Archive for May, 2009

henryOn March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry stepped before the Virginia Convention of the House of Burgesses and delivered what is one of the most well known speeches in American History. Stooped under the weight of the Intolerable Acts, the Virginians were still unsure whether or not to enter into open rebellion against Great Britain. While no one in attendance that day wrote down Henry’s words, the speech was so burned into the memories of his fellow patriots that 36 years later William Wirt, Henry’s biographer, was able to accurately reconstruct the speech from their recollections. Wirt describes the listeners after Henry concluded:

“No murmur of applause was heard. The effect was too deep. After the trance of a moment, several members started from their seats. The cry, ‘to arms,’ seemed to quiver on every lip, and gleam from every eye!… That supernatural voice still sounded in their ears, and shivered along their arteries… They became impatient of speech – their souls were on fire for action.”

And so it was that the colony of Virginia sent troops to war with the British, and the American Revolution was joined. 27 days later, on April 19, the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. Seven long years of war followed until, on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris formally freed the United States from Great Britain.

Patrick Henry went on to become the governor of Virginia from 1784 to 1786 and a fierce defender of state’s rights. He and fellow Antifederalists were instrumental in engineering the addition of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.

It is conceivable that our nation would look very different today if Patrick Henry had not spoken the following words. This one small spark ingnited the inferno from which sprung the great American experiment. Unlike speeches from today’s politicians, whose endless and flowery words stand for very little and are soon forgotten, Henry’s speech was very brief, meant everything, and still endures. Happy Birthday Patrick Henry, from a grateful nation.

“No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.”

“Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. 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 been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!”

“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? 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? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The 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, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable ­ and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.”

“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace ­ but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? 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 as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Listen to the speech here.

Watch a reenactment of the speech here.

For a modern, disturbing, and highly relevant interpretation of Patrick Henry’s speech, go here.


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CB068300Barack Obama got his first crack at the Supreme Court this week, nominating Sonia Sotomayor, who currently sits on the 2nd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Several people have asked me what I think of this choice. In one short statement I will sum it up: IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE.

We knew President Obama wasn’t going to appoint a conservative judge or a strict constitutionalist, at least not intentionally. So that left him with two options politically speaking: a left-leaning moderate or a raging liberal. I think that we may have squeaked by with a moderate.

A lot of conservative folks are concerned about some statements Sotomayor has made in the past concerning ethnicity:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” — 2001 speech at the University of California, Berkeley

and policy making:

“All of the legal defense funds out there, they are looking for people with court of appeals experience because the court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. Okay, I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I know.”
— statement from 2005 at Duke University.

Neither of these statements are particularly troublesome to me. A Latina woman will have a different perspective and reach different conclusions than a white male. I don’t know if that conclusion will be particularly better or not, but from Sotomayor’s perspective as a Latina, I’m sure it seems that way. We all interpret input based on our worldview; to think that anyone would be immune to this natural process is foolish and unrealistic. As for judges making policy, come on. We all know this is the case. To pretend it is not is also foolish. The goal is to find judges that make policy that is consistent with legislated law in light of the Constitution.

The liberals are, of course, lauding Sotomayor’s life experience and lofty credentials. Born to Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx, she was raised by her mother alone from the age of 9 following her father’s death. She is the first Hispanic female nominated for the Supreme Court (though not the first person of Spanish decent to serve); she has battled insulin dependent diabetes since childhood. She graduated from Princeton and Yale Law, and was editor of the Yale Law Journal. She has worked in private law practice, as the assistant New York DA, and as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. These are all excellent experiences and qualifications, to be sure, but for some reason the lefties think these things alone make Sotomayor highly qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. They also gasp in indignation when anyone dares question the choice of Sotomayor: “How dare you! That spunky Latina survived the Bronx and diabetes!” Gimme a break.

Yes, life experience and expertise in the law are important, but the only absoluely essential qualifications for a Justice of the Supreme Court are these: integrity, respect for law and the Constitution as written, and resistance to the temptation to legislate from the bench. If you have these attributes you can do the job, be you white, black, purple, or green. You can do it with heart disease and/or athlete’s foot. You can even do it if your parents are from Missouri or Mars. Sotomayor’s past decisions reveal a mixed bag on these essential qualities. That is why I see her as a liberal-moderate. Will she slide farther to the left after her appointment? I’d say it’s likely, but at least she isn’t starting out on the left field wall, and her appointment won’t really change the political climate of the Supreme Court.

I say it could have been worse. I say the most important quote of Sotomayor’s career was the philosophy she outlined at her prior Senate confirmation hearing in 1997:

“I don’t believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it.”

Will this turn out to be an accurate picture of soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor? I guess only time will tell.

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bugler_monmentBEAT! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation;
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride;
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, plowing his field or gathering his grain;
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets:
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? No sleepers must sleep in those beds;
No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—Would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation;
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer;
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties;
Make even the trestles to shake the dead, where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump, O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.

–Walt Whitman

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tweetI spent all morning trying to figure out Twitter. I’m very conflicted about it. It seems to go against everything I stand for; you know: privacy, unobtrusiveness, and not looking at your flippin’ cell phone every minute of every day. On the other hand, there is something frighteningly cool about being able to follow the life and times of other people, like Shaquille O’Neal, for instance. You get to find out all kinds of little interesting and useless things about people. For example:

–Last night Glenn Beck saw the new Terminator movie. He liked it!

Penn Jillette took his kids to the Natural History Museum in New York City last week.

–The state representative from the next district over, Jonathan Dismang, went to a wine tasting in Altus, Arkansas this morning. Apparently the Chardonnay and Syrah were the best.

–My friend Chad went to Riverfest today. He rode his motorcycle.

John Scalzi pranced about like a monkey for an hour around noon today.

–My friend Greg likes Aaron Copland. We are kindred spirits.

See? I never would have known these things had I not Twittered today. So privacy and rude phone-gazing be darned! I will be Twittering non-stop from now on.

If you are from the government and want to keep closer tabs on me, or if you are a normal person and just want to follow me on Twitter, go here. You can also read the posts at the bottom of the far right hand column here on the blog.

Now please excuse me while I go tweet.

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I don’t think much of Rachel Maddow generally, but she’s right on with this one.

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sleepyelephantThis is a call to all of my brothers and sisters who flock to the banner of the red, white, and blue elephant; who name yourselves for the original American form of government; who claim Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as your political forefathers. Many of you have been sleeping for the past 8 years, blissfully unaware that those of your ranks in public office were straying dangerously from the path of freedom. You barely stirred at your party’s adoption of massive government expansion, gross fiscal irresponsibility, and degradation of personal liberty. You sleepwalked through the election, hoping to squeak another carbon copy president into office who would let you doze away one more term. You may be sleeping even now, as a party of different name but similar intentions exercises its new found power. This is your wake up call. The time has come for you to embrace your true heritage and join the battle. The time has come for you to open your eyes.

Even now your party is lying to you. Your leader claims that you have “turned a corner” and can now begin your climb back to prominence, yet he stands firm on the same broken principles that led to your utter defeat. Your major spokesman talks the talk, but when it comes time to cast his vote, seems to forget all about walking the walk. Yet he is enthusiastically cheered by your party faithful. The people’s representative from the state of New York, one of your own, has introduced a plan to strip you of your most basic rights without due process of law, yet there is no outcry. There is barely a whimper.

Do you really think that you can rebuild the Grand Old Party with empty men of straw? Will you continue to elect those who give lip service to the Constitution, but true service to the purse? Do you truly believe that once you have allowed them to strip you of your right of self defense, they will allow you to keep your right to speak, your right to assemble, and your right to worship? Welcome to the truth: the party you cling to is no more. It has become the other half of the other side. There are no more D’s and R’s; they all stand for the same thing: the party of P. The party of power.

Republicans, your only path to restoration is the path of liberty. It is time for those who truly believe in freedom to break the chains of party loyalty. Don’t be afraid, this is familiar ground. It is the ground your party founders once walked. The republic of Jefferson and Madison is gone, buried long ago beneath reams of bad laws and good intentions. We must work together to clear away the rubble of America’s broken two party system and uncover the nation they left to us: a nation where every man is free to enjoy the fruit of his labor, the peace with his neighbor, and the blessings of his Creator. The fight will not be short or easy; the establishment is entrenched against us. But if we have the courage to abandon our labels and stand together, we can restore to a proud people what was once an honorable tradition. Wake up Republicans! Dust off your Constitution and join the cause. The Republic awaits.

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ashtonHere at Sleepy G’s, we aim for accuracy, but we don’t always hit it. A few days ago I posted a story about the arrest of Ashton Lundeby for making internet telephone based bomb threats to Purdue University. I stated that, under the authority of the Patriot Act, Ashton had been seized by federal law enforcement, taken to another state, and held without charges being brought against him. I also stated that there was no evidence linking Ashton to the bomb threats. It turns out that several of these claims are grossly incorrect.

One of my readers (thanks Rob) sent me a report from Wired Magazine that presents the facts much more accurately. Ashton was not seized under the authority of the Patriot Act, but rather under a federal law from 1939 (Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(e)) outlawing over-the-phone bomb threats. It seems that Ashton’s mother may have invented the Patriot Act connection to draw attention to her son’s case. The article also makes it clear that Ashton has formally been charged with a crime under the 1939 federal law and has been given a court-appointed attorney.

A follow up story from Wired seems to scrap most of the “no evidence” argument as well. It seems that Ashton was a well known prank caller who went by the online code name of “Tyrone”. Many of Tyrone’s prank calls were archived on YouTube, although the account has now been suspended. The police were led to Ashton/Tyrone by a student who claims he paid Tyrone money to call in the threat so that school would be cancelled and he would get a “day off”. A recording of the prank bomb threat to Purdue and other schools can be found here. A press release about the case from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Indiana can be viewed here.

Even with this evidence and Ashton’s history as a prank caller, his mother still claims that her son was with her at a church meeting when the Purdue bomb threats were made. No actual bomb-making materials were found at the Lundeby home, so it seems that Ashton’s alleged threats were not intended to be accompanied by actual bombs. Ashton is being held without bail at a South Bend, Indiana detention center and will apparently be charged as an adult.

We apologize for the inaccurate reporting in the original story about Ashton Lundeby. I remind you all to follow Rob’s example. Check out everything you read for legitimacy before taking action. Please inform me of any future inaccuracies you read on Sleepy G’s, because we aim for accuracy.

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