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Tit for Tat

 

Exhibit One: Daniel Webster
And what about Daniel Webster, speaker of one of Hanther’s favorite quotes;
Born in1782 in New Hampshire he became a successful lawyer. He was elected to the House of Representatives from New Hampshire and later the Senate from Massachusetts. He served as the US Secretary of State under Presidents Harrison Tyler and Fillmore. He ran for President several times but obviously never won. In all these political offices he meant to govern well, but as he said: “It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters” 
― Daniel Webster
 
But this is not his only quote. There is this:
“I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant; give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy.” 
― Daniel Webster
 
And this:
Human beings will generally exercise power when they can get it, and they will exercise it most undoubtedly in popular governments under pretense of public safety.
― Daniel Webster
 
And this:
“The contest, for ages, has been to rescue Liberty from the grasp of executive power.”
― Daniel Webster
 
Exhibit Two: Tit for Tat
 
In 1396 Bajazet, Leader of the Ottoman Turks, defeated a Crusader force at the Battle of Nicopolis, after which, except for the Nobles he held for ransom, he had as many as 3000 prisoners (reports vary) from the Christian force executed. Yet another massacre by the Merciless Muslim Turks.
   And what about the Charitable Christians? Well, earlier in the campaign they had taken the town of Rachowa by surrender, but as soon as the gates were opened had violated the terms and sacked the town anyway. During the sack they had also taken some 1000 prisoners. Then on the fine morning of the 25th of September, while preparing to meet the Main Turkish host at Nicopolis, they slaughtered those prisoners, yet another massacre by the Merciless Champions of Christ.
   Having won the battle but at great loss to his forces Bajazet was already unhappy, and then he found out about the fate of the Rachowa prisoners. Tit for Tat.
   Note: The wiki on this battle is largely based on Barbara Tuchman’s excellent book “A Distant Mirror”
 
It is often wondered why Hitler never used poisoned gas in World War Two, as he stopped at very little else. But Hitler himself had been wounded in World War One, in 1918 at Ypres, by Chlorine gas so he knew firsthand the horrors of the weapon. And he also knew that if he used gas the Allies would respond in kind just as they had in 1915.  He did choose to bomb British Cities and this was a strong reason in the Allied response later in the war. (See Dresden). In 1944, Hitler named the world’s first long-range offensive missile V-1, after “vergeltung,” the German word for “vengeance” and an expression of his desire to repay Britain for its devastating bombardment of Germany. Predating its formulation but not its effect, this all comes down to the Mutual Assured Destruction (M.A.D.) doctrine, credited to several people, most notably John von Neumann in the 1950s. Tit for Tat
 
And now the USA has again divided along factional lines. This is nothing new for us, check out politics right after George Washington which ushered in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.  
 
   And then there is the long build up to the election of 1860, including an assault in the Senate Chambers, the Brooks-Sumner Affair of 1856. Lincoln’s election was so abhorrent to Southern Plutocrats, that before he even took office they decided to seceded from the Union rather than face the prospect of not being able to spread slavery to the territories, (this is the “Lost Cause” by the way) for they were obviously going to be out voted by their fellow citizens from the North. Their belief in the Republic and its Democratic Principles was found to be wanting when they were faced with being the minority opinion of the Nation. The Museum will not go into Secession and Nullification here, as those are a topic for another time.
 
   What does this have to do with Tit for Tat? For Eight Years the Republicans did everything they could to hamper the Obama Administration with varying degrees of success.  This of course is what an opposition party does to combat the obviously wrong-headed policies of the party in the White House. With the Benghazi hearing and the E-Mail “controversy” they seriously damaged Hillary Clintons chances in the 2016 Election. Good partisan politics or witch hunts? That determination is heavily dependent on your own Political Leanings.  And so it is with the Impeachment Hearings. The ultimate Tit for Tat, vergeltung, only done once before in our history, for Andrew Johnsons impeachment, as pointed out in last month Museum, was policy driven, Nixon’s hearings were bipartisan, but politics drove Clintons and now are driving Trumps.  The Republicans are calling foul, and yet they set the precedent for everything the Democrats are doing (also in last month’s Museum). As to the “Truth” of such political matters it will depend again, and be utterly predictable, on your Political Leanings. If you feel the Bill Clinton impeachment and the Hillary Clinton hearings were based on the rule of law, then the Trump impeachment is a political travesty. If you think the Clinton cases were farcical political theater, then you will think the Trump hearings are fact-based proceedings rooting out White House corruption. Quid Pro Quo, maybe, Tit for Tat, definitely.
 
But it is not always so. Joe Biden’s whole campaign is based on a politics of 35 years ago when a Tip O’Neill led Democratic House worked with the Reagan administration to promote the general Welfare. It is no longer Morning in America.
 
Exhibit Three: A Brief History of the Lost Cause
 
Why Expansion of Slavery into the Territories and not “States Rights”? Because the Southern Politicians knew full well that if they used States Rights as anything more than a catchy Campaign phrase it would end up coming back to bite them. If Alabama could exercise “States Rights” to achieve a high degree of autonomy from the Federal Government, then so could Massachusetts, and they could (and would) pass laws limiting the rights of slave owners in their State. In 1860 slavery was accepted U.S Law, protected by Supreme Court Cases, and there was even a “Fugitive Slave Act” which upheld the rights of Slave Owners to their property even in “free” states.
 
The more telling argument was Property Rights, but who would name their child Property Rights when you could name him States Rights? The argument was that a slave as private property could be moved anywhere in the US without abrogation of that right. As stated above, it was law.
But traveling through and living in were different stories. It was also established precedence that States and Territories could outlaw slavery within their borders (see Bloody Kansas). What the South rightly feared was that the North would continually out vote them and not allow slavery in any new Jurisdiction.
 
This then was the cause of secession upon Lincolns election. Not that he had any power to change slavery in the existing States, but that his, and most likely the following administrations, would hem it in, and perhaps even abrogate laws like the Fugitive Slave Act. Supreme Court precedents were also in danger as the North would in time gain complete control of the Court just by normal attrition. The Plutocrats of the South were in trouble and they knew it. And this would have been the situation even if the South had “won” the Civil War. The flood of slaves to the Free States of the North, now unhampered by any law, would have been an unstoppable tide that soon would have bleed the South dry.
 
One can argue Lincolns lawful decision to Preserve the Union. The Federal Government’s right to protect itself against rebellion is written into the Constitution, secession is not, nor was it written into the Confederate Constitution for that matter. But the Lost Cause was never a fight for Freedom, it was always a fight for Slavery.
 
As Goldwater said (through his speech writer); “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Lincolns extreme decision to defend Liberty freed around 4 million people from slavery.
 
At the Exit:
To quote John Adams:
“The most abandoned minds are ingenious in contriving excuses for their crimes.”
 

Unkwil

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Uncle Willie loves to have feedback from both readers who appreciate his point of view as well as from miss-guided souls who disagree.