BY MIKE HUCKABEE
Please have a safe, fun and patriotic Fourth of July! My staffers will be off this week for a well-deserved break, but keep checking in daily. We’ve prepared lots of great material in advance, and we’ll have a daily round-up of the latest news. And as always, if anything major happens, everyone will drop their hot dogs and sparklers and rush back to their PCs to keep you informed. Thank you for subscribing and I hope you enjoy today’s newsletter.
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DAILY BIBLE VERSE
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
Ephesians 2:8 NIV
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Happy Independence Day, America
Happy Independence Day and happy 246th birthday to the United States of America! No, this nation was not born in 1619 when slaves first arrived, no matter how many trinkets liberal “journalists” award themselves for creating bogus history. It was born on July 4th, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which officially kicked out the previous regime and kicked off history’s greatest experiment in freedom.
Today is when all Americans celebrate our freedoms. But sadly, too many young Americans have been miseducated to feel no gratitude for the titanic struggles and sacrifices made by those of previous generations to secure and preserve those freedoms. As the recent pandemic proved, even those who recognize how lucky they are to be Americans are often too willing to trade away their freedoms in exchange for hollow promises of security. As the great philosopher Joni Mitchell once said, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.”
That’s why the Founding Fathers took such care to lock our most important rights safely within the First Amendment to the Constitution. There are more freedoms guaranteed in that one short sentence than people in most nations can even dream of. That’s why for centuries now, people from around the world have risked their lives to come to America (by the way, why do the same people who think America is the worst nation on Earth also demand open borders to accommodate all the people who want to be Americans?) It’s also why legal immigrants are often more patriotic than natural-born Americans: they’re aware of how unique America is and truly grateful for the freedoms too many of us take for granted.
The Founders understood how precious and rare such freedoms are. When the framers of the Constitution first met in 1787, many feared that if they created a strong federal government, it would trample the rights of the people, just like the British king they’d fought to break free of. So to make sure the people’s rights would always be protected, they added 10 amendments - although George Mason thought they were so important, they should come first, as the Preface to the Constitution!
Now, in case you’ve never heard it or have just forgotten (as too many federal judges and a few Supreme Court Justices I could name apparently have), here is the First Amendment, in its entirety. Don’t worry, this won’t take long:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Yep, that’s it. This was before government needed a 2,000-page bill just to ruin your health insurance or put $2 trillion on your credit card. Only 45 simple words were needed to protect our rights…
* To speak freely without fear of government retribution...
* To publish your thoughts so that other Americans can read and debate them (even if they don’t echo the views of people who work at Facebook and Twitter)…
* To band together with like-thinking Americans and protest peacefully without fear of arrest (Note: protesting peacefully does not include rioting, arson, vandalism and looting)…
* To petition our leaders to change their policies…
* And to be free from having an official state religion forced upon us, but also from government interference with the free expression of our personal religious beliefs (like telling us that going to church is nonessential and banned, but going to the liquor store is essential.) A lot of people celebrate the first half of that religious right (no state religion) but pretend the second half (no state interference in religion) doesn’t exist.
Until recently, the Supreme Court seemed hesitant to make clear that it means what it says, even though it takes only six words to say it: “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Fortunately, that appears to be changing. Also, note that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the so-called “Establishment clause” of the First Amendment, or anywhere in the Constitution. In other words, trying to ban religious people from public office and expressions of faith on public property is not supported by the Constitution.
These are the rights that together create the exceptional free American culture that those of who know real history celebrate today. The Founders thought they were all so important that somehow, they found a way to list every single one of them first.
Then, just to be certain that no future government ever tried to take those rights away, they made the very next amendment the right to bear arms. And having just fought a bloody Revolution against the most powerful military force on Earth with citizen soldiers, they certainly never intended to limit gun ownership only to military members.
And perhaps most importantly, they emphasized that these rights are given by God, not government. None of them can ever be repealed. So no matter how hard some people are trying to scratch some of them off of the parchment, it won’t make a lick of difference. You can’t edit God.
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The Midnight Ride of Sybil Ludington
I’ve been astounded recently by the way the left has been so successful at using the phrase “hate speech” and the fear of school shootings to convince young people to demand that their own First and Second Amendment rights be taken away.
Somehow, they have managed to bamboozle a large slice of the young generation into simultaneously believing that they are wise and mature enough to start voting and even writing laws at 16; yet they are so childish and irresponsible, they can’t be trusted to touch a firearm until they’re 21, or to hear an opposing opinion without rushing to a safe space to cuddle a puppy and schmoosh Play-Doh.
When young people don’t know their rights, where those rights came from, and how much was sacrificed to secure them, it’s easy to convince them to trade them away for empty promises of comfort and security. This is the basis of all those quotes warning not to sell your birthright for a mess of pottage, a bit of advice so ancient and universal that it dates back to Esau in Genesis 25: 29-34. But leftists are still counting on young people not knowing it (no wonder they want to ban the Bible from schools.)
These days, students are taught an ugly, twisted and totally negative perversion of American history. They’re taught to hate their own magnificent heritage, and they don’t learn the most basic facts (or even what the word “pottage” means), let alone all the great stories you discover when you dig into real American history. This seems like the perfect week for a lesson in how America came to be born. And I’ll try to put it into terms they can relate to.
Maybe – possibly – today’s students vaguely recognize the name Paul Revere (although they might believe he was a slave trader. I certainly doubt they had to memorize the poem, the way we did.) But how many know there was another heroic midnight rider who warned that the British were coming, only this one was a teenage girl from Duchess County, New York?
She’s just one of many American heroes that kids don’t learn about because modern textbooks scrub history of everything interesting or inspiring in favor of leftist social and political agendas that downgrade America. They depict this as a land of nothing but racism and oppression, not as a land where people of good will have struggled and sacrificed for generations, constantly working to improve things by establishing justice, securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity and creating a “more perfect union” (note that in the original foundational document, the writers made it clear that nothing’s perfect, but we would strive always to keep working together toward perfection.)
Kids, American history is not a list of personal grievances against people who’ve been dead for 200 years. It’s everything that ever happened to everyone before you came on the scene. Seek it out. It can be pretty interesting, and you can actually learn things from it.
For instance: listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of…Sybil Ludington? Movies these days are filled with unrealistic fictional depictions of "girl power," but Sybil was the real article. As the oldest of 11 children, she had to take on a lot of responsibility at a young age. She was barely 16 on the night of April 26, 1777. She had just tucked all her siblings into bed when, suddenly, there came an urgent knock at the door. It was a messenger, coming to warn her father, Col. Henry Ludington, that British troops were invading.
His troops weren’t expecting an attack and were scattered all over the countryside. Gathering them meant a dangerous ride over pitch black roads, through enemy soldiers, wild animals and hostile Indians (sorry: “Indigenous Peoples.”) Understandably, the messenger refused an order to go. But Sybil volunteered. Her father protested, but she pointed out that only she knew where all his men lived. As any father of a strong-willed daughter will recognize, he’d long since learned that arguing with her was futile. So Sybil mounted up and rode off.
It was a rainy night. The British had already set nearby Danbury, Connecticut, on fire, and the flames cast an eerie, red glow on the fog. It spurred Sybil on as she galloped from house to house, banging on doors and shouting that the British were coming. According to legend, at one point, a highway robber tried to intercept Sarah, but she raised her father’s musket and sent him running. Yet another reason why teenagers should think twice before demanding that the Second Amendment be taken away from them.
By dawn, Sybil and her horse were cold, wet and exhausted. She’d roused over 400 troops, who joined the Battle of Ridgefield and helped drive the British all the way back to Long Island Sound. Gen. Washington personally honored Sarah for her heroism.
Today, there are historic markers all along her route, and statues of her in New York and Washington (if they haven’t been torn down by historical illiterates.) But I’ll bet most young people never even heard of Sybil Ludington, a teenager much like them, except she knew what really happened during the American Revolution. Maybe it’s because nobody wrote a famous poem about her midnight ride -- even though her ride was over twice as long as Paul Revere’s. Let’s hope someone turns her story into a hip-hop musical so they’ll finally learn about it.
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Lack of Morality Makes Government Grow
(Adapted from the book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy”: https://www.amazon.com/Guns-
Let's be fair in acknowledging that government grows because the people demand it. I found out as Governor that even self-proclaimed libertarians and "real conservatives" are against more government…until they are for it.
We end up with laws being passed and boards, agencies and commissions being created because people sit around whining about something or somebody they don't like and sooner or later, someone pipes up and says, "There ought to be a law!" It might be a law to make people pick up their dog's poop on the sidewalk or a law declaring that when a pedophile molests a little girl, he has to serve life in prison. No argument there, but just know that when someone says, "There ought to be a law," you'll need to reach into your wallet. It's going to cost you.
Of course, no one thinks that the part of government they want is bad—it's "the right thing to do." But once we create a law, we have to hire someone to see that it's being obeyed. Then we need someone to enforce the law. And someone to adjudicate the law if it's broken. And someone to carry out the punishment of the person who broke the law. (Of course, you could go too far the other way and save money by defunding the police and not enforcing any laws – but that’s crazy talk!)
In a perfect world — if all people were naturally good neighbors who never did selfish things but always acted in the best interest of others — we wouldn't need nearly so many laws. The proliferation of laws is directly proportional to our failure to live by the “Golden Rule" that my mother drilled into me when I was growing up: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Many of our laws exist to deal with those situations caused by people who just "do unto others."
No one wants to be beaten to a pulp by a thug, so if everyone abided by the Golden Rule, no one would get beaten by a thug. By definition, there would be no thugs. There would be no domestic violence because no one wants to be a victim of domestic violence. There would be no theft because no one wants to have his or her stuff stolen. There would be no littering because no one wants his own yard covered in someone else's trash.
We pass laws when people don't behave kindly toward others. By and large, that's what inspires someone to say, "There ought to be a law!" And the next thing you know, there is one. Soon there are pages and pages of them.
This is why I feel I must educate my hardcore libertarian friends who say, "You can't legislate morality. I don't want the government involved in moral or social issues." But that's exactly why we pass laws at all. When people act immorally or without regard for others, laws get passed to set a standard of behavior that would have existed naturally and organically if we all demonstrated a little empathy.
A free people can't exist in a moral vacuum. (This is why people on social media tend to end up in echo chambers until they hate, demonize and want to silence or kill anyone who disagrees with them – because social media is a moral vacuum.)
Liberty is more abundant when the personal behavior of the citizenry is abundantly moral. When people steal, attack, defraud, abuse or kill, citizens want the government to crack down. Laws will be passed and government will grow to more clearly define the boundaries of acceptable behavior. When someone violates our law, it costs money to investigate the crime, arrest the criminal, pay for his trial (and often for his attorney), and incarcerate him. The cost just for incarceration is staggering. In most every state, it costs more to keep someone in prison for one year than it would to provide college tuition, room and board, books, and even some spending money! Although admittedly, with some colleges these days, he might learn more in prison.
The monetary burden created by people who act in contradiction to the morality of the community is far greater than most people realize. It's the cost of paying sandblasters to remove graffiti from buildings and bridges; the cost of juvenile detention homes; the cost of more expensive insurance premiums to cover theft; the cost of policing, surveillance, and enforcement on our streets; and the higher cost of products on the shelves to cover stores' losses due to shoplifting. And while some call for longer prison sentences and the end of parole, no matter how justified, those modifications dramatically increase a state's prison budget.
It was my observation that some people who labeled themselves "fiscal conservatives" never saw the disconnect between their call to increase the cost of government and their pride in not raising taxes to pay for it. This is where priorities must come into play; an increase in one area of the budget means a decrease — a real decrease, not just a fool-the-eye accounting trick — somewhere else. States can’t just print more money or stick our as-yet unborn grandkids with the bill: they actually have to pay for things.
I don't think we need more money in government; I do think we need more morality and decency in our culture. Just as numerous cultural forces have brought our standards down — way down — other influences in society can surely reverse that trend. And if we really want the government to "get off my lawn," then part of the solution is better citizens obeying the laws we already have so we don't have to pass new laws to further explain and expand the old ones. But it’s going to take a revival of some archaic concepts that a lot of people have been working for years to eradicate, like personal responsibility, empathy for others (even if they hold different views) and the Golden Rule.
The great writer Tom Wolfe said it best, in his satirical novel “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” through the character of Judge White (played in the movie by Morgan Freeman) as he speaks from the bench:
"Let me tell you what justice is. Justice is the law, and the law is man's feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency! And decency is not a deal. It isn't an angle, or a contract, or a hustle! Decency...decency is what your grandmother taught you! It's in your bones! Now you go home. Go home and be decent people. Be decent."
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Fourth of July Jukebox
I know many of you will be playing patriotic songs this weekend, everything from “God Bless the USA” to “California Girls” to “Living In America.” But I thought you might like to expand your patriotic party playlist to include some songs that you don’t hear too often, or ever. Some were hits that don’t get played much anymore, others are obscure singles and album cuts, but all will make you proud to be an American. You can make a Spotify playlist or use the YouTube links below.
From our “Huckabee” musical guests:
Some of our “Huckabee” guests have blessed us with terrific new patriotic songs, and here are two examples. Country legend Clint Black performed a new song he wrote with Steve Wariner called “America (Still in Love With You),” and you can hear him perform it with Tre Corley and the Music City Connection right here:
We had the astonishing George W. Bush impressionist John C. Morgan on recently. He’s also a singer/musician, and he has a new song out to counter all the efforts to divide Americans on racial lines. It’s called “America…My Brother and Me,” and you can catch the video here:
Now on to some oldies but goodies…
“Johnny Freedom” – Johnny Horton
Johnny Horton’s career was cut short at age 35 in a tragic car crash. But he left behind a legacy of great songs, many inspired by historical events, such as “Sink the Bismarck” and the immortal “Battle of New Orleans” (which inspired the hilarious Homer & Jethro parody, “The Battle of Kookamonga.”) You can learn more about American history from Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits than you can from a public high school these days. Here’s a patriotic Horton tune for the 4th that you might not know, “Johnny Freedom.”
“The Americans” – Gordon Sinclair
Gordon Sinclair was one of the most unlikely recording stars of all time. A Canadian writer/reporter, he was so annoyed in 1973 at hearing that the Red Cross was out of funds, he wrote an editorial about all that America does for the world. He didn’t think it was anything special, but public reaction was overwhelming. WWDC-AM in Washington, DC, started playing a reading of it with “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in the background, which inspired the release of Sinclair’s own recording, a 45 on Avco under the title, “The Americans (A Canadian's Opinion.)” All proceeds went to the Red Cross. It rose to #24 on the charts, making Sinclair, at 73, the second-oldest artist ever to make the Billboard Top 40, behind 75-year-old Moms Mabley’s “Abraham, Martin and John.” It was revived for a bit after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, but it needs to be heard again now.
By the way, you might be more familiar with this version by Byron MacGregor of CKLW radio, which got higher on the charts. It was an unauthorized version that Sinclair wasn’t happy about. Still, the sentiments can’t be repeated too many times.
“Back In The USA” – Jonathan Richman & the
Everyone loves Chuck Berry’s classic original that lists all the cool things we've got here in the USA, but this low-fi version is one of my favorite records of all time. Linda Ronstadt had the hit, but I always thought hers was kinda stiff. This version captures the freedom of playing in a garage band with your friends on a sunny Saturday afternoon as hamburgers sizzle on the grill nearby. It’s so spontaneous, you can hear Jonathan turning off-mic and directing the band as he goes along. This is just over two minutes of the pure joys, large and small, of being an American. If you can listen to this without smiling, I don’t want to know you.
And for the purists, here’s Chuck Berry’s original. This actually had 10 thumbs-down on YouTube. I assume they’re all communists:
“Paul Revere” – Johnny Cash
How can we salute America in song without including the man who is known as the voice of America, Johnny Cash? So much to pick from (the obvious choice might be “Ragged Old Flag”), but here’s a cool obscurity from his 1970 LP, “America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song.”
The album covers everything from the Revolution to the Space Age, including songs about the Alamo (whose defenders were HEROES!!!), the Gettysburg Address and possibly the only song you’ll ever hear about the assassination of President James Garfield. It’s all great, but for this week, what could be more appropriate than Johnny Cash singing the story of Paul Revere?
“Rockin’ In The USA” – KISS
Typically for KISS, the lyrics aren’t very profound, but they make the indisputable though grammatically-puzzling point that there’s nowhere else you’d rather stay than rockin’ in the US. If you’re surprised that these shock rockers would do something so unabashedly patriotic, then you probably didn’t know that Gene Simmons is an Israeli immigrant, the son of a concentration camp survivor, and very grateful to America for his success as a music entrepreneur.
“America, Why I Love Her” by John Wayne and “Pledge of Allegiance” by Red Skelton
Since these are both patriotic recitations by beloved 20th century showbiz giants, I thought I’d make them a two-fer.
The iconic 1973 album “America, Why I Love Her” by John Wayne has its own chapter in my book about celebrity records, “Hollywood Hi-Fi.” There are other celebrity connections as well: the words were written by John Mitchum, the actor/
Mitchum had a role in Wayne’s 1970 movie “Chisum,” and during a break, he read his co-stars his tribute to the US military, “Why Are You Marching, Son?” Wayne was moved to manly tears, and Tucker said if he liked it that much, why didn’t he do something about it? So on a handshake deal (more binding than a contract when it’s the Duke’s mighty handshake), they agreed to make an album.
It took Wayne three years to finish the recording (he’d lost a lung due to his six-pack-a-day cigarette habit), but the results were worth it. The LP of patriotic recitations sold 100,000 copies in its first two weeks, scored a Grammy nomination, inspired a companion book, and became a hit all over again when it was reissued after Wayne’s death in 1979. It finally fell out of print, but a revival of interest after 9/11 helped Mitchum’s daughter finally get it rereleased on CD. The entire album is now available 24/7 on YouTube, Amazon and other digital platforms.
I particularly wanted to share this on the 4th of July because of the recent whining from the snowflake brigade about some non-PC things Wayne said in the early 1970s. The Duke is the only deceased star to rank in the Harris Poll of America's Top 10 most popular movie stars every year, even 40 years after his death. The crybullies think they can cancel John Wayne. That’ll be the day!
On January 14, 1969, Red Skelton performed a recitation that he wrote himself on his CBS variety show, “The Red Skelton Hour,” which you can now stream on Amazon Prime when the current TV offerings seem as funny as a root canal. It relates how a beloved teacher once explained the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to his class. Trivia: The backing music is titled “Red’s White and Blue March” and is one of Red’s many compositions.
After it aired, CBS was flooded with 200,000 requests for copies, and a month later, it was released on a Columbia 45. Red performed it for the rest of his life, including at the White House for the newly-inaugurated President Nixon. It has become an American classic and was used as a teaching tool for many years by schools that aren’t afraid of being sued for exposing students to the words “Under God” or, now, even saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
“What Is America To Me” – Frank Sinatra
In case you’ve never seen it, this is a link to "The House I Live In," the entire 10-minute short film that this song came from (it begins at the 6:45 mark, for those with Internet-shortened attention spans.) This film was produced at the end of World War II to help fight anti-Semitism, and perhaps should still be required viewing for certain Democratic Congress members.
“Bumper of My SUV” – Chely Wright
This song written and performed by country singer Chely Wright is about a snotty person's rude reaction to the Marines sticker she put on her SUV in honor of her brother who was serving in the Middle East. It was extremely personal to her, but it was universally embraced by the troops when she performed it during a series of shows in Iraq. This brings home how some people are intensely ungrateful for the safe, comfortable lives that they owe to the US military, as well as their freedom to be obnoxious, ungrateful jerks. I’m linking to a live clip where she tells the story of how the song came about before singing it. Any US Marine vets will especially appreciate this.
“Only in America” – Jay and The Americans
A moderate hit in 1963, this ode to the American Dream was originally intended for the Drifters but seems a better fit for a band called “Jay and The Americans.” This was from a time before the left made people think it was shameful to want to succeed and get rich. The singer informs us that only in America can a boy become a millionaire, get a classy girl and maybe grow up to be President – or if you’re Donald Trump, all three.
“American Faces” – John Conlee
Nashville has sadly forgotten what real country music sounds like, or else one of the most distinctive country voices of all time, John Conlee, would still be topping the charts. Known as the singing mortician for his pre-music career, Conlee landed 32 singles on the charts between 1978 and 2004. Fourteen made the top 10, including “Common Man,” “Backside of 30,” “Lady Lay Down,” “Miss Emily’s Picture,” “Busted,” and one of the greatest country songs of all time, “Rose Colored Glasses.”
Fans should know that he recently appeared on “Huckabee” and he’s still out there touring. You can find his tour dates, music and merchandise at http://www.johnconlee.com.
For the 4th of July, here’s the moving title track from Conlee’s 1987 album, “American Faces,” a salute to some of the unsung people in “Flyover Country” who make America what it is.
“Red, White & Blue” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
There are a lot of seemingly patriotic rock songs that get played on the Fourth of July, like Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” whose creators actually meant them as critical or sarcastic and who get bent out of shape when they are “misconstrued” as flag-wavers. To them, I say, “Get bent.” Here is a rock song that is unambiguously pro-American, by the ultimate working class band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. This is by the post-crash version of the band, from the 2003 album, “Vicious Cycle.”
"Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" - Toby Keith
One I left off last year because I figured it was too obvious, but the Fourth of July is no time for subtlety, nor are these times we live in. I also wanted something that really salutes the military. If the snowflakes ever get their way and convince Americans to change our National Anthem, then I propose we change it to this, Toby's boot-in-the-a** to the perpetrators of 9-11.
“Ask Not Waltz” – President John F. Kennedy
Finally, my writing partner and fellow musicologist George Gimarc and I were very pleased to be able to haul this record out of obscurity for both our celebrity records book “Hollywood Hi-Fi” and its companion CD on Brunswick. This record was historic on a number of levels.
Not only does it set one of the most inspiring and iconic speeches in American history to a tune you can really skate to, but it was also one of the earliest examples of what later became mainstays of pop music: sampling and rapping. The idea was hatched by “Bullwinkle” writer George Atkins and Nashville producer Hank Levine as they were sitting by the pool, trying to come up with an idea for a JFK comedy record. Levine told us that in those pre-digital days, setting JFK’s actual words to music required a massive, painstaking tape editing job.
The album (“Sing Along With JFK”) was released in summer, 1963, but radio resisted because it was disrespectful to the President (can you imagine such a thing?!) But college stations started playing it and it was climbing the charts until November when JFK jokes suddenly became verboten. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying it, though, because Kennedy family insider Peter Lawford said it was the only JFK comedy record that JFK actually liked.
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