Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt Moves Into The Future

Elliott Abrams, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an adviser to George W Bush's administration, has some significant thoughts on the current situation in Egypt and the Middle East. Though our marines will not be in this fight, OTR keeps hearing "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" echo in his thoughts. Though our government has its faults, as all governments do, the United States remains the best hope for the free world and for those who want to be free. You can read Abrams's Washington Post column here. Let us pray that others in positions to affect policy do the same and follow through with actions to secure peace and liberty in the Middle East and throughout the world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Parent One And Parent Two In America

The recent move on the part of the State Department to replace Mom and Pop with Parent One and Parent Two on passport applications didn't sit well with lots of folks. There's plenty in print about it, but the best of the lot is Michael A. Walsh's commentary in today's New York Post. Here's a sample
Leaving aside the wretched barbarism of the phrase "gender neutral" -- what State really means, of course, is "sex neutral" -- the move is another salvo in the ongoing sapper war against American and western cultural norms. Even as recently as a decade ago, it would have seemed absurd to think that words like "mother" and "father" would become politically incorrect, but such is the world we now inhabit.Leaving aside the wretched barbarism of the phrase "gender neutral" -- what State really means, of course, is "sex neutral" -- the move is another salvo in the ongoing sapper war against American and western cultural norms. Even as recently as a decade ago, it would have seemed absurd to think that words like "mother" and "father" would become politically incorrect, but such is the world we now inhabit.

For more than two centuries, dating back to Rousseau, the left has been waging an unrelenting war on the wellsprings of Western civilization, as if it were some deliberate, malign conspiracy against an oppressed minority instead of the bulwark against savagery that picked up the pieces of Greco-Roman culture and transformed them into the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. No society is perfect, but where would you rather be? Dubuque or Darfur? San Francisco or Riyadh

Walsh says the vandals will fail as they always have in the West. You can read the hows and whys of the rest of this story here.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fifty Years Ago Today

This is the fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration. The bitter cold could not restrain the enthusiasm for what would become a Camelot presidency. Here is what he said:

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning--signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn I before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears l prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do--for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom--and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required--not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge--to convert our good words into good deeds--in a new alliance for progress--to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support--to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective--to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak--and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course--both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew--remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms--and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah--to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the oppressed go free."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are--but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"--a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

William Katz (Urgent Agenda) as a participant-observer of that great time, has some astute words about the man, the event, and his presidency.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Reverend's Day

Redstate's Dan McLaughlin has written a wonderful tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. It's brief, very much to the point, and not to be missed. Readers will find the comments of interest as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Only Yesterday: Farewell To David Nelson And Margaret Whiting

OTR is perfectly content to be a first-year baby boomer growing up as part of the television generation. He's also quite pleased to have big band and jazz music of the Swing Era as one of the bookends of his life. Earlier this week, two important personalities, one from each of these significant periods of the American experience, passed into history.

It's very likely that OTR's readers heard the news of the passing of David Nelson, shown on the right in the photo. He was the last surviving member of one of radio and television's most entertaining families, headed by mom and pop, Harriet and Ozzie, and also staring younger brother, Rick. Early boomers grew up with David and Rick on radio until 1952 when the "adventures" of the Nelsons moved to television for the next twelve years. Nelson directed several episodes in the program's last year and went on to a career in production The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet still survives in syndication after fifty years.

There was another significant passage into entertainment history this week with the death of Margaret Whiting. Unlike Nelson, she literally spent her entire life on stage and in the spot light, much of it without the broad and persistent exposure of television. Unless you danced at the Avalon during the Swing Era, got your Army stripes in World War II or enjoyed the urban club scene after that war, you're likely unaware of her, but OTR knows you have heard her voice. Her father was Richard Whiting, a leading composer of popular songs during that era who collaborated with lyricist, Johnny Mercer. When Whiting died unexpectedly in 1938, Mercer became a father figure for Margaret, 13, and guided her career on Capitol Records--co-founded by Mercer--well into the 1950s.

OTR didn't know much about Margaret Whiting until he moved to Savannah in 1977 and developed an interest in that historic city and Johnny Mercer, its favorite son. Mercer died in the summer of 1976, and OTR was stunned at the depth of grief evident a year later. He was fortunate to meet two people who knew Mercer personally and talk with many others who claimed Mercer as a friend [Seems that every Savannahian claimed to know him] Margaret Whiting was occasionally mentioned in conversations. Soon, it became clear that she was a close family friend, a leading interpreter of Mercer's music, and a robust supporter of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, co-founded by Mercer in 1969. Since OTR's departure from Savannah in 1988, Whiting also became known as a valuable source for Mercer biographers.

In the mid-1995, the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, focused millions of readers on Savannah and the Mercer name. When the book was turned into a film in 1997, the soundtrack featured fourteen Mercer songs. That same year, Whiting was a force behind Dream, a Broadway musical featuring Mercer's "bread and butter" songs. For the next decade, she was at the forefront of the revival of Mercer's popularity and played a leading role in planning for the Mercer centennial in 2009. For more on her most interesting life here is a link to her New York Times obituary.

For those who want a taste of the music these two could make together, here is Whiting and Mercer performing a 1949 Frank Loesser classic that is simply perfect for the season.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Archiving A Decade Of Progressive/Lefty Hatred

Today, Michelle Malkin posted an outstanding progressive/lefty "climate of hate" archive in response to those who blame conservative rhetoric for the Tucson murders. Here is your link to 36 photos, fourteen videos, 28 mugshots and scores of links to hundreds of examples of progressive/lefty "hate speech" in the U.S. in the last decade. It's the best of the best brought to her readers with discretion as many examples of leftist protest are quite crude.

OTR knows that there has been plenty of loony behavior from the right over the same period. The only difference is that our leftist media--ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NPR, PBS, NYTimes and WaPo--rarely, if ever, want their readership to see such behavior from their allies. This is not healthy for the republic. Informed citizens need to see both sides of this sordid picture.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Elvis Presley: Born This Day In 1935

Powerline's John Hinderaker has two fine posts about the "King of Rock and Roll" today. Your links are here and here. Whether you're a fan or not, Presley occupies a big chapter in the history of the American experience and deserves the attention of readers--and listeners--young and old.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Juan Williams Firing Claims First Head At NPR

Ellen Weiss, the news chief at National Public Radio who fired Juan Williams has resigned. Through an internal review, the board of directors expressed concern over the "speed and handling of the termination process" and recommended procedural changes for such actions. Updates on the NPR website indicate Weiss was offered a choice of resignation or firing. The NPR coverage is available here. Daniel Foster's post at National Review is here. Readers may also enjoy the coverage at Fox News, Williams's new "full-time" employer, and its more than 1600 reader comments.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Decay In Detroit

At NRO's The Corner, Jonah Goldberg posted this link to a Guardian photo essay on the continuing decline and loss of Detroit's rich architectural history. OTR suspects our recent near-depression will have a significant impact on the historic preservation movement. In the future, we'll do less with less. Some would say that strategy is long overdue. OTR doesn't disagree with that approach. We'll just need to make wiser choices. Once the wrecking ball does its work, there is no turning back.