The National Whig

Serving to make the United States better by arguing for Liberty and its best ingredient Limited Government.

Location: Any Towne, Any State, United States

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Secession, the Palins and Leftists' Short-term Memory

The selection of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice presidential runningmate has brought to the surface an issue that has not been mentioned in the United States for some one hundred sixty years. Thanks, in part, to the Liberal media the issue of secession has been brought up as a serious offense by Sarah Palin given her husband's seven year long affiliation with the Alaskan Independence Party from 1995 to 2002. The AIP's primary goal is to win enough seats in the Alaskan legislature and bring to a vote seceeding from the United States. But Sarah Palin is not the only one involved in this presidential race with connections to secession. Both of the Democrats on the top of that Party's presidential ticket have voted for a bill that would allow for the secession of the state of Hawaii.

The bill that would pave the way for Hawaii to seceed from the Union was sponsored by Democrat Senator Daniel Akaka back in 2006 and it was voted on during the summer of 2006. It failed to reach the 60 votes required to bring it to the floor of Senate by a vote of 56 to 41, and among those fifty-six yea votes were Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Now the Akaka bill, as it is known, is not overtly secessionist, for all it does is allow for native Hawaiians to from their own government based on race, but its author in Senate admits that it could very well lead to secession. During the lead up to the vote and its aftermath there wasn't a whole lot of talk in the media about Akaka being anti-American, as there is today with Palin. And of course, there is not any mention by the press about Obama or Biden being anti-American either for their votes in the affirmative on the bill. But rest assured Sarah Palin is not and will not be given the same type of benefit of the doubt when it comes to her patriotism.

In an L.A. Times piece penned by staff writer Michael Finnegan not only is the AIP made out to be a bunch of kooks, but so is Palin and her husband. Finnegan writes, "With McCain's campaign emphasizing patriotism -- his latest slogan is 'Country First' -- the Palins' links...could prove awkward." Although Mr. Finnegan never asks or reports on anyone asking about Obama's lack of emphasis on patriotism, he sees fit to question McCain's and Palin's when neither of the two have gotten as close as Obama or Biden to actually succeeding in allowing a state to leave the union.

The premise behind the "anti-American" label if you support secession is wrong. Secession is a means used when states feel affronted by the federal government outside of the stipulations of the Constitution. Secession has been linked to slaveholders, and, as such, has been discredited as a fringe, racist action. However, it should be noted that the first attempts at secession in the United States were by northerners agitated over the issue of taxation. The best philosophical explaination for supporting secession was brought forth by John C. Calhoun--Andrew Jackson's vice president--following a tariff that had pernicious economic outcomes for his home state of South Carolina. In his epic book,
The Rise of American Democracy, Sean Wilentz explains Calhoun's philosphy thus: "The only cure for majority despotism, Calhoun argued, was to recognize the undivided sovereignty of the individual states that, he asserted, was anterior to the Constitution. Just as the federal government could annul any state law ruled binding, so aggrieved states could void, within their borders, any federal law they deemed unconstitutional. Should three-quarters of the states then fail to revise the Constitution, under the amending power, to make the offending law constitutional, the nullifying state would have the option of seceeding from the Union. Calhoun would always insist nullification was not secession, which was literally true. But in seizing on the theory of original state sovereignty, he offered a theoretical justification for both nullification and secession." In essence, what Calhoun is saying is that when a state feels coerced into doing something emplemented by a majority in the federal legislature, but deems the act unconstitutional, it can act, first, by rectifying the unconstitutionality of the majority or, second having the first option failed, can leave the Union all together.

This is exact reasoning behind the Alaskan Independence Party. Back to Finnegan's
L.A. Times piece: "Leaders of the party say many of its 13,681 registered members have joined out of frustration over restrictions that the federal government has placed on the use of its vast land holdings in Alaska. Beyond the secession vote, the party also advocates gun rights, home schooling and abolition of property taxes." The members of the AIP feel affronted by the federal government and, knowing that the federal government will never be made to act under the Constitution, they have resolved to convincing their fellow Alaskans that secession is the better course of action. This philosophy runs true for Hawaii as well. For the Alaskans, it is not so much that they want to be governed outside of the Constitution, but that they feel that they are not being governed that way and as such must leave the jurisdiction of the federal government, a reasonable course of action.

The media are making a lot of noise about Sarah Palin's husband being connected to the AIP, a group that the media have labeled anti-American. But it cannot be forgotten that Obama and Biden, both Democrats, have supportted a bill on the Senate floor that would, as the bill's sponsor admits, lead to the secession of Hawaii. It is likely that this issue will not stick, and the American people will receive Sarah Palin hospitably. But it also must be stated that secession is not anti-American, particularly when it is pursued as a means to get back to being governed under the auspices of the United States Constitution. Let us not forget that the whole reason for the existence of the United States comes from our separation from England as articulated by Thomas Jefferson: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Amidst Success, Utter Failure

In most aspects of life success will breed interest. For instance, prior to winning their first World Series in 86 years, fans of the Boston Red Sox were quarantined in the North East while the Yankees, winners of twenty-five percent of all World Serieses, controlled the masses of fans. After having won two Serieses in the past five years, the stock of the Red Sox has risen drastically. There are even BoSox fans in Pensacola Florida. But in the political world success is the midwife of insouciance. In politics, no one is willing to discuss an issue that has been successfully resolved. In fact, it is rare to see an issue successfully resolved dominate the frontpages of newspapers or the lead segment of news programs, falling under the old adage of the news business of "if it bleeds, it leads." Iraq, once a media drumbeat of failure now turned toward complete success, is certainly among this phenomenon.

The number one indicator that Iraq--and on a more general scale the War on Terror--has been moved, not to the back burner of politics but, off of the stove completely is where this issue falls in regards to importance for voters in this year's presidential election cycle. The latest polls show that the economy is the number one issue by far with anything remotely close to terrorism barely garnering over ten percent of the voters' concern. Some polls even show that Republicans are overwhelmingly more concerned about the economy than they are about terrorism. This sentiment among the voters is the primary reason why there is a good chance that a candidate that they view as woefully unqualified and inexperienced--Barack Obama--is running just a few points ahead of John McCain in most polls. Many view Obama can do a better job of steering the economy in the right direction than McCain can, while it is just the opposite in regards to terrorism. (Nevermind the fact that the economy is actually doing well with the last quarter showing GDP growth of 3.3 percent.)

The reason for this nonchalant attitude toward Iraq/War on Terror is the overwhelming success that there has been over the past three years. In Iraq, today marks yet another major advancement towards success as the US has handed over control of Anbar province to the Iraq government. The BBC reports that this will mark the handing over of controll of eleven of the eighteen provinces to the Iraqis. A major step forward in Iraq. Couple this with talk of there being a major military pull out of US troops from Iraq by 2011 and it becomes clear why Obama can get away with saying that he will completely pull us out of Iraq within his first two years of office. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan there has been a drastic decline in the harvest of poppies--a key ingredient to heroin--that has hurt the ability to fund terror operations in Afghanistan. Granted Afghanistan still needs help, but there have been many successes in the still fledgling country.

The biggest failure in the War on Terror has been the inability of the Bush administration to keep the focus of the American voter fixed on the task at hand while the mainstream press has done everything in its power to push it to the peripheral and replace it with stories of an ailing economy. Again, looking at the polls one might say that the media has accomplished that task. Of course part of the Bush administration's problem stems from two-thirds of the American people holding a rather low opinion of the administration, and as such, making it rather difficult to get the good news out about Iraq and Afghanistan. When people glaze over with disapproval, they are real quick to not hear anything that is being said. It is going to take the next President to explain what is going on in the Middle East.

Not since 2003 has there been a sense that the American military has been on the offensive and completing any of its objectives. Unlike 2003 though, the American people are not paying any attention to these successes. They are wrapped up in the so-called ailing economy, the emergence of the Messiah-like Obama and McCain's pick of Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his runningmate. It is often stated that success has a million fathers. That is only true if you are discussing successes outside of the political arena, where success is as much an orphan as corruption. This is the reality of politics in America, it is as much a fixture of our culture as baseball is. Which begs the question, how many games back behind Tampa Bay is the Red Sox?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Conservative on the Ticket

There is newcomer to national politics in this year's presidential race that is causing a lot of buzz and excitement. This newcomer was relatively unheard of until just a few days ago when John McCain named her as his running mate on the top of the Republican ticket this year. Her name is Sarah Palin and she is the governor of Alaska. And she has Conservatives doing a lot of talking about how excited they are to not only vote for McCain, but to actually donate money to his cause, some thing that has been lacking this year.

Governor Palin has a pretty solid resume with real accomplishments on it. She has been a mayor, a city council member, a reformer and most of all a mother of five. She has Conservatives excited because she has lived conservatism. Sitting on the Republican ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate, she will give John McCain the much needed boost that he has been looking for from the base of the Republican Party.

With all of this good news, comes the actual test. Will she be able to convince the American voter that being slightly inexperienced as a Vice President is not near as bad as being completely inexperienced as President? Democrats, almost immediately, went on the attack that she has no experience and that the McCain campaign is hypocritical for denouncing Barack Obama for being inexperienced and then nominating as a running-mate some one who is inexperienced. There are two main differences in this argument: 1) Obama wants to be President and 2) Palin, as VP, will be in a position to learn from her boss. Obama is looking for the top job with no experience outside of being a state senator and then a U.S. senator. He decided to run for President barely a year after being elected to his first term as U.S. senator. Prior to him holding elected office he was a community engineer, which means that he did nothing while sitting in an office operated by some liberal charity. Gov. Palin has a much more accomplished resume than the Democrats' Presidential contender. But if they want to make hay of the Republicans' number two being less qualified then their number one, so be it. And that leads into the second point. Palin will have a great opportunity to learn while VP. Look at it this way, she is a rookie quarterback learning from the veteran while the coaching staff determines when she is ready to start. She may be in the better position.

The bottom line is that Republicans are enthusiastic about actually voting for McCain as opposed to voting against Obama and that is a much better position to be in. The other plus is that she is intelligent, some thing Liberal women have a hard time convincing others that they are. And also, unlike Liberal women, Palin is easy on the eyes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What Next for Georgia?

It has been a week since Russia invaded the small country of Georgia over what the Russians claim to be a humanitarian effort to stop the Georgian army from tyrannizing South Ossetia, a province of northern Georgia. However, given the push by the Russian military deep into Georgia, there can be little doubt that this is not a humanitarian effort by the Russians. There is something deeper going on here and it has nothing to do with the good will of the Russian government toward the people of South Ossetia.

Let us begin with a couple of reasons for Russia's quick launch of an invasion of a country that was once part of its Soviet empire. The number one reason is the expansion of NATO all the way to the border of Russia, and as a result, Russia's feeling vulnerable to diplomatic conquest. Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are all member states of NATO. Ukraine and Georgia have been seeking membership for much of the decade. Russia feels threatened and, it is quite possible, flustered over watching its former empire become members of an organization created during the Cold War with the sole responsibility of making sure that the influence of Soviet Russia did not spread further into Western Europe. It seems that Georgia's attmepts to gain NATO membership was the last straw, and so Russia acted in the only way it knew how.

The first signs of Russia's determination to prevent Georgia from moving further away from its influence surfaced in September of 2006 when Georgia arrested what they claimed to be spies. Accordingly, Russia's foreign and defense ministries denounced the accusations and demanded that the detainees be released. The situation worsened when Georgia refused to release the Russian army officers and, in response, Russia withdrew its diplomatic arm in Tblisi and refused to issue Russian visas to Georgian citizens. Eventually the Georgians released the accused, even as Russia implemented economic sanctions against Georgia. Finally, Georgia began accusing Russia of giving support to separatists in two of Georgia's provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Now, it looks like Russia is on the verge of completely conquering one of its old satellite states.

So, does this all stem from Georgia wanting to be a member of NATO? And, aside from that, what is next for Georgia? It is clear that the current wisdom regarding Georgia's peril stems from their desire to be inducted into NATO. Do a quick Google search and you can see for yourself that the NATO issue is on everyone's mind when explaining how all of this came to fruition. There is some credibility to this line of thinking, though it should be encouraged to take in a contrarian's view. The main explaination is more likely to be centered around Russia's desire to recapture its old glory by reconstituting the empire it claimed when it was the U.S.S.R.

As for Georgia, its future rests in the hands of Europe and the United States. Russia's dominance of the Georgian military has rendered it helpless in repelling the invaders and thus is, as of right now, unable to regain its sovereignty. It would seem that the only way forward in saving Georgia is to have the Europeans get involved, but so far the only involvement has come from the US in the form of telling Russia to get out. Poland has decided to allow the US to place a missile defense shield there--much to Russia's displeasure--but the US insists that it is to protect from a nuclear Iran. Russia's response has been to declare that it will not rule out a nuclear strike against Poland. Europe also has to think about the energy repercussions of a Russian dominated Georgia.

The war in the Caucasus is going to put a major strain on Europe, and even though there is not as direct a strain put on the US, this does set the table for future rows between the East and the West. Russia is free to run rough-shod over its neighbors because Europe is unwilling to use any type of force, even to protect their own back yard, and the US is busy with the terrorist threat in the Middle East. It is going to be difficult to slow down the advance of the bear, but the West better act quickly and with one voice or it faces another Cold War.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Trouble in Asia, and All We Hear About are Tire Gauges

Every four years in the United States we experience two great phenomenons bourne out of two creations of man. The first is the gaining of an extra day due to our keeping of time not actually coming out to an exact 24 hours. The second is the campaign for president of the United States. The leap year is rather boring though when compared to the fireworks that usually accompany a presidential campaign. But this year, in light of some of the events that have transpired over the course of the past eight months, the presidential contest seems to be lacking.

Yes, it is true that this year features the first ever black candidate to be nominated by one of the two major political parties. And yes, it is also true that this year will produce our first elected president to come out of the Senate since John Kennedy. But take a look at some of the other items that this campaign has brought us. We have been treated to a campaign that features using tire gauges as means to dispell our energy crisis. We have been treated to articles about what the two candidates like to watch on TV. We have one candidate--John McCain--who claims a fictitious president as his example of the type of leader he would like to be. And then there is the Messiah-complex of Barack Obama. But one thing that has not been brought up at all in this campaign is the role that the United States will play on the stage of world affairs. This week displayed two major events that should have leapt out in the forefront of presidential politics.

The first is a bit subtle, yet nonetheless important. China hosts the Summer Olympics and on the opening day ceremonies, while every one in the stands was cheering the festivities, there were millions of people in China suffering for no other crime but speaking their minds and thinking freely. Underneath the surface the story of protest has been bubbling over, but it has yet to catch on among the presidential candidates. The United States used to view the Olympics as an avenue to rebuke inhumane Communist regimes, but that time seems to have passed.

The second major event to not garner any attention from either presidential candidate is the invasion of the Republic of Georgia by Russia. This crisis has been left to boil for some four to five years at the least only to have the water boil over this week. Quickly, to get you up to speed, Georgia is having problems with separatists in the northern province of South Ossetia and so they responded by marching in to crush the rebels. Meanwhile, Russia has used this strife as a means to provoke Georgia into a confrontation. You might recall in the past couple of years Russia claiming that Georgia had detained some of its diplomats, while Georgia maintains that these "diplomats" were in fact spies. Well, needless to say, this all came to a head on Friday August 8 when Russian war planes began bombing runs inside Georgia and Russian tanks crossed the border. In response, Georgia is doing everything they can to repell the Russians, even withdrawling their forces in Iraq. President Bush has urged a quick resolution and rest assured that there are plenty of behind the scenes talks going on in Beijing. But what is missing is what a President McCain or a President Obama would do.

Granted there is not much that either can do right now to bring about a cease fire, as they are both just Senators, but this is a grand opportunity to bring up a larger issue--one that matters by the way--to the American people. We have been treated to eight years of the Left telling us that the foriegn policy of the Bush administration is the equivolent of the foriegn policy of a chimp. Well what would an Obama administration do in a scenario such as this? How exactly would Obama go about bringing this thing to a close favorable to the US? What about McCain? He seems to have all the answers when it comes to conducting a war, but what answers does he have in regards to international intrigue?

These two global events are ripe for a presidential candidate to display the type of leadership that would be employed in the next administration. Should we or should we not deal with China on any level so long as people there suffer due to political incarceration? Will we stand with allies who are bullied by a former power looking to regain its former glory, even as those allies stand with us in an unpopular war? These are questions that need to be answered now before the next president takes the oath of office. Some would claim that we didn't truly know what we were getting into when Bush first came to office, well now is the time to know about the next guy. But I guess for now, we will have to do with what TV shows our candidates enjoy and how much pressure-per-inch should we put in our tires in the hopes of saving ANWR from drilling.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Military Tribunals Work; Hamdan Guilty

Today marks the end of the first military tribunal involving one of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, Salim Ahmed Hamdan. Hamdan was captured in Afghanistan during the military operations that served as the response for the September 11 terrorist attacks. What was Hamdan found guilty of? A jury of six found him guilty of material support to terrorists; however, they aquitted him for the more serious charge of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. It is the aquittal that has many anti-Bush administration pundits laughing and saying "see, this tribunal stuff doesn't work." But let's just keep in mind that the conviction for material support came as a result of Hamdan being the driver for Osama bin Laden. People in the press are saying that this is the "lesser" crime, and it really is when compared to a conspiracy charge. But it's not like the jury just convicted the driver of a get-away-car used in a bank robbery.

Executive director of Amnesty International USA Larry Cox claims that the military tribunal process is "fatally flawed." Well, if this process is flawed then A) why was it used to begin with and B) how could a jury picked by the Pentagon convict for the "lesser" crime? Mr. Cox's use of the phrase "fatally flawed" would signify that the error has caused the life of Hamdan to end, but it has done no such thing. What the process has done is held Hamdan for seven years while his leftist lawyers argued that the military tribunal process violated US and international law and managed to win over the jury in regards to the aquittal for the conspiracy charge. Rand Beers has basically asked "seven years and this all that happened?" Well, Mr. Beers might be reminded that it was his buddies on the left who initiated the Supreme Court process. Navigating a court case all the way to the Supreme Court is not something that happens over night. So, Mr. Beers, Hamdan very easily could have met justice sooner had it not been for the left's insistance that a foriegn individual employed by the number one terrorist in the world was entitled to have his court case heard in the US justice system as opposed to military tribunals.

As to the material support charges Hamdan was found guilty of, there will most likely be an appeal by Hamdan's lawyers. The rationale for the appeal is that material support should not be considered a war crime. Well on the face of it, that would be a sensable reaction, but we are talking about bin Laden's driver not the driver of some two-bit criminal in the US. Furthermore, Hamdan is not a US citizen and should not be given the same access to the justice system that you or I would get.

The American Left has made it a point to compare the holding of terrorists in Guantanamo Bay to that of the Nazis holding Jews in concentration camps. Hollywood has made propaganda films depicting an overzealous political leader making up a threat all for the purpose of taking dictitorial control over the country. Leftist politicians repeatedly make the charge that what is being done in GETMO is inhumane. It is time for the American people to wake up and realize that by the left doing this they are putting all of us in grave danger. Barack Obama and the Democrat Party will not fight the terrorists. They will go back to issuing subpoenas and indicting terrorists in other countries only after terrorist attacks and the death of innocent Americans.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Triumphant Return

It seems like an eternity since there has been any words published in this space. I wish to extend appologies all around to those who have missed The National Whig. I had to go away for a couple of months on business and was not able to keep all of you updated as to my whereabouts. But I can now.

I visited a couple of places that I would like to recommend to all of you: Crete, Lisbon, Portugal and Bahrain. First of all, all three places are full of culture that you will not find anywhere here in the States. Crete is one of those islands carefully tucked away in the Mediterranean. The weather is great during the summer, meaning that it is not too hot, and the people are very friendly to Americans, meaning that you don't have to walk around with an English-to-Greek dictionary. The prices are also very comparable to prices here in the States, although they are on the Euro, so you will be paying about fifty cents more on everything given the exchange rate. But do go; the scenery is not to be matched. I have never before seen water so blue in my life. Plus, the history on the island is so rich that you feel like you have been placed in a time that the history of the US cannot possibly touch.

Speaking of history, go to Lisbon. Again, the people are friendly and very courtious to Americans--be on guard for the street venders that try to sell you sun-glasses and then pitch drugs to you when you have declined the glasses. While there, I stood in two Catholic cathedrals, one dating from the late 16th century and the other dating all the way to the 12th century. Both were beautiful and very inspiring--you could definitely feel the presence of God in each one. The younger of the two cathedrals housed the tomb of the queen who commissioned the building of the church. There she was laid to rest right there in the church, never missing a mass. But it was the awe inspiring 12th century cathedral where one truly gets the feeling of the Holy Spirit. Walking through the doors and you are instantly transported to the Middle Ages and you might half expect to turn a corner and see a knight kneeling before his journey to the Holy Land to crusade begins. The lighting inside is provided by stained glass windows and what seems like thousands of candles. And don't hesitate to place a lit candle on the prayer request table, I certainly didn't.

Bahrain is where my journies began. Let me begin by stressing to all of you that it is brutally hot there. Nevertheless, it has much to offer. The biggest attraction to me was the outdoor market that the locals like to call the Souq (pronounded Sook). This place is full of cheaply made knock off brands and also local items that are just beautiful. But it is the atmosphere that is its main attraction. While walking through this area of the island--Bahrain is an island just off of Saudi Arabia--you are suddenly thrown into an Indiana Jones movie searching for some ancient treasure, but no, you are in the here and now. The native Bahrainis are very friendly to Americans, but be aware that Saudis go there to "play" and many of them are not at the least friendly. (If by chance a Saudi offers to shake your hand and extends his left hand, he is insulting you and you should follow suit and offer your left hand.) The bottom line is just get out and experience the Muslim culture, don't be afraid. The first time you hear a call to prayer will be unnerving at first but then you, after a while, you come to see the beauty of it and begin to wish that American Christianity would offer something similar.

Americans are often critisized for not getting out and experiencing other cultures, and, however true this may be, it is important to go and visit other places to gain some small understanding. It is true that not all Europeans look down their noses at Americans and not all Muslims want to behead us, and you can only come to that conclusion if you visit with them and eat their food and walk their streets. Remember, those of us who inhabit this great country all originate from Europe and it would be wise to appreciate our heritage and visit our cousins from across the pond every now and then. So go, live and experience something that you will most certainly not regret.