Patrick Henry

Eerily Ironic Anniversaries: ObamaCare And Patrick Henry's "Liberty Or Death" Speech

Today is the one year anniversary of ObamaCare becoming law. You can't escape it. The Mainstream Media's celebrations are more ecstatic than those provoked by a March Madness last second game-winning shot. More significantly, and what really should be celebrated, is today's anniversary of Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death" speech in 1775, which lit the torch for freedom from Great Britain in the colonies. It was a speech that resonated thousands of miles to inspire liberty in an era when paper tacked on a tree was considered mass communication; it similarly has transcended throughout time to freedom loving people on guard against the advance of the Leviathan. The spirit today remains willing. But is the body politic?

When he filed his lawsuit against ObamaCare last year, also on this very date, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli noted the appropriateness of defending liberty on the same day when — at a courthouse about a mile from St. John's Church where — Mr. Henry inspired Virginia and a fledgling country. He made that point again today in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. But it is eerily ironic that a seminal event for the defense of freedom shares the anniversary day of the largest government grab of liberty in the history of the Republic.

So as to give you a flavor of Mr. Henry's speech on this great anniversary, and to pick up the slack of the contemporary culture and education establishment, here are two videos. The first is a video tour of historic St. John's Church in Richmond, via C-SPAN (click here for more about the church and other Virginia historic sites). The second is a partial reenactment of the speech, which is performed weekly during the summer and on special occasions at the church.

America given rise to . . . in a church.

A call to defend liberty that resonated throughout the land then and which has transcended time now.

Statement From Attorney General Cuccinelli On Today's Health Care Lawsuit Hearing

Below is the news release issued by the Office of the Attorney General regarding today's hearing on the federal government's motion to dismiss Virginia's lawsuit against the health care law. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli emphasized and elaborated on the quotes below at his post-hearing news conference, which you can see here.

Virginia defends health care lawsuit for first time in court this morning; Federal judge heard feds’ Motion to Dismiss

- Feds say individual insurance mandate is a tax -

Richmond (July 1, 2010) - Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his legal team made their first defense of Virginia’s lawsuit against the federal government’s new health care act this morning. Federal district court judge Henry E. Hudson listened to Virginia’s and the federal government’s arguments on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s motion to dismiss the suit.

The federal government argued that Virginia lacks the standing to bring a suit, that the suit is premature, and that the federal government has the power under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause to mandate that citizens must be covered by health insurance or pay a civil penalty. The government also made alternative arguments based upon its taxing power and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

“If the government prevails and Congress may use the Commerce Clause to order Americans to buy private health insurance, then Congress will have been granted a virtually unlimited power to order you to buy anything. That would amount to the end of federalism and our more than 220 years of constitutional government,” Cuccinelli said following the hearing.

Part of the commonwealth’s argument in court was that “the government can’t draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the Commerce Clause.” E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., Solicitor General of Virginia, argued on behalf of the Commonwealth.

When questioned by the judge whether the individual insurance mandate was a tax or a penalty, the attorney for the federal government said it was both, even though members of Congress specifically said they did not pass it as a tax, and President Obama has stated it was not a tax, to appear to keep the president’s promise not to raise taxes on the middle class.

“One mile from the U.S. courthouse where we just argued this case is St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry gave his famous ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ speech. So it’s fitting that in that courtroom today, just one mile down the road, we were fighting the greatest erosion of our liberty since our country’s founding,” said the attorney general.

We Leave You With Patrick Henry

As the year and decade draw to a close, we leave you with quotes from Virginia patriot and Revolutionary hero Patrick Henry. As with all great, legendary orators and thinkers, his words were/still are prescient. Among them are two lesser known rhetorical flourishes during his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech at the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at Saint John's Church in Richmond. In one, he asked:

Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

No, we shouldn't. We shouldn't lay down with the expectation that vague and demagogic cries of "hope" will lead us to prosperity and liberty, while those espousing the hope, in fact, deviously take us down a path of oppressive limits on our freedom, rather than the freedom afforded by limited government, for which Henry fought.

Nor should we lay down in expectation that this fad, too, will run its course. It can be fought and won, despite the current wisdom, because as Henry also foretold:

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power . . . millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations. ...

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

From all of us at The Family Foundation of Virginia to all of you: Our best wishes for a happy, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year, one in which we all will need to be vigilant and redouble our efforts in the political battles ahead.

patrick henry

If only we could. ... Bringing in the New Year with Patrick Henry would be a blast!

Robo Kaine Desperate To Salvage Shannon

The DNC Chairman, Governor Tim Kaine (contact here) sounded off last night in the attorney general's campaign. Literally. He voiced a "robo call" on behalf of Democrat AG candidate Steve Shannon. Unfortunately, he really didn't have much to say about Delegate Shannon's qualifications. Instead, he launched into a vicious attack on Republican attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli, using a Washington Post editorial as cover for calling him "bigoted" (see Norm's Leahy's first-hand account at Tertium Quids). I, myself, got a call from an African-American friend immediately after he received the call. He reasoned the calls were going into African-American neighborhoods to pump the fear of Satan into otherwise disinterested black voters. But they also went into upper income, socially conscious (i.e., "moderate") white neighborhoods, too, the areas that the GOP seems to be gaining back this campaign. Which makes sense: with a double digit lead, the only way to defeat Senator Cuccinelli is to expand the voter universe and flip some votes (or get them to skip the AG ballot).

What is interesting is why the DNC chairman and his hacks think they can pick off Senator Cuccinelli. In the SurveyUSA poll, out today, he has the largest lead of the three (20 points!) — and even the Democrat Public Policy Poll says he leads in all regions of the commonwealth, including the liberal bastion of Northern Virginia. (How can that be?) The answer? Trashing the constitution and our founding principles. By parodying Senator Cuccinelli's principled stands and record of adhering strictly to the constitution, liberals think they can caricature him into something abominable because adhering to Life and Liberty aren't nearly so important as doling out government-style happiness.

No matter whether one interprets "bigotry" to be the racial kind or the "intolerant of other lifestyles" kind (the call left that open to your interpretation), it's interesting to note that it was Senator Cuccinelli who accepted, attended, spoke and stayed late to meet people at the Virginia NAACP's recent forum and Delegate Shannon who accepted — but stood them up. It's also strange that Governor Kaine thought highly enough of Senator Cuccinelli to work with him on this summer's special session to remedy the impact on Virginia from the U.S. Supreme Court's Melendez-Diaz decision. (You remember . . .the session Shannon called a "political stunt.")

Even stranger is Delegate Shannon's previous dinner engagements at the home of Senator Cuccinelli. Guess he was an okay guy before he went up double digits, huh? 

Ever since he took the DNC job, Governor Kaine has not been able to decide whether he is governor or desperate partisan in chief. His level of campaigning is beneath the dignity of the office Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson once occupied.

He's Back! Conservative Brit Again Says What American Conservatives Should

In March, British EU Parliament Member Daniel Hannan became an instant international hero (see here) to millions of conservatives, a modern day Brit Patrick Henry, when he told the emperor — Prime Minister Gordon Brown — he had on no clothes, and told him publicly and to his face. Not only did he speak "Truth to Power" as the trite lefties say, he did it with courage, conviction and unapologetically. But what caught so many Americans' attention was that his theme was universal and how apt his message was for an America drifting toward European socialism. But not only socialism in economics, but socialism in the government mandating societal behavior codes and the extinguishing of freedom under the guise of stamping out hate or discrimination, most of which is perceived at best and contrived at worst, for the pretext of government usurpation of individual rights. 

It's the same model for government intervention in separating you from your hard-earned money and the shackles that creates — i.e., the economy can't work so we will take it over and make it work, for you, dear citizen. Never mind the new restrictions, it's all the good of the whole.

Now, watch this recent speech by Hannan, and substitute "Hate Crimes bill" or "FOCA" or "restrictions on medical professional conscience protections" in place of references to the proposed EU "anti-discrimination law" and you'll see Mr. Hannan is spot on. Again. Again, we ask, where is the American conservative who will say these things?

EU MP Daniel Hannan may be the world's leading voice for conservatism and human liberty. His words resonate regarding so many of Washington's newfound liberal initiatives. Will America heed Hannan's call not to follow European socialism? Does the reference to "leaving it up to judges" sound familiar? 

Tea Anyone?

Boston may have had its Tea Party in 1773 (a fact I know well as a stammering, stage-frightened, scene-blowing actor in my 7th grade play, The Boston Tea Party), but Virginia's rebellious nature against authoritarian rule is no less historic, given Patrick Henry's famous 1765 "Caesar had his Brutus" "Treason" speech in the House of Burgesses. As with Thanksgiving, them Yankees try to steal all our firsts. But it seems the Tea Party movement has revived more than 235 years later. Thousands of Americans are fed up with the large government debt, the printing of money, stimulus packages, government bailouts, and the inevitable higher taxes to pay for it all and resulting inflation that would completely wreak our country.

So, on Tax Day, April 15, as of now, at least five Virginia localities are joining hundreds more across America to have their own tea parties to demonstrate their displeasure with the government's increasing involvement in the private sector.

The tea parties will be in Richmond, Charlottesville, Virginia Beach and Lynchburg (locations, times, etc., here at TaxDayTeaParty.com); as well as Newport News (more info here via Tertium Quids). Richmond and Newport News have wsonderfully appropriate locations: at Kanawa Plaza, in front of the Federal Reserve Building in the Holy City; and in front of the office of 3rd District U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-Newport News).

It won't be July 4th. But there should be some (rhetorical) fireworks nonethesame.

A Year Of Truth

A year after anything, it is easy to look back and wonder — in a head dizzying funnel cloud of amazement — where the time went. Easier still when you're not simply reminiscing, but have something of substance to look back upon. Where did the time go?

It has been a year since this online broadsheet tacked itself onto the world's virtual public square sideboard, rousing the restful and focusing the restless like a town crier or, we'd like to think, like the Virginia Patriot Jack Jouett, who's heroic 40-mile ride saved the lives of Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Patrick Henry and Thomas Nelson, Jr., in a ride more important, but not as famous, than Paul Revere's.

Last year on this day we welcomed people to the truth (see first post here), promising to bring not the smack talk of many political blogs (God Bless'em, there are some good ones out there), but rather an intelligent discussion of issues, with some horse race and inside baseball politics when our time and interest allowed, and when our sources were talking. We also pledged to never back down on the truth, no matter how some may perceive it, because the truth is permanent and enduring, while political gain is fleeting. We're not naive, either. We know the field on which we play, and so we mix in our own brand of snark and ridicule to those who so richly deserve it. After all, the truth can be expressed not just through fact and explanation, or through reasoned argument, but by more vernacular means. Our first sentence recognized the prominence of this new medium.

We also have had a full year of reporting events, from our Capitol Square Diary of General Assembly machinations, to U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Virginia cases, to live and one-on-one Interviews with state and national figures, to Virginia State Police Chaplains who were ordered to cease praying in Jesus' name. We also have posted on the meaning of various holidays, patriotic television, pop culture and the media, about befriending legislators with whom we don't always agree; and created, among other things,  interactivity with an Action Center, reader Polls and video posts. It's been a full year, almost entirely fun, the little exasperation caused only from the wealth of topics and an already hectic schedule. Maintaining this blog is no one's full-time job, though it can seem like it. Three quick stats: 433 posts (1.7 posts per working day) and 1,073 comments.

We've also openly professed our lack of expertise in most things technological. Our contributors do know how to write superbly, though, and that's the essence of this anyway. The Virginia Gazette didn't look so hot in the 1700s, either. Slowly, we've added gadgets and gizmos, learning the mechanics as we go along, and that, too, has been fun. We're not the shiniest car on the block, but our motor hums ferociously. In keeping with the colonial/Captain Jouett theme it's better said that we don't have the prettiest horse in the stable, but he sure gallops a might! The blog is still pretty streamlined, as when we started, but it has grown into a vital portal of information on public policy in Virginia and on cultural and values issues at large.

Where has the time gone? Wherever it has, so too, has the truth. While we and several other worthwhile bloggers, grassroots organizations and alternative media sources continue to promulgate it in the on-going battle of ideas, not as much can be said for the body politic or the Mainstream Media. Whether it's the General Assembly's refusal to honestly deal with budget transparency or a handful of senators deviously plotting to restore taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood when it was effectively cut out of the budget, or a governor who disingenuously contrived reasons to cut abstinence education funding while misleading the legislature on the state's revenue for the purpose of creating new government intrusions into functions where it has no business; or national candidates and radical political organizations who, between them, have, and are currently spending, more than a billion dollars to create a "messianic" image of one candidate and distastefully distort the reputations of their opponents; the truth, sadly, has gone wanting in so many ways.

Still, there is optimism. Thousands read this blog, making us one of the most read political blogs in Virginia. Hundreds of others quote us. One year ago, we weren't sure what direction this blog would go, only that each day would be an exciting challenge to discern  which important topics needed to be discussed and how best to get that point across, and deal with the constant change that is politics and policy through technology and new methods of communication.

We may adapt a little here and there to meet those challenges, just as Captain Jouett doubtlessly adapted his ride for the dangers of his mission. More than two centuries later, through a much different manner, we carry on his ride against every bit as determined a force — a ride for truth and just cause that shielded him and Virginia's founders from the trials and dangers of their day. This first year has been a great ride. We hope you continue along with us for the entire journey.

The Tax Payer Pledge

Yesterday, at Mr. Jefferson's capitol, the National Taxpayers Union, along with Tertium Quids, kicked off its national taxpayers pledge campaign with a news conference (read more about the event here). Perhaps there is no better location for such a launch other than the colonial capitol in Williamsburg where Patrick Henry railed against ol' King George's oppressive taxes. Interestingly, some of Governor Tim Kaine's media staff attended, doubtless on guard now that it is clear Virginians aren't exactly warm to his tax increase plans as he thought. (It must be tough getting re-accustomed to such mundane affairs after getting passed over for the VP nod.) But this in not a no tax pledge campaign, in existence for years, which asks candidates to pledge not to vote or propose or sign into law tax increases. Unfortunately, not all candidates keep their word on that.

That's where the No Tax Hikers campaign comes in. By signing the No Tax Hikers petition (click here), voting tax payers pledge not to vote for candidates who vote, propose or sign into law tax increases. (You also get a free bumper sticker.) It's the inverse of the No Tax Pledge, a counter balance to the politicians who campaign one way then cavalierly abandon their ostensible small government principles once in office.

You think people are mad about rising taxes? Even before the official unveiling of its Web site, more than 5,000 people had signed the No Tax Hiker pledge. (A counter greets you on its home page.) The more people who sign it, the more politicians of all stripes will know there are waves of voters demonstrably serious about their commitment to low taxes and smaller government — and demonstrably serious about dealing with politicians who confiscate their hard-earned money.

Virginia Still Without Even One Charter Elementary School!

It's been accurately observed by cultural commentators that the real new year begins each late August or early September — when the school year begins — because so much of our lives really revolve around the ebbs and flows of school. Whether we attend school or work in education ourselves, have children in school or college, or are just college sports fans, the academic calendar — and its ripple affects — dictates much of our living patterns. But alas, nothing is new this school year in Virginia. What was greeted with optimism in May has become a nightmare. Years after the state enacted a charter school law, the city of Richmond was to have started its first charter school and what would have been the state's first charter elementary school. Slower than a snail's pace, but at least a smidgen of education reform and choice. Maybe this would ignite momentum around the commonwealth. The school board voted 5-2 (with an abstention and an absense) to create the Patrick Henry Initiative at the city's old Patrick Henry Elementary School. After months of agonizing detail used by Richmond Public School educrats to sabotage the proposal, the school board trumped RPS with an emphatic vote and overwhelming parent and neighborhood support. The only detail remaining after May was to finalize the contract with the Patrick Henry Initiative.

But who said educrats can't teach? They actually did teach us something after all. If you can't outright defeat a much needed reform, just derail it bureaucratically. Apparently, RPS drew up a contract that was so bad it would do nothing but condemn the charter school to failure (see Times-Dispatch article here). School Board member Keith West, the leading school choice reformer in Richmond and a leader in School Choice Virginia, recognized this and reluctantly voted against the contract when it came up this past Tuesday. His vote ultimately killed the deal.

So Virginia still lacks a charter elementary school anywhere, and the number of charter schools in Virginia is appallingly low. Virginia's charter school law must be amended to make it reasonably efficient to create multiple charter schools in public school districts because the same people who manufacture the bureaucratic hassles that prevent the creation of charter schools are the ones responsible for the public education mess to begin with. Conflict of interest, anyone? It confounds logic how the same people who scream about uncompetitive monopolies, real or imagined, tolerate public education monopolies. How long would you live in a neighborhood that only allowed residents to shop at one grocery store? Not long, because a grocery store with a built in monopoly would have no incentive to provide quality service or goods. Sound familiar?

Help is on the way. It will take time, as the Richmond School Board vote proves. The setback is evidence of the educrats' dug in and fortified redoubts. But you only dig in when superior forces begin to encroach upon your weakly controlled territory. As with all untenable positions, these unnatural fortresses also will  crumble one day.

Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Henry And The Sovereignty Of The People

We are in a great location, if not a great space, in downtown Richmond, less than a block from perhaps Virginia's most enduring landmark, its Jefferson designed capitol; and perhaps a mile yonder east in Church Hill, St. John's Church, identified with another Revolutionary hero, Patrick Henry, who also knew well the grounds of Shockoe Hill. When people think of Richmond history, they think Civil War (or War Between The States). It's a shame in that it obscures the city's Revolution-era history.

During this fast approaching Independence Day weekend it is easy to ponder our ancestor Virginians' lives and for all they stood. Doing such, I ran across a quote from Henry that pairs nicely with a Jeffersonian quote with which I was already familiar.

Both men were key instruments in the Revolution: Jefferson the Pen, Henry the Tongue. They fought for a democratic republic, free from the chosen few to lead, but open to all — that is to say, open to all. Not just open for all to seek public office, but open to all to participate; and not only to participate, but to know what the people's government was doing, lest it no longer stay the people's government.

So it is on this occasion that we again call on the successors to Jefferson's and Henry's General Assembly to consider ways to further open our government: In particular, through the use of modern technology, making available the Virginia budget online via a Google-like, easy-to-use search engine. (What better way to honor Mr. Jefferson, who was no slouch inventor himself and who was keen to the latest technology of his day?) As the General Assembly reconvenes to consider what they might take from us during this ongoing Special Tax Session, shouldn't we be able to easily learn how, what, when and with whom they our spending our money?

Said the first governor of the commonwealth, Mr. Henry:

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.

Said the author of the Declaration of Independence, Mr. Jefferson:

Information is the currency of democracy.

Before the General Assembly runs off with what remains of our financial currency, remind them we have every right — rather, it is their responsibility — to keep the operations of the people's government open and free to easy examination. To be sure, that's what this weekend commemorates, for if the people's sovereignty is subjugated to the "rulers" who are few, we become less free; less the sovereign over the elected that our Revolution guaranteed, and more the subjects to new, modern-day monarchs.