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Archive for January, 2009

So we are less than a week into President Obama’s administration and already he’s made several controversial actions.

First, the bad news.  Several days ago, the president reversed a long-standing Bush policy on refusing funding to international groups who either perform or promote abortions.  This decision is terrible for several reasons.  From a limited government perspective, the government should not waste taxpayer dollars on international aid.  Then, from a conservative perspective, the government should not be in the business of aiding groups who slaughter innocent children.  Thus this action, traditional from modern-day Democratic presidents, is immoral, wasteful, and is downright unconstitutional.

Next, the good news.  One of Obama’s first acts was the closing of the secret CIA prisons operated on foreign soil.  Although my neoconservative friends will cry foul, I really think that such an action will, in the long term, enhance U.S. security.  How so, you might ask?  Well, think about the situation from a reverse perspective.   What if the Russians or the Chinese set up detention centers in Lightfoot, Falls Church, Louisa, and Dayton?  Would you, as an American, support this plan?  How about if one of your friends or relatives were captured and held at such a facility?  Would you consider it a violation of his or her constitutional rights?  Would you harbor a grudge against the intruding nation?  Of course!  No self-respecting American would tolerate such domestic interference from foreign powers.  Now why should we expect citizens in other countries to think differently?

As he promised on the campaign trail, that’s a fair amount of change for week one.

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A Comment About Comments

Good evening everyone.

I am delighted that so many of you take the opportunity to express yourself and your thoughts on my blog.  However, as stated on my very first post, I wrote, “Feel free to comment however you see fit, though I do ask for you to keep any personal attacks or profanity at a minimum”.  As this is my virtual home, I feel it is my duty to treat each and every guest as I myself would hope to be treated, even if he or she holds wildly divergent opinions from my own.  Therefore, should a person include comments that attack another contributor personally or include highly objectionable material, I will modify or delete that portion of comment as I see fit.  Otherwise, I’ll approve just about anything else.

Thanks for reading and keep adding your $.02 as you see fit.

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So I didn’t watch yesterday’s inauguration.  Then again…I’ve never watched an inauguration.  Why break a trend?  Personally I feel that fancy inaugurations are a waste of both time and money and this one was slated to be more lavish than any prior.  However, my cousin was not so lucky as he was compelled by his university to witness the event.  Afterward, he directed me to a YouTube clip of a prayer.  I thought it was lengthy and rambling, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the words.  In closing the pastor, Rev. Lowery, made several remarks you should hear for yourself.

Glad to see that liberals still try to divide us by race.  Pretty sure that if I talked about the “yellow” and “red man” I’d be labeled a racist.  And what’s this bit about “when black will not be asked to give back” and “when white will embrace what is right”?  Give back?  Give back what?  The only thing I can figure is that he dreams of a day where black people will not be asked to give back anything to society.  I know that thought doesn’t make any sense so maybe someone can help me out here.  And is he suggesting the race of white people so wicked and tarnished that they are purely evil?  Will they hopefully turn from their ways at some point in the future?  Although only a day removed from Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this prayer is a far cry from King’s “I Have Dream” speech.  So much for a colorblind society, huh?  Ideally, don’t we hope to live in a country where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”?  I know that I do.  As a side note, advancing racism through a position of power like the church or bully pulpit is particularly disgusting.  If a moment like this one heralds the trend of an Obama presidency, I weep for our future.

Update:  Apparently the majority opinion was that he said, “When black will not be asked to get back”.  That makes much more sense, though as far as I know that problem hasn’t really come up during my lifetime.  The civil rights movement put an end to forcing persons to the back of the bus.  It is interesting to note the cut to Pres. Obama’s expression.  He is smiling…up until the point when the pastor makes his dig at white people.  Watch it again if you missed it.  Although he has said nothing so far, it is good to see that he at least knows this kind of rhetoric is not appropriate.

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As Lee/Jackson Day approached this year, a number of my fellow bloggers wrote passionately about the subject.  Some even wrote petitions in an attempt to either scrap or preserve the celebration in the commonwealth.  Although I didn’t write a post on my page concerning the topic, I did offer some brief thoughts.  As both Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson fought on behalf of our home of Virginia, risking their lives, their honour, and their fortunes, I believe that such an effort should be remembered and celebrated.  Yesterday morning, I found in article in my local paper, the Daily News Record, which presents a convincing argument in favor of the day.  Even though most of you do not get the DNR, I didn’t want you to miss out.  After a bit of email correspondence last night, I am pleased to present that article here.  I hope you enjoy it as I did.

Lee, Jackson Share Common Ground With King
By Luanne Austin “The Rural Pen”

As a tender young Yankee being educated in public schools as required by the State of New York, all I knew of the Civil War was that we (the North) were against the enslavement of blacks and they (the South) were for it.

On Long Island, my fellow residents and I had no reminders of the war. There were no battlefields or dead heroes among us.

In my 30 years of living in the Shenandoah Valley, I have learned much of this period in our nation’s history and have come to think of it as the War of Northern Aggression. For I believe Virginia’s two great Confederate generals fought passionately, not for slavery, but to defend their homes.

Today is Lee-Jackson Day in Virginia, a legal holiday honoring these men, followed on Monday with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Lee’s devotion to God is well known. “No day should be lived unless it was begun with a prayer of thankfulness and an intercession for guidance,” he said.

Though Northern troops wreaked destruction on the South – its towns, farms and homes – Lee refused to retaliate in kind. When it was suggested that he do so, he responded, “I cannot hope that Heaven will prosper our cause when we are violating its laws. I shall, therefore, carry on the war in Pennsylvania without offending the sanctions of a high civilization and of Christianity.”

Though a slave owner, Lee knew slavery was wrong. His defense of the South had nothing to do with defending slavery. He wrote, “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country,” and said, “If the slaves of the South were mine, I would surrender them all without a struggle to avert the war.”

Indeed, in his letter to Lt. General Winfield Scott dated April 20, 1861, Lee resigned from the U.S. Army, stating, “Save in defence of my native State, I never desire again to draw my sword.”

Of Jackson’s faith, his friend Harvey Hill remarked, “I never knew anyone whose reverence for Deity was so all pervading and who felt so completely his entire dependence upon God.”

One year after the death of his wife and firstborn son, Jackson started a Sunday school for the slaves who attended his church in Lexington. In the book, “All Things for Good,” author J. Steven Wilkins writes that in the fall of 1855, Lexington Presbyterian Church had 318 members, 11 of whom were slaves. Soon after the class got going, Jackson had more than 100 students enrolled.

When the war became imminent, Jackson said, “People who are anxious to bring on war don’t know what they are bargaining for.”

It’s so fitting that we celebrate the lives of these men today, along with Martin Luther King, Jr. One hundred years after the Uncivil War, the rights of blacks were fought for in a civil war by a man who heard clearly from God.

“God is a living God,” said King. “In him there is feeling and will, responsive to the deepest yearnings of the human heart: this God both evokes and answers prayers.”

King’s strategy of nonviolent resistance is unparalleled in America’s short history. However, King’s battle was no less daring or dangerous than Lee and Jackson’s. He was arrested and jailed numerous times. His home was bombed twice, his family received death threats daily, and he was the victim of a near-fatal stabbing. Ultimately, he died for what he believed in.

Still, he won. We all won.

If only his method had won, too.

Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney. Contact her at http://www.RuralPen@aol.com or care of the DN-R.

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I’m sure you know that, as a conservative Republican, I have been extremely disappointed with the Bush Presidency.  Not only has he failed to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, he instead vastly increased it.  Unfortunately many Republicans, although privately critical of Bush, still continued to enthusiastically support him publicly.  Both fiscal and social conservatives have been marginalized and their votes and support taken for granted.  After all, whom else would they turn to?  The Democrats, awash in liberalism?  I should think not.

The Obama presidency with all its rhetoric of hope and change will likely just continue or even accelerate the rampant growth of the government making the Bush administration “good” by comparison.  Fortunately, this time no conservatives will hide their principles for the sake of the party in power.  The greatest hope Obama gives me is a strong resurgence of conservative principles in the midterm 2010 elections like was done in 1994.

Along this line of thought, I want to draw your attention to today’s post of the conservative Charlestonian commentator, Jack Hunter, a.k.a. The Southern Avenger.

All of you who still fervently back George W. Bush please rest assured that I have no plans to further discuss my disappointment with this President.  Regardless of party, we must now stand united against the threat of liberalism and socialism that this new President and Congress present.

For liberty with responsibility!

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Unlike many other states in the Union, Virginia tightly regulates the sale of certain alcoholic beverages through state-run ABC stores.  Compare this attitude to California, where one can purchase vodka, whiskey, and similar products in the local grocery stores.  Of course, that is one of the results of federalism…each state can decide their own alcohol policy irrespective of the laws of other states.  Naturally each state should have full control over these policies.  Now if we could only get back full control of important areas such as education, welfare, and health care…but I digress.

The 26th’s own Senator Mark Obenshain looks to change our sales of alcohol by returning control of sales to private business.  According to his new facebook group, Virginians for ABC Store Privatization,  “If ever there was a time to challenge traditional notions about business as usual in Virginia, this is it!

There are certain core competencies of state government, but selling distilled spirits is not one of them. That’s why Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) has called for the divestiture of Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control-operated state stores, a proposal that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue at a time when the Commonwealth is struggling to balance its budget while offering consumers the increased selection and quality of service associated with private enterprise.

This effort can succeed only with grassroots support. Let’s take a stand for free enterprise. For truly limited and responsible government. We need your help. Join us in our effort to get the Commonwealth out of the distilled spirits business.”

I think that breaking the monopoly of state-run alcohol is a good idea for free enterprise and limited government and if it saves the state money, so much the better.  However, I do wonder what will spring up in place of them.   From my limited experiences, societies that respect and understand alcohol rather than fear and demonize them have fewer cases of alcohol abuse and alcohol related crime.  It is the same with firearms.  It is my hope that a law, such as one proposed by Senator Obenshain, will enable greater freedom and responsibility, but only time will tell.  We should get the full text of the bill soon.

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Just a short update here folks.  In case you haven’t heard, next week legislators and conservative activists from across the state will be gathering at the capital in an attempt to halt Virginia implementation of the federally mandated Real ID program.  Several other states have rejected this plan and it is high time Virginia does so as well.

The details:

When:  1:00 PM Jan. 21
Where: Virginia Capital Bell Tower
910 Capital Street
Richmond

Both Del. Marshall and Sen. Cuccinelli will be there as well as numerous others.  Wish I could join you, but unfortunately I have to work.

For liberty!

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If you have spent anytime at all in the western part of Virginia, you’ll find that monuments dedicated to U.S. Civil War are just about everywhere.  For example, there are historical markers, statues, even an occasional flag or two.  Generally, a lot of people who are native to the Shenandoah Valley are quite suspicious of the government in Washington due, in part, to the events before, during, and after that conflict.  After all, a number of battles took place here and tales of the brutal actions of General Sheridan linger in the minds of many to this very day.

But now time for a bit of history, eh?  The idea of secession was integral to the formation of the United States of America.  After all, the War for American Independence against Great Britain was a secessionist movement.  The thirteen colonies (or states) no longer sought redress or a greater sway in the matter of the government of Great Britain, but instead wished to break free of that government and to rule themselves as they saw fit.   Once they achieved victory, out of concern over a strong federal government, the states first came together to create a very weak united federal government under a document called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.   This largely ineffective “perpetual” government was soon replaced by our present Constitution.  But with this new government did the states reserve the right to secede if they so chose?   There was no clear-cut answer.  During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, a number of New England states threatened secession over the issue of the Louisiana Purchase.  His response? “Whether we remain in one confederacy, or form into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I believe not very important to the happiness of either part. Those of the Western confederacy will be as much our children & descendants as those of the Eastern.” Jan. 29, 1804.  And “God bless them both, & keep them in Union, if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better.” August 12, 1803.  Andrew Jackson took the opposite viewpoint when faced with prospect of South Carolinian secession over the issue of tariffs.  “The Constitution of the United States, then, forms a government, not a league, and whether it be formed by compact between the States, or in any other manner, its character is the same.  It is a government in which all the people are represented, which operates directly on the people individually, not upon the States; they retained all the power they did not grant.  But each State having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single nation, cannot from that period possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation, and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation” Dec. 10, 1832.  In neither of these two cases, of course, did any state or states secede from the union.

Then, on December 24, 1860, after the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina issued the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union (the full text of which can be found here).  In the ensuing weeks, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas all withdrew from the Union.  In response, on April 15, President Lincoln issued a call for troops to put down what he saw as an illegal and unconstitutional rebellion.  Although an earlier effort by some Virginians to secede failed, the government was quite unwilling to take up arms against its Southern neighbors and therefore passed an ordinance of secession two days later.  (text found here).  This act was followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina all removing themselves from the Union.  Perhaps the history you learned in high school would lead you to believe that everyone thought secession was illegal and that war was the only solution.  Not so.  For example, consider the mixed opinions of the then living former Presidents of the country.  Martin Van Buren (8th, New York) opposed secession and was an advocate for war.  John Tyler (10th, Virginia) supported peaceful secession and was even elected to represent Virginia in the Confederate Congress.  Millard Fillmore (13th, New York) initially in favor of the war later opposed Lincoln and supported the Democrats and peace in 1864. Franklin Pierce (14th, New Hampshire) although against secession was a heavy critic of the war and Lincoln, saying, “‘I will never justify, sustain, or in any way or to any extent uphold this cruel, heartless, aimless unnecessary war.’  He opposed just as firmly Lincoln’s violations of civil rights, and thought the Emancipation Proclamation showed, his biographer states ‘that the true purpose of the war was to wipe out the states and destroy property.’”  (Jefferson Davis, Unconquerable Heart, page 360).  James Buchanan (15th, Pennsylvania) spoke against secession but also against a war to prevent it.  In an 1860 message to Congress he stated, “Our union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war.” After the bloody and costly war ended one would expect the issue of secession to be as dead as the mounds of fallen soldiers.  In 1869, the Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White that secession was unconstitutional, stating, “The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.”

Let us flash back to the present.  I cannot recall ever meeting a Virginian who called for secession, at least orally.  The phrase “the South will rise again” was more of a metaphor than a true call for action and I assumed that such was the same in other former confederate areas as well.  No one actually advocates secession these days.  Boy, was I wrong and my experiences in Tennessee and South Carolina taught me otherwise.  Like so many Virginians, a lot of Tennesseans and South Carolinians maintain a healthy distrust of the federal government.  But some go further, advocating secession for his or her home state or region.  Of these people and movements, the most organized that I found was the League of the South.  They maintain chapters are not only in the traditional south, but also claim members in California, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, and West Virginia (who would think?).  I would suspect, however, that most of their branches outside of the Deep South are quite small.  After all, how many of you knew about the Virginia group?  The purpose of this organization, according to their website, is “To advance the cultural, social, economic, and political well-being and independence of the Southern people by all honourable means.”  But the ideas of secession permeate more than just nostalgic Southerners.  For example, in Hawaii and Alaska, the two most recent additions to the American Union, there are dedicated secessionist movements.  Then you also have the neighboring New England states of Vermont and New Hampshire.  As a handful in Vermont look to create a quasi-socialist paradise, two groups vie for control of New Hampshire, activist libertarians and theocratic Christians.  Will any of these efforts succeed and break away?  And if they attempt a feat, what will be the federal government’s response?  Will we be engulfed or torn asunder as a result of another Civil War?

So what are my thoughts on this subject?  My theory on American government, be it local, state, or federal, is that the primary focus is and should be to protect the lives, liberty, and property of her citizens.  Should any government fail its critical duties, then the people (ideally, through their elected representatives) have the right to withdraw from this corrupt and worthless government.  Way too radical, you think?  Do these thoughts not hearken back to the ideas which founded this great nation?  Did Thomas Jefferson not write similarly in the Declaration of Independence, “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 of 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 shewn 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.”?  Secession, in my mind, serves as final tool to bulwark against the threat of tyranny.  Like war, it should not be used lightly or without cause, but if a state (or locality) feels as if the federal (or state) government has usurped power or has repeatedly violated the Constitution then it can and should exercise this extreme option.  It should serve as a last resort to advance the cause of liberty, freedom, and self-determination.  Does the government exist to serve the people or do the people exist to serve the government?  Don’t local, state, and federal governments serve at the pleasure of the citizenry?  How much closer would the government adhere to the agreed upon rules if they could be punished with the loss of revenue and constituents?  Say that Massachusetts wished to become its own nation to better promote their liberal values.  Although I would think such a move terribly foolish, regardless of the reasoning, I would respect the will of the people of Massachusetts and could not neither take up arms against them nor advocate reaffixing the state to the nation under threat of violence.  To do so would undermine the spirit of liberty and the right of the men and women of Massachusetts to consent to their own governance.  All this being said, I truly hope that American government can be restored rather than broken apart.  Despite the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of secession, I predict that the issue will resurface in the mainstream within the next 25 years. Will the American experiment crumble into fifty separate nations or will the issue be resolved through peaceful diplomacy…or bloody warfare?  Are we, or will we be, a Republic of fifty United States or an Empire of provinces?  Therein lies our answer.  If we lay aside or are stripped of the principles and values under which this nation was founded, then I have little choice but to say, “If at first you don’t secede…”

Update: I’ve got a poll about this subject up in a recent post, so head on over and cast your vote.

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