June 05, 2007
In honor of Ronald Reagan, who died three years ago today, I thought I'd post some of the things he said. He reminds us about the inherent greatness of America and its people -- of our country's place in this world, and Earth's compelling need for a country like America.
It is a sad fact that our nation's leaders today lack that understanding, and the obligations that go with it.
If you pay attention to many of the things President Bush says, you will see similar themes between he and the late President Ronald Wilson Reagan, who without a doubt was the more eloquent of the two.
“Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid. That’s why the Marxist vision of man without God must eventually be seen as an empty and a false faith—the second oldest in the world—first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with whispered words of temptation: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ The crisis of the Western world, Whittaker Chambers reminded us, exists to the degree in which it is indifferent to God... This is the real task before us: to reassert our commitment as a nation to a law higher than our own, to renew our spiritual strength. Only by building a wall of such spiritual resolve can we, as a free people, hope to protect our own heritage and make it someday the birthright of all men.”
-- Ronald Reagan
He understood the role our country has played -- and continues to play -- in leading the world against tyranny and oppression. And he recognized the need for us, as a nation, to step up and fulfill that role. [Emphasis added.]
“The themes of a sound foreign policy should be no mystery, nor the result of endless agonizing reappraisals. They are rooted in our past—in our very beginning as a nation. ... To this day, America is still the abiding alternative to tyranny. That is our purpose in the world—nothing more and nothing less. To carry out that purpose, our fundamental aim in foreign policy must be to ensure our own survival and to protect those others who share our values. Under no circumstances should we have any illusions about the intentions of those who are enemies of freedom. Our... adversaries have little regard for human rights because they have little interest in human freedom... [I]f we are to preserve our own freedom—we must understand those who would dominate us and deal with them with determination. We must shoulder our burden with our eyes fixed on the future, but recognizing the realities of today, not counting on mere hope or wishes. We must be willing to carry out our responsibility as the custodian of individual freedom. Then we will achieve our destiny to be as a shining city on a hill for all mankind to see.”
And, he spoke for the Republican party of his day (one that, due to a corruption of values similar to what overcame the Democrats 30 years ago, no longer exists) in stating the values held dear by many Americans then . . . and now. [Emphasis added.]
"We, the members of the New Republican Party, believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom, family life, communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people."
Finally, Reagan was aware of the fragility of democracy in this world, and he stated this in his commencement address at Eureka College in 1957.
This democracy of ours which sometimes we've treated so lightly, is more than ever a comfortable cloak, so let us not tear it asunder, for no man knows once it is destroyed where or when he will find its protective warmth again.
His warning is just as important now as it was in 1957 (probably even more so), and we run a great risk in ignoring it.
When Ronald Reagan was president, we re-learned a great deal of the greatness and destiny of America. He made mistakes, as all men do, in leading our country, but he never lost faith in God's leadership in America's history, nor did he fail to seek God's involvement in America's future.
As I look back at Reagan's contributions to American ascendancy, I can't help but wish, in this contentious period of our history, for present-day leaders like him who would stand up and be counted on to do the right things for our country -- not the expeditious things, or the self-aggrandizing things, or the self-enriching things that so many of our political hacks are doing at America's expense.
Thank you, Ronald Wilson Reagan, for leaving our country a much better nation than how you found it.
I've shamelessly borrowed Reagan quotes from the The Patriot Post, and appreciate their excellent website.
April 13, 2007
When the role is called up yonder
Thank you, Mr. Hart. You are undoubtedly enjoying the fruits of your labor now. You are missed here on Earth. Godspeed.
December 12, 2006
Jeane Kirkpatrick was a stalwart advocate of America's leading role and responsibility in the global community. National Review Online has brought together tributes to the Iron Lady from those who worked with and observed her through the years. Here is a snippet from Vin Weber's thoughts:
Jeane Kirkpatrick was a warm, wonderful, witty human being. She was a devoted and loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She was a good friend.
And she still found time to help save the world.
A great American. A great woman. A national treasure.
She will be missed.
September 11, 2006
Jose Cardona left for his job at Carr Futures on the morning of 11 September 2001, and never came home. The office he worked in was housed in the World Trade Center, and he was there on that horrible day when two airplanes were flown into the WTC towers by murderous fanatics.
Prior to that fateful day, Jose lived with his wife, Paulina. He had worked for Wall Street companies for fourteen years and was employed at Carr Futures as a clerk. He had been working a second job on Saturdays by driving around in the family car and selling fish and various wares from his home country of Ecuador in order to make extra money for the baby boy he and Paulina were expecting in January 2002.
He had an eleven year old daughter, Sasha, from a previous marriage whom he loved dearly, and who loved him just a much.
He enjoyed spending time with Sasha and also Miguel, 14, Paulina's son.
Jose loved his family, and he enjoyed life. He is still missed by his daughter, who wrote this at a memorial website on 11 December, 2001:
Daddy, I will always love you no matter what happens you will always be in my heart. We all miss you and will never forget you. I love you!!!!
Sasha continues to write notes to her father at various other websites. In April of this year, now a 16 year old young woman, she wrote:
I remember how we use to play games and also when I use to get a low grade you use to always tell me that I could do it.I had your love I had it all. Im thankful for everyday you gave me Im thankful cause I was loved by you. Daddy how I wish you were with me I would give up anythin to be with you to bring you back to life. luv u
Jose and Paulina's son, Joshua, now four, is growing up, writes Miguel in October 2005.
Jose was considered a warm, wise, and helpful man by many of those who knew him and commented about him in various memorials. He was the friend of Danny Lopez, a colleague at Carr Futures.
The following profile about Jose was originally published in the New York Times on 9 December 2001.
The Good Things
Pictures of JosÃ© Cardona show him dancing on a conga line with his wife and friends, clowning around after getting off a horse during a vacation, having dinner with his daughter from a previous marriage â€” Sasha, 11 â€” and his wife's son from hers, Miguel, 14.
He loved his family, liked the good things in life and wanted his wife, Paulina Cardona, 33, to look sexy.
She said her husband was so touched he cried when she surprised him with a tattoo of a rose on her left breast, his idea. And he cried again, she said, when the couple found out that she was expecting their first child and the baby would be a son.
Knowing his family would expand, Mr. Cardona wanted to make extra money to buy a house. So on Saturdays, the couple would get up at 6 a.m. and travel around New York City in their car selling fish and products from Ecuador, their home country, to friends and friends of friends.
When his customers found out that Mr. Cardona was missing at the World Trade Center, some asked: "He sold fish there?"
In fact, Mr. Cardona, 35, had been working for Wall Street companies for 14 years, most recently as a clerk at Carr Futures.
The baby is due in January.
Rest in peace, Jose Cardona, and may God continue to give strength and comfort to your family.
This is my way of honoring Jose's memory. If you would like to join me in remembering him, you are welcome to add a comment.
July 29, 2006
G. W. Bush -- the man
Sometimes those forwarded emails are true.
Mr. Vincent was undeniably present at the ceremony described, he has verified to us that he did indeed write this article, and other participants have given similar accounts of that day's events, so to that extent this item is true. However, since the last part of the article describes a private moment between Mr. Vincent and President Bush that took place with no one else (or only a few unidentified persons) present, we have no way of independently verifying that portion of the account.
I've reprinted the email below the fold.
It's worth reading -- even if you don't agree with our President's politics.
For those of us who sometimes find ourselves having doubts about our President, here is an excellent piece â€” worth every minute it takes to read it.
This is from a man, Bruce Vincent, from Montana who received an award from the President.
He writes: I've written the following narrative to chronicle the day of the award ceremony in DC. I'm still working on a press release but the White House press corps has yet to provide a photo to go with it. When the photo comes I'll ship it out. When you get done reading this you'll understand the dilemma I face in telling this story beyond my circle of close friends.
The moment with the President in the Oval Office was incredible. I want to protect the memory because it was an intensely private moment between two men. At the same time I'd like to share it on a broader scale because I'd like others to know what I know about the man sitting at the desk in the Oval Office. For now, I'll just tell it to you folks.
As you know, our efforts concerning the reintroduction of our rural, resource providing cultures to the ever more urbane society of our nation has been honored with an award from the President and First Lady Bush. Nominated by the Forest Service for the first ever Preserve America President's Award was our cultural exchange program Provider PalsT and our restoration of an abandoned CCC built Forest Service ranger station (Raven Ranger Station) for use as a learning center for students from throughout the nation that are now engaged in our cultural exchange. The award was given at a White House ceremony on Monday, May 3. Guests at the East Room ceremony (the Rose Garden was going to be used but it rained) included Secretary of Interior Gorton, Secretary of Agriculture Venneman, Undersecretary Mark Rey, Chief Bosworth, President's Advisory Council for Preserve America, and others. The East Wing was closed to the public for the event and those who attended enjoyed brunch and live chamber music.
Provider PalsT was able to bring members of our board of directors, staff from our partner Communities for a Great Northwest, our Kootenai Forest Supervisor and Forest Archaeologist, and two officials from our major sponsor Ford Motor Company. Thankfully, I was also able to bring PJ and all four children. In the East Room, Secretaries Venneman and Gorton spoke as did First Lady Bush and Preserve America's Chairman John Nau. The First Lady then gave autographed copies of a White House book to award winners in this ceremony and posed for pictures. When the ceremony concluded, the First Lady stayed for a bit in the Green Room and chatted and posed for pictures. She was then escorted outside to meet the President and board a Marine One helicopter waiting to whisk them off to the airport.
For me, however, the biggest event of the day had already happened when the East Room Ceremony started up. While the East Room ceremony was being prepared, the four national award winners and the entities that nominated them were taken to the Oval Office for the official award presentation by President Bush and First Lady Bush. There were eight of us in total. Stepping into the Oval Office, each of us was introduced to the President and Mrs. Bush. We shook hands and participated in small talk. When the President was told that we were from Libby, Montana, I reminded him that Marc Racicot is our native son and the President offered his warm thoughts about Governor Racicot.
I have to tell you, I was blown away by two things upon entering the office. First, the Oval Office sense of 'place' is unreal. The President later shared a story of Russian President Putin entering the room prepared to tackle the President in a tough negotiation and upon entering the atheist muttered his first words to the President and they were "Oh, my God." I concurred. I could feel the history in my bones. Second, the man that inhabits the office engaged me with a firm handshake and a look that can only be described as penetrating. Warm, alive, fully engaged, disarmingly penetrating. I was admittedly concerned about meeting the man.
I think all of us have an inner hope that the most powerful man in our country is worthy of the responsibility and authority that we bestow upon them through our vote. I admit that part of me was afraid that I would be let down by the moment â€” that the person and the place could not meet the lofty expectations of my fantasy world. This says nothing about my esteem for President Bush but just my practical realization that reality may not match my 'dream.'
Once inside the office, President Bush got right down to business and, standing in front of his desk, handed out the awards one at a time while posing for photos with the winners and Mrs. Bush. With the mission accomplished, the President and Mrs. Bush relaxed and initiated a lengthy, informal conversation about a number of things with our entire small group. He and the First Lady talked about such things as the rug in the office. It is traditionally designed by the First Lady to make a statement about the President, and Mrs. Bush chose a brilliant yellow sunburst pattern to reflect 'hope.' President Bush talked about the absolute need to believe that with hard work and faith in God there is every reason to start each day in the Oval Office with hope.
He and the First Lady were asked about the impact of the Presidency on their marriage and, with an arm casually wrapped around Laura, he said that he thought the place may be hard on weak marriages but that it had the ability to make strong marriages even stronger and that he was blessed with a strong one. When asked what the biggest challenge of the Presidency was, he talked about the daily frustration of partisan politics. 'This from a politician,' he said. He said that when he was elected he promised that he would do in DC what he had done in Texas and that was build alliances and coalitions that bridged party lines in order to move the nation forward. He had quickly learned that there are those in the nation's capital that would rather see the nation dismantled than work together to achieve a common good. That, he said is a bitter and continuing disappointment.
The President talked about the artwork and other items of interest in the room. For instance the desk he uses is the one that was given to the U.S. by Queen Victoria and used by FDR and JFK. In fact FDR had a front panel added to the desk to cover the mid section because FDR did not want the country to know he was in a wheelchair. President Bush laughed and said, "My how things have changed, FDR hid a wheelchair and if I eat a pretzel and get a tingle in my arm it's front page news around the globe." That little desk faux front is hinged by the way, and is the door that we all have seen John-John sticking his head from behind in the famous photo of JFK at work.
The President also noted that much of the artwork in the office is from Texas or about Texas. He said that it made sense for him to have it in his office because Texas is part of who he is. He talked about family and place and faith helping to build the person you end up being and noted that the Oval Office reflected who he is. He noted that it would be a mistake to come to the Oval Office and entertain a mission to 'find yourself.' He said that with all of the pressures and responsibilities that go with the job, you'd best know who you are when you put your nameplate on the desk in the Oval Office. He said he knows who he is and now America has had four years to learn about who he is. If they like what they see, he may have another four years. If not, then he may be going back to Texas.
After about 30 or 35 minutes, it was time to go. By then we were all relaxed and I felt as if I had just had an excellent visit with a friend. The President and First Lady made one more pass down the line of awardees, shaking hands and offering congratulations. When the President shook my hand I said, "thank you Mr. President and God bless you and your family." He was already in motion to the next person in line, but he stopped abruptly, turned fully back to me, gave me a piercing look, renewed the vigor of his handshake and said, "Thank you â€” and God bless you and yours as well."
On our way out of the office we were to leave by the glass doors on the west side of the office. I was the last person in the exit line. As I shook his hand one final time, President Bush said, "I'll be sure to tell Marc hello and give him your regards."
I then did something that surprised even me. I said to him, "Mr. President, I know you are a busy man and your time is precious. I also know you to be a man of strong faith and have a favor to ask you."
As he shook my hand he looked me in the eye and said, "Just name it."
I told him that my step-Mom was at that moment in a hospital in Kalispell, Montana, having a tumor removed from her skull and it would mean a great deal to me if he would consider adding her to his prayers that day.
He grabbed me by the arm and took me back toward his desk as he said, "So that's it. I could tell that something is weighing heavy on your heart today. I could see it in your eyes. This explains it."
From the top drawer of his desk he retrieved a pen and a note card with his seal on it and asked, "How do you spell her name?" He then jotted a note to her while discussing the importance of family and the strength of prayer. When he handed me the card, he asked about the surgery and the prognosis. I told him we were hoping that it is not a recurrence of an earlier cancer and that if it is they can get it all with this surgery.
He said, "If it's okay with you, we'll take care of the prayer right now. Would you pray with me?" I told him yes and he turned to the staff that remained in the office and hand motioned the folks to step back or leave.
He said, "Bruce and I would like some private time for a prayer."
As they left he turned back to me and took my hands in his. I was prepared to do a traditional prayer stance â€” standing with each other with heads bowed. Instead, he reached for my head with his right hand and pulling gently forward, he placed my head on his shoulder. With his left arm on my mid back, he pulled me to him in a prayerful embrace. He started to pray softly. I started to cry. He continued his prayer for Loretta and for God's perfect will to be done. I cried some more. My body shook a bit as I cried and he just held tighter. He closed by asking God's blessing on Loretta and the family during the coming months.
I stepped away from our embrace, wiped my eyes, swiped at the tears I'd left on his shoulder, and looked into the eyes of our President. I thanked him as best I could and told him that me and my family would continue praying for he and his.
As I write this account down and reflect upon what it means, I have to tell you that all I really know is that his simple act left me humbled and believing. I so hoped that the man I thought him to be was the man that he is. I know that our nation needs a man such as this in the Oval Office.
George W. Bush is the real deal. I've read Internet stories about the President praying with troops in hospitals and other such uplifting accounts. Each time I read them I hope them to be true and not an Internet perpetuated myth. This one, I know to be true. I was there. He is real. He has a pile of incredible stuff on his plate each day - and yet he is tuned in so well to the here and now that he 'sensed' something heavy on my heart. He took time out of his life to care, to share, and to seek God's blessing for my family in a simple man-to-man, father-to-father, son-to-son, husband-to-husband, Christian-to-Christian prayerful embrace.
He's not what I had hoped he would be. He is, in fact, so very, very much more.