The Ryan Delusion

With the Olympic Games behind them, Americans have returned their attention to the stage of political theater. One of the opening acts of the 2012 election season will take place this week in Tampa, Fla., where serial flip-flopper Mitt Romney is expected to be anointed the executive standard bearer for the alleged “Party of Great Moral Ideas.”

Despite the plethora of evidence proving that he is cut from the same statist mold as Barack Obama, Romney continues to be hailed as a “great conservative” and the vaunted “lesser of two evils.” Republicans — as well as some libertarians and constitutionalists — point to Romney’s selection of Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for Vice President as a sign of his commitment to limited government principles. Upon closer inspection, Ryan — who has been touted as the “intellectual leader” of the Republican Party and a budget hawk — has all the trappings of a textbook neocon.

Ryan faithfully toes the chicken hawk foreign policy line of nation building and bloody foreign interventions. He voted to invade Iraq in 2002, voted against any attempt to establish a withdrawal date from Iraq in 2007 and voted for “emergency” appropriation of $78 billion dollars to fund the illegal and immoral wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In keeping with the foremost neocon prerequisite, Ryan is more than happy to send young American soldiers off to fight and die while he, as a healthy and able-bodied American patriot, could not be bothered to carry a rifle and fight for the principles he claims to hold near and dear to his heart.

For someone who is being embraced in some circles as a libertarian, Ryan’s voting record shows that he harbors no love for the Bill of Rights — or any facet of individual liberty, for that matter. This is the man who voted for the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and its infamous indefinite detention provision, voted to make the Patriot Act permanent and voted in favor of using electronic surveillance on Americans without a duly approved search warrant. Under this criteria Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Generalissimo Franco, Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein were all staunch civil libertarians.

“Now hold your horses there, MacCormack,” some “libertarians” will say. “Paul Ryan may not be perfect, but at least he’s a staunch defender of free enterprise. The CATO Institute said so!”

Ladies and gentlemen, if CATO told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it? It should be noted that the CATO Institute is widely panned by genuine libertarians and freedom lovers as a peddler of the faux “libertarianism” advocated from within the Capital Beltway. In order to curry favor with the Washington establishment, CATO has stumped for the following: torture, expansion of the surveillance state, a war with Pakistan, and the fiat currency factory known as the Federal Reserve.

But I’ve digressed… back to our buddy Ryan. Contrary to CATO’s claim, his voting record proves that he is more a Keynesian than a disciple of Ayn Rand. In 2008, he voted for the Bush stimulus bill, TARP and the auto bailout. Ryan even took to the House floor to pathetically beg his colleagues in Congress to support TARP. He echoed George W. Bush’s convoluted logic, stating:

Madam Speaker, this bill offends my principles. But I’m going to vote for this bill — in order to preserve my principles, in order to preserve this free enterprise system…. I believe with all my heart — as bad as this is — it could get a whole lot worse, and that’s why we have to pass this bill.

If only it ended there. Ryan also backed the disastrous No Child Left Behind Act, which essentially bribed the public schools into passing their most deficient students in exchange for government goodies. The proof is in the pudding for that one: Just ask any American student who George Washington is. And for the grand finale: Paul voted in favor of Bush’s massive expansion of Medicare which, coupled with Romneycare, set the precedent for Obamacare.

No genuine libertarian, constitutionalist or freedom lover of any kind believes in any of the nonsense supported by collectivists like Ryan and his keeper, Romney. All of the passionate “anybody but Obama” rhetoric notwithstanding, a Romney/Ryan Administration would serve only to slow America’s drive off the cliff into moral and financial bankruptcy down from 100 mph to 90 mph. Ryan’s much-ballyhooed budget would continue massive deficit spending for another 25 years at the least. But, of course, he and Romney “aren’t quite as bad” as Obama.

The bottom line is: There was only one man named Paul who was worth supporting this year. I think you know who I’m talking about.

“Oh here we go again, MacCormack,” I hear many of you whining. “That crazy kook had no chance! We’ve got to vote for the lesser of two evils! Romney’s not so bad!”

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. To think otherwise is downright foolish. After all, the Bible says in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”

“Well then, what’s your solution, big shot?” you’ll retort. It’s simple: Don’t vote. When you pull that lever for Collectivist A or Collectivist B, you are giving your consent to their respective liberty-destroying agendas. As Lew Rockwell so astutely observed in a recent column:

How does voting change the situation? Neither of the candidates for president wants to do anything about the problem. On the contrary, they want to make it worse. This is for a reason. The State owns the “democratic process” as surely as it owns the Departments of Labor and Defense and uses it in ways that benefit the State and no one else.

On the other hand, we do have the freedom not to vote. No one has yet drafted us into the voting booth. I suggest that we exercise this right not to participate. It is one of the few rights we have left. Nonparticipation sends a message that we no longer believe in the racket they have cooked up for us, and we want no part of it.

You might say that this is ineffective. But what effect does voting have? It gives them what they need most: a mandate. Nonparticipation helps deny that to them. It makes them, just on the margin, a bit more fearful that they are ruling us without our consent. This is all to the good. The government should fear the people. Not voting is a good beginning toward instilling that fear.

This year especially there is no lesser of two evils. There is socialism or fascism. The true American spirit should guide every voter to have no part of either.

Consider those words long and hard before hightailing it to the polls this fall.

–Conor MacCormack

More On Dishonest Abe’s Liberty-Destroying Legacy

In response to the spirited and colorful comments that my article Dishonest Abe’s Legacy And The 2012 Election generated, I’ve decided to expound further upon Abraham Lincoln’s sordid Administration and the consequences it had for our Constitutional republic. Let’s re-examine the contested facts, shall we?

Lincoln did not wage the Civil War to liberate the slaves.

As I said before, the cartoonish version of American history portraying Lincoln as the storied “Great Emancipator” is nothing but a combination of wishful thinking and willful propaganda. Lincoln laid bare his intentions in waging war on the peacefully seceded Southern States in a letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley in 1862:

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.” (Emphasis added)

Furthermore, as noted Lincoln critic Professor Thomas J. DiLorenzo has documented exhaustively and repeatedly, the celebrated Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave. It applied only to Confederate-held territory (where it could not be enforced); allowed the “peculiar institution” to continue in Washington, D.C.; and allowed all slaveholders in the Border States of Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and Missouri to keep their slaves.

Lincoln himself acknowledged the fact that the Proclamation was only a war measure, not a genuine attempt to emancipate the slaves. William Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state and one of his closest political confidants, had the following to say about the nature of the Proclamation: “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”

In addition, many Northern newspapers (which were subsequently censored by Lincoln and closed down by Federal troops) excoriated the Proclamation as nothing more than a political sham. An editorial in the New York World thoroughly mocked Lincoln’s supposed act of liberation:

The President has purposely made the proclamation inoperative in all places where we have gained a military footing which makes the slaves accessible. He has proclaimed emancipation only where he has notoriously no power to execute it. The exemption of the accessible parts of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia renders the proclamation not merely futile, but ridiculous.

Not only that, but the slaves who were “freed” by Union troops in Federally controlled portions of the South were essentially pressed back into servitude as manual laborers. As described by DiLorenzo in The Real Lincoln:

Many slaves who ended up in the hands of the Federal army were not set free but were put to work doing the most unpleasant tasks in and around army encampments. Others were sent back to their owners. Congress passed several “confiscation acts” in the early years of the war that allowed Federal troops to confiscate the slaves (and other property) in conquered rebel territory. As one Illinois lieutenant wrote, “I have 11 Negroes in my company now. They do every particle of the dirty work. Two women among them do the washing for the company.”

Due to his sly political gamesmanship regarding the issue of slavery, Lincoln was despised by several prominent abolitionists. Among them was the great 19th century libertarian abolitionist and philosopher Lysander Spooner, who viciously attacked the actions of the Lincoln Administration and supported the right of the Southern States to secede from the Union. Spooner, unlike a good deal of his abolitionist colleagues who later became supportive of Lincoln’s war, saw through the Administration’s flowery rhetoric. He declared, “All of these cries of having ‘abolished slavery,’ of having ‘saved the country,’ of having ‘preserved the union,’ of establishing a ‘government of consent,’ and of ‘maintaining the national honor,’ are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats.”

Spooner also lambasted Lincoln and the Republicans for their insincerity over the issue of Emancipation. Slavery was not abolished, he wrote, “as an act of justice to the black man himself, but only as ‘a war measure,’ and because they wanted his assistance… in carrying on the war they had undertaken for maintaining and intensifying that political, commercial, and industrial slavery…” He also cut through Lincoln’s laughable assertion that he was also waging the war to defend the principle of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” The only type of “consent” Lincoln upheld, Spooner said, was that by force of arms: “Everybody must consent, or be shot.” Great Emancipator, indeed.

In spite of the plethora of evidence to the contrary available both online and in print, many Lincoln worshipers maintain that Lincoln miraculously “changed his views” on race. “In his heart,” they cry, “Lincoln cherished racial equality!” First of all, how do they know what was in the heart and mind of a man who has been dead for more than 150 years? Do they possess powers of clairvoyance? Can they commune with the dead? What scholarly, academic evidence rooted here on planet Earth do they have to back up their claims? Everything that I have cited and quoted regarding Lincoln’s views on race comes from the man’s own recorded words and deeds, as well as the testimony of those who knew him both before and during the Civil War.

One revealing story comes from Benjamin Butler, the Massachusetts Congressman who was appointed a Union Army General by Lincoln (who kept him in command despite his gross incompetence on the battlefield, which lead to needless Union casualties). Butler, as the military dictator of occupied New Orleans, sentenced a Confederate sympathizer to death for tearing down the American flag, confiscated the private property (including firearms) of suspected Rebels and censored the press. After all, he was just taking his cue from Lincoln, but I’ve digressed.

After the war, Butler recounted a “colonization interview” that he had attended with Lincoln shortly before the President’s death, during which Lincoln asked, “What shall we do with the negroes after they are free?” According to Butler, Lincoln continued, saying “I can hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace, unless we can get rid of the negroes.” After the dumpy General proposed deporting the newly freed slaves to Panama to act as slave labor for a planned canal (which would come to fruition during Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidency), Lincoln responded, “There is meat in that, General Butler, there is meat in that.” For more information on this exchange and Lincoln’s record on “racial equality,” I highly recommend the book Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement by historians Philip Magness and Sebastian Page. (Butler’s dialogue with Lincoln is described in detail on page 109 of the book.)

Last but not least Lincoln, in his first Inaugural Address, unequivocally stated the reason he would wage war on the South:

The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. (Emphasis added)

Get that folks? It was all about taxes for Lincoln and company. The chief reason Lincoln wanted to “save the Union” was so that he could force the Southern States to continue to pay the bulk of his program of protectionist tariffs. In a nutshell, Lincoln essentially told the South, “Your money or your life,” just as King George III told the colonists in 1776. In this light, the Southern States were only emulating their patriot forebears in seceding from a government to which they no longer consented. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence was primarily a document of secession from the British Empire, and it codified the right of a people to “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” as an unalienable right.

Lastly as far Lincoln’s “late life conversion” to Christianity is concerned, some Christian he must have been if he supposedly waged a war to free slaves that resulted in 750,000 deaths when every other Western nation on Earth (including the British Empire and the Northern United States) ended slavery peacefullyNo genuine Christian who claimed Jesus the Prince of Peace as Lord and Savior would have violated both the Constitution and the principles of Natural Law (both of which protect human life and dignity as preached in the Sermon on the Mount). If Christian Republicans hail Lincoln as a paragon of Christian virtue, the Vatican might as well go ahead and make Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin saints. As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16, NKJV)

Think about these things long and hard before you rush headlong into the voting booth to pull the lever for the party of Lincoln this November, the alleged “lesser of two evils.” Remember: By voting for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil.

–Conor MacCormack

Dishonest Abe’s Legacy And The 2012 Election

Election Day is right around the corner here in the once-fruited plain. And, once again, the two allegedly “ideologically opposed” candidates are wailing about just how different they are from one another.

Mitt Romney, the supposed “conservative” standard bearer, is regaling the American public with pledges to “repeal and replace” the recently upheld Soviet-style monstrosity known as Obamacare, while neglecting to mention the fact that the healthcare reform plan model implemented in Massachusetts during his term as Governor served as the template for the national plan. And of course, right until Election Day, the usual bloviating conservative talking heads will be regaling us with the need to put a “principled conservative Republican” back in the Oval Office, a dashing character in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and, of course, the vaunted Abraham Lincoln. “If he were alive today,” they’ll moan and whine, “Lincoln would know just what to do!”

Certainly, dear readers, you are familiar with the cartoonish tales crafted around the humble country lawyer who was elected President to free the slaves and reunite our great Nation from sea to shining sea. But as the old saying goes, history is written by the victors. And, thus, under the Lincoln-coined meme “right makes might,” his crushing military victory is invoked as seemingly divine proof that the Civil War “once and for all” determined the supremacy of the Federal government. Before you fall prey to the temptation to pull the lever for “anybody but Barack Obama” (who, like his predecessor George W. Bush, quotes Lincoln to justify his every illegal act), let’s take a brief trip down memory lane and explore the Orwellian precedent set by Lincoln and his beloved GOP corporate cronies.

Claim No. 1: Lincoln believed in racial equality.

Sorry, folks, but this is pure wishful thinking, based upon total ignorance of both Lincoln’s actual words and actions throughout his political career. In countless speeches he spoke in favor of maintaining both slavery in the States where it existed and segregation in the so-called “free States.” In one of his exchanges with Stephen A. Douglass during the famed 1858 Illinois Senate race, Lincoln said the following:

I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

On the issue of slavery, he made his beliefs plain to see in his First Inaugural Address:

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them.

Furthermore, as late as 1865, Lincoln was drafting plans to deport the newly freed slaves to Africa and Latin America. In essence, anyplace but the United States.

Claim No. 2: Lincoln was a champion of the Constitution.

While Lincoln did indeed say, “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution,” his actions speak louder than his flowery rhetoric. If he really did feel that way about the Constitution, he would not have unilaterally suspended the writ of habeas corpus (which under Article I falls under the enumerated powers of Congress), waged total war on the peacefully seceded Southern States without a Congressional Declaration of War (which ultimately led to more than 1 million casualties, including 50,000 Southern civilians), and used the military to shut down opposition newspapers and printing presses. A champion of Constitutional law would not have ordered the military to confiscate all privately owned firearms within the border States and illegally imprison more than 13,000 Northern anti-war protestors in military prisons (the forerunner to Japanese American internment, Guantanamo Bay and the recently authorized 2012 National Defense Authorization Act).

Claim No. 3: Lincoln was an advocate for peace.

Advocates for peace do not conscript hundreds of thousands of impoverished men into the Army while allowing wealthy and well-connected men to buy their way out. A man of peace would not send hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths while making every effort to insure that his son would remain safely in college. A man of peace would not have authorized homicidal maniacs like Gens. William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan to carry out the burning, shelling and looting of entire Southern cities. (Sherman would later use this style of warfare against the Plains Indians who were “disrupting” the progress of the government-subsidized transcontinental railroad.) Men of peace do not preside over the largest mass military execution in American history, as Lincoln did in 1862 when he ordered the hanging of 38 Sioux Indians. Men of peace would have not rejected peace offers by both Confederate emissaries and Emperor Napoleon III, who offered to arbitrate between the Confederacy and the United States.

Claim No. 4: Lincoln was a God-fearing man.

The Republicans shamelessly promote themselves as being “God’s Own Party” and endlessly point to Lincoln’s use of Scripture in his speeches as proof of this fact. Like most politicians, Lincoln knew full well that appealing to and manipulating the Bible would sway potential voters as it still does today. The reality is Lincoln rarely attended church as an adult and was never known to pray. His closest associates (including both of his White House secretaries and his longtime law partner) claimed that Lincoln was a pantheist at best, or an atheist or agnostic at worst. And even if the claims about Lincoln’s Christianity were true, he would have been an utter hypocrite, as he did not live by the example set by the Prince of Peace in the Gospels.

There you have it, friends. This election season, don’t be suckered in by the hucksters and Lincoln worshipers of the GOP. I myself would recommend abstaining from voting altogether; but if you feel compelled to do so, I recommend you write in Dr. Ron Paul (the foremost and only anti-Lincoln Republican). I also recommend that you read the following two books before heading to the ballot box in November: The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, whose writings I have cited in this article. Keep staying informed. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

–Conor MacCormack

Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 9 on the Brushfires of Freedom blog.