Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend...”
-John 15:13
2nd Lt. James Cathey and Cpl Joseph Tremblay

One Memorial Day weekend when I was a teenager, a friend of mine asked, “Why give a day to resurrect all these emotions? Why not just move on?” Maybe it was my youth but I didn’t really have a good answer for him, I just said something to the effect of “Well, we need to remember them, its important.” After having served in the Marine Corp and after having lost friends in our present day conflicts, I think about the question my friend asked and I marvel at how distant and disconnected I was from the profound importance of this day. Now, after having spent several years as a Marine Corps infantry squad leader and after the loss of loved ones in these violent conflicts, I know exactly why we take time to specifically honor the memory of the fallen.

We remember them because they are special and unique from any other soldier, sailor, airman and marine the world has ever known. World history is full of empires, kingdoms and nations who never understood freedom the way Americans have. What makes the American military man or woman so different is that when they are called to service, it is not in the defense of a dictator or to acquire more wealth for some king. Our own Declaration of Independence states that governments are instituted to protect our rights and we are a blessed nation because we have men and women who serve in the armed forces to secure that end. Americans fight in the defense of liberty and for the security of our freedoms. When reflecting on the fact that our troops take an oath to the Constitution and not to a person, I cannot help but be humbled by the fallen soldier who ultimately laid down his life for the cause of preserving my personal freedom.

We remember them because for the last century Americans have sent our youngest and brightest to defend liberty for people across the sea. On June 6th, 1944, American teenagers stormed the fortified beaches of Normandy, France and fought battle after bloody battle until they defeated a bloodthirsty murderous tyrant bent on world domination. I remember picking up a paper on my base the week after 9-11 and seeing pictures of Army and Navy recruiting stations with lines out the door of young men eagerly wanting to enlist to fight the Al-Qaede. Many of these young people died far away from their families because they chose to patrol through the ankle deep Persian sand and the steep Afghan mountains just so we wouldn’t have to. For most of our history, Americans have eagerly volunteered to serve when we needed them most and that alone is worth remembering from time to time.

Thank you 2nd Lt. Cathey and Cpl Tremblay, I miss you both and I am honored to have known you and to have served with you and I will never forget what you have done for me and my fellow Americans. I promise that I will do my best to complete your sacrifice and I will always fight for the freedom of the people and for the security of their liberty.

THANK YOU to those of you that gave your time, energy and money to help provide our neighbors in Joplin with some much needed items!

In less than 72 hours after the tornado, you helped us fill a 26' moving truck with relief supplies! Among other items, we carried  thousands of dollars worth of food, water, hygiene items, sanitation supplies as well as baby care products to Joplin in record time. The American spirit is alive and well in Missouri and our neighbors in Joplin appreciate all your help!

The supplies we delivered are only a small part of a much larger and ongoing relief effort and I am considering making another trip to Joplin to help where I can. Many people have lost their loved ones and thousands have lost everything, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers over the next several months as they recover. 
If you would like to get involved, feel free to contact me for information on how you can help or visit the American Red Cross.

This is a video I made when we first got started collecting supplies (after the commercial).

SB 65 - Late Term Abortion Ban   (Senator Mayer, Rep Tim Jones)
Except in the case of a medical emergency, no abortion of a viable unborn child shall be performed or induced unless the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness,...

During today’s
debate on whether to ban late term abortions of unborn children who are determined to be viable outside the womb, a very important question came up from the opposition side of the debate. A representative from Saint Louis city stated that the government has no right to tell her that she cannot abort her unborn baby, because the government would be intruding on her rights. The representative went on to say that we are doing enough damage to the rights of the people who have been born and was wondering when we were going to start looking after their rights instead of cutting all the government programs that people are using. I think that the representative's debate calls us to once again consider the proper role of government. I think I can define the proper role of government concerning this issue and I would like to start out with what the law has to say. This is what we can find in  Article I Section II of the Missouri Constitution:

Article I
Promotion of general welfare--natural rights of persons--equality under the law--purpose of government.
Section 2. That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.  

It is obvious to me that the law simply states that the purpose of government is to promote the general welfare of the people by equally protecting the natural rights of citizens so they have the liberty to pursuit happiness.  

To answer the representative's question, we protect people after they are born by simply protecting freedom. Liberty is the only medium that enables a person to succeed or fail according to their personal choices they make as they pursuit happiness. Sometimes the government has to cut a lot of red tape or programs in order to cede more liberty and responsibility to the individual and sometimes the government has to make laws that would protect the individual from the intrusiveness either of the government or of other people. Every action the government takes is supposed to be done in an effort to secure the liberty of the people and attaining that security is the principle object of government as stated in our state's constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  

With respect to this bill, the purpose of government can be identified simply by pulling the issue through the principles of liberty. Let me start out with this: it is the purpose of government to protect the individuals’ natural right to life. If a child can survive outside the womb then that means it is quite capable of making choices and pursuing happiness, but its liberty to do so must be protected. Therefore, at the moment of viability, at the latest, we know that this unborn child has liberty and it is the duty of government to protect that liberty. The mother of a viable unborn child does not have the right to deprive her child of its natural right to life and it is fully with in the jurisdiction of government to protect the child from the ill intent of the mother.   

Here is the other question: Is the proper role of government to protect some of the peoples rights or all of the peoples rights?  

If we pick whose rights we are going to protect, then there is no equality under the law. If we are having a problem providing equality under the law by not protecting the liberty of a viable unborn child then this becomes a civil rights issue. Anyone who promotes equality and anyone who advocates for civil rights, I think,  should also be an advocate for a limited government functioning only to protect the natural rights of everyone, including viable unborn children.  

Thomas Jefferson once said that “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”  

This is an emotional issue for many but good government and statesmanship cannot find stability on the tides of emotion. Sound government and statesmanship is grounded in the bedrock of duty.  

The Gadsden Flag from Americas war for Independence.
Today a bill was presented that would allow Missourians to purchase a special made license plate with the Gadsden Flag on it.  This flag was used by early American patriots as a symbol of our individual liberty and our wish to be left alone to pursuit happiness with out the coercive intrusiveness of an out of control government that is bent on micro managing the lives of the people and depriving them of their money, property  and freedom.

This bill is supported by a bi-partisan effort but there are some who do not like it  because people associated with the TEA Party often use the Gadsden flag at their events or they display it on a bumper sticker. Most of the opposition came from a representative who asked several members on the house floor if they were members of the TEA Party. The representative was against the license plates because the TEA Party uses the flag; that it. She basically said the flag is offensive and that the rattlesnake on the flag sends the wrong message. If the license plate was to have the words TEA Party on it or some other symbol that is exclusive to the TEA Party, then I would totally see her point but to be against such an important piece of American history directly related to our struggle for liberty simply because you don't like the people that identify with it not something that I can agree with.

I inquired of the lady on the house floor and she confirmed that she doesn't have a problem with the bears on our state flag. I told the lady that I am a proud supporter of the TEA Party because I believe Thomas Jefferson was right when he said "Resistance to government is so valuable on occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive." I am inclined to support anyone who is for limited, accountable and financially responsible government. I identify with the message that governments are instituted to protect our rights and this is the message TEA Parties  I am familiar with promote. Yes, I am likely to be a proud supporter of any organization that promotes the protection of our freedom and sound financial principles no matter what they are called.

The preservation of liberty was the idea behind the Gadsden flag and I think every American can appreciate a special license plate that reflects those values although some of them may or may not agree with the TEA Parties.

About the Gadsden Flag from my book, Don't Tread On Me © 2009
DON’T TREAD ON ME! In other words, and in another time, its meaning was unmistakable: “Leave me alone, or else!” It was a popular phrase in the early days of America’s war for independence and it is most famous for the yellow flag on which it was written just underneath a picture of a rattlesnake. A decade prior to America’s Declaration of Independence, there were several patriot groups which worked fervently for the protection of the people’s individual rights. Among these were groups such as The Sons of Liberty, whose South Carolina group was led by a man named Christopher Gadsden, a Colonel who served in the Continental Army. It was Colonel Gadsden who presented this flag to Esek Hopkins, the Commander-in-Chief of America’s new navy, for him to use as his personal standard. Colonel Gadsden also presented this flag to the State Legislature of South Carolina in Charleston. The record of this presentation is recorded in the South Carolina Congressional Journals:
"Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, “Don’t Tread on Me!”

The Gadsden flag began to gain popularity among the Americans maybe because it almost perfectly symbolized the American patriot. Before too long, this particular symbol and others like it could be seen flying over buildings or painted on signs. In December of 1775, an anonymous letter was written to the Pennsylvania Journal in which the author signed his name as “American Guesser.” There are many scholars who attribute this pen name to none other than Benjamin Franklin. This letter was written after the Revolution began but before the Declaration of Independence was signed, and it provides the reader with a unique perspective of the symbolism behind the rattlesnake. The writer of the letter began by saying :
“ I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle- Snake, with this modest motto underit, ‘Don’t tread on me.’ As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America…I sat down to guess what could have been intended by this uncommon device…”

The writer of this letter found it appropriate that the rattlesnake be identified with the American patriot as he stated, “it occurred to me that the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America.” The American patriot was constantly on guard, maintaining a keen situational awareness and therefore the rattlesnake, with its sharp eyes, “May be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.” Neither the rattlesnake nor the American patriot ever strikes until they have “generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.” Another interesting point, and one that has to do entirely with the subject of this book is the opinion formed by the observant eye of the author of this letter when he stated, “I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, ‘till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America…Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together.”

The Gadsden flag is, to this day, still used by the United States Navy and it flies over America’s oldest commissioned United States Naval ship, appropriately name by George Washington, the USS Constitution.

Jim Terry and myself.
Jim Terry from the Hwy W/MM Task Force stopped by for a visit last week. We had a great conversation about the plans for highways W and MM that will be completed by 2013. There is a great possibility for growth and development in northwest Jefferson County and one of the first steps is to ensure that the area is easily accessible; I am looking forward to the next few years as this positive change begins to happen.
Among other things, we also discussed the new congressional districts that are going to be in effect for the 2012 election. I recently posted the new map and you can see it below.  

HB 523
Beginning January 1, 2012, a portable electronics transaction vendor must obtain a license from the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration in order for an employee to be authorized to sell or offer ortable electronics insurance at each location at which the vendor engages in a transaction.

HB 523 is another example of our government going the wrong way. Among other things, this bill would require the vendor of portable electronic devices, such as cell phones, to be registered and licensed by the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. Most cell phones are sold by young people who are working at a kiosk in the mall or at a small cell phone store; they are not in the insurance business. I do not think that requiring small businesses to pay thousands of dollars in fees and taxes every year just so the state can say that they are registered and authorized to sell an insurance plan with an ipod is entirely necessary or even appropriate for that matter

The idea here is to require a cell phone vendor, or other portable electronics vendor, to be licensed with the state before they can sell you an insurance policy on your ipod or Blackberry. This is unnecessary unless the government just feels as though they don't have enough control over small business already. This bill would force small electronics vendors to somehow recover the annual cost of this new tax and licensing and registration fees. This is a cost that will most likely be passed on to consumers.

This convinces me even more of what President Reagan said about the governments’ perspective on role they have in our economy and our lives:
”If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Debating my position to the bill sponsor, Rep. Dave Schatz (R), Sullivan, sitting left.
HB 685: Reclassifies all methamphetamine precursor drugs from Schedule IV and V controlled substances to Schedule III requiring a prescription and references the provisions as the Meth Lab Elimination Act

Today the house voted to reclassify certain drugs as schedule IV and V controlled substances. The drugs at issue contained pseudoephedrine and are used in the manufacturing of the highly addictive and dangerous drug crystal meth. Currently Missouri’s meth production puts our state as one of the worst in the nation. The idea is that if meth dealers have to have a prescription to buy the pseudoephedrine based drugs then the amount of meth labs will decrease. I voted NO on this bill. Once again I had to ask: “What is the proper role of government?”

I believe that the Founders were right when they said that the proper role of government is to protect our rights and although I would never condone the use of illegal substances, I do not believe that government should involve itself in the habits of its' citizens. As it stands, you can buy cold and flu drugs over the counter at your convenience but if this bill were to pass, you would have to first get a prescription from a doctor. One ther question I feel is important to ask when considering legislation is, "Does this bill give people more freedom or less freedom?" 

Already there are many people who do not have medical insurance and having to fight through the red tape it often takes to get a prescription written and filled could make a $10 box of tablets cost as much as $50, $100 or even higher. This bill would punish the law abiding citizens who just want to buy cold and flu medicine for themselves and their families all for the crimes of the few and that is bad government policy. I heard one person say that if taking the freedom away from the people to freely buy medicine would possibly curb the meth production in Missouri, then we should gladly tolerate the inconvenience. When I heard this I thought of the wise words of Benjamin Franklin when he said, “People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.”

We have freedom and with that freedom and we should have security in our freedom and it would be a moral transgression if government were to deprive the people of a freedom based on the crimes of a few. There are laws against meth production, possession and use and the best thing our state can do is to help our police and sheriff departments in the fulfilling the execution of those laws. HB 658 failed to be perfected and printed by only 2 votes. The bill is dead but no doubt will return next session.