Monday, August 14, 2017

Henry Clay: The father of the Whig Party

Henry Clay
Like John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay was a lawyer and gifted speaker. He first entered politics as a democratic-republican who had great influence over Kentucky politics beginning in 1803. He was only 23 years old at that time. He would go on to become one of the most influential statesmen in American politics.

He was born in 1777 to a Virginia planter and slave owner. His father died when he was only four-years-old, and shortly thereafter the British raided the family home. His mother ultimately married Henry Watkins who, in 1891, moved the family to Kentucky in search of a better fortune. It as here where he became a lawyer and, in 1799, married into a wealthy family.

Clay was a great speaker and gained great respect as a lawyer. This was enhanced by the fact that family members helped him to obtain influential and wealthy clients. This helped him to gain new clients and to improve upon his stature as lawyer. By 1805 he was a teacher at Transylvania University, and by 1812 he owned 600 acres of land where his main crops were tobacco and hemp. He also owned saves who did much of the work.

By 1803, at the young age of 26 (and too young to be elected to the office), Clay was appointed as representative to Fayette County. His age was left off any documents, and no one seemed to notice. By 1807, he was Speaker of the Kentucky State House of Representatives. He was so effective that, in 1811, he was elected as a U.S. Representative from Kentucky. He was also appointed twice to the Kentucky State Senate.

It should be noted here that, as was the case for most Kentuckians at the time, that he was a member of the democratic-republican party.

In 1811, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. On the very first day of his first session of Congress, he would be chosen by his peers to become the Speaker of the House. Other than the first ever session of Congress after the signing of the Constitution, he was the only person ever to accomplish this feat. He would go on to be re-elected as Speaker of the House five times, serving a little over ten years, which was longer than any other Speaker prior to the Civil War.

In 1824, he made his first bid to become President of the United States. He received 37 electoral votes and 13% of the popular vote. Andrew Jackson received the most electoral votes with 99 and he also received a majority of the popular vote at 41.4%. However, John Quincy Adams was able to muster 84 electoral votes and 30.9% of the popular vote, and William H. Crawford was able to muster 41 electoral votes and 11.2% of the electoral college. Because no candidate won a majority of the vote, the election was handed over to the House of Representatives.

John C. Calhoun was also in the running for President, although he would decide to drop out and run for Vice President in stead. He was the clear winner of this job. So, the question now became: which candidate would the House choose to become President?

At first it was considered that Jackson, who won a majority of the popular vote and the most electoral votes, would be the likely choice. However, this would not be the case.

Consider here that the Federalist party was long dead by this time, and the main party was the democratic-republican party. So, as the only party, it would control politics for quite a few years. However, by 1828, there was quite a bit of opposition within the party. This came to a head as a result of a compromise that was spearheaded by Clay in 1824.

At this time, the 12th Amendment stated that if no candidate for President obtained a majority, that the top three candidates would be considered for President by the House. Even though he was the fourth candidate, he was still the Speaker of the House. This left him with a lot of sway on House members.

Keep in mind here that Clay hated Jackson. So, he threw his support behind Adams with the belief that this would sway fellow members of the House to also support Adams. In return, Clay wanted Adams to name him as his Secretary of State. Clay figured this would work out great for him not just because he hated Jackson, but because, at this time, the Secretary of State job often set up a person nicely to becoming a future President.

This "back-room deal" angered the Jackson faction of the democratic-republican party. Jackson campaigned hard on this deal until the two men (Adams and Jackson) squared off in the 1828 election. This time around Jackson won in convincing fashion. So, in a sense, you could say that this "back-room deal" back fired on both Adams and Clay.

The incident would ultimately lead to such division within the democratic-republican. Adam's followers formed the National Republican party (which was essentially the anti-Jackson wing of the democratic-republican party), and Jackson's followers continued on as the Democratic Republican party. Clay was a leader of this party. When Jackson defeated Adams in 1928, this lead to the formation of the Whig Party.

The Whig Party as mainly formed of members of the democratic-republican party (of which almost everyone was at this time) who despised Jackson's authoritarian methods of running the presidency. Clay would lead the charge, and would become one of the initial members of the Whig Party.

Further reading and references:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lyndon Baines Johnson: The Great Liberal Society

Lyndon Baines Johnson
Liberal Lyndon Baines Johnson was chosen by John F. Kennedy to be his running mate. This was an assignment made to balance out a ticket that featured a young and inexperienced Senator from Massachusetts. When Kennedy was assassinated by a radical socialist on November 22, 1963, Johnson would be sworn in as the 36th President of the U.S. He would go on to become one of the most liberal, and worst, Presidents of all time.

Here are some of his accomplishments (good and bad).

Inauguration. He was inaugurated President in Dallas on Air Force One less than 3 hours after Kennedy was pronounced dead. He was then rushed back to Washington D.C. amid fears someone might be trying to assassinate him too. He made a name change request to Congress for the NASA/Air Force Cape Canaveral launch facilities be changed in honor of Kennedy.  It was called Cape Kennedy for about 10 years before being changed to the Kennedy Space Center in 1973.

Warren Commission. Immediately after the assassination rumors of conspiracies started to swirl. To head these off he created a commission headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. The commission extensively investigated the issue and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy. Of course this did little to allay conspiracy theories. My theory is that Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald with the specific intent of replacing a conservative Democrat with a liberal Democrat. So, chances are that Johnson would not be a target of a socialist assassin. We will reserve judgement on this.

Tax Cuts. One of his few real accomplishments was pushing through Congress the Kennedy tax cuts. He then signed the Revenue Act of 1964. This would spur the economy and would nearly double income to the U.S. treasury over the next ten years. This was good.

Civil Rights. Many historians teach that Kennedy had started to work with Congress to get a new civil rights bill passed. Johnson took up the cause. They say Johnson was able to get the bill through Congress, and he eventually signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It outlawed segregation.  It makes it illegal not to hire someone because of race, sex, color, religion, or national origin. While it's true Johnson did sign the bill, it was actually the creation of the republican party, who had started working on the bill in 1957 and 1960. In total, 34 republicans voted against it, but a whopping 96 democrats voted against it. Also, democrats went as far as to filibuster the bill. It's also neat to note that the bill mirrored a republican bill in 1875 that failed to pass due to democrat opposition. So, while most schools teach this was a democrat created, the truth is that it was a republican bill that had some democrat support, inducing both Kennedy and Johnson. This was a good bill. He also signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and this bill guaranteed African Americans the right to vote. These laws are good.

Election of 1964. Johnson ran for election for the first time and defeated the great conservative, Barry Goldwater, with relative ease in a landslide. While Goldwater lost, it would set the stage for future great conservative President Ronald Reagan. This was a time when the nation wasn't quite ready for a conservative, as liberalism was still at a high. He won with 61% of the vote

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965
made it so road signs and garbage
would not become so obtrusive
that it would block the view
of natures beauty.
The Daisy. During the 1964 Presidential campaign, Johnson ran the most mudslinging ad in political history. It was a commercial with a little girl plucking daisies, and she is struck by a nuclear bomb. This was to imply Barry Goldwater would be too willing to push the button. The ad only ran once. But some say it made Goldwater look so bad that he lost in a landslide. You can see the Daisy Ad here on YouTube.  This was bad.

Great Society. Congress got busy right away passing the various pieces of the Great Society Agenda.
  • Public Education. Lots of money spent on public education under the guise that the way to make education better is to spend more money. Prior to this notion, prior to 1964, hardly any Federal funds were given to public education, and we had the #1 education system in the world. Since that time, since all this money has been thrown into education, our education system has failed. Yet you still have people saying we need to throw more money at it. The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act nearly doubled funds to education from $4-8 billion. This was the first time large amounts of Federal dollars went to public education, and education in the U.S. has spiraled downward ever since. (not as good as some think)
  • Public Broadcasting. In 1967 he also signed the Public Broadcasting Act, which increased federal dollars for public broadcasting, leading to stations such as Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR). The problem with this is these news stations were run by liberals. So, basically, it meant that all Americans were paying for the public advancement of the liberal agenda on TV and radio. (not good)
  • Medicare. The 1965 Medicare to Social Security Act created medicare, which assured people over the age of 65 had access to "free" healthcare. (good)
  • Urban renewal.  As many businesses left the areas of inner cities to get away from the rioting, poverty got even worse. For the next 50 years democrats controlled many cities (like Detroit). Detroit went from one of the most successful cities during the 1950's to one big slum laden city in 2017. This is often cited as proof that liberalism fails anywhere it is tried.  Still, in an effort to help the poor in these cities, Johnson signed the Housing and Urban Development Act in 1968, along with the New Communities Act the same year. These were attempts to offer public assistance to create affordable housing. These were essentially considered failures. (bad)
  • Beautification. He signed the Highway Beautification act in 1965. This was a good bill that limited billboards and other junk from interfering with the views of landscapes along public roads. It also limited the number of junkyards and other junk and clutter that might impede with the natural beauty of the United States along roads and highways. I personally think this was Johnson's most significant achievement. This was a very significant good. The person who spearheaded this movement was Johnson's wife, Ladybird. (good)
  • Conservation. He signed over 300 environmental regulations into law. Many were clean air and water acts, such as the clean air act of 1963. He signed many to protect nature and land, such as the Wilderness act of 1964. He signed urban environment acts, such as the Beautification Act of 1965 mentioned above. He signed many laws to help natural parks, such as the Wilderness Act of 1964. 
  • War on poverty. This was created to end poverty as we know it. It created unemployment. Between 1964 and 2014, $20.7 trillion would be spent on unemployment benefits, on the war on poverty, on the Johnson belief that this would create economic growth and end poverty. That's $20 trillion transferred from producers to non-producers. However, the poverty rate was unaffected by the war on poverty. In fact, if anything, we can effectively say that war on poverty has made poverty in the country even worse. That's $20 trillion that has been taken away from people to end poverty and it failed. That $20 trillion trillion is more than our national debt was in 2014. Take away this one program and we'd have no debt. But, because it makes people like Johnson feel good to spend other people's money, such programs, such government waste, will not end even though they continue to fail. The only thing about the war on poverty that succeeded was growing the size and scope of government and wasting money. Poverty was 14% in 1964 and it was 14% in 2014. (horrible)
Vietnam. Things did not go well for Johnson in Vietnam. He increased troop involvement from 16,000 in 1963 to 550,000 in 1968.  He was unable to quell political pressure from his own party to end the war. This lead to failure to give the military the go to do what they needed to do to win. This was an utter disaster for the liberal Johnson. (bad) In retrospect, we could have won the war in Vietnam our Presidents hadn't allowed it to get so political. There's also people today who believe that liberal democrats actually sympathized with socialists, and so their hearts weren't into defeating them in Vietnam or anywhere else for that matter. I wouldn't lump Johnson into this group, but you never know (and never will know) for that matter.

Unrest and rioting in black neighborhoods in 1964-1967. In Detroit, Michigan, in 1967, rioting got so bad that governor George Romney had to send in the national guard. The city burned for three days and 43 died. In April 1968, rioting occurred in over 100 cities, although this was mainly in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  This, coupled with failure in Vietnam, caused Johnson's popularity to plummet. (bad)

Space Exploration. He continued the NASA vision started by Eisenhower and Kennedy. He was determined to commit whatever resources were necessary to land a person on the moon. (good)

Attempt at re-election in 1968. He initially was going to try to gain the nomination as incumbent President  in 1968, but decided against it. Part of the reason he decided not to run was because of all the failures of the Vietnam War. Figuring he would not be able to win re-election, he decided to drop out. This would set the stage nicely for liberal republican Richard Nixon.

Legacy. Lyndon Johnson became President only because Kennedy was assassinated. He was a liberal President who had a liberal agenda, and most of it was passed (unfortunately). We generally list him as one of the worst Presidents of all time.

Further reading and references:

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Health Insurance Conundrum

So, my wife goes to pick up my Prescriptions. She comes back and says, “Your Ventolin Inhalers now cost $50 a piece. Make sure you use them wisely.”

She made me aware of this because, since the early 1990s, I have been getting three Ventolin inhalers for the price of one. This is because I need lots of Ventolin inhalers. You never know when you are going to need one, so you keep them at various locations around the house, in the car, and at work.

Plus, there are times when I really need Ventolin. There are times when I use lots of Ventolin. It's unfortunate, but true! There are times I need 6-8 puffs to catch my breath. Those times are far and few between these good asthma control days, but they still occur from time to time. Albuterol solution is nice, but you can’t take it with you places. So, inhalers are better.

Anyway, my wife goes on to describe for me a conversation she had with the pharmacist.

My wife, “So, what if he needs more than one.”

The pharmacist, “Well, your insurance company has capped you off at a one month supply, which is one inhaler.”

My wife, “So, what if he needs more than one.”

The pharmacist, “Well, he shouldn’t be using it that often. If he is, then he needs to be on controller medicine.”

My wife, “He is already on controller medicine. He’s had this disease his whole life. He has severe asthma. He’s a respiratory therapist. He writes as an asthma expert. I think he knows how to treat asthma.”

It was kind of nice to hear my wife tell me how she stood up for me. However, that she had to do it is scary. It’s scary how powerful insurance companies have become. They run the show now. They don’t even have medical licenses, and they run the show. They control us.

No longer do doctors and patients get to decide how they are going to be treated. You have people working for insurance companies who have absolutely no medical experience whatsoever deciding for us. That’s scary that it has come to this.

Thankfully, my asthma is well controlled. This is thanks to modern asthma medicines like Advair and Singulair. They have…

Oh, that was the other thing my wife talked to the pharmacist about.

The pharmacist: “He hasn’t filled his Singulair in a while. That’s a medicine that can help him have better control of his asthma.”

My wife: “He uses it PRN (as needed). He has bad allergies in the spring, so that’s when he uses it. There are bad side effects to that medicine, so he doesn’t want to use it more often than he needs to.”

So, here’s this pharmacist, telling my wife that even if I need more than one albuterol in a month, I can’t have it. Yet in the next breath she’s telling her I don’t use my Singulair enough.

I don’t like it.

I remember back in 1984 I was going through an Alupent inhaler a week. Sometimes they’d last a month, but rarely. That’s how bad I had it. I asked my doctor once what he thought of this, and he said, “It’s better than dying.”

Imagine if insurance companies back then had as much power as they do today, and had the ability to change or veto a doctor’s prescriptions?

I’d be dead.

Just a thought.

Anyway, my asthma is well controlled today. Sometimes good control for me means I get to go a month without using my Ventolin. However, there are times I need more than one albuterol inhaler a month. I know the guidelines define control as using it no more than 2-3 times in a two week period.

I suppose, what the insurance company is in effect doing here, is forcing me to take more albuterol breathing treatments. That’s about what it’s coming to. I’ll just have to save my inhalers for when I’m on the road.

But, as researchers are now learning, every asthmatic is different. Sure, most asthmatics probably fit right into the established definition of control when they take their asthma controller medicines.

However, there are those of us who don’t fit nice and neat into it. There are those of us who use albuterol more than 2-3 times in a two week period, and we still consider ourselves to have good asthma control and so do our doctors. And I think most of the newer asthma guidelines accept this fact. And I think most doctors accept this fact as well.

But here you have insurance people ignorant of this truth that asthma is a heterogeneous disease, and they go by the old “all-asthmatics-are-the-same” dictum, and they change or veto a doctor’s prescription based on this antiquated dictum.

And, for the record, I don’t blame the pharmacist either. They are also being controlled by the insurance companies. Pharmacists have, from time to time, pulled me aside and said things like, “Hey, John, do you think you are using this too much?” And I explain my situation, and they are fine with it.

Today, not so much. Today they are forced by insurance companies to lecture you (or whomever is picking up your prescriptions) each time you see them, to the point it’s annoying.

Note. After I wrote the above post, my wife texted me the following: “So whats kind of funny about rx coverage.... they will let you fill four through the mail order.... for $100. So it's half the cost. So we will just do that from now on.”

Anyway, that’s why insurance companies shouldn’t be running the show.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Another example of liberals trying to change history

There"s a couple neat stories today that kind of play right into our theme from yesterday: "You can't rewrite history, but you can write the future." You have a 97-year-old veteran of Dunkirk who wanted to see the movie to see if it was realistic. He said it was so accurate he was moved to tears.

Of course then you have your typical liberals watching the movie claiming it to be not diversified enough. They claim it was an all white film.

So, what are we supposed to do: change history? I mean, here you have this 97 year old man who has lived with this battle for most of his life, and these naive feminists purport to be the experts on  the war.

I'm sorry to say this, but history was not diversified. If you want the future to be more diversified, fine. But the past is what the past is.

If there were women who played key roles in Dunkirk, fine! Tell that story in another movie if you want. But for crying out loud, if there were all white men in the war, it wouldn't be fair to history to have an equal number of men as women as blacks as Hispanics as Muslims in that war.

If they were there, and they played key roles, then show them. But, for the sake of our real history, Dunkirk was a war that featured mainly white men. That's just the way it was back then. To change that history would be to fail our children.

References:
  1. Fox News: 97-year-old Dunkirk veteran: 'it was just like I was there again.
  2. The Rightly Report: Feminist Flunks 'Dunkirk" as 'Mediocre' Men Only Film

Monday, July 31, 2017

You Cant Rewrite History, But You Can Write The Future

There's a lot of people in this country who try to rewrite history, as though it didn't happen. I think a better strategy would be to tell history as it actually happened, and if you don't like it, or if you don't like parts of it, to do better so the future's history can be written better.

For instance, I have friends who complain every time they see a confederate flag, or anything that acts as a reminder to the Confederacy. You have people in the South removing statues that have been up since the Civil War of people like General Lee.

Whether you like it or not, this is our history. Our history is one of slavery. It's an unfortunate blemish on our history. But it is our history. And it's not like the United States was the only country to allow slavery, as slavery was a problem around the world.

And it's not like slavery only involved black people as our schools purport to teach our children, as there were black slave owners as well. That's a part of our history that is never told, because the people who teach refuse to tell those truths. They only tell the parts that are convenient to their agenda. So, to think of it that way, the Confederate flag should be "offensive" to whites as well as blacks.

I tell my kids, that when they walk by something from the Civil War, a symbol of the South, such as the Confederate Flag, to not look at it as something bad. Instead, look at it as a reminder that the United States was the only country to  ever outlaw slavery, and it sacrificed 500,000 people in doing so. If not the only, at least the U.S was the first.

I tell my kids, that rather than complain that a person would proudly display a Confederate flag on their truck, be proud of the fact that, only in America, can a person do such a thing. One person can display a flag that you decided is "offensive" to one group of people, and you can do better if you choose to -- and I hope you do.

I can give you one more example of how people in this country try to change history. Ludington has a new Maritime museum. I have never gone there, but my wife and friends say they did, and they were upset that, as you walk through it, you'd think it was a shrine to men. They said they ought to make a room for women.

Certainly, if there were women involved in Maritime in Michigan, or the U.S., that they ought to be remembered by history. However, what if there were no women who played a significant role in this history. Are we just supposed to make it up?

You see, this is the kind of thing, I think, that is bad for the future: the retelling of history like this. I don't like it one bit. If you fill a room full of artifacts of women, then you will then have someone go through it and say, "As I walked through the museum it was as though it were a shrine to white people. They should make a room with memorabilia from black people."

That would be kind of hard to do, because not many black people have lived in Ludington. That's not our fault. It's not the fault even of the people who lived here back then. If you fill the museum up of rooms with stuff just for purposes of diversification, then whose history are you telling? Certainly not our history.

Our history is not a history of white people, or black people, or Muslim people, or men, or women. It is a history of us. tell it as it actually happened. Be as fair as you can. But tell it as it actually happened. Tell the history that was written, whether you like it or not. If you don't like it, make the future a better history.

I think the most important reason for telling history as it actually happened is to make sure we don't repeat the bad stuff. Let's not go back to slavery. Let's not go back to the pre-American Revolutionary days when 90% of people were so trapped under the rule of government that they had no chance of making anything of themselves.

These things changed in America. So, rather than trying to black out the blemishes of our past, we ought to remind our kids of it every day so as not to repeat them. Let's remind them of the Civil War.

Let's remind them there was slavery. Lets have as many artifacts from the Confederacy as possible. Let's have as many artifacts showing what it was like to live in abject poverty in pre-Revolutionary days as possible. Let's remind our kids of these blemishes on our past so as we don't go back to them.

That would be a much better strategy than complaining that there weren't more white sailors on Lake Michigan, or that there exist today people who proudly display a Confederate flag on their truck.

You may not like parts of our history, but you can't rewrite them. Well, you can if you want, and sadly some people want to. A better strategy is to show history as it actually happened, and know that you can write a better future.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dwight David Eisenhower: A Moderate Republican in Peacetime

Dwight David Eisenhower
General Dwight David Eisenhower had become famous for leading allied forces to victory in Europe during WWII. After the war he was among the most famous figures in America, and the republican party aimed to capitalize on this popularity by nominating him as their candidate for President in 1952. He would go on to win the election and lead the nation through eight years of peacetime.

Here are his achievements (good or bad).

1.  Elected President in Landslide. He was nominated as the popular war-time General and gained the nomination over Mr. Republican, Senator Robert Taft. He won the election in a landslide over Adlai Stephenson. He became the 34th President of the United States in January of 1953. He was the first President to be subjected to the 22nd Amendment which initiated that initiated a limit of two terms for President.

2. Cold War. After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 he tried to improve relations with the Soviet Union. There was actually hope for a peace treaty between the two nuclear super powers of the time. However, these hopes were dashed when, just prior to the end of his second term in 1960, the Soviets shot down a U.S. U-2 renaissance (spy) plane. Still, relations remained stable, so this can be seen as a general good. Now, this is not to say that there wasn't fear in the U.S. School children in the U.S had to go through nuclear bomb preparations in what were dubbed "Duck and Cover Drills."

3.  Korean War.  Good. He ended the war in 1953. Similar to Truman, he threatened to use nuclear weapons to end the war. His use of America's military strength as a deterrence saved lives, saved U.S. dollars, and helped to end a war. This has to be seen as a general good.

4.  Anti-Communist CIA Operations. Good.

5.  Strengthened Social Security. Good/ bad. It's good that he strengthened them by expanding them. However, in order to do so he created a new agency to control it, called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Such organizations are bad in that they are able to make rules and regulations the people have to follow without going through Congress. Most previous presidents were leery of doing this because the Constitution says that only Congress should have the power to make laws. The good is that 10 million more workers received this benefit.

Duck and Cover Drills of the 1950's 
6.  Interstate Highway System. Good/ Bad. It was the single largest public works program in U.S. History and was perhaps his most significant achievement. The Federal Aid Highway Act (Interstate Highway Act) of 1956 essentially absconded state control of interstate roads and gave that power to the Fed. This is good in the the states never would have agreed on how to put this together. It's bad in the it gave a lot of power to the Federal government. It was good in that we have a nice road system across the country.  Of course, he justified the Act as a need to increase the speed at which people could leave cities in the event of a nuclear strike during the Cold war. Prior to this time, people traveled via secondary roads that typically wended through cities, making travel long and difficult. After the project was complete, people could zip through towns at relatively high speeds, avoiding slow secondary roads. The act provided $25 billion for the building of roads, bridges, tunnels, etc. in order to complete the project. Over 40,000 miles of highways were built across the nation over the ensuing years. The project also improved the ability of the military to operate, and benefited the American economy by making it easier to move products across the country.

7.  Discredited Senator Joseph McCarthy. Bad. Well, it was bad only because Senator Joe McCarthy would turn out to be right when the Vinona Accords were released after the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. McCarthy made an accusation that there were Russian spies inside both the FDR and Truman administrations. He even went as far as to run a series of TV commercials in 1954. In order to maintain party unity, Eisenhower did not publicly talk bad of the Senator. However, he didn't like him and privately worked behind the scenes to discredit him.  Keep in mind that, despite his opposition to McCarthy, Eisenhower never spoke openly about it, and never publicly condemned McCarthy.

8.  Eisenhower created executive privilege.  McCarthy threatened to issue the White House subpoenas for access to knowledge regarding soviet spies. Eisenhower said that members of the executive should be allowed to talk with each other without fear of this top secret information being subject to subpoenas. This action became known as executive privilege, whereby the President has the power to avoid subpoenas by the other branches of government, thereby protecting top secret information. This action prevented McCarthy from obtaining the information he needed to continue his hunt for soviet spies. Now, if he had been allowed to continue, McCarthy would have probably unearthed the over 300 spies revealed in 1991. However, to this day, the media and most historians continue to hide the truth about these spies, and so McCarthy continues to be seen as a villain.

9. Civil Rights. Bad. Failed to enforce Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that desegregation in schools in 1954. The board ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional (and it was). Eisenhower may not have been opposed to the ruling, although he was hesitant to support it publicly due to fears of it hurting him politically. He did, however succeed in ordering the complete desegregation of the military, and this is definitely a good thing. (To be fair, Truman started the desegregation of the military).

10. He used Federal troops to force desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Eisenhower believed desegregation should occur slowly, which is why he failed to fully enforce the Supreme Court ruling. However, he did send Federal troops to Arkansas to enforce integration of a high school there. The school was refusing to comply with a court order forcing the school to integrate it's black and white students. I think the idea that the Federal government (the state) can force people to do something by using the military is horrible. That's what liberals want. Don't get me wrong here. I think the idea here was good. However, in my view, this set a horrible precedent for future Presidents. Think of it this way: What if the Federal government sent in Federal troops to force segregation? Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter thanking Eisenhower for doing this. For the first time an all white school was desegregated in the south. This was, overall, seen as (and is) a good thing. Again, don't get me wrong, as I think this was good.

11.  New Deal. Bad. He let these policies continue. Perhaps this was because he had a democratic controlled Congress for most of his two terms (republicans only controlled congress in 1953 and 1954. And even then, the republicans had the majority by only one vote). Perhaps it's because he was a moderate republican. But he failed to hone in the big government policies of FDR.

12.  Fair Deal.  Bad. He let these policies continue. Ditto what I said about the New Deal: he failed to hone in the big government policies of Truman.

13.  Minimum wage.  Bad. He increased it. Surely it's always good when people make more money. However, most evidence suggests that all minimum wage increases do is decrease the value of the dollar and make it so those who aren't working are less likely to find work.

14.  Department of Education. Horrible. He helped create it. Since mainly progressives control this, it allowed them to gain control of our public school systems. This marked a transition from small, parent and teacher controlled school houses to large, government run school systems. While this was an effort to improve pubic schools, it actually lead to America going from #1 to #17 or even less in some areas of education. It also lead to the decline of private schools as people had no choice but to send their kids to the free public school system.

15.  Civil Rights Legislation of 1957 and 1960. These established a permanent civil rights office in the Justice Department.  This also created a Civil Rights Commission to hear testimony when the voting rights of minorities were abused. You don't necessarily want more government offices, but these were needed to oversee the desegregation of the nation and to assure equal voting for all American citizens. Good.

16.  He supported anti-Communist South Vietnam. He described what he called the "domino effect," whereby if Vietnam were to become Communist, that other countries would also be forced to succumb to communism. This would later lead to war with North Vietnam. We will reserve judgment here, as he was being consistent with his foreign anti-communist policies.

17.  Space Race. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, he initiated the creation of NASA. This lead to the space race. This race would ultimately put an American on the moon, and would be a culmination of the American Dream, showing what American Exceptionalism is all about. The project would go on to produce over  1,600 different products

18.  Heart Attack in 1955 and re-election in 1956. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in September, 1955, and spent seven weeks in the hospital recovering. In February, 1956, his doctors reported that he was recovering well. Despite fears about his health, he was re-elected in a landslide for the second time against Adlai Stephenson in 1956.

19.  He opposed the conservative base of his own party. He positioned himself as a moderate republican in opposition men like Robert Taft (overall, however, Eisenhower and Taft got along, and Taft even helped Eisenhower get his agenda through. Taft was sorely missed by Eisenhower after his death in July of 1953). He even went as far as to say his goal was to create "a strong progressive Republican Party in this country. If the right wing wants a fight, they are going to get it... before I end up, either this Republican Party will reflect progressivism or I won't be with them anymore." This was not good. The progressive movement was exactly what was wrong with this nation. However, he probably believed such a view was necessary in order to deal with a democratic controlled Congress. One must also understand that FDR was still seen as a good president, and so to say that FDR was a horrible liberal President, and to adamantly oppose the liberal agenda he advanced, would risk any chances he had at getting re-elected in 1956. One should also note that his conviction as a moderate republican probably explains why he had liberal republican Richard Nixon as his Vice President.

20.  He initiated peace through deterrence. This was the predecessor of Ronald Reagan's military policy of "Peace Through Strength." The strategy here is to build up the world's most powerful military with the hope that it acts as a deterrent for others to mess with the U.S. Eisenhower used inexpensive nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence. He did this to help end the Korean war as noted above. He also encouraged an increase in B-52 bombers, land based missile defense systems, and submarine ballistic missiles. These were all meant to intercept any bombs headed our way. The goal was never have to use them. Imagine that if the U.S. did not do this, it would have been easy for the communists to take over our country. This was a big fear at the time. Such a defense system provided means for comfort among the American populace who feared both nuclear war and communism equally. To put this into perspective, Eisenhower believed communism could easily take over 3rd world nations, which is also why he believed it was important to keep communism from spreading to Vietnam.

21.  Supreme Court. He was able to successfully make 5 supreme court nominees: Earl Warren in 1953 (bad liberal republican), John Marshall Harlan in 1954 (good conservative), William J. Brennan in 1956 (bad liberal), Charles Evans Whitaker in 1957 (retired shortly thereafter), and Potter Stewart in 1958(good conservative). Earl warren was nominated as the Chief Justice, and he would go on to vote with liberals on many decisions, which was bad. So, as far as Supreme court nominees, he had a 50-50 record.

His legacy. Mainly because he ended the Korean war and lead the nation through eight years of peacetime, his popularity remained high during his Presidency. It has remained high. His international highway system improved travel between states, and that is also perceived as a general public good. So, while he failed to cut taxes (the top level remained at 90%) and to reign in spending, this was the fault of the democratic controlled Congress, and so we give Eisenhower a pass. So, overall, he makes the top 10 list of best Presidents all time.

Monday, July 10, 2017

1,650 Reasons To Support NASA

The Space Shuttle Discovery is now at it's final resting place at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.  It's a sad end to one of the most successful programs in U.S. history.

Many people over the years have complained NASA is a waste of time and money.  Yet I would like to contend the opposite is true.  As a result of the NASA program, there have been over "1,650 documented NASA technologies that have benefited U.S. Industry," according to Daniel Lockey, "NASA's Space Shuttle:  Perspectives on Technology Transfer (1).

One hundred and twenty of the "NASA Spinoffs" have been a direct result of the Space Shuttle Program, which is now extinct.

Look around you wherever you go and you'll see something you can thank NASA for.  Innovations an research for NASA have benefited:
  • Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Public Safety
  • Consumer goods
In honor of the NASA program, and in hopes our next president acknowledges the benefits of space research on society. Here is a partial list of NASA spinoffs that benefit us all:
  1. Memory foam (which may be the beds of the future, sports helmets to absorb shock, motor cycle seats, etc.)
  2. Scratch proof lenses for glasses and sunglasses
  3. Smoke detectors
  4. Carbon monoxide detectors
  5. Molded soles for sneakers (from moon boots to improve shock absorption and stability)
  6. Water filters
  7. Paper thin radiant barrier blankets 
  8. Home insulation
  9. Freeze dried food
  10. Air purification systems
  11. Solar screens (for green technology)
  12. Computerized solar water heaters
  13. Emergency lighting systems
  14. Prosthetic limbs
  15. Kidney dialysis 
  16. Physical therapy equipment
  17. Robotic arms used for delicate surgery
  18. MRIs
  19. Ear thermometers
  20. Invisible braces
  21. Blood analysis
  22. Heart pumps  (based on Shuttle fuel pump technology)
  23. LED cancer therapy
  24. Therapeutic drugs and antibiotics
  25. GPS
  26. Weather monitoring systems
  27. Panoramic imaging systems to improve photography and video imaging
  28. Low light technologies to improve photography and video imaging
  29. Sensitive infared cameras used to detect forest fires
  30. Cool suits to protect people from heat and treat some medical conditions 
  31. Demolition explosives to take down unsafe buildings and bridges
  32. Monitors to detect gases
  33. Monitors to detect mechanical failures
  34. Monitors to detect changes in air pressure
  35. Robots that can be used to enter potentially unsafe environments and detect danger
  36. Jaws of life
  37. Superelastic golf club technology to allow golfers to hit the ball farther
  38. Satellite television
  39. Google Earth
  40. Virtual Reality
  41. CAT scans
  42. Breast Cancer Screening
  43. Ultrasound to detect skin damage (used in burn units)
  44. Attention getters used to improve attention spans of  kids with ADHD was created by equipment used to monitor brain activity of astronauts
  45. Safer roads created by technology needed to make runway safer for space shuttle (traffic accidents have been cut by 85% since new technology applied to U.S. roadways.
  46. Improved radial tyres created by Good Year (made of material five times stronger than steel to help use in parachutes to land Viking explorers on Mars)
  47. Landmine removal equipment
  48. Ribbed swimsuits
  49. Aerodynamic golfballs
  50. Personal alarm systems used by the elderly to call for help
  51. Space pens that do not depend on gravity
  52. Cordless power tools
  53. Insulation barriers to protect cars and trucks and dampen engine and exhaust noise
  54. Biodegradable lubricant used for cars and sporting goods
  55. Video stabilization software (used to clarify launch video now used to clean up crime scene video)
  56. Improved ventilator technology
  57. Technology to convert gas vehicles to hybrids
  58. Advisory systems to same time and fuel for airlines
  59. Computerized solar water heaters save energy
  60. Cryogenic liquid methane tanks store aircraft fuel
  61. Emergency and night lighting systems save energy
  62. Wire and rod grounding systems prevent corrosion
  63. Negative pressure techniques relieve respiratory distress in infants
  64. Radioactive waste disposal
  65. etc.  
If you can think of more please list them in the comments below.

References:
  1. Lockney, Daniel, "NASA's Space Shuttle:  Perspectives on Technology Transfer" ( AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference & Exposition (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics)0 August - 2 September 2010, Anaheim, California
  2. Phillips, Martin, "What has NASA ever done for us?" The Sun, http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/1752963/Top-25-things-NASA-has-done-National-Aeronautics-And-Space-Administration-celebrates-50th-anniversary.html, accessed April 19, 2012
  3. Spinoff.NASA.gov, "Spinoff," http://spinoff.nasa.gov/, accessed April 20, 2012

Monday, June 26, 2017

John C. Calhoun: Nationalist turned champion of states rights

John C. Calhoun was one of the most influential Senators of all time.  He began his career as an ardent war hawk and nationalist. However, he ultimately became an ardent supporter of slavery and states rights.

He was tall, towering over even Andrew Jackson. He was a great speaker and orator. He was an individual thinker, and he was ambitions. This set him up nicely for a career as an American statesman.

He would become one of the most influential men in American history. He would serve as a U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and Vice President. This means that he, at varying times in his political career, held five of the six more powerful positions in the nation.

U.S. Representative

His first electoral victory came in 1810 when he was only 29 years old. He was elected as a U.S. State Representative from the state of South Carolina. He was a democratic-republican.

At this time, Britain was refusing to accept American shipping rights. Among his first acts was to call for the unprepared nation to go to war against them.

He, along with Speaker of the House Henry Clay, championed for war with Britain to preserve American honor and republican values. Among their anti war opponents was Kentucky Senator Daniel Webster.

This would lead to the War of 1812, which lasted until 1815, when, at the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson and his troops would utterly defeat the British. This lead to Americans celebrating what they would refer to as the "Second War of Independence." These events would also make a hero out of Andrew Jackson.

He was also a leading supporter of the Second Bank of the United States. The charter for the First Bank of the United States expired in 1811. The bank was meant to be a repository for federal funds, along with being an agent for when the government needed loans. Among the reasons for supporting the bank was to pay the war of 1812.

Supporters of states rights hated the bank, and so would champion against it. The issue of the bank would come up later in Calhoun's career, and is discussed in my post on Andrew Jackson.

Secretary of War

In 1817, James Monroe was the unanimous choice to become President. After being elected, he wanted to create  a cabinet that well represented the nations. He named John Quincy Adams as Secretary of State and John C. Calhoun as Secretary of War. He named Benjamin Crowninshield as Secretary of the Navy, William H. Crawford as Secretary of Treasury, and William Wirt Attorney General. He offered this job to Speaker of the House Henry Clay, but he declined. Unlike previous presidents, Monroe often sought the advice of his cabinet.

In 1818, Andrew Jackson took a couple thousand troops into Spanish Florida after Seminole Indians burned an Indian village on U.S. territory. Seminoles massacred a bunch of men, women, and children in the process. Monroe ordered Jackson into Florida, and Jackson took over two Spanish forts and had two British men hanged. This was seen as an attempt to occupy Spanish Florida and was seen as a horrible act of terror.

Calhoun was upset not so much by the act of terror, but because Jackson communicated with the President and bypassed him. So, he worked behind the scenes with Crawford and Clay to get President Monroe to censure Jackson, but Monroe refused. Keep in mind here that Jackson did not know about this at the time. Keep this in mind, as it will play a role later in this history.

Other than this event, this era in our history is often considered the "Era of Good feelings." This is mainly because the Federalists were in decline, and the democratic-republicans were the main party, lead by Monroe. By having members of varying opinions in his cabinet, he was essentially able to adapt key ideas from both parties, and this essentially eliminated partisanship. It also lead to a high degree of nationalism, which means that Americans believed they were superior over other nations (not better than, just superior). It also means a strong and powerful central government and a powerful military

Unfortunately, this era would only last until the end of Monroe's terms, or about 8 years.

Nationalist

At this point in his career, Calhoun was a nationalist. By this, he was an ardent supporter of a strong central government, beginning with the strengthening of the military. He saw that, while victorious, the military was quite inept at fighting against Britain. He wanted to create a permanent military system that would make the U.S. the most powerful and most respected and revered nation in the world. This was good. The best way to make America a secure and independent nation is by our military strength. Or, as Ronald Reagan would later chime, "Peace through strength."

He also wrote a bonus bill that earmarked certain funds of the Second Bank for an internal improvements fund that would create roads across the nation, allowing for easy transportation for settlers across the country. This would be proposed by various Presidents, including John Quincy Adams. The problem with this is that many people believed this violates states rights, and it's the job of states to build infrastructure. Proponents of this believe that states cannot agree on where to put roads, so only the Federal government can organize this and get it done.

This was essentially proven during the Eisenhower administration, where a series of highways were built across the nation. Donald Trump proposes a similar plan to rebuilt roads, bridges, and tunnels. And the debate today is the same. Hence, we ask the question: is a large central government program needed from time to time to get things done. The problem is that this may segue into too much governmental power and control. So, a balance is needed.

Okay, back to Calhoun.

James Monroe was a states rights advocate, and so he believed the states should decide where roads should go. For this reason, he vetoed Calhoun's bonus bill. This would not be the end of this idea, however, as other influential statesmen, including Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams, supported the idea.

Calhoun also called for a permanent system of taxation, so that income to pay for Federal government programs would constantly be flowing in (up to this time, taxes were only instituted to pay for wars). He also called for a Second Bank of the United States, something I discussed in my John Quincy Adams post. These are both scary programs in that they grant too much power to the central government.

Calhoun was Monroe's fifth choice to be Secretary of War, as four others turned it down before him. This was because it was in such poor shape. Calhoun's nationalistic view of the military made him ideal for this post.

So, as you may have suspected yourself, Calhoun's nationalism, with the exception of involvement in the military, sounds a lot like the former Federalism and the current liberalism. This would be true.

But he would change his tune.

Vice President 

When his second term was coming to a close, Monroe announced he would follow in George Washington's footsteps and not run for a third term. However, he also said he would not support any candidate for President in 1824, and the main reason here was that the leading candidates were members of his cabinet, including Calhoun, William H. Crawford, and John Quincy Adams.  And, of course, another candidate was an outsider from Kentucky by the name of Andrew Jackson who was a Commander in the U.S. Army under Monroe.

Another candidate was then Speaker of the House Henry Clay. Monroe had tried to bring him into his cabinet, although he failed. This was mainly because Clay was a harsh critic of Monroe, and this allowed him to continue to be a critic. He was the only candidate not to be influenced by Monroe.

Of course, as you can see, many of the above names, although mostly of the same party, were of varying opinions in regards to what path to take the nation on. This lead to much bickering, which formed the basis for the formation of new political groups.

Calhoun would make an effort to become President, although his efforts would fail. In fact, he would not even gain the endorsement of the South Carolina legislature. John Quincy Adams would become President. He was chosen by the House of Representatives after none of the leading candidates received a majority of the votes. John C. Calhoun was named Vice President.

Adams would in turn select Henry Clay as his Secretary of State. This was part of the deal in which the House selected Adams to become President, even though Jackson won the popular and electoral vote. Calhoun was unhappy with this deal, and so this would cause friction between Calhoun and the duo of Adams and Clay.

States Rights

In 1828, he was initially in favor of the higher tariffs. However, he was later convinced to oppose it on the grounds that it benefited Northern industries at the expense of the south. This would spearhead a complete transformation by Calhoun from a nationalist to a states rights advocate.

By this time it was well known that Calhoun owned slaves. He was a good slave owner, so they say. But his ownership in slaves changed him. He now believed that a strong central government would have the power to abscond from the southern states the rights to own slaves. Hence the shift in political beliefs.

In fact, he would go so far in his championship for states rights and in opposition to the tariff that he drafted for the South Carolina legislature his Exposition and Protest. In this he championed for original sovereignty, or the right of the states to govern themselves. He also championed for nullification, the right of states to nullify (refuse to obey) any federal mandate it didn't like, or that they felt to be unconstitutional. For instance, if the Federal government mandated freeing the slaves, the states didn't have to comply. Or, in this case, if the federal government authored a tariff that benefited the north at the expense of the south, the bill could be ignored.

So, Calhoun was opposed to Adams idea of raising tariffs, and this was good (from a conservative perspective). Regardless, the tariff of 1828 went into law. This would set up a series of events that would forever change Calhoun and American politics.

Calhoun, still second in charge in Washington, now opposed President John Q. Adam's view of increasing the size and scope of the federal government, such as his plan to create a public transportation system across the U.S. This was a huge change in thinking, but Calhoun now saw nationalism as a huge strain on states rights. This would put him in disagreement with both Adams and Clay.

Calhoun and Andrew Jackson were never good friends. However, Calhoun thought that Jackson's policies would put an end to the large central government and anti-states rights policies of the Adams administration. This would set up the election of 1828, which saw Andrew Jackson become President.  Calhoun was once again elected to be vice president, becoming only the second person to be vice president under two different presidents (the other was George Clinton, who served under Jefferson, Monroe and Madison).

But this "friendship" would be short lived. While Jackson was also an ardent supporter of states rights, he opposed the idea of nullification and secession. So, this lead to conflict between Calhoun and Jackson. This relationship was further hampered when Jackson learned that Calhoun had surreptitiously attempted to have Jackson censured for his actions in Spanish Florida. (You can read about that here). The discovery that this happened must have really ticked Jackson off.

So he literally almost went to war with Calhoun's South Carolina.  In 1828 (as noted) and again in 1832, Congress voted, and the president signed, bills to increase tariffs.  John C. Calhoun was his vice president, and many thought he would go on to succeed Jackson.  However, he was a strong critic of the high tariff passed by Congress in 1828 because it helped northern merchants at the expense of southern planters. They thought it was unfair because they sold goods to Europe in return for payment, and that payment was highly taxed.

Calhoun, using the concept of nullification, believed that South Carolina could refuse to accept the high tariff. He went as far as to tell South Carolinian's not to collect tariffs. He even went as far to suggest that a state could secede from the union. In response, South Carolina's State legislature voted to nullify the tariffs of 1828 and 1832.

Jackson was irate about this idea, and his old warrior intuition was sent into action.  He believed this was treason, and wrote a letter notifying officials in South Carolina that their action was illegal and might lead to war.  He ordered U.S. Navy ships to Charleston, South Carolina's harbor, with orders to fire upon the rebels if necessary.  He also said he was willing to negotiate a deal to save the union.

A compromise was brokered by Henry Clay that had Congress voting to lower the tariff over the next ten years.

Another incident that caused conflict between Calhoun and Jackson was the Pettcoat Affair. This began when Calhoun accused the wife of Secretary of War John Eaton -- Peggy Eaton -- of having an affair. Calhoun organized the wives of cabinet members (hence the term Petticoat) against the actions of Peggy Eaton. After this incident there were no further friendly relations between Calhoun and Jackson, who sided with the Eaton's.

U.S. Senator 

This was a time when the vice presidency was considered to be a boring job. This, and probably coupled with his tensions with the sitting President, inspired Calhoun to run for a seat on the U.S. Senate during the midterm elections of 1832. He won, and effectively resigned the vice presidency.

Even though he became Senator from South Caroline, his popularity on a national level remained low, mainly due to his views of nullification and his feuds with Jackson. He also had no party to identify with. This inspired a group of people who despised Jackson, and this included Calhoun, to organize what became known as the Whig party.

A problem here is that the Whigs believed in a strong central government, and this included the federal government building a transportation system across the country. Calhoun was now an ardent supporter of states rights, and he believed a strong central government violated states rights. So, for this reason, sometimes he affiliated himself with the Whig party and sometimes he did not, and thereby remained an independent voice in the Senate.

In 1837, Jackson pretty much allied imself with new President Martin van Buren, who was in essence, like Jefferson and Jackson before him, a supporter of a limited government and states rights. The Whigs supported a large national bank. Calhoun, also like Jackson and van Buren, believed a large central bank gave the Federal government too much power over businesses.

Bankers joined the Whig party in support of a large national bank. Calhoun supported the democrats, and was in support of an independent treasury.  For this reason, and because he might impose high tariffs, Calhoun opposed Whig William Henry Harrison's bid for the presidency in 1840. His opposition did not stop Harrison from winning the office of the President.

Calhoun resigned the Senate in 1843 in an attempt to win the Presidency. He just could not gain any support, and would end up giving up this effort.

Secretary of State

After William Henry Harrison died, former democrat John Tyler became President.

Calhoun was an ardent supporter of the Annexation of Texas. He supported it because he supported slavery, and believed the addition of another slave state would benefit Southern States. Tyler supported it, although on the grounds that it would be to the benefit of the nation as a whole. Plus, Tyler believed if the U.S. didn't annex Texas, that the British or some other country might gain interest there. So, this lead to the annexation of Texas.

After Tyler was banned from the Whig party in 1844, he named Calhoun to be his Secretary of State. This meant that Calhoun had held each of the top positions in Washington -- President, Vice President, Secretary of War, Secretary of State -- except for the presidency. (You can read more about Tyler here.)

Calhoun put in writing what was promised by his predecessor -- Abel P. Upshur, that the U.S. would defend Texas against Mexico if that was ever needed. Calhoun then signed papers to annex Texas. This was all done in secrecy. When it was discovered, this angered democrats who were anti-slavery and anti-annexation of Texas.  Calhoun would write a letter claiming that the annexation of Texas was necessary for the well-being of the southern states.

By linking the annexation to slavery, many who would have otherwise supported the annexation were now opposed to it.

Because of Calhoun's letter, democrat Martin van Buren denounced the annexation of Texas when he ran for the Presidency in 1844. This made van Buren unpopular in the south. Tyler, scarred by the letter and rejected by both parties, would end up having to drop out.

This created an environment that allowed James K. Polk -- an expansionist dark horse candidate -- to sneak into the presidency. this would bode well for Calhoun. Lame duck Tyler managed to get the annexation issue before Congress once again. President elect Polk supported this.  This time it passed.  So, before Tyler's term was done, Texas was annexed.

Senator 

In 1845, Calhoun was re-elected as U.S. Senator from South Carolina. As a states rights advocate, he opposed going to war with Mexico. He believed this made the U.S. too much like an empire, and that victory would come at the expense of states rights. So, when the issue of going to war with Mexico came up on May 13, he refused to vote on the issue.  He also was opposed to California being admitted to the union as a free state.

In 1846, as a pro-slavery Senator, he opposed the Wilmot Proviso. This was a proposal by Pensylvania Representative David Wilmot to ban slavery in any newly acquired territory. This would have made Texas a free state. Calhoun did not want this. The provision passed the House, but could not gain muster in the Senate, which was evenly divided between slate and anti-slave Senators.

At this time, the Oregon Territory consisted of British Columbia, and the current states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Due to an increasing number of American migrants to the area, a dispute arose as to the border along the border with Canada. American expansionists used the slogan: "54-40 or fight." Calhoun, President Polk, and Secretary of state (and future President) James Buchanan worked on a treaty to resolve this issue. It resulted in drawing a line at the 49th parallel that allowed Canada to keep British Columbia, and the U.S. to keep the rest.

The status of slavery in the territories continued to be a big issue at this time. Henry Clay and Stephen A. Douglas devised what would become the Compromise of 1850. Calhoun was ardently opposed to it.  In response, Calhoun organized a Nashville Convention where discussions about the South seceding the nation were begun. He also wrote speech attacking the compromise and that mentioned the possibility of southern secession. He was too sick to give the speech, so it was given by Virginia Senator James Mason.

This is often sited as Calhoun's greatest speech. He died a week later, at the peek of his career, at the age of 68, of complications of tuberculosis.

Conclusion

John C. Calhoun may not be considered a great statesman for the simple fact he was a slave owner who became mired as the voice of the pro-slavery movement. But this does not take away the fact that he was a powerful figure in Washington who had great sway as to the direction of the nation. For 39 years he stood tall as one of the most influential figures of the first half of the 19th century.

Further reading and references:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Robert A. Taft: The Senator who saved capitalism

Senator Robert A. Taft was the son of former President William Howard Taft. He was elected to the Senate in the 1938 Republican landslide lead by Republican efforts to stop the expansion of FDR's New Deal. A bill he would later write is often credited as saving capitalism in the United States.

He was a conservative, and actually went as far to speak the truth about the New Deal, referring to it as, "Socialistic." He was the leader of the "Conservative Coalition" that controlled Congress from 1939 to the 1960s.

Most people may not realize this, but Thomas Dewey was a liberal republican. For lack of a better way of describing it, he was the republican version of John McCain in the 1940s and 50s. Taft ran against him for the republican nomination in 1948, although he lost. Taft ran again in 1952, but lost to Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, to gain Taft's support, Eisenhower promised to curve back spending and to continue the fight against socialism.

After the death of FDR, he effectively became known as the arch nemesis of Harry S. Truman. It was often said that nothing made it through Congress without his stamp of approval, so this type of power would thwart much of Truman's domestic agenda. He ultimately worked to prevent Truman from advancing his liberal agenda, and that was a very good thing.

Among his best achievements was writing and getting passed through Congress what became known as the Taft-Hartley in 1947.

At the end of WWII, labor unions controlled about 25% of the work force. They had a lot of power. They promised not to strike during the war as not to disrupt the war effort. However, after the war they wanted higher wages.

But, President Truman, decided to continue on with FDR's price controls in an effort to ease the transition from a war time to a peace time economy. In August of 1945, in an effort to ease the transformation from a war time to a peace time economy, Truman decided to continue on with FDR's price controls.

This gained the ire of producers, who refused to sell products at artificially low prices. It gained the ire of labor unions, who wanted wage hikes. Since producers could not afford wage hikes, labor unions were unhappy. This lead to a series of strikes in the steel, coal, auto, and railroad industries. They involved over 800,000 workers, the largest in American history.

Consumers were opposed to the strikes. So to were Conservatives, who wanted to conserve capitalism in America. So, this is what inspired Taft to work with republican Representative Fred A. Hartley Jr. to work the Taft-Hartley Act through Congress. They succeeded.

But, Truman called it the "Slate Labor Act," just prior to vetoing the bill.

Fortunately, Congress succeeded at overriding Truman's veto.

This was a huge achievement for capitalism. The bill significantly limited the influence of labor unions in politics, and thereby conserved capitalism in the United States. Democrats to this day hate this Act, and have made various failed efforts to overturn it.

He was taciturn, and a relatively poor speaker. He was also an isolationists, and even opposed entry into WWII. He also opposed the draft and NATO. During his years as a Senator, he was often referred to as "Mr. Republican."

In 1953, he was selected as the Senate Majority leader. However, shortly afterwords he succumbed to cancer. He was honored in 1949 as one of the "most significant" Senators of all time.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Harry S. Truman: The Fair Deal, or the Liberal Deal

Initially, after becoming President, Truman followed the FDR domestic agenda. His goals were to lead the U.S. to victory in WWI, and then to lead the nation from a depression-time and war-time to a peace-time economy. He ultimately would set his own agenda by creating what would become "The New Deal." 

In order to get through the depression, and to win the war, FDR used his executive mite, and his New Deal Policies, to create a large central government. You had rations on what people could purchase, and you had the government ordering the transformation of factories to the production of goods and services to the production of war goods. 

So, the government had a scary amount of power over the American people. It was almost totalitarian-like, socialistic-like, fascist-like powers. Okay, it was not good. Truman's role was to transform America away from this type of a system and back to a system that put consumers back in power. He would transform America away from a government run economy to a consumer-run economy. 

So, he decided he needed to sway from the New Deal agenda Or, actually, to build upon the new deal. He decided he had a mandate, and decided to be aggressive with his new agenda. He therefore, in January, 1949, during his State of the Union Speech,  presented 21 points to Congress. It would become known as the Fair Deal.  It essentially involved 21 points, including:
  • An Expansion of Social Security. Passed in 1950. 
  • Full Employment Program. It passed as the Employment Act of 1946, but it failed to gain any traction and was a failed program. 
  • Permanent Fair Employment Practices Act.  He failed. 
  • Public Housing and Slum Clearance. Passed in 1949. 
  • New Public Works Programs.  He failed. 
  • A Higher Minimum Wage.   Passed through Congress. 
  • Extension of the Fair Employment Practices Committee. A wartime committee that worked to prevent against discrimination of African Americans in government and military. He failed to extend it. 
  • National Health Insurance System. He failed. 
  • Liberal immigration policies. He failed
  • Repeal of Taft-Hartley. He failed. 
  • Brannon Plan. Meant to help provide income support for family farmers. Failed. 
As you can see, the Fair Deal was pretty much a failure. Truman didn't have the mandate he thought he did.
This was mainly due to pressure from conservative democrats in the south (who would 35 years later become Reagan democrats), and republicans in the north, did not want any more liberalism. They did not want any more power to be given to the government. They had had enough. 

This is similar to what happened in the election of 1920, where Americans had simply had enough of rules and laws and taxes They wanted smaller government, less government, less regulations, and a simpler approach to government. They wanted more power to the people. They wanted a return of liberties. They wanted a return to a capitalistic economic system.

In 1949, they economy took a step back, and unemployment rose while inflation rose as well. This made people think the post war economic boom had ended. Truman set high post-war taxes, which remained around 90%. This was in an effort to balance the federal budget. This, as economics 101 teaches, does not bode well for a good economy.

He did, however, attempt to limit spending, with any surplus going to pay off the national debt. After several months of worsening economic numbers to begin the year, he gave up on his efforts to balance the budges and allowed for some tax cuts to go through.

This set the stage for Eisenhower to become President in 1952. Although, that was two years away. In the meantime, Truman got the United States involved in another war. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Harry S. Truman: Squeaking past Dewey

The Chicago Tribune was a notoriously republican newspaper.
It's writers had previously referred to Truman as a "nincapoop.
Printers had been on strike protesting the Taft-Hartley Act.
And a new printing method made it so the paper had to
go to print seven hours before publication.
A combination of these factors lead to the error,
of which Truman touted during a train ride
back to Washington on November 3, 1948. 
After WWII was finally over, Truman had the goal of transforming the U.S. economy from a wartime economy to a post wartime economy. He also had to work with different factions of his own party to keep together the democratic dynasty that FDR had built. This would prove very difficult for Truman.

Republicans in the north and Southern Democrats would post problems for the liberal President. However, labor and unions, two factions that traditionally sided with democrats, gave Truman even more trouble than republicans and conservatives.

The war was expensive, so Truman wanted to cut back on military spending as soon as possible. Of course, a problem here was that the country had just gotten over a depression (or so the media would have us believe. Conservative historians speculate that the depression never really ended until the post-war boom. Based on the evidence I've seen, this is what I tend to believe). So, there was hesitation regarding anything that might impact the economy.

There was no consensus what to do with the American economy. Further complicating matters was thatTruman would have to deal with conservative democrats in the south and republicans in the north.

After the war, there was a housing shortage, labor conflicts, and inflation. Inflation in one month had hit a whopping 6 percent.

Truman's efforts to convert from a war-time to peace-time system were also slow, and resulted in many of the products consumers yearned to start purchasing again, things they had sacrificed during war-time, were slow to get on the shelves. Some products, such as meat, were so costly in 1946 (inflation) that they weren't even worth buying. So, this earned the ire of consumers.

So, this made consumers unhappy, and it also made labor and unions unhappy. This lead to price controls. Complicating matters is that labor wanted wage increases.

In August of 1945, Truman said he decided he would continue price controls. But, labor still sought wage increases. This prompted a series of strikes to occur in the steel, coal, auto, and railroad industries. These strikes involved over 800,000 workers, the largest in American history. Truman's stark efforts to end these strikes earned the ire of unions and the labor industry. I will get to this in a moment.

Add to this that consumers were opposed to the strikes, producers were unhappy with price controls, and producers were unwilling to sell their products at artificially low prices. Farmers, for instance, refused to sell grain for several months in 1945-46 until they were able to get paid better for their product. This was despite the fact that consumers really needed the grain that was being withheld.

To end the railroad strikes, Truman took them over. Despite this, two railroad unions went on strike anyway. This shut down the entire railroad industry. Consumers were really upset by this. Over 175,000 passengers stood without transportation.

What did Truman do? He wrote a letter to Congress calling for them to call on veterans to form a lynch mob to destroy union leaders.

Um, not good.

Even his own staff was stunned by this and tried to tone it down. But the damage was done.

To make matters worse, democrats in the Congress actually wrote a bill in response to this. However, and thankfully, it was killed in the Senate by Truman's arch nemesis (a man I plan on studying and writing about in the  near future) Robert Taft.

The striking did subside quite a bit, although some continued until the end of his presidency. Truman's popularity plummeted from 82% to 52%, and the democrats lost Control of Congress during the 1946 mid-term elections.  (Here we have the first time election of republican Congressmen Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon).

Before the election, his popularity had plummeted to a pitiful 32%. There were actually calls from one fellow democrat (William Fulbright) for him to resign. These calls, of course, were rejected by Truman.

Okay, so not only did he have southern democrats and republicans opposed to him, he also had traditional democratic factions such as labor and unions opposed to him. 

So, for this and other reasons, it was expected that Truman would lose the election of 1948. Republicans thought he would lose, and so too did Democrats. Nearly every poll had New York Governor Thomas Dewey defeating the incumbent President.

In fact, it was this belief that lead to the Chicago Tribune accidentally publishing the famous headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman." (see photo)

However, on election night, it was learned that Truman won 28 of 48 states, and won 303 out of 531 electoral votes.

How did he win? Well, according to what I have read, he kind of used the above failures to his advantage. As noted, during the mid-term elections, Republicans took control of Congress. In his State of the Union address in January of 1947, he said a resolution needed to happen regarding labor unrest and strikes. He offered no solutions, and left that to Congress.

Congress passed the Taft-Hartley bill, which limited union intervention in politics and thereby limited their power. Truman vetoed it, and Congress overrode this veto. (This bill was good, by the way. By his veto, along with some of the stupid, socialistic things mentioned above, Truman moves down our ranking of great presidents. Sorry, but sometimes when you read history you learn the truth about people not taught in schools). People should not have to join unions, especially when they support politics that the people do not support).

They also approved "right to work laws" which made it so labor workers did not have to sign up for unions. This made labor and unions mad at republicans.

There was still inflation in 1947 and 8, although not as much as in 1946. Truman called for a return to price controls and rationing, knowing Congress would disapprove of this. They did reject the idea. However, they did pass a price control and rationing bill, although it was vetoed by the president because he believed it was not enough.

So, once again, even though Truman was guilty of causing the problem, republicans in Congress were to blame.  To make matters worse, of the republican bill regarding price controls and rationing, Truman's arch opponent, Senator Robert Taft, said, Americans should "eat less mean, and eat less extravagantly."

In a speech, Truman purposefully misquoted him, saying, "Eat less." So, in this way (which is typical of liberals to misinterpret and misquote for their own political gains) Truman managed to make Taft look like the guilty party here, when it was him. Truman made it look like inflation was the fault of Taft and republicans.

He rejected republican tax cut bill (it was a good bill). He rejected republicans tariff bill to raise tariffs on wool (it as also a bad bill). Truman said the tariff bill was "isolationist."

So, with republicans taking some of the blame for the problems in the nation -- well, it still didn't look good for Truman's prospects in 1948.

He was still the underdog going into election day. Republicans and Democrats alike thought he would lose. John Dewey was even, at one point, declared the winner.

However, Dewey was a very liberal republican, and Truman used the Power of the Pulpit to go on a last minute jaunt across the country. He took a train tour across the country. It was called a "Whistle Stop tour."
and came out a winner. His victory is still used to this day as inspiration for underdogs. 

References and further reading:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Harry S. Truman: A good wartime president

Harry S. Truman was a liberal democrat. And this makes sense, considering he was Vice President to FDR, among the most liberal Presidents we ever had. But I thought it was neat to learn, that while he was liberal on domestic issues, he was very conservative when it came to foreign policy.

I also found it very iinteresting to learn that he apparently had no knowledge of the Manhattan Project, or that the world's best scientists were working to develop an atomic bomb. Some say this was because he had basically no contact with President Roosevelt during the short time he served under him. However, it may also be a testament to the secrecy of the project, and the success of the nation amid a war to keep it a secret.

He also was unaware of what was happening inside the Soviet Union regarding their development of weapons and their development of a socialist government. So, two of the most significant markers of the Truman administration evolved around events Harry S. Truman was not even aware of prior to becoming President: The nuclear bomb and the Cold War.

On April 12, 1945, shortly after becoming the only President to be inaugurated President for a fourth term, Roosevelt died as a result of a stroke, and Truman became the 33rd President. A few months later, on May 8, 1945, victory in Europe was declared. Britain and the United States celebrated, and this day became known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E day.

War with Japan was coming to a close, please were sent to the Emperor of Japan to surrender, and the alternative was "complete and utter destruction."  The Emperor ignored the pleas, and so the war in the Pacific continued. The United States and Britain were preparing for a very costly invasion of Japan.

This prompted Truman, under the direction of his advisers, and with the permission of the British, to drop atomic bombs on Japan's military cities. After papers were dropped on the cities warning the people of what was going to happen, giving them plenty of time to get out, the bombs were dropped. On August 8, 1945, Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima.

Truman issued another warning for Japan to surrender, or a ruin will fall from the sky like no other seen in history. Japan still refused to surrender. So, on August 9, 1945, Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. There were orders for two more bombs to be dropped if necessary, but this wasn't needed, as Japan finally got the message.

The effects of the bombings were huge. Around 90,000-146,000 were dead or dying in Hiroshima, and 39,000-80,000 were dead or dying in Nagasaki. This is not even to mention all the other damage to Japan made by these horrendous bombs. This time Japan finally got the message, and on August 15, 1945, the Prime Minister offered Japan's complete surrender.

The majority of Japanese were happy the war was over, because they had suffered much loss and suffering. However, there were reports of some Japanese warriors continuing the fight in the Philippines and other places.

According to David Powers, the Japanese Emperor made his first broadcast to the Japanese people on August 15, 1945. He never spoke of "surrender" or "defeat," and so many soldiers would keep on fighting. This was testament to the importance of using the atomic bombs. If they had not been dropped, it would have come at grave costs to the United States and its allies.

In retrospect, many people still criticize Truman for dropping the bomb. They say it was a senseless act of terror on many innocent civilians. However, we must also consider the fact that the people are responsible for the people ruling over them. Truman later said that attacking Japan saved thousands of both American and Japanese lives. Estimates had a war on mainland Japan lasting over a year, and costing 250,000 to 500,000 American lives

So, the war was over. There was much celebrating. But there was also a lot of destruction caused by the war and rebuilding to do. Of course, there as also the fact that the Russians had created the Soviet Union and were pent on spreading Communism around the world. Hence, this began the reconstruction of both Europe, Japan, and the Cold War.

References and further reading: