Browse Category

Living

maxresdefault

The Best We Can Do: Freedom and Independence For America

Tim Gerrity: We may not always get what we want. We may not always get what we need. Just so’s we don’t get what we deserve!

–True Colors, 1991

Do you ever get the feeling we’re getting exactly what we deserve?

As the Crisis deepens, 13ers will feel little stake in the old order, little sense that their names and signatures are on the social contract. They will have reached full adult maturity without ever having believed in either the American Dream or American exceptionalism. They will never have known a time when America felt good about itself, when its civic and cultural life didn’t seem to be decaying. From childhood into midlife, they will have always sensed that the nation’s core institutions mainly served the interests of people other than themselves. Not many of their classmates and friends will have built public-sector careers, apart from teaching and police work. Most 13ers will have oriented their lives around self-help networks of friends and other ersatz institutions that have nothing to do with government.

–Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning

It’s easy for Americans in the 21st century to believe we deserve better. Some people say everyone deserves free education through college, free medical care, free food, free transportation, free contraceptives, even free tampons. Maybe “deserve” is the wrong word. “Right to” is what people actually say.

What if we don’t?

Let’s play a thought experiment.

What if you woke up tomorrow on a tropical island. It’s not tiny, but it’s not too big. You find lots of tropical plants and animals but no other people. You are alone on an island. All alone in paradise.

Being alone, you won’t find a doctor or a professor. No stores to shop. No contraceptives. And no one to use them with. You are alone with yourself and all of your natural rights.

Sure, there’s no one to talk to, no one to kiss, no one to love, no one to comfort you. But there’s also no one to boss, no one to bully, no one to enslave, no one to rob. Just you.

On this paradise island surrounded by food that you can harvest yourself, you feel completely in charge of yourself. Perhaps for the first time in your life. There are no license bureaus to visit, no security lines to wait in. You pay no taxes.

You have all of your rights. You have a right to an education, but you can’t force someone to teach you. You must teach yourself to survive on the island.

You have the right to shelter, but you probably have to build one yourself. Or build twenty if you want.

You have the right to health, but you have to treat yourself. (What do the animals do when they get injured? How do they heal themselves?)

You have the right to eat, but you have to harvest the food yourself. (What do the animals eat? How do they get it?)

You have the right to transportation: your legs. You may crawl if you wish. No one there to laugh.

You have everything you deserve: your freedom and total independence.

You probably wish someone were there with you, but company comes at a price, does it not?

One day, long after you’ve developed routines and practices to ensure your safety, nourishment, and maximum happiness under the circumstances, something catches your eye. Out on the ocean between the horizon and the shore you spot an object. It’s large and different from anything you’ve seen since waking up on your island.

Over the next hour or two, the object gets bigger as it drifts closer to your island. Soon you see the object is a raft of some sort. Yellow. Crowded onto the raft are seven people. Some begin waving, so they must have seen you. They drift closer and closer and you can hear them shouting. You cant make out their words over the surf and the breeze, but you know they’re trying to talk to you.

In a moment the raft reaches shallow water. You wade out to help bring the craft ashore. You are no longer alone. You have company.

Everyone on the raft speaks the same language you speak. One of the “rafters,” the word you use to describe these visitors, is a doctor. One is a professor. Another is a former legislator. The other four are a young family consisting of a carpenter, his wife (a receptionist) and their two children, one boy and one girl.

“How long have you been here?” the politician asks.

“Huh. I’m not sure,” you answer. “A couple years, I guess.”

“And you’re alone?” the doctor asks.

“As far as I know,” you say. “I’ve pretty much explored the whole island, and I’ve never found signs of other people.”

“How have you survived?” asks the professor.

You start to tell stories of your time on the island. How you panicked at first, but then learned to live.

“I was so angry for a while. I though I didn’t deserve this. I felt deprived and lonely. And, honestly, scared. I had no idea how to survive out here. But I realized I had to eat, so I taught myself how to gather coconuts and pineapples and a lot of berries and plants I saw the animals and birds eating. I stay away from all the snakes and lizards because there’s no telling which ones are dangerous. I built shelters for myself around the island so I’d never be caught out without protection. I figured out how to spear fish–there’s so many fish in the waters here, it’s easy.”

“How do you cook?” the doctor asked.

“I don’t.”

“You’re lucky to be alive,” the doctor continued. “You could get all kinds of parasites and bacteria from raw fish. You should know better.”

“We need to figure out a way to make fire,” the politician said. Then, turning to you, “Since you’ve been here for two years, I think you should figure that out. You know this island better than anyone.”

“I agree,” said the professor. “I can tell you what might work.”

“Okay, but I don’t really need fire,” you say. “I’ve survived without it for two years. If I knew how to do it, I’d have done it.”

“Well, we need some organization, then,” said the politician. “Why don’t we take a vote?”

They vote. The professor and the politician decide that only adults may vote. The carpenter and his wife abstain, but the doctor, the professor, and the politician vote that you are responsible for finding a way to make fire. They also decide that you must teach them which plants are edible and which are not and to make a map of the island so the others can find their way around.

In the next few days, the group makes a lot of other decisions, all by vote. Your days get busier and busier trying to fulfill all the obligations the rafters dumped on you. Because you’re the most experienced, you gather most of the food. You help the carpenter build shelter for the others. (The professor decided your existing shelters were inadequate.) The rafters form a government of which the former legislator is the head.

You work day after day gathering firewood, building materials, food, and fresh water while the doctor, the professor, and the politician spend most of their days deciding new rules that mostly apply only to you and the carpenter’s family. You’ve grown close to his family. Like you, they mostly do whatever the council tells them.

“Why don’t you tell them to get lost?” the receptionist asks you one day after the council decided that you may not refer to the others as “rafters.”

The receptionist had been down on the council ever sense it voted to make her two kids attend class six hours a day. She and her husbanded want the kids to learn skills useful on the island, but the professor and the politician insist they need to learn other things that will prepare them for college.

“Well, they vote on everything, so how can I just say ‘no?'”

“They just made up this system. Really, we’re all on our own. We don’t owe any allegiance to them,” she says.

Her husband says, “yeah, they really don’t do anything but tell us to make them comfortable. You work your butt off for them. What did you do before we got here?”

You think about this. What did you do? Woke up whenever. Caught a fish for the day’s protein. Ate berries and fruit. Explored the island. Experimented to find ways to make paper, ink, and clothes. Practiced animal and bird calls.

But since the rafters arrived, you never seem caught up. Fishing takes hours every morning, and some people don’t like all the varieties of fish. Then you and the carpenter haul water and remove waste from the little village. Then gather fruits and berries. Then mandatory school for a couple of hours in the afternoon. And village meetings. Then do it again.

You think back to the days before the rafters. You were free. You were alone, sure, but you felt whole. You appreciate the family, but the others, the experts, are really just mild slave masters. They do little work and make all the rules.


On Independence Day, remember that you had all your rights when you were alone on that island. No one grants you a new “right” without taking away someone’s freedom. You probably don’t want to benefit from slavery, do you?

America was founded on the idea that people create governments to serve them, not the other way around.


If you like truth, justice, and the American way, you might like my latest book.

Mike Flynn, Chip Gerdes, and Andrew Breitbart at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, August 2011. Photo courtesy Jeremy Segal

Mike Flynn, RIP

When the BBC called Brexit for LEAVE at about 12:30 a.m. CDT today, I thought first of my friend Mike Flynn. Mike had a keen sense of history. He put the Tea Party movement into proper perspective, as he did with all events. Mike kept us from overstating both the Tea Party’s effect and its potential. Or he put them in context and reminded us that our potential depends on ourselves, not outside forces. Among nascent political operatives and activists, Mike was the adult in the room, even among people many years his senior.

I wanted to talk to Mike about Brexit, because he’d have a brilliant understanding of the event’s historical significance. I believe it’s the biggest political event since the Berlin Wall fell. Would Mike say I’m exaggerating? Underestimating?

I met Mike, Andrew Breitbart, and Chip Gerdes in September, 2009, around the time of the massive 9/12 Tea Party in Quincy, Illinois.  Here’s how I described the end of that pivotal weekend:

I was hungover.

I sat in a booth at the Holiday Inn in Quincy, Illinois, with my wife and two friends from St. Louis. The day before was my wife’s birthday, which she graciously spent waiting for me to speak at a tea party in Quincy.

Angela and I sat with Jim Durbin and Ben Evans. About four feet away, sitting at the bar, were Andrew Breitbart and editor-in-chief of Andrew’s BigGovernment.com, Mike Flynn. Andrew and Mike were monitoring the Sunday talk shows on the bar’s big sports TVs. Andrew  and Mike, and a kid named James O’Keefe, were the subjects of every political program that weekend. Just two days earlier, the famous ACORN videos dropped on BigGovernment.com.

I’ll never know Mike’s thoughts on Brexit. My friend, the political editor of Breitbart News, passed away last night. The Lord has now taken three central figures in the Tea Party’s rise, especially St. Louis Tea Party: Andrew Breitbart, Chip Gerdes, and Mike Flynn.
Mike Flynn, Chip Gerdes, and Andrew Breitbart at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, August 2011. Photo courtesy Jeremy Segal
Mike Flynn, Chip Gerdes, and Andrew Breitbart at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, August 2011. Photo courtesy Jeremy Segal

I saw Mike in Washington DC in April. I was in town for only a couple of nights, but he made time to hang out and talk about politics, the primaries, family, and old times. He was joyous and funny, as always. Mike left early that night because of an appointment early the next morning.

Freedom will miss Mike, as we all will. You and I will have to pick up a little extra work now.

Why did God see fit to call how Andrew, Chip, and Mike so soon? No idea. But He probably knows what he’s doing.

God bless Mike, his family, and the grieving nation Mike left behind.

Please read the touching words of Mike’s friend and colleague, Mike Leahy.

Irish, Jewish, Gay

Richard Brookhiser called the moment’s start, and I called its death. But before we get into that, are you as surprised as I am about Zuckerberg’s war on gays?

You would think that a jihadist attack on a gay nightclub would trigger an anti-terror backlash against Islamic terrorists, would you not?

Anti-Gay Jihad

Instead, America’s radical left has declared a jihad against gays. Leading this jihad is Imam Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Zuckerberg’s improvised excommunication device is banishment from his social network. And Zuck aims his weapon at two kinds of gays:

  1. Gays who oppose Islamification of the West.
  2. Gays who support Donald Trump for President.

Here are just a few examples Zuckerberg’s anti-gay jihad:

You probably thought, like me, that the Orlando Massacre would trigger an anti-Islamic terror backlash, but it’s pretty obvious the left in America is going after gays instead. Look at all the Democrats and media types who defend violent attacks against Trump supporters, especially gays and Hispanics. Even NBC admits gay Trump supporters are subject to violent attacks:

A number of gay men who have decided to throw their support behind Trump told NBC OUT it has not been an easy road. Juan Hernandez, a gay and Latino member of the Log Cabin Republicans, said his support led to physical violence by anti-Trump protesters at a rally in San Jose. Images of the attack and his bloodied clothes went viral.

The same NBC story highlights a Marine veteran who’s afraid to reveal his last name:

“When you put your name out on a national level as supporting someone who attracts that much vitriol and disgust, you’re putting yourself up for doxxing … Especially for someone like me who’s considered a ‘traitor,'” added Eric, who is a member of LGBTrump, an online network for LGBTQ people who support the GOP presidential hopeful.

Why hasn’t Imam Zuckerberg banned NBC News for reporting this? It’s coming, folks, just watch.

Where’s the left’s outrage over this open war on gays? Huh? Where the hell are they?

They’ve moved on because the Gay Moment has passed.

America’s Gay Moment

This violent anti-gay backlash from the left confirms my 2013 hunch that America’s “Gay Moment” was ending. For about 40 years, gay was THE cultural moment in America, but all moments end, as Richard Brookhiser wrote in 1999.

Brookhiser identified three great moments in 20th century America:

  • The Irish Moment (1900 to 1945)
  • The Jewish Moment (1946 to 1999)
  • The Gay Moment (1971 to about 2014)

Here’s how Brookhiser identifies Moments:

The form for describing Minority Moments is a two-part phrase. The first element is always plucky . Plucky suggests the minority’s embattled status (but not too embattled, because to enjoy a Moment is to have won). The second element is some quality that is characteristic, in their own and the world’s eyes, of the minority. The Irish were plucky and brave (the Fighting Irish). The Jews were plucky and smart (10,000 intellectuals and comics). Gays are plucky and cool (gays themselves might say plucky and fabulous -and why not? Everyone understands).

And when a moment ends, the moment’s champions turn against the cause. The people who championed the Irish turned against the Irish. The folks who then championed the Jewish moment turned against the Jews. And now, as I predicted three years ago, the gay moment has ended and the anti-gay backlash has begun.

Which all reminds me of a story.

The Tea Party’s Moment

In 2010, I was sitting in a restaurant at the Grand Ole Opry convention center in Nashville along with about 30 other people attending the National Tea Party Convention. Andrew Breitbart was there, and he made an observation. The 30 or so people sitting at a long, long table represented something of the Tea Party leadership at the time. After dinner, Breitbart took a quick poll of ethnicity and discovered that more half of that Tea Party leadership group was either Irish or Jewish or, in the case of Breitbart, both. (Andrew was raised Jewish by his adoptive parents, but his biological parents were of Irish descent.) What wasn’t as well known at the time–some of those Tea Party leaders were gay.

Now, people of Irish descent make up about 10 percent of the US population, while Jews account for about 2.6 percent. And gays less than 2 percent. Which means that all three of Great Moments were over-represented in the Tea Party leadership. Grossly over-represented in fact.

You might say the Tea Party got its moxie, its pluck, from the three great cultural “moments” of the past century. And now, owing in part to the horror at Pulse nightclub, the representatives of those now out-of-favor moments fight for our lives against the left’s latest “in” group.

The new American moment, championed by Zuckerberg, Hillary, and the radical left, is the Muslim Moment. And, unlike the first three moments, this one will end in tears. The only question is: whose tears?

P.S. If you think I’ve lost my mind, try reading “How Phil Robertson Ended the Gay Moment.” I was even crazier back then.

JimHoftBillHennessy

This will only take a minute

It’s unlikely you read Hennessy’s View and not The Gateway Pundit, but there’s always the chance.

This morning, just as I was taking a break to catch up on news, I got a text from a friend that drew me to a particular post on GP. The headline: 

After the Pulse Club Massacre, It’s Time for Gays to Come Home to Republican Party

In it, my friend Jim Hoft, co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition, and relentless conservative warrior, mentions he’s gay.

I say “mentions” because Jim doesn’t make it a big deal. As Jim says, like most gays, he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve.

Now, I hate to sound like I’m throwing cold water on Jim’s announcement, but so what?

Jim Hoft is still the best blogger in the midwest, the blogger I wish I’d become. I envied Jim for years, but then, with Jim’s help, I realized my strengths span many other areas. Blogging is writing, but it’s not the only kind of writing. And writing isn’t everything. It’s great to have some division of labor in the movement, and Jim is the master of super-magnetic headline writing. (Jim would be more famous than David Ogilvey if he’d gone into advertising. Maybe more famous than Don Draper.)

Jim Hoft is also a snarling pit bull against communism, fascism, racism, and Islamicism. Jim’s reporting brought down Van Jones early in the Obama Administration. His headlines land on Drudge’s top line about once a week, and that’s an amazing accomplishment, folks. Unbelievable. Probably more than anyone else, he gets to the top of Drudge. Not to mention Rush’s Stack o’ Stuff.

So the point is, Jim’s done remarkably great things for you, for me, for America, and he will continue doing that greatness for many, many years. Oh, and he’s gay.

Writing about the 1980s, Jim says he came out to friends and family during the AIDS epidemic. “It was a scary time to be gay,” Jim writes.

After the Orlando Massacre the teens look like a pretty dangerous time to be gay, too. Our president looks disinterested in protecting Americans from terrorists. That would distract from his Legacy Tour. And his chosen replacement, Crooked Hillary Clinton, refuses to name Islamic terrorism. Yet women and gays will probably suffer most in jihad. Especially gay conservative activists. This doesn’t seem to bother Democrats. Which makes this a scary time for everyone in Western Civilization.

For the seven years I’ve known Jim, I felt protected by his pen against the swords fighting against freedom. Thank God for Jim Hoft. I’m glad he’s on our team, and I’m as proud as ever to be his friend.

memorial-day

Two Faces of Memorial Day

The god of Memorial Day is Janus, looking to the future as well as the past.

Memorial Day looks back, but it also warns of something coming. The list of war dead is incomplete. It always will be.

Each generation looks at its wars and finds something final, but the end never comes. Memorials never end while man roams the earth.

When I see the Vietnam Memorial, with its rows and ranks of lost warriors, I see, too, the invisible ledger that stretches to the horizon. Empty granite awaiting the engraver’s hammer. The list of names who’ve given the last full measure of devotion only grows. It never stops.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but Memorial Day now seems both about the brave heroes who’ve gone before and about the heroes who will follow. Every young man and woman in uniform holds a ticket for that grim lottery. Two and a half million Americans serve, active and reserve. Two and a half million tickets. My dad held those tickets twice, in World War II and Korea, but he survives still. I held a ticket for over nine years, but here I am. Two of my boys hold tickets in the Navy now, and another is a new firefighter. I pray those numbers don’t come up.

But those lottery balls spin and bounce in their cage. Politicians roll them out. Numbers line up. Names are called. And the engraver’s hammer strikes the granite. And it will again.

On Memorial Day, as we honor the noble dead, I also think of the noble living. The hammer will strike for some of the living who’ve put themselves between us and harm. I know war will never end, so I can’t forget that some of our fallen heroes walk among us today.

God love them all.

 

body-condom

Safe Sex for Alcohol and a Condom for Your Liver – Podcast

Let’s regress in time to the 1980s.

Remember C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon-General who launched the Safe Sex movement? Koop wanted to curtail the spread of AIDS. The Safe Sex movement started slowly and originally focused on non-monogamous gay men. By 1987, though, everyone was doing it. (Or not doing “it” as the case may be.) A February 17, 1987 New York Times headline declared “Safe Sex Movement Gains Favor Among Heterosexuals.” The story said, “Caution is in. The one-night stand is out.” And a woman in a condom ad said, “I’d do a lot for love, but I won’t die for it.”

Think of the Coalition for Safer Drinking as the Safe Sex movement for alcohol. Chigurupati Technologies’ NTX is like a condom for your liver and DNANTX prevents 93 percent of the liver damage caused by drinking and about half of the DNA damage. (Yes, even one drink damages your DNA.)

In other words, we’re facing reality on reality’s terms. We know people drink, and we’re not encouraging them to do so. We also know people care more and more about their health. Part of concern for health involves the stuff we put into our bodies, including alcohol.

So the Coalition for Safer Drinking wants you to know that regular alcohol is bad for your liver and your DNA, but alcohol made with NTX is nearly harmless to the liver and significantly safer for DNA. Right now, only Bellion Vodka contains NTX. Bellion will be available throughout the United States this summer, so look for it. If you live in Texas, New York, or Connecticut, you can get Bellion right now.

I am the national spokesman for the Coalition for Safer Drinking and author of the book on NTX, Fight to Evolve, which is available for Kindle now and will be available in hardbound very soon. Look for it on Amazon.com. Contact me at bill-at-billhennessy.com. I’d be happy to schedule an interview for your radio program, blog, or podcast.

Cross-posted from billhennessy.com

I’m trying to write the truth

I was a pretender.

In 2012, I pretended I believed Mitt Romney would win. But I knew better. I just didn’t have the heart to tell the truth to the volunteers banging doors and working call lists from our election office in South County.

But I knew Romney would lose. I suspected the GOP would not regain the Senate.

When some of our hardest workers showed up to help break down the office and move our belongings, I couldn’t look at them. Nor could I look at them at the election night watch party. I sat in the back room blogging, but I could hear them yelling at the TV as one key state after another fell to Obama. “You’re wrong! They’ve only counted three percent of the votes!”

After that, I told myself “never again.” I’m done encouraging magical thinking. And, though I sometimes get the facts wrong, I try to tell the truth when it’s important.

Which is why you’ve been reading a lot about Donald Trump on this blog.

Last summer, I was firmly in the anti-Trump camp with posts like:

Trump: Good, Bad, and Ugly <–The most important

We Deserve Better

Trump: The Final Nail in the Conservative Coffin?

The fact that most people expected Trump to win told me I should stop writing him off, but in August and September I still thought he’d fade.

Then came the terrorist attacks in France and San Bernardino. Those events led me to believe Trump would win. I wasn’t happy about it, but my gut said ‘it’s over.”

In December, I did a lot of critical thinking. I challenged my own beliefs about Donald Trump. Some beliefs changed, some were dropped, many survived. In the process, I gained some new beliefs, too. For instance, I learned that Trump is a master of persuasion. Since one of my titles is Persuasive Design Director, I should have recognized this skill sooner. But my professional judgment was clouded by my personal animosity. Confirmation bias blinded me to many of Trump’s good or useful qualities.

I wasn’t sure how to present my revelation to the world. So I avoided the subject as much as possible. I was afraid writing or speaking the truth as I saw it would anger my friends who still hated Trump or believed Ted Cruz was divinely anointed to be our 45th president. I was afraid that telling the truth would sound like an endorsement to the deep parts of their brains where powerful feelings and emotions lurk. I was afraid I’d be called a “sell-out” just for telling the truth as I saw it. Brave, I know.

Then I started seeing so many people trapped in self-imposed confirmation bias loops, or affinity bubbles. Just like I was last summer. In the conservative echo chamber, Trump became a larger-than-life monster bent on destroying America.

So I decided to write.

It’s Time to Choose

Party Like It’s 1992

I wasn’t trying to change anyone’s vote; I was trying to prepare them for what I believed was inevitable. And I was trying to get people to critically examine their beliefs of the likeliest results and likeliest consequences of the nominating process. I wanted to caution people against making promises they couldn’t keep or predictions they wouldn’t want repeated.

I particularly wanted Cruz supporters to realize his Evangelical strategy was flawed. It was based on bad interpretation of data from 2012 and 2008. The analysts who came up with the strategy failed to measure all the variables that were available to them. If they had, they’d have discovered that the missing voters of 2012 were not conservative Evangelicals but Ross Perot voters and Reagan Democrats. Here’s what Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics wrote:

What Cruz is really talking about doing is something akin to what Barack Obama did in 2008, when he turned a sizeable number of non-voting African-Americans into voters. Cruz is hoping that evangelicals and conservatives who have traditionally just not voted will opt to vote for him. It’s a tough haul, since the National Election Study suggests turnout among born-again Christians is around 80 percent to begin with. But stranger things have happened (I suppose).

The candidate who actually fits the profile of a “missing white voter” candidate is Donald Trump. As I noted Wednesday, he fits in the mold of the Nixon-Perot-Huckabee-Santorum populist strain of Republicanism.

In other words, Cruz’s plan was get his top-performing segment to performer even better. Every motivation designer knows that’s very difficult and very expensive and runs the risk of frustrating your best supporters. (Remember, I do persuasion and motivation for a living.)

At this point I had three strong data points suggesting Trump would probably win the nomination:

  1. Trump has remarkable persuasion skills.
  2. Voters expect Trump to win, and voter expectations are far more accurate at predicting winners than voter preference polls (because voters lie).
  3. Cruz’s Evangelical strategy was flawed, but Donald Trump was designed for the “missing white voter.”

So when National Review, Glenn Beck, and others lost their minds in January, I felt I had to step up my game. They were actually helping Trump, not hurting him. And a lot of people now hate me for it. For telling the truth as I saw it.

Since then, Trump has won three straight primaries and caucuses, and he’s expected to sweep or nearly sweep Super Tuesday. He picked up two endorsements from sitting governors yesterday, and Newt Gingrich believes the nomination is over.

Some readers might think it’s my fault for not doing more for Cruz. Well Cruz was never my first choice. I like all of his policies, but that’s not enough. Cruz’s policies are not popular with Congressional Republicans. Congress will not rubber-stamp whatever a President Cruz sends up the hill. (If he couldn’t get the bills through the Senate as a Senator, why would he be able to do it as President?) To be effective, a president must be persuasive. If Ted Cruz can’t persuade a majority of Evangelicals to vote for him in South Carolina or Nevada, how will he persuade Congress to pass his flat tax? But, most of all, I never saw a path to the White House for Cruz. His general election strategy was too flawed, as I’ve said many times already.

I am not trying to influence the election. I’m just trying to tell people what I think will happen. And I’m encouraging people to have a useful contingency plan in case I’m right. I do this knowing you might not want to hear it from me. But I know that hearing it early from me will make the realization less painful.

I’ve learned that writing the truth is a lot harder than encouraging people’s fantasies. It hurts me to know my honesty pains some readers, but I think it’s my job as a blogger. And if the truth as I see it is too painful, you don’t have to read my posts. But I’m glad you do.

Thanks for reading.

Belated Gipper Birthday Post

I re-read Ronald Reagan’s announcement speech the other day.

Delivered November 13, 1979, these are the words that launched the greatest presidency of my lifetime.

Notice the natural humanity in Reagan’s words. He didn’t browbeat people with abstract concepts like the Constitution or liberty. Instead, he spoke about the real lives of ordinary Americans. And the everyday life of an America that lived up to its ideal. And notice the complete lack of pomposity, vanity, and vulgarity so prevalent in the frontrunners of 2016.

I wish our Republican candidates for president–at least one–could speak in tones that resonate with everyone the way the Gipper could. Well, one candidate captures Reagan’s humble vision, but he’s buried deep in the mist.

Notice, too, that so many of the problems that moved Reagan to run are still with us, or are they have returned.

Enjoy. Happy birthday, Ron. Your country misses you.

 

Good evening. I am here tonight to announce my intention to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
I’m sure that each of us has seen our country from a number of viewpoints depending on where we’ve lived and what we’ve done. For me it has been as a boy growing up in several small towns in Illinois. As a young man in Iowa trying to get a start in the years of the Great Depression and later in California for most of my adult life.

I’ve seen America from the stadium press box as a sportscaster, as an actor, officer of my labor union, soldier, officeholder and as both a Democrat and Republican. I’ve lived in America where those who often had too little to eat outnumbered those who had enough. There have been four wars in my lifetime and I’ve seen our country face financial ruin in the Depression. I have also seen the great strength of this nation as it pulled itself up from that ruin to become the dominant force in the world.
To me our country is a living, breathing presence, unimpressed by what others say is impossible, proud of its own success, generous, yes and naive, sometimes wrong, never mean and always impatient to provide a better life for its people in a framework of a basic fairness and freedom.
Someone once said that the difference between an American and any other kind of person is that an American lives in anticipation of the future because he knows it will be a great place. Other people fear the future as just a repetition of past failures. There’s a lot of truth in that. If there is one thing we are sure of it is that history need not be relived; that nothing is impossible, and that man is capable of improving his circumstances beyond what we are told is fact.
There are those in our land today, however, who would have us believe that the United States, like other great civilizations of the past, has reached the zenith of its power; that we are weak and fearful, reduced to bickering with each other and no longer possessed of the will to cope with our problems.

Much of this talk has come from leaders who claim that our problems are too difficult to handle. We are supposed to meekly accept their failures as the most which humanly can be done. They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where–because of our past excesses–it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true.

I don’t believe that. And, I don’t believe you do either. That is why I am seeking the presidency. I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself. Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity. I don’t agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands. I am totally unwilling to see this country fail in its obligation to itself and to the other free peoples of the world.
The crisis we face is not the result of any failure of the American spirit; it is failure of our leaders to establish rational goals and give our people something to order their lives by. If I am elected, I shall regard my election as proof that the people of the United States have decided to set a new agenda and have recognized that the human spirit thrives best when goals are set and progress can be measured in their achievement.

During the next year I shall discuss in detail a wide variety of problems which a new administration must address. Tonight I shall mention only a few.
No problem that we face today can compare with the need to restore the health of the American economy and the strength of the American dollar. Double-digit inflation has robbed you and your family of the ability to plan. It has destroyed the confidence to buy and it threatens the very structure of family life itself as more and more wives are forced to work in order to help meet the ever-increasing cost of living. At the same time, the lack of real growth in the economy has introduced the justifiable fear in the minds of working men and women who are already overextended that soon there will be fewer jobs and no money to pay for even the necessities of life. And tragically as the cost of living keeps going up, the standard of living which has been our great pride keeps going down.

The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over-regulated. It has failed to deliver services within the revenues it should be allowed to raise from taxes. In the 34 years since the end of World War II, it has spent $448 billion more than it has collected in taxes–$448 billion of printing-press money, which has made every dollar you earn worth less and less. At the same time, the federal government has cynically told us that high taxes on business will in some way “solve” the problem and allow the average taxpayer to pay less. Well, business is not a taxpayer; it is a tax collector. Business has to pass its tax burden on to the customer as part of the cost of doing business. You and I pay taxes imposed on business every time we go to the store. Only people pay taxes and it is political demagoguery or economic illiteracy to try and tell us otherwise.
The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes. At the same time, we need to get the waste out of federal spending. This does not mean sacrificing essential services, nor do we need to destroy the system of benefits which flow to the poor, elderly, the sick and the handicapped. We have long since committed ourselves, as a people, to help those among us who cannot take care of themselves. But the federal government has proven to be the costliest and most inefficient provider of such help we could possibly have.
We must put an end to the arrogance of a federal establishment which accepts no blame for our condition, cannot be relied upon to give us a fair estimate of our situation and utterly refuses to live within its means. I will not accept the supposed “wisdom” which has it that the federal bureaucracy has become so powerful that it can no longer be changed or controlled by any administration. As President I would use every power at my command to make the federal establishment respond to the will and the collective wishes of the people.

We must force the entire federal bureaucracy to live in the real world of reduced spending, streamlined function and accountability to the people it serves. We must review the function of the federal government to determine which of those are the proper province of levels of government closer to the people.

The 10th article of the Bill of Rights is explicit in pointing out that the federal government should do only those things specifically called for in the Constitution. All others shall remain with the states or the people. We haven’t been observing that 10th article of late. The federal government has taken on functions it was never intended to perform and which it does not perform well. There should be a planned, orderly transfer of such functions to states and communities and a transfer with them of the sources of taxation to pay for them.

The savings in administrative overhead would be considerable and certainly there would be increased efficiency and less bureaucracy.

By reducing federal tax rates where they discourage individual initiative–especially personal income tax rates–we can restore incentives, invite greater economic growth and at the same time help give us better government instead of bigger government. Proposals such as the Kemp-Roth bill would bring about this kind of realistic reductions in tax rates.

In short, a punitive tax system must be replaced by one that restores incentive for the worker and for industry; a system that rewards initiative and effort and encourages thrift.

All these things are possible; none of them will be easy. But the choice is clear. We can go on letting the country slip over the brink to financial ruin with the disaster that it means for the individual or we can find the will to work together to restore confidence in ourselves and to regain the confidence of the world. I have lived through one Depression. I carry with me the memory of a Christmas Eve when my brother and I and our parents exchanged our modest gifts–there was no lighted tree as there has been on Christmases past. I remember watching my father open what he thought was a greeting from his employer. We all watched and yes, we were hoping it was a bonus check. It was notice that he no longer had a job. And in those days the government ran the radio announcements telling workers not to leave home looking for jobs–there were no jobs. I’ll carry with me always the memory of my father sitting there holding that envelope, unable to look at us. I cannot and will not stand by while inflation and joblessness destroy the dignity of our people.
Another serious problem which must be discussed tonight is our energy situation. Our country was built on cheap energy. Today, energy is not cheap and we face the prospect that some forms of energy may soon not be available at all.

Last summer you probably spent hours sitting in gasoline lines. This winter, some will be without heat and everyone will be paying much more simply to keep home and family warm. If you ever had any doubt of the government’s inability to provide for the needs of the people, just look at the utter fiasco we now call “the energy crisis.” Not one straight answer nor any realistic hope of relief has come from the present administration in almost three years of federal treatment of the problem. As gas lines grew, the administration again panicked and now has proposed to put the country on a wartime footing; but for this “war” there is no victory in sight. And, as always, when the federal bureaucracy fails, all it can suggest is more of the same. This time it’s another bureau to untangle the mess by the ones we already have.

But, this just won’t work. Solving the energy crisis will not be easy, but it can be done. First we must decide that “less” is not enough. Next, we must remove government obstacles to energy production. And, we must make use of those technological advantages we still possess.

It is no program simply to say “use less energy.” Of course waste must be eliminated and efficiently promoted, but for the government simply to tell people to conserve is not an energy policy. At best it means we will run out of energy a little more slowly. But a day will come when the lights will dim and the wheels of industry will turn more slowly and finally stop. As President I will not endorse any course which has this as its principal objective.

We need more energy and that means diversifying our sources of supply away from the OPEC countries. Yes, it means more efficient automobiles. But it also means more exploration and development of oil and natural gas here in our own country. The only way to free ourselves from the monopoly pricing power of OPEC is to be less dependent on outside sources of fuel.

The answer, obvious to anyone except those in the administration it seems, is more domestic production of oil and gas. We must also have wider use of nuclear power within strict safety rules, of course. There must be more spending by the energy industries on research and development of substitutes for fossil fuels.

In years to come solar energy may provide much of the answer but for the next two or three decades we must do such things as master the chemistry of coal. Putting the market system to work for these objectives is an essential first step for their achievement. Additional multi-billion-dollar federal bureaus and programs are not the answer.

In recent weeks there has been much talk about “excess” oil company profits. I don’t believe we’ve been given all the information we need to make a judgment about this. We should have that information. Government exists to protect us from each other. It is not government’s function to allocate fuel or impose unnecessary restrictions on the marketplace. It is government’s function to determine whether we are being unfairly exploited and if so to take immediate and appropriate action. As President I would do exactly that.
On the foreign front, the decade of the 1980s will place severe pressures upon the United States and its allies. We can expect to be tested in ways calculated to try our patience, to confound our resolve and to erode our belief in ourselves. During a time when the Soviet Union may enjoy nuclear superiority over this country, we must never waiver in our commitment to our allies nor accept any negotiation which is not clearly in the national interest. We must judge carefully. Though we should leave no initiative untried in our pursuit of peace, we must be clear voiced in our resolve to resist any unpeaceful act wherever it may occur. Negotiation with the Soviet Union must never become appeasement.

For the most of the last 40 years, we have been preoccupied with the global struggle–the competition–with the Soviet Union and with our responsibilities to our allies. But too often in recent times we have just drifted along with events, responding as if we thought of ourselves as a nation in decline. To our allies we seem to appear to be a nation unable to make decisions in its own interests, let alone in the common interest. Since the Second World War we have spent large amounts of money and much of our time protecting and defending freedom all over the world. We must continue this, for if we do not accept the responsibilities of leadership, who will? And if no one will, how will we survive?

The 1970s have taught us the foolhardiness of not having a long-range diplomatic strategy of our own. The world has become a place where, in order to survive, our country needs more than just allies–it needs real friends. Yet, in recent times we often seem not to have recognized who our friends are. This must change. It is now time to take stock of our own house and to resupply its strength.

Part of that process involves taking stock of our relationship with Puerto Rico. I favor statehood for Puerto Rico and if the people of Puerto Rico vote for statehood in their coming referendum I would, as President, initiate the enabling legislation to make this a reality.
We live on a continent whose three countries possess the assets to make it the strongest, most prosperous and self-sufficient area on Earth. Within the borders of this North American continent are the food, resources, technology and undeveloped territory which, properly managed, could dramatically improve the quality of life of all its inhabitants.

It is no accident that this unmatched potential for progress and prosperity exists in three countries with such long-standing heritages of free government. A developing closeness among Canada, Mexico and the United States–a North American accord–would permit achievement of that potential in each country beyond that which I believe any of them–strong as they are–could accomplish in the absence of such cooperation. In fact, the key to our own future security may lie in both Mexico and Canada becoming much stronger countries than they are today.

No one can say at this point precisely what form future cooperation among our three countries will take. But if I am elected President, I would be willing to invite each of our neighbors to send a special representative to our government to sit in on high level planning sessions with us, as partners, mutually concerned about the future of our continent. First, I would immediately seek the views and ideas of Canadian and Mexican leaders on this issue, and work tirelessly with them to develop closer ties among our peoples. It is time we stopped thinking of our nearest neighbors as foreigners.

By developing methods of working closely together, we will lay the foundations for future cooperation on a broader and more significant scale. We will put to rest any doubts of those cynical enough to believe that the United States would seek to dominate any relationship among our three countries, or foolish enough to think that the governments and peoples of Canada and Mexico would ever permit such domination to occur. I for one, am confident that we can show the world by example that the nations of North America are ready, within the context of an unswerving commitment to freedom, to see new forms of accommodation to meet a changing world. A developing closeness between the United States, Canada and Mexico would serve notice on friends and foe alike that we were prepared for a long haul, looking outward again and confident of our future; that together we are going to create jobs, to generate new fortunes of wealth for many and provide a legacy for the children of each of our countries. Two hundred years ago, we taught the world that a new form of government, created out of the genius of man to cope with his circumstances, could succeed in bringing a measure of quality to human life previously thought impossible.

Now let us work toward the goal of using the assets of this continent, its resources, technology, and foodstuffs in the most efficient ways possible for the common good of all its people. It may take the next 100 years but we can dare to dream that at some future date a map of the world might show the North American continent as one in which the people’s commerce of its three strong countries flow more freely across their present borders than they do today.
In recent months leaders in our government have told us that, we, the people, have lost confidence in ourselves; that we must regain our spirit and our will to achieve our national goals. Well, it is true there is a lack of confidence, an unease with things the way they are. But the confidence we have lost is confidence in our government’s policies. Our unease can almost be called bewilderment at how our defense strength has deteriorated. The great productivity of our industry is now surpassed by virtually all the major nations who compete with us for world markets. And, our currency is no longer the stable measure of value it once was.

But there remains the greatness of our people, our capacity for dreaming up fantastic deeds and bringing them off to the surprise of an unbelieving world. When Washington’s men were freezing at Valley Forge, Tom Paine told his fellow Americans: “We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” we still have that power.

We–today’s living Americans–have in our lifetime fought harder, paid a higher price for freedom and done more to advance the dignity of man than any people who have ever lived on this Earth. The citizens of this great nation want leadership–yes–but not a “man on a white horse” demanding obedience to his commands. They want someone who believes they can “begin the world over again.” A leader who will unleash their great strength and remove the roadblocks government has put in their way. I want to do that more than anything I’ve ever wanted. And it’s something that I believe with God’s help I can do.

I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded–religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and patriot. It is our servant, beholden to us.

We who are privileged to be Americans have had a rendezvous with destiny since the moment in 1630 when John Winthrop, standing on the deck of the tiny Arbella off the coast of Massachusetts, told the little band of Pilgrims, “We shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and–above all–responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.

I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.