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As Long as We Remember...

January 26, 2009

Theater of the Absurd

Steven R. Berryman

For those feeling unsteady and questioning their own sanity of late, fear not, as you are truly living through an experience akin to watching Doug Adam’s movie, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” while listening to a Pink Floyd album.


Young readers please note that an “album” was a large black vinyl disc that they used to record music on before 1982. They were sold in “record stores” before the advent of the compact disc (CD) and the invention of the Internet, which ruined the ability of musicians to profit from their work.


The above is an example of American innovation digesting itself.


There is a bizarre disconnect between what had been promised on the campaign trail, and what is unfolding around us. The transition is discomforting.


Suspending your disbelief about the events of early 2009, The Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, and our current economic trials will help!


At least during the Cold War we suffered in comfort with the assurance that we knew our common enemy, the good old Soviet Union. Today socialism is a fear from within. Today, we have less certainty about who we are, where we are headed, and why.


So, we look to our new leadership for signals.


The Obama “My Fellow Citizens” Inauguration speech opened with the “gathering storm clouds” vision. Was it truly necessary to squander an opportunity to rejoice in his new beginning for all Americans in order to lower expectations?


This and “the winter of our hardship” metaphors were hardly uplifting.


If we are not optimistic at this opportunity, celebrating the new administration, then when can we be so?


How about a focus on what made us great as The United States of America, and some positive reinforcement?


American competitiveness, as exemplified by our passion for sports, Man to the Moon Project, and bio-tech inventions could easily be dumbed-down by destructive consolidation and government takeover.


No competition means no innovation.


What about praise for the Bush initial response to 9/11 as an example of a shining country of winners? This would have been an easy olive branch to hold out in the foreshadowed spirit of bipartisanship.


Leadership is about getting out in front of circumstances; it is not about providing cover. The creation of a negative, “self fulfilling prophesy” is antithetical to his stated campaign promises!


When the speech turned to a laundry list of national priorities, I was astonished: His headliner was not the economy, not healthcare, not education, not social programs or even America’s place in the world; it was “the war on terrorism!”


Again, a missed opportunity to set up the agenda in priority form. Saving the country from terrorism is fruitless…unless we have something to save.


The collective impact upon our country of the economic morass is actually worse than if a hydrogen bomb had been detonated over a major metropolitan area.


In discussing our “patchwork country,” Obama listed: Christians, Muslims, and then he got to Jews and non-believers. I could just feel Israel dusting off their contingency plan to attack Iran preemptively without the U.S.


This was followed by admonishing Islam that it will be judged by “what they build, not what they destroy.” Why go after a great religion, rather than a nation?


And four days into the new administration, Predator drones already attack within Pakistan, a clear telegraphing of a wider Afghanistan conflict. Is this a substitute for Iraq?


In discussing our “immigrant heritage,” the president acknowledged our predecessors crossing the oceans to come to America. But what of those crossing the deserts and plains of Mexico to access Texas? No mention of our current conundrum with 20 million illegals.


The Hispanic community, which enabled the Democratic victory, must have been thrilled.


Microsoft and Harley-Davidson both stunned their aficionados last week by announcing layoffs, bastions that were thought to be untouchable once. Perhaps one strategy for our new leader would be to actually promote what is great in America.


The above is much more useful than the plethora of disappointment insurance currently being doled out!


Shall we fix ourselves by creating make-work jobs in green projects? With the hard science so utterly inconclusive, why take the chance on expensive solutions that may have no value to a problem that may not even exist?


Carbon offset credits cannot make our suffering industries more productive and profitable; the marketers would be the winner here.


Will Barrack Obama come to our rescue, or make changes for the sake of change, simply because he can? Will the value of the spoils of office corrupt his chance to be carved into Mount Rushmore?


No president of the United States has ever faced so many challenges all at once. We must allow him his time to make good on promises, unobstructed.


But he must be open to questioning and push-back, or face a rising “loyal opposition.”


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