Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union HOMERUN!

What an excellent performance! It was clear that President Bush was enjoying himself tonight and delivered a speech that had all the red meat us red staters love and didn't totally put us to sleep with the usual laundry list of how many more billions we would spend for x,y or z.

Offering America a Choice: Victory or Defeat!

From the very beginning, he took on the doubters, defeatists and naysayers with these words (White House transcript):

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom -- or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life.
He went on from there with a direct message to the Washington political elites that have questioned our ability to suceed in Iraq:

The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels -- but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq. We've adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefitted from responsible criticism and counsel offered by members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice. Yet, there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. (Applause.) Hindsight alone is not wisdom, and second-guessing is not a strategy. (Applause.)

With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison, would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country, and show that a pledge from America means little. Members of Congress, however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American military in this vital mission. (Applause.)
Cheers from one side of the aisle and stony silence on the other side. Democrats just don't seem to like the idea of victory very much now do they?

Addressing other serious foreign policy concerns, He laid down the following marker to Hamas, then made a direct appeal to America's friends in Iran:

The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace....
Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity. (Applause.)

The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon -- and that must come to an end. (Applause.) The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. (Applause.) America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. (Applause.)

Discussing the need to keep America safe at home, President Bush urged congress to restore the Patriot Act. He then went on to explain his plan to monitor terrorist communications overseas with the NSA terror monitoring program. You'll notice he didn't Congress for any additional authority:
It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed. The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again. (Applause.)
Our Choice: A Vibrant Economy or Stagnation

The following should be headlines in every major newspaper in the country:

Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the European Union combined. (Applause.) Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.

And he didn't fail to point out in subsequent paragraphs that in order to continue to prosper, we shouldn't respond to the economic challenges of emerging powerhouses China and India by indulging in the false prophet of protectionism.

Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend, save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families -- and they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. (Applause.) Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome. Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. (Applause.) And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto. (Applause.)

Imagine how we could clean up the corruption in Congress if the President had a check on the wasteful spending inserted into necessary legislation by powerful members at the behest of lobbyists?

President Bush went on to warn of a looming financial timebomb in entitlement spending:

By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices -- staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending. Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security -- (applause)
How do you like that? Democrats openly applaud the impending financial disaster made all the more imminent by their constant obstruction.

In a portion of the speech designed to cheer the hearts of tree huggers everywhere, Mr. Bush proposed:
[T]he Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass.

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. (Applause.)
It's probably the first time that "switchgrass" has made it to a State of the Union speech. Won't the liberals love it? Well, probably not!

Refering to the restoration of areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, He did a very subtle contrast with the Democrat socialism in areas of Louisiana that failed it's poorest citizens long before the storm struck:

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity. (Applause.)
Wrapping up all the threads of his theme, he offers this summation:
Fellow citizens, we've been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We've entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore. Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.

Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward -- optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.

May God bless America. (Applause.)

The Democrat Response Offered in Song:

Democrats haven't had many real ideas since the Marx Brother's canned this theme song for the party in 1932 in the film "Horse Feathers."

The State of the Union

Photo by Mike's America

The annual State of the Union Address is to those who follow politics what the Superbowl is to those who love football. Except, in this game, it actually matters who wins. And if your guy is giving the speech, this is a big night.

There's a sense of anticipation in the air around the Capitol. As a resident near the Capitol I used to wander down just to soak in the atmosphere. The Capitol is always brightly lit, but on this night as special bank of lights bathes the dome in greater volumes of brilliant white light. The streets surronding the building are closed and occasionally a motorcade of various dignitaries will whiz by. If you're lucky you might be walking along the route that the President's motorcade takes, and that is always a marvel to behold.

It's reported that one of the guests in the gallery tonight will be professional America hater Cindy Sheehan. Fresh from hugging up to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, she'll no doubt lend a circus-like air to an otherwise serious occasion. UPDATE: Sheewitch is reported to have been arrested for attempting to hang a protest banner from her seat. More Later.

Highlights from the Speech:

White House released excerpts as prepared for delivery

America is always at its best when we are shaping events, instead of being shaped by events. Tonight, the President will chart a clear path forward for our Nation:

"In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy – or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people … the only way to secure the peace … the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership – so the United States of America will continue to lead."

The President will talk about America’s leadership role in the world, and the importance of working together to better protect our country, support our troops, and advance freedom:

"Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek the end of tyranny in our world… the future security of America depends on it."

"In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores."

"…Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change."
"To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands."

To keep America competitive in a dynamic economy, the President will set out an agenda focused on the priorities that families are most concerned about. He will talk about the importance of having an educated, skilled workforce, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and making health care more affordable, accessible, and portable:

"Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world."
On Competitiveness:

"The American economy is pre-eminent – but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India."

"We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge."

On Energy:

"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world… The best way to break this addiction is through technology."

On Health Care:

"Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the doctor-patient relationship … and help people afford the insurance coverage they need."

Finally, the President will speak to the character and compassion of America:
"…our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society."

Alito Confirmed by Senate 58-42. Sworn In

Another long drawn out confirmation battle has ended in VICTORY for the American people with the Senate confirmation of Samuel Alito as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Fifty eight votes, a clear majority. An expression of the will of the people who elected the Senators voting "Aye" and re-elected the President who appointed Justice Alito.

However, the vote reveals a clear and disturbing trend toward politicization of these confirmations and threatens to taint the Judicial Branch itself.

My Senator Graham said this so much better than I could, so read it in the post below if you need a reminder of the issues at stake.

Consider this history courtesy of the Washington Post:

John Paul Stevens--Appointed by Gerald Ford. Confirmed 12/17/75 by a vote of 98-0.
Antonin Scalia--Appointed by Ronald Reagan. Confirmed 9/17/86 by a vote of 98-0.
Anthony Kennedy--Appointed by Reagan. Cofnfirmed 2/11/88 by a vote of 97-0.
David H. Souter--Appointed by George H.W. Bush. Confirmed 10/02/90 by a vote of 90-9.
Clarence Thomas--Appointed by George H.W. Bush. Confirmed 10/15/91 by a vote of 52-48.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg--Appointed by Bill Clinton. Confirmed 8/5/93 by a vote of 97-3.
Stephen G. Breyer--Appointed by Clinton. Confirmed 8/2/94 by a vote of 87-9.
John G. Roberts--Appointed Chief Justice by George W. Bush. Confirmed 9/29/05 by 78-22.

Apply New "Political" Standard Retroactively

O.K. Now that the Democrats have demonstrated that political concerns and the ideology of the nominee are the central criteria for confirming nominees. Let's go back and revote on the confirmation of Justices Breyer and Ginsburg. Would Breyer, a former longtime staffer to Senator Kennedy be considered "mainstream" and be reconfirmed? Would former ACLU chief lawyer Ginsburg, who advocated doing away with Mother's Day be reconfirmed?

It's a shame my suggestion is unlikely to be accepted. But more likely is the idea that future nominees will face an up or down vote based not on their qualifications, but the prevailing political power balance in the Senate. This makes the Judicial Branch a sad reflection of the whims of the Legislative Branch. And if the founders intended anything, it was for each Branch to be free of undue influence from the other.

Finally" for those still inundated by moonbats claiming that the court has taken a lurch to the right, this column by David Boaz at Reason Online puts the lie to that one. As Graham also points out, uber liberal Ginsburg replaced Justice White, a steady conservative voice. Boaz argues accurately that President Bush is restoring the previous liberal conservative balance of the court that was undermined by President Clinton's far-left appointments.

Update: Justice Alito Sworn in at 12:40 PM at the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Roberts.

Monday, January 30, 2006

WATCH: State of the Union Speech this Tuesday!

A dramatic moment at the 2005 speech: Janet and Bill Norwood (pictured center) were honored for their son Byron's sacrifice in Iraq at last year's State of the Union Address.
Highlight of that moment here.

Plan now to watch the 2006 speech and then join Mike's America readers and share your views following the event.

Whether it's the Left or Hamas: Call a Spade a Spade!

It must be difficult for a columnist like Mark Steyn. Every single one of his columns is brilliant, how does he consistently raise that bar? And yet, in Sunday's Chicago Sun Times he hits another one out of the park.

In a piece headlined: "At least Hamas is open about it's evil intentions" he weaves together the sense of reality setting in in the wake of the Palestinian election with a thread from the recent Joel Stein "I don't support the troops" LA Times bombshell.
If you're opposed to the mission, if you don't want to see it through, if you're supporting a position whose success would only demoralize those serving in Iraq and negate their sacrifice, in what sense do you "support the troops"? Stein ought to be congratulated for acknowledging that he doesn't....

The Palestinian elections were similarly clarifying. The old guard -- Yasser Arafat's Fatah cronies -- had their own take on the "But some of my best friends are Jewish" routine. For years they insisted, at least in the presence of Americans and Europeans, that they were in favor of a "two-state solution" -- Israel and Palestine living side by side -- at the same time as they supported and glorified and financially subsidized suicide bombers and other terrorists. Insofar as their enthusiasm for a two-state solution was genuine, it was as an intermediate stage en route to a one-state solution.

Hamas, by contrast, takes a Joel Stein view: Why the hell should we have to go tippy-toeing around some sissy phrase we don't really mean? Hamas doesn't support a two-state solution, it supports the liquidation of one state and its replacement by other, and they don't see why they should have to pretend otherwise. And in last week's elections for the Palestinian Authority they romped home. It was a landslide.

Ever since President Carter, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Accords, there has been a conscious effort to legitimize Palestinian terrorism. Or at least to look the other way.

It's much more difficult to look the other way when the mandate of a new government is handed to those who overwhelmingly support terrorism. Steyn adds this:
Mariam Farahat, a mother of three, was elected in Gaza. She used to be a mother of six but three of her sons self-detonated on suicide missions against Israel. She's a household name to Palestinians, known as Um Nidal -- Mother of the Struggle -- and, at the rate she's getting through her kids, the Struggle's all she'll be Mother of. She's famous for a Hamas recruitment video in which she shows her 17-year-old son how to kill Israelis and then tells him not to come back.

David Horowitz ties the truth thread from Hamas to the Left this way in "The First Terrorist People:
The Palestinians are the first people in the history of humanity to embrace terror and genocide as a way of life. Palestinian schools train kindergarteners and first graders to aspire to murder innocent Jews by blowing themselves up alongside them, and then tell them that if they're lucky enough to be males, they will go to heaven and have 72 virgins attend their every whim. Palestinian parents murder their own children by telling them to murder Jewish children so that Allah can reward them. This is the sickest culture on the face of the earth, and the fact that is supported by the American secular left reveals the terminal sickness of those who crusade in the name of social justice.
The Truth Shall Set You Free

While there may be blocs of reality challenged leftists out there still in denial about the nature of Palestinian terrorism, which is at the very heart of the history of modern terrorism, the mask of obfuscation and denial has been torn away for the rest of us.

Hamas begs that aid not be cut off on the one hand, but in the same breath rejects calls to renounce violence. And today, a new twist: demanding that Israel change it's flag and remove the two blue bars (a symbol found on Jewish prayer shawls) as it symbolizes occupation to Palestinians.

U.S. led efforts to cut off all funding to a Hamas controlled Palestinian Authority are bearing early fruit. Angela Merkel, newly elected conservative Chancellor of Germany in a visit to Israel offered the strongest explicit support for such international action.

No doubt other Western leaders who recently witnessed the political shifts in their own countries (Canada eh?) will also follow suit and present a united front.

Honestly confronting the Palestinian problem is the first step to real and workable solutions. It's clear the old ways have not worked. So on with the new.

Note: Regular readers may recall that Mike joined "The Wide Awakes" last year. Frequent Mike's America posts like the above will now be added as regular features at this roundup of reality based opinion. Readers are invited to visit The Wide Awakes and enjoy the expanded viewpoint of Wide Awake members.

Your comments at the site on this inital contribution are much appreciated.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Condi Takes on State Department

For too long we've witnessed agencies like the State Department and CIA undermine the foreign policy of our elected and responsible national leadership. Time for a change? Here's hope:

New York Post, Ralph Peters:: "January 23, 2006 -- RICE REFORMS FOR STATE DEPT.
OSAMA'S latest plea for attention suckered the media into blowing last week's real story: Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice's declaration of war on her dysfunctional department.

In a speech at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, where students are deformed into diplomats, Condi cancelled the tea party. Her message was revolutionary and essential. As a result, she may go down in history as the SecState most hated by Foggy Bottom bureaucrats.
Here's what 'Killjoy Condi' had to say:

* Diplomats can no longer build careers by hiding behind desks in comfy capitals. They'll have to accept dangerous assignments and serve in hardship posts; develop regional expertise in at least two areas; and speak at least two relevant foreign languages (French waiters need not apply). That ain't going to make Rice popular with diplos accustomed to rotating between Rome and Northwest D.C. on their way to ambassadorships. Yet, it's vital if we're going to convert our failed, 19th-century- model State Department into a useful tool for the 21st century.

* Ouch! Condi really put Paris and Berlin in their places — pointedly noting that "we have nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany, a country of 82 million people, that we have in India, a country of 1 billion people." Cancel that order for the big schnitzel, Mr. Ambassador. You're going to be eating some development vindaloo. (Delicious, too, that la Rice smacked down Old Europe just as Jacques Chirac threatened to hurl nukes at terrorists to prove that France remains relevant.)

* Crucially, Condi named China, India, South Africa and Brazil as countries of the future while declaring that an initial 100 diplomatic slots would migrate from Europe immediately to countries that actually matter. More reassignments will follow, with even Moscow demoted to the international enlisted ranks — while Indonesia gets promoted (Double ouch!).

* Cutlass Condi intends to chop off the heads (or at least the careers) of those who wimp out on the dangerous missions and nasty assignments. This is essential. In working with State reps over the years, I met many who knew how to formulate tidy "non-papers"—but only a few who had the guts to go out and get dirty. I encountered some fine ambassadors and staffers, but too many resembled Chinese court eunuchs (one guy in Moscow even looked the part).

* Our SecState proposed a range of other innovative initiatives, from lone-gun outposts in major cities that lack a U.S. presence, through mobile diplomatic teams that would become the pin-striped equivalent of Army Rangers, to "Virtual Presence Posts" to harness the power of information technology. Not every program will succeed — but Condi's trying everything she can to bring our Euro-trash diplomacy back from the dead.

* State Department officials are going to have to become true team players — the biggest challenge of all for that bunch. Rice speaks of "transformational diplomacy," recognizing that cooperation between government agencies is vital to securing global advantages. But it's going to be a bitter experience for an ambassador to have to listen to a DEA agent or to a Marine colonel who actually knows what's going on outside the embassy compound.

* State's capabilities to direct "stabilization operations" — as in Iraq — will be enhanced. Frankly, this may not work, given the lack of serious management expertise and the calcified arrogance within the department. Any hope of success will depend on promoting new blood fast.

They'll never admit it publicly, but the Bushies realize how badly Ambassador Paul Bremer botched his Iraq mission (meanwhile, new-author Bremer's been revising history in the finest Soviet tradition). The fact is that only our military has ever run successful occupations. Diplomats talk, soldiers do. That probably won't change.

IN her breakthrough speech, Condi whacked the foreign service over the head with a hammer, while presenting the pain as a love-bite. But none can fail to recognize her message that she "got it," that her experience in government convinced her that our blind adherence to European diplomatic norms has been utterly dysfunctional in dealing both with emerging threats and global opportunities.

If Rice can implement even half of the changes she proposed before an irate diplomat shoots her for canceling his assignment to Vienna, her effort may become State's equivalent of the Army's crucial Root Reforms of a century ago (diplomatic practices are more than a hundred years out of date). And the truth is that a functional State Department is essential to America's role in the world.

The key will be the people. Can the department attract new recruits with courage and a spirit of adventure, in place of the fishbelly-white twits it's always favored? Perhaps, instead of fishing in theory-poisoned backwaters such as Georgetown, State should poach military officers from the Pentagon, men and women accustomed to getting things done? (While we're at it, how about a physical-fitness test for diplomats? And no, lifting a wine glass doesn't count.)

The Rice Reforms may not have made headlines last week, but they could become one of the most important legacies of the Bush administration. American diplomacy has to race to catch up with the opportunities exploding in New Delhi, Beijing and Brasilia. Condi just fired the starter pistol.

The careerists at Foggy Bottom will erect bureaucratic barricades and try to wait the secretary out. They may succeed. But every American ought to hope that Condi Rice succeeds in breaking their rice bowls.

Peace? Human Rights? Environment? Not Important if You Hate the U.S.

Environmentalism is the state sanctioned religion of the left. And the high altar of that church is the South American rain forest.

So what do loony lefties do when one of their new pals, like Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez unveils plans to cut a 5,000 mile scar from Venezuela to Argentina straight through the heart of the South American rainforest? Not a word.

Nearly every whacko lefty has been down to Venezuela lately to suck up to that communist thug Chavez. Jesse "Shakedown" Jackson, Harry Belafonte and now the witch Sheehan have been leading the red brigades to worship another America hating socialist.

Yet, with all the hate-filled anti-American screeching, not one peep about this rape of nature.

Well no surprise I guess. After all, these folks who profess to care so much about peace and human rights are quick to look the other way when a Chavez or Saddam starts butchering people.

Maybe we could get Chavez to drill for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. What do you bet the left wouldn't say a word?

Winston-Salem Journal: Environmentalists were caught off guard when South American leaders announced plans to build a major natural-gas pipeline through the Amazon rain forest.
Proponents say that the $20billion project, still in early planning stages, will help satisfy the growing regional demand for gas and help make South America less dependent on outside sources.
But environmentalists say that it could damage part of the Amazon - the world's largest wilderness - by polluting waterways, destroying trees and creating roads that could draw ranchers and loggers.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela says that the pipeline is a central part of his efforts to reduce dependence on the United States and its pressure for free-market policies known as the Washington Consensus.
It is 'the beginning of the South American consensus,' Chavez has said. 'This pipeline is vital for us.'

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sheehan Takes on Sen. Feinstein Over Alito

Sheehan to Feinstein: Filibuster Alito, Or I'll Run Against You -- 01/27/2006: " Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has threatened to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) seat unless Feinstein filibusters Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

Sheehan, who was in Caracas, Venezuela Friday attending the World Social Forum, heard that several Democrats planned to filibuster Alito but that Feinstein, who is up for re-election in November, announced that she will vote against Alito but would not filibuster the nomination.

'I'm appalled that Diane Feinstein wouldn't recognize how dangerous Alito's nomination is to upholding the values of our constitution and restricting the usurpation of presidential powers, for which I've already paid the ultimate price,' Sheehan said in a statement."
All I can say is PLEASE Cindy... GO FOR IT! Your moonbatism might be the best chance Republicans and those who care about this country at a time of war have had to gain a California Senate Seat.

Clinton KNEW 9-11 Attack was Coming and Did NOTHING!

I heard another moonbat today claim that because President Bush received a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001, four weeks and three days before our nation was attackd on September 11th that Bush KNEW the attacks were coming and did nothing so he could cement his place in history as a war time President.

Since we continue to see regular recitations of similar moonbat fantasies here at Mike's America, I reprint, ONCE AGAIN, the following from the 9-11 Commission Report (chapter 4):

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: The following is the text of an item from the Presidential Daily Brief received by President William J. Clinton on December 4, 1998. Redacted material is indicated in brackets.

SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks

1. Reporting [-] suggests Bin Ladin and his allies are preparing for attacks in the US, including an aircraft hijacking to obtain the release of Shaykh 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, and Muhammad Sadiq 'Awda. One source quoted a senior member of the Gama'at al-Islamiyya (IG) saying that, as of late October, the IG had completed planning for an operation in the US on behalf of Bin Ladin, but that the operation was on hold.A senior Bin Ladin operative from Saudi Arabia was to visit IG counterparts in the US soon thereafter to discuss options-perhaps including an aircraft hijacking.

IG leader Islambuli in late September was planning to hijack a US airliner during the "next couple of weeks" to free 'Abd al-Rahman and the other prisoners, according to what may be a different source.
The same source late last month said that Bin Ladin might implement plans to hijack US aircraft before the beginning of Ramadan on 20 December and that two members of the operational team had evaded security checks during a recent trial run at an unidentified New York airport. [-]
2. Some members of the Bin Ladin network have received hijack training, according to various sources, but no group directly tied to Bin Ladin's al-Qa'ida organization has ever carried out an aircraft hijacking.Bin Ladin could be weighing other types of operations against US aircraft.Accord-ing to [-] the IG in October obtained SA-7 missiles and intended to move them from Yemen into Saudi Arabia to shoot down an Egyptian plane or, if unsuccessful, a US military or civilian aircraft.

A [-] in October told us that unspecified "extremist elements" in Yemen had acquired SA-7s. [-]
3. [-] indicate the Bin Ladin organization or its allies are moving closer to implementing anti-US attacks at unspecified locations, but we do not know whether they are related to attacks on aircraft. A Bin Ladin associate in Sudan late last month told a colleague in Kandahar that he had shipped a group of containers to Afghanistan. Bin Ladin associates also talked about the movement of containers to Afghanistan before the East Africa bombings.

In other [-] Bin Ladin associates last month discussed picking up a package in Malaysia. One told his colleague in Malaysia that "they" were in the "ninth month [of pregnancy]."
An alleged Bin Ladin supporter in Yemen late last month remarked to his mother that he planned to work in "commerce" from abroad and said his impending "marriage," which would take place soon, would be a "surprise.""Commerce" and "marriage" often are codewords for terrorist attacks. [-]

Bush had 33 days to act on the information he received August 6, 2001. 778 days passed between the time President Clinton recieved the above warning and the time he left office.
What did Clinton do to protect the American people?

Lobbying "Reform" or Reshuffle?

Lobbying reform is the current cry du jour in Washington. Yet Daniel Henninger points out in the following Opinion Journal piece that today's Abramoff scandal was born out of earlier "reforms."

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: "Jack Abramoff. Jack Abramoff. Jack Abramoff. Once the hunt's on, some names sound to the scandal born. Tongsun Park, Charles Keating, Elizabeth Ray, Fannie Fox, Susan McDougal. Now comes Jack, the central figure in what Beltway Democrats are trying to build into a bonfire that will burn down Republican control of Congress. Every time someone tells Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid that he, too, took money from Jack's clients, he starts jumping up and down like Rumpelstiltskin yelling, 'This is a Republican scandal!' Harry Reid, Harry Reid. One could get used to that.
Poll after poll says the public thinks both parties are equally corrupt. It depends, of course, on what the meaning of corruption is. If by corrupt you mean lobbyist sleaze, quid pro quo, the pork barrel, earmarks to nowhere and grossing out even the public's generally low expectations, then yes, both parties are equally corrupt.
But it gets worse. Congress legislated the system that now exists. Congress planted the seeds back in the '70s for what is revolting you now with two enactments--the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Both were marketed as reforms....
Modify the nearly unchecked power of Congress to tax and spend and you will go a long way toward solving the problem.

President Reagan demanded in nearly every State of the Union Address a line item veto to give the President the authority to cancel out pork barrel spending. Yet, Congress continually refused to grant him that authority.

Don't expect Congress to grant President Bush that authority. More likely, this next round of "reforms" will be another complicated shuffle of the deck chairs creating a whole new system that clever lobbyists and members of Congress can exploit.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of corruption, here's a golden oldie:

Click on the chart above and read about Reid's CLAN OF CORRUPTION. It makes the $200,000 pittance that Jack Abramoff LEGALLY gave Republicans look down right stingy.

Senator Biden: Cut Off U.S. Money to Palestinians

Finally a Democrat with a good idea:

WREG-TV: "Delaware Senator Joseph Biden(D) says the U-S should stop giving money to the Palestinians now that the militant group Hamas is in power.
Biden tells C-B-S' 'The Early Show' that you can't give hundreds of (m) millions of dollars to a group that calls for the destruction of Israel.

Too bad he'll probably wrap this sensible idea in another faded flag of Bush bashing.

Gore Screaming About Canadian Conservatives

Is Al Gore on drugs? Bad enough he screams and yells incoherently about President Bush. Now he's gassing it up over Canada's new Prime Minister Harper.

Here he is at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, recycling some of the old HALLIBURTON scare rhetoric and cutting and pasting it into a rant about Canadians developing the oil sands energy resource in Alberta.

Someone remind me: haven't we been encouraging development of alternative energy outside of the Persian Gulf?

Oh sorry, I forgot, Democrats only believe in big government socialist control and direction of energy. Can't have the private sector do the job for less now can we?

Gore accuses big oil of bankrolling Tories: "Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their 'ultra-conservative leader' to protect its stake in Alberta's lucrative oilsands.

Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord -- an international agreement to combat climate change.

'The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta,' Gore said Wednesday while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. 'And the financial interests behind the tar sands project poured a lot of money and support behind an ultra-conservative leader in order to win the election . . . and to protect their interests.'

Darcie Park, spokeswoman for oilsands giant Suncor Energy, said she's taken aback by Gore's remarks and hopes they don't resonate with Canadians.
'Our company just doesn't do business that way. We're really puzzled about where these comments came from,' she said....

Don't sweat it Ms. Park. Nobody down here knows where he comes up with this stuff. And even fewer people actually care what this has-been has to say.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Senate Democrats More Concerned with Judicial Politics Than Nominee Qualification

The Alito hearings spectacle is over. Senate Democrat's conduct in the hearings and their straight party line vote on Alito in the Judiciary Committee demonstrates once again that their primary concern for approving nominees is political, not qualification of the nominee.

Thus, another leg has been kicked loose from the foolish stool of moral equivalence upon which those who claim there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats sit.

And South Carolina conservatives concerned with our own Senator Lindsey Graham's participation in the dubious constitutional "gang of 14" deal may have cause to find forgiveness. In his statement prior to the committee vote on sending Alito to the Senate floor for confirmation he made the following observations:

Washington Post Transcript: SENATOR GRAHAM: I also remember President Clinton getting two picks. And Justice Ginsburg -- everything you'll have said about Judge Alito we could say in spades about Justice Ginsburg if we wanted to look at the causes she represented and look at some of her political philosophy or statements she's made. But that was not chosen.

People say it's different because Senator Hatch suggested Ginsburg to President Clinton. Well, I want to compliment you [Senator Hatch] for looking at her qualifications and her being a decent person, and ignoring the huge differences you have with her on the law and life in general.
What's changed? It's not the quality of the nominees, it's the quality of the process.

To my friend, Senator Feinstein, from a pro-life point of view, Justice Ginsburg replaced a vote on Roe v. Wade. Justice Byron White voted against Roe v. Wade. We knew that would be a change, I guess, from the pro-life side and decided not to make our vote dependent upon Roe v. Wade.

Every Democratic [presidential] nominee that I can remember has openly campaigned on the idea that, "If I get to make a Supreme Court choice, I will make sure it will be a judge who will honor Roe v. Wade." There is no hiding that; that's said at the convention.

But Breyer and Ginsburg got 96 votes and got 89 votes.

I really do worry that we're going to take the Supreme Court nominating process and boil it down to abortion. And that won't be good for the country, but that's definitely the direction we're headed.

And let me tell you another thing that's not good for the country. With little chance of stopping Judge Alito confirmation to the Supreme Court, Senate Democratic leaders urged their members Tuesday to vote against him in an effort to lay the groundwork for making a campaign issue of the decisions on the court.

I'll just tell you right now we welcome that debate on our side. We'll clean your clock.

I mean, Judge Alito is closer to the mainstream of America than Citizens for American Way. We'll win that debate, but the judiciary will lose if we continue to do this.

I'm not afraid of the politics of judging. I've engaged in some politics of judging, looking back, that I probably shouldn't have done. I do worry about the independence of the judiciary being eroded.

As to who he [Alito] is and whether or not he's too deferential to the government, after listening to Senator Feingold, it's amazing he would even be considered for nomination.

He should be under house arrest.

Why did seven judges who served on the 3rd Circuit come to his aid? How do you ignore that? How could someone who is that hard- hearted, that bent on ignoring the law and following a narrow agenda, get a well-qualified rating after thousands of cases have been analyzed by the American Bar Association?

Why would these judges come up and embrace such a character, if all that were really true?

I would suggest to you that he [Alito] has not been treated fairly. I would suggest to you he's been treated poorly. And this is a sign of things to come.

Vanguard, if it bothers you, it really is more about you than the facts. What would he gain by intentionally not recusing himself? Nothing. It was a mistake and he said it was a mistake.
What's going on in the Judge Alito nomination, I think, is not advising and consenting. It's more about politics.
We're no longer advising and consenting. We're jockeying for the next election. And over time we'll erode the quality of the judiciary.

I welcome the debate in the years to come about what kind of judges Roberts and Alito will be. I think it will be in the mainstream of the law, but more importantly in the mainstream of where the American people are regarding the law.

Senate Democrats have sold their soul to leftwing fringe groups that actively undermine the democratic process with their blind partisanship and obstruction. But make a pact with the Devil and prepare to spend time in hell. The price Democrats pay may be the increasing marginalization of their party and further electoral defeat.

More at:
The Political Teen "Alito Sent to Senate on Party Line Vote."
A Rose By Any Other Name "Alito Confirmed."
Stop the ACLU "Committee Confirms Alito, 10-8."
Michelle Malkin "We'll Clean Your Clock."

And it's Not Even a Full Moon: Muther Sheehan Spotted in Venezuela

For anyone who still suffers from the delusion that Cindy Sheehan is just a poor ole mom who misses her son, here's the latest: She's down in Venezuela, lending her "absolute moral authority" to communist dictator, Hugo Chavez.

Yep, you heard it. Nothing to do with Iraq, nothing to do with her sons death... Muther Sheehan sucking up to a communist thug! Shocking news! Not really when you consider that nearly all the groups that she has been affiliated with are the offshot of the old red guard whose lifelong goal has been the defeat of the United States.

Oh, one more thing. Leftists LOVE to cite Human Rights Watch, when it reports concerns over the "torture" at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. But real human rights abuses are rampant in Venezuela under Chavez as reported HERE by Human Rights Watch.

Killings of democracy rights advocates, kidnappings of political opponents,shutting down press freedoms, restricting religious freedom, REAL torture leaving victims disabled... All that is going on in Venezuela under Chavez with the support of the American Left.

And the left in this country trumps up phony accusations of a "police state" under President Bush while they support the establishment of a REAL police state and REAL gulags for democracy advocates in South America.

Yahoo! News: "CARACAS (AFP) - Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, mother of a US soldier killed in Iraq, joined more than 10,000 anti-globalization activists in Caracas, where she hailed Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez.

'I admire him for his resolve against my government and its meddling,' said Sheehan, who gained notoriety when she camped outside US President George W. Bush's ranch last year to protest the Iraq war. She said she hoped to meet Chavez later in the week.

Sheehan was among more than 10,000 people from across the Americas who took to the streets of the Venezuelan capital Tuesday in an anti-war protest that launched the six-day Caracas World Social Forum (WSF).

My government should not meddle anywhere, the "peace mom" told AFP during the march, which was marked by anti-Bush slogans.

We must stop the Iraq war, we must not let it happen again, said Sheehan, who has been arrested at least twice while demonstrating outside the White House.

Tuesday's march ended outside the armed forces headquarters, on an avenue usually reserved for military parades. "It's a peace route now," Sheehan said.

Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, said she would remain in Caracas until the WSF concludes on Sunday, and would address participants on several occasions.

She said Venezuela's foreign ministry sponsored her visit.

O.K. Let's call her what she is: A paid agent for a foreign government that is an open enemy of the United States. Yet, she is free to live in the United States; to come and go, to slander our President and our people. Yet, the people of Venezuela, who dare to oppose Chavez are jailed, beaten, kidnapped and killed.

Notice the difference?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canada Elects Conservative Government! Bush Smiling

Conservative Victory in Canada!

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario
Full size image here.

Canadian Conservatives Put Smile on Bush's Face!

You may have seen the ad that the Canadian Liberal Party was running days before Canada's Parliamentary election on January 23rd. Here's the text:

From Life Site News: In one, a woman's voice says, "Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the Western world. Harper is pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto and socially conservative. Bush's new best friend is the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader. A Harper victory will put a smile on George W. Bush's face."

And Bush and Americans tired of Canadian liberals insults are all smiling tonight! The Canadian Broadcasting Company called the race for the Conservative Party near 10 PM EST (results here).

No more petty name calling from Canadian government ministers (Bush= "stupid" "moron" "coward"). The new government leader, Mr. Harper pledged during the campaign to end the U.S. bashing that poisoned the relationship with our neighbor to the north.

After the election of Angela Merkel, the new conservative Chancellor of Germany, the selection of Stephen Harper, 46, a young dynamic leader with strong conservative views is bound to annoy liberals in the United States that find fewer and fewer anti-Bush governments to validate their moonbatism.

The election of Harper is also a partial repudiation of the socialist experiment that the Liberal Party has imposed on Canada these last twelve years. Canadian columnist Mark Steyn pointed out that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba get better health care than most Candadians.

Since Harper's Conservatives haven't achieved an outright majority of seats in the new Parliament. It's unlikely that any huge change in government policy will be immediate.

But as every political pro will tell you "a win is a win." And tonight, Canadian conservatives won and President Bush and fellow conservatives in this country are all smiling.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Reagan Tribute Encore: An Eyewitness Account

Full size image here. All Photos by Mike's America unless otherwise noted.

The President spoke from the rear platform of U.S. Car One of the "Heartland Special" during a Whistlestop train tour of Ohio, October 12, 1984. The speech (sixth item here) was one of those great "take off the gloves" and tell it like it is speeches. I was lucky to get a front row seat and snap the following scene dramatically lit by torch bearers.

U.S. Car One is the official designation given the Ferdinand Magellan when the car was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1946 for the exclusive use of the President of the United States. Tour U.S. Car One at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Florida.

Many Thanks to All Who Joined the Celebration!

As we conclude our very Reagan week of commemorating the 25th anniversary of the first inauguration of Presdident Reagan, a final look back.

Thus far, we've enjoyed the contributions of readers and fellow bloggers in posts like:

A very heartfelt thank you to all those who joined in this week of remembrance. It's clear from the tributes that President Regan was the greatest president in the lifetime of nearly all who offered their thoughts this past week.

Reagan Library Releases Photo Archive

During much of our look back, contributers have offered visual tributes with photographs from the age of Reagan. It points out that as the "Great Communicator" President Reagan not only mastered the spoken word, but the visuals, great and small which enriched the power of his message in a direct and dramatic way.

Earlier this week, I received an email from the Reagan Library, with notification that all 1.3 million photograps from the Reagan Administration would be released for the 25th anniversary. Television news reports showed the black binders that hold the proof sheets for those photos. The same black binders that I used to pore over as a member of the White House staff looking for photos to send to the official greeters and elected officials who welcomed the president on his political trips. Somewhere in those archives are also a few photos of yours truly. Perhaps I'll share more of those one day.

Inside the White House: Eyewitness to History

Shortly after President Reagan's death in June, 2004, I published the following recollection in the Carolina Morning News:

A Salute to the Gipper

It must be the dream of every political junkie to work in the White House for a president they respect and it was doubly so for me when I joined the Reagan White House Political Office during the presidential election season of 1988.

Our primary goal was to make sure that George H. Bush and other Republicans would be elected to carry forward the great work that President Reagan had achieved the last eight years.

The days started at 8 a.m. with a meeting of the political staff to discuss the president's election activity across the country. One of my jobs was to develop letters of support for candidates the president particularly endorsed, have the president sign them and allow the candidate to use them to demonstrate his credentials as part of "the Reagan Revolution" to the voters in his state or district.

Karl Rove, President Bush's political adviser, was among those I worked with as he conducted a congressional campaign in Texas.

There were many long hours and very detail-oriented work. One thing I picked up quickly is that at the White House you had to do it right and you had to do it right now. There was no time for mistakes or dithering.

Later, when I moved to the Environmental Protection Agency, I learned a new work ethic, one more politically correct. At EPA, it was thought too harsh to say what was right lest you offend someone and, frankly, you were discouraged from getting anything done too quickly which might discomfit your coworkers.

When I wasn't over occupied with work duties during that busy time, I was encouraged to attend many of the public events at the White House.

Staff and guests would be welcome to assemble on the White House lawn and watch as Marine One, the president's helicopter, took him on a trip. We would stand and wave while the nearby press, mostly Sam Donaldson of ABC, would shout questions at the president.

Larger ceremonies, such as the one to congratulate our 1988 Olympic team, were also frequent.

Street vendors in Washington used to pose tourists with a life-size cardboard photo of the president as a souvenir. In a lighter moment, Sen. Bob Dole, hosting a presidential event at a nearby hotel, brought along a cardboard Reagan and our staff had fun posing with the senator and the cardboard president.

Later, as I had a photograph taken with the real McCoy, I joked to the president, "I hope this comes out better than the one with the cardboard cutout." He laughed. But that wasn't surprising. His good humor was legendary and nearly every photograph taken of him over the years shows him laughing or smiling.
The Last State Visit with Margaret Thatcher

An event with deeper inter- national and political signif- icance was the final state
visit of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to the White House on Nov. 16, 1988. As the flags of the United Kingdom and the United States flew proudly from the lampposts up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, military bands and honor guards assembled to welcome one of America's greatest friends.

But there was more to the arrival of Mrs. Thatcher than the pomp and ceremony of a state visit. Her friendship and partnership with President Reagan was nothing short of a political love story.

The affection and respect these two historic figures held for each other was palpable in person. In the photograph I took on that occasion, you clearly see the admiration in the eyes of the president and the warmth of Mrs. Thatcher.

It was a rare moment which crystallized for me the goodness of the man and the strength of personal friendship he had with one of America's greatest friends.

President Reagan visits Bowling Green, Ohio,
October 19, 1988. Speech here.
Check out the full size photo here.

Perhaps the most important personal accomplishment for me was the political trip I coordinated for the president's visit to my hometown, Bowling Green, Ohio.

Always a key state for Republicans, it was a thrill and an honor to return home to coordinate the details, invite guests and VIP's and make suggestions for the speech Mr. Reagan would deliver.

The morning after the presidential election, President Reagan summoned the White House staff into the Rose Garden to say "thank you" for all the hard work and long hours we had put in to assure the election of his successor, George H.W. Bush.

It had been a long night in the Political Office as we tabulated the results and fed them to senior White House staff. That morning, at the conclusion of his remarks, I recalled that days before he had asked us to "win one more for the Gipper," referring to his favorite movie role as legendary football player George Gipp.

As the president turned toward the Oval Office I had a Sam Donaldson moment and blurted out, "That was one for the Gipper."He turned and came back to the microphone and proceeded to regale us all with another of those classic Gipper stories that he was so famous for.
Waving Goodbye Over U.S. Capitol After Bush '41' Swearing In
full size image here White House Photo

I said goodbye to Ronald Reagan as I stood on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol just after President Bush was sworn in as his successor.The helicopter bearing Ron and Nancy Reagan rose above the Capitol plaza and stately trees. As the helicopter circled directly above me, I stood beneath the trees on the lawn of the Capitol, saluted and reflected on the courage, decency and honor of this great man and all he accomplished.

I do so again. Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.

Download the original screen recitation of that famous "win one for the Gipper" line from Knute Rockne: All American here:Download Windows media file here.
Encores Elsewhere

Happy Trails Mr. President and Farewell!

Riding down the trail at his ranch.

Larger image here (White House Photo).

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Great President, A Great American

January 20, 1981

Full size photo here (it's a MUST see)
Click: Swearing In and "Hail to the Chief" (Windows Media Audio)

25th Anniversary of Reagan Inaugural:

Are you better off now than you were 25 years ago?

During the 1980 presidential election campaign, then Governor Reagan asked audiences "Are you better off now than you were four years ago" before President Carter took office? The answer was a resounding "NO" and Reagan became President in a landslide rebuke to the politics of doom and gloom that pervaded the Carter Administration.

For those of you old enough for this question to be relevant, ask yourself: are you better off now, than you were before Reagan took office? The answer among those participating in this commemoration is a resounding "YES."

In nearly a week of heartfelt remembrances, the overwhelming consensus is that Reagan changed the world for the better. And perhaps more importantly, he changed for the better the lives of those who joined in this look back at the beginning of the Reagan age of freedom, peace and hope.

Reagan: A Victory Strategy for America

Many of the blog enthusiasts, who this week shared their reflections on the Reagan presidency, cited remarks from one of his famous speeches. Doing so presented a unique opportunity to go back and re-read the words themselves, even hear them in the President's voice, or see the video. More than any soundbite snippet offered on a History Channel program, the reader can be immersed in the text and decide it's relevance to history for themselves.

Naturally, President Reagan's First Inaugural Address is the one cited most often. Special Agent Utah has the text, photos from the event and the speech on video.

In his first speech as President, Reagan laid out his governing philosophy in clear, direct terms. Call it a "victory strategy" for America. Recognizing that Reagan was speaking for his time, and for the future, GM's Corner cited the following quote from the speech which continues to reverberate today: "It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. "

The speech delivered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on June 12, 1987 is a close second in our Reagan remembrance. This is the famous 'Tear Down this Wall" speech (audio excerpt- Windows Media audio- here).

In the Further Adventures of Indigo Red, Indigo, who was by no means a fan of many of Reagan's policies, describes how this speech changed history:

It didn't happen immediately, but the walls standing between America and Russia did come tumbling down just as the walls of Jericho had tumbled before the trumpets of Joshua's mighty army thousands of years ago. The clarion call of freedom's trumpet can be muffled, but never silenced.
I was in my apartment in Long Beach, CA. with my friend and roommate, Bianca, a native of Hamburg, Germany. We were watching television Friday night, November 10, 1989, when a special news report interrupted the program with live satellite pictures broadcast from Berlin. People were beating on the Berlin Wall with sledgehammers and clawing pieces away with their bare hands. The reporter said the Wall was being torn down and apparently East Germany had opened the borders to the West.

Bianca turned to me and asked incredulously, "Is this really happening?" I could only say that I was seeing the same thing she was seeing and "I don't know." Just the day before we had been talking about the Wall and that it would never come down in our lifetimes. Yet, there it was being torn to pieces before our eyes. Then two east German border guards appeared on top of the Wall with their submachine guns. I thought for sure they would fire and people would die. But, no. One of the guards reached down and pulled West Germans up to stand on top of the Wall with them. Both Bianca and I began to cry and laugh and cry some more.

Our world was changing right there in front of our disbelieving eyes.

Peter Robinson, who wrote the speech describes in this insightful article how the speech came about, and how it was Reagan that insisted the line "tear down this wall" be kept in despite the vehement opposition of the usual State Department appeasers and apologists. And more to the point, as it is with all of Reagan's speeches:

There is a school of thought that Ronald Reagan managed to look good only because he had clever writers putting words into his mouth. (Perhaps the leading exponent is my former colleague Peggy Noonan, who while a Reagan speechwriter appeared in a magazine article under a caption that said just that: "The woman who puts the words in the president's mouth.") There is a basic problem with this view. Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, George Bush, and Bob Dole all had clever writers. Why wasn't one of them the Great Communicator?

Because we, his speechwriters, were not creating Reagan; we were stealing from him. Reagan's policies were straightforward--he had been articulating them for two decades.

A Victory Strategy for the Cold War

The Brandenburg speech outlined the moral foundation of Reagan's vision for a more peaceful and free world. Four years earlier in March, 1983 he outlined his military strategy for winning the Cold War with his speech on rebuilding America's defenses and establishing a Strategic Defense Initiative to defend against a Soviet nuclear missile attack. The speech later came to be known as the "Star Wars" speech, the text of which City Troll posts here.

It was the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), or Star Wars, along with the rebuilding of America's military might that eventually led the Soviets into successful negotiations to end the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. At a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, Soviet leader Gorbachev desperately tried to stop SDI. He offered a deal that was almost too good to be true if Reagan would agree to scrap SDI. Had the President agreed, it would have been an international media sensation. Reagan might even have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But instead, of fleeting acclaim and awards he achieved peace with an enemy that has lasted far longer and meant much more.

The Great Communicator: More than Great Speeches, a Great Heart!

Thornblog puts it well:

Reagan properly earned the moniker The Great Communicator. But let us not simply and lamely consider that distinction to have merely been made due to his eloquence. No, he was The Great Communicator because he was right, because his ideas were great, because he called our nation to proper greatness.

Throughout his life Ronald Reagan carried his victory strategy for America in his heart. He expressed it in so many ways. Both A Tangled Web (one of our favorite British blogs) and TMH's Bacon Bits (one of our favorite American blogs) both cite the recent book: "Dear Americans: Letters from the Desk of Ronald Reagan" an extraordinary treasure trove of handwritten letters, many sent to ordinary Americans, in answer to letters they had sent him during his time in office. No other president has personally written a comparable volume of similar letters.

A Tangled Web posts one such letter that Mr. Reagan wrote to a woman who had written to him after the loss of her son in the bombing of our Marine compound in Beirut:

...I have no words to tell you how very much your letter meant to me. My heart has ached for all of you who bear the burden of sorrow and then to have the added pain of someone telling you that the sacrifices of your loved one made were for no reason.

Mrs Collin, there was a reason and a cause. The cause was peace and your son and those other fine young men died (in the Beirut bombing) because the enemies of peace knew they were succeeding. Now your letter comes and with all you have to hear you express concern for me. I have asked, with regard to men like your son, where do we find such men? Now I ask where do we find such women as you?

When he describes "the added pain of someone telling you that the sacrifices of your loved one made were for no reason" he might just as well be addressing the sacrifice of today's mothers in our current war and the shrill and insensitive remarks of the war's critics.

Bacon Bit's has a cross section of letters on a variety of other topics. It's the final nail in the lid of those who claim that Reagan was just a Hollywood actor mouthing lines and incapable of the depth that others so readily saw.

Achieving a peaceful end of the Cold War and the freedom of Eastern Europe would not have been possible without partners in peace like Pope John Paul II shown here in Fairbanks Alaska, May 2, 1984.

The Great Motivator

During the course of this celebration we've heard many stories about American's whose sense of hope and purpose they felt was restored by the Reagan presidency. Curt from Flopping Aces shares another. Raised by an ultra-liberal mother, he found his own path to conservatism:

My friends and I posted Reagan/Bush signs up all over the place and when he was re-elected I recall being outside of [my parent's] house blasting "Born in the USA."

Two years later I was in San Diego becoming a Marine.

To this day I credit Ronald Reagan with helping me see the light. To see how narrow minded, how intolerant, and how cowardly liberals could be.

His election would become the first step to bring the US out of it's descent into liberal madness. The madness that forced our country into running from a enemy we were beating in Vietnam, which eventually cost a million Vietnamese it's lives.

It was a proud day, and one that I will remember until the end of my days.

Most of us will remember Reagan until the end of our days. His legacy and the sadness of his passing were also not far from our minds during this celebration. Rhymes with Right put it this way:

Ronald Reagan inspired us to be something better than what we were, and pushed us to move beyond ourselves. It is this vision that led me to become an active Republican, and to remain one.

And then came the day when my hero died. I wept for Ronald Reagan that day, and in the days that followed -- tears of joy that his suffering was done, and tears of loss that this man I loved was gone.

But is he? Or does he yet live in the dreams of those who hold fast to his vision?

Let us be faithful to that vision.

It can be morning in America again.

The "other woman" in President Reagan's life wasn't a romantic partner, but the third in the partnership of peace with Pope John Paul II. Margaret Thatcher (shown above walking with the President at Camp David in November 1986) was Ronald Reagan's conservative soulmate. In her eulogy at President Reagan's funeral she said: "We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man. And I have lost a dear friend."

Finally, Always on Watch sends this poem, written by a homeschool student on the occasion of the death of President Reagan:

A Great Man Remembered

Two flames--

One is extinguished,

The other is never-ending,

Today a great man moves on,

Maybe not in this world,

But in Heaven.

He helped fight off the evil in this world.

He helped those in time of justice,

This great man was President Ronald Reagan--

A leader,

A husband,

A Christian,

Even though his body is broken,

His spirit still lives.

At the right hand of God

He sits and talks to Him

About the world.

And he says, I am truly home.

One flame extinguished--

The other still lives,

And will live eternally.

June 2004

Linked to Stop the ACLU "Reagan Revolution."

Linked to The Political Teen "A Day of Anniversaries"

Linked to Michelle Malkin This Day in History"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

25 Years Since Style and Humor Returned

The 25th anniversary of the first inauguration of President Ronald Wilson Reagan has been in full swing all week here at Mike's America as we count down to January 20th, the day the world changed for the better.

Our look back at the greatness of Reagan began with a large excerpt from Richard Reeves new book "PRESIDENT REAGAN The Triumph of Imagination."

Reviews and chapter one here.

Outpouring of Reagan Remembrances:

A Sense of Style and Humor Return

to the White House

After four dour years of the Carter "malaise" President and Mrs. Reagan brought back a sense of style to the White House, along with that fantastic Reagan wit. In a hint of what was to come, the news media at the time immediately criticized this renewed sense of style as wasteful and inappropriate in the bad economic times that President Carter left as his legacy in office.

Redecorating at the White House and a new set of Presidential China (full size photo here), all funded by private donations, encouraged early Reagan haters to peg First Lady Nancy as "Queen Nancy."

Never mind that during the Clinton Administration, a much more extravagant China layout and White House residential redecorationg took place without a peep (and we're still trying to get half the china and donated furniture returned).

It was hope that returned with the Reagan's. And Hope brought along it's friends Style and Humor to share in the celebration.

White House rose garden at night during the State Visit of the President of Turkey. 6/27/88.
full size image here.
Celebrating Reagan: Reflections Across the Spectrum
  • Political Yen/Yang touches again on the moral many in the military felt during the Carter years: "At this point in time, I was about to be discharged from the Army (honorably, of course). I had served four years, my time was about up. The morale was low under Carter and like many before me, I wanted out of that man's Army." He too mentions the "Tear down this wall" speech as a pivotal moment and closes with "So, before we knew it, anxiety, fear, and doubt all turned to confidence and pride. It was no longer an embarassment to be an American. Once again we could all hold our heads high, as a nation and as individuals of that nation."
  • A personal reflection on the personal kindness that Reagan exuded comes from Anna at A Rose by Any Other Name . Ann felt that " He seemed almost fatherly (or grandfatherly) and offered a sense of security. For all the doubt about his abilities and those who would label him a puppet who did not really lead, he is now considered one of the U.S.'s greatest statesmen. It is only now, looking back, that I realize how my life, our country and our world was changed by his presidency."
  • During the Reagan funeral, a client of Always on Watch said "I can't get enough of that man." AOW explores that statement:
    Yes, Reagan was a Holly- wood actor, the cam- era loved him, and he had that winning, crooked smile. But his appeal went beyond those qualities. The man was hard to dislike, in part because he could laugh at himself. Remember his appearances on The Dean Martin Roasts? He even got roasted himself! Americans love a leader with a self-deprecating sense of humor, a leader who is not full of himself.
  • The Liberal Lie Conservative Truth also posts on the value of the Reagan Humor. President Reagan disarmed his political opponets with humor as he did so famously during his second debate with Walter Mondale. After the press wondered if Reagan might be getting too old to be effective in a second term: Reagan responded: "I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience." (audio here)
  • Magnums Conservative Voice likens Reagan's strength to the heroes in the old Hollywood films, many of which Reagan starred in. This was a time when Hollywood embraced, not shamed America's greatness:
    Listening to two grandfathers tell stories about their service during World War II and being a huge fan of what some would call propaganda films starring John Wayne and others, I could not for the life of me understand how we could let this third world country [Iran] hold our people prisoner. The longer the crisis continued the more my beliefs about our nation’s greatness diminished. Then along came Ronald Reagan.
  • Palmetto Pundit asserts that Reagan was the greatest president of the 20th Century: "As many of my regular readers know, I consider Ronald Reagan to have not only been the greatest president of the 20th Century, but also one of the greatest Americans to have ever lived. I’m sure there are those who would disagree with this assessment, but if you will indulge me for a moment, I will explain the reasons I believe this to be so." Agree? Disagree? See the remainder of his post here.
  • "Thanks Ronnie, One More Time" is the post by TMH's Bacon Bits where he lists his ten reasons to thank Ronald Reagan. I could not force myself to pick one or two to highlight, as each speaks truth, so read them all.
  • Jonathon at Crush Liberalism was too young to pay much attention to the Reagan first term. But he recalls this from the 1984 presidential campaign:
    I had to follow the election of 1984 because I was in a 7th grade history class that compelled us to follow it. Still knowing and caring nothing about politics, I dreaded having to watch conventions and debates. I do remember that I was getting sleepy watching Walter Mon-dull giving his speech at the DNC convention, until I thought I heard him say "Mr. Reagan will raise your taxes, I will raise your taxes. He won't tell you this, I just did." I snapped out of my doze and thought: "Did he just promise to raise taxes?!? Holy crap, if I could vote, why would I vote for a guy who wants to raise my taxes?"

    It was all downhill for Mondale after that. He lost the union vote. He lost the female vote. He even lost a high percentage of Democrat votes! Mondale went on to lose 49 of 50 states, winning only his home state of Minnesota by a scant 4500 votes! Reagan, always the witty guy, contacted his campaign manager the next morning and asked dryly: "What happened in Minnesota?" Process that for a moment: Reagan won liberal states like New York and Massachusetts, for crying out loud!
President Reagan and Queen Elizabeth II Horseback Riding at Windsor Castle, England. 6/8/82.
Full size image here.

Liberals See the Light of the "Shining City on a Hill"

It was not just the Berlin Wall that Reagan helped to bring down with the famous words "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" but the walls of blind partisan opposition on the part of some liberals. While much of that blind opposition remains active today in regard to the current Bush Administration, reality seems to be chipping away at the intellectual foundations of that gene pool.

Mark at 4 Rows Back in the Bleacher Seats shares his own journey into the light:

In 1981, when he was inaugurated for his first term, I was a proud Liberal. What I knew about politics, at that time, could have been inscribed on the head of a pin. This would explain why I was a Liberal. I didn't have a clue...

As a Liberal, I didn't like him, and I fell into that Liberal way of mean spirited name calling and spreading lies and half truths about him, as is popular among the Liberal crowd even today. I believed the lies that the media told about him and even repeated them at every opportunity. However, I think it was during his presidency that my attitude changed. I can attribute one thing in particular that helped bring about that change of attitude:

I have always tried to be fair and intellectually honest with myself, if not outwardly. One thing I said almost from the beginning about Reagan was that he followed through with his campaign promises. That one singular thing impressed me favorably about him. I often told my colleagues, when he was discussed, "Well I don't agree with him, but you have to admit, he does what he said he would do"....

Well, you know me now. I am not now, nor will I ever again be a Liberal. I think Ronald Reagan and his presidency was the main reason that I eventually switched teams. I wanted to be associated with a party of integrity and honesty, and it was in Ronald Reagan that those qualities were found.

"I will not exploit for political purposes, my opponents youth and inexperience."

Friday, January 20, 2006 is the grand finale of our Reagan celebration. Have a thought to share? Drop a link to your post in the comments section. Or just comment.
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