Thursday, November 23, 2006

The First Thanksgivers 

"Our corn [wheat] did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."--Edward Winslow, in a letter, December 12, 1621

"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports"--Wm. Bradford, 'History Of Plymouth Plantation'

Thus begging the question: "What the Hell happened to Massachusetts?"

Regardless, have a great--and grateful--Thanksgiving, this oldest of American holidays.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Og Like! 

"For instance, I have pointed out the difficulty of keeping a monkey and watching it evolve into a man. Experimental evidence of such an evolution being impossible, the professor is not content to say (as most of us would be ready to say) that such an evolution is likely enough anyhow. He produces his little bone, or little collection of bones, and deduces the most marvellous things from it. He found in Java a piece of a skull, seeming by its contour to be smaller than the human. Somewhere near it he found an upright thigh-bone and in the same scattered fashion some teeth that were not human. If they all form part of one creature, which is doubtful, our conception of the creature would be almost equally doubtful. But the effect on popular science was to produce a complete and even complex figure, finished down to the last details of hair and habits. He was given a name as if he were an ordinary historical character. People talked of Pithecanthropus as of Pitt or Fox or Napoleon. Popular histories published portraits of him like the portraits of Charles the First and George the Fourth. A detailed drawing was reproduced, carefully shaded, to show that the very hairs of his head were all numbered No uninformed person looking at its carefully lined face and wistful eyes would imagine for a moment that this was the portrait of a thigh-bone; or of a few teeth and a fragment of a cranium. In the same way people talked about him as if he were an individual whose influence and character were familiar to us all. I have just read a story in a magazine about Java, and how modern white inhabitants of that island are prevailed on to misbehave themselves by the personal influence of poor old Pithecanthropus. That the modern inhabitants of Java misbehave themselves I can very readily believe; but I do not imagine that they need any encouragement from the discovery of a few highly doubtful bones. Anyhow, those bones are far too few and fragmentary and dubious to fill up the whole of the vast void that does in reason and in reality lie between man and his bestial ancestors, if they were his ancestors. On the assumption of that evolutionary connection (a connection which I am not in the least concerned to deny), the really arresting and remarkable fact is the comparative absence of any such remains recording that connection at that point. The sincerity of Darwin really admitted this; and that is how we came to use such a term as the Missing Link. But the dogmatism of Darwinians has been too strong for the agnosticism of Darwin; and men have insensibly fallen into turning this entirely negative term into a positive image. They talk of searching for the habits and habitat of the Missing Link; as if one were to talk of being on friendly terms with the gap in a narrative or the hole in an argument, of taking a walk with a non-sequitur or dining with an undistributed middle."--G.K. Chesterton, 'The Everlasting Man'

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Woman From Hopeless 


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: "Hope is not a strategy. Hortatory talk about what the Iraqi government must do is getting old. I mean, I have heard over and over again the government must do this. The Iraqi army must do that. Nobody disagrees with that. The brutal fact is it is not happening."

GEN. ABIZAID: "Senator, I agree with you. And I would also say that despair is not a method. And when I come to Washington, I feel despair. When I'm in Iraq with my commanders, when I talk to our soldiers, when I talk to the Iraqi leadership, they are not despairing. They believe that they can move the country towards stability with our help, and I believe that."

Me too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Because Economic Liberty is Liberty, Too 


*"Governments never learn. Only people learn."

*"Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant relatively little to the wealthy.

The rich in Ancient Greece would have benefited hardly at all from modern plumbing: running servants replaced running water. Television and radio? The Patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading actors as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets—all these and many other modern developments would have added little to their life.

The great achievements of Western Capitalism have redounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive prerogative of the rich and powerful."

*"I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible."

*"The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom."

*"Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else's resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property."

*"If you cannot state a proposition clearly and unambiguously, you do not understand it."

*"There's no such thing as a free lunch."

--Milton Friedman, R.I.P.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We Need Some Newt Thinking 


Newt Gingrich :

[...] "1. Republicans lost the 2006 election. Do not hide from this. Do not shrug it off. Our team lost. Why did we lose? What do we have to do differently?

2. Are House Republicans electing a leadership team to be an effective minority or a leadership team to regain the majority? These are very different roles and require very different considerations, very different strategies and very different leaders.

3. To regain majority status, we have to focus on the country first and on Washington and the Congress second. If we are responsive to the country, they will support us and return us to power. If we are focused on action in Washington (whether White House action, legislative action or lobbyist and PAC action), we are probably entering a long period in minority status." [...]

(see also newtgingrich.org)

(via Human Events)

MORE (from WSJ's Opinion Journal):

"If President Bush decides to govern as President Reagan did, he will work to unify the Blue Dog Democrats with the Republicans to win a handful of very large victories while accepting a constant barrage of unhappiness from the liberal leadership. That is what conservative bipartisanship is like. If on the other hand, President Bush decides on an establishment strategy of cooperating with the liberal leadership, he will guarantee splitting his own party and will see his legacy drift further and further to the left as the Pelosi-Reid wing of their party demands more and more concessions.

This choice of which strategy to follow domestically has an enormous implication for national security. A liberal coalition will focus narrowly on Iraq and seek to avoid thinking about the scale of threat we face internationally. A conservative bipartisan coalition will look first to the larger threat to American security and will then seek to find solutions in Iraq to strengthen American security."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Return to First Principles 


Before Considering Oh-Eight, Let's Reconsider Eight-Oh

As Republicans look for answers in light of the recent election results, we should consult the wisdom of someone who has been there...and triumphed.

That someone is Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Let Them Go Their Way (March 1, 1975):

"Since our last meeting we have been through a disastrous election. It is easy for us to be discouraged, as pundits hail that election as a repudiation of our philosophy and even as a mandate of some kind or other. But the significance of the election was not registered by those who voted, but by those who stayed home. If there was anything like a mandate it will be found among almost two-thirds of the citizens who refused to participate.

Bitter as it is to accept the results of the November election, we should have reason for some optimism. For many years now we have preached "the gospel," in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism.

Now, it is possible we have been persuasive to a greater degree than we had ever realized. Few, if any, Democratic party candidates in the last election ran as liberals. Listening to them I had the eerie feeling we were hearing reruns of Goldwater speeches. I even thought I heard a few of my own.

Bureaucracy was assailed and fiscal responsibility hailed. Even George McGovern donned sackcloth and ashes and did penance for the good people of South Dakota.

But let’s not be so naive as to think we are witnessing a mass conversion [by elected Democrats] to the principles of conservatism. Once sworn into office, the victors reverted to type.

In their view, apparently, the ends justified the means.

The "Young Turks" had campaigned against "evil politicians." They turned against committee chairmen of their own party, displaying a taste and talent as cutthroat power politicians quite in contrast to their campaign rhetoric and idealism. Still, we must not forget that they molded their campaigning to fit what even they recognized was the mood of the majority. And we must see to it that the people are reminded of this as they now pursue their ideological goals -- and pursue them they will.

I know you are aware of the national polls which show that a greater (and increasing) number of Americans -- Republicans, Democrats and independents -- classify themselves as "conservatives" than ever before. And a poll of rank-and-file union members reveals dissatisfaction with the amount of power their own leaders have assumed, and a resentment of their use of that power for partisan politics. Would it shock you to know that in that poll 68 percent of rank-and-file union members of this country came out endorsing right-to-work legislation?

These polls give cause for some optimism, but at the same time reveal a confusion that exists and the need for a continued effort to "spread the word."

In another recent survey, of 35,000 college and university students polled, three-fourths blame American business and industry for all of our economic and social ills. The same three-fourths think the answer is more (and virtually complete) regimentation and government control of all phases of business -- including the imposition of wage and price controls. Yet, 80 percent in the same poll want less government interference in their own lives!

In 1972 the people of this country had a clear-cut choice, based on the issues -- to a greater extent than any election in half a century. In overwhelming numbers they ignored party labels, not so much to vote for a man or even a policy as to repudiate a philosophy. In doing so they repudiated that final step into the welfare state -- that call for the confiscation and redistribution of their earnings on a scale far greater than what we now have. They repudiated the abandonment of national honor and a weakening of this nation's ability to protect itself.

A study has been made that is so revealing that I’m not surprised it has been ignored by a certain number of political commentators and columnists. The political science department of Georgetown University researched the mandate of the 1972 election and recently presented its findings at a seminar.

Taking several major issues which, incidentally, are still the issues of the day, they polled rank-and-file members of the Democratic party on their approach to these problems. Then they polled the delegates to the two major national conventions -- the leaders of the parties.

They found the delegates to the Republican convention almost identical in their responses to those of the rank-and-file Republicans. Yet, the delegates to the Democratic convention were miles apart from the thinking of their own party members.

The mandate of 1972 still exists. The people of America have been confused and disturbed by events since that election, but they hold an unchanged philosophy.

Our task is to make them see that what we represent is identical to their own hopes and dreams of what America can and should be. If there are questions as to whether the principles of conservatism hold up in practice, we have the answers to them. Where conservative principles have been tried, they have worked. [...] If you will permit me, I can recount my own experience in California.

When I went to Sacramento eight years ago, I had the belief that government was no deep, dark mystery, that it could be operated efficiently by using the same common sense practiced in our everyday life, in our homes, in business and private affairs.

The "lab test" of my theory – California -- was pretty messed up after eight years of a road show version of the Great Society. Our first and only briefing came from the outgoing director of finance, who said: "We’re spending $1 million more a day than we're taking in. I have a golf date. Good luck!" That was the most cheerful news we were to hear for quite some time.

California state government was increasing by about 5,000 new employees a year. We were the welfare capital of the world with 16 percent of the nation's caseload. Soon, California’s caseload was increasing by 40,000 a month.

We turned to the people themselves for help. Two hundred and fifty experts in the various fields volunteered to serve on task forces at no cost to the taxpayers. They went into every department of state government and came back with 1,800 recommendations on how modern business practices could be used to make government more efficient. We adopted 1,600 of them.

We instituted a policy of "cut, squeeze and trim" and froze the hiring of employees as replacements for retiring employees or others leaving state service.

After a few years of struggling with the professional welfarists, we again turned to the people. First, we obtained another task force and, when the legislature refused to help implement its recommendations, we presented the recommendations to the electorate.

It still took some doing. The legislature insisted our reforms would not work; that the needy would starve in the streets; that the workload would be dumped on the counties; that property taxes would go up and that we'd run up a deficit the first year of $750 million.

That was four years ago. Today, the needy have had an average increase of 43 percent in welfare grants in California, but the taxpayers have saved $2 billion by the caseload not increasing that 40,000 a month. Instead, there are some 400,000 fewer on welfare today than then.

Forty of the state’s 58 counties have reduced property taxes for two years in a row (some for three). That $750-million deficit turned into an $850-million surplus which we returned to the people in a one-time tax rebate. That wasn’t easy. One state senator described that rebate as "an unnecessary expenditure of public funds."

For more than two decades governments -- federal, state, local -- have been increasing in size two-and-a-half times faster than the population increase. In the last 10 years they have increased the cost in payroll seven times as fast as the increase in numbers.

We have just turned over to a new administration in Sacramento a government virtually the same size it was eight years ago. With the state’s growth rate, this means that government absorbed a workload increase, in some departments as much as 66 percent.

We also turned over -- for the first time in almost a quarter of a century -- a balanced budget and a surplus of $500 million. In these eight years just passed, we returned to the people in rebates, tax reductions and bridge toll reductions $5.7 billion. All of this is contrary to the will of those who deplore conservatism and profess to be liberals, yet all of it is pleasing to its citizenry.

Make no mistake, the leadership of the Democratic party is still out of step with the majority of Americans.

Speaker Carl Albert recently was quoted as saying that our problem is "60 percent recession, 30 percent inflation and 10 percent energy." That makes as much sense as saying two and two make 22. [...]

What side can be taken in a debate over whether the deficit should be $52 billion or $70 billion or $80 billion preferred by the profligate Congress?

Inflation has one cause and one cause only: government spending more than government takes in. And the cure to inflation is a balanced budget. We know, of course, that after 40 years of social tinkering and Keynesian experimentation that we can’t do this all at once, but it can be achieved. Balancing the budget is like protecting your virtue: you have to learn to say "no."

This is no time to repeat the shopworn panaceas of the New Deal, the Fair Deal and the Great Society. John Kenneth Galbraith, who, in my opinion, is living proof that economics is an inexact science, has written a new book. It is called "Economics and the Public Purpose." In it, he asserts that market arrangements in our economy have given us inadequate housing, terrible mass transit, poor health care and a host of other miseries. And then, for the first time to my knowledge, he advances socialism as the answer to our problems.

Shorn of all side issues and extraneous matter, the problem underlying all others is the worldwide contest for the hearts and minds of mankind. Do we find the answers to human misery in freedom as it is known, or do we sink into the deadly dullness of the Socialist ant heap?

Those who suggest that the latter is some kind of solution are, I think, open to challenge. Let’s have no more theorizing when actual comparison is possible.

There is in the world a great nation, larger than ours in territory and populated with 250 million capable people. It is rich in resources and has had more than 50 uninterrupted years to practice socialism without opposition.

We could match them [Russia], but it would take a little doing on our part. We’d have to cut our paychecks back by 75 percent; move 60 million workers back to the farm; abandon two-thirds of our steel-making capacity; destroy 40 million television sets; tear up 14 of every 15 miles of highway; junk 19 of every 20 automobiles; tear up two-thirds of our railroad track; knock down 70 percent of our houses; and rip out nine out of every 10 telephones. Then, all we have to do is find a capitalist country to sell us wheat on credit to keep us from starving!

Our people are in a time of discontent. Our vital energy supplies are threatened by possibly the most powerful cartel in human history. Our traditional allies in Western Europe are experiencing political and economic instability bordering on chaos.

We seem to be increasingly alone in a world grown more hostile, but we let our defenses shrink to pre-Pearl Harbor levels. [...] Yet, too many congressmen demand further cuts in our own defenses, including delay if not cancellation of the B-1 bomber.

I realize that millions of Americans are sick of hearing about Indochina, and perhaps it is politically unwise to talk of our obligation to Cambodia and South Vietnam. But we pledged -- in an agreement that brought our men home and freed our prisoners -- to give our allies arms and ammunition to replace on a one-for-one basis what they expend in resisting the aggression of the Communists who are violating the cease-fire and are fully aided by their Soviet and Red Chinese allies. Congress has already reduced the appropriation to half of what they need and threatens to reduce it even more.

Can we live with ourselves if we, as a nation, betray our friends and ignore our pledged word? And, if we do, who would ever trust us again? To consider committing such an act so contrary to our deepest ideals is symptomatic of the erosion of standards and values. And this adds to our discontent.

We did not seek world leadership; it was thrust upon us. It has been our destiny almost from the first moment this land was settled. If we fail to keep our rendezvous with destiny or, as John Winthrop said in 1630, "Deal falsely with our God," we shall be made "a story and byword throughout the world."

Americans are hungry to feel once again a sense of mission and greatness.

I don 't know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, "We must broaden the base of our party" -- when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.

It was a feeling that there was not a sufficient difference now between the parties that kept a majority of the voters away from the polls. When have we ever advocated a closed-door policy? Who has ever been barred from participating?

Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?

Let us show that we stand for fiscal integrity and sound money and above all for an end to deficit spending, with ultimate retirement of the national debt.

Let us also include a permanent limit on the percentage of the people's earnings government can take without their consent.

Let our banner proclaim a genuine tax reform that will begin by simplifying the income tax so that workers can compute their obligation without having to employ legal help.

And let it provide indexing -- adjusting the brackets to the cost of living -- so that an increase in salary merely to keep pace with inflation does not move the taxpayer into a surtax bracket. Failure to provide this means an increase in government's share and would make the worker worse off than he was before he got the raise.

Let our banner proclaim our belief in a free market as the greatest provider for the people. Let us also call for an end to the nit-picking, the harassment and over-regulation of business and industry which restricts expansion and our ability to compete in world markets.

Let us explore ways to ward off socialism, not by increasing government’s coercive power, but by increasing participation by the people in the ownership of our industrial machine.

Our banner must recognize the responsibility of government to protect the law-abiding, holding those who commit misdeeds personally accountable.

And we must make it plain to international adventurers that our love of peace stops short of "peace at any price."

We will maintain whatever level of strength is necessary to preserve our free way of life.

A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.

I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way. "......................................................

To Restore America (March 31, 1976):

"I had never in my life thought of seeking or holding public of office and I'm still not quite sure how it all happened. In my own mind, I was a citizen representing my fellow citizens against the institution of government. I turned to the people, not to politicians, for help. Instead of a committee to screen applicants for jobs, I had a citizens' recruiting committee, and I told this committee I wanted an administration made up of men and women who did not want government careers and who'd be the first to tell me if their government job was unnecessary. And I had that happen. [A] young man from the aerospace industry dissolved his department in four months, handed me the key to this office, and told me we'd never needed the department. And to this day, I not only have never missed it—I don't know where it was.

There was a reason for my seeking people who didn't want government careers. Dr. Parkinson summed it all up in his book on bureaucracy. He said, "Government hires a rat-catcher and the first thing you know, he's become a rodent control officer." In those entire eight years, most of us never lost that feeling that we were there representing the people against what Cicero once called the "arrogance of officialdom." We had a kind of watchword we used on each other. "When we begin thinking of government as we instead of they, we've been here too long." Well, I believe that attitude would be beneficial in Washington. [...]

But there is one problem which must be solved or everything else is meaningless. I am speaking of the problem of our national security. Our nation is in danger, and the danger grows greater with each passing day. Like an echo from the past, the voice of Winston Churchill's grandson was heard recently in Britain's House of Commons warning that the spread of totalitarianism threatens the world once again and the democracies are "wandering without aim."

"Wandering without aim" describes the United States' foreign policy. Angola is a case in point. We gave just enough support to one side to encourage it to fight and die, but too little to give them a chance of winning. And while we're disliked by the winner, distrusted by the loser, and viewed by the world as weak and unsure. [...]

Call it mysticism, if you will, but I believe God had a divine purpose in placing this land between the two great oceans to be found by those who had a special love of freedom and the courage to leave the countries of their birth. From our forefathers to our modern-day immigrants, we've come from every corner of the earth, from every race and every ethnic background, and we've become a new breed in the world. We're Americans and we have a rendezvous with destiny. We spread across this land, building farms and towns and cities, and we did it without any federal land planning program or urban renewal.

Indeed, we gave birth to an entirely new concept in man's relation to man. We created government as our servant, beholden to us and possessing no powers except those voluntarily granted to it by us. Now a self-anointed elite in our nation's capital would have us believe we are incapable of guiding our own destiny. They practice government by mystery, telling us it's too complex for our understanding. Believing this, they assume we might panic if we were to be told the truth about our problems.

Why should we become frightened? No people who have ever lived on this earth have fought harder, paid a higher price for freedom, or done more to advance the dignity of man than the living Americans—the Americans living in this land today. There isn't any problem we can't solve if government will give us the facts. Tell us what needs to be done. Then, get out of the way and let us have at it.".......................................................

The New Republican Party (February 6, 1977):

"I have seen the conservative future and it works.

Let me say again what I said to our conservative friends from the academic world: What I envision is not simply a melding together of the two branches of American conservatism into a temporary uneasy alliance, but the creation of a new, lasting majority.

This will mean compromise. But not a compromise of basic principle. What will emerge will be something new: something open and vital and dynamic, something the great conservative majority will recognize as its own, because at the heart of this undertaking is principled politics.

I have always been puzzled by the inability of some political and media types to understand exactly what is meant by adherence to political principle. All too often in the press and the television evening news it is treated as a call for "ideological purity." Whatever ideology may mean -- and it seems to mean a variety of things, depending upon who is using it -- it always conjures up in my mind a picture of a rigid, irrational clinging to abstract theory in the face of reality. We have to recognize that in this country "ideology" is a scare word.

And for good reason. Marxist-Leninism is, to give but one example, an ideology. All the facts of the real world have to be fitted to the Procrustean bed of Marx and Lenin. If the facts don't happen to fit the ideology, the facts are chopped off and discarded.

I consider this to be the complete opposite to principled conservatism. If there is any political viewpoint in this world which is free from slavish adherence to abstraction, it is American conservatism.

When a conservative states that the free market is the best mechanism ever devised by the mind of man to meet material needs, he is merely stating what a careful examination of the real world has told him is the truth.

When a conservative says that totalitarian Communism is an absolute enemy of human freedom he is not theorizing -- he is reporting the ugly reality captured so unforgettably in the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

When a conservative says it is bad for the government to spend more than it takes in, he is simply showing the same common sense that tells him to come in out of the rain.

When a conservative says that busing does not work, he is not appealing to some theory of education -- he is merely reporting what he has seen down at the local school.

When a conservative quotes Jefferson that government that is closest to the people is best, it is because he knows that Jefferson risked his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to make certain that what he and his fellow patriots learned from experience was not crushed by an ideology of empire.

Conservatism is the antithesis of the kind of ideological fanaticism that has brought so much horror and destruction to the world. The common sense and common decency of ordinary men and women, working out their own lives in their own way -- this is the heart of American conservatism today.

Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before.

The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind. When we conservatives say that we know something about political affairs, and that we know can be stated as principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations -- found through the often bitter testing of pain, or sacrifice and sorrow.

One thing that must be made clear in post-Watergate is this: The American new conservative majority we represent is not based on abstract theorizing of the kind that turns off the American people, but on common sense, intelligence, reason, hard work, faith in God, and the guts to say: "Yes, there are things we do strongly believe in, that we are willing to live for, and yes, if necessary, to die for." That is not "ideological purity." It is simply what built this country and kept it great.

Let us lay to rest, once and for all, the myth of a small group of ideological purists trying to capture a majority. Replace it with the reality of a majority trying to assert its rights against the tyranny of powerful academics, fashionable left-revolutionaries, some economic illiterates who happen to hold elective office and the social engineers who dominate the dialogue and set the format in political and social affairs. If there is any ideological fanaticism in American political life, it is to be found among the enemies of freedom on the left or right -- those who would sacrifice principle to theory, those who worship only the god of political, social and economic abstractions, ignoring the realities of everyday life. They are not conservatives.

Our first job is to get this message across to those who share most of our principles. If we allow ourselves to be portrayed as ideological shock troops without correcting this error we are doing ourselves and our cause a disservice.

Wherever and whenever we can, we should gently but firmly correct our political and media friends who have been perpetuating the myth of conservatism as a narrow ideology. Whatever the word may have meant in the past, today conservatism means principles evolving from experience and a belief in change when necessary, but not just for the sake of change.

Once we have established this, the next question is: What will be the political vehicle by which the majority can assert its rights?

I have to say I cannot agree with some of my friends -- perhaps including some of you here tonight -- who have answered that question by saying this nation needs a new political party.

I respect that view and I know that those who have reached it have done so after long hours of study. But I believe that political success of the principles we believe in can best be achieved in the Republican Party. I believe the Republican Party can hold and should provide the political mechanism through which the goals of the majority of Americans can be achieved. For one thing, the biggest single grouping of conservatives is to be found in that party.

It makes more sense to build on that grouping than to break it up and start over. Rather than a third party, we can have a new first party made up of people who share our principles. I have said before that if a formal change in name proves desirable, then so be it. But tonight, for purpose of discussion, I’m going to refer to it simply as the New Republican Party.

And let me say so there can be no mistakes as to what I mean: The New Republican Party I envision will not be, and cannot, be one limited to the country club-big business image that, for reasons both fair and unfair, it is burdened with today. The New Republican Party I am speaking about is going to have room for the man and the woman in the factories, for the farmer, for the cop on the beat and the millions of Americans who may never have thought of joining our party before, but whose interests coincide with those represented by principled Republicanism. If we are to attract more working men and women of this country, we will do so not by simply "making room" for them, but by making certain they have a say in what goes on in the party. The Democratic Party turned its back on the majority of social conservatives during the 1960s.

The New Republican Party of the late ’70s and ’80s must welcome them, seek them out, enlist them, not only as rank-and-file members but as leaders and as candidates.

The time has come for Republicans to say to black voters: "Look, we offer principles that black Americans can, and do, support." We believe in jobs, real jobs; we believe in education that is really education; we believe in treating all Americans as individuals and not as stereotypes or voting blocs -- and we believe that the long-range interest of black Americans lies in looking at what each major party has to offer, and then deciding on the merits. The Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted. Well, it’s time black America and the New Republican Party move toward each other and create a situation in which no black vote can be taken for granted.

The New Republican Party I envision is one that will energetically seek out the best candidates for every elective office, candidates who not only agree with, but understand, and are willing to fight for a sound, honest economy, for the interests of American families and neighborhoods and communities and a strong national defense. And these candidates must be able to communicate those principles to the American people in language they understand. Inflation isn’t a textbook problem. Unemployment isn’t a textbook problem. They should be discussed in human terms.

Our candidates must be willing to communicate with every level of society, because the principles we espouse are universal and cut across traditional lines.

In every Congressional district there should be a search made for young men and women who share these principles and they should be brought into positions of leadership in the local Republican Party groups. We can find attractive, articulate candidates if we look, and when we find them, we will begin to change the sorry state of affairs that has led to a Democratic-controlled Congress for more than 40 years. I need not remind you that you can have the soundest principles in the world, but if you don't have candidates who can communicate those principles, candidates who are articulate as well as principled, you are going to lose election after election. I refuse to believe that the good Lord divided this world into Republicans who defend basic values and Democrats who win elections. We have to find tough, bright young men and women who are sick and tired of cliches and the pomposity and the mind-numbing economic idiocy of the liberals in Washington.

It is at this point, however, that we come across a question that is really the essential one: What will be the basis of this New Republican Party? To what set of values and principles can our candidates appeal? Where can Americans who want to know where we stand look for guidance? [...]

Tonight I want to offer to you my own version of what such a declaration might look like. I make no claim to originality. This declaration I propose is relatively short, taken, for most part, word for word from the Republican platform. It concerns itself with basic principles, not with specific solutions.

We, the members of the New Republican Party, believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom, family life, communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people. Toward that end, we, therefore, commit ourselves to the following propositions and offer them to each American believing that the New Republican Party, based on such principles, will serve the interest of all the American people.

We believe that liberty can be measured by how much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions, even their own mistakes. Government must step in when one’s liberties impinge on one’s neighbor’s. Government must protect constitutional rights, deal with other governments, protect citizens from aggressors, assure equal opportunity, and be compassionate in caring for those citizens who are unable to care for themselves.

Our federal system of local-state-national government is designed to sort out on what level these actions should be taken. Those concerns of a national character -- such as air and water pollution that do not respect state boundaries, or the national transportation system, or efforts to safeguard your civil liberties -- must, of course, be handled on the national level.

As a general rule, however, we believe that government action should be taken first by the government that resides as close to you as possible.

We also believe that Americans, often acting through voluntary organizations, should have the opportunity to solve many of the social problems of their communities. This spirit of freely helping others is uniquely American and should be encouraged in every way by government.

Families must continue to be the foundation of our nation.

Families -- not government programs -- are the best way to make sure our children are properly nurtured, our elderly are cared for, our cultural and spiritual heritages are perpetuated, our laws are observed and our values are preserved.

Thus it is imperative that our government’s programs, actions, officials and social welfare institutions never be allowed to jeopardize the family. We fear the government may be powerful enough to destroy our families; we know that it is not powerful enough to replace them. The New Republican Party must be committed to working always in the interest of the American family.

Every dollar spent by government is a dollar earned by individuals. Government must always ask: Are your dollars being wisely spent? Can we afford it? Is it not better for the country to leave your dollars in your pocket?

Elected officials, their appointees, and government workers are expected to perform their public acts with honesty, openness, diligence, and special integrity.

Government must work for the goal of justice and the elimination of unfair practices, but no government has yet designed a more productive economic system or one which benefits as many people as the American market system.

The beauty of our land is our legacy to our children. It must be protected by us so that they can pass it on intact to their children.

The United States must always stand for peace and liberty in the world and the rights of the individual. We must form sturdy partnerships with our allies for the preservation of freedom. We must be ever willing to negotiate differences, but equally mindful that there are American ideals that cannot be compromised. Given that there are other nations with potentially hostile design, we recognize that we can reach our goals only while maintaining a superior national defense, second to none.

In his inaugural speech President Carter said that he saw the world "dominated by a new spirit." He said, and I quote: "The passion for freedom is on the rise."

Well, I don’t know how he knows this, but if it is true, then it is the most unrequited passion in human history. The world is being dominated by a new spirit, all right, but it isn’t the spirit of freedom. [...]

If a visitor from another planet were to approach earth, and if this planet showed free nations in light and unfree nations in darkness, the pitifully small beacons of light would make him wonder what was hidden in that terrifying, enormous blackness.

We know what is hidden: Gulag. Torture. Families -- and human beings -- broken apart. No free press, no freedom of religion. The ancient forms of tyranny revived and made even more hideous and strong through what Winston Churchill once called "a perverted science." Men rotting for years in solitary confinement because they have different political and economic beliefs, solitary confinement that drives the fortunate ones insane and makes the survivors wish for death.

Only now and then do we in the West hear a voice from out of that darkness. Then there is silence -- the silence of human slavery. [...]

Even now in Western Europe we have Communists in the government of Italy, France appeasing terrorists, and England -- for centuries the model or the sword of freedom in Western Europe -- weak, dispirited, turning inward. [...]

[This] is simply reality as it was, with different names and faces, in Europe in the late 1930s when so many refused to believe and thought if we don’t look the threat will go away.

We don’t want hysteria. We don’t want distortion of [the enemy's] power. We want truth. And above all we want peace. And to have [recognition] that the United States has to immediately re-examine its entire view of the world and develop a strategy of freedom. We cannot be the second-best super-power for the simple reason that he who is second is last. In this deadly game, there are no silver medals for second. [...]

There is only one major question on the agenda of national priorities and that is the state of our national security. I refer, of course, to the state of our armed forces -- but also to our state of mind, to the way we perceive the world. We cannot maintain the strength we need to survive, no matter how many missiles we have, no matter how many tanks we build, unless we are willing to reverse:

* The trend of deteriorating faith in and continuing abuse of our national intelligence agencies. Let’s stop the sniping and the propaganda and the historical revisionism and let the CIA and the other intelligence agencies do their job!

* Let us reverse the trend of public indifference to problems of national security. In every congressional district citizens should join together, enlist and educate neighbors and make certain that congressmen know we care. The front pages of major newspapers on the East Coast recently headlined and told in great detail of a takeover, the takeover of a magazine published in New York -- not a nation losing its freedom. You would think, from the attention it received in the media, that it was a matter of blazing national interest whether the magazine lived or died. The tendency of much of the media to ignore the state of our national security is too well documented for me to go on.

My friends, the time has come to start acting to bring about the great conservative majority party we know is waiting to be created.

And just to set the record straight, let me say this about our friends who are now Republicans but who do not identify themselves as conservatives: I want the record to show that I do not view the new revitalized Republican Party as one based on a principle of exclusion. After all, you do not get to be a majority party by searching for groups you won’t associate or work with. If we truly believe in our principles, we should sit down and talk. Talk with anyone, anywhere, at any time if it means talking about the principles for the Republican Party. Conservatism is not a narrow ideology, nor is it the exclusive property of conservative activists.

We’ve succeeded better than we know. Little more than a decade ago more than two-thirds of Americans believed the federal government could solve all our problems, and do so without restricting our freedom or bankrupting the nation.

We warned of things to come, of the danger inherent in unwarranted government involvement in things not its proper province. What we warned against has come to pass. And today more than two-thirds of our citizens are telling us, and each other, that social engineering by the federal government has failed. The Great Society is great only in power, in size and in cost. And so are the problems it set out to solve. Freedom has been diminished and we stand on the brink of economic ruin.

Our task now is not to sell a philosophy, but to make the majority of Americans, who already share that philosophy, see that modern conservatism offers them a political home. We are not a cult, we are members of a majority.

Let’s act and talk like it.

The job is ours and the job must be done. If not by us, who? If not now, when?

Our party must be the party of the individual. It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group. No greater challenge faces our society today than ensuring that each one of us can maintain his dignity and his identity in an increasingly complex, centralized society.

Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, galloping inflation, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.

Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. Any organization is in actuality only the lengthened shadow of its members. A political party is a mechanical structure created to further a cause. The cause, not the mechanism, brings and holds the members together. And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America’s spiritual heritage to our national affairs.

Then with God’s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us." ...................................................

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Sometimes, to catch that vision, to go forward into the future successfully, we must heed the voices of victory from our past.

And for conservatives and Republicans, the voice most clear, most steady and most true is that of Ronald Reagan.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Dauntless Heart 

"ON BEHALF of the American people I wish to thank our ancient ally, the great French nation, that proud and gallant nation to whose help we once owed it that John Paul Jones was able to win for the Stars and Stripes the victory that has given him deathless fame, and to whose courtesy we now owe it that the body of the long dead hero has been sent hither, and that to commemorate the reception of the illustrious dead a squadron of French war ships has come to our shores.

The annals of the French navy are filled with the names of brave and able seamen, each of whom courted death as a mistress when the honor of his flag was at stake; and among the figures of these brave men there loom the larger shapes of those who, like Tourville, Duquesne, and the Bailli de Suffren, won high renown as fleet admirals, inferior to none of any navy of their day in martial prowess.

In addition to welcoming the diplomatic and official representatives of France here present, let me also express my heartiest acknowledgments to our former ambassador to Paris, Gen. Horace Porter, to whose zealous devotion we particularly owe it that the body of John Paul Jones has been brought to our shores.

When the body was thus brought over the representatives of many different cities wrote to me, each asking that it should find its last resting place in his city. But I feel that the place of all others in which the memory of the dead hero will most surely be a living force is here in Annapolis, where year by year we turn out the midshipmen who are to officer in the future the Navy, among whose founders the dead man stands first. Moreover, the future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. Every officer in our Navy should know by heart the deeds of John Paul Jones. Every officer in our Navy should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.

The history of our Navy, like the history of our nation, extends over a period of only a century and a quarter; yet we already have many memories of pride to thrill us as we read and hear of what has been done by our fighting men of the sea, from Perry and Macdonough to Farragut and Dewey. These memories include brilliant victories, and also, now and then, defeats only less honorable than the victories themselves; but the only defeats to which this praise can be given are those where, against heavy odds, men have stood to the death in hopeless battle. It is well for every American officer to remember that while a surrender may or may not be defensible, the man who refuses to surrender need never make a defense. The one fact must always be explained; the other needs no explanation. Moreover, he who would win glory and honor for the nation and for himself, must not too closely count the odds; if he does, he will never see such a day as that when Cushing sank the 'Albemarle'.

In his fight with the 'Serapis', Jones's ship was so badly mauled that his opponent hailed him, saying "Has your ship struck?" to which Jones answered, "I have not yet begun to fight." The spirit which inspired that answer upbore the man who gave it and the crew who served under him through the fury of the battle, which finally ended in their triumph. It was the same spirit which marked the commanders of the 'Cumberland' and the 'Congress', when they met an equally glorious though less fortunate fate. The 'Cumberland' sank, her flag flying, and her guns firing with the decks awash, while, when summoned to surrender, Morris replied, "Never! I'll sink alongside!" and made his words good.

Immediately after the 'Cumberland' was sunk, the 'Congress' was attacked, and her commander, Lieut. Joe Smith, was killed. After fighting until she was helpless, and being unable to bring her guns to bear, the ship was surrendered; but when Smith's father, old Commodore Joe Smith, who was on duty at Washington, saw by the dispatches from Fort Monroe that the 'Congress' had hoisted the white flag, he said quietly, "Then Joe's dead!" Surely no father could wish to feel a prouder certainty of his boy's behavior than the old commodore showed he possessed when he thus spoke; and no naval officer could hope to win a finer epitaph.

We have met today to do honor to the mighty dead. Remember that our words of admiration are but as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals if we do not by steady preparation and by the cultivation of soul and mind and body fit ourselves so that in time of need we shall be prepared to emulate their deeds.

Let every midshipman who passes through this institution remember, as he looks upon the tomb of John Paul Jones, that while no courage can atone for the lack of that efficiency which comes only through careful preparation in advance, through careful training of the men, and careful fitting out of the engines of war, yet that none of these things can avail unless in the moment of crisis the heart rises level with the crisis. The navy whose captains will not surrender is sure in the long run to whip the navy whose captains will surrender, unless the inequality of skill or force is prodigious. The courage which never yields can not take the place of the possession of good ships and good weapons and the ability skillfully to use these ships and these weapons.

I wish that our people as a whole, and especially those among us who occupy high legislative or administrative positions, would study the history of our nation, not merely for the purpose of national self-gratification, but with the desire to learn the lessons that history teaches. Let the men who talk lightly about its being unnecessary for us now to have an army and navy adequate for the work of this nation in the world remember that such utterances are not merely foolish, for in their effects they may at any time be fraught with disaster and disgrace to the nation's honor as well as disadvantage to its interest. Let them take to heart some of the lessons which should be learned by the study of the War of 1812.

As a people we are too apt to remember only that some of our ships did well in that war. We had a few ship--a very few ships--and they did so well as to show the utter folly of not having enough of them. Thanks to our folly as a nation, thanks to the folly that found expression in the views of those at the seat of government, not a ship of any importance had been built within a dozen years before the war began, and the Navy was so small that, when once the war was on, our opponents were able to establish a close blockade throughout the length of our coast, so that not a ship could go from one port to another, and all traffic had to go by land. Our parsimony in not preparing an adequate navy (which would have prevented the war) cost in the end literally thousands of dollars for every one dollar we thus foolishly saved. After two years of that war an utterly inconsiderable British force of about four thousand men was landed here in the bay, defeated with ease a larger body of raw troops put against it, and took Washington.

I am sorry to say that those of our countrymen who now speak of the deed usually confine themselves to denouncing the British for having burned certain buildings in Washington. They had better spare their breath. The sin of the invaders in burning the buildings is trivial compared with the sin of our own people in failing to make ready an adequate force to defeat the attempt. This nation was guilty of such shortsightedness, of such folly, of such lack of preparation that it was forced supinely to submit to the insult and was impotent to avenge it; and it was only the good fortune of having in Andrew Jackson a great natural soldier that prevented a repetition of the disaster at New Orleans. Let us remember our own shortcomings, and see to it that the men in public life to-day are not permitted to bring about a state of things by which we should in effect invite a repetition of such a humiliation.

We can afford as a people to differ on the ordinary party questions; but if we are both farsighted and patriotic we can not afford to differ on the all-important question of keeping the national defenses as they should be kept; of not alone keeping up, but of going on with building up of the United States Navy, and of keeping our small Army at least at its present size and making it the most efficient for its size that there is on the globe.

Remember, you here who are listening to me, that to applaud patriotic sentiments and to turn out to do honor to the dead heroes who by land or by sea won honor for our flag is only worth while if we are prepared to show that our energies do not exhaust themselves in words; if we are prepared to show that we intend to take to heart the lessons of the past and make things ready so that if ever, which heaven forbid, the need should arise, our fighting men on sea and ashore shall be able to rise to the standard established by their predecessors in our services of the past.

Those of you who are in public life have a moral right to be here at this celebration today only if you are prepared to do your part in building up the Navy of the present; for otherwise you have no right to claim lot or part in the glory and honor and renown of the Navy's past.

So much for what we in civil life outside of public office and within it are to do for you, and must do for you, in the Navy. Let you in the Navy remember that you must do your part. You will be worth less in war if you have not prepared yourselves for it in peace. You will be utterly unable to rise to the needs of the crisis if you have not by long years of steady and patient work fitted yourselves to get the last ounce of work out of every man, every gun, and every ship in the fleet; if you have not practiced steadily on the high seas until each ship can do its best, can show at its best, alone or in conjunction with others in fleet formation. Remember that no courage can ever atone for lack of that preparedness which makes the courage valuable; and yet if the courage is there, if the dauntless heart is there, its presence will sometimes make up for other shortcomings; while if with it are combined the other military qualities the fortunate owner becomes literally invincible."

--President Theodore Roosevelt on the interment of John Paul Jones at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, April 24, 1906.

Politicians come and go. But always the dauntless hearts of America's citizen-soldiers have beat steady and true--and never more so than today.

Around here, it's always Veteran's Day. If you're free--thank a vet.

Thanks, veterans.

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