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With apologies to Wallace Stevens.

I.

Among fifty failing states,

The only moving thing

Was the cost of the health care bill.

II.

The CBO was of three minds,

Like a hopper

In which there are three health care bills.

III.

A health care bill swirled in the cloakrooms.

It was but a small part of the Big Lie.

IV.

A Reid and a Pelosi

Are one.

A Reid and a Pelosi and a health care bill

Are one.

V.

I do not know which to prefer,

The folly of the deceptions

Or the folly of the desperations,

The health care bill passing

Or just after.

VI.

Snowmounds filled the Capitol steps

With muddy puddles.

The shadow of the health care bill

Passed them, to and fro.

The mood

Traced in the shadow

An unfathomable doom.

VII.

Oh wise men of Congress,

Why do you dream of wonder cures?

Do you not see that the health care bill

Stoops beneath the feet

Of the system around you?

VIII.

I know high premiums

And frightful, inescapable long lines;

But I know, too,

That the health care bill is involved

In what I know.

IX.

When the health care bill moved out of sight,

It marked the start

Of one of many scandals.

X.

At the sound of health care bills

Read into the deep night,

Even the frauds of K Street

Would cry out sharply.

XI.

He flew over Connecticut

In a white bird.

Once a fear pierced him

In that he mistook

The shadow of his presidency

For health care bills.

XII.

Obama is speaking.

The health care bill must be losing.

XIII.

It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing

And it was going to snow.

The health care bill sat

In the Speaker’s chair.

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Or, How Nancy Pelosi Made Me a Better Man.

As all four of my regular readers may have noticed, I’ve got a bit off the radar lately in the blogging world.  My absence was regrettable, but it was also for good reason — I simply didn’t have very much to say, or at least I wasn’t prepared to say it.  Over the past few months, I’ve had some very humbling realizations in my own life, and I’ve seen some good friends humbled, as well.  Advice that I’ve given has been ill-advised; I’ve done damage where I didn’t intend it.  No, I’m not in any trouble here — Mom, no need to call — just a bit more humbled by life than usual.

None of these realizations are very conducive to political blogging.  What we’re about here, after all, is offering our thoughts and opinions about matters of public concern.  If you don’t feel especially confident about your thoughts on matters of private concern, though, it’s hard to confidently project yourself into the public sphere.  I can certainly tell you what I think of Obamacare, or Holder’s brigade of Gitmo lawyers, or the obliteration of 200 years of Congressional rules and courtesy that took but two weeks to undermine.  But those battles are being fought, with or without me, and I should come prepared for the fight if I am going to join it.

Interestingly, it is this very meditation on human frailty that has brought me back to Marque’s Letters.  Over the last several weeks of the health care debate, we have witnessed incredible hubris on the part of the Democrats.  They are utterly convinced that their cobbled-together mess of a Senate health care bill is going to heal the sick, solve the deficit, and usher us all into a new era of post-partisan social bliss.  They truly believe that, even if it doesn’t quite work the way they think it will, they — in their infinite wisdom and their superior compassion — will solve it through more regulation, more legislation, better policymaking.  Insurance companies will be better once they are virtual zombies borne of the state, because smart liberals will be the ones in charge.  Treatment will be better, cures will be found, and doctors and nurses will be plentiful and cheap now that Washington has answered the call and taken over.

Of course, it doesn’t stop with health care.  Auto companies will be successful once the government and their union confederates are directing them.  Wall Street firms are evil when they don’t pay their executives what the government’s “pay czar” deems to be fair; they are sainted when they contribute to Democrat campaigns and support liberal causes.  Students are better off when their loans come from the government, rather than profit-taking bankers.  No one need learn the DOJ’s reasoning for releasing Gitmo detainees — the legal experts (not the stupid, warmongering Republicans) are in charge, and they should be trusted.  Al Gore and his scientist allies have spoken on the link between greenhouse gases and global warming, and all those who question even the most obvious untruths are agenda-driven deniers, worthy only of your scorn.

The common link, the underlying attitude, is a prideful audacity.  There is no humility here.  They cannot conceive that they might be wrong about what the people want or need.  Even when the world — in the form of polls, or elections, or town hall demonstrators — intrudes on the Democrats’ self-absorption, it is rejected as uninformed, or misled by venal critics, or even just unworthy of attention.  Dissenters must not be confronted – they must go.  How else can you explain these comments?

Robert Gibbs: “I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the Astroturf nature of so-called grassroots lobbying … The Astroturf nature of grassroots lobbying, which is largely the term for, you know, this is manufactured anger.”

Pelosi and Hoyer: “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves.  Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.”

President Obama: “I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking.  I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.  I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”

John Dingell: “The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [million] American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.”

Nancy Pelosi: “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.”  [Emphasis added]

What’s amazing, of course, is that these are the same folks who said that if we didn’t pass their stimulus bill, we would have 10 percent unemployment.  Faced with 10 percent unemployment after spending nearly $800 billion on their stimulus bill, they were no less confident about their economic projections on health care, or cap and trade, or even the “Son of Stimulus” jobs bill.  Democrats have an entirely different spin on the phrase “past performance is not indicative of future results” — rather than warning us against unreasonably high expectations, they assure us that all the past failures have nothing to do with the current empty promises.

Faced with such heedless arrogance, what is a humble blogger to do?  Certainly not what I’ve been doing for the past three months.  In fact, the arrogance of Pelosi, Reid, Obama & Co.  have led me to cast a more introspective eye on myself, my conservatism, and its potential for the same sort of  pretentiousness.  What I found was edifying.

Conservatism, at its heart, is a humble philosophy.  Consider, for example, conservatives’ confidence in free markets.  The market is essentially a mechanism for establishing value.  It is an acknowledgment that none of us, or at least very few of us, have the knowledge necessary to make perfectly rational decisions about the value of most goods.  Most of us, if asked to make value decisions in a vacuum, would probably make big mistakes.  Ask a hungry person what he would pay for a banana, and he might offer $50.00.  Ask someone who hates bananas and he might say $0.01.  Ask a banana grower what he’d like to sell them for and he’d say $100.00 a piece!  None of these are what one would pay for a banana at the grocery store, of course.  Instead, that price has been set through the process of all of us — consumers, suppliers, all over the world — deciding at what price we are willing to buy a banana, and what price we are willing to sell one.  We let this process happen because we humbly acknowledge that none of us, on our own, have the knowledge or position to set The Price.  And, through this mysterious exercise of humility and communication, we set the price together.

Consider, in counterpoint, the liberal alternative.  Liberals believe that they know how much a banana “should” cost.  They believe that government, through the exercise of price controls, punishing taxes, broad-based subsidies, and comprehensive regulation, they can coax, cajole, or simply order the banana system into shape.  If at first, they don’t succeed in getting The Price for everyone, they will merely twist the screws tighter, push different buttons, pull different levers.  But the idea that perhaps the don’t really know what a banana “should” cost never crosses their mind.  The concept that the present cost is already distorted by past government attempts at setting The Price is anathema.  Even if that is acknowledged — a rarity — the response is not a chastened humility, but a redoubling of effort.  Usually this involves identification of corporate villains who themselves are trying to set The Price (who, not being government liberals, are unworthy).  Of course, corporations are no more capable, without the help of the market, of setting prices and determining value than government — and they don’t show up with guns if you refuse to pay them.

Market policy is only one facet of this dichotomy.  Liberals are outraged that the Supreme Court won’t let them regulate the speech of corporations; conservatives believe that no one has all the answers, and the more voices in every debate, the better.  Liberals believe that a unified set of “global community values,” espoused by their anointed among the “international community,” should govern international affairs; conservatives reject the notion that any elite knows what is best for the world and promote democracy to allow self-determination and unique national interest to govern foreign relations.  Liberals believe that regulators know the right amount of risk — medical, environmental, personal, what have you — we should each bear, and keep pushing the bar lower to punish those who refuse to keep us “safe”; conservatives agree that a reasonable expectation of safety should be established, but that individuals should be free to choose to accept more or less risk in their lives above that line.

To be sure, conservatives can exercise their own form of arrogance.  When they rule dissent out of bounds, they are no better than their liberal counterparts.  When they impose their own view of international norms out of a sense of paternalism, rather than promote peaceful change through moral suasion, they are just as condescending as the liberal global elite.  And any time conservatives convert their preference for traditional values to a legally-enforceable code of conduct, they are ignoring the fact that the Judeo-Christian source of those traditions is grounded in an assumption of human frailty.

The honorable intentions of the governing elite have rarely been an issue in the history of American social change.  Only at the end of the colonists’ argument with England did the mother country’s intentions turn hostile.  At the beginning, Parliament’s taxes were an attempt to seek the common good — their rich colonies were just paying their fair share toward the Empire’s many responsibilities.  The colonists first revolted not because they doubted Britain’s intentions.  They simply rejected its idea of what was good for them, and the notion that a distant elite could define it and enforce it with the power of the state.  Their answer was not to set up a local elite — instead, it was to put themselves, the people, in charge of their own welfare.

The Democrats in Congress are making the same mistake as Parliament in the 1770s.  They simply cannot imagine how their subjects could doubt that they have their best interests at heart.  They assume the public will figure it out and come along for the ride.  They may even seek to punish those who are intransigent.  They don’t understand that their actions, not their intentions, are at issue, and they only compound the matter when they attack those who just want them to listen.  Fortunately, this time, their lack of humility will be judged by the ballot rather than the bullet.

I am but a humble political blogger.  I do not know what is best for you.  You may have just lost your job and would rather send your kid to college than pay for health insurance.  You may be absurdly wealthy and would rather pay for your health care by selling a few thousand shares of Coca Cola stock.  You may be a middle class parent who can’t imagine life without a generous health insurance policy.  All of these choices are valid, and they are all part of being an American.  Were I to tell the unemployed man that he must buy health insurance, I am an arrogant ass.  Were I to tell the rich woman that not only must she buy health insurance, but she must pay taxes to buy it for others, I am an audacious fool.  Were I to tell the middle class parent that she can have her health insurance, but not the nice policy she has now — that would be greedy — I am a self-deluded prig.  Of course, I have not told any of these people they are wrong.  But a majority of our elected representatives have.

It is thus my duty as a humble American blogger to not only call our leaders what they are, but also to do my part to liberate my fellow Americans from these presumptuous entrapments that threaten to upend our entire political experiment.  In doing so, I am not placing myself above my fellow citizens, or issuing edicts from on high.  I am but one voice in a chorus of voices that, together, will set the price of our freedom.  I only hope that we are willing to pay it.

Lately, I have been reminded of the consequences of arrogance in my own life.  It is all too easy to believe that our best intentions are enough to justify our actions.  Unfortunately, no amount of goodwill can counteract the harm caused by a reckless deed, or even a well-considered one.  Far better, then, that we share our thoughts, acknowledge our limitations, and struggle through this life together without illusions.  To my friends, who I have wronged in my arrogance, and my fellow bloggers, who I have briefly abandoned, I ask your forgiveness, and promise you my best.  Now let’s get after it.

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In honor of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Marque’s Letters brings you President Ronald Reagan’s speech on June 12, 1987.  While it did not bring down the Wall, it reiterated the West’s commitment to the freedom of the people of Eastern Europe, a principle that Reagan made the centerpiece of his foreign policy.  The throngs of Berliners pouring over the Wall were the apotheosis of Reagan’s vision, and the fulfillment of the hopes and prayers by free and unfree men and women around the world.  Take a minute to appreciate your freedom, pray for those who are unfree, and remember that it can all change – for good or evil – in a blink of an eye, without eternal vigilance.


Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, speaking to the people of this city and the world at the City Hall. Well, since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn, to Berlin. And today I, myself, make my second visit to your city.

We come to Berlin, we American presidents, because it’s our duty to speak, in this place, of freedom. But I must confess, we’re drawn here by other things as well: by the feeling of history in this city, more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer Paul Lincke understood something about American presidents. You see, like so many presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin. [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]

Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

President von Weizsacker has said, “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Today I say: As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.

In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air-raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State–as you’ve been told–George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. I was struck by the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the western sectors of the city. The sign read simply: “The Marshall Plan is helping here to strengthen the free world.” A strong, free world in the West, that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium–virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded.

In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty–that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany–busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of parkland. Where a city’s culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there’s abundance–food, clothing, automobiles–the wonderful goods of the Ku’damm. From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. The Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn’t count on–Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.]

In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

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!

I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent– and I pledge to you my country’s efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides.

Beginning 10 years ago, the Soviets challenged the Western alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles, capable of striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to a counter-deployment unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution; namely, the elimination of such weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As the alliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counter-deployment, there were difficult days–days of protests like those during my 1982 visit to this city–and the Soviets later walked away from the table.

But through it all, the alliance held firm. And I invite those who protested then– I invite those who protest today–to mark this fact: Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table. And because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

As I speak, NATO ministers are meeting in Iceland to review the progress of our proposals for eliminating these weapons. At the talks in Geneva, we have also proposed deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons. And the Western allies have likewise made far-reaching proposals to reduce the danger of conventional war and to place a total ban on chemical weapons.

While we pursue these arms reductions, I pledge to you that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur. And in cooperation with many of our allies, the United States is pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative–research to base deterrence not on the threat of offensive retaliation, but on defenses that truly defend; on systems, in short, that will not target populations, but shield them. By these means we seek to increase the safety of Europe and all the world. But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. When President Kennedy spoke at the City Hall those 24 years ago, freedom was encircled, Berlin was under siege. And today, despite all the pressures upon this city, Berlin stands secure in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.

In the Philippines, in South and Central America, democracy has been given a rebirth. Throughout the Pacific, free markets are working miracle after miracle of economic growth. In the industrialized nations, a technological revolution is taking place–a revolution marked by rapid, dramatic advances in computers and telecommunications.

In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete.

Today thus represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safe, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start. Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the United States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement.

And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.

To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe.

With our French and British partners, the United States is prepared to help bring international meetings to Berlin. It would be only fitting for Berlin to serve as the site of United Nations meetings, or world conferences on human rights and arms control or other issues that call for international cooperation.

There is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I’m certain, will do the same. And it’s my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors.

One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you may have noted that the Republic of Korea–South Korea–has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West? In these four decades, as I have said, you Berliners have built a great city. You’ve done so in spite of threats–the Soviet attempts to impose the East-mark, the blockade. Today the city thrives in spite of the challenges implicit in the very presence of this wall. What keeps you here? Certainly there’s a great deal to be said for your fortitude, for your defiant courage. But I believe there’s something deeper, something that involves Berlin’s whole look and feel and way of life–not mere sentiment. No one could live long in Berlin without being completely disabused of illusions. Something instead, that has seen the difficulties of life in Berlin but chose to accept them, that continues to build this good and proud city in contrast to a surrounding totalitarian presence that refuses to release human energies or aspirations. Something that speaks with a powerful voice of affirmation, that says yes to this city, yes to the future, yes to freedom. In a word, I would submit that what keeps you in Berlin is love–love both profound and abiding.

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere–that sphere that towers over all Berlin–the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.

As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner: “This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.” Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I’ve been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they’re doing again.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Ronald Reagan – June 12, 1987


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Western cultures have long subscribed to the tradition that anniversaries ending in 0 or 5 deserve special mention, if not celebration.  That premise goes double for the media, which has found the anniversary to be a great way to spice up a slow news day. This habit of ours seems stranger the longer you think about it, but no matter – it is what it is.

At least it is so long as your anniversary is something that the culture (or its spokespersons) consider worthy of celebration or remembrance.  But Mark Steyn reminded me that 1989 was one of the most consequential years in our history, or at least my history, and we’ve heard remarkably little in its second decennial anniversary.  Below is a list of some of the dates that have passed this year without much mention.

  • February 15, 1989: The Soviet Union announces it has pulled out of Afghanistan.
  • April 21 – June 4, 1989: The Tiananmen Square protests captivate the world, until they are capped by the massacre by the Chinese military.
  • June 4, 1989: Solidarity wins elections in Poland, serving as the first spark to the flame of freedom that will spread across Eastern Europe.
  • August 23, 1989: Two million Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians form the Baltic Way, a 600 km human chain that was the first major freedom demonstration within the Soviet Union.
  • August 23, 1989: Hungary opens its border with Austria, creating the first chink in the Iron Curtain.
  • September 10, 1989: Hungary opens its border and begins to receive East German refugees fleeing their Communist government.
  • October 9, 1989: Demonstrations in Leipzig demand democratic reforms in East Germany.
  • October 18, 1989: East German Chancellor Erick Honecker is forced to step down under pressure from the Soviets after failing to suppress anti-government protests.
  • October 23, 1989: The Hungarian Republic is declared, ending the Communist Hungarian People’s Republic.
  • November 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall falls, as East German officials end all travel restrictions to West Germany and ecstatic Germans dance in the streets together.
  • November 10, 1989: The Bulgarian Communist leader is replaced by the foreign minister, who renames the party the Bulgarian Socialist Party.  Communist rule in Bulgaria ends after 40 years.
  • November 17, 1989: A peaceful student demonstration in Prague is attacked by riot police, sparking the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.  Within 3 days, over half a million peaceful demonstrators will fill Prague, demanding democracy.
  • November 28, 1989: The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia lifts restrictions on opposition parties and agrees to hold elections.  
  • December 1, 1989: The East German parliament abolishes one-party rule in the country; the East German Politburo and Chancellor Egon Krenz resign 2 days later.
  • December 17-25, 1989: The Romanian Revolution drenches the country in blood for a week until Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is arrested and executed by the military.  Communist rule ends in Romania, albeit more violently than elsewhere in the East.
  • December 28, 1989: Vaclav Havel, a leader of the Velvet Revolution, is elected president in Czechoslovakia, ending Communist rule.

Consider the courage of those who stood against tyranny and brought down a Communist scourge that had dominated half of Europe for over 40 years.  Consider that you, dear reader, live in the nation whose steadfast defense of the West and demands for freedom for those behind the Iron Curtain gave hope to millions.  In a year when we are beset with troubles and our troops are again defending freedom against tyranny, why are we Americans not being reminded of the defeat of Communism around the world?  Do you remember how dizzying those days were — when all of our assumptions about the world were obliterated by people desperate to be free?

Take a moment to remember the heroes of 1989.  Remind a friend to do the same. The world deserves to celebrate.

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…Obama just can’t close the deal.

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As this blog has previously noted, President Obama has a bad habit of invoking the Almighty in unfortunate and inartful ways while seeking support for his agenda.  While speaking to moderate and liberal clergy today, Obama took on those who he said were “bearing false witness” against his health care plan, and then explained why his opponents are immoral:

“These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation: that is, that we look out for one another; that is, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper,” the president said. “And in the wealthiest nation in the world right now we are neglecting to live up to that call.”

That turn of phrase, “I am my brother’s keeper,” has to the ear a tinge of Biblical truth about it — many of us can at least recall that we first heard it or something like it in Sunday School.  A closer look, however, demonstrates that Mr. Obama’s theology is assembled to fit his politics, not the other way around.

To start with, Obama gets the quote wrong.  In Genesis 4:9, when asked by God, “Where is your brother, Abel?” Cain replied, “I don’t know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Of course, Cain knew exactly where is brother was – he was dead, murdered out of envy by Cain himself.  Note that the quote was not by God, telling us how we should act, but by Cain, a fratricidal maniac who was talking back to God.

In fact, the Cain/Abel drama has a lot to tell us about the sin of envy and God’s will for those who want greater favor from Him.  When Cain’s sacrifice to God did not yield God’s respect, and his brother’s did, Cain grew angry.  God then asked Cain why he was angry, and had this advice for him: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

In other words, when one of God’s children is disappointed that her work is not shown favor by God, God tells her to work harder and to follow His will; then her work will be accepted.  To do anything else, we risk sin.  In the case of Cain, he failed to master his envy of his brother, and it overtook him.  Rather than asking himself what he could do to earn God’s favor, Cain hated his brother for having gained His favor, and he punished him for it.

Cain was certainly not his brother’s keeper.  But neither did God want Cain to be.  Cain believed his brother’s success was bound up with his own — that there was a zero-sum game at work, and that his brother’s success meant his own failure.  Thus, rather than prepare a better sacrifice, Cain attacked his brother.  God just wanted better from Cain.  Instead, Cain gave him much, much worse.

Consider, then, the moral of this story in the health care debate.  (more…)

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A study reported by Reuters today reveals that the Obama presidential saga has received more news coverage than “Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the global financial meltdown in 2008, the Iraq War in 2003 and the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.”  

Yes, the same September 11th attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.  Those September 11th attacks, that took us to war, brought us together, and have torn us apart.  The worst moment of my generation of Americans was worth fewer column inches than the election of our 44th President.  That’s like the third election of FDR getting more ink than the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But let’s not forget that these same September 11th attacks were judged by some to be “overdone.” Thomas Friedman tells us that the events of 9/11 and the coverage thereof  “made us stupid,” and have “knocked America completely out of balance.”

Does that mean we’re a few months away from this guy bemoaning that our President, like 9/11, has become “a brand name, a [Democratic] campaign slogan, propaganda of the lowest form?”

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Hm.  Okay, maybe we’re already there.  People.  Let’s get some perspective.

P.S. – If an Obama fan says this President has attracted more public attention than any other, remind her that more people watched Reagan’s inauguration than Obama’s (41.8 million vs. 37.8 million).  And there were about 80 million fewer Americans in 1980.  A silent majority, indeed.

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