Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Comparison of Two “Messianic” American Presidents

As Americans head to the polls today in record numbers in order to effectuate the coronation of the new “messiah” Barak Obama, I am reminded of a time as a youth when I was also caught up in the whirlwind bandwagon effect of a presidential political campaign.

The last time there was a candidate for president of the United States with similar messianic like qualities that Barak Obama seems to exude to the masses, I was a young twenty-one year old college junior at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Seemingly out of thin air, a little known man with the plan to set America back on course appeared on the scene and had massive appeal to the populace that had not been experienced in years. With 2% name recognition even his mother replied “president of what” when he told her of his plan.

The candidate appealed to liberals and conservatives, people of all races, creeds and colors. Whatever someone wanted to see in a president, he appeared to have it. The bandwagon got rolling early in the year and grew through the primaries. I had never voted for president before and I knew that pulling the lever for this world changer was something that I would never be as excited about again in my voting lifetime.

The opposition candidate was a true old school party hack that had carried the torch for his party for years. He was a loyal public servant, was fairly well versed on the issues and had experience that a national leader would need. Unfortunately, to a young impressionable college student looking for something new, improved, different and not the same old business as usual inside the beltway D.C. approach, the old guy just wasn’t cool.

My man was not the most qualified candidate even in his party. He had minimal experience in foreign policy and in other areas of how to get things done in the Federal government. None of that mattered because we were going to elect a new breed of politician that would change the way things were done in Washington. “Throw them all out” was the mantra – the good, the bad and even the ugly.

The man’s vice presidential running mate was more of an old school party hack that was likable enough but not one that could lead the country should something happen to the president. That really didn’t matter to me because my vessel of change was a young guy and ready to lead for the entire eight years after his coronation as president.

At that time, the country that my man was set to lead had been through a difficult time. There had been a very unpopular military conflict that split the country like no war ever had. The office of President had also been tarnished by a leader who had resigned under threat of impeachment. The national mood was in need of a change and my man was ready to take us back to the nation of a chicken in every pot and unlimited opportunity for all.

The more caught up in the ground swell and enthusiastic I got cheering for my man, the more others tried to make me come to my senses. My parents tried to get me to take a more objective look at who was best able to right the country’s ship. A neighbor from Chicago named Wayne tried reasoning with me on a daily basis that I was being caught up in a gush of enthusiasm and being hoodwinked by the media circus surrounding the rising popularity of my man. I thought he was a kook, and after all he was over 30, so what did he know.

None of this ever mattered. I was ready for change for change sake and on November 2, 1976 I went into the presidential voting booth for the first time in my life and pulled the lever for the man for our country’s future, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter. That night I went to a big celebration sponsored by the local Democrat party and partied throughout the night, toasting each state as the results came in. The next morning, in spite of all my enthusiasm, loyalty to the cause, and feelings of exuberance, all I really had to show for my efforts was a bad hangover.

Unfortunately, my hangover was probably the least damaging thing that happened to the United States as a result of the election of an inexperienced, unqualified, “messianic” president that was swept into office on nothing other than promises of change and a new way of doing things.

The next four years were some of the more dismal years in our country’s two hundred year history. The pride of the tall ships in the harbor during our national Bi-centennial celebration quickly faded.

As could have been expected there was an immediate expansion of the Federal government in spite of such niceties of asking cabinet members to drive their own cars. The federal government deficit rose to the highest levels in the country’s history.

The country was driven to its economic knees early on in the Carter administration by the skyrocketing price of oil driven by the OPEC nations flexing their muscle for the first time sensing a weak president unable to deal with exerting force on the world market. My man Jimmy’s answer was to turn down the heaters and wear cardigan sweaters giving rise to the moniker of Jimmy “Cardigan”.

The economy tumbled into what Jimmy described as a “malaise”. The term “stagflation” was created to describe a situation never experienced before. It was an all encompassing term that was to take in consideration of double digit inflation, high interest rates, a dead housing market, skyrocketing unemployment, and a complete halt to the nation’s productivity growth.

Taxes were increased and the defense budget was cut leaving us vulnerable to the world during a cold war era that showed no sign of disappearing. The SALT II treaty signed by Mr. “Change” in 1979 did a good job of making us even more vulnerable to the worldwide Communist forces.

The Panama Canal, a longtime strategic asset of the United States was given by treaty to the foreign country of Panama. This was done in the spirit of goodwill and not wanting to seem like a bad guy to the world by allegedly “occupying” a foreign country. The US built it and many American lives were sacrificed in the process. This was one of the most unpopular actions with the public ever undertaken by a sitting US president.

I could go on ad nauseum with the failures and bad policy of my former “hero” but the crowning failure that cast the national demeanor lower than ever before was Mr. Peanut’s dealing with the revolutionary forces in our then best friend country in the Middle East, Iran.

After the fall of our country’s friend, the Shah, on November 4, 1979, the revolutionary forces overtook the American Embassy and took 52 American diplomats as hostages. This was no bank robbery gone bad situation. This was a national embarrassment that lasted for 444 days. Our citizens were blindfolded, mocked and paraded for the cameras on a regular basis and we as a nation appeared impotent to respond. They were tortured, abused, and at one point were the victims of a “mock execution”. Jimmy did noting but talk of economic sanctions and looked to the failed body of the United Nations for answers.

In April 1980, while fighting off an unheard of Democrat Party primary challenge to a sitting president by the infamous Ted Kennedy, the agent of change finally did something other than “negotiate”. “Operation Eagle Claw” was devised to attempt a rescue of the hostages. All that resulted was a massive failure and further national embarrassment that cost the lives of eight soldiers and loss of two aircraft and only worked to embolden the spirits of the revolutionary forces.

The country’s national swagger appeared lost forever. We were at the mercy of a minor third world country and could do nothing to effect “change” at all. Carter was soundly defeated by the military hawk, Ronald Reagan, in the November elections. It was no coincidence that on the day Reagan took office the hostages were released ending the national nightmare that a weak kneed, unqualified, poor choice of the electorate had allowed the country to endure for 444 long bitter days.

As we approach the witching hour tonight when the celebrations begin for the “hope” and “change” crowd, I am committed to pray for our country and for our future president, Barak Hussein Obama. The world is a much more dangerous place than it was in the late seventies when we last placed the country’s security and leadership in a man as unqualified as what we are electing today. While many, including myself, will never agree with Obama’s policies, we are called by the Creator of the universe to pray for those who rule our nation. While that is a bitter bill to swallow, we have no choice. Our country will not stand if we don’t repent as a nation and submit to God’s will and learning to be obedient and pray will be a good place to start.

Buddy Oakes for Musings About Life in a Fallen World

Friday, October 24, 2008

Voodoo Economics in the Last Days

I realized during a discussion with my sons last night in the car that at some point in the last twenty to thirty years we, as a society, have lost sight of basic Economics 101 investment strategies. We have gone from making investment decisions based on potential return via interest, dividends and profits to a Las Vegas style buy low, ride it up, and sell high rollercoaster with no real understanding of a company’s underlying performance or financials.

When I was young (I’m now 52) if you had say $1000 to invest, you would take a look at several options for the best vehicle to try to grow your nest egg in a solid, safe and somewhat predictable manner. The safest instrument would be to go to the bank and open a savings account and get approximately 4-5% return a year, or if you were really stepping out you could get a bond that might pay a little more.

If your fancy was more along the lines of stocks you would look for a company that was stable and predictable and that had history of paying regular dividends. One of the primary things to look for was a company with a Price/Earnings ratio of less than twenty. In other words if you bought $1000 worth of stock your return over the next year in a company with a PE of 20 should be $50 or 5%. If the value of the stock went up or down that was considered a bonus or something to keep an eye on. Basically, you investment was driven by the expected dividend rather than the change in stock price. If you bought a stock you were generally in it for the long haul.

A third more risky investment for the more entrepreneurial folks was to start a business. You would take your $1000 sum and expect that after all was said and done that your company would be worth at least the initial $1000 investment but would also give you a return of more than you could do at the bank or in the stock market.

All that being said, the financial world we live in today resembles nothing of the basic structure that our country was built on. Hard work, dedication and doing a good job has been replaced by insider tips, speculation, government bailouts, and a true gambler mentality no different than a drunk with a blond on each side rolling dice at a crap table.

Basic supply and demand economics has been replaced by a supply and speculation mentality. Stocks, options and commodities are purchased based on where the investor thinks the price is headed as opposed to the intrinsic value of the item being gambled on. Oil, recently trading in the $140’s a barrel within a few weeks was trading for half that amount. Neither the before of after price was based on anything other than speculation and what item was in favor with investors (or gamblers as they truly are).

The hocus pocus figure of the Dow (take a look sometime how this monstrosity is actually figured) has 52 week range of close to 14,000 to a recent low of $7800. There is no possible way that that the true bricks and mortar value of the US economy can drop 45% in lest than a years time. The economy was never actually worth the higher figure other than being driven to that point by good feelings and speculation that the price would go higher. The minute that there appeared to be a problem on the horizon investors retreated to the basic principle of supply and demand where there were more sellers than buyers with everyone jumping off the feel good bandwagon and grabbing whatever cash they could on the way down.

Folks that talk about a recession or depression and the great global fears that are swirling are the ones that are driving the market down at a pace far quicker than it should based on true underlying facts of the economy. In the collapse of 1929 banks went under and people with savings in the bank had none left and true poverty was created overnight. I am convinced that now no more folks than would be expected during any economic cycle will experience “poverty” from the recent downturn. Those who are involved in wild market speculation have lost money based on their own greed and need a good reality check as to the “game” they are playing with the world economy. Granted unemployment is rising and the housing industry has slowed to a crawl due to credit concerns but you don’t see thousands in soup lines and millions living in the streets as you did during the 1930’s.

Alan Greenspan testified yesterday that he “made a mistake” never envisioning that banks would not take care of their business and protect their assets. Unfortunately, the same greed that was driving speculation in the market was driving banks and loan companies to make decisions that no logic based business would do. The easy credit for new homeowners driven by new federal government policies in the mid nineties that opened the market to millions who should have never qualified for a gas credit card much less a home loan.

I was thirty years old in 1985 when after years of saving, planning and intense agony of worrying about signing a note for a mortgage I was able to purchase a modest condominium worth $50,000. Even though I had kept my nose clean, was employed, and had a perfect credit record, I had to put $10,000 (or 20%) down in order to qualify for the loan. That was what the American dream was about. I had played the game and did what was right in order to become a home owner.

After the Federal government changes in the mid nineties, none of that blood, sweat and tears stuff was needed in buying a new house no matter how poor you were or how bad a credit record you had. There was a mortgage banker on every corner willing to give you a loan for up to 110% of the value of a property that no one in their right mind would tell you that you could afford. All this was done in the liberal / socialist / feel-good notion that everyone, no matter what, some how or other “deserved” a nice home.

What used to be the American dream where people actually had to work for something before they could have it, has turned into the American nightmare where we have an economic “crisis” where folks who don’t have good credit can’t go spend money they don’t have or never will have. Things are finally returning to reality as to where they actually need to be.

Unfortunately, no matter who wins the presidential election next month, the US government will continue to spend it’s way to a solution to try to return to the situation that got us in this mess to begin with – people spending more than they can afford and others gambling on the fact that they will keep spending more than they have in the future.

Fortunately, each of us has free will, and other than being taxed to death to pay for the errors of our government policies, we can choose as individuals to live within our means, make investment decisions based on hard economic reality, and try not to become a part of the frantic masses who base their life on what the daily whim of an out of control media chooses to have you worry about on a given day.

It’s time for a return to the true American Dream where you work hard for what you have and buy only what you can afford. This will be a true wake up for a couple of generations that have had a “see and buy” mentality and are used to buying everything you want now and pay interest for the rest of their lives, never actually paying on the original principal.

Buddy Oakes for Musings About Life in a Fallen World

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Another Scientific Muligan (as in golf)

Once again what was "Hard Science" yesterday is completely different today. This is further proof that we don't have a clue about global warming and shouldn't form policy based on unfounded "science" and political correctness.

May 22, 2007

Cassini Probes Saturn's Icy Rings


Saturn's largest ring is made of churning clumps of icy particles that break up and reform, according to new findings from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The study said Saturn's B ring is "clumpy and dynamic," made of sheets of dirty water ice ranging from the size of a marble to the size of a boulder. As the ring spins around the planet, these particles form and reform into sheets, some 100 to 150 feet across.

"The particles are sort of jostling along," said Josh Colwell, assistant professor of physics at the University of Central Florida, who helped make the discovery. "At any given time, most particles are going to be in one of the clumps, but the particles keep moving from clump to clump as clumps are destroyed and new ones are formed."

A professor in UCF's growing planetary sciences program, Colwell led the study. Additionally, the study revealed that the rings have two to three times as much material as scientists thought.

"There's been an evolving view of Saturn's rings," he said. "It's been really turned upside down since Cassini got there."

The observations were made using the spectrograph aboard the Cassini spacecraft, launched in 1997 to study Saturn, its rings and moons. Scientists made the discovery by watching the brightness of a star change as the rings passed in front of the star.

Saturn is a giant ball of gas with no surface. The study will help scientists determine the age of Saturn's rings and understand how they were formed.

The findings will be published in the journal Icarus.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Science is Nothing More Than Idle Speculation

The following article points again to "science" being crap. This one "is a special kind of supernova that has never been seen before.". Another one "might blow in similar fashion any day now or 50,000 years from now". Basically, they don't have a clue and have reported theories as fact that once again has been proven untrue. Same with all the cause and effect theories of global warming. Scientists don't have a clue only "theories". Putting any faith in all this stuff and even worse creating policies based on this stuff is completely political and absolutely futile.

Massive supernova dazzles scientists


WASHINGTON -- A massive exploding faraway star - the brightest supernova astronomers have ever seen - has scientists wondering whether a similar celestial fireworks show may light up the sky much closer to Earth sometime soon.

The discovery, announced Monday by NASA, drew oohs and aahs for months from the handful of astronomers who peered through telescopes to see the fuzzy remnants of the spectacular explosion after it was first spotted last fall.

Using a variety of Earth and space telescopes, astronomers found a giant exploding star that they figure has shined about five times brighter than any of the hundreds of supernovae ever seen before, said discovery team leader Nathan Smith of the University of California at Berkeley. The discovery was first made last September by a graduate student in Texas.

"This one is way above anything else," Smith told The Associated Press. "It's really astonishing."

Smith said the star, SN2006gy, "is a special kind of supernova that has never been seen before." He called the star "freakily massive" at 150 times the mass of the sun.

Observations from the Chandra X-ray telescope helped show that it didn't become a black hole like other supernovae and skipped a stage of star death.

Unlike other exploding stars, which peak at brightness for a couple of weeks at most, this supernova, peaked for 70 days, according to NASA. And it has been shining at levels brighter than other supernovae for several months, Smith said.

And even at 240 million light years away, this star in a distant galaxy does suggest that a similar and relatively nearby star - one 44 quadrillion miles away - might blow in similar fashion any day now or 50,000 years from now, Smith said. It wouldn't threaten Earth, but it would be so bright that people could read by it at night, said University of California at Berkeley astronomer David Pooley. However, it would only be visible to people in the Southern Hemisphere, he said.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Back to the basics

You can go weeks without food. You can go days without water. You can go a few minutes without air. But you can't go one second without hope. You got to have hope to cope. And that's what our job is -- to build hope. During the next 90 days, people are going to be more open to the Gospel than in years. God uses trials to soften hearts. It is God's responsibility to make people receptive; it is our responsibility to sow the seed.  - Rick Warren addressing a rally of pastors in Baton Rouge
This is pretty basic stuff but states what Christians need to see as their job description and focus every day regardless of the situation.  The only true way to build hope is to love one another no matter what the circumstances.



Sunday, April 03, 2005

God Does What We Could Never Do

On a whim, I sent my last post on Life and Death in the USA to the Letters section of the Columbia Daily Herald, a paper not known for many pro-Christian writings on the editorial page. Oddly enough, it was published less the ending scripture and the prayer of salvation language in the body of the text. It received top left column billing on the editorial page in an edition that featured all the Mule Day festivities and the death of the Pope. With an alleged 100,000 visitors in town for Mule Day, (my count is closer to 10,000 maybe) this is probably the biggest run of the Herald of the year. I probably could not buy an ad that would be this effective at spreading God's word, but God has ways of using even the most secular publications to further His cause and speak to His people. This is another example of trusting in God and giving Him the chance to do His thing, in His way, and in His time frame. Glory be to God in the Highest! His ways are way beyond anything we can imagine!

Check out the article in the Herald on the web at http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/articles/2005/04/03/opinion/1opin.txt

Thursday, March 31, 2005

“Life” in the Good Ole USA

The much anticipated death of Terri Schiavo came a little before 9:00 this morning. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and all those involved at any level and on either side of the issue leading up to her death.

No issue has gripped the nation’s interest and drawn such strong lines morally, spiritually and politically as the issue of Terri’s life … and death. There has been no other news or other discussion on any talk radio show for over two weeks.

Not even last year’s politically derisive election cycle approached the interest that our entire nation has shown over this gut wrenching issue. As much as the pundits have tried, they can’ t definitively classify who is lining up on each side. When George Bush and Jesse Jackson come together it defies political logic. Christians across the country go both ways on the issue (about 50-50 in a recent poll). Has our nation’s moral code failed us or is it just the legal system?

When I heard the news on the radio this morning within a couple of minutes of Terri’s death something truly unexpected happened within me. Her death has been eminent for several days and I thought I was prepared to hear the announcement.

When the word came, my emotions welled up inside and came out in tears and a loud vocal cry, much more than other very hurtful events in my life. Why? Why was I overcome with tears? Why am I still ready to cry as I write? Why? Why? Why?

Is God’s heart broken? Did I feel it in my Spirit? I don’t even know the girl, so why am I so upset? Is it because I’m a father and love my kids more than I ever knew was possible? Is it because I know how much my birth mom Rita loves me and how much she still suffers for missing 44 years of my life? I don’t know.

I find strength in the fact that Terri has been removed from the body that failed her and that she is now dancing with angels in front of our Savior Jesus Christ. For all the questions we have, she now has the answers. Praise the Lord!

I accept the fact that we live in a fallen world where it is evident that Satan rules and I’m sure he’s having a big party over all the hate, ill will and derisiveness that Teri’s slow painful death has caused. What I’m having a hard time coming to grips with is the slow painful death of our country that was founded based on the principle of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

The measure of our country’s moral fiber can be judged on how we treat the least able to care for themselves. From the unborn child (that we’ve killed 45 million of since 1973), to the crippled and handicapped, to the elderly whose lives have been extended by medical devices, what does Teri’s death say to them? I’m afraid we are yelling in a loud voice WATCH OUT!!! Do not inconvenience us or you will be next!!!

Our country’s focus on self, greed and hedonism has played out right in front of our eyes in Terri and Michael Schiavo and vividly shows us where we are as a society. Mother Theresa said, “"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."

Can we all live as we wish now that the courts allow abortion and are headed toward open euthanasia like they have an a few European countries? Is everyone happy?

I don’t claim to judge Michael Schiavo, Terri’s family, the Judge or anyone else. Jesus has that covered. I have no idea what Terri would have wanted. I do know that yesterday Terri was alive and we as a society did nothing to help her, not even a cup of water. I do know that God loves her as much as he does Michael Schiavo and each of you reading this right now.

Do not lose site of the fact that God is always in control. As humans our ways are not His ways. Right now it is hard to understand how God allowed this whole saga to play out. I do have the faith to believe that His plan is perfect and while we can’t see the big picture, He can. In some way that we can’t even imagine He will use this national tragedy to bring others to Him and He will be glorified in the end. We aren’t called to understand, only to believe and have faith. He will give us the answers we need when we need them and not before.

Whether you accept it or not, God has a plan for each of our lives and His heart is aching to have a relationship with you right this minute. He doesn’t care who you are or where you have been He loves you just the same. He wants you to call His name and say Jesus I am a wretched sinner and I can’t do it by myself anymore. I need You in my life and I want to leave my sin behind. I know that I can’t be perfect but I can come to you with my sin because You gave Your only Son so that I could come to You for help. Father God, fill me with your Spirit and help me learn to be the person that you created me to be. Teach me to love You and everyone around me. It’s all about You and not about me. Thank you Jesus! Amen.

For a little backup to my rant, I give you a few words from Matthew 25 from the mouth of God Himself.

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Welcome to My “Musings About Life in a Fallen World”

After writing thoughts on many topics in many different forms for years, I decided to consolidate a few current and ongoing thoughts in one place for those who care to read them. Those who know me know that I have many opinions that have undergone transformations over the last decade as I have continued to search for the heart of God.

I spent four decades of my life trying to be a relatively good person but having no idea why other than public civility. Since that time, I have found that Jesus was the one that I had spent my entire life avoiding, masking and running away from. I now know Jesus as my personal savior and hope to grow in love and knowledge of His ways every day.

Having spent the majority of my life outside of knowing Jesus, I was given the opportunity to experience life fully in the secular world so that I can easily relate to those who are still on the run from the Truth today.

I strive to love people where they are in life and want to accept everyone as I find them. My greatest pleasure in life is sharing my thoughts and testimony with them in hopes that it will make a positive difference in their lives. I believe that what really counts in life is what you can do for others not just for ourselves.

I know that by myself I am weak and have very little ability to positively affect others. It is only through the Holy Spirit within me that I can do anything for anyone else. I have a long way to go but I am slowly learning to look to God first and not to do everything myself.

My goal is to plant seeds in others in hope that God can use these seeds along with the seeds of others and in His time take hold of their lives and bring them into full fruition of what He created them to be. We must accept the fact that God is fully in control of everything and He can use both good and bad things that occur to fulfill his purposes.

This Blog will be a personal commentary and observation point of things that go on around us every day. I am not perfect and do not claim to be an expert or spokesman for God. If you want to know what He thinks you must study the Bible and let Him speak to you directly. Therefore, read, respond and comment at your own risk. Beware! You may pick up a few seeds along the way.