There is a book coming out supposedly based on interviews with Secret Service agents that reveals the "behind closed doors" character of the people being guarded.

Disturbing: those being protected, such as presidents, need to be able to trust that they never will be talked about by the Secret Service. Otherwise the trust is lost, and the temptation to ditch the protection increases. I would, however, make an exception to the secrecy for felonies.

Interesting: if the material is to be believed: Nixon and LBJ may have been even weirder than I knew, and I already thought they were odd; Carter was not likable; and the Obamas are OK so far, though Barak is lying about not smoking.

Story.
A lot is being written now about the first manned moon landing. I have nothing substantive to add, just personal recollection.

I was born in 1956. About the time I became aware of the wider world, it seemed to be falling apart. One of my first memories of fear is watching television during the Cuban missle crisis. I was old enough to understand explosions and destruction, but I think what frightened me was that the adults were nervous, both on television and off. I grew up seeing the daily casuality count from Vietnam onscreen during the nightly news, along with footage of war; by 1968 I turned 12 and assumed that my future would include jungle warfare. 1968 was a bad, bad year: assasinations, riots, a feeling that the world was disintigrating. And over all hung the spectre of nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

But, alongside the gloom and doom, was another story that I followed almost like an addict: the good news of the space program. I have an early memory of my dad taking me out of the house into the darkness to watch a satellite fly overhead. Mercury, Gemini, unmanned missions to the moon. Apollo. It helped that I loved science, and science fiction, but I think that the space program would have attracted me even if I had not. I think I was hungry for heroism, for ambitious and positive goals, for the romance of exploration, for a token that humanity might just beat its problems and survive.

When Neil Armstrong spoke those memorable words, I was elated. The moon landing gave me hope for a future beyond our nation's problems in 1969.
The man has class.

George H.W. Bush Lands on the U.S.S. Bush. Story. From Theo.

24/06: For Freedom

Brits at Their Best reminds us that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

On June 24th 1314, Robert the Bruce and the forces of Scotland defeated the forces of Edward II at Bannockburn and established Scottish independence. Six years later, on April 6th 1320, in the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scots said exactly why they had fought -

"It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."

Freedom.


The American Revolution did not spring fully-formed from the earth. Our ancestors stood in a long line of those seeking to live by their own laws and customs, not under those of an arbitrary tyranny.

Farmer wondered if Obama tears up during Casablanca. I wonder if he is moved during Braveheart.
Brits at their Best reminds us to celebrate the Magna Carta, an important early step in the development of British Liberty, which put limits on the power of the king. The post contains links to the full text and other information. Some rights protected in the Magna Carta:

The right to trial by jury.

The right to habeas corpus. óWe cannot be arrested and kept in prison without trial.

The right to own property, which cannot be taken from us without due payment or process of law.


Too bad that many of these basic rights in Britain are in jeopardy today because of membership in the European Union in which too much power is given to unelected bureacrats.

Our own liberties in the U.S. are a development of British Liberty, or, The Liberty of Englishmen. We would do well to guard them jealously from encroaching government power.
The more exposure I have to Barak Obama, the more I dislike him, and the more I distrust him as a person. To my somewhat trained eye, he sends out disturbing signals. I have been contemplating a post on my thoughts, but instead, for now at least, direct you to Powerline and this guest post from history professor Paul Rahe.

In the first of the autobiographies that he claims to have written, Barack Obama frequently speaks of himself as being in the grips of rage. We would do well to take him at his word.
Here is the pdf document for HRes 397, that would establish the first week in May as Spiritual Heritage Week. Link from Layman Online.

I don't know that this resolution would change much, but it could provoke a good discussion. At a minimum, the Resolution itself demonstrates that ours was not founded as a secular society. Here is the beginning of HRes 397.

Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as `America's Spiritual Heritage Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith.

Whereas religious faith was not only important in official American life during the periods of discovery, exploration, colonization, and growth but has also been acknowledged and incorporated into all 3 branches of the Federal Government from their very beginning;

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed this self-evident fact in a unanimous ruling declaring `This is a religious people . . . From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation';

Whereas political scientists have documented that the most frequently cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible;

Whereas the first act of America's first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of 4 chapters of the Bible;

Whereas Congress regularly attended church and Divine service together en masse;

Whereas throughout the American Founding, Congress frequently appropriated money for missionaries and for religious instruction, a practice that Congress repeated for decades after the passage of the Constitution and the First Amendment;

Whereas in 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence with its 4 direct religious acknowledgments referring to God as the Creator (`All people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'), the Lawgiver (`the laws of nature and nature's God'), the Judge (`appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world'), and the Protector (`with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence');

Whereas upon approving the Declaration of Independence, John Adams declared that the Fourth of July `ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty';

Whereas 4 days after approving the Declaration, the Liberty Bell was rung;

Whereas the Liberty Bell was named for the Biblical inscription from Leviticus 25:10 emblazoned around it: `Proclaim liberty throughoutthe land, to all the inhabitants thereof';

Whereas in 1777, Congress, facing a National shortage of `Bibles for our schools, and families, and for the public worship of God in our churches,' announced that they `desired to have a Bible printed under their care & by their encouragement' and therefore ordered 20,000 copies of the Bible to be imported `into the different ports of the States of the Union';

. . .

The Resolution now has 61 cosponsors, and has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Here is the Library of Congress Thomas site for more information.

21/05: Obama and FDR

Don't miss this wonderful analysis from Charles Kesler, senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and editor of the Claremont Review of Books.

I love this great one-liner from the piece:

It was the unreformed Supreme Court's "horse-and-buggy" constitutionalism that saved the country from that ugly experiment [some of the more draconian elements of the New Deal], and thus allowed future generations to praise FDR's moderation.

Brilliant!

Read the essay in its entirety here (via RCP). It is brief and worth your time.
Today I am trying to reclaim my office from Chaos.

In so doing I discovered this bit from my daily calender for this past Thursday, May 7. On May 7, 1789 the first Inaugural Ball was held in New York City. The plan had been for the new government to form in March, but bad travel conditions delayed assembling enough members of Congress to count the electoral votes before April 6. Additional time was required to reach Mt. Vernon to inform George Washington of the results, then for the newly-elected president to reach New York City, then the nation's capital.
Brits at Their Best reported that about 170 years ago a man named Rowland Hill put the British postal service into a profitable position by

the brilliant and counter-intuitive idea that postal costs have little to do with distance and that the whole cumbersome process could be speeded up and the charge for sending mail could be drastically reduced. And profits? Profits increased because the numbers of people who could afford to send a letter increased dramatically.

Under Hill's plan, postage on a letter would not be collected after complicated travel computations which slowed down delivery and were often so high recipients of letters refused to accept them. Instead, those sending mail would simply buy adhesive stamps for a uniform charge at the post office.

The government bureaucrats of the day naturally called Hill's idea wild and visionary - and these were not compliments - but his plan made such obvious sense it swept Britain and, soon after, the world.


Simplification and reduction in costs of a government service leading to growth and profitability.

Jack Kemp, R.I.P.