China and the Bush Doctrine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John McCain the Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of his liberal record is no secret. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America’s Worst Presidents?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Iraq vs. Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Path to 9/11”

On the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, ABC released a controversial movie detailing what I would describe as government failures that led to the worst terrorist strike on American soil. The film began with the first attempt by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993, in the early days of Bill Clinton’s first term. The lengthy film detailed the sheer cowardice and incompetence of the Clinton Administration toward Islamic terrorism. Though it happened on Bush’s watch, as liberals are quick to point out, he hasn’t dithered the way Clinton did. Yet some of what happened in the aftermath can be blamed on Bush.

In the weeks after the tragedy, the federal government went into damage control. Who was really to blame? The intelligence community? Airport security? As you will recall, it was a little of the first and a lot of the second! The government eventually spent billions beefing up security at airports by taking over the job themselves, which has led to a much greater degree of harassment of honest Americans, all because we won’t profile the ones who are trying to blow up planes to begin with!

Blame for the disaster that occurred on September 11, 2001 ultimately rests in two areas. First, as the film accurately portrayed, the Clinton Administration bears most of the responsibility for it. Time after time we had chances to get bin Laden, and for whatever reason, namely cowardice, chose not to do so. Bill Clinton is a prefect example of what happens when you elect an unqualified bungler to be president. We must not have learned our lesson with Jimmy Carter! And, for some strange reason, we elected this guy twice!

Clinton came into office at a time when many liberals, including Bill and Hillary, believed we were moving into a new area. The Cold War was over, we were told. There was no need for maintaining a strong military force, which Carter had torn down and Reagan had re-built, which won the Cold War by the way! We needed to focus on domestic policy, namely the economy, they told us. As we heard over and over again – “It’s the economy, stupid!”

As part of his grand plan, Clinton proceeded to cut the military in half, citing no new threats, despite conservative pleas. But there was an emerging threat; Clinton just did not want to see it. Attacks on the World Trade Center, on our troops in Somalia, the Khobar Towers in Saudia Arabia, two U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and the U.S.S. Cole, which killed 17 sailors, littered Clinton’s presidency. Yet the only one he retaliated for, as Ann Coulter has recently pointed out, was for the embassy bombings, which happened to coincide with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Now that we are in a global war on terror, we’ve heard much talk, amazingly much of it from liberals, that our military is stretched too thin. Now who was it that thought we needed to cut it in half because we wouldn’t need a large force?

Secondly, and this has not been given much press, our worse tragedy was not a security problem but an immigration one. The majority of the 19 hijackers were in this country illegally, as their visas had expired. Our immigration system is so incompetent that we simply have no idea who is in the country at any given time. Yet the tragedy happened, but instead of trying to fix these problems, immediately one would think, we have, five years later, done NOTHING to change our immigration laws, restrict Arab entry, or seal our southern border with Mexico, where Islamic terrorists have been slipping into this nation to conduct operations against us. If that’s not the height of stupidity, I don’t know what is! President Bush has failed us miserably in this crucial area.

Finally, my fellow citizens, we must recognize that we are in a war, not just against terrorism, but we are in a war of civilizations. We better recognize soon that we are in a religious war. These Islamic terrorists, like al-Qaeda, certainly recognize that. We do not but we must. We must end our politically correct policies, stop fighting a “sensitive” war, and do what we must to destroy our enemies and bring this war to a swift conclusion. Just this week our military leaders decided not to strike a target with more than 100 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, possibly including some their leadership, because it was determined that it might be a funeral service they were attending. Outrageous! Our leadership has told us that we must prepare for a war that might last decades. With decisions like this, I can see why!

A Mexican History Lesson

If you have been watching the mass protests by Hispanic groups across the nation on any other network than Fox News, you would probably come to the conclusion that it is simply a demonstration by patriotic citizens and immigrants angry over the possibility of new restrictions imposed by Congress. Though there have been some who have waved American flags, as we see on those other networks, most of the demonstrators have held high the banner of Mexico and signs that I would consider treasonous. With chants of “Mexico!” “Mexico!” the protesters held many anti-American signs, some of which stated that the American Southwest belongs to them and that we stole it from Mexico. These people need a quick lesson in the history of their own country.

In the early 19th century Texas was a Northern province of Mexico, then under the thumb of Spain. Stephen F. Austin began leading settlers into Texas in 1821 with the intent on starting a colony there. Mexico, however, gained its independence from Spain that very year. As thousands of Americans poured into Texas, many seeking a new start for themselves, Mexico began to clamp down on the migration and eventually began to pass measures that many Americans thought to be severe restrictions on their freedoms, one of which was a ban on slavery. Texas was soon in a state of revolt by the mid-1830’s and formally declared its independence from Mexico in 1836.

 Seeking to put down the rebellion, General Santa Anna, also Mexico’s president (actually he was more like a dictator), led his army into Texas, in what historian Richard Bruce Winders has called a “war of extermination.” He crushed the Texans, who had gained the support of many American volunteers, at the Alamo, then won again at Goliad, where he ordered more than 300 prisoners executed. Yet this did little to discourage the Texas army under Sam Houston, who trapped Santa Anna at San Jacinto and nearly destroyed his army.

Santa Anna was captured the next day and given a choice: be executed or give up all claims to Texas. And, being the head of state, he signed a treaty that recognized the independence of Texas. The Treaty of Velasco, signed in the presence of both the president and vice president of the Republic of Texas, stated that the southern boundary of Texas, its border with Mexico, would be the Rio Grande River, and all Mexican forces had to retreat south of that boundary. The Mexican government would later claim that the true boundary was the Nueces River, near Corpus Christi. However, a new government in Mexico City, in effect, removed Santa Anna from office and declared the treaty to be null and void. This is where the arguments center.

The Mexican government did not, and would not, recognize the Republic of Texas, and President Andrew Jackson, because of domestic political considerations, did not do so until his final day in office, March 4, 1837.

The Republic of Texas maintained its independence for a few years but there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that it would eventually end up in the United States. That was accomplished, despite Mexican threats and a break in diplomatic relations, as a new, young president was taking office. James K. Polk became the 11th president of the United States in 1845 and was full of the spirit of Manifest Destiny that was pervading the nation. President Polk sought to make America a continental power and was eyeing other Mexican territories, namely California.

The Mexican government was crying for war as Texas became the 28th state in the Union. But President Polk did not want war and sought to avoid conflict in his quest for more Mexican land. He offered to buy New Mexico for $5 million, to negotiate a price for California, and for the U.S. to assume all of Mexico’s debt of $4.5 million in exchange for a recognition of the Rio Grande as the southern boundary of the United States. The Mexican government refused. Knowing that there was a dispute over the boundary of Texas, Polk sent an army under General Zachary Taylor to the Rio Grande in the hopes that such an action would provoke the Mexican army to attack. It worked.

The Mexican War lasted from April 1846 until September 1847, when American forces under General Winfield Scott captured Mexico City. Officially concluding the war, the Mexican government agreed to the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which granted the U.S. the rights to California, New Mexico, and all of the present-day U.S. southwest, from Sante Fe to San Francisco. And out of the goodness of our hearts, the United States also paid Mexico $15 million dollars for the land we had just gained with our blood, sweat, tears, and treasure.

Now that all seems fairly simple to me and any other reasonable American – we won and they lost, and to lose is to pay a price, but the Mexicans don’t see it quite that way. They feel that all of the American Southwest still belongs to them, because we “stole” it somehow, so to cross over the border into Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, or California is not really illegal because it’s theirs anyway. A poll recently conducted in Mexico found that an astonishing 60 percent of the population of Mexico agreed with that position. This is both a result of ignorance and Mexican propaganda.

Fanning the flames on this side of the border are several prominent, radical Latino organizations, such as MEChA, that hope to reclaim this area under Mexican sovereignty or a new Mexican nation, a movement known as the Reconquista. Some have already designated Los Angeles as the capital of what is known as Aztlan, the seven states of the American southwest. The idea is to get millions of Mexican immigrants to flood the Southwest, many of which would obviously be illegal, wait for another blanket amnesty, like some in Washington are proposing, and hopefully gain enough voters to break the southwest off via a legal referendum. Don’t think it’s serious? We might just wake up to that reality one day. What would be our response? How could we deny it since we are in the process of spreading democracy around the globe? We would look mighty hypocritical if we moved in to stop it!

In addition to radical organizations, there are several prominent Hispanics in this country, on the taxpayer payroll, who are advocating a splintering of our country. One of which is political science Professor Jose Angel Gutierrez, who teaches as the University of Texas in Austin. He recently made David Horowitz’s list of the 101 most dangerous academics in America. Professor Gutierrez, according to Horowitz, once advocated killing Americans if that is what was necessary to accomplish Aztlan. In 2004 he boasted that Hispanics were “the future of America. Unlike any prior generation, we now have the critical mass. We’re going to Latinize this country.” He is also the author of a lovely book entitled A Chicano Manual on How to Handle Gringos.  Friends, this used to be called treason!

So ask yourself, my fellow citizens, is this acceptable to you? Some might argue that the right of self-determination, or secession, is a natural right. That may be so but for foreigners to come into this country, most being illegal and prodded by their own governments, and try to take part of it away does not fall under any category of rights. We, as a nation, do possess the right of self-determination and self-preservation. We have a right to determine for ourselves who can come here and who can’t. I just hope and pray that we, as Americans, will protect the nation of our fathers, our culture, our heritage, and our history, and pass it on, better than we left it, to our future generations.

Politics vs. Statesmanship in the Immigration Debate

The current national debate over immigration reform has caused me to think deeply about what is actually happening in our country. What we are seeing right before our eyes is a bunch of politicians defying the clear will of the vast majority of the American people. Poll after poll clearly show that upwards of 75 to 80 percent of the people want illegal immigration halted in its tracks and restrictions placed on legal immigration. Yet most of our illustrious leaders in Washington are doing their level best to disobey their masters.

This issue, as much as any other, will demonstrate to you, the American citizen, the true character of your elected representatives. Is he or she a statesman or just another politician? And believe me, there is a vast difference between the two.

Today we like to throw the label “Statesman” around yet not really understand the true definition of it. You probably recall many times seeing one of our older members of Congress on television and hearing the commentator refer to him as an “elder statesman.” That may or may not be true. It all depends on who he is and what he has stood for over his career. So let me bring this to the forefront and clear the air.

The textbook definition of a statesman is partially true, defining it as one who practices the art of government. I hate this definition because under it Adolf Hitler was a statesman and none of us would agree with that. But the second part of the definition is “one who governs wisely.” Now this will tell us much about today’s current debate.

Is it wise to allow millions of illegal aliens to cross our southern border every year with no serious effort to stop it? All we have heard since that fateful morning in September over four years ago is that the world changed, that we must adjust our policies to it. And we have done so, launching unprecedented pre-emptive wars, engaging in massive nation-building efforts, and seeking to spread democracy around the globe, all at a cost of countless billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of lives. Yet we have left our southern border with Mexico wide-open, and at a time when al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have threatened new attacks on our homeland, possibly with weapons of mass destruction. This is far from wise.

But the national security reason is not the only one. Economics is also an equally important factor. Just this week we heard President Bush, speaking from Cancun, Mexico, remind us that these immigrants, seeking work in the United States, will do the jobs American won’t do. Now that is an out-and-out, bald-faced lie! And it has been spewed from Washington for years. The truth is that Americans won’t work for four or five dollars an hour, and illegal immigrants (and legal ones for that matter) will. This is the main reason the Republican Party has allowed such as flood of illegals to cross over into our country, in order to pay back massive campaign contributions from corporations and big business. The GOP gets campaign cash, businesses get cheap labor. And what does the American worker get – the shaft! Massive floods of cheap labor will, and is, driving wages in this nation downward. More labor means lower wages. It’s simple economics.

For Democrats the issue is a little different, although they are aiding businesses as well. Don’t ever think they are not. But mainly they want to expand a voting block in which they will always get the vast majority of the votes. Republicans were overjoyed when Bush gained 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Well yahoo! That will not cut it, not ever. Don’t these fools realize that if Mexicans continue to pour into this nation at that rate, gain amnesty and citizenship (or just vote as illegals the way many Democrats want it) that the days of a Republican majority are over forever? Our nation, the nation of our fathers, will be lost. Our culture will be changed and it can never be regained. This is my biggest fear. I’m beginning to think the late Sam Francis was right. Maybe they are the Stupid Party!

Now back to our definitions. Those who support and promote this crazy immigration policy are not statesmen but politicians. They are worried only with now, today, the present, and have no thought for tomorrow. Oh we hear every campaign season how they are “fighting for the children” but we should look at their actions, not their words. As our Lord told us in Matthew 7:15, “By their fruit you will know them.” Don’t believe what comes out of a politician’s mouth, but look at what they actually do to judge their character. Most of our representatives in Congress only care about staying in office and their power. They are not concerned with what happens to this nation in the future. A statesman, on the other hand is wise and takes a long range view of situations, all the while standing on principle. A politician thinks about today but a statesman thinks about tomorrow, or more accurately, the next generation. Think about it my fellow citizens – what will our great nation be like in 20 or 25 years of unrestricted immigration? I can tell you – you won’t recognize it! A politician will do anything, and say anything, to get elected. We hear it all the time, yet a statesman will stand on his principles and if he is defeated he will retire to his home happily. The trappings of power do not affect him. We need men of this caliber in Washington today.

One of America’s greatest statesmen and political thinkers, John C. Calhoun, wrote and spoke often about the differences between a politician and a statesman. To Alexander Hamilton, Jr., he wrote in 1830: “The distinction between the statesman and the politician is broad and well defined. The former is an ornament and blessing to his country, but the latter a pest. No one is worthy of the public confidence, who does not place himself on principle and services as the means of advancement. Intrigue and cunning will, I trust, prove as feeble as they are detestable.” So where does your elected representative stand?

The Coming Supreme Court Fight

Many conservatives were understandably outraged at President Bush’s recent choice of White House counsel Harriet Miers as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court. Bush promised a reshaping of the Court with justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas but what we have been given are two stealth nominees, one with a very thin paper trail and one with no evidence at all of where she stands on the issues except the words of her mouth, which is generally suspect in Washington. With many outstanding, well-qualified judges with long track records of strict constuctionism at the appellate level to choose from, the conservative movement has been basely betrayed with this latest pick, to say the least.

The upcoming battle will be a difficult one for sure but conservatives in Congress should make a valiant effort and stand on principle here, even if it is a futile cause. Defeating a Miers nomination would send a strong message to President Bush from congressional conservatives. However, should she be confirmed and turn the way of David Souter, all is not lost here. Conservatives have plenty of firepower in Congress and in the states that should be used to put the Court back in its proper constitutional role.

For starters, my fellow conservatives should stop paying lip service to liberal notions of an all-powerful court system. Conservatives boast about the power of the legislative branch and the sway that it has over the federal judiciary but yet work themselves into a panicked frenzy when considering nominees, careful to make sure strict constructionist conservatives are chosen so the decisions will come out like we want them to. This is important and must be done but, irregardless of who is picked, Congress can steer the courts any way it chooses on most issues.

Our brilliant Founders did not intend for the Supreme Court to be nearly as powerful as it has become and made sure that the representatives of the people and the states had power over the unelected judiciary and the sole power to make laws. Alexander Hamilton admitted this, for the most part, in Federalist #78: “The judiciary…has no influence over the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society, and can take no active resolution whatever.”

Courts function merely to administer the law, not to make it. The job of creating law was given to the legislature, in Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.” It does not mention the Supreme Court.

In fact, if you were to examine an original map of Washington, D.C., as the planners laid out the proposed capital city, you will quickly discover that there was never even a plan for a building to house the Court. This was no accident. The Supreme Court met in the basement of the Capitol building for decades. In fact, the current building in which our infamous Court holds session was constructed during the 1930’s as part of the New Deal. It doesn’t sound like a co-equal branch of government to be shoved in the basement.

Congress has enormous power over the federal courts though they do lack the will to use it. For one, Congress sets the number of justices on the Supreme Court, not the Constitution. The original Court, in 1789, contained only six justices. Eventually that number was raised to seven, then later to its current limit of nine. If you recall, FDR sought to raise the number of seats to fifteen but was rebuffed. Yet Congress is under no constitutional obligation to fill the seat of any retiring or deceased justice. It could simply leave it empty if it so chooses and abolish it. Congress also created ALL appellate and district courts. These courts could be abolished just as easily. And though a judge’s salary can not be touched, there is nothing that protects his office and funds needed to operate it.

In addition, Congress can impeach and remove judges and justices that it views are not acting in “good behavior.” The Founders, in using that phrase, did not mean that a judge in “good behavior” was not a criminal but one who was not fulfilling his oath of office. Using foreign law to make decisions and legislating from the bench are as impeachable as corruption and bribery. However, in today’s current political makeup, gaining a two-thirds majority in the Senate would be next to impossible.

If these powers are not practical today, Congress does possess the power to curb the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary and limit what cases may be decided by it with a simple majority vote. The Supreme Court is given original jurisdiction by the Constitution but in all other cases it has appellate jurisdiction, “with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations, as Congress shall make.” Congress can pass legislation and then simply attach an amendment that states that the federal courts have no appellate jurisdiction in this matter. Case closed.

It has been erroneously suggested recently by many conservatives that Congress should pass a constitutional amendment whereby a Supreme Court decision could be overturned by a two-thirds vote of each house. This is ignorance and stupidity! Congress already possesses amble powers to overturn any and all Supreme Court decisions. There just seems to be a lack of political will to challenge the courts.

But what of the Supreme Court’s authority to interpret the Constitution and strike down laws that conflict with it? Alexander Hamilton, author of Federalist # 78 – 83, which discusses the federal judiciary, felt that the courts had the power to strike down congressional legislation that it decided was unconstitutional. This is not really in dispute today. Yet, as we have seen, Congress can take appropriate action on those matters, should it decide to do so. And Congress, throughout our history, has used legislation to overturn rulings of the Supreme Court.

Those advocating strong judicial powers, however, point to a phrase in the Constitution, in Article III, Section 2, which states that the judicial power shall extend to all cases “arising under this Constitution” as proof that the Supreme Court may take and rule on any case which it pleases, for almost anything can be construed to be a constitutional issue. Yet this is not so. The Constitution does not mention abortion, education, the environment, public assistance, or any of a number of issues taken up by the federal courts.

Along with Congress, the president has his obligation to the Constitution as well. President Thomas Jefferson, who fought John Marshall during the Court’s initial grab for power, did not believe that the judiciary was the all-powerful deciding factor in matters of legislation and constitutional interpretation. “The question whether the judges are invested with exclusive authority to decide on the constitutionality of a law has been heretofore a subject of consideration with me in the exercise of official duties. Certainly there is not a word in the Constitution which has given that power to them more than to the Executive or Legislative branches.” Here Jefferson admits a key factor in deciding just what the Constitution means. Why does the president and Congress not have as much right as the judiciary to decide whether a federal law stands up to constitutional scrutiny? The answer is obvious – they do!

The Executive Branch, it is often said, must enforce all Supreme Court decisions, yet no word in the Constitution gives the president that power. The chief executive must “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” But as we have seen, a Court decision is NOT a law! Only Congress can pass laws. In fact, past presidents have simply ignored many Court orders. President Jefferson ignored a Supreme Court order to deliver a commission to William Marbury and President Andrew Jackson actually defied John Marshall’s decision in the Cherokee cases and forcefully removed Indian tribes that the Court had declared were a “domestic, dependent nation.” Lincoln ignored Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney who ruled that the president had exceeded his power. He even went so far as to write out an arrest warrant for Taney’s confinement! We might not want to go quite as far as Mr. Lincoln but it does demonstrate the early attitudes toward the Supreme Court.

The federal courts have also been in the business of striking down legislation passed in the individual states, a power assumed since the end of the Civil War, when states’ rights and the concept of state sovereignty were destroyed. However, there is nothing in the Constitution that even suggests the federal judiciary can reach down and overturn a law passed in Mississippi, Texas, New York, or any other state. Hamilton outlined federal judicial power in Federalist # 80 and an internal matter within a single state jurisdiction is not included. The federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving two states in dispute or any other cross-state controversy, such as a citizen of one state suing someone in another, but individual state matters are off limits.

Our state governments, which Jefferson referred to as “the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies” is a key battleground for confronting and regaining control of the federal judiciary. Simply put, we need defiance at the state level. It is high time some courageous governors stood up and declared that no longer will we abide by the rulings of federal courts that interfere in the internal matters of the state. Supreme Court decisions in the past have gone so far as to order states to raise taxes to implement federal desegregation plans and turn loose violent criminals from state penitentiaries to ease overcrowding. State officials that comply with such rulings are cowards and do not deserve to represent the people! I want to see a governor somewhere point his finger at the Court and declare, just as Andrew Jackson did to John Marshall: You have made your ruling, now YOU enforce it!

Conservatives had high hopes to build a strong, strict constructionist Supreme Court with Bush’s two terms but that dream has seemingly slipped from our grasp, probably never to return. But don’t panic my friends! Even if we can’t stop the Miers nomination, we can continue to build and maintain strong, determined conservative leaders in Congress and on the state level.  Then the Supreme Court can have no power over us and will never again decide the issues rightfully belonging to the people!

Bush and the Presidential Veto

To ensure proper checks and balances for the executive branch of government, our Founding Fathers wisely gave the president the power to veto legislation passed by Congress. This gave the chief executive enormous power over the legislative branch, though a veto could be overridden with a vote of two-thirds of the members of both houses of Congress, but a lot easier said than done. However, President Bush has yet to take advantage of this and has not vetoed one single piece of legislation in more than five years of his presidency, even though he has had many opportunities to do so.

Now I’m sure our president, with two degrees from Ivy League schools, knows that he possesses such authority under the Constitution. But why he hasn’t utilized it is anybody’s guess. My own thought is that he is still trying to live up to a campaign pledge he made in 2000, which is to bring a new tone to Washington and stop the gridlock and nasty political fighting. Vetoes would only complicate matters. This is in addition to the fact that his party controls Congress and to veto a bill could be viewed as a split in the ranks. But this is not the action of a man of principle, only one of politics. And what have we reaped from his policy? The Patriot Act, McCain-Feingold, a prescription drug benefit for Medicare, and numerous, massive spending bills full of pork, like the recent highway bill, that have given us the largest deficits in our history!

But contrary to popular belief, Bush is not alone in his veto-free presidency. In fact it has happened numerous times in our past, with seven presidents never wielding it. President Thomas Jefferson did not veto a single bill in eight full years as president, and this followed a four year term by John Adams, who also did not veto a single bill. And for the record, President Washington only vetoed two bills in his eight years at the helm. This was a different era, however. Then, presidents believed that only those laws thought to be unconstitutional should be rejected, which made the president, in the eyes of our Founders, the watchman over the Constitution rather than the Supreme Court.

A great example occurred on March 3, 1817, when President James Madison vetoed the Bonus Bill, stating in his veto message to Congress that the “legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers, or that it falls by any just interpretation within the power to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution those or other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.” There are numerous examples of this throughout our early history, as presidents regarded it as their duty to guard the Constitution.

Congress also did not spend nearly the same amount of time in session during the early years of the republic as it does now, so fewer laws were passed, not to mention the fact that the federal government stayed within strict constitutional boundaries and did not venture off into areas reserved to the individual states. So presidents did not have nearly as many opportunities to veto legislation.

Beginning with Andrew Jackson, however, the era of limited presidential vetoes came to a screeching halt. President Jackson believed he should veto bills that he simply did not like, whether they were constitutional or not. He issued 12 such rejections in two terms as chief executive, compared to only 10 in the previous 40 years! Thus a new era began to take shape, giving the president much more power and authority.

Democratic heroes Grover Cleveland and Franklin D. Roosevelt hold the record for most vetoes, with 584 and 635 respectively. Amazingly, FDR, working with a Democratic Congress, had only 9 overridden in more than 12 years as president. And Cleveland issued 414 of his in his first term alone! In our modern era, usage of the veto pen has slowed a bit but has been used with great effectiveness. Nixon issued 43 vetoes, Ford had 66, Carter 31, Reagan 78, Bush, Sr. 44, and Clinton issued 37.

President Bush needs to join the crowd and begin to use his presidential power more decisively. He claims to want to slow down spending in his second term and use of the presidential veto is the surest and most effective way to do it, as it seems Congress will not. With our budget deficit soaring to new heights, something has got to give.

Embattled former House Majority Leader Tom Delay recently concluded, to the amazement of many true conservatives, that all the fat had been trimmed from the federal budget and to cut further would slice muscle and bone. Whose budget did he examine? Certainly not Washington’s! And with the prospect of spending hundreds of billions of additional dollars to clean up after Hurricane Katrina, our economic future looks bleak. President Bush should finally wield the veto pen and begin to make serious cuts in the federal budget or risk a serious split in GOP ranks, a prospect that could have disastrous consequences in 2006 and 2008.

Gas Prices and the Energy Bill That Wasn’t

Even though I am not a huge fan of George W. Bush, I always took great offense at those who attacked him and Dick Cheney for crafting policy that would enrich their oil buddies at the expense of the American taxpayer, charges often without a shred of proof. But as the price of crude and gasoline soar to new heights, I’m beginning to think those folks were on to something, even though they couldn’t prove a thing. For the Bush administration has done next to nothing to alleviate the growing problem of rising fuel costs, a threat that could swallow up the middle class and destroy any economic growth we might now be experiencing. The Bush silence on this issue is deafening.

Yet just recently the president signed a massive, do-nothing “energy” bill, running over 1,700 pages and providing some $14.5 billion in tax breaks and other incentives, an act Michael Economides, writing in the Houston Business Journal, labeled “worse than no legislation at all.” This bill, which our good friends at Citizens Against Government Waste say adds another $66 billion in federal spending, does absolutely nothing to lower the price of gasoline, a serious energy problem plaguing everyone. Which forces us to ask the question: Does Bush actually want to lower the price? It doesn’t seem like it to me. The president even stated while signing it that it is “not going to solve our energy challenges overnight.” So Mr. Bush, what are you going to do about our current problems?

The Energy Policy Act might provide some long term solutions, but we need relief now! For starters, the president should do everything within his power to lower the ever-increasing price for a gallon of fuel. This should include pumping out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to add supply to the market, which Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has recently advocated. Critics of this idea within the administration argue that the reserve should be saved for emergencies, like disruptions in overseas imports. Yet oil is continually being added to the reserve as we speak, rather than being pumped out of it, and prices continue to rise.  A repeal of the gas tax would also greatly aid consumers.

Bush should also work to break up the OPEC cartel rather than fully supporting it. We’ve done quite a lot for our friends in the Middle East (as well as Mexico) and it’s high time they paid up! Yet instead of confronting Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, our president is seen walking hand-in-hand with the now deceased Saudi King Faud, a sickening sight! This was one argument for leaving Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq. While there, he posed a significant threat to the Saudis, as well as to the entire region. But he did not dare move on anyone with the U.S. defense umbrella in place and most of his offensive capabilities smashed during Desert Storm and the continuing Allied air patrols over the no-fly zones. We could always use that as leverage when we needed it, but no more.

And while on the subject of Iraq, why should we have liberated them free of charge? We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and have lost over 1800 of our brave soldiers with another 13,000 wounded to secure for the Iraqi people at least the possibility of living in a free and democratic society. There is nothing wrong or immoral about being repaid with oil. America is always generally concerned with human rights abuses around the world and we usually end up paying in either blood or treasure (or both) to help fix it, but have you ever noticed that no one is ever concerned with our problems? The Iraqis, along with the people of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, ought to be down on their hands and knees thanking us profusely for liberating their region of a dangerous tyrant and should gratefully offer to repay us in kind!

As far as long term solutions go, opening up ANWR was a good start, but a beginning only. We should stop listening to environmental extremists who know nothing about the environment or oil production and open up other closed areas for drilling as well, like the oil rich Gulf of Mexico. Though it takes years to accomplish, we have the technology and the resources to end our dependence on foreign oil altogether. Remember, before the age of environmentalism, the United States was an oil exporting nation!

But instead of using some of these solutions, the president signs a bill that does not address any of our current woes. Maybe he doesn’t think they are problems at all. But plenty of middle and lower income working families certainly think so. Fuel inflation will devastate economic growth and progress, something that Bush obviously does not want to see happen. So let me give you some friendly advice, Mr. President. If you want to see the American economy boom, then work to lower the cost of fuel and the results will amaze you!