Friday, May 22, 2009

Where Have You Gone Daniel Webster? America Turns Its Lonely Eyes Towards You

Lately I find myself going farther and farther back in time to discover when there were great men debating the important issues of the day in Washington, DC. The antebellum period between the War of 1812 and the War Between the States is an excellent time to find greatness that is nonexistent today. People remember military men like Ole Hickory, Tippecanoe, and Old Rough and Ready from this period, and they lose a memory of the Bank Wars, states' rights nullification, and Panic of 1837. Of those three military men who became President throughout this period only Ole Hickory had any significant impact on the times.

Another area, other than military actions, to remember great men is in taking arguments before the US Supreme Courts. In my opinion, Daniel Webster was the best. He brought three landmark Supreme Court cases which yielded three rulings favorable to him.

In Dartmouth College v. Woodward, the New Hampshire State Legislature tried to circumvent the original colonial charter that established Dartmouth College back in 1769. Webster was able to guide the court through the difficult political, religious and economic issues and to prove to Chief Justice John Marshall et al, that New Hampshire had violated that section of the U.S. Constitution that states, "no State... shall pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts.

The argument in McCullough v. Maryland covered nine full days. The questions before the Court were: 1) Does Congress have the right to charter a 'National Bank'? and 2) Can a State Legislature tax an institution created by Congress? Daniel Webster spoke for most of the first day of testimony and reminded the Court that,
"an unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy.
After the trial, Chief Justice John Marshall took only three days to hand down one of his longest opinions ever written. Marshall in essence wrote that yes, Congress does have the right to charter a bank and no, an individual State does not have the power to tax and thus 'destroy' an institution created by Congress.

He argued before the US Supreme Court (Gibbons v. Ogden)

The suit was brought about by Thomas Gibbons who started a steamboat line from Elizabethtown, New Jersey into New York City. Gibbons was opposed by powerful interests in New York. Robert Fulton, Robert Livingston and Aaron Ogden shared the monopoly of steamboat traffic in New York waters. Ogden had purchased the right to operate from New Jersey but Gibbons refused to do so. The question before the Court was: Did New York laws granting a monopoly of steamboat traffic violate that section of the U.S. Constitution that leaves to Congress the power to regulate commerce among the several states?

Daniel Webster spoke for two and one-half hours on behalf of his client, Thomas Gibbons. After a short postponement, Justice Marshall returned with the opinion that the acts of New York must yield to the laws of Congress.

These landmark cases show how much he believed in capitalism, liberty, and a strong Union. To him the three are inseparable. I do not hear anyone from either Party today evoke the same passion, and we need it now perhaps more than we did then. As another Diarist has written, not one member of Congress has evoked passion about the House Speaker's accusation that the CIA lied to the US Congress. Not One.

When he was elected to national office he had great oratorical skills, and he cared more in doing what he believed was right than in what he believed was more popular politically. An example is how he positioned on the US Bank. In the winter session of 1814, Daniel Webster headed the opposition against the formation of a national, government-run bank. After the bill was defeated, John C. Calhoun came to Daniel Webster and pleaded for his help in framing a new act that would pass the Congress. Webster agreed and a new bill was drafted but President Madison vetoed the bill as unconstitutional. A year later a third 'bank bill' was drafted with a larger capitalization of $35 million. Webster was opposed to this bill because of the subscription of stock by the government and the appointment of government directors but the bill passed and this time, it was signed by Madison's successor, President Monroe and became law.

Later on when Andrew Jackson was President he supported a bill to renew the charter for the Second Bank of the US. There was a lot of political games being played because the request for a renewal was made four years before it was set to expire. Historians believe it was an attempt at discrediting Andrew Jackson politically. They may be right, and in any event Andrew Jackson showed his shrewd political skills. He vetoed the bill a week after it passed Congress condemning the Bank as unauthorized by the Constitution, subversive to the rights of the States, and dangerous to the liberties of the people.

After the veto, Daniel Webster exclaimed in the Senate,
It manifestly seeks to inflame the poor against the rich. It wantonly attacks whole classes of the people, for the purpose of turning against them the prejudices and the resentments of other classes.
In a rebuttal to Jackson's aversion to foreign capital in the B.U.S., Webster again spoke in the Senate,
Every dollar brought from abroad, and put into the mass of active capital at home, ...diminishes the rate of interest and therefore benefits all the active and trading classes of society, at the expense of the American capitalist.

The class warfare game that Jackson played was a brilliant political strategy for him to overwhelmingly defeat his opponent for reelection.

In Jackson's second term the nullification crisis came to a boil and confused the political scene. John C. Calhoun was no longer the Vice-president but was now a Senator from South Carolina. On the floor of the Senate, Webster debated Calhoun on the merits of 'nullification' as troops were being raised in South Carolina. Webster supported Andrew Jackson and the use of force to suppress the rebellion. Henry Clay meanwhile, sided with John C. Calhoun and tried to work out a compromise. Webster came away from the crisis as the great 'Defender of the Constitution.'

The short term political strategy for Jackson was a long term political nightmare for his successor, Martin Van Buren. The Panic of 1837 came under his watch, and it cost him getting reelected in 1840.

The year 1840 is the first time the Whig Party candidate became POTUS. This is also the first time it mattered A LOT to be the VP, because President Harrison died after only about a month into the office. Imagine what kind of alternate world we may be living in today had Daniel Webster been selected as VP? Would the Nation have stabilized its monetary system? Would the War Between the States have started a few years earlier? I don't know.

I believe that the Tea Party protest activities are a sign of a restless mood in a Nation with many people who still believe in liberty, capitalism, and a strong Union. I end by paraphrasing the words in a Simon & Garfunkle cover
Where have you gone Daniel Webster? The Nation turns its lonely eyes towards you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nothing New Under the Sun about Political Party Infighting Notwithstanding the Hand-wringing of Colin Powell and Arlen Specter

A tip of the hat to Steve Foley linking a blogger who wrote the following:

Thomas Jefferson warned us of Heretics [RINOs] 1803 AD
"I have spoken of the [Republicans] as if they were a homogenous body, but this is not the truth. Under that name lurks the heretical sect of [liberals]. Afraid to wear their own name, they creep under the mantle of Federalism, and the [Republicans], like sheep permit the fox to take shelter among them, when pursued by dogs. These men have no right to office. If a [liberal] be in office, anywhere, and it be known to the President, the oath he has taken to support the Constitution imperiously requires the instantaneous dismission of such a officer; and I hold the President criminal if he permitted such to remain. To appoint a [liberal] to conduct the affairs of a republic, is like appointing an atheist to the priesthood."

Note: I replaced the word federalist with Republican, and the word monarchist with liberal; but the message is the same.

After reading it my reaction is that he could have replaced the word federalist with Democrats and the message is the same as well. It is not a new phenomena for Political Parties to fight over principles of governance. The two parties in the beginning were the Federalists led by John Adams and the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson.

The Federalists Party tended to favor a strong central government. Federalists tended to be a coalition of urban New Englanders and also tended to be pro-British.

The typical description of the Anti-Federalists, like Thomas Jefferson, have them as states rights advocates (fear of central power); as the voice of the common, rural, and western peoples; and pro-French (who had helped the Americans beat the British and gain U.S. independence.

One example of over-reach by the Federalists is the Alien and Sedition Acts. The pro-British Federalists were concerned with French and Irish anti-British immigrants. Anti-Federalists were also a direct target. The government actually imprisoned people for voicing displeasure with the president and his policies! In other words, public discourse, legitimate opposition, and dissent were banned. Or, to put it another way, parts of the 1st Amendment to The U.S. Constitution had been legislated away. Those then in the seats of government did not want the public or members of the other party to be meddlesome. They had no tolerance for anybody else's opinion.

Ironically, the Federalists' last, dying gasp occurred in 1814. American soil had been invaded by a foreign army (the British) in The War of 1812. During the course of the war, the few remaining Federalist leaders met in Hartford, Connecticut. The meeting was called the 1814 Hartford Convention. The members of the convention threatened to have their New England states secede from the U.S. and to join the British. They opposed the war and the government's policies. The war wasn't in their self-interest. Treasonous actions during wartime by the very same people who had made laws only 16 years earlier claiming that any verbal disagreement with their ideas and their policies was seditious and treasonous. Now, it was they who disagreed with the party in power. Only, this time they wanted to leave the country and form their own! They wanted things their way, they knew better, they were "the better sort." They could not tolerate any other view but their own.

Now some historians may argue with me about the nature of the two political party systems in the US, and the twists and turns they have made, and that’s fine. In my opinion the Republican Party that elected Ronald Reagan President in 1980 more closely resembles the Anti-Federalist Party of Thomas Jefferson than the Democratic Party. I base my opinion on the principles that President Reagan held, and the types of citizens he won over so much so that they remained Republican for the next 25 years.

In my opinion the Democratic Party that elected Barack Obama in 2008 more closely resembles the Federalist Party leaders who met in the 1814 Hartford Convention. YMMV

Examples from Dave Leip's Atlas of Presidential Elections A note: Dave uses Red for the Anti-Federalist states and purple for the Federalist states. Dave uses Red for the states the Ds win and Blue for the states the Rs win

1796 Election Results

2008 Election Results

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thugocracy Will Yield a Bumper Crop of Ex-Democrats

With all of the talk about all of the reported misteps by Republicans there is one story that may be the under-reported story of the century. There is a fear of ‘Muscle for Obama’ occurrences that are driving people away. This has not just happened over the past 100 days. The American Thinker has A Letter of Amends from a Recovering Liberal in Berkley that provides some personal experience from Robin in this matter. From the letter some examples include:

In February of 2008, I saw a new client, a bright and sensitive young woman who came in looking like she just escaped a war zone. In some ways she had; she had innocently shared with others at her job that she voted for Hillary rather than Obama. Immediately she was being targeted for abuse that put her in fear for not only her job, but her life.

A woman in Berkeley had her front window broken because it displayed a poster of Hillary.

An acquaintance had her car broken into, and the only item stolen was a NoObama bumper sticker.

My local greeting card store sold very flattering cards about Obama, insulting ones about Hillary, and a Hillary "nutcracker." When I complained, the young male manager literally laughed in my face.

The final straw for me was when a close friend flew into a rage at me when she learned I wasn't supporting Obama. The political became personal when she began impugning my character. Worse yet, she tried to intimidate me into changing my mind by threatening to dump me.

Suddenly a light went on. The peace and love and flower power of the old left was dead and gone (if it even existed to begin with except in my imagination). The Democrats had morphed into a power hungry Thought Police, and I was done with them. My new motto in life: don't PC on me.

Glenn Beck recently has had guests Marcel Reid and Karen Inman who are part of a group called Acorn-8. They have been members of ACORN, and they want to clean up the corruption. They are not getting any support in their efforts from the Congress and White House. Some examples are the following conversation:

REID: The members of the board in D.C. have been stalwart in backing us, because we have asked for three years to have the books opened, for three solid years...

BECK: What kind of organization can't look — where the chair and the board can't look at their own books?

REID: Well, primarily it's because the boards aren't functional. They're ceremonial. And once they understood that they had a board formed that would not serve in that position, to be ceremonial, then there was a huge problem.

BECK: What is a ceremonial board? Why...

REID: A ceremonial board is a board that sits but has no actual authority.

BECK: Why would anyone do that? Why — I mean — maybe I'm coming as a cynic and I am, but maybe I'm coming — but that seems like a front organization.

REID: I don't think that people that sit on the board thought it was a front organization. I think everyone came to this organization with the purist of intentions.

BECK: No, no, no. I'm not saying that the people on the board or you felt that way. Do you feel that way now at all? Like, you're, "Wait a minute, am I just being used here?" What kind — Are you are providing cover?

INMAN: Yes. It's kind of a rubber stamp thing. We're going to tell you what to think and you're going to say "Yes, that's a good idea," and go along with it. And when the meetings are only half a day and you bring in 51 people, they're not doing the kinds of work that they should be doing.

BECK: Tell me, you had — you were sent to Capitol Hill in 2008. And you...

REID: There was a group of us that convened on Capitol Hill when the stimulus package was first introduced. This was under the Bush administration. I believe it was in September. And I can go back into my notes and give you the exact dates. And at that time, we were there to talk about the fact that we wanted the stimulus package to go forward, and I was just concerned about that, because at that time, Karen and I had served on the IMC, which was the Intra-Management Committee for ACORN.

But you know, there's just — what we want to say very quickly or what I want to say very quickly is: We wanted an audit — just an audit. And when we didn't have an audit or couldn't get an audit and asked for an audit, we were removed and we want to know why we were removed.

If everything is above board and we ask for an audit and we're members of the organization and supposedly directors of that organization, why would you remove us?

BECK: What's the answer they've given you?

INMAN: We haven't gotten an answer. We've asked for the reasons. We've asked for their minutes. We've asked for all of those things. You've asked for minutes for the last three years. We get nothing and we are stonewalled and not even responded to.

BECK: It started with the "ACORN 8." How many are there now?

REID: We have far more than eight. We — I don't know how many, because we gain people every day.

BECK: People in ACORN that say I want my organization back.

REID: Right.

BECK: So, what is it? I said to Marcel, I think I said to you earlier, that this is all about votes and you said, "No, this is all about the money." Explain that.

REID: This is all about the money. This isn't — well, you can do it, Karen.

INMAN: Right. Basically, what happens is the organization, I think, had a good message to begin with and then they looked to see how much money they generated and how much power they got. And so, instead of having it trickle down — trickle up from the membership, which is what it is supposed to be, they've looked and said, "Hmm, we can get X amount of dollars here. We'll convince our membership that this is what we should be working on."

BECK: It seems to me that they are using me, and people like me, by calling racists and everything else, to generate outrage to help raise money.

And then, also, they are using the lowest of our society, using them, and then throwing them to the lions and saying, "You know, well, it was a rogue employee," which also helps them, too, doesn't it? How?

REID: People who have always been entitled to things in life know very quickly when they're being used. People who have never experienced anything in life except being used don't know when to blow the whistle. And why should they? Who's ever listened to them before when they told the truth and blown the whistle?

BECK: This is why you guys, because when we talked this afternoon in my office, I mean, I just want the truth. I don't really care. It's great to help people, but it seems like everybody — this is dirty. This is really dirty. Is this why you guys are doing this and staying in, because somebody has to?

INMAN: Yes. We want it corrected. We want it — for example, when the embezzlement happened, we asked for the books. We asked for that to be taken care of. If there is nothing to hide, why can't they open up the books?

BECK: Is it Conyers, Gresh, that said today that there is reason — did you hear this? He said that there was absolutely no reason that we're going to do an investigation. I mean, they'll do steroids on baseball but — we have a statement? Where is it? OK. Here it is: "Based on my review of the information regarding the complaints against ACORN, I have concluded that a hearing on this matter appears to be unwarranted at this time."

REID: Well, you know, I was actually sitting in Congress when I heard Representative Conyers really push Jerrold Nadler to have an investigation of ACORN. I heard him do it. It wasn't something that I think he was doing for the community.

BECK: Why this? Why now? Why is he backing off?

REID: Well, because Nadler was very resistant to there being an investigation of ACORN. He was very resistant. He showed it at that time, and I think what has happened — and I have no way of proving it — is that I think that there was just a lot of pressure put on Conyers not to have this investigation.

BECK: First Karen, let me go to you. There was an embezzlement. Two brothers worked for ACORN. There was almost $1 million embezzled. Nobody went to prison on that. Can you give me a little bit on this?

INMAN: Certainly. What happened is that Wade was the founder and his brother was working for ACORN and he worked for the financial agency. And he embezzled about a million dollars. It was found out. They covered it up, and he continued on the payroll for ACORN for the next almost eight years until it was divulged, and then he was forced to resign. But it was, like, what happened to the money? Where is the accountability? And not only that, but the people who knew about it, the management, staff, the head staff and the president, all knew about it and they're still there.

BECK: I said to you, guys, earlier in my office, while we're sitting on my office. I said, "You know what, forget about the listener here or the viewer, put your attention on to the one person that doesn't care about getting credit isn't trying to make a political point, isn't left, isn't right, just is, and is there to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States and its people." Which one of you guys is going to address that one person that might be watching in Congress or some place and just say help.

REID: Help.

INMAN: Help. We need — we need your support. We need you to help us figure out how to stop the abuse, how to empower people and to look at the situation as it is, and not look at it as a miniscule voter fraud thing. It's much larger than that.

BECK: Wow. Ladies, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And if you don't mind...

REID: And I would just like to say one thing.

BECK: Yes.

REID: I'm sorry. Excuse me. I would just like to say that ACORN doesn't need to be funded with any more taxpayer dollars until we find out what happened to the last taxpayer dollars that ACORN was funded with. That is what we're calling for. We want the organization to survive. We want the organization to flourish.

BECK: Has it ever — has it ever occurred to you that you're in danger for saying things like that? Do you realize how much money is at stake? I said to you earlier, they say — ACORN says we're not going to take any stimulus dollars. You two laughed. Why, Karen?

INMAN: Well, because there are more than 300 organizations under the ACORN umbrella and they might be getting it under another umbrella organization.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote an article, Ousted ACORN Members Seek Federal Criminal Investigation. From this article we learn the following additional details:

The splinter group, ACORN 8, released a 24-page document Wednesday that asks federal investigators to consider fraud, embezzlement and conspiracy charges, and criminal civil rights violations relating to the embezzlement of nearly $1 million from the nonprofit's accounts and an alleged cover-up of the theft for almost a decade.

"Moreover, due to the admission that a felony has been committed, other federal offenses may have also been committed ... ," states the document signed by 14 members of ACORN 8, including recently expelled members of ACORN's national board of directors.

Two members of ACORN's national board of directors, Washington ACORN President Marcel Reid and Minnesota Chair Karen Inman, inadvertently started the ACORN 8 movement after fellow board members elected them last summer to reorganize ACORN and recommend improvements to prevent embezzlement.

Reid, Inman and six other ACORN members filed a lawsuit in Louisiana seeking access to financial records kept by Citizens Consulting Inc., the ACORN affiliate Dale Rathke headed when he stole money.

Charles Turner, a member of ACORN in D.C. for 10 years and signer of the ACORN 8 complaint, said that everybody who knew about the embezzlement, or was in a position that they should have known about it, should be separated from ACORN. "I'd like to see somebody go to jail," Turner said.

The embezzlement resulted in ACORN's loss of one long-standing prominent benefactor -- the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which gave ACORN more than $7 million in the past decade. The charity canceled plans to donate $1.2 million to ACORN affiliates this fiscal year. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November severed ties with ACORN.

ACORN and its affiliates received more than $31 million in federal grants between 1998 and this year, according to an analysis by the staff of House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

What this article did not report is that local chapters of ACORN get no money directly. All the money goes to Citizens Consulting Inc. in NOLA.

There was a Barney Frank amendment on May 7th that allowed ACORN to receive additional Federal funding to shakedown mortgage lenders, and the only Ds to vote nay to this amendment were Bobby Bright AL-2, Gabrielle Giffords AZ-8, Walt Minnick ID-1, and Harry Mitchell AZ-5. No Rs voted aye.

Of course it would be wonderful to have them become ex-Ds because of the merits of our conservative principles. However, I will settle for them fighting with us against the Ds for the reasons of fighting against a thugocracy.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

TANSTAAFL!!! [Open Thread]

I just finished reading an excellent book, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, written by the master of science fiction, Robert A. Heinlein. Sometimes the real world nonfiction current events are so depressing that I have got to take a break. I have read where others here have considered reading Atlas Shrugged written by Ayn Rand. Before you do it you might take into consideration reading 1,324 pages of Atlas Shrugged vs 384 pages of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a delightful book with themes very similar to Atlas Shrugged. I won't spoil it, but I actually like the ending of it more than the ending of Atlas Shrugged. Here are some quotes to perk up some interest:

I beg you -- do not resort to compulsory taxation. There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.

I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

I was not joking when I told them to dig into their own pouches. It may not be possible to do away with government sometimes I think that government is an inescapable disease of human beings. But it may be possible to keep it small and starved and inoffensive and can you think of a better way than by requiring the governors themselves to pay the costs of their antisocial hobby?

Please consider this an Open Thread Diary.

Friday, May 01, 2009

ObamaSpeak - sounds like chalk on a chalkboard to me

On the release of top-secret memos
I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do -- not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.

I don’t care if these memos say that they used a gentler means to yield information from these detainees before they employed harsher techniques. I know who these sadistic right-wing extremists are, and they really used the harsher techniques ASAP because they get a sexual gratification from putting pain on people. Yeah, I told Janet and DHS to keep a watchful eye on these guys because I am not seeing the love and loyalty to ME from them.

Remark in a speech to FBI employees
We know that al Qaeda is not constrained by a constitution

Dang, I envy al Qaeda for not being constrained by a constitution. That U.S. Constitution thingy is such a drag on getting what I want accomplished. I’ll just ignore it, or have some pals of mine on the bench run interference for me, but I still have some envy for those al Qaeda guys. Except for their digs of course, because I do have better living quarters and creature comforts here in the White House than they have in those caves over there.

Remark in a speech at the National Academy of Sciences
Our future on this planet depends on our willingness to address the challenge posed by carbon pollution.

Work with me guys. Work with me. I know that carbon has always been considered one of the essential elements for the existence of life. I just need you to re-frame carbon as a pollutant. Calling carbon a pollutant makes it a bad thing that can be taxed just like beer, and cigarettes, and ammo. The money that can be had from a tax on carbon is bigger than anything that has ever been tried before. If you just keep working with me on the meme that carbon is a pollutant, then they will gladly pay the tax so their conscience is clear that they are against pollution. It’s perfect.

Remarks on Chrysler
I don't stand with those who held out when everybody else is making sacrifices. It was unacceptable to let a small group of speculators endanger Chrysler's future by refusing to sacrifice like everyone else.

We will be providing additional capital to GMAC to help unlock our frozen credit markets and free up lending so that consumers can get auto loans and dealers can finance their inventories; a measure that will help stabilize not only our auto market, but the broader economy, as well.

I want to remind you that if you decide to buy a Chrysler, your warrantee will be safe -- because it is backed by the United States government.

Who do these people think they are to refuse to make sacrifice to ME - The One? This whole worn out argument of choosing the US contract laws and decisions of a presiding judge in a bankruptcy court instead of following me is just so old fashioned. Look, my administration has got skin in the game, and we are going to coerce our lender of choice, GMAC, to get you the money you need to purchase that car. They got no business saying you don’t qualify for a loan. Does that loyalty and love you showed by voting for ME get you something? Of course it does. In addition now your car warrantee is going to backed by ME. I am Joe Isuzu, and you have my word on it.