Sunday, August 30

Dick Cheney Returns, Again

Just when I thought my Sunday was going to be boring, even after my Dunkin Donuts coffee, Vice President Dick Cheney shows up on Fox News Sunday and drops the hammer, again, on the left and in specific, on Herr Obama.

Wow, what an interview that was.

When asked about his opinion of Obama, Dick Cheney unleashed: “I wasn’t a fan of his when he got elected, and my views haven’t changed any. I have serious doubts about his policies, serious doubts especially about the extent to which he understands and is prepared to do what needs to be done to defend the nation.” Ouch.

Politico has a good recap of the interview.

"The thing I keep coming back to time and time again, Chris, is the fact that we've gone for eight years without another attack," Cheney said. "Now, how do you explain that? The critics don't have any solution for that. They can criticize our policies, our way of doing business, but the results speak for themselves."

He added: "It was good policy. It was properly carried out. It worked very, very well.”

Asked if he thinks "Democrats are soft on national security," Cheney replied: "I do." recaps the interview as well. has 4 minutes of the video.

If you're a serious addict, Real Clear Politics has posted the transcript of the interview here.

Vice President Cheney's book is not due to be released until 2011, I'm going to have a tough time waiting that long.

Saturday, July 25

"All Honor to Jefferson"

From the May/June 2009 issue of Imprimis, published free by Hillsdale College
Jean Yarbrough

"All Honor to Jefferson"

JEAN YARBROUGH is professor of government and Gary M. Pendy, Sr. Professor of Social Sciences at Bowdoin College. She received her B.A. at Cedar Crest College and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the New School for Social Research. The author of American Virtues: Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People and editor of The Essential Jefferson, she is currently completing a study of Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive critique of the Founders.

The following address was delivered at Hillsdale College on April 16, 2009, at the dedication of a statue of Thomas Jefferson by Hillsdale College Associate Professor of Art Anthony Frudakis.

IT IS one of the wonders of the modern political world that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Unaware that the “Sage of Monticello” had died earlier in the day, the crusty Adams, as he felt his own life slipping away, uttered his last words, “Thomas Jefferson still lives.” And so he does.

Today, as we dedicate this marvelous statue of our third President, and place him in the company of George Washington, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher on Hillsdale’s Liberty Walk, soon to be joined by Abraham Lincoln, it is fitting to reflect on what of Thomas Jefferson still lives. What is it that we honor him for here today?

Without question, pride of place must go to Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence. That document established Jefferson as one of America’s great political poets, second only to Abraham Lincoln. And fittingly, it was Lincoln himself who recognized the signal importance of its first two paragraphs when he wrote: “All honor to Jefferson—to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times,” where it continues to stand as “a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.”

That abstract truth, of course, was that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” It is surely a sign of our times that so many Americans no longer know what these words mean, or what their signal importance has been to peoples around the world. The one thing they are certain of, however, is that Jefferson was a hypocrite. How could he assert that all men were created equal and yet own slaves? What these critics fail to notice is that this is precisely what makes Jefferson’s statement so remarkable. Under no necessity for doing so, he penned the immortal words that would ultimately be invoked to put the institution of slavery on the road to extinction. His own draft of the Declaration was even stronger. In it, he made it clear that blacks were human and that slavery was a moral abomination and a blot upon the honor of his country.

Jefferson was serving as Minister in Paris while the Constitution was being drafted, and played no direct part in framing it. But he did make known his objections, the most important being the omission of a Bill of Rights. After the Constitution was ratified, he returned to the United States to serve as Secretary of State in the Washington administration. In and out of government in the 1790s, he challenged Hamilton’s expansive views of federal power, warning against a mounting federal debt, a growing patronage machine, and what he considered dangerous monarchical pretensions.

In the tumultuous contest for the presidency in 1800, Jefferson presided over the first peaceful transition of power in modern history, assuring those he had defeated that they too had rights that the majority was bound to respect. His observation, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” established a standard toward which every incoming administration continues to strive.

As president of the United States, Jefferson sought to rally the country around the principles of limited government. His First Inaugural Address reminded his fellow citizens that their happiness and prosperity rested upon a “wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” This, he thought, was “the sum of good government” and all that was “necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” Although Jefferson had omitted property from the inalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration, he strongly defended private property because it encouraged industry and liberality—and, most importantly, because he thought it just that each individual enjoy the equal right to the fruits of his labor.

From these political principles, Jefferson never wavered. Writing in 1816, he once again insisted that the tasks of a liberal republic were few: government should restrain individuals from encroaching on the equal rights of others, compel them to contribute to the necessities of society, and require them to submit their disputes to an impartial judge. “When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions.”

At the same time, Jefferson believed that constitutions must keep pace with the times. If the people wished to alter their frame of government, say, to fund public improvements or education, they were free to do so. But they should do so by constitutional amendment and not by allowing their representatives to construe the powers of government broadly. He particularly objected to the Court’s sitting in judgment on the powers of the legislative and executive branches, or acting as an umpire between the states and the federal government. To cede to the judiciary this authority, he believed, would render the Constitution a “ball of wax” in the hands of federal judges. In his battles with Chief Justice John Marshall, he defended the principle of coordinate construction, as Lincoln (and almost every strong president since then) did after him, arguing that each branch of government must determine for itself the constitutionality of its acts.

After his retirement from politics, Jefferson returned to Monticello, where he continued to think about the meaning and requirements of republican government. Republicanism, he was convinced, was more than just a set of institutional arrangements; at bottom, it depended upon the character of the people. To keep alive this civic spirit, he championed public education for both boys and girls, with the most talented boys going on at public expense all the way through college. He envisioned the University of Virginia, to which he devoted the last years of his life, as a temple that would keep alive the “vestal flame” of republicanism and train men for public service. And here, I cannot help but notice how the recent renovations and additions to the Hillsdale campus seem to take their inspiration from Mr. Jefferson’s university, paying graceful homage to an architecture of democracy that inspires and ennobles.

As Jefferson understood it, education had a distinctly political mission, beginning at the elementary level: schools were to form citizens who understood their rights and duties, who knew how earlier free societies had risen to greatness, and by what errors and vices they had declined. Knowing was not enough, however. Jefferson also believed that citizens must have the opportunity to act. Anticipating Tocqueville, Jefferson admired the strength of the New England townships and sought to adapt them to Virginia. The wards, as he called them, would allow citizens to have a say on those matters most interesting to them, such as the education of their children and the protection of their property. If ever they became too dispirited to care about these things, republican government could not survive.

The wards were certainly not the greatest of Jefferson’s contributions to the natural rights republic—that honor must be awarded to the Declaration—but they were his most original. Instead of consolidating power or attempting to forge a general will, Jefferson went in the opposite direction, “dividing and sub-dividing” political power, while multiplying the number of interests and views that could be heard. He saw these units of local self-government as a way of bringing the large republic within the reach of citizens and so keeping alive the spirit of republicanism so vital to its preservation. And in this day and age, when the federal government seems to intrude on every aspect of our daily lives, and people feel powerless over matters of most interest to them, can we doubt that he was right?
For this insight, too, let us echo Lincoln: “All honor to Jefferson”!

Blogger note: In my quest for better understanding the founders and also understanding the story of America, I thought the highlighted portion of this speech was especially profound. In the age of Nobama, is it ever again possible to return to the days of decisions being made at the local level.

Saturday, July 18

The Best Speeches Ever (or in my lifetime)

I recently posted a blog about Dick Cheney. In that post I was re-living some of the former Vice Presidents speeches that I thought were great. I also mentioned that I would devote a blog later to the topic of the best political speeches I've ever heard. I have chosen the speeches I thought were the best, and I have added a few quotes from each speech, quotes that I thought were highlights, or they at least moved me when I heard them.

1. President George W. Bush,
September 20, 2001, Address to Congress

"My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our
Union -- and it is strong.

"Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."

"Fellow citizens, we'll meet violence with patient justice -- assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come. In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom, and may He watch over the
United States of America. Thank you."

2. President Ronald Reagan, 'Evil Empire' speech, March 8, 1983
So much more than just the "evil empire" line to this speech. More on this speech in a later post.

"The American experiment in democracy rests on this insight. Its discovery was the great triumph of our Founding Fathers, voiced by William Penn when he said: "If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants." Explaining the inalienable rights of men,
Jefferson said, "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." And it was George Washington who said that "of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."

"And finally, that shrewdest of all observers of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, put it eloquently after he had gone on a search for the secret of America's greatness and genius -- and he said: "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the greatness and the genius of America. America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

"Well, I'm pleased to be here today with you who are keeping America great by keeping her good. Only through your work and prayers and those of millions of others can we hope to survive this perilous century and keep alive this experiment in liberty, this last, best hope of man."

"I want you to know that this administration is motivated by a political philosophy that sees the greatness of America in you, her people, and in your families, churches, neighborhoods, communities: the institutions that foster and nourish values like concern for others and respect for the rule of law under God."

"I believe we shall rise to the challenge. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last -- last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man. For in the words of Isaiah: "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increased strength. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary."

"Yes, change your world. One of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, said, "We have it within our power to begin the world over again." We can do it, doing together what no one church could do by itself."

3. Dick Cheney, RNC speech August 2, 2000

"We can restore the ideals of honesty and honor that must be a part of our national life, if our children are to thrive. When I look at the administration now in
Washington, I am dismayed by opportunities squandered. Saddened by what might have been, but never was. These have been years of prosperity in our land, but little purpose in the White House. Bill Clinton vowed not long ago to hold onto power "until the last hour of the last day." That is his right. But, my friends, that last hour is coming. That last day is near. The wheel has turned. And it is time. It is time for them to go."

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are so privileged to be citizens of this great republic. I was reminded of that time and again when I was in my former job, as secretary of defense. I traveled a lot and when I came home, my plane would land at Andrews Air Force Base, and I'd return to the Pentagon by helicopter.

When you make that trip from Andrews to the Pentagon, and you look down on the city of
Washington, one of the first things you see is the Capitol, where all the great debates that have shaped 200 years of American history have taken place. You fly down along the Mall and see the monument to George Washington, a structure as grand as the man himself. To the north is the White House, where John Adams once prayed "that none but honest and wise men may ever rule under this roof." Next you see the memorial to Thomas Jefferson, the third president and the author of our Declaration of Independence. And then you fly over the memorial to Abraham Lincoln, this greatest of presidents, the man who saved the union. Then you cross the Potomac, on approach to the Pentagon. But just before you settle down on the landing pad, you look upon Arlington National Cemetery its gentle slopes and crosses row on row.

I never once made that trip without being reminded how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans, and what a terrible price thousands have paid so that all of us and millions more around the world might live in freedom."

4. President Ronald Reagan,
June 6, 1984 speech Pointe Du Hoc, Normandy, France

"And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."

"Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you."

5. Newt Gingrich, January 4, 1995 Address at the opening of the 1995 Congress.

"Democracy is hard. It is frustrating."

"We must replace the welfare state with an opportunity society. The balanced budget is the right thing to do. But it does not in my mind have the moral urgency of coming to grips with what is happening to the poorest Americans. I commend to all Marvin Olasky's "The Tragedy of American Compassion." Olasky goes back for 300 years and looked at what has worked in
America, how we have helped people rise beyond poverty, and how we have reached out to save people. He may not have the answers, but he has the right sense of where we have to go as Americans. I do not believe that there is a single American who can see a news report of a 4-year-old thrown off of a public housing project in Chicago by other children and killed and not feel that a part of your heart went, too."

"I was very struck this morning with something Bill Emerson used, a very famous quote of Benjamin Franklin, at the point where the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked. People were tired, and there was a real possibility that the Convention was going to break up. Franklin, who was quite old and had been relatively quiet for the entire Convention, suddenly stood up and was angry, and he said: "I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men, and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid?" At that point the Constitutional Convention stopped. They took a day off for fasting and prayer. Then, having stopped and come together, they went back, and they solved the great question of large and small States. They wrote the Constitution, and the
United States was created.

All I can do is pledge to you that, if each of us will reach out prayerfully and try to genuinely understand each other, if we will recognize that in this building we symbolize America, and that we have an obligation to talk with each other, then I think a year from now we can look on the 104th Congress as a truly amazing institution without regard to party, without regard to ideology. We can say, "Here America comes to work, and here we are preparing for those children a better future." Thank you. Good luck and God bless you."

6. Vice President Dick Cheney, AEI speech, May 21, 2009

"This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It's almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future."

"As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won't let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I've formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It's worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials."

"For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history - not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward - the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of "hubris" - my mind always goes back to that moment."

"To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed."

7. Tony Blair,
October 2, 2001, speech

"There is no compromise possible with such people, no meeting of minds, no point of understanding with such terror. Just a choice: defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it we must."

8. President George W. Bush,
September 2, 2004, RNC speech

"One thing I have learned about the presidency is that whatever shortcomings you have, people are going to notice them and whatever strengths you have, you're gonna need 'em. These four years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget. I've tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September the 11th -- people who showed me a picture or told me a story, so I'd -- I would know how much was taken from them. I've learned first-hand that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision, even when it is right. I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job. I've held the children of the fallen, who were told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their mom or dad.

I've met with the parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I'm in their prayers -- and to offer encouragement to me. Where does that strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, idealistic, and strong. (If you view this speech, you will see President Bush tearing up and members of the audience doing the same. For me, this was as genuine as it gets for a President, and a man.)

The world saw that spirit three miles from here, when the people of this city faced peril together, and lifted a flag over the ruins, and defied the enemy with their courage.

My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say: Here buildings fell; here a nation rose."

"And all of this has confirmed one belief beyond doubt: Having come this far, our tested and confident Nation can achieve anything.

To everything we know there is a season -- a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope.

This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America and tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed.

Now we go forward grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on earth."

9. President Ronald Reagan, Shuttle Challenger speech, January 28, 1986
Though brief, this was a fitting speech, classic Reagan

"There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and an historian later said, "He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

10. Tom Delay final floor speech, June 8, 2006
As fine a speech as there is in recent years about Conservatism

"In preparing for today, I found that it is customary in speeches such as these to reminisce about the good old days of political harmony and across-the-aisle camaraderie, and to lament the bitter, divisive partisan rancor that supposedly now weakens our -- our democracy. Well, I can't do that because partisanship, Mr. Speaker, properly understood, is not a symptom of democracy's weakness but of its health and its strength, especially from the perspective of a political conservative."

"Liberalism, after all, whatever you may think of its merits, is a political philosophy and a proud one with a great tradition in this country, with a voracious appetite for growth. In any place or any time on any issue, what does liberalism ever seek, Mr. Speaker? More. More government, more taxation, more control over people's lives and decisions and wallets. If conservatives don't stand up to liberalism, no one will. And for a long time around here, almost no one did. Indeed, the common lament over the recent rise in political partisanship is often nothing more than a veiled complaint instead about the recent rise of political conservatism."

"You show me a nation without partisanship, and I'll show you a tyranny. For all its faults, it is partisanship, based on core principles, that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream, and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders. Indeed, whatever role partisanship may have played in my own retirement today or in the unfriendliness heaped upon other leaders in other times, Republican or Democrat, however unjust, all we can say is that partisanship is the worst means of settling fundamental political differences -- except for all the others."

"Now, politics demands compromise. And Mr. Speaker, and -- and even the most partisan among us have to understand that. But we must never forget that compromise and bipartisanship are means, not ends, and are properly employed only in the service of higher principles. It is not the principled partisan, however obnoxious he may seem to his opponents, who degrades our public debate, but the preening, self-styled statesman who elevates compromise to a first principle. For the true statesman, Mr. Speaker, we are not defined by what they compromise, but [by] what they don't. Conservatives, especially less enamored of government's lust for growth, must remember that our principles must always drive our agenda and not the other way around. For us, conservatives, there are two such principles that can never be honorably compromised: human freedom and human dignity.

Now, our agenda over the last 12 years has been an outgrowth of these first principles. We lowered taxes to increase freedom. We reformed welfare programs that, however well-intentioned, undermined the dignity of work and personal responsibility, and perpetuated poverty. We have opposed abortion, cloning and euthanasia, because such procedures fundamentally deny the unique dignity of the human person. And we have supported the spread of democracy and the ongoing war against terror, because those policies protect and affirm the inalienable human right of all men and women and children to live in freedom.

Conservatism is often unfairly accused of being insensitive and mean-spirited, sometimes unfortunately even by other conservatives. As a result, conservatives often attempt to soften that stereotype by overfunding broken programs or glossing over ruinous policies. But conservatism isn't about feeling people's pain, it's about curing it. And the results since the first great conservative victory in 1980 speak for themselves: millions of new jobs, new homes, and new businesses created thanks to conservative economic reforms; millions of families intact and enriched by the move from welfare to work; hundreds of millions of people around the world liberated by a conservative foreign policy's victory over Soviet communism; and more than 50 million Iraqis and Afghanis liberated from tyranny since September the 11th, 2001.

To all the critics of the supposedly mean-spirited conservative policies that brought about these results, I say only this: Compassionate is as compassionate does."

"The great Americans honored here in bronze and marble, the heroes of our history and the ghosts of these halls, were not made great because of what they were, but because of what they did. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have almost nothing in common with Junipero Serra and Jack Swigert, except the choice they each made: to live, to fight, and even to die in the service of freedom. We honor men with monuments and -- and not because of their greatness or even simply because of their service, but because of their refusal even in the face of danger or death to ever compromise the principles they served. Washington's obelisk still stands watch because democracy will always need a sentry. Jefferson's words will still ring because liberty will always need a voice. And Lincoln's left hand still stays clenched because tyranny will always need an enemy. And we are still here, Mr. Speaker, as a House and as a nation because the torch of freedom cannot carry itself."

11. Billy Graham,
September 14, 2001 National Cathedral speech

"The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it's a lesson about our need for each other. What an example
New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we've become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way -- it's back lashed. It's backfired. We are more united than ever before."

"Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope -- hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There's hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in
America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way."

"Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we're in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That's what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we've experienced this week."

12. Clarence Thomas, 'Be Not Afraid' speech, February 13, 2001

"In September of 1975, the Wall Street Journal published a book review by Michael Novak of Thomas Sowell's book Race and Economics. At the time, I lived in
Jefferson City, Missouri. The opening paragraph changed my life. It reads:

Honesty on questions of race is rare in the United States. So many and unrecognized have been the injustices committed against blacks that no one wishes to be unkind, or subject himself to intimidating charges. Hence, even simple truths are commonly evaded. This insight applies with equal force to very many conversations of consequence today. Who wants to be denounced as a heartless monster? On important matters, crucial matters, silence is enforced."

"That is why civility cannot be the governing principle of citizenship or leadership. As Bea Himmelfarb observed in her book One Nation, Two Cultures, "To reduce citizenship to the modern idea of civility, the good-neighbor idea, is to belittle not only the political role of the citizen but also the virtues expected of the citizen - the 'civic virtues,' as they were known in antiquity and in early republican thought."

"These are the virtues that Aristotle thought were necessary to govern oneself like a "free man"; that Montesquieu referred to as the "spring which sets the republican government in motion"; and that the Founding Fathers thought provided the dynamic combination of conviction and self-discipline necessary for self-government.

Bea Himmelfarb refers to two kinds of virtues. The first are the "caring" virtues. They include "respect, trustworthiness, compassion, fairness, decency." These are the virtues that make daily life pleasant with our families and with those we come in contact.

The second are the vigorous virtues. These heroic virtues "transcend family and community and may even, on occasion, violate the conventions of civility." "These are the virtues that characterize great leaders, although not necessarily good friends" - courage, ambition, creativity.

She notes that the vigorous virtues have been supplanted by the caring ones. Though they are not mutually exclusive or necessarily incompatible, active citizens and leaders must be governed by the vigorous rather than the caring virtues. We must not allow our desire to be decent and well-mannered people to overwhelm the substance of our principles or our determination to fight for their success. Ultimately, we should seek both caring and vigorous virtues - but above all, we must not allow the former to dominate the latter.

Again, by yielding to a false form of civility, we sometimes allow our critics to intimidate us. As I have said, active citizens are often subjected to truly vile attacks; they are branded as mean-spirited, racist, Uncle Tom, homophobic, sexist, etc. To this we often respond, if not succumb, so as not to be constantly fighting, by trying to be tolerant and nonjudgmental - that is, we censor ourselves. This is not civility. It is cowardice, or well-intentioned self-deception at best."

"Listen to the truths that lie within your hearts and be not afraid to follow them wherever they may lead. Those three little words hold the power to transform individuals and change the world. They supply the quiet resolve and unvoiced courage necessary to endure the inevitable intimidation.

Today we are not called upon to risk our lives against some monstrous tyranny. America is not a barbarous country. Our people are not oppressed and we face no pressing international threat to our way of life, such as the Soviet Union once posed. Though the war in which we are engaged is cultural, not civil, it tests whether this "nation: conceived in liberty ... can long endure." President Lincoln's words do endure:

It is for us, the living ... to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The Founders warned us that freedom requires constant vigilance and repeated action. It is said that when asked what sort of government the Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin replied that they had given us "a Republic, if you can keep it." Today, as in the past, we will need a brave "civic virtue," not a timid civility, to keep our republic. So, this evening, I leave you with the simple exhortation: "Be not afraid." God bless you."

Dick Cheney: Still Their Enemy, Still Our Hero.

I read this blog post "Dick Cheney is a great American hero" in the UK Telegraph today and the corresponding comments to go along with it. I admit I was pulled in by the title as I met Vice President Cheney in 2004 and while my time with him was ever so brief, a photo op, I have admired Dick Cheney from the beginning of what I would call "the modern Dick Cheney".

I was too young to know the Dick Cheney of the Gerald Ford years. Based on what I read in Craig Shirley's Reagan's Revolution, where Cheney worked for Ford and was actively against the great conservative icon of our time, Ronald Reagan. But, just as Ronald Reagan had been a democrat, Dick Cheney eventually found the right side to be on.

When Governor George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney to be the choice for Vice President in 2000, I didn't know enough about Dick Cheney to know what I thought about him or his selection. I instinctively trusted George W. Bush. Half way through Cheney's remarks thanking Governor Bush, I made an unprecedented move and donated to the new Bush-Cheney campaign via the internet.

Then there was the RNC speech in Philadelphia. Dick Cheney had my attention after that speech for sure. This was a speech by the way, that I consider one of the top 10 speeches in my political life (that might make for a good blog post later). The media at the time chose the word "gravitas" when describing Cheney. He was a presence indeed. His speech in Philadelphia was serious, solemn and stirring. You may recall the great line about Clinton when Cheney said, "and now, as the man from Hope, goes home to uh, New York".

But more vivid in my mind was the part of the speech where Cheney said the following:

When you make that trip from Andrews to the Pentagon, and you look down on the city of Washington, one of the first things you see is the Capitol, where all the great debates that have shaped 200 years of American history have taken place. You fly down along the Mall and see the monument to George Washington, a structure as grand as the man himself. To the north is the White House, where John Adams once prayed "that none but honest and wise men may ever rule under this roof." Next you see the memorial to Thomas Jefferson, the third president and the author of our Declaration of Independence. And then you fly over the memorial to Abraham Lincoln, this greatest of presidents, the man who saved the union. Then you cross the Potomac, on approach to the Pentagon. But just before you settle down on the landing pad, you look upon Arlington National Cemetery its gentle slopes and crosses row on row.

I never once made that trip without being reminded how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans, and what a terrible price thousands have paid so that all of us and millions more around the world might live in freedom.

And while I don't intend for this to be a living tribute to Dick Cheney, there were plenty of great speeches from Vice President Cheney after the RNC speech in 2000. Then there was May of this year when the Real Vice President gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute educating "acting" President Obama and America on matters of national security. Vice President Cheney, 4 months out of office, certainly knows more about national security than Herr Obama and Herr Biden will know combined in their 4 years as filling time at the White House.

The leftist media loved to portray Vice President Cheney as heartless and ruthless and always with a snarl on his face. They of course, all having graduated from America's journalism schools where they attended wanting to "change the world" rather than "report events that actually took place", prefer to have a guy with a nice smile. Herr Biden would fall into this category, but Biden is also someone who is an incompetent, bumbling idiot (witness his "we have to spend more to get out of debt" comment this past week).

The former Vice President is hated by the media. He forgot more information yesterday than they learned in their 4 years in journalism school. They had (and still have) no understanding of a brilliant mind and of a great American who understood the history of America and it's role in the world.

I suspect, to the fools doing the reporting in this country, had Vice President Cheney looked like this more often, he would have received a little more respect, and he might have been a little less easy to label.

Thank you Vice President Cheney for your eight years of service to our nation, and to four more during the down times of Herr Obama.

Friday, July 3

Thoughts on the 4th of July

This July 4th I have been thinking about the meaning of this country and how this country began. I recently completed a great book called The 5000 Year Leap, shortly after reading and then re-reading Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny.

Both of these books could not have been better timed, one is a new book and one was re-released after being originally published in 1981. Our new president (yes, with a lower case p) has us on a high speed bullet train to a form of government most of us will not recognize. The boiling frog concept will not do justice to what the president is doing.

The Tea Party movement is important, if they can turn their get togethers into a political movement that affects change. Only time will tell if this is going to happen. The July 4th Tea Parties will be sparsely attended compared to the previous efforts, this will be strictly because of the weather in some of the places where the weather was more tolerable on April 15th. So the Tea Parties will likely start to be discredited by those on the left, which includes the media.

November 2010 cannot get here soon enough, so that the people can properly elect a check and balance to watch over the president for the last two years of his presidency.

Saturday, June 27

Cap and Trade Tax Passage Makes Green Conservatism a Top Priority

The Cap and Trade Tax that passed is the House on Friday night is a good example of why I am a believer in Green Conservatism, a concept termed by Speaker Newt Gingrich in 2007.

My even more basic premise than Newt’s (found here with a complete explanation of Green Conservatism) is that these bills advance in the House, to the Senate, because the Left is the only side speaking in the debate. I don’t believe in Global Warming, the science is faulty and let’s be honest, who can really measure such a thing? When you have a horrible plan, brought forth by the Left, and you have Lefty A and Lefty B debating its passage and talking to the American people about its merits, there is nothing the Right can do except stand off to the side and yell “No”. Game over, we lose.

We lost Friday.

So, I’ve been hearing now, for over two years, since Speaker Gingrich first introduced Green Conservatism, that Newt is a sellout, that he’s been co-opted by the Left and that he’s not really a conservative. This is all garbage.

Have you read about Green Conservatism? Does it sound like repackaged left-wing propaganda? If you answered yes, I would disagree with you and encourage you to look again. And if you think it is, then I would further encourage you to create alternatives to the Leftist propaganda and let’s have the debate shift from Lefty A and Lefty B to Left vs. Right. If we don’t do this as a movement, we will see more and more Cap and Trade Tax bills, and we’ll think that the version that passed Friday was pretty moderate.

Two great conservative, movement leaders from that last century thought this was an important issue to America:

"The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose and method.” - President Theodore Roosevelt

“There is an absolute necessity of waging all-out war against the debauching of the environment.” - Governor Ronald Reagan, First Earth Day, 1970

Sunday, May 3

Jack Kemp Is Gone

Jack Kemp has passed away. It's gonna be that kind of day. I'm bummed out.