Confederate Society
by Harold Holzer

A century and a half ago, Abraham Lincoln brought forth at Gettysburg a speech universally remembered as one of the greatest ever written, a gem not only of American political oratory, but of American literature.

Tributes have been devoted to it, re-creations staged of it, and books written about it. It is surely fair to say that no other American speech has ever inspired so much writing and so many more speeches. This paper may be the latest, but it certainly will not be the last.

Perhaps what makes the speech especially appealing to modern Americans are the handicaps Lincoln faced in delivering it: a late invitation to appear; a rude reminder that he should deliver no more than “a few appropriate remarks”; the distraction of a sick child at home; an unenviable spot on the program that day—following a stem-winder by the greatest orator of the era; and Lincoln’s deep aversion to public speechmaking of any kind once he became president. We have come to love the Gettysburg Address, in part, because in spite of all these obstacles Lincoln somehow composed a masterpiece.[1]

But we love the Gettysburg Address, too, because we sense that Lincoln wrote it in a burst of passion and genius. And perhaps some Americans learned to love it because they still believe that Lincoln summoned the divine inspiration to write it on a railroad train en route to Gettysburg, at the last possible minute. We love it because we have heard that the press hated it. And maybe, most of all, we love it because we have learned that Lincoln himself thought it was a failure. In fact, we have been taught that most of Lincoln’s contemporaries failed to appreciate it, too, just as they failed to appreciate Lincoln himself until he was gone. It only makes us love the Gettysburg Address the more.

If it is true that all or any of these myths have inspired our affection for Abraham Lincoln’s greatest speech, then we may well love the Gettysburg Address for the wrong reasons.

The fact is, the reputation of no other speech in all American history has ever been so warped by misconception and myth. True enough, Lincoln was invited late, he was told to keep it brief, he did have a challenging spot on the program that day, and he did have a sick child at home whose suffering surely reminded his worried parents of the illness that had taken the life of another son only a year and a half before. But much of the rest of the legend that makes the Gettysburg Address so appealing was conceived in liberties with the truth and dedicated to the proposition that you can fool most of the people most of the time.[2]

Take the myth of its creation on board the train from Washington. The legend originated with newspaperman Ben Perley Poore, who contended that the address was “written in the car on the way from Washington to the battlefield, upon a piece of pasteboard held on his knee.”[3]

Another passenger contended that Lincoln finished the entire manuscript by the time he reached Baltimore. Even more impressive was the claim by a corporal traveling with the President that not until their train reached Hanover—just twelve miles from Gettysburg—did Lincoln stand up after hours of storytelling and declare: “Gentlemen, this is all very pleasant, but the people will expect me to say something to them tomorrow, and I must give the matter some thought.” But the most absurd recollection of all came from Andrew Carnegie, of all people, then a young executive with the B & O Railroad, who claimed that not only did Lincoln write the Gettysburg Address on the train, but that Carnegie had personally handed Lincoln the pencil to do the writing.[4]

The fact is, Lincoln had been “giving the matter some thought” since at least November 8, 1863, eleven days before dedication day at Gettysburg. On the 8th, newspaperman Noah Brooks asked the President if he had written his remarks. “Not yet,” Lincoln replied—quickly adding: “Not finished anyway.” This means that he had already started writing. According to Brooks, Lincoln further explained: “I have written it over, two or three times, and I shall have to give it another lick before I am satisfied.”[5]

In the week and a half that followed, Lincoln anguished over Tad Lincoln’s precarious health, worked on his correspondence, held a Cabinet meeting, watched a parade, met with Italian sea captains, and took time to see a play starring—of all people—John Wilkes Booth. Yet by November 17 he was able to tell his attorney general that fully half his address was in final form. Not long afterward, former Secretary of War Simon Cameron got to see a copy, written, he remembered, “with a lead pencil on commercial notepaper.” Ward Hill Lamon, the Marshall of the District of Columbia who would travel to the event with the President, claimed that Lincoln read him the entire speech before they left together for Gettysburg on the 18th. But the notoriously self-serving Lamon could not help adding froth to the legend by claiming that the President confided: “It does not suit me, but I have not time for any more.” By this time, of course, he had devoted a good deal of time, as well as thought, to his Gettysburg Address.[6]

The idea that Lincoln did not take his Gettysburg opportunity seriously is preposterous. He did not even want to travel to the village on the same day as the ceremony, as originally planned by the War Department, for fear of missing the event, as he put it, “by the slightest accident.” It was Lincoln who insisted on starting out for Gettysburg the day before, to make certain that he was rested and prepared for the ceremonies. This was not a man who left things to the last minute.[7]

Besides, anyone who has seen the autograph copy of his February 11, 1861, farewell address to Springfield, truly written on a train, knows how difficult Lincoln found it to take pen in hand on the rocking, rolling railroad cars of the 1860s. He had agreed on that occasion to write out the farewell remarks he had just given extemporaneously for reporters traveling with him to his inauguration. But midway through the effort, he gave up. The jostling of the cars was transforming his usually precise penmanship into an indecipherable scrawl. Perhaps the effort was making him queasy. So he asked his secretary, John G. Nicolay, to take over the task. The rest of the surviving document is in Nicolay’s handwriting. If Lincoln did write anything en route to Gettysburg it has not survived. But chances are he recalled his Springfield experience and did not even try. Lincoln was too careful when it came to writing speeches in advance, too poor an impromptu speaker—and well aware of his shortcomings in that department—to make plausible the idea that he waited until the last minute to write his Gettysburg Address.[8]

The most stubborn of all the Gettysburg myths is the resilient legend that holds that the speech was poorly received when Lincoln delivered it—that, at best, only a few enthusiasts appreciated it, while most eyewitnesses did not. Such conclusions are inherently suspicious. In truth, eyewitnesses to Gettysburg disagreed about almost everything to do with Lincoln’s appearance there, even the weather.

One spectator remembered November 19, 1863, as “bright and clear.” Yet the Washington Chronicle reported rain showers. Some said 15,000 people crowded the town for the event. Others counted 100,000. Some went to their deaths insisting that Lincoln took a tour of the battlefield in the early morning hours on dedication day. Others swore that he stayed inside the Wills House until it was time to mount up for the procession to the ceremony.[9]

People even disagreed about the President’s horse. One visitor gushed that Lincoln looked “like Saul of old” that day as he sat astride “the largest . . . Chestnut horse” in the county. Another testified that he rode “a diminutive pony.” And yet another thought the horse was so small that Lincoln’s long legs practically dragged along the ground—inspiring one old local farmer to exclaim at the sight of him: “Say Father Abraham, if she goes to run away with yer . . . just stand up and let her go!” People on the scene did not even agree on the color of the horse. Surviving recollections state with equal certainty that it was “a white horse,” a “chestnut bay,” a “brown charger,” and a “black steed.”[10]

When such wildly diverse recollection becomes the rule—not the exception—how seriously should we take the claims of those who asserted that Lincoln’s speech fell on deaf ears at Gettysburg? This is especially so when it comes to the crucial question: Did the listeners appreciate the address? True, they had just heard a two-hour-long speech from the principal orator of the day, Edward Everett. Drained and likely exhausted, they may not have been ready to focus on another major speech. Then again, they were about to see and hear the President of the United States, some for the first and only time.

Did Lincoln’s speaking style prevent the audience from appreciating the novelty of his appearance and the beauty of his words? Presidential assistant secretary John Hay remembered that Lincoln spoke “in a firm free way.” But a journalist from Cincinnati complained about his “sharp, unmusical, treble voice.”[11]

Then there is the issue of whether Lincoln read from a text or spoke from memory. Private secretary Nicolay maintained he “did not read from a manuscript.” A student in the audience, on the other hand, remembered that Lincoln kept a “hand on each side of the manuscript” while he spoke, though he “looked at it seldom.” And yet another eyewitness recalled that Lincoln “barely took his eyes” off the speech while he read it.[12]

There is the testimony from the Associated Press reporter, Joseph L. Gilbert, who said he was so transfixed by Lincoln’s “intense earnestness and depth of feeling” as he spoke that he stopped taking notes just to gaze “up at him.” He had to borrow Lincoln’s manuscript afterwards to fill in the gaps, inserting several interruptions for “applause” plus “long continued applause” at the conclusion. Did he really remember such outbursts of enthusiasm? Or did he add them charitably to an address that otherwise elicited no reaction at all? Whom do we believe?[13]

Stenographer-correspondents were both imprecise and partisan in the Civil War era. The real Lincoln-Douglas debates, to cite the most famous casualty of their work, are irrevocably lost to us, since all we have left are the Republican-commissioned transcripts that make Lincoln sound perfect and Douglas bombastic; and the Democratic-commissioned transcripts that make Lincoln sound hesitant and Douglas eloquent.

Political stenography had not advanced much toward non-partisanship by 1863. One Chicago shorthand reporter at Gettysburg, for example, heard Lincoln say “our poor attempts to add or detract,” not “our poor power” (emphasis added). And three New York papers heard Lincoln dedicate Americans not to “the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly advanced,” but the “refinished work” (emphasis added), as if he was a home-remodeling contractor. Another stenographer recorded not “we here highly resolve,” but “we here highly imbibe.” And one Democratic paper claimed that Lincoln could not even count; he had started his speech referring not to the events of “four score and seven years ago,” but to “four score and ten years ago” (emphasis added).[14]

There was more than sloppy stenography at work here. There was highly partisan stenography as well, just as in the days of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Thus, to no one’s surprise, the Illinois State Journal, the old pro-Lincoln paper from Springfield, reported that “immense applause” had greeted the President at Gettysburg. But a far less sympathetic observer reported “not a word, not a cheer, not a shout.”[15]

Which version of the audience reaction was correct? We may never know for sure. The truth is buried within the nineteenth-century tradition of partisan journalism. The question boils down to the credibility of the Republican versus the Democratic press.

That is why it seems so foolish that biographers have made so much of the fact that many of the newspapers commenting immediately on the Gettysburg Address failed to realize its greatness. In fact, it was Lamon who fueled this most stubborn of legends by insisting “without fear of contradiction that this famous Gettysburg speech was not regarded by . . . the press . . . as a production of extraordinary merit, nor was it commented on as such until after the death of its author.”[16]

Perhaps Lamon was thinking of one of the most frequently quoted criticisms from the Chicago Times:

The cheek of every American must tinge with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.

On the other hand, the rival Chicago newspaper, the Tribune, quickly appreciated, and announced, the importance of the speech, countering:

The dedicatory remarks by President Lincoln will live among the annals of the war.[17]

As genuine evidence of Lincoln’s performance at Gettysburg, however, both appraisals were in a sense totally insignificant. Of course, the Tribune predicted great things for the Gettysburg Address. They had been a pro-Lincoln paper since at least 1858, when they hired the stenographer who recorded the Republican version of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and filled their pages daily with attacks on Douglas and praise of Lincoln. Why would they not cheer the speech at Gettysburg? They had cheered nearly every speech Lincoln ever made.

And of course the Chicago Times hated it. They hated Lincoln! They hated him when he ran against Douglas, charging that “the Republicans have a candidate for the Senate of whose bad rhetoric and horrible jargon they are ashamed.” And surely the Times had not grown fonder of Lincoln after his army closed the newspaper down in 1863—the same year as the Gettysburg Address—even if it was Lincoln who later countermanded the order. “Is Mr. Lincoln less refined than a savage?” the Times taunted in its comment on the address.[18]

Nor is it surprising that the Democratic Party newspaper in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, declared: “We pass over the silly remarks of the President; for the credit of the nation, we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of.” Those lines are probably the most frequently quoted by historians seeking to prove that the press, in general, did not appreciate the Gettysburg Address. Seldom is the paper’s political affiliation mentioned, only its ambiguous name: the Patriot and Union. And almost never are the first few lines of its review quoted, which seem far more revealing of its motives than a disdain for Lincoln’s literary style. “The President,” it began, “acted without sense and without constraint in a panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of his party than for the glory of the nation and the honor of the dead.” For the benefit of his party! There, in a nutshell, is the Harrisburg Democratic Party newspaper’s grievance with the Gettysburg Address: to the Patriot and Union it represented Republican Party propaganda.[19]

In fact, the address elicited a number of prompt, rave reviews at the time it was delivered. They came from Republican papers like the Providence Journal, which pointed out: “The hardest thing in the world is to make a five minute’s speech. . . . Could the most elaborate, splendid oration be more beautiful, more touching, more inspiring, than those thrilling words?”[20]

It is true that the London Times did complain that the ceremony at Gettysburg was “rendered ludicrous by some of the luckless sallies of that poor President Lincoln.” But the London Timesseldom praised Abraham Lincoln. Interestingly, a quote from the same review that several historians have used to illustrate the period press’s foolhardy dismissal of the Gettysburg Address—that it was “dull and commonplace”—has long been quoted inaccurately. The paper actually used those words to criticize not Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but Edward Everett’s.[21]

As for Everett, his own assessment, sent to Lincoln the day after the ceremonies, conceded: “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes.” Thus, even if we cling to the ultimate Gettysburg legend—that Lincoln himself thought he missed a golden opportunity on November 19—we can at least be satisfied that he knew better by November 20, the day he received Everett’s letter of praise and replied modestly that he was “pleased to know” that what he said “was not entirely a failure.”[22]

We probably owe the legend of Lincoln’s lack of enthusiasm for his own performance at Gettysburg almost entirely to Ward Hill Lamon, one of the most consistently undependable sources in the annals of Lincoln biography. It was Lamon who claimed that when Lincoln took his seat after the address, he confided sadly: “That speech won’t scour! It is a flat failure, and the people are disappointed.” And it was Lamon who added that when they returned to Washington, Lincoln repeated: “I tell you, Hill, that speech fell on the audience like a wet blanket. I am distressed about it. I ought to have prepared it with more care.”[23]

As historians Don E. Fehrenbacher and Virginia Fehrenbacher pointed out, however, the original personal notes from which he adapted this recollection show that it was Lamon who claimed the speech fell on the audience like a “wet blanket.” Lincoln himself never uttered the statement. Later, Lamon simply put his own words in Lincoln’s mouth. In short, we have no authentic, reliable reason to believe that Lincoln ever felt that he failed at Gettysburg.[24]

Of nearly equal importance, even if audience reaction was as disappointing as Lamon claimed, Lincoln knew that he was delivering the Gettysburg Address that day to two audiences: the relatively small crowd at the cemetery, whether it was 15,000 or 100,000, and the millions who would read the text in the press.

For several years Lincoln had perfected the art of delivering state papers and political messages through the newspapers. He made few formal speeches as president.  But he made sure that when he greeted special visitors with important remarks, they were quickly printed in the newspapers. Or if he wrote an important letter—like the one to Erastus Corning and other Albany, New York, Democrats defending his suspension of the writ of habeas corpus—they too were published for the benefit of other readers.

The Gettysburg Address would live because Lincoln made certain that it lived: by lending his transcript to the Associated Press; by writing additional copies for souvenir albums and charity auctions; by ensuring that it would be reprinted worldwide and praised at least in the Republican journals.

From the beginning, the Gettysburg Address would be recognized, and applauded, because the brilliant public relations strategist who made certain his remarks were widely read was also a consummate literary craftsman who enjoyed his finest hour during his two minutes at Gettysburg.

It is therefore fitting and proper to here highly resolve that Lincoln did indeed triumph at Gettysburg, not just in history, but on the very spot where he summoned all his great powers to re-consecrate a scene of death into an unforgettable metaphor for birth: a new birth of freedom.

[1] David Wills to Abraham Lincoln, November 2, 1863, Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress; Harold Holzer, “‘Avoid Saying Foolish Things’: The Legacy of Lincoln’s Impromptu Oratory,” in James M. McPherson, ed., “We Cannot Escape History”: Lincoln and the Last Best Hope of Earth (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1995).

[2] Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 26.

[3] William E. Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg (New York: Peter Smith, 1950), 173.

[4] Louis A. Warren, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Declaration: “A New Birth of Freedom” (Fort Wayne, IN: Lincoln National Life Foundation, 1964), 61.

[5] Brooks, “Personal Reminiscences of Lincoln,” 565.

[6] Earl Schenck Miers, ed., Lincoln Day By Day: A Chronology, 1809–1865 (3 vols., Washington: Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission, 1960), 3:218–220; Philip N. Kunhardt, Jr., A New Birth of Freedom: Lincoln at Gettysburg (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1983), 65–66; Don E. Fehrenbacher and Virginia Fehrenbacher, eds., Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 289.

[7] Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1953–1955), 7:16.

[8] Warren, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Declaration, 61. For a reproduction of the autograph copy—in two hands—of Lincoln’s farewell address to Springfield, see Stefan Lorant, Lincoln: A Picture Story of His Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1969), 119.

[9] Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg, 71.

[10] Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg, 75; Warren, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Declaration, 81–83; R. Gerald McMurtry, “Lincoln Rode Horseback in the Gettysburg Procession,” Lincoln Lore No. 1425 (November 1956), 4.

[11] Tyler Dennett, ed., Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1939), 121; Warren, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Declaration, 122; Harold Holzer, “A Few Appropriate Remarks,” American History Illustrated (November 1988), 20–22.

[12] Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg, 78; Warren, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Declaration, 122.

[13] Kunhardt, A New Birth of Freedom, 215. The AP text is reprinted in Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg, 261.

[14] For a fully annotated version of the various, conflicting texts, see The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 7:19–21; see also Chicago Times, November 23, 1863.

[15] Kunhardt, A New Birth of Freedom, 215–216; Benjamin Barondess, Three Lincoln Masterpieces (Charleston, WV: Education Foundation of West Virginia, 1954), 43.

[16] Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg, 201.

[17] Herbert Mitgang, ed., Lincoln as They Saw Him (New York: Rinehart & Co., 1956), 360; Warren, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Declaration, 146.

[18] Harold Holzer, ed., The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text(New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 13; Mitgang, Lincoln as They Saw Him, 360.

[19] Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg, 114–115.

[20] Harold Holzer, “‘Thrilling Words’ or ‘Silly Remarks’: What the Press Said about the Gettysburg Address,” Lincoln Herald 90 (Winter 1988), 144–145.

[21] Mitgang, Lincoln as They Saw Him, 362–363.

[22] Edward Everett to Abraham Lincoln, November 20, 1863, Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress; The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln 7:24.

[23] Dorothy Lamon Teillard, ed., Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 18471865 (2nd ed., Washington, DC, 1911), 175.

[24] Fehrenbacher and Fehrenbacher, eds., Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, 289.

Harold Holzer is the author, co-author, and editor of more than forty books on Abraham Lincoln, including most recently, Emancipating Lincoln: The Emancipation Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory (2012); Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860–1861 (2008); and Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President (2004). He is a Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation.

By Andrew P. Napolitano at

Earlier this week, leaders of the Democratic National Committee and former officials of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign made the startling allegation that the Russian government hacked into Clinton’s colleagues’ email accounts to tilt the presidential election toward Donald Trump. They even pointed to statements made by CIA officials backing their allegations.

President-elect Trump has characterized these claims as “ridiculous” and just an “excuse” to justify the Clinton defeat, saying they’re also intended to undermine the legitimacy of his election. He pointed to FBI conclusions that the CIA is wrong. Who’s right?

Here is the back story.
The American intelligence community rarely speaks with one voice. The members of its 17 publicly known intelligence agencies — God only knows the number of secret agencies — have the same biases, prejudices, jealousies, intellectual shortcomings and ideological underpinnings as the public at large.

The raw data these agencies examine is the same. Today America’s spies rarely do their own spying; rather, they rely on the work done by the National Security Agency. We know that from the Edward Snowden revelations. We also know from Snowden that the NSA can monitor and identify all digital communications within the United States, coming into the United States and leaving the United States. Hence, it would be foolhardy and wasteful to duplicate that work. There is quite simply no fiber-optic cable anywhere in the country transmitting digital data to which the NSA does not have full-time and unfettered access.

I have often argued that this is profoundly unconstitutional because the Fourth Amendment requires a judicially issued search warrant specifically describing the place to be searched or the thing to be seized before the government may lawfully invade privacy, and these warrants must be based on probable cause of criminal behavior on the part of the person whose privacy the government seeks to invade.

Instead of these probable cause-based, judicially issued search warrants, the government obtains what the Fourth Amendment was written to prohibit — general warrants. General warrants are not based on evidence of probable cause of criminal behavior; rather, they are based on government “need.” This is an unconstitutional and absurd standard because the government will always claim that what it wants, it needs.

General warrants do not specifically describe the place to be searched or the thing to be seized; rather, they authorize the bearer to search where he wishes and seize whatever he finds. This is the mindset of the NSA — search everyone, all the time, everywhere — whose data forms the basis for analysis by the other agencies in the intelligence community.

In the case at hand, the CIA and the FBI looked at the same NSA-generated raw data and came to opposite conclusions. Needless to say, I have not seen this data, but I have spoken to those who have, and they are of the view that though there is evidence of leaking, there is no evidence whatsoever of hacking.

Leaking is the theft of private data and its revelation to those not entitled or intended to see it. Hacking is remotely accessing an operational system and altering its contents — for example, removing money from a bank account or contact information from an address book or vote totals from a candidate’s tally. When Trump characterized the CIA claim that the Russians hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign emails intending to affect the outcome of the election as ridiculous, this is what he meant: There is no evidence of anyone’s altering the contents of operational systems, but there is evidence — plenty of it — of leaking.

If hackers wanted to affect the outcome of the election, they would have needed to alter the operational systems of those who register voters and count votes, not those who seek votes.

During the final five weeks of the presidential campaign, WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of DNC and Clinton campaign emails to the public. WikiLeaks denies that its source was the Russian government, yet for the purposes of the DNC and Clinton campaign claims, that is irrelevant because whoever accessed these emails did not alter the operational systems of any of the targets; the accessor just exposed what was found.

We do not know what data the president-elect examined. Yet in six weeks, he will be the chief intelligence officer of the U.S., and he’ll be able to assimilate data as he wishes and reveal what he wants. He should be given the benefit of the doubt because constitutionally, the intelligence community works for him — not for Congress or the American people.

Who did the leaking to WikiLeaks? Who had an incentive to defeat Clinton? Whose agents’ safety and lives did she jeopardize when she was extremely careless — as the FBI stated — with many state secrets, including the identity and whereabouts of U.S. intelligence agents and resources?

The answer is obvious: It was the same intelligence community that cannot agree on the meaning of the raw data it has analyzed.

Someone leaked the Democrats’ and the Clinton campaign’s private work, and the government has a duty to find the person or entity that did so, even if it was one of the government’s own. Though the truthful revelation of private facts may have altered some voters’ attitudes, there is no evidence that it altered ballot totals. The law guarantees fair elections, not perfect ones.

Did the Russians hack Hillary Clinton? No. No one did. But some American intelligence agents helped WikiLeaks to expose much dirty laundry.

By Alasdair Macleod

reprinted from Lew

The latest consequence of economic mismanagement in Europe was the failed attempt at constitutional reform in Italy this week.

The Italian people have had enough of their government’s economic failure and is refusing to give it more power.

The EU and the euro project have been an economic disaster for all participants, including Germany, which will eventually be forced to write off the hard-earned savings she has lent to other Eurozone members. We know, with absolute certainty, that the euro will self-destruct and the Eurozone will disintegrate.

We know this for one reason above all. The political class and the ECB are guided by economic beliefs – I cannot dignify them by calling them reasoned theory – which will guarantee this outcome. Furthermore, they insist on using statistics that are incorrect for the stated function, the best example being GDP, which I have criticized endlessly and won’t repeat here. Furthermore, the numbers are misrepresented by government statisticians, CPI and unemployment figures being prime examples.

This article takes a column written by William Hague for the Daily Telegraph published earlier this week to illustrate the depths of misunderstanding even a relatively enlightened politician suffers, with this mix of nonsense and statistical propagandai. This article also refers to a speech delivered this week in Liverpool by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, showing how out of touch with reality he is as well. Many of his and Lord Hague’s misconceptions are shared by almost everyone, so, for the most part, go unnoticed.

Lord Hague basically blames the euro for all Europe’s ills: “…… it has made some countries, like Italy and Greece, poorer while others get richer”, he opines, and it is certainly a common sentiment. But it is never the currency that’s to blame, but those that attempt to use it to achieve policy outcomes, and inevitably fail in their quest.

Before the euro came into existence, different currencies offered different interest rates, reflecting the market’s appraisal of lending risk. So, the Greek government, borrowing in drachmas, would typically have to pay over 12% interest, while Germany might pay 3% for the same maturity in marks. The fact that there were differing rates in different currencies imposed market discipline on borrowers.

After the introduction of the euro, interest rates for sovereign borrowers converged towards the lowest rate, which was Germany’s. The reason for this was banks could gear up their lending in the bond and money markets to make easy money from the spread between German rates and the others, risk-free on the assumption that the whole caboodle was guaranteed by the EU and the ECB. It was perfectly reasonable to expect this outcome, but whether the panjandrums in Brussels were smart enough to know this would happen is not clear. If they were, they displayed ignorance of the eventual consequences, and if not, they were simply ignorant full stop.

These same operatives bent the rules they themselves had originally set to allow countries to join the euro. Under the Maastricht Treaty, budget deficits were to have been less than 3% and government debt to GDP less than 60% for a state to qualify for membership. Neither Germany nor France qualified at the outset. And when it came to Greece, the Greek government simply lied, with the full knowledge and encouragement of the other members. No, Lord Hague, it was the policy makers that were at fault, not the currency itself.

But he continues: “Membership of the euro has put the Italians on a permanent path to being poorer”. Not so. It was the Italians who used the cheap euro-denominated money to borrow profligately. They and they alone are responsible for the mismanagement of their economy and their debt problems, which incidentally now exceed the Maastricht 60% limit by a further 75%.

So, who is policing that?

Lord Hague also trots out the canard about how the euro benefits Germany: “Germans keep exporting easily and running up a surplus, while the Italians struggle and go deeper into debt”. This statement in quotes is undoubtedly true on face value, but it is wrong to blame the poor euro. Instead, the blame lies with fiscal imbalances, relative rates of bank credit expansion, and the additional horror of TARGET2. This last artifice is intended to even out the monetary imbalances that would otherwise occur from trade imbalances. But its designers seem to have been completely unaware that the only way trade imbalances can be controlled is through the money shortages and accumulations that result from trade deficits and surpluses respectively. Instead, TARGET2 makes good the money deficiency that results from excess imports and reduces the money surplus that accumulates in the hands of the exporters. It recycles the money spent by Italians so that it can be spent again, or even hoarded outside Italy, ad infinitum. TARGET2 is living proof of the ridiculousness behind the euro project.

Lord Hague provides an exception to his argument and conclusion, by citing Germany’s greater productivity and suggesting that the only way out was for Mr. Renzi to enact bold reforms to raise Italian productivity to the same level as Germany’s. He doesn’t say what these reforms might be. I can tell him: the new government should downsize from 52% of GDP to less than 40%, the lower the better. The redeployment of capital from government destruction to private sector progression will work wonders. Tax policies should favor savers. At the same time, ordinary Italians should be allowed to get on with their lives and made to understand the state is not there to support them with handouts.

Finally, Lord Hague’s conclusion, while correct legally, is incorrect from a strictly economic point of view. He states that leaving the euro is a far more difficult problem than leaving the EU, there being no Article 50 to trigger. He implies that if Italy simply returns to the lira, there can be little doubt that it will rapidly collapse taking its banks with it, because Italy’s creditors will still expect to be repaid in euros while the cost of borrowing in lira is bound to increase rapidly, undermining government finances.

However, contrary to everything Keynesians have been taught and in turn teaches gullible students, the economic objective of monetary independence should be sound money, not continual depreciation. Italy has enough gold to arrange a gold exchange standard for herself, or alternatively, she could run a currency board with the euro, to ensure the lira retains value for foreign creditors. Either course requires something novel from Italian politicians: they must bite the bullet on government finances and permit capital to be redeployed from moribund businesses to new dynamic entrepreneurial activities. It can be done, and Italy would rapidly emerge as a new industrial force.

But will it be done? Sadly, there’s not a snowball in hell’s chance, and here we must agree with Lord Hague. In common with their opposite numbers everywhere else, Italian politicians have surrounded themselves with economic yes-men, trained at the expense of the state to justify state interventions in the economy. It has become a feedback loop that ultimately concludes with economic instability, crisis, and eventual collapse.

Carney’s groupthink

Lord Hague, while respected as a senior British politician is at least not involved in Italy’s monetary or fiscal policies. Far more dangerous potentially is someone with his hand on the monetary tiller, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. This week he made a speech in Liverpool, which put the blame for the failure of his monetary policies on everyone but the Bankii. He said politicians need to foster a globalization that works for all. Really? How are they going to do that? He blames economists for been at fault for not recognizing “the realities of uneven gains from trade and technology”. But surely, we all know that establishment economists, including the Bank’s own, have an unrivaled track record of getting things wrong. To expect them to suddenly exhibit forecasting prescience is Carney’s personal triumph of hope over reality. Carney berates companies for not paying tax. This is the classic “someone else’s fault” line and ignores the easily proven fact that money deployed by the private sector in pursuit of profit is productive while giving it to government is wasteful. More tax paid may be desired by the state, but it is anti-productive.

The Governor then claims the Bank’s monetary policy has been “highly effective” and that “the data do not support the idea that the period of low rates has benefited the wealthy at the expense of the least wealthy.” He has obviously been unable to make the connection between the falling purchasing power of fixed salaries for the low paid and for pensioners relying on interest income, while stock markets roar to all-time highs on the back of suppressed interest rates and injections of money through quantitative easing. Yes, Mr. Carney, my middle-class friends have done very well out of their investments and property, thanks to monetary inflation, but they still pay their gardeners and maids roughly the same depreciated wages.

This is relevant not only to the mismanagement of the UK’s economy, but also that of Europe. Carney attracted considerable criticism, rightly, for falsely threatening economic hell and damnation in the event of a vote for Brexit. This presupposes that everything in Europe is considerably better than for Britain on its own, and confirms that his opposite numbers in Europe, who were pushing the same line, have as much grasp of the economic situation as he has. Carney got this as wrong as he possibly could, but there’s no mea maxima culpa.

If Mr. Carney and Lord Hague want to criticize current economic events, they should start by properly understanding the negative effects of the fiscal and monetary intervention. They should realize that propping up defunct enterprises by lowering the cost of borrowing and supporting them with government contracts is Luddite and destructive. And above all, they should realise that ordinary people going about their business are infinitely adaptable, have an ability to withstand government and central bank silliness to a remarkable degree, and would deliver their taxes much more effectively if they were simply allowed to just get on with their business without having to suffer from government and central bank micro-management.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Reprinted from Lew

When word leaked that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, a holder of the Order of Friendship award in Putin’s Russia, was Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, John McCain had this thoughtful response:

“Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully, and a murderer and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”

Yet, Putin is something else, the leader of the largest nation on earth, a great power with enough nuclear weapons to wipe the United States off the face of the earth. And we have to deal with him.

McCain was echoed by the senior Democrat on foreign relations, Bob Menendez, who said naming Tillerson secretary of state would be “alarming and absurd … guaranteeing Russia has a willing accomplice in the (Trump) Cabinet guiding our nation’s foreign policy.”

Sen Marco Rubio chimed in: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State.”

If just three GOP senators vote no on Tillerson, and Democrats vote as a bloc against him, his nomination would go down. President Trump would sustain a major and humiliating defeat.The Greatest Comeback:...Patrick J. BuchananBest Price: $4.86Buy New $8.63

Who is Tillerson? A corporate titan, he has traveled the world, represented Exxon in 60 countries, is on a first-name basis with countless leaders, and is endorsed by Condi Rice and Robert Gates.

Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation — “A man is seldom more innocently occupied than when he is engaged in making money” — may be a bit of a stretch when it comes to OPEC and the global oil market.

Yet there is truth to it. Most businessmen are interested in doing deals, making money, and, if the terms are not met, walking away, not starting a war.

And here is the heart of the objection to Tillerson. He wants to end sanctions and partner with Putin’s Russia, as does Trump. But among many in the mainstream media, think tanks, websites, and on the Hill, this is craven appeasement. For such as these, the Cold War is never over.

The attacks on Tillerson coincide with new attacks on Russia, based on CIA sources, alleging that not only did Moscow hack into the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign, and leak what it found to hurt Hillary Clinton, but Russia was trying to help elect Trump, and succeeded.

Why would Moscow do this?

Monday’s editorial in The New York Times explains: “In Mr. Trump, the Russians had reason to see a malleable political novice, one who had surrounded himself with Kremlin lackeys.”A Republic, Not an Emp...Patrick J. BuchananBuy New $20.95

Backed by Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, McCain has announced an investigation. The goal, said the Times, is to determine “whether anyone within Trump’s inner circle coordinated with the Kremlin and whether Moscow spread the fake news to hurt Mrs. Clinton.”

What is going on here? More than meets the eye.

The people who most indignantly condemned Trump’s questioning of Obama’s birth certificate as a scurrilous scheme to delegitimize his presidency, now seek to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.

The Times editorial spoke of a “darkening cloud” already over the Trump presidency and warned that a failure to investigate and discover the full truth of Russia’s hacking could only “feed suspicion among millions of Americans that … (t)he election was indeed rigged.”

Behind the effort to smear Tillerson and delegitimize Trump lies a larger motive. Trump has antagonists in both parties who alarmed at his triumph because it imperils the foreign policy agenda that is their raison d’etre, their reason for being.

These people do not want to lift sanctions on Moscow. They do not want an end to the confrontation with Russia. As is seen by their bringing in tiny Montenegro, they want to enlarge NATO to encompass Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova.

They have in mind the permanent U.S. encirclement of Russia.

They want to provide offensive weapons to Kiev to reignite the civil war in the Donbass and enable Ukraine to move on Crimea. This would mean a war with Russia that Ukraine would lose and we and our NATO allies would be called upon to intervene in and fight.Suicide of a Superpowe...Patrick J. BuchananBest Price: $0.01Buy New $4.49

Their goal is to bring down Putin and bring about “regime change” in Moscow.

In the campaign, Trump said he wanted to get along with Russia, to support all the forces inside Syria and Iraq fighting to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaida and to stay out of any new Middle East wars — like the disaster in Iraq — that have cost us “six trillion dollars.”

This is what America voted for when it voted for Trump — to put America First and “make America great again.” But War Party agitators are already beating the drums for a confrontation with Iran.

Early in his presidency, if not before, Trump is going to have to impose his foreign policy upon his own party and, indeed, upon his own government. Or his presidency will be broken, as was Lyndon Johnson’s.

A good place to begin is by accepting the McCain-Marco challenge and nominating Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. Let’s get it on.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Reprinted from Lew

“I have in my possession a secret map, made in Germany by Hitler’s government — by the planners of the New World Order,” FDR told the nation in his Navy Day radio address of Oct. 27, 1941.

“It is a map of South America as Hitler proposes to reorganize it. The geographical experts of Berlin, however, have ruthlessly obliterated all the existing boundary lines … bringing the whole continent under their domination,” said Roosevelt. “This map makes clear the Nazi design not only against South America but against the United States as well.”

Our leader had another terrifying secret document, “made in Germany by Hitler’s government. …

“It is a plan to abolish all existing religions — Protestant, Catholic, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish alike. … In the place of the churches of our civilization, there is to be set up an international Nazi Church…

“In the place of the Bible, the words of ‘Mein Kampf’ will be imposed and enforced as Holy Writ. And in place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols — the swastika and the naked sword. … A god of blood and iron will take the place of the God of love and mercy.”

The source of these astounding secret Nazi plans?

They were forgeries by British agents in New York operating under William Stephenson, Churchill’s “Man Called Intrepid,” whose assignment was to do whatever necessary to bring the U.S. into Britain’s war.

FDR began his address by describing two German submarine attacks on U.S. destroyers Greer and Kearny, the later of which had been torpedoed with a loss of 11 American lives.

Said FDR: “We have wished to avoid shooting. But the shooting has started. And history has recorded who fired the first shot.”

The truth: Greer and Kearny had been tracking German subs for British planes dropping depth charges.

It was FDR who desperately wanted war with Germany, while, for all his crimes, Hitler desperately wanted to avoid war with the United States.

Said Cong. Clare Boothe Luce, FDR “lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it.”

By late 1941, most Americans still wanted to stay out of the war. They believed “lying British propaganda” about Belgian babies being tossed around on German bayonets had sucked us into World War I, from which the British Empire had benefited mightily.

What brings these episodes to mind is the wave of indignation sweeping this capital over “fake news” allegedly created by Vladimir Putin’s old KGB comrades, and regurgitated by U.S. individuals, websites and magazines that are anti-interventionist and anti-war.A Republic, Not an Emp...Patrick J. BuchananBuy New $20.95

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says the “propaganda and disinformation threat” against America is real, and we must “counter and combat it.” Congress is working up a $160 million State Department program.

Now, Americans should be on guard against “fake news” and foreign meddling in U.S. elections.

Yet it is often our own allies, like the Brits, and our own leaders who mislead and lie us into unnecessary wars. And is not meddling in the internal affairs, including the elections, of regimes we do not like, pretty much the job description of the CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy?

History suggests it is our own War Party that bears watching.

Consider Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Who misled, deceived, and lied about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, the “fake news” that sucked us into one of our country’s greatest strategic blunders?

Who lied for years about an Iranian nuclear weapons program, which almost dragged us into a war, before all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies debunked that propaganda in 2007 and 2011?

Yet, there are those, here and abroad, who insist that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program. Their goal: war with Iran.

Were we told the whole truth about the August 1964 incident involving North Vietnamese gunboats and U.S. destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy, which stampeded Congress into voting a near-unanimous resolution that led us into an eight-year war in Southeast Asia?

One can go back deeper into American history.

Cong. Abe Lincoln disbelieved in President Polk’s claim that the Mexican army had crossed the Rio Grande and “shed American blood upon American soil.” In his “spot” resolution, Lincoln demanded to know the exact spot where the atrocity had occurred that resulted in a U.S. army marching to Mexico City and relieving Mexico of half of her country.

Was Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt telling us the truth when he said of our blasted battleship in Havana harbor, “The Maine was sunk by an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards”?

No one ever proved that the Spanish caused the explosion.

Yet America got out of his war what T.R. wanted — Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, an empire of our own.

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

So said Winston Churchill, the grandmaster of fake news.

By: Joan Hough

Higher Education has long led the Marxist Parade.

 Would you like to know the truth about how and why students in all levels of American education have been dumbed down? Are you aware that once America led the world in education, but now is noted internationally for the ignorance of its people?  Read Cry Havoc: The Great American Bring-down and How it Happened by Ralph de Toledano. 

Americans should check out the history of Germany’s Frankfurt Institute and its dauntless collection of Critical Theorists. Those Critical theorists, realizing the failure of Marxist efforts to captivate U.S. working folks (the proletariats), directed their seductive, Marxist efforts toward the intellectuals. They pursued folks in academia and, most especially, the offspring of wealthy Americans. Their Critical theory (a new method designed to bring to fruition Marxist beliefs and goals) accompanied them from Russia to Germany and then to America.

 Under the guidance of America’s John Dewey, the tenets of Critical Theory spread throughout the U.S. Institutions of Higher Learning. Beginning at Columbia in NY, it then infiltrated every area of American culture. The clever Marxists made sure that only a few at the highest levels in academia understood what was transpiring—the rest of Americans—the “sheeple,” had no inkling of the truth.

 The 1930s in our America were the years of the second birth of Marxism in America. The first American birth was in 1849 with the arrival of the 1848er Illuminati-blessed escapees from European jails or death sentences. They were sentenced because of their participation in the Socialist/Commie failed European Revolution. Upon arrival in the U.S. they set to work engineering the continuation of their failed European Socialist Revolution. They succeeded this second time in a war they wrongly termed the “Civil” War.

Following WWII came the Marxist infiltration of Hollywood. It was discovered in 1952-54 by Congress. (Senator McCarthy had no part in the exposure of this Communist effort.) Alger Hiss' exposure as a Communist in the U.S. government began in 1848, but the trial which found him guilty, somehow took two years before beginning. After his prison sentence was complete, Hiss earned vast sums for a national tour of universities as a speaker claiming his innocence—an innocence contradicted by publication of the contents of Russian archives 

 In 1950 Poor Senator McCarthy was crucified by Congress and the Press for attempting to rid our Department of State of Commie control. President Roosevelt, contaminated by his love of Commie Lenin and admiration of Commie Alger Hiss, managed to fool Americans in 1941 sufficiently to involve the U.S. in World War II, and to drag our nation as a charter member in 1945 into the United Nations. Roosevelt, with the encouragement of his alter ego, Harry Hopkins and friend Hiss, managed to give Russia all Lenin desired. It remains politically incorrect to mention this truth.

 The Peanut King, Jimmy Carter, was so dumbed down that he contended that some of his best friends were Communists and they meant no harm to anyone. Carter fired Secretary of Defense James Forrestal after Forrestal spoke against Communism and the partitioning of Israel. (Carter had been threatened with loss of campaign donations from certain wealthy Americans.) Forced by the government into treatment for “supposed” mental illness, Foster died under highly mysterious circumstances declared “suicide” by the authorities.  His own brother, on his way to pick up the “released” James. The brother  was convinced the murder had occurred because James Foster was about to publish his truths in a publication purchased for that purpose.  and

Americans have been so successfully “dumbed down” that most University students don’t know what the American Revolutionary War was about, by whom it was fought and in what century it was fought. They don’t know who won the “Civil” War. They certainly are ignorant of the real reason it was fought, but think it was fought to free the slaves (as if killing Southerners was the only way slaves could be freed). They think Communism and Socialism wonderful. Numbers of High school and University students voted for Hillary and supported Sanders. 

The critical theorists realized that Marxism’s concentration on the proletariat (the working class) could never be successful in the U.S. because working folks had it too good— plenty of food on the table- plenty of comfort in their houses and apartments— plenty of radio/tv/movie/football/boxing, etc. entertainment— so the target had to be shifted to the bourgeoisie—and, especially, to the intellectuals. But even the not-so-bright offspring of some U.S. senators and other wealthy Americans were courted— the qualification of the young ones was based on wealth and potential positions of influence.

The effectiveness of education as brainwashing cannot be denied. Who among us voted for Hillary or Sanders? --only those dumbed down, brainwashed, or greed filled with unfettered desires for power or bucks.