McCain and Obama on History

As a historian I like to know the views of each presidential candidate on American history, which can provide valuable insight into their real thinking. 

For instance, what is their stance on the Constitution?  Do they believe in applying original intent or do they believe it is a living document? 

Another valuable piece of information is who they regard as their favorite president, although this can sometimes be misleading.  But if one chooses Thomas Jefferson or Ronald Reagan you know they believe in smaller government and low taxes, generally speaking.  If they pick someone like FDR, well that tells you quite a bit about their ideas on government’s role in your life.

Both candidates were recently asked by Newsweek about their favorite presidents.

McCain answered, “On the obvious plus side, Lincoln, TR and Reagan are people who are in many respects my role models.”

When asked who he does not want to be like, McCain stated:  “One I was thinking about very recently because of this anti-free-trade, protectionism sentiment that understandably is being bred by our severe economic problems is Herbert Hoover.  In 1930, he signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and there were other actions that the administration and Congress took that sent us from a recession into a deep depression.  And my study of history is that Herbert Hoover was at least acquiescent, if not very active, in taking all the wrong steps, which again not only didn’t help the situation but exacerbated conditions which led to the most severe depression in the history of this nation.”

This is a constant theme with McCain.  He continually thunders against the dangers of protectionism, yet all three of his role models, including Reagan to some degree, were protectionists. 

But it is really Teddy Roosevelt that McCain admires most, as a recent interview in the New York Times indicates.  During the interview he failed to mention any conservative stalwarts, like Reagan or even Barry Goldwater, as role models.  “I count myself as a conservative Republican, yet I view it to a large degree in the Theodore Roosevelt mold.”  But TR was no traditional conservative.

In the same interview, McCain also laid out his basic philosophy of government.  “I believe less governance is the best governance, and that government should not do what the free enterprise and private enterprise and individual entrepreneurship and the states can do, but I also believe there is a role for government.  Government should take care of those in America who can not take care of themselves.”  Save for the last section, this sounds more Jeffersonian than Rooseveltian. 

TR believed much different, however, and can not be considered a Jeffersonian conservative.  “I don’t think that any harm comes from the concentration of power in one man’s hands,” he once said.  This statement speaks for itself.

Most of TR’s biographers get so caught up in his outgoing personality and charisma, like the mainstream media does with Obama, that they fail to see, or refuse to see, many faults.  A book by Jim Powell, of the Cato Institute, Bully Boy: The Truth About Theodore Roosevelt’s Legacy, describes the consequences of TR’s presidency and what he really stood for.

The United States, TR believed, should engage in “the proper policing of the world.”  McCain would obviously concur with that sentiment, as he has stated on more than one occasion that “there will be other wars.”  It’s quite obvious that he is more hawkish than President Bush.

TR also greatly increased the power and influence of the presidency.  He issued 1,007 executive orders during his administration, the most ever until the administrations of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.  He believed that Congress should obey the president in all matters. 

But Teddy’s view of the Constitution is downright scary.  The conservative interpretation of the Constitution is that, in addition to being a compact among the states, it is a check on executive power; that the federal government can not act unless specifically authorized to do so.  TR rejected this notion and favored the opposite.  He wrote in his autobiography that “it was not only his [the president’s] right but his duty to do anything that the needs of the Nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws.”  That’s a recipe for tyranny.

“Roosevelt failed to recognize the dangers of political power and war,” writes Powell.  He “recklessly intervened in the lives of Americans and in the affairs of other nations, and we have seen the policy backfire.”

This is McCain’s role model?

As for the Constitution, McCain claims to believe in strict construction, the opposite of Roosevelt, and will appoint like-minded judges to the federal bench.  Yet some of the positions he has taken during his years in Congress, like his campaign finance reform bill, a blatant violation of the First Amendment, cause conservatives to wonder.  McCain once told Don Imus that he would rather have a clean government than one where First Amendment rights are respected!

And remember McCain also supported the bill giving the president a line-item veto, which might be a good idea but where I went to school we learned there is a method for amending the Constitution and Congress cannot do it alone.  The Supreme Court wisely struck down the law.  Only a properly enacted amendment can change the Constitution.

By contrast, Obama’s answers to Newsweek were not nearly as in depth as McCain’s, demonstrating that he probably does not possess a vast knowledge of American history.  “When I think about presidents, I start with Lincoln, and not just because I’m from Illinois.  I think he embodies those qualities that are the very best in America:  upward mobility, an embrace of the future and an ability to stand fast on principle while acknowledging the other side of the debate.”  Upward mobility?  But how can Americans achieve upward mobility when Obama’s tax program, if enacted, will crush anyone who ascends up society’s ladder?  The higher you climb under a President Obama, the harder the government will come down on you!

On bad presidents, Obama stated:  “You know, I have to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time reading about failed presidents.  There is a long list of presidents who did not rise to the times – Hoover, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson.  Many of them are people who did not see, for example, the fault lines of slavery, or the dangers of depression.”

But one must wonder if Obama sees the dangers of depression today, for his policies would commit many of the same mistakes as President Herbert Hoover.  Most history classes that cover the Great Depression claim, erroneously, that Hoover was a true laissez faire capitalist who repeatedly stated that economic storms, like natural ones, should be allowed to blow themselves out.  But this is a complete lie.  Hoover greatly increased government spending to fight the Depression.  His major tax increases, moving the top rate to over 60 percent, had a tremendously negative effect on the economy.  Hoover’s intervention was so large that during the 1932 campaign FDR criticized him and promised to balance the federal budget!

Obama has written much more extensively than McCain on issues of history.  In his book The Audacity of Hope he has an entire chapter on the Constitution, which gives us a lot of insight into his thinking on the supreme law of the land.  Boasting in the book, as he has on the campaign trail, that he was once a “professor” of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, Obama, who incidentally never held the title of professor, takes a typical left wing position, with the likes of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.  “Professor” Obama wrote that while he was “not unsympathetic to Justice Scalia’s position” of strict construction, it was his belief that the Constitution “is not a static but rather a living document, and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.”  It’s a rationale for which he spends several pages attempting to defend, unsuccessfully in my opinion.

Why, then, would our Founders bother to write the Constitution down on paper for all to see if it could be changed at the whim of a federal judge or the Supreme Court?  Remember the British constitution was not written down, therefore the King could interpret it as he pleased.  Our Founders were not about to repeat the same mistake.  As Joseph Sobran is fond of saying, the Constitution “is written on paper, not rubber.”

But “Professor” Obama claims this is the way its always been done, that even the Founders disagreed passionately on what they had just written, even before “the ink on the constitutional parchment was dry.”  This is partly true but when you understand the history of the period, and the motivations behind many of those involved, you quickly understand why. 

Many Federalists, like Alexander Hamilton, were nationalists who wanted a strong, central government.  They were not happy with the final product in Philadelphia.  In fact Hamilton had argued for a lifetime appointment for the president, the right of the president to appoint all state governors, and for the national government to have a veto over all state actions it did not agree with.  He and his ilk sought to change the Constitution through various means, including judicial interpretations.  It was the Republicans who stood up to him and finally succeeded in their goal, as Mr. Jefferson said, to “sink Federalism into an abyss from which there shall be no resurrection for it.”  And as a result, Jefferson and Madison saved the Revolution.

Studying “Professor” Obama’s grasp of American history, one quickly concludes that he possesses a warped, leftwing view of it.  He incorrectly claims that Jefferson, the great libertarian and foe of governmental power, “helped consolidate the power of the national government even as he claimed to deplore and reject such power.”  How Mr. Jefferson was responsible for this Obama does not bother to say.  He simply takes a shot at a great president who did not believe government was the best solution to our problems, as Senator Obama does.

But as bad as Obama might be with respect to a true understanding of history, McCain can be just as erroneous.  Both men lack true understanding of the nature of our Founding, a continuous mistake that has crippled our republic to the point of destruction.  One problem we face is that we have too many lawyers and not enough statesmen who truly understand our history, our heritage, where we came from, and how we got where we are.  Likewise, many of our people have also forgotten these important lessons.  And now our once great republic is in a state of decline.  Either we return to our proud history of liberty and capitalism, or march into the darkness of socialism and imperialism.

Does Experience Matter?

It seems like the question of experience has emerged in virtually every presidential campaign in recent memory.   And this year it is especially important.

But what does that really mean – to have the experience to be president?  What’s the criteria?  When do you know someone has enough?  And what is more important, political experience, executive experience, or legislative experience?  Diplomatic experience or military experience?  How about business experience? 

Or is it judgment and adherence to principle that matter most?

Examining the historical record I find that there is no correlation between so-called “experience” and a successful presidency. 

Presidents with lots of experience have been successful, while those with little experience have also been successful.  But there has also been presidents with a lifetime of experience who failed and those with little experience who also failed.

And even the question of success and failure is open for debate, as one administration might be successful to some but a failure to others. 

So let us take a peek at a few examples from presidential history.

James Monroe, a protégé of Mr. Jefferson, had one of the most impressive political resumes of any American statesman.  Monroe served in the Virginia State House, the Continental Congress, as a delegate to the Virginia Ratifying Convention that debated the U.S. Constitution, as both a U.S. Senator and Governor of Virginia, as ambassador to England, France, and Spain, and finally as James Madison’s secretary of state, an office, at that time, seen as a stepping stone to the presidency. 

Monroe’s administration was largely successful, even though he tends to get lost in the shuffle of the Virginia Dynasty.  He had to preside over the nation after the costly war with Great Britain, as well as manage the nation’s economy after the onset of the Panic of 1819.  He won re-election in 1820 despite the depression, receiving all but one electoral vote.  Monroe was a strict constructionist, who vetoed the Cumberland Road Bill because he said the Constitution did not grant Congress the power to make such an appropriation.  He signed the Missouri Compromise Bill, which cooled the sectional controversy over slavery for 30 years.  In foreign affairs, he gave us the Monroe Doctrine, one of the great foreign policy papers in American history, completely in line with our traditional non-interventionist position.  Historians have ranked him as high as eighth in presidential polls.

James Buchanan also had a distinguished political resume, as impressive as any American president.  He served in the Pennsylvania state legislature, the U.S. House for ten years, where he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the U.S. Senate for two terms, chairing the Committee on Foreign Affairs, served as James K. Polk’s secretary of state, and was also ambassador to both Russia and Great Britain.  He  was even offered an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court but turned it down.  But with all that experience, and prestige, his presidency was a disaster, mainly due to his judgment or lack thereof. 

With the Supreme Court poised to rule on the Dred Scott case soon after his inauguration on March 4, 1857, Buchanan communicated, unethically, with Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, urging him to make a definitive ruling that would end the fight over slavery in the territories.  Rather than handing down a simple ruling that Dred Scott had no standing to sue in federal court, and leaving it at that, Taney, whether he followed the new president’s prodding or not, handed down a decision that caused the sectional crisis to burn red hot.  And with the Southern States leaving the Union one by one after the election of 1860, Buchanan did absolutely nothing, one way or the other.  He did not even evacuate Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, instead leaving that thorny issue for Lincoln, a situation that led to war rather than peaceful negotiations.  In short, Buchanan fiddled while Rome burned and historians have hammered him for it.

By contrast, Buchanan’s successor, Abraham Lincoln, who most Americans as well as academic historians place in the top spot, had almost no experience at all.  He served a few terms in the Illinois state legislature and one term in the U.S. House, which he himself said was a “flat failure.”  But the conventional historical wisdom is that Lincoln, because he preserved the Union and, supposedly, freed the slaves, was a great success.  I would argue, however, that Lincoln essentially shredded the Constitution to accomplish what he did and, because of that, he does not deserve such a high place in American presidential history.  The damage done to our federal republic is still with us today. 

But looking at it from the standpoint that he accomplished what he set out to do, even implementing the old Whig, now Republican, economic program of high tariffs, centralized banking, and federal-funded internal improvements and subsidies to big business, then he can be regarded as successful, to at least a portion of the country.  Yet if you asked most Americans in 1860 if they knew of Abraham Lincoln, the vast majority, because of his lack of experience, would not have had a clue.

Jimmy Carter also had very little experience and his presidency was the biggest failure of all.  Despite attending the U.S. Naval Academy and serving his country in uniform, Carter, when it came to matters of national security, proved pathetically weak and indecisive.  When radical Islamic thugs in Tehran seized the U.S. embassy, after Carter’s bungling led to the overthrow of the America-friendly Shah, the president did nothing but preside over his own embarrassment for 444 days, while citizens of the United States were held against their will by a group of religious thugs.  Even a military rescue attempt ended in disastrous failure.

Carter’s political experience consisted of a single term in the Georgia state senate and one term as governor but despite his service in Georgia, his domestic record is just as derisory as foreign affairs.  Carter proved unable to deal with crippling economic conditions that included a serious energy shortage.  The president followed liberals in Congress nearly over the cliff, as the nation faced inflation, unemployment, and interest rates all in double-digits.  The situation was so bad that Ted Kennedy challenged Carter for the party nomination in 1980.  Kennedy lost but Carter was crushed by Ronald Reagan in the fall.

Barack Obama’s meteoric rise has been nothing short of spectacular but this has led to questions about his experience to hold the office of president of the United States.  This is a major weak point his campaign must address.  But instead of puffing Obama up, they have, instead, engaged in a campaign to tear McCain’s vast experience down.

Wesley Clark recently launched a full frontal assault on national television against McCain.  “He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron.  In the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk,  It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable.  John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions.” 

And Barack Obama has?  Tangling with McCain on experience is not a wise strategy for the Obama campaign.  Though I find no correlation, many Americans do.

But instead of focusing on experience, voters should examine the record of every presidential candidate – any votes they have cast in legislative bodies as well as prior policy initiatives and speeches.  Voters can also determine judgment.  Simply look at the decisions he has made, even during the campaign.  But at the end of the day we are not going to know what kind of president any candidate might be until he finally takes office.

The Democratic “Machine” and the Latino Vote

The new political battleground is shaping up to be an all-out fight between Democrats and Republicans over the increasing Hispanic vote, which could be a key to the future of the United States.  In fact, Barack Obama told the National Council of La Raza, on July 13, that the “Latino community holds the election in your hands.”  But with John McCain as the GOP nominee, Republicans are more than ready to step up to the plate. 

According to Dick Morris, in his new book Fleeced, Latinos might comprise 20 percent of the total population by 2020.  If they vote 90 percent for Democrats, as blacks do, the Republican Party might be forever out of power.  This is a major reason why the late Sam Francis was fond of calling the GOP the “Stupid Party.” 

But instead of taking a patriotic position and seek restrictions on immigration, particularly the flux of illegal aliens, Republicans seem bent on trying to woo Latinos to their side.  Success will be futile, as there are no better sugar daddies than Democrats.

The modern-day Democratic Party has maintained a tradition from the corrupt political machines of the late nineteenth century, based in most Northern cities – get ‘em off the boat and into the booth as fast as possible.  Southern politics after the War Between the States never operated this way, with the exception of Huey Long’s Louisiana, but was devoted solely to the preservation of  white supremacy.  This crooked Northern system is accurately portrayed in the films Gangs of New York and Far and Away.

The most infamous political machine in American history was Tammany Hall in New York City.  Bosses, like William Tweed, were notoriously corrupt.  In fact, Tweed was finally convicted after stealing more than $100 million from taxpayers (that’s $100 million in 19th century dollars!).  He died in prison in 1878.

The old process worked like so.  New immigrants, many from Ireland, arrived on ships which docked at New York harbor.  Once off the boat, they were generally met by a “ward boss” or his representatives.  They were promised jobs and even housing, all provided by the machine.  However, part of every workers’ wages kicked back to support the machine, which provided funds for “get out the vote” drives.  These workers were expected to get out and vote “Tammany” in every election and many of them voted “early and often.”  To not support the machine risked losing job, lodging, and all. 

With its candidates firmly entrenched in office, the machine could then award contracts to its supporters for various government jobs and construction programs.  These contracts, as you might guess, were many times what was needed to complete the project.  But, as with the wages, part of the government funds kicked back to the machine.  The process then started over again.

One major example of the Tweed Ring in action was the construction of a courthouse in New York City, a building still in use today.  The original budget was $250,000, in 1858 just before the War, but by the time it was completed the city had spent $14 million, much of it in the pockets of Tammany bosses.  Roy Morris, in his book Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876, tells of one electrician who submitted a contract to install fire alarms in the new courthouse, for the sum of $60,000, a high bid to be sure.  Boss Tweed responded to his request by asking, “If we get you a contract for $450,000, will you give us $225,000?”  Who could have said no?  And it was taxpayers who were left with the bill.

Democratic politics are not nearly so corrupt today but use a similar method.  Whereas the old political machines used graft and corruption in the form of stealing public funds and shaking down immigrant workers, today’s Democrats use legalized theft in the form of inflationary paper money, high taxes, and government handouts to maintain a permanent voting base.  The more people on the dole, the more likely they are to vote Democrat.  This is a primary motivation behind nationalized health care.

As for Hispanics, Democrats have been in the lead in the race with Republicans to out-promise each other.  Latinos, legal or not, are promised free health care, access to primary and secondary education, tuition breaks to colleges and universities that taxpayers don’t get, Social Security benefits, jobs, and quick citizenship and voting rights.  Step across the border with a pregnant wife due any minute, have the child in a U.S. hospital thereby making it an American citizen, and the authorities can’t send you back, even though this is a major distortion of the original intent of the 14th Amendment.

But Democrats are also not above out-right fraud.  During the 1996 presidential campaign, Democrats hurried the naturalization of more than a million Hispanic voters so they would be eligible to cast ballots that November.  It was known as Citizenship USA, a project initiated by Vice President Al Gore with the full knowledge and backing of President Clinton.  In fact Gore even admitted that the scheme was a “pro-Democrat voter mill.”

From August 1995 to September 1996, according to records from congressional investigations, 1,049,867 aliens received citizenship under the program.  Many of the laws governing naturalization were ignored, like background checks and fingerprinting.  About 180,000 immigrants were never fingerprinted at all.  Another 80,000 who were checked had criminal records, but were naturalized despite those restrictions.  According to David Schippers, a Democrat who headed the congressional investigation against the Clinton administration, one alien was even naturalized while still in jail!

Citizenship USA put politics ahead of the safety of the American people, as well as the laws of the nation.  It’s a prime example of how far Democrats are willing to go to maintain power and win over Hispanics.

Republicans are not nearly so brazen and seem to want a more moderate position that will appeal to enough Hispanics to remain competitive.  But this strategy is destined to fail.  Either the Republicans stand on principle and do what is right for America or fold up their tent and go home.  The war is over.

Lincoln and Darwin: Disastrous Legacies

This week’s edition of Newsweek has a thought-provoking article on Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.  Author Malcolm Jones points out an interesting historical fact, that both men were born on the same day, February 12, 1809, and both had an extraordinary impact on history.  This celebratory article is likely to be the opening of the literary floodgates, as we get closer to the 200th anniversary of their birth.

Newsweek ponders this question:  which of the two mattered the most?  To Jones its Lincoln, though Darwin is given his due.  I contend, however, that while both are highly relevant, both were also failures, giving us problems that we should rightfully be seeking to correct.

Both men had remarkably similar life experiences, according to Jones.  “Both lost their mothers in early childhood.  Both suffered from depression and both wrestled with religious doubt.  Each had a strained relationship with his father, and each of them lost children to early death.  Both spent the better part of their 20s trying to settle on a career, and neither man gave much evidence of his future greatness until well into middle age:  Darwin published ‘The Origin of Species’ when he was 50, and Lincoln won the presidency a year later.  Both men were private and guarded.”

These are very interesting facts but Jones failed to point out two additional similarities, namely that Lincoln and Darwin were both racists, especially by today’s standards, and their legacies have also been quite destructive. 

Let’s start with Abraham Lincoln, thought by many to be the greatest president in American history, but only when the story is carefully crafted.

So much of what is taught about Lincoln in schools across the nation, from grade school to the doctoral level, is pure myth and outright lies.  He is hailed as the Great Emancipator and “Father Abraham,” a “great friend of the Negro.”  But this is nowhere near the truth.

During the fourth debate with Stephen Douglas at Charleston, Illinois on September 18, 1858 Lincoln gave his personal opinion about blacks: 

“I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior. I am as much as any other man in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

These thoughts were very well known at the time.  So much so that William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist, did not support Lincoln and called him the “slave hound from Illinois” who has “not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins.” 

In fact, slavery was not on Lincoln’s mind when he decided to prevent the Southern States from determining their own future, as the American colonies had done in 1776.  In a letter to Horace Greeley, on August 22, 1862, Lincoln set forth his rationale behind the war:  “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.” 

And it must be noted that Lincoln wrote this letter at a time when he had already decided to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed no slaves at all.  It was nothing more than an executive order that only freed slaves in areas that the Confederacy controlled, areas that Lincoln had no control over.  So, simply put, he had no power to free anyone.  The four slaves states remaining in the Union were not covered under this proclamation, nor were areas of the Confederacy that the Union army occupied.

And what of those slaves who were free, before or during the war?  For all of his life Lincoln favored the colonization of freed blacks in the West Indies, Central America, and Africa.  As president he backed a plan to pay masters to free their slaves then send them out of the United States.  Its obvious, given his statement in the debate with Douglas, that Lincoln did not want blacks in North America.

In addition to being a racist, let’s also point out that Lincoln destroyed the fundamental concept of the Constitution, that of a voluntary association of free states with a federal government of limited powers.  When the war ended, America had ceased to be a federal republic and began the journey toward a national centralized state.  A great pillar of Western Civilization, republican government, was not defended, as he claimed in the Gettysburg Address, but assaulted with intent to destroy.

And for those that condemn George W. Bush for trampling American civil liberties should take a look at Lincoln, who imprisoned 14,000 citizens without trial or charges, seized telegraph offices, waged war without congressional approval, and committed war crimes against Southern civilians.

Not quite the legacy of a man who is deserving of a massive monument in the nation’s capital.

Now let’s turn to Charles Darwin, whose theories led to an on-going assault on another pillar of Western Civilizations – Christianity.

Darwin was a naturalist, a scientist of sorts.  After his famed voyage on the Beagle, he stewed over his ideas of evolution and natural selection for nearly two decades, mainly because he feared they would be viciously attacked.  When it was discovered that other scientists were working on similar theories, and were about to publish them, Darwin rushed his thesis to print in 1859.

Now most everyone knows a little something about Darwin’s thesis, that species evolve, or change, over time and through the process of natural selection weaker species, or weaker members of a given species, will eventually die out.  It is also known by the term, “survival of the fittest,” a term Darwin did not use.  But that accurately describes the process Darwin crafted.

It has been said by many of his defenders, mostly in the academic fields, that Darwin did not have humans in mind when he wrote Origin of the Species.  And, upon reading the text, he does not mention mankind.  He feared the inclusion of humans might lead to further hostility.

But it is clear that humans were implied.  Take a look at the full title of Darwin’s most famous work:  On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.  Sound a lot like he is implying humanity to me, not to mention the fact that it is quite racist.  Who could be a “favoured race”?

Darwin’s career was not done, however.  A few years later he published a second book, one which college professors rarely mention.  The second book brings humans into the equation of natural selection.  In The Descent of Man, published in 1871, Darwin wrote, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races….” 

Scientists today, like Dr. James Watson, are fired and blackballed for saying much less!

Also in The Descent of Man Darwin puts humans at the top of the evolutionary chain and, within the human race itself, ranks Caucasians at the top.  At the very bottom we find “the negro and the Australian [Aborigines]” ranked just above the ape.

According to Benjamin Wiker, author of 10 Books That Screwed Up The World, And Five Others That Didn‘t Help, “Having read The Descent of Man, we can no longer claim that Darwin didn’t intend the biological theory of evolution outlined in the Origin of Species to be applied to human beings.”

Darwin’s theories have had disastrous consequences.  It led to the present assault on Christianity, on-going these last 150 years.  Darwin’s theories gave the atheist intellectual ammunition to show that God did not create the universe or mankind.  Scientists now can claim that man was “not planned” and a “mere accident,” to quote a few.

It has also led to the advent of Nazism and the Holocaust.  Academic professors in our government university system will always argue, unsurprisingly, that Hitler took Darwinism and perverted it into what they term “Social Darwinism.”  But this, given what we have just read, is not the case.  A large portion of Nazi philosophy is draw directly from Charles Darwin.

Richard Weikart, a professor of history at California State University at Stanislaus, in his book From Darwin to Hitler:  Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, writes that Darwinism gave Hitler and the Nazis the “necessary scientific underpinnings to convince themselves and their collaborators that one of the world’s greatest atrocities was really morally praiseworthy.”

So ask yourself who mattered most, Lincoln or Darwin?  Both were racists and both led assaults against important pillars of Western Civilization.  In my book, both are equally destructive and equally worthy of our condemnation, not our praise.

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.