- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2000

Uncertainty and hope

" 'All I care about it is you and me and us and now,' lead singer Taylor Hanson declares on the exuberant new Hanson single 'If Only.' But it's a moment of uncharacteristic confidence. Before the song is finished, Taylor and his brothers are just not certain if they'll have the guts to follow through on that impulse.

" 'If only I had the guts to feel this way,' Taylor sings, and the joyous music swirling about him lets you know he really hopes he can. It's just such feelings of fear and uncertainty and hope that drive the trio.

"Those who've peered beneath the teen group's bubble-gum facade already know this. Hanson's signature hit, 'MMMbop,' was about the scary unpredictability of change, and virtually every cut on the group's multiplatinum debut, 'Middle of Nowhere,' was preoccupied with facing an uncertain future… .

"Hanson rises above their moment: earnest, instead of winking; explicitly connected to a rock 'n' soul tradition that's supposed to be passe; unafraid to offer ambivalence, rather than naive happy endings."

David Cantwell, writing on "Sharps & Flats," Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Late, great America

"The America I knew as a child is gone. The country we know as America today does not even remotely resemble the nation I grew up in… .

"In the country where I grew up, we opened every school day with a prayer to God and a pledge to the flag. What's more, we often read the Bible and sang songs about America. We were taught that George Washington was the father of our country and we would all do well to become just like him. We were taught that the United States of America was the greatest country on earth. We learned that Communism was evil and freedom was worth dying for… .

"Some say we are better off now than we were then. They say it's never been better than it is now… . So, why don't I feel better about this new country of mine?

"I suppose it all depends on what a person considers to be valuable. If material prosperity is the standard by which value is judged, America is in great shape. This is the most prosperous time our country has ever known.

"Yet, back in that country where I grew up, I was taught that material things were the least valuable things that men could possess. Things like courage, character, conviction and compassion were considered to be of much greater worth.

"What happened to the country I grew up in? If anyone knows where I can find it, please tell me. My grandchildren are growing up now, and they are growing up in a strange land."

Chuck Baldwin, writing on "The America I Grew Up In," May 8 in World Net Daily at www.worldnetdaily.com

A jealous god

"Symbols are key battlefields where the Culture War is being fought. This is why the Left is so eager to tear down the Confederate flag from atop South Carolina's Capitol. This is why the American Civil Liberties Union … fought passionately for and recently won a federal appeals court ruling declaring the state of Ohio's motto 'With God, all things are possible' unconstitutional.

"This is 'urban renewal' of the culture and the mind. The Left wants old edifices bulldozed, and the public square razed and leveled, so that the new Temple of All-Powerful Government can replace all that stood here before.

"All-Powerful Government is a jealous god that permits no other deity to compete with it, and no version of history or values to be honored except its own.

"The Confederate flag must disappear, as the Left openly says, because it is a 'rebel' flag, a symbol of people rising up against the authority of central government… . All such reminders must be erased from human memory."

Lowell Ponte, writing on "Uncrossing America," May 10 in Front Page magazine at www.frontpagemag.com

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