American Education is so Poor only 7% in Survey can Name the First Four Presidents in Order

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 13th, 2014

Week in Review

All you hear from Democrats is that we need to spend more on education.  They call it investing in our future.  Which is a lie.  For ‘investing in our future’ is code for shoring up teachers’ pensions.  And keeping higher education doing what those in control of higher education want it to do.  Produce Democrat voters.  Which actually starts in our public schools.  Where they teach our kids to come home and tell their parents that they are ashamed of them.  For all the global warming they’ve caused.  And bringing them into the world in the evil, rotten United States.

These are the things our kids seem to know about.  Global warming.  Slavery.  Stealing land from the Native Americans.  American imperialism.  But ask them to name the first four presidents of the United States?  Four of the greatest Americans ever to live?  Those in control of our public education don’t think knowing anything about them is important.  Apparently (see Rolling Stone, Groupon Show The Viral Benefits of Historical Inaccuracy by Nathan Raab posted 4/11/2014 on Forbes).

In 2007, a US Mint poll showed that only 7 percent of those surveyed could name the first four Presidents in order. A later poll by Marist was not more encouraging.

George Washington (#1) kept the Continental Army together for 8 years under circumstances few could imagine today.  Near the end of the Revolutionary War his character alone put down a mutiny in the officer corps.  He turned down the offer to make him king.  An unprecedented act at the time.  King George of Britain had said if he turned down absolute power “he will be the greatest man in the world.”  And Washington did.  Twice.  His presence was the only thing that got the states to ratify the Constitution.  And his two terms in office was the only thing that gave the United States of America a chance of succeeding.  This is why there is only one man we call the Father of his Country.  And only one man we call the Indispensible Man.  George Washington.

John Adams (#2) was a driving force for American independence.  So much so that King George could not forgive him.  Had they reconciled with the mother country the king would have pardoned many patriots.  But not Adams.  He would hang.  Adams nominated George Washington to command the Continental Army.  He chose Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence.  He worked with Benjamin Franklin to negotiate the peace treaty that ended the Revolutionary War.  And negotiated America’s first loan from Amsterdam bankers.  The first nation to recognize and do business with the new nation (other than France).  And he averted war with France following the French Revolution.  Giving the fledgling nation a chance to survive.

Thomas Jefferson (#3) was the author of Declaration of Independence.  The author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom.  And the Father of the University of Virginia.  The three things Jefferson was most proud of and appear on his tombstone.  As president his administration bought the Louisiana Territory from the French.  More than doubling the size of the United States.  And sent out Lewis and Clark to explore these vast new territories.  And he slashed government spending wherever he could.  A true believer in limited government.

James Madison (#4) is the Father of the Constitution.  He wrote the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to encourage ratification of the Constitution.  The Federalist Papers are still referenced today in Constitutional law.  He also helped the effort to ratify the Constitution in Virginia where he battled the great patriot Patrick Henry.  Who feared a large central government.  Madison served in the first Congress.  Where he championed the Bill of Rights.  And, later, supervised the Louisiana Purchase as President Jefferson’s Secretary of State.

It is indeed a sad commentary on our educational system that only 7% of those questioned could identify these great Americans.  And it’s not a lack of money causing this.  It’s a lacking in the curriculum.  Choosing global warming, slavery, stealing land from the Native Americans, American imperialism, etc.  Instead of teaching our kids why the United States is the greatest country in the world.  Because of men like these.  Who put the individual before the state.  Who made freedom and liberty things we take for granted.  Instead of things people can only dream of.  Which is the case in much of the world today.  And has been the norm throughout history.

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Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 15th, 2013

History 101

The Constitution prevented the Executive from Ruling Arbitrarily and becoming Judge, Jury and Executioner

There have been funding gaps.  And there have been government shutdowns.  But not always both.  For once upon a time the executive branch stayed open for business even when the House of Representatives did not approve their bills for payment.  But that all changed in 1980 thanks to Jimmy Carter’s attorney general.  Benjamin Civiletti.

Civiletti wrote two opinions as attorney general changing the way government spends money.  The first said the executive can’t spend any money without the House of Representatives’ approval.  A strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.  His second opinion softened the first.  Giving the executive power to spend money the House of Representatives doesn’t approve of when necessary to protect life and property.  Such as funding the military.  And so grew the delineation between essential and nonessential spending.  Or what some would say essential spending and pork.

The Founding Fathers saw the damage absolute monarchies could do.  Even a constitutional monarchy with too much power.  So they separated powers.  They created three branches of government.  The executive, the legislative and the judiciary.  One branch to write the law (the legislature).  One branch to enforce the law (the executive).  And one branch to interpret questions in the law (the judiciary).  Thus preventing the executive from ruling arbitrarily and becoming judge, jury and executioner.  Like a king.

The Founding Fathers gave the Power of the Purse to the House to rein in Executive Spending

The Founding Fathers took the separation of powers further.  The House of Representatives was the people’s house.  Where the people voted in their representatives by popular vote.  But to keep a check on federal power the Senate was the states’ house (since changed by constitutional amendment, thus greatly increasing the power of the federal government over the states).  Each state in the union had an equal voice.  Thus requiring not only a majority of the people it also required a majority of the states to pass federal law.  To keep the larger urban populations from dictating policy to the lesser populated rural areas.

The Founding Fathers took the separation of powers even further.  Giving the power of the purse to the House of Representatives.  So the executive couldn’t wage costly wars.  Or expand bloated bureaucracies to reward campaign donors with patronage.  Or expand a welfare state to buy votes.  Especially since Alexander Hamilton opened Pandora’s Box with his interpretation of the necessary and proper clause.  Which expanded the scope of the federal government to include whatever it thought was necessary and proper.  Giving rise to the progressive/liberal state.  Something that would have horrified Alexander Hamilton if he were alive today to see the behemoth the federal government became.  And had he known then what would become of the federal government today he would have been a Jeffersonian.  Jefferson and Hamilton would probably still have hated each other but they would have agreed on keeping limited government limited.

Civiletti understood that the Founding Fathers meant to rein in the spending powers of the executive branch.  To meet the intent of the separation of powers they felt was essential for representative government.  A government of the people, by the people and for the people.  As Abraham Lincoln so eloquently said in the Gettysburg Address some 76 years later.  Hence his first opinion.  Which he softened with his second when it hurt his boss and the Democrat cause.  For Civiletti was a Democrat.

The Democrats want to Break the Republican Opposition and Govern Against the Intent of the Founding Fathers

Before Civiletti’s opinions there was little urgency to settle funding gaps between what the executive branch wanted and what the House would approve.  So at the end of a fiscal year the executive often continued to operate without spending authority.  Letting the durations of these funding gaps last for a week or more.  With no interruption of government services.  But after Civiletti’s opinions the government shut down nonessential services.  Which did speed up the closing of the funding gap.  For when the funding gap included a government shutdown resolving the funding gap went from a week or more to a few days.

Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns

To date there have been 18 funding gaps that went unresolved into the new fiscal year.  One of which is still ongoing.  In the table you can see how much quicker the House and the executive branch resolved their differences with the threat of a government shutdown.  The exception to that being the longest shutdown during the Clinton administration.  Which ultimately led the way to welfare reform.  Which greatly dampened President Clinton’s costly liberal agenda.  And was the law of the land until President Obama used sweeping powers he does not have to roll back some of that legislation.

President Obama and the Democrats have called the House Republicans about every derogatory name in the book for dare trying to enforce the Founding Fathers’ separation of powers.  Saying that never before has a radical fringe held a gun to the head of the executive, took hostages, demanded ransom, etc.  But that’s not true.  Of the 18 funding gaps where the House of Representatives did not give the president all the money he wanted that president was a Republican 55.6% of the time.  So Republican presidents got their way fewer times than Democrat presidents.  And as far as hostage takers, the Democrats held the power of the purse 15 of those 18 funding gaps/shutdowns.  Or 83.3%.  So the president and the Democrats aren’t telling the truth when it comes to the historical record.  Who seem to be more interested in swinging public opinion to their side.  So they can break the Republican opposition.  And govern against the intent of the Founding Fathers.

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The Left’s War on the Culture and Traditions of Western Civilization

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 27th, 2013

Politics 101

The Left sees Traditional Marriage as a way to make Women Cooks in the Kitchen and Whores in the Bedroom

What’s the difference between conservatives and liberals?  Conservatives believe in the genius of the Founding Fathers and embrace the U.S. Constitution.  Liberals constantly disparage the Founding Fathers as rich white men who owned slaves.  And they bristle at the restraints the Constitution places on them.  Conservatives believe in limited government.  Liberals believe in big government.  Privilege.  And feel they are part of an aristocratic class who are exempt from the laws they do not like.  Conservatives stand on principle.  While liberals will sacrifice principle in the pursuit of power.

The Sixties gave us the Sexual Revolution.  Where sex outside of marriage was not only okay it was better.  Hippies put sex into everyday ordinary life.  Where sex was as causal as an afternoon greeting.  Contraception and women’s liberation made the Seventies swing.  No one was getting married.  They were just living together.  And having a lot of sex.  With a lot of different people.  For it wasn’t the 1950s anymore.  No.  Women were no longer going to be sexually objectified or trapped into soul-sucking marriages.  Which was all the institution of marriage did.  Oppressed women.

The Seventies changed all of that.  Women could be whatever they wanted to be.  And sleep with whoever they wanted to sleep with.  For they now had the pill.  And when that failed they had abortion.  It was truly a time for feminists.  As they could be more sexualized than they had ever been before.  Those who did get married could ‘swing’ with other married couples.  That is, swap wives for sex.  Feminists persuaded women to be independent.  To have careers.  Not to get married.  Not to have children.  For that would only subjugate them to some man.  Where they would end up a cook in the kitchen.  And a whore in the bedroom.  Serving him.  One man.  And taking care of a long string of snot-nosed brats sucking the life out of them.  This is how the left sees traditional marriage.

Laws encouraged Marriage to Provide more People to Till the Soil and more Soldiers to Defend the Land

So clearly the left had launched a war on the institution of marriage during the Sixties and Seventies.  And beyond.  For it was everything that was wrong with America.  It destroyed a woman’s identity.  She even lost her last name.  No.  It was better for a woman to remain free.  And strong.  To enjoy sex when she wanted to enjoy sex.  Not only when society said she should.  In the marital chamber.  She should live alone.  Or live with someone outside the institution of marriage.  So she could remain free.  She should have a career.  And use birth control and abortion to terminate any pregnancy that could interfere with her career.  To remove any reason to consider ever getting married.  As well as enjoy the explosion of sexual transmitted diseases her new liberation gave her.

And yet as bad as marriage is the left is trying to make same-sex marriage a Constitutional right.  Despite fighting to destroy the institution of marriage for some 3 decades or more.  And still fights hard to help women avoid the institution and to keep her family tree a barren one.  But when it comes to gays and lesbians who want to get married that changes everything.  Marriage is then a beautiful institution where two people can profess their undying love to each other.  And denying marital bliss to same-sex couples is discriminatory.  Mean.  And just plain medieval.

Conservatives oppose same-sex marriage because they don’t want to change the institution of marriage.  Which has a tradition that dates back to the beginning of civilization.  While there is no such tradition of same-sex marriage.  Marriage created the family.  Allowing a man and a woman to raise a family.  So they can raise, provide for and nurture their children.  For unlike most animals in nature whose young can go off on their own after a year or so the human race must spend years rearing their offspring.  Which required two parents.  One to raise and nurture.  And one to provide.  Marriage also provided for inheritance.  To transfer property down generations.  Marriage provided a last name to their children.  In time religion entered the marriage ceremony.  Adding more tradition.  Then came laws to encourage people to marry and raise children.  To expand the population.  To provide more people to till the soil.  And more soldiers to defend the land.  As well as increasing the tax base.

The Left attacks the Culture and Traditions of the Political Opposition as they cannot Defeat Them in the Arena of Ideas

So the institution of marriage served many purposes.  The most important was to raise children.  Because if you couldn’t replace the people killed in battle or died from disease or famine countries would collapse.  And because it took so long to rear children traditions and laws developed to facilitate child rearing.  Some traditions go back thousands of years.  While there is no comparative traditions for same-sex marriage.  Or utilitarian purpose for same-sex marriage.  Such as expanding the population.

But the left shows no respect for tradition.  Unless it’s for a lost tribe in the Amazon that practices cannibalism and human sacrifice.  No, that tradition they’ll respect with the reverence of religion.  And actively oppose any interruption into their culture or traditions.  Even if they are sacrificing young virgins.  They’ll fight to protect their culture and tradition.  But they have no such respect or reverence for the culture and traditions of Western Civilization.

So the left is many things.  But one thing it is not is consistent when it comes to principle.  They attack the institution of marriage for those who currently enjoy that institution.  While embracing it for those who don’t have it.  They will do whatever they can to prevent women from coming down with the ‘disease’ of pregnancy.  While championing same-sex couple adoption.  They have no tolerance or respect for culture and tradition.  Unless it is culture and tradition not found in Western Civilization.  Proving that everything to the left is political.  And everything they do serves one purpose.  To increase their power.  And they do that by attacking the culture and traditions of the political opposition.  Which they do to destroy them.  As they cannot defeat them in the arena of ideas.

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FT172: “Damn the truth, promises and the Constitution,” said the politician. “I’m trying to get reelected.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 31st, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The People ratified the Constitution only because George Washington would be the First President

George Washington did not want to be president.  After winning the American Revolutionary War his place in history was set.  If the first government following the Constitutional Convention failed he didn’t want history to remember him for that.  Also, Washington was an old man.  Most Washington men were already dead at his age.  Something he was very conscious of.  And he wanted to live out his remaining days, however few he had, at Mount Vernon.  With Martha.  But America’s Cincinnatus would, reluctantly, answer the call of duty again.

The new Constitution was not very popular.  The old patriots of 1776 hated it.  With a passion.  While Washington, Alexander Hamilton and others who served in the Continental Army were generally for it.  Because they saw how the weak Continental Congress had almost lost the war.  Starving the Continental Army of the supplies they needed.  Unable even to provide it with shoes and clothing during the long cold winters at Valley Forge and Morristown.  And then there was the inflation.  Worthless Continental paper dollars that forced the Army to take what they needed to survive.  Giving the people they took from IOUs for the Continental Congress to honor later.

With the British defeated the Americans lost the common enemy that held the states together.  And they were soon back to looking after their own interests.  Charging tariffs to other states.  Even sending militias to fight over disputed land.  The nation was falling apart before it even became a nation.  The Philadelphia Convention addressed these problems.  And over a long, hot, humid and horsefly invested convention they wrote a new Constitution.  Few loved it.  But understood that it was probably the best they would ever get.  Ratifying it was another brutal battle.  And all throughout this process people reluctantly got on board.  Basically because of one thing.  The first president would be someone that all the people could trust with such great powers.  The man who gave up power when he could have been king.  George Washington.  So Cincinnatus laid down his plow once more.  And went to serve his nation.  Again.

The most Important Precedent Washington set was not Exceeding the Limits of the Constitution

This is how it used to be.  When our politicians were men of the enlightenment.  Disinterested men who went out of their way NOT to profit from the offices they held.  Men who would rather have been back home.  But reluctantly served.  Because the nation needed the best leaders during that formidable time.  That’s why Washington served a second term.  Not because he wanted to.  But if he didn’t Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton would have paralyzed the government with their constant fighting and seething hatred of each other.  So Washington stayed on.  Father to these children that couldn’t get along.  And father to a nation.

Washington was never happier than when he left office.  This man who could have been king.  Sacrificing all of his wants and desires.  And putting the nation first.  This old man that was cheating death.  Living beyond his years.  Who was used to giving orders in the army and having subordinates dutifully following them.  He hated the political process.  The deal making.  The special interests.  Those things modern politicians live for.  Because it is the pathway to wealth and power.  Which is why people serve today.  Who do not understand the meaning of selfless disinterest.  For they’re in it for number one.  And when they leave office they want to have more wealth than they know what to do with it.

Whereas Washington kept true to the Constitution.  And didn’t make arguments about it being a living document.  Or questioned the intent of the Founding Fathers.  For he was one of them.  He was there in Philadelphia in 1787.  He sat in the chair with that sun on it.  The one Benjamin Franklin studied for so long while sitting in that stuffy hall.  Wondering if the sun was rising.  Or setting.  After they signed the Constitution Franklin was certain the sun was rising for the new nation.  A nation of laws.  Where no man was above the law.  And the supreme law of the land was there in the Constitution.  Washington was the first president.  Setting the precedent for all that would follow.  And the most important precedent was not exceeding the limits of the Constitution.  For he knew a strong central government was necessary for the nation to have any hopes of surviving.  But he feared that once anyone exceeded the limits of the Constitution the whole experiment in self-government would come crashing down.

Life is so Good in an Aristocracy that Politicians will do Anything it takes to Win Reelection

What Thomas Jefferson feared most was consolidation.  Fears of a strong central government turning independent states into federal districts of the new government.  With growing powers to administer these lands from afar.  Turning the people living on these lands once again into subjects of a distant ruling power.  Who are there to serve.  To be obedient.  And revere this distant power.  Giving the duly elected president king-like powers.  Who would further consolidate his power.  This was Jefferson’s fear.  A fear Alexander Hamilton did not share.  Because he assumed all men in the government would be disinterested men of the enlightenment.  Like the Founding Fathers were.  But Jefferson knew you could not trust men to refrain from using power given to them.  So it was best not to give them that power in the first place.

Today you can see all of Jefferson’s fears come to pass.  A federal government larger and more powerful than even Alexander Hamilton could have imagined.  And a new fourth branch of government.  The IRS.  Powerful.  And fearsome.  Which appears to be helping the current administration to suppress the political opposition.  By harassing anyone espousing Jeffersonian principles.  Limited government.  States’ rights.  Constitutional limits.  Etc.  Which are also Tea Party principles.  That set of principles that launched a great grassroots movement that helped the Republicans win back the House of Representatives in 2010.  Something the Democrats were very conscious of.  And have since pilloried the Tea Party with every invective under the sun.  To delegitimize the Tea Party.  To prevent another 2010 from happening again.

President Obama is the most liberal president to ever occupy the White House.  And he won reelection.  Which isn’t easy for a liberal to do on a national stage.  Because only about 21% of the people call themselves liberal.  While 35% call themselves moderate.  And 40% call themselves conservative (see Conservatives Remain the Largest Ideological Group in U.S. posted 1/12/2012 on Gallup).  So liberals are in the minority.  Yet they hold majority power.  Which begs the question.  How do they win elections when the majority opposes their ideology?   Well, you don’t do it by acting like George Washington.  You know, with integrity.  But, instead, with rascality.  You don’t exactly tell the truth.  You make a lot of promises.  Even if you have no intention of keeping them.  And you use the awesome power of your office to attack your political enemies.  For it’s a different mindset today.  Whereas the Founding Fathers were trying to destroy an aristocracy today’s politicians are trying to build and maintain one.   And life is so good in an aristocracy that once you get in you never want to leave.  Which is why politicians will do anything it takes to win reelection.  Anything.  And if they were honest you’d hear them say so.  “Damn the truth, promises and the Constitution.  I’m trying to get reelected.”  But they’re not honest.  So you will never hear them say this.  You’ll just have to see it in their deeds.  And how unlike the Founding Fathers they are.

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Tyranny of the One, Tyranny of the Few, Tyranny of the Many, Drone Strikes and the Rand Paul Filibuster

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 7th, 2013

Politics 101

Trusting that only Good People will Serve in Government is Sheer Folly

History has been a struggle for power.  Those who wanted it fought those who had it.  And those who had it tried to eliminate anyone who didn’t have it but wanted it.  So people have killed each other since the dawn of time for power.  Making for a rather Hobbesian existence.  “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  A quote from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.  Where he posits that only an all powerful dictator can provide a just society.  Otherwise there would be great unrest and civil wars.  Such as was going on in England at the time he wrote Leviathan.

England, though, would choose a non-Hobbesian path.  Choosing to restrict the powers of their monarch with a represented body of the people.  Parliament.  Evolving into what John Adams once called the best system of government.  A constitutional monarchy where power was balanced between the few, the many and the one.  The few, the rich, paid the taxes that the one, the king, spent.  The common people were the many.  Who had a say in what the rich and the king could do.  So everyone had a say.  And no one group, the majority, the minority or the one, could do whatever they wanted.  Which is why John Adams once thought it was the best system of government.

John Adams wanted a strong executive in the new United States.  Not a hereditary king.  But something close to the king of England.  Who would advance the new nation to greatness.  And with disinterested men of the Enlightenment serving in the new government Adams didn’t worry about any abuses of power.  For this wasn’t Great Britain.  But not everyone had Adams’ confidence in the nobility of men.  Worrying that given the chance they would try to form a new nobility.  As James Madison said in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  And that was the problem.  Men are not angels.  And trusting that only good men would serve in government was sheer folly.  So we should form governments under the assumption that bad people would reach positions of power.  And thus limit the power of government.

Today both Houses of Congress win Elections by Appealing to Populism

So the Americans settled on a similar system.  They separated powers between a legislature, an executive and a judiciary.  Further, they separated the legislature into two bodies.  The House of Representatives.  And the Senate.  Representation in the House being apportioned by population.  The more populous a state the greater that state’s representation.  And the greater influence they had in writing law.  They chose their representatives by popular vote.  Making it truly the house of the people.

The states, though, feared a tyranny of the majority.  Where the largest states could have their way.  And force the smaller states to accept their rule.  For in a true democracy the majority could vote anything into law.  Such as the subjugation and oppression of a minority group.  Like the Nazi Party passed legislation subjugating and oppressing the Jews.  So minorities need protection from majorities.  In the United States the Senate provided a check on majority rule.  For each state had equal representation.  Each state had two senators.  And to further protect the interests of the states (and their sovereignty) the states chose their senators.  A constitutional amendment changed this later.  Which weakened the sovereignty of the states.  By making the Senate a true democracy.  Where the people could vote for the senators that promised them the most from the treasury.

Today both houses of Congress win elections by appealing to populism.  Representatives and Senators are, in general, no longer ‘disinterested men of the Enlightenment’ but pure politicians trying to buy votes.  Which is what James Madison worried about.  The people in government are not angels.  And they’re becoming less like angels as time goes on.  Proving the need of a separation of powers.  And a bicameral legislature.  To keep any one group, or person, from amassing too much power.  So there can be no tyranny of the many.  No tyranny of the few.  And no tyranny of the one.

The Obama Administration can’t use the Military to Kill Suspect Americans on U.S. Soil

Senator Rand Paul just recently completed a 13 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate.  To delay the vote to confirm John Brennan as CIA director.  Not because he had a problem with Brennan.  But because he had a problem with the Obama administration.  Specifically with Attorney General Eric Holder.  Senator Paul had asked Holder if the Obama administration could use a drone to kill an American on American soil without due process even if that person posed no imminent threat.  The attorney general gave his answer in a letter.  In which he didn’t say ‘no’.  Which bothered Senator Paul.  Because the Obama administration had killed an American or two on foreign soil without due process.  Including the son of a guy that posed an imminent threat.  While the son did not.

U.S. drone strikes have killed many terrorists overseas.  And they’ve killed a lot of innocent bystanders who had the misfortune to be in the same vicinity.  Such as being in the same coffee shop.  Basically a policy of ‘kill them all and let God sort them out’.  But you don’t hear a lot about this collateral damage.  As the Obama administration simply counts all the dead from a drone strike as being a terrorist that posed an imminent threat to U.S. security.  And the innocent son that was killed in a drone strike?  Well, he should have chosen a better father.  Or so said a member of the Obama administration.  Which is what so bothered Senator Paul.  For in the War on Terror the battlefield is worldwide.  Including the United States.  Which means given the right set of circumstances the Attorney General of the United States stated the government had the legal right to use a drone to kill an American on U.S. soil without due process.

In the United States there is a thing called the Constitution.  Which guarantees American citizens due process.  If you’re an American fighting Americans on foreign soil you have no Constitutional protections.  And can be killed by a drone strike without due process.  But if you’re on U.S. soil you have Constitutional protections.  Which means the government can’t use the military to kill suspect Americans.  No.  On U.S. soil we have police forces.  And courts.  Miranda rights.  On U.S. soil you have to convince a judge to issue an arrest warrant.  Then you have to collect evidence to present in a trial.  And then you have to convince a jury of a person’s guilt.  Then and only then can you take away a person’s freedom.  Or life.  Thus protecting all Americans from the tyranny of the one.  The tyranny of the few.  And the tyranny of the many.

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2012 Endorsements: Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Joseph Stalin

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 30th, 2012

2012 Election

A Strong President and a Few Judges could defy Congress and the State Legislatures and Govern as They Please

Woodrow Wilson became president in 1913.  He was a progressive.  And didn’t much care for our Founding Fathers.  Or our Founding Documents.  The Declaration of Independence.  And the Constitution.  He referred to our inalienable rights as a “great deal of nonsense.”  Preferring to think of them as privileges granted by the government.  Like kings once did.  And as kings did not like limits on their power so did Wilson not like limits on his power.  For government was a living thing that could grow and do great things.  But to do great things it needed great men in leadership positions.  Like him.  Not hindered by the checks and balances of the Constitution.  Or state legislatures.  Or people clamoring about their inalienable rights.

This was the age of progressivism.  When smart people were in government.  Smarter than they ever were before.  People who graduated from the finest institutions of higher learning.  Or ran them.  Like Wilson.  Who was president of Princeton.  Progressives were smarter than the average American.  Who could take America to such great heights.  If they could only keep the dumb people from interfering with their vision.  And foolishly try to limit the power of the federal government.  So, as president, Wilson got a lot of legislation passed that helped make the federal government more powerful.  Such as creating the Federal Reserve System.  A central bank that could print money as the government needed it.  And enacting the first federal income tax since the American Civil War.  With this new found wealth the federal government only needed one other thing to take America to great heights.  Getting rid of the Constitution.

As much of what Wilson wanted to do exceeded his Constitutional authority he needed a way around that particular nuisance.  The checks and balances of the Constitution.  Especially after the Framers made it so difficult to add amendments.  Requiring a 2/3 supermajority in both houses of Congress.  And then ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures.  Not a promising way to make radical changes in the structure of the federal government.  So Wilson’s solution was not to amend the Constitution.  But to go around the Constitution.  With judicial activism.  The president should appoint federal judges who share his views of abandoning the intent of the Framers.  Thus consolidating power into fewer hands.  So they could do more of what they wanted and less what the people wanted.  A strong president and a few judges along the way could defy the Congress and the state legislatures and govern as they please.  Reshaping America into their vision.  Not the Founders’ vision.  A progressive vision.  Where these few enlightened and very smart individuals would do what was best for us.  Even if we didn’t know what that was.

The New Deal was a Revolution made not by Tanks and Machine Guns but acts of Congress and Decisions of the Supreme Court

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) saw things the way Wilson did.  FDR was all for radical change.  And breaking away from the constraints of our Founding Documents.  And his New Deal did just that.  A radical change and expansion of the federal government.  And to help get the people to embrace these changes in the long-term he introduced Social Security.  To get even more people dependent on the federal government.  A program so convoluted he reportedly said that it would be impossible to overturn.  He empowered unions.  He introduced payroll taxes to fund Social Security.  He raised income taxes.  Even tried to implement a heavy progressive tax that topped out at 100% for the very rich.  And he introduced the withholding tax.  As people’s tax bills were to grow so large there would have been push back had they had to write a check at the end of the year for the full amount.  But if you took a little bit each pay period the total tax bill didn’t seem so high.

In FDR’s 1944 State of the Union speech he proposed a Second Bill of Rights.  However, when talking about our Constitutional rights he called them “inalienable political rights.”  By inserting the word ‘political’ those God-given rights of the Declaration of Independence became privileges granted by the government.  Which was similar to the way Wilson saw those rights.  As privileges granted by government.  And privileges that government could take away.  Thus emphasizing the power of the federal government over the individual.  Making it easier to impose those new federal taxes.  So what were those new rights?  A good-paying job, adequate food and clothing, recreation, high farm prices for farmers, freedom from unfair competition, a decent home, medical care, a pension, unemployment insurance and a good education.  Sound familiar?  If you’re an old Soviet communist they do.

Chapter X of the 1936 Soviet constitution included a list of Fundamental Rights.  Which included a right to a good-paying job, adequate food and clothing, recreation, medical care, a pension, and a good education.  Among others.  No surprise, really.  As FDR was a fan of Joseph Stalin and what he was doing in the Soviet Union.  The same kind of things he wanted to do.  But he didn’t have the same freedoms Stalin had.  There were such similarities that Whittaker Chambers, a Soviet spy in the US during the time of the New Deal wrote in his book Witness “the New Deal was a genuine revolution, whose deepest purpose was not simply reform within existing traditions, but a basic change in the social and, above all, the power relationship within the nation.  It was not a revolution of violence.  It was a revolution by bookkeeping and lawmaking…made not by tanks and machine guns, but acts of Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court…”  Just like Wilson envisioned.

If Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Joseph Stalin were Alive Today they would likely Endorse Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Alexander Hamilton believed in a strong central government.  Partly because he saw what a weak central government did to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  And partly because he admired the greatness of the British Empire.  He wanted an American Empire.  Trusting that only men of virtue would serve in a republican government, he did not fear a federal government from overreaching, and abusing, their power.  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison thought Hamilton was mad.  And fought against him with every last fiber of their bodies.  Because they knew that they couldn’t trust future members of their republican government to be men of virtue.  As proven by Aaron Burr.  Who lived during the time of the Founding Fathers.

The modern Democrat Party traces its roots back to Woodrow Wilson and FDR.  Men hungry for power.  And having little virtue.  Today we call people like them Big Government liberal Democrats.  Who have continued to advance the growth and power of the federal government.  Approximately 20% of the population identifies themselves as liberals.  And yet the liberals have greatly advanced their agenda.  How?  In large part through judicial activism.  Using the courts to give them what the state legislatures or Congress won’t.  Such as when a state passes a referendum on a liberal issue, such as redefining gay marriage, the liberals use the courts to overturn that act of democracy.  Or any other that they disagree with.

Now that’s the kind of governing that Wilson and FDR would approve of.  Even Joseph Stalin.  More and more power centralized in the federal government.  The ability to overturn legislation you don’t like.  A revolution without violence.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  If Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Joseph Stalin were alive today they would likely endorse the Democrat candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

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2012 Endorsements: Abraham Lincoln

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2012

2012 Election

The Slave Owners were the Social Elite and Holders of Political Power Similar to the Aristocracy in European Feudalism

General Motors (GM) required a government bailout and bankruptcy protection because of rising labor costs that prevented them from selling enough cars at a price to cover their costs while being profitable.  Their problem goes back to FDR.  During the Great Depression his government placed a ceiling on wages.  To encourage companies to hire more people.  By paying more people less money instead of fewer people more money.  So businesses had to do something else to attract the best employees.  And the employee benefit was born.  Pensions and health care benefits.  That were very generous when there was no competition and car companies could sell cars at whatever price they chose.  But that wasn’t the case in the 21st century.  Competition put great cost pressures on those companies with rising health care and pension costs.  And the job bank paying for workers who didn’t work.  Until they could be put back to work.  Adding a lot of costs to each car.  And sending GM into bankruptcy.

Slavery as an economic model had a similar problem.  High costs.  Which goes contrary to the public perception that slave labor was free labor.  George Washington wanted to sell his slaves and hire paid-laborers.  Because his slave families had grown so large.  So he had a growing slave population.  But they all weren’t working.  The young children could not do the work of a young man in his working prime.  Nor could the elderly.  Or the sick or infirmed.  (Who he couldn’t sell along with the healthier and stronger ones in their families.  So he kept his slaves, keeping those families together.  Freeing them upon the death of his wife.  And including provisions in his will to help them integrate into free society.  Giving them some job skills to help them find gainful employment so they could care for their young, elderly, sick and infirmed.)  Yet Washington was feeding them all.  While the growing amount of food they ate couldn’t go to market.  As the years passed his costs went up and his revenue fell.  Just like at GM.  For both had long-term labor commitments that became more inefficient over time.  Which is why slavery was a dying institution in the United States.  The industrial North was slave-free.  As they used more efficient paid-laborers.  Drawing a lot of immigrants to those northern factories.  And slavery was dying out in the South.  Until the cotton gin came along.  Allowing workers to comb (separating the seeds from the fiber) huge amounts of cotton at a time.  Greatly opening the market for that labor-intensive cotton crop.

The typical image of the South in 1860 is endless plantations each with hundreds of slaves working the fields.  Which is wrong.  Most people worked a small family farm.  In fact, most of the Confederate soldiers who fought in the American Civil War came from those small family farms and never owned a slave in their life.  The actual numbers of large slaveholders will probably surprise you.  Approximately 0.84% of the southern population owned at least 20 slaves.  Only 0.05% of the southern population owned at least 100 slaves.  And the number of big plantations owning at least 500 slaves?  Twelve.  So it was a very small population that had a vested interest in the institution of slavery.  Yet the South seceded from the union over the issue of slavery.  Why?  Because of who those slave owners were.  The social elite and holders of political power.  The Planter Elite.  People similar to the aristocracy in European feudalism.  An Old World nobility.  The very wealthy few who ruled the South.  And for awhile they ruled the United States thanks to an unfair advantage they had in the House of Representatives.  Where they determined their representation by not only counting the free population but by counting every slave as 3/5 a free person as well.  And this southern nobility was determined to maintain their aristocracy.

Popular Sovereignty created a Bloodbath in Kansas as ‘Free’ and ‘Slave’ People raced there to Settle the State

Which was easier said than done.  Because of that industrial growth in the north attracting so many immigrants that they swelled the northern population.  Transferring control of the House from the South to the North.  Which left only the Senate (and the presidency) for the South.  As each state got two senators the race was on to admit free and slave states to the union.  Which didn’t really solve anything.  It only made the differences between the North and the South greater.  And intensified the bad feelings between the North and the South.  The North was full of abolitionist busybodies trying to tell southerners how to live.  While the southerners were a bunch of immoral slaveholders.  Bringing shame to the nation that was supposedly a place where all men were created equal.   Words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.  Words written incidentally by a southern slaveholder.  It was finally time to address the nation’s original sin.

Congress passed the Missouri Compromise (1820) after Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from the French.  Adding a lot of new land to form states from.  The compromise prohibited slavery north of the border between Arkansas and Missouri (except in the state of Missouri).  They added new states in pairs.  A free state.  And a slave state.  Maintaining the balance of power in Congress.  Then came Kansas and Nebraska.  Both above the Missouri Compromise line.  Well, that meant two new free states.  And a change in the balance of power.  Which the South couldn’t have.  So Senator Stephen Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  And the idea of popular sovereignty.  The idea of letting the people in these new states decide for themselves if they should be a free state or a slave state.  Creating a bloodbath in Kansas as ‘free’ and ‘slave’ people raced there to settle the state.  Fighting and intimidating each other so they would be the ones to vote on making Kansas free or slave.  It was anarchy.

Abraham Lincoln had reentered politics in 1854 to campaign for fellow Whig Richard Yates.  Who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  Democrat Stephen Douglas was making a series of speeches in Illinois.  In response to one of Stephens’ speeches Lincoln gave his Peoria speech.  In commenting on letting slavery into Nebraska and Kansas Lincoln said, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.  I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty—criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”

If Lincoln were Alive Today he would Likely Endorse the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

The fallout from the Kansas-Nebraska Act splintered existing political parties apart.  Created new ones that disappeared later.  And gave birth to the new Republican Party.  The party of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln.  Who became the leading spokesman of the party.  The Republicans lost the 1856 presidential election but won majorities in most of the northern states.  Tipping the balance of power further away from the South.  When Lincoln won his party’s nomination to run for senator in 1858 he gave his ‘House Divided Speech’ saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

When slave Dred Scott traveled to a free state with his owner his owner died.  Scott said he was then a free man.  The Supreme Court thought otherwise.  Saying that Scott was still a slave because neither Congress nor any territory legislature had the authority to change that.  Which meant no one could restrict the movement of slaves because no one had the right to restrict the movement of private property.  Thus opening all the new territories to slavery.  Making the South very happy.  While infuriating the North.  Who refused to enforce slave laws on the books like the Fugitive Slave Law.  A provision included in the Compromise of 1850 for the states’ rights South.  That called for the federal government to force northerners to return slaves or face arrest and penalties.  States’ legislatures in the North passed laws saying a slave living in a free state was a free man.  The Supreme Court struck down these laws.  Favoring southern states’ rights over northern states’ rights.  So the states just refused to help the federal government in any prosecution of a violation of the Fugitive Slave Law.  Then abolitionist John Brown’s failed slave revolt at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, further angered the South.

Then came the 1860 presidential election.  That Abraham Lincoln won.  Which was the last straw.  The South lost both Congress and the presidency.  Worse, the new president, though not an outright abolitionist, opposed the expansion of slavery.  Leaving the South with one last option.  Secession.  Which they did.  Leading to the American Civil War.  Which the South lost because of everything they believed in.  For an Old World nobility just could not defeat a modern industrial power.  Lincoln won because he had modern factories building whatever he needed.  The northern economy was large and diverse providing war financing.  Railroads crisscrossed the North.  A large navy controlled the interior rivers and blockaded the southern ports.  Cutting off the South from the outside world and starving it.  When the South desperately pursued the British for recognition Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Making it impossible for Britain to ally itself with a nation fighting for the institution of slavery.

No president entered office with a heavier burden than President Lincoln.  Standing on principle he made the hard decisions.  Becoming the most hated sitting president of all time.  He did not look for an easy solution like every other politician had up to his time.  Only making the inevitable solution more costly.  And more painful.  He would do what had to be done.  Regardless the price he would pay.  Politically.  Or personally.  A cost so high that it made him a one term president thanks to an assassin’s bullet.  He didn’t base his decisions on the polls.  Or populist movements.  But on principles.  Drawn from the Constitution.  And the Declaration of Independence.  As well as the Bible.  So if he were alive today who would he endorse in the current election?  He would, of course, support his party.  Out of party loyalty.  And because it tends to stand on principle more than the Democrat Party.  Which often used an activist Supreme Court to get what they couldn’t get in the legislature.  Which tends to use populist movements and character assassination to advance their agenda.  Such as the so-called war on women to scare women into voting Democrat because they can’t persuade them to based on a successful track record in office.  Also, the Republicans are more pro-business and more pro-military.  Which gives you the ability to win civil wars.  And other wars.  As well as protecting US security interests around the world.  Maintaining peace through strength.  For anything was preferable to the hell he went through during the four long years of the Civil War.  And to have so much blood on his hands.  The war being so horrific because of a policy of continued failed diplomacy when there was simply no common ground.  He said that there was only one of two possible outcomes.  All free.  Or all slave.  And he was right.  But it took someone willing to be the most hated sitting president to have the courage to act to bring about the inevitable.  So if Lincoln were alive today he would likely endorse the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  Not the party that wants to delay the inevitable by refusing to address the systemic problems of Medicare and Social Security.  And a growing welfare state.  Systems a declining population growth rate can no longer fund.  Because aging populations bankrupt nations with expanding welfare programs.  Just like an aging workforce can bankrupt a car company like GM.

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2012 Endorsements: Thomas Jefferson

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 17th, 2012

2012 Election

When the Radicals attacked Parliament and the King’s Ministers Jefferson’s Summary View attacked King George

When Thomas Jefferson entered politics he was still a quiet and shy awkward young man.  He was not the public speaker Patrick Henry was.  And did not enjoy being in the spotlight.  That said he was incredibly book smart.  When he was in college he spent up to 15 hours a day reading.  And another 3 hours practicing his violin.  Which probably explained why he was quiet and shy.  And not a real lady’s man.  His first love was and always remained his books.  And it was this insatiable thirst to read and learn that made him one of the greatest writers of the Revolutionary era.  It was also where he was most comfortable.  For it was something a quiet and shy young man could do best in his solitude.

After earning a law degree he went into law.  Then he won a seat in the Virginian House of Burgesses.  And joined the opposition against the taxing efforts of British Parliament.  As well as their regulation of trade.  Going so far as to join a boycott of British imports.  Unless it was something really nice that he really, really wanted.  For he was a bit of a dandy who enjoyed the finest fashions, furnishings, wines, pretty much anything French, etc.  If it was fashionable in high society Jefferson probably had it.  But you wouldn’t believe he was a dandy by his writing.  For he wrote some powerful stuff while still in the House of Burgesses.  Especially his A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774).  Published at a time when there was a lot of friction between the colonies and the mother country.  As furious debate raged about Parliament’s right to tax and regulate trade in the colonies.  To summarize his Summary View Jefferson stated, “The British Parliament has no right to exercise authority over us.”  Like many of the Revolutionary generation, Jefferson did not like some distant central power imposing their will on them.  But Summary View went even farther.

At the time most British Americans still wanted to be subjects of Great Britain.  They just wanted the same rights subjects living in England had.  Namely, representation in Parliament.  Denied that they attacked the dictatorial powers of Parliament.  And the king’s ministers.  But they didn’t attack King George.  Jefferson did.  When the other radicals attacked Parliament and the king’s ministers Summary View attacked King George.  While the other radicals wanted fair and equal treatment as subjects of the British Crown Jefferson was already moving beyond that.  He was ready for independence from the British Crown.  For he had no love of monarchy.

The States drafting their own Constitutions was a de facto Declaration of Independence

Much of the trouble in the colonies began with the Stamp Act of 1765.  But in Summary View Jefferson said their problems went further back.  To 1066.  To the Norman Conquest of England.  A time when, according to the Whig interpretation of history that Jefferson had read, things changed.  All land belonged to kings after 1066.  Not to the people.  But before the Norman Conquest there was the Saxony model of government.  Tracing its lineage back to Saxony Germania.  Along the North Sea.  Where once upon a time in a mystical place the good people of Saxony enjoyed representative government.  A beautiful system of government under which people lived in harmony and bliss.  Until feudalism came along.  And kings arose.  Who snuffed out these old ways.  So Jefferson hated all monarchies.  The nobility class.  And birthrights.  He didn’t believe in the divine rights of kings.  To him they were just a bunch of bullies who came along and changed the rules of the game by force for personal gain.  And King George III was no different.

When Peyton Randolph left the Continental Congress Jefferson replaced him.  At the time he was a very minor player in Virginian politics.  But his Summary View created a reputation that preceded his arrival.  And he was warmly welcomed.  Especially by the more radical elements.  The Americans had not yet declared their independence but they were already at war with Great Britain.  Blood was spilled at Lexington and Concord.  And General Washington was now in command of the Continental Army then laying siege to the British in Boston.  More importantly, some states were already drafting their own constitutions.  To form new governments to replace the royal government.  Which to many (including Jefferson) was the most pressing business.  As it was a de facto declaration of independence.  Which was even more important than the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.  Something the more senior members delegated to the junior member from Virginia.  Because they had more important things to do.

In May and June of 1776 Jefferson’s mind was back in Virginia.  And he wrote three drafts of a new constitution for Virginia.  His constitution was similar to the future U.S. Constitution.  It included a separation of powers.  A 2-house (i.e., bicameral) legislature.  An independent judiciary.  And, most importantly of all, a WEAK executive.  Leaving political power in the hands of the people via their representatives in the legislature.  There would be no royal governors or kings in the new state government.  Just pure self-government.  Just like in that mystical place where the Saxons lived in harmony and bliss.  And so it would be in Virginia.  There would be democracy.  At least for the people who owned property and paid taxes, that is.  For if you wanted to tell government what they could do you had to have skin in the game.  And pay taxes.  But after taking care of this Virginian business he got around to writing the Declaration of Independence.  And that thing that no one wanted to waste their time doing?  It became the seminal document of the United States.  Making Jefferson a superstar among the Founding Fathers.  In posterity John Adams regretted that he didn’t waste his valuable time to write it.

If Jefferson were Alive Today he would likely Endorse the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

After the Americans won their independence Jefferson accepted a diplomatic post in France where he accomplished little.  Jefferson championed open markets and free trade.  And he worked tirelessly with the French to adopt a free trade agreement.  So cheap raw materials (like Virginian tobacco) could flow to France.  And cheap manufactured goods could flow to the United States.  But the political reality in France stymied him.  The French refused to lower tariffs so they could protect their domestic markets.  Not to mention that those high custom duties allowed corrupt officials to pocket more for themselves.  His only success in France was a Dutch loan John Adams secured while Jefferson was tagging along.  Adams understood the complex world of international finance.  Jefferson did not.  Other than large sums of money tended to corrupt people.  Custom agents.  And governments.  So it was a wise thing to keep the centers of finance apart from the center of government.  Which is why the federal capital is in Washington DC and not in New York City.

Jefferson was in France during Shay’s Rebellion.  An armed protest against new taxes imposed by Boston.  Those in the fledgling government worried about suppressing this uprising (the Continental Congress had few resources other than to ask states for contributions) to prevent the collapse of the new nation.  While Jefferson said, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive…I like a little rebellion now and then.”  And, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.  It is its natural manure.”  Later, serving as Secretary of State in the Washington administration, he battled with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton over the size of government and the meaning of the Constitution.  Hamilton wanted to expand the power of the federal government to help jumpstart America into becoming a mighty empire like the British Empire.  With the government partnering with the private sector.  Pooling great amounts of capital together to build incredible things.  While Jefferson wanted all Americans to be yeoman farmers physically working their own land.  With as small a federal government as possible.  And one that spent as little money as possible and remained debt-free.  In fact, when he was president he slashed spending so much that the nation could barely afford the navy to protect its shipping from the Barbary pirates.

So it is pretty clear that Thomas Jefferson hated big government.  He spent his entire political life trying to limit the power and scope of government.  To make government as impotent as possible.  To the point where he even supported a little rebellion every now and then to keep government in its place.  What would he think of the federal government today?  It would probably make him physically ill.  The spending?  The debt?  The federal register?  These would make him long for the responsible governing of King George.  And his pro-American policies.  If he were able to vote today he would vote for the lesser of two evils.  And that would be the party of limited government.  To stop the out of control growth of the federal government.  And hopefully reduce its size.  If Jefferson were alive today he would likely endorse the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for president and vice president.

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American Revolution, French Revolution, Jacobins, Girondins, Proclamation of Neutrality, Jay Treaty, Hamilton, Jefferson and Citizen Genêt

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 13th, 2012

Politics 101

The Americans stuck by the Rule of Law while the French descended into Mob Rule

The American Revolutionary War was pretty brutal at times.  Especially on the frontier.  And in the civil war in the South.  Where Patriot and Loyalist could be rather cruel to one time friends and neighbors.  But for the most part both the professional soldiers and politicians practiced restraint.  And prosecuted the war by international law.  And a code of honor.  When the Americans defeated Burgoyne’s army at Saratoga the defeated soldiers did not suffer cruel acts of vengeance.  Instead they got rather generous terms of surrender.

When the war was over there were a few flare ups such as Shays’ Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion.  But these were the exception.  Not the rule.  The newly independent states had problems.  Which they addressed through political debate in Philadelphia.  And they drafted a new constitution.  This unleashed bitter partisan debate.  But only bitter partisan debate.  The states ratified the Constitution.  And the new nation went forth.  It wasn’t quite like this in the French Revolution.  Where the streets literally ran with blood.

Jean-Paul Marat, Georges-Jacques Danton and Jacobin Maximillien Robespierre were no Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.  The Americans stuck by the rule of law.  While the French descended into mob rule.  Where competing mobs rallied around different movements.  The Jacobins, the Cordeliers and the Girondins.  Who all incited the mobs to violence.  Against the ancien régime.  The monarchy.  And the Church.  As well as any counterrevolutionaries.  And anyone lacking in revolutionary zeal.

In 1793 French Revolutionaries Guillotined King Louis and Marie Antoinette

The mobs became judge, jury and executioner.  The Paris Commune (the revolutionary ruling authority in Paris) sanctioned the mobs.  Who could act with impunity.  While the people even watched.  And cheered.  Revolutionaries fell on imprisoned political prisoners.  Priests.  The Swiss Guards who protected the king.  As well as the royal servants and clerics.  They forced prisoners to run a gauntlet of revolutionaries armed with swords, knives, pikes, axes and other blunt and sharp instruments.  And bludgeoned and hacked them to death as they ran screaming back and forth.

And the violence grew.  With torture becoming sport.  The level of barbarity reached such levels to include the butchering of women.  Including the hacking off of a woman’s breasts.  Then setting a bonfire beneath her spread legs.  While the people cheered.  They brutally killed Princess de Lamballe, consort of Marie Antoinette.  Bludgeoned with a hammer, stripped naked, mutilated and dragged through the streets of Paris.  Then guillotined.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  They cut out her heart and roasted it over a fire.  Then stuck her bloodied head on a pike.  Took it to a hair salon to fix her hair.  Then returned it to the pike.  As they impaled her naked body on another pike.  Her crime?  She refused to denounce her king and queen.

In 1793 they guillotined King Louis.  The executioner held up his severed head and the people cheered.  Later that year they guillotined Marie Antoinette.  The executioner held up her severed head and the people cheered.  And the processions to the guillotine increased.  Enemies of the revolution.  People falsely accused of being enemies of the revolution.  And a lot of Girondins.  Who the Jacobins condemned.  And guillotined.  Then the people condemned the Jacobins.  And guillotined them.  They even condemned American Patriot Thomas Paine (who was in Paris and even helped write one of the revolutionary constitutions—unfortunately for him it was with the Girondins) to the guillotine.  But he would escape the guillotine and return to America.  They even imprisoned George Washington’s ‘adopted’ son, the Marquis de La Fayette.  Who fought with him throughout the American Revolution.  But he, too, survived.  Though he would languish in a prison for some 5 years.

When Genêt arrived in Philadelphia Washington greeted him with Portraits of King Louis and Marie Antoinette conspicuously behind Him

The events in France would reverberate across the Atlantic.  And further divide an already divided Washington administration.  As the French Revolution escalated the Americans were negotiating the Jay Treaty to resolve some issues left over from the Revolutionary War.  The end result was that the British and the new United States of America moved closer together.  Which really offended the pro-French elements in the Washington administration.  In particular Jefferson and Madison.  While inflaming the French.  For following the Reign of Terror the French exported their revolution throughout Europe.  And soon were at war with the old European monarchies.  Including Great Britain.  Again.

Interestingly, neither Jefferson nor Madison fought in the Revolution.  While Alexander Hamilton and George Washington did.  And yet they were for closer ties to Britain and not revolutionary France.  Why?  America’s future depended on trade.  Most of that trade was with Great Britain.  And that trade enjoyed the protection of the world’s most powerful navy.  The Royal Navy.  It was the pragmatic choice.  Jefferson, though, thought it showed Hamilton’s true colors.  That he was an aristocrat who wanted to turn America into a monarchy like Britain.  That he wanted power for himself.  Not individual liberty.  As exemplified in the American republic.  And in the republic the French were fighting for.  The French believed so strongly in liberty that they turned to world conquest.  Bringing that liberty to oppressed people everywhere.  Which Jefferson liked.  He saw a republican revolution sweeping the world, leaving a swath of liberty in its wake.  Others saw mob rule in France and the execution of a king and queen.  Which absolutely appalled Washington.

George Washington issued a Proclamation of Neutrality in these new European wars.  Which meant they weren’t going to help their one time ally.  France.  Which irked Jefferson.  Then came the Jay Treaty.  Further irking Jefferson.  And the American people.  For the people were clearly behind the French.  And did not like the British at all.  Which made President Washington a very unpopular president at the time.  Then the French sent over Edmond-Charles Genêt.  Citizen Genêt.  The new French ambassador to the United States.  And he was on a mission.  To get American support for their wars against Spain and Great Britain.  Something Jefferson was eager to support.  He communicated with Genêt.  Who assured Genêt that the Franco-American alliance would persevere.  Despite any proclamation or treaty.  He looked forward to his arrival in Philadelphia.  But he didn’t go to Philadelphia to meet President Washington.  He went to South Carolina first.  Where he recruited American privateers to join the French on their attacks on British shipping.  And tried to raise armies to attack Spanish Florida and Louisiana.  And eventually the British in North America as well.  When word of these activities reached Washington he was furious.

When Genêt finally arrived in Philadelphia Washington greeted him with portraits of King Louis and Marie Antoinette conspicuously behind him.  The king that was America’s staunchest ally during the American Revolution.  And the king the French had recently executed.  Genêt asked Washington to suspend their neutrality.  The answer was no.  Even Jefferson agreed and told the French ambassador he was out of line.  Actually joining Hamilton on this one issue.  Soon the Jacobins back in France issued an arrest warrant for Citizen Genêt and asked him to return to France.  Knowing that meant a trip to the guillotine he asked Washington for asylum.  That Washington granted on the advice of Hamilton.  Thus ending the Genêt affair.  But the French Revolution still threatened the young American republic.  First by an overwhelming public sentiment to stand by France.  Then by overwhelming public sentiment to go to war against France.  Something that would threaten to tear apart the next presidential administration.

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Revolutionary War, Sovereign Debt, Report on Public Credit, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Assumption and Residency Act

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 16th, 2012

Politics 101

In 1792 the Outstanding Debt at all Levels of Government was 45% of GDP

Wars aren’t cheap.  Especially if they last awhile.  The American Revolutionary War lasted some 8 years until the British and Americans signed the Treaty of Paris (1782) officially ending all hostilities.  So the Revolutionary War was a very costly war.  The ‘national’ government (the Continental Congress) owed about $70 million.  The states owed another $25 million or so.  And the Continental Army had issued about $7 million in IOUs during the war.  Added up that comes to $102 million the new nation owed.  About 45% of GDP.  (Or about 35% without the state debt added in.)

To put that in perspective consider that the Civil War raised the debt to about 32% of GDP.  World War I raised it to about 35%.  World War II raised it to about 122%.  Following the war the debt fell to about 32% at its lowest point until it started rising again.  And quickly.  In large part due to the cost of the Vietnam War and LBJ’s Great Society.  Government spending being so great Nixon turned to printing money.  Depreciating the dollar’s purchasing power in every commodity but one.  Gold.  Which was pegged at $35/ounce.  Losing faith in our currency foreign governments traded their U.S. dollars for gold.  Until Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold in 1971.  Ushering in the era of Keynesian economics, deficit spending and growing national debts.  Because of increased spending for social programs governments everywhere now have debts approaching 100% of GDP.  And higher.  But I digress.

So 45% of GDP was huge in 1792.  And it continued to be huge.  Taking a devastating civil war and a devastating world war to even approach it.  It took an even more devastating world war to exceed it.  And now we’ve blown by that debt level in the era of Keynesian economics.  Without the devastation of another World War II.  This debt level has grown so great that for the first time ever in U.S. history Standard and Poor’s recently lowered the United States’ impeccable sovereign debt rating.  And restoring that debt rating at today’s spending levels will be a daunting task.  But imagine trying to establish a sovereign debt rating after just becoming a nation.  Already with a massive debt of 45% of GDP.

In Hamilton’s Report on Public Credit the New Government would Assume Outstanding Debt at all Levels of Government

There was only one choice for America’s first president.  The indispensible one.  George Washington.  Some delegates at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 who were skeptical of the new Constitution only supported it because they had someone they could trust to be America’s first president.  George Washington.  Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were indispensible at times.  But not as indispensible as Washington.  For without him the Continental Army would have ceased to exist after that winter at Valley Forge.  That same army would have mutinied (for back pay and promised pensions) after the war if he didn’t step in.  Our experiment in self-government would have ended if he did not relinquish his power after the war.  We wouldn’t have ratified the Constitution without having Washington to be America’s first president.  And our experiment in self-government would have ended if he did not relinquish his power.  Again.  After his second term as president.

With the state of the government’s finances after the war there was another Founding Father that was indispensible.  Not as indispensible as Washington.  But close.  For without him the Washington presidency may have failed.  As well as the new nation.  Because of that convoluted financial mess.  The Continental Congress borrowed money.  The states borrowed money.  Some of which went to the Continental Congress.  The army took stuff they needed to survive in exchange for IOUs.  There were bonds, loans and IOUs at every level of government in every state.  Complicating the matter is that most of the instruments they sold ended up in the hands of speculators who bought them for pennies on the dollar.  As the original holders of these instruments needed money.  And did not believe the Continental Congress would honor any of these obligations.  For before the Constitution the government was weak and had no taxing authority.  And no way to raise the funds to redeem these debt obligations.

A few tried to get their arms around this financial mess.  But couldn’t.  It was too great a task.  Until America’s first secretary of the treasury came along.  Alexander Hamilton.  Who could bring order to the chaos.  As well as fund the new federal government.  He submitted his plan in his Report on Public Credit (January 1790).  And the big thing in it was assumption.  The federal government would assume outstanding debt at all levels of government.  Including those IOUs.  At face value.  One hundred pennies on the dollar.  To whoever held these instruments.  Regardless of who bought them first.  “Unfair!” some said.  But what else could they do?  This was the 1700s.  There weren’t detailed computer records of bondholders.  Besides, this was a nation that, like the British, protected property rights.  These speculators took a risk buying these instruments.  Even if at pennies on the dollar.  They bought them for a price the seller thought was fair or else they wouldn’t have sold them.  So these bonds were now the property of the speculators.

Jefferson and Madison traded Hamilton’s Assumption for the Nation’s Capital

Of course to do this you needed money.  Which Hamilton wanted to raise by issuing new bonds.  To retire the old.  And to service the new.  Thus establishing good credit.  In fact, he wanted a permanent national debt.  For he said, “A national debt, if not excessive, is a national blessing.”  Because good credit would allow a nation to borrow money for economic expansion.  And it would tie the people with the money to the government.  Where the risk of a government default would harm both the nation and their creditors.  Making their interests one and the same.

That’s not how Thomas Jefferson saw it, though.  He had just returned from France where he witnessed the beginning of the French Revolution.  Brought upon by a crushing national debt.  And he didn’t want to tie the people with the money to the government.  For when they do they tend to exert influence over the government.  But Hamilton said debt was a blessing if not excessive.  He did not believe in excessive government debt.  And he wanted to pay that debt off.  As his plan called for a sinking fund to retire that debt.  Still, the Jefferson and Hamilton feud began here.  For Hamilton’s vision of the new federal government was just too big.  And too British.  Madison would join Jefferson to lead an opposition party.  Primarily in opposition to anything Hamilton.  Who used the Constitution to support his other plan.  A national bank.  Just like the British had.  Based on the “necessary and proper” clause in Article I, Section 8.  Setting a precedent that government would use again and again to expand its powers.

At the time the nation’s capital was temporarily in New York.  A final home for it, though, was a contentious issue.  Everyone wanted it in their state so they could greatly influence the national government.  Hamilton’s struggle for assumption was getting nowhere.  Until the horse-trading at the Jefferson dinner party with Hamilton and Madison.  To get the nation’s capital close to Virginia (where it is now) Jefferson offered a deal to Hamilton.  Jefferson and Madison were Virginians.  Give them the capital and they would help pass assumption.  They all agreed to the deal (though Jefferson would later regret it).  Congress passed the Residency Act putting the capital on the Potomac.  And all the good that Hamilton promised happened.  America established good credit.  Allowing it to borrow money at home and abroad.  And a decade of prosperity followed.  Hamilton even paid down the federal debt to about 17.5% of GDP near the end of America’s second president’s (John Adams) term in office (1800).  Making Hamilton indispensible in sustaining this experiment in self-government.  Keeping government small even though it was more powerful than it was ever before.  Of course his using that “necessary and proper” argument really came back to bite him in the ass.  Figuratively, of course.  As government used it time and again to expand its role into areas even Hamilton would have fought to prevent.  While Jefferson no doubt would have said with haughty contempt, “I told you so.  This is what happens when you bring money and government together.  But would you listen to me?  No.  How I hate you, Mr. Hamilton.”

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