Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Closing of the Muslim Mind by Robert Reilly

I’ve been wanting to read The Closing of the Muslim Mind by Robert Reilly for some time after hearing about it on Dennis Prager’s radio show. It promised to explain the mindset of the Muslim world in way that would make sense of what we see coming from that part of the world. 

It certainly delivered!

This book is extremely comprehensive in its scope and history of Muslim thinking. It traces the roots of Islamic philosophy (specifically Sunni Islam) back to the 9th - 12th centuries. At the time that Islam came in contact with Hellenistic reasoning and thought, a decisions had to be made. Should Islam accept the rationalist thought processes introduced by the Greeks, or should they rely solely on the revelation provided by the Koran. 

The rationalist school, the Mu’tazilites, lost and the revelation-only school, led by al-Ghazali and the Ash’arites, won. The implications are staggering. 

“The Mu’tazilites differed from their opponents in their teaching that God has endowed man with reason specifically so that he can come to know the moral order in creation and its Creator; that is what reason is for. Reason is central to man’s relationship to God.” This position implied a dangerous ability of man to determine right from wrong on his own. Some Muslims began to question the Mu’tazilites for attempting to make themselves somehow equal to God. 

In their opposition to what they believed to be a dangerous heresy, the Ash’arites went in the exact opposite direction. “The autonomy of reason was anathema to them. Revelation was primary and supreme. In Ash’arism, as we shall see, the primacy of revelation over reason rises from the very nature of what is revealed: God as pure will and power.” However, this philosophy posits an irrational god that cannot be known. If God is pure will, He can will whatever He wants from day to day. In fact, the Ash’arites only believe God appears to be consistent because He acts out of habit. Man has no free will for to make our own decisions would be to negate the power of their god. And, as He is also pure power, might makes right in the very literal sense. There is no other way to change the culture and the people because rationality has been discarded. 

This very disorienting worldview, in its logical end, states that reality is an illusion. Because EVERYTHING happens as a result of god’s will, nothing else causes anything. So if I pick up a glass, I did not cause the glass to rise or even my hand to move. In fact, the atoms and molecules were rearranged by god at each millisecond and it only appears to have been caused by me. Similarly, if I shoot someone in the head, and they die, it was not I that killed them, but god. Had he wanted them to live, he would not have moved the bullet in such a way as to kill. He could also keep a headless person alive if he so wished. It is only the “habit” of Allah that leads to the death of a beheaded person. 

In this bizarro world, no real learning can take place. We can know nothing and to presume that we can is to usurp god and his ability to change the “facts” at any time. Obviously a worldview that eschews rationality and reality itself cannot survive for long in any kind of successful way. Is it any wonder that majority-Muslim nations are such basket cases?

Today, the Muslims have no desire to modernize and join in the post-enlightened world. Rather, they seek to destroy rationality in the world at large in the same way they have stifled it their nations. This can only be done through violence as power is what determines right. As we think of how to affect the Muslim world in a positive way, Reilly states, “The Middle East is poor because of a dysfunctional culture based upon a deformed theology...” It cannot be modernized or introduced to rational thought until its entire worldview ceases to exist. 

A world based on the lack of reason and reality is a world constructed in the very pit of hell. Who else but an evil mind could conceive of so damaging a theology. Muslims cannot know their god, nor can he love them. Both would be heretical notions of equality with their god. I’m so glad we have a God that says, “Come, let us reason together.” “For God so loved the world...” Is there hope for the Muslim world. Not much...

The differences produced in society by belief in these two very different Gods could not be more sharp. 

The Amateur by Edward Klein

The Amateur by Edward Klein gets it’s name from a rant Bill Clinton went on when trying to convince Hillary to challenge Obama for the 2012 nomination. After listing one area after another in which the current president had failed, “he bit his lower lip and scanned the faces in the room. He was plainly gratified to see that his audience was spell bound. They were waiting for the politician par excellence to deliver his final judgment on the forty-fourth president of the United States. ‘Barack Obama,’ said Bill Clinton, “is an amateur!’”

This book is a fast-paced, behind-the-scenes look into the Obama presidency. He interviews over 200 people, many of whom speak on the record. The details and style of the book make you feel as if you are a fly on the wall. I had a very hard time putting this book down!

Klein divides his book into five parts. 

The first part deals with Obama’s history coming up through Chicago. Since he made little impact in his work as a community organizer or part-time lecturer, those who knew him concluded that he was always looking for the next rung on the ladder and had little time for his present situation. He made some powerful friends and learned all about the art of politicking from this Chicago bunch. Many of them now complain of his over-sized ego and narcissism. He has left many of them in the dust as he moved on to bigger and better things. One that he left behind was his pastor and mentor, Jeremiah Wright. When asked if he converted Obama from Islam to Christianity, he replied, “It’s hard to tell. I think I convinced him that it was okay for him to make a choice in terms of who he believed Jesus is.” So much for “He’s a Christian, not a Muslim.”

The second part is called, “Amateur Hour at the White House.” One of Obama’s first acts as president was to call together a cabal of fawning historians to ask them how to secure his place in history as a dynamic and transformative president. Klein states, “It was by any measure, a breathtaking display of narcissistic grandiosity from a man whose entire political curriculum vitae consisted of seven undistinguished years in the Illinois Senate, two mostly absent years in the United States Senate, and five months and ten days in the White House. Unintentionally, Obama revealed the characteristics that made him totally unsuited for the presidency and that would doom him to failure: his extreme haughtiness and excessive pride; his ideological bent as a far-left corporatist; and his astounding amateurism.” 

All of these traits can be traced back to the real power behind Obama, Valerie Jarrett. She is the one pulling the strings and making the decisions that are supposed to be the president's. Obama rarely goes against her far-left judgment and she is responsible for the many bungled opportunities. She and Michelle are extremely jealous of anyone else who would seek to influence Obama and keep him highly isolated from even his Chief of Staff and Cabinet members. They run the show. This part of the book is the most fascinating and scary. We did NOT elect these women, and yet they pull the strings.

The third part of the book details the snubs and insulting behavior by Obama towards his supposed friends. It includes a chapter on the Michelle v. Oprah falling out (once again over jealousy of Oprah’s growing influence on Barack). His snubbing of the Kennedy family, his disrespect for the Jewish Community vis-a-vis his treatment of Israel, and his failure to address issues that disproportionately affect black, like the high unemployment. I believe he has taken them all for granted knowing none will vote Republican, and he is right.

Part four deals with his chaotic foreign policy. Apparently this is the area he takes the most ownership in. Who knew? He writes his own policy papers rather than the traditional method of delegating that to lower levels. He “makes the call of most every subject and with a degree of personal intensity.” The “Obama Doctrine” was hatched in the post-cold war leftism that sought to diminish America’s power in the world. He’s heavily influenced by Samantha Power who advocates a policy of mea culpa and humanitarian action. Yet this leads to a convoluted and random foreign policy of appeasing our enemies and capriciously acting when a “humanitarian” crisis presents itself. Of course, humans suffer all over the world for various reasons. Deciding when to become involved (i.e. “leading from behind” in Libya and ignoring Syria) has no apparent rational basis, but is emotionally driven. 

Part five is the most depressing as Klein makes the case for “A One-Term Proposition”. He reiterates Obama’s failure to grow the economy because he followed FDR and Ted Kennedy’s far-left ideologies, and the fact that he sunk deep into the mud as his reelection neared. He states, “To win reelection in 2012, Barack Obama must divert the country’s attention from his record of incompetence and amateurism.” Apparently he did just that.

I thought I would not want to read this book, knowing Obama would be reelected, but it kept me riveted and showed me even more forcefully that Obama is where he is because God is going to use his presidency to further His plan. Unfortunately, I believe God’s plan is to diminish America as “the last, best hope” so that ultimately people will look to Him when the world rips apart at the seams. Unknowingly, Obama appears to be doing the Lord’s work.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens

The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens details the story of how he rejected his faith and God and ultimately came full-circle to becoming a committed Christian believer. He references, at times, the journey his brother Christopher Hitchens took as well. While they started out on a similar path, being raised nominally in church then rejecting religion, they diverged when Peter started to question the assumptions made by his fellow atheists. This led to an understandably strained relationship for most of their adulthood.

He begins with his realization that most atheists seem to be in actuality, wounded theists. That is, they believe in God, until He disappoints them. Their atheism, then, is an attempt to get back at God by refusing to believe in Him.

He then traces the roots of his own particular atheism. It began in childhood, when he fancied himself much to smart to believe in what his stodgy elders believed. He was taken in by an elite that mocked religion, dismayed at the personal failings of believers, and passionate about embracing “science” which seemed to have removed the need for God. Unfortunately, his parents and society could offer him no reasons to believe. He watched his father’s stature decline and saw his country become disillusioned by Winston Churchill after WWII and he himself, along with much of the continent suffered from the after effects of the two World Wars. Death and destruction seemed to destroy any idea that a good God existed and watched over His people. 

As an adult, he travels the world as a reporter. Seeing first-hand the devastation wrought by the godless Soviet Union. He notices the yawning gap between the powerfully connected and the rest of society. He sees the coarseness and hopelessness of a godless people. He sees there and in a stint in Mogadishu how rapidly a society that rejects God and His morals can decline. An encounter with a painting entitled “The Last Judgement” brings home the finality of those who reject God and end up in forever tortured. Suddenly coming judgement feels real and he knows he will stand before God and answer for his arrogance. 

But more than fear drives him back to his faith. He recognizes a lack in his own life of meaning. The traditions and great oaths he encounters anew as he marries and baptizes his daughter reawakens a desire for beauty and holiness. Unfortunately, he believes he has returned too late. He recognizes that his generation of godless rebels has forever changed the church he remembers. As he traces the decline of Christianity in both Britain and America, he concludes, “[they have] inherited a society with Christian forms and traditions. [They do] not know what to do with them or how to replace them. Into this confusion and emptiness the new militant secularists now seek to bring an aggressive atheism.” 

In the second part of the book, he moves away from his personal narrative to “addressing the three failed arguments of atheism.” 

The first argument of atheists points to religious wars and conflicts being about religion and therefore religion, and by extension, God, is to blame for the bloodshed. After acknowledging that sometimes, religionist have come to blows over definitively religious issues, he traces the history of other various “religious wars” to show that most are simply man waging war against man for the garden-variety reasons of wealth, power and land. While reviling the religious for the slaughters, atheists never attribute the greatest evils perpetrated in human history, those of Mao, Stalin and Hitler, to their atheism. How they cannot see the link baffles Hitchens and leads him to conclude that the real target of these wounded theists is their irrational attack on Christianity, and they are not truly open to facts. 

The second argument he debunks declares, “It is possible to determine what is right and what is wrong without God.” He points to the beauty of a standard that exists outside of human control. We humans are not naturally selfless and good. This is made all too obvious by simple observation. Without a higher law, a higher being, demanding that we “love our neighbor as ourselves” we simply won’t do it. Not for very long. He continues on, pointing out the atheists NEED for a universe devoid of God. They simply cannot fathom having to answer to something larger than themselves and have therefore believed the lie that absolute truth and morality can exist without God. 

Finally he goes after the belief among atheists that “Atheist states are not actually atheist.” Yet he counters, “Utopia can only ever be approached across a sea of blood. This is a far greater problem for the atheist than it is for the Christian, because the atheist uses this argument to try to demonstrate that religion specifically makes things worse than they otherwise would be. On the contrary, it demonstrates that our ability to be savage to our own kind cannot be wholly prevented by religion. More important still, Atheist states have a consistent tendency to commit mass murders in the name of the greater good.” Religious people believe Utopia will only come about by God’s intervention. Atheists must take matters into their own, bloody hands.

The third part of his book describes “The league of the militant godless.” He begins by comparing the “silly” beliefs of a common peasant to the huge lie swallowed by the atheists. They continue to deny the evil perpetrated by their own in the name of Communism. He documents very convincingly the absolute rejection of God by the Soviet Union as well as their subsequent horrific acts. Atheists must necessarily see the Soviet Union and the evil it produced as the result of their militant godlessness. But they must reject God in their quest for more power. “If God is not dethroned and his laws not revoked, he represents and important rival to the despot’s authority, living in millions of hearts. If he cannot be driven out of hearts, total control by the state is impossible.”

In conclusion, he states, “The League of Militant Godless had done their work too well. In the names of reason, science, and liberty that had proved rather effectively, that good societies need God to survive and that when you have murdered him, starved him, silenced him, denied him to the children, and erased his festivals and his memory, you have a gap that cannot indefinitely be filled by and human, nor anything made by human hands.”

This book is wonderfully written and argued. The prose is beautiful and transcendent. The voice of Peter Hitchens comes through in an achingly haunting manner. He writes what may be a eulogy to all that is good. His brother died an unrepentant atheist. That may be, for Hitchens, that saddest fact of all. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Although you might be told not to judge a book by its cover, that is precisely why I became interested in Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard. The picture of... well I didn’t know who, but whoever it was on the cover as well as the fonts used in the title and subtitle reached out and grabbed me in the book store. So without even knowing what the book was about, I dived in. 

It turns out that in this case, you CAN judge a book by its cover. 

Millard weaves a fascinating tale of the assassination of President Garfield only a few months after his inauguration. She seamlessly slips back and forth between the stories of the assassin, Garfield, Alexander Graham Bell, and Joseph Lister (a proponent of antisepsis). 

While the assassin, John Guiteau, plots to regain a life of meaning and purpose, Garfield is unanimously chosen as the Republican presidential nominee - against his wishes. He chooses Chester A. Arthur as his Vice-President in order to placate the faction of the party that supported the spoils system. Arthur has been bought and paid for by Garfield’s biggest rival, New York Senator, Roscoe Conkling. 

At the same time, Bell and Lister are making scientific discoveries and opening up an entirely new world with the telephone and antisepsis to prevent germs from wreaking havoc on medical patients. Both face a skeptical public and both prove up the challenges they face. 

Guiteau, finally convinced that God has called him to kill the new presidents when his requests for patronage jobs go unheeded, believes he has found his calling for greatness. He shoots the unprotected leader, leaving him alive but now under the care of Dr. Bliss. Having been rebuffed earlier in his medical career, and having such an important patient, leads Bliss to reject the new-fangled germ theory. Wholly incorrect about the position of the bullet in the body of Garfield, Bliss and many other doctors probe the wound with ungloved, unwashed hands. 

Bell, remembering the noise his telephone lines emitted when near metal, determines to build the first metal detector in order to find the bullet lodged in Garfield. He races against time as Garfield grows progressively worse from the infection introduced by Bliss and the others. Although his machine works, it proves fruitless on the president because Bliss only allows Bell to scan the location in which he wrongly assumes the bullet to be. 

For the two months that Garfield suffers horribly, Vice President Arthur wills himself to be better than he has been. He breaks all ties with Conkling and the spoils system. He sees in Garfield a much better man than he has ever been and desperately hopes not to have to fill the shoes of such a great and beloved leader. 

Guiteau, convinced that when Arthur becomes president he will lavish Guiteau with gratitude, sits in a jail in which even the guards try to kill him. He clings to the notion that at any time, the Republicans will come to his rescue and praise him as a hero.

Finally, Garfield dies, and the nation plunges into grief. At the autopsy, it becomes immediately clear that Dr. Bliss and his ministrations are the cause the death. The hole, bored into Garfield’s back, not by a bullet, but by the doctor’s fingers became horribly infected, leading to sepsis throughout Garfield’s entire body. Nevertheless, it is Guiteau that will pay with his life. Bliss, never believing he erred and rejecting the compensation offered by Congress as insultingly little, lives the rest of his life in ignominy. 

The only silver lining to this tragedy is that upon Arthur’s ascendency to the presidency, he finally does away with the patronage system, replacing it with the civil service system we have today. No longer would government jobs be allocated based on political payback, but only according to merit. Garfield’s death made Arthur a better man.

Knowing very little about Garfield, other than the fact that he was president, this book introduced me to a great man. Since he was a devout Christian, I look forward to meeting him one day. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First Principles by John Taylor

I read First Principles by John Taylor because the book came recommended by Amazon based on my ratings. While I agree with its premise, it’s a little too wonky for me. I had hoped that politicians were reading and ingesting his book and principles. When I found out that John Taylor was an advisor to Mitt Romney, I felt heartened by the fact that he is apparently making headway into the top political circles. 

His Five First Principles are as follows:
Predictable policy framework
Rule of Law
Strong incentives
Reliance on markets
Clearly limited role for government

He goes on at length with an historical discussion of policies and administrations that have violated these principles and the resultant failure. Interestingly, it’s not always Democrats - bad and Republicans - good. The results directly correlate to an adherence to the first principles no matter which party is in power. 

His solutions include tax reform aimed at reducing our debt, reforming the Fed to follow sound monetary policy, not discretionary policies, end crony capitalism, reform entitlements, and rebuild American economic leadership.

The book details many specific policy prescriptions. I would love it if we could just hand this book to the Congress and say, “Do this!” We’d certainly be on the road to success if we are not already over the hump.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Implosion by Joel Rosenberg

Implosion by Joel Rosenberg makes the case that America will implode one way or another. Our economic and political problems are simply too entrenched to believe they will just go away or work themselves out. Although he presents both the pessimist’s case and the optimist’s case that we have faced tough times before and have always weathered the storm, because we must look at the problems we face spiritually to understand that America will, in fact, implode.

We are living in what the Bible calls, “the last days.” Jesus could return at any time and the rebirth of Israel was a very important sign that the time of the gentiles is coming to an end. However, America is not specifically mentioned in Biblical prophecy in the end times, so then, we have to ask, “Why not?” Joel lists four reasons he believes America may no longer be a world player in future prophetic events: 

1. Economic Implosion
2. Terrorist attack
3. Natural disaster
4. The Rapture

One has only to read Broke by Glenn Beck or any number of other books on the subject to see that America is quite possibly already too far gone economically. Serious economists are now calling for America to default on a debt it cannot possibly repay. Even if a solution is on the horizon, the fact remains that I believe we have very little time left on God’s timeline to repair the damage relying on government over God has caused. So possibility number 1 becomes a real likelihood.

The world is full of nations wanting to destroy America and they smell blood in the water. Americans are war and terror weary and are ready to let down the guard. A major attack by a hostile nation is certainly being planned and certainly possible. Even if we are not militarily attacked directly, we may become too isolationist and withdraw ourselves from a leadership role in the world. So possibility number 2 is also a strong contender.

The third possibility of a natural disaster knocking America off its perch is also a very real scenario. We have seen catastrophic disasters caused by earthquakes, storms, tidal waves and volcanos unleashed all around us in the last few years. Even Hurricane Sandy was said to be the “perfect storm” occurring as it did at the time of a full moon. California is ripe for “the big one” and such a possibility cannot be ruled out.

However, my prayer is that the United States is not a powerful player in the last days because we are decimated by the Rapture. Regardless of what else happens, the Rapture will severely disrupt life in America. Despite our spiritual failings, the Lord has preserved a vibrant remnant of His people. More people will disappear in single moment than have been lost in all our wars and natural disasters combined. The panic and hysteria caused by such a cataclysmic event cannot be understated. 

No matter which scenario plays out and no matter which order they occur, for I believe all to be likely, the fact is is that God is trying to get our attention. He is using economics, terrorism, and natural disasters to remind of us our absolute dependence on Him. The church is largely asleep and God is shouting, “Wake up!”

Our hope then, is a Third Great Awakening. Rosenberg traces the history of the First and Second Great Awakenings. The First led to our Revolution and the devotion of the people to a Biblical worldview. The Second led to a rebirth of our nation as it prepared the country to fight for its very life in the Civil War. Each began in dire times where God had been largely forgotten and the national sins were great. Each followed a period when devotion to God had tapered off considerably from earlier eras. We are ripe for a Third Great Awakening!

But will we experience God’s love and mercy poured out one final time before His return? I don’t know. I pray we will. It starts with me. I must first experience revival in my own spirit before I can participate in bringing it to the nation. 

While all the evidence suggests the implosion of America is imminent, we must pray that God will have mercy once more, though we do not deserve it. Until God tells us, like He told the prophet of old to stop praying for the country, because He has judgement planned, I will pray that the Lord will open the hearts and minds of my fellow Americans to their sin and folly. But first He must reveal my own sin and folly to me. 

Revival is our last, best hope.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Nation of Moochers by Charles Sykes

I read a lot of books, but no book has made me as angry as A Nation of Moochers by Charles Sykes. In fact, I finished the book quite hopeless and feeling quite taken advantage of. I felt like a sucker for not mooching. Apparently everyone else has their hand out!

We, as a nation are becoming addicted to OPM (Other People’s Money). In fact, more and more people are taking from fewer and fewer makers. This appears to be increasing and we may, in fact, be near the tipping point of unsustainability. But in the mean time, we continue to transfer more and more money under the irrational belief that  it is all being taken from someone else. At some point, those who are not moochers will realize they are suckers and simply walk over and join the takers. Then what?

The first kind of moocher Sykes discusses is the dependent class created by feel-good liberals. When the underclass rioted, liberals gave them money. They bought them off to keep them from becoming violent, but instead created a permanent dependent class. And the pay off has skyrocketed. Forget basic needs. Cell phone, flat screen TVs, X boxes are all necessary to avoid “relative deprivation” in which the poor do not have have all the stuff the “rich” have. This very materialistic view of humanity, that stuff is what matters to a good and happy life, has led to dependent, miserable people. We have created incompetent people who learn helplessness. When a disaster strikes, and the government cannot help them (i.e. Katrina) they are ill-equipped to deal with the situation. 

But the moochers are not just low-income Americans feeding at the government trough. Corporate America has pulled up a seat as well. Hollywood, “farmers”, owners of beach-front property, General Electric, Realtors, the U.A.W. green energy firms, Archer Daniels Midland, and countless other business suck up sweetheart deals and tax breaks from the government to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars. 

Moochers are also public sector union workers. Sykes details in a maddening way why it’s good to work for the government. The salaries and benefits eclipse equivalent private sector work. The job security is almost unbreachable, and the pensions are bankrupting other workers who have nothing similar to fall back on. Once again, many of us are taken for suckers to be mooched off of. Interestingly however, when a state like Indiana made union dues voluntary, 95% of all workers opted out. That’s the death knell for unions and a way to introduce sanity into our public sector.

Then he moves on to the bailout moochers. Whether it is big banks, investment firms, or homeowners who bit off way more than they could chew, lots of people lined up for government handouts. Remember, it’s the frugal and prudent who are paying off the losses of the greedy risk-takers. They win, we lose.

At this point, Sykes zeros in on the “Middle Class Suckers.” We are the ones who play by the rules and get punished for it. In fact, in many ways, our country punishes work. He gave example after example of how it would actually make sense NOT to get married or NOT to take a better paying job when government benefits would be reduced. It would almost seem the system is designed to discourage work and self-reliance. Or rather it’s designed to encourage government reliance! Even the middle class of the future are a bunch of suckers. We are already mooching off them and they aren’t even born yet. We are sticking them our $16,000,000,000,000 debt. Suckers.

How to fix it? I don’t think his suggestions are realistic. He basically suggests changing the culture and making a fast cutoff of wealth transfers. No one wants to be the first to back away from the trough. Politicians need to learn to say, “No.” Maybe in an alternative universe, but here on earth, that will never happen. 

My solution is to return to the Constitution. Our government was founded by God-fearing men who knew the propensity for human failings. They recognized from the very beginning the desire of man to mooch. That’s why they severely limited the role of the government. All of the bailouts, crony capitalism, transfer payments, Social Security, Medicare, welfare, tax favoritism, all of it, all the moocher’s tools are unConstitutional. Until we return to self-governance under God, with a firm reliance on Him and not the government, we will continue to mooch and continue to head down the path of implosion. And we who are self-reliant and trust God and make wise decisions consistent with a Biblical worldview will continue to be treated as... suckers.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

50 Things Liberals Love to Hate

50 Things Liberals Love to Hate by Mike Gallagher is certainly red meat to conservatives. He lists 50 things, ranging from Walmart, football, the South, The Founding Fathers and finally, in nothing but a stark map, America.

While he is humorous, and, to quote Candy Crowley, probably correct in the main, I don’t think any liberal will believe himself to be accurately portrayed. The book is rather cartoonish and paints broad caricatures. Lots of fun to read if a light jaunt is desired, but  no real, serious discussion of the differences between liberalism and conservatism. For that, get Dennis Prager’s Last Best Hope.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mugged by Ann Coulter

Mugged by Ann Coulter is written in her refreshing no-holds-barred style. She sets out to destroy the racial demagoguery employed by Democrats from the 70s, the time they stopped being outspoken, unapologetic racists, until the Obama presidency today. Her research is impressive and devastating to those who would have us believe Democrats always protected civil rights and it has always been the nasty, racist Republicans who have done all in their power to hold back black people.

Her thesis is as follows: For decades, the Left has been putting on a play with themselves as heroes in an ongoing civil rights movement -- which they were mostly absent from at the time. Long after pervasive racial discrimination ended, they kept pretending America was being run by the Klan and that liberals were black America’s only protectors. It took the O.J. Simpson verdict -- the race-based acquittal of a spectacularly guilty black celebrity as blacks across America erupted in cheers -- to shut down the white guilt bank. 

However, now almost 18 years later, with the election of our first African-American president, the race hustlers are back in full force. That’s why she needed to write this book. She desires to show Americans that it is all a lie and demagoguery designed to demonize Republicans and the Right and keep blacks voting Democrat.

She begins with stories of white cops defamed for “racist” killings of innocent blacks. Except that is not how the story happened. No matter, if the perpetrator was white and the “victim” black, the white one gets lambasted in the press as guilty. Similarly, when blacks assaulted whites, they were excused because of their race. Being black apparently gave them license to commit whatever crime seemed expedient at the time. Again, lots of examples (i.e. Marion Barry, Al Sharpton).  In fact, for too long, the race of the perpetrator, if he was black, was knowingly excluded from the reports so as not to reinforce a stereotype.

Then she moves on to case after case of fraudulent cases of racist violence. Once shown to be false, the media moves on and certainly doesn’t cover the duplicity of the report with anywhere near the original reporting. This leaves the impression that racist violence is occurring with regularity.

She discusses people like Jeremiah Wright who was given a pass by the media because of his race. 

She writes a great chapter on the damage well-intentioned white liberals have done to the black community. Coulter states, “This is not to say all problems of black people are caused by white people. But it has been white liberals in positions of power -- in the media, academia, Hollywood and the judicial system -- who thought it was fun (and quite hips!) to elevate all the worst elements of the black community as heroes and martyrs.”

She describes the media’s complicity in creating an environment that led to racial animosity. One such incident was the careful editing of the Rodney King tape. The version showed in the media time and again had been edited to only show the beating and not his actions that incited it. When the jury, who saw the whole tape, acquitted the officers, the people of LA were ill-prepared, thinking they had all the facts in the edited tape. In the same way, the focus of the O.J. trial became whether the officers arresting O.J. were racists. In fact, the only person convicted of anything in regards to that trial was Officer Fuhrman for not including dialogue he wrote for a screen play as an example of him using the “n-word.” However, that trial would usher in a time in which whites realized we had gone too far in accommodating bad black behavior. 

Since Democrats are no longer subjugating blacks anymore, they have to make up racist incidents to convince black people they are still being harmed. Therefore they try to infuse just about anything a Republican does with racist motivations. So anything can be translated into racially induced. Today we see the words, “Chicago”, “golfer”, “the”, Romney referring to his 5 “boys”, and countless other examples the Democrats give of Republicans underlying racism. But Bill Clinton can say, “A few years ago, this guy (Obama) would have been getting us coffee.” and that’s just Bill. Her book lists the biggest historical examples of this as the Willie Horton ad, Bob Jones University, and Reagan’s belief in states’ rights. She demolishes all these as  being racially motivated. Even opposing Obama on anything and not intending to vote for him is considered racist. They hear “dog whistles” and see racist boogeymen everywhere they look. Perhaps there is more than a little projection going on!

Obama’s impending assassination occupies many Democrats’ thoughts and worries. So convinced are they of the Right’s desire to murder our president, stemming from the inherent racism on the Right. The hysteria is well documented. Yet a movie about actually assassinating George Bush is free speech and celebrated. Hmmm, sounds like more projection, which I believe is the root of all Democrats demonizations of Republicans. They tar and feather the Right with what the Left either ACTUALLY does, or would do. 

Obama, himself has engaged in racial demagoguery. He made up stories about his white friends discomfort around his black friends in his book. He sat under a racist pastor whom he called a friend and mentor. He acknowledges that his race has helped him succeed in the Democrat Party, but lashes out at anyone on the other side that mentions this truism. Without any knowledge of the facts he injected himself into two situations (the Henry Louis Gates arrest and the Trayvon Williams killing) and infused them with racial overtones, taking the side early on of the black person involved.

She ends stating, “White Guilt Kills.” The problem with the pandering and obsequious behavior towards blacks hurts everyone. It leads to riots, crime, and keeping black people “on the plantation” to be cared for by their white betters. Treating all people as equals, regardless of color and not pandering leads to Allen West, Tim Scott, Herman Cain, and Clarence Thomas. She concludes, “The national obsession with racism is a self-inflicted punishment that has resulted in disaster, for everyone, but most of all for black people... It is Bull Connor’s last revenge.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cowards by Glenn Beck

Cowards by Glenn Beck is basically a collection of rants on various subjects. The title indicates that those who will not tell the American people the truth about the enormous problems facing us are cowards. Beck is here to set us straight! He begins his book with this, “George Orwell once said, ‘In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.’ Consider this book a revolutionary act.”

He first starts off dissecting and discussing the history of progressivism and how fluid the Democrat and Republican labels are. At one point, progressives included the Republican Hoover and TR. He points out the danger the progressives have done no matter what the label. For this reason, he advocates libertarianism (with a small-l to differentiate them from the Libertarian Party). Believing most Americans to already be libertarian in their views, he puts forward a set of values that hold the Constitution as the basis for political action. He also demolishes some of the Libertarian priorities, like legalizing drugs and being a social liberal by distinguishing between liberty and license. Liberty includes the responsibility that comes with freedom. Yet he admits that getting Americans to change the way we govern ourselves to more accurately reflect the founding document is a long, hard process.

His next section consists of a biography of George Soros. Short version - he’s the evil capitalist the left warns us of. Except he is on the left. He destroys solely in order gain power and money. His fingers are in every liberal pie. He’s behind just about every liberal activist group. He is example number one that the left's characterization of the right is all projection. They think we are all evil like George Soros. Except that we aren't. And he is. And he's one of theirs. When they throw bombs at evil corporate-types, we can once again say, "No, that's you guys."

Then he moves onto the border with Mexico. He describes the drug cartels, the violence, and the proximity of Hezbollah. Anyone who is not for at least building a fence needs to read what Beck describes as “the conflict between criminals who operate with impunity and a complete disregard for human life and a decent, moral, civilized society in which the rule of law still matters.” Compassion gets us killed.

Continuing his libertarian theme, he goes after the Patriot Act. He details all the many ways our liberties are impugned and yet we are no safer! 

Next up is Jim Wallace, the leftist Christian who wants to remake the church into an arm of the Democrat Party. Funded in part by the evil George Soros, he is simply trying to dress up old-fashioned Marxism and Progressivism in ecumenical clothing.

He takes on the Islamist Agenda in the next section. Their Sharia theology is simply not compatible with Western Democracy. We must fight their ideas and do all we can to support reform-minded Muslims. 

Beck then traces the history of public education and the various reform ideas which have been implemented. He recommends taking a wrecking ball to the whole thing. But understanding this may not be politically viable, he recommends, “We need to clean out the system, top to bottom. That means investigating and firing teachers who don’t teach our kids, decertifying the teachers unions, cutting off federal funding to institutions with huge endowments, and driving down tuition payments through open competition. It means start-up educational institutions and universities, and new homeschooling and private school options that focus on apprenticeships and hands-on learning.”
Our schools are currently being used to train up little socialists and leave us little equipped for a dynamic future involving rapid changes. 

In conclusion, this book is kind of a compendium of various rants Beck has probably made on his show multiple times. All are good and thoughtful. All are worth reading. All provide an education.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Godforsaken by Dinesh D’Souza takes on the age-old question: Can an all-powerful, all-knowing God be good, since bad things continue to happen? He answers the question with a resounding, “Yes” and then proceeds to explain why. 

After spending many years debating atheists, D’Souza believes this question is at the root of the disbelief. Atheists are in fact “wounded theists”, people who have been deeply disappointed in God for not stopping evil. This conundrum is somewhat specific to Judeo-Christian religions. Others accept suffering more readily as random acts by random gods or the universe. Believers in God, positing that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, must then ask and try to answer the central question: why do bad things happen?

He states, “I will argue that God is the divine architect, the Cosmic Designer. He wanted to make a lawful universe containing human beings. More broadly, God wanted to create conscious, rational agents who could understand his creation and also freely relate to him. Given God’s objective to make humans, God constructed the universe not in the best possible way, but in the only way that it could be constructed.”

This idea that, given His objectives, God was limited to only one way to make the universe seems to limit God’s power, to negate His omnipotence. Yet we know there are already limits on God’s omnipotence. God cannot tell lies. He cannot make two plus two equal five. The problem arises from a wrong understanding of omnipotence. It is not the power to do anything, but the power to do the possible. And how do we know our universe was the only possible way accomplish His goals? Surprisingly, that supposed nemesis of religion, science gives us the answer.

D’Souza begins by offering the usual explanations given by believers to the problem of suffering. He states these rarely work to convince unbelievers and even the faithful find them less than satisfactory. He begins with “original sin”, then talks about suffering as punishment, or that evil is simply a lack of God’s goodness and therefore not His “fault”, or finally that this is, not the only, but the best of all possible worlds. This last one is not persuasive because we can always imagine a better world. How can this one be the best?

Next he turns to atheist’s arguments and punches some holes in them as well. While acknowledging that it seems to be the believer that faces an uphill battle in defending God, he states the atheist has his own burden of proof. He must tell us why human-produced evil exists in the first place. Human evil radically surpasses that of regular animal cruelty. Why? He also points out the fact the we humans are definitionally limited in our understanding of why God may do this or that. Yet we arrogantly act like our ways are higher than God’s ways, our thoughts higher than God’s thoughts. I may not understand a deeply researched paper on quantum physics, but does my lack of understanding mean it’s all gibberish and therefore wrong?

In the following chapters, D’Souza takes on the role of a defense attorney, not trying to prove anything, except to show the case against God doesn’t hold up. “So the task of the defense is to show that there could be morally sufficient reasons for the existence and magnitude of evil and suffering in the world. In particular, I intend to argue that evil and suffering are necessary in order to secure a vastly greater good, a good that even an omnipotent being could not obtain without it.” 

The first thing that makes true evil possible is free will. God created us in His image and likeness and as He himself is free, so are we. Some would argue we either aren’t free to choose or God could have created us without freedom. But the essence of humanity is our ability to choose, to fail, and to learn. God wanted humans to love and to return that love. Without free will, we are animals. Quantum physics destroyed the idea that there is no such thing as free will within the scientific community, but God made it clear years ago when He said, “Choose you this day...” Yet in Adam and Eve, we chose to go our own way. Had we remained perfectly aligned with God, we would have been happier, but would have foregone free will. Instead, we abandoned God and introduced the kind of evil only possible with the ability to make choices.

What about evil in the form of “Acts of God”? Earthquakes kill thousands. Yet science tells us that the tectonics that allow earthquakes make our very existence possible. No earthquakes, no life at all. Fire and water, both deadly, but both absolutely necessary for life. 

What about disease? Once again, our free will often brings diseases on ourselves. In addition, the things that cause disease are themselves part of a large interconnected system. Without them, who knows what other calamities would befall us.

Once again, D’Souza comes back to the idea of a finely-tuned universe, constructed in such a way that man appears to be the final destination - The Anthropic Principle. First of all, the universe operates according to laws and constants. Why? It doesn’t need to, but our world is orderly and discoverable. So many things had to go right for us to even be here to discover them. Yet some say that of course everything went right. We’re here. We got lucky. There may in fact be an infinite number of universes, all with different features. This is just the one we live in. But this multi-verse theory just points out the fact that some have given up finding a non-God explanation and are now venturing off into science fiction. 

Finally, Dinesh D’Souza describes the character of God. Why did God create in the first place? Should He have? Apparently, yes. Despite all the suffering and evil, we humans seem to still believe that life is worth it. What about the evils perpetrated by God Himself in the Bible? Many of these “crimes” have deeper explanations that show a God of mercy, not murder, when carefully looked into. Would a loving God send people to hell? Well, if this life is not always fair, a loving God provides the opportunity for true justice in the after life. In Jesus Christ death and resurrection, God brought ultimate good out of the evil we introduced in the Fall. That alone proves He is a good and loving God. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I read The Host by Stephenie Meyer on a recommendation from a friend. Being that the author also wrote Twilight, which I regularly mock, I wasn’t too sure.

I must repent.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy this book, I am actually jealous for those who will read it in the future. I wish I could read it for the first time, again!

This science fiction novel takes place in some unspecified future in which alien life forces are using humans as hosts. The aliens themselves have no real bodies, only what they call a “soul”. The only way for them to live any kind of meaningful life is to inhabit the body of another. Unfortunately, a body can have only one soul at a time, and thus the rightful owner must be pushed aside for the new parasite. 

The conceit of the book involves a girl who refuses to relinquish her body to the new soul. This sets up an unprecedented situation, fabulously fleshed out by a very insightful author. I kept asking myself, how is this going to end?

It ended with me bawling!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly

This riveting book about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln kept me on the edge of my seat. Well researched and dramatically told, every detail makes the story come alive! I cannot recommend it highly enough!

O’Reilly tells the story as a gripping thriller. He details moment by moment of the last days before the assassination of LIncoln. The truly maddening part is watching so many things go wrong, allowing the other intended victims to survive, and yet everything goes exactly right for the killer of the president. 

This book is just as good as any quality fiction novel.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Throw Them All Out by Peter Schweizer

The title says it all: Throw Them All Out by Peter Schweizer. This book traces the absolute corruption which embroils our elected officials. Whether it is insider trading on stocks, miraculous land deals, access to IPOs, or laws passed to benefit political donors, our congressmen and women engage in some of the most egregious forms of corruption. AND it's all legal! Why? They police themselves. Ever notice how regular middle-class people go to Washington and leave millionaires? That's our money they are taking and our economy they are harming for their own benefit. I couldn't agree more... throw them all out!

Peter Schweizer names names and documents every claim.

He begins with the stock trading that health care laws generate. When our elected officials know what sector will be harmed or helped, they make calls to their brokers, before it becomes public knowledge. John Kerry, with the millions he already had access to, was able to make millions more. Other players, like Jim Webb, had a smaller pot to start with but still ended up ahead due to the insider trading knowledge he had. They also cash in by trading stocks based on crisis’ they know are coming before the public catches wind. 

Many times, politicians will have access to IPO’s the rest of us can only watch. Nancy Pelosi made a killing getting into a VISA IPO and then sitting on legislation that would have harmed her new partner’s interests. Pure corruption! Boxer got rich the same way. 

As the federal government has enormous power when it comes to land valuation, some, like Harry Reid and Dennis Hastert, will find a way to benefit. Sometimes it involves moving a federal project near land they own in order to raise the property value. Harry Reid asked for a bridge to be built over the Colorado River that would then hike the value of a piece of property he owned nearby. How nice.  Or in the case of Pelosi, she made sure a light rail project built a stop conveniently located near an office building she owns, effective sending the value up. 

Crony capitalism, wherein government officials direct loans, subsidies, and projects to their donors, has famously enriched many a politician. Obama’s stimulus in 2009, as well as other programs, funnelled literally billions of our dollars to his political supporters. For example, of the $20.5 billion in loans made by the Dept. of Energy, $16.4 billion went to companies with an Obama connection. Schweizer gives too many examples to list of Obama donors who went on receive very lucrative benefits from the administration. For a man who wants to tax millionaires and billionaires, he certainly is giving them a lot of taxpayer money. Why doesn’t he just keep it in the first place and call it a draw. Oh yeah, how would that help him get elected?

He writes a whole chapter on Warren Buffet. Largely seen as a grandfatherly type, dispensing economic wisdom, Buffet is not beyond lobbying and capitalizing on government largess. He lent a “helping hand” to Goldman Sachs when the financial crisis hit, knowing full well, with insider political knowledge, a bailout was in the offing. Consequently, the stocks he received when investing in Goldman went through the roof! He earned $2.5 billion on that one. Nice work if you can get it. We are giving billionaires like Buffet billions of dollars through government policies he has the ability to influence. Pure corruption!

Many Wall Street organization hire retired politicians sole for the connections they bring. Studies have shown that a hedge fund with a politician on the payroll significantly outperforms those that don’t. Afterall their bought and paid for access to current lawmakers comes in handy when deciding where to invest. 

Conflict-of-interest laws apply in many business and within governmental functions. But they do not apply to members of Congress. In fact, since Congress has the job of policing itself, why would it ever limit its members’ ability to make financially advantageous deals? Members of Congress are routinely exempt from the laws the rest of us must abide by! Where is the outrage? Congress also uses its vast amount of power to engage in what is essentially extortion! Donate to my campaign or I may have to raise your taxes. And it’s LEGAL!! It will not change, because for them, business is good. 

Their arrogance is stupifying. We are supposed to be a nation under the rule of law. They have turned us into a banana republic. This absolute destroys the free market. When special favors must be bought, when only the politically connected can succeed, when rules and regulation are changed or bent in order to benefit a supporter, the economy crashes. Is it any wonder that this recession has dragged on and on. Business simply cannot function in an environment of such pervasive corruption. Since the Obama administration came into office, the corruption has moved from small, bi-partisan, back-room, million-dollar deals, to gigantic policies running into billions and billions of dollars.

Elizabeth Warren stated repeated at the DNC, “If you feel like the system is rigged against you, that’s because it is.” She advocated voting for Obama to change that. But not only is he a major contributor to the rigged system, they all are!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Still the Best Hope by Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager, a radio talk show host, lays out the arguments he has been making for 30 years on radio in one cohesive book, Still the Best Hope. He believes the world has three worldviews from which to choose: Leftism, Islamism, and Americanism. Writing in three sections in order to focus on each worldview separately, he dissects and dismantles both Leftism and Islamism. His critique of the Left is particularly insightful. But his promotion of American Values is where his originality is so needed. 

He defines Leftism as a secular religion with its own creeds and dogma. All humans need something to believe in and when you reject God, Leftism has to make do. Being a very materialistically focused worldview, material equality is its highest goal. They believe the government can lead us to their view of nirvana in which all experience equality of outcome. They reject facts they don’t like for wishful thinking and desire to will into being their own form of reality. Too often, truth can make people feel bad, and the left is wholly feelings-based. The left succeeds because it appeals to feelings and promises the impossible. Many people would rather believe in a beautiful lie than confront hard and unfair truth. Unfortunately, basing one’s worldview on falsities has led to the most barbaric outcomes as reality has the unfortunate ability to keep making itself known. Only totalitarianism can keep hard facts at bay and only for a limited time. 

The other worldview competing for the hearts and minds of the planet today is Islamism.   Prager states, “There are a number of serious  moral problems within the Muslim world: the lack of liberty, the treatment of women the imposition of Sharia on Muslims and non-Muslims, the use of violent punishments for non-violent offenses, and an abandonment or reason, among others.” For these reasons, Islamism is obviously not the path of more liberty and freedom. 

Finally, he defends Americanism. He elaborates on all three elements of what he calls, The American Trinity: E Pluribus Unum, Liberty, and In God We Trust. All are found on every American coin, which makes it a helpful reminder. It is these values we are in danger of losing and in the process we will lose what makes America great and ... exceptional!

Having listened to Dennis Prager for years, I didn’t find much new in the book, but I did enjoy getting all his thoughts in one place. This is a great resource for anyone wanting to concisely explain Americanism vs. Leftism or Islamism. He documents each claim with one or more examples. For anyone not immersed already in Dennis Prager’s thoughts, this book would be a real eye-opener.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Screwed by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

In the book, Screwed, Dick Morris and his wife Eileen McGann lay out situation after situation in which the United States is losing its sovereignty or being threatened by powers abroad. Many of the chapters deal with treaties and deals being made at the international level. While it is all scary, I'm hoping it's hyperbole. First of all, if his predictions are true, America is in big trouble. Second, because so much of it is at the international level, it feels as if there is nothing we can do.

The first issue brought addressed is our economy and the world’s attempts to control it. We already give large amounts of power to an unaccountable and unelected Fed. We are also allowing the G-20 and IMF to make policies that would impact us negatively.

Next they describe international treaties being pushed by various nations that would abrogate our sovereignty. These include the International Criminal Court, Law of Sea Treaty, United Nations Small Arms Treaty, European code of Conduct in Outer Space, Conventions on the Child, and Agenda 21. Each one of these treaties would affect everyday Americans and the freedoms we experience.

We also face serious threats from China. They manipulate their currency to our detriment. They hack into our technologies and steal our secrets. They have hacked into our electrical grid. We could use the leverage we have over them in respect to trade to demand they stop doing all of these things. 

Although we financially prop up Pakistan, they make it a habit to betray us. We must use the money and our relationship with India to pressure them to work with us in our fight against terrorism. We could also refocus our efforts and so rely on them less.

Afghanistan - Get out! We are there, propping up a corrupt regime. Only keep enough forces to hunt down terrorists and forget the nation-building.

With Saudi Arabia, we’ve made a deal with the devil. This barbaric regime commands our respect because we need their oil, but no longer! Open up America to fracking and more natural gas drilling and finally we will be able to achieve true energy independence. We must rid ourselves of alliances with these purveyors of evil.

The United Nations is corrupt. Since we pay 22% of the budget of the UN, we must use this leverage to force them to clean up.

Another institution with threatens the world is the World Bank. They give and give and give to corrupt regimes in the name of compassion and only end up making the problem worse. We must stop funding them.

Foreign aid is just as devastating. We prop us corrupt regimes as well with our dollars, and for thanks, we get nations that hate us. We must instead go the route of trade and investment by private corporations in order to truly help the struggling nations.

Here in our own backyard, we have the alliance of Iran and Venezuela. Like Saudi Arabia, we must stop buying Chavez’ oil and become energy independent. This would bankrupt Chavez and end his Iranian alliance and end the threat of an Iranian toehold in our hemisphere.

Finally, domestically, we have the very real problem of our own corrupt politicians using the revolving door of politics to make friends and then sell that influence to the highest bidder after retirement. They actually lobby on behalf of some of our enemies! We must ban this kind of influence peddling.

Hopefully, the next election will give us a president who truly fights for America!

Monday, August 27, 2012

One Year Off by David Elliot Cohen

One Year Off by David Elliot Cohen tells the story of a family that left everything behind in San Francisco and traveled around the world for a year. He details their adventures in a format that lets the reader feel as if he is along for the ride. They travel to 40 locations, some very exotic, and 5 continents. Along the way, their family learns not only geography and history, but gains a sense of what is important and what matters.

The journey began by selling their house and possessions and spending 6 months planning for such an adventurous trip. The first leg took them to Costa Rica. Their children had a hard time adjusting to the new non-schedule and familiarity and the first three weeks were pretty tough. But once they settled in to the nomadic lifestyle, they developed a rhythm. 

Next, they headed to Europe and the city of Lights. After begging the children, ages 9,7, and 3, to attend museum after museum and church after church, they journeyed to Greece to visit family. The welcome, food, and sights of Sardinia tempted them to just stay and call it home, but they had more destinations to conquer. Istanbul presented a magical scene and renting a houseboat to cruise around the Burgandy canals of France gave them a much needed time of relaxation. The classical ruins of Ephesus taught ancient history in a way no textbook could match.

Africa called next. After the endless cultural expeditions of Europe, the kids thrilled to the opportunities presented by a continent in which any type of animal may turn up around the next corner. They saw 30,000 elephants in Botswana, rafted the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, and came closer to the wildlife than they cared to while camping in the Hwange National Park.

The next major leg took them to India and more family connections. The kids lit up to see thousands of camels at the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, India. And although it’s a typical tourist destination, the Taj Mahal enchanted just the same. Here the children were able to experience some of their Jain religious heritage at an ancient temple.

Wanting to get off the beaten path, they traveled next to the west side of Australia where no one goes! Although they found it enchanting, spending 3 weeks over Christmas and New Years with good friends, they pressed onto the drive through the Nullarbor to Sydney. The long hypnotic drive through no where, with nothing to look at felt perilously close to danger and they imagined breaking down in the middle of the desert. Finally settling in Sydney for an extended period to put the kids in school for a few months, they  experienced one of the the most harrowing adventures. While taking his daughter out to boogie board at the deserted Surfers Point, David caught a wave without realizing his daughter was not behind him. When he glanced back at her, he discovered she had been caught in a current and was being whisked away from him at a dizzying speed. Using every swimmers’ skill he possessed, he caught up to her and brought her safely in. 

After a good long time of living a civilized life, the next stop took them to a most dangerous part of the world, Indochina. Desperately wanting to see the Angkor ruins in Cambodia, they planned a trip to land of “stifling heat, bad accommodations, and the imminent threat of land mines, revolution, and bandits.” Not recognizing exactly the danger they were in, they were stunned to see news of a coup merely a week after leaving. Laos and its remaining charm and mystery of the old world enticed them as well.

Finally they experienced the British handover of Hong Kong, headed to Hawaii, then home.

In a “Was it worth it?” epilogue Cohen believes it was in fact worth it. He would have changed some things (reconsider bringing a 3-year-old), not sell the house, and avoid really dangerous countries. But for the new perspective and opportunity to discover more about life, he believes it was absolutely worth it.