The year 2013 is already an incredibly sad year for me--and it’s not even over yet. I can tell you for a fact that the melancholy side of my temperament is being sorely tested.
As the date of this column is so close to the infamous date of 9/11, I was going to write about the spiral into a police state that the would-be tyrants in Washington, D.C., are plunging us into. Of course, 9/11 is the excuse for every big-government abridgment of liberty that has taken place over the last 12 years. 9/11 was the justification for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan; it was the justification for passing the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the NDAA. 9/11 justifies the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, and USNORTHCOM. 9/11 is the excuse given for launching deadly drone attacks against all kinds of people in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, etc. And now, 9/11 is the excuse for a brand new military action against Syria.
Police can break down the door of your house without a warrant because of 9/11; police can set up checkpoints on America’s highways because of 9/11; you and I can be indefinitely incarcerated without being told why and without being allowed legal counsel because of 9/11; Americans can be sent off to prison--even foreign prisons--without benefit of a trial because of 9/11; American citizens can even be killed by government agents without being charged with a crime because of 9/11; entire cities (such as Boston) can be thrust into martial law because of 9/11. All of our electronic correspondence, phone calls, and financial activity can be monitored by the feds because of 9/11. The list is endless.
9/11 was a tyrant’s dream. The America that honored the Constitution, that believed in the Bill of Rights, that revered the Declaration of Independence, that believed in State sovereignty, that believed in personal liberty and limited government died on 9/11/01. What we have left is nothing but a burgeoning police state. That’s what I was going to write about, but, alas, my heart is too heavy.
I just found out a short time ago that Charley Reese recently passed away. He died in May of this year. Amazingly, I did not even read a eulogy of his passing. Holy cow! How quickly people forget us after we are gone. I heard about his death via word of mouth and had to go do the research myself. But Charley Reese was one of the great newspaper columnists America ever produced.
I remember reading his columns back before the days of the internet. That was when news junkies like me had to cut newspaper articles out with a pair of scissors and put them in a metal filing cabinet for future use. I found myself cutting out just about every single column Charley wrote. His was the thickest file in my filing cabinet.
Most of his career--some 30 years--was spent with the Orlando Sentinel. As a young man, he lived in the Florida Panhandle where I spent over 30 years of my life. I’m sorry I never got to personally meet him. Charley Reese probably had more influence on me as a writer than any other human being. I am quite confident that I learned much of my writing style subconsciously as I read and reread Charley’s columns.
The only subject I can recall disagreeing with Charley about was homosexual marriage. But even on that issue, I think I understood Charley’s point. To him, it was not a moral issue, but rather a matter of State licensure. And on that issue, I find myself very sympathetic to his position. I, too, detest the State being involved in a whole host of personal, family, and church issues--including marriage. If there were other areas of disagreement, I can’t remember them.
Charley Reese was a friend of liberty. He despised Big Government and the politicians who supported it--party affiliation notwithstanding. He had no sacred cows. He wrote with a fearlessness and courage that is unheard of. Charley didn’t worry about whether people--even important people--liked or didn’t like what he wrote. He spoke his mind regardless. The big shots in politics and the media might not have cared too much for Charley, but grassroots Americans loved him. In 1999, C-SPAN viewers (including me) named Charley Reese as their favorite columnist.
Charley’s most famous column was the “545” column. And, no, this was NOT his last column, although most of us have been sent numerous copies of this column stating that it was his last column. It wasn’t his last, but it will forever be identified as his most famous column.
He initially wrote the “545” column in 1984. In that column he correctly and succinctly (in typical Reese style) identified most of America’s problems as being caused by those 545 politicians who control the government in Washington, D.C., meaning the 435 house members, 100 senators, nine Supreme Court justices, and President. The column is a classic.
Charley’s last column for the Sentinel was published on July 29, 2001, and he continued to be a featured columnist for King Features Syndicate until 2008. He retired from writing citing health issues. His columns continue to be carried on LewRockwell.com.
To read the Orlando Sentinel’s report on Charley’s passing, go here:
Charley Reese Columnist Dies
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Charley Reese wrote a column. He had such an incredible impact upon so many of us. It’s harder still to believe that he is gone. It seems I’ve lost too much for one year. America has lost too much for one year. The great ones are leaving us. I’m feeling lonelier by the day.
(c) Chuck Baldwin
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