Friday, July 24, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
For those who don't know our family well, the front row consists of my elder son Robert, his wife Sheila, my dear wife Melany, our dog Frank (with a dog biscuit in his mouth), and Melany's sister Melinda. In the back row are my son-in-law Jonathan, my daughter Donna, my younger son Colin, and some old geezer who stumbled out of the woods (otherwise known as me). It's an informal portrait, to be sure, but reflects our slightly crazy, laid-back style.
Words can't express how blessed I am to have such a beautiful family--good children, marvelous children-in-law, and the sweet, patient wife whose love is at the center of it all!
Donna and Jonathan head back to Idaho tomorrow morning. How wonderful it's been to have them here with us! We wish all of our children Godspeed, and all the joy there is!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Since June 24th, we've been privileged and delighted to have our daughter Donna with us, on loan from the great state of Idaho. She and her husband Jonathan, who arrived a week later (after a MOST harrowing flight on Delta), are cast members in the Hill Cumorah Pageant (here's an interesting site about the Pageant by a cast member) near here in Palmyra, New York. The Pageant is an annual outdoor dramatization, with a volunteer cast of hundreds from all over the world, of God's people and Christ's mission to them in the New World as related in the Book of Mormon. Melany is in her second year on the Pageant staff. They've been staying with friends, practicing (here's an awesome slide show of pictures from cast rehearsals), and performing at the Hill Cumorah site for more than two weeks. I (along with son Colin and Frank the Wonder Dog) have been holding down the fort here at home--and it's a lonely business! But we have had a few opportunities to get the family together during this time, and loved every minute of it!
On Thursday July 2--the day after Jonathan finally made it to Rochester--we had a marvelous lunch together on Melinda's deck. That's her at left, flanked by Donna and Jonathan. She presented them with a beautiful rug/wall hanging--I'm not sure which it's supposed to be, technically--depicting the various Latter Day Saint historical and religious sites in the Palmyra area (see below). The next day, Donna, Jonathan and Melany departed for the Pageant site.
One week after that, on July 11, the family came together at Hill Cumorah for this year's first Pageant performance. We got to see Donna and Jonathan in their costumes (the cast mingles with the crowd before the performance); she portrays a "consort" of sorts to the wicked King Noah, while he plays a New World disciple of Christ. That's them in the picture below (Jonathan's eyeglasses are, of course, not "period correct", so he removed them in the following pictures).
At one point a couple of odd old folks insisted on having their picture taken with them. The fine lady bears a striking resemblance to Melany, but the old codger was mistaken by several people in the crowd as some sort of fallen Mennonite who'd just wandered in.
We were so happy that Robert and his wife Sheila, who now live in Amherst, NY while Rob attends the University of Buffalo, could join us. Here's Rob with our noble Thespians. At the time Sheila was lost somewhere amongst her own family contingent up from the Hornell, NY area, which numbered close to 30 people! I couldn't believe that we managed to "save" that many seats for them!
There were no performances on Sunday and Monday, so The Troupe were able to come home for a couple of days. We were joined by Jonathan's parents (up from Georgia) and two of his siblings (from Cincinnati, Ohio and somewhere in Missouri), plus their spouses and children. We had a picnic lunch and dinner in the back yard, and I donned my Civil War uniform and gear to give my patented demonstration about the life of a Civil War soldier. At least a few of the children seemed to be intrigued with it, and the rest were very polite, and looked just a little bored. Here I am in full marching order, explaining how the musket is loaded and fired (too bad no one got a picture of me firing it, which was probably the high point of the show).
Next, I dove into the haversack to show what's kept in there--specifically, bacon and hardtack. I offered everyone a sample of the latter, and to my surprise, even some of the adults tried it! Usually, only the children are that brave. Everyone agreed that it's--YUMMY!
Tonight is the last Pageant performance for this year, and we'll all be home for the next three days before Donna and Jonathan have to return to Idaho Wednesday morning. Stay tuned, as we should have a few more adventures to relate before then!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
"I want to work, right now, for people who are going to work either in office or out of office for the right things. Those principles that build up America, those who are inspired by the values of America, and will not deride or apologize for the values we hold as Americans." -- Sarah Palin, interview July 6, 2009Here it is four and a half days since Sarah Palin announced her impending resignation as Governor of Alaska. I've wanted to comment on this stunning development, but held back in case it turned out to have been prompted by some emerging controversy or "scandal." If there was, surely it would have come out by now. Perhaps it's not too early to conclude that no such thing is in the offing, and that Sarah's decision was a carefully considered, independent, and deliberate one. I've been pretty confident of that all along.
The know-it-all pontification, dismissive second-guessing, and flustering outrage over this by pundits and the news media is amusing and revolting at the same time. They all seem deeply offended that Mrs. Palin didn't notify them, consult with them, or clear it with them first. "It's not fair! She's not following the script! She's not playing by The Rules!" So affronted are they by her impertinence that they're all clamoring to declare her "erratic," "clueless," "a quitter," and Politically Dead. They can't wait to close the book on her. A sense of smug satisfaction seems to run through all of this. Or is it more like the nervous laughter that masks deep anxiety?
The reasons for resigning that Sarah gave in her July 4 statement are clear enough, and make great sense to me. Her status as the Prime Target for every left-wing wacko, libel-monger, lame comedian, and partisan hack (Democrat and Republican) is simply causing more collateral damage to her family and the State of Alaska, financially and otherwise, than she's prepared to make them suffer any longer. She can't be effective as a mother, wife, or Governor and continue fending off the endless barrage of bullsh_t, which is being hurled at her precisely to have that effect. If she's "quitting" for the sake of her family, she's doing exactly the right thing. If she's "quitting" on the people of Alaska, they have the media, the political elites, and their worthless fellow-travelers (including a few Alaskans, and the Republican establishment in the lower 48) to thank for it. In any event, as William Kristol observes:
[W]hy is it more admirable to run for national office while a sitting governor (or senator), spending a fair amount of time out of your state (or away from Congress), necessarily neglecting or delegating some of your duties -- than to turn the office over to your constitutional successor so your constituents have someone working full time on their behalf? Palin will have to endure some fair criticism for abandoning her office before her term ended. But she should also get credit for not using her state office as a means of campaigning for a higher one.Regardless, Mrs. Palin is no longer a stationary target for her adversaries. She seemed happy and refreshed yesterday in her first interview since announcing her resignation. given while out fishing with her family in the Alaskan wilderness. She's now free to pursue her vision and "be all she can be," whatever she might choose that to be. If a life of peaceful obscurity for herself and family is what she has in mind, that's just fine--she's earned it in spades, and even if she never seeks or obtains the Presidency, she's done a priceless service by setting the model for the kind of walks-the-walk, connects-with-the-people leader that millions of right-thining Americans are panting for. And if she still wants to be that leader, or help find and promote the person who will be, she has the time, the freedom, and (by and by, at least) the money to do it. Now she can fight, and fight back. Now she can learn, develop, and mobilize a new political movement that gathers in all who share her values and her vision for an American Renaissance.
Which, I suspect, is what REALLY bothers the nay-sayers. Sarah's people are ordinary people, who couldn't care less about the Elites and are tired of being betrayed by Establishments of all types, Democrat and Republican, at every turn. Thanks to the current administration and its minions, they're "Mad as Hell and They're Not Going to Take This Any More." Her legions of followers aren't discouraged, but newly energized. The Powers That Be are simply terrified of being marginalized, and they know that Sarah can help make that happen. They HAVE to dismiss her, even destroy her. Who else on the Right energizes and inspires people like she does? Who else so effectively personifies our values and dreams? Who else among conservatism's leaders has the enthusiasm, the charm, the grit, and the confidence to bring forth a tidal wave from the dispirited masses?
Once again, Mrs. Palin has confounded and unnerved the Fat Cats. She doesn't play by their rules or seek their approval. She takes her marching orders from God and her own best judgment. If she has to take some risks and some lumps, she'll take them. She can't be controlled, manipulated, programmed, or pigeonholed. And the Elites can't abide that! So, tongue-waggers who couldn't think their way out of a wet paper bag will continue to fret and declare thier bewilderment or contempt, from Inside the Box. Sarah is already Outside the Box, ready to toss it into the nearest dustbin.
Afterthought: One recent story about Sarah's resignation, from the Associated Press, nearly made me fall out of my chair with laughter. According to the article: "Political observers [have] struggled to make sense of the decision and its effect on a potential 2012 campaign for the White House. Even her rival during the last election, Vice President Joe Biden, seemed confused by the move." WHAT? Even JOE BIDEN--CONFUSED?? Not Joe--no way! Stop the presses! Hold the phone! "We bring you a special bulletin--in a stunning development, it's been revealed that the Pope is: Roman Catholic!! Further details as they become available." Sheesh.
Actually, Biden said something more sensible than almost all the other observers: "It maybe had a lot to do with what the state of their life was, and the state of their family, et cetera. . . So I'm not going to second-guess her."
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Are today's political leaders honoring the Founders' pledge? Are we as citizens being vigilant and active enough to honor it? Is our own government becoming more like that which the Founders resisted at the risk of their lives and their fortunes? Celebrate Independence Day by reading the full text of the Declaration, and ponder these questions for yourself:
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
By the Representatives of the
United states of America,
In general Congress assembled.
When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress,
John Hancock, President.
Charles Thomson, Secretary.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Zelaya, without legal authority, sought a national referendum on whether the Constitution should be amended to remove provisions that would bar hm from seeking another term as President. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Honduran law allows constitutional amendments, but a constituent assembly to effect them can only be called through a national referendum approved by the Honduran Congress, not the president. The article describes what happened next:
. . . Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.Predictably, the law-enforcement measures of Honduras' legitimate governmental institutions prompted screams of outrage from all the tinhorn leftist dictators in Latin America, from the Castros in Cuba and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez to Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Bolivia's Evo Morales. Chávez mobilzed his country's armed forces under a threat to invade Honduras and overthrow its new government. The Organization of American States (OAS) has condemned Zelaya's removal and is now considering Honduras' expulsion. Naturally, the United Nations--dominated by dictators, socialists, and their craven, fellow-traveling governments in the West and elsewhere--has expressed its outrage and has called upon all its members to refuse to recognize the new Honduran government.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.
As WSJ notes, "Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president [Roberto Micheletti] as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders."
Sickeningly, and in complete disregard of the legal steps the new Honduran government has taken to preserve democracy and the rule of law, the Obama administration has joined the dictators' chorus of repression. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." This past Monday, she said that "having expelled the president, we have a lot of work to do to try to help the Hondurans get back on the democratic path that they've been on for a number of years now." She also noted that the United States is reviewing its aid program for Honduras and "considering the implications of the forced removal of Zelaya for continued American assistance." Also on Monday, President Obama himself declared that "the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the administration had worked in recent days to try to prevent the coup from happening, and "our goal now is on restoring democratic order in Honduras."
On Tuesday, Micheletti told the Washington Post that he did not see any way to negotiate with the Obama administration and international diplomats seeking a return of Zelaya to power because, Micheletti insisted, Zelaya was guilty of crimes against the country. Meanwhile, thousands of Hondurans rallied Tuesday in the central plaza of the capital, Tegucigalpa, to support the forced removal of Zelaya and to shout their support for the armed forces. "No, no compromise, because if he tries to come back or anyone tries to bring him back, he will be arrested," Micheletti said. "Our army also consists of 7.5 million people prepared to defend freedom and liberty." Micheletti further said: "I want to make a call to our allies in the United States, that they should stick with us at this very important moment in the life of the country . . . The economy of our country is completely destroyed -- because of the acts of the former government. If aid [from the United States and Europe] keeps coming, we will show that every little penny that we borrowed will be spent for the people of this country." Micheletti, who is a leader of Zelaya's own Liberal Party, vowed that he would not run for president in the upcoming November elections.
Reuters reports that on Wednesday, the Organization of American States issued a weekend deadline for the interim government to reinstate Zelaya. Micheletti replied: "We have established a democratic government and we will not cede to pressure from anyone. We are a sovereign country."
The basis for the specious outrage of the Obama administration and its leftist allies is the fact that Zelaya was democratically elected to the presidency several years ago. They seem to believe that, having once won a national plebiscite, everything Zelaya says and does thereafter is blessed by the democratic process--he can do no political wrong. They all know better than that. The model was established by Adolf Hitler, whose National Socialist (Nazi) Party came to power through "democratic" elections--aided, of course, by intrigue, mob violence, intimidation, and propaganda--and then used "legal" legislative and executive processes to force changes in the German constitution and laws that endowed Hitler with dictatorial powers. Proceeding in this way gives the aspiring tyrant and his actions the color of legitimacy, and thereby disarms his opponents. Hugo Chavez has used the same tactics of populist intimidation to gain near-absolute control over Venezuela, and has been eagerly exporting the brand all over Latin America, succeeding to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua. He was actively supporting Manuel Zelaya's naked power grab in Honduras when that country's legal institutions acted to snatch the prize away before he could get a death grip on it. Clearly, democracy can be subverted just as effectively--more so, perhaps--from within as from without, and by power-hungry elected presidents as well as by street-level revolutionaries.
That the Obama administration would condemn the Honduran patriots and people and seek to undermine their democratic efforts, rather than support them, is a shocking revelation of what its true priorities and agenda are. Certainly the shoe would be on the other foot had Zelaya been a right-wing usurper. Obviously, faithfulness to socialism is more important than liberty, democracy, or the rule of law. Solidarity with the likes of Chavez, Ortega, Morales, and the Castro brothers is more important than the integrity of our own government and the values that the United States has traditionally represented, and sought to gain for others. Right now, American representatives are working--and twisting arms, no doubt--to re-foist a would-be dictator on the Honduran people. Is the administration tryiing to spread socialist orthodoxy throughout the Western Hemisphere, even where it's not wanted, and regardless of our national interests? Or is Mr. Obama fearful that at some point, brave souls in this country might emulate the Hondurans' example and try to prevent him from cementing his own socialist dictatorship over all of us?
At the very least, it seems obvious that had Mr. Obama been the U.S. President in the years leading up to World War II, and anti-Nazi elements in Germany had been able to remove him from office (as many wanted, and a few planned), he would have spared no effort to reverse such an action and restore Der Fuhrer to power. We know he'd prefer that the Iraqi people still be suffering under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Isn't it strange how "Democrats" are so attached to tyrants?
UPDATE--July 3, 2009: Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) has issued a strong statement denouncing the Obama administration's treacherous, bullying treatment of the legitimate Honduran government and its efforts to ensure true democracy and freedom in that country. You'll want to read the statement in its entirety:
July 2, 2009 - Greenville, SC - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, made the following statement about the ongoing situation in Honduras.Hats off to Sen. DeMint!
"The people of Honduras have struggled too long to have their hard-won democracy stolen from them by a Chavez-style dictator. The Honduran Congress, the Honduran Supreme Court, and the Honduran military have acted in accordance to the Honduran constitution and the rule of law.
“For weeks leading to his arrest, Zelaya flouted the constitutional authority of the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court, and claimed for himself extra-constitutional control of his nation’s military and political institutions. Every institution from the Electoral Tribunal to the Supreme Court ruled that his actions were unjustified and illegal. Zelaya’s open defiance of democratic norms has set Honduras on a path toward violence, instability, and tyranny.
“I am hopeful that as President Obama grows in office, he will eventually turn away from despots like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, and Zelaya, and give the United States’ full-throated support to the people of any country who are fighting for the same values we cherish and defend in America. The people fighting for freedom around the world, in Iran and Honduras, should never have to wonder which side America will choose between freedom and tyranny.
“President Obama’s call for the reinstatement of Zelaya is a slap in the face to the people of Honduras. And the resolution written by the Organization of American States tramples over the hopes and dreams of a free and democratic people.
“The rule of law is working in Honduras. President Obama should not undermine the democratic institutions that guarantee freedom by forcing an illegitimate President back into power.
“This is not an ideal transition, but Hondurans are adhering to their constitution. The United States should support the Honduran people and their legitimate leaders in their brave and heroic stand for freedom and the rule of law.”