The Mystifying Logic of the Supreme Court

In the past couple of weeks, in three major cases released before adjournment, the United States Supreme Court has left us all wondering just what passes for logic in the hallowed chambers of the nation’s highest judicial chamber. 

This honorable Court has ruled, in recent days, that enemy combatants, who are not U.S. citizens, should be granted access to our court system and provided the same rights under our Constitution enjoyed by American citizens; that the State of Louisiana cannot execute child rapists; and, in what should have been an open-and-shut case, rightfully struck down a Washington, D.C. ban on handguns but only by the slimmest margin possible, 5 to 4.

In the first decision, Boumediene v. Bush, the Court ruled, outrageously, that Guantanamo detainees, that is those persons that U.S. military forces have captured on foreign battlefields and who are engaged in combat against us, have a right to the same due process rights, found in the Fifth Amendment, as U.S. citizens.  In other words, they can use civilian courts rather than the military tribunals, which have always been used throughout U.S. military history.

The Court in this case reversed the decision of the D.C. Court of Appeals, which rightfully concluded that constitutional rights do not apply to aliens outside the United States.

Giving such rights to known terrorists borders on insanity.  Once inside a civilian court, with a defense lawyer in tow, they can demand the right of discovery, gaining valuable intelligence information.  This happened when the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were caught and put on trial.  Not only is the turning over of information damaging, and potentially deadly, terrorists can also learn how we are gaining our intelligence, which is infinitely more harmful to our national security.

And can you not see how illegal aliens might be able to use this ruling to their benefit?

In Kennedy v. Louisiana, the decision by the Supreme Court to strike down a law passed by the State of Louisiana to execute child rapists is yet another example of the arrogance and misguided logic in Washington.  Here again we see the Supreme Court reaching down into a sovereign State and overturning a law passed by its duly elected representatives.  This practice has been going on since the days of John Marshall, and is clearly outside the bounds of the strict parameters of Article III of the Constitution.

Governor Bobby Jindal called the ruling “an affront to the people of Louisiana.”

And again the chosen method is the Bill of Rights, as the Court often enjoys applying those restrictions to the individual States.  The Left believes that the Fourteen Amendment fastens the First Amendment restrictions upon the States.

But this is not what our Founders desired.

In 1866 Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  Section 1 declares: 

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Two years later, on July 9, 1868, the requisite number of States had ratified it (although some of them where still out of the Union at the time, which makes for an interesting argument against its legality). 

However, nothing in that amendment even suggests that the Bill of Rights was being applied to the individual States.  It does use the same language as the Fifth Amendment, applying those protection upon the States, but nothing more.

It was never the intent of the Founders to apply the Bill of Rights to the States.  Those ten amendments were seen very clearly at the time as a means of binding the federal government. 

In 1875, seven years after helping to pass the Fourteenth Amendment, Congressman James G. Blaine of Maine, who served in the U.S. House, including three terms as Speaker, in the U.S. Senate, as Secretary of State twice, and was the GOP nominee for president in 1884, proposed an amendment that would apply part of the First Amendment to the States.  The “Blaine Amendment” concerned the use of public funds for religious schools, a issue still disputed today.  His amendment stated as follows:

“No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations.”

Now the question is this, if the Fourteenth Amendment applied the Bill of Rights to the States, why would Blaine have needed such an amendment?  Because the Fourteenth Amendment did not impose the Bill of Rights upon the States.  But it has since been used by the Court to impose restrictions upon the States and upon the people.

One year later, however, the Court was presented an opportunity to rule on this very subject.  In United States v. Cruikshank (1876) the Court held, by a vote of 9 to 0, that the Bill of Rights does NOT apply to the States.  The case involved civil rights but it clearly had wide-ranging implications, as noted in Chief Justice Morrison Waite’s majority opinion.  He stated, in regard to guns, that the Second Amendment declares that just such a right “shall not be infringed, but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress.  This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government….”  Simply put, Congress, or any part of the federal government, cannot infringe on the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.

As for the Washington, D.C. gun ban case, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court does exercise jurisdiction here because Congress, under Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, is given authority over the seat of the national government. 

The Court struck down D.C.’s long-standing ban on hand guns, in place since 1976, as an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment, which the Court interpreted to be an individual right.  But why would this case be so close?  Four justices, the liberal members of the Court, took the opposite side in what should have been a slam-dunk case.  But this is judicial activism at its best – if they don’t like the Constitution they just simply rule how they would like it to be.

Over the weekend I watched one of my favorite movies, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, in which several scenes brought me back to the Heller case.  If you recall the film, Gene Hackman’s character, Sheriff Little Bill Daggett, oversaw a gun ban in his small town of Big Whiskey, Wyoming.  This left the townspeople, and any visitors who might enter, totally at the mercy of the sheriff’s department, i.e. the government.  Without any weapons to defend themselves against an over-bearing government, the people simply had to endure Little Bill’s vicious beatings, three of which are showcased during the film. 

The Founding Fathers had just such a scene in mind when they envisioned the Second Amendment, the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” in order to defend themselves against an oppressive government, on any level.  The idea of a government taking away the people’s arms smacked of tyranny in its worst form.  For if a people were disarmed, government would be free to do as it wished.  This should be unthinkable to any freedom-loving person.

The Second Amendment simply states:  “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  It must be noted that a militia in the 18th century was not like today’s national guard, but a unit consisting of the local people, who were armed, and could repel invasions, like the minutemen at Lexington and Concord.  George Mason, a “Father of the Bill of Rights” along with James Madison,  once said of militias, “I ask, sir, what is the militia?  It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”

But the amendment also protected one’s right of self-defense and the right to dispose of a hostile government.  The evidence for this is clear in the historical record.  Without the Second Amendment, the rest of our protected rights are meaningless.

The Left, predictably, has already kicked off a full-scale assault on the ruling and on gun rights in general.  The Chicago Tribune editorialized on Friday, June 27th, that not only were the Founding Fathers complete idiots but we should, as the title states, “Repeal the 2nd Amendment.”

We must be on-guard against these kinds of brazen attacks.  Although they may be unthinkable, the Left has always been masters of chipping away at our rights and liberties until they are no more. 

But we cannot, as true conservatives, put too much faith in the Supreme Court as the final judge of our liberties.  This was not the intent of the Founders and it should not be our platform either.  For the logic of five robed members of the Supreme Court can trample our rights as surely as a despot.

The Ideal Candidate

In reading Walter Borneman’s new biography of President James K. Polk this week, I was struck by the fact that such a presidential candidate as Polk is exactly what America, and the Conservative Movement, needs in this election year.

Polk’s presidency was extremely successful, probably more so than any other, and academic historians, though not in philosophical agreement with “Young Hickory” or his slaveholding, generally recognize his accomplishments, ranking him in the top ten or near-great category.

What made Polk successful? 

First, he had an overwhelming amount of experience, which dispels the often-used title given him of “dark horse.”  After a brief period in the Tennessee state legislature, he served 14 years in the U.S. House, with two terms as Speaker and chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.  After leaving, he won the governorship of Tennessee, giving him a wealth of executive experience.  Though experience is not always an indicator of success, in Polk’s case it was.

Second, Polk did not try to do too much.  He pledged to serve just one term, even before he was elected.  Though critics of this strategy might argue that he was immediately lame-ducked, Borneman rightly concludes that this allowed Polk to “spend his political capital freely and he did so aggressively.”  He simply did not have to worry about a second term. 

For his campaign platform Polk did not overwhelm the voters, like modern politicians do with lengthy campaign books on every conceivable policy issue, but simply listed four goals he wanted to achieve:

1) Lower the tariff
2) Establish an independent treasury system (as opposed to a national bank)
3) Purchase of California
4) Acquire the Oregon Territory

He achieved all of his objectives, something no other president can rightly claim.

And third, Polk was a fiercely determined man who held passionately to his political ideals.  After his first term as governor, he lost the next two elections for a second term.  Most politicians would be dead politically.  But Polk did not quit, making a remarkable comeback.  As president, he stayed the course until his campaign promises were fulfilled.  The idea of flip-flopping for political gain would have horrified him.

What if we had such a candidate today?  A strong conservative who could articulate the ideals of the Right.  Perhaps someone running as an independent who pledged to serve one term and, without any need to seek a historic legacy, worked with a list of five specific goals:

1) Energy Independence – This could very well be the biggest issue of 2008.  America has blindly and stupidly followed the advice of environmental extremists who are bent on dismantling our economy to protect the planet from a catastrophe that many scientists believe does not exist.  We don’t need a new Manhattan Project or Apollo Program, as some Democrats have suggested, to find a new alternative energy source, because we have all the energy we need right here at home.  When you take into account the fact that the United States has several hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas, a supply of coal that can last centuries, 1 to 2 trillion barrels of oil shale, and tens of billions of barrels of crude that we know about, why do we need to import anything?  Not only do we possess more than the entire Middle East, some experts claim we have more energy than the rest of the world combined!  We should use these resources, while investing in new technologies and new sources of energy in a comprehensive energy plan.  There is no reason the American people should be paying $5 a gallon for gasoline with no end in sight. 

2) A New Foreign Policy – America must get off this idea that we are the policeman of the world and that we must be engaged in every hot corner of the globe.  The situation in Iraq has to be stabilized soon, to the point that we can begin a safe withdrawal.  We simply cannot continue to fund overseas wars at the rate we are spending.  Furthermore, American troops are stationed in more than 130 countries around the world, with new bases planned as we speak.  The American taxpayer funds the defense of many of our allies.  These forces should be brought home where they belong, to defend our homeland and our borders.  This will save us hundreds of billions of dollars a year and will, perhaps, ease some of the resentment other nations feel toward us.  Ask yourself this question:  How would we feel if Russian, German, or Saudi troops were stationed in the United States?  A more traditional foreign policy as envisioned by our Founders, to stay out of the quarrels of other nations, would serve us well in the future.  It’s time to concentration on our mounting problems here at home.

3) Budget/Entitlement Reform – By the time George W. Bush leaves office, the national debt will have almost doubled during his eight years, rising to nearly $10 trillion.  It’s time to cut up the credit cards and return to fiscal responsibility and fiscal sanity.  We must balance the budget and seriously reform our bloating entitlement programs, to begin paying off the national debt.  According to the former Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker, the United States is facing an enormous fiscal crisis if we don’t correct the problem now.  Social Security and Medicare have unfunded mandates of over $54 trillion!  And that’s a conservative estimate!  This number expands $2 trillion to $3 trillion per year without doing anything.  Inaction will eventually cause the implementation of huge tax increases or massive benefit cuts, but quite possibly both!  Federal spending should be brought back under control, within its constitutional bounds, allowing the inevitable onset of crushing taxation to be eased.  But as long as politicians continue to hide from this 800 pound gorilla in the room, and kick the ball down the field to the next administration or the next generation, it will not get fixed until it crashes.  Neither major political party candidate has even so much as mentioned these issues.  And the idea that we can afford nationalized health care is simply ridiculous.

4) Fair Trade – The United States has seen its trade deficit skyrocket in the last decade and a half, with the expansion of free trade.  With increasing imports, our industrial base has been devastated in recent years, with more than 3 million manufacturing jobs lost under Bush.  Even Alan Greenspan, before he left office as chairman of the Federal Reserve, spoke out against what he called our “unsustainable” trade imbalance.  And who suffers most?  The American working man.  The Conservative Movement, whether centered in the GOP or elsewhere, must craft programs to aid America’s workers, by protecting jobs and increasing wages, or else face years out of power.  As of now the Republican Party seems beholden to Big Business and this image must be destroyed.  We should work to rebuild our industrial base, the great “arsenal of democracy,” both for economic strength and national security.

5) Immigration – The flood of illegal immigration across our Southern border with Mexico must be ended without delay.  The problem of mass immigration has three basic implications.  First, at a time when terrorists are determined to strike the U.S. homeland it makes no sense to have an unsecured border.  It is in our national security interest to seal our borders, even with troops if necessary.  Second, as more and more immigrants pour in, there are less and less resources for them.  As our economy sputters, does it make any sense to allow millions of potential workers in to compete for jobs when the economy is not producing enough new ones for the workers we already have?  And, as the law of supply and demand teach us, a flood of labor will drive down wages, as it is already doing.  Third, as Pat Buchanan has written, a flood of immigrants are a threat to American culture.  We need to be able to assimilate those already here, into the American Melting Pot, before allowing any more in.  And then we should only allow those immigrants who possess skills and talents that we need.  Failing to control our borders may one day destroy our country.

An independent conservative candidate would do well by subscribing to James K. Polk’s political tactics and adopting simple campaign platform on issues that most affect the American people.  It could also help revive a sick and depressed Conservative Movement.  For if we sit idly by and let the political pendulum continue its swing to the Left without a fight, it may never come back!

The Danger of Democratic Campaign Lies

“We may rest assured,” wrote John C. Calhoun, “that those who play false to get power, will play false to retain it.”

Such was the advice of a great, but often maligned, Southern statesman that we should be very leery of politicians who will say anything to get elected.  We see this in every election it seems but never take the advice.  And what do we usually get?  Nothing we were promised.

Last week we saw yet another example of Democrats embellishing their credentials to strengthen their campaigns for the White House.  Barack Obama sought to exploit a family member who served during World War II.

“I had an uncle who was one of the, part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps,” Obama said in speech in New Mexico. “And the story in our family was, is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic, and he didn’t leave the house for six months.”

Yet we quickly learned that Obama does not have an uncle (it was actually his great uncle) and, for anyone who knows even the basics of history, American forces did not liberate Auschwitz, a camp located in Poland.  That horror of horrors was liberated by Soviet troops.  American military units never set foot in Poland, or in any Eastern European nation for that matter.  Obama’s fib would only be true if his uncle served in the Red Army.

But why would he do this?  To make himself look better, to make his family look more patriotic.  His great uncle did serve in the U.S. Army and help liberate a camp that was part of the Buchenwald system in central Germany.  This is a great story in itself and need not have been embellished.  But Auschwitz just sounded better. 

Another reason is that Obama has a bit of a problem with Jewish voters.  Recent polling indicates that he’s besting McCain in that category but not by as much as recent Democratic nominees.  For instance, Kerry beat out Bush with Jewish voters by a margin of 3 to 1, while Obama outranks McCain by just 2 to 1, a significant difference.

The Obama campaign came out quickly the day after the speech, as the lie was caught by talk radio and other conservative media outlets, stating that the candidate “mistakenly” referred to the wrong concentration camp.  But in a 2002 anti-war speech, Obama made a similar reference to Auschwitz and another family member.  “My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.” 

Unless his grandfather was talking about the great uncle, he could not have spoken to any American troops who entered Auschwitz.  Or maybe he knew some soldiers in the Red Army!  But we have also learned that his grandfather did not sign up to fight the day after Pearl Harbor but some six months later.  Again, this story did not have to be embellished. 

You might expect someone with a degree from Columbia and Harvard to know the basics of history!  And I’m willing to bet he does; he just simply lied.

It might be argued by Obama’s supporters that these are just little mistakes or even “white lies,” but where I was raised, a lie is a lie.  It is still not the truth.

Soon after his Auschwitz remark, Obama made a rather strange statement.  “Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain. That’s why this idea of making sure that every single #veteran, when they are discharged, are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder and given the mental health services that they need – that’s why it’s so important.” 

Is this what he got out of the horrors of Nazi Germany?  That we need better mental health facilities?  There are lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, namely that government, when it grows to powerful and oppressive, can create hell on earth.  But Obama wants government to run the lives of its citizens, and he seeks more and more control for Washington.  If he has his way, the feds will be telling you how to live from the time you are born until after you die, when they seize 55 percent of your estate!

Like Hillary’s sniper episode, incidents such as this should tell us a lot about a candidate’s character.  If they are so willing to lie about family, friends, and their campaign for power, can we honestly say they wouldn’t lie in office?  If we are that naïve, then we deserve what we get!

Free Trade Is Destroying the American Economy

The future of U.S. trade policy is likely to be a central issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, as the question has already appeared in almost every debate this election season.  And it couldn’t come at a better time, as the economy may be entering a very serious slowdown and our current trade policy is a main culprit.

For the past quarter of a century, the United States has been in a free trade frenzy, cutting every conceivable deal that can be made, regardless of what it does to our industrial base and our workers or whether or not our “partners“ live up to their end.  This process has been greatly accelerated under George W. Bush, as he has attempted to extend NAFTA throughout the Western Hemisphere.  And when that failed, he has quietly been assembling all the pieces one at a time.

And what has Bush’s free trade policies gotten us?  Over three million manufacturing jobs lost; a deficit with China of more than a $1 trillion since 2001; and a monthly trade deficit of $62 billion, as of February 2008, double what it was when he took office in January 2001.  Today our deficit is running over $700 billion a year.

What does a trade deficit mean?  I’ve heard many economists say it doesn’t really matter that much but it does.  In fact, before he retired, Alan Greenspan had become very concerned with the rising trade deficit, calling it “unsustainable.” 

Running a deficit in trade simply means we are importing more than we export.  As these foreign goods flow in, our dollars flow out to pay for them, and a lot of that is borrowed from the very ones we buy from.  Over $5 trillion has flooded the world market since 1992.  China, for example, holds several trillion dollars in U.S. currency reserves, threatening to dump them on the world market if we attempt any retaliation, which would totally collapse the dollar.  But the dollar is slowly devaluing precisely because we have so much of it in circulation here and abroad.  It’s simple economics, the law of supply and demand.  Trillions flowing out and that coupled with the Fed’s loose money policy, there are simply too many dollars in circulation.

To his credit, Bush has acted on a few occasions to institute corrective action when industries are imperiled by these trade deals, but its usually too little and at the first sign of resistance he bails.  Remember the steel tariffs that were supposed to last 3 years?  After a little more than a year of European barking, the president removed them.  So his “protectionist” measures seem to be more politically-motivated than any true desire to aid American manufacturing.

In a move reminiscent of this, his administration, last week, imposed a 5 percent tariff on imported cotton socks from Honduras that will remain in effect from July to December of this year.  Since passage of the much-touted Central American Free Trade Agreement, Honduras, following the path of other nations that have seen their tariffs dropped as a result of American generosity, began dumping socks into the U.S. market, an increase of nearly 100 percent over the past year that severely hurt the textile industry, which has already taken a serious beating from China. 

American sock manufacturers requested a tariff of 13.5 percent and felt the 5 percent rate was much too low.  The executive director of Made In USA Strategies called the action “pitiful.”  I would agree but it is good to see that some action has been taken though free traders are likely to scream protectionism, the new dirty word.

Protectionism, however, is as American as baseball and apple pie.  Academic economists rail against protectionism and mercantilism but Britain dominated the world economy using these practices for more than a century.  America did likewise, eventually surpassing Britain in economic output by the turn of the 20th century.  Both nations lost their lead and began a slide downward only after dumping protectionism for a policy of free trade.  In fact, the great Asian economies of today – the emerging Asian Century – were built, and are growing, with protectionist policies.  Yet the only argument free-trade economists have in response to these facts is that our great economic boom from 1860 until 1945 occurred despite protectionism! 

And if protectionism does not work, why then does the GATT rules allow exceptions for developing countries to impose tariffs and other restrictions?  Why is it that foreign nations scream the loudest when we impose protectionist measures if such measures only hurt ourselves?  The fact is protectionism does work and global free trade is not about building strong national economies.  It’s about global socialism. 

Ronald Reagan, the great conservative, used real protectionist methods to great effect, particularly against Japan.  He slapped tariffs on motorcycles to save Harley Davidson as well as imposing import quotas on steel, machine tools, and cars.  These actions did not hurt the American economy but helped strengthen it and save those vitally important industries. 

But many elites in this country, of both parties, are in favor of uninhibited free trade.  Victor Davis Hanson, famed military historian, recently wrote that “a traditional [classical] liberal position would be to defend free trade that lowers prices and increases choices for poorer American consumers — while helping foreign economies catch up with the United States.”  Helping foreign countries catch up!  Sounds a lot like socialism to me.  We transfer our wealth, technology, and jobs to poor foreign nations out of the goodness of our hearts while we get nothing but some cheap junk!  Perhaps Professor Hanson should stick to military history as a profession.

In the current presidential campaign both Democratic candidates have expressed concern over free trade policies and a desire to re-negotiate agreements that have not been in America’s best interest.  But as we have seen recently, both the Obama campaign and the Clinton camp have tried to re-assure our trading partners that it is only political rhetoric and no change in American trade policy will be forthcoming under a new Democratic administration.

Bill Clinton acted in precisely the same manner, supporting fair trade in his campaign in 1992, vowing to “stand up for American workers by standing up to countries that don‘t play by the rules of free and fair trade.”  But during his administration Mr. Clinton negotiated NAFTA and the GATT treaty which have been very harmful to American workers and the overall economy.   Furthermore he promised to “reevaluate” Most Favored Nation status for China, a designation that Congress had to approve each year.  But after re-naming it Normal Trade Relations, so it didn’t sound so threatening, Clinton made it permanent in 2000, undoubtedly a payoff for all the illegal money that poured into his re-election campaign in 1996.

So given President Clinton’s track record, and seeing the current campaigns employ similar tactics with regard to trade, we can’t realistically expect any different from Hillary or Barack.  Most of the Democratic Party, because of Bill Clinton, is now tied to free trade.

John McCain, however, is steadfast in his support of free trade and unapologetic in its defense.  The Republican nominee has voted in favor of every free trade deal proposed in Congress and has a 100 percent free trade rating by the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies.

In a Republican debate last fall in Michigan, McCain made some very outrageous remarks regarding U.S. trade policy.  “I’m a student of history,” he boasted.  “Every time the United States has become protectionist…we’ve paid a very heavy price.”  What price have we paid, Senator?  The years of our highest protectionist policies have also been the years of our greatest economic growth. 

The Senator continued the history lesson.  “The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Acts in the 1930s were direct contributors to World War II.”  This is another laughable liberal talking point.  Al Gore made a similar remark to Ross Perot in their 1994 debate on NAFTA.  But it is a totally false assertion and is really nothing more than fear-mongering to suggest that a tariff passed more than eight months after the stock market crash in 1929 and nearly a decade before Hitler invaded Poland caused the greatest war in world history!  Oh, and by the way Professor McCain, Smoot-Hawley was only one bill, not a series!

During the same debate McCain got into an exchange with Ron Paul on economics, which is not advisable given the fact that McCain has already stated on multiple occasions that the economy is not his strong suit.  He dished out some advice that he should take himself.  “Everybody is paying taxes and wealth creates wealth. And the fact is that I would commend to your reading, Ron, Wealth of Nations, because that’s what this is all about.”  Senator McCain has obviously not read Adam Smith’s major work for if he had he would not have the views on trade that he espouses. 

For instance, McCain told an audience in Des Moines in December that he would “open every market in the world to Iowa’s agricultural products.”  But how can you do this?  Through negotiations of more free trade deals?  That is precisely what we’ve been doing!  Politicians have promised open markets in exchange for access to ours but that is not what has happened.  Many foreign nations have continued to keep their markets closed to American products.  Adam Smith wrote of his solution in The Wealth of Nations, which McCain obviously has not read.  “Revenge in this case naturally dictates retaliation, and that we should impose the like duties [tariffs] and prohibitions [quotas] upon the importation of some or all of their manufactures into ours….”

Senator McCain has had several opportunities to vote for bills in the Senate that would impose Smith’s policy of retaliation for closed markets but chose not to support them.  For example he voted against a bill that would have imposed sanctions on Japan for restricting American automobiles and car parts in 1995.  In 1999 McCain told the National Press Club why such a policy was wrong.  “Embracing protectionism here to retaliate for it elsewhere is akin to a murder-suicide pact, and we should resist the temptation whether the product in question is bananas or sugar or steel.”  So much for Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations.

This is precisely why true conservatives cannot listen to a guy who says economics is not his strong suit.

The fact is our industrial base, the great “arsenal of democracy” that won both world wars, is steadily deteriorating.  It is eroding because we are not protecting it and are leaving it vulnerable to foreign predators.  Today we could not duplicate the industrial might unleashed during World War II.  All the industrial losses at Pearl Harbor could be replaced in just a few days!  The American army, built to take on Germany and Japan, would eventually reach 90 divisions.  By contrast, the Soviet Union would build 350 divisions to fight Hitler.  The U.S. industrial economy, however, could produce enough materials to build and fully equip 1400 divisions!  More could be produced in a month in the United States alone than could be produced in Russia in one year!  It would not pay to fight America.  But could we do this today?  Not even close!

Senator James Webb of Virginia, former Navy Secretary under President Reagan, has recently expressed to World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah his concern that our industrial capacity has eroded to the point that it will be difficult to maintain our naval strength, a situation Webb calls “pretty precarious.”  This is truly a scary thought.  Adam Smith would agree and recommend imposing a “burden” on foreign imports that might threaten an industry “necessary for the defence of the country.”  Mr. McCain would not.  But how can you stake your campaign on protecting the country from terror but when it comes to protecting our industrial base then you say it is wrong?  It makes no sense to me.

Webb is also concerned about China and our reliance on that Communist nation to fund much of our debt.  “We basically have allowed the country [China], which potentially is our greatest strategic adversary, to also become our banker.  That’s an uncomfortable situation to be in.”  But certainly not for McCain.  In the Dearborn, Michigan debate, he had this to say about the situation with China:  “It sounds like a lot of fun to bash China and others, but free trade has been the engine of our economy. Free trade should be the continuing principle that guides this nation’s economy.”  So we will just stand by and let them overtake us!  Good strategy, Senator!

But Webb is right and McCain is dead wrong!  Our current fiscal troubles would be like a family who owns a large home, with a great pool, immaculately furnished, dressing in the finest attire, driving the latest expensive model cars, owning many “toys” like boats and ATVs, and taking extensive vacations every year, but being in debt up to their eyeballs, including multiple credit cards maxed to the limit.  So, in reality, how wealthy is this family?  Not very!  Their wealth is false, being debt-driven and financed.  They are one catastrophe away from bankruptcy.

Our nation is in the exact same boat.  Our economic growth is not real but false.  We borrow huge sums of money every year from foreign nations, like China, to buy goods they manufacture and export to us.  We have become a consumer collective and little else.

Whereas we were once the world’s greatest creditor nation, now we have become the globe’s leading debtor, all because we listened to a bunch of politicians tell us it was good for us!  And many of these are like John McCain, not understanding history or economics.

But John McCain’s hero, Theodore Roosevelt, certainly did.  TR didn’t think too highly of free traders, who he believed were nothing more than “professional counselors who have confined themselves to study in the closet” but the “actual working of the tariff has emphatically contradicted their theories.”  Doesn’t this sound like a perfect description of those academic economists showcased almost daily on the cable news networks?  “These forty odd years have been the most prosperous years this nation has ever seen,” TR wrote, “more prosperous years than any other nation has ever seen.  Every class of our people is benefited by the protective tariff.”  To Senator Henry Cabot Lodge he wrote in 1895, “Thank God I am not a free-trader. In this country pernicious indulgence in the doctrine of free trade seems inevitably to produce fatty degeneration of the moral fibre.”  If only McCain believed as TR did.

Listening to these “professional counselors” explain why free trade is good is to hear how consumers benefit from cheap imports.  That seems to be the overriding consideration.  But should it be?  What does it matter if we have cheap foreign imports but lose our major industries and the bulk of our good paying manufacturing jobs?  And, as Adam Smith noted, industry is vitally important to national security and should be protected.  Our Founders understood this well, as did the great statesman Henry Clay.  “If the governing consideration were cheapness, if national independence were to weigh nothing; if honor nothing; why not subsidize foreign powers to defend us; why not hire Swiss or Hessian armies to protect us?  Why not get our arms of all kinds, as we do, in part, the blankets and clothing of our soldiers, from abroad?”  Would anyone logically want to see our nation defended by foreigners?  The answer is obvious.

“No athlete ever consumed his way to an Olympic medal,” writes Pat Buchanan, “and no nation ever consumed its way to greatness or prosperity.”  But that is America’s attitude today, a materialistic society, increasingly narcissistic, with no regard for the future.  This mindset has turned us into economic slaves, for we are but a colony, as Buchanan has written, a “colony of the world.”  For the empires of old, colonies served several purposes, but the main reasons were for a source of raw materials and a market to sell manufactures.  We fit this bill perfectly.

We must soon begin to reverse the trend or all may be lost.  And we must do it smartly.  Blindly, and stupidly, throwing up a bunch of high protective tariffs to try and correct the problem might make it worse.  Tariffs are not the only means available to us.  Reagan used quotas and other import agreements to great effect.  Enforcing anti-dumping laws already on the books would also be a great help.

But we also have to aid our business community, not denigrate them.  Corporations outsource for a variety of reasons, but the main two are high taxation and over-regulation.  U.S. corporate tax rates are an outrageous 35 percent, higher than those in Europe, and unnecessary regulations are extremely costly and burdensome.  We should slash corporate taxes in half and rid the stranglehold of regulation.  This would give corporations more incentive to invest here.

A traditional 20 percent revenue tariff would bring in hundreds of billions in much needed funds, which could be used to cut corporate taxes and eliminate them altogether on small businesses.  Higher tariffs should be imposed on a case-by-case basis.  To help corporations stay home, taxes on capital gains, dividends, and savings should be abolished.  This would greatly increase investment.

These policies would allow us to create new, high-paying industrial jobs here at home where they are sorely needed.  I refuse to believe as McCain does that these jobs aren’t coming back.  They can with the right policies in place but will continue to leave our shores with the wrong ones.  We’ve seen this for far too long and its time to elect a president who will, in Warren Harding’s words, “prosper America first.”

Bush vs. Lincoln

Where George W. Bush will land on any future historian’s list of presidential ranking is anyone’s guess.  Since academia is 85 to 90 percent Democrat, and since Democrats have an intense hatred of Bush, it stands to reason he will not fair very well among university professors.  Yet Bush has angered a good many true conservatives as well, so he is unlikely to find any relief from that group either.

President Bush may take a literary beating for what could very well turn out to be a serious economic downturn, for a policy of fiscal irresponsibility, and a possible quagmire in Iraq but one area he should not take too serious of a hit would be his handling of internal security, in which he has taken a delicate approach with new laws to go after our enemies and prevented any further attacks on the American homeland. 

Though his actions in regard to war policy and civil liberties has been quite tame, historically-speaking, Bush has made many true conservatives, myself included, nervous to say the least.  The serious concern for civil libertarians is this:  what happens when a true tyrant takes office with laws the Bush administration enacted and chooses not to use caution but to use the laws for political advantage and go after its enemies?  Such laws, if absolutely necessary, should always include a “sunset” provision and never be made permanent, as Congress has done with the USA PATRIOT Act.  This was a monumental mistake.

The rights and freedoms of American citizens should never be under threat during wartime or peacetime and the federal government, regardless of who holds the White House, should maintain a constant vigil over them.

But how does Bush compare with Abraham Lincoln, another wartime president with an internal security problem?  Liberals, as well as many moderates and conservatives, praise Lincoln for saving the Union and freeing the slaves, while ignoring his often-times brutal methods.  But those same “scholars” bash Bush for violating the civil liberties of the American people during a war with a dangerous and elusive enemy who uses our free society to operate among us, planning new and more deadly attacks on the homeland.

In short, no president violated the Constitution and trampled the civil liberties of the American people more than Abraham Lincoln.  So let us look briefly at a comparison of the two wartime presidents.

Bush gained authorization from Congress to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the appropriations to carry out the war.  Lincoln raised an army and waged war without congressional consent, refusing to call Congress into session until the conflict has been ongoing for several months.

Bush ordered warrant-less wire taps on overseas calls to suspected Al-Qaeda operatives who might be planning terrorist strikes in the United States, which were approved by Congress.  Lincoln seized and censored Northern telegraph offices unilaterally.  This would be akin to Bush taking over AT&T and listening to every call made each and every day throughout the country without any warrants, congressional approval or oversight, or any court participation. 

The president has not laid a finger on the media but he does oppose a new “shield law,” recommended by some in Congress to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources for stories, because just such a law would make it more difficult for the government to catch “leakers.”  Lincoln, by contrast, censored and shut down hundreds of newspapers throughout the North critical of his policies.  Just imagine for a second Bush sending in troops to take over the New York Times!  This very thing Lincoln did on more than one occasion.  A few editors were even arrested and imprisoned.

Bush detains enemy combatants, those persons fighting against American forces on foreign battlefields, and houses them in a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they are treated better than they lived at home, even though they are not protected by the Geneva Convention.  Lincoln arrested and imprisoned, without trial, some 14,000 American citizens, according to historian Mark Neely, many of whom simply disagreed with the administration and became critical of war policy.  He even had a former congressman, Clement Vallandingham, arrested by Union troops in the dead of night and banished to the Confederacy.  Vallandingham was in the midst of a campaign for governor of Ohio in which he was relentless in both his criticism of Lincoln and in his desire to end the war.  President Lincoln was able to carry out these actions by suspending the writ of habeas corpus, which the president is not allowed to do under the Constitution.  Anyone advocating peace was considered an enemy and Lincoln would not tolerate it.  Cindy Sheehan would never have been heard from again!

President Bush did not use the military to disrupt the electoral process and assure his re-election in 2004.  Lincoln used Union troops to intimidate Democrats from going to the polls in 1864, and with hostile newspapers silenced, he won a second term, but still with only 55 percent of the vote.  In 1861 he ordered secessionist-leaning members of the Maryland state legislature seized by military force to prevent that state from joining the Confederacy.  In addition he interfered with Maryland’s electoral process to make sure new legislators were in lock-step with preserving the Union.  Self-determination was all but destroyed in the state of Maryland by President Lincoln.

Bush has made no attempt to interfere with the federal court system, even when rulings, such as Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, did not completely go his way.  He has not even invoked the Andrew Jackson policy of ignoring the Supreme Court.  Lincoln not only ignored the Court but even threatened to have Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney arrested for issuing an opinion where he admonished the president for overstepping his constitutional authority in suspending the writ of habeas corpus.  Despite liberal efforts to suppress this story, according to Lincoln critic Professor Thomas DiLorenzo’s excellent research in his book Lincoln Unmasked, there was, in fact, an arrest warrant issued by the president intended for the chief justice but never carried out by law enforcement.

The Pentagon has been extremely careful, even to the detriment of our own troops, to keep civilian casualties as low as possible.  No specific actions have ever been taken against civilians in any theater of operations, despite the rantings of Murtha and others.  But our troops have faced trial for acting in self-defense in a war zone, as in the Haditha case, and some have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for putting underwear on the heads of detainees in Iraq.  Mr. Lincoln’s army faced no court martial and acted without regard to any established rules of war.  War crimes specifically directed against Southern civilians were commonplace throughout the conflict, as has been well documented, including Sherman’s brutal march through Georgia and South Carolina and Sheridan’s complete destruction of the Shenandoah Valley, a campaign in which he boasted that a crow flying over the area would be forced to carry rations!

By contrast it must be noted that Confederate armies operating in the North were forbidden by President Jefferson Davis, as well as General Robert E. Lee, from retaliating against the Northern people.  Many Southern soldiers who committed war crimes were hanged.

Bush has received perhaps his harshest criticism over the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which even John McCain vows to close.  Yet Gitmo has provided for prisoners better than they deserve, with free prayer rugs, copies of the Koran, and five prayer sessions a day as required by Islam.  And the meal menu looks like something out of Tavern-on-the-Green. 

Lincoln, however, treated Confederate prisoners of war in the most merciless fashion.  The North had ample supplies throughout the war but made no effort care for Confederate soldiers.  One notorious Northern prison was located in Elmira, New York.  It was so bad that Southern troops housed there referred to it as “Hellmira.”  Many froze to death without so much as a blanket in the cold winter months, as others suffered from disease and malnutrition.  Nearly 3,000 died at Elmira, a rate of 25 percent.

The infamous prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia receives all the attention, mainly because the Confederacy lost the war and we all know winners write the history, but how could the South possibly be expected to feed enemy soldiers when they were having trouble feeding their own troops as well as their own civilian population.  And don’t forget Mr. Lincoln instituted an illegal blockage against Southern ports to help starve the Confederacy.

The fact is once a system of prisoner exchange was worked out by both sides in 1862 most of the early prisons were emptied and remained so for two years.  However, that system was ended in 1864 by General Grant to deprive the Confederacy of much-needed troops as he instituted a new campaign to strangle the South.  Yet this is almost never pointed out.  In Ken Burns propaganda piece about the war he blames the ending of the prisoner exchange plan on President Davis and General Lee because of racism for supposedly refusing to exchange Union black troops in Southern custody, preferring to send them back into slavery.  An outrageously untrue claim!

So as you can see, Bush’s policies, though troubling, do not begin to compare with Lincoln, a man who is nearly worshipped by most politicians, Democrat and Republican, and almost all of academia.  Whatever his faults, President Bush has maintained a watch over the liberties of the American people and is not the tyrant in which he is often portrayed by the Left.  The most distressing Bush policy would be the permanency of new security laws, which should be repealed.  But the next time you feel compelled to trash Bush for being the worst tyrant in American history, or hear a member of the Left doing so, think of “Honest” Abe.  There’s no comparison at all.

Why We Need Another John D. Rockefeller

This week we received more disturbing news on the current state of energy prices, as the price of a barrel of crude reached an all-time high of $118.00 on futures trading.  At the same time our so-called friends, the Saudis, announced that they have placed on hold any plans to increase oil production, which would help bring down the price.  Gasoline also reached an average national high of more than $3.50 a gallon, and many are expecting it to reach more than $4.00 a gallon, with $5.00 a possibility this summer in certain parts of the nation.  Politicians in Washington are searching for answers but as usual are clueless.

Yet the solutions to our problems are not in some fantasy utopian world, where we can all run our cars on some mysterious clean-burning fuel, but in the past when we did whatever was required to strengthen our economy and benefit America.  And in those days we never listened to extremists tell us it was beneficial to dismantle our economy on flimsy science.

American economic power skyrocketed in the decades after the War for Southern Independence.  Before the war, the United States was a second-rate power but by the end of the century America dominated the global economy, producing nearly a third of the world’s manufactured goods, as well as taking a leading position in mining and agriculture.

How did the United States transform itself in such rapid fashion?  Well there are several factors, including the imposition of a protective tariff and the lack of oppressive taxes and regulations.  But an often overlooked reason was the availability of cheap energy.  Industrialization and robust economic growth require vast amounts of energy.  And the man responsible for supplying most of it in the 19th century was John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company.

Rockefeller has been labeled by most historians, along with other entrepreneurs of his day, as a “robber baron,” a shrewd, cruel capitalist concerned only with enriching himself at the expense of the poor, working classes.  Although this was true for some, it was not the case with Rockefeller.  He was a superb businessman and incredibly efficient, seeking to make high quality petroleum products cheap and readily available for every American.  He did it the right way, with brains and brawn, the way America was meant to be.

There are, according to Burton Folsom in his book The Myth of the Robber Barons, two types of entrepreneurs – political entrepreneurs and market entrepreneurs.  A market entrepreneur is someone who uses the free market to build his business.  Good old American hard work!  This would be what we call a self-made man.  But a political entrepreneur is a businessman who cannot make it on his own and seeks government aid, such as subsidies, and legal protection, in the form of anti-trust laws, to gain an advantage.  These were the real robber barons.

Rockefeller was definitely in the former, a great market entrepreneur.  He was nearly obsessed with making energy cheap and available for everyone, using good business practices and the free market.  But his sole concern was not just cheapness but quality as well.  To one of his partners he wrote, “Let the good work go on.  We must ever remember we are refining oil for the poor man and he must have it cheap and good.” 

Before the age of electricity, homes were illuminated with kerosene lamps.  Five years after the war, in 1870, kerosene cost 58 cents a gallon, an expensive commodity, but with Standard Oil controlling 90 percent of the market, and Rockefeller’s incredible efficiency, he lowered the price to just 8 cents per gallon by 1880.  “Hope we can continue to hold out with the best illuminator in the world at the lowest price,” he wrote another partner.  This greatly benefited the poor in America, and enabled them to illuminate their homes.

Rockefeller was able to do this through the use of “vertical integration,” for which he is often criticized.  This practice is not monopolistic but effective at cutting costs, which lowers prices.  For example, oil in those days was shipped in wooden barrels, manufactured by coopers.  Standard Oil paid nearly $3 a piece for them.  Believing he could do it cheaper, Rockefeller bought vast tracts of timber land, built his own barrel-making operation, and cranked them out at just .96 cents.  This is true efficiency and helped bring prices down.  He did not engage in these practices to further enrich himself and try to control more of the market, as is sometimes alleged.

By controlling the product, in this case oil, from the time it left the ground until it was sold in stores, Rockefeller was able to cheapen it for the common man but also for American industry, which boomed during this period.  This is not a coincidental parallel.  The availability of cheap energy, and with a protective tariff guarding the gates against foreign predators, America’s economy employed millions of American workers and soon became the envy of the world, producing the material that won both world wars.

But what are we doing today?  The exact opposite of course.  Yes the oil companies have made record profits during this period of high prices.  In fact, of the top Fortune 500 companies in 2007, three oil companies – ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips – ranked in the top five, pulling in some $70 billion in profits.

But consider what they are up against.  They are prohibited from drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) in Alaska, where there is a oil reserve of some 10.5 billion barrels, enough to end our imports from Saudi Arabia for two decades.  They are also restricted from opening up drilling in much of the Gulf of Mexico, where there is thought to be a vast reserve as well.  New reserves have also been found in the Dakotas and Montana, with no plans to drill.

At the same time, no new refineries have been built since the early 1970’s.  This is very important because it is in the refining process where the supply of gasoline and diesel is controlled.  Refineries are now at full capacity.  There is only so much they can do.  Current technology also exists to produce gasoline and diesel from coal, where we have a 500 year supply.  But as you might guess, there are no plans to invest in this new technology either. 

And let’s not forget, these same oil companies who are making record profits are also paying record taxes, to the tune of tens of billions a year!

With all these restrictions, oil companies have little available at their disposal to increase supplies and bring down prices.  We are now paying the piper for the environmentalist tune we have been singing for more than thirty years.

Today our economy runs on petroleum.  Always has and always should, for the foreseeable future.  As long as energy has remained cheap, our economy has excelled, but let energy prices inflate and our economy slows and sometimes slows dramatically.  The surest way to grind our economy to a halt is with inflation in the energy sector.

And yet even this very week we see environmentalist wackos trot out their other scare tactic, the fact that we are almost out of oil.  This is known as the peak oil theory.  But this is far from the case.  Estimates on global oil reserves vary but they are thought to be around 12 to 16 trillion barrels, whereas the planet has consumed just one trillion barrels to date, according to Nansen G. Saleri of Quantum Reservoir Impact in Houston, Texas.  There is plenty of fuel for our economy, we just need to find the will to go get it.

We also must stop listening to these environmental extremists, who cling to unproven theories, and do what needs to be done.  We need new drilling and new refineries, along with new nuclear power plants to free up coal for other purposes.  While we are busy bankrupting ourselves and listening to screwball environmentalists in Washington and New York City, China and Russia, our chief global rivals, are scrounging the globe for every available energy reserve.  They are gaining the high ground while we talk about creating new “green collar” jobs and putting sod on roofs to “green” our buildings.  How laughable!  China is even making inroads in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, gaining closer ties with Cuba to tap reserves  right under our noses.

But while our rivals look to build their economic futures, doing whatever is in their nation’s best interest, our country, led by the Bush Administration, is intensely focused on the idea of ethanol production as an oil substitute.  Corn-based ethanol is subsidized by the government at $2 billion per year and this folly is already having a negative impact on our economy.  As more and more farmers are switching their fields from wheat production to corn, food prices are increasing, by 11 to 25 percent last year depending on the commodity. 

And because of this asinine policy, for the first time in American history we actually had to import grain last year.  Corn prices are also increasing because we are burning it up for fuel.  This is also causing shortages for other uses as well.  The Breadbasket of the World is now in decline, all because of a ridiculous, unproven theory put forward by nutcases like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Our current policy is even having a global impact, as world food prices rose nearly 85 percent, causing food shortages and even riots in some countries like Mexico.  It will only get worse.

The upcoming election in November will determine the fiscal policy of this country for the next four years.  Of the three “major” presidential candidates, no one is talking about the real issues at stake.  We face major economic problems and neither the Republican or Democratic candidates seem to want to confront these issues with any degree of seriousness.  We need a president who will embrace America First policies, like our forefathers in the days of Rockefeller, and put this nation on a sound financial footing.  If not, our future looks very bleak.

China and the Bush Doctrine

The recent unrest in Tibet captured the attention of the world and showcased the true nature of Red China.  This was a golden opportunity for President Bush, and the Western World, to finally confront Communist China over its continued human rights record.  But we are reminded once again how shallow our president actually is when it comes to foreign policy.

President Bush has faced mounting pressure to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing since the Chinese crackdown but has yet to make any decision on Tibet.  Other Western leaders, such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have expressed their intention to remain absent.  Yet the question remains why Bush will not do likewise, to show solidarity with Tibet and a united front against Chinese aggression.  This would at least show that he actually believes in the theme of his second inaugural address, which he seems to use only when it suits him.

On January 20, 2005, President Bush addressed the nation after taking the oath of office for his second term.  “America, in this young century,” stated the president, “proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof.”  His new administration’s policy would be “to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”  The country would embark on the “idealistic work of helping raise up free governments.”  True conservatives rightfully cringed. 

The President continued:  “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.  Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.  The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: ‘Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.’”

But with all the high-minded idealism and artful rhetoric, how has his foreign policy been carried out towards China?  Has Bush stood with Tibet in its battle for liberty from Chinese aggression?  Has he stood with Taiwan, as its democracy is increasingly threatened by a China bent on conquest?  The obvious answer is no. 

Tibet is not an old province of China but has its own separate history.  It is an ancient civilization, and like any “nation” it has its own distinct heritage, language, ethnicity, and religion.  It is not culturally Chinese.  But Tibetans have battled China for independence since the mid-18th century.  The modern Communist nation under Mao, invaded Tibet in 1950 with the People’s Liberation Army, presumably to “liberate” Tibet from its freedom and independence.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the campaign was brutal.  “After invading Tibet in 1950, the Chinese communists killed over one million Tibetans, destroyed over 6,000 monasteries, and turned Tibet’s northeastern province, Amdo, into a gulag housing, by one estimate, up to ten million people. A quarter of a million Chinese troops remain stationed in Tibet.”

China has since instituted a campaign of cultural genocide, attempting to wipe all vestiges of Tibetan tradition off the map.

Taiwan, on the other hand, is of Chinese heritage.  But, in a manner reminiscent of the American South in 1861, Taiwan formed a government of its own, as democratic forces under Chiang Kai Shek fled the mainland, escaping Mao’s Communists during the Chinese Civil War.  The small island became the “Republic of China” in 1950.

When the United Nations was formed, and the Security Council set up with five permanent members, all victors in World War II, Taiwan held the Chinese seat, and did so until 1972, siding consistently with the United States in most issues before the council.  The seat was then stupidly given to mainland China, while the Nixon administration did nothing to stop it.  China, Kissinger said, must be brought in from the cold. 

Taiwan left the U.N. in protest and now does not possess sovereignty, with no U.N. recognition and no American embassy.  The U.S. maintains a “One China” policy but also vows, via treaty, to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression and sell them weapons for their defense.  Someone figure this one out!

Mainland China has continued to threaten the autonomy of Taiwan, particularly over the issue of its independence.  As of now China has hundreds of missiles pointed at the island, which they fire over its airspace any time a Taiwanese election is held, to intimidate any and all for voting for pro-independence parties.  The Communist superpower also practices amphibious invasion techniques in the hopes of one day reclaiming what they regard as a long lost province.

The Bush policy toward China, like many of his predecessors, has been, in a word, disgraceful.  He has placed the Almighty Dollar ahead of his own idealism.  Either afraid to confront China militarily, or out of fear of losing the so-called Chinese market, Bush turns a blind eye toward an abysmal human rights record.

The Chinese government carries out forced abortions and sterilizations, censorship on a massive scale, including suppression of most forms of religious expression, executes over 10,000 prisoners a year with little or no due process rights, and engages in shameful organ harvesting.  These organs are taken, without consent, from prisoners who have died or been executed.  This is particularly disturbing when you take into account the fact that in Chinese culture you must enter the afterlife whole.  So the government is, in effect, damning these people in the spirit world.

And let’s not forget the brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, where thousands of protesters were murdered, some brutally.  The first Bush administration threatened sanctions, namely trade restrictions, but after some Chinese sweet talk, predictably backed down.

Yet the United States continues to trade and borrow heavily from China.  Our markets are wide open to Chinese products, even those found to be poisonous, while U.S. products are not given the same liberty.  China continues to manipulate its currency to keep their products cheap.  There are no rights for workers, no health, safety, and labor standards, or any environmental regulations.  Products made in China are, in many cases, the work of virtual slaves, some making only pennies an hour.  Yet there has been no serious condemnation from President Bush.

And now with Chinese aggression front and center, President Bush will not even commit to a simple protest like the proposed boycott of the opening ceremony but plans to attend in person.  Young democracies around the world must feel some comfort in this display.

In making such strong statements in an inaugural address, President Bush was committing the nation to an enormous undertaking, one true conservatives do not support. 

I am not advocating Bush’s Doctrine or that we invade China over Tibet or Taiwan, but if the President of the United States is going to set forth a foreign policy of advancing the spread of democracy around the globe at least he should act like he means it by some small measure of protest.

But with China, we see more empty rhetoric.  The Bush policy seems to be that if you are a small country we can easily obliterate, then you must obey our dictates but if you might give us problems, militarily or economically, then we will let you do as you will and our policy does not apply.  This is madness.  Either follow your own policy or dump it!  And I would prefer we dump it.

Bush would have done better for himself by molding his foreign policy after one of his less-famous predecessors, John Quincy Adams:

“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.  But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.  She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.  She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

John McCain the Liberal

Just when I think I might be able to hold my nose and vote for John McCain, as his mother has suggested, he does something to rekindle my utter disdain and prove once again that he is no conservative, as he claims, but a liberal wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

The Arizona senator and Republican nominee’s recent major address on foreign affairs could have easily been given by any Democrat in America.  The speech left me asking, why is it that both major parties seem to always agree, for the most part, on foreign policy?  Can we have a least one party that can believe in American Exceptionalism and put our nation first?

“We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves,” says McCain, “and we do not want to.  We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a League of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests.”  So Senator McCain believes that we lack the strength to lead the free world, even if that should be our goal.  Apparently he does not believe in Jefferson’s great admonition to steer clear of “entangling” alliances.  Or, at the very least, he fails to see the utter incompetence and uselessness of many alliances.

“When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right.  But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them.”  Persuaded by who?  France?  Germany?  Other members of Socialist Europe?  What if they disagree with us fundamentally on important policy issues that might injure our nation?  So a President McCain could easily be persuaded by, say Germany, to abandon certain programs that might be good for America. 

“If we are successful in pulling together a global coalition for peace and freedom — if we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity, I believe we will gain tangible benefits as a nation.”  International responsibilities?  What’s he running for U.N. Secretary General?  Not exactly the next George Washington.

“The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the world.”  This is certainly news to me.  It may technically be true but we spent 99 percent of the money, did 99 percent of the work, and provided all the leadership.  Nations around the globe looked to us for help and nowhere else.

Again and again McCain demonstrates that he is a liberal and does not believe the United States to be, as Lincoln called it, the “last best hope of earth.” 

The rest of his liberal record is no secret. 

He voted against both Bush tax cut packages in 2001 and 2003, the one true conservative policy of this current administration, but only now says they should be made permanent, or at least that was his position during the primary season.

He has taken the extreme liberal position on one of the greatest hoaxes in recent history – global warming.  To combat it, McCain proposed in 2003, along with his good friend Senator Joe Lieberman, a “cap and trade” bill that would limit greenhouse gas emissions, thereby crippling U.S. industry, presumably as other nations, like India and China, increase their production and expand their search for the world’s vast energy reserves.

McCain has also opposed drilling in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to tap a huge reservoir of domestic oil.  Domestic production, along with new refining capability, would lessen our dependence on foreign sources and help drive down costs.  Yet he sides with the Left on these important issues.

Or as he put it in his address:  “We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.  We Americans must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest of the world, including most importantly, the developing economic powerhouses of India and China.”  So we will encourage China.  I can tell you how that one will come out.

And Kyoto would have devastated what remains of our industrial base.  Recall in 1997 the Senate passed a resolution by a vote of 95-0 that essentially rejected Kyoto.

“I will establish the goal of eradicating malaria on the continent — the number one killer of African children under the age of five.  In addition to saving millions of lives in the world’s poorest regions, such a campaign would do much to add luster to America’s image in the world.”  But it is the environmental extremists who are solely responsible for the spread of malaria.  This dreaded disease, which killed so many for so long, was almost eradicated from the planet with the pesticide DDT, only until the girly men environmentalists lobbied weak-kneed liberal politicians and had it banned in 1972.  Since then malaria has re-emerged as a major global killer.  Liberal compassion at its finest!

McCain has also proposed closing Guantanamo Bay and treating terrorists, who show no mercy on their enemies, with compassion.  “We must fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society,” he says.  But these thugs are not protected by the Geneva Convention, despite liberal claims to the contrary, and are not subject to any special treatment.  I am not suggesting mass murdering them but we cannot give them the same rights we enjoy under our Constitution, as McCain advocates. 

And closing Gitmo?  Terrorists held there eat better than most Americans do, get free Korans, prayer blankets, and are allowed to practice their religion to its fullest, with the exception of Jihad!  We just can’t pour a little water on their heads!

McCain’s economic views are just as screwy and liberal.  He has even stated, on many occasions, that the economy is not his strong suit.  This is not exactly the time for a guy who has no clue what to do in an economic crisis!

At this moment our economy is teetering on recession and very fragile.  And free trade is one policy that has contributed mightily to it, as trillions of dollars have been transported out of this country in the last decade and a half, as our industrial base has deteriorated.  But McCain – Mr. I don’t know much about the economy – still holds tight to free trade.  “Ours can be the first completely democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders, where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the security and prosperity of all.” 

McCain has also stated that “free trade has been the engine of our economy.”  But if you will look at the data you will find that American free trade has been the engine of China’s economy!  So far free trade has not been proven to benefit our overall economy, only those big corporations allowed to outsource production to foreign nations, laying off their American workers.

McCain believes, as do all liberals and pseudo-conservatives, that it is in our best interest to prosper EVERYONE, which will in turn benefit us!  What about our wealth, which we are losing every day? 

And those that aren’t prospering in Mexico or other Central American nations?  Well McCain will just invite them here to prosper.  Remember this guy tried his hardest to pass an amnesty bill, along with Ted Kennedy of all people, to allow ALL illegal immigrants, some 20 million or more, to stay in this country.  It has been a cause he has worked for all his public life.  Only now does he say that he believes in securing the border first!  Does anyone wanna fall for this garbage?  If he believes in secure borders, coming from a border state, why has he done NOTHING as of yet?  The answer is obvious:  He’s a liar!

And finally we must not forget that McCain is anti-Constitution, no matter what he says.  His McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill essentially tore up the First Amendment.  And now he proposes going further and banning all the 527 groups.  He even denounced the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 campaign for attacking fellow Vietnam vet John Kerry.  So if any American citizen feels passionately about a particular political issue and wants to promote that issue through the formation of a advocacy group, a President McCain would prevent him from doing so! 

For true conservatives, this man does not need to be anywhere near the Oval Office.

America’s Worst Presidents?

This week’s issue of U.S. News & World Report is dedicated to America’s Worst Presidents, which is taken from an average of five recent major polls. Presidential rankings, both good and bad, have been around since 1948, when Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. first conducted a survey for Life magazine of academic historians specializing in American history. Such polls, depending on the leanings of the group being surveyed, can differ widely. So, as an up and coming historian, I decided to study the U.S. News poll in depth and construct my own rankings.

The list provided by U.S. News & World Report is as follows: 1. James Buchanan  2. Warren G. Harding  3. Andrew Johnson  4. Franklin Pierce  5. Millard Fillmore  6. John Tyler  7. Ulysses S. Grant  8. William Henry Harrison  9. (tie) Herbert Hoover  9. (tie) Richard Nixon  10. Zachary Taylor.

My rankings, the Walters List, is as follows: 1. Abraham Lincoln  2. Jimmy Carter  3. Woodrow Wilson  4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt  5. Lyndon Baines Johnson  6. Ulysses S. Grant  7. Herbert Hoover  8. Bill Clinton  9. Richard Nixon  10. Gerald Ford.

Both the Walters list and the U.S. News list have just three duplications – Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon, so I will not take the time or space to list the reasons why these are considered failed presidencies. For some the reasons should be obvious. As for the ones that differ, some might come as a shock but I will offer my explanations here in some detail. However, please note that I point out a few of the major weaknesses and faults of these presidents from my vantage point but that is not to say that they did not have some positive accomplishments, for most of them did.

At the top of my list is Abraham Lincoln, who would probably not occupy the list of any professional historian. Lincoln stretched the Constitution past its bounds, trampled the rights of the Southern states, and made a mockery of the cherished American principle of self-determination. The Left, who praises Lincoln, scolds Bush for violating the civil liberties of the American people but let’s consider “Honest” Abe’s actions. He waged war without congressional consent, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, imprisoned thousands of American citizens without charges or trial, seized and censored telegraph offices, shut down hundreds of newspapers while arresting and imprisoning editors, attacked civilians, interfered with the electoral process, and destroyed the voluntary Union of our Founders to replace it with a centralized state. How could anyone praise these actions is beyond me!

Also missing the cut for the U.S. News poll, but ranked second on my list, is Jimmy Carter. Let’s be honest with ourselves here – just what did this man get right? How he stayed off the U.S. News list is beyond me. As I often like to joke about Carter, it’s really not fair to criticize him because he only had two failures during his presidency – foreign policy and domestic policy. But seriously this is not too far from the truth. When Carter left the White House in 1981, the United States was not only considerably weaker on the world stage, but downright humiliated. With a U.S. embassy seized and hostages held in Tehran, Carter looked as inept, incompetent and as pathetically weak as he actually was. There was no facade to cover his yellow streak. And we paid the price for it, and according to some, are still paying it. The economy was in shambles as well, with inflation, unemployment, and interest rates all in double-digits; the country nearly fell into a depression, and viewing the situation in the everyday lives of the American people, we were in one. And as one scholar has noted, Jimmy Carter proved that the presidency is not the place for on-the-job training. There are some, however, who would point to Carter’s negotiation of the Camp David Accords in 1978, but, it must be noted that the foundation of this agreement was laid in the Nixon Administration, as Carter simply picked up the pieces from what Kissinger had begun but had not been able to complete. And given the fact that both Israel and Egypt are the two largest recipients of American foreign aid, isn’t it highly probable that we are actually paying them not to fight?

Woodrow Wilson receives my third ranking. Though this might be a bit of a surprise to some, particularly those left of center, Wilson did cause irreparable damage to our republic in my opinion, and according to one scholar, brought on World War II. Wilson was a Progressive, and he, like FDR later, sought to change the nation’s fundamental institutions. During this Progressive Era, two new amendments were added to the Constitution that radically altered it, as much as did the Fourteenth. The first, though passed before Wilson entered office but with his support, was the Sixteenth, which gave the federal government the right to impose and collect direct taxes on the people without those taxes being apportioned. This simply means the government could levy an income tax. This tax was only supposed to be imposed on the rich and on corporations, but as with all other government promises, it too was broken. By the time Wilson left office the top rate skyrocketed from two percent in 1913 to seventy percent in 1921. The Seventeenth Amendment also met Wilson’s approval and is much more damaging than many people realize. This amendment took away the representatives of the states – United States Senators. We now popularly elect our senators, but this is not what the Founders intended. And with the states losing proper representation in Washington, state’s rights and state sovereignty endured a crippling blow.

Wilson’s other faults: He created the Federal Reserve System, which is a private entity for which Congress has no direct control that runs our banking system and much of our economy, and he, like FDR, lied us into World War I, a war we easily could have stayed out of. Cato senior fellow Jim Powell theorizes that had we stayed out of World War I, then the result would have been much different, with no rise of any Nazi State in Germany and no World War II.

The biggest shocker of all, and holder of my fourth spot, is FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This president set out to deliberately change the nation’s fundamental economic system of capitalism to a more socialist-based economy. FDR made repeated statements that the Great Depression was caused by a failure of capitalism and the free enterprise system, and needed to be overhauled. This was the greatest expansion and power grab in our history. And as scholar Jim Powell has pointed out, the New Deal failed miserably as an economic recovery program and actually made the Depression worse. With FDR, the nature of our federal government was altered permanently, as now more and more of our citizens look to Washington for help and solutions, rather than looking to ourselves as individuals. FDR began what LBJ finished. Among FDR’s other shortcomings: He lied us into World War II, rather than lead us, and, using the phrase “concentration camp,” imprisoned, by executive order and without trial, thousands of American citizens solely based on their race. And this is the man we built a multi-million dollar monument to in Washington, D.C. A few of the typical “worst presidents” never would have done anything so abhorrent to constitutional government.

Only one word needs to be uttered to describe the disastrous presidency of the next member of my list – Vietnam. Lyndon Baines Johnson generally receives a middle-of-the-road rating because his domestic policy was good, according to the left, but his foreign policy was a disaster. The latter I buy and I don’t believe there are any serious scholars who would disagree but the former is another story. Beginning with domestic policy, LBJ’s Great Society was a monstrous addition to the New Deal. But, where the New Deal at least required work, in the form of works projects, to receive aid, the Great Society took from the American worker and gave to the non-worker, making direct cash payments to those who will not do a thing, and are not required to. Johnson believed poverty could be wiped out by spending $10 billion, but now we have roughly the same percentage of poor people as we did in 1964, when the “war on poverty” was announced, and the population is much larger now than it was then, so in real terms there’s a lot more poverty today. As for public expenditures, the last numbers I saw, in welfare and welfare-related spending since 1964, was over $6 trillion! I believe we can chalk this one up as a failure and the greatest robbery of American taxpayers in our history. As for foreign policy, I will let it speak for itself. Vietnam taught us how not to fight a war. I wonder if we have really learned from this lesson?

To be fair, unlike the many liberal scholars today, I did not include, or even consider, George W. Bush in this list, for it is simply much too early to give him a final grade, although at this point I would not rank him very high. But I did include Bill Clinton, who bumbled and fumbled his way through a mostly “do-nothing” presidency. But Clinton’s failures were numerous and disastrous. Aside from a sex scandal in which he lied under oath and was impeached, some of Clinton’s policies could very well be construed as treasonous. He illegally raised foreign funds for his re-election campaign in 1996, exchanging cash for technology to the Communist Chinese, which boosted their ballistic missile program by decades, putting America at greater risk to Chinese nuclear attack. Clinton further weakened the United States by cutting the U.S. military in half, then failed to capture Osama Bin Laden when he was offered by the Sudanese. He also demonstrated to Al Qaeda American impotence by not responding to persistent terror attacks against the World Trade Center in 1993, the Kobar Towers in 1996, U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, and the USS Cole in 2000, for which he did absolutely nothing! No wonder Bin Laden believed he could launch the 9/11 attack in 2001. September 11, 2001 can be laid at the feet of President William Jefferson Clinton!

Gerald Ford rounds out my list simply because he, like Carter, was way out of his league in the Oval Office. He pardoned Nixon before he was even indicted for crimes he may have committed (and probably did commit) during the Watergate Scandal, rather than let justice take its course. His foreign policy was utterly incompetent, as he allowed North Vietnam to overrun the South, thereby instantly transferring more than 58,000 American deaths in Southeast Asia to the category of “Died in Vain.” In a debate with Carter in 1976 he infamously stated that the Soviets did not dominate Eastern Europe! I’m sure the Pols would have agreed with that one! And finally he appointed John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court, causing Pat Buchanan to bolt to Reagan.

Let me also say a few words about a president who makes every list without fail but did not make mine, Warren G. Harding, who, along with Calvin Coolidge, will be the subject of a future book of mine. Harding, in my opinion, has been treated unfairly by historians. His presidency, though well below average in some respects, should receive enough credit in other areas to get him out of the historical gutter. So let us compare scholarly treatment of Harding and Clinton.

Clinton receives ratings as high as he does (usually somewhere in the middle) for his handling of the economy and maintaining a peaceful nation, while his many scandals are pushed to the rear. Historians generally cite the fact that he was never really implicated in any scandal as the reason he is given somewhat of a pass. But Harding falls into exactly the same category – his administration pulled the nation out of its worse recession and led it into the most robust economic growth in American history, a rate of more than seven percent a year during the Roaring ‘20s. Harding’s many scandals also stayed away from him personally, and the worst ones, such as Teapot Dome, were not revealed until after his death and many of his contemporaries believe history would judge him well. The nation was also at peace under Harding, a “return to normalcy.” The Washington Naval Conference was held during his administration, an attempt to reduce the most fearsome weapon system of the day.

Harding’s successor, Calvin Coolidge, who generally makes most lists, was conspicuously absent from the U.S. News rankings, and rightfully so. Coolidge successfully managed the Harding-Mellon economic turnaround, continuing a program that saw four major tax cuts, a reduction of the national debt by one-third, a budget surplus every year he was in office, and a drop in unemployment from 12 percent to just 3 percent in 1929! Why such a record does not rank in the top 10 or 15 is a travesty of judgment in my opinion.


Iraq vs. Vietnam

This week President Bush put forth his new approach to deal with a truly deteriorating situation in Iraq. His plan, for the most part as I see it, is simply an increase in U.S. troop presence by 21,500, most of which will be deployed in and around Baghdad. In the tactful, PC language of the White House it’s called a “surge,” not reinforcements. Yet more troops do not equal a new direction and I see nothing here that will change anything in Iraq.

Now I know that most Americans, and the vast majority in Washington, especially Republicans, do not want to hear any comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam, but as a historian I see it very clearly. We are making the exact same mistakes in Iraq today that we made in Vietnam in the 1960’s and, sadly, Bush is looking more and more like another Lyndon Johnson.

When seeking to engage in nation-building, as we are doing now in Iraq and attempted to do in South Vietnam, clear goals must be established and the will to carry out those efforts must be present, particularly when dealing with a hostile enemy, as we are with insurgents in Iraq today and as we were with North Vietnam and Viet Cong guerillas in Southeast Asia a generation ago.

In considering Vietnam, there were really only two options for the United States. One was to completely obliterate North Vietnam, turning Hanoi in to a giant parking lot, or as General Lemay said, “Bomb ‘em back to the Stone Age!” Having done this first option, we would not have needed the second. This possible second option was to build a viable, sustaining, self-sufficient nation in South Vietnam, in which the first option would not be needed. Doing both would have been okay too, but what did the United States do in Vietnam? Half of both! We fought a war against North Vietnam with one hand tied behind our backs, complete with bombing restrictions and no serious thought of invading across the DMZ to destroy the enemy on their own ground or to take out their sanctuaries in Laos and Cambodia (This one sounds very familiar!). We also made half efforts to create a viable South Vietnamese republic. Now I realize we were not getting much help from either President Diem or his successor Nguyen Van Thieu in Saigon, only corrupt regimes, but we were not putting serious pressures on them either, such as insisting on meaningful land reform for the nation’s peasants, which many point to as a huge mistake. South Vietnam never did exhibit the kind of nationalism that was present in North Vietnam, so therefore, the people had no country in which to fight for. It was only a geographic entity, not a sovereign nation loved by its people. No one was ready to die for the Republic of South Vietnam.

The United States, and its allies, made a similar mistake after World War I, in which, as some would say, we stuck our nose where it did not belong. Germany was beaten when she surrendered to Allied forces in November 1918, yet she was not totally destroyed. Britain and France, particularly the latter, wanted to complete the job, even dismember the unified German nation into several smaller chunks, thinking a divided Reich would no longer be a threat. President Wilson and the U.S. opposed that plan but sought to bring Germany back into the family of nations. So, here we were, with the same two options and what happened? A middle ground was agreed upon in which Germany was punished just enough to be humiliated but yet left strong enough to seek revenge at another time, and we all know how that story ended.

I see a similar situation in Iraq today, doing half of both nation-building options. More troops will mean nothing without a new direction. Now our government has given the Maliki government some deadlines, mostly in regards to security, that they must meet, or, presumably, else. These, if they are insisted upon, would be a good start, something we did not insist upon in Saigon. But what happens if they don’t meet them? Do we just simply leave? That would have disastrous consequences. And, though we seem to be talking a tougher game with Iran and Syria, getting a stranglehold on those two is long over due! Why we have allowed Iran to fund and supply suicide bombers who have killed our troops and not retaliated against them is beyond me. Iran and Syria represent the Laos and Cambodia of this war. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

Sadly, we did not go into Iraq with enough troops, in my opinion, and we momentarily lost control of the situation in the days after Saddam’s regime fell, allowing foreign fighters (i.e. Viet Cong) to infiltrate into the public and wage a guerilla war against us, killing tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians as well. We seem to be engaged in a police action in Iraq, not a war, and we all know those never work. Iraqis must police themselves. If a “surge” is the answer, fine but let’s use our troops much more aggressively and wage war to completely destroy the insurgents and their foreign support nations, whoever they may be, not police a young nation that needs to stand on its own two feet. In addition, we should heavily pressure the Iraqi government to get with the program and to encourage the Iraqi people to rise up and fight for their own country, without which I do not see how the violence will ever end and we can finally come home with a complete victory.

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