Happy Fourth of July!

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**Posted by Phineas

independence day patriots

It’s Independence Day here in the US, in which we celebrate our break with the British Empire. We’re 238 years old and, despite what some sanctimonious Lefty scolds might think, I think we’ve done pretty darned good. We’re not without our problems or faults, some of them serious, but I continue to believe America is exceptional among the nations of the world and that we are indeed a force for good. If you’re looking for some good Independence Day reading, there’s always the Declaration of Independence itself. Think of it as a short ideological summation of who and why we are.

Then there’s the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which function as a citizen’s “owner’s manual.” And yes, to those of you in other countries raising an eyebrow about now, we do tend to place those documents on a pedestal. You have to admit, however, they’ve worked well for over two centuries. How many republics and constitutions has France had in that time?

Gosh, it’s become quiet…. Winking

By the way, at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson asks us to consider how the Declaration’s list of King George’s offenses against the (then English) constitutional order and the rights of the American people might well also apply to President Obama.

A lot’s been written around the Web about today on the meaning of Independence day, so I’ll spare you my musings. Instead, I want to leave you with the thoughts of historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) who, writing in National Review in 2008 (2) at a time of growing national discord, wanted to remind us that things often had been much worse and that, on that 4th of July six years ago, we could use a little perspective:

On this troubled Fourth we still should remember this is not 1776 when
New York was in British hands and Americans in retreat across the
state. It is not 1814 when the British burned Washington and the entire
system of national credit collapsed — or July 4, 1863 when Americans
awoke to news that 8,000 Americans had just been killed at Gettysburg.


We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the
work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had
been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of
American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific
in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank
God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving
American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in
to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country
was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin
Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic
convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979,
a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages
taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still
being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central
America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment,
8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening
international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We
live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful
republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of
our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our
unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and
self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect
as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our
ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered
miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the
present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted.

Still holds true, I think.

Happy 4th of July, folks. Enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks.  smiley us flag

RELATED: Also from 2008, a love-letter to America. I mentioned yesterday a point of view that sees the American Revolution as a second English Civil War. It’s an opinion with some merit, I think, given that the Patriots saw themselves as defenders of rights granted under the Bill of Rights of 1689. Continuing that theme at National Review, Daniel Hannan, a British MEP who’s more of a Patriot than many Americans I know these days, writes about the meaning of the forgotten flag of the American Revolution. Also at NR, British emigrant to America Charles Cooke considers the civil war of 1776. Cooke’s articles should be on your must-reading list. On American exceptionalism, Jonah Goldberg looks at how progressives really resent it. Finally, Salena Zito takes us to where independence began.

Footnotes:
(1) aka, my spiritual leader
(2) Sorry, the old link is broken, and National Review can’t be bothered to provide a searchable archive. Bad show, NR, bad show. Update: Found a re-posting. Do read it all.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Happy #IndependenceDay, America!

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I think this photo about says it all – what do you think? :) **==


Enjoy this beautiful day, y’all – and while you’re at it, please say a prayer for the Atlantic coast as Hurricane Arthur makes its way up the coast after brutally slamming my beloved NC last night. Damage reports are coming in, but it looks like we *may* have escaped the worst of it.

Have a safe, firework-filled 4th!

mtrushmorefireworks.jpg

Poll: Plurality believe Obama is the worst president since WWII

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obama-mirror

The hits just keep coming for our celebrity President (hat tip):

A plurality of voters think Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, a new poll says.

According to a Quinnipiac Universitpoll released Wednesday, 33 percent of voters think the current president is the worst since 1945.

[…]

Obama’s predecessor, former President George W. Bush, came in at second-worst with 28 percent, and Richard Nixon was in third place with 13 percent of the vote. After Jimmy Carter, who 8 percent of voters said was the worst president in the time period, no other president received more than 3 percent.

And if you think that was the worst of the polling news the Obama administration woke up to this morning, wait til you read this:

Americans are also expressing some buyer’s remorse after the 2012 election, according to the poll: 45 percent believe the country would be better off under Republican candidate Mitt Romney, versus the 38 percent who think it would be worse.

Well, it’s bad enough to rank worse than the man your party has by and large proclaimed to be the “worst, most evil President EVAH!!!!!!!” but when you also find out on the same day that nearly 50% of the American people think the country would be more better off  than not under your last opponent  … well then it’s time to take a long hard look at the man in the mirror to try and determine where it all went wrong – and then contemplate how to try and “right” the course.  Not that that will happen, mind you, because Obama thinks he can do no wrong.  All the same,  just a little friendly advice from yours truly for our nation’s Chief Executive Officer …

27 years ago today: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

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June 12, 1987 – one of many memorable, hugely important moments in the history of President Ronald Reagan – and the world:

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Link to the CSPAN video of the full speech. Link to the transcript of the full speech.

Believe it or not, that line almost didn’t make it into the speech. From Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson:

With three weeks to go before it was delivered, the speech was circulated to the State Department and the National Security Council. Both attempted to squelch it. The assistant secretary of state for Eastern European affairs challenged the speech by telephone. A senior member of the National Security Council staff protested the speech in memoranda. The ranking American diplomat in Berlin objected to the speech by cable. The draft was naïve. It would raise false hopes. It was clumsy. It was needlessly provocative. State and the NSC submitted their own alternate drafts—my journal records that there were no fewer than seven—including one written by the diplomat in Berlin. In each, the call to tear down the wall was missing.

Now in principle, State and the NSC had no objection to a call for the destruction of the wall. The draft the diplomat in Berlin submitted, for example, contained the line, “One day, this ugly wall will disappear.” If the diplomat’s line was acceptable, I wondered at first, what was wrong with mine? Then I looked at the diplomat’s line once again. “One day?” One day the lion would lie down with the lamb, too, but you wouldn’t want to hold your breath. “This ugly wall will disappear?” What did that mean? That the wall would just get up and slink off of its own accord? The wall would disappear only when the Soviets knocked it down or let somebody else knock it down for them, but “this ugly wall will disappear” ignored the question of human agency altogether. What State and the NSC were saying, in effect, was that the President could go ahead and issue a call for the destruction of the wall—but only if he employed language so vague and euphemistic that everybody could see right away he didn’t mean it.

The week the President left for Europe, Tom Griscom began summoning me to his office each time State or the NSC submitted a new objection. Each time, Griscom had me tell him why I believed State and the NSC were wrong and the speech, as I’d written it, was right. When I reached Griscom’s office on one occasion, I found Colin Powell, then deputy national security adviser, waiting for me. I was a 30-year-old who had never held a full-time job outside speechwriting. Powell was a decorated general. After listening to Powell recite all the arguments against the speech in his accustomed forceful manner, however, I heard myself reciting all the arguments in favor of the speech in an equally forceful manner. I could scarcely believe my own tone of voice. Powell looked a little taken aback himself.

A few days before the President was to leave for Europe, Tom Griscom received a call from the chief of staff, Howard Baker, asking Griscom to step down the hall to his office. “I walked in and it was Senator Baker [Baker had served in the Senate before becoming chief of staff] and the secretary of state—just the two of them.” Secretary of State George Shultz now objected to the speech. “He said, ‘I really think that line about tearing down the wall is going to be an affront to Mr. Gorbachev,'” Griscom recalls. “I told him the speech would put a marker out there. ‘Mr. Secretary,’ I said, ‘The President has commented on this particular line and he’s comfortable with it. And I can promise you that this line will reverberate.’ The secretary of state clearly was not happy, but he accepted it. I think that closed the subject.”

It didn’t.

When the traveling party reached Italy (I remained in Washington), the secretary of state objected to the speech once again, this time to deputy chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein. “Shultz thought the line was too tough on Gorbachev,” Duberstein says. On June 5, Duberstein sat the President down in the garden of the estate in which he was staying, briefed him on the objections to the speech, then handed him a copy of the speech, asking him to reread the central passage.

Reagan asked Duberstein’s advice. Duberstein replied that he thought the line about tearing down the wall sounded good. “But I told him, ‘You’re President, so you get to decide.’ And then,” Duberstein recalls, “he got that wonderful, knowing smile on his face, and he said, ‘Let’s leave it in.’

And so they did leave it in. **== And eventually, the wall came down, too. Two and a half years later. :D

Berlin Wall

Freedom!
Image via Getty.

Declassified documents show ‘fortunate missteps’ saved NC from 60s nuke wipeout

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nuclear-explosion

Quite the explosive report! In more ways than one. Via CNN:

(CNN) — On a January night in 1961, a U.S. Air Force bomber broke in half while flying over North Carolina. From the belly of the B-52 fell two bombs — two nuclear bombs that hit the ground near the city of Goldsboro.

A disaster worse than the devastation wrought in Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have befallen the United States that night. But it didn’t, thanks to a series of fortunate missteps.

Declassified documents that the National Security Archive released this week offered new details about the incident. The blaring headline read: “Multi-Megaton Bomb Was Virtually “Armed” When It Crashed to Earth.”

Or, as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it in back then, “By the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted.”

The Goldsboro incident

The B-52 was flying over North Carolina on January 24, 1961, when it suffered a “failure of the right wing,” the report said.

As the plane broke apart, the two bombs plummeted toward the ground. The parachute opened on one; it didn’t on the other.

“The impact of the aircraft breakup initiated the fuzing sequence for both bombs,” the summary of the documents said.

In other words, both weapons came alarmingly close to detonating.

Weapon 1, the bomb whose parachute opened, landed intact. Fortunately, the safing pins that provided power from a generator to the weapon had been yanked — preventing it from going off.

Weapon 2, the second bomb with the unopened parachute, landed in a free-fall. The impact of the crash put it in the “armed” setting. Fortunately — once again — it damaged another part of the bomb needed to initiate an explosion.

[…]

The MK39 bombs weighed 10,000 pounds and their explosive yield was 3.8 megatons. Compare that to the bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: they were 0.01 and 0.02 megatons.

So, like, these bombs were much bigger than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.  Gulp.  To say “thank God the catastrophe was averted” would be the understatement of the century. Whew!

D-day: storming the castle

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***Posted by Phineas

 

(Note: This is a re-posting and slight editing of a post I put up every D-Day.)

Seventy years ago today, American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish soldiers charged the gates of Hell — and won:

D-Day assault

Black Five put up an excellent roundup of D-Day posts from many blogs a few years ago. It’s still worth reviewing. And have a look at this entry for a photo essay on D-Day.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson reflects on D-Day at 70:

Seventy years ago this June 6, the Americans, British, and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest amphibious invasion of Europe since the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 b.c.

About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterly display of planning and courage. Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.

(…)

D-Day ushered in the end of the Third Reich. It was the most brilliantly conducted invasion in military history, and probably no one but a unique generation of British, Canadians, and Americans could have pulled it off.

Read the rest. While giving the Russians their due, he puts their contribution in perspective.

RELATED: The Daily Mail tells the story of one Medal of Honor winner who still wonders how he survived Normandy.

UPDATE: In today’s newsletter, Real Clear Politics quotes the prayer FDR read when announcing the invasion to the nation:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” the president said while the outcome of the battle was still in doubt.

“They will need Thy blessings,” FDR continued. “Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…”

Imagine a president saying something like that nowadays; the Left would have a fit.

But, forget them. Today’s a day to remember genuine heroes and thank Divine Providence we had such men on our side.

UPDATE 06/06/2013: This is a real president commemorating D-Day:

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#DDay70 veteran parachutes from plane 70 years after doing it the first time

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Jim Martin - D-Day

93 year old U.S WW II veteran Jim Martin of the 101st Airborne, left, completes a tandem parachute jump onto Utah Beach, western France, Thursday June 5, 2014, as part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D Day.  (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

What an awesome story! (via)

Normandy, France (CNN) — Jim “Pee Wee” Martin acted like he’d been here before, like jumping from a plane is as easy as falling off a log.

Maybe that’s because he had — 70 years ago.

“I’m feeling fine,” Martin told reporters moments after landing in a French field. “… It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.”

Martin was part of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that parachuted down over Utah Beach in their bid to retake France and, eventually, the rest of Europe from Nazi Germany. They actually touched down in enemy-controlled territory a night before what’s referred to as D-Day.

His jump Thursday in the same area was different and — despite his being 93 years old now — a whole lot easier.

“It didn’t (compare),” Martin said, “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”

Every year, every day it seems, the number of surviving World War II veterans like Martin dwindles. He estimates there are only a few dozen members of his unit who took part in the now historic D-Day invasion who are still around.

It’s ironic, in a sense, because Martin was among the oldest of his bunch in June 1944 — at 23 years old — surrounded by others who were mere teenagers.

Together, they parachuted onto France’s northern coast in the dark of night not knowing what awaited them. Whatever it was, it would not be friendly or easy, they expected.

[…]

Seven decades later, Martin did it again — not fighting a bloody war but at least reliving his role in a military campaign that changed the course of history. Others joined him in this now daytime jump, though he was the only one from his generation.

[…]

Martin admitted that he was motivated by “a little bit of ego, (to show that) I’m 93 and I can still do it.”

“And also I just want to show all the people that you don’t have to sit and die just because you get old,” he added. “Keep doing things.”

God bless this American hero and all other members of “The Greatest Generation” who continue to demonstrate what real courage, dedication, and honor look like.   Same same to those who gave their lives that day, and to those who have passed on since. Our world would be a much different place if it weren’t for these brave men.  To say millions owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid would be the understatement of a lifetime.  To them, I say: Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

Last but not least, a beautiful, movingly poignant picture tweeted by the French Embassy on the 70th anniversary of D-Day:


Says it all. :) **==

Remembering President #RonaldReagan on the 10 year anniversary of his death

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Ronald Reagan cheers

Here’s to you, Mr. President.

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since our beloved former President Ronald Reagan passed on.   While he is gone, he and his legacy – and his love for America – are certainly not forgotten.

Here’s probably my favorite speech he ever gave. So much of what he said in it applies to what’s going on today. It’s timeless. And so appropriately titled “A Time For Choosing“:

Here’s a transcript of that speech, delivered in support of Barry Goldwater, the 1964 GOP nominee for President.

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” – Ronald Reagan, 1964

What’s your favorite memory of President Reagan?


Memorial Day: Remembering those who gave all

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Truer words were never spoken:

“Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don’t just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home. For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag who gives that protester the freedom he abuses to burn that flag. No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn’t believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home.” – Senator Zell Miller (D-GA), 2004 RNC

This part of his speech starts at the 5:52 mark below:

As we do our yard work today, host BBQs, converse with family and friends, snooze on the couch, go about our daily business, please take a moment to remember those who have given all – and their families, too. They always need to know that the ultimate sacrifices made by their loved ones will be forever appreciated, and never forgotten.

Boy Scout - Memorial Day

Boy Scout Hunter Penaz, 10, rests his hand on a headstone at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery after placing a flag Saturday, May, 28, 2011, in preparation for Memorial Day. After placing the flag, Penaz then told his father 'Let's go honor more soldiers, dad.' Volunteers decorated the cemetery with over 41,000 flags. AP Photo/The El Paso Times, Mark Lambie

(Originally posted Memorial Day 2011)