Category archives: History

It’s a Grand New Flag

by Robert Morrison

June 16, 2009

My friend Dick Libby is a stickler for historical accuracy. While visiting Annapolis famed Hammond-Harwood house, the retired Episcopal priest spied a painting of Marylands Old State House as it looked in 1783, when the U.S. Congress was meeting in the city. The flag that was then flying from the Capitol dome was a huge affair, 9 feet by 23 feetand it didnt look like the replica that has been on display under the dome for years. The John Shaw flagas it has been called for more than two hundred yearswas named for the Annapolis resident who was a skilled cabinetmaker and officer in the states proud militia. But the painting showed the blue band that bears the 13 stars of this early American flag running the full length of the flags hoist. The replica on display in the Capitol puts those stars on a dark blue cantoncloser to the arrangement of Old Glory we know and love today.

Dicks discovery led him to champion a restoration of the John Shaw flag to its original design. And that newly reproduced flaga truly stunning American beautywas dedicated on Sunday, Flag Day, in the Old State House. Marylands magnificent state capitol is the oldest still in continuous use.

Why care? What difference does all this make? The John Shaw flagId prefer to call it the Shaw-Libby flagwas the one that flew over one of the most remarkable scenes in the history of the world. General George Washington came to Annapolis to resign his commission to Congress. He told a reception of Annapolis dignitaries: I owe it to that Supreme being who guides the hearts of all; who has so signally interposed his aid in every Stage of the Contest and who has graciously been pleased to bestow on me the greatest of earthly rewards: the approbation and affections of a free people. Washington was not shy about saying that God had given the Americans the victory in our War of Independence.

For George Washington voluntarily to give up power, to hand back his military commission to the civil authority that had given it to him, was nearly a miracle. At that time, men of learning and experience feared the examples of Caesar and Cromwell.

They had used their popularity with the army to seize all power for themselves. King George III was amazed when he was told Washington was going to resign. If he does that, he truly will be the greatest man on earth.

But that is exactly what His Excellency General Washington did. He readily recognized a higher power, the power of God. And he was not alone. Thomas Mifflin, the president of Congress, replied to Washingtons brief address in words that James Madison would later say bore the shining traces of their draftsman, Thomas Jefferson:

We join with you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching Him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for You [General Washington], we address to Him our warmest prayers, that a life so beloved, may be fostered with all His carethat your days may be happy as they have been illustrious, and that He will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give.

We learn a lot about the world view of the Founding Fathers from this scene. All acknowledged a loving, protecting God, a God of justice and mercy, and One who is actively involved in the lives of men and nations. All acknowledged a final reward which only God can give.

Today, we seem so skittish about mentioning Him in public. The little flag dedication ceremony last Sunday in the Old State House included a moment of silence, but no prayer. One wonders if the ACLU had been in that building in 1783 if they would have rushed in yelling to General Washington and Congress President Mifflin to cease and desist. Thank God they were not there. Those who were there in 1783, however, were so moved by the scene that numerous accounts record the whole company was in tears.

General Washington mounted up soon after that December 23rd ceremony. He politely declined all invitations to public dinners and danceshe loved dancing with the beautiful ladies and they loved dancing with him. He had to hurry on his way. He wanted to be home at Mount Vernon—for Christmas.

Joe Barrett: Resting, at last, in Peace

by Robert Morrison

June 5, 2009

Veterans of the pro-life movement will remember Joe Barrett. No, they will find it impossible to forget Joe Barrett. Barrett, who died last week at 71, was described as a stormy petrel. That’s too pale, too pastel. Try screaming eagle. He was forever urging us to fight. He liked to compare politics to a barroom brawl: “Just walk in, throw the first punch, and see who lines up on your side.”

Joe had some unfortunate prejudices. He didn’t like Protestants, Republicans, or Yankees. William Allen White was all three of those things. White was a Kansas editor who wrote about FDR the day he died: “We who hate your gaudy guts salute you.”

I never hated Joe’s gaudy guts. But he was nothing if not gaudy and gutsy. Joe loved marching into Paul Weyrich’s weekly meetings on Capitol Hill-especially if someone from the Bush White House was there, or perhaps a congressional GOP leader. He would start off a blast: “The trouble with you Republicans…”

Joe’s threw his best punch at the Republican bosses in Pennsylvania. The year was 1990. It was the year after a feckless White House response to the Supreme Court’s Webster decision. The pro-life movement throughout the country seemed to be on the ropes. Forty-plus weak pro-lifers in the U.S. House of Representatives, most of them Republicans-turned coat.

Joe saw an opportunity to take a stand for the unborn in the Keystone State. Gov. Bob Casey was a Democrat and quietly pro-life. Casey was running for re-election. In Arlen Specter’s home state, the Republican suits put forward State Auditor Barbara Hafer, a loudly pro-abortion candidate.

Joe wasn’t going to go gently into that good fight. He swung into action and spearheaded a challenge to the establishment by Peg Luksik, a political unknown. Joe knew how to organize a political campaign at the grassroots level. He knew how to count votes. Peg’s campaign had enthusiasm, spirit, and pluck. Lots of pluck—-and no money.

Still, Peg Luksik managed to win nearly 46% of the vote in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary that year. She didn’t win. What she did was even better. She showed the strength of the pro-life cause at the grassroots. Her near-victory made professional pols around the country sit up and take notice. She made possible the landslide re-election of Gov. Casey as an unapologetic pro-lifer. Peg’s strong showing breathed life into the pro-life movement-not just in Pennsylvania, but across the country.

Casey had been elected Governor the first time with just 50% of the vote. Seeing what Peg Luksik and Joe Barrett had done, Casey spoke out more strongly for the unborn. He was re-elected by an astounding 67% in 1990. That translated to 2,065,281 votes. No Pennsylvania governor had ever won by such a margin before. And because he was so strong in his pro-life commitment, Casey earned the contempt of the Clintons. They banned him from speaking at their 1992 national convention in New York.

As they used to say of that good Democrat, Grover Cleveland, we love him for the enemies he made. Joe Barrett was happy to make you some enemies if you didn’t already have enough.

Bob Casey’s voice is sorely missed today. For all the talk of dialogues under Golden Domes, who speaks for the most vulnerable among us, who cries out in defense of the defenseless, who gives voice to the voiceless? Bob Casey did. And so did Joe Barrett.

Before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and before he took the soup, Daniel Patrick Moynihan said,”What’s the use of being Irish if you don’t know the world will someday break your heart?”

Joe Barrett’s heart was broken by what was happening in this country. He cared, too, about human rights in the North of Ireland and about the needs of our returning veterans. Maybe he fought so hard for the wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital because Joe was himself a wounded warrior. He was very Irish, faithfully Catholic, and all-American.

I thank God for Joe’s being in my life. And I thank God for the life that was in Joe.

Obama’s Grim Fairy Tale

by Robert Morrison

May 7, 2009

President Obama is offering up a new version of the old fable of the stone soup. You’ll recall the Brothers Grimm fairy tale where the strangers come to town, offering nothing but a stone in the bottom of their kettle. They persuade the townspeople to add some potatoes, carrots, and soup bones, just for “garnish.” Soon they had a feast-for free.

In 1976, candidate Jimmy Carter came to Iowa. He said he “didn’t like abortion.” And he pledged to reduce “the need for abortion.” This at least was something.

To most people, the Republican candidate wasn’t even offering a stone. President Ford never mentioned abortion, or the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion-on-demand. He let the First Lady, Betty Ford, speak out, offering her strongly pro-abortion views.

The Republican Party actually condemned Roe v. Wade in its 1976 platform. But President Ford ignored that fact, and a biased press played up Mrs. Ford’s vocal support. In her memoirs, Betty Ford praised her hubby for “letting me do all the talking about abortion. That was wise of him,” she said. It was wise only if Ford didn’t need Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Liberal journalist Elizabeth Drew praised Carter for wrapping “a liberal policy stance in conservative rhetoric.” Carter went on to win the election. He named hundreds of judges to the federal judiciary, but not one pro-lifer.

He did, however, name the pro-life Joe Califano as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the predecessor to HHS. Carter also supported and signed the Hyde Amendment, which banned federal funding of abortion, something Ford had allowed to go forward.

Obama is using Carter’s successful rhetoric without even a scintilla of Carter’s significant concessions to pro-life sentiment. Under Obama, we are being forced to pay to promote abortions around the world. We may be forced to pay for abortion-on-demand in his health care takeover. Pro-life doctors and nurses could be forced to take part in killing unborn children-or, more likely, killing their careers rather than compromise their conscience. Obama’s rhetoric is appealing, rather like that nice hot stone soup. But his common ground is as lacking in substance as that empty kettle. The morning after, we’ll awake to find it was only “some enchanted evening.”

One Hundred Days: Where Does it Come From?

by Robert Morrison

April 30, 2009


There’s a lot of media buzz about President Obama’s first “hundred days.” What’s so special about one hundred days? After all, he was elected to a term of four years. One hundred days surely is not very long in comparison to the more than 1,460 days of a Presidential normal term. (Those hardy souls who are already sporting 1.20.13 bumper stickers seem to all their fellow commuters to have jumped the gun.)

The media is also full of stories of how Americans are in love with our “hip” First Family. If Americans are in love with a father-headed, married-with-children model family, that is certainly a very good thing. If the Obamas can make marriage hip, then I’d say hip, hip, hooray.

But that hundred day thing has an odd origin for a free people to celebrate. It comes from the Emperor Napoleon. Talk about hip. Napoleon was the trend-setter and fashion-maker of Europe for fifteen years. The “Empire” style in women’s fine clothing, art, architecture, and home decor was all the rage. Napoleon’s massive Arc de Triomphe in the heart of Paris commemorated all his spectacular military successes-and France did have spectacular military successes guided by the strategic and tactical genius of the young conqueror.


Nor was Napoleon only a military swaggerer. He revised the laws of France. To this day, the Civil Code (or Code Napoleon) forms the bulk of French law. He reorganized civil administration and education. Napoleon was a tireless ruler.

Then, in 1812, he invaded Russia. He wanted to force the Russians to abide by his trade boycott against England. He entered the vast, forbidding steppes in June, 1812, with more than 600,000 men. By the time he retreated from Moscow, in December, he had only 10,000 men left, suffering some 97% in casualties. The temperatures-sometimes as cold as 60 below-were so severe that the antimony alloy of the soldiers’ greatcoat buttons cracked and crumbled. Their coats flapped open. Thousands succumbed to cold, starvation, and disease.

You would think the French would hate such a bloody ruler. You would think he would be run out of France when he returned from Moscow. Think again. He was defeated in 1814 by the allies, captured and exiled to the little Mediterranean island of Elba. There he plotted his return.

He landed on the shores of Southern France on March 20, 1815. Would the French troops of the unsteady French King Louis XVIII shoot the returning despot down? Napoleon bared his breast to the soldiers and invited them to kill him. They wept (they were French, after all) and went over to Napoleon en masse.

Napoleon swept on toward Paris to reclaim the imperial throne he had invented for himself. He gathered more than 100,000 troops. In June, he met a hastily-reorganized allied army of British and Prussians under the Duke of Wellington at a little Belgian town called Waterloo. There, on June 18, 1815, the Iron Duke crushed Napoleon utterly. Tens of thousands more of his brave young French troops died crying out Vive L’empereur! (Long Live the Emperor!) They truly were brave.

Napoleon’s second and last period in power was just one hundred days. That’s where the journalists got the term that they quickly applied to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first three months of furious legislative activity during the Great Depression. It was then that a rubber-stamp liberal Congress rammed through dozens of bills-many of which set up agencies and programs we still live with. Some were pretty good. But many were ill-considered (if they were considered at all). That was 1933. And, hold onto your seats, friends, there was the second Hundred Days in 1937. That’s when FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court. He overreached then and even his go-along gang in Congress choked. On that one, they handed him a stinging defeat.

The Napoleon thing is fascinating. Yes, he did have some solid achievements for France. But he was a tyrant. He ruled with the aid of an efficient and ruthless secret police. He rigged all the elections and controlled the press. He led millions of young men of Europe to their deaths.

The people of France, however, seemed not to mind. When his body was returned to France from St. Helena long after he died in exile, all of Paris turned out for his re-interment in a huge and impressive tomb in the historic Hotel des Invalides. It was to this incredible monument that the conquering Adolf Hitler was drawn during his five-hour whirlwind tour of Paris after his stunning victory over France in 1940.

A hundred days? Are we seeing a return of that kind of hero worship in our time? Despite all that we know about Napoleon, tens of thousands of selfless young people were quite willing to lay down their lives for him. It’s a sobering thought.

Men of intemperate minds cannot be free,” wrote the great Irish Member of Parliament, Edmund Burke, “their passions forge their fetters.” Burke was the great friend of liberty-and the implacable enemy of the French revolutionary disease.

Have we been stoking passions in this country-ever since the 1960s-that will forge our own chains of despotism? I pray it is not so. But even as we assess our own First Hundred Days, it is important not to give in to passion. We must remain cool and objective-if we would remain free.

Aaron Klein: Obama Pushing Saudi Plan for Israel-Arab Peace

by Chris Gacek

April 22, 2009

            Perhaps, Barack Obama’s bow to the King of Saudi Arabia was much more than a common courtesy.  If Aaron Klein of WorldnetDaily and Schmoozing with Terrorists (his book) is correct then President Obama owes a great intellectual debt to the Saudi monarch, Abdullah.  This is so because Obama is using the Saudi King’s “Arab Peace Initiative” as the framework of his Middle East foreign policy.

            In an April 21, 2009 WorldNetDaily article Klein summarizes the Arab Initiative as follows:

The Arab Initiative, originally proposed by King Abdullah in 2002 and later adopted by the Arab League, states that Israel would receive “normal relations” with the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, which includes the Temple Mount.

It also “demands the imposition of a non-binding U.N. resolution that calls for so-called Palestinian refugees who wish to move inside Israel to be permitted to do so at the ‘earliest practicable date.’”  There are approximately 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the United Nations.

            Netanyahu has told U.S. envoy, George Mitchell, that Israel will condition talks “with the Palestinians on Palestinian leaders’ first recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, a step that would be difficult should Hamas join a unity government.”  According to Klein, Mitchell recently described Obama’s general plan to Netanyahu, and the Israeli leader was dismayed to learn that Obama was following the Saudi proposal.  Klein described these developments in an interview during the second hour of the John Batchelor Show (April 19, 2009) (minute 15 (mp3 file)).

            In late January, Klein discussed Obama’s attraction to the Saudi plan on the day of President Obama’s interview on an Arab TV network.  In that interview Obama referenced King Abdullah’s plan and spoke approvingly of it (“… I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage to put forward something that is as significant as that.”).  Given Obama’s admiration for a courageous plan, a bow to the author of the courageous plan was probably in order.  (Unfortunately for Abdullah - Obama didn’t give him the really cool Hugo Chavez-handshake in addition to the bow.)

             Make no mistake about it:  these are very dangerous times for Israel.  According to Klein, “Defenders of Israel warn the plan would leave the Jewish state with truncated, difficult-to-defend borders and could threaten Israel’s Jewish character by compelling it to accept millions of foreign Arabs.”  More to the point, Klein states that “Arab Street” views the Arab Peace Initiative as a way to fatally undermine the state of Israel.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Jefferson

by Robert Morrison

April 13, 2009

Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Born in 1743, Jefferson was described at age 32 as a young man who could “could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin.”

Jefferson referred to his election as President as “the revolution of 1800.” It was even more hazardous than the famous “hanging chads” of the Florida recount in 2000. His two terms as President were followed by two terms for his closest friend and political lieutenant, James Madison. These two terms were followed by two terms-almost uncontested-for Jefferson’s second closest political ally, James Monroe. By the time John Quincy Adams was elected President in 1824, this son of an old political rival also counted himself a Jeffersonian.

As President, Jefferson doubled the size of the nation with the Louisiana Purchase. He ordered Lewis & Clark on a Expedition of Discovery that was the nineteenth century’s version of the Apollo Moon program. It would be hard to accept the view of one leading Evangelical scholar that Jefferson left office “in disgrace.”

This American renaissance man was incredibly gifted. His birthday ought to be a national holiday for defenders of religious liberty. Jefferson famously vowed “upon the altar of God eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” His Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786) set a world standard for religious liberty and is one of the three achievements Jefferson asked to have inscribed on his tombstone. 

Jefferson was a famous man of science. He served, after Benjamin Franklin, as the President of the American Philosophical Society, the new republic’s leading scientific organization. In his mind, religious liberty and science did not clash. Nor should they.

But they do clash in Pennsylvania. There, two and a half years ago, a federal judge banned the teaching of Intelligent Design in the Dover public schools. Claiming that ID is a thinly veiled attempt to introduce impermissible creationism into public school classrooms, the judge predictably cited Jefferson’s “wall of separation” in his opinion. Even in the U.S. Supreme Court had not hopelessly confused the meaning of that famous phrase from President Jefferson’s 1802 Letter to the Danbury Baptists, it is certainly odd to cite Jefferson in clamping down on freedom of inquiry.

If Judge John Jones knew his man, he might have considered the strange fact that Jefferson was himself an advocate of Intelligent Design. He actually used the phrase “intelligence in the design” in rejecting the atheism of his French philosopher friends. In a long letter to his reconciled political foe, former President John Adams, Jefferson was at pains to describe what he had learned, not from Holy Scripture, but from his scientific studies about the origins of the universe. (Let’s preserve Jefferson’s eighteenth century spellings and punctuation. It’s still less fraught with error than that judge’s ascerbic opinion.)

On the contrary I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in it’s parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to percieve and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of it’s composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with it’s distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms. We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in it’s course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view, comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and, were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos. So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed thro’ all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe.

Design, cause and effect, superintending power, restoring power, a fabricator of all things-not the kind of fabrication we see in the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence-but a Maker, oops, a maker. How many ways could he have said it? This ain’t all an accident, folks.

So, today, in the service of the Supreme Court’s rendering of the First Amendment, we have a chapter-and-verse denial of the worldview that Thomas Jefferson and his dear friend James Madison thought was fundamental. Well, you have to watch out for those fundamentalists, you know.

Judge Jones said that Intelligent Design was just a subterfuge to sneak creationism into the classroom. The horror!

Perhaps Judge Jones should read Daniel Boorstin’s Lost World of Thomas Jefferson. There, he would learn that Mr. Jefferson-and all the most advanced scientific minds of the early republic-believed fervently in a Creator. Perhaps that’s why they thought we also had unalienable rights-endowed by our Creator.

The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time,” Jefferson wrote in his famous 1774 pamphlet “A Summary View of the Rights of British North America.” That pamphlet was his audition for the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Delegate John Adams was so taken with Jefferson’s ideas-and with his “peculiar felicity of expression”-that he drafted the draftsman to pen America’s founding document.

One wonders whether in Pennsylvania’s public school history classes it would be permissible to teach that the founders of this republic-without exception-believed in a Creator God.  Or that the Declaration and Constitution are suffused with their enlightened understandings.

Pennsylvania has other constitutional oddities. In their Supreme Court chambers in Harrisburg, you can see Moses carving the Ten Commandments. The famous Violet Oakley mural lists each item of the Decalogue and even refers to these Judeo-Christian tenets as “Revealed Law” (capital R, capital L).

Until they were caught in the act, Pennsylvania Supreme Court officers had intentionally blurred the Oakley text in pamphlets they printed for visitors. How strange that Alabama’s elected Chief Justice Roy Moore was forced off the bench for bringing into his courtroom a marble monument of the Ten Commandments. Yet, Pennsylvania’s seven justices have sat placidly for a century under a full-color representation of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments-replete with fire and lightning!

Jefferson knew what he meant when he pledged eternal hostility to all forms of tyranny over the mind of man.

I had the honor for several years of taking groups of students to Mr. Jefferson’s amazing home at Monticello. There, I would note what columnist George Will’s famous quote about Jefferson: “He lived as a free man ought to live.” No, I would emphasize. Honest John Adams lived as a free man ought to live. He never freed his slaves because he never had any.

Even so, Jefferson should be honored by all. As President Kennedy memorably said in 1962 when he hosted a dinner for forty-nine American Nobel Prize winners: “I think this is the most extraordinary [collection of] talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

The Obama Obeisance

by Robert Morrison

April 4, 2009

The internet is alive with stories about President Barack Obama bowing low before Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. It was bad enough when George W. Bush invited this odious tyrant to Crawford and was pictured walking hand-in-hand with him. The White House defensively claimed then that it was a Saudi custom for men to express their friendship by holding hands. Had they never heard: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”? That was bad enough. This Obama obeisance was horrible.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was accused of wanting to be a king. But he knew a lot more about how to behave around monarchs than his present-day successors do. When King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (parents of Elizabeth II) came to the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park in 1939, Franklin and Eleanor gave them a picnic. They served the first British monarchs ever to set foot on U.S. soil hot dogs and beans! How thoroughly American.

During that same visit, the President ended a late-night conversation with the King by tapping the young monarch on the knee and saying: “Young man, it’s time you were in bed.”

As we’ve been reminded with First Lady Michele Obama patting Queen Elizabeth on the back recently, for a commoner to touch a British monarch is considered an act of lese majeste. That old French term meant “an injury to the King’s dignity.” It gave rise to the English saying, “You never touch the King, except to kill him.” (It’s a good thing George VI didn’t choke on those Boston baked beans. Imagine the Secret Service trying to perform a Heimlich maneuver on him without touching him.)

FDR met with King Abdullah’s father, Abdulazziz in 1945 on board the USS Quincy. Abdullah is one of more than three dozen sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder. Roosevelt and the Saudi king can be seen in old photos staring directly at the camera. He and the old desert chieftain are correct, even civil, but they are not behaving like bosom buddies.

Certainly Roosevelt would never have dreamed of bowing before a Saudi or any foreign dignitary. In fact, Prime Minister Winston Churchill-possibly freedom’s greatest champion on earth-bowed to FDR when he met him. Churchill was acknowledging Roosevelt’s stature as Chief of State. Churchill was keenly aware of the difference between monarchies and republics. In fact, this half-American statesman called the United States “the Great Republic.”

So why was the Obama Obeisance so horrible? The President of the United States should bow to no man. Nobody should bow to Abdullah. His kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the worst human rights abusers on earth. Muslims who convert to Christianity-or are even suspected of converting-are killed there. Sometimes their headless bodies are even crucified. Slavery was outlawed in Saudi Arabia only in 1962-but no non-Muslim is allowed inside Mecca to determine if this is really true. The Bushes-father and son-claimed personal friendship with the Saudi royal family. They said the Saudis were our great allies in the war on terror. Maybe. But it is Saudi petrodollars that fuel the militant Wahhabi version of Islam at home and around the world-including U.S. prisons. It’s a short step from Wahhabi Islam to jihadism.

I come by my republican beliefs naturally. My father was in the U.S. Merchant Service in World War II. He brought oranges and bananas to Welsh children who, under strict British rationing, had never seen these fruits. “Pop” stopped in a pub in Swansea, Wales and ordered a cup of coffee. In those pre-Starbucks days, but under severe wartime shortages, that cup cost three dollars.

Suddenly, someone ran into the pub and cried out: “Their Majesties!” Everyone, including the barkeep, ran out to see King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. It was a tribute to the monarchs’ bravery that they could visit bombed-out cities in an open car-with no fear of assassination. Pop stayed at the bar, quietly drinking his coffee.

Many times I would tease him. “It was your only chance to see real, live monarchs, Pop, how could you pass it up?” My father’s would snort and wave his hand dismissively. “What use do I have for monarchs? I am an American.

Since he passed away, I have returned to that story many times. Pop deeply respected the courage of the British people. He knew he would be expected to bow if he went into the street. He did not want to offend our valiant allies. Part of his understanding of what it meant to be an American is that he bowed to no man. And besides, he didn’t want that $3 cup of coffee to get cold.

It is tragic that President Obama has abased himself before King Abdullah. In doing so, he abased us all. We used to sing “Thy banners make tyranny tremble.” Now, those lyrics have been re-written: Thy banners make tyranny comfortable.

The Attempted Assassination of President Reagan and the Value of a Single Life

by Robert Morrison

March 31, 2009

President Ronald ReaganAs some commentators are noting, today is the 28th anniversary of the day President Reagan was shot. I remember the day vividly. The college dean for whom I was working told me the news. “I’m sorry your President was shot, Bob,” he said, sucking deeply on his cigarette. Then he added, “Of course, my wife wonders why assassins on our side are always such bad shots.”

The deranged young man who shot the President outside the Washington Hilton actually didn’t hit him directly. His bullet seems to have ricocheted off a wall and entered the President’s chest. The Secret Service agents who tackled the gunman had acted with heroism and speed.

Reagan was taken to George Washington University Hospital. He was in intense pain, but he managed to give a game smile to photographers. Only inside the emergency entrance did his knees buckle. He was rushed into surgery. His doctors later reported that they’d never seen a 70-year old man with such well-developed chest muscles. The bullet lodged less than an inch from the President’s heart. His internal bleeding was massive, life threatening. His Presidency—less than three months old—could have ended at that moment.

Reagan was the first U.S. President ever hit and not killed. That very day, while an anxious nation watched, his comments to Nancy were broadcast worldwide. “Honey,” he said, “I forgot to duck.” Even at the point of death, Reagan could not resist a quip. It was an historic one, at that. That line was the one Jack Dempsey had used when he lost the World Heavyweight boxing title to Gene Tunney—fifty-five years before!

The nation bonded with Ronald Reagan that dreadful day. He became our American hero in a way he had not been before. His humor and his courage inspired millions. His approval ratings soared. He used his tremendous popularity to help push his program through a resisting Congress. It is this historic program that is, even now, being bulldozed by President Obama and his compliant cohorts on Capitol Hill.

We came so close to losing the Gipper that day. When we think of all he accomplished—lifting a crushing burden of taxation from American families, fighting for freedom for millions in Eastern Europe, expressing public concern for the fate of millions of unborn children, and above all, humbly acknowledging that we are “one nation Under God”-we can once again realize what a treasure each human life is.

America should be the land where dreams come true. Ronald Reagan took care to clear the paths of laudable pursuit not only for others like himself, but he also defended the rights of millions yet unborn. Today, we can thank God Ronald Reagan was spared to do his great work. His story can encourage us to do ours.

Let’s Honor “Jemmie” Madison!

by Robert Morrison

March 20, 2009

James Madison’s birthday came around this week. We might have celebrated with ice cream, which his beloved wife, Dolley, first served at a Presidential Inauguration in 1813. March 16th was not attended with the kind of celebration we used to accord George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Nonetheless, this 5-foot, 4-inch founder was a giant whose memory deserves to be honored. Sadly, all of our greatest Presidents seem to have been submerged in the indigestible stew we now call Presidents Day. Despite this, we should all be grateful to little “Jemmie” Madison.

Madison was a leader in establishing religious liberty for Americans-and this “lustre of our country” (his beautiful phrase) made America a beacon for the oppressed of many lands. In the nineteenth century, America was treasured as a refuge for Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, and Jews. Even today, Christian Arabs, Cuban and Vietnamese Catholics, Hispanic Pentecostals, Russian Jews, and many other peoples have found America a safe haven.

Madison’s leadership succeeded in bringing Jefferson’s vision of a free republic with complete religious freedom to their beloved Virginia. Jefferson had introduced his bill to establish religious freedom in 1779. Then, in the midst of our revolution, Virginia was still in danger of British invasion. The Virginia General Assembly did not act on Jefferson’s bill until seven years later. By 1786, with peace and independence secured, Madison could successfully carry the legislative fight for his best friend, Jefferson. The Sage of Monticello was away in France at the time. Separated by the Atlantic, the two corresponded regularly, and Jefferson congratulated his friend on their mutual success. All Europe, he reported, had received the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom with approval. Well, all enlightened Europeans, anyway.

Madison soon turned to Philadelphia. There, the lessons he learned in the fight for religious freedom helped him to see that in a multiplicity of factions lay liberty’s guarantee. Just as in Virginia, the many denominations of Christians helped ensure the religious liberty of all.

Madison had stood firmly against Patrick Henry’s attempt to have Virginia’s government tax all citizens for the maintenance of Christian ministers and teachers. Henry understood that republican government could not survive without religious support. Madison’s famous Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785, however, warned against allowing the state to determine who should be recognized as Christian and who should be eligible for state disbursements. Madison’s arguments proved persuasive to Virginia’s burgeoning Baptists-who sought nothing from the state but freedom to preach and teach.

Many of today’s atheizers see Madison as a natural ally in their determination to rid the public square of all vestiges of the Christian religion. Madison and Jefferson, they argue, supported the highest of high walls of separation between church and state. Where Jefferson and Madison declined, in their four terms as President, to proclaim days of Thanksgiving and fasting, atheizers see their own anti-religious views affirmed.

The atheizers have more trouble explaining away Madison’s famous churchyard debate with James Monroe in January, 1789. At Hebron Lutheran Church, near Charlottesville, Virginia, James Madison stood for three hours in the cold to appeal for the votes of Christian citizens in “that nest of Dutchmen [Germans].” Madison must have impressed the Lutherans with his soft-spoken sincerity and with his commitment to religious liberty. He was described as always the best prepared in any debate.

Arch separationists today would have us believe that we violate the First Amendment whenever politicians seek support from Christian citizens. But Madison won that election and proceeded from that snowy churchyard to New York. There, he joined the First Congress and wrote the First Amendment.

It is clear that Madison would have opposed federal grants and contracts going to churches as churches. The fact is that both Madison and Jefferson wanted a federal government vastly smaller, far more limited in scope and powers, than what we see today.

They would both have been appalled at the mountain of debt now threatening to crash down on us and our posterity.

Assuming, however, that Madison and Jefferson could be enlisted to support a broad system of federal grants and contracts, it is highly doubtful that they would have refused funding only to those organizations that are faith-based. In fact, Jefferson specifically authorized federal funds for missionaries to the Kaskaskia Indians. Those missionaries’ efforts for health, agriculture and literacy among the tribes would benefit all Americans.

So, today, we have faith-based organizations which have been permitted to compete with secular groups for federal funds. The faith-based groups have been advised, wisely, to incorporate as charitable, tax-exempt institutions which stand apart from churches and synagogues.

President Obama has signaled his willingness to let this program survive, but his projected changes may make it unrecognizable-and unworkable. His denial of the faith-based groups’ right to hire from among their own adherents while maintaining their organizational independence and their creedal integrity may mean that only those with views congenial to this administration will be funded.

This begins to sound like the very situation Madison remonstrated against in his great Memorial and Remonstrance. We may have a government friendly to religion only if that religion is friendly to a particular President’s objectives.