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Monthly Archives: November 2008

In Obama Watch, Politics & Political Science on November 14, 2008 at 11:19 am

There isn’t any real Obama doctrine as of yet, but what he has discussed during his campaign, which is mostly that the Bush doctrine concerning Iraq was a failure. That has proved to be just political rhetoric and not reality.

The Reagan doctrine, as Dinesh D’Souza wrote back in September 2008 consisted of assisted non-intervention. In other words, troops were to be sent as only the last resort. Of course, there wasn’t a 9/11 during the Reagan administration, but President Reagan

…believed that people in foreign countries should fight for their own freedom. We do not fight for them. … And so in Afghanistan, in Nicaragua, in Angola and to some extent in Ethiopia, Reagan supported rebels who sought liberation from Marxist tyranny. For instance, Reagan supplied Stinger missiles to the Afghani mujaheedin who were fighting to repel the Soviet invasion of that country. Reagan did not, however, send large numbers of American troops to Afghanistan. Now in Bush’s defense it should be said that the Reagan doctrine could not have worked in Iraq. … But from the beginning the administration understood that, even in Iraq, over time the Bush doctrine must metamorphose into the Reagan doctrine. …finally, Iraqis are getting to the position where they can defend their own country and fight for their own freedom. Of course America is going to get out of Iraq. The only question is whether we will leave recklessly, precipitously, with the risk of escalating violence and chaos and perhaps even a return of the Saddamites. This seems to be the approach the Obama Democrats want. The other option is to leave cautiously, deliberately, in a way that leaves Iraq a self-governing society, the only pro-American Muslim democracy in the Middle East.

* The next item is the agenda of the Obama administration in the judicial works of America. Ronald Kessler writes in his article entitled Obama Will Change Balance on Courts Quickly (November 12th, 2008) …

It’s a given that Barack Obama will change the balance on the courts to a liberal judicial outlook. What is surprising is how quickly he could do that. Because Democrats dragged their heels on President Bush’s judicial nominations, 14 seats are open on appeals courts or will be by the end of January. Democratic nominees now are a majority on only one of the 13 federal appeals courts, the ultra-liberal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. Within four years, Obama could name enough judges to give Democrats a majority on nine of the 13 appeals courts.

* President-elect was successful with the powerful Internet connection and during his transition period he has activated a website and using it as a tool which will help in achieving his goals and Newsvine reports in an article entitled: Obama to Pioneer Web

Democratic strategist. Joe Trippi was quoted saying:

He’s built the largest network anyone has ever seen in politics, and has ever seen in politics, and congressional Republicans are clueless … Republicans say they’ll be watching for White House Web outreach that appear overly political.
“Hopefully, Obama will be a president for all Americans, not just the political supporters on his e-mail list,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant. Obama’s people know they’ll have to extend their reach. …Obama clearly is poised to become the first truly “wired” president of the digital age.

* And President-elect planned to honor fallen troops on Veterans Day, and like presidents before him have confused Memorial Day with Veterans Day – the former for the fallen, the latter for those that serve and have served. The even occurred with Iraqi war veteran and Illinois State Director of Veteran Affairs, Tammy Duckworth, who placed a wreath at The Bronze Soldiers Memorial in honor of Veterans Day on the Lakefront in Chicago, Illinois. I think my first correspondence with the president-elect is to set his predecessors straight as the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. After all, he has claimed throughout his campaign as being the administrator of change. This would be a time to set this practice straight. He will be officiating these holidays as President for his entire term in office. MSNBC quoted Obama as saying:

Let us rededicate ourselves to keep a sacred trust with all who have worn the uniform of the United States of America: that America will serve you as well as you have served your country,” Obama said in a statement. “As your next commander in chief, I promise to work every single day to keep that sacred trust with all who have served.

* One of the items that Senator Obama campaigned against was the lobbyists and the way lobbying is conducted in Washington. Nedra Pickler, AP writer reports:

Lobbyists can work for Obama’s transition if they stop their advocacy efforts and avoid working in any field that they lobbied on in the last year. They also must pledge not to lobby the Obama administration on the same matters they focused on during the transition for a year after leaving Obama’s service. The ethics policy allows Obama to hire any of the some 22,000 federally registered lobbyists who could be valuable assets because of their government experience, even though Obama railed against their influence on the campaign trail. …
Under recommendations spelled out in Obama’s campaign Web site, no Obama political appointees would be allowed to work on regulations or contracts “directly or substantially related to their prior employer for two years.” And while people who work on the transition would be permitted to lobby the administration on their transition issues after one year, political appointees to administration jobs would be prohibited from lobbying the executive branch for the remainder of the administration, according to Obama’s proposed rules
.

And as far as the controversy over the Second Amendment and firearm control by the Obama administration, Robert Blevins, AB of Seattle writes:

There are recent claims that President-elect Barack Obama is planning to ban guns in America, or severely restrict their purchase and usage. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Obama is only following the proposals he made on his official platform during the campaign. Nothing more, nothing less.

His plan was posted at Changes.gov …

As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor common sense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn’t have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent; as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.’

* President-elect Obama is still considering the policy of closing Guantanamo. The information at MSNBC was pulled (“expired”) for the review of the new administration concerning classified files. Funny that it didn’t seem as important when President GW Bush was performing his job as Commander-in-Chief and media entities like the New York Times didn’t care anything about classified files. I couldn’t find the original information on the story at the Washington Post, as was directed by the website at MSNBC either. I can see “change” already.

* The expensive bailout, A Lemon of a Bailout, as Charles Krauthammer calls it, the Democrats are pushing to include the auto industry in the bailout. Let me see, the produce gas guzzlers and haven’t paid attention to the public or the facts concerning what folks really need, and now they are hurting and want help from the government, which really constitutes the taxpayers. It is already estimated that the bailout is going to cost far more than the $700 billion that was voted for in the emergency legislation that caused so much controversy. What also happened is that more of the banking and investing companies have come under the thumb of government, which provided a leap toward nationalization of private business entities. The Democrats are wired to include the auto industry because they want to protect the unions involved. The Democrats want to nationalize the auto industry, which means restructuring. But as Krauthammer writes:

Which will guarantee the continued failure of these companies, but now they will burn tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. It’s the ultimate in lemon socialism.

Now, can someone tell me why they got so upset when I warned them about having a Democrat president AND a Democrat controlled Congress and its consequences? They are doing the same thing, except on a grander scale, that the Bush administration did with banking institutions. At this rate government will soon own most of the private sector business industries. And Krauthammer nails it right on the head:

Liberals have always wanted the auto companies to produce the kind of cars they insist everyone should drive: small, light, green and cute. Now they will have the power to do it.

It is government in YOUR face. And …

If you think we have economic troubles today, consider the effects of nationalizing an industry of this size, but now run by bureaucrats issuing production quotas to fit five-year plans to meet politically mandated fuel-efficiency standards — to lift us to the sunny uplands of the coming green utopia.

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama promoted an economic plan Saturday he said would create 2.5 million jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges and modernizing schools while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars.

“These aren’t just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis. These are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long,” Obama said in the weekly Democratic radio address.

The goal is to get the plan quickly through Congress, with help from both parties, after Obama takes office Jan. 20. The plan, which envisions those new jobs by January 2011, is “big enough to meet the challenges we face,” he said.

Obama noted the growing evidence the country is “facing an economic crisis of historic proportions” and said he was pleased Congress passed an extension of unemployment benefits this past week. But, he added, `We must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again.”

Nonetheless, he said, “There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.”

It will take support from Democrats and Republicans to pass the economic plan, Obama said. “I’ll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle,” he said. “But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action.”

People “are lying awake at night wondering if next week’s paycheck will cover next month’s bills,” if their jobs will remain, if their retirement savings will disappear, he added.

The Labor Department reported that claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week to the highest level since July 1992, providing fresh evidence of the weakening job market.

“We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels,” Obama said. He also made a commitment to fuel-efficient cars and alternative energy technologies “that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.”

Obama pointed to the past, saying that Americans in this country’s darkest hours have risen above their divisions to solve their problems, as a hope for the future.

“We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together,” Obama said. “That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next president of the United States, I will.”

___

On the Net:

Video link to Obama’s address: http://www.change.gov

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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Tim Blair

Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 04:14am

“And you thought her media outings as a vice presidential candidate were as bad as it gets,” says alarmed MSNBC host David Shuster … following footage of Sarah Palin speaking at a turkey processing plant:

Shuster (who urges that young viewers be shielded from the interview) also seems appalled that Palin had “no worries” over being filmed at the tragic turkey massacre site. Even worse – bloodlusting bird-hater Palin admits she’ll actually cook a turkey for Thanksgiving. Among MSNBC’s captions:

• TURKEYS DIE AS GOVERNOR PALIN TAKES QUESTIONS FROM MEDIA
• GOV. SARAH KEEPS TALKING WHILE TURKEYS GET SLAUGHTERED BEHIND HER
• GOV. PALIN APPARENTLY OBLIVIOUS TO TURKEY CARNAGE OVER HER SHOULDER

What did they expect her to do? Intervene?

UPDATE. Shuster claims his network has “sanitised” the video, removing the “goriest parts”. Here’s uncensored vision. Take a look. Where are the gory parts? Can’t MSNBC nancies even cope with bloodless background vision of a farm animal being offed? Just as well Palin never turned up on Iron Chef: “A lot of resistance being put up by that one!” Note that tiny Japanese actress Naomi Hosokawa is not nearly so squeamish as Shuster.

UPDATE II. NBC finds the video – shot by an NBC affiliate – “too grisly for some”. Meaning MSNBC pantyboys.

UPDATE III. Tellingly, the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate pre-empted MSNBC’s line: “Just when you thought Sarah Palin’s interactions with the media couldn’t get any worse …”

UPDATE IV. Wonkette labels this a “celebration of death”. Writes one commenter: “She is the dumbest whore I have ever seen.”

UPDATE V. The Fort Mill Times rips at reader hearts over the rescue of the bird Palin pardoned: “As his turkey pals – and maybe some family members – watched, the turkey Palin named Thanksgiving got a second chance at life.” These people are insane.

UPDATE VI. Finally, a sensible comment: “The real problem with this video is that there wasn’t someone on the second machine. C’mon People! Let’s be efficient!”

UPDATE VII. Comment at the Washington Post: “They got a turkey like Palin into a slaughterhouse and let her out alive? For shame.”

UPDATE VIII. Elizabeth Snead in the LA Times:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin pardons Tom the Turkey, then blabbles on, making little to no sense (as usual), while talking turkey and politics to a news crew.

What she does not know is that at least two helpless turkeys are being slaughtered alive in the background, their legs wiggling as their heads are stuffed into a grinder by a smiling camera-hog executioner.

Nice to see someone who enjoys their work, huh?

Hey, Elizabeth? How much sense do you think you’re making with “slaughtered alive”? Ever heard of anything being killed prior to slaughter? Enjoy your work.

UPDATE IX. Snead doesn’t know much about guns, either.

UPDATE X (via ninme). The UK Telegraph‘s Toby Harnden is hallucinating:

The death penalty is being administered behind her. “This was neat,” she says, as the turkey strangler goes about his grim business.

That was no turkey strangler – this is a turkey strangler:

Frightened media babies are advised to look away.

UPDATE XI. Ann Althouse: “Deal with it, you candy-asses.” Quite so.

UPDATE XII. Oh my God, Johnny, they’re turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they’re plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement!

UPDATE XIII. Even HuffPoster Chris Weigant finds this turkey panic absurd:

Some of the networks who showed this video pixilated (blurred out) the turkeys being slaughtered in the background. Seriously—even though you can barely see what the guy in the background is actually doing, and cannot see any truly gruesome details—the networks were scared to show it.

This is pathetic. Truly, truly pathetic.

UPDATE XIV. The editorial board of the New York Times is worried. As well it might be, considering that the Times is being fed head-first into a bankruptcy machine.

UPDATE XV. Reader Aaron Ong attempts an analogy:

A similar example would be an aspiring politician who claims to be anti-abortion, having a news interview in the front of an abortion clinic while an abortion is taking place in the background.

Wrong, Ong. Palin supports turkey farming and is filmed as turkeys are processed. No inconsistency there. Now let’s see Barack Obama (or any pro-abortion politician) hold an interview at that abortion clinic you mentioned …

UPDATE XVI. Powerline: “Today we learned something horrible about liberals.”

UPDATE XVII. Mark Steyn: “I didn’t think I could like Sarah Palin more than I do, but the nancy boys at MSNBC bleating all over the screen about the Great Turkey Carnage is hilarious.”

UPDATE XVIII. Even the Telegraph warns of “graphic footage”. Someone must’ve left anxious intern Trembles McHandflap in charge of the website.

Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:41pm EST

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Dozens of Somali Islamist insurgents stormed a port on Friday hunting the pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker that was the world’s biggest hijack, a local elder said.

Separately, police in the capital Mogadishu said they had ambushed and shot dead 17 Islamist militants, in the latest illustration of the chaos in the Horn of Africa country that has fueled a dramatic surge in piracy.

The Sirius Star — a Saudi vessel with a $100 million oil cargo and 25-man crew from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Poland and Britain — is believed anchored offshore near Haradheere, about half-way up Somalia’s long coastline.

“Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and hijacking its ship is a bigger crime than other ships,” Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, an Islamist spokesman, told Reuters. “Haradheere is under our control and we shall do something about that ship.”

Both the U.S. Navy and Dubai-based ship operator Vela International said they could not confirm a media report the hijackers were demanding a $25 million ransom. That would be the biggest demand to date by pirates who prey on boats in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off Somalia.

A pirate identifying himself as Jamii Adam told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that negotiations were taking place with the ship’s owners, saying the ransom demanded was not excessive but declining to give a figure.

He said it had cost the pirates $500,000 to seize the vessel. “We bore many costs to hijack it,” he said.

Iran’s biggest shipping firm said gunmen holding a Hong Kong-flagged ship carrying wheat and 25 crew members had set demands for its release, but it did not reveal what they were.

An upsurge of attacks this year has forced up shipping insurance costs, made some firms go round South Africa instead of via the Suez Canal, brought millions in ransom payments, and prompted an international naval response.

Pirates released a commercial vessel with 19 crew on board which had been hijacked in September, Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Association said on Friday.

Mwangura said the crew were Romanians, but the Romanian authorities denied this. Interfax news agency said the crew included six Georgian citizens.

SOMALI NATION ‘AT STAKE’

In Mogadishu, police said they laid in wait and shot dead 17 fighters from the militant al Shabaab insurgent group during an attempted attack on a senior official.

The Islamists have been fighting the government and its Ethiopian allies for about two years. They launch near-daily guerrilla strikes in the capital and control most of the south, including a town just nine miles from Mogadishu.

Islamist leaders deny allegations they collude with pirates and insist they will stamp down on them if they win power, citing a crackdown when they ruled the south briefly in 2006.

Some analysts, however, say Islamist militants are benefiting from the spoils of piracy and arms shipments facilitated by the sea gangs. Analysts also accuse government figures of collaboration with pirates.

The elder in Haradheere port told Reuters the Islamists arrived wanting to find out immediately about the Sirius Star, which was captured on Saturday about 450 nautical miles off Kenya in the pirates’ furthest strike to date.

“The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship,” said the elder, who declined to be named. “I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship.”

In Mogadishu, al Shabaab gunmen drove to the home of the local Madina district chairman early in the morning, but found police officers lying in wait, witnesses said.

“We got information before they left their hideouts and we were able to surround them,” said a police spokesman. “Thirteen of the dead bodies lie in the street near the chairman’s house.”

Residents said the al Shabaab fighters wore black scarves round their heads with Arabic script reading “God is great.”

Somalis are traditionally moderate Muslims, and analysts say al Shabaab — which Washington has listed as a foreign terrorist organization with close links to al Qaeda — does not have deep popular support, despite having the upper hand militarily.

Somalia has been without effective central government since the 1991 toppling of a military dictator by warlords.

The capture of the Sirius Star has caused panic around the world, with the rampant piracy threatening to become a further drag on trade at a time of global economic downturn.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula summoned foreign ambassadors in Nairobi to appeal for their countries to make all efforts to end the menace. “Act now and not tomorrow,” he said.

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Commentary
Why Guns Are Better Than Butter
Glenn Harlan Reynolds 11.21.08, 12:00 AM ET

“War is the health of the state,” wrote Randolph Bourne, horrified by World War I and its excesses. And that phrase has been used by libertarians and opponents of state power ever since, as a reason why war is a bad idea.

Certainly the experience of World War I–and, in America, the dramatic expansion of state government power under Woodrow Wilson, as documented in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism–supports that argument. But subsequent history makes me wonder if war is really as healthy for the state as some other things that get less attention.

When Bourne wrote those words, war was the only accepted justification for massive government mobilization. But since then, things have changed.

Woodrow Wilson’s colossal expansion of government power faded soon after the war was over, and the 1920s were a period of minimalist government, ushered in by Warren Harding’s promise of a “return to normalcy.” Harding was swept to office on a wave of national disgust at Wilson’s excesses, and the country was anxious to leave those excesses behind.

But when the next national crisis struck–the Depression, under FDR–the U.S. got a massive expansion of government that, unlike Wilson’s, has remained with us to the present day. FDR’s policies may have extended the Depression, but what is clear is that when the Depression was over, the New Deal remained. There was no return to normalcy afterward.

Now we’ve had over five years of war in Iraq, finally winding toward a successful conclusion, and in the process have spent a lot of money and made some changes in the law. But the changes in the law are promised to be undone by President-elect Obama, and the amount spent in five years on Iraq has already been dwarfed by the $5 trillion dollar tab run up during this fall’s bailout-mania.

What’s more, there’s lots of pressure to pull our troops out of Iraq; Barack Obama was elected president largely on the strength of that sentiment, after all. While there may be some number of troops in Iraq for years to come, the Iraq War is pretty much over. By contrast, it’s a safe bet that whatever new social and regulatory programs are put in place as a result of the current economic situation, they will persist for decades. Ronald Reagan himself couldn’t get rid of the Department of Education, notwithstanding his campaign promise to do so.

Furthermore, war is politically risky in a way that new programs are not. Though people still speak of a decision to go to war as something done to enhance the political position of incumbent presidents, history doesn’t support that. Truman fought in Korea and lost the next election. LBJ had to give up the White House over Vietnam. George H.W. Bush won in Iraq and enjoyed 90% approval ratings but lost the next election anyway. And George W. Bush’s political position certainly doesn’t seem to have benefited from the invasion of Iraq; even in 2004, it was an electoral drag, and things only got worse.

By contrast, presidents who push big social programs generally get a political boost and–because the costs and disasters of social programs are less obvious than the costs of war–there’s seldom any real downside.

So the notion that war is the friend of big government seems questionable to me, based on things that have happened in the past century at least. Rather, it seems that economic crisis, and economic intervention, is the thing to worry about if you want to keep government under control. Which bodes poorly for current times, when the war’s won but the bailouts are coming fast and furious. Eternal vigilance–especially now.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee, and hosts Washington Watch on PJTV.com.

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By Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | 11/12/2008

Has the Millennium arrived?  Maybe Barak Obama’s election to the presidency is giving the Religious Left at least a foretaste of it.  After stewing with anger across 8 years in the wilderness, liberal prelates are shouting Hosanna in expectation of spiritual enlightenment during the Obama reign.

“We at the National Council of Churches urge all Americans to come together to uphold you with our hands, our hearts and our prayers,” the NCC’s chief, Michael Kinnamon wrote his congratulatory letter to Obama.  The NCC, previously the voice of America’s premier religious denominations, once truly walked in the corridors of power.  It has never fully accepted its transition from mainline to sideline in America’s religious demographic.  As recently as 1995, the NCC was invited to the White House to “pray” for President Clinton as he was resisting the new Republican Congress.  No doubt, the NCC is praying that its White House visitation rights will soon be restored.

Until recently headed by a former Democratic congressman, the NCC’s new chief is an actual theologian and potentially less political.  But even Rev. Kinnamon could not suppress his excitement.  “The leaders of this Council pledge to you our unstinting support in the difficult days to come,” he promised Obama.  “All of us are dependent on God’s loving mercy, and we will regularly pray for you and others elected to high leadership. May your wisdom and discernment serve you well, and may your health never wane.”

More typically, clergy would pray that God would grant a leader “wisdom and discernment.”  But since Obama so clearly is already blessed with both in abundance, the Rev. Kinnamon prayed more directly that these obviously pre-existing ample attributes would “serve you well.” He helpfully informed Obama that the NCC is standing “ready to work with you to respond to the realities that a loving God places before us each day.”  And he shared that the justice principles that guide the NCC include “equal opportunities for justice, shelter, education, and health care” and the assertion that “war, even when it is necessary to defend ourselves or the weak or the oppressed, is never the will of God.”  Nearly every one of the NCC’s over 30 member Protestant and Orthodox communions historically have subscribed to Christianity’s Just War Tradition, which sometimes commands war as an imperative for justice.  But Rev. Kinnamon, in typical Religious Left fashion, ignored his own tradition, and sophistically assumed that war is “never the will of God.”

Maybe even more excitable than the NCC was the United Methodist Council of Bishops, who were meeting in Georgia during the election, and could barely contain their joy.  Although President Bush is the first Methodist president since William McKinley, he was the target of routine denunciations by United Methodist officials.  The Bush White House responded by not issuing as many invites to the church’s officials as the bishops and others seemed to expect.   So, understandably, according to the United Methodist News Service, the bishops were “jubilant” over Obama’s election and “celebrated” with “tears, hymns and prayers,” while “while affirming his vision of change for the nation ‘based on hope for all the people, especially those who are disinherited and disenfranchised.'”

The church’s news report described the bishops behaving after Election Day almost as though it were Easter morning after Good Friday.  Amid all the joy, the bishops “hugged and many cried,” while “holding hands,” [and] they sang ‘My Lord, What a Morning’ and the Negro anthem ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ while many chanted ‘Yes, we did!’-the phrase echoed during Obama’s acceptance speech the night before.”

United Methodism’s chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill, Jim Winkler, who once called for President Bush’s impeachment before retracting the call amid controversy, was also looking forward to ending his exile from White House events.  “Barack Obama is a person of deep faith,” he enthused. “I was reminded of that fact last night when he made sure the (election night) festivities in Grant Park began with an invocation. I fully expect The United Methodist Church, for the first time in many years, will be welcomed in the White House.”

Another likely White House religious visitor during the Obama years is Sojourners chief Jim Wallis, who has been feverishly attempting to create an Evangelical Left that would undermine evangelicals’ traditional conservative voting habits.  This new Evangelical Left, largely a repackaging of the old Religious Left for a new audience that cannot remember the 1960’s, wants to persuade evangelicals that Global Warming and opposing U.S. military actions is more important than upholding traditional marriage or opposing abortion.

Wallis claimed that his campaign was successful.  “Polls leading up to the election showed a significant break from the previous generation on issues like gay marriage and abortion, which while still a top concern, it is not the only one,” he rejoiced.  “For those Christians, sanctity of life now includes poverty, war, genocide, and climate change. Healthy families are also still a top concern, but many Christians don’t see gay and lesbian rights as a primary cause of family breakdown.”  Wallis, an old 1960’s student radical who now wants to be seen as a soothing centrist, claimed, “These religious voters refuse to be distracted by the culture wars of the previous generation.”

According to Wallis, “This changing face of religion in America gave Barack Obama a 4.4 million voter net gain of Protestants and Catholics over John Kerry and helped lock up key swing states across the country.” He cited increased evangelical support for Obama over John Kerry in 2004 in states such as Colorado and Indiana. There is some truth in Wallis’ claim.  But the broader truth is that John McCain, whose almost abject refusal to discuss his own religious faith, still received 74 percent of the white evangelical vote, compared to Bush’s 79 percent.  Bill Clinton, who received about 30 percent of the evangelical vote, outperformed Obama.  White evangelicals comprise about one quarter of the electorate.

As to the Mainline Protestants, whose representatives at the NCC at the United Methodist Church were so beside themselves, they too seemed to have preferred McCain over Obama.  According to exit polls, non-evangelical Protestants favored McCain by 54 percent, compared to 56 percent for Bush in 2004.  Obama’s share of this group was 44 percent, identical to John Kerry’s.  Among all religious Americans, those who worship weekly or more preferred McCain by 55 percent, versus 43 percent for Obama.  Obama’s biggest gains were among the religiously unaffiliated, 75 percent of whom preferred him, compared to 67 percent for Kerry in 2004.

Seemingly, Jim Wallis and other fixtures of the Religious Left are attempting to persuade religious Americans to vote more like non-religious Americans.  But Wallis, as he prepares for impending White House audiences, is unlikely to market his appeal so starkly.


Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

By Matthew May

“For most of his presidency, he was beset by critics on all sides. He found himself operating in a perpetual cross fire from congressmen, governors, generals, office seekers, ordinary citizens – all dissatisfied, and many sincerely convinced that he was incompetent and leading the nation down the path of destruction.”[1] – Douglas Wilson, Lincoln‘s Sword

“Towards all this external evil, the man within the breast assumes a warlike attitude, and affirms his ability to cope single-handed with the infinite army of enemies. To this military attitude of the soul we give the name of Herosim.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Years, decades and — God-willing — centuries hence, students of American history will look back to the years 2001-2009 and wonder just why was so much vituperation, insult, and venom trained upon George W. Bush. Prologues of biographies and books about the 43rd president’s life and administration will feature quotes from writers, pundits and political hacks, senators, congressmen, and candidates declaring the mendacity, malice and criminality of President Bush, a tyrant unlike any other. Such statements, however, will be presented as mockery. As it is with many biographies of Abraham Lincoln, they will be presented as their own words laughing back at them.

Denunciation of President Bush has emanated from seemingly all corners of the world. Few individuals or groups have matched the slurs, lies, and outright hatred that have come from officials of the United Methodist Church (UMC), which incidentally happens to be the church of George W. Bush. Official UMC has portrayed President Bush as a war criminal, wicked and wickedly ignorant; an object of derision unworthy of the church and its educational institutions. They have distorted and denied his accomplishments while distorting and denying the teachings of the founder of Methodism in a misguided and dishonest attempt to beat the president about the head for acting incompatibly with the philosophy of the denomination.

Hostilities began well before the outrage on September 11, 2001. Just two months into the Bush Administration, White House Liaison Officer Tim Goeglin briefed the UMC’s Board of Church and Society’s directors along with representatives from the various annual conferences of the church. According to one account, “Goeglein was pelted with hostile questions by the liberal activists. And he left the session…with the strong impression that many of the church office holders hoped Bush would leave United Methodism.”[2]

Once the United States was attacked on our soil by al-Qaeda and the president commenced military operations in response, and decided upon preemptive action against Iraq to destroy the al-Qaeda network and regimes that harbored it while continuing to develop weaponry in violation of various United Nations resolutions, the United Methodist Church dropped any pretense of objectivity or support.

During a meeting in November 2001, at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, the Council of Bishops debated and rejected issuing a public statement explaining the church’s teachings on just war theory. Instead the bishops declared their neutrality in U.S. action against Osama bin Laden’s organization and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Additionally, language introduced by two of the bishops to specifically request UMC members pray for men and women of the United States military was voted down; rather, the statement offered prayers for “people who have been placed in harm’s way and their loved ones.”[3] “People” could certainly have meant U.S. military personnel, but it could have also meant Osama bin Laden and his surrogates, no?

Not all of the bishops on the council reflexively ignored the denomination’s teachings on just war theory or endorsed the explicit suggestions of other bishops that the United States was complicit “in creating some of the chaos,” as did Bishop Ann Shearer of Missouri.[4] Bishop Tim Whitaker of Florida disagreed with such language that amounted to justifying terrorist acts and stale denunciations of American imperialism and oppressive foreign policy as if lifted from an SDS manifesto. Unfortunately, voices like Whitaker’s were outnumbered and his ideas and thoughts, while politely considered, ended up on the cutting-room floor.

In an April 3, 2005, a full-page magazine ad entitled “A Prophetic Epistle from United Methodists Calling Our Brother George W. Bush to Repent” appeared. Signed by 120 United Methodist officials and several bishops, the letter demanded the president “to repent from domestic foreign policies that are incompatible with the teaching and example of Christ.” President Bush was charged with threatening “the very earth and all its inhabitants with open discussion of the use of nuclear weapons,” and promoting violence against “the sovereign nation of Iraq.” For good measure, the president’s domestic policies were deemed as “incongruent with Jesus’ teaching,” along with the gratuitous accusation that the two “seem completely ignorant of their denomination’s stances on many weighty moral issues…”

The phrase “sovereign nation of Iraq” is an instructive tactical ploy. Shortly before the 2004 presidential election, a group of UMC clergy wrote a public letter as part of a petition encouraging President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney – also a United Methodist – to change their vile ways. Reference was made in this letter, which again accused the president of “directly contradicted the philosophy of Jesus,” to the United Methodist’s Doctrinal Standards and General Rules found in the Discipline, the governing rules of the church.

The United States is described within the Standards as “a sovereign and independent nation, and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.” As such, the 2004 letter argued that Iraq held the same status and rights as the United States “no matter what anyone’s opinion is of its former head of state. Attacking a sovereign nation except in cases of legitimate self-defense is a violation of international law.” Also notable was what the letter did not say about Saddam Hussein; that he harbored al-Qaeda terrorists (Abu Nidal, to name one), that he flouted the United Nations time and again, that he presided over murder, rape, and the execution of homosexuals among other acts about which some of us may or may not have an “opinion.” In the eyes of the group proffering the petition, Hussein’s Iraq and the United States stood on equal footing.

A neat trick, that. Such a formulation ignores that it was not President Bush’s “opinion” that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to his neighbors, Israel, and the United States; it was the policy of the United Nations in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War in its various resolutions, which Saddam Hussein continually defied. Randall Hoven thoroughly decimates the left’s arguments regarding the reasoning for invading Iraq to begin with here. Mr. Hoven points out that the president was not engaged in “cowboy” antics, but acting upon the written law of the United States as passed by Congress. As he writes: “The invasion of Iraq was arguably the most justified case of military action the US has ever taken in its history, based on national defense, validated intelligence and legal authority, not to mention morality.  Articles of impeachment would have made more sense if Bush had not invaded.”

Notably, no such exhortations of repentance for causing violence in Iraq were put upon President Clinton by the United Methodist Church following his airstrikes against “sovereign Iraq” in December 1998, airstrikes that may be plausibly argued amounted to nothing more than an attempt to defect attention away from the House of Representatives voting to impeach President Clinton. On the contrary, the Detroit Annual Conference of the UMC – to cite one example – passed a resolution the following year that read, in part, “Military sanctions are reasonable policy in that they seek to contain the ability to create and use weapons of mass destruction.”[5] Apparently it depends on who is ordering the military strikes on “sovereign nations” in deciding who is and who is not acting in defiance of the teachings of the New Testament.

Academic Freedom, Methodist Style: Carter good, Bush bad

Most recently the belligerent attitude of the United Methodist Church toward the president of the United States has manifested itself in the controversy over the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The president decided that he would enjoy seeing his library, museum and public policy institute located at Southern Methodist University near Dallas. The First Lady is an SMU graduate and the Bushes worshipped at a prominent United Methodist congregation in Dallas before heading to Austin and the governor’s mansion.

In an article published in 2006 on the website UM Nexus (a publication of The Progressive Christian Magazine), Perkins School of Theology professors at Southern Methodist wrote “SMU’s best interests are served when leadership proceeds without assuming that the reasons for seeking the library at SMU are self-evident.” When listing their objections to the university playing host to this particular presidential library, the authors lazily repeated the litany of anti-Bush canards that so many misguided leftists take as self-evident: defending our nation against the terror masters is “illegal,” the battle in Iraq based on “false premises,” the Bush administration operates in “secrecy” (and, therefore, the library probably would as well), the president is building a legacy of “environmental predation” and exploiting “gay rights,” and, the inevitable cherry on top, “the most critical erosion of habeas corpus in memory.” Further, several dozen SMU professors and 28 mostly-retired bishops signed a petition protesting the Bush library, which read in part “As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate.”[6]

For all of the name-calling and silliness proffered by SMU professors and others regarding the library, there were honest brokers within the school and elsewhere ably defending the sanctity of academic freedom, recognizing and emphasizing the unprecedented educational opportunity for the university community. However, the accusation that the Bush Administration is a “failed presidency” presided over by a dissembler and, therefore, that person should not be affiliated with a Methodist educational institution is an example of official United Methodism being caught in a trap of its own making.

Emory University in Atlanta was founded by the Methodist church in 1836 and has been affiliated with the Carter Center since the latter’s inception in 1982. The Carter Center was housed on the Emory campus until 1986 when it moved to an off-campus facility in Atlanta. The center and the university each proudly describe themselves as “partners.” Taking the reasoning of the clergy and bishops who formulated and signed the petition regarding Southern Methodist as Methodist doctrine, however, it is in the best interests of Emory and the church to separate themselves from President Jimmy Carter.

As many are aware, President Carter brought much embarrassment upon himself in the wake of his last book, Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid. Two dozen members of the Carter Center’s advisory board resigned to protest the inaccuracies, misstatements and outright falsehoods President Carter writes, not to mention the documented accusations of plagiarism and anti-Israeli rhetoric within the text. President Carter has published a book of thinly-veiled anti-Israeli rhetoric that contains errors of commission and omission, and can now be used as a how-to textbook on plagiarism. Is James Earl Carter someone with whom United Methodist bishops think it’s appropriate for a church school to continue to associate? Is it not an utter embarrassment for the United Methodist Church to be connected with such a figure?

If the application of certain standards for one president is appropriate when questioning the affiliation with Methodist schools, it is appropriate for all. When United Methodist clergy and bishops begin to openly campaign for the dissolution of the relationship between Emory University and the Carter Center and Jimmy Carter, balance will be restored to the thinking and public pronouncements of those purportedly concerned about the image of the church. Only then will any petition or objection regarding George W. Bush and Southern Methodist University by Methodist clergy and bishops be taken seriously by serious minds. Until such time, such objection is nothing more than an expression of personal animus, myopia, and intellectual dishonesty.

Thankfully, the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, which is basically the governing body for Southern Methodist University, voted in July to approve the plans for a library, museum and policy center. Southern Methodist will now have a unique opportunity to attract presidential scholars and students for the rest of its days to study and debate the Bush administration, its successes, its failures, and the philosophies of the president himself. However, opponents of the president and of academic freedom continue to insult George W. Bush and purport shame that such a figure is associated with a Methodist university. Would that they would do the same in Atlanta – or perhaps take a moment to “celebrate diversity” of thought within the church that advertises its “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.”

The Founder

Because contemporary United Methodist leaders are so fond of issuing blanket accusations against President Bush and others that their actions in the war against Islamic jihad are in defiance of Methodism while protecting and promoting enablers of terrorist organizations and terrorists themselves, it is instructive to review the pertinent writings of John Wesley (1703-91), the founder of Methodism.

Many critics of President Bush find it convenient to refer to Wesley on such matters by often selectively and narrowly present a quote from Wesley’s essay “The Doctrine of Original Sin.” The oft-quoted passage reads “There is still a greater and more undeniable proof that the very foundation of all things, civil and religious, are utterly out of course in the Christian as well as the heathen world…There is war in the world! War between men! War between Christians! Now, who can reconcile war, I will not say to religion, but to any degree of reason or common sense?”[7] Reading this, it is easy to conclude at first blush that Wesley was a pacifist, opposed to armed conflict at all costs.

Like most reasonable people, Wesley abhorred war and its vagaries. Wesley attributed the presence of war in the world to the mosaic of man’s imperfections: sin, greed, ambition, and disrespect among nations. But Wesley was not merely a hopeless idealist; he dealt with the world as it was. While hoping and praying for the peacemakers he held as the standard of human behavior, Wesley realized, as did St. Augustine, that “there never has been nor, is there today, any absence of hostile foreign powers to provoke war.”[8] As such, Wesley believed the most important roles of the state were to protect religious liberty and maintain order and in both instances sometimes that meant the use of force.

Wesley was so committed to the question of religious liberty that he shortsightedly managed to ignore the salient issue of taxation-without-representation in failing to understand the outrage among American colonists toward the British. Because he felt Americans had such a degree of religious freedom granted to them by the benevolent crown, because he thought their instigation against the British such an affront, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, offered his services to England in the formation of a militia in opposition to the rebellious colonists. The significance of this cannot be overstated. Wesley was not offering to bear arms against a band of Godless marauders or thieves. He was offering to lead men in the killing of fellow citizens – fellow Christians – in the name of the British Empire. To suggest that Wesley was a pacifist of any sort is to totally distort his actions.

What left-leaning United Methodists hope you do not know or recall when they selectively lift passages from the writings of John Wesley in furtherance of discrediting conservatives or anyone else on the question of military action by this republic is that Wesley was a proponent of just war theory.

Just War

St. Augustine elaborated upon the just war doctrine (which Aristotle is often credited with devising) in his work City of God: “A just war…is justified only by the injustice of an aggressor; and that injustice ought to be a source of grief to any good man, because it is a human injustice.” Some claim that City of God was directly aimed at pagans who accused the church of inviting Rome’s doom engineered by the Goths when admonishing Rome’s citizens against worshipping pagan gods. Whether this interpretation is true remains open for debate but the fact remains that Augustine’s work on the subject influenced many men of God.

St. Thomas Aquinas, among others, furthered Augustine’s basic precepts and conditions of just war theory. John Wesley was another such man. His thoughts on the matter were probably best summarized in his Notes on the Old Testament, within which he reviewed the circumstances surrounding the Amorite king’s attack upon the Israelites: “By God’s malice, that so Sihon’s malice might be the more evident and inexcusable, and their title to the country more clear in the judgment of all men, as being gotten by a just war into which they were forced in their own defense.”[9]

Lest there be any confusion, no rational person argues that such a theory is a convenient default setting for war at any and all times. Augustine posited that personal belief in non-violence is separate from the social responsibility for maintaining order and safety on the part of national leaders.  Augustine recognized and validated the notion that there will be occasions, regrettably enough, when violent responses and actions must be undertaken. These actions must be undertaken by individuals in positions of civic leadership, individuals who must strike a balance between Augustine’s delineation.

Additionally, the purpose of just war theory is not to dilute the horrors of war by labeling it “just.” At its narrowest, no war is just. War is a violation of the teachings of the New Testament and is the product of the sinful nature of man. To argue otherwise is a delusion. Yet if John Wesley understood the practical measures that nation-states must sometimes undertake for the common defense and well-being of its citizens, how is that leaders in contemporary Methodism fail to recognize the same? But this is the case. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 atrocities upon New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, the Council of Bishops maintained that the attack did not merit a military reprisal by the United States and refused to label the attacks “evil.” Think what you will of the Iraq operation. But if an attack on the scale of 9/11 does not rise to the just war standard in the eyes of the modern United Methodist Church, what does? Was not the American military response “a just war into which they were forced in their own defense?”

It is unnecessary to reargue the myriad of reasons as to why the current military defense against Islamic jihad is necessary and just. Those on the left within the United Methodist Church and without will never be convinced of its necessity, even as the campaign in Iraq was undertaken in the name of the enforcement of resolutions passed by the political body most revered, respected, and referenced by the left. In spite of the prima facie success of the United States armed forces in this struggle – no further attacks on the homeland, the systemic destruction of al-Qaeda’s leadership and rank-and-file, the burgeoning democracy in Iraq – the current United Methodist leadership will forever accuse President Bush of violating the teachings of the church and Jesus Christ by engaging in an “illegal” war. It is clear from letters to the president signed by the bishops and other writings and pronouncements that the moral station of Iraq under the boot of Hussein was equal to that of the United States. No invasion or military operation could rise to meet any just war criteria. Instead, the church has fallen in line with its leftist counterparts in the media and elected office, reduced to name-calling and accusations based on false premises, distortions, and outright lies.

The Other Cheek

United Methodists in positions of leadership often accuse President Bush of acting outside the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Methodist Discipline, the governing rules of the church. Yet has there ever been a president of the United States or any other American political figure who has more faithfully obeyed the teaching of Jesus Christ’s teaching to turning the other cheek toward his political enemies than George W. Bush? Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls him “a total failure”; Sen. Dick Durbin attempted to link him with Pol Pot, Stalin, and Hitler during a speech on the floor of the Senate. Rep. Pete Stark accused President Bush and cronies laughing themselves silly at the  American war dead in Iraq. There is literally not enough room to fully itemize the insults, lies, and slander thrown against President Bush these past eight years.

As often as allows, President Bush has met with families of those who have given the last full measure of devotion to their nation. These meetings are always private; never have any media been allowed to intrude. More often than not, such meetings would totally escape any media attention at all but for the desire of many of the families to publicly express their gratitude for the president’s concern, compassion, and sensitivity. Of course, not everyone involved in these meetings pays deference to the Commander-in-Chief – often he has been told to his face that his policies and his actions led directly to the death of a son or daughter. Rather than argue the point, President Bush has listened patiently and with kindness, sharing tears and expressing his own grief.

The responsibility of presiding as leader of the free world in this tumultuous period of history weighs heavily on George W. Bush. To suggest that it is easy – or amusing – for him to absorb the deaths and injuries of the military he commands is beyond crass. It is sinful and worthy of repentance by those who so often suggest such things.

To the dismay of many allies and supporters, the president has never responded in kind personally. Never. On the contrary there are seemingly endless examples of the president’s kindness to his political foes, their families and associates, a kindness that comes congenitally and is an outgrowth of the numerous pledges of bipartisanship made by then-Governor Bush during the 2000 campaign. President Bush signed legislation to honor the late Robert F. Kennedy, naming the Justice Department building in Washington after him. Recall the kind, affectionate words of respect and fraternity delivered when President Bush dedicated the official White House portraits of Bill and Hillary Clinton. These gracious statements and sentiments of good feeling by George W. Bush go beyond the banal courtesies extended by presidents. This is the way the 43rd president operates at all times. It is indisputably unimaginable to consider the left’s “Man of God,” Jimmy Carter, ever being so publicly gracious to George W. Bush.

Of course, groups like the UMC Council of Bishops will argue that George W. Bush should have turned the other cheek in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 and concentrated – as the 2002 Detroit Annual Conference urged – on non-violent responses accompanied by increased efforts to “open channels for oppressed peoples to be heard, taken seriously, and responded to.”[10] What that means is anyone’s guess. Again, such a stance is willful or generally ignorant of the responsibilities and duties of leaders of state as eloquently and exhaustively described by Wesley, Aquinas, and St. Augustine among others.

Regardless, as Democrat office-holders, leftist activists and pundits bent over backwards attempting to gain association with what was presented as overwhelming popular sentiment against the prosecution of the battle in Iraq in the war against Islamic jihad, President Bush continued to lead, unconcerned with insults and outrages he knew were fleeting. Even so, such comportment – especially for a politician in Washington, D.C. – is not an easy thing for any man to sustain, even a Christian.

Contrast for a moment how President Clinton dealt with, spoke of, and portrayed his ideological foes and the lengths personally taken to discredit and destroy people like Kenneth Starr. Think of the countless caricatures of President Bush as a simpleton with simian qualities, yukking it up with oilmen over flag-draped coffins, cartoons lampooning his alleged stupidity or ordering around his black Secretary of State. Now think about the furor raised by Barack Obama in the wake of one cartoon. Finally, think of all of the vile counterattacks proffered by President Bush and his administration. Res ipsa loquitur.

Agree or disagree with the policies of George W. Bush as you will. But any objective observer with a modicum of understanding of the Christian ethic in general and the principles of Methodism in particular cannot say with any justification that George W. Bush has acted in defiance of his church’s teachings. In fact, President Bush’s actions as an individual and as a leader of state align much more closely with the philosophies and teachings of Wesley than do contemporary leaders of the United Methodist Church.

An Ugly Chapter

Merely by virtue of being a United Methodist, George W. Bush is certainly not entitled to the support of the hierarchy of the United Methodist Church. Yet for nearly eight years that hierarchy has gone beyond disagreement – further than vociferous disagreement, even. As to the nature of the enemy we face – real, substantive, tangible evil that sends children to their death while simultaneously looking children in the eyes before exterminating them – the United Methodist Church has nothing to say other than bromides about root causes, tolerance, and the effectiveness of the United Nations as opposed to that of the United States. Given a clear choice in this period of history, however, the church did indeed declare an enemy about in the world.

Despite his Christian example, his reliance upon the United Methodist Church’s preferred political body to enforce its own resolutions with regard to Iraq, and his unwillingness as the leader of state to repeat the mistakes of Munich in appeasing those who openly threaten and the mistakes of his predecessor in ignoring the clear warnings and acts of war upon the United States by Islamic jihad, the United Methodist Church chose to single out one man for the world’s ills: George W. Bush, United Methodist.

If a Christian denomination refuses to call true evil by its name yet remains comfortable promoting the idea that those who attempt to destroy that evil in the cause of freedom are worthy of its condemnation, how can anyone take the teachings within that denomination seriously? The United Methodist Church has been unable to get a basic moral absolute correct. History will not look kindly upon the deliberate acts of relativism, hypocrisy, inconsistency, and mean-spiritedness committed by the United Methodist Church on questions of its own theology, morality, and the responsibilities of the state in the face of grave threats and acts of war these past eight years. The shame of such behavior will never be expunged.

Matthew May is a United Methodist layman and welcomes comments at matthewtmay@yahoo.com


[1] Wilson, Douglas L. Lincoln’s Sword. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.

[2] Tooley, Mark. Taking Back The United Methodist Church. Anderson, Ind.: Bristol House, 2008.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Detroit Annual Conference Journal, 1999.

[6] Tooley, Mark. Taking Back The United Methodist Church. Anderson, Ind.: Bristol House, 2008.

[7] Wesley, John. “Doctrine of Original Sin.” The Complete Works of John Wesley, Vol. 9.

[8] St. Augustine. City of God. New York: Image Books, 1958.

[9] Wesley, John. Notes on the Old Testament.

[10] Detroit Annual Conference Journal, 2002.


November 15, 2008

By Otis A. Glazebrook IV

George Washington was acutely aware that his presidency would set the course for all that followed. No where is that clearer than the way that Washington handled the “Whiskey Rebellion” that began August 1, 1794 near the end of his first term.

The Whiskey Tax was the original “sin tax” conceived by Alexander Hamilton as a way to pay off the Federal Government’s assumption of the country’s Revolutionary War debt.

Adversely affected by the new sin tax were some Pennsylvania farmers who were thought to be a few over consuming (whiskey) “bumpkins” by the government “elites.” These bumpkins resorted to their old playbook and began screaming the Revolutionary War chant of “No Taxation without Representation!”

The outrage quickly spread throughout Western Pennsylvania. Hamilton had thought the more numerous “refined” citizens of the eastern part of the new states would not object to the tax since they drank less whiskey and would not be so adversely affected.

The “Whiskey Rebellion” gave Washington a chance to don his old uniform and raise an army of over 12,000 men. Washington (with Hamilton at his side) and his army traveled to Western Pennsylvania to inform the bumpkins that they in fact did have representation due the recently won revolution and subsequent formation of a government.

The bulk of the rebels could never be found; but the militia expended considerable effort rounding up 20 prisoners, clearly demonstrating federal authority. The men were imprisoned, where one died. Two other prisoners, including Philip Vigol, were convicted of treason and sentenced to death by hanging. Washington, however, pardoned them on the grounds that one was a “simpleton,” and the other “insane.”

The Whiskey Rebellion marked the second time under the United States Constitution that the federal government used military force to exert authority over its citizens. It was also one of only two times in American history that a sitting President personally commanded the military in the field. (Madison was the other, during the War of 1812.)

An earlier “tax” insurrection in 1786 known as Shays Rebellion had exposed the weaknesses of the original Articles of Confederation. Thus providing strong impetus for the Constitutional Convention in May of 1787.

The military suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion set a precedent that U.S. citizens who wished to change the law had to do so peacefully through constitutional means. Otherwise, the government would meet any threats to disturb the Union with force, as the South would learn three generations later.

The suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion also had the unintended consequence of encouraging small whiskey producers in Kentucky and Tennessee, then the American frontier, to stay outside the sphere of Federal control for many years. In these frontier areas, whiskey producers also found good corn-growing conditions as well as limestone-filtered water and therefore began making whiskey from corn. Corn whiskey is now more commonly known as Bourbon.

The whiskey tax was repealed in 1803, never having been successfully collected.

What is truly remarkable about this entire episode is that George Washington was the largest distiller of whiskey in the United States in 1799, producing 11,000 gallons of rye and corn whiskey. In the 1790s federal excise tax was collected from distilleries based upon the capacity of the still and the number of months it distilled.  In 1798, Washington paid a tax of $332 on stills producing 616 gallons and operating for 12 months.

George Washington was willing to enforce an unpopular tax against his self interest.

We have just elected another person to the office that George Washington originated. Our President-elect claims to be “his brother’s keeper;” yet he can not dig into own pockets to help his half-brother who lives on $12.00 per year or an Aunt who lives in squalor in Boston.

Somehow, I just don’t think the new guy measures up.


Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/11/politicians_then_and_now.html at November 15, 2008 – 06:22:13 PM EST


The Sam Adams Alliance presents Common Sense by Paul Jacob

« An Unfair Doctrine

The Fix Is In »

Unbefreakinlievable

<!– Written by Redactor on November 10th, 2008–>Now what?

Well, now the governors are going to Washington to beg for bailouts. New York Governor Paterson and New Jersey Governor Corzine have schlepped their way up to the Hill to explain that they are “cutting all [they] can” from their bloated budgets, and to demand some “relief.”

I don’t believe that the notoriously corrupt governments of New York and New Jersey have pared their budgets to the bone. Or that the only way to cut another dollar is to throw some little old lady out onto the street.

I also don’t believe that the federal government has some magical way of getting money that state governments don’t have. It all comes from the same group of us taxpayers. Unless these governors are talking about taking cash from other states, where else would the money come from? Where but out of thin air — borrowing plus the trusty old printing press?

The feds are wearing the same blinkers as these gubernatorial guys. For example, the wizards at the Federal Reserve are struggling to bring interest rates to zero — as if cheap credit in the past had nothing to do with all the misbegotten easy mortgage loans spawning the present crisis.

Now, I put it to you: If fiscal irresponsibility can be increased from mammoth to infinity, will that, at last, solve the problem? If the Fed were to drop-ship crates of cash and credit cards onto every neighborhood in America, will that, at last, solve the problem?

Unbefreakinlievable.

We need some Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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Monya Skidmore

I cannot believe this, what in the hell are those two idiots thinking. How dare they expect us taxpayers to foot their cities bills. We are having apoplexy now about Wall Street, AIG, Fannie and Freddie and these two want to get in on the deal. I just hope they get laughed off the Capitol steps.

  1. Nov
    10

5:46
PM

Hank G

I don’t think they’ll be laughed off the capitol steps, based on the history of stupidity from that area.

I think they’ll come to Texas and a few other responsible states and steal a bunch of cash there, or the good ol’ boys at the Fed will simply print another bunch of “money” for these thieves. That’s the way it’s been since the idiot Wilson invented the national bank, why expect it to change now? I believe the treaty between the USZ and Texas specifically gave Texas th option of withdrawing for that contract-think it’s time to do that? I may be wrong, but it’s worth a try-at least, we have responsible government here, thanks largely to the fact that we elect our judges and keep the liberal idiots off the mench, except in a few cases. Then, when we find out about them, we toss ‘em to the alligators.

  1. Nov
    10

6:03
PM

Tom

Instead of bailing out wall street with 700Billion give the money to main street tax payers. Give everyone that filed a tax return last year 1 million let and let then spend it as they see fit
I believe that the vast majority would 1st pay off their house that would solve the housing foreclosure problem, Then they would buy a new car that intern would help the automotive industry. I am sure most would put some in the bank which would help provide money to lend. Lastly they might invest in the stock market and in turn get the ball rolling again. All this for about 200 million not 700 Billion with money to spare.

Larry Melton

I have one word for the stupid.
( Fairtax. )
Bill H.R.25/S25 will solve the problems in a short few weeks.
The Fairtax will fully fund S.S. and Medicare.
The Bill can be found at Congress.org.


PM

eeldon

When you said pour buckets of money, you remind me of the Weimar Republic in German which helped bring Hitler to power. It took wheelbarrows full of money printed by the government to purchase a loaf of bread.

But then that is one of the great reasons we no longer teach history in our schools.

We really would not want our children, our parents, our teachers, or our political leaders (and I use that last word with tongue in cheek) to learn anything from the past.

Jim Mc Quill an

It’s not really the governor of NY but it’s legislature. Patterson submitted a budget that was $2B under last year and the DEMOCRATIC state legislature told him to go stuff it.

Corzine of NJ was on Cavuto a couple of weeks ago and told him that he would not, repeat not, going to ask for a handout.

This has to stop somewhere. I think that as mentioned above why don’t we give every one l million.

This keeps up and the people protesting in the streets of Washington, DC will not be the kooks that normally are but the folks from hometown America. They will have the time because they most likely will not have any jobs to distract them.

Richard Keene

WHO’S RUNNING THIS FREAKEN ASYLUM? IT’S TIME FOR RON PAUL!

R.N. KEENE

WHO’S RUNNING THIS FREAKEN ASYLUM? IT’S TIME FOR RON PAUL!

E!!-lizabeth Crum

I would have gone with “unfreakinbelievable” rather than “unbefreakinlievable,” otherwise I agree with every word.

(Paul – will you shoot me an email when you get a chance? Thanks!)

William P. McMillen

It doesn’t take long for a rescue to become a bailout to become a raid on the Treasury. You open the door with a 700 billion dollar bailout and laden it with 150 billion dollar worth of pork and absolutely no plan or the means to implement a plan and you get feeding time for the hogs on the farm.
Throwing money at a problem they don’t really understand will not solve it. However, the hardest thing for any well-meaning politician to do is “do nothing.”

Kevin

How about all of our dedicated “public servants” (i.e. politicians) take pay cuts? That would be the best place to start.

Kenneth H. Fleischer

There is only one way that, in the end, the Federal government will act to “solve” this economic crisis, which, of course, it caused: Inflation of the currency, which the Federal Reserve has already busied itself in doing.

Prices will eventually react to this, and then “inflation” will be on everybody’s lips, and the next bubble, whatever it is to be, will form. This governmental cycle is sometimes called a “business cycle.” Of course, the government will find someone else to blame, as it always does.

William Rodgers

I keep hearing about another stimulus package around the corner. If giving people their money back (or giving some the money of others) is a great way to “stimulate” the economy then why did they take it away from us in the first place? Do any of the DC idiots ever think about these things?



MaryEllen Lempa

Paul, your column has a Chicago address on it. What’s the difference between “fiscal responsibility’s practiced by Chicago, C(r)ook County, or Illinois and the feds or NY or NJ? With Obama and his Chicago crew on the way to the White House, I have a feeling we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

Msgt. John USMC, (Ret)

A lack of personal responsibility and accountability. When will these so-called politicians, I call them “pimps”, get it? There is no way to fix a broken house other to tear it down and rebuild it. This is yet another example of “Pimps Gone Wild” at the expense of US. I don’t know about others but, I’m getting damn tired of all the nonsense. I want my country back. I will be one of the first ones to gladly give my “riches” to finance a take-down of this evil. It is looooooong over-due.