“The question 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. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself … guilty of treason.” –– Patrick Henry, 23 March, 1775, St John’s Church, Richmond Virginia
When Patrick Henry delivered those words, part of his famous “Liberty or Death” speech he followed Edmund Pendleton, the elder statesman of Virginia at that time. Pendleton had begged his fellow Virginians to give King George III and Parliament just one more chance at “reconciliation.”
Henry’s response can be compared to the situation we face today. That is, we know that our government is spying on us through the NSA and other agencies. We know that the NSA was created to assist the U.S. military. It follows then that whom it spies on is considered an enemy. Henry, eyeing a eerily similar situation, put it this way to Pendleton. (I changed British references to “federal.”):
“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 [the Federal Government] any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of [spies] 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 Federal Government have been so long forging.”
If you consider the NSA as a military outfit, as do I, Henry posed this question to a crowd of “patriots” still not convinced that Independence was legal or advisable against such a power. (Again, I changed proper nouns for comparison.) “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 Federal Agent shall be monitoring every house?”
There are no Patrick Henrys today but there is a Tea Party. The modern Tea Party movement got its start when CNBC’s Rick Santelli stood on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and indignantly demanded to know “how many of you wants to start paying their neighbor’s mortgage?” Does anyone else remember what had people so outraged? It was the soon to be passed, $866 billion “stimulus” deal, coming on the heels of a trillion dollar “bailout” for reckless banks, mortgage, car and insurance companies.
In the span of less than a year, The American government lavished almost $2 trillion on the well-connected while tea partiers saw their jobs eliminated, purchasing power eroded and savings made worthless. Millions turned out across the land for the April 15th, 2009 Tea Parties demanding this cease, but it never did and in fact has picked up steam. Between 2009 and today the Leviathan’s loan shark, the Federal Reserve, has laundered over $3 Trillion to the bailout class of ‘09, via “quantitative easing.”
I bring this and Patrick Henry up to update the scoreboard, Patriots of 1775, 28, Brits 27, in 4 overtimes. Patriots of 2009, 15, Federal Leviathan, 6.5 trillion, midway through the 3rd quarter. I would throw the challenge flag out now on the CIA for “roughing the Senator” but it wouldn’t make a difference, the national government is immune to officiating of any sort. We have an elected king some call president that fancies himself an expert on international law. He lectures Russia’s Putin and the citizens of Crimea over the nuances of Ukraine’s Constitution while micturating on our constitution. Then he lectures the same characters on international law and how they are violating it without his permission.
Their alleged crime? Resorting to 400 year old, well known cultural and geographic traditions and the God-given right to self-determination. This he does while denying that Louisianans can practice self-determination with our natural resources, schools and marriage laws. The same tyrant had no regard for “international law” when he assisted in the intervention in Libya and the assassination of that country’s leader, Qaddafi.
Captain Obvious is now a big star in hotels.com commercials but he is nowhere to be found when our King tells the world not to do business with Russia because they “invaded” eight football fields of Ukraine. What about the 8,000,000 square miles of Afghanistan we have invaded and conducted war in without ever declaring war on that country? What does “international law” say about dropping bombs on an innocent wedding party in Yemen? These acts have been presided over by two Secretaries of Defense and as many Secretaries of State, while the Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives has done nothing about it other than huff and puff over a tragedy, Benghazi, caused by America’s violation of international law in intervening there. The Tea Party’s response? Obama must pay for Benghazi! That’s like Patrick Henry and John Adams yelling, “George III must pay for Monongahela!”
This same government’s prosecution of Barrett Brown threatens to jeopardize what we used to know as the freedom of the press, as does its spying on others like James Rosen and the Associated Press’s Washington bureau. How do we know this was a freedom the Constitution’s framers intended to protect? This is how: “Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry, moved to insert [into the Constitution] a declaration ‘that the liberty of the Press should be inviolably observed’ – Mr. [Roger] Sherman ‘It is unnecessary— The power of Congress does not extend to the Press.'” This comes from the notes of James Madison on the Federal Convention, 14 September, 1787, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
Who is Kevin Trudeau? With a nod to Ayn Rand this is as important a question as anything having to do with Putin, Crimea and Ukraine. We once loathed the USSR for making political prisoners out of men who did nothing other than express themselves. We aimed 20,000 nuclear warheads their way, spent trillions on armaments and espionage and instructed two generations of our youth to oppose communism. Trudeau may not be a moral paragon but even hustlers must be accorded the rule of law.
Trudeau committed the unthinkable “crime” of “misleading” fat people by selling them weight loss books that 67 of them deemed defective. After a ten-year prosecution by the Federal Trade Commission, Trudeau was sentenced to ten years in a federal gulag by judge Ronald Guzman. Now with the Trudeau case the federal edifice has come full circle, who is the “pinko-commie” now? After being made to atone for his sins in court, Trudeau promised Guzman, “If I ever write a book again, if I ever do another infomercial again, I promise no embellishment, no puffery and absolutely no lies, I know going forward I will be a better person.” So the national government, chartered to facilitate free trade among the states and field an army against the returning British army now makes “good people” out of authors who earn the scorn of the obese. George Nicholas, one of the portliest Virginians who advocated ratifying the Constitution without a “liberty of the press” amendment, must be rolling over in his grave. But Nicholas is of no help to us today, neither is Henry if we tolerate another Kevin Trudeau, which seems likely now that the “precedent” has been established.
In 1905, historian William E Dodd discovered a correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and John Taylor of Caroline County. After the Adams administrations had locked up dozens of Kevin Trudeaus, Taylor implored Jefferson to lead a Virginia march out of the new union before it was too late. Pity for us that Jefferson rejected Taylor’s advice. Taylor though, the most prolific of all [r]epublicans of the time would not relent, responding to Jefferson.
“If in case of a scission of the union, party spirit will still be natural, how can it be said that our present situation, the characteristic of which is party spirit, is unnatural? A transference of this ascendency [of the East] to other individuals [the South] will change the tyrant, but not remove the evil. Did the British people ever gain by a change of ministry if Saturated are preferable to hungry flies? … And what is the proper time for opposing this ascendency Shall it be suffered to run through its natural course? How many years will bring it to decrepitude? Let England and all personal ascendencies reply. Let the ancient and modern system of villenage illustrate. Let them prove that such usurpation upon the rights of man are more assailable the more they are matured.” Taylor then predicts that if the situation is not altered, there would be no force on earth that could change it. He could not possibly know that Lincoln would make his prediction true, 63 years later. “You will evidently see that the perfection and not the scission of the union was the object of the letter you refer to, to which end an appreciation of the strength of its [the Union’s] soundest parts will probably tend, a probability of which the reigning power is so well convinced that it omits no means of its depreciation.”
I think that taking Taylor’s advice is not just smart, it is necessary. Believing that there is a “scission” that will gradually make its way into our affairs is the fantasy promoted by the parties, both of who benefit from the current tyranny. This will all end in tears if nothing is done, and may end in tears if something is done, I’ll take the odds of the may over the will. Now, where are the Henry’s and Taylor’s to lead the way?
Mike Church is a New Orleans native and a radio host appearing daily on the SiriusXM Patriot Channel. He is an author and editor of “Patrick Henry-American Statesman” and is the writer and director of 7 Docudramas on American history including “The Spirit of ‘76” and the recently released “Times That try Men’s Souls-Washington’s Crossing”.