Friends and Neighbors

February 19, 2009
President Obama & Prime Minister Harper

President Obama & Prime Minister Harper

President Obama’s first foreign trip as president took place today when he came to Ottawa, the Canadian capital. No matter your politics the leader of 300 million Americans met the leader of 34 million Canadians for the first time.

Canada and the United States share a 4,000 mile border. The last time hostilities took place across this border was the War of 1812. We are fast friends, allies, and trading partners.

– Canada is fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban who sheltered Bin Laden and his terrorists.
– Canada took in the many grounded passengers as result of the 9/11 order to ground airliners.
– Canada’s ambassador to Iran helped get Americans out of the country during the revolution.
– Canada and the United States were allies in two World Wars and the Korean conflict.

These are just some of the examples of our friendship and mutual respect.

As countries we have much in common, but like all friendships there will always be some differences. Our countries are both stable and thriving democracies. Best of all we are true friends. As a Canadian with American links I’m proud of the Can/Am relationship.

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Lincoln Bicentennial 1809-2009

February 10, 2009
Stamp from the 1960's
Stamp from the 1960’s

This year is the 200th anniversary of the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln. To honor this event the National Postal Museum (part of the Smithsonian) has an online exhibition called “From Postmaster to President”. I think you will find this fascinating.

Here is the link,

 

http://www.arago.si.edu/

(Click on Featured Exhibit in lower left of this page.)

I will be posting more on Lincoln in the coming days.


“So help me God”

January 20, 2009

This clause that is almost always added at the end of the presidential oath taking seems to get some upset.

This is an optional phrase. It is not part of the constitutionally mandated oath of office. It is in effect a sort of prayer by the president taking the oath, a personal thing.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Since the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, all presidents have added the phrase “so help me God” after taking the oath.

The first president to use”affirm” rather than swear in the oath was Franklin Pierce in 1853. Herbert Hoover is the only other to use “affirm” in 1929. Neither gave a particular reason that I could find in my research. It is almost certain Barack Obama will use “so help me God” after his oath.


High Hopes

January 19, 2009

The inauguration of Barack Obama tomorrow brings back my memories of another young man with high hopes. These high hopes were held by the president-elect and also people in general.

Inaugural Invitation, 1961

Inaugural Invitation, 1961

It was January 20, 1961. John F. Kennedy was being sworn in as the 35th President of the United States. He was the youngest person to be elected and the first Roman Catholic to hold the office.

Change was felt by all. Ideals were held high. Realistically those hopes were likely too high, but we didn’t care. The prospect of new ideas and new talent blew like a fresh breeze through our minds. Being only 11 at the time I suppose I was truly naive and overly optimistic. Now tempered by the last 48 years, I am realistic and struggling to be hopeful.

I wish nothing but the best to President Barack Obama in his presidency, but we need to temper our hopes with some realism. The world is a much more complex place in 2009, then it was in 1961.


Presidential Inaugural Firsts

January 4, 2009
Reagan Inauguration 1981

Reagan Inauguration 1981

With the inguration of a new president coming up on January 20th, I did some research and found some interesting “firsts” for this event.

January 20th is the constitutional date specified for the end of a president’s four year term. The swearing in of a president is a symbol of the smooth transistion of power in the case of a new president. In the instance of a re-elected president, it is the end of one elected term and the beginning of a new one. The Constitution also specifies the “oath-of-office” is to be taken  by the president-elect.

 Here are some of the tidbits I found,

1837 – Martin Van Buren was the first president to call on his predecessor, Andrew Jackson, at the White House, and ride with him to the Capitol for the swearing in. He was also the first president who was born an American citizen.

1841 – William Henry Harrison was the first president to arrive in Washington by train for the inauguration.

1841 – John Tyler was the first president who was sworn in after the death of a president. He was never elected to his own term so didn’t have an inauguration of his own.

1845 – James Polk’s inaugural address was the first one relayed by telegraph (to Baltimore).

1853 – Franklin Pierce was the first, and so far only, president to “affirm” rather than swear his loyalty to the Constitution.

1865 – Black soldiers marched in the inaugural parade for the first time.

1897 – William McKinley’s first inauguration was filmed by motion-picture cameramen.

1921 – Presidential party rode in automobiles to the inauguration for Warren Harding’s inauguration.

1925 – Calvin Coolidge’s inaugural address was broadcast on radio.

1929 – Herbert Hoover’s address was recorded for “talking pictures”.

1949 – Harry Truman’s inauguration was first to appear on television.

1961 – John F. Kennedy’s inauguration appeared on color TV.

1977 – Jimmy Carter walked back to the White House with his family after taking his oath at the Capitol.

2009 – Will this be the first broadcast live on the internet? Most likely.


Is John McCain Nuts!?

August 31, 2008

McCain has lost it. Selecting Sarah Palin for his vice presidential candidate. It is downright scary.

Mr. McCain will be 72 if he is elected president. Not only that he is an individual who has had cancer several times. Now I surely hope he keeps his health and I don’t wish the worse on anyone, but like insurance agents we should all think – what if the worst case does happen.

Is Palin ready to be president? I think not. She has been the governor of a large, but sparsely populated state for less than two years. Before that she was the mayor of a town of 9,000 persons. Great experience granted, but certainly not enough to qualify her to be president. Foreign policy experience and military experience nil. Oh I forgot she does have a son who is in the military, guess that counts.

Sorry to be cynical, but this is a person who could be a heartbeat away from being President of the United States. Would I feel comfortable if she got a crisis call at three in the morning? No I wouldn’t.


“A Dream” Come True

August 28, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his "Dream" speech. AFP-Getty Images

Forty-five years ago this very day, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Barack Obama was only two years old at the time. Little did anyone know that part of the “dream” would come true in such a relatively short time.

Tonight on the anniversary of King’s speech, Senator Barack Obama will stand in front of 80,000 people and millions of others watching on television and accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. A truly historic moment.

Whether you are support Obama or are a Republican, Democratic, or Independent, you should be proud of your country for the great strides that have been made.

In 1963 Mr. Obama would have been riding in the back of the bus, attending segregated schools, using “colored” only restrooms and drinking fountains, and being denied his most essential civil rights simply because he of the color of his skin.

Today he has a very real chance to attain the highest elected office in his country – President of the United States. Even if he fails his accomplishment has to be recognized as truly ground-breaking. Congratulations to the American electorate for having the courage and intelligence to see the man, not the color.


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