The First Inaugural

On March 4, 1789, George Washington was sworn in as America’s first President and the new U.S. Congress opened its first session. Both took place near Wall Street in New York City. The District of Columbia didn’t exist then. It was not until 1801 that Thomas Jefferson became the first President to be inaugurated in the District of Columbia.

The first inaugural was a pretty low-key affair. Only nine of 22 Senators and 13 of 59 Representatives even bothered showing up on opening day. But Washington’s brevity in his first inaugural address was more than matched by his second inaugural four years later. His speech in 1793 totaled only 133 words.

For the first 144 years of this Republic’s existence the Presidential inauguration was held on March 4. The extra time from election to inauguration was considered necessary, since travel took so long.

That tradition ended with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration in 1933, when FDR declared that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." In 1937, the inauguration was moved to late January. By then, our 144-year legacy of small government had also come to an end.

–Chip Wood

A Carbon Copy, Media Lies, Pour The Wine And Wisconsin

*Does this remind you of anyone? The people of Egypt forced their president to resign. They were angry because Hosni Mubarak couldn’t get the economy to grow, ignored or punished those who opposed him, defied court rulings that said his edicts were unconstitutional, exploited class differences, and tried to curb or control communications, including the Internet. Sound like anyone you know?

*Don’t accept everything the media say. Before believing anything in the popular press about events in the Middle East (or anywhere else, for that matter), consider this gem from The New York Times back in 1979: “The depiction of [Khomeini] as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.” Reminds me of how the same paper, 20 years earlier, described Fidel Castro as “definitely not a communist; [he's] the George Washington of Cuba.”

*”Could you bring me a drink, general?” During a state dinner at the White House, Valerie Jarrett, one of Barack Obama’s tough-as-nails cronies from Chicago, turned to a man walking behind her and asked him to bring her a glass of wine. Turns out it wasn’t a waiter, however — it was four-star general Peter Chiarelli, the No. 2 ranking general in the U.S. Army. Chiarelli, who was in full dress uniform, is obviously a gentleman: He went and poured the lady a glass of wine and brought it to her without saying a word.

*Have you read about the fireworks in Wisconsin? Man, things are sure heating up in one of our coldest states. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had the unmitigated gall to say that the State government was going bankrupt and everyone had to tighten their belts a bit. State workers have gone absolutely ballistic at the thought of their cushy benefits and juicy pensions being cut by even a nickel. Democratic legislators even fled the state to avoid taking a vote on budget cuts. Walker says he will call out the National Guard if protests by State workers turn violent. Watch this one closely; it’s a harbinger of things to come.

–Chip Wood

Barack Obama’s Budget-Busting Whoppers

A friend of mine asked a question last month that stopped me cold in my tracks. I’ve been thinking about it and the implications of the choices he posed ever since. I thought I’d share it with you today.

Imagine that you’re sitting in your doctor’s office, waiting for him to return with the results of the extensive exam you’ve just completed. You’re glad it’s over, because they poked and prodded every body part they could reach — and took numerous images of those they couldn’t.

When the doctor enters the room, you can tell by his expression that the news won’t be good. And it isn’t.

“Cancer has spread so far throughout your body that there is nothing medical science can do,” he tells you. “I’m afraid you have less than six months to live. You’d better get your affairs in order.”

You’re stunned. For a moment you can’t think of anything to say. Finally, you blurt out, “But doctor, isn’t there anything — I mean anything, no matter how experimental — we can try?”

The doctor pauses for a moment and then says, “Well, yes, there is one thing we could do. I hesitate mentioning it, because the consequences can be pretty awful. But it will save your life.”

“What is it? What is it?” you shout. By now you’re desperate.

“Not many people know about this,” he says, “but there is a revolutionary new procedure that will actually transfer the cancer out of you. You’ll be 100 percent cured. Unfortunately, the cancer will instead attack your 8-year-old grandson. I’m sorry to tell you but he’ll be dead in two months.”

Here was my friend’s question: Given that choice, what would you do?

And then he asked a second one: But isn’t that exactly what we’re doing with our national debt? Instead of you paying it, haven’t you agreed to have it transferred to your children and your children’s children?

Under the arrangements your government has made, haven’t you saddled your offspring with debts that they will never be able to pay, even if they live a dozen lifetimes?

Thank you, Addison, for such a simple and stark way of describing the choices in front of us. As I said, I’ve been thinking about the gripping way you presented this ever since you sent it to me. It’s sure a lot more powerful than the analogy I used three weeks ago in my article about raising the debt ceiling.

The dilemma my friend presented is especially appropriate now, since just a few days ago President Barack Obama sent Congress his budget for the next fiscal year. Despite all the baloney you’ve heard in the media about how the White House has slashed Federal spending, don’t believe a word of it. That is — how can I be polite about it? — a bunch of balderdash. Here are the facts.

Our President has proposed total spending for the coming year of $3.73 trillion. Of that astronomical sum, he says taxes will raise a little over half; your government will borrow the other $1.6 trillion. If Obama gets his way — or anything even close to it — it will mean that our 44th President will have saddled this country with more debt than all 43 presidents who preceded him.

I’ve heard a lot of rumors about Obama’s “secret objectives.” Most of them I dismiss as utter bunk. But if one of them is bankrupting the country that has been so good to him, he has a chance to be the first President in our history to do it.

Let me state the facts another way: The President of the United States is asking his country to let him spend more than $300 billion a month. And to borrow $120 billion of that amount so he can dole it out to his favorite causes and constituencies.

What about the $10 trillion in debt he will have racked up by the time he leaves office? He’ll pass that on to your children’s children… and if necessary, their children, too.

And yet the lead story on CNN.com about Obama’s budget was headlined “Painful cuts in budget.” Somebody’s got a lot of gall here.

Oh, to be sure, there were some proposed reductions in Obama’s budget. And for some strange reason they were all designed to either sock it to the wealthy or to outrage the poor.

Programs to help the low-income people heat their homes in the winter? Gone. Funds to help local communities fix their failing water and sewage systems? Decimated. Deductions for the interest you pay on your mortgage? Wiped out. Deductions for gifts you give your favorite charities? Cut drastically.

I can just hear Obama telling his staff, “Those blasted voters want cuts? I’ll give them cuts. What else can we do that will make them mad as h**l?” But that’s probably unfair. I’m told that the man hardly ever curses, even when his wife tells him he’s not allowed to eat something or to put out that cigarette.

Looking ahead, Obama proposes total Federal spending of $46 trillion over the next decade, with tax collections paying for $39 trillion of it. Borrowing will account for the rest, with the debt ceiling having to be raised from its present limit of $14.3 trillion to a mind-numbing $26 trillion. Imagine what the interest alone will be on that obligation?

I’ve read several commentaries that question all of the rosy assumptions behind the President’s numbers. Coming anywhere close to Obama’s budget numbers would require no inflation, no recession, no new wars, much lower unemployment and much higher tax collections. Anyone (besides the White House) want to bet on that optimistic set of events? The President’s number-crunchers are counting on a much more robust economy than seems reasonable to many people.

I say, forget about who’s right. It doesn’t matter whether the gross domestic product grows by 2.5 percent or 4.4 percent. It doesn’t matter whether inflation stays around 2 percent or more than doubles from here (which I think is almost a certainty). Because the truth is, there is no way on God’s green earth that the House of Representatives will approve that much spending. Not a chance. It ain’t gonna happen. As the kids like to say, “Put a fork in it; it’s done.”

Oh, I’ll grant you, the House might approve a higher debt ceiling next month. Even some of the young Turks from the Tea Party might succumb to all the dastardly threats of what will happen if they don’t. Debt default! Economic collapse! Utter catastrophe!

I don’t believe a word of it. But more of them read The Washington Post and The New York Times than Straight Talk. So even the best and the brightest of them can be badly misinformed.

And something hardly anyone ever mentions: A Congressman is only as staunch as his staff. And unfortunately, there just aren’t enough smart, tough, battle-hardened conservatives looking for jobs on Capitol Hill. Many groups are trying to fill the gap — one of my all-time favorites is the Leadership Institute, which has done an almost miraculous job with its training programs. But there are a lot more compromisers than Constitutionalists on the payrolls of the new House members. Sad.

Mitch McConnell, the ranking Republican in the Senate, referred to the Obama budget as “an unserious document.” That’s a pretty mealy-mouthed way of saying it, sir. Readers of this column expect to hear it a lot straighter than that. So let me be as blunt as I can.

Obama’s proposed budget is a fraud. It’s a deceit. It’s a sham.

The President and his team know there is not a chance in a trillion this monstrosity will win Congressional approval. What they’re doing is playing a high-stakes game of chicken. “C’mon, Republicans, tell us what you propose. We dare ya. No, we double-dare ya.”

We’re about to find out, ladies and gentlemen, if the people who were elected this past November stick to their promises. I hope you’ll do your part to make sure your representative won’t knuckle under to the pressure, the lies and the media smears he or she is about to face. And if he needs a backbone, lend him yours.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The 100-Hour War

On Feb.27, 1991, an amazing thing happened: The President of the United States went on national television to announce that the United States had won a war.

President George H.W. Bush told a grateful nation, "Kuwait is liberated. Iraq’s army is defeated. I am pleased to announce that at midnight tonight, exactly 100 hours since ground operations began and six weeks since the start of Operation Desert Storm, all U.S. and coalition forces will suspend offensive combat operations."

Would that his son had paid more attention to how quickly his daddy ended his Gulf War. (And would that daddy hadn’t stopped quite so quickly, but had gone into Baghdad and toppled Saddam Hussein.)

In the week following Bush’s remarks, the Dow gained 108 points. This capped a 20 percent surge in the stock market during the six-week Gulf War.

My, how times have changed.

– Chip Wood

More On The Lying Liars, Idiot Dictators And T(Sl)ime Magazine

*Obama’s lying liars and the Federal debt. I caught a lot of flak three weeks ago for my Straight Talk column about raising the debt ceiling. Some of Obama’s apologists didn’t like my title, which I just repeated. But consider something I didn’t include in that article: The Obama Administration took ownership of two long-time money-losing operations known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Together, these corrupt lenders are on the hook for $5.6 trillion in debt. (That’s T as in “terrible.”) But guess what? Thanks to some fraudulent bookkeeping on the part of Uncle Sam, not a penny of this shows up in an accounting of Federal debt. But you’re on the hook for every penny of it, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer.

*The idiots who ruled Egypt learn a lesson. So it’s so long to Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s tough-guy dictator for the past 30 years. We were supposed to like him because he was allegedly tough on Muslim extremists. Of course, he was also tough on Christian evangelicals, conservative traditionalists and any young people who wanted a taste of freedom and self-rule. Of all the dumb things he and his cohorts did, though, trying to ban the Internet might have been the stupidest. That’s like King Canute ordering the tide to recede. I don’t know what the future will bring in that often unhappy land. But hopefully it will be a smarter, better ruler than the idiot who just got deposed.

*Time magazine continues its legacy of falsehoods. Back in the day when I made a few bucks traveling around the country giving speeches, I liked to refer to Time magazine as slime. I told my audience I wouldn’t trust the page numbers in it unless I counted them myself. But even Slime outdid itself on a recent cover, when it Photoshopped a photograph of Ronald Reagan embracing Barack Obama. Coming right before the nation commemorated what would have been Reagan’s 100th birthday, that’s pretty despicable even for such a rotten, lying, liberal rag.

–Chip Wood

Which President Did That?

You wouldn’t think Disney World would be a good source for presidential trivia. But during a recent visit, I came across a piece of history that stumped my good friend Chris, who is a world champion at presidential trivia.

Here’s what happened. It’s been many years since I had visited the Hall of Presidents, so during a recent visit to the Magic Kingdom I decided to take a break between the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean (two of my all-time favorites) and pay it a visit.

I’d forgotten about the display of historic mementoes in the exhibit area outside the theater. There was a wine glass from the James K. Polk Administration — sort of strange when you think of it, since Polk was an ardent teetotaler who refused to serve wine at White House dinners. There was a high-school essay by George Bush. And there was a golf club belonging to the President “who played more rounds of golf than any other while serving in office.” Can you guess who it was?

If you, like me and my friend Chris, said Ike, you’d be wrong. According to the experts at Disney, the answer is Woodrow Wilson.

Chris isn’t sure they got that one right. But he’s absolutely certain he knows the answers to the following 25 questions. Let’s see how you do on this Presidents’ Day Quiz he prepared for us.

  1. Which President never married?
    1. James K. Polk
    2. Benjamin Harrison
    3. James Buchanan
    4. Martin Van Buren

  2. Name the first President born west of the Mississippi River.
    1. Ronald Reagan
    2. Nixon
    3. William Howard Taft
    4. Herbert Hoover

  3. Which man was both the 22nd and 24th President?
    1. Benjamin Harrison
    2. Grover Cleveland
    3. Wilson
    4. Rutherford B. Hayes

  4. In which movie did Nancy Reagan play opposite her husband Ronald?
    1. Bedtime for Bonzo
    2. The African Queen
    3. Rockne, All American
    4. Hellcats of the Navy

  5. Who was the first President to leave the Continental United States?
    1. William McKinley
    2. Woodrow Wilson
    3. Roosevelt
    4. Chester Arthur

  6. Which State has provided the most native-born sons as Presidents?
    1. Massachusetts
    2. Virginia
    3. Ohio
    4. New York

  7. How many men have become President because their predecessors were assassinated?
    1. 3
    2. 4
    3. 5
    4. 6

  8. Which President won the Nobel Peace Prize for his assistance in ending the Russian-Japanese War?
    1. Grover Cleveland
    2. Wilson
    3. Harry Truman
    4. Theodore Roosevelt

  9. Theodore Roosevelt insisted upon proceeding with a scheduled speech in Milwaukee despite which incident?
    1. His train arrived 2 hours late
    2. had been sick with a flu for several days
    3. He was shot outside the arena
    4. His wife Edith was rushed to the hospital

  10. Name the only President to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
    1. Franklin Roosevelt
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. Richard Nixon
    4. Jimmy Carter

  11. Name the only President born in California.
    1. Herbert Hoover
    2. Ronald Reagan
    3. Richard Nixon
    4. James Garfield

  12. Name the first Vice President to succeed to the Presidency due to the death of the President.
    1. Martin Van Buren
    2. John Tyler
    3. Zachary Taylor
    4. Millard Fillmore

  13. Name the first President to appear on television.
    1. Harry Truman
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. John F. Kennedy
    4. Franklin Roosevelt

  14. Name the man who was present as each of three Presidents lay mortally wounded by assassins’ bullets.
    1. Roscoe Conkling
    2. James Blaine
    3. Robert Lincoln
    4. Upton Sinclair

  15. Which incumbent Vice President did not win election to the Presidency?
    1. Martin Van Buren
    2. George H. W. Bush
    3. Al Gore
    4. Thomas Jefferson

  16. Which member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy later became President himself?
    1. Lyndon Johnson
    2. Jimmy Carter
    3. Gerald Ford
    4. Richard Nixon

  17. Name the only man who has been both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    1. John Marshall
    2. Woodrow Wilson
    3. Herbert Hoover
    4. William Howard Taft

  18. Name the only President to have been a Rhodes Scholar.
    1. Jimmy Carter
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. Bill Clinton
    4. John F. Kennedy

  19. Name the dog made famous in Richard Nixon’s 1952 campaign speech.
    1. Fala
    2. Liberty
    3. Checkers
    4. Laddie Boy

  20. Name the only President buried in Washington, D.C.
    1. Franklin Roosevelt
    2. Woodrow Wilson
    3. John F. Kennedy
    4. William Howard Taft

  21. While dying from cancer, he worked feverishly to complete his memoirs, so the royalties it would earn would provide for his family.
    1. Harry Truman
    2. Dwight Eisenhower
    3. James Monroe
    4. U. S. Grant

  22. Which President started the tradition of tossing out the first ball on baseball’s Opening Day?
    1. Theodore Roosevelt
    2. William Howard Taft
    3. William McKinley
    4. Warren G. Harding

  23. Which President received a ticket for speeding in Washington, D.C.?
    1. U. S. Grant
    2. Lyndon Johnson
    3. Andrew Johnson
    4. Calvin Coolidge

  24. Which President’s wife was nicknamed Lemonade Lucy for her refusal to serve liquor in the White House?
    1. U.S. Grant
    2. Abraham Lincoln
    3. Rutherford Hayes
    4. James Garfield

  25. Name the only President born on the 4th of July.
    1. James Madison
    2. Calvin Coolidge
    3. Franklin Pierce
    4. Andrew Jackson

Think you got them all correct? Here are the answers: 1 = c, 2 = d, 3 = b, 4 = d, 5 = c, 6 = b, 7 = b, 8 = d, 9 = c, 10 = d, 11 = c, 12 = b, 13 = d, 14 = c, 15 = c, 16 = c, 17 = d, 18 = c, 19 = c, 20 = b, 21 = d, 22 = b, 23 = a, 24 = c, 25 = b.

Thanks, Chris, for helping to educate us about our Presidents. And to everyone reading this, be sure to visit the Hall of Presidents next time you’re at Disney World. This audio-animatronic presentation is almost as good as The American Adventure at Epcot. Morgan Freeman’s narration is simply magnificent.

And while you may resent the fact that the current occupant of the White House gets longer to speak than any other President, take heart by knowing that in two years he’ll be replaced on the platform — and in the White House.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Origins Of The Teddy Bear

One of the most popular toys in history made its first appearance 107 years ago this week. On a hunting trip a few months earlier, then-President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub, saying it would be unsportsmanlike.

Toy maker Morris Michtom saw a cartoon of the incident and was inspired to create a stuffed bear cub. He sent the first one to the President with a note asking for permission to call it “Teddy’s bear.” The President agreed. The animal became an immediate success, leading Michtom to found the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. to keep up with demand.

At the same time, a German company produced a stuffed bear based on a design by Richard Steiff, which also became a hit. Other manufacturers joined in and soon “Roosevelt Bears” were a national craze. Ladies carried them everywhere; children begged for one for Christmas; the President himself even used one as a mascot in his bid for re-election.

Their popularity continues to this day, with millions of Teddy Bears being sold every year. All this because a political cartoonist at The Washington Post tried to make fun of the President.

–Chip Wood

The Packers, The Tea Party Caucus, Earmarks And Diversity In Arizona

*The Packers saved us a bundle. I don’t know which team you were cheering for in the Super Bowl, but a friend of mine said there are 5 million reasons we all should have been cheering the Packers. That’s approximately how much money they saved us poor beleaguered taxpayers by beating the Bears. How’s that, you ask? Well, had the Bears won, President Obama announced that he and his entourage would fly to Dallas on Air Force One to attend the Big Game. How much would that have cost the taxpayers? Many, many millions. So thanks, Cheeseheads.

*Now here’s a caucus I can support. Last Thursday, the Senate Tea Party Caucus held its first-ever meeting. Among those present was Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Where were your Senators? The group pledged support for the very first piece of legislation Ron Paul’s son introduced in the Senate — a bill to cut $500 billion from Federal spending this year. Go for it, guys — we’re behind you all the way.

*Guess who said this? What famous politician lectured taxpayers two years ago about the benefits of earmarks? Why, it was none other than Barack Obama who said, “Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct Federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts and that’s why I’ve opposed their outright elimination.” Now, of course, our Teleprompter-in-Chief says he’ll veto any bill that contains even a single earmark. Gotta admire someone whose principles don’t change just to please the crowd, don’t you?

*How’s this for a rainbow coalition? Thanks to the Alert Reader who sent me the following: A white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered when he went to greet his friend, a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old gay Mexican-American college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all of whom were eulogized by our first African-American President. And it all took place in that bastion of conservative politics, Arizona. Is this a great country or what?

–Chip Wood

Abraham Lincoln, Political Tyrant

We’ve spent a lot of time recently bashing “the worst President who ever lived.” (That’s the description of the current occupant of the White House by many of my readers.) Instead, this week let’s do something different. Let’s turn our attention to the President whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow… the Great Emancipator, who is generally acclaimed as the greatest American President of them all.

But was he, really?

I don’t know what they teach in United States history classes today, but back in the middle of the last century, when I was in elementary school, there was absolutely no question about how we were to regard Abraham Lincoln. We were taught to feel a reverence bordering on awe for Honest Abe, the eloquent martyr who saved the Union.

We were required to memorize the Gettysburg Address. And if we were lucky enough to join a field trip to our nation’s capital, one of the most significant events was our visit to the Lincoln Memorial. (A few of us rapscallions spoiled the solemnity of the moment by sliding down the sides of the monument.)

That was what we were taught in the grade schools of Cleveland. And I suspect it wasn’t any different in any other school in the North. Some of you sons and daughters of the South will have to tell me what your teachers and history books said.

It wasn’t until I became an adult and started reading history on my own that I began to doubt the version of events I was taught several decades earlier. For example, did you know that Lincoln suspended civil liberties in the North, including the writ of habeas corpus? That he filled the jails with more than 13,000 political prisoners, all incarcerated without due process? The Supreme Court protested Lincoln’s disregard for our Constitutional protections, but the President replied he had a war to fight. Since he commanded the army, Lincoln won that argument.

And speaking of the war, guess who uttered these words:

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable — a most sacred right — a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of their territory as they inhabit."

I’ll admit this is a trick question. The speaker was Lincoln. But he was not talking about the Southern states that tried to secede from the Union. No, these remarks were made in 1847, when Lincoln was defending the right of Texans to demand their independence from Mexico. A dozen years later, when six Southern states tried to declare their independence, Lincoln’s response was to smash them to bits.

As a child, I never questioned the assertion that the South was wrong to secede. And that Lincoln was right to use as much force as necessary to preserve the Union. Later, as I grew to understand the strength and uniqueness of our Constitutional Republic, I began to question both assumptions.

The U.S. Constitution, I came to believe, was a contract — a contract between the various states and the Federal government they created. Note that the Constitution had to be approved by the states, not a majority of the citizens. There was no "majority rule" here, no popular vote taken.

But this raises the question, if it was necessary for the states to adopt the Constitution, why wouldn’t it be legal for some of those states to rescind that vote, especially if they felt the contract had been broken? More and more, I found myself thinking that the South was legally and morally right in declaring its independence. And the North, by invading those states and waging war on them, was wrong.

And what a terrible war it was. By the time it was over, nearly 625,000 soldiers (and another 75,000 or so women, children and elderly civilians) were dead — more American servicemen than were killed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. Fully one-fourth of the draft-age white population of the South was dead.

The devastation in the former States of the Confederacy is hard to imagine. Sherman’s march from Atlanta to Savannah is notorious for its savagery. But he was far from the only Northern officer who ordered his troops to lay waste to Southern farms, fields and plantations. Union troops routinely destroyed crops, sacked homes and even stabled their horses in Southern churches.

As H.W. Crocker III puts it in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War (Regnery Publishing, 2008), "If abiding by the law of a free republic and fighting a defensive war solely against armed combatants be flaws, the South had them and the North did not. Lincoln ignored the law, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court when it suited him. His armies waged war on the farms, livelihoods and people of the South, not just against their armies."

Of all the big lies about the War Between the States, the biggest of all may be that it was necessary to end slavery. The truth is that many illustrious Southerners, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, recognized that slavery had to come to an end. But it should not come by force of arms, they felt; not at the point of a gun, but rather through the free consent of the owners, with the proper preparation of the slaves. To get them ready for their own freedom, for example, Lee’s wife insisted the family’s slaves be taught to read and write, and the women how to sew.

Despite what most of us have been taught, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves. It wasn’t a law, but an edict. It specifically exempted the Border States and any parts of the South that were already under the control of Federal forces. It applied only to areas that were still in rebellion. So the Proclamation, of and by itself, did not free a single slave.

What it did, however, was change the nature of the conflict. Now the war was no longer about restoring the Union or preventing Southern independence. Now it was about the morality, and the legality, of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation did not make the war more popular in the North, but it did end the possibility of other countries, especially France and Britain, from coming to the aid of the South. They might have been willing to assist Southern independence; but support a war in favor of slavery? Never.

As Crocker notes, "In Southern eyes, the Emancipation Proclamation was the ultimate in Yankee perfidy — an attempt to incite slave uprisings against Confederate women and children."

Then he notes, "Happily, while the proclamation did encourage slaves to seek their freedom, there were no slave uprisings, no murders of women and children — which might say something good about Southerners too, both white and black."

Lincoln, more than any other President who came before him, changed the very nature of our government. There would never again be as many limitations on the powers of the Federal government. And just as tragic, the concept of States’ rights suffered a blow from which it has never recovered.

I’m told that more than 14,000 books have been written about Lincoln. Most, of course, are incredibly adulatory. The few that attempt to balance the scales are virtually ignored. While it may not be true that might makes right, it is definitely true that the winners write the history books.

If you’re open-minded enough to consider another point of view, let me recommend two books by Thomas J. DiLorenzo to you: The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked. In these two books he presents a vastly different view of Abraham Lincoln than you’ve heard before, I promise.

Both are available at Amazon.com. (What isn’t?) Also, do yourself a favor and go to the website of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, where DiLorenzo serves as a senior fellow. You’ll find an extensive selection of articles, essays, and yes, books you can order that are way out of the academic mainstream.

So there you have this contrarian’s view of Abraham Lincoln. I’m eager to hear what some of you think — especially the sons and daughters of the South, whom I suspect, were raised with a somewhat different slant than I.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Happy Birthday “Blondie”

One of America’s all-time favorite comic strips is celebrating a birthday this week. "Blondie," starring Dagwood Bumstead, made its debut on Feb. 17, 1933. The strip was started by Chic Young, who continued to produce it every day until his death in 1973. His son Dean took over and, with a team of writers and cartoonists, continues producing it every day.

Dagwood is famous for his weird haircut, fights with his boss at J.C. Dithers & Company, naps on the sofa, singing in the bathtub and concocting tall, multi-layered sandwiches. And here’s something you probably don’t know: Dagwood was originally the heir to the Bumstead Locomotive fortune, but was disowned by his family when he married a flapper over their strong opposition.

Even though the strip is more than 75 years old, none of the characters in it, including the children Alexander and Cookie and their dog Daisy, has aged a day.  And unlike too many modern comics, "Blondie" still tries to make us laugh.  Thanks, guys.