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“Let’s Sort This Out”: Aaron Schock Or Abraham Lincoln? A Handy Guide

Anyone who’s followed the brief career of disgraced congressman Aaron Schock is well aware of the countless, almost eerie similarities between he and fellow Illinoisian Abraham Lincoln. It came as no surprise, therefore, when Schock, who may soon face criminal charges, compared himself to our 16th president during his farewell speech this week. Far from a pathetic attempt at saving face by a profoundly delusional narcissist, Schock’s speech was a soaring, 21st-century version of the Gettysburg Address, but with more grammatical errors.

“Abraham Lincoln held this seat in Congress for one term,” Schock said in remarks that will be transcribed and filed in the Library of Congress where they’ll remain for the life of our republic. “But few faced as many defeats in his personal and public life as he did [nor will we ever know if he, too, would have had his offices decorated like the hit PBS program Downton Abbey because, sadly, his life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet before television could be invented].”

It is not hard to imagine the sound of his colleagues’ audible gasps echoing through that mostly empty chamber like so many newly freed slaves, audibly gasping in a mostly empty chamber.

Yes, Schock and the Great Emancipator are nearly indistinguishable, so I’ve put together this handy chart to help tell these two great Americans apart.

Schock: First name starts with “A”

Lincoln: First name starts with “A”

Schock: First member of Congress born in the 1980s

Lincoln: Dead

Schock: Started a garage-organization business called Garage Tek

Lincoln: Abolished slavery

Schock: Ran a successful write-in campaign for a seat on his local school board

Lincoln: Lost the 1858 Illinois senate race after some debates with Stephen Douglas

Schock: Spent more than $100,000 in public funds on office decorations

Lincoln: Helped establish a national currency

Schock: Criticized for lavish lifestyle

Lincoln: Abolished slavery

Schock: Appeared shirtless on the cover of Men’s Health in 2011

Lincoln: Appeared gaunt and wizened while successfully executing the American Civil War

Schock: Notable quote: “Haters gonna hate.”

Lincoln: Notable quote: “That this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” though, in fairness, he also could have said “haters gonna hate” at some point. Who knows? It’s not impossible.

Schock: Overcharged the government for mileage reimbursements

Lincoln: Suspended habeas corpus, expanded executive powers, and once signed the execution orders for 39 Sioux insurgents

Schock: Publicly supported waterboarding and other torture techniques

Lincoln: Did not do that

Schock: Voted against expanding hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability

Lincoln: Abolished slavery

Schock: Asshat

Lincoln: Top hat

I hope this comparison chart has been helpful. If you’re still confused, remember this rule of thumb: Lincoln was probably the greatest president in American history, while Schock looks like a high school girls’ basketball coach who’s always trying to give the players back massages.

 

By: Joe Randazzo, The Daily Beast, March 28, 2015

March 29, 2015 Posted by | Aaron Schock, Abraham Lincoln, Illinois | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Lighting Darkness, Healing Heartbreak, Finding Meaning”: Obama’s Newtown Shooting Speech Was Best Of His Presidency

In an hour of crisis and grief, the president has to tell the country some hard truths about itself. As he does that, he must also explain what it’s all about, this country called America, all over again. President Obama did just that, at about the halfway mark of the two terms he was elected to serve. He looked as if he had aged a few years in a day.

In his words, depth, and demeanor, Obama gave the best speech of his presidency by a country mile in a New England town Sunday evening. They say there are “no words” when you are swimming in salt tears over the loss of a child. But when a town’s children are killed in cold blood, along with six women working at a school, well, there must be words for the blood. There must be words that try to tell the tragedy we have seen, for words are all we have.

The president is the only one who can do that—speak to the shattered people of Newtown, Conn., and to us, the American people, to make us one. We are all implicated; our society’s fingerprints were all over that crime scene. So the truth is, we really need a talking-to about gun violence, a truth that few can speak and be heard. Thankfully, the president uttered words that went beyond the usual suspects at another mass shooting.

Speaking in sad cadences, Obama asked: “Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough, and we will have to change….We can’t tolerate this anymore.”

Here he shows how hard it is to ask and answer fundamental questions. Why were women and children brutally robbed of life and liberty Friday? Isn’t the pursuit of happiness part of the meaning of this nation, formulated in a fine 1776 declaration?

Obama didn’t spell out the broken promises, but there was no need. We’re all in this together, a sense that we failed and there-but-for-the-grace-of-God. If we fail to protect our precious cargo of children, he was saying, nothing else matters very much. That struck a note of truth which resonated far beyond the boundaries of a place called Newtown, which they started building in 1780—four years following that fine declaration.

David Maraniss, the distinguished biographer of Obama and a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, believes the Newtown speech will live long in memory. “He [the president] defined a grave moment with simple and powerful thoughts that worked on several levels at once, both particular and universal,” he said.

President Lincoln gave a stark speech about national loss at the midway of his four years as the Civil War president. He gave it in the autumnal light of November, consecrating a battlefield where the fury of cannons sounded and bloody bodies stained the farm soil for the first three days of July 1863.

Nobody knew better than he, the deaths and suffering were so great he had to heal with words as best he could, to infuse the event and sacrifice with solemn meaning. Theatrically, he set the time and scene: “Fourscore and seven years ago….We are met on a great battlefield of that war.” Then came a short speech that magnificently transcended time and space to give a new fresh explanation for why they were there that day, what they were fighting for, and what it was all about.

For Lincoln, the Civil War had ceased to stand just for keeping the Southern states. As many of us recited in the Gettysburg Address as schoolchildren, the cause was “a new birth of freedom” in the nation. By a stroke of the pen, Lincoln had earlier emancipated all slaves in the “rebellion” states.

Maraniss said the Newtown address may be Obama’s Gettysburg: “If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no.” That simple candor helped me deal with the shared sorrow. Better not to sugarcoat at a time like this.

Lighting darkness, healing heartbreak, finding meaning—it’s a lot to ask of a president and his words. But on Sunday, the man from Illinois answered the call.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, December 18, 2012

December 19, 2012 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

   

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