When people from other states and cities would ask me in 2007-08 what worried me most about Barack Obama, I usually surprised them by answering, "Where he's from and who he hangs with."
Not, "Because he's a Democrat and they are total doo-doo heads." Not, "I've studied his long-term tariff policy with Finland and find some troubling inconsistencies." Where he's from. Who he hangs out with.
Where is he from? Why, my hometown of Chicago, of course. The dude spent his entire adult life, and received his training as a politician, in the most corrupt political system since latter-day Ancient Rome. And who did he hang out with? Who were his influences? What ideology and group of men shaped his worldviews?
Welcome to your answers, America. You'll find them in a 90-minute documentary entitled 2016: Obama's America.
Dinesh D'souza has taken flack in recent years for his "obsession" with the life,times, and influences of our 44th president. Perhaps some of it is deserved. Perhaps most of it is not. Honestly, for the purposes of reviewing D'souza's new film, I don't even care about all of that. What I care about is the extremely well-made documentary that he has put together for our viewing/learning pleasure.
Here's how the filmmaker describes the project:
"2016 Obama's America takes audiences on a gripping visual journey into the heart of the world’s most powerful office to reveal the struggle of whether one man's past will redefine America over the next four years. The film examines the question, "If Obama wins a second term, where will we be in 2016?"
Across the globe and in America, people in 2008 hungered for a leader who would unite and lift us from economic turmoil and war. True to America’s ideals, they invested their hope in a new kind of president, Barack Obama. What they didn't know is that Obama is a man with a past, and in powerful ways that past defines him--who he is, how he thinks, and where he intends to take America and the world.
Immersed in exotic locales across four continents, best selling author Dinesh D’Souza races against time to find answers to Obama’s past and reveal where America will be in 2016. During this journey he discovers how Hope and Change became radically misunderstood, and identifies new flashpoints for hot wars in mankind’s greatest struggle. The journey moves quickly over the arc of the old colonial empires, into America’s empire of liberty, and we see the unfolding realignment of nations and the shape of the global future.
Emotionally engaging, 2016 Obama’s America will make you confounded and cheer as you discover the mysteries and answers to your greatest aspirations and worst fears."
Seriously, folks: this thing is really good. I am someone who despises (with a passion) the pop-culture garbage that is often churned out in the name of conservatism (or Christianity) and that we who grow up in that world are forced to endure with a false grin painted on our faces. So when I come across something like 2016, I want to give credit where credit is due. It's well-made. It's fast-paced, covers a lot of ground, but doesn't lose the audience. Apart from Dinesh's technicolor-dream-coat-like wardrobe, and the fact that they put the great Shelby Steele in the film - talking on a stupid cell-phone!!! - I thought it was visually stunning (for a documentary).
The film succeeds in painting a disturbing picture of the junior Senator from Illinois who somehow ended up as our Commander-in-Chief. Not that Barack Obama is evil, but that the things that shaped his worldview are ideals and values that don't reflect what even most liberals in this country believe. Anti-colonialism, and what not. (If you don't know what that term means, please Bing it on Google.) In 2016there is a story being told. It's an investigation of the intersection of bad history and flawed ideology. It's about ideas, and the very real consequences that emanate from them.
It's also subtly about the importance of family and parenting and what we teach our kids, grand-kids, and relatives. Dinesh's own personal journey from Mumbai to Dartmouth to the Reagan administration and beyond is compelling and adds an important stabilizing credibility to the film's tone.
If I had any real hang-up about the film it was that too much time was spent at the end prognosticating about "what America will possibly look like in 2016." Certainly it is fair game to extrapolate out what will happen if we keep spending at our current pace, but I don't think Dinesh realized how powerful the narrative he had already constructed by the 4/5th's mark of the documentary truly was. The audience can connect a lot of those dots, and if you've kept our attention to this point - if we've accepted your premises and find your reasoning to be sound - we don't need to be tucked into bed at the end. Conversely, if someone in the crowd was skeptical of what he/she was hearing by that point, casting dire predictions for an Islamic caliphate from Casablanca to Kabul should Obama be re-elected won't cause a sudden change of heart.
Whatever else I've said here aside: you need to see this movie. Not only is it something the Right can be proud of. Not only is it captivating from start-to-finish. It's a chance to vote with your wallet. It's a chance to send a message to would-be producers and writers and directors that we will support quality content that isn't simply preaching to the choir.
Realize the dreams from your favorite blogger, and go see 2016: Obama's America.
(For another, better, review...check out my friend Dr. Hunter Baker's re-cap on his personal blog right here!)
My father, Dr. Robert L. Moeller, is an ordained pastor and published author in the Chicago-land area. He wrote this thoughtful meditation on the horrific events that transpired early Friday morning in Aurora, CO.
The Promise of the Gospel -- The Dark Night Will One Day be Over
by Bob and Cheryl Moeller
----------------- We wish to express our deepest sorrow and sympathies to the families of those who lost loved ones in last evening's heart-breaking and senseless shooting in Colorado. Such an incident only underscores the terrible evil that can reside in the hearts of people who are willing to kill innocent strangers and feel no remorse. We live in a fallen world where sin takes captive individuals and motivates them to commit unspeakable crimes for dark purposes known only to their hardened hearts.
Yet, we also live in a world where the Gospel of Jesus Christ promises that neither life nor death can separate us from the love of God. We can face uncertain days with the full confidence that by trusting in the finished work of the Jesus on the Cross our sins are forgiven and our names are written in the Book of Life. The message of the Gospel that assures Jesus has defeated all the forces of evil, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross..." (Colossians 2:15).
While that victory was fully secured on the Cross by Jesus Christ, it has not been fully realized in this broken world as of yet.
The final and complete victory over evil and all the forces of darkness will only be brought about when Christ returns to establish His eternal kingdom. Then we are promised, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Certainly last night's events remind us all of the uncertainity and brevity of life. While we may believe we have a long and full life awaiting us -- we have no guarantee of that. Have you made your peace with God through Christ? If not, you can do so today by placing your full faith in the finished work of the Cross, confessing your sins to God, and receiving the gift of His full and complete forgiveness. The Bible says, "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12) Take that step today and let God give you the assurance that heaven will be yours regardless of what the future may hold. www.needhim.org
Last night's mayhem reminds us evil still is at work in this world and at times it can take on unspeakable forms. But be assured of this -- it's days are numbered. Jesus will one day return in all His splendor and glory and bring lasting peace to our extremely hurting world.
When that day arrives the dark night will truly be over.
Again, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families this incredibly sad day.
On our knees praying for our country,
Bob and Cheryl Moeller
Well said, pops.
You know, when we're at our happiest - weddings, the birth of a baby, etc. - we look to God and call upon Him in thanks for blessing and love and joy. And then when we're at our lowest - funerals or tragedies like the one in Colorado earlier today - we call on Him for peace and strength and justice and comfort.
Maybe He is there the rest of the time - the other 99% of our lives - as well?
"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but have courage - I have conquered the world." -John 16:33
The "progressive" Left in this country seem to be devoid of any sense of irony, and I have to admit: it's good fun to watch sometimes.
The latest example of this comes from my new hometown, Los Angeles, CA. It seems that the boxing champ Manny Pacquiao - a public figure who has publicly expressed his support for traditional marriage - and his family have been "banned" from a popular mall in the L.A. area called The Grove.
The owner of The Grove, Rick Caruso, tweeted that iconic boxing great and Philippines Congressman Manny Pacquiao would not be allowed “on the premises” thanks to Pacquiao’s outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage. “Boxer Manny Pacquiao is not welcome @TheGroveLA,” he tweeted. “@TheGroveLA is a gathering place for all Angelenos, not a place for intolerance.” Pacquiao was supposed to do an interview today with “Extra” at The Grove.
So by this tool Caruso's logic, a professional athlete who happens to support the institution of marriage can't bring his wife and three kids to a mall in a town where he likely pays millions in taxes - to fund things like schools his kids probably don't go to and policemen he'll never need (cause he can beat any intruders up, right?) - and the act of banning that professional athlete and his family is the tolerant position?
"Woe to those who call good evil and evil good" Isaiah 5:20
Most people assume that free market capitalism is the economic system that creates "selfish" societies. Dennis Prager begs to differ. In the latest course from Dennis' "Prager University" project, DP analyzes what it is about the welfare state that causes a citizenry to demand more than create (and then share).
You can't give adults free stuff and expect them to become better people in the long-run. There is no substitute for personal involvement in your own healthcare decisions. There is no substitute for hard work and sacrifice. There is no substitute for charity that you personally provide to other people. All of these things (and so much more) are not encouraged in a welfare state. We're seeing that system crumble before our very eyes in Europe.
It's not about getting more for the Monopoly Man. It's about liberty, freedom, and creating a better culture for our kids and grandkids to grow up in.
Dr. Jay Richards is working (or has worked for) Heritage Foundation, Acton Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and Discovery Institute. His last book Money, Greed, and God is one of the most important articulations of a biblical worldview of economics one could ever hope to read. His new book - Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family and Freedom - is a fantastic read with an important message.
What Dr. Richards and his co-author (James Robison) are talking about is the transformation of culture. As Ronald Reagan once famously said, "All real change starts at the dinner table." Extrapolating and expounding on that theme, Richards and Robison make a compelling case for the need of a moral and spiritual renewal if this nation is going to survive.
If freedom is going to survive.
Buy the book. Watch some of the YouTube clips they've posted. And stay tuned next week for my upcoming interview with Dr. Richards on AEI's "Values and Capitalism" podcast: The R.J. Moeller Show!
The president spoke at the annual prayer breakfast this week and had some "interesting" things to say about tax policy, New Testament theology, and the role a Christian should play (and pay) in society.
Most of the verses that sound like the president’s reference have nothing to do with charity and speak to the need a true believer has to be utterly dependent and subservient to the Spirit and Word of God. Matthew 25:29, which reads, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance,” is a call to Christians to use their God-given abilities and advantages wisely and productively. This is seen as a non-negotiable aspect of being a disciple of Christ. The reward for such behavior is additional opportunities to serve God “faithfully and fruitfully,” as one commentator puts it.
And here is where “faith and politics” smash right up against one another. As I said before, nearly every American is on-board with the notion that people should pay their taxes. We all (correctly) praise those who give their time and money to those in need. We’re all for helping and fairness and puppy dogs.
The problem, simply put, is this: If another self-proclaimed Christian is using scripture and doctrine to promote things that I know to be detrimental to an economy and society, I can’t support that Christian merely because he brings up “Christian stuff” in convoluted ways. I can pray for that Christian. I can be cordial and kind. If that Christian is willing, I can use the Matthew 18 model of coming to that “brother” in hopes of admonishing and correcting him. But if he persists, if entire swaths of our society persist, then I am duty-bound to oppose the ill-fated plans. Regardless of intentions—something only God can assess anyway—I must apply the advantages I’ve been gifted. In this instance, President Obama unfortunately learned at the feet of people who believe in economic policies that can’t work.
"For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph - a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: That all glory is fleeting."
Very sad to hear about Joe Paterno's passing. He wasn't a bad guy, in my estimation. He was, however, proof that "all glory is fleeting." Decades of doing so many right things at Penn State - of being a great coach, upstanding citizen, and leader of men - can be brought crashing down by a few key poor decisions. It's a lesson we can all learn from (in so many ways).
Being a young man myself, it's hard for me to even ponder what my "legacy" might be one day (hopefully) far into the future. But the primary lesson I will take away from the saga of Joe Paterno is this: Worry about doing the right thing in every situation and not about your legacy. The former will take care of the latter.
A man has made a compelling documentary about the impact Dennis Prager has had on his own intellectual and spiritual journey. It's called Baseball, Dennis & the French and you can check out the trailer below:
One interesting thing about this entire project to me personally is the fact that the producer/director was led to his Christian faith by the radio show and writings of a Jewish intellectual (Dennis). Just a neat tidbit, in my opinion.
As most of you already have heard, Christopher Hitchens, the renowned British journalist/atheist/author, died of pneumonia Thursday night at a hospital in Houston, TX. Mr. Hitchens had been battling cancer of the esophagus for more than a year now. He went from looking like this:
...to this (and in a relatively short amount of time):
When I heard the news late Thursday night, I was listening to a local radio station while driving home from seeing a very stupid movie (the new Mission Impossible) and instantly my mood went from silly anger about Tom Cruise's sub-par film to true, genuine sadness for the family of Mr. Hitchens. Chris' brother, Peter, is actually an outspoken Evangelical Christian and talented writer in his own right. I thought of the numbing pain a Believer must feel when a sibling or parent who does not share their faith passes away. I thought about the the fact that if the Bible is indeed true, and Christopher did not change his mind about Jesus Christ before succumbing to his illness, then he is in Hell right now. There is no way around it: this is a tough pill for anyone to swallow.
Christianity is often attacked for supposedly being "callous" with its "fire-and-brimstone" teachings on eternal punishment for those who reject God in this life. Perhaps some of those charges are true. Perhaps many are not. What I do know is this: It is important for all of us to come face-to-face with the implications of the things we say we believe in, and for me, last night, hearing about the death of Christopher Hitchens, was yet another one of those moments.
I honestly never hated "Hitch" (as he was known to his friends). In fact, I adored his writing style and prose. He was a complex man and a supremely talented communicator. His columns were a delight to read and I re-posted some of them on this very site over the past 4 years. I don't wish to run down his entire biography here and now, so for more on that I would recommend this review of his autobiography Hitch-22 at National Review Online ("His Own Drum") from last year. The guy had an incredible life and for all intents and purposes, practiced what he preached. In a strange way, despite his militant atheism and predominantly liberal political views, I respected that fact.
I respect consistency, probably because of how inconsistent I know I am in my daily life.
Those are, in my opinion, unnecessarily strong words to describe something more than 95% of all humans who have ever lived have practiced. Belief in some sort of Higher Power is as natural as breathing. Even the suffering we see screams of an "evil" that can't adequately be described in humanistic, secular terms.
Religion is not the problem. Bad values and a distorted worldview are. Everyone believes in something. Even atheists like Hitchens do not want anarchy, and if you are to avoid anarchy, people must have something to believe in. We need a right and wrong. Atheists look at that and say, "See, it's just an evolutionary defense mechanism that people form religions...it's all about controlling the masses." Notice that they do not say, "So let's abolish all institutions and live like feral pigs." They instead say, "I know a better way for people to live and will now work to see it implemented." Christopher Hitchens had a "moral code" and set of values he lived by, he simply thought it superior to the Judeo-Christian traditions and teachings that have largely defined the Western culture he was a benefactor of. But he still believed in something.
As Bob Dylan sang, "You gotta' serve somebody."
I'm not saying that Chrisopher Hitchens did not understand this. I truly think he did. My real problem with Hitchens' writings on religion (and the writings of those like him through the ages) is not that he hated Christianity, but is the trickle-down secularism it produces in the hearts and minds of others (most notably, young people). Because so much of the mainstream media and so many members of modern academia agree with his worldview, Hitchens was able to reach millions of impressionable young minds with a biased message that passed itself off as an un-biased - scientific even! - appraisal of the natural world. Meanwhile, stuffy old Christians are perpetually framed as those "world is flat", out-of-touch, close-minded bigots whose time has passed. Of course many brilliant defenders of theism (i.e. William Lane Craig, Jay Richards, etc.) have challenged and debated men like Hitchens, but never are those men of faith given the same prominence and respect in the culture at-large as Hitchens, Dawkins, and Sam Harris are.
But I'm not here today to feed you nothing but sour grapes. As I've already stated, Christopher Hitchens was a phenomenal talent and man of conviction (however wrong those convictions might have been). He was willing to anger liberals with his support for unpopular positions like the War on Terror and invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was unafraid of what either side had to say about him. Hitchens was even willing to take on the sacred cow of late-night fake-news programming hosted by the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
He was witty, engaging, and mesmerizing when you got the chance to see him interviewed on TV or YouTube clips.
I recommend this one to you:
In closing: I'm sorry he's gone. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. My deepest hope is that he called out to his Maker before the end.
You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
Staffers from the American Enterprise Institute - as well as AEI's president, Arthur C. Brooks - were featured on the PBS News Hour this week. For those of you who don't know, I write and host a podcast for AEI and their "Values and Capitalism" project.
The topic of the segment on PBS was "Happiness and Inequality" and the network's correspondent filed a report about the significant gap between liberals and conservatives when it comes to their levels of personal happiness and contentment.
I'm proud to be associated with AEI, and proud to be a conservative.
The basic ideas, ideals, and values that generally define and characterize the central tenets of what today might be termed "modern conservative thought."
We believe that a proper understanding of history, economics, and theology leads to certain conclusions. Many of these are the same conclusions our Founding Fathers arrived at in constructing a "more perfect union."
All ideas and opinions are welcome; not all are correct.