Saturday, May 16, 2009

Meanderings

  • I predicted way back when that President Obama's supporters would ultimately regret backing him because he would quickly reveal himself as a weak sister. With his wafflings on Guantanamo and the "torture" photos and so on, he is catching a lot flack even from the left all the sudden. He is obviously someone who does not really know himself. He talks a good game but his convictions are no deeper than mine were at age 19, and in many cases are identical to them! Even the most devout Obama supporters have to be scratching their heads over Obama's comments that we can’t afford the interest cost of our debt--even while he’s in the process of tripling it. It is a very scary, sickening time for us conservatives, but each week President Obama reveals more clearly that he is going to fail. The question is whether the Constitution will survive the flames of his going down.

  • I am a graduate of Brown University, class of ’80. You wouldn’t peg me as an Ivy Leaguer from my outward appearance—buzz cut, slovenly attire, junk heap car—nor from my politics, which I make evident here. I can be as arrogant as anybody but I don’t care for social trappings. I had a great experience at Brown because I loved being around so many challenging, self-motivated, sharp people. I figured I got in because of affirmative action—they wanted kids from the South to balance out the New York Jews. That worked out pretty well, actually, as I’m still buds with various friends from Lawn-Gisland and thereabouts. I loved Providence for its quirky nature and though I knew I didn’t want to live anywhere up East as it was just too crowded for my taste, I have always been glad I went to Brown.

    Not so much now. I’ve always tolerated Brown’s liberal excesses pretty well, and it has a long tradition of them. But I have reached the end of my rope. They almost lost me a year or two ago when I heard about the homo-sex orgy they allowed to take place in one of the school’s oldest and most beautiful lecture halls, where I took my freshman survey course in classics under the venerable Prof. Workman. I held on then anyway and through other self-flagellations over Brown's founder's involvement in the slave trade and the global warming hysteria and so forth. But no more. Not after the Columbus Day fiasco earlier this year.

    The faculty voted to do away with Columbus Day because they’ve judged Columbus to be a bad guy, but they didn’t want to lose the day off so they renamed it Fall Day or some such rot. What a bunch of idiots! I can put up with the excesses of students, but if the administration at Brown can’t do a better job of hiring faculty with some common sense—not mention historical perspective—then, I’m done with the school. Where do I turn in my blazer and badge?

  • My lady friend (previously referred to as Chicadera) dumped me recently. Not the first time this has happened in the decade-long, on and off relationship. But this will be the last time if I have any sense. She has a tendency to return to safe harbor after her periodic romantic venturings go haywire. I don’t mind being the safe harbor but I’m tired of launching ships!

    Anyway, such a pass always puts me in a reflective mood. Sometimes I am frustrated at my failures at romance, but then again to have a relationship fail you first have to have had some success at it. And that I succeed at all at it is amazing to me. Though I am not without my entertainment value, I am an intense and challenging personality close-up. Not everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m always surprised when someone takes interest. But at least from my occasional successes I know I’m somewhat tolerable. Or maybe I’m just proving the adage that even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then. The silver lining to this point is that life is full of surprises. So I am looking forward to the next one.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Indigo President

One of the nuttiest of all New Age concepts floating around is that of Indigo Children. There is a scary bunch of otherwise seemingly well educated and responsible people who buy into this tripe. Basically the idea is that children born since about the eighties are somehow different from those in all generations before them--smarter, more intuitive, more talented, gifted, etc.

Some go so far as to say that some sort of genetic switch has been flipped that activates special characteristics planted by aliens in the human race thousands of years ago, resulting in Indigos. Apparently the timing has something to do with the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012.

I don't know all the details. I started into a book about it once, thinking Indigo was just another category like "Boomer" and "Gen-X" but gave up on it quickly. I realized it's actually one more way for incompetent parents to blame their children's bad behavior on something other than their own lack of discipline and guidance. Some of these nutcases go so far as to blame the Columbine tragedy on Indigos simply because we don't understand them and thus haven't taught them properly.

But it's not just bad behavior that's made the Indigo concept catch on. It's also the natural tendency of every mama crow to think her baby's the blackest. New parents are universally prone to think that their children are exceptional. They are amazed how fast their kids learn and understand and smitten with the beauty and complexity of children. I know. I was, too!

But you don't have to read a New Age book to find out that this is how it is and always has been with kids. Just read the Bible. It is full of stories of precocious children, the greatest of all of course being Jesus, who remembered as an adult to remind us that children are in the state closest to God. In a way, the further into adulthood we get, the dumber we get. It's called not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Barack Obama, I contend, is the natural result of the Indigo Children phenomenon. He's no Indigo, not just because he was born a bit early for it, but because there simply is no such thing. But he's the Indigo idea that so many people want to believe in so badly, if only because it seems so much easier than living according to the Good Word.

Son Sasquatch was home from college for a few days last week before heading south to sell books, so daughter Peanut and a couple of their friends were over to dinner Friday night with nearly ninety Granny and Yours Truly. It was an excellent evening for dinner and chatter on the back porch. Visitor Peter told of a brother in the Navy who handles missiles, ready to put "warheads to foreheads." Granny brought a good laugh with her "whatever blows your skirt" turn of phrase. Talk turned to politics as we sipped some excellent Trader Joe's coffee courtesy of Peanut after plowing through the Bojangles twenty piece tailgate special.

Yours Truly posited that we're all in for it, that the free enterprise system is under attack and our rights are being whittled down to nothing, and we better be ready to defend them, etc. etc., my usual warnings to anyone who will listen.

Sasquatch had an interesting point from a perspective I had not previously considered: that his generation would not stand for it; at least the thinking ones wouldn't. He pointed out that those who are liberal and supporters of Barack Obama do so only because they're not really paying attention. They do it because it's the cool thing to do. The ones who are really thinking have a strong libertarian bent, accounting for the intense though not deep enough support of Ron Paul last year. Then we got into an argument about whether Ron Paul could ever be a successful candidate for President. But that's beside the point.

Sasquatch is right: the libertarian streak in the college generation is the hope for America. And it's not something implanted by aliens. The upcoming generation's greatness will be defined not by an Indigo President but by its defense of individualism against an onslaught of totalitarianism.

If the Republican party is smart, it will turn its back on the Lamar Alexanders and Lindsey Grahams at its top and dial in to what enthused the younger generation about Ron Paul and yet makes the older generation long for Ronald Reagan.

Republican or not, that is where conservatism is going. The question remaining is, who can lead it? Who will motivate the natural conservative nature of the American people enough to overcome the pop culture support for this Indigo President? Who has both the charisma and the values to do it?

We couldn't solve that at the dinner table, but we did eat some good chicken.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Atlas Shrugged

Ten or twelve years ago I had a long layover in Dallas one time on my way to Mexico. I had set up a subsidiary office for my distribution company in Mexico City and I spent about ten days a month there. We figured we would capitalize on the booming manufacturing in Mexico that had resulted from NAFTA. Usually I traveled on Continental through Houston but this time for some reason I was on American, thus Dallas.

Meanwhile my company was growing in Nashville, too. Between the two places we had twelve employees. I was married with two kids. It was a hectic life, but I loved it. I was at the top of my game. I could go eighteen hours a day without missing a beat, moving easily from one thing to the next or doing several at once as required. It was nothing to get to work by 6am, come home for dinner at 6pm, read the children to sleep by 8pm, and go back to work until midnight. Happily!

This happy picture was not without problems, however. I was pulled in many directions. I was supporting a family, employing a diverse group of people, and responsible for bringing a return to shareholders and bankers. This took a lot of doing. And everyone's a critic. But the single hardest thing to handle was from the home front. I was constantly accused of being a workaholic. I was heartless. I was selfish. I was controlling. But I had to bring home the bacon.

So I was stuck in Dallas for a while and slipped into a little bookstore off the concourse. It was hardly bigger than a walk-in closet and it was crammed full with racks hanging from every conceivable surface so there were layers of offerings everywhere you looked. There, among the usual topical novels, was Atlas Shrugged. I don't know why I picked it up. I knew very little about it. I remembered an over-intelligent kid talking about Ayn Rand one time on the intramural soccer field in high school. That had stuck with me over the years for some reason, but I knew nothing else about her or the novel. However, once I saw it, I knew I'd found what I wanted.

The clerk was an older woman, no doubt quite a looker in her younger years, with a very attractive British accent. When she handed me my change, she watched as a I carefully faced the bills and put them in order by denomination in my wallet. I can't stand to have my money out of order.

"Oh," she said, "a perfectionist."

"What?" I said.

"You're going to like the book, dear."

Boy, did I! I could hardly put it down. What I found in that book was common ground. I found characters who achieved success by focus and relentless activity despite the tirekickers, naysayers and leeches who surrounded them. Back then, I was amazed by the book's beautiful tribute to the capacity for accomplishment in the individual human being. And in a compelling story with rich, intimate characters.

Now I am reading Atlas Shrugged again. As are hundreds of thousands of others, either for the first time or as a repeat like me. It's no secret why. The advent of the Obama administration is the full realization of everything that Ayn Rand opposed, the group-think and stultification and outright tyranny that she had escaped as a teenager in the Soviet Union. Atlas Shrugged provides clarity and insight at a time when so many of us cannot believe what is happening to our country.

But I'm afraid it might be serving a purpose for the dark side as well.

As I read through it this time--I am in the exhilirating part where Dagny Taggart's new railroad and Hank Rearden's new steel are put to the test, only on about page 250--it is not the magnificence of the do-ers that engages me so much as the venality of the undo-ers. Because I see it everywhere around me now. Before, the portion of society that drags it down was just an inconvenient obstacle; now it is in power. And you might easily think that the heinous characters like Orren Boyle and James Taggart and Wesley Mouch served as models for the Barney Franks and George Soros of today's world.

I can't detail it all here now--I might later. But as example, just the other night I came across an astounding parallel between the fiction of Atlas Shrugged and the very reality of the Obama administration. Perhaps this week you heard President Obama and others in his administration justify their refusal to control the border with Mexico by using the aphorisms that it would be like locking the door after the burglar was inside or closing the gate after the horse had escaped the barn. Those are clever comebacks unless one thinks them through, as with the obvious point that there is more than one burglar coming or horse still in the barn.

Today's news bears that out. The first pig infected with the virus has been found in Canada, reportedly infected because of migrant laborers from Mexico working on the farm. This government will close a whole school down for two weeks because one kid gets sick, but they won't stop the flow of illegals, no telling how many of whom are bringing the virus across the border on a daily basis. Indeed, the first child to die from the virus in the U.S. was a Mexican kid in Houston.

In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden invents a new steel which promises to revolutionize and revitalize industry in a lagging American economy. But the status quo opposes it. Indirectly. In the passive aggressive style that President Obama uses so well. Rather than fight it with facts--they can't anyway--they start a smear campaign to undermine confidence in the untested steel.

Here is what another venal character in the book, a despicable "journalist" named Bertram Scudder, an approximate equivalent to Keith Olbermann, writes about a railroad bridge made of the new steel leading up to its first run:

"I don't claim that the Rearden-Taggart contraption will collapse... Maybe it will and maybe it won't. That's not the important issue. The important issue is what protection does society have against the arrogance, selfishness and greed of two unbridled individualists, whose records are conspicuously devoid of any public-spirited actions? These two, apparently, are willing to stake the lives of their fellow men on their own conceited notions about the powers of their judgment, against the overwhelming majority opinion of recognized experts. Should society permit it? If that thing does collapse, won't it be too late to take precautionary measures? Won't it be like locking the barn after the horse has escaped?"

Amazing. In this one example we see the fear-mongering in which Al Gore engages including his "the debate is over" argument as well as the attacks of the Obama administration on, for example, the "hold-out" investors in Chrysler whom they are stiffing now to take the company over for the union, the government, and for goodness sake, Fiat???

Anyway, you get the point.

If you have never read Atlas Shrugged, I encourage you to do so. Unless you're a committed leftist. In that case you would no doubt learn the wrong things from this brilliant book.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Question of the Day

If Joseph Biden were captured by Somali pirates, would Barack Obama authorize use of lethal force?

To kill the pirates, I mean.

And would torture be ok if used on Joseph Biden to keep him from talking?