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Archive for the ‘American History’ Category

Abortion is in the Constitution (Indirectly)

Posted by Tony Listi on April 11, 2011

The word “abortion” does not appear in the Constitution because the technology and pharmaceuticals that we have today that can kill babies in the womb did not exist. The very notion of killing a baby in the womb also would’ve been abhorrently immoral to the Framers. This act of murder was outlawed in the American colonies and continued to be illegal in each state until 1967.

But the Constitution does mention abortion indirectly because the Framers say in the Preamble that they created the new constitution for the sake of “Posterity” too, aka the unborn and unconceived:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to…secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (emphasis mine)

How can the Constitution secure liberty to unborn posterity if it does not also secure their lives to them?

With all this in mind, how can the Supreme Court have found a “right” to kill the unborn in the Constitution?

Posted in Abortion, American Culture, American History, Government and Politics, The Constitution, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Statist Origin of the Pledge of Allegiance

Posted by Tony Listi on January 1, 2011

 

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by and promoted by a socialist named Francis Bellamy to inculcate statism in school children. The only good part of the pledge, “under God,” was added later in 1954.

The words of the pledge embody statism because they declare an allegiance to a flag, which is a symbol (of a nation), and to a nation, whose laws can and do change. Because symbols and nations change, it is very dangerous to pledge any allegiance to them.

In fact, the laws of the United States of America have steadily become more immoral and statist over time: 

  • Our laws steal property from some and redistribute it to others (esp. govt. employees) for their private advantage rather than tax for common good that cannot be secured in any other way or at any lower level of government.
  • Our laws stifle economic liberty in general, codifying envy and greed, impoverishing our citizens, and stifling the means for true charity and generosity.
  • Our laws financially coerce parents into sending their children to state-run schools that banish Christian and moral instruction from the classroom and often indoctrinate them in socialism, sexual depravity, and atheism/heresy.
  • Our laws have allowed the slaughter of 50+ million baby sons and daughters, and the genocide continues.
  • Our laws steadily put adult self-indulgence over the positive rights of children, especially with respect to the institution marriage.

And all of this happened because the culture of our country was corrupted first.

If this trend continues to the point where the tyranny and decadence of our culture and politics justifies secession and (God forbid) another war of independence, of what value will our flag and the pledge be?

As a matter of principle, I suggest we reject the current pledge and perhaps substitute a better one:

I pledge allegiance to the Constitution and to the republic which it governs, sovereign states, under God, divisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Now that is a pledge that I would say. The Constitution is fundamental, structural law that cannot be changed without the formal amendment process. It is not a perfect document; in fact, it was more perfect before many of its amendments were added (e.g. 14th, 16th, 17th). But the Constitution is not a mere symbol; it is the embodiment of prudent political principles that are rooted in the Christian view of human nature and this view’s vindication in human history (especially Western history). The Constitution was also ratified under the presumption that secession was allowed.

Moreover, members of the U.S. military pledge allegiance to the Constitution first and foremost. Why not its citizens too?

Sure, it is possible that the Constitution and thus the republic will be amended, misinterpretted, or abused to the point where it no longer embodies the sound political principles the Framers meant it to establish. And so, one may argue that no pledge should be said at all as a matter of prudence. 

But ideally, Americans would indeed pledge allegiance to timeless, immutable, and crucial principles that promote virtue, liberty, peace, and prosperity. To have no allegiance whatsoever to anything is also very dangerous and fertile ground for statism. To successfully resist a tyrannical state, the American people must have a strong allegiance to something other than the state itself, something valuable that the state threatens.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Christianity and Politics, Education, Government and Politics, Politics and Religion, The Constitution, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Culture War as Stigma War

Posted by Tony Listi on August 1, 2010

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
Alexis de Tocqueville

A friend of mine drew my attention to a very important article written by Jeff Schafer at the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s entitled “Stigma and Dogma, Revisited.”

This article re-echoes something that De Tocqueville (quoted above) observed early on about the dangerous tendencies of democratic culture. Stigma and social pressure rule the day in a democracy.

Yet stigma and social pressure were what kept the U.S. conservative and free for so long, esp. with regard to our current social issues. In the early history of America, abortion and deviations from traditional marriage were so powerfully and thoroughly stigmatized that they were not political issues at all. Not so anymore.

Stigma is the expression of moral outrage. The article reminds me of one of the Leadership Institute’s Laws of the Public Policy Process: “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.”

If conservatives are to take the long-term view of changing the culture in order to win (as the left did over a century ago), we have to be willing to publicly engage in the Stigma War. Big govt., govt. coercion, govt. dependency, promiscuity, sexual perversity, infanticide, etc. must all become shameful, stigmatized things again. Conservatives have to be willing to publicly denounce these things as immoral and shameful.

Why do you think the left likes to engage in name-calling? Racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, etc. All these epithets are intended to stigmatize conservative views, whether the labels rationally apply or not. And they’ve done a pretty good job of it.

When people evaluate candidates or policies, it is moral factors that determine their choices; it is the elements of shame and guilt that convince people to be politically active and to hold certain political views with intensity.

We need not lose hope completely that the world is doomed to irrationality though. Feelings of guilt, shame, and moral outrage do not spring up spontaneously or irrationally; they are rooted in certain rational, though often false, paradigms and faith systems. The problem with the left is not that they aren’t rational; they are, assuming their faith-based assumptions to be true. It’s the fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality, human nature, and justice that separate us from them. (And these false assumption are inculcated into Americans through the cultural institutions of primary schools, academia, arts & entertainment, churches, and the media.)

We need to bring the reasons for our political faith and assumptions to the surface in the most clear, concise, direct, impactful, and thought-provoking ways possible. And this is where the necessity of activism comes in. And good activism is based on good organizational preparation beforehand that gathers the people and resources to make activism effective.

Moreover, activism should be directed not merely at challenging current leftist stigmas and dogmas but toward recapturing the cultural institutions mentioned above that inculcate these false stigmas and dogmas into American youth (and older).

Posted in Abortion, American Culture, American History, Culture War, Democracy, Education, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Political Activism, Political Philosophy, Political Psychoanalysis, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“Church and State” vs. Religion and Politics

Posted by Tony Listi on July 25, 2010

When I get tired of addressing the same misunderstandings over and over again, I decide to write a blog post about it that I can just send people to, rather than having to explain myself and common errors over and over again.

The “separation of church and state” is a common objection people of many political persuasions like to fling at conservatives, as if these objectors had any philosophical or historical understanding of the phrase and their interpretation of it.

There is a difference between the institutional separation of church and state vs. the philosophical separation between religion and politics. There is a difference between institutions and people vs. ideas and philosophy.

The former is possible, desirable, and necessary for the sake of both church and state. It is not good for priests, pastors, bishops, or popes to hold political offices outside of the Vatican. There have been times in the history of Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, when religious leaders wielded formal political authority too. But more importantly, before Christianity and after the Protestant Revolution, the state assumed religious authority as well, dictating to its subjects what they shall believe and how they shall act, subjecting religious leaders to political authority. In the modern era, this usurpation has been accomplished through government-run education and a variety of laws premised on anti-Christian principles.

The Crown and Parliament of England in particular controlled the Church of England. This reality is what motivated the American founders to enact the 1st Amendment which prohibited the “establishment of religion” at the national level (it did not prohibit established churches at the state level and many states had and retained these established churches after the ratification of the Constitution). The 1st Amendment prevented the establishment of a Church of the USA, funded by tax-payer money, akin to the Church of England.

Both the life of the spirit and the public life of politics suffered (at least eventually) under such institutional arrangements. The institutions of church and state must be kept separate and independent. I am FOR the separation of church and state. And these arrangements are what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he wrote the phrase in his letter to the Danbury Baptists (the phrase is not in the Constitution).

However, the latter, the separation of religion and politics, is intellectually impossible.  Religion makes claims about the origin and nature of man, including his natural rights. Just because one is an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean one doesn’t have religion. Everyone has religion because everyone has a view about the origin and nature of man and about his nautral rights. And natural rights are the basis of good, just, and moral politics. Natural rights are what the founders appealed to in the Declaration of Independence.

It is impossible for one to be for or against the separation of religion and politics. The fact is that they cannot be separated, as a matter of reason and contemplation about what each sphere entails. The political order rests upon the moral order and the moral order upon the religious order.

So the next time some preacher, pastor, priest, bishop, or pope starts talking politics, denouncing abortion and gay “marriage,” I don’t want to hear appeals to the “separation of church and state.” It is irrelevant.

What you are really saying is that you want a separation of the Christian religion from American political discourse, which is un-American historically and philosophically dangerous. You would rather substitute a leftist, collectivist, libertine, secularist pseudo-religion for Christianity as the basis of moral judgment, natural rights, and law. Such a substitution would be immoral, unjust, and terrible for the spiritual and material well being of all Americans.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Christianity and Politics, Conservatism, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, The Constitution, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why Youth Politics Matters More than the Next Election

Posted by Tony Listi on February 28, 2010

Conservatives of all ages tend to be very short-sighted and ineffective when it comes to political warfare. They put all their energy into electoral and legislative battles but largely ignore the crucial Culture War that CampusReform.org fights daily.

When things get bad politically, conservatives volunteer and work for campaigns, for political parties, and for already elected officials. And when they win an election or legislative battle, they rejoice and go back to their normal lives…until the other side starts winning the elections and policy battles again.

But a battle here or there in itself is meaningless. Who is winning the war? The left is.

Why? Because despite the Reagan Revolution and the consequent short-lived ascendance of the Republican Party, the overall trend in public policy has been toward more government control of the economy and more government-pushed erosion of traditional moral values.

How did this happen? Conservatives have allowed the left to largely dominate the key cultural institutions that shape and determine political outcomes: schools, arts & entertainment industry, churches, and the media.

Create a leftist electorate and leftists will get elected. Simple as that.

While conservatives thought they were turning the tide in the 80s, 90s, and first half of the 00s, leftists had a better long-term strategy, steadily increasing their control over American culture, especially youth culture. All of a sudden, young people helped Barack Obama get elected, not just with their votes but also with the favorable image and winning psychology they provided him.

But which cultural institutions should be a priority for conservatives? The leftist monopoly on the media has been broken. FOX News, talk radio, and the internet have seen to that. Conservatives still do better than leftists among the church-going crowd because of the pro-life and pro-marriage factions of the conservative movement that Reagan and George W. Bush brought on board. But the left has made some gains over time, deceiving many Christians into believing that government can be compassionate and charitable.

But neither the churches nor the media has as great an influence on young Americans as do our schools and the arts & entertainment industry. Teachers unions, liberal professors, Hollywood airheads, musical blowhards, and misguided entertainers promote Big Government and immoral lifestyles among the young.

We shouldn’t have to wait and hope for sincerely misguided young liberals to grow up to become conservatives. If we take these institutions seriously and meet the challenge of reclaiming them, there will be more cradle-to-grave conservatives and more effective, intense conservative activists generation after generation.

Why are young people crucial to long-term political success?

  • It will take generations to undo what the left has inflicted on us over several generations.
  • They are future candidates, campaign staffers, campaign donors, activists, teachers, professors, artists, actors, musicians, priests, pastors, pundits, and journalists.
  • They can recruit and persuade their peers to join and be active in the conservative movement.
  • The young today become the electorate that decides tomorrow’s elections.
  • They will have children who eventually join the Culture War and the electorate that decides future elections.

Therefore, the most important policy endeavors conservatives can undertake lie in the realm of education, at both the primary and college level.

The left has understood this and is patient, fighting the daily battles always with the long-term cultural objective in mind. If conservatives want their principles to win, they will follow suit, giving priority of time and resources to supporting student activists!

Here’s what you can do to join the ranks in the broader war for the hearts and minds of American youth:

  1. Support the mission of CampusReform.org by getting active in or creating a conservative student group on your campus!
  2. Support CampusReform.org financially! Help fund political training for young conservatives!
  3. Tell all your like-minded friends about CampusReform.org! Spread the word about the crucial importance of youth politics!
  4. Make school choice for parents a top legislative priority in your state!

Posted in American Culture, American History, Art and Creativity, Culture War, Education, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Hollywood and the Film Industry, Political Activism, Student Activism, The Media, Old and New, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hitler Approved of FDR’s Politics

Posted by Tony Listi on December 13, 2008

“There is at least one official voice in Europe that expresses understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt. This voice is that of Germany, as represented by Chancellor Adolf Hitler,” writes the New York Times in 1933.

“I have sympathy with President Roosevelt because he marches straight toward his objective over Congress, over lobbies, over stubborn bureaucracies,” said Adolf Hitler.

HITLER SEEKS JOBS FOR ALL GERMANS
By ANNE O’HARE McCORMICK.Wireless to THE NEW YORK TIMES.By ANNE O’HARE McCORMICK
New York Times (1857-Current file); Jul 10, 1933; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005)

Posted in American History, Fascism, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Women and the Growth of Liberalism

Posted by Tony Listi on May 30, 2008

Very insightful article. Makes perfect sense: the more nurturing sex is more likely to think that the federal government can nurture its citizens as if they were children.

Just fyi, this doesn’t mean I’m in favor of repealing the 19th Amendment. Just means conservatives may have to work a little harder to educate women politically. Just means we need to show how the government cannot be nurturing but can be abusive when we try to make it  an instrument of nurturing. We need to empower women to look to themselves (and their private actions), not government, as the chief nurturers of society. We need to continue to strengthen the institution of marriage, so single women do not seek out big government, instead of faithful husbands, for love and security. We need to show married women how the federal government is a threat to children in general.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0%2C2933%2C358179%2C00.html

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indeed, she believes this year’s presidential campaign has shown that sexism limits women’s influence in politics. She claimed last week that “every poll I’ve seen shows more people would be reluctant to vote for a woman [than] to vote for an African American.”

It’s possible that Democrats are particularly sexist, but with women making up the majority of voters, one would think that politicians were ignoring women at their own peril.

In 2004, women made up 54 percent of voters. At least through early February of this year, women made up a much greater share of Democrat primary voters — accounting for between 57 and 61 percent of the vote in primaries and caucuses.

But whatever difficulties Clinton might be having, it seems that the policies adopted are much more important than who puts them into action, and the evidence indicates that women have long gotten their way.

Academics have for some time pondered why the government started growing precisely when it did. The federal government, aside from periods of wartime, consumed about 2 to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) up until World War I. That was the first war in which government spending didn’t go all the way back down to its pre-war levels. Then in the 1920s, non-military federal spending began steadily climbing.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal – often viewed as the genesis of big government – really just continued an earlier trend. What changed before Roosevelt came to power that explains the growth of government? The answer is women’s suffrage.

For decades, polls have shown that women as a group vote differently than men. Without the women’s vote, Republicans would have swept every presidential race but one between 1968 and 2004.

The gender gap exists on various issues. The major one is the issue of smaller government and lower taxes, which is a much higher priority for men than for women. This is seen in divergent attitudes held by men and women on many separate issues.

Women were much more opposed to the 1996 federal welfare reforms, which mandated time limits for receiving welfare and imposed some work requirements on welfare recipients. Women are also more supportive of Medicare, Social Security and educational expenditures.

Studies show that women are generally more risk-averse than men. This could be why they are more supportive of government programs to ensure against certain risks in life.

Women’s average incomes are also slightly lower and less likely to vary over time, which gives single women an incentive to prefer more progressive income taxes. Once women get married, however, they bear a greater share of taxes through their husbands’ relatively higher incomes – so their support for high taxes understandably declines.

Marriage also provides an economic explanation for why men and women prefer different policies.

Because women generally shoulder most of the child-rearing responsibilities, married men are more likely to acquire marketable skills that help them earn money outside the household. If a man gets divorced, he still retains these skills. But if a woman gets divorced, she is unable to recoup her investment in running the household.

Hence, single women who believe they may marry in the future, as well as married women who most fear divorce, look to the government as a form of protection against this risk from a possible divorce: a more progressive tax system and other government transfers of wealth from rich to poor. The more certain a woman is that she doesn’t risk divorce, the more likely she is to oppose government transfers.

Has it always been this way? Can women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries help explain the growth of government?

While the timing of the two events is suggestive, other changes during this time could have played a role. For example, some argue that Americans became more supportive of bigger government due to the success of widespread economic regulations imposed during World War I.

A good way to analyze the direct effect of women’s suffrage on the growth of government is to study how each of the 48 state governments expanded after women obtained the right to vote.

Women’s suffrage was first granted in western states with relatively few women – Wyoming (1869), Utah (1870), Colorado (1893) and Idaho (1896). Women could vote in 29 states before women’s suffrage was achieved nationwide in 1920 with the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

If women’s right to vote increased government, our analysis should show a few definite indicators. First, suffrage would have a bigger impact on government spending and taxes in states with a greater percentage of women. And secondly, the size of government in western states should steadily expand as women comprise an increasing share of their population.

Even after accounting for a range of other factors – such as industrialization, urbanization, education and income – the impact of granting of women’s suffrage on per capita state government expenditures and revenue was startling.

Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting.

Yet, as suggestive as these facts are, we must still consider whether suffrage itself caused the growth in government, or did the government expand due to some political or social change that accompanied women’s right to vote?

Fortunately, there was a unique aspect of suffrage that allows us to answer this question: Of the 19 states that had not passed women’s suffrage before the approval of the 19th Amendment, nine approved the amendment, while the other 12 had suffrage imposed on them.

If some unknown factor caused both a desire for larger government and women’s suffrage, then government should have only grown in states that voluntarily adopted suffrage. This, however, is not the case: After approving women’s suffrage, a similar growth in government was seen in both groups of states.

Women’s suffrage also explains much of the federal government’s growth from the 1920s to the 1960s. In the 45 years after the adoption of suffrage, as women’s voting rates gradually increased until finally reaching the same level as men’s, the size of state and federal governments expanded as women became an increasingly important part of the electorate.

But the battle between the sexes does not end there. During the early 1970s, just as women’s share of the voting population was leveling off, something else was changing: The American family began to break down, with rising divorce rates and increasing numbers of out-of-wedlock births.

Over the course of women’s lives, their political views on average vary more than those of men. Young single women start out being much more liberal than their male counterparts and are about 50 percent more likely to vote Democratic. As previously noted, these women also support a higher, more progressive income tax as well as more educational and welfare spending.

But for married women this gap is only one-third as large. And married women with children become more conservative still. Women with children who are divorced, however, are suddenly about 75 percent more likely to vote for Democrats than single men. So as divorce rates have increased, due in large part to changing divorce laws, voters have become more liberal.

Women’s suffrage ushered in a sea change in American politics that affected policies aside from taxes and the size of government. For example, states that granted suffrage were much more likely to pass Prohibition, for the temperance movement was largely dominated by middle-class women. Although the “gender gap” is commonly thought to have arisen only in the 1960s, female voting dramatically changed American politics from the very beginning.

John Lott is the author of Freedomnomics and a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Culture War, Feminism, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Woodrow Wilson: America’s Worst and First Fascist President

Posted by Tony Listi on May 29, 2008

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US president, often makes the top ten in rankings of the best US presidents. In the well-known polls taken by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. in 1948 and 1962, Wilson was ranked #4 behind Lincoln, Washington, and FDR. By the end of this post, I hope you will agree with me that he belongs in the bottom rung and was one of our worst presidents ever, if not THE worst.

Wilson was the first president to criticize the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Wilson criticized the diffuseness of government power in the US in most famous book Congressional Government. In this work he confessed, “I cannot imagine power as a thing negative and not positive.” His love and worship of power was a prime characteristic of fascism. “If any trait bubbles up in all one reads about Wilson it is this: he loved, craved, and in a sense glorified power,” writes historian Walter McDougall. It should not surprise us that his idols were Abraham Lincoln and Otto von Bismarck.

“No doubt a lot of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle,” wrote Wilson, attacking the very individual rights that have made America great.

He rejected the principles of “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” that are the foundation of American government: “Government does now whatever experience permits or the times demand….” wrote Wilson in The State.

No fan of democracy or constitutional government, he wrote the following in Constitutional Government in the United States: “The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit….” Sounds like a devotee of the imperial presidency.

Indeed, in a disturbing 1890 essay entitled Leaders of Men, Wilson said that a “true leader” uses the masses of people like “tools.” He writes, “The competent leader of men cares little for the internal niceties of other people’s characters: he cares much–everything–for the external uses to which they may be put…. He supplies the power; others supply only the materials upon which that power operates…. It is the power which dictates, dominates; the materials yield. Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader.” So much for the dignity of each person!

“Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way,” said Wilson in June 1917 to counter protests to the fascist regime that he created upon entering WW I.

Wilson rejects the Jeffersonian individualism that has defined the Founding and American conservatism: “While we are followers of Jefferson, there is one principle of Jefferson’s which no longer can obtain in the practical politics of America. You know that it was Jefferson who said that the best government is that which does as little governing as possible…. But that time is passed. America is not now and cannot in the future be a place for unrestricted individual enterprise.” Follower of Jefferson? Yeah right!

Wilson sought war with Germany and purposefully drew the US into World War I.
“I am an advocate of peace, but there are some splendid things that come to a nation through the discipline of war,” said Wilson and he would seek after those progressive “splendid things” when the opportunity of WW I arose.

It is an often overlooked fact of WW I that Great Britain’s powerful navy blockaded Germany and in so doing starved the German population. And guess who led the British in this distant blockade (which was against international law at the time)? Our dear beloved Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. This blockade drove the Germans to retaliate with submarine warfare (U-boats), and they warned that “neutral ships will be exposed to danger” and it would be “impossible to avoid attacks being made on neutral ships in mistake for those of the enemy.” This was especially true since British abused the rules of war by decorating their warships with neutral flags to lure German submarines to the surface and destroy them.

Wilson all the while claimed neutrality but was actually very pro-British. The British blockade and the German unrestricted submarine warfare both violated the rights of neutral nations under international law. But he refused to acknowledge that the former had led to the latter. German misdeeds against vessels carrying Americans received swift denunciation from Wilson, but the terrible British blockade that starved hundreds of thousands of Germans to death got a slap on the wrist. The Germans even proposed to end their unrestricted sub warfare if the British would end the blockade; the British refused. It was this double standard that would drive Wilson to bring the US into the war.

The cunning Churchill knew of Wilson’s irrational disposition and used it to his advantage: “It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores in the hope especially of embroiling the United States with Germany….” Britain aimed to lure America into the war. Indeed, by making it dangerous for the German submarines to surface, Churchill would increase his chances of success: “The submerged U-boat had to rely increasingly on underwater attack and thus ran the greater risk of mistaking neutral for British ships and of drowning neutral crews and thus embroiling Germany with other Great Powers.” By that time, the US was the only great power left that had remained neutral.

The most famous incident was the sinking of the Lusitania. But you will seldom read in school textbooks that the German government actually published warnings in major newspapers not to book passage on the great vessel. But most passengers ignored the warning. The German U-boat only fired one torpedo at the Lusitania and, to the surprise of the German captain Walter Schwieger, that was all it took. The liner went down so quickly that Swieger noted, “I could not have fired a second torpedo into this thing of humanity attempting to save themselves.” A total of 124 Americans died.

What was the American reaction to this tragedy? Hardly any of the newspapers advocated that declaring war was the proper response. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan certainly had no desire to go to war over it and challenged Wilson’s double standard head on: “Why be shocked by the drowning of a few people, if there is no objection to a starving nation?” It was of no use and Bryan resigned in protest. Senators Wesley Jones of Washington and Robert Follette of Wisconsin urged the President to exercise restraint.

Bryan’s replacement, Robert Lansing, reveals that the Wilson administration was determined to go to war: “In dealing with the British government, there was always in my mind the conviction that we would ultimately become an ally of Great Britain and that it would not do, therefore, to let our controversies reach a point where diplomatic correspondence gave place to action.” American protests against Britain were carefully “submerged in verbiage. It was done with deliberate purpose. It insured the continuance of the controversies and left the questions unsettled, which was necessary in order to leave this country free to act and even act illegally when it entered the war.”

Germany then agreed to call off the sub warfare if Wilson would pressure Britain to stop the hunger blockade (Sussex Pledge). Wilson refused.

Then Wilson did the most irresponsible act that brought us into war: he ordered that merchant ships be armed with US Navy guns and staffed with US Navy crews and that they fire on any surfacing submarines they encountered. Under such circumstances, the ships sailed into the war zone. Wilson sent out ships with the purpose of sacrificing them in order to push America into war! Four of them had been sunk by the time Wilson requested a declaration of war from Congress. It was only after the war that Congress would realize what a dangerous fanatic Wilson was and actually stood up to him be rejecting the Treaty of Versailles, especially Article 10 the League of Nations. This article obligated each League member to preserve the territorial integrity of the other member states. Why should the US sacrifice blood and treasure for obscure border disputes in Europe? Congress was not advocating isolationism as many have asserted but rather defending its own constitutional authority to decide when America goes to war.

John Bassett Moore, a distinguished professor of international law at Columbia University who would serve on the International Court of Justice after the war, argued that “what most decisively contributed to the involvement of the United States in the war was the assertion of a right to protect belligerent ships on which Americans saw fit to travel and the treatment of armed belligerent merchantmen as peaceful vessels. Both assumptions were contrary to reason, and no other neutral advanced them.” Wilson apparently believed that every American, in time of war, had the right to travel aboard armed, belligerent merchant ships carrying munitions of war through a declared submarine zone. No other neutral power had ever proclaimed such a doctrine, let alone gone to war over it!

No American interest was at stake in WW I, and yet a total of 116,516 men died and 204,002 were wounded. In fact, Wilson bragged about fighting a war with no national interests at stake! “There is not a single selfish element, so far as I can see, in the cause we are fighting for,” he declared. It was a war to satisfy his own naive idealism that he could remake the world in his “progressive” ideology. War was an instrument for perverse social engineering that would remake the world: “[A]s head of a nation participating in the war, the president of the United States would have a seat at the peace table, but…if he remained the representative of a neutral country, he could at best only ‘call through a crack in the door.'” The whole war was so that HE could have a seat at a table?! The guy was insane, sick (even Freud, who wrote a whole book on Wilson, thought so).Movie Poster

Wilson created the first official propaganda department in the US.
A week after Congress declared war on Germany, Wilson created a government apparatus whose sole purpose was to lie to the American people, the first modern ministry for propaganda in the West. It was called the Committee on Public Information and was led by journalist George Creel.

Edward Bernays, an adviser to Wilson and participant in CPI operations, characterized the mission of CPI as the “engineering of consent” and “the conscious manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.”

A typical poster for Liberty Bonds read: “I am Public Opinion. All men fear me!…[I]f you have money to buy and do not buy, I will make this No Man’s Land for you!” Other posters were created to mobilize the public and silence dissent.

A trained group of nearly a hundred thousand men gave four minute speeches to any audience that would listen. They portrayed Wilson as a larger-than-life leader and the Germans as less-than-human Huns, emphasizing fabricated German war crimes and horrors.

CPI released propaganda films entitled The Claws of the Hun, The Prussian Cur, To Hell With The Kaiser, and The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin.

Wilson harshly suppressed dissent and resistance among citizens and the press.
At Wilson’s urging, a Sedition Act (not unlike the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 ) forbade Americans from criticizing their own government in a time of war. Citizens could not “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the government or the military. The Postmaster General was given the authority to revoke the mailing privileges of those who disobeyed. About 75 periodicals were were shut down by the government in this way and many others were given warnings.

In the fashion of a police state, the Department of Justice arrested tens of thousands of individuals without just cause. One was not safe even within the walls of one’s own home to criticize the Wilson administration. A letter to federal attorneys and marshals said that citizens had nothing to fear as long as they “Obey the law; keep your mouth shut.” In fact, the Justice Department created the precursor to the Gestapo called the American Protective League. Its job was to spy on fellow citizens and turn in “seditious” persons or draft dodgers. In September of 1918 in NYC, the APL rounded up about 50,000 people. This doesn’t even include the infamous Palmer Raids (named after Wilson’s attorney general) that occurred after the war.

In 1915, in his address to Congress, Wilson declared, “The gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags…who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes….”

All in all it is estimated that about 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another.

Wilson took over the US economy completely.
He charged Bernard Baruch with running the War Industries Board, which would endeavor to control all industry in service to the state. It would serve as a precursor to the corporatist policies Mussolini and Hitler.

Grosvenor Clarkson, a member and later historian of the WIB, would characterize the WIB as follows: “It was an industrial dictatorship without parallel–a dictatorship by force of necessity and common consent which step by step at least encompassed the Nation and united it into a coordinated and mobile whole.” He would also later say that the war was “a story of the conversion of a hundred million combatively individualistic people into a vast cooperative effort in which the good of the unit was sacrificed to the good of the whole.” The government weakened the spirit of the people to resist government tyranny.

Rationing and price-fixing characterized the wartime command economy. (hmmm, sounds like communism and the Carter administration)

Wilson himself was a major cause of the outbreak of World War II.
It is a well-accepted fact that the extremely harsh and unfair terms of the Treaty of Versailles were the incipient cause of WW II. Wilson’s Fourteen Points were fair and persuaded the Germans to surrender before the allies devastated Germany. He had the opportunity to make sure Europe did not take revenge on Germany, but he let is slip away. He threw Germany to the dogs so he could have his worthless, utopian League of Nations. He deluded himself into thinking the League could make up for the other thirteen points. This stab in the back of Germany would give rise to Hitler and allow him to rouse the German people to war a mere two decades or so later. Therefore, in a very real sense, Wilson is responsible for all the horrors of WW II.

In sum, Wilson was the first fascist president of the US and first major fascist dictator of the 20th c.
Wilson took over the US economy, infringed on American civil liberties especially by suppressing dissent, oppressed the “unpatriotic,” and purposefully sought to drag the US into war. This Marxist, totalitarian, jingoistic, and militaristic Democrat president was a fascist. He worshiped the power of the state, and such statolatry is exactly what fascism is.

I don’t think President George W. Bush is a fascist, but his Wilsonian idealism for spreading democracy should disturb any conservative. America was attacked on 9/11; no such thing happened during Wilson’s presidency. The Patriot Act is no where near as harmful to civil liberties as Wilson’s Sedition Act was, if harmful at all.

Though the Democratic Party is largely dominated by anti-war people now (even though Soviet communism and radical Islam have been actual threats to national security unlike the Kaiser’s Germany), Wilson’s fascism still remains with the party, especially with regard to economics and expanding the power of the federal government in general whenever possible. This should not be surprising since fascism is a product of the Left, not the Right, side of the political spectrum.

(Reference The Politically Incorrect Guide to US History and Liberal Fascism)

Posted in 1st Amendment-Free Speech, American History, Fascism, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Politicians, Socialism, The Constitution, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 140 Comments »

What It Means to Be American

Posted by Tony Listi on April 20, 2008

In discussing the issue of illegal immigration with a liberal friend of mine, a very interesting and important question was posed to me: what is your definition of “American”?

True conservatives recognize that America is more an idea, a creed, than anything else. For practical purposes, America is also a place, a distinct area of territory. But even those who live within its physical boundaries as legally recognized citizens may be less American, in a sense, than those outside its borders who share the American creed. America is more than a place or a government certification of citizenship.

Thus, subscribing to a specific set of beliefs is what makes an American at the deepest level. What are these beliefs? They are embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as originally intended and interpreted by the Founding Fathers who framed these documents (and their Christian roots). And because conservatism, by definition, seeks to preserve the principles of America’s founding, the American creed is the conservative creed.

One of the most important of these beliefs is the rule of law (yes, even immigration laws). Two other important beliefs are the right to the fruits of one’s labor and to minimal taxation used only for public interests that cannot be satisfied any other way (both of which go together). Therefore, certain government run services and wealth redistribution, which illegal immigrants often take advantage of, are not American in a very profound sense. Another important tenet of the American credo is suspicion of government and government interference. The corollary and logical outgrowth of this is a belief in very limited government. And the logical implication of that is a belief in freedom, including the free market.

Therefore, those immigrants, legal and illegal, who do not accept this creed are a threat to America. This is why the English language must be preserved, assimilation must be a top priority, and multiculturalism should be opposed.

Of course, the implications of my definition of “American,” automatically implies that liberals are in some sense un-American because they do not hold to this creed as it has been written and passed down through the generations. They are opposed to limited government, the free market, etc. And they have already hurt America because of the semi-welfare state that they have created over the past century or so. Therefore, one might say that liberals’ un-American activities (creating the welfare state and insisting on multiculturalism) are really at the heart of what is wrong with the situation of illegal immigration. If government were more limited, illegal immigrants would not be able strain and/or drain public treasuries. If government were more limited, then government employees would be less able to socially engineer the country away from its roots.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Economics, Government and Politics, Illegal Immigration, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, The Constitution, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Government-Created Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

Posted by Tony Listi on April 6, 2008

Just like the government caused the Great Depression. When will people learn that government interference causes the greatest economic instability and dislocations??

http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo125.html

By Thomas J. DiLorenzo

September 6, 2007

The thousands of mortgage defaults and foreclosures in the “subprime” housing market (i.e., mortgage holders with poor credit ratings) is the direct result of thirty years of government policy that has forced banks to make bad loans to un-creditworthy borrowers. The policy in question is the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which compels banks to make loans to low-income borrowers and in what the supporters of the Act call “communities of color” that they might not otherwise make based on purely economic criteria.

The original lobbyists for the CRA were the hardcore leftists who supported the Carter administration and were often rewarded for their support with government grants and programs like the CRA that they benefited from. These included various “neighborhood organizations,” as they like to call themselves, such as “ACORN” (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). These organizations claim that over $1 trillion in CRA loans have been made, although no one seems to know the magnitude with much certainty. A U.S. Senate Banking Committee staffer told me about ten years ago that at least $100 billion in such loans had been made in the first twenty years of the Act.

So-called “community groups” like ACORN benefit themselves from the CRA through a process that sounds like legalized extortion. The CRA is enforced by four federal government bureaucracies: the Fed, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The law is set up so that any bank merger, branch expansion, or new branch creation can be postponed or prohibited by any of these four bureaucracies if a CRA “protest” is issued by a “community group.” This can cost banks great sums of money, and the “community groups” understand this perfectly well. It is their leverage. They use this leverage to get the banks to give them millions of dollars as well as promising to make a certain amount of bad loans in their communities.

A man named Bruce Marks became quite notorious during the last decade for pressuring banks to earmark literally billions of dollars to his organization, the “Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.” He once boasted to the New York Times that he had “won” loan commitments totaling $3.8 billion from Bank of America, First Union Corporation, and the Fleet Financial Group. And that is just one “community group” operating in one city – Boston.

Banks have been placed in a Catch 22 situation by the CRA: If they comply, they know they will have to suffer from more loan defaults. If they don’t comply, they face financial penalties and, worse yet, their business plans for mergers, branch expansions, etc. can be blocked by CRA protesters, which can cost a large corporation like Bank of America billions of dollars. Like most businesses, they have largely buckled under and have surrendered to their bureaucratic masters.

Consequently, banks in every community in America have been forced to hold a portfolio of bad loans, euphemistically referred to as “subprime” loans. In order to compensate themselves for the added risk of extending these loans, many lenders have increased the lending fees associated with mortgage loans. This is simply an indirect way of doing what banks always do – and what they must do to remain solvent: charging effectively higher rates of interest on riskier loans.

But this is discriminatory!, complained the “community organizations.” Thus, if one browses the ACORN web site, one can read of their boasts of having “predatory lending laws” passed in numerous states which outlaw such fees, prohibiting banks from protecting themselves from the added risk involved in making forced loans to “subprime” borrowers.

These are price control laws, and price controls always cause shortages. Normally, banks would respond to such laws by extending fewer riskier loans. But in this case the banks are forced to continue making the marginal loans by their bureaucratic masters at the Fed and the other three federal bureaucracies mentioned above. So-called predatory lending laws therefore force the banks to “eat” the losses. This is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the bankruptcy of dozens of mortgage lenders over the past year.

Then of course there is the issue of the Fed’s monetary policy having created the housing bubble, characterized by a spectacular escalation of real estate values in every American city over the past decade or so. This created a further problem for the financial institutions that are victimized by the CRA. They are forced to make a certain amount of bad loans, but because of the Fed-created explosion in housing prices, many thousands of subprime borrowers no longer qualified, by a long stretch, for conventional mortgages based on their incomes.

The only way these borrowers could qualify for their mortgage loans (even ignoring their bad credit ratings) was to take out adjustable rate mortgages, some of which had astonishingly low first-year rates in the 3 percent range, and sometimes lower. This is what has largely fueled the subprime mortgage meltdown – the inability of thousands of subprime borrowers to afford their mortgages now that their rates have adjusted upward. Thus, the combination of the Fed’s enforcement of the CRA (with the help of political pressure groups like ACORN) and its post 9/11 monetary policy in general are the reasons for the bursting real estate bubble and the “subprime” mortgage meltdown.

Don’t expect to read about this in the “mainstream media,” however, which generally views groups like ACORN as heroic champions of the poor, laws like the CRA as anti-discrimination laws, and places all of the blame for the subprime mortgage meltdown on greedy capitalists, especially mortgage brokers. Encouraged by such reporting, the odious Senator Charles Schumer of New York has promised federal legislation that will reign in these miscreants, while the Bush administration is proposing an indirect bank bailout by having the Federal Housing Administration cover many of the bad “subprime” loans. This will create what economists call a “moral hazard” by encouraging even more bad loans to be extended in the future. Every banker in America will be glad to extend loans (at high rates of interest) to the most uncreditworthy borrowers if he thinks there is no possibility of default with the FHA effectively guaranteeing the loan.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House). His latest book is Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe (Crown Forum/Random House).

Copyright © 2007 LewRockwell.com

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