously and instinctively defending America against her jealous detractors, at home or abroad.

The world will little note that my every speech rarely advances any new ideas, but merely describes (eloquently though not always accurately) two opposing viewpoints or historical positions, as though I am sort of “Great Interpreter”, clarifying the issue at hand for a confused and illiterate citizen-jury.

It is for the living journalists among you to continue the unfinished work of allowing no criticism or advancement of better ideas from the political opposition to take hold in the court of public opinion, and I humbly thank you for your noble service in this cause to date.

We must dedicate ourselves to the great task remaining before us, namely to avoid making any difficult or unpopular decisions which might tarnish my future post-presidential memoir (to be ghostwritten by a guy in my neighborhood), or God forbid, return the opposition party to power.

From the ranks of the honored dead---Susan Sontag, Saul Alinsky, Edward Said, George Tiller and others---we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that they shall not have died in vain.

We here highly resolve that this oppressive, racist, capitalist nation, under an unfair and antiquated God, shall have a new, un-aborted(!) birth, into the family of the One World EU/UN politburo, in which our democratic republic--the government of the people, by the people, for the people--shall be irrevocably changed to make everyone’s income and accomplishments equal. Thus individual liberty and innovation shall perish from the earth.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moral Relativism Run Amok

The intellectual shortcomings of the Obama administration these days remind me of the “War Is Not Pro-Life” bumper sticker. How narrow-minded and ordinary to express moral outrage at the waterboarding of three murderous and unrepentant jihadists, all the while blithely absolving thousands of U.S. physicians annually performing over a million abortions of any complicity in an immoral act.

The CIA officers who carried out “enhanced interrogation techniques”, and who sought legal cover from Bush White House lawyers are apparently safe, even though they were the ones who invented the techniques, not the lawyers. The lawyers merely provided the legal support for procedures whose aim was to prevent another attack on Americans. The Obama administration abstained from including CIA agents in the indictment “trial balloon” only to avoid political fallout from attacking those who put their lives on the line for the country, not because of any close parsing of culpability. The Bush guys are just far safer political targets.

And, just like the afore-mentioned physicians, the CIA guys were operating within a legal system, under procedures sanctioned by lawyers. The CIA officers are sworn to protect this country, while the physicians take an oath: “First, do no harm” (and then proceed to do just that). The CIA “tortures” adults who’ve directed and celebrated the killing of Americans; the doctors end the lives of babies whose only crime was to be conceived.

I must be so stupid not to see the clear intellectual and moral superiority of the current administration to the previous—if only a single Democrat could explain this puzzling conundrum.

By all means, let’s “restore science to its rightful place” and help our President figure out when life begins.