Sunday, April 22, 2007

Not Bad 


Jeff Foxworthy at the CMT Awards:

"I like country music because it's about the things in life that really matter.

It ain't about bragging about how you are going to mess somebody up or how somebody ain't respectin ya'; it's about love, family, friends--with a few beers, a cheatin' woman and a two-timin' man thrown in for spite.

It doesn't take political sides even on things as ugly as war. Instead it celebrates the brave men and women who go to fight them, the price they pay to do it and the longing we have for them to return home to the ones they love.

It's about kids and how there ain't nothing like 'em. I get tired of hearing about how bad kids are today because there are a lot of great kids out there that just need somebody to love 'em and believe in 'em. Country folks love their kids and they will jack you up if you try to mess with them. ...

Country music doesn't have to be Politically Correct. We sing about God because we believe in Him. We are not trying to offend anybody but the evidence that we have seen of Him in our small little lives trumps your opinion about whether or not He exists.

We love country music because it touches us where we live. It's about mommas, and when they are hot and when they are unappreciated and when they were dying. It's about daddies, and the difficulties they have sometimes in telling the people that they work so hard to protect and provide for how they feel about them.

Country music is about new love and it's about old love. It's about getting drunk and it's about getting sober. It's about leaving and it's about coming home. It's real music sung by real people for real people. The people that make up the backbone of this country. You can call us 'rednecks' if you want. We're not offended because we know what we're all about.

We get up and go to work. We get up and go to church. And we get up and go to war when necessary. All we ask for is a few songs to carry us along the way..."

(Hat-tip: Allah Wills and the Texas Play-Goys)

If A Tree Falls in the Forest 


Andrew Ferguson attempts the Zen riddle that results when Katie Couric's ghostwriter plagiarizes another writer's words and Katie then mouths them as her own:

"You can see how complicated ghostwriting can get to be, at least for some of us in the audience. It's almost postmodern in its dizziness, especially when it's used by people, such as journalists, who are themselves assumed to be professional writing folk. When, for instance, Katie peered into the camera with her sincerest gaze (though she was really peering into the teleprompter) and deplored teen promiscuity, was it Katie doing the deploring, or was it the ghost? Was it Katie's opinion, or the ghostwriter's opinion? When she said, "I'm going to have a talk with my girls tonight," did she, Katie, mean that she, Katie, was going to have a talk with Katie's girls, or did she, the ghostwriter, mean that she, the ghostwriter, was going to have a talk with Katie's girls, or maybe that she'd have a talk with her own, the ghostwriter's, girls? As the complications ramify, funhouse-fashion, the reader or viewer is tempted to strip away the complications altogether and simply assume that the whole commentary is a sham. It's entirely possible that, no matter what her Notebook says, Katie isn't really going to talk with her daughters about promiscuity tonight. It's entirely possible that Katie doesn't have any kids at all."

Wish I'd ghostwritten that. Grasshopper.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"...A Farrago of Myopic Expedience and Folly" 

Tony Blankley:

"Nonetheless, for all their mismanagement of a still vital and noble struggle, the Bush team has better served our cause than has the Democratic Party served its interests in its near unanimous opposition to the war recently. Theirs has been the most blatantly unprincipled war opposition short of treason in living memory -- and the Democratic Party is likely to pay a fearsome price at the polls for a generation.

Their national defense policy, "if such a farrago of myopic expedience and folly can be so described" (a phrase used by Christopher Tyerman on a different issue) amounts to neither supporting the war effort nor admitting that they prefer to live with the consequences of its failure. There is an honorable (if, I believe, foolhardy) case to be made for the proposition that the price to our national interest of defeat is less than the price of persisting in the war effort. The Democrats are too cowardly to make that case.

So they consciously try to fool the public into thinking that the war objectives (of a stable neutral or friendly Iraq that is not a continuing threat to American security) is more likely to be achieved by our promptly giving up than by our staying. They argue with a straight face that the current Iraqi politicians (I hesitate to call them a government) would succeed in gaining order if only they were not supported by 150,000 American troops. No serious person believes that."

Nancy Pelosi does. And Harry Reid.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Our National DNA 



"But one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that “it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” (It is worth noting that the United States played no part in the Crusades, or in the Catholic reconquista of Andalusia.)

Ambassador Abd Al-Rahman did not fail to mention the size of his own commission, if America chose to pay the protection money demanded as an alternative to piracy. So here was an early instance of the “heads I win, tails you lose” dilemma, in which the United States is faced with corrupt regimes, on the one hand, and Islamic militants, on the other—or indeed a collusion between them.

It seems likely that Jefferson decided from that moment on that he would make war upon the Barbary kingdoms as soon as he commanded American forces. His two least favorite institutions—enthroned monarchy and state-sponsored religion—were embodied in one target, and it may even be that his famous ambivalences about slavery were resolved somewhat when he saw it practiced by the Muslims."

Read it all. Infidel.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

5,000 Small Victories 


Justice Thomas, with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring.

I join the Court’s opinion because it accurately applies current jurisprudence, including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey.

I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court’s abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, has no basis in the Constitution.

I also note that whether the Act constitutes a permissible exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause is not before the Court. The parties did not raise or brief that issue; it is outside the question presented; and the lower courts did not address it.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shall We Then Fear, 


From Our Archives (June, '03):

"One if by land, Two if by Sea..."

His Most Excellent Excellency, The Emperor Misha, Compassionate Educator of Trolls & Other Inanimate Objects had a recent & trenchant post on this modest effort to defend historic North Church against the ravages of the "silent artillery of time"...and memory.

The taxpayers are funding repairs of this National Landmark and Barry Lynn, who uses the title "Rev." when it helps him advance his anti-Christian bigotry, said "that if Revere were alive today, he would 'ride around the country, saying your tax dollars are being abused and warning that the church-state separation wall has just seen another crack'."

Another crack-pot, maybe.

Since the "Rev." has gotten his panty-loins all in a gird, we thought we'd take him up on his challenge, and ask Paul Revere himself:

(With apologies to Longfellow)

Listen, tax-payers and you will hear
of the Midnight ride of Paul Revere.
Where are you going at this hour, Paul?
Playing some Midnight basketball?
Or, are you a war-monger,
spreading intolerance and hate,
and breeching the wall between church & the state?

I can't help but notice you carry a musket;
Paul, they're illegal from here to Pawtuket.
You wear a tri-corner and their coats are red;
Is that any reason to fight 'til one's dead?
To our modern eyes, these are indicia;
"My God! I think he's in a militia!"
You see, Paul, some things have changed since your day;
If we saw you now, we'd lock you away.

That horse that you're riding out in the yard;
He too, has rights, and you ride him too hard!
And the lanterns your friend carried up to the tower
relied upon whale oil for their shining power!
And that shop in town where you were a smithy;
must comply with our rules; there's a million & fifty!
Talk back not, and cast no aspersions,
Or we'll drop by to see if you've hired enough Persians.

On April 15th and each day of the year,
we pay and we pay on what we have earned dear.
We've got money for Egypt, money for zoos,
plenty of money for removing tattoos.
Money to study love-lives of emus,
and money for mohair where no hair ever grew.
Money for 'artists' wearing nothing but chocolate,
Money for bombs that make awe and make shocklets.
But here is a thing that you would find odd;
No money for North Church...Someone said "God"!

I know what you're thinking as you shake your head;
You think that you're safe, Paul; but we tax the dead.
You're saying to us: "Why on earth did I bother?...
Have my children forgotten the Flags of their Fathers?
And whence all this anger at all your traditions?
How did you come into this strange condition?"

"Some worship money, some worship science,
some merely shake their fists in defiance.
Some worship power, some worship Nature,
some worship the Devil, and worse: Legislatures!

Your fathers were brave, ringing Liberty's Bell,
and Acknowledged their Father who blessed them so well.
But ponder this thought as you seek your solution:
Without that church tower...

...There'd be no Constitution."

"...The Saturday Night 

...preceding the 19th of April [1775]"


Dear Sir,

Having a little leisure, I wish to fullfill my promise, of giving you some facts, and Anecdotes, prior to the Battle of Lexington, which I do not remember to have seen in any history of the American Revolution.

In the year 1773 I was imployed by the Select men of the Town of Boston to carry the Account of the Destruction of the Tea to New-York; and afterwards, 1774, to Carry their dispatches to New-York and Philadelphia for Calling a Congress; and afterwards to Congress, several times. In the Fall of 1774 and Winter of 1775 I was one of upwards of thirty, cheifly mechanics, who formed our selves in to a Committee for the purpose of watching the Movements of the British Soldiers, and gaining every intelegence of the movements of the Tories. We held our meetings at the Green-Dragon Tavern. We were so carefull that our meetings should be kept Secret; that every time we met, every person swore upon the Bible, that they would not discover any of our transactions, But to Messrs. HANCOCK, ADAMS, Doctors WARREN, CHURCH, and one or two more.

About November, when things began to grow Serious, a Gentleman who had Conections with the Tory party, but was a Whig at heart, acquainted me, that our meetings were discovered, and mentioned the identical words that were spoken among us the Night before. We did not then distrust Dr. Church, but supposed it must be some one among us. We removed to another place, which we thought was more secure: but here we found that all our transactions were communicated to Governor Gage. (This came to me through the then Secretary Flucker; He told it to the Gentleman mentioned above). It was then a common opinion, that there was a Traytor in the provincial Congress, and that Gage was posessed of all their Secrets. (Church was a member of that Congress for Boston.) In the Winter, towards the Spring, we frequently took Turns, two and two, to Watch the Soldiers, By patroling the Streets all night. The Saturday Night preceding the 19th of April, about 12 oClock at Night, the Boats belonging to the Transports were all launched, and carried under the Sterns of the Men of War. (They had been previously hauld up and repaired). We likewise found that the Grenadiers and light Infantry were all taken off duty.

From these movements, we expected something serious was [to] be transacted. On Tuesday evening, the 18th, it was observed, that a number of Soldiers were marching towards the bottom of the Common. About 10 o'Clock, Dr. Warren Sent in great haste for me, and beged that I would imediately Set off for Lexington, where Messrs. Hancock and Adams were, and acquaint them of the Movement, and that it was thought they were the objets. When I got to Dr. Warren's house, I found he had sent an express by land to Lexington—a Mr. Wm. Daws. The Sunday before, by desire of Dr. Warren, I had been to Lexington, to Mess. Hancock and Adams, who were at the Rev. Mr. Clark's. I returned at Night thro Charlestown; there I agreed with a Col. Conant, and some other Gentlemen, that if the British went out by Water, we would shew two Lanthorns in the North Church Steeple; and if by Land, one, as a Signal; for we were aprehensive it would be dificult to Cross the Charles River, or git over Boston neck. I left Dr. Warrens, called upon a friend, and desired him to make the Signals. I then went Home, took my Boots and Surtout, and went to the North part of the Town, Where I had kept a Boat; two friends rowed me across Charles River, a little to the eastward where the Somerset Man of War lay. It was then young flood, the Ship was winding, and the moon was Rising. They landed me on Charlestown side. When I got into Town, I met Col. Conant, and several others; they said they had seen our signals. I told them what was Acting, and went to git me a Horse; I got a Horse of Deacon Larkin. While the Horse was preparing, Richard Devens, Esq. who was one of the Committee of Safty, came to me, and told me, that he came down the Road from Lexington, after Sundown, that evening; that He met ten British Officers, all well mounted, and armed, going up the Road.

I set off upon a very good Horse; it was then about 11 o'Clock, and very pleasant. After I had passed Charlestown Neck, and got nearly opposite where Mark was hung in chains, I saw two men on Horse back, under a Tree. When I got near them, I discovered they were British officer. One tryed to git a head of Me, and the other to take me. I turned my Horse very quick, and Galloped towards Charlestown neck, and then pushed for the Medford Road. The one who chased me, endeavoring to Cut me off, got into a Clay pond, near where the new Tavern is now built. I got clear of him, and went thro Medford, over the Bridge, and up to Menotomy. In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the Minute men; and after that, I alarmed almost every House, till I got to Lexington. I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark's; I told them my errand, and inquired for Mr. Daws; they said he had not been there; I related the story of the two officers, and supposed that He must have been stopped, as he ought to have been there before me. After I had been there about half an Hour, Mr. Daws came; we refreshid our selves, and set off for Concord, to secure the Stores, &c. there. We were overtaken by a young Docter Prescot, whom we found to be a high Son of Liberty. I told them of the ten officers that Mr. Devens mett, and that it was probable we might be stoped before we got to Concord; for I supposed that after Night, they divided them selves, and that two of them had fixed themselves in such passages as were most likely to stop any intelegence going to Concord. I likewise mentioned, that we had better allarm all the Inhabitents till we got to Concord; the young Doctor much approved of it, and said, he would stop with either of us, for the people between that and Concord knew him, and would give the more credit to what we said. We had got nearly half way. Mr Daws and the Doctor stoped to allarm the people of a House: I was about one hundred Rod a head, when I saw two men, in nearly the same situation as those officer were, near Charlestown. I called for the Doctor and Daws to come up;—in an Instant I was surrounded by four;—they had placed themselves in a Straight Road, that inclined each way; they had taken down a pair of Barrs on the North side of the Road, and two of them were under a tree in the pasture. The Docter being foremost, he came up; and we tryed to git past them; but they being armed with pistols and swords, they forced us in to the pasture;—the Docter jumped his Horse over a low Stone wall, and got to Concord. I observed a Wood at a Small distance, and made for that. When I got there, out Started Six officers, on Horse back, and orderd me to dismount;—one of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from, and what my Name Was? I told him. He asked me if I was an express? I answered in the afirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston? I told him; and aded, that their troops had catched aground in passing the River, and that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up. He imediately rode towards those who stoppd us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop; one of them, whom I afterwards found to be Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, and told me he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out. He then asked me similar questions to those above. He then orderd me to mount my Horse, after searching me for arms. He then orderd them to advance, and to lead me in front. When we got to the Road, they turned down towards Lexington. When we had got about one Mile, the Major Rode up to the officer that was leading me, and told him to give me to the Sergeant. As soon as he took me, the Major orderd him, if I attempted to run, or any body insulted them, to blow my brains out. We rode till we got near Lexington Meeting-house, when the Militia fired a Voley of Guns, which appeared to alarm them very much. The Major inquired of me how far it was to Cambridge, and if there were any other Road? After some consultation, the Major Rode up to the Sargent, and asked if his Horse was tired? He answered him, he was--(He was a Sargent of Grenadiers, and had a small Horse)—then, said He, take that man's Horse. I dismounted, and the Sargent mounted my Horse, when they all rode towards Lexington Meeting-House. I went across the Burying-ground, and some pastures, and came to the Revd. Mr. Clark's House, where I found Messrs. Hancok and Adams. I told them of my treatment, and they concluded to go from that House to wards Woburn. I went with them, and a Mr. Lowell, who was a Clerk to Mr. Hancock. When we got to the House where they intended to stop, Mr. Lowell and my self returned to Mr. Clark's, to find what was going on. When we got there, an elderly man came in; he said he had just come from the Tavern, that a Man had come from Boston, who said there were no British troops coming. Mr. Lowell and my self went towards the Tavern, when we met a Man on a full gallop, who told us the Troops were coming up the Rocks. We afterwards met another, who said they were close by. Mr. Lowell asked me to go to the Tavern with him, to git a Trunk of papers belonging to Mr. Hancock. We went up Chamber; and while we were giting the Trunk, we saw the British very near, upon a full March. We hurried to wards Mr. Clark's House. In our way, we passed through the Militia. There were about 50. When we had got about 100 Yards from the meeting-House the British Troops appeard on both Sides of the Meeting-House. In their Front was an Officer on Horse back. They made a Short Halt; when I saw, and heard, a Gun fired, which appeared to be a Pistol. Then I could distinguish two Guns, and then a Continual roar of Musquetry; When we made off with the Trunk.

As I have mentioned Dr. Church, perhaps it might not be disagreeable to mention some Matters of my own knowledge, respecting Him. He appeared to be a high son of Liberty. He frequented all the places where they met, Was incouraged by all the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, and it appeared he was respected by them, though I knew that Dr. Warren had not the greatest affection for him. He was esteemed a very capable writer, especially in verese; and as the Whig party needed every Strenght, they feared, as well as courted Him. Though it was known, that some of the Liberty Songs, which We composed, were parodized by him, in favor of the British, yet none dare charge him with it. I was a constant and critical observer of him, and I must say, that I never thought Him a man of Principle; and I doubted much in my own mind, wether He was a real Whig. I knew that He kept company with a Capt. Price, a half-pay British officer, and that He frequently dined with him, and Robinson, one of the Commissioners. I know that one of his intimate aquaintances asked him why he was so often with Robinson and Price? His answer was, that He kept Company with them on purpose to find out their plans. The day after the Battle of Lexington, I met him in Cambridge, when He shew me some blood on his stocking, which he said spirted on him from a Man who was killed near him, as he was urging the Militia on. I well remember, that I argued with my self, if a Man will risque his life in a Cause, he must be a Friend to that cause; and I never suspected him after, till He was charged with being a Traytor.

The same day I met Dr. Warren. He was President of the Committee of Safety. He engaged me as a Messinger, to do the out of doors business for that committee; which gave me an opportunity of being frequently with them. The Friday evening after, about sun set, I was sitting with some, or near all that Committee, in their room, which was at Mr. Hastings's House at Cambridge. Dr. Church, all at once, started up—Dr. Warren, said He, I am determined to go into Boston tomorrow—(it set them all a stairing)—Dr. Warren replyed, Are you serious, Dr. Church? they will Hang you if they catch you in Boston. He replyed, I am serious, and am determined to go at all adventures. After a considerable conversation, Dr. Warren said, If you are determined, let us make some business for you. They agreed that he should go to git medicine for their and our Wounded officers. He went the next morning; and I think he came back on Sunday evening. After He had told the Committee how things were, I took him a side, and inquired particularly how they treated him? he said, that as soon as he got to their lines on Boston Neck, they made him a prisoner, and carried him to General Gage, where He was examined, and then He was sent to Gould's Barracks, and was not suffered to go home but once. After He was taken up, for holding a Correspondence with the Brittish, I came a Cross Deacon Caleb Davis;—we entred into Conversation about Him;—He told me, that the morning Church went into Boston, He (Davis) received a Bilet for General Gage—(he then did not know that Church was in Town)—When he got to the General's House, he was told, the General could not be spoke with, that He was in private with a Gentleman; that He waited near half an Hour,—When General Gage and Dr. Church came out of a Room, discoursing together, like persons who had been long aquainted. He appeared to be quite surprized at seeing Deacon Davis there; that he (Church) went where he pleased, while in Boston, only a Major Caine, one of Gage's Aids, went with him. I was told by another person whom I could depend upon, that he saw Church go in to General Gage's House, at the above time; that He got out of the Chaise and went up the steps more like a Man that was aquainted, than a prisoner.

Sometime after, perhaps a Year or two, I fell in company with a Gentleman who studied with Church—in discoursing about him, I related what I have mentioned above; He said, He did not doubt that He was in the Interest of the Brittish; and that it was He who informed Gen. Gage That he knew for Certain, that a Short time before the Battle of Lexington, (for He then lived with Him, and took Care of his Business and Books) He had no money by him, and was much drove for money; that all at once, He had several Hundred New Brittish Guineas; and that He thought at the time, where they came from.

Thus, Sir, I have endeavoured to give you a Short detail of some matters, of which perhaps no person but my self have documents, or knowledge. I have mentioned some names which you are aquainted with: I wish you would Ask them, if they can remember the Circumstances I alude to.

I am, Sir, with every Sentment of esteem,

Your Humble Servant,

Paul Revere

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Deadeye Dick 


"Rarely in history has an elected branch of government engaged in so pointless an exercise as Congress is now doing. And yet the exercise continues. Three days ago the President invited the Democratic leaders to meet with him next week to discuss the supplemental. The majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, at first declined to do so. When Nancy Pelosi flies nearly 6,000 miles to meet with the president of Syria, but Harry Reid hesitates to drive a mile and half to meet with the President of the United States, there's a serious problem in the leadership of the Democratic Party.

Senator Reid has threatened that if the President vetoes the timetable legislation, he will send up Senator Russ Feingold's bill to de-fund Iraqi operations altogether. Yet only last November, Senator Reid said there would be no cutoff of funds for the military in Iraq. So in less than six months' time, Senator Reid has gone from pledging full funding for the military, and then full funding, but with a timetable, and then a cutoff of funding. Three positions in five months, on the most important foreign policy question facing our country and our troops.

Senator Reid, of course, was one of the many Democrats who voted for the use of force in Iraq. They are entitled, if they want now, to oppose this war. Yet Americans are entitled to question whether the endlessly shifting positions that he and others are taking are reflections of principle, or of partisanship and blind opposition to the President."


Another Virginia University President 


"Our Revolution commenced on more favorable ground. It presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. We had no occasion to search into musty records, to hunt up royal parchments, or to investigate the laws and institutions of a semi-barbarous ancestry. We appealed to those of nature, and found them engraved on our hearts. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position. We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had entered little into our former education. We established however some, although not all its important principles.

The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press."--Letter To Major John Cartwright - Monticello, Virginia June 5, 1824

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Older Dominion 

"The right of his majesty's Protestant subjects, to have arms for their own defense, and to use them for lawful purposes, is most clear and undeniable. It seems, indeed, to be considered, by the ancient laws of this kingdom, not only as a right, but as a duty ... And that this right, which every Protestant most unquestionably possesses individually, may, and in many cases must, be exercised collectively, is likewise a point which I conceive to be most clearly established by the authority of judicial decisions and ancient acts of Parliment, as well as by reason and common sense."--The Recorder of London, two and a half centuries ago.

Friday, April 13, 2007

a prayer 

The President:

"Today, our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech. We hold the victims in our hearts, we lift them up in our prayers, and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering today."


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

When He's Right 


Senator John McCain:

"Thank you. I know that seated in the front of this hall are VMI cadets who have served in Iraq. I am grateful for your service, honored by your presence, and mindful that I speak to an audience that can discern truth from falsehood in a politician's appraisal of the war. You know, better than most, whether our cause is just, necessary and winnable. You have risked much to make it so. Thank you. I'd also like to salute a few old comrades of mine, Orson Swindle, Jim Berger and Paul Galanti, whose example of steadfast courage helped to sustain me in a difficult time.

This institution is steeped in the ideals of service and sacrifice exemplified by the veterans here today. VMI has helped to form the character of many fine patriots, none greater than George Marshall, whose long, selfless service to our country was of inestimable value in some of the most consequential moments of the last century. As we celebrate this year the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, VMI's Corps of Cadets should take renewed pride from their association with his good name and in knowing the lesson of his character and patriotism has been a part of your education.

I just returned from my fifth visit to Iraq. Unlike the veterans here today, I risked nothing more threatening than a hostile press corps. And my only mission was to inform my opinions with facts. We still face many difficult challenges in Iraq. That is undeniable. But we have also made, in recent weeks, measurable progress in establishing security in Baghdad and fighting al Qaeda in Anbar province. To deny the difficulties and uncertainties ahead is an egregious disservice to the public. But as General Petraeus implements his plan to correct the flawed strategy we followed in the past, and attempts to spare the United States and the world the catastrophe of an American defeat, it is an equal disservice to dismiss early signs of progress. And now we confront a choice as historically important as any we have faced in a long while. Will this nation's elected leaders make the politically hard but strategically vital decision to give General Petraeus our full support and do what is necessary to succeed in Iraq? Or will we decide to take advantage of the public's frustration, accept defeat, and hope that whatever the cost to our security the politics of defeat will work out better for us than our opponents? For my part, I would rather lose a campaign than a war.

However it ends, the war in Iraq will have a profound influence on the future of the Middle East, global stability, and the security of the United States, which will remain, for the foreseeable future, directly affected by events in that dangerous part of the world. The war is part of a broader struggle in the Arab and Muslim world, the struggle between violent extremists and the forces of modernity and moderation.

In the early days after 9/11, our country was united in a single purpose: to find the terrorists bent on our destruction and eliminate the threat they posed to us. In the intervening years, we have learned the complexity of the struggle against radical Islamic ideology. The extremists - a tiny percentage of the hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims - are flexible, intelligent, determined and unconstrained by international borders. They wish to return the world to the 7th century, and they will use any means, no matter how inhumane, to eliminate anyone who stands in the way. But the vast majority of Muslims are trying to modernize their societies to meet the challenges of the 21st century. While al Qaeda seeks to destroy, millions of Muslims attempt to build the same elements of a good life that all of us want - security, opportunity, peace, and hope.

The war on terror, the war for the future of the Middle East, and the struggle for the soul of Islam - of which the war in Iraq constitutes a key element - are bound together. Progress in one requires progress in all. The many complex challenges we face require more than a military response. This is a contest of ideas and values as much as it is one of bullets and bombs. We must gain the active support of modernizers across the Muslim world, who want to share in the benefits of the global system and its economic success, and who aspire to the political freedom that is, I truly believe, the natural desire of the human heart. No matter how much attention their ruthless tactics receive, terrorists are not the true face of Islam. Devout Muslims in Lebanon, Indonesia, Pakistan and Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, and in Iraq, aspire to progress for their societies in which basic human needs are met for more than the privileged few and basic human rights are respected.

The United States needs stronger alliances, coalitions, and partnerships worldwide to engage this long and multidimensional struggle. We need to pay careful attention to America's image and moral credibility. And in this broad effort, the outcome of the war in Iraq will play a pivotal role.

On my trip, I traveled to Baghdad, Ramadi, and Tikrit, met with Iraqi cabinet officers, our top military leadership, including Generals Petraeus and Odierno, and with embassy officials, including our new ambassador, Ryan Crocker. I also had the privilege of spending time with our soldiers, from generals to privates. Their courage and resolve in this frustrating war is an inspiration, and serves as a reminder of our obligations to avoid the expediency of easy, but empty answers or the allure of political advantage to choose the path in Iraq that best honors their sacrifices.

We're going to need their courage more than ever. The divisions in Iraqi society are deep, and the need for greater security critical. Innocent Iraqis are still being murdered, and our soldiers are braving dangers no less threatening than in the past. Every day we read about or watch on television the latest car bombing, IED explosion or sniper attack. But something else is happening, too. There are the first glimmers of progress under General Petraeus' political-military strategy. While these glimmers are no guarantee of success, and though they come early in the implementation of the new strategy, I believe they are cause for very cautious optimism.

For the first time in my visits to Iraq, our delegation was able to drive - not fly by helicopter-- from the airport to downtown Baghdad. For the first time we met with a Sunni tribal leader in Anbar province, who is working with American and Iraqi forces to fight al Qaeda. Sixteen of the twenty-four Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar are now working with us. We visited Iraqi and American forces deployed together in Baghdad - an integral part of the new security plan - where they maintain a presence in a neighborhood cleared of militias and terrorists, and hold the ground they have retaken rather than return to base, after which the enemy returns to impose its will again on a defenseless population. The government of Prime Minister Maliki is delivering on its promise to deploy Iraqi brigades to Baghdad. A plan to share oil revenues equitably among all Iraqis has been approved by Iraqi ministers and is pending approval by the parliament. After an important visit by Prime Minister Maliki to Ramadi in Sunni dominated Anbar, he promised a new policy to allay Sunni fears that they will be excluded from sharing in the political future of the country. An important result of the new security plan is the cooperation we are receiving from the Iraqi people, who are beginning to provide us with actionable intelligence about the whereabouts and plans of the enemy. These welcome developments have occurred even though only three of our five additional brigades have arrived.

These and other indicators of progress are encouraging, but they are not determinative. I understand the damage false optimism does to public patience and support. I learned long ago to be skeptical of official reports that are long on wishful thinking and short on substance. As we make progress in some areas, the enemy strikes where we do not have as great a presence. But security in the capital is indispensable to a greater level of security throughout the country so that political and economic progress can occur. And in Baghdad, we are making progress. We have a long way to go, but for the first time in four years, we have a strategy that deals with how things really are in Iraq and not how we wish them to be.

After my first visit to Iraq in 2003, I argued for more troops. I took issue with statements characterizing the insurgency as a few 'dead-enders' or being in its 'last throes.' I criticized the search and destroy strategy and argued for a counter-insurgency approach that separated the reconcilable population from the irreconcilable. That is the course now followed by General Petraeus, and the brave Americans and coalition troops he has the honor to command.

It is the right strategy. General Petraeus literally wrote the book on counter insurgency. He is a determined, resourceful and bold commander. Our troops, many of whom have served multiple tours in Iraq, are performing with great skill and bravery. But the hour is late and, despite the developments I just described, we should have no illusion that success is certain. But having been a critic of the way this war was fought and a proponent of the very strategy now being followed, it is my obligation to encourage Americans to give it a chance to succeed. To do otherwise would be contrary to the interests of my country and dishonorable.

Many in Washington have called for an end to our involvement in Iraq. Yet they offer no opinion about the consequences of this course of action beyond a vague assurance that all will be well if the Iraqis are left to work out their differences themselves. It is obviously true that no military solution is capable of doing what the Iraqis won't do politically. But, my friends, no political solution has a chance to succeed when al Qaeda is free to foment civil war and Iraqis remain dependent on sectarian militias to protect their children from being murdered.

America has a vital interest in preventing the emergence of Iraq as a Wild West for terrorists, similar to Afghanistan before 9/11. By leaving Iraq before there is a stable Iraqi governing authority we risk precisely this, and the potential consequence of allowing terrorists sanctuary in Iraq is another 9/11 or worse. In Iraq today, terrorists have resorted to levels of barbarism that shock the world, and we should not be so naive as to believe their intentions are limited solely to the borders of that country. We Americans are their primary enemy, and we Americans are their ultimate target.

A power vacuum in Iraq would invite further interference from Iran at a time when Tehran already feels emboldened enough to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel and America, and kidnap British sailors. If the government collapses in Iraq, which it surely will if we leave prematurely, Iraq's neighbors, from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Egypt, will feel pressure to intervene on the side of their favored factions. This uncertain swirl of events could cause the region to explode and foreclose the opportunity for millions of Muslims and their children to achieve freedom. We could face a terrible choice: watch the region burn, the price of oil escalate dramatically and our economy decline, watch the terrorists establish new base camps or send American troops back to Iraq, with the odds against our success much worse than they are today.

To enumerate the strategic interests at stake in Iraq does not address our moral obligation to a people we liberated from Saddam Hussein's tyranny. I suspect many in this audience, and most members of Congress, look back at America's failure to act to prevent genocide in Rwanda with shame. I know I do. And yet I fear the potential for genocide and ethnic cleansing in Iraq is even worse. The sectarian violence, the social divisions, the armaments, the weakened security apparatus of the state - all the ingredients are there. Unless we fight to prevent it, our withdrawal will be coupled with a genocide in which we are complicit. Given our security interests and our moral investment in Iraq, so long as we have a chance to prevail we must try to prevail. As General Petraeus has repeatedly stated, it will be several months or more before we know with any confidence whether we can turn this war around. Elements of the new civil-military strategy are still being drafted, almost half of the additional troops have yet to arrive, and many of the new civilians have yet to take up their posts. We are off to a good start, but significant results will take time.

What struck me upon my return from Baghdad is the enormous gulf between the harsh but hopeful realities in Iraq, where politics is for many a matter of life and death, and the fanciful and self-interested debates about Iraq that substitute for statesmanship in Washington. In Iraq, American and Iraqi soldiers risk everything to hold the country together, to prevent it from becoming a terrorist sanctuary and the region from descending into the dangerous chaos of a widening war. In Washington, where political calculation seems to trump all other considerations, Democrats in Congress and their leading candidates for President, heedless of the terrible consequences of our failure, unanimously confirmed our new commander, and then insisted he be prevented from taking the action he believes necessary to safeguard our country's interests. In Iraq, hope is a fragile thing, but all the more admirable for the courage and sacrifice necessary to nurture it. In Washington, cynicism appears to be the quality most prized by those who accept defeat but not the responsibility for its consequences.

Before I left for Iraq, I watched with regret as the House of Representatives voted to deny our troops the support necessary to carry out their new mission. Democratic leaders smiled and cheered as the last votes were counted. What were they celebrating? Defeat? Surrender? In Iraq, only our enemies were cheering. A defeat for the United States is a cause for mourning not celebrating. And determining how the United States can avert such a disaster should encourage the most sober, public-spirited reasoning among our elected leaders not the giddy anticipation of the next election. Democrats who voted to authorize this war, and criticized the failed strategy that has led us to this perilous moment, have the same responsibility I do, to offer support when that failure is recognized and the right strategy is proposed and the right commanders take the field to implement it or, at the least, to offer an alternative strategy that has some relationship to reality.

Democrats argue we should redirect American resources to the "real" war on terror, of which Iraq is just a sideshow. But whether or not al Qaeda terrorists were a present danger in Iraq before the war, there is no disputing they are there now, and their leaders recognize Iraq as the main battleground in the war on terror. Today, al Qaeda terrorists are the ones preparing the car bombs, firing the Katyusha rockets, planting the IEDs. They maneuver in the midst of Iraq's sectarian conflict, sparking and fueling the horrendous violence, destroying efforts at political reconciliation, killing innocents on both sides in the hope of creating a conflagration that will cause Americans to lose heart and leave, so they can return to their primary mission - planning and executing attacks on the United States, and destabilizing America's allies.

It is impossible to separate sectarian violence from the war against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is following an explicit strategy to foment civil war in Iraq. The only way to reduce and finally end sectarian violence is to provide greater security to the population than we have in the past, as we are doing now in Baghdad; to encourage Iraqis to abandon their reliance on local militias, and to destroy al Qaeda and other truly irreconcilable enemies of the United States and the Iraqi people.

Our defeat in Iraq would constitute a defeat in the war against terror and extremism and would make the world a much more dangerous place. The enemies we face there harbor the same depraved indifference to human life as those who killed three thousand innocent Americans on a September morning in 2001. A couple of days before I arrived in Baghdad, a suicide car bomb destroyed a large, busy marketplace. It was a bit unusual, because new U.S. and Iraqi security measures in Baghdad have reduced the number of car bomb attacks. But this time the terrorists had a new tactic: they drove their car to a security checkpoint and were waved through because there were two small children in the back seat. The terrorists then walked away from the car, leaving the children inside it, and triggered the explosion. If the terrorists are willing to do this terrible thing to Iraqi children, what are they willing to do to our children?

Some argue the war in Iraq no longer has anything to do with us; that it is a hopelessly complicated mess of tribal warfare and sectarian conflict. The situation is complex, and very difficult. Yet from one perspective it is quite simple. We are engaged in a basic struggle: a struggle between humanity and inhumanity; between builders and destroyers. If fighting these people and preventing the export of their brand of radicalism and terror is not intrinsic to the national security and most cherished values of the United States, I don't know what is.

Consider our other strategic challenges in the region: preventing Iran from going nuclear; stabilizing Afghanistan against a resurgent Taliban; the battle for the future of Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others; protecting Israel's security; the struggle for Lebanon's independence. Does any honest observer believe those challenges will be easier to confront and at lesser cost in American blood and treasure if the United States accepts defeat in Iraq?

We all agree a military solution alone will not solve the problems of Iraq. There must be a political agreement among Iraqis that allows all groups to participate in the building of their nation, to share in its resources and to live in peace with each other. But without greater security imposed by the United States military and the Iraqi Army, there can be no political solution. As Americans and Iraqis sacrifice to provide that security, Iraq's leaders must do the hard work of political reconciliation. We can help them get there, but we cannot assume their responsibilities. Unless they accept their own obligations to all Iraqis, we will all fail, and America, Iraq and the world will have to live with the terrible consequences. We are giving Iraq's leaders and people the chance to have a better future, but they must seize it.

In the many mistakes we have made in this war, a few lessons have become clear. America should never undertake a war unless we are prepared to do everything necessary to succeed, and unless we have a realistic and comprehensive plan for success. We did not meet this responsibility initially. We are trying to do so now. Responsible political leaders - statesmen - do not add to the burdens our troops carry. That is what Democrats, intentionally or not, have done by failing to provide them with the resources necessary to succeed in their mission. Every day that passes without the necessary funds appropriated to sustain our troops, our chances of success in Iraq dwindle and our military readiness declines further. We have sent the best Americans among us to fight in Iraq, at the least, we must give them the tools they need to do their job. When the President vetoes, as he should, the bill that refuses to support General Petraeus' new plan, I hope Democrats in Congress will heed the advice of one of their leading candidates for President, Senator Obama, and immediately pass a new bill to provide support to our troops in Iraq without substituting their partisan interests for those of our troops and our country.

I know the pain war causes. I understand the frustration caused by our mistakes in this war. I sympathize with the fatigue of the American people. And I regret sincerely the additional sacrifices imposed on the brave Americans who defend us. But I also know the toll a lost war takes on an army and a country. We, who are willing to support this new strategy, and give General Petraeus the time and support he needs, have chosen a hard road. But it is the right road. It is necessary and just. Democrats, who deny our soldiers the means to prevent an American defeat, have chosen another road. It may appear to be the easier course of action, but it is a much more reckless one, and it does them no credit even if it gives them an advantage in the next election. This is an historic choice, with ramifications for Americans not even born yet. Let's put aside for a moment the small politics of the day. The judgment of history should be the approval we seek, not the temporary favor of the latest public opinion poll.

We all respect the sacrifices made by our soldiers. We all mourn the losses they have suffered in this war. But let us honor them by doing all we can to ensure their sacrifices were not made in vain. Let us show an appropriate humility by recognizing that so little is asked of us compared to the burdens we imposed on them, and let us show just a small, but significant measure of their courage, resolve and patriotism by putting our country's interests before every personal or political consideration.

In closing, I'd like to bring to your attention the gallantry and patriotism of one American who served with distinction in Iraq, a Navy SEAL, who refuses to quit his mission and let the country he loves so well suffer the terrible harm our defeat would entail. A few days ago, Petty Officer First Class Mark Robbins' unit was ambushed outside Baghdad. During the ensuing firefight, he spotted an insurgent with an RPG, and immediately stepped out from cover and exposed himself to enemy fire to take out the terrorist before he could fire. He saved the lives of his comrades, but was gravely wounded as he did so. He was shot in the eye by another insurgent with an AK-47. The bullet exited the back of his head about three inches behind his ear. He was initially knocked unconscious but came to, continued to fight and then, despite the severity of his wound, walked to the evacuation helicopter. He was eventually taken to Landstuhl military hospital in Germany. As is the custom of Navy SEALs, he was accompanied by one of his comrades, Petty Officer Second class McLean Swink.

On our way home from Iraq, our delegation stopped in Germany for refueling and crew rest, and I had the privilege of visiting some of our wounded at Landstuhl. I briefly stopped in Mark Robbins' room, but he was sedated and unable then to communicate. I spent a few moments there, and talked to his buddy, before I went to visit other wounded soldiers. Not too long after I had left Mark's room, Petty Officer Swink found me and told me Mark was awake and had asked to see me. So I returned. When I entered his room and approached his bedside, he struggled with great difficulty to sit up, stiffened his body as if he were trying to stand at attention, grasped my hand tightly and wouldn't let go. And then he whispered to me not to worry, 'We can win this fight. We can win this fight.' Mark, as another person observed, looks like the 'toughest kid on the high school football team.' He is tough, and brave, and very young. But more than that, he's an inspiration to those who are only called upon to subordinate a temporary political advantage to the security of our good and great nation. Petty Officer Mark Robbins, an American hero, believes we can still win this fight. I'll take his word for it, and accept my responsibility to help the cause he sacrificed so much to defend. Thank you."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

From John Bull 


Dennis Prager:

"If Great Britain can cease to be great in so short a time span, any country can. All you need is an elite that no longer believes in their country, that manipulates history texts to make students feel good about themselves, that prefers multiculturalism to its own culture, and that has abandoned its religious underpinnings. Sound familiar, America?"


Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Christianity and Wealth" 


Edinburgh, Scotland

May 21, 1988:

"I am greatly honoured to have been invited to attend the opening of this 1988 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; and I am deeply grateful that you have now asked me to address you.

I am very much aware of the historical continuity extending over four centuries, during which the position of the Church of Scotland has been recognised in constitutional law and confirmed by successive Sovereigns. It sprang from the independence of mind and rigour of thought that have always been such powerful characteristics of the Scottish people, as I have occasion to know. [muted laughter] It has remained close to its roots and has inspired a commitment to service from all people.

I am therefore very sensible of the important influence which the Church of Scotland exercises in the life of the whole nation, both at the spiritual level and through the extensive caring services which are provided by your Church's department of social responsibility. And I am conscious also of the value of the continuing links which the Church of Scotland maintains with other Churches.

Perhaps it would be best, Moderator, if I began by speaking personally as a Christian, as well as a politician, about the way I see things. Reading recently, I came across the starkly simple phrase:

"Christianity is about spiritual redemption, not social reform".

Sometimes the debate on these matters has become too polarised and given the impression that the two are quite separate. But most Christians would regard it as their personal Christian duty to help their fellow men and women. They would regard the lives of children as a precious trust. These duties come not from any secular legislation passed by Parliament, but from being a Christian.

But there are a number of people who are not Christians who would also accept those responsibilities. What then are the distinctive marks of Christianity?

They stem not from the social but from the spiritual side of our lives, and personally, I would identify three beliefs in particular:

First, that from the beginning man has been endowed by God with the fundamental right to choose between good and evil. And second, that we were made in God's own image and, therefore, we are expected to use all our own power of thought and judgement in exercising that choice; and further, that if we open our hearts to God, He has promised to work within us. And third, that Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, when faced with His terrible choice and lonely vigil chose to lay down His life that our sins may be forgiven. I remember very well a sermon on an Armistice Sunday when our Preacher said, "No one took away the life of Jesus , He chose to lay it down".

I think back to many discussions in my early life when we all agreed that if you try to take the fruits of Christianity without its roots, the fruits will wither. And they will not come again unless you nurture the roots.

But we must not profess the Christian faith and go to Church simply because we want social reforms and benefits or a better standard of behaviour;but because we accept the sanctity of life, the responsibility that comes with freedom and the supreme sacrifice of Christ expressed so well in the hymn:

"When I survey the wondrous Cross, On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride."

May I also say a few words about my personal belief in the relevance of Christianity to public policy—to the things that are Caesar's?

The Old Testament lays down in Exodus the Ten Commandments as given to Moses, the injunction in Leviticus to love our neighbour as ourselves and generally the importance of observing a strict code of law. The New Testament is a record of the Incarnation, the teachings of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Again we have the emphasis on loving our neighbour as ourselves and to "Do-as-you-would-be-done-by".

I believe that by taking together these key elements from the Old and New Testaments, we gain a view of the universe, a proper attitude to work, and principles to shape economic and social life.

We are told we must work and use our talents to create wealth. "If a man will not work he shall not eat" wrote St. Paul to the Thessalonians. Indeed, abundance rather than poverty has a legitimacy which derives from the very nature of Creation.

Nevertheless, the Tenth Commandment—Thou shalt not covet—recognises that making money and owning things could become selfish activities. But it is not the creation of wealth that is wrong but love of money for its own sake. The spiritual dimension comes in deciding what one does with the wealth. How could we respond to the many calls for help, or invest for the future, or support the wonderful artists and craftsmen whose work also glorifies God, unless we had first worked hard and used our talents to create the necessary wealth? And remember the woman with the alabaster jar of ointment.

I confess that I always had difficulty with interpreting the Biblical precept to love our neighbours "as ourselves" until I read some of the words of C.S. Lewis. He pointed out that we don't exactly love ourselves when we fall below the standards and beliefs we have accepted. Indeed we might even hate ourselves for some unworthy deed.

None of this, of course, tells us exactly what kind of political and social institutions we should have. On this point, Christians will very often genuinely disagree, though it is a mark of Christian manners that they will do so with courtesy and mutual respect. What is certain, however, is that any set of social and economic arrangements which is not founded on the acceptance of individual responsibility will do nothing but harm.

We are all responsible for our own actions. We can't blame society if we disobey the law. We simply can't delegate the exercise of mercy and generosity to others. The politicians and other secular powers should strive by their measures to bring out the good in people and to fight down the bad--but they can't create the one or abolish the other. They can only see that the laws encourage the best instincts and convictions of the people, instincts and convictions which I'm convinced are far more deeply rooted than is often supposed.

Nowhere is this more evident than the basic ties of the family which are at the heart of our society and are the very nursery of civic virtue. And it is on the family that we in government build our own policies for welfare, education and care.

You recall that Timothy was warned by St. Paul that anyone who neglects to provide for his own house (meaning his own family) has disowned the faith and is "worse than an infidel".

We must recognise that modern society is infinitely more complex than that of Biblical times and of course new occasions teach new duties. In our generation, the only way we can ensure that no-one is left without sustenence, help or opportunity, is to have laws to provide for health and education, pensions for the elderly, succour for the sick and disabled.

But intervention by the State must never become so great that it effectively removes personal responsibility. The same applies to taxation; for while you and I would work extremely hard whatever the circumstances, there are undoubtedly some who would not unless the incentive was there. And we need their efforts too.

Moderator, recently there have been great debates about religious education. I believe strongly that politicians must see that religious education has a proper place in the school curriculum.

In Scotland, as in England, there is an historic connection expressed in our laws between Church and State. The two connections are of a somewhat different kind, but the arrangements in both countries are designed to give symbolic expression to the same crucial truth: that the Christian religion—which, of course, embodies many of the great spiritual and moral truths of Judaism—is a fundamental part of our national heritage. And I believe it is the wish of the overwhelming majority of people that this heritage should be preserved and fostered. For centuries it has been our very life blood. And indeed we are a nation whose ideals are founded on the Bible.

Also, it is quite impossible to understand our history or literature without grasping this fact, and that's the strong practical case for ensuring that children at school are given adequate instruction in the part which the Judaic-Christian tradition has played in moulding our laws, manners and institutions. How can you make sense of Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott, or of the constitutional conflicts of the 17th century in both Scotland and England, without some such fundamental knowledge?

But I go further than this. The truths of the Judaic-Christian tradition are infinitely precious, not only, as I believe, because they are true, but also because they provide the moral impulse which alone can lead to that peace, in the true meaning of the word, for which we all long.

To assert absolute moral values is not to claim perfection for ourselves. No true Christian could do that. What is more, one of the great principles of our Judaic-Christian inheritance is tolerance. People with other faiths and cultures have always been welcomed in our land, assured of equality under the law, of proper respect and of open friendship. There's absolutely nothing incompatible between this and our desire to maintain the essence of our own identity. There is no place for racial or religious intolerance in our creed.

When Abraham Lincoln spoke in his famous Gettysburg speech of 1863 of "government of the people, by the people, and for the people", he gave the world a neat definition of democracy which has since been widely and enthusiastically adopted. But what he enunciated as a form of government was not in itself especially Christian, for nowhere in the Bible is the word democracy mentioned. Ideally, when Christians meet, as Christians, to take counsel together their purpose is not (or should not be) to ascertain what is the mind of the majority but what is the mind of the Holy Spirit—something which may be quite different.

Nevertheless I am an enthusiast for democracy. And I take that position, not because I believe majority opinion is inevitably right or true—indeed no majority can take away God-given human rights—but because I believe it most effectively safeguards the value of the individual, and, more than any other system, restrains the abuse of power by the few. And that is a Christian concept.

But there is little hope for democracy if the hearts of men and women in democratic societies cannot be touched by a call to something greater than themselves. Political structures, state institutions, collective ideals—these are not enough.

We Parliamentarians can legislate for the rule of law. You, the Church, can teach the life of faith.

But when all is said and done, the politician's role is a humble one. I always think that the whole debate about the Church and the State has never yielded anything comparable in insight to that beautiful hymn "I Vow to Thee my Country". It begins with a triumphant assertion of what might be described as secular patriotism, a noble thing indeed in a country like ours:

"I vow to thee my country all earthly things above; entire, whole and perfect the service of my love".

It goes on to speak of "another country I heard of long ago" whose King can't be seen and whose armies can't be counted, but "soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase". Not group by group, or party by party, or even church by church—but soul by soul—and each one counts.

That, members of the Assembly, is the country which you chiefly serve. You fight your cause under the banner of an historic Church. Your success matters greatly—as much to the temporal as to the spiritual welfare of the nation. I leave you with that earnest hope that may we all come nearer to that other country whose "ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.""

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The First Lord of the Admiralty Speaks 


"So now the Admiralty wireless whispers through the ether to the tall masts of ships, and captains pace their decks absorbed in thought. It is nothing. It is less than nothing. It is too foolish, too fantastic to be thought of in the twentieth century. Or is it fire and murder leaping out of the darkness at our throats, torpedoes ripping the bellies of half-awakened ships, a sunrise on a vanished naval supremacy, and an island well-guarded hitherto, at last defenceless? No, it is nothing. No one would do such things. Civilization has climbed above such perils. The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention, Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible. Are you quite sure? It would be a pity to be wrong. Such a mistake could only be made once—once for all."--1923

"Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: 'Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.'"--1940

"...we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence...We shall never surrender!"--1940

"This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."--1941

"We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy."--1941

“I like a man who grins when he fights.”

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last."

"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

"Our loyal, brave people... should know the truth. They should know that there has been a gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road... and do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of the bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year, unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in olden time."--In protest of Munich, 1938

"What kind of people do they think we are?"--Address to joint session of Congress

"These well-meaning gentlemen of the British Broadcasting Corporation have absolutely no qualifications and no claim to represent British public opinion. They have no right to say that they voice the opinions of English or British people whatever. If anyone can do that it is His Majesty's government; and there may be two opinions about that. It would be far better to have sharply contrasted views in succession, in alteration, than to have this copious stream of pontifical, anonymous mugwumpery with which we have been dosed for so long."

"So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent."

"I hope I shall never see the day when the forces of right are deprived of the right of force."

"When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."

"We may now picture this great Fleet, with its flotillas and cruisers, steaming slowly out of Portland Harbour, squadron by squadron, scores of gigantic castles of steel wending their way across the misty, shining sea, like giants bowed in anxious thought. We may picture them again as darkness fell, eighteen miles of warships running at high speed and in absolute blackness through the narrow Straits, bearing with them into the broad waters of the North the safeguard of considerable affairs....The King’s ships were at sea."--1923

"Nations which go down fighting rise again. Those who surrender tamely are finished."

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