Senator Mathias, Chief Justice Burger, Vice President Bush, Speaker O’Neill, Senator Dole, Reverend Clergy, members of my family and friends, and my fellow citizens:

  This day has been made brighter with the presence here of one who, for a time, has been absent—Senator John Stennis.

   1
  God bless you and welcome back. 2
  There is, however, one who is not with us today: Representative Gillis Long of Louisiana left us last night. I wonder if we could all join in a moment of silent prayer. (Moment of silent prayer.) Amen. 3
  There are no words adequate to express my thanks for the great honor that you have bestowed on me. I will do my utmost to be deserving of your trust. 4
  This is, as Senator Mathias told us, the 50th time that we the people have celebrated this historic occasion. When the first President, George Washington, placed his hand upon the Bible, he stood less than a single day’s journey by horseback from raw, untamed wilderness. There were 4 million Americans in a union of 13 States. Today we are 60 times as many in a union of 50 States. We have lighted the world with our inventions, gone to the aid of mankind wherever in the world there was a cry for help, journeyed to the Moon and safely returned. So much has changed. And yet we stand together as we did two centuries ago. 5
  When I took this oath four years ago, I did so in a time of economic stress. Voices were raised saying we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory. But we, the present-day Americans, are not given to looking backward. In this blessed land, there is always a better tomorrow. 6
  Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have accomplished that. But in another sense, our new beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant; its only power that which we the people allow it to have. 7
  That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government that properly belonged to States or to local governments or to the people themselves. We allowed taxes and inflation to rob us of our earnings and savings and watched the great industrial machine that had made us the most productive people on Earth slow down and the number of unemployed increase. 8
  By 1980, we knew it was time to renew our faith, to strive with all our strength toward the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with an orderly society. 9
  We believed then and now there are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams. 10
  And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically, and more people are employed than ever before in our history. 11
  We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great Republic, and we’ll meet this challenge. 12
  These will be years when Americans have restored their confidence and tradition of progress; when our values of faith, family, work, and neighborhood were restated for a modern age; when our economy was finally freed from government’s grip; when we made sincere efforts at meaningful arms reduction, rebuilding our defenses, our economy, and developing new technologies, and helped preserve peace in a troubled world; when Americans courageously supported the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom. 13
  My fellow citizens, our Nation is poised for greatness. We must do what we know is right and do it with all our might. Let history say of us, “These were golden years—when the American Revolution was reborn, when freedom gained new life, when America reached for her best.” 14
  Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause. 15
  Two of our Founding Fathers, a Boston lawyer named Adams and a Virginia planter named Jefferson, members of that remarkable group who met in Independence Hall and dared to think they could start the world over again, left us an important lesson. They had become political rivals in the Presidential election of 1800. Then years later, when both were retired, and age had softened their anger, they began to speak to each other again through letters. A bond was reestablished between those two who had helped create this government of ours. 16
  In 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, they both died. They died on the same day, within a few hours of each other, and that day was the Fourth of July. 17
  In one of those letters exchanged in the sunset of their lives, Jefferson wrote: “It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless … we rode through the storm with heart and hand.” 18
  Well, with heart and hand, let us stand as one today: One people under God determined that our future shall be worthy of our past. As we do, we must not repeat the well-intentioned errors of our past. We must never again abuse the trust of working men and women, by sending their earnings on a futile chase after the spiraling demands of a bloated Federal Establishment. You elected us in 1980 to end this prescription for disaster, and I don’t believe you reelected us in 1984 to reverse course. 19
  At the heart of our efforts is one idea vindicated by 25 straight months of economic growth: Freedom and incentives unleash the drive and entrepreneurial genius that are the core of human progress. We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment; reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people’s lives. 20
  We must simplify our tax system, make it more fair, and bring the rates down for all who work and earn. We must think anew and move with a new boldness, so every American who seeks work can find work; so the least among us shall have an equal chance to achieve the greatest things—to be heroes who heal our sick, feed the hungry, protect peace among nations, and leave this world a better place. 21
  The time has come for a new American emancipation—a great national drive to tear down economic barriers and liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country. My friends, together we can do this, and do it we must, so help me God. 22
  From new freedom will spring new opportunities for growth, a more productive, fulfilled and united people, and a stronger America—an America that will lead the technological revolution, and also open its mind and heart and soul to the treasures of literature, music, and poetry, and the values of faith, courage, and love. 23
  A dynamic economy, with more citizens working and paying taxes, will be our strongest tool to bring down budget deficits. But an almost unbroken 50 years of deficit spending has finally brought us to a time of reckoning. We have come to a turning point, a moment for hard decisions. I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can then begin reducing the national debt. 24
  I will shortly submit a budget to the Congress aimed at freezing government program spending for the next year. Beyond that, we must take further steps to permanently control Government’s power to tax and spend. We must act now to protect future generations from Government’s desire to spend its citizens’ money and tax them into servitude when the bills come due. Let us make it unconstitutional for the Federal Government to spend more than the Federal Government takes in. 25
  We have already started returning to the people and to State and local governments responsibilities better handled by them. Now, there is a place for the Federal Government in matters of social compassion. But our fundamental goals must be to reduce dependency and upgrade the dignity of those who are infirm or disadvantaged. And here a growing economy and support from family and community offer our best chance for a society where compassion is a way of life, where the old and infirm are cared for, the young and, yes, the unborn protected, and the unfortunate looked after and made self-sufficient. 26
  And there is another area where the Federal Government can play a part. As an older American, I remember a time when people of different race, creed, or ethnic origin in our land found hatred and prejudice installed in social custom and, yes, in law. There is no story more heartening in our history than the progress that we have made toward the “brotherhood of man” that God intended for us. Let us resolve there will be no turning back or hesitation on the road to an America rich in dignity and abundant with opportunity for all our citizens. 27
  Let us resolve that we the people will build an American opportunity society in which all of us—white and black, rich and poor, young and old—will go forward together arm in arm. Again, let us remember that though our heritage is one of blood lines from every corner of the Earth, we are all Americans pledged to carry on this last, best hope of man on Earth. 28
  I have spoken of our domestic goals and the limitations which we should put on our National Government. Now let me turn to a task which is the primary responsibility of National Government—the safety and security of our people. 29
  Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth. Yet history has shown that peace will not come, nor will our freedom be preserved, by good will alone. There are those in the world who scorn our vision of human dignity and freedom. One nation, the Soviet Union, has conducted the greatest military buildup in the history of man, building arsenals of awesome offensive weapons. 30
  We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others, that America will meet her responsibilities to remain free, secure, and at peace. 31
  There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth. 32
  Now, for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat of mutual assured destruction; if either resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our only recourse is to threaten killing tens of millions of theirs? 33
  I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn’t kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn’t militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the world of the threat of nuclear destruction. 34
  We strive for peace and security, heartened by the changes all around us. Since the turn of the century, the number of democracies in the world has grown fourfold. Human freedom is on the march, and nowhere more so than our own hemisphere. Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit. People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress. 35
  America must remain freedom’s staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally. 36
  And it is the world’s only hope, to conquer poverty and preserve peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace. 37
  So we go forward today, a nation still mighty in its youth and powerful in its purpose. With our alliances strengthened, with our economy leading the world to a new age of economic expansion, we look forward to a world rich in possibilities. And all this because we have worked and acted together, not as members of political parties, but as Americans. 38
  My friends, we live in a world that is lit by lightning. So much is changing and will change, but so much endures, and transcends time. 39
  History is a ribbon, always unfurling; history is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us. We stand together again at the steps of this symbol of our democracy—or we would have been standing at the steps if it hadn’t gotten so cold. Now we are standing inside this symbol of our democracy. Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air. 40
  It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That’s our heritage; that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound—sound in unity, affection, and love—one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world. 41
  God bless you and may God bless America.

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I feel better. God Bless that great, great man.

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Change Has Come

January 22, 2009

(Written on Inauguration Day, and embargoed for a day in the interests of letting Mr. Obama and his voters enjoy their day)

I get it. I understand that today was an historic day. I understand the majesty of the peaceful transition of power. I felt chills when Aretha Franklin sang and Yo-Yo Ma played. I smiled at Sasha and Malia. I recognize the pride that Mr. Obama must have felt as the responsibilities of the free world settled on him.

I probably cannot fully appreciate the momentousness of the occasion for African-Americans. They probably never could have imagined that less than 150 years after the horrors of slavery were ended (by a Republican), less than 46 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed (by Republicans), and less than 42 years after the assassination of Dr. King (a Republican), that an African-American man would win the Presidency by a substantial margin. Standing in the Mall, seeing this happen, must have been like a dream. One can overlook the 87-year-old Rev. Lowery’s benediction, which he ended by hoping that “white will embrace what is right.” He is of the pre-civil rights era. I am of the post Civil Rights Act era, where racism has never been considered anything but vile, and I admit being hurt by the implication.

What astounded me, watching the proceedings, was the utter rapture of the million or so who came to witness. I cannot think of an inauguration in my lifetime with NO protests. I was astonished at the volume of the cheers. The love of so many for this man may truly be unprecedented.

Here’s the thing. I am incapable of being disappointed in Mr. Obama. I know what is coming: a drastic diminution of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution; removal of all protection for the unborn and for those whose consciences forbid participation in abortion and in the creation of human life merely to harvest embryonic stem cells; the Fairness Doctrine; citizenship rights for illegal aliens; punitive taxes on the productive; the treatment of terrorism as crime rather than an act of war; the weakening of defense and intelligence; the rejection and isolation of Israel; more bail outs with coerced taxpayer money; continuing energy dependence; unconditional negotiation with our enemies; the unfettered growth of government control over the lives of the people. As these things happen, I won’t be surprised. If they don’t happen, I will be pleasantly surprised.

Some of Mr. Obama’s followers will be disappointed. Not all–these changes are what some of them want. “Some people just want to watch the world burn,” as it’s said in The Dark Knight. But when people still have to pay their mortgages; when the earth doesn’t cool; when evil men still want to hurt us for Allah despite our hopey changiness; when Socialism and punitive taxation don’t cure the problems that Big Government has wrought; some of those cheering on the Mall today will be disappointed. A lot of people voted for the pragmatic centrist–they’re going to be appalled when Mr. Obama governs in the only way he knows how–the way that made him the most liberal member of the Senate in his short tenure there. Mr. Obama cannot live up to the heroic estimation of his most ardent followers, or to the media. My opinion of him can only go up–theirs can only go down. That is the seed of the conservative revolutions of 2010 and 2012.

Some of the rapture today was a rest from history. We were shocked and scared when the terrorists committed atrocities on our own soil. We were tired of a war that a much-maligned Secretery of Defense warned us would be a long slog. We believed the media’s tales about how our economic woes were solely the result of evil capitalism. A majority of us freely voted for the man who promised to take war away, to deal with terrorism as crime, to win back “the world’s” love for us, to provide for our energy, health care, housing, and all our needs. On Inauguration Day, a million or so celebrated that break from history.

Just because we hide from reality, it doesn’t stop being there. When the people finally realize all they have voted for, the buyer’s remorse will be immense. May it not come too late.

Will conservatism be there to pick up the pieces? One can hope for the change.

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From today, Obama Snubs Medal of Honor Ball. Change!

I feel bleaker today than I expected. There’s an unopened bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey in the kitchen, for emergencies. Tonight, despite my low-carb efforts, I’m making an exception, opening that bottle, and getting drunk while listening to Bob Marley’s Legend. I need something beautiful and perfect, sad and happy and defiant.

There’s another post about today’s events, but it’s dark and unhappy. I won’t post it tonight–I won’t be negative about Mr. Obama on a night that means so much to so many people. I probably WILL post it tomorrow for my own benefit. Maybe I’ll be able to come back to it in a year or two and say to myself “Look how wrong you were about him!” I dearly hope to do that.

Dow was down 332 points today, to 7949. I had predicted the Dow would lose 2000 points between Mr. Obama’s election and inauguration. That it’s only gone down 1703 points is probably a victory of sorts.

In the interests of “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” here are some nice statements about Mr. Obama:

  • He is a historic figure, cherished by millions
  • He has a lovely wife and two beautiful children
  • He is a gifted orator
  • He ran the superior race and is the people’s freely given choice

Today is an anniversary. 28 years ago, President Reagan gave this speech at his first Inaugural. I miss him; we are lessened by his passing:

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O’Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens.

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our republic. The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick–professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, “we the people,” this breed called Americans.

Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this “new beginning,” and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government–not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they’re on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They’re individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

Now, I have used the words “they” and “their” in speaking of these heroes. I could say “you” and “your,” because I’m addressing the heroes of whom I speak–you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen; and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they’re sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic “yes.” To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I’ve just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world’s strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow, measured in inches and feet, not miles, but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, “Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of . . . On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.” Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength. Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors. I’m told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I’m deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in our history that this ceremony has been held, as you’ve been told, on the West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on the city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man, George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led Americans out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then, beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses of Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We’re told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.

God bless you, and thank you.

Robot Roll Call

January 18, 2009

Right now, on our local public television channel (!), they’re showing the 1978 remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” I had just recently watched Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Season 8 showing of The Giant Spider Invasion, and immediately thought of this host segment, where Gypsy sings a lullaby.

I adore MST3K. I really, really do.

Signs and wonders

January 18, 2009

The most photographed water tower in Missouri? Very likely. Incidentally, the town IS named after the booze, not the city in France. It was a railroad town back in the day, and the store for the railroad workers had barrels of bourbon in the front.

One of my six great readers said he liked my Ozarks postings. It’s an indefinite term–I’ve read of places referred to as “Ozarks” that include pretty much everything south of I-44 and west of Missouri Highway 67. I’m partial to the parts around the Meramec, Huzzah, and Courtois rivers and creeks (you’re from the area if you can pronounce that third name correctly). There have been “Galts” in this part of the state, Crawford County, in an unbroken line since long before the Civil War. Many of my Catholic ancestors are buried in Sacred Heart cemetery in Leasburg, and the Protestants are buried in Lea cemetery. Shanty Irish, farmers and railroad workers. Legendary drinkers, a woman who ran a prison farm, mayor of a small town–all of them distant relatives.

I was in the area today–it got up to a balmy 40 degrees, so I decided to go look at a prospective Gulch. Wild country, lots of deer sign, but probably wouldn’t work. On my way back to St. Louis, I stopped by Meramec State Park again and walked three miles. Saw something I’d never seen before–ice had formed stalagmites and stalactites in a cave. At the third cave on the trail, a small stream flowing from the opening had frozen solid. This is a wild and beautiful area, and I truly long to find a great place there to call my own.

In “House, M.D.,” the irascible drug-addict genius doctor played by Hugh Laurie says this to long-suffering compassionate oncologist Dr. Wilson while locked out of his office. It’s also on an awesome t-shirt given to me for Christmas by a friend who just may know me too well. This also ties in well to the awesome fellow WordPress blog Stuff Geeks Love that posits that geeks like me adore obscure t-shirts, especially those related to television shows.

While wearing that shirt with pride the other night, I got to thinking about President Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.” Back when Saturday Night Live was funny, Mike Myers used to do a skit called “Coffee Talk with Linda Richman.” Once, she came up with a topic–“The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Discuss!”

Bush’s compassionate conservatism was neither compassionate nor conservative. “Compassionate” implies that conservatism without some mealy-mouthed modifier is not compassionate. That is ceding the moral high ground entirely too easily. What is NOT compassionate is creating an underclass of people dependent on the government, as liberalism has done. It’s not compassionate to try to push through an amnesty for illegal aliens; indeed, it’s cruel and unjust to those immigrants who follow the rules and obey the law. It’s not compassionate to combine with Senator Kennedy to create yet anther bloated public education establishment of dubious utility. It’s not compassionate to create a massive entitlement–the Medicare Drug coverage–out of thin air and lay more burdens on the taxpayer. It’s not compassionate to compel by force the Atlas of the American taxpayer to shoulder the burden of failed companies to the tune of trillions of hard-earned dollars.

Even when I was a liberal, President Clinton’s lip-biting statement of “I feel your pain” made me cringe. No, he didn’t. Furthermore, it’s not a President’s job to be “Pain-Feeler-in-Chief,” thank God. That way lies dependence, that way lies people lining up in front of the Superdome after Katrina without even a toothbrush or a container of water, expecting government manna to immediately fall from heaven. The government that feels your pain has enough power that it can cause it, as well.

It’s one of the many themes in Atlas Shrugged. The feckless socialist ninnies who took over the businesses talked about their high ideals and brother love as they drove their companies into the ground, ruining the lives of all employees…the most productive and creative employees first. The government kept sending ships full of aid to the “People’s States” of Europe as the lights dimmed and the people grew hungry in the US as a result of the relentless government attacks on productive people and business.

Consider the end of 2007. One of Mr. Obama’s famous whipping boys was the fact that Exxon Mobil made $11 billion in profits in one quarter. Exxon Mobil is a bad guy–un-compassionate, evil–in the minds of liberals. Profits are evil, unless they’re within the “reasonable” limits set by liberals.

But here’s the thing–we the taxpayers weren’t forced THIS year at gunpoint to give hundreds of billions of dollars to Exxon Mobil. They’re doing okay. Instead, two HIGHLY compassionate government-sponsored entities–Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–enthusiastically gave mortgages for years to people who had no hope of paying for them. Of course they didn’t look too closely at the financials–that would have been discriminatory and un-compassionate. They ruined the lives of millions of otherwise decent people all in the name of “home ‘ownership’ for all.” How compassionate! How caring…right up until the point where the fairy dust collapsed and they brought down the entire economy. Earlier this year, we the people WERE forced at gunpoint to give hundreds of billions of dollars to these FAILURES, and to every other failure who came by with a hand out. It will continue this year, and when we the taxpayers are out of cash, why, first we’ll tax the “rich,” and then we’ll just print more. What could possibly go wrong?

Who is compassionate? The oil business that provides the fuel to run our economy, to power our cars, to do as we please? The company that hires people for good jobs, pays them good salaries and benefits, allowing them to lead the kind of lives we’d all like to have? The company that PAYS billions of taxes into government coffers instead of sucking it out? The company that doesn’t demand taxpayer money at gunpoint, but only offers a commodity for sale to free people? Or is it the government-sponsored company that lured people in with the promise of easy money and home ownership without effort, that offered the shining “American dream” of home ownership, only to collapse under its own contradictions, ruining millions and then demanding hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer largesse for their trouble?  

I’ll take the eeeeeeevil successful big business over the “compassionate” enterprise that’s demanding my money at gunpoint to fuel its failure while simulateously driving down the value of what little savings I’m allowed to achieve, any day of the week.

…is the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.

Compare this elegant, straightforward statement of the rights of the people of the United States:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

With this obscenity:

Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009

One hopes it won’t pass, or will be immediately recognized as the Unconstitutional piece of dreck it is, but one shouldn’t necessarily take any chances since it would not be surprising if the new president almost immediately had two Supreme Court slots to fill (Darth Vader Ginsburg is in poor health and Justice Stevens is quite elderly). This would not change the makeup of the Court, as Mr. Obama would replace two liberals with two liberals, but it’s still not super news.

Three days until the new president can close the gun show loophole or introduce a myriad of restrictions on 2nd Amendment rights via Executive Order. If you are of a mind to do so, make any last-minute purchases NOW. Pay with cash.

This comes after the NRA decided to roll over and not fight Eric Holder, who is opposed to the 2nd Amendment rights of the people, as Attorney General.

I’m not one of those “We are so screwed” people, but…we are so screwed. 😦

Farewell, Mr. President

January 16, 2009

You overcame the recession that began your presidency, in spite of the upheaval caused by the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, and gave us tax cuts and 5 years of prosperity. The greed and banking irregularities that have caused the current horror are not of your making.

You liberated 50 million people in two nations, and brought Saddam Hussein to justice.

You have relentlessly pursued those who sent the terrorists. There’s not been another large-scale terrorist attack on the US in 7 years.

You selected two young Supreme Court justices who will protect and defend our rights for decades to come. You have been a good defender of the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and of the sanctity of human life.

You have been a staunch defender of Israel.

Finally, you have been a truly class act, showing the humor and graciousness that those who hate you so seriously lack.

You should have attacked Saudi Arabia, and the Socialism you have brought upon us is unbearable and only going to get worse once the professional Socialists take over, but you are an honorable, patriotic man who has served his country well. Enjoy your retirement. The closer it gets to the end of your Presidency, the more my dread of the future grows.

Still, in many ways you had limitations–you had neither the oratorial gifts of Reagan or his quick wit and deep insight. You grew beyond those limitations, and history will judge you far more fairly than the present does. Hopefully the incoming president will grow into the role as you did. Our country’s future depends on it.

Busy busy

January 15, 2009

Been crazy busy since the beginning of the year. It occurred to me that if I really BELIEVED all the things I’ve said about things getting really bad under the Obama Administration, I’d ACT like it: save up the precious metals, save money, improve my fitness. Well, I really DO believe it, so it’s time to put up. It’s been tricky, because this year’s raise is a huge temptation to overspend, but I need to view that as a gift to save up for the bad future than indulge in the present. Been working out as hard as I can, and have foolishly signed up for a backpacking trip, in a wilderness area, in February.

Complication: I’ve found a piece of land that would make a nifty Gulch. Can I save up a 20% down payment without running down my rainy day savings? If I can’t, it’s a no can do, but I’d love to be able to swing it.

Won’t be able to take off the day of the Inauguration. So, the tricky thing will be to miss out on the adulation, although I’m morbidly curious how the millions-of-people-limited-numbers-of-Porta-Potties thing will turn out. The Obama voters have a right to it–Lord knows I’ll be celebrating when we get another Reagan into the White House. Mr. Obama has a right to it. I hope he ends up being a good President. Trust, but verify. Still, the adoration of the media for the man is simply too much for me. People were excited about Clinton in 92–I know, I was one of them (first Presidential vote, ever!), but there simply cannot have been this sort of hero-worship, for one so untested, in history. Perhaps he will live up to it.

Watching “American Psycho” on IFC. Messed-up film, but Christian Bale is extraordinary in it. I want the soundtrack.

Dow is at 8200. That’s down 1425 points since Mr. Obama’s election, or 15%. Back before election day I predicted it would lose 2000 points between Mr. Obama’s election and inauguration. We’ll have to see if that happens.

Sympathy for the Devil

January 8, 2009

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/32384_IDF_Kills_Giant_Jew-Eating_Rabbit/comments/#ctop

Just remember, folks: this bit of “Palestinian” propaganda was filmed in a (clean, modern, well-appointed) Gaza hospital.  All while the “Palestinians” bitched about the humanitarian conditions.

As Public Enemy philosophizes…don’t believe the hype.

Godspeed IDF.