Friday, June 30, 2017

Broken But Unbowed by Governor Greg Abbott

One of my favorite Texans now includes Governor Greg Abbott! I've been following him since his days as Attorney General of Texas. Watching his rise to governorship, as well as his support and understanding of an Article V Amendments Convention, commonly called Convention of States, led to a desire to read his book, Broken but Unbowed.

Being from Texas, myself, I could completely relate to Abbott's humor, and journey. As much as my kids and I love our time on the East Coast, we miss the patriotism we left back in Texas. It has been our goal to refresh that ardor here in Virginia. Our recent trip back to Texas rekindled our souls, even as we stepped off the plane and into the airport, patriotism in the form of support for our troops was displayed everywhere. As we drove to my parent's house, we found the Star Spangled Banner flying everywhere...sometimes as huge as the one that flew over the infamous fort in 1814. We visited during Memorial Day weekend. It was evident in many end of school year celebrations that we attended for my nephews and well as at my family's church.

Abbott tells his journey of how his body was broken in an accident that left him a paraplegic. Determined, he conquered in passing his bar exam, and bringing to life all he learned about the Constitution in his legal work. A patriot to the core, Governor Abbott shares Constitutional understanding through the metaphor of his being a paraplegic.

Favorite quotes from Broken but Unbowed: The Fight to Fix a Broken America by Governor Greg Abbott abound...because I could not choose one or two. Skim through, be inspired, buy his book, and read it for yourself!

June 2017

"Free-market competition has always been an important factor in improving products, services, and prices. Health care should benefit from the same economic dynamics." (54)

"Congress can't just make up any law it wants. An act of Congress must be rooted in a legislative power given to Congress under the Constitution. That's what Article I, Section I of the Constitution commands." (59)

 "If you choose to buy or sell something, Congress and the courts have decided such activity typically falls within their expanded definition of the Commerce Clause. But never [before] had either of those branches of government dared to intrude on your freedom by forcing you to buy something." (60)

"If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power...and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended." (63)

"While some Americans may think...unilateral changes benefit them, all Americans need to realize that...presidential fiats and administrative rewritings of laws directly threaten the rule of law established by the Constitution. What may be good for your goose today will fry your gander tomorrow." (75)

"The Founders purposely structured the deny the president the ability to become like a king who could capriciously make up laws. They knew, from the lives that had been lost in the fight for liberty, the importance of creating a Constitution that prevented lawless rulers." (76)

"Montisquieu was a French lawyer and political philosopher whose wisdom was heavily relied on by the Founders, especially James Madison. In 1748, Montisquieu explained that allowing a president the ability to make laws as well as execute them poses a threat to liberty itself:

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehension may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner. -Montisquieu

The Founders constructed the Constitution to stand as a bulwark against the possibility of tyranny by separating powers among three branches of government and ensuring checks and balances among those branches." (76-77)

"What really plagues this Nation is that we have forgotten what it means to be governed by the rule of law, and we have succumbed to the rule of men." (78)

"America had become the greatest country in world history in large part because we were the ultimate nation of laws rather than of men." (82)

"If the Supreme Court concludes that the president can rewrite a law, that result should finally spur Americans to get off the sidelines and join in the process of applying Article V-the constitutional tool the Founders gave 'the People' to correct such abuses.

The rule of law is what makes America unique. Once we decide by action or inaction, that leaders get to do whatever 'feels' right, we will descend into chaos and tyranny. We can't let that happen." (90-91)

"The Constitution, not elected leaders or unelected bureaucrats, has always been the premier guardian of the people. We must fortify the Constitution, using the very means the document provides, to truly protect the people from the mischief of misguided leaders." (92)

"In 1776, Thomas Paine stated in his pamphlet Common Sense that 'in America, the law is king.' Four years later, John Adams wrote this principle into the Massachusettts Constitution, seeking to establish 'a government of laws and not of men.

Laws are the voice of the people, speaking through their elected representatives.

As you look through the history of the United States, and some of the injustices that have occurred, it was the Constitution that gave us the power to correct those inequities. Whether it be ending slavery, or giving all women the right to vote, the Constitution provided the mechanism for change." (92)

"Congress has the power to rein in the executive branch by voting down any-or every-proposal of a defiant president or act to override constitutionally dubious orders. And, as both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison made clear, Congress wields the ultimate power of the purse to check unconstitutional straying by the executive branch.

Madison was particularly emphatic: 'This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.' 

Madison would be shocked to see how meekly Congress has abandoned this 'weapon.'

Similarly, Congress has the power to override a Supreme Court that increasingly rewrites acts of Congress and freely amends the Constitution to add words, phrases, and concepts found nowhere in the document, or in the Founders' intent. Yet that congressional power has atrophied from nonuse.

In the end, Congress has become paralyzed because it has shown no spine to check the unconstitutional overreach by the other two branches." (96-97)

"The Constitution gives Congress the power to raise and spend money. Their reckless approach to spending your money does more than exceed the authority that was given to Congress in the Constitution. It's one of the most dangerous threats to our future liberty." (98)

"With each additional dollar in debt, we are less able to provide for the roads and schools we need, and less certain are the promises made about Social Security and Medicare. In 2013 alone, the United States paid its lenders $222 billion. That's $222 billion that could have gone to schools, or veterans, a reduction in the tax you pay.

Instead, that money is being used to pay our lenders, the largest of which is China.

Maybe more ominously, our national security itself becomes more at risk each day we grow further in debt. America's debt weakens our ability to amass the weapons, intelligence, and personnel needed to defend against an increasingly antagonistic world.

The America of tomorrow will be a mere shadow of today unless we compel Congress to get a grip on its reckless spending now.

Warren Buffet, the iconic investor and chronic Democrat, offered an idea: 'I could end the deficit in five minutes,' he said. 'You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than three percent of GDP all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for reelection.'" (98-99)

"Our economy, our global authority, and most significantly, our individual liberties are becoming increasingly paralyzed by governmental control." (111)

"The federal government certainly has become destructive to our unalienable rights. But, today, we don't need to abolish our form of government. Instead, it would be more accurate to say: When our government becomes destructive to the truths articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, it remains the right of the people to bring government in line with those truths." (114)

"Americans today have every inherent right that the Founders had. We deserve the same freedoms they sought-and eventually attained. The only remaining question: do we have the guts and determination the founding patriots had to stand for principle?

Or, have we collectively grown too weak to impose our will, or too apathetic to chart our course?

The good news is that to steer our nation back onto our constitutional course we don't have to 'mutally pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor" as the Founders did. We don't need to take up arms to fight against the federal government. Instead, the Founders handed us the ammunition we need. They loaded it in the Constitution itself.

They clearly understood we would need to mend the Constitution from the wear and tear caused by the government. They not only anticipated the need, but they also made it clear that states and citizens would play a pivotal role in that mending process." (118-119)

The good news is that Franklin and the other Founders knew that if the three branches of government strayed, there was a fourth group to rein them in. That group is identified in the first three words of the Constitution: 'We the People.' The Founders knew that citizens are the ultimate defense against an overbearing federal government.' (119-120)

"Our broken government is not a Republican problem, nor is it a Democrat problem, or any other political party's problem. It's an American problem. And we cannot allow the future of America to be defined by this challenge. Instead we must ensure our future is determined by how we respond to this challenge." (120)

"To summarize, Article V provides two ways to amend the Constitution. One is for Congress to propose constitutional amendments by a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate.

The second way is the highlighted section in Article V above. It authorizes two-thirds of state legislatures to call for a convention where constitutional amendments are proposed and voted on. This path gives states and citizens a greater say in the amendment process. Empowering states to amend the Constitution us a superior way to protect states against federal overreach.

Under each path to amending the Constitution, no amendment becomes effective until it's ratified by three-fourths of the states. It takes thirty-four states to call for amendments, and it takes thirty-eight states to ratify-or pass-an amendment." (124-125)

"America can no longer count on Congress to take the first path to amend the Constitution. Congress is part of the problem." (125)

"...many of the naysayers [to a Convention of States] happen to benefit from the status quo. Follow the money and follow the power." (127)

"Unlike many nations, America was not established by conquerors. Instead it was created by defenders of liberty." (138)

Become a defender of liberty today! Join me on the Convention of States team! Governor Greg Abbot did!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Millinery Jaunt to Colonial Williamsburg

On this day I ran away to Colonial Williamsburg by myself (with permission, of course)! I had a wonderful day with a wonderful friend...and got to take a few renderings to share along the way!















Sunday, June 18, 2017

Horseback Riding at Fort Valley Ranch

Our first time horseback riding in the Shenandoah at Fort Valley Ranch!

We had our choice of helmets: bike helmets or English Riding helmets. Since English Riding is so popular here in Virginia, I chose that helmet. It was much more fashionable than a bike helmet!






For a portion of the trail we rode in the George Washington Forest.


DSC00204_edited (no watermark)

I don't know that this is part of the property, but it was part of the view on the trail.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flags, Patiotism and Homeschool...Each Morning

I've been doing some catch up in blogging and just now realized that I never did share how we began each homeschool day. I did share about our homeschool name and verse. And I did share about the devotions we had each morning. However I forget to share about the rest of our opening: saluting the flag(s) and a patriotic song.

This is really important to me for several reasons. One, I like flags a lot! Also I think it is important to understand our history...which can be taught through flags and songs. If we understand our history, then we respect our history, how we as a nation formed, and it helps us to make informed decisions for the future. It's all part of self-governance, I think.


When we first began our homeschool, it was important to me to establish a routine, especially for how we opened our day. I basically pulled from my favorites from my childhood to share with my children.


When I student taught third grade in New Braunfels, Texas, (near Landa Park), I really liked the addition of saluting the Texas flag after we saluted the American flag. I never even knew there was a pledge for the Texas flag. Also when I was in first grade, I liked that our teacher had flag holders each week. Therefore I secured miniature flags on sticks for my children to hold each morning. They decided who held which flag. One held the American flag. The other held the Texan flag. They learned to never let the Texas flag be higher than the American flag. They learned hold the flag out with their left hand, while placing their right hand on their heart. Then we recited the pledge to the American flag.


"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Then we recited the pledge to the Texas flag.

Smokin' Willies

"Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."

Then we sang a patriotic song. Of course I wanted my kids to learn the National Anthem. However when I was in first grade, I learned many other patriotic songs that I wanted to share with my children. When I student taught, the school did a different song a day. Every Monday was the same song. Every Tues was the same song. And so on. Contrast that to when I taught third and fifth grade in public school when we sang different songs, every day, we never knew which song would be sung, and many were versions that were too difficult for the kids. For example, the school often played Sandi Patti's gorgeous rendition of The  Star Spangled Banner. She hits enormously high notes. The kids couldn't do it. They never knew what was going to happen. They were never as engaged as those in the public school where I student taught. So I decided to try a schedule. My kids liked it a lot.


Monday-My Country 'Tis of Thee
Tuesday-America, the Beautiful
Wednesday-Texas, our Texas
Thursday-Battle Hymn of the Republic
Friday-Star Spangled Banner

I often played at the piano and they followed the words in the book. They internalized the songs that allowed for impromptu sing-alongs at historic places.


When we stood on top of Pikes Peak for the very first time, in 2001, we sang America, the Beautiful. Why? The song was inspired by Katherine Lee Bates' visit to this 14, 115' mountain top. As a family we sang America, the Beautiful as we stood under "spacious skies" and looked over "purple mountains of majesty" and "fruited plains."

When we visited Fort McHenry we sang the Star Spangled Banner.

Now when I am in Virginia, I've been known to break into the Texas anthem, "Texas, our Texas" whenever I see a Texas flag.

We also sang Texas, our Texas" during our homeschool history presentation about Texas.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Video from Me About Sharing about Convention of States at my Polling Station on Virginia Primary Day

My busy life has very much revolved around volunteering for Convention of States. In fact, I am now Grassroots Coordinator for NoVA Central. Here's a peak into my day...

Come join me! We are a group of Patriots intent on protecting the Constitution. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Arlington Cemetery, My Cousin, and More

As always, we walked first to the weeping willow...


...where my mom's cousin and his crewmates are buried.




John Glenn was recently buried...





Texan, Audie Murphy...


George Washington Parke Custis, who first lived on this land...


...and his wife, Mary.


Abner Doubleday...









General George C. Marshall, whose home we visited a month ago...