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Friday, November 14, 2008


Declarations of Causes of Seceding States
Civil War South Carolina

Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

written by C. G. Memminger

The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

And now the State of South Carolina having resumed her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to herself, to the remaining United States of America, and to the nations of the world, that she should declare the immediate causes which have led to this act.

In the year 1765, that portion of the British Empire embracing Great Britain, undertook to make laws for the government of that portion composed of the thirteen American Colonies. A struggle for the right of self-government ensued, which resulted, on the 4th of July, 1776, in a Declaration, by the Colonies, "that they are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do."

They further solemnly declared that whenever any "form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government." Deeming the Government of Great Britain to have become destructive of these ends, they declared that the Colonies "are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

In pursuance of this Declaration of Independence, each of the thirteen States proceeded to exercise its separate sovereignty; adopted for itself a Constitution, and appointed officers for the administration of government in all its departments-- Legislative, Executive and Judicial. For purposes of defense, they united their arms and their counsels; and, in 1778, they entered into a League known as the Articles of Confederation, whereby they agreed to entrust the administration of their external relations to a common agent, known as the Congress of the United States, expressly declaring, in the first Article "that each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not, by this Confederation, expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled."

Under this Confederation the war of the Revolution was carried on, and on the 3rd of September, 1783, the contest ended, and a definite Treaty was signed by Great Britain, in which she acknowledged the independence of the Colonies in the following terms: "ARTICLE 1-- His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that he treats with them as such; and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof."

Thus were established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE.

In 1787, Deputies were appointed by the States to revise the Articles of Confederation, and on 17th September, 1787, these Deputies recommended for the adoption of the States, the Articles of Union, known as the Constitution of the United States.

The parties to whom this Constitution was submitted, were the several sovereign States; they were to agree or disagree, and when nine of them agreed the compact was to take effect among those concurring; and the General Government, as the common agent, was then invested with their authority.

If only nine of the thirteen States had concurred, the other four would have remained as they then were-- separate, sovereign States, independent of any of the provisions of the Constitution. In fact, two of the States did not accede to the Constitution until long after it had gone into operation among the other eleven; and during that interval, they each exercised the functions of an independent nation.

By this Constitution, certain duties were imposed upon the several States, and the exercise of certain of their powers was restrained, which necessarily implied their continued existence as sovereign States. But to remove all doubt, an amendment was added, which declared that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people. On the 23d May , 1788, South Carolina, by a Convention of her People, passed an Ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and afterwards altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had undertaken.

Thus was established, by compact between the States, a Government with definite objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant. This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved rights.

We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely: the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.

In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.

We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

Adopted December 24, 1860

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The Crittenden Compromise

The Crittenden Compromise was perhaps the last-ditch effort to resolve the secession crisis of 1860-61 by political negotiation. Authored by Kentucky Senator John Crittenden (whose two sons would become generals on opposite sides of the Civil War) it was an attempt to resolve the crisis by addressing the concerns that led the states of the Lower South to contemplate secession. As such, it gives a window into what the politicians of the day thought the cause of the crisis to be.

The Compromise, as offered on December 18, 1860, consisted of a preamble, six (proposed) constitutional amendments, and four (proposed) Congressional resolutions. The text given here is taken from a photocopy of the Congressional Globe for December 18, 1860.

A joint resolution (S. No. 50) proposing certain amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Whereas serious and alarming dissensions have arisen between the northern and southern states, concerning the rights and security of the rights of the slaveholding States, and especially their rights in the common territory of the United States; and whereas it is eminently desirable and proper that these dissensions, which now threaten the very existence of this Union, should be permanently quieted and settled by constitutional provisions, which shall do equal justice to all sections, and thereby restore to all the people that peace and good-will which ought to prevail between all the citizens of the United States: Therefore,

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (two thirds of both Houses concurring,) That the following articles be, and are hereby, proposed and submitted as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of said Constitution, when ratified by conventions of three-fourths of the several States:

Article 1: In all the territory of the United States now held, or hereafter acquired, situate north of 36 degrees 30 minutes, slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, is prohibited while such territory shall remain under territorial government. In all the territory south of said line of latitude, slavery of the African race is hereby recognized as existing, and shall not be interfered with by Congress, but shall be protected as property by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance. And when any territory, north or south of said line, within such boundaries as Congress may prescribe, shall contain the population requisite for a member of Congress according to the then Federal ratio of representationof the people of the United States, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States, with or without slavery, as the constitution of such new State may provide.

Article 2: Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery in places under its exclusive jurisdiction, and situate within the limits of States that permit the holding of slaves.

Article 3: Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery within the District of Columbia, so long as it exists in the adjoining States of Virginia and Maryland, or either, nor without the consent of the inhabitants, nor without just compensation first made to such owners of slaves as do not consent to such abolishment. Nor shall Congress at any time prohibit officers of the Federal Government, or members of Congress, whose duties require them to be in said District, from bringing with them their slaves, and holding them as such during the time their duties may require them to remain there, and afterwards taking them from the District.

Article 4: Congress shall have no power to prohibit or hinder the transportation of slaves from one State to another, or to a Territory, in which slaves are by law permitted to be held, whether that transportation be by land, navigable river, or by the sea.

Article 5: That in addition to the provisions of the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, Congress shall have power to provide by law, and it shall be its duty so to provide, that the United States shall pay to the owner who shall apply for it, the full value of his fugitive slave in all cases where the marshall or other officer whose duty it was to arrest said fugitive was prevented from so doing by violence or intimidation, or when, after arrest, said fugitive was rescued by force, and the owner thereby prevented and obstructed in the pursuit of his remedy for the recovery of his fugitive slave under the said clause of the Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof. And in all such cases, when the United States shall pay for such fugitive, they shall have the right, in their own name, to sue the county in which said violence, intimidation, or rescue was committed, and to recover from it, with interest and damages, the amount paid by them for said fugitive slave. And the said county, after it has paid said amount to the United States, may, for its indemnity, sue and recover from the wrong-doers or rescuers by whom the owner was prevented from the recovery of his fugitive slave, in like manner as the owner himslef might have sued and recovered.

Article 6: No future amendment of the Constitution shall affect the five preceding articles; nor the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution; nor the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of said Constitution; and no amendment will be made to the Constitution which shall authorize or give to Congress any power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any of the States by whose laws it is, or may be, allowed or permitted.

And whereas, also, besides those causes of dissension embraced in the foregoing amendments proposed to the Constitution of the United States, there are others which come within the jurisdiction of Congress, and may be remedied by its legislative power; and whereas it is the desire of Congress, so far as its power will extend, to remove all just cause for the popular discontent and agitation which now disturb the peace of the country, and threaten the stability of its institutions; Therefore,

1. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the laws now in force for the recovery of fugitive slaves are in strict pursuance of the plain and mandatory provisions of the Constitution, and have been sanctioned as valid and constitutional by the judgement of the Supreme Court of the United States.; that the slaveholding States are entitled to the faithful observance and execution of those laws, and that they ought not to be repealed, or so modified or changed as to impair their efficiency; and that laws ought to be made for the punishment of those who attempt by rescue of the slave, or other illegal means, to hinder or defeat the due execution of said laws.

2. That all State laws which conflict with the fugitive slave acts of Congress, or any other constitutional acts of Congress, or which, in their operation, impede, hinder, or delay the free course and due execution of any of said acts, are null and void by the plain provisions of the Constitution of the United States; yet those State laws, void as they are, have given color to practices, and led to consequences, which have obstructed the due administration and execution of acts of Congress, and especially the acts for the delivery of fugitive slaves, and have thereby contributed much to the discord and commotion now prevailing. Congress, therefore, in the present perilous juncture, does not deem it improper, respectfully and earnestly to recommend the repeal of those laws to the several States which have enacted them, or such legislative corections or explanations of them as may prevent their being used or perverted to such mischievous purposes.

3. That the act of the 18th of September, 1850, commonly called the fugitive slave law, ought to be so amended as to make the fee of the commissioner, mentioned in the eighth section of the act, equal in amount in the cases decided by him, whether his decision be in favor of or against the claimant. And to avoid misconstruction, the last clause of the fifth section of said act, which authorizes the person holding a warrent for the arrest or detention of a fugitive slave, to summon to his aid the posse comitatus, and which declares it to be the duty of all good citizens to assist him in its execution, ought to be so amended as to expressly limit the authority and duty to cases in which there shall be resistance or danger of resistance or rescue.

4. That the laws for the suppression of the African slave trade, and especially those prohibiting the importation of slaves in the United States, ought to be made effectual, and ought to be thoroughly executed; and all further enactments necessary to those ends ought to be promptly made.

Library of Congress
National Park Service
University of Kansas

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Within the last year and a half, the staff of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has dwindled tremendously. The latest casualty is that of CAIR-Miami’s Communications Director and Hamas-defender, Omer Subhani. The causes for the drop-off, including that of scandal, vary as much as the excuses given.

On November 4th, in an article concerning Omer Subhani’s refusal to acknowledge Hamas, Hezbollah and the PLO as terrorist organizations, this author reported that Subhani had recently removed references to CAIR from his blog. It was a matter of interest, as he was one of the top staffers out of CAIR-Florida’s main office.

In response to the article, Subhani had the following to say: “[M]y references to CAIR on this blog were taken down because I no longer work for CAIR. I have gone back to school full time since August.” While he may well be telling the truth, Subhani has followed a current trend, whereby CAIR leaders have abruptly left the organization.

Ahmed Bedier, also a CAIR-Florida alum – he was CAIR-Florida’s Communications Director and CAIR-Tampa’s Executive Director – announced his retirement from the group in May of 2008. According to Bedier, who is infamous for having said that, prior to 1995, there was “nothing immoral” about associating with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), he left CAIR to work on a “new project.” According to CAIR, he was forced out.

Another former CAIR-Florida rep, Parvez Ahmed, resigned as CAIR’s National Board Chairman less than two months later, in July of 2008. Ahmed had been only the second Chair since the group began. He stated that he was tired of CAIR’s “old guard mentality” – a guard that is widely recognized as having been built from Hamas. CAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR’s National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, and Ahmed’s predecessor Omar Ahmad all had come to CAIR, in 1994, via Hamas’s American propaganda wing, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). [Ahmed is still listed as a director of CAIR-Florida’s corporation.]

Arsalan Iftikhar was CAIR’s National Legal Director until the middle of 2007, when he suddenly abandoned the group. Like many others within CAIR, when confronted, he has refused to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

Unlike the three staffers mentioned previously, Iftikhar never publicly announced his removal (or self-removal) from CAIR. At the time of his leaving, he was (and still is) a weekly contributor for National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) Barbershop show. On the June 15, 2007 Barbershop show, he was introduced as “editor and civil rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar.” On the July 6, 2007 show, he was introduced only as “editor Arsalan Iftikhar.” And on September, 11, 2007, during a guest commentary for NPR, he was finally introduced as “former representative to the Council on American Islamic Relations.”

The mystery behind Iftikhar’s abandonment and silence may very well be found in a federal trial, which began in July of 2007, dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. The defendants were part of a group associated with CAIR, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), and CAIR, over one month earlier, had been named as a co-conspirator for the trial. It is possible that Iftikhar got cold feet and no longer wanted to be linked to terror. He doesn’t even list his involvement with CAIR within his extensive bio on his personal website.

Recently, a scandal which took the jobs of at least two more of CAIR’s top staffers, the Executive Director and the Civil Rights Manager of CAIR-Maryland/Virginia, was revealed. Those staffers were respectively Khalid Iqbal and Morris Days.

CAIR-Maryland/Virginia, originally CAIR-Maryland, was incorporated in March of 2002 using a Bethesda, Maryland address. One of the first directors of the group was Abdurahman Alamoudi. The following year, Alamoudi became part of a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and would soon be sentenced to 23 years in prison. While Alamoudi’s participation in CAIR-MD/VA went unnoticed for many years, recent accusations of fraud have brought the group into the spotlight, leading to CAIR-MD/VA’s end.

On September 3, 2008, the Mapping Shariah Project (MSP) put out a press release revealing how CAIR was “threatening Muslims” with $25,000 penalties, if they were to reveal the “criminal fraud” that was allegedly being committed by CAIR-MD/VA’s Civil Rights Manager, Morris Jamil Days. According to MSP, Days was falsely posing as a civil rights attorney (which CAIR-MD/VA and CAIR National promoted) to collect money for cases brought to CAIR. This, while Days was never licensed to practice law, and as such, legal services were never rendered.

As stated in the MSP release, Days’ job with CAIR was terminated in February of 2008. The public announcement of this information (concerning the scandal) caused CAIR to close shop on its Maryland/Virginia chapter, and its Executive Director, Khalid Iqbal, was forced to go elsewhere, resurfacing as the Deputy Director/Chief Operating Officer of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, based in Herndon, Virginia.

Iqbal, in September of 2004, sent a personal letter to the CAIR Board of Directors, telling of his disgust regarding what he called the group’s “employee turnover.” At the time, he was Director of Operations for CAIR National. He stated that, in 2003, “14 people left CAIR… more than 50% of our workforce.” He gave his reasoning for it, which included “low employee moral” and “loss of thousands of dollars to CAIR.”

Is CAIR’s fractured leadership a symptom of bigger problems within the Islamist group? How many more scandals have taken place but have gone unreported? And will these things ultimately result in CAIR’s demise?

If CAIR’s connections to and defense of terrorist groups do not lead to its downfall, then maybe CAIR will act to destroy itself.

Friday, November 7, 2008


In his first State of the State address on November 5, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced that the Kremlin would soon deploy short-range Iskander missiles right next to the Polish border, in order “to neutralize if necessary the antiballistic missile system in Europe.” On its face, the provocative move was a response to this August’s U.S./Polish missile deal, which the Kremlin has vocally opposed. But the timing of Medvedev’s announcement was transparently deliberate. It was a Russian-made test of mettle directed at America’s new president elect, Barack Obama.

Obama’s supporters were still celebrating his victory when Medvedev delivered a message designed not to congratulate the new president, but to put him on notice. Describing the speech as “belligerent,” The Economist reported that the date of the televised address “had changed twice before the Kremlin settled for November 5th. This timing was meant to show that Russia’s agenda is unaffected by such trivia as America’s presidential election. But it also smacked of rival attention-seeking: even as the world listened to Barack Obama’s victory speech, Medvedev was laying out a Russian version of democracy.”

In a notable breach of the usual niceties and protocols, Medvedev didn’t even acknowledge Barack Obama’s election win. Instead, he blamed the U.S. for “dragging the rest of the world down with it” during the recent economic crisis, and for supposedly “encouraging Georgia’s barbaric aggression,” a reference to the Russian war over South Ossetia this summer. “The August crisis only accelerated the arrival of the crucial moment of truth. We proved… that we are strong enough to defend our citizens and that we can indeed defend our national interests,” Medvedev said, adding ominously, “we are being tested to the limit.” Medvedev said that the era of American dominance after the collapse of the Soviet Union was over. “The world cannot be ruled from one capital,” he warned. “Those who do not want to understand this will only create new problems for themselves and others.”

Both the timing and the content of Medvedev’s address were “particularly odd,” said military analyst Alexander Golts, who noted this is the first time since the Cold War that Russia has raised the specter of military threat to the West. “Even Soviet hawks used to wait for six months after an American election to make big statements of military strategy,” Golts remarked.

David Satter of the Hudson Institute told FrontPage that Medvedev’s remarks were “essentially posturing, but posturing that is intended to push the new administration into abandoning” missile defense projects in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Satter explained that the Kremlin needs to “exploit the notion of a hostile West,” for domestic consumption, “the better to consolidate its own hold on power.”

Even non-expert observers couldn’t help but think back to some cryptic statements made by Obama’s vice presidential running mate, Senator Joe Biden, in the final weeks of the election campaign. In a speech to key donors, Biden warned that if elected, Barack Obama would face a serious “test” early in his first term. “Mark my words,” Biden said. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember, I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else I said: Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

Obama’s supporters enjoy comparing him to JFK, without quite realizing that their slain hero experienced many embarrassing, costly failures. Biden is not so historically illiterate; in that candid statement to Obama donors, he was harkening back to President Kennedy’s fateful first meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev just a few months after taking office in 1961. The older, cagier Khrushchev took the measure of the new president and found him wanting. Kennedy himself admitted that during that uncongenial first encounter, Khrushchev “beat the hell out of me.” As for the Soviet Premier, he later recalled “feeling sorry” for his youthful American counterpart – but not so sorry that he would cut Kennedy any slack. Within weeks of that meeting, the Soviets erected the Berlin Wall. Within months, they’d installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, aimed at the United States. The result was the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war for thirteen days in October 1962.

When considering the comparison between Kennedy and Obama, it is important to note that unlike Obama, Kennedy was a decorated Navy veteran who’d seen combat in a shooting war. Kennedy had also served far longer as a U.S. Senator, and boasted a family background of high-level diplomacy. None of that adequately prepared him to deal with a ruthless Russian leader.

Doubts about Obama’s views on military affairs first arose during the campaign. For instance, his wavering response to the Russian invasion of Georgia left some voters doubting Obama’s leadership in times of crisis. In an August meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, he vowed to uphold the new missile defense treaty. However, he expressed doubts about missile defense research during the primaries (claiming he’d support it if “it works and if it can be financially feasible,” according to one adviser) and was then accused of “flip flopping” on the issue. In one speech, he vowed, “I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems.”

In the same speech, Obama declared, “I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals.” Of course, any such negotiations will have to wait until after his inauguration on January 20. In the meantime, the White House issued a statement on November 6, declaring their eagerness to sit down with Russia for a “robust dialogue” in “the next couple of weeks.”

Besides setting new limits on the size of Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals, the White House hopes to assuage Russian objections to the new European anti-missile system. Yet with President Bush now reduced to “lame duck” status, the Russians may well stall for time until they can meet with the next occupant of the Oval Office.

When that inevitable meeting occurs, says David Satter, Obama must avoid showing weakness at all costs. Agreeing to delay or even to cancel the Eastern European missile defense system would be interpreted by the Russians as a sign that “pressure on the U.S. works, even when it is a matter of American defense interests.” The Kremlin would make “new and more outrageous demands in the future."

In other words, Medvedev’s address may well be recorded by historians as Obama’s first crisis, the one his running mate warned Americans would come. How a President Obama responds when the time comes will determine whether more will follow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


During the 2008 presidential election, even center-left observers have noted the unmistakable bias of the prestige news media toward Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party in general. As we shall reveal, the bias of the media is pervasive, ideologically motivated, and quantifiable: that is, it has been admitted, measured, and analyzed in statistical terms. Those results reveal a media doggedly out-of-touch with the political center and tilted decidedly leftward.

One of the most striking aspects of the current presidential campaign is the news media’s assault on Sarah Palin. The Republican vice presidential candidate has been portrayed as a ditzy know-nothing; a Christian fanatic who uses her office to vengefully carry out personal vendettas and who may even have faked her motherhood of her son Trig. From the media coverage of Palin, readers and viewers would never know that she effectively ran an important state, or that she had the highest voter-approval ratings of any governor in the U.S.

But the double standards of the media in their election coverage are as striking as their bias. Scant attention has been paid to the litany of idiocies that have flowed from the tongue of Palin’s vice-presidential opponent, Joe Biden. Some lowlights include the following:

a) Biden exhorted a wheelchair-bound state senator at a Missouri campaign rally to stand up and take a bow;

b) He told interviewer Katie Couric that in times of crisis, it was incumbent upon the U.S president “to demonstrate that he or she knows what they are talking about,” in the tradition of President FDR, whom he said “got on the television” to allay Americans’ fears “when the stock market crashed” in 1929. Of course, Herbert Hoover was president at the time (FDR would not take office until early 1933), and TV would not be introduced to the public until 1939;

c) At a pair of October fundraisers, Biden advised supporters to “gird your loins” because, within six months after Barack Obama’s inauguration, an adversary somewhere in the world would undoubtedly manufacture a “crisis” in order to “test” the young president “like they did John Kennedy”;

d) During his debate with Sarah Palin, Biden stated authoritatively: “Vice President Cheney…doesn’t realize that Article One of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the executive – he works in the executive branch. He should understand that.” But in fact, Article One of the Constitution defines the role of the legislative branch of government, not the executive branch; and

e) At a recent campaign appearance, Biden said that John McCain’s “last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-1 job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack [Obama] says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S.”

None of these gaffes are important. But neither is Gov. Palin’s wardrobe. And unlike her new clothes, Biden’s slips – like the reporting of his infamous plagiarism of a speech by British Labor leader Neil Kinnock in his abortive 1988 presidential run, a plagiarism so thorough that it resembled identity theft – received little mention in the mainstream media.

To understand why this is so, we need only to look at the
many major studies of the media which have been conducted over the past three decades. These studies have pointed, with remarkable consistency, to a single, unmistakable, overriding reality: The professionals who constitute America’s mainstream news media – the reporters, editors, anchors, publishers, correspondents, bureau chiefs, and executives at the nation’s major newspapers, magazines, radio networks, and television networks – are leftists and Democrats in far greater numbers than they are conservatives or Republicans. These studies have of course excluded commentators, editorialists, and opinion columnists – all of whom make it quite clear that they are giving their opinions and analyses of the news as they view it. Rather, the focus of the research has been on those individuals whose ostensible duty is to impartially and comprehensively present the various relevant facts and perspectives – and to leave the task of analyzing the information to the readers, listeners, and viewers.

But the American news media no longer serve this function. Instead they have been transformed – by virtue of the one-sided, passionately partisan worldview shared by editors and reporters alike – into mouthpieces of the political Left. And their biases are all the more insidious because they present themselves as unbiased reporters. Those biases have been in place for several decades, but have never been more pronounced than they are in this election cycle.

A useful way of understanding the news media’s political and ideological makeup is to examine what the professionals in that field believe about a wide array of social, ethical, and political issues. Let us look at some of the major findings of the research exploring those beliefs:[1]

  • Between 90 and 97 percent of news media professionals have consistently deemed themselves pro-choice on the matter of abortion. More than half of the respondents said that abortion should be legal under any and all circumstances, including the late-term procedure commonly known as Partial Birth Abortion, where the abortionist punctures a living baby’s skull and suctions out its brain before the infant’s head passes from the birth canal. Only 4 percent of journalists said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.[2]
  • Fully 81 percent of news media professionals favor affirmative action in business and academia.[3]
  • More than half of respondents said that adultery could be acceptable under certain circumstances; only 15 percent said it was always wrong.[4]
  • Between 67 and 76 percent were opposed to prayer being permitted in public schools.[5]
  • Some 71 percent agreed that the “government should work to ensure that everyone has a job.”[6]
  • 75 percent agreed that the “government should work to reduce the income gap between rich and poor.”[7]
  • 56 percent said that the United States exploited the nations of the Third World.[8]
  • Three-fourths disagreed with the notion that the West, on balance, had been helpful to the Third World.[9]
  • 57 percent said that America’s disproportionate consumption of the world’s natural resources was “immoral.”[10]
  • Nearly half agreed that “the very structure of our society causes people to feel alienated.”[11]
  • Only 30 percent agreed that “private enterprise is fair to workers.”[12]
  • Between 6 and 8 percent attended religious services regularly, a tiny fraction of the corresponding rate for the public at large.[13]
  • 78 percent said the use of torture was rarely or never justified in dealing with suspected terrorists.[14]
  • In the 1980s, 84 percent of journalists supported the nuclear freeze movement, which would have frozen military superiority in place for the Soviets; 80 percent opposed increased defense spending by the United States; and three-fourths opposed U.S. aid to the Contras, who were fighting the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua.[15]
  • In 1996, 59 percent of journalists dismissed the Republican Party’s 1994 Contract with America as “an election-year campaign ploy,” while only 3 percent considered it “a serious reform proposal.”[16]

It is equally fascinating to examine the degree to which members of the news media have supported Democrat or liberal/Left candidates and causes, both at the ballot box and with their checkbooks:

  • In 1964, 94 percent of media professionals voted for Democrat Lyndon Johnson over Republican Barry Goldwater.[17]
  • In 1968, 86 percent voted for Democrat Hubert Humphrey over Republican Richard Nixon.[18]
  • In 1972, 81 percent voted for Democrat George McGovern over the incumbent Nixon.[19]
  • In 1976, 81 percent voted for Democrat Jimmy Carter over Republican Gerald Ford.[20]
  • In 1980, twice as many cast their ballots for Carter rather than Republican Ronald Reagan.[21]
  • In 1984, 58 percent supported Democrat Walter Mondale, whom Reagan defeated in the biggest landslide in presidential election history.[22]
  • In 1988, White House correspondents from various major newspapers, television networks, magazines, and news services supported Democrat Michael Dukakis over Republican George H.W. Bush by a ratio of 12-to-1.[23]
  • In 1992, those same correspondents supported Democrat Bill Clinton over the incumbent Bush by a ratio of 9 to 2.[24]
  • Among Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents, the disparity was 89 percent vs. 7 percent, in Clinton’s favor.[25]
  • All told, White House correspondents during the late ’80s and early ’90s voted for Democrats at 7 times the rate at which they voted for Republicans.[26]
  • In a 2004, poll of campaign journalists, those based outside of Washington, D.C., supported Democrat John Kerry over Republican George W. Bush by a ratio of 3-to-1. Those based inside the Beltway favored Kerry by a 12-to-1 ratio.[27]
  • In a 2004 nationwide poll of 300 newspaper and television journalists, 52 percent supported Kerry, while 19 percent supported Bush.[28]
  • In a 2008 survey of 144 journalists nationwide, journalists were 8 times likelier to make campaign contributions to Democrats than to Republicans.[29]
  • A 2008 Investors Business Daily study put the campaign donation ratio at 11.5-to-1, in favor of Democrats. In terms of total dollars given, the ratio was 15-to-1.[30]

These numbers are nothing short of astonishing. It is exceedingly rare to find, even in the most heavily partisan voting districts in the United States, such pronounced imbalances in terms of votes cast or dollars earmarked for one party or the other. As the longtime CBS News reporter (and author of the 2002 book Bias) Bernard Goldberg puts it: “They love diversity in the newsroom. That’s what they say, anyway. They love diversity of color, diversity of gender, diversity of sexual orientation. But God forbid someone in their diverse newsroom has a diverse view about how the news ought to be presented.”[31] Goldberg adds, “[I]f long ago we came to the conclusion that newsrooms with too many white men were a bad idea because all we got was the white male perspective, then why isn’t it just as bad to have so many liberals dominating the culture of the newsroom?”[32]

The figures cited above are entirely consistent with how news media professionals identify themselves in terms of their political party affiliations and ideological leanings:

  • In a 1988 survey of business reporters, 54 percent of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 9 percent as Republicans.[33]
  • In a 1992 poll of journalists working for newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, 44 percent called themselves Democrats, 16 percent Republicans.[34]
  • In a 1996 poll of 1,037 reporters at 61 newspapers, 61 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 15 percent as Republicans.[35]
  • In a 2001 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, media professionals were nearly 7 times likelier to call themselves Democrats rather than Republicans.[36]

We see precisely the same ratios in studies where news people are asked rate themselves on the left-to-right political spectrum.

  • In a 1981 study of 240 journalists nationwide, 65 percent identified themselves as liberals, 17 percent as conservatives.[37]
  • In a 1983 study of news reporters, executives, and staffers, 32 percent identified themselves as liberals, 11 percent as conservatives.[38]
  • In a 1992 study of more than 1,400 journalists, 44 percent identified themselves as liberals, 22 percent as conservatives.[39]
  • In a 1996 study of Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents, 61 percent identified themselves as liberals, 9 percent as conservatives.[40]
  • In a 1996 study of 1,037 journalists, the respondents identified themselves as liberals 4 times more frequently than as conservatives. Among journalists working for newspapers with circulations exceeding 50,000, the ratio of liberals to conservatives was 5.4 to 1.[41]
  • In a 2001 Kaiser Family Foundation study of media professionals, the ratio of self-identified liberals to conservatives was 4.2 to 1.[42]
  • In a 2004 Pew Research Center study of journalists and media executives, the ratio of self-identified liberals to conservatives was 4.9 to 1.[43]
  • In a 2005 University of Connecticut study of 300 journalists, the liberal-to-conservative ratio was 2.8 to 1.[44]
  • In a 2005 Annenberg Public Policy Center poll of nearly 700 journalists, the liberal-to-conservative ratio was 3.4 to 1.[45]
  • In a 2007 Pew Research Center study of journalists and news executives, the ratio was 4 liberals for each conservative.[46]

When the media report on various issues, they invariably interview, quote, or cite the positions of think tanks and policy groups whose views they deem authoritative, or at least worthy of consideration. If left-wing bias were pervasive, we would expect to find that America’s leading media outlets cited, with disproportionate frequency, the reports, publications, and statements issued by think tanks and policy groups whose political leanings were left-of-center.

And indeed we find precisely that.

The most comprehensive investigation of this subject, completed in 2004, found that such outlets cited the views of liberal/leftist organizations at fully 3 times the rate of conservative groups.[47]

In 1990, a similar landmark study had been conducted examining the political leanings of the individuals, rather than the organizations, who were most often cited or quoted as experts on various topics in the news. It was found that on the subject of welfare and related issues, liberal experts were quoted 75 percent of the time, conservatives 22 percent. On consumer issues, the liberal-conservative ratio was 63 percent to 22 percent. On environmental issues, the ratio was 79 percent to 18 percent. And regarding nuclear energy, the ratio was 77 percent to 20 percent.[48]

Bias in the news media manifests itself most powerfully not in the form of outright, intentional lies. Instances like former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair’s premeditated fabrications and plagiarisms are rare. Rather, media bias is most often a function of what reporters choose not to tell their audience; i.e., the facts they purposely omit so as to avoid contradicting the political narrative they wish to advance. As Tim Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo put it: “[F]or every sin of commission…we believe that there are hundreds, and maybe thousands, of sins of omission – cases where a journalist chose facts or stories that only one side of the political spectrum is likely to mention.”

By no means is such activity the result of an organized campaign or conspiracy. Bernard Goldberg explains:
“No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”[49]

And why does it come so naturally? According to Goldberg: “A lot of newspeople…got into journalism in the first place so they could change the world and make it a better place,” and to use their position as reporters as a platform from which to “sho[w] compassion,” which “makes us feel good about ourselves.”[50]

Expanding upon this point, Goldberg quotes researcher Robert Lichter of the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs, who said, “Increasingly, journalists see themselves as society’s designated saviors,”[51] whose mission is to “awaken the national conscience and force public action.”[52] Or as ABC News anchor Peter Jennings admitted to the Boston Globe in July 2001: “Those of us who went into journalism in the ’50s or ’60s, it was sort of a liberal thing to do. Save the world.”[53]

Bernard Goldberg asks some vitally important questions about the degree to which media bias affects the content and the tenor of the news Americans receive. The answers are self-evident:

Do we really think that if the media elites…were overwhelmingly social conservatives instead of liberals…that the evening newscasts would fundamentally be the same? Sure, they’d still cover tornadoes and plane crashes pretty much the same way, but do we really think they’d cover abortion and affirmative action and gay rights the same way? Or would their conservatism, reinforced by their surroundings, their friends and neighbors…influence how they see the world and how they report the news?[54]

Had Sarah Palin, rather than Joe Biden, made any of the previously cited gaffes, errors, or dire predictions, the news media would have depicted her – even more thoroughly than they already have – as an incompetent moron, a ticking time-bomb, and everything else in between. This is to say nothing of how the late-night TV comics, who have had a field day poking fun at Palin and McCain, would have reacted. A study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs actually counted the number of jokes which Jay Leno and David Letterman told about the four major candidates during the five weeks immediately following McCain’s announcement that Palin would be his running mate. The totals: 180 jokes about Palin and 106 about McCain, compared to 16 jokes about Biden and 26 about Obama.[55]

Unfortunately, there is nothing funny about the distortion our media have unleashed on the American public and the disabling impact it has on national discourse.

[1] Summaries and analyses of most of the research cited in this article can be accessed from the Media Research Center, which does an outstanding job of documenting media bias and its many ramifications.

[2] Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1981 survey of 240 journalists at top media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS; Los Angeles Times 1985 survey of 2,700 journalists at 621 American newspapers; Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1986 study of the media’s attitudes and their influence on society, as published in the National Federation for Decency’s Journal; Indiana University journalism professors David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit’s 1992 survey of 1,410 newspaper, magazine, television, and radio journalists; Stanley Rothman and Amy Black’s 1995 study of the media elite.

[3] Los Angeles Times 1985 survey of 2,700 journalists at 621 American newspapers, Op. cit.

[4] Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1981 survey of 240 journalists at top media outlets, Op. cit.; Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1986 study, Op. cit.

[5] Los Angeles Times 1985 survey of 2,700 journalists at 621 American newspapers; Journalist and Financial Reporting’s 1988 poll of 151 business reporters from 30 major publications.

[6] Stanley Rothman and Amy Black’s 1995 study of the media elite.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1981 survey of 240 journalists at top media outlets, Op. cit.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1986 study of the media’s attitudes and their influence on society, Op. cit.; David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit’s 1992 survey of 1,410 journalists, Op. cit.; Annenberg Public Policy Center and Annenberg Foundation Trust’s 2005 survey of 673 journalists from newspapers, television, magazines, radio, and Internet; Pew Research Center’s 2008 survey of 222 journalists and news executives.

[14] Pew Research Center / Council on Foreign Relations 2005 study of 72 top journalists.

[15] Los Angeles Times 1985 survey of 2,700 journalists at 621 American newspapers, Op. cit.

[16] 1996 Freedom Forum survey of 139 Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents by Chicago Tribune writer Elaine Povich, titled “Partners and Adversaries: The Contentious Connection Between Congress and the Media.”

[17] Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1981 survey of 240 journalists at top media outlets, Op. cit.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] California State University survey of reporters from the 50 largest U.S. newspapers.

[22] Los Angeles Times 1985 survey of 2,700 journalists at 621 American newspapers, Op. cit.

[23] U.S. News & World Report writer Kenneth Walsh’s 1995 study of 28 White House correspondents.

[24] Ibid.

[25] 1996 Freedom Forum survey of 139 Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents, Op. cit.

[26] U.S. News & World Report writer Kenneth Walsh’s 1995 study of 28 White House correspondents, Op. cit.

[27] New York Times columnist John Tierney’s 2004 survey of 153 campaign journalists covering the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

[28] University of Connecticut Department of Public Policy’s 2005 survey of 300 television and newspaper journalists nationwide.

[29] MSNBC investigative reporter Bill Dedman’s study of the campaign contributions of 144 journalists.

[30] William Tate’s July 2008 report in Investor’s Business Daily.

[31] Bernard Goldberg, Bias (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, 2002), p. 32.

[32] Ibid., p. 121.

[33] Journalist and Financial Reporting’s 1988 poll of 151 business reporters, Op. cit.

[34] David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit’s 1992 survey of 1,410 journalists, Op. cit.

[35] American Society of Newspaper editors 1996 survey of 1,037 reporters at 61 newspapers of all sizes nationwide.

[36] Kaiser Family Foundation 1996 poll of 301 “media professionals,” 300 “policymakers,” and 1,206 members of the general public.

[37] Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1986 study of the media’s attitudes and their influence on society, Op. cit.

[38] David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit’s 1982-83 study of more than 1,000 reporters, executives, and staffers nationwide.

[39] David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit’s 1992 survey of 1,410 journalists, Op. cit.

[40] 1996 Freedom Forum survey of 139 Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents, Op. cit.

[41] American Society of Newspaper editors 1996 survey, Op. cit.

[42] Kaiser Family Foundation 1996 poll of 301 “media professionals,” 300 “policymakers,” and 1,206 members of the general public, Op. cit.

[43] Pew Research Center 2004 poll of 547 journalists and media executives, including 247 at national-level media outlets.

[44] University of Connecticut Department of Public Policy’s 2005 survey of 300 television and newspaper journalists nationwide, Op. cit.

[45] Annenberg Public Policy Center and Annenberg Foundation Trust’s 2005 survey of 673 journalists, Op. cit.

[46] Pew Research Center’s 2007 survey of 222 journalists and news executives at national outlets.

[47] Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo, “A Measure of Media Bias,” 2004.

[48] Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman, and Linda Lichter, The Media Elite: America’s New Power Brokers (New York: Hastings House, 1990).

[49] Bernard Goldberg, Bias, p. 13.

[50] Ibid., p. 68.

[51] Ibid., p. 69.

[52] Ibid., p. 71.

[53] Ibid., p. 213.

[54] Ibid., pp. 119-120.

[55] Jennifer Lawinski, “Late-Night Comics Skewer Republicans 7-to-1, Study Finds,” Fox News (October 16, 2008).

Saturday, November 1, 2008


The head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said Friday that Iran was not far from attaining the means to use missiles against all of Europe and against the US in five to six years, Israel Radio reported.

Czech Republic's Defense...

Czech Republic's Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanova, left, shakes hands with the director of US missile defense agency Lt. Gen. Henry T. Obering, right, after honoring him with a Cross of Defense of the State, in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday.
Photo: AP

Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III was speaking in Prague in an effort to convince the Czech Parliament to approve a US missile defense installation in the country's territory. Obering warned against opposing the plan to build a radar base near Prague as part of a missile shield the US says would counter threats from Iran. But Obering said the US would still build its global missile shield - and has a plan B in hand.

"There's an urgency to getting the schedule on," Obering said.

The Czech Parliament's lower chamber on Wednesday began debating an agreement to give the US the go ahead for construction.

The Czech government agreed to the deal but the agreement also must be approved by both houses of Parliament. The vote in the lower house is expected to be close.

To pass the bill, the government will need some votes from opposition parties, but they have harshly criticized the plan. A vote will likely take place next year.