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My cousin Ray will be honoring our cousin Patrick today.

Raymond F. O’Conor might be holding the state’s highest remembrance ceremony on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Wilton resident and deputy town supervisor is planning a hike up 4,827-foot Basin Mountain, the last one needed to become an Adirondack 46er, a select group of about 6,800 people that have scaled all 46 Adirondack Mountains with an elevation of at least 4,000 feet.

While celebrating the achievement, he’s also dedicating the climb to two Sept. 11 victims — his late cousin, Navy Commander Patrick Dunn, who died at the Pentagon and the late Donald Kauth, a former Wilton resident who was killed at the World Trade Center.

You are not forgotten.

Patrick Dunn pencil rubbing

(Click to enlarge – with gratitude to Steve Johnson for the memorial)

Rick Perry decided to travel the talk show circuit after a bad debate night, and people dumped on him for it. When the normally-lovable but recently off-kilter commenters at Ace chimed in, one moron opined:

Sigh. Try to imagine Lincoln doing the mid-18th century equivalent of a talk show.

Yeah, that couldn’t possibly have ended well. Lincoln would have looked like a fool and his political career would have been ruined.

Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing;
for my virgin daughter—my people—has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow.

If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword;
if I go into the city, I see the ravages of famine.

Both prophet and priest have gone to a land they know not.
Have you rejected Judah completely? Do you despise Zion?
Why have you afflicted us so that we cannot be healed?

We hoped for peace but no good has come,
for a time of healing but there is only terror.

O Lord, we acknowledge our wickedness and the guilt of our fathers;
we have indeed sinned against you.
For the sake of your name do not despise us;
do not dishonor your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us and do not break it.

For years now, I’ve been warning Republicans that conditions are ripe for a principled and activist third party to form on the right – where the Republicans have held a claim for the last 40 years and realistically been the sole occupant since Johnson vs. Goldwater. I’ve never suggested this with the notion that there should be a Conservative Party battling both the Democrats and the Republicans – I’m no fan of third parties, and believe strongly in the two-party system. But those commentators who complain that third parties just don’t work in American politics forget that the Republican Party itself began its existence as a third party. Its founders – the Black Republicans, as we here like to remind everyone they were called back then – understood that the second party of their day had made itself irrelevant by caving in to the Democrats on the most controversial issue in American history.

The leadership of the Whig Party, including Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, took advantage of the death of President Zachary Taylor to push through the Compromise of 1850. While generally popular, many people understood the compromise to be a capitulation by the Whigs to many demands of southern Democrats, including a strengthening of the Fugitive Slave Law. Northern abolitionists felt betrayed, causing their waning support for the Whigs to build into a rout for the them in the election of 1852. Emboldened by their victory, the Democrats passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, breaking decades worth of compromise on the slavery issue. Abolitionists and other defectors from the Whigs could not stand it anymore, and fled to form the Republican Party. Once the collapse of the Whigs became final, the United States still had a two-party system, but the name, strength, and ideology of one of the parties had been completely supplanted by another.

For the past few years, the incoherent message coming from the Republican establishment has made an all-too-familiar sound of “Me Too”. Big-government heath care may be associated with the Democrats today, but its greatest victory so far was a huge prescription drug benefit passed by a Republican president who wanted to be known as “a compassionate conservative”. Campaign finance reform that put a stranglehold on private speech and promoted funding limits was once just a Democratic dream, but it came true once it was championed by a Republican senator who identifies with progressivism. And just days ago, a pro-abortion, pro-group-rights Republican candidate pulled out of a race only to endorse her Democrat opponent over a conservative challenger.

That Democrat may have won his race against the upstart from the New York Conservative Party, but with the light of dawn that may well be the cap of the bad news for Democrats, and the beginning of the end for the “Me Too” Republican Party. Conservative Republicans won races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, and after the revolt in NY23 (funded and supported by conservatives across the country) the national party has been put on notice that conservatives are done supporting liberals just for the sake of party unity. The loss of NY23 may be a disappointment for some, but a victory for the Conservative Party there might have sent the wrong message to conservatives – encouraging them to defect from a Republican Party far stronger than the Whigs were when the Republicans began their move to assume second-party status.

The Republican Party can still be the conservative party for America, but time is running out. The Republican establishment has to understand that the party itself needs a center to rally around, and the tendency of our recent leadership to bend to the left isn’t going to expand the Big Tent, it’s going to bring it crashing down.

I only heard this morning, as I got a forwarded email from a relative claiming to have been originated by Chuck Yeager, that Darrell “Shifty” Powers died back in July, with little fanfare. Powers was one of the veterans of Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, depicted in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.

Though the part about Chuck Yeager is your typical Internet glurge, the rest of the tale is true.  The author originated the email when a certain deranged and suspected-pedophile celebrity to remain nameless was eulogized for weeks, but the death of a great American hero like Powers was barely noticed.

You can see some great pictures of Powers, including one of a presentation case with his decorations, at

I normally don’t like people trying to guess what a historical figure would or would not say in current circumstances. Those who make such attempts usually try to get the selected historical figure to espouse or say things that they never in a million years would have expressed in real life, and would have them spinning in their graves were they to actually hear what was being attributed to them. But there are always exceptions… like this video. I think Thomas Paine would be proud of this.

Update: You know what they say… no Paine, no gain!

Back in December, remembering that TIME’s Man of the Year and various other awards would start flowing from the halls of the rich and witless, I thought fleetingly of posting my usual call for nominations for our annual The Black Republican of the Year honoree. That the post was never published should not be recognized as part of my usual, chronic apathetic falling-down. On this occasion, I intentionally dispensed with the tradition, for there seemed to me to be only one choice.

By a mile.

Maybe even by 663,268 square miles.

The year 2008 was a bad year for conservatism. It began with the continuation of a presidential campaign unprecedented for its length, the victory of a lethargic and erratic candidate for the Republican nomination who was barely on speaking terms with most of the party, and the victory in the Democratic primaries of an ultra-left socialist who offered plenty of platitudes for the simpleminded, but not much else. And that was almost the high-water mark. The outgoing President seemed unwilling to do more than fight the war, which as things go is pretty important and admirable, but not very encouraging when the other side is promising to capitulate at the first opportunity. It was looking more and more like conservatism was gasping for its last breath, just like all the pundits and commentators were (and still are) claiming.

But news of the death of our ideology was a bit premature. We still had life to offer, and as John McCain prepared to announce his running mate, we were about to respond enthusiastically to the arrival on the national stage of a young, vivacious, and unashamed conservative voice few of us had given proper attention. The governor of the last frontier state, an avid hunter, a prominent and unrelenting defender of the value of human life, an expert in energy policy, a soon-to-be grandparent at just 44. And just to make things even more interesting, that new conservative voice was pitched in the mezzo-soprano range.

Here was a vice-presidential candidate who may not have been able to do enough to save John McCain from defeat. But those of us on the right who, up to that point, were barely able to picture ourselves going to the polls can attest that there was probably no one short of Dutch’s ghost who could do that. Yet the person McCain chose as his running mate may have been the only one who could prevent “the Maverick” from being yet another laughingstock presidential candidate from Arizona. Without a doubt, she – and she alone – prevented a total implosion of the Republican Party in 2008. While every other piece of evidence suggested to us that there was no hope the GOP would stop sliding into the pit of apathy and irrelevance from which the Whigs never returned, here was a bright light that told us: ‘There is still hope for the Party of Abraham Lincoln.’

On this, the bicentennial of the birth of our Founder, we are proud to honor The Black Republican Of The Year for 2008: Sarah Louise Palin.

The other day, I saw something on the TV grid on my DVR that I missed a long time ago when it was first shown on The History Channel. I jumped at the chance to record Andrew Jackson, one of those two-hour documentaries THC is so good for. It wasn’t flashy, but was occasionally biased, and as usual it was harping on some theme that documentarians today believe they have to pummel us with. Inevitably, such a theme revolves around an idea which today we take for granted that every enlightened democratic liberal should have understood in any era. In Andrew Jackson‘s case it was Old Hickory’s treatment of “Native Americans”, and they made sure to include historians of Indian descent complaining how much they hate the $20 bill.

Andrew Jackson hung around on my “Recorded” list for a few days until I finally got a chance to watch it last night, but it wasn’t until this morning that the significance of watching the program on January 19th sunk in. John Steele Gordon does an excellent job pointing out how millions of Americans in Washington for today’s events might be likened to the mobs who trashed the White House in 1829. Of course, we hope today’s festivities are accompanied by a little more decorum and a lot better manners, but otherwise we’re a lot more likely to see symbolism from a Jacksonian parallel than a Lincolnian one, as Mr. Obama’s schedule has been trying to hint at, or an FDR parallel, like his conservative critics are (rightfully) aiming at.

But Inauguration Day isn’t supposed to be a time when we dwell on politics, but on the remarkable event that occurred almost two hundred and eight years ago – an event so monumental I think January 20th should really be one of our most sacred national holidays. Changes to our Constitution have thrown off the accounting, because Presidents are no longer inaugurated in March, but the significance of that Inauguration Day was never about the date. In retrospect, that Inauguration Day may have been the most important single event in American history. This was not an Experiment yet to be proven, like the Declaration, or the Constitution. And it wasn’t a long, drawn-out series of many smaller events, like the Civil War or World War II.

On March 4, 1801, for the first time in human history, one man peacefully and willingly handed political power to a rival. Not every Inauguration Day gets to be so awesome a recreation of that day, but even for those of us on the losing side of the recent election, this is a special moment. Indeed, perhaps more for us than for our own rivals. Because it is in our capitulation to the will of the people at the ballot box that we perpetuate existence of the Republic.

I got this essay in an email the other day. It starts like this:

Who would have thought that the opening of the brand new Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) in Washington, D.C. would be divinely ordained?

It certainly came as news to one particular Senator with a strong aversion to such a can of worms, Jim DeMint of South Carolina. In a recent statement, the Senator came down hard on the CVC, particularly the displays therein which, he claims, “are left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history.”

One prominently engraved quote really has Mr. DeMint and other conservatives fuming. As it reads:

“We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution.”

So, the Capitol is a temple? Last I checked it was a very expensive American Neoclassical office building. And last I heard the Constitution was one of the nation’s most important political documents–which many in our current political establishment regard as a cumbersome hindrance rather than an “oracle” to be consulted.

Since it seems like so many people I respect on the ‘net tend to drift into the atheistic camps of Ayn Rand Objectivism, I thought it would be interesting just to post this and say: “Discuss”. Hopefully one or two of you are still reading.

We may disagree with the current Democratic leadership on a number of issues (okay, quite possibly every issue), but like others in the conservative blogosphere, we here at The Black Republican have always believed (as John McCain put it) in putting “Country First”.

The divisiveness of the last eight years – fueled in large part due to some juvenile behavior by a few on the Left after their men lost in 2000 and 2004 – must not be repeated by the Right. Firm disagreement and resolute refusal to concede our differences on principles are fine, but our opposition must be loyal to the Constitution and the political process, and a message of congratulations for the winner of last night’s election is the very least we can do to show our commitment to basic courtesy.

So, in the spirit of bipartisanship, would like to extend a laurel…

and hearty handshake to our new…

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I guess Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kym Whitley, Quincy Jones, Nia Long, et al, believe that what is important is not the content of a man’s character, but the color of his skin.

So much for that dream.

And another thing… I have seen commenters on some web site referring to Barack Obama as “Obama Luther King.” This is very offensive to me because, aside from the color of his skin, there is little about Obama that is like Dr. Martin Luther King. Obama favors and actively promotes abortion, and I think it’s safe to say Dr. King would have vehemently apposed it. Dr. King believed in a color-blind society, Barack Obama and his surrogates see nothing but the color of people’s skin. Yes, Dr. King was a bit socialist in his approach to economics, but he did not believe it was the job of the government to fix the stumbling blocks to black progress:

When he sought to remove the barriers confronting black America, he did not seek to then describe us as victims. There are two ways that you can prevent someone from competing. One is to deny them the opportunity to compete by law, which laws of segregation and discrimination did. The second way to deny them the opportunity to compete is to tell them they do not have to compete, that they can just sit back and government will do it for them.
That last bit – having the government do something so that people do not have to compete in the marketplace, or take responsibility for their own successes or failures – that is exactly the attitude that permeates the Obama message.

What is leadership?
“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.” – Albert Einstein

What is Racism?
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is the Truth?
“The sting in any rebuke is the truth.” – Benjamin Franklin

What is Freedom?
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.” – Frederick Douglass

I’ve sung this tune before, but the time is right to bang the drum again. Let me tell you a story…

There once was a political party that was fighting the Democrats over a series of issues. But the Democrats played the political game better, and kept insisting on compromises that favored their positions. Trying to get along and seem “bipartisan”, the political party agreed to these compromises time and again, to the point that eventually their leadership, including the incumbent President, decided to give in and support the Democratic position on these issues altogether. Left without a platform to run on, the political party nominated a war hero to be their presidential candidate, hoping his popularity and personal integrity would be enough to win.

I know this all sounds familiar, but of course since the primaries aren’t over, I’m not talking about today.

The political party was the Whig Party, not the Republicans.
They were arguing over states’ rights, nullification, and slavery, not immigration, campaign finance, global warming and stem cell research.
The incumbent President was Millard Fillmore, not George W. Bush.
The war hero was Winfield Scott. He lost in a landslide.
And so will John McCain, I predict, if he gets the nomination – which seems all but certain at this point.

Following the election of 1852, without a platform significantly different from the Democrats, the Whig Party fell apart. Some of its members joined the Democrats, others formed a new party with a platform opposing the Democrats on the issues the Whigs compromised over, especially slavery. Thus was the Republican Party born, and the political rise of The Black Republican began. And to such an end as the Whigs experienced I expect the Republicans to come to in the coming years.

UPDATE: Hugh mentions the W-word himself, though more as a warning than pronouncing a doom.

But like any good prognosticator, I’ll hedge somewhat.

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As close friends know, there are some subjects that I have a strange affinity for. When it comes to Presidential history and the Founders, my personal favorite – despite this blog and its topic – has always been John Adams. I’ve memorized most of the play 1776, and despite having no acting skill whatsoever, an intense fear of the stage, and only a fair voice, would jump at any opportunity to play the lead if I had the chance. David McCullough’s biography of the man is a cherished gift.

So… as they say at AoSHQ, I’ll be in my bunk.

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