Amy Poehler, a graduate of Boston college (“which some call the ‘Harvard’ of Boston”) addressed the Harvard graduating class this year, telling them it was nice to be speaking at Harvard (“the ‘Harvard’ of Harvard”), in a funny speech in which she said she had discovered that “you can’t do it alone.”
No one is here today because they did it on their own … You’re all here today because someone gave you strength. Helped you. Held you in the palm of their hand.
The video is worth watching, but if you only have time for one, watch Timothy J. Lambert’s speech to his fellow students on the close and complex relationship of love and hate -- and watch the expression on Amy Poehler’s face near the end of Lambert’s beautifully conceived and delivered address:
Michele Bachmann is now the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, according to one poll, but there is obviously a lot more we need to know about all the candidates before making a choice. But Bachmann is already being Palinized, and Jeffrey Goldberg warns that Bachmann is a “theocrat.” He reports that:
At a recent meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, she said, “I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States.” She went on: “We have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play.”
It wasn’t recent, and it wasn’t all she said.
In February 2010, Bachmann was asked about the relationship of support for Israel to American security and gave a three-minute extemporaneous answer. After the two sentences quoted above, she said this:
And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3 – “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee”]; we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle.
Right now in my own private Bible time, I am working through Isaiah . . . and there is continually a coming back to what God gave to Israel initially, which was the Torah and the Ten Commandments, and I have a wonderful quote from John Adams that if you will indulge me [while I find it] . . . [from his February 16, 1809 Letter to François Adriaan van der Kemp]:
"I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization."
. . . So that is a very long way to answer your question, but I believe that an explicit statement from us about our support for Israel as tied to American security, we would do well to do that.
I am not sure that belief in a key promise of the Torah makes one a theocrat.
Perhaps before dismissing Bachmann’s views on the Biblical blessing and curse -- in both history and current affairs -- one should read Paul Johnson on the “the pathology of nations” (with his discussion of the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism), and also read Dennis Prager on “The Genesis Prediction.”
This is not a JCI endorsement for president. The coveted JCI endorsement generally does not come out until the day before the election, as it did in 2008. Looking back at that 2008 endorsement, however, JCI stands by it, as well as the 2008 prediction about the Second Coming that year.
A video of the hearing is here. The Chairman, Steve Chabot (R-OH) gave an opening statement in which he stated that:
We are rapidly approaching a watershed moment in U.S.-Palestinian relations. Both the reconciliation government [of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas] and the pursuit of a unilateral declaration of independence at the UN could not be more contrary to U.S. interests in the region.
The video is of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, speaking on the House floor today in support of H. Res. 268, offered by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). There are a lot of sponsors from both parties; the Senate passed the resolution yesterday.
The resolution calls for the Administration to (among other things) oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state or recognition of one in the UN or elsewhere, and urges the Administration to consider suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority pending review of its unity agreement with Hamas.
The full text of Ros-Lehtinen’s statement is here. Here are the key paragraphs:
To demonstrate they are true partners for peace, what Palestinian leaders must do is simple: the opposite of what they’ve been doing. They must sit down and negotiate directly with Israel, without preconditions; encourage Palestinians to accept Israel, instead of tolerating and encouraging violent extremism and anti-Israel incitement; and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state.
We must no longer demand that Israel take actions or make additional unilateral concessions that would compromise our democratic ally’s safety and security. Recent calls for Israel to return to the 1967 borders are unacceptable and dangerous.
That would make a good draft Quartet statement, reconciling the May 19, May 20, and May 22 speeches and statements by President Obama and the Quartet.
From Jeff Jacoby, “Philosophy, Faith and the Fourth of July,” on America as (in President Coolidge’s words) a “theory of democracy” for which “whole congregations with their pastors’’ pulled up stakes and migrated to America:
Steeped in the imagery of the Hebrew Bible, the colonists believed that God had led them, as he had led ancient Israel, from a land of bondage to a blessed Promised Land. Thomas Jefferson suggested in 1776 that the seal of the United States should depict the “Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night.’’
In that wilderness, Americans knew, God did not simply impose his rule on Israel. First the Hebrews had to give their consent: “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’’ Only then was there the revelation at Sinai, the Ten Commandments, and the Law. If God himself would not govern without the consent of the governed, surely King George had no right to do so!
July 4 marks more than American independence. It commemorates the great political ideals, rooted in faith and philosophy, that vindicated that independence -- and that thereby transformed the world.
America was maturing as a theological concept. The distinguished liberal rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise said so clearly. Four years after Lincoln’s death he gave a speech in which he summarized Americanism as he saw it and as Lincoln had shaped it.
He had been asked, Wise said, to address “a subject dear and precious to all of us, our country, our promised land, the home and fortress of freedom, the blessed spot which flows with milk and honey, upon which we invoke God’s gracious blessing.”
President Truman wrote that as a young man he was fascinated by history – which “revealed to me that what came about in Philadelphia in 1776 really had its beginning in Hebrew times.” The Jewish Spring led to the American one.