Renewing the American Spirit

Patriot Week begins on 9/11 and ends on 9/17 (the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (Constitution Day)) and renews America’s spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Many of current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit. This blog is dedicated to keeping the spirit of Patriot Week - and America - alive all year long.....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Leadership of Liberty - Washington's First Retirement

On December 23, 1783, General George Washington performed one of the greatest acts of his career - he retired his military commission and went home.  

On the heels of an improbable victory against the greatest military power of the age, Washington could have tried to assume control of the fragile American government.  Instead, being entirely true to his principles, he decided to voluntarily relinquish his power.  He did so, as he had done so much else, in the grandest of styles.  He went to Congress, then assembled in Annapolis, and gave a short, but very important, farewell address:

"Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task; which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven. . . . 
"Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theatre of action; and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take any leave of all the employments of public life."

By so resigning, Washington kept the American republic alive.  He would soon be drawn out of retirement to preside over the Constitutional Convention, and then serve as President.   Such discipline and action for the common good is rare in history, then and now.  We owe Washington our undying gratitude.  

For more about Washington, our Founding Fathers and First Principles, and what makes America the greatest nation in world history, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Real History of Thanksgiving

"In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. They dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. The remaining settlers received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. He returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving." The festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer."


Wishing you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

“These united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states”

The Declaration of Independence

“These united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states”

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United
States of America

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.
We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levey war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Hearts of the People is the Key to Salvation or Demise

"I will only say that to the salvation of this Union there needs but one single thing - the hearts of the people like yours. When the people rise in masses in behalf of the Union and the liberties of their country, truly may it be said, 'The gates of hell shall not prevail against them.'" Abraham Lincoln, Reply to Governor Oliver P. Morton at Indianapolis, Indiana (February 11, 1861)

Lincoln's words over a 140 years ago still ring true today.  If we are to preserve our liberties as a free people, in the end it will be hearts of the people that will save it - and nothing can stop it.  On the other hand, without those hearts, our demise is inevitable.  What side will your heart take?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flag Day - Time to Rededicate Ourselves to the Republic

Although Flag Day was first thought of in 1861, it was not until 1916 that it was officially recognized within the federal government. President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation - the first - explained the purpose of Flag Day is stunningly relevant language for today:
"Many circumstances have recently conspired to turn our thoughts to a critical examination of the conditions of our national life, of the influences which have seemed to threaten to divide us in interest and sympathy, of forces within and forces without that seemed likely to draw us away from the happy traditions of united purpose and action of which we have been so proud, It has therefore seemed to me fitting that I should call your attention to the approach of the anniversary of the day upon which the flag of the United States was adopted by the Congress as the emblem of the Union, and to suggest to you that it should this year and in the years to come be given special significance as a day of renewal and reminder, a day upon which we should direct our minds with a special desire of renewal to thoughts of the ideals and principles of which we have sought to make our great Government the embodiment.
"I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political programme of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its, vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance. Let us on that day rededicate ourselves to the nation, "one and inseparable" from which every thought that is not worthy of our fathers' first vows in independence, liberty, and right shall be excluded and in which we shall stand with united hearts, for an America which no man can corrupt, no influence draw away from its ideals, no force divide against itself,-a nation signally distinguished among all the nations of mankind for its clear, individual conception alike of its duties and its privileges, its obligations and its rights."
Although almost a 100 years old, Wilson’s statement still resonates today.  We seem to be struggling with intense discord, and threats exist from within and without threatening the very fabric of our republic, and our ability to survive as a free people.
Lets rededicate ourselves to the flag and the republic for which it stands.  The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DDAY - Liberation on behalf of Freedom

Today marks the anniversary of DDay, which was the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime.  Thousands of brave Allied Forces stormed the beaches of France to liberate Europe from German oppression.

Many Americans lost the lives on that day to preserve liberty for Europe, America, and the world.  On D-Day, the Allies suffered approximately 10,000 casualties. The Battle of Normandy involved over 400,000 total casualties.  
On the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, Ronald Reagan addressed Americans who stormed the beaches and reflected:
It was the deep knowledge ­­ and pray God we have not lost it that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt. 
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
Reagan was right.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day's True Meaning

Dear fellow Patriots,

Today is Memorial Day. One of the reasons Leah and I started Patriot Week
is because the civic calendar, including Memorial Day, has been generally
 gutted and stripped of its true meaning. For too many, Memorial Day has
become an empty excuse for a barbecue and to start the summer.

Memorial Day, however, has very a deep meaning and a very long history,
which we all should all try to honor. Although the exact origins are in hot
dispute, suffice it to say that many communities across the United States
were engaged in memoralizing their Civil War dead during and following
 that great and terrible conflict.

On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand
Army of the Republic, promulgated General Order No. 11, which was the
first official promulgation of Memorial Day. General Order No. 11 provided
 that flowers would be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate
soldiers on May 30, 1868. (Order No. 11 is below.) In the Order, General
Logan reflected he hoped it would become an annual tradition, and it did.
 With World War I, that tradition expanded to include all war dead.

This day the nation should remember those who, in the words of Abraham
Lincoln, gave their "last full measure of devotion" to protect our liberties
and freedoms from the Amerian Revolution to the present. It is through
their sacrifice that the "last best hope of earth" has survived and prospered.

General Logan's Order stated, "Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify
to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people
the cost of a free and undivided republic." Indeed.

God bless you, the sacred dead, and America.

Very truly yours,

Hon. Michael Warren

General Orders No. 11, Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters.May 5, 1868

I.  The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.  In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose of other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind of fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers and sailors and marines, who united to suppress the later rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead?  We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance.  All that the consecretaed wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders.  Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverant visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and others hind slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude - the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.  He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order; and lend its friendly aid in bringing it ito the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III.  Department commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective.

By Command of:  John A. Logan
                         Commander in Chief

For more, visit Patriot Week and Americas Survival Guide.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Sacred Fire of Liberty - Our Republic at Risk

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." George Washington, First Inaugural Address.

Washington was right then, and right now.  The history of freedom in the world will rise and fall with the success of America.  That's why knowing our Constitution, our history, our foundation for freedom is so critical, and why it is so dangerous that we ignore them all.

To learn about how to combat the crisis, visit and

Monday, April 30, 2012

Religious Liberty Means Protecting Everyone's Free Exercise

"We are bound, you, I, and everyone, to make common cause, even with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience."  Thomas Jefferson

This idea - that we must all bind together to protect the freedom of all - is something completely unnatural in human affairs.  Generally, we come to the defense (and offense for that matter) of ideas in which we believe - this is especially true in matters of religion.

Yet, we have come to see the attack on the belief system of even the smallest religious minority - no matter how bizarre or wrong we might think those beliefs to be - to be an assault on the religious freedom of all.  This is so because religious liberty protects dissenting views, or it is worth nothing.  And the majority view one day can easily become the oppressed view the next.  More importantly, we have been given free will to choose - and that free will is bequeathed to us by the Creator (or Nature and Nature's Law) - it is inherent in us as human beings.  Attempts to quash religious liberty, therefore, are attempts at destroying human nature and the subversion of our unalienable rights.

The temptation to ignore the religious liberties of others is ever present, which is why we must be ever vigilant.

For more, visit Patriot Week and Americas Survival Guide.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Knowledge & Integrity - The Keys to Liberty

"The preservation of liberty depends upon the intellectual and moral character of the people. As long as knowledge and virtue are diffused generally among the body of a nation, it is impossible they should be enslaved. . . ." John Adams

 As Adams reflected, as a free people, our liberty depends entirely on our people to self-govern.  And to self-govern, we need to understand our Constitution and act with integrity.  Unfortunately, as our institutions have broken down, so has our ability to self-govern and protect our liberty.  Our educational system fails large swaths of our people, large portions of our finance, business, and religious systems are compromised or corrupt, and our political system is dysfunctional.  This bodes very poorly for our liberty.

We need to counter these influences by focusing again on First Things First - our Founding First Principles (the rule of law, unalienable rights, equality, the Social Compact, limited government, and the right to alter or abolish an oppressive government), and acting with integrity.  That is our strength and our salvation.  

Because our institutions are so ill, the people need to make this happen.  That's why grassroots efforts like Patriot Week are so important.  Join us.

For more, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It is for us to save freedom

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address ends with this sobering message:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from those honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Although sobering, it is also inspirational.  We are the masters of own destiny.  Not the government, not the dark forces of history, but us.  The day we forget that is the day the republic and freedom dies.

For more visit Patriot Week and Americas Survival Guide.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our Lives, Our Nation

"Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives." John Adams.

This sentiment is the true essence of patriotism.  To paraphrase another President, its not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for her.  On the other hand, if we lived in Cuba or Iran, this might be a bit different, but as Americans, we believe in, and are the beneficiaries of the First Principle of the Social Compact.  The Social Compact provides that we give up some rights to the government so that it will protect our unalienable rights, and that we have the right to direct the government through the republican form of government.

This sentiment is all but lost today.  Way too many seem to think that the government exists to feed itself - the government is supposed to be a servant - of all - for the benefit of protecting our unalienable rights.  Look at the GSA scandal - those public "servants" did nothing but abuse their positions.

Time to return to our First Principles and the true purpose of government.  Our obligations to our country include the obligation to set it back on the right course.

To learn more, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jackie Robinson - Breaking the Barrier in Baseball - 65 Years Ago

Today marks the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  He was a fine athlete, a strong man of character, and extremely resilient in the face of adversity.  His feat was no small accomplishment back then, and it paved the way for larger changes in our society.

Back then, baseball was THE sport.  Football was just getting started, hockey was very small, and basketball was hardly on the map.  Baseball was the national pastime, and everyone paid special attention to what was happening on the field.

To commemorate the event today, major league players all wore #42 - Robinson's retired number.

This feat helped us move one step closer to the First Principle of Equality (racial) - which is a fundamental premise of American society (often observed more in the breach than in reality) - i.e., that "all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."  That a black man could be superstar on the largest stage knocked down many psychological and other barriers.

I am proud to note that a alum from my law school - the University of Michigan - played an indispensable role in Robinson's milestone.  Branch Rickey, a 1911 graduate, signed Robinson's contract - and pushed for it tirelessly.  Hats off to both men.  

To learn more about our First Principles, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry solidified the cause of independence before the House of Burgesses. He exclaimed:
If we wish to be free – if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending – if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have so long engaged... we must fight! It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter, Gentlemen may cry, Peace, peace – but there is no peace... Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

'Nuff said.  For more visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why do we have a government?

Thomas Paine expressed the American sentiment when he wrote that:

“Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, not to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured.”

This is why we have a government.  Too often we seem to forget that that entire purpose of government is to protect our unalienable rights.  The government is our servant, not the other way around.

To learn more, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Price Freedom? Responsibility

"Responsibility is the price of freedom." Elbert Hubbard.

So true.  Yet so hard.  Perhaps this is why so many in human history are willing to forgo freedom - yes, they don't have liberty, but they don't have to responsible for their own lives.  Complacency and laziness are truly the enemies of our unalienable rights.

For more, visit America's Survival Guide and Patriot Week.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Purpose of the Republic: Protecting Unalienable Rights

President Harry S. Truman put it this way:

Democracy maintains that government is established for the benefit of the individual, and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom in the exercise of his abilities . . . .

Indeed, that is what one of the defining purposes of republic (I forgive the President for using the more colloquy term of "democracy") - to protect the unalienable rights of individuals.  Seems that is something all but forgotten today.

We never get past the rancor and vitriol so prominent in our public discourse until we can unite on our common core principles - and this one - drawn right from the Declaration of Independence, is essential.

To learn more, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Unalienable Rights - A Key to Our Liberty

"Our Constitution is not alone the working plan of a great Federation of States under representative government. There is embedded in it also the vital principles of the American system of liberty. That system is based on upon certain inalienable protections in which no event the government may infringe and which we call the Bill of Rights." Herbert Hoover.

Hoover may have been bashed by history for his handling of the Great Depression - but this he got exactly right.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Nation at Risk - STILL

During the early years of the Reagan administration, it published A Nation at Risk, which reported that there was a crisis in our educational system that threatened our ability to compete and succeed in the global economy.  Over 25 years later, its the same old story.

According to a recent report from the Council on Foreign Relations, "educational failure puts the United States' future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk."  About 25% of students drop out of school, and only 22% of high school students are ready for college in the core topics.  We are well past the time of diagnosing the problem - in fact, we have had two sets of K-12 generations begin and graduate since Reagan sounded the alarm.  Time to make some real changes in education.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Freedom Includes Rubbish...

"The price of freedom of religion or of speech, or of the press is that we must put up with . . . a good deal of rubbish."  Justice Robert H. Jackson.

Justice Jackson had it exactly right.  Freedom means the freedom to make mistakes, to talk outside of the political norm, and to be downright silly.  The ability to be free means we have to put up with the same thing from others.  The unalienable rights of the free exercise of religion, petition, speech, press and association means we have to suffer with the fools as well as with the brilliant.   It is for the marketplace of ideas to decide what will prevail in the end, not government censors.  Lets keep it that way.

For more, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Endowed by the Creator, NOT the Government

Alexander Hamilton summed up the American sentiment when he noted that "Natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator to the whole human race."

For most of human history, Hamilton's words could be reworked as "liberty is a gift of the beneficent Government . . . ."  In 1776, America rejected that belief, and declared to the world that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights  . . . ."

Unfortunately, all too often, it seems that our discourse has slid backwards to the Old World Order - in which the public must beg for privileges from the government.  When is the last time you heard a politician discuss unalienable rights?

I stand with the Founders and Hamilton.  If you do too, show it when you vote, participate in politics, and engage in political discourse.  Time to remind ourselves that our rights are from the Creator - and unalienable.

To learn more about unalienable rights, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Content of Our Character - Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the national holiday commemorating the life and accomplishments of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As one of the great Patriots we celebrate in Patriot Week, it is only fitting we spend a few minutes reflecting on his legacy today.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. The impetus underlying the Civil Rights Movement, like the drive to abolish slavery and enact Reconstruction, was the belief in the First Principle of equality. Dr. King firmly believed in this conviction and used it as his greatest weapon. 
King preached and practiced non-violent opposition in the face of oppression. He established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and led the struggle for equality during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. 
Writing from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, he explained that the civil rights activists were “standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” 
Thus, it was natural for King, when he addressed over 200,000 supporters who had marched on Washington, D.C., to echo Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass, in his famous and moving I Have a Dream Speech. The efforts and Dr. King and others in the Civil Rights Movement led to the adoption of several federal civil rights acts and ground-breaking Supreme Court decisions. 
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. His assassination gripped the nation and became a major impetuous for embracing racial equality in America.

For more on King, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sweet Trial - Vindication of Equality Under the Law

Today and I watched my dear friend retired Judge William J. Giovan perform in a riveting play about an amazing piece of all but forgotten history - the Sweet murder trial in Detroit in the 1920s in which the the key First Principle of equality under the law was vindicated.

In 1925, the African American Sweet family moved into an all white neighborhood. All the Sweet family wanted was a quiet life in a nice, safe home. Instead, on September 9, 1925, a huge mob gathered in the street, began throwing rocks at the home, and threatened the lives of the Sweets and their friends.  One of the home's defenders fired on the crowd, slaying a white man.  Soon a trial would occur, resulting in a deadlocked jury.

A second trial, presided over by future United States Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy.  The verdict was the acquittal of Henry Sweet - the only defendant tried at that time. The prosecutor then dismissed the case against the rest of the defendants.

Clarence Darrow, perhaps the most renowned trial attorney of the age, defended the Sweets.  He focused on the unalienable rights to possess and defend a home, including with force of arms, and the right to be treated equally under the law, regardless of race.  His closing argument is still stirring today; its most famous passage is below:

      I am the last one to come here to stir up race hatred, or any other hatred. I do not believe in the law of hate. I may not be true to my ideals always, but I believe in the law of love, and I believe you can do nothing with hatred. I would like to see a time when man loves his fellow man, and forgets his color or his creed. We will never be civilized until that time comes.  
       I know the Negro race has a long road to go. I believe the life of the Negro race has been a life of tragedy, of injustice, of oppression. The law has made him equal, but man has not. And, after all, the last analysis is, what has man done?--and not what has the law done? I know there is a long road ahead of him, before he can take the place which I believe he should take. I know that before him there is suffering, sorrow, tribulation and death among the blacks, and perhaps the whites. I am sorry. I would do what I could to avert it. I would advise patience; I would advise toleration; I would advise understanding; I would advise all of those things which are necessary for men who live together.  
       Gentlemen, what do you think is your duty in this case? I have watched, day after day, these black, tense faces that have crowded this court. These black faces that now are looking to you twelve whites, feeling that the hopes and fears of a race are in your keeping. 
       This case is about to end, gentlemen. To them, it is life. Not one of their color sits on this jury. Their fate is in the hands of twelve whites. Their eyes are fixed on you, their hearts go out to you, and their hopes hang on your verdict. 
       This is all. I ask you, on behalf of this defendant, on behalf of these helpless ones who turn to you, and more than that,--on behalf of this great state, and this great city which must face this problem, and face it fairly,--I ask you, in the name of progress and of the human race, to return a verdict of not guilty in this case!
85 years later, Darrow's words still teach us the need to provide equal justice for all.

For more on these themes, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Stand Tall, Do Not Bow to the Government

"Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us?" William O. Douglass, US Supreme Court Justice

Justice Douglass' words remind us that we are Americans.  Being an American means quite a bit, the most important of which is that we are free men and women - there is no nobility or King here.  Too often our political class acts like its entitled to lord over us.  It is just the opposite - the government is intended to serve the people - the government is the servant of the people, not the other way around.  Be vigilant, stand tall, stand for freedom.

To learn more about freedom, check out Patriot Week and Americas Survival Guide.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Law = Freedom

"Our nation is founded on the principle that observance of the law is the eternal safeguard of liberty and defiance of the law is the surest road to tyranny." John F. Kennedy (1962)

Kennedy's insight is not always apparent.  Many would argue that the ability to flout laws, or to do whatever one wants without constraint, is the definition of liberty.  Superficially such a conception is appealing.  Indeed, it appears entire swaths of our society embrace that hedonistic view of the world.

However, what America has long understood is that it is the law - adopted by the people - that protects our liberties.  The Constitution - the supreme law of the land, protects liberty by dividing power among branches and limiting the authority of the government.  Enforcement of the Bill of Rights is especially important to protecting the unalienable rights of individuals.  Thus, paradoxically, the law is truly the great protector of liberty.

For more on the importance of the rule of law, check out Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.