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The First Thanksgiving: Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the earliest colonists in North America, yet it was not until Abraham Lincoln in 1863 that it first became a national event, its first observance coming just one week after the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

Here, according to the website of the National Park Service, is what Lincoln  proclaimed:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the  blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these  bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source  from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity,  which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke  their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order  has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of  peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of  augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the  most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly,  reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and  observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise  to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them  that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular  deliverances and blessings, they do also, with  humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience,  commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife  in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as  soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.

By: Peter Roff, U. S. News and World Report, November 24, 2011

November 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Mitt Romney Lacks The Courage And Character To Be A Leader

Conservative columnist George Will recently slammed Mitt Romney as “a recidivist reviser of his principles,” who seems to “lack the courage of his absence of convictions.” The line continues to look more and more apt all the time.

Last night, Newt Gingrich showed some guts and said when it comes to undocumented immigrants who entered the country a quarter-century ago, he sees no need to “separate them from their families and expel them.” Romney and his team pounced, condemning Gingrich for supporting “amnesty.”

It led, however, to a rather remarkable exchange in the spin room, with Romney adviser and spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom finding himself at a loss for words.

When Examiner reporter Philip Klein asked whether the former Massachusetts governor believed in deporting undocumented immigrants, Fehrnstrom repeated, “He doesn’t believe in granting them amnesty.”

Asked again what Romney would do with immigrants who are currently living in the Unites States illegally, Fehrnstrom once more evaded the question.

The evasion wasn’t exactly graceful. Klein asked what Romney would do with the undocumented immigrants who are already here, and Fehrnstrom replied, “He would not grant them amnesty.” Right, Klein said, but instead of amnesty, what would Romney do with these people? “He would not grant them amnesty,” Fehrnstrom answered. Got it, Klein said, but what, specifically, would Romney do? “I just told you, he’s not going to grant them amnesty,” the campaign spokesperson said. When Klein then explained that this isn’t actually an answer, Fehrnstrom, once again, said, “He would not grant them amnesty.”

Remember, Philip Klein writes for the Washington Examiner, which is a conservative outlet. It’s not like the Romney campaign was blowing off some liberal reporter; the leading Republican campaign couldn’t get past its own superficial talking point with a conservative reporter asking a basic question.

In this case, Romney wanted to take a shot at Gingrich over immigration, without pesky questions about what Romney believes about the same policy.

And this ties in perfectly with one of Romney’s more glaring character flaws: his cowardice on key issues.

Does Romney support the “Personhood” amendment in Mississippi? He doesn’t want to give an opinion.

Does Romney support an extension of the payroll tax break? He doesn’t want to give an opinion.

Does Romney support collective bargaining rights in Ohio? He doesn’t want to give an opinion.

Was Romney comfortable with GOP voters booing a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq during a Republican debate? He doesn’t want to give an opinion.

Does Romney support mass deportation of undocumented immigrants? He doesn’t want to give an opinion.

There’s going to come a point next year when the Obama campaign is likely to say, “Mitt Romney lacks the courage and the character to be a leader.” And the criticism will sting because it’s based in fact.

Either Romney has the guts to lead or he doesn’t.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, November23, 2011

November 24, 2011 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , | Leave a comment

“Walking Napalm”: Jon Kyl’s Search-and-Destroy Mission

Jon Kyl is different from you and me.

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the nation was reeling over the death and destruction in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. But Kyl, now the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, saw opportunity: According to a voice-mail recording left at the time by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Kyl and Sessions were hoping to find a business owner killed in the storm so they could use that in their campaign to repeal the estate tax.

It was vintage Kyl: cold and ruthless.

So when the Arizonan was named as one of six Republicans on the debt supercommittee, Democrats feared the worst — and they got what they feared. It exaggerates little to say that Kyl thwarted agreement almost singlehandedly. While some Republicans on the panel — notably Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton — were, with House Speaker John Boehner’s blessing, prepared to strike a deal, Kyl rallied resistance with his usual table-pounding tirades.

The tragedy here is that Kyl, who has announced his retirement at the end of his term, could have risen above political pressures to strike an agreement to right the nation’s finances for a generation. Boehner’s House Republicans, aware that voters will hold them to account for inaction, were willing to deal. But Kyl’s Senate Republicans, hoping voters will evict the Democratic majority in the Senate, had no such incentive.

The sabotage began on the very first day the supercommittee met. While other members from both parties spoke optimistically about the need to put everything on the table, Kyl gave a gloomy opening statement. “I think a dose of realism is called for here,” he said. That same day, he went to a luncheon organized by conservative think tanks and threatened to walk (“I’m off the committee”) if there were further defense cuts.

When Democrats floated their proposal combining tax increases and spending cuts, Kyl rejected it out of hand, citing Republicans’ pledge to activist Grover Norquist not to raise taxes. Kyl’s constant invocation of the Norquist pledge provoked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to snap at Kyl during a private meeting: “What is this, high school?”

Kyl’s defenders say his motives were pure because he had every incentive for the supercommittee to succeed: He never has to face voters again and he desperately wanted to avoid the automatic Pentagon cuts that now loom. But there’s little doubt that he was doing Norquist’s bidding in killing any notion of higher taxes.

Norquist, who worked to defeat a compromise, brags about his control over Kyl. When Kyl made remarks in May that appeared to leave open the possibility of tax increases, Norquist called Kyl and adopted “the tone of a teacher scolding a second grader as he recalled the conversation,” Politico reported. Norquist boasted to the publication that, after he upbraided Kyl, the senator “went down on the floor and he gave a colloquy about how we’re against any tax increases of any sort. Boom!”

While other supercommittee members on both sides searched for a grand bargain, Kyl countered with suggestions that they focus on small items, such as selling off federal property. On Monday, when Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) made his last-ditch effort to salvage a deal, observers knew the effort was going nowhere for one simple reason: Kyl was in the room. He divided his time between the “negotiations” and barbed interviews with TV networks: “Can I make a point? . . . Your job isn’t to convince me. . . . Let me make this point to you. . . . Let me just finish my sentence.”

Kyl had demonstrated his distaste for negotiation before. In June, he joined House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in walking out of budget talks with Vice President Biden. He had also displayed his disdain for fellow Republicans who were willing to negotiate. During the health-care debate, when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was negotiating with Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, Kyl went on TV and said Grassley “has been given no authority to negotiate anything.” Amid hints that GOP leaders might punish Grassley by denying him the top Republican slot on the Judiciary Committee, Grassley reportedly told colleagues: “Maybe I should just go home and ride my tractor.”

“Walking napalm” is how one Democratic aide involved in the supercommittee described Kyl this week. And if the senator makes some mistakes as he burns down the village — well, that’s just a cost of doing business. Earlier this year, when Kyl was leading an effort to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, he claimed on the Senate floor that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” The actual number is 3 percent. An aide to Kyl explained: “His remark was not intended to be a factual statement.”

As Kyl leaves the Senate, he will be remembered as a lawmaker who intended to be not factual but destructive.

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 22, 2011

November 24, 2011 Posted by | Federal Budget | , , , , | 1 Comment

Birther Outbreak In New Hampshire

Would someone please explain to the birthers that Halloween has come and gone? Like a bunch of worse for wear zombies, the birthers keep shuffling along, except they’re now more pathetic than—well OK, they were always pretty pathetic.

The latest birther flare-up comes in New Hampshire, where chief birther Orly Taitz and some local Republicans last weekend petitioned the board of elections to prevent President Obama from being on next year’s presidential primary ballot on the grounds that he’s not a citizen and thus not qualified to be president.

The scene got ugly, according to the Concorde Monitor, once the board rejected the motion.

As state election officials yesterday rejected California lawyer Orly Taitz’s argument to keep President Obama’s name off the New Hampshire presidential ballot, supporters lining the hearing room in the Legislative Office Building cried out in protest.

“Traitors!” shouted one woman. “Spineless traitors!”

“Saying a treasonous liar can go on our ballot?” yelled State Rep. Harry Accornero, a Republican from Laconia. “You’re going to have to face the citizens of Laconia. You better wear a mask.”

Someone might explain to Accornero that (a) treason is a capital offense and (b) it’s generally not a good idea to hold out the threat of mob violence in any circumstances. (Oh wait, this is the same New Hampshire legislator that last month wrote an open letter to Congress demanding that they “bring a commission of treason against Mr. Barack Husain [sic] Obama.”)

Accornero has apparently not endorsed anyone in the GOP primary yet, but at least three of the eight other legislators signed onto the birther complaint have: Al Baldasaro and Moe Villeneuve have endorsed Rick Perry while Bill Tobin has signed on with Mitt Romney. No doubt the other half-dozen in the birther caucus are being avidly courted.

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, November 23, 2011

November 24, 2011 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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