We live in a world where the extraordinary has become commonplace.
A laptop computer in a coffee shop in Tulsa can link to a climber on Mt. Everest. We walk into a typical suburban supermarket and are faced with an overwhelming variety of every imaginable foodstuff, from 300 types of ice cream to 15 varieties of mozzarella cheese. Intricate surgery can be performed remotely through electronic "arms." Finely-crafted telescopes can take us into the far reaches of a previously unexplored universe.
These things are amazing. But this morning I am deeply gratified that I have lived to see the day when the front page printed-edition of The New York Times carries a headline that more generally would befit Rush Limbaugh's website than the cover of the Gray Lady: "Strong Steps or Oversteps? BP Is Latest Example of Tactic by Obama."
Do wonders never cease?
The Times cites the President's successful effort to get BP to commit to a $20 billion compensation fund as a "display of raw armtwisting" through which Mr. Obama "has reinvigorated a debate about the renewed reach of government power, or, alternatively, the power of government overreach." The article concludes with this: "(Mr. Obama should) avoid painting with such a broad brush that foreign and domestic investors come to view the United States as a too risky place to do business, a country where big mistakes can lead to vilification and, perhaps, bankruptcy."
This is only the latest episode in which the President has used the pretext of a crisis to seize power. No one excuses whatever legal or ethical lapses BP committed in the Gulf. Eleven men are dead, and countless gallons of crude oil continue to spew into the water around the Gulf Coast.
Yet what would Mr. Obama have done if BP had declined setting up such a massive fund and, instead, stuck to the $75 million mandated by law? Outlawed the firms presence on our shores? Filed a massive, punitive, bankrupting lawsuit?
Mr. Obama used American concerns with our medical insurance system to ram-through an unconstitutional mandate that all citizens possess health insurance, and included in his legislation provisions that provide federal subsidies to abortion providers. Additionally, the impenetrable measure is almost incalculably expensive.
He used a recession to ram through a "stimulus" package that places the federal government in the role of doling out hundreds of billions of dollars to private industry, thereby becoming a principal source of industrial growth. This growth will collapse, however, once the paper on which it is running crumbles in the fiscal wind. Then what?
He leveraged a crisis in the auto industry to make two of the three largest American auto companies fiefs of the federal government, to the point of forcing one of their boards to fire its CEO.
He eliminated private-source education loans, making college students dependent on Uncle Sam for their post-secondary education.
He is seeking to push homosexuals into the military, diminish religious liberty, skewer the public understanding of abortion (by saying we must reduce the need for abortion his Administrations term of art he insinuates that such need sometimes exists), consolidate the private financial system into a federally-run bureaucracy, and make homosexuality culturally normative.
His Treasury Department is pumping out money at an obviously unsustainable rate, placing us on the path to hyper-inflation and, thus, federal seizure of private assets to avert complete default.
Just wait until America faces a serious military emergency - say, another 9-11 style attack. How will this President use it to advance his vision of an America where "solidarity" trumps liberty?
When America's liberal paper of record wonders about Mr. Obama's overreach, it's clear something is registering with even the elites: This is a different kind of presidency, a giant step down the road to serfdom described in the 1940s by Friederich Hayek.
In 1781, Thomas Jefferson - as much a prophet as a future President - wrote in his Notes on Virginia, "Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." From entitlements to stimulus packages to assorted federal power-grabs, we are at grave risk of becoming a subservient people, intellectually anesthetized by the superficial veneer of government-induced prosperity and security at the cost of our liberty, prosperity, self-reliance and, most essentially, virtue.
The Bible warns us not to place our trust in princes (Psalm 146:3), and for a reason: Our confidence must be in God and, as citizens, in the pathway for public life laid out in the Constitution.
Is it? And if it is, shall we oppose the collapse of the America we have known and love? The answer seems clear, if only we will act on it.