Education, Free Society, Trivia, Uncategorized

Presidents’ Day – Things to think about

© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

By the only clearly objective test our greatest president was William Howard Taft. (also Greatest Chief Justice, Greatest Secretary of War, Greatest Solicitor General….)

The only good politician is one who has been dead at least a generation.

The sure way to get a second term is to have a conflict going at the time of the election.A

Hamilton wanted a system of a Presidency for life or good behavior with a much looser standard for impeachment.

There was talk of impeaching George Washington over his pardon of persons involved in the Whiskey Insurrection of 1794. There was also talk of impeaching Jefferson for the Louisiana Purchase.

The election of 1840 was won by name recognition of William Henry Harrison over Martin Van Buren. Harrison was a war hero from the War of 1812 and earlier. Van Buren, father of the political machine was President of the United States.

Harrison gave the longest inaugural address, caught pneumonia and died 31 days later without having time to do substantial damage to the Republic.

Between 1837 and 1861, no President served more than a single term.

Only three Presidents have been elected directly from the Senate. They are Warren Harding, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first vice-president succeeding to the presidency to be elected in his own right.

Neither of the two world class intellectual Presidents went to high school. Jefferson learned what was necessary to running a Plantation at home and had some work at the College of William and Mary. Theodore Roosevelt had tutors and was published in scientific journals before entering Harvard.

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Citizenship, Education, Free Society

Debate – Lincoln’s “investments”

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The debate coach watched the Debate while I, knowing that it would upset me—as in the past—refrained. I did catch a brief answer by the President speaking about government involvement in which he praised Lincoln for establishing the National Academy of Science, subsidizing the transcontinental railroad and establishing Land Grant Colleges.

OBAMA: But as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let’s help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let’s start the National Academy of Sciences, let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we’re all going to be better off.
The Academy (National Academy of Sciences) was chartered by Congress in 1863. Lincoln signed the charter on March 3 and the Academy was organized on April 22 of that year. (Note here that Earth Day was proclaimed on April 22, 1970.) The NAS in a private organization that holds a charter—much like the Boy Scouts—but does not receive federal funds.

The transcontinental railroad had no greater lobbyist than Abraham Lincoln who had drawn a line on a map with Grenville Dodge in 1858 to mark the route. (The War Department had surveyed four possible routes and recommended one from New Orleans to Los Angeles. The State Department had made the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 to facilitate this route which would have been built in far less time. Lincoln and Dodge drew a line on a map.) Lincoln had also purchased land in Council Bluffs, Iowa, as an investment. The Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 established a funding mechanism of 30 year bonds and extensive land grants.

They federal government “owned” millions of acres from the Louisiana Purchase aka “Bonaparte’s Big Flip.” These lands were, in 1862, surplus and therefore expendable. The companies sold much of the land to acquire capital. The railroads were required to reimburse the government for the bonds and there was some default. The bonds and land grants paid about two-thirds of the costs and it was still necessary to raise private investment. (Note: Brigham Young was a serious investor of Union Pacific.)

Lincoln did have a setback in that his Illinois-Central railroad was not chosen, but rather Congress created the Union Pacific and Central Pacific.

One of the ideas that gave rise to the use of land grants was the Morrill Act. The Illinois Legislature had passed a resolution trying to get federal assistance for states to promote agricultural and mechanical education. Sen Lyman Trumbull recruited Rep Justin Smith Morrill to introduce the act which was vetoed by James Buchanan. In 1861 the act was re-introduced with the addition of training in military tactics. Added to the fact that this act and the Homestead Act were necessary to passage of the Transcontinental Railroad Act of 1862, Lincoln signed the Morrill Act.

The funding mechanism is that the States would sell the lands and use the funds to finance the schools. Again, like the National Academy of Sciences, no expenditure was made of federal funds.

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Citizenship

Goodbye federalism

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

As I have been re-reading Madison’s notes as edited by Solberg I have picked up on some details that the 23 year old college senior (slow learner) missed. In fact, I would recommend a re-read of a lot of stuff as an adult—you’d be amazed at what holds up and what does not.

But I digress—as most of my friends and relative note…often. Reading Madison’s notes on the federal convention reveals a lot. Many of the debates are still unsettled from day one. What are we as a nation. Do we have a general, national government or a federal republic? I can argue it both ways as my old hero Harold Fatzer did on occasion when he was chosen (by rotation) to write a majority opinion against which he had voted—his majority was solid and well thought out but his dissent was masterful, logical and chiding of the majority. I can write a legal paper on the textual federalism of the Constitution. I fervently support a federal republic and believe the national government has done more to destroy than protect.

I am writing this about the fact and not the law. The Constitution of the United States is regarded as antiquated. Franklin D Roosevelt wrote to Samuel B. Hill, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on July 6, 1935, stating, “I hope your committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation.” I did not find a quote for his reference to the Constitution as a “quaint 18th century document,” but the sentiment fits with his attitude toward Congress and the Supreme Court. And I would posit that most in elective office agree.

What Hamilton and a number of people at the Convention preferred was a national government—some went as far as to propose the elimination of states. At that point even Madison was in favor of a stronger central government than he was after persuasion by Jefferson during ratification. The argument was that the states were a roadblock to a strong (read militarily powerful) nation. And of course the states were a hindrance to commerce—actually California does not recognize the commerce clause when it comes to firearms and the Ninth Circuit says fine.

If I end up interspersing current events with this it is that the same forces are at work today and this is about where we are. There is no provision in the Constitution for a national police force. The federal government has 150,000 “law enforcement” personnel which essentially constitute a standing army within our borders while the natural defense of society—the militia of the people—is further infringed. George Mason who drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights wrote in Section 13: “That a well-regulated militia, or composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” The Department of Homeland Security has become a power unto itself and has voided much of what is left of federalism. Does this bother the electorate—hint, the candidates are both believers in national government. As Clinton and Bush gave up their defense of their gubernatorial powers when they arrived at the juncture of New York and Pennsylvania Avenues, so too will Romney if elected.

The arguments ranged back and forth on the merits of democratic election versus a republic. And at the Convention, there was a compromise. We are told today by those who wish a more powerful and intrusive government that compromise is not a bad thing. The Senate was to be selected by the legislatures of the states as a bone to the republicans. The fear was that a complete democracy would endanger the rights of all. As the growth of democracy gained power in the 19th Century, the Progressives manipulated the Populists into assenting to their power grab and the 17th Amendment was adopted in 1913 leaving the Senate of the United States unaccountable to those states they represent.

The situation we are in now—a national, central and unaccountable government—is not a failure of democracy but rather the natural consequence of democracy. It arises out of a public school system which has, as its primary mission, the indoctrination of the population in the current political system. This sets them up to accept the demagoguery they became acquainted with in school. Unfortunately the progressives have control of education regardless of who holds the government through the NEA and AFT.

The document remains but the reality is different. The courts and Congress cannot control the Executive because they do not have the will. This is not a new phenomenon of the Clinton-Bush-Obama years. Andrew Jackson once said, “Mr Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”

More quotes:

“I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate about me.” Theodore Roosevelt whose 1912 campaign made suggestions about the need to revise the Constitution to give the central government more power.

““The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit; and if Congress be overborne by him, it will be no fault of the makers of the Constitution, – it will be from no lack of constitutional powers on its part, but only because the President has the nation behind him, and the Congress has not.” Woodrow Wilson who believed there was a “transcendent constitution” that superseded the dead written document.

So we are here with a national rather than a federal government that Republicans and Democrats alike are comfortable with.

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Compleat Idler, Education, Homeschooling, Technology, Tool user

Complete idler — reading suggestion

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

10.12! That is the October 2012 Popular Mechanics. The question as I wander by the magazine rack is “Should I buy this or hope someone else does?” And I looked at the cover, and it featured stealth aircraft which will turn off most of my friends. The technology of stealth fascinates me because it represents a game of camouflage—sort of like the scout patrol that wore woodland camo pants and called themselves the Camo Gators: “We’re the Gators! You can’t see us.”

But I look at the contents. Jay Leno’s Garage. Okay, it is coming home. I will never afford the car collection he has—the Powerball never gets that big. But I have been fascinated by cars ever since we did the work on my grandparents’ LaSalle. That an engine works that way was a mystery to a five year old that bordered on magic. And since I realized I could read about third grade, what was in the magazines around the house was fair game.

And when I had mumps or other long illness, I would get a stack which included Field and Stream, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and sometimes Popular Photography. I was corrupted from a young age. I also snuck a look at my uncle’s True.

So check out the October issue. Especially with homeschoolers check out the squishy circuits and LED projects. On Lew Rockwell, Karen de Coster is fighting for incandescent bulbs as opposed to CFLs. The bad news is that incandescents are going by government decree (and the Administration also killed the Crown Vic). The good news is that in five to ten years CFLs, which have mercury as well as a tendency to break in my hand, will be history. LEDs are cleaner and require much less power.

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Compleat Idler, Education

Why MBA – A question to ponder

 

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The dean of the local business school was discussing the MBA program which may expand. Now I knew all the selling points for the program. I had a coworker who complained that the average salary for the MBA was considerably higher than the average for the MPA (master of public administration) which should have surprised no one since at that time the money was in the private sector.

The question I was asking for years is why we had separate degree programs for business administration, public administration, criminal justice administration, educational administration, etc. But I now wonder whether we really need a program in administration or management at all when the skills can be learned on the job. Is it for the CEO’s semi-literate nephew?

I may discuss this further.

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Education

Western Civilization

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In the category of the decline of education, I got news the other day regarding the University of Kansas where I took baccalaureate work more years ago than I care to remember. The College of Liberal Arts and sciences is discussing eliminating the requirement of the “reading heavy” Western Civilization discussion course which also included a four hour comprehensive examination (I really hated Rousseau).  There is a statement that the course is not going away but that there will be “other options” for the bachelor of arts degree. The College also awards a bachelor of general studies degree that eliminates onerous requirements.

As I recall, the discussions and the works were sometimes long and, from a 20-year-old point of view, not really relevant to the world of 1964. They did cut into study time for other courses, not to mention pool playing, but the discussions could be very interesting. Why did I need to read The Communist Manifesto although it was considerably more readable than Marx’s Capital? What did long dead philosophers have to do with the gritty world of the 20th Century with its “new” ideas and problems. And we still ask the same questions in discussion groups that are more voluntary in nature. Forty years makes a lot of difference in perspective. If someone wants to discuss political ethics, I start with recommending Plato’s philosopher king and work through Aristotle, Machiavelli (The Discourses as well as The Prince) and even Bonhoeffer—if you want a heavy discussion you do heavy reading.

It is 2012. And we still have arguments flying around as “new” and innovative.  And, unless we are required to the majority of us do not discuss the historical and philosophical underpinnings of Western culture.  I hear people talking about defending western civilization from people who have no clue as to what they are defending and what are the consequences. Hint: Our political and social system owes more to Greece and Rome than to the Bible.

New needs to be tested and sometimes there is no substitute for heavy reading.

 

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