Happy 231st Birthday, America

Note: This post will stay at the top all day. Newer posts will be below.
Today we celebrate the birth of our nation, as conceived by a group of men in a Pennsylvania hall who many considered at the time as traitors. They dared to imagine a nation whose leaders would not be derived from notions of royalty nor from the power of arms, but chosen by free people as leaders accountable to the populace. They took the ethereal notions that sprang from the Enlightenment and dared to make them a reality — hoping that this radical experiment would take root in the North American continent, but having no clue that it would become a shining beacon for the entire world over the next two centuries.
It wasn’t a model of perfection, and indeed, our birth has resembled our journey ever since. Dissent over the nature of a representative democracy appeared from the very start. The first structure of the government would have to be scrapped and re-imagined from scratch just a few years later. It would take decades more before the nation finally dealt with the inherent contradiction in the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that “all men are created equal,” and the detestable institution of slavery — and another century after that before the government finally took action to ensure that those words prevailed. Arguments about the division of power between the states and the federal government have continued from the first moments until this moment.
We have been far from perfect, but we have recognized our failures and prevailed over them in the fullness of time. Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others — and we have been the model for that, for better and worse. America has been a beacon of hope for the world for centuries, not just because of the words in our Declaration and Constitution, but because we as a people try our best to live up to them.
Conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, independents and centrists, and those who cringe when they hear any of those labels — they want America to live up to its best ideals, our best selves, each in their own way. Happy Independence Day to all of us, and may we continue in our efforts as our ancestors have to continue to keep America as the shining city on the hill.
In 1981, three months after surviving an assassin’s bullet, Ronald Reagan talked about our nation’s birth in his Independence Day speech:

Thomas Jefferson wrote that on that day of America’s birth, in the little hall in Philadelphia, debate raged for hours, but the issue remained in doubt. These were honorable men; still, to sign a Declaration of Independence seemed such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with cries of “treason” and “the headsman’s axe.”
Then, it is said, one unknown man rose to speak. He was neither young, nor strong in voice; yet, he spoke with such conviction that he mesmerized the hall. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment. Then, his voice failing, he said: “They may turn every tree into a gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope, to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the bible of the rights of man forever.” And sign they did.
What makes our revolution unique and so exciting, then, is that it changed the very concept of government. Here was a new nation telling the world that it was conceived in liberty; that all men are created equal with God-given rights, and that power ultimately resides in “We the people.”
We sometimes forget this great truth, and we never should, because putting people first has always been America’s secret weapon. It’s the way we’ve kept the spirit of our revolution alive — a spirit that drives us to dream and dare, and take great risks for a greater good. It’s the spirit of Fulton and Ford, the Wright brothers and Lindbergh, and of all our astronauts. It’s the spirit of Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, and a million others who may have been born poor, but who would not be denied their day in the Sun.

The men without the words would have been little more than mutineers. The words without the men would have been long forgotten, if ever remembered at all. On the Fourth of July, we honor them all, and all those who came after to preserve and promote the Union.

My Two Fathers

Today is Father’s Day, and Americans will celebrate with their families. Some are fortunate enough to spend the day with their fathers and grandfathers, while others only have memories to recall today. My good friend Joe Gandelman, for instance, just lost his father three weeks ago. Dr. Helen also points out that there are plenty of fathers for whom today serves as a reminder of the children who don’t want to remain in contact with them.
I’m fortunate today, because I get to celebrate two fathers in my life. The Admiral Emeritus is still hale and hearty at 75, but he’s 1500 miles away today. Normally, he’s even farther away than that, because he’s spending his retirement traveling the world. We catch up with Dad between trips, with plenty of new stories and adventures to recall.
Even so, Dad’s always near enough to lean on when necessary. When I hurt my back last year, he and his wife flew out to Minneapolis on a couple of days’ notice to spend the first two weeks after my surgery to take care of me and the First Mate. He’s a great sounding board when I need advice, and that’s been often. He’s had my back in more than one way for 44 years, and he’s been a rock for me.
The other father in my life is, actually, my son. Fatherhood came early for him, and motherhood for my daughter-in-law, but both of them immediately transformed into two wonderful and responsible parents overnight. I sometimes get a sense of vertigo trying to reconcile the teenager that he had been with the father he has become, a fairly common experience among grandparents, I have been told.
My son has been a blessing in my life that I’m certain I have not earned, but for which I am grateful. We had our share of difficulties, but we’ve also had many more good memories and good times with each other. He gave me my fatherhood, a role that I value just below husband, and one that allows me all the joy of being a grandfather.
Today, I’ll celebrate both fathers in my life, even though both are elsewhere. I hope CQ readers have as much fortune as I do in celebrating today.

Happy Mother’s Day!

To my own mother, my mother-in-law, the mother of my granddaughter, and all of the mothers and grandmothers in the CQ community, the First Mate and I wish all of you a happy Mother’s Day!
Mother’s Day is a splendid American tradition. One man who recognized the crucial role of mothers in American society was Theodore Roosevelt, an early prototype of the modern masculine man. Roosevelt gave this speech over 100 years ago on motherhood. He gave this speech to a gathering of women, and while the societal roles have broadened (thankfully) for women, his emphasis on motherhood for the sake of the next generation still resonates:

Inasmuch as I am speaking to an assemblage of mothers, I shall have nothing whatever to say in praise of an easy life. Yours is the work which is never ended. No mother has an easy time, the most mothers have very hard times; and yet what true mother would barter her experience of joy and sorrow in exchange for a life of cold selfishness, which insists upon perpetual amusement and the avoidance of care, and which often finds its fit dwelling place in some flat designed to furnish with the least possible expenditure of effort the maximum of comfort and of luxury, but in which there is literally no place for children?
The woman who is a good wife, a good mother, is entitled to our respect as is no one else; but she is entitled to it only because, and so long as, she is worthy of it. Effort and self-sacrifice are the law of worthy life for the man as for the woman; tho neither the effort nor the self-sacrifice may be the same for the one as for the other. I do not in the least believe in the patient Griselda type of woman, in the woman who submits to gross and long continued ill treatment, any more than I believe in a man who tamely submits to wrongful aggression. No wrong-doing is so abhorrent as wrong-doing by a man toward the wife and children who should arouse every tender feeling in his nature. Selfishness toward them, lack of tenderness toward them, lack of consideration for them, above all, brutality in any form toward them, should arouse the heartiest scorn and indignation in every upright soul.
I believe in the woman keeping her self-respect just as I believe in the man doing so. I believe in her rights just as much as I believe in the man’s, and indeed a little more; and I regard marriage as a partnership, in which each partner is in honor bound to think of the rights of the other as well as of his or her own. But I think that the duties are even more important than the rights; and in the long run I think that the reward is ampler and greater for duty well done, than for the insistence upon individual rights, necessary tho this, too, must often be. Your duty is hard, your responsibility great; but greatest of all is your reward. I do not pity you in the least. On the contrary, I feel respect and admiration for you.
Into the woman’s keeping is committed the destiny of the generations to come after us. In bringing up your children you mothers must remember that while it is essential to be loving and tender it is no less essential to be wise and firm. Foolishness and affection must not be treated as interchangeable terms; and besides training your sons and daughters in the softer and milder virtues, you must seek to give them those stern and hardy qualities which in after life they will surely need. Some children will go wrong in spite of the best training; and some will go right even when their surroundings are most unfortunate; nevertheless an immense amount depends upon the family training. If you mothers through weakness bring up your sons to be selfish and to think only of themselves, you will be responsible for much sadness among the women who are to be their wives in the future. If you let your daughters grow up idle, perhaps under the mistaken impression that as you yourselves have had to work hard they shall know only enjoyment, you are preparing them to be useless to others and burdens to themselves. Teach boys and girls alike that they are not to look forward to lives spent in avoiding difficulties, but to lives spent in overcoming difficulties. Teach them that work, for themselves and also for others, is not a curse but a blessing; seek to make them happy, to make them enjoy life, but seek also to make them face life with the steadfast resolution to wrest success from labor and adversity, and to do their whole duty before God and to man. Surely she who can thus train her sons and her daughters is thrice fortunate among women. …
To sum up, then, the whole matter is simple enough. If either a race or an individual prefers the pleasure of more effortless ease, of self-indulgence, to the infinitely deeper, the infinitely higher pleasures that come to those who know the toil and the weariness, but also the joy, of hard duty well done, why, that race or that individual must inevitably in the end pay the penalty of leading a life both vapid and ignoble. No man and no woman really worthy of the name can care for the life spent solely or chiefly in the avoidance of risk and trouble and labor. Save in exceptional cases the prizes worth having in life must be paid for, and the life worth living must be a life of work for a worthy end, and ordinarily of work more for others than for one’s self.
The woman’s task is not easy—no task worth doing is easy—but in doing it, and when she has done it, there shall come to her the highest and holiest joy known to mankind; and having done it, she shall have the reward prophesied in Scripture; for her husband and her children, yes, and all people who realize that her work lies at the foundation of all national happiness and greatness, shall rise up and call her blessed.

I will be back later. Please note that the Typekey functions have been completely disabled, but comments now have to be moderated — and I will look into an alternative later today.

How To Freak Out Your Family When You’re An Obsessive

It’s been a slow morning today, as I spent most of last night fighting insomnia and decided to sleep later than usual when I finally got my 40 winks. I dragged myself out of bed and had just began to eat when I heard my cell phone alert me to a new message. My father, the Admiral Emeritus, had left me a terse “call me back when you get this” voicemail, so I immediately called him back. This was the conversation:
AE: What’s going on?
Me: Huh?
AE: Is there a problem? Is everyone OK?
Me: I’m tired, I didn’t sleep well, but that’s it.
AE: Oh, OK. I thought something was wrong.
Me: Why?
AE: Because by this time in the morning, you usually have a half a dozen posts up on your blog.
I guess I usually do … so it’s difficult to blame him for being worried. I’m just feeling lazy today, but it’s good to know he’s keeping an eye on me.

Duke Bandy, RIP (Update: Also Clint Thrasher, RIP)

I received an e-mail message from a CQ reader, Lee Bandy, who earlier had offered to assist me with my Gateway computer problems. I had replied that the problems seemed related to the hardware, but that I’d let him know if I needed anything else. Lee wrote me back this evening, and agreed to let me share this with all of you:

I want to apologize for not getting back to you.
I never actually expected you to respond. I was genuinely tickled when you responded, and called my father, as Captains Quarters is his favorite blog. I figured he would get a huge kick out of it.
That was the phone call no child ever wants to be a part of: LT Col Maurice ‘Duke’ Bandy USAF (Ret) 1930-2007
However, I would like to thank you for providing years worth of father/son conversations. Dad was a huge fan of “the blogs” and we would talk daily about the latest posts and news. Yours was always first on the list. It may seem like just another blog, but it meant much more to us.

Blogging is an odd business. One writes and writes about those items that provoke a reaction, in what seems like a relentlessly solitary effort. It isn’t until people comment or e-mail that one knows a connection has been made with an audience, and sometimes the blogger never understands the depth of those connections. Hearing this from his son is a touching and humbling moment for me, and I’m blessed that Lee chose to share this story with me — and allowed me to share it with you.
We have lost a member of our family here. Godspeed, Maurice “Duke” Bandy. Thank you for honoring us with your service and your presence. Please keep the Bandy family in your prayers, and send them your condolences in the comments section.
UPDATE: And we have another loss in the CQ family. The cousin of SoldiersMom, Clint Thrasher, was killed in a plane crash while serving in the Border Patrol. Please also add the Thrasher family to your prayers while they try to get more details, and offer thanks that the nation has fine men like Clint to protect us.

First Mate Update, And First Week Review

I’ve received a few e-mails asking how the First Mate is faring, so it’s time for an update. She’s doing well, but as always in the first few weeks of a transplant, the labs get interesting. Her numbers have moved around a bit, but overall remain very positive. We’re keeping a close eye on a few indicators, but they’ve improved this week, so it looks pretty good. Her energy level has remained low, and her anemia is back, but we expected both of those conditions. She’s going to switch some medications around this weekend, and we think that she will benefit from the change.
The FM wants me to thank everyone for their prayers, too; they mean a lot to her. She tells everyone she knows about how wonderful you are.
This has been my first week working from home, and it’s been quite a lot of fun. I’ve had some technical difficulties with my connection, which is the reason posting was light last night and early this morning. Blog Talk Radio keeps me very busy during the day, and when we launch Heading Right — our new conservative group blog — it will keep me even busier. I have a lot more flexibility to post during the day and cover breaking stories, and I love that ability. Hopefully it has served you all well, too.
Next week will be even better — and make sure you tune in CQ Radio to debate the topics live!

FM Update: Home Again

The First Mate has returned home this evening after her kidney transplant, about two days earlier than I expected. She has done so well that the doctors had nothing more to add to her therapy at the hospital, and told us she could recuperate better at home. For anyone who has spent any time in a hospital, this is not hard to imagine.
She’s tired and weak, but much healthier than any time in the past year. She’ll rest at home but may be well enough for a family dinner on Easter. We have a lot of work to do to make sure she stays healthy, but it’s a lot more satisfying than the efforts we had to make before to just keep her from getting worse.
She wants to thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes. For that matter, so do I.

Transplant, Day 3: It Gets Better

The First Mate has made remarkable progress in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, she had little energy and felt exhausted, but today she was a bundle of energy. It’s a good thing, too, because the donor and his family came down from the floor above hers to spend some time with us. The Little Admiral finally got to visit her grandma, and the FM was delighted with the company.
Today they removed her NG tube, which allowed her to start on a liquid diet. She tolerated that well, so we’re hoping she will move to solid food tomorrow. She got out of bed and sat up in a chair for part of the morning, and tomorrow will begin walking. Her creatinine levels had been over 10 before the surgery, which is very bad. Yesterday they were down to 4, and today it came in at 2.2. We’re hoping for a normal range (0.6-1.3) before her expected release on Wednesday.
Thanks again for all your support. I’ve gotten kind wishes from people outside of the conservative blogosphere as well. John Amato at Crooks and Liars put his kind regards on his site tonight, not normally one where I get many links. John and I met at the CNN Election Night bash, and besides being a nice guy, he proved again tonight that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable. It’s much appreciated.

Day Two Of Transplant

Nothing much new to report on Day Two of the new transplant. The First Mate has been moved to a regular room, and her vital signs continue to look good. She didn’t want a lot of conversation today, so as I remarked earlier, my sister and I mostly worked on our computers and watched Bob Newhart Show DVDs. The FM just wanted the company, and has mostly rested or slept the entire day.
I visited the donor and his wife for a while today, until he tired out this afternoon. He’s doing remarkably well. They still think he may go home tomorrow, but if not, Monday at the latest. He’s looking forward to the NCAA semifinals tonight, and I think he’s hoping for a Florida-Ohio State matchup in the finals. He’ll get more rest tonight and we will all get together tomorrow.
For those who are interested in the technical details, which are all looking excellent, the new kidney produces around 300-400 cc of urine each hour. The FM’s blood pressure has been excellent, but her blood sugar has been high. That’s not indicating a problem with her pancreas, but a normal reaction to the high doses of steroids she gets in the first few days after surgery. Except for some nausea, everything has been going according to plan.

Last Word On Transplant For Today

I decided to post a separate item for a late-night wrapup, since it had been several hours since I updated the live-blog post.
First, let me tell you how much your messages meant to all of us today. We heard from everyone today either in comments or by e-mail, across the political spectrum of the CQ community. We got so much support that I had to have the donor’s family take my computer and read all of the messages, just so I could show them what a great family we have here on line.
As I said earlier, the First Mate will spend the night in the ICU, but she’s doing great. I called the nurse a few minutes ago to get an update, and she says that the new kidney continues to perform impressively. The FM has mostly stayed asleep, but when she’s awake, she’s alert. She can take her meds orally, but they’re being careful about it. Blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation, and all other vital signs look terrific. She should be back in her regular room tomorrow.
The donor is also doing very well. I spoke with him and his wife for a bit while the hospital transferred the FM from post-op to the ICU. He’s tired but not in pain, very alert, and happy about the result. Honestly, even though I have known this couple for the past eight years, I have had a tough time knowing what to say to them during this entire process. It’s so overwhelming that all I can do is thank them over and over again, and all he says in response is “Praise the Lord”. He may go home as soon as Sunday, Monday at the latest.
It’s been a good day.