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Did You Say Abe Lincoln?

Involuntary presidency? Obama's hero. Caldwell's learning curve. Plus more.

7.23.08

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CIVIL DISAGREEMENT
Re: Christopher Orlet's King Abe at 199:

Lincoln surely knew succession was constitutional and that the document never would have been signed with any other understanding. It was mostly Northern states that made that clear at the very signing.

But he also knew the Federalist Papers. And those papers convinced, barely, a majority of Americans to risk the new State because they were convinced by the Papers that, separated, it was natural for men to eventually become enemies as Europe constantly illuminated.

So a separation would not have resulted in peace; anything but. And by no means only North and South. Snap out of it, people.
-- James Wilson

In his review of T. L. Krannawitter's book Vindicating Lincoln, Orlet says, "The issue, then, was the natural right of a people to withdraw from a voluntary union versus the importance of keeping the great democratic experiment alive. Lincoln chose the latter, thereby preserving the union and ending the peculiar institution of slavery."

In fact, this was not the issue. A "voluntary" union no longer existed once the States ratified the Constitution. Orlet and neo-confederates may deny this, but it is nonetheless true. Long before Southern secessionists raised the issue, a group called the "anti-Federalists" complained that the Constitution failed to preserve the "federal" form of government, in which the Union is regarded as a confederation of sovereign states. Instead, these anti-Federalists argued, the Convention created a "national" government where the Union is regarded as a consolidation of the states. If the Constitution were a confederation of sovereign States, as neo-confederates claim, what were the anti-Federalists complaining about? As against the anti-Federalists, Madison said, "The proposed Constitution, therefore, even when tested by the rules laid down by its antagonists, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both."

Thus, Orlet does not understand the nature of American government (I mean as it existed before the Supreme Court began its usurpations under the incorporation fantasy).

It's true that the States ratified the Constitution as independent sovereign states, but in ratifying it they gave up some of their sovereignty. What remained was a mixed sovereignty. This is seen in the supremacy clause of the Constitution. Judges are bound by the authority of the Constitution, "anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." The States entered into the compact with full knowledge of this supremacy clause, and were presumably familiar with anti-Federalist objections to the new Constitution and to the national government that would be formed under its auspices. The supremacy clause, however, did not take away all sovereignty in the States; just those powers having to do with national matters. The States were still sovereign on domestic matters. This is entirely in keeping with the views of Locke, who said: "Whosoever therefore out of a state of nature united into a community, must be understood to give up all the power, necessary to the ends for which they united into society, to the majority of the community."

Madison rejected the "indiscreet zeal of the adversaries to the Constitution" who wanted the States to retain supremacy vis-a-vis the central government. Thus Madison had to contend with an early version of the state rights philosophy. The supremacy clause was necessary because, "[T]he world would have seen, for the first time, a system of government founded on an inversion of the fundamental principle of all government; it would have seen the authority of the whole society everywhere subordinate to the authority of the parts; it would have been a monster, in which the head was under the direction of the members."

Contrary to Orlet and neo-confederates, neither the framers nor their anti-Federalist opponents contemplated any right of secession under the Constitution. A right of secession under the Constitution would have defeated the whole purpose of the Constitution vis-a-vis the Articles of Confederation. In addition, a right to secession is not the same as a right of revolution. The former is constitutionally illegal, while the latter is a natural right, an extra-constitutional right. However, the right of revolution has to be exercised with extreme caution, for as Locke said, there must be a long train of abuses, not a mere mismanagement of public affairs, to justify it.

Orlet doesn't realize that Southern leaders such as Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens rejected the Lockean right of revolution. Davis said: "[T]he sovereign States here represented proceeded to form this Confederacy, and it is by abuse of language that their act has been denominated a revolution." Stephens argued that the seceding States were attempting to preserve the Constitution, not to overthrow it. "I do maintain there was no rebellion, no resistance to lawful authority in the action of the Confederates in what occurred at Fort Sumter..." Stephens even admitted that there was no basis for revolution: "What right has the North assailed? What interest of the South has been invaded? What justice has been denied?"

The key characteristic of true revolution is that the cause must be just. There is simply nothing in the Southern argument for secession that can be counted as a just cause for revolution, for the purpose of southern secession was not the preservation of freedom, but rather the continuation of slavery. As against Orlet's claim, the evidence is clear that Lincoln was acting in a manner that was entirely consistent with the natural rights tradition of the framers.
-- Vern Crisler
Gilbert, Arizona

While I don't worship Lincoln as many Republicans do, I do give him his due. There was probably no other President in our history willing to sustain the killing that his cause brought about to end an institution that had been in existence since the beginning of time and would have died a natural death due to the industrial revolution. Another 20 years would have fundamentally changed the economic reality of slavery to the point that reasonable people could have sat down and resolved it without 600,000 dead. It gets lost in all the save the Union hype that 600,000 dead by 1865 would be 5.8 million dead if the Civil war were fought today. The entire population of the United States in 1860 was less than California today. The Democrat Party was and is still the party of slavery by whatever means.

I take it as a matter of faith that most of the people involved in the anti-slavery movement had no interest or appreciation for the economic changes coming down the pike. Predicting the future is always a risky business but the fundamentals for the mechanization of farming were already in the works and massed slave labor was going to become more trouble than it was worth in a relatively short time. Even a bigot understands the value of money.

My main beef with Lincoln the President, not the man, is that he took it upon himself to amend the Constitution by force of arms therefore destroying the value of and respect for the Constitution. The Supreme Court amends it all the time without consequence because there is no respect for it any more. The trials and tribulations to bring the recent 2nd Amendment case outcome and that DC is not honoring even the spirit of the ruling demonstrate this pretty well. The resultant 14th amendment is even today used to justify the expansion of the Federal Government into more and more private dealings between people. Equal protection under the law is the main driving force behind entitlements and outcome based government programs including Public Schools. There was some balance then but no longer. States are just pimps for the Federal Government now. These are just some of the downsides to Federalism winning out over States Rights. Lincoln set this in motion. No one knows what Lincoln's long term plans for a reunited Union was but I suspect given the latitude he gave Grant with Lee's surrender things would have turned out better had Booth failed. I'm not suggesting that there weren't positives in all this but does anyone really think 5.8 million dead Americans would be worth the price to end Slavery if it still existed today? We've lost just 4100 in over 5 years or about what we lost on D-Day 1944 in a conflict that is often framed as "lost," "unwinnable," "unaffordable." Can you imagine Barack Obama as Lincoln in 1860? The Civil war would have ended after the first Battle of Bull Run. The South would have won and in 20 years or less abolished slavery on it's own and rejoined the Union because it was unviable in the developing industrialized world without the North. I suspect things would pretty much be the same to day if the Civil War had not happened with one exception. Several decades of hatred toward the North and racial strife would have been reduced to manageable levels. In some ways the downsides of Lincoln's war are still with us.

Those that worship Lincoln will reject this but not being in the front ranks of the Army Grant sent against dug in Confederates at Cold Harbor in 1864 would tend to gloss over the true cost of Lincoln's vision for a Union held together by force of arms. To those Republicans that have suggested in the past that we need another Lincoln, be very, very careful what you wish for. You'd probably get McClellan, Pope, Hooker, Burnside, Meade, Grant and 5.8 million dead right along with the new Lincoln. I believe there was more to Abraham Lincoln than the narrow view much of history reflects but 600,000 dead Americans is pretty hard to overlook.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

The book Lincoln the Man has been re-printed and is readily available from the Foundation for American Education (FAEbooks.org).
-- Christopher M. Sullivan

OUTDATED
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Why Obama Models Dukakis:

The fundamental mistake in Jeffrey Lord's column is the assumption that most Americans understand the connection between liberalism and economic illiteracy. They do not, and will not, as long as the MSM is a willing accomplice to the perpetuation of misinformation championed by those same liberals.

Americans know they are being lied to -- but they don't know by whom, exactly.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

"Were the American people ever to fully understand that it is liberal political philosophy in action that is directly responsible for high gas prices, well, can you say President McCain?"

News flash: By the day, we are becoming more aware.

That awareness includes the very obvious fact that, at least with respect to the energy crisis, the Democrat representatives and senators in Washington, as well as their congressional allies, do not represent the people, do not care about the people and, apparently, are enemies of the people.

Try as he might, Barack "I would have preferred a gradual adjustment [to gasoline prices]" Obama cannot separate himself -- we must not let him separate himself -- from them or the leftists/liberals of Tinseltown or elsewhere who would destroy capitalism and our society.

And, you bet, I can say, proudly and securely, without reservation, "President McCain" -- now and after he wins in November.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Your writer Jeffrey Lord calls them "liberals" -- self-named ex-Communists and ex-Socialists ever since these names became unpopular after the terror, poverty, and mass murder sullied those previously popular names. The same people have turned into "environmentalists." For example -- everybody forgot that the ACLU, now "independent," used to be the official legal arm of the Communist Party USA back in the 1930's. The energy crisis of today has been the work of these Communists for the past 30 years -- they really got their serious start under Carter. In order to obtain total power they need either war, wide-spread poverty, economic crisis, armies of unemployed, racial riots, unschooled and illiterate masses -- they got those already thanks to the teacher unions. Their talk about the bright future reminds us all, refugees from Communist regimes, of the speeches by Stalin, Tito, Ceaucescu, Castro, Mao, Kim Il Sung, and other mass murderers of the past 90 years. Speeches by Obama, Gore, Reid, Pelosi -- I see not an iota of difference between their words and those of the above mentioned "liberals," "liberators," and heads of various "Democratic People's Republics."
-- Marc Jeric
Las Vegas, Nevada

Great examples of the destructiveness of liberal energy policies. You forgot the granddaddy of them all, however, the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island. Built and tested in the late 80's, Mario Cuomo refused to approve the evacuation plan. The result was a $6 Billion boondoggle (most of which was picked up by the state and the local utility customers), rolling blackouts in New York on summer days, and the highest utility bills in the country.

Thanks, Mario.
-- Chris B.
New Jersey

The American Spectator and other conservative voices continue to compare the New Democratic Messiah to past fallen prophets (idols?) of the Left. Yes, Barack Obama is even more liberal than McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis, but he is an orator of exceptional skill -- at least when he is reading from prepared scripts. The problem with the conservatives' voice is it is not being heard by the teeming masses. Why? The liberal news media continues Obama's hagiography on a daily basis. Those who adore BHO will not be easily dissuaded from their blissful worship, though members of the Church of Clinton, Distaff Branch, may be open to conversion. They are already heretical in their belief that their Lady of Suffering and Wisdom was denied her rightful ascent to the throne (if not heaven itself) and may be open to further heresy by voting for the demi-liberal John McCain the Elder. McCain, if he is willing to fight a good fight, may be able to reach voters who are not yet caught up in the rapture of Obama. But McCain must bring the fight to Obama since he will find no allies in the mainstream media.

McCain cannot depend on Republicans for a base because his unorthodox approach to conservatism has eroded their support. TAS and talk show radio can, and will continue to offer support for McCain by pointing out just how purely liberal BHO is, but who is listening? The very people who would never vote for any Democrat of any stripe. For McCain to have a fighting chance against the junior Senator from Illinois, he has to force Obama to clearly state his actual policies. If McCain can maneuver Obama into a series of town hall meetings, Obama will slip up and actually speak his mind -- as he did in San Francisco when he remarked how "bitter" small-town Americans "cling to guns or religion." Obama's record demonstrates that he is to the far left of the majority of Americans, and he knows this. Obama uses his lofty rhetoric to disguise his true liberalism. If Obama is so proud of his record and policies, let his voice be lifted as well as it is already exalted.

The conservative media's quixotic drive to defeat the giant will continue to be a fool's errand of tilting at windmills until McCain is able to throw off his woeful countenance and challenge Obama to a duel of words in front of the entire kingdom. Until that time, defeating Obama remains an impossible dream.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

I really enjoy the work and opinions of Mr. Lord; his latest is a fine example of a very accurate and sobering analytical style. But, I gotta tell ya, Obama may be akin to Dukakis but John McCain's no Ronald Reagan -- and, if old John doesn't get his [stuff] together he's gonna end up, as will we, in a real funk come January 20, 2009.
-- Tim Botkin
Muncie, Indiana

CHURCH PROGRESSIVISM
Re: Mark Tooley's The Rev. Kirbyjon's Caldwell's Progress:

The author asks, "But how far will traditional pastors who support Obama be permitted to "stand up" publicly for their Christian faith if their theology contravenes the political correctness demanded by some in the Obama coalition?" This would be a non-issue if the pastors involved were doing the work they are supposed to be doing...winning souls to Christ, not trying to win elections for anyone!

There is a place at the table for Christians in the political process, but it is a dangerous game for any pastor, be they conservative or liberal, to mix too closely with politics. When that happens it blurs the line between the legitimate functions of a ministry and the electioneering of regular politicos, and as a pastor that should be a line that you never even come close to. Why is a pastor endorsing any politician for any office, especially if that pastor can't keep up with the ministries attached to his own church, or doesn't quite know what stance his church has on the issue of marriage?

Maybe Rev. Caldwell would be better served to get to know what is going on his denomination and his 14,000(!!) member congregation than in running web sites to attack James Dobson, or trying to serve as an Obama surrogate. It seems that Rev. Caldwell has forgotten Jesus' admonition in Luke 16:13 that, "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." I think this applies because a pastor who is so wrapped up in a political campaign that he doesn't know his own ministry is obviously more interested in serving a politician's need than doing God's work.
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Weasels come in all shapes, sizes, and colors I suppose. Reverend Caldwell is proving to be one more weasel. To claim he didn't know Metanoia was a ministry of his church, to claim he didn't know the group was listed on the church's website, how is he any better than Barack Obama who claimed he didn't know the political philosophy of his spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright?

Whether anyone agrees with the Apostle Paul's admonition that those who participate in such acts shall receive just recompense in their bodies is not the issue. Everyone by now should know that God refers to a particular sexual union as an abomination, the strongest condemnation used in Scripture.

The issue is a lying minister who once proclaimed the Name above all other names, Christ Jesus. He did so publicly then weaseled out four years later. If you are a Christian, as Paul would say, defend the faith.

Reverend Caldwell, however, has sold his soul for a mess of pottage. He now denies even knowing what is going on inside his church. Why? Because he in no way wishes to harm our potential weasel-in-chief.

Whether it's Pat Robertson selling out to the purveyors of the AGW fraud, or lesser lights toning down their message so as not to offend non-Christians, I'm sick of the weasels that have overrun the pulpits of America.

Jimmy Swaggart may have fallen from grace for a time, but at least I know he is one man who doesn't waffle on what the Bible teaches. Caldwell should hang his head in shame, but I have a feeling the Obama Moment is just too enticing to stand up against him for the sake of Christ's church.

I suppose when it comes to religion and poliltics, Pastor Caldwell has decided to throw Jesus Christ under the bus.
-- Robert McClain
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Note to Rev. Caldwell: The politically correct Obama is not the man for you! He will throw you under the bus with his other black minister. The man has no loyalties.

And, once again, the party of free speech and free thought strikes hard. I support the right of these knuckleheaded gays to say and do as they please. Could they please do the same for me and mine?
-- Judy Beumler
Kentucky

ARABIAN NIGHTS
Re: Peter Hannaford's Mozart in Arabia:

Who is committing the greater apostasy, King Abdullah or The American Spectator, through the voice of Peter Hannaford? A conservative (magazine) admitting that "MODERATE VOICES in Islam" exist. I gleefully await the readers' response to this revelation.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

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