Site Updates

As readers of this blog are well aware, I have been on sabbatical these last months.  I think one of the reasons I quit was that I could no longer cope with trying to blog using old technology — four year old PCs.  It took ages to download anything off of the web and even switching from one page to another on the screen was agonizingly slow.  I also risked with every attempt to post something that my entire system would crash.  Yesterday I purchased a new Apple laptop.  It appears I can actually now do things quickly.  Where it used to take me 20 minutes to finish even the smallest blog posting, I can now do it in 5 minutes.  I think that will mean I’ll be more inclined to give this a shot again.  It may also be a different blog.  I suspect it will be somewhat less political and more eclectic.  We’ll have to see.

I apologize for being incommunicado this week.  It proved much more difficult and challenging than I’d imagined finding internet connections when one is attempting a restful vacation on an island on a lake.  I decided after my experience on Monday to just go with the flow.  After all, the point of such a vacation is to recharge the batteries and make one better able to do better work at the end of it.  We’ll see.


I’ve got a couple of postings planned for tomorrow, both of which address Senator Obama’s choice of Senator Biden to be the Democratic candidate for Vice President.  I’m in Delaware again as I write this and from at least one billboard I observed early this morning at a local crab house, Delaware is rightly proud of its native son.


Additionally in the queue for next week is my promised “Big Oil” piece, which I was able to work on in New Hampshire. 


Enjoy your weekend. 

Today’s a travel day, via Southwest Airlines, to New Hampshire.  Through Friday I’ll be on Lake Winnipesaukee getting some R&R, hopefully with a little time to write if not to post.  It will probably take a drive into Laconia or Weirs Beach to find an internet cafe to post anything, so please bear with me the next few days.  I’m also hopeful my new iPhone will work at the lake so as to allow me to at least stay somewhat connected (when I want to be).  As I indicated earlier, I am hoping to make some changes to the site this week.  Among other things I hope to make getting RSS feeds much easier.  I’m also concluding that the Comment thing isn’t working and am inclined toward accepting comments only by email or by running frequent polls that contain the ability to comment on them.  As always, I can be reached via the Contact button on the upper right hand corner of the site. 

Few can doubt that when President Ronald Reagan left office America was in a better place, at least “emotionally”, than it was when he began his Presidency.  It did seem that we indeed had a country in which, by and large, we could be proud again.  In the closing lines of his farewell address to the nation in January of 1989, President Reagan uttered these words:

The past few days … I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger. We made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

And so, good-bye, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.[1]

As I write this in mid-2007, the America I see stands in sharp contrast to the America about which Ronald Reagan wrote so eloquently.  We aren’t feeling much of that pride about America of late.  It doesn’t seem there’s a whole lot to be proud of.  It is hard to conceive of George Bush at the end of his 8 years being able to point to as much accomplishment or to articulate anything as inspirational.  President Bush, while undoubtedly a good man, has stubbornly fought a war that now seems to have been a fool’s errand.  President Bush’s war has all but assured that we will be fighting new generations of terrorists for decades to come.  It has made any terror threat that existed far, far worse.


The America we face in 2007, however, is not just the product of a less than fully successful Presidency.  There is much blame to go around.  We have a culture that seems inordinately consumed with the trivial and inconsequential (think Tom Cruise and Paris Hilton).  Our spiritual life seems by and large non-existent, devoid of any true meaning or connection with the infinite.  The spiritual presence most evident to most of us in America is fundamentalist and that asks us to park life experience at the door and accept the rigid orthodoxy and proscriptions of another era.  It presents a Christianity with which I am almost embarrassed to be associated.  And out in the larger world our country and the west are engaged, it seems, in a battle with another fundamentalist orthodoxy (radical Islam) that seems intent on our destruction and the establishment of religious based laws (their laws) of the 12th century throughout the world.  We have a Congress in the United States that is barely able to function and is certainly failing to adequately address the myriad of tough issues this country faces. 


Additionally, of huge concern to me is that the America in the last 7 years has thoroughly squandered so much of the good will the world once felt toward to it and darkened the light of “that shining city upon a hill”, which America through its history has oft professed itself to be.   The abuses at AlGharib, the detentions without trial at Guantanamo Bay, the kidnappings and interrogation of enemy combatants, our policy toward torture, a government that has too often attempted to blur the lines of separation between church and state, these have all darkened if not extinguished that light.  What a tragic loss. 


I am very taken with the concept of America as a “shining city upon a hill”.  I think it is a wonderful image and a wonderful vision for America’s role in the world.  We are certainly a city on a hill watched, perhaps like to other nation in the history of the world, by the rest of world.  For better or worse we are an example to the rest of world.  My hope and my message is that the light can be so fueled or relit, as to shine more brightly and more positively on the world again.  All is not yet lost.


It is going to take a new kind of leadership and a new commitment by American citizens, however, to make this happen.