Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Not Just Another Pretty Face

Talking heads on TV – news, analysis, political and economic commentary; in almost all cases, individuals selected in these positions fall into one of three categories:

1)      There are the zealots – state-propagandists posing as deep thinking intellectuals.  These are typically found on the Sunday morning talk shows or public television.
2)      Then there are the bombasts – loud, obnoxious, certain of their views and certain that anyone who disagrees is an idiot.
3)      Finally, the pretty faces.  Stick to the script; free-flowing dialogue offers the risk of exposure.

There are only a few who do not fit in any of these categories (frankly, so few that I have found no reason to watch any of it since I saw the light).  One of these few has recently written a book: “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom,” by Judge Andrew Napolitano.  (Thank goodness for YouTube!)

One thought regularly and often went through my mind while reading the book: Judge Napolitano has within him a breadth and depth not found in many, and virtually non-existent within those whom I will hesitantly label his peers.

Through the actions of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Napolitano lays bare the foundation of the disaster that is today’s US government.  He exposes the roots of the ruination as manifest in every avenue of government and political life – legal, financial, monetary, foreign policy, regulatory, propaganda, etc. 

From the Author’s Note:

You can see where we are going in this book.  This is not a biography of either Wilson or Roosevelt.  It does not purport to present them fairly.  This is, quite simply, a case against them. 

I laughed out loud when I first read this; how many hagiographers of politicians and war criminals (but I repeat myself) readily admit their bias?  I only take one exception with Napolitano in this statement, and it is a significant exception: any fair presentation of virtually any president would also be “a case against them.”

But I will easily forgive him this error.

It is clear when reading the book that Napolitano is not a talking head – in him is a mind that has explored and considered the entire expanse of issues on this topic; he has connected these to very specific actions of the two subject presidents. 

For this reason, my review will take a somewhat different approach; I will offer cites from the book with little if any further comment.  My intent is to make evident Judge Napolitano’s depth and breadth of knowledge: his words will suffice; mine will only get in the way.

Your Vote Counts?

Regarding the 1912 Republican Presidential nomination, ultimately won by Taft:

When the [direct-election] primaries were said and done, Roosevelt won 278 delegates, Taft won 48 delegates, and La Follette won 36…. But Taft controlled the boss-controlled primaries, so when the convention came around, neither man had the necessary 540 delegates to secure the nomination.

…the Republican National Committee was firmly behind its man, Taft. The members awarded 235 of the remaining delegates to Taft and only 19 to Roosevelt, putting Taft far over the threshold of 540 needed to secure the nomination. (p. 10)

Roosevelt went on to run under a third-party – the Progressive Party.  He lost, but split enough of the Republican vote to ensure Wilson’s victory.  Napolitano outlines the Progressive Party platform.  It includes national health service, social insurance for the elderly, various workers’ rights, a federal securities commission, an inheritance tax, a federal income tax, women’s suffrage, and direct election of senators. (p. 13) I probably don’t have to mention that every plank of this platform has since been enacted.

Roosevelt actually played spoiler to the candidate he would least want to be president: The Republican incumbent and his former close friend, William Howard Taft. (p. 17)

Compulsory Education

These public schools did not separate church and state.  Instead, they hoped to emphasize Protestant teachings over other religions, specifically Catholicism. (p. 25)

The courts have established that parents have no right to educate their children free from government regulation. (p. 29)

…the Supreme Court ruled that students do not enjoy the protection of the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment and refused to intervene after a student was brutally beaten in a public school by a school official. (p. 32)

The Regulatory State

Wilson set out the theory that the Constitution should be interpreted in light of changing times and the theory of Darwinism. (p. 45)

The Federal Reserve

The depth of understanding of Judge Napolitano comes shining through on this topic – one well outside of his expertise in Constitutional law.

The banks devised clever accounting tactics to handle this system.  The money someone deposited for the banks to hold was counted as an asset.  An asset represents something the banks own…. Banks then lend out their assets, which are really your monies, to someone else….

It was not until a lender of last resort was established that banks were free to make insanely risky loans. (p. 58)

Monopoly could be put over in the name of opposition to monopoly! (p. 62)

As I wrote in the margin: Hooray!  It’s the monopoly and government backing that is at the root of our banking problems.

Inflation is the increase in the money supply…. (p. 61)

As to the infamous meeting at Jekyll Island:

These men…were not meeting to discuss how the government could get out of their way.  Quite the opposite.  The men were meeting for the explicit purpose of getting the government in their way. (p. 63)

These cartels always break down eventually, unless they are made lawful…. In so doing, the governmental regulators serve as the enforcer of cartel arrangements. (p. 67)

Citing Murray Rothbard:

American politics, from the turn of the twentieth century until World War II, can be far better comprehended by studying the interrelationship of major financial groupings than by studying the superficial and often sham struggles between Democrats and Republicans. (p. 72)

Back to Judge Napolitano:

More important to the banks was not Wilson the man, but rather his views on the marketplace…. The election of 1912 was completely contrived by the banking elites, specifically J.P. Morgan. (p. 73)

This view corresponds with my idea that individuals are often chosen specifically because the puppet-masters know how the puppet will behave even without having to pull the strings.

Direct Election of Senators

Two senators were convicted on corruption charges in 1906, providing the needed spark for William Randolph Hearst to launch his campaign against sovereignty of the states. (p. 78)

As an aside, Hearst was also active in propagandizing for McKinley’s wars.

The story of the Seventeenth Amendment is the story of the most destructive movement to our Constitution we have ever known in this country. (p. 81)

On this point, I will humbly disagree.  It seems to me that Lincoln’s war was more destructive to the Constitution than was this amendment.  Further, the income tax was enacted shortly before, and central banking in its final and most destructive form was enacted shortly after the time when senators were still appointed.  It seems appointment did not protect us from this monetary and fiscal axis of evil.


Is economic enslavement really so different from military conscription?  Is military conscription really so different from involuntary servitude; from slavery?  The master needs bodies for his cotton, the president needs bodies for his war, and those bodies can be put to work by the force of law and against their will. (p 113)

…the Supreme Court ruled that the Congress held the power to create the draft because the draft was “necessary and proper” to wage war. (p. 115)

Surely President Wilson was lying when he stated that the draft is “in no sense a conscription of the unwilling; it is, rather, selection from a nation which has volunteered in mass.” (p. 119)

Napolitano continues, touching on the history of labor unions, prohibition, international relations, wartime propaganda, and the federal income tax.  In each case, he cites several examples – outrageous to the uninitiated, informative for even the most cynical among us;  all of it standard operating procedure for those on the inside.  Napolitano also connects the dots in each case – pointing to the actions taken in the Roosevelt / Wilson years that either began the relevant violation or otherwise greatly increased it.

For those interested in an easy-to-read overview of the roots of the current state of the union, you will be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive read.  For those who want depth behind this history, you will also find it here; I want to believe I understand more about this history than most, yet I found many new and valuable tidbits of information in every chapter.

Finally, I will be remiss if I do not include Judge Napolitano’s dedication:

This book is dedicated to
Congressman Ron Paul,
Whose intellect, industry, heart, and head
Have educated millions on the
Loss of Liberty because of big government;
And whose personal courage and fearless determination
Have made him a hero
To lovers of Freedom everywhere on the planet,
And a profound personal inspiration to me.

I do not know a more courageous man; I only wish I had written these words first.

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