Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So it Was All a Joke...

Sheryl Crow came clean yesterday. Painted into a corner by her ridiculous comments, she cut a hole in the wall and got out, and the press gave her a free ride. She was just kidding about the toilet paper, after all.

That's the difference between a liberal environmentalist and a normal human being. When most of us tell a joke, we don't have to wait 24 hours to make sure that everybody "got it."

Liberalism, in case you haven't noticed, is possibly the most "un-funny" thing there is. They don't know how to tell or take a joke, so I find it interesting that they now have to tell all the rest of us when they have told one.

Did you ever hear the following joke?

Q. "How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?"


Liberals are unable to poke fun at themselves. They don't understand how George Bush can stand before the correspondents' dinner in Washington every year and joke about himself in front of a less-than-congenial crowd. He must have an angle; after all, they would.

To the liberal mind, humor is just another way to get what you want, when you want it. The thought of actually entertaining someone serves no purpose. Liberal "humor" must fall into one of three categories: sarcastic, insulting, or dirty. I spoke of "Rosie's rant" in the last post, and have since seen her performance before a women's achievement group. Fortunately, we were spared the R-rated four letter words, but there were enough PG-13 ones left to let us know one thing for sure. She doesn't know how to be funny.

Most Americans understand the therapeutic value of a belly-laugh. Liberals don't. Whether it's John McCain (a liberal wannabe himself, but he's too funny) singing "Bomb, Bomb, Iran" to a Beach Boys' tune, or the famous Reagan mike test, liberals take things seriously. I've never met one that saw the humor of life in general. Take, for instance, the time they were trying to shut down ALL logging in the Pacific Northwest. Why? Why, the spotted owl, of course. Poor little endangered creature was very delicate. Not only did she nest in only one type of tree; the forest had to be full of them. Even the thinning of trees in a commercial forest would eradicate this poor little creature from the ecosystem. Then they found a spotted owl nest in a Wal-Mart sign. Now that was funny! At least most Americans would think so.

So thanks, Sheryl, for letting us know you told a joke. We know how hard it is to do that, but you were very noble. You stayed within the ethos of your own philosophical group. You explained the rationale behind telling the rare joke: "We're just so happy that people are talking about global warming, even if it's brought on by a joke," she said. It also gave her a chance to insult Karl Rove, one of the easier slow moving targets of the left -- somewhat easier than Dick Cheney, but a little harder to hit than Adolph Hitler, but this is just for point total, after all.

All I ask, Ms. Crow, is that the next time someone to the right of you politically, socially, or morally, decides that humor is apt for the moment, that you give him or her some leeway to tell a joke as well. I know you won't understand, totally, but realize that they might actually just be trying to entertain the ignorant multitudes like myself and other normal Americans.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Give Someone Enough Rope...

Why even worry about challenging the radical fundamentalist segment of the environmental evangelists? Pope Al and his merry band of disciples manage to shoot themselves in the foot regularly.

Sheryl Crow is an excellent example. When I first found out she was doing a global warming tour, it was while she was in Dallas. Sam Champion, a pretty good weatherman for "Good Morning America," had been sent there to cover her concert, but handily, Dallas was having an Easter season snowstorm which had really put a damper on the global warming tour and he got to cover it in person, bundled-up and breathing frost. I never did hear how many frozen Texans braved the cold to go listen to her global warming concert.

Traveling the US in her biodiesel bus, she proclaims the "gospel" of green responsibility. She has two new ideas: first, limit the average American toilet paper consumption to one square per necessity (as Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up"); secondly, purchase "dining sleeves." These nifty little accoutrements would, I suppose, attach to a stylish evening ensemble somewhere near the wrist. Instead of nasty napkins, gentlemen and gentlewomen of refinement would wipe their mouths on their sleeves. I suppose they would be laundered and re-used -- the sleeves, I mean, not the people.

I only have a few isolated fears about this assault on global warming:

1.) Who is going to monitor the "one-tissue-square-per-visit" law? Will the federal government need to institute another cabinet position to enforce this requirement? Are there exceptions? Who decides? Do we need to add a few more judges for the new cases that will be before the courts? Who determines the dimensions and thickness of the squares?

2.) What do we do with the "dining sleeves" after we use them? Isn't hot water laundering somewhat wasteful? Certainly we don't re-use them. Do we get them with buttons, snaps, or velcro? I have a better idea than the dining sleeve. British nobility used to do it, so I'm sure it's good enough for us: let's get more little fluffy dogs. During a meal, we can wipe our greasy fingers on the dogs as they go by. That's what rich British people did during the Elizabethan Era. The dogs will probably lick the food off later. This way, there is no waste or laundering! If anybody knows Ms. Crow, please tell her she can use my idea and save the embarrassment of trying to figure what to do with a soiled dining sleeve. Lap dogs work much better, especially fluffy ones. I don't know if Chihuahuas would work. I recommend miniature collies, or maybe even terriers.

3.) How do we appease the great paper-producing lobbies that are about to receive a double blow to their economic well-being? They sell table napkins as well as -- other types. Scott, Kimberley-Clark, and many other major corporations which employ thousands of people may have to cut back on production.

I would add that there is one bright side to this story. We got a two-for-one, because this event also gave Rosie O'Donnell a little more rope as well. I would tell you about it, but I'm embarrassed to repeat any of it. She said it on network TV, and I'm surprised that Barbara Walters didn't have a coronary, because it was off-the-wall, even for Rosie.

You don't want to know...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Carefully Worded News Items Show Bias

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld a controversial law banning a specific abortion procedure critics call "partial birth," a ruling that could portend enormous social, legal, and political implications for the divisive issue.

In other words, only "critics" would dare call it "partial birth." And it is only this ruling against it that will have implications for such a "divisive issue."

The sharply divided 5-4 ruling could prove historic, and offer a possible signal of the court's willingness, under Chief Justice John Roberts, to someday revisit the basic right to abortion guaranteed in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.

Vote 5-4 for abortion, and it is a "mandate." Vote 5-4 against abortion, and it is a "sharply divided" court... And of course, it was a "basic right" to abortion that was "guaranteed" in the Roe v. Wade case. I don't see any biased language there. Do you?

...The legal sticking point was that the law lacked a "health exception" for a woman who might suffer serious medical complications, something the justices have said in the past is necessary when considering abortion restrictions.

The "health exception" is why the Supreme Court has routinely stricken down legislation banning this obscene practice. The propaganda that was fed us, of course, is that the "life of the mother" has precedence over the life of the baby (but we call it a "fetus" which helps us de-personalize it, despite the fact that we were all 'fetii' at one time, with the possible exception of some lawmakers and justices who were probably hatched in a more reptilian manner).

I have never figured out how a partial birth abortion could help the health of the mother. In case you haven't heard, the partial birth process involves pulling the baby feet-first from the womb until just the head is left inside. Since the head is still in there, it's not yet a "person" and the brain can be damaged and/or removed by rather heartless procedures. When a normal child is being born feet first, it is called a "breach" birth, and such a form of birth can damage the mother permanently. With partial birth abortions, the child is intentionally turned around and the mother is put at risk of a "breach" birth and the potential dangers it involves. To suppose there is any consideration of anyone's life -- mother or child -- is utmost hypocrisy.

So some people on the Supreme Court have come around to thinking like human beings again. I can only hope the other four get there some day. While I'm at it, I guess I ought to add something also about another victim of abusive surgery -- the Fourth Amendment.

It was the Fourth Amendment that was abused and twisted to allow the Roe v. Wade ruling that overrode state sovereignty regarding the killing of the unborn. I need to add first that before Roe v. Wade, abortion was not prohibited by the federal government. It was an issue left to the states. Some states had allowed abortion decades before Roe v. Wade. All that ruling did was force all states to allow it. Beforehand, someone had to go to a state that allowed it. That state then got to perform it, pay for it and/or arrange billing, and then live with the decision. Doctors who had a conscience also had an option to move to a state where they would not be forced to violate their hippocratic oath. The Roe v. Wade ruling just made the drive a little shorter for those who wanted the procedure, forced all 50 states to allow the procedure, and paved the way for taxpayers' money to pick up the tab.

And the basis for this? A so-called "right to privacy" in the Constitution. Actually, that right was intended to prohibit illegal search and seizure and the investigation of a citizen without "probable cause." This was interpreted as the right to -- yes, you guessed it -- kill babies!

What the 4th amendment actually says is that no one may illegally enter a safe, private place, and remove or endanger the inhabitants or their possessions. How does that guarantee abortion? It sounds like an abortion, actually!

If the Roe v. Wade decision is ever overturned, the media tells us that our country will be driven back into the dark ages. Women will be frequenting back alleys, and dying in hospitals because the doctors' hands are tied. Actually, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, nothing would change immediately. The decision regarding abortion would merely be put back into the place it belongs -- the authority of the states, as was intended by the framers of the constitution. Then if, oh, say, Massachusetts wanted to kill the unborn, force doctors to do it, subsidize hospitals and clinics that did it, and pay for the procedure while taxing their residents, they could do it. But if, oh, say, Idaho decided they did not want to do this, no one in Washington, D.C., or anywhere else could tell them they had to. Sounds pretty totalitarian, doesn't it? But what if some poor Idaho girl needed to terminate a preganancy? Maybe she could move to Massachusetts? What if some doctor wanted the big bucks for a quick procedure? He could go there, too! What if some doctor with a conscience in Massachusetts decided he could not kill unborn babies anymore, but he wanted to keep his license? Hey, he could move to Idaho or some other state that didn't force him to do the procedure! Or how about a pharmacist that didn't want to sell the "morning after" pill as if it were a Tic-Tac or a Tylenol? He could move, too!

There's one drawback, of course. States would have to pay for their own decisions in this area. There would be no more federal funding. Oops, that might be the catch. We sure don't want to slow down the production of the big cash cow we call Medicaid and Medicare. We might actually have some money left in it by the time Generation X gets ready to retire.

A 5-4 vote is only a small victory, but lest we forget, it was the same 5-4 vote that kept innocent children on Death Row in 1989. It was a 5-4 vote in 1972 that voided all death penalties on the books. But that day, remember, it was a "mandate," not a "sharply divided" court, that made the decision and overrode 50 state legislatures.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Definitely Not Another Pretty Face

My mother used to say to me, "Fools' names, like fools' faces; always seen in public places." She was addressing my need to write my name on things that didn't need them. As with many of her other sayings, the lesson stuck. After all these years, that was the first thing I thought about in this whole Imus thing. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have no desire to serve anyone but themselves. I don't understand why these two people have been given a place in the sun. "Reverend" Jackson has always considered himself the successor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Am I the only one who realizes that Jackson doesn't hold a candle to Dr. King?

Both of these so-called "men of the cloth" broadcast "ME! ME!" whenever they speak. Their messages, as one of them would probably phrase it, are "deleterious icons of negativity" in our culture. When was the last time you heard either of these two people say anything nice about anyone?

When O.J. Simpson is accused of murdering his wife, it is a situation that needs the cool heads of the American jurisprudence system, not Jesse Jackson reminding us that O.J. is black and being profiled. When the Rodney King situation occurs and the situation spreads like wildfire, the last thing we need is Jesse Jackson with a can of gasoline. This man who, I remember, made more money in the 1980's than George H.W. Bush and paid less taxes, reminds us constantly of the "oppressed" and the "downtrodden," who are victims of American society. When Jackson stands before the Democratic convention and calls Republicans "baby killers," does no one but me see the ironic humor? Why does he not have to back his words with facts like everyone else?

Have Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton ever had jobs? Has either one of them ever had to punch a clock or fill out an application? How can they understand the problems and trials of the unemployed and the bankrupt? How can they know what it's like not to be able to buy groceries or pay a medical bill?

How do these millionaires come off declaring themselves to speak for the poor? Both of these men are using and abusing the black population of America. Have they every done anything for the people they claim to represent? A hundred years from now, what will the history books say about them, if anything? Dr. King will be there, and probably Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and other Black Americans who have contributed to the betterment of everyone's life -- be they black or white.

If there were some way we could just ignore them, I think they would go away. Why can our networks not just leave them alone? Instead, they turn every negative event into a "photo-op."

Fools' names, like fools' faces; always seen in public places. Two millennia ago, a scriptural writer said, "You show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." To two "reverends," I offer this same advice. Try doing something positive. We're tired of looking at you and hearing your whining. Use the millions of dollars you both have to do something constructive. Try making a difference somewhere.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thank You, Essence Carson

Thank you, Essence, for bringing a moment of light into an otherwise obnoxious, disgusting story. I saw you on "Good Morning America" this morning. When Robin asked you if there was a difference between the words Imus used, and the way that hip-hop and rap singers use them, you were, of course, supposed to say, "Yes, there is. Those are expressions of our own culture, of our blackness, and we earned the right to use them after years of white oppression."

Instead, you said, "No." You said that the words were just as bad and obnoxious when millionaire trash-talkers say them as they are when shock jocks say them. And for that, I thank you for the breath of fresh air. I don't know anything else about you, what you believe, how you feel about life in general, but on GMA this morning, you presented yourself as a decent, admirable human being who knows the difference between what is decent and what is not.

You hit the nail on the head, whether you meant to or not. We have been so desensitized by the garbage we have tolerated and allowed our sons and daughters to pay the purveyors millions of dollars, that it is hypocritical to pretend to express shock when some wild cowboy uses the same words.

It is NOT okay to use demeaning, vulgar, or obscene words, no matter what color, religion, or gender persuasion you might be.

Essence, you didn't have much to say this morning. Coach Stringer did the talking, and she's a pretty likeable person herself. But what you did say, you said with truth and conviction. I hope your voice is the first of thousands, even millions, that decry the fact that these poisonous words and concepts are being said by anyone. I read on your profile that you want to work in the music industry after you finish college. I cannot think of a better person for it. Maybe your positive contributions will push out some of the ridiculous trash that passes for "music" currently.

You are wiser and more honorable than Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the whole media put together. And again, I thank you for being yourself this morning. I don't know what effect Imus' words had on everyone else, but they gave you a platform to say the right thing. They didn't demean you; they elevated you to the level where you deserve to be seen. I hope you spoke for your whole team. If you did, I'll be rooting for you, not only to win it all in the NCAA next year, but to be put in places of leadership where we can hear more of what you have to say. Thanks for everything!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What is "Freedom of Speech" anyway?

First, I had never even heard of Don Imus before. I don't like "shock" radio, and have never felt the need to listen to it. I have stated before that I don't even think that "Freedom of Speech," as our forefathers saw it, protects vulgar or crude language. It should not give people the right to show pornography in public places or over the media. It has everything to do with free political speech -- the ability to speak out against perceived injustice and inconsistencies in our own country and culture, and nothing to do with "shock jocks."

But having said that, I'm disturbed at some people's downright legalistic interpretation of the First Amendment. It seems to say, in effect, "This guarantees the freedom of everyone else to believe what I want to believe, to watch what I want to watch, and to say what I want to hear."
I don't care if Don Imus and Howard Stern never are on the radio again. In my book, they are not worth the waste of time it takes to listen to them. I feel that local standards of decency should empower local governments to keep us from having to listen to such garbage. And the same goes for Snoop Dog, 50 cent, and the rest of the trash-talkers that our teens are currently making multimillionaires by throwing hard-earned pizza and paper-route dollars at them.
What amazes me is that when one of the aforementioned trash-talkers demeans women, authority, and entire racial and social groups with filthy language, not only are they protected, they are applauded. Chrysler lets one of them do a commercial with Lee Iacocca (if I still had even a small urge to ever buy a Chrysler, it's gone now).

Where was Al Sharpton when these trash-talkers were denigrating not just one small basketball team, but one half of the US population?

Next, who decided that Imus' little outburst was "racist?" It reminds me of the old (and hilarious) story Bill Cosby told about the time they put the bullet in the furnace during shop class. The bullet went off, and the students snickered.
"Who put the bullet in the furnace?" the shop teacher asked. They continued to snicker. "Who put that bullet in the furnace?" he asked again, and again, they just snickered. "It takes a pretty low-down type of no-good to put a bullet in a furnace," the teacher said. "Only someone with a terrible mother would raise his kid to put a bullet in a furnace."
"Wait a minute!" one of the kids yelled. "I didn't put that bullet in the furnace, and you quit talking about my mother!"

That's a little of what I felt when "reverend" Al decided to parade his own daughter out on his talk show and lump her into the group of girls that Imus had insulted. I think he insulted his own daughter more than Imus had insulted anyone. As far as I know, she never has played basketball for Rutgers. Also, I've seen the Rutgers team. It's not all black. In fact, it appears to have about the same racial make-up as most college basketball teams. Am I racist for saying that? No, just observant. For some reason, God has chosen to gift certain people with more ability on the basketball court, and I have noticed that a disproportionate majority of them happen to have dark skin. So what? More power to them!

If I decide to say that basketball is just a game for morons, is that racist? Could I say the same thing about golfers and not be racist, since only one of them is mostly black?

Why does someone lose a job for expressing an opinion? Sure, it might have been a stupid thing to say, but if we all lost our jobs for saying something stupid, we'd all be unemployed. I'll bet that even Mother Teresa said something stupid in her life.

I know for a fact that "reverend" Al Sharpton has said a lot of things that were not only stupid, but racist. Why doesn't he lose his job? And as stupid as he talks, he (shudder) usually makes more sense than Jesse Jackson. Why is it okay for some people to say something and we excuse it, but not for others? Why are people being fired for expressing opinions? What does the First Amendment have to do with all of this?

I believe we'd all be a lot better off without Don Imus and Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony spewing their garbage on us, but while we're at it, why not get rid of the hate jockeys that we call "rap artists" and the rabble rousers that we call "advocates of civil rights?" But why stop there? Some people don't like Al Franken or Rush Limbaugh, Hannity or Colmes, George Will or Sam Donaldson. Let's get rid of them all.

Freedom of speech seems to be a very elastic, variable concept. Popular cartoonist Johnny Hart died last Saturday, and in the midst of the accolades that were rightfully sent his way, comment was made about the "controversial" nature of his Christianity that was in his comics. He even had some newspapers drop his comic because of its "controversial" nature. I'm amazed that anyone would even think that Christianity, and one's self-expression of it, was "controversial." Our forefathers, who wrote the First Amendment, would have had no problem with Johnny Hart. If they could have predicted Snoop Dog, on the other hand, they might have just called the whole thing off.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Extraplanetary Warming

Maybe not since the days of the Army McCarthy Hearings has there been such a rabid explosion of furor over such an issue. Global warming is not just a scientific contention; it involves constitutional and political issues. Just last week, it took a Supreme Court decision to inform a president that global warming exists. I'm not arguing its existence; I'm just wondering what part of the Constitution puts scientific discovery in the hands of the courts.

To even question one aspect of global warming is to be found guilty of heresy in an inquisition that would make Torquemada envious. A local weatherman makes a joke about global warming; suddenly, he has been re-assigned. To work with the major national weather networks, one has to buy the whole case, lock, stock, and barrel. Anyone who would question it is branded as archaic, uninformed, and incapable of thought.

So then I read that Mars is having the same problem we are having. In the time we have been observing the planet since the 1970's the average temperature of the planet has gone up nearly a degree, and environmentalists will readily tell you that's a whole lot! -- especially when we're talking about our own planet. One might even venture that Mars has experienced the same degree of warming as has our own earth. It seems to me that the basic principles of scientific investigation would come into play here (we called it the "scientific method" when I was in junior high). If we would really like to see what's causing a phenomenon, let's isolate the effects of that phenomenon and compare influences.

Hmmm. Let's see. What do Earth and Mars have in common? Pollution? Industrialization? Deforestation? Population explosion? How about all those cattle burping methane into the atmosphere? I have looked closely at the issue, and it appears that only one variable applies to both planets: we orbit the same sun. We have known for many years that Old Sol is rather unstable. El NiƱo himself depends on that fickleness. Is it just remotely possible that just maybe the Sun is at least a player in this whole global warming thing?

A few years back, Hollywood and the environmental extremists (fundamentalists?) worked together to produce a movie to deal with the first "inconvenient truth" -- which was that they had been preaching global warming and a new ice age at the same time. "The Day After Tomorrow" did a good job of taking two obviously contradicting statements and hypothesizing that one can cause the other. My wife and I had the same question after seeing the movie: "If our own industrialized societies will cause the next ice age, what caused the last one?"

I have no doubt that hydrocarbon emissions and other man-made factors play a role in the overall equation that is the environment of the earth. We should do everything in our power to decrease pollution and destruction of natural resources. Most normal human beings understand these things. What we don't understand is the rabid fundamentalist rantings of people who drive SUV's and tell us to conserve; of people who want us wearing "Jimmy Carter" turtleneck sweaters in our own 62 degree homes while they use 10 or 20 times the energy we are using. It's hard to take a politician seriously who preaches to us about saving energy while his Escalade idles in the background to keep the air conditioner running.

Today I read an interesting article by Richard S. Lindzen of Newsweek magazine. He believes that global warming is a fact. He wants to do something about it. He is "on board" with what much of the media is preaching to us. However, he is also thoughtful, insightful, and honest about what is really going on. He calls his article, "No Such Thing As a 'Perfect' Temperature." I quote him out of respect for his truthfulness and openness. I do not accuse him of believing what I believe, nor do I wish to force him into my own box. He probably would not agree with me on most of what I say, but he is not a "foaming at the mouth" environmental fundamentalist, and I do not understand why he was allowed, in the midst of environmental witch hunts, to write something like this. Surely the Supreme Court could have stopped him. In a nutshell, this seems to be the point of his article:
  • The only thing we can know for sure about climate is that it changes.
  • In a time when local weather forecasters can even mess up on the weekend outlook, why are we believing we know what will happen in 50 years?
  • There is no compelling evidence of impending catastrophe.
  • Is a warmer climate really a bad thing?
  • Many of the "indicators" that have been used to undergird the panic have been fluctuating for years, such as sea-level rise, etc.
  • Climate modelers themselves have not been able to explain some historical fluctuations such as the warming of 1050 to 1300 and, more recently, the 1976 cooling -- and despite their inability to account for the past, we're taking them at face value as they try to predict the future. (My note -- I've been amazed over the years how "financial analysts" can always tell us after the New York Stock Exchange closes, just why the market went down; but they can never predict what it will do the next day, or what effect daily factors will have -- it is that same "after the fact" logic that environmental advocates are trying to turn into prophecy today).
  • Most of what we have done so far to reduce emissions has caused more problems than it has cured.

I will look next week to see if Mr. Lindzen is still with Newsweek; if, in fact, he is still allowed to speak anywhere. After all, he has spoken heresy, and it would seem he must be burned at the stake for it.

An interesting question is posed by someone who responded to Lindzen's on-line article: "If it is northern industrialized nations that are destroying the atmosphere, why is the ozone hole over the south pole?" Another noted that Einstein's theory of relativity has never been contradicted, never been proven wrong, has always played out, yet after a century, it is still just a theory, yet global warming is proclaimed as a fact from media pulpits everywhere.

It seems to me that there are possibly many factors contributing to a changing environment. Some of them are man-made, and others, such as volcanoes, are beyond our control. Yet it seems that the biggest contributor of all is out of our reach. Is it too simplistic to suppose that the number one contributor to global warming and/or the decrease of temperatures worldwide on our own planet is the same thing that is causing these things on Mars? I think it's the big orange thing that keeps coming up in the East. But I guess that's heresy.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Greatest President We Ever Had

November, 2000 -- Allegations of fraud everywhere, by both parties. The election finally comes down to some disputed southern electoral votes. After a drawn-out battle, the issue is taken all the way to the Supreme Court, and finally settled there. The candidate with the least popular votes wins, and is made President. No, 2000 was not the first time that happened. Rutherford B. Hayes, by most observations, should never have been made president. Not only did he lose the popular vote, but it is likely that he also should have lost the electoral vote as well. Samuel J. Tilden probably won three crucial southern states: South Carolina, Louisiana, and --surprise-- Florida; however, two sets of ballots were sent from each state -- one, claiming Tilden's victory, and the other, Hayes' victory. Tilden's ballots were most likely the legitimate representation of eligible voters at the time. It makes sense that most southerners were Democrats in those days, but there were extenuating circumstances. The South was in "reconstruction," a misnomer if there ever was one. Lincoln's death had killed any hope of dampening the Radical Republicans' calls for blood after Lee's surrender. "Reconstruction" was most likely a vindictive military occupation of the conquered South. Legislatures for the southern states were filled with Republicans, many of them former slaves. Government was in the hands of northerners who had gone south to make sure the Rebellion was dead. Many of them had evil motives as well. We'll never know if Lincoln could have engineered a genuine Reconstruction in the South -- Booth's bullet denied that possibility to us.

What we do know is that southern states had been humiliated back into the Union, and many northern states still wanted retribution. At the time, Republicans represented the North, and most black former slaves were Republican (this would be true until FDR). The Civil War had been about much more than slavery, and the Democratic party of the time sought to hold on to those southern values, both good and bad. In the election of 1876, Samuel J. Tilden, a capable New York attorney and a knowledgeable politician, helped shut down the corrupt Tweed Ring. At this time, both parties, still reeling from the evils of a debilitating war, were infested with corrupt parasites. Tilden was a ray of hope in his own party, and probably would have made a good president. But he was a Democrat, and those in charge wanted to teach the Democrats a lesson because of their tacit support of southern policies.

The resolution of the disputed ballots from the three states was thrown to an electoral commission of 15 people. Five senators were selected; three Republican and two Democrat. Five representatives were selected; three Democrat and two Republican. Finally, four Supreme Court justices were selected; two appointed by Democrats; two, by Republicans. These four justices were then to select a "swing vote" among themselves -- someone in whom they had confidence; someone who would be fair and objective. They chose Joseph P. Bradley, an independent, but one appointed by Republican president Grant. When the vote came, it was, as it would be today, a strict party-line vote, and all the disputed votes were awarded to Hayes, who won 185-184, though we could really say he won 8-7, or even 1-0. Hayes' peace offering to the defeated southern Democrats was to promise the end of the occupation of the South by "reconstruction" troops, which he did.

And, in spite of all these irregularities in the electoral process, I still think he was the greatest president we ever had. Most people today know of Hayes only because of the election scandal. Some know of his wife, "Lemonade Lucy," who refused to serve alcohol in the White House. Hayes introduced Easter Egg rolling on the White House lawn, and Sunday night hymn sings at the White House. But Hayes was much more, and though there is still corruption in our government, the United States as we know it probably would have collapsed because of its own moral decay if Hayes had not set wheels in motion.

Ulysses Grant was a great man, no doubt. He was a man of high moral standards, and truly loved his country. His courtesy in accepting Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House is the epitome of statesmanship. That said, Grant's administration was one of the most corrupt in the history of the US, not because Grant was a bad man, but most likely, because he was a naive politician. He surrounded himself with advisors and right-hand men who had neither his love of country nor his desire to serve. In 1869, the bottom fell out of the gold market and careers were destroyed. At least two recessions occured during his administration. Corrupt staff hired corrupt help, and Grant, great as he was as a man, stands as one of the worst presidents we ever had. In the 1962 historians' poll, only Harding ranked lower, and Grant probably deserved the bottom rung. Yet had Grant sought a third consecutive term, he probably would have been elected again because he was Grant! Thankfully, he didn't.

In the 1876 Republican convention, James G. Blaine was the front-runner, and state primaries, it they had been the fare of that time, would have assured him the nomination. Though not personally corrupt, Blaine was just one more in a long line of Grant-type presidents, and had the corrupt Roscoe Conkling not wanted the nomination for himself, Blaine probably would have gotten enough votes by the 3rd or 4th ballot to get the nomination. As it was, Blaine led the first ballot and lacked only 27 votes to get the nomination. If also-rans Oliver Morton, Benjamin Briscoe, or Conkling himself had supported him, Blaine could have allowed the "business-as-usual" boys to keep party politics alive and well. Hayes trailed on all ballots through the sixth, but by then, was in second place, 308-113. On the seventh ballot, because the others didn't want Blaine to get the nomination if they couldn't have it, Hayes, the dark horse of dark horses, won, 384-351.

While the Republican party officially supported "civil service reform" and the "pacification of the South," they had done nothing about either. While financial and economic crises shook the whole nation, the Grant administration had allowed the South to ferment, the carpetbaggers and scalawags to sow seeds of hatred, and the reactionary hate groups, like the KKK, to flourish, fueled by ignorance and injustice. The White House was filled with office seekers, and only those who greased the right palms got the right jobs.

Hayes entered the White House with many promises, and unlike most politicians, he was to keep them all:
  • End of Reconstruction -- most Republicans saw this as a mere campaign promise to get votes. Hayes actually did something about it. By 1877, the troops were gone, and most Republicans of the time never forgave Hayes for this.
  • Term Limits -- Hayes said at the convention that he would not seek a second term. He was a four-year president by his own choice, and thus was not worried about whom he pleased for the sake of the next election.
  • Non-partisan politics -- Hayes looked past political labels for his appointments, putting at least one Democrat in his cabinet.
  • End of Corruption -- In 1877 he began by issuing an executive order that barred federal employees from taking part in political activities. Specifically, the most salient action was his conflict with the New York Port Authority. Thoroughly in the hands of corrupt politico Roscoe Conkling, Hayes authorized its investigation. Chester A. Arthur was collector, a very "cushy" position -- he had been appointed by Grant. After finding several irregularities, Hayes decided to remove Arthur. First, he tried discretely -- Arthur was offered a consulship in Paris. Arthur publicly refused the offer, probably at the urging of Conkling. Arthur had been Conkling's right-hand man at the Republican convention, and they had actually both supported Hayes and helped him to the nomination -- to keep rival James G. Blaine from getting it, as stated above. They felt betrayed when they could not "call in their chips" on Hayes. He fired Arthur. Though he never gave up on civil service reform, it would not become a reality during his administration.
  • Other overtures of reconciliation to the South -- Hayes appointed William B. Woods, of Georgia, to the Supreme Court -- the first southerner on the court since the Civil War.

Hayes consistently refused special appointments, or the acceptance of special favors. His manner of entering the White House may have been questionable, but his tenure there was unstained by the corruption of the times. He spent four years presiding because he had no plans for campaigning. He would not be in the White House beyond March of 1881, by his own design. He was not a welcome guest at the Republican convention of 1880. By that time, the Republicans had decided to bring back their "sugar daddy," former President Grant. Roscoe Conkling nominated him in a long, elaborate, flowery speech. The corrupt stalwart wing wanted their old access to the White House returned to them. The Republican moderates (the "Half-breeds") were split between John Sherman and old friend James G. Blaine. A new name, James A. Garfield, nominated Sherman. Many constituents were so impressed with Garfield's speech (he was an elaborate speaker and a lay preacher), that they chose to nominate him.

For 33 long votes, the delegates were locked, but Grant was always in the lead. Garfield always got 1 or 2 votes. On the 34th ballot, the state of Wisconsin shocked everyone by casting 16 votes for Garfield, and the snowball began to pick up speed. The next ballot, he had 50 votes, and by the next, the 36th, Garfield won with 399 votes, beating the respected former President by 93 votes. No one was more surprised and shocked than Garfield himself.

Conkling and his Stalwarts were not through, however. Robbed of the chance to insult Hayes by voting against him in the 1880 convention, they decided that the best insult would be to elevate fired customs collector Chester A. Arthur to the vice presidency. They railroaded his nomination through, and smugly left the convention assured that they had gotten even with Hayes, who had fired the corrupt Arthur.

No one imagined that Arthur would one day be president; he was not of presidential caliber. Garfield had narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent in popular vote, but had soundly defeated him in electoral vote, 214-155. Arthur was vice president, and, to Conkling's satisfaction, Hayes was returned to private life with a slap in the face. Garfield, however, was nothing but courteous and respectful to the former president, and when the senate turned down Hayes' final nomination to the Supreme Court, Garfield renominated him, and he was accepted. In spite of his support from the Stalwarts, Garfield supported civil service reform. We'll never know what he would have done. On July 2, 1881, Charles J. Guiteau shot Garfield in the back. Guiteau had been a Stalwart and a Garfield supporter, and expected an appointment or a diplomatic post. Because Garfield refused, Guiteau violently expressed his disappointment.

The assassination did two things: it showcased the corruption of a Washington gone mad, the corruption that Hayes had tried to stop. Secondly, it made Chester A. Arthur president. On September 19, Garfield died, most likely of the infections received by well-meaning physicians who had probed for the bullet, to no avail.

One of President Arthur's first messages received was from Guiteau in prison, who sent him a hopeful congratulatory letter, possibly still expecting some reward. Arthur, who just before Garfield's assassination had sided against Garfield and with Conkling, became an overnight convert. He pushed through much of the civil service legislation that Hayes had desired. He himself became a model of integrity in the White House. His reward was the anger of Conkling and the Stalwarts, who wielded so much power that they kept him from the Republican nomination of 1884, giving it instead to Grover Cleveland, but that's another story.

In the end, most people knew that Hayes had been right. And he had done something about it. His ethics were punctuated by something as gruesome as the assassination of a president. Today, much of the controls we have to prevent corruption in high places are because of the ethics of Hayes. He never should have been nominated by his party, and never would have won a primary. He didn't really win the presidency in 1876. In spite of this, he probably did more to undergird the recovery of the greatness of the office than has anyone before or since. For that reason, I think he's the greatest president we've ever had.

"There can be no complete and permanent reform of the civil service until public opinion emancipates Congressmen from all control and influence over government patronage... No proper legislation is to be expected as long as members of Congress are engaged in procuring offices for their constituents."

"I am not liked as a President by the politicians in office, in the press, or in Congress. But I am content to abide the judgment -- the sober second thought -- of the people."

--Both quotes by Rutherford B. Hayes