Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Media can't handle Trumps ingenious quip

The media has been refusing to talk about Hillary's emails. But the people know she is guilty and has gotten away with a crime. And Trump knows this, so he says, "I hope the Russians find them." The media is beside themselves. This forces them to talk about the emails.

Trump said: " I will tell you this: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens."

It's like an appeal; they're the last people we can go to for justice here. Our system is obviously rigged. Our system of justice, one that would have found anyone else who committed this crime guilty, is unable to find a candidate for president guilty. So, Trump chimed, then maybe the Russians can. 

He quipped: "The media would reward them." This was a jab at the media, which is obviously in the tank for Hillary. It's pretty obvious they wouldn't reward Russia, because they don't want to even talk about the emails. The media's job is to protect Hillary, and find whatever trash they can on Trump.

The media is outraged by this. "This is espionage. He is asking Russia for help." No it isn't. The media had not idea that Trump was making fun of them. He was calling them out as Hillary supporters. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Teddy Roosevelt: The Stewardship Theory

Teddy Roosevelt turned the presidency into the "bully pulpit."  While most presidents before him, except during times of war, were inactive, Roosevelt made it to a president could be active even during times of peace, especially when he believed something was in the best interest of the populace, or "for your own good."

He explained this in his autobiography:
I declined to aosevdopt the view that what was imperatively necessary for the Nation could not be done by the President unless he could find some specific authorization to do it. My belief was that it was not only his right but his duty to do anything that the needs of the Nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws. Under this interpretation of executive power I did and caused to be done many things not previously done by the President and the heads of the departments. I did not usurp power, but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power. In other words, I acted for the public welfare, I acted for the common well-being of all our people, whenever and in whatever manner was necessary, unless prevented by direct constitutional or legislative prohibition.
William Howard Taft referred to this as the Stewardship Theory.  Not only must a president do what the Constitution commands him to do, he must also push forth his agenda if he believes it serves the general welfare.  The exception here is "unless he is expressly forbidden not do it" by the Constitution.

The problem with this is that many future progressive presidents took this a step further, and made it so their own personal agenda was prioritized above and beyond the Constitution.  When this started to happen was when chaos in our nation started to ensue.

Friday, July 22, 2016

William Howard Taft: The last liberal conservative

Theodore Roosevelt was so popular as his second term as president came to an end that he easily could have won a third term, yet he made the spontaneous decision almost immediately after his 1908 landslide victory not to run for re-election.  Not wanting to give up the progress he made, he hand selected his good friend and secretary of war, William Howard Taft,  to succeed him.

Taft did a good job of not making it publicly known what his political stance was on many of the political issues of the day.  It must have been presumed by Roosevelt, perhaps it was even discussed, that Taft would continue his work of reform (the progress) that he had accomplished.

Roosevelt was under the impression that Taft was, like him, a progressive. In fact, Roosevelt even had him make a pledge to do just that.

What Roosevelt did not know was that Taft was a classical liberal (a conservative by today's standards) who secretly despised Roosevelt's idealist agenda.  In fact, he would later claim that Roosevelt's disregard for the Constitution made him "not unlike Napoleon."

So, in essence, Taft reneged on his promise. But not initially.  He initially did some "trust busting" of his own by initiating 80 anti-trust suits.  However, he later backed away from these suits, and aligned himself with the more conservative members of his party, as opposed to Roosevelt's progressive wing of the party.

Despite being a conservative, he agreed to sign the Payne-Aldrich Tariff in 1909, which essentially raised some tariffs even higher than they were during the Roosevelt administration.  Roosevelt actually wanted him to veto this bill.

While he was president two very progressive amendments were ratified.
  • 16th amendment, which called for a progressive income tax.  This allows Washington to tax income and not allocate it equally to all the states. This allowed the president and Congress the ability to pick and choose who to give the money to, which was a direct violation of the Constitution.
  • 17th amendment, which called for the direct election of senators. This made is so that no longer could state House's choose the senators, instead they were voted on by the people. This made it less likely that senators would defend and protect state's rights, which was why it was set up the way it was.  This made it much easier for progressives to get their agenda approved even when it directly vioilated state rights (Obamacare is a great example)
Teddy Roosevelt was irate to learn that Taft had overturned many of his reforms, and he decided, still in his early 50s, that he still had the energy to be president.  Since the republicans nominated Taft, Roosevelt ran under the Bull Moose Party as an ardent progressive.  

Roosevelt was even more progressive than democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson.  Because the republican party was split, Wilson easily defeated both Roosevelt and Taft.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Senator Albert J. Beveridge: Buddies with Teddy Roosevelt?

Senator Albert J. Beveridge is a name all school children should become aware of, because he was one of the leading Senate progressives responsible for helping Roosevelt champion and pass much of his progressive agenda.

He was the main ally of Teddy Roosevelt against his own party, mainly the classical liberals, or the conservative wing. By today's standards, Teddy Roosevelt was the John McCain, while William Howard Taft was the traditionalist like Sarah Palin (although it's not actually fair to compare Taft with Palin, but for this example it's fitting).

The following are some of the things Beveridge helped make possible for the progressives:
  • Reform of the meat packing industry (with the help of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle) by the passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 
  • Child labor laws 
  • 8 hour work day 
He was the friend of the following:
  • The special interests 
  • Conservationists 
  • Reformers 
  • Railroad magnates 
  • Trusts 
He once noted, "The opposition tells us we ought not to rule a people without their consent. I answer, the rule of liberty, that all just governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self-government."

It's should also be noted he was a Republican from Indiana, a historian, and the keynote speaker for the progressive party when Roosevelt ran for President in 1912.

He served as Senator from 1899 to 1911. He ran for the senate one more time in 1922 and lost, and dedicated the rest of his life to writing literature. He actually won the Pulitzer prize for his book, "The Life of John Marshal."

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trump is a real person

People are still wondering what it is about Donald Trump that makes him the leader of a movement. Why is he doing so well? Why is he winning. And I'd like to surmise that the reason is that he portrays himself, he is seen, as an ordinary guy just trying to get through life, and who really, really loves his country.

Megyn Kelly, during a May 17, 2016, interview with Donald Trump, discussed with him what occurred at the first republican debate back in August, 2015. She said she asked him a "tough question about women, using only the words that you had used. I thought it was a fair question."

He said, "I thought it was unfair. I thought... I didn't think it was a question, I thought it was more of a statement. That's the first question that I have ever been asked during a debate, and I've never debated before... Now, I'm saying to myself, man what a question?... so I'm saying to myself: I have two hours of this.I don't really blame you because you're doing your thing. But, from my standpoint, I don't have to like it."

The discussion continued, and she asked, "You seem to stay angry for months. Was that real, or was that strategy?t the mo

Trump said: "Well, I'm a real person, I don't say, 'Oh, gee, I'm angry tonight but tomorrow you'll be my best friend.'

I liked that. And that's when it hit me that this is the reason he is doing so well. This is the reason a majority of republicans, and many democrats. love Donald Trump: because he is real. He says what they are thinking. He doesn't come across as a phony. Yes, as he said during the interview, he makes mistakes. He gets angry, just like normal people do.

But he is not some phony politician saying one thing to get elected, only to do something totally different when he gets elected. He's not that kind of guy. He's a normal chum like you and me who loves his country and wants to make it great again.

It is for this reason that hit pieces by the New York Times do not bother Trump supporters. In fact, they actually seem to boost is poll numbers. Trump portrays himself as a real guy. He is a standard, ordinary, American guy. He's a traditional American, and traditional Americans are patriotic. They put America first. They want to make America better. And that's what Trump is all about.

Normal people are not perfect, and Trump supporters know Trump hasn't been perfect either. He's gotten mad. He's had divorces. He's had a few of the companies he's invested in go bankrupt. Yet he has had successes too. He turned a million dollars that he borrowed from his dad into a billion dollar empire. He managed to capitulate the attention of the American populace and defeat the republican establishment in order to earn the republican nomination for president in 2016.

Trump is one of us. He is not bought and paid for by political fractions and lobbyists. He is not bought and paid for by the republican national committee. He does not owe anyone anything. He, in fact, is in a position in life where he could retire and live the rest of his life in comfort. And yet he decided he has an opportunity to make America better. He decided, as a fellow dude, that he could "Make America Great Again."

And no matter what narration the media or his political opponents create to try to destroy him, it will not work. As he said, when he makes a mistake he does not look back, he admits his mistake and moves on to face the day and tackle the problems of today. He is a Christian. He is a white male, but he is also an traditional American who respects the Constitution.

Trump is boorish, he loud, he's honest. He says the truth even if it might bother some people. He does not see America as the problem, he sees America as the solution. And this is what most Americans think, and this is what Trump supporters think. Trump supporters are like, "Wow! Finally someone who says what we are thinking."

Further Reading:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Republican party must unite

Democrats, for whatever reason, don't like this country the way it was founded, so they have tried to change it. They are responsible for all the trouble this nation is in right now.

The republicans are guilty for enabling it; by not trying to stop it. They run their campaigns claiming they will oppose it, and then they chicken out for whatever reason.

But the real enemy here is the democratic party. The democratic party is the single most destructive force in this country. They need to be stopped.

So, there must come a time, at least by the republican national convention, that the republican party, or enough people inside the party, must realize who the real enemy is here.

They must unite behind one candidate, whoever it is, with a single objective of defeating Hilary.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Teddy Roosevelt: The first progressive president

Teddy Roosevelt's administration marked a shift in American politics toward a more active president with greater powers.  In essence, he turned the executive into the "bully pulpit."

Most presidents from Thomas Jefferson to William McKinley believed the role of government was limited, and that individuals were better at making decisions than government.  This all changed with the death of William McKinley.  Teddy Roosevelt became president, and he used his energy to increase the powers of the executive, making it possible for future presidents to allow government to intercede in nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

In August of 1898 he returned home from Cuba the most popular man in the United States, and it was mainly for this reason that republican leaders in New York asked him to run for governor.  He was young had tons of energy, and turned out to be a brilliant politician.  It was hear he is thought to have said," said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."  His campaign used his war heroics, even going as far as to have Rough Riders speaking on his behalf, to help his chances.

He was 25-years-old when he was inaugurated as governor of New York in January of 1901.  He became an ardent reformer, or what later would be called "progressive," and later "liberal."  He called for:
  • Laws limiting the long working hours of children
  • Better conditions for workers in factories (sometimes called sweatshops)
  • Signed a law imposing taxes on corporations
William Plat was a former U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate member from New York who was considered the "Political Boss" of the republican party.  He helped Roosevelt gain the governorship, and by 1900 he was tired of him.  He said, "I don't want him raising hell in my state any longer."  

Roosevelt was up for reelection.  The Boss came up with the perfect solution: he began a campaign to have Roosevelt nominated as William McKinley's vice president.  This would turn out to be perhaps the biggest blunder in the history of American politics.  McKinley, with Roosevelt riding on the ticket, easily defeated William Jennings Bryan.

Okay, so I alluded to the fact that Roosevelt would "fundamentally transform" the republican party into a progressive party.  Well, the same was true of the democratic party. It is probably for this reason that Grover Cleveland is often considered as the last classical liberal.  William Jennings Bryan had transformed the democratic party to becoming more progressive (big government) party.  So perhaps the transition was inevitable.  

Regardless, McKinley was now president.  But not for long.  On September 6, 1901, McKinley was shot by an anarchist and by September 13 the president was dead.  This officially made Roosevelt the "Accidental President."

The irony of this news was that, along with the death of McKinley, so too was the death of limited government.  Roosevelt proceeded to fundamentally transform the executive.  He gave it powers that previous presidents believed were unconstitutional (and rightly so). 

Yet because of books like Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," the American people came to realize (or at least to figure) that individual corporations were not going to regulate themselves, and the state's could not be trusted to create regulations fast enough.  So men like Roosevelt believed this was the job of the federal government.

His progressive agenda became known as the "Square Deal."  It incorporated three core principles that are still staunchly used by liberals today.  
  1. Regulating Corporations
  2. Protecting Consumers from the Free Market
  3. Safeguarding Natural Resources from Overuse
To accomplish these, he increased the powers of the executive by becoming the first president to create agencies that would be given the authority to regulate, or make rules or laws for individuals and individual corporations, without the approval of Congress.  The first of these was the establishment of the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903, which gave consumers a voice in Washington. 

He distrusted wealthy business owners, and so he started by breaking up monopolies that were created by the formation of trusts. These monopolies were formed when stockholders from various companies turned their stock over to a trustee in exchange for a trust certificate guaranteeing them a dividend.  The companies were run as though they were one company, and therefore this allowed them to set prices as high or low as needed to drive the competition out of business.  

The test case for Roosevelt was J.P. Morgan's attempt to combine three railroads and to combine them into a single corporation called Northern Securities Company.  Roosevelt had attorney general Philander Knox bring suit charging that this was a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.  The Supreme Court decided in Roosevelt's favor, thus giving the government the authority to break up other trusts, such as those in the beef, cattle, and oil industries. 

Roosevelt said he was only out to get trusts that he saw were abusing workers or overcharging customers. So, essentially, the federal government decided what trusts could continue to exist.  During Roosevelt's eight years 40 trusts were dissolved. He became known as the "trust buster." 

In 1902 he used what was now referred to as the "bully pulpit" to settle a dispute between business and labor.  In May, 15,000 workers went on strike to protest low wages and unsafe working conditions in coal mines. The mine owners hired non-union replacement workers.  Ticked off, the striking workers terrorized the replacement workers.  

Since coal was a essential for a functioning economy -- it was used to generate electricity, heat, power railroads, and heat homes, businesses, and schools -- the strike caused schools to close, coal prices to quadruple, and families to freeze during the winter.  It also resulted in riots as people fought to obtain coal from the few remaining locomotives that carried it.  

Previous presidents supported state's rights, and the rights of individual corporations, and therefore, if they got involved, they would support the corporations.  Roosevelt decided to take a different approach.  Even though he had no legal right to interfere, he invited both sides to Washington.  An arbitrator came up with a plan the strikers accepted but the mine owners rejected. 

So he tried speaking softly, now he got out his big stick.  He unconstitutionally ordered U.S. troops to prepare to take over the mines.  Workers were allowed to go back to work, and an arbitrator worked out an agreement that required a 10 percent wage increase, reduction in workday hours, and safer working conditions. Of course in order to do this coal prices were raised 10 percent.  

The people were happy that the president took away some of the liberties of the coal operators to the benefit of the common worker.  Roosevelt's popularity skyrocketed.

Modern libertarians won't like his next move, but many conservatives would.  For years people had wanted to create a channel across Panama so ships wouldn't have to travel thousands of miles around the tip of South America.  The Colombian government had rejected this idea.

However, a group in Panama had wanted to break away from Columbia and form their own government. Roosevelt decided he would support these radicals obtain their independence in exchange for the right to a Canal Zone where a canal could be dug out.  After ten years of construction, the Panama Canal opened in 1914.

Did Roosevelt have the Constitutional right to tinker in national affairs for his own personal gain the way he did? This is a question that made Roosevelt's actions so controversial.  The answer is still debated to this day.  However, this action created a precedent for future presidents to act upon.

During the 1904 election, Alton B. Parker, a judge from New York, ran as a conservative against liberal William Randolph Hearst for the democratic nomination.  Parker won the nomination, although was no match against the popular Roosevelt.  Parker received only 140 electoral votes to Roosevelt's 336.

Roosevelt would gloat about the results: "I have the greatest popular majority and the greatest electoral majority ever given a candidate for president."  But then he went on to say that he would not run for reelection in 1908.  This was a decision he would come to regret.

By 1906 various investigative reporters were reporting on abuses in the workplace. Roosevelt often responded to these reporters, calling them "Muckrakers."  One example of such "muckraking" was the book "The Jungle," by Upton Sinclair, which reported on the unfair and uncleanly working conditions in the meat packing industry.

They also gave Roosevelt an opportunity to solve more problems, and buy more votes for his party (or for the progressive cause, if you will).  He acted by creating regulations that would create more consumer protections and better working conditions.  Keep in mind here that Sinclair was a socialist, and he was after the workers more so than the consumers.

To get started, he encouraged Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act in June of 1906.  This act mandated that food prepared in factories be properly labeled and and safely produced.  It lead to the formation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had the ability to set regulations on the workplace without the permission of Congress.

The FDA went on to:
  • Ban foreign and interstate traffic in adulterated or mislabeled food and drug products
  • Direct the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry to inspect products and refer offenders to prosecuters
  • Required active ingredients be placed on the label of a drug's packaging 
  • It required that drugs could not fall below purity levels established b the U.S. Pharmacopeia or the National Formulary.
The actions of Roosevelt here were very popular. However, how good were they actually in retrospect? Conservatives would argue that cleaning up the meat packing industry should have been left to the states, not the federal government.  Likewise, creating laws and regulations is the job of Congress, not the executive branch.

By the turn of the century many railroad owners recognized their costs were increasing, so they decided to take advantage of the increased demand for their services by increasing their rates.  Passengers and shippers were unhappy with this, and the fact that railroads were giving free passes to loyal shippers.

So in 1903 he signed the Elkins Act, named for Senator Steven B. Elkins.  It strengthened the Interstate Commerce Committee (ICC) that was created in 1887 when Grover Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act.  Now the ICC had the ability to impose fines on railroads for offering rebates, and punish shippers who accepted the rebates.

In 1906 he signed the Hepburn Act, named after its sponsor, republican William Peters Hepburn.  This act fortified the Interstate Commerce Committee, giving it the authority to set maximum rates, to restrict use of free passes, and the ability to enforce the regulations it created.  It also brought other businesses that transport goods and services under the control of the ICC, including terminals, storage facilities, pipelines, ferries, and trucking.

Both of these acts benefited consumers at the expense of the railroads. These Acts were justified under the false pretense that railroads were rich and could afford it. What the new laws did was retard the growth of the south, which the railroads could no longer afford to subsidize.  This was one of the unintended consequences of government interventions into the marketplace "with good intentions."

In essence, Roosevelt did something that would cause many of the founding fathers, and most of the previous presidents, roll over in their graves: he turned the government into a giant watchdog. Many people were fearful of what a large central government might do to personal liberties.  One newspaper wrote that Roosevelt's programs were "the most amazing program of centralization that any President of the United States has ever accomplished."

History would show that they were justified in their fear.  Roosevelt, in essence, opened a Pandora's Box, setting precedents that nearly every president after him used to their advantage to push forth an agenda and to obtain votes. Before Roosevelt, this was never done out of fear of what might happen if they did.

Fearing that Roosevelt's agenda might harm the country, conservatives decided to take Roosevelt's promise not to run for reelection to heart.  They started to work to delay his agenda any way they could, hoping that the next president wouldn't be so "progressive."

Congress was successful, although the president sometimes found ways to push forth his agenda (similar to what Obama would later do) to push forth his agenda anyway: by using executive orders.  One of his executive orders blocked the misuse of natural resources (forests, wildlife areas, vital waterways, natural wonders like the Grand Canyon).  He also assembled a conference of state and territorial governors to discuss conservation.

Surely these are all nice things.  Surely it's great to see the federal government preserving natural resources.  it's great to see all the natural parks and forests from being destroyed.  Still, many wondered if this was proper use of the executive branch.

All of Roosevelt's actions were noble, but they all increased the power and scope of government.  They created regulations, each of which took away another personal liberty.  Plus they were expensive, and would require sacrifices by the populace.

This was one of the reasons tariffs stayed generally high during his term in office, and he refused to even hear arguments about tariffs while he was president. This was also the reason why Roosevelt became the first president to push for a progressive income tax system.

Among his last actions was to utilize the precedent created by the McKinley administration (a time when he was vice president) to show the mite of the U.S. military, and the ability of the U.S. to be a world power. Japanese immigrants in California were the subject of discrimination.  Leaders in Japan made clear their disappointment.  Roosevelt responded by sending 16 battle ships (The Great White Fleet) on a goodwill cruise around the world.  This would be the "greatest display of naval power ever brought together in one squadron."

While protectionists would consider this a bad move on his part, I think it was good.  It, along with the actions of Mckinley, helped clear the path to the United States becoming a Superpower.

During his last two years in office Roosevelt worked hard to push forth more progressive programs, but Congress decided not to act on any of them because they knew Roosevelt would be out of office in 2008. They figured his successor wouldn't be so progressive, or at least have the energy, and things would return to normal.

Roosevelt personally selected his secretary of war, his friend William Howard Taft, to be the leader of the next administration.  Roosevelt believed Taft was the best person to continue on pushing forth the progressive agenda.  Little did he know that Taft was not a supporter of the progressive agenda at all, and was actually a conservative.

So, while many today associate the democratic party with the progressive movement, the father of the movement was actually Teddy Roosevelt -- a republican.  He is the father of modern liberalism.  He created the "activist president," thereby setting the precedent for the president to be active during times of peace as well as times of war. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Andrew Johnson: A lucky-unlucky president

Harper's Weekly of Thaddeus Stevens making his final argument
to the house during Johnson's impeachment hearing.
When Andrew Johnson was selected to be Senator from Tennessee in 1857 he did not have ambitions of becoming president.  Yet circumstances would unravel as to set up a situation whereby he would luck into the Vice Presidency and, six months later, the Presidency. However, his time in that office was tenuous at best, or quite unlucky despite his honorable intentions.

He lived in a part of Tennessee where there were no large plantations and no wealthy land owners. So he had no ambitions to pass laws that benefited large businesses and merchants.  This was the job of the Whig party, which grew a large following in Tennessee.

Johnson, on the other hand, was sort of what we would now refer to as a libertarian.  However, back in his day they were referred to as Jacksonian Democrats. They supported farmers and small businesses, or what many refer to as commoners.  He was opposed to regulations and taxes, believing commoners could manage their affairs better than the government.

So he had a nice job as U.S. Senator from Tennessee when the Civil War Started.  He had succeeded in talking legislators in his state from seceding from the nation until the Battle of fort Sumpter between April 12-14, 1861.  It was at this point that tensions grew to a point that, despite his pleas to stay in the Union, Tennessee seceded.

Despite this, Johnson became the only Senator from a Confederate State to stay loyal to the Union and stay at his post.  This must have been the hardest decision he ever had to make.  He was lambasted and ridiculed by other legislators from Tennessee, many of whom had been his friends.  But it also proved to be a brilliant decision at the same time, as he was loved by members of the Union.

One person who was well aware of Johnson's heroics was Abraham Lincoln.  During his first term as President, Lincoln appointed Johnson Military Governor to Tennessee. Johnson was honored to take the job, although he would soon discover that it was an arduous task mainly because he had little authority over Union soldiers, and because there remained many Confederate supporters in the state.

It must be understood that at this time their were two factions of the republican party: Moderate Republicans and Radical Republicans.  Moderate Republicans were lead by Abraham Lincoln, and this consisted of the majority when Lincoln was elected in 1860 and 1864.

During reconstruction, Radical Republicans agreed with Lincoln that the seceded states should be admitted back into the Union, although on Congress's terms,not the presidents. Radical Republicans believed the seceded states should be punished, and their social structure uprooted. In the meantime, they wanted newly emancipated blacks to be protected by Federal powers.

In 1864, Moderate Republicans contented that their party was for all Union supporters.  So, for one election only, they became the Union Party.  Hannibal Hamlin had been Lincoln's Vice President, but moderate republicans, concerned about Lincoln's re-election chances due to the war, thought Andrew Johnson would
appeal to voters in border states.  So Johnson became the logical choice as Lincoln's running mate -- even though he was a slave owning southern democrat (he owned a few slaves).

This decision didn't sit so well with Radical Republicans in the North, one of whom was Thaddeus Stevens, who believed the republicans should have found a candidate "without going down into one of those damned rebel provinces," Steven's said.

George B. McClellen was the best logical choice of the democrats.  He had gained fame as General of Union Troops at the start of the war, although he had lost the faith of the President, who replaced him with General Ulysses S. Grant.  The problem with McClellan is he did not support the Democrat position that the war should come to a swift end.

It didn't really matter that the republicans chose Johnson to be the VP, or that the democrats chose McClellan as their presidential nominee, because just prior to the election word was spread of General Sherman's triumphant victory in Atlanta.  This seemed to be all that was needed to carry Lincoln into a landslide victory in the general election, earning him 212 electoral votes to McClellan's 21.

However, six months after the election, on April 15, 1865, Lincoln was dead and Johnson was sworn in as President. This was an unlucky moment for Lincoln, Johnson, and the nation.  However, this was how Johnson, a democrat and slave owner from the south, became president when republicans controlled Washington.

Initially every thing seemed to work out just fine for Johnson, as he intended to push forth the plans already set in place by Lincoln.

Just prior to his death, Lincoln authorized a ten percent plan, whereby he would allow elections after ten percent of voters made an oath of allegiance to the United States.  Radical Republicans in Congress hated this plan claiming it was too lenient, and so they passed a bill requiring a majority vote before voting could take place.  Lincoln pocket vetoed this bill.

Like Lincoln, Johnson, likewise wanting to quickly restore southern states to the Union.  He believed that they did not win the war, and therefore never truly left the Union.  Based on this idea, he believed former Confederate states should be recognized by the Union as soon as they formed a government.  At the very least, Lincoln and Johnson believed a speedy resolution of the messes made by the Civil war would ease tensions within the Union.

Let us say that Johnson was very supportive of the idea of a quick period of reconstruction.  He believed any efforts to resolve any civil rights issues, such as suffrage, of the newly freed slaves (referred to as freedmen) would only act as distractions.  He figured these issues would be resolved over time by each individual state.

So, even with Congress out of office until December, Johnson set in place his plan at reconstruction.  He figured that, if everything went his way, that he could have most of the work done before Congress was back in session.

Among Johnson's first actions as president was to grant pardons to all former radicals who took an oath of office.  He made Confederate leaders, and all wealthy men (those who made over $20,000), obtain a special pardon from the President. Either way, Johnson believed this would quickly mend scars.

Initially his plan went well and was supported by the greater portion of the American populace.  All they wanted was for the Confederacy to be abolished, for those in power to admit defeat, that slavery be ended, and that living conditions for African Americans be improved.

Like Johnson, civil rights for blacks, such as the right to vote, were not on top of the agenda.  In fact, this made sense considering many northern states at the time still didn't recognize freedmen as citizens.  This issue didn't come to the forefront until Congress was back in session in December of 1895.

Until then, Johnson's plan was allowed to continue as an experiment. But even while it seemed on the surface to be working, it wasn't.  Because it was so lenient, many southern leaders allowed back into their old positions of power were making laws that made it difficult for blacks.  For instance, some laws required former slaves to work on farms on an annual contract they could not quit.  These became known as Black Codes.

When Congress reconvened in December of 1865, Radical Republicans, lead by Charles Sumner and Stevens, decided Johnson's plan was too lenient. They decided harsher punishments were needed to assure the old Confederacy was abolished, and more guarantees were needed to guarantee the rights of the newly freed slaves.

Members of both the House and Senate refused to seat any former member of the Confederacy. While many southern states had already submitted new constitutions, these were set aside and relatively ignored. The House and Senate then got together and created the Joint Committee on Reconstruction and decided all plans for reconstruction must be approved by this committee.

Congress passed a bill enlarging the Freemen's Bureau that was created during the Lincoln Administration to help newly freed black men and women.  It consisted of northern teachers, ministers and former government officials.  They provided food, shelter and an education to help freedmen adjust to life outside of plantations.

President Johnson vetoed the bill claiming it was a violation of state's rights.

Congress passed the Civil Rights Act that guaranteed the basic rights of freedmen.  It said that all persons born in the United States would be classified as U.S. citizens, including African Americans.  It also established the rights of blacks to own land, make contracts, and to "enjoy the full and equal benefit of all laws."

President Johnson vetoed the bill claiming it was a violation of state's rights.

Making matters worse for Johnson was the midterm election.  It was at this time that voters turned out in groves in support of the radical republican agenda, giving radical republicans a majority in both the House and Senate.  This gave them enough votes to override any of the president's vetoes.  They then proceeded to:
  • Override Johnson's veto of the Civil Rights Act, thus establishing the Civil Rights Act of 1866
  • Override Johnson's veto of the Freedman's Bureau
  • In the fall of 1867 they created their own plan for reconstruction that began by placing  southern states under military rule
  • They passed the Civil Rights Amendment, or the 14th Amendment, and required that southern states must ratify it before being allowed back into the Union. Despite Johnson's opposition, it was ratified by each state in July 1868.
  • They passed a bill requiring all of Johnson's Military orders be approved by Grant.  They wanted to make sure he didn't hire military generals who were sympathetic to the south. 
  • They passed the unconstitutional Tenure of Office Act that restricted the president's ability to dismiss or appoint members to his own cabinet.  This was an ardent violation of separation of powers.
Of course it didn't take long for Johnson to violate the Tenure of Office Act.  Secretary of War Edward R. Stanton openly supported the Radical Republican agenda, and he even reported to Congress on secret White House matters.  Johnson had no choice but to dismiss him from office.  In his place he hired General Grant.  He did this while Congress was not in session, so they could not object.

When Congress reconvened, Radical Republicans ordered the president to re-hire Stanton, and Johnson reluctantly agreed. Still, on February 21 he again defied Congress and fired Stanton.  This time he chose General Lorenzo Thomas for the position.  Stanton refused to leave his office, even to the point of barricading his door.

Radical Republicans saw this as an opportunity to get Johnson out of office, so three days later the House voted to impeach him, making this the first impeachment of a sitting president.  He was tried in the Senate in the Spring of 1868, and was acquitted by one vote.

Later, as part of his farewell speech, Johnson said, "It will be recorded as one of the marvels of the times that a party claiming for itself a monopoly of... patriotism... endeavored, by a costly and deliberate trail, to impeach one who defended the Constitution and the Union... during his whole term of office."

So Johnson vetoed bills because he wanted to protect state's rights.  For this we have to give him a little credit. Still, he is generally deemed a failure, at least on the domestic front, because he failed to recognize that white southerners were probably not going to respect the civil rights of African Americans without being forced to do so.  In fact, the same was probably true of some northerners as well.

While his domestic policy was a failure, his foreign policy was sort of a success.  Secretary of State Edward H. Seward, with Johnson's encouragement, brokered a deal whereby the Russian Empire would allow the U.S. to purchase Alaska.  He did this to counter Canada, figuring that it would eventually force Canada into American hands.  Johnson approved the deal. This would turn out to be a significant foreign policy of Johnson's.

This purchase would prove beneficial to the national security of the nation during the Cold War.  It would also prove beneficial about 13 years after the purchase (and five years after Johnson's death) when gold was discovered in Alaska.  Many years later, in 1968, oil was discovered there.

Seward believed that the U.S. would liberate Canada from Britain.  However, in the same year Britain gave Canada Home Rule, meaning if the U.S. invaded Canada they would be invading a sovereign nation.  While Seward's plan of Canada becoming part of America never came to fruition, the purchase of Alaska would eventually pay for itself 100 times over.  Likewise, while this was unknown at the time, it would also mean the end of American expansionism.

So, chances are, if not for the encouragement of Johnson on this issue, Alaska may have ultimately ended up in the hands of the British or Canada.

Understanding the republicans would go in another direction, Johnson petitioned to be the democratic presidential nominee in 1968.  They would strongly consider him before deciding to go with the governor of New York, Horatio Seymour.  The republicans went with a still very popular Civil War General by the name of Ulysses S. Grant.

So Johnson can be considered a horrible president mainly because he had little control over a Radical Republican Congress.  Radical Republicans supported Ulysses S. Grant for President in 1868, and so this would limit Johnson to one term.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Andrew Johnson: Libertarian ideas

Andrew Johnson became the 17th President of the United States after the untimely death of Abraham Lincoln. He is generally considered one of the worse presidents, This actually might be true considering he had essentially no clout over a Radical Republican controlled Congress.

Johnson was born in a log cabin in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1808 to impoverished and nearly illiterate parents.  He had one older brother, William.  His dad, Jacob, worked as a hotel porter and bank janitor.  When Andrew was only three-years-old, Jacob dove into an icy river rescue three men from drowning.  While all the men survived, Jacob fell ill and died shortly thereafter.   His widowed mother, Mary (nicknamed Polly), made money as a weaver and spinner.  Later that same year she married Turner Haugherty, although the family still continued to live in poverty.

When he was 10 he joined his older brother as an apprentice to a tailor named James Selby. This worked nice for the parents, because they knew their sons would learn how to make and alter clothing while being fed and housed.  While the agreement required the boys to obey and work for their master until they were 21, when Andrew was 16 he and his brother played a prank that went bad.  Not wanting to face punishment they ran away.  Selby put an award out for their return.

After two years of being on the run, Andrew returned home to reunite with his mother and Turner. Selby wanted him to pay a high fine that he could not afford.  He and his mother and stepfather then headed to Tennessee where they would not be subject to North Carolina apprentice laws.  Andrew, now seventeen, set up his own tailor shop, hanging over the door a sign that said, "A. Johnson Tailor."

Over the years he attempted to teach himself how to read, although he was never fully able to master the skill until, at eighteen in 1827, he married sixteen-year-old Eliza McCardle.  She was the daughter of a shoemaker and was well educated.  While he worked in his little shop, she read to him and taught him to read and write.

Johnson became involved in politics early on as a town alderman and as a mayor.  He considered himself a Jacksonian Democrat, and was therefore an ardent supporter of state's rights and the rights of individuals. He learned that he was very good at giving speeches and debating, and he became very popular.

He rode this popularity into the state legislature's lower house in 1834 and 1838, and then the state senate in 1841.  He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843 and served until 1853. He was an ardent opponent of high taxes and regulations that would hurt the common man. In this way he became an opponent of the Whig party that grew strong in Tennessee that championed for a larger, more active government that needed higher taxes and tariffs to create and maintain roads and canals that would improve transportation to increase business and trade.

As a State Senator he opposed any bill, even when he figured it would work to his benefit, that was paid for by the public.  One Whig bill would have paved roads in his own district, and he opposed it because it would be constructed at the taxpayers expense.  He believed people most likely to use the roads should pay for it.

Another thing he opposed was large government grants to railroads so that they could use small portions of this land to lay tracks.  They would then sell the remaining lands to settlers at a profit. Johnson thought this worked to the disadvantage of the common man who was trying to make a living.

In stead, ho proposed a Homestead Act in 1846. The government would grant a deed to any land a person settled on with the agreement that the land would be cleared and farmed it.  After a person lived on the land for five years it was theirs to keep.  He continued to re-introduce this bill.  At the same time he continued to oppose any bill proposed by Whigs that increased the size and scope of government at the taxpayers expense.

He was so strongly anti-big government that he even opposed building a national museum that would eventually become the Smithsonian Institute, a U.S. patent office that would allow people to register new inventions.  He even, at one point, suggested cutting salaries of government officials, including his own salary.

So he was quite, as we would consider today, the libertarian.

In 1852 his Congressional district was redrawn in such a way he was unable to run for re-election to the U.S. House.  He then managed to muster up support so he could become governor of Tennessee. He succeeded.  In fact, the man he beat was the same person who redrew the congressional lines, giving him a good feeling of vindication.

However, the job had little power, so he had trouble getting any of his ideas passed through the state Congress. This was a problem that would plague him once again when he became president after the death of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1857, during his last years as governor, he championed the state legislature to elect him to the U.S. Senate.  This allowed him to once again become involved in national affairs.  Atop his agenda was to get Homestead Bill passed.  Other than that he had no agenda.  Little did he know what cards were in store for him as the Civil war era began.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why does Obama use ISIL and not ISIS like everyone else?

George W. Bush warned about pulling out of Iraq. You can check out the video here. He warned a group far worse than Al Qaeda would result. He said:
“To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States,” Bush cautioned... “It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”
Everything Bush said there has come true. And the group that has come out of Iraq after the pullout of U.S. troops by Obama has resulted in the creation of a group of people wishing to force Sharia Law on the rest of the world, and the will and ability to kill those who fail to accept it.

The name of this group is Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This group consists of the states the radical Islamic terrorists are hiding in. However, in order not to offend Israel, Obama refers to this group as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

He does this because "Levant" is a modern term referring to a group of states in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.

Why does he refer to them as ISIL? Because this includes Israel among the states the terrorists may be hiding out in. It is simply an acronym that Obama believes does not offend Islamic nations in the region. Because God forbid, that Obama actually call it radical Islamic terror.

So, the reason Obama uses the acronym ISIL and not ISIS is because ISIL is an all-inclusive term: using it is Obama's way of agreeing with Islamic nations like Iraq who claim that Israel is a nation of occupiers and is not a legitimate nation. It's his way of pointing the metaphorical finger at Israel.