Debunking Civil War Revisionists

No doubt, a number of you have heard a RW friend or three remarking that “the Civil War was not fought over slavery.” Saying “it ain’t so” doesn’t make it true that it was something else. In a mere 5 minutes, Colonel Ty Seidule, who is professor and Head of the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point makes it clear that the Civil War WAS, indeed, fought to preserve the South’s “peculiar institution of slavery.”

Take a moment to watch and listen:

Video Transcript:

“Was the American Civil War fought because of slavery? More than 150 years later this remains a controversial question.

Why? Because many people don’t want to believe that the citizens of the southern states were willing to fight and die to preserve a morally repugnant institution. There has to be another reason, we are told. Well, there isn’t.

The evidence is clear and overwhelming. Slavery was, by a wide margin, the single most important cause of the Civil War — for both sides. Before the presidential election of 1860, a South Carolina newspaper warned that the issue before the country was, “the extinction of slavery,” and called on all who were not prepared to, “surrender the institution,” to act. Shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s victory, they did.

he secession documents of every Southern state made clear, crystal clear, that they were leaving the Union in order to protect their “peculiar institution” of slavery — a phrase that at the time meant “the thing special to them.” The vote to secede was 169 to 0 in South Carolina, 166 to 7 in Texas, 84 to 15 in Mississippi. In no Southern state was the vote close.

Alexander Stephens of Georgia, the Confederacy’s Vice President clearly articulated the views of the South in March 1861. “Our new government,” he said, was founded on slavery. “Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, submission to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.” Yet, despite the evidence, many continue to argue that other factors superseded slavery as the cause of the Civil War.

Some argue that the South only wanted to protect states’ rights. But this raises an obvious question: the states’ rights to what? Wasn’t it to maintain and spread slavery? Moreover, states’ rights was not an exclusive Southern issue. All the states — North and South — sought to protect their rights — sometimes they petitioned the federal government, sometimes they quarreled with each other. In fact, Mississippians complained that New York had too strong a concept of states’ rights because it would not allow Delta planters to bring their slaves to Manhattan. The South was preoccupied with states’ rights because it was preoccupied first and foremost with retaining slavery.

Some argue that the cause of the war was economic. The North was industrial and the South agrarian, and so, the two lived in such economically different societies that they could no longer stay together. Not true.

In the middle of the 19th century, both North and South were agrarian societies. In fact, the North produced far more food crops than did the South. But Northern farmers had to pay their farmhands who were free to come and go as they pleased, while Southern plantation owners exploited slaves over whom they had total control.

And it wasn’t just plantation owners who supported slavery. The slave society was embraced by all classes in the South. The rich had multiple motivations for wanting to maintain slavery, but so did the poor, non-slave holding whites. The “peculiar institution” ensured that they did not fall to the bottom rung of the social ladder. That’s why another argument — that the Civil War couldn’t have been about slavery because so few people owned slaves — has little merit.

Finally, many have argued that President Abraham Lincoln fought the war to keep the Union together, not to end slavery. That was true at the outset of the war. But he did so with the clear knowledge that keeping the Union together meant either spreading slavery to all the states — an unacceptable solution — or vanquishing it altogether.

In a famous campaign speech in 1858, Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” What was it that divided the country? It was slavery, and only slavery. He continued: “I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free… It will become all one thing, or all the other.” Lincoln’s view never changed, and as the war progressed, the moral component, ending slavery, became more and more fixed in his mind. His Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 turned that into law.

Slavery is the great shame of America’s history. No one denies that. But it’s to America’s everlasting credit that it fought the most devastating war in its history in order to abolish slavery.

As a soldier, I am proud that the United States Army, my army, defeated the Confederates. In its finest hour, soldiers wearing this blue uniform — almost two hundred thousand of them former slaves themselves — destroyed chattel slavery, freed 4 million men, women, and children from human bondage, and saved the United States of America.

I’m Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor and Head, Department of History at the United States Military Academy, West Point for Prager University.”

You Don’t Matter—GOP House Votes for Monsanto’s Right to Deceive

DARK-ActToday, 275 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. By voting for the DARK Act, these politicians (including  all of Nevada’s GOP Representatives—Amodei, Hardy and Heck) voted AGAINST truth and transparency, AGAINST science, AGAINST your right to know, and AGAINST the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling. If this bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, it will nullify laws in states like Maine, Connecticut and Vermont where currently, GMO products are required to be labeled as such.

They voted against the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs. They voted against the producers of non-GMO foods. The voted against States’ Rights.  They voted against you.

Whatever your views on GMOs, there is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to preempt state laws in this area. There certainly is no justification for Congress to preempt private sector efforts to meet consumer demands for non-GMO foods, while allowing those who support the use of GMOs to do so.

H.R. 1599 was sold to Congress via multi-million dollar public relations and lobbying campaigns built on lies and deception. Rumored to have been written by Monsanto themselves, the bill’s sole purpose is to support one industry—Monsanto’s poison-peddling industry—that was founded on lies and deception from the get-go. Monsanto—that same corporation who sold Agent Orange to our government as “safe” to use on our nation’s soldiers.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo, the DARK Act gives consumers what they want: the means to know whether or not their food contains GMOs: “Consumers can choose to presume that all foods have GMO contents unless they are labeled or otherwise presented as non-GMO.  Meaning that it is knowable and it is known by the public which products have GMO and which don’t.”

Government regulation should NOT be an iffy, maybe they will, maybe the won’t kind of thing.  But, the DARK Act turns regulation upside down.  It would create a VOLUNTARY, government-run non-GMO certification program. Unless every producer of non-GMO products pays to have those products certified as non-GMO, consumers will still have no way of knowing which products contain GMOs, and which don’t. And why should the burden of labeling fall on the producers of non-GMO foods, when the risk factor is associated with those foods that do contain GMOs?

Did our Congress members vote against us because they were fooled by Monsanto’s slick, deceitful packaging of this so-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”? Or did they simply vote with their wallets, stuffed full of biotech and junk food industry cash?

We don’t know. Given the Citizens United ruling, we’ll probably never know.  But we better know this: We can’t let this bill get through the U.S. Senate. We need to target Senator Heller and let him know this bill is unacceptable.

Five Years in — GOP Still Has NO Plan

Five years after Obama’s first election, the GOP has absolutely NO comprehensive health care reform plan other than “hurry up and die” or “good luck not going bankrupt over healthcare costs.”  Instead of embracing the Affordable Care Act, they prefer to return to insurance corporation rule over the healthcare options for Americans.

They can talk about “tort reform” and “selling insurance across state lines” … but neither of those concepts will help someone declared by the insurance industry to be defective, in that they have a “pre-existing” condition, making them ineligible for insurance at any price.  A large number of governors have already attempted “tort reform” and have been unable to achieve positive results.  In addition, I doubt those same Governors would want to see Insurers from some other state “cherry-pick” healthy citizens out of their state only to watch health pools become mostly populated with more unhealthy individuals causing healthcare costs to rise dramatically.

The GOP claims tort reform would give more certainty to the healthcare marketplace by curbing liability costs of providers of healthcare.  The only way they can conceivably do that is to dictate flat monetary values for the loss of a foot, arm, life, etc., or flat allowances for the plethora of malpractices that are committed on a regular basis.  In other words, if a doctor or health provider ruins your health or the quality of your life, you’ll get only a pittance for your bad luck.

The GOP’s desire to “sell insurance across state lines” is at cross-directions with their “States Rights” mantra and instead would throw each state under the bus.  Each State has its own Commissioner of Insurance who sets minimum requirements for those who provide Insurance policies to citizens of their particular state.  So, instead of protecting “States” rights, it appears the GOP wants to plow the way for large corporate insurance providers to take out more efficient and less costly smaller sized organizations … DECREASING competition in the marketplace, and thus HIGHER costs and abuses.

But, that’s all they’ve got.  So, before we throw out the baby with the bath water, so to say … maybe it’s time to get behind what was actually passed, upheld by the Supreme Court, and now in the process of being implemented.  The benefits of the Affordable Care Act are pretty straight forward: the law makes it easier to get insurance you can afford, ensures you have the care you need when you get sick, and covers the preventive services you need to stay healthy without additional co-pay:

S. 1249: Target Practice & Marksmanship Training Support Act

On August 24, 2011, via POPVOX, I sent Senator Reid an email regarding my opposition to S. 1249, Target Practice & Marksmanship Training Support Act.  Here’s the content of my expression of “opposition”:

“I oppose (emphasis added) passage of S. 1249, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act.  It appears this should be a state, not a federal issue.  States issue gun permits.  States issue hunting permits.  Therefore, states should provide for facilities to ensure people know how to properly use those weapons and provide them with opportunities to improve their marksmanship. The federal government is broke, in that we’re borrowing money to pay our current bills.  This is one potential spending bill I believe you should cross off the list of things to pass and spend on.”

Today, I got a response from the Senator’s office:

“Thank you for contacting me to express your support (emphasis added) for greater use of federal lands for recreational shooting. I appreciate hearing from you.

On June 22, 2011, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced (S.1249) the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. This legislation would amend the Pittman-Roberson Wildlife Restoration Act to include the addition or expansion of public recreational shooting areas. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Should this legislation make its way to the full Senate, I will remain mindful of your support.

As a gun owner, I welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which made clear that every law abiding citizen has an individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms.  We must work to protect this right by enforcing laws that keep guns away from terrorists and criminals. The rights of responsible gun owners should not be compromised by individuals who use firearms to commit crimes. I have worked diligently to provide Nevada’s gun owners with opportunities to safely enjoy their right to bear arms, such as the Clark County Shooting Park.  You can be certain that I will use my leadership position in the U.S. Senate to defend the Second Amendment and to protect the interests of Nevada’s hunters and shooters.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. For more information about my work for Nevada, my role in the United States Senate Leadership, or to subscribe to regular e-mail updates on the issues that interest you, please visit my Web site at I look forward to hearing from you in the near future

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. For more information about my work for Nevada, my role in the United States Senate Leadership, or to subscribe to regular e-mail updates on the issues that interest you, please visit my Web site at I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.”

It’s no wonder things aren’t going well in Washington.  We take the time to express our opposition … and it appears to be all in vain as they apparently can’t read … or read into it what they want it to say.  Please note that my email was in OPPOSITION … yet the responder believes that I support that bill.

You too can use POPVOX to keep track of your support/opposition to bills.  Because I use POPVOX for tracking my correspondence it was quite easy today for me to check back to see just exactly what it was I wrote.

Welcome to the United Corporations of America

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court  ruled that AT&T—and of course, any other Corporation—could block class-action suits arising from disputes with customers and instead force those customers into binding arbitration. The  Court’s ruling reverses previous lower-court decisions that classified stipulations in AT&T’s service contract which barred class arbitration as “unconscionable.”  Similar to the Citizens’ United ruling, Wednesday’s 5-4 ruling, with the Conservative activist judges once again charting new waters to protect corporate interests over those of the ordinary citizens of this nation.

The decision, which fell precisely along ideological lines, could have far-reaching effects on consumers’ ability to challenge corporations in court over future disputes. In cases where an unfair practice affects large numbers of customers, corporations could quietly settle a few individual claims instead of being faced with larger class-action settlements which might include punitive awards designed to discourage future bad practices.  If you don’t realize you’ve been wronged, and with class action charges now disallowed, that’s going to save those big corporations millions of dollars by not having to right that wrong for all who don’t realize they were wronged.

An interesting facet of this case is the bias against State’s rights.  If we listen to the folks on the right, we hear them continually rant about “State” rights.  Yet Wednesday’s ideological decision from the conservative side of the court overrides “State” consumer protection laws.  It’s yet another case of saying one thing, but actually doing something entirely different.

In the case at hand, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said the Concepcions properly invoked a California law that bars class-action waivers when a contract is particularly one-sided. California’s law applies when there was unequal bargaining power between the two sides in the deal and the dispute involves a small amount of money and complaint of a deliberate scheme to defraud. However, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, noted that the Federal Arbitration Act, which bars States from discriminating against arbitration, was passed in 1925 in response to judges’ “hostility” to such agreements. Scalia said the California law “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the purposes and objectives to the Federal Arbitration Act.” If a State could block an agreement because it appeared one-sided, Scalia said as he read portions of his opinion from the bench, “Nothing would stop states from declaring that all agreements for dispute resolution … are ‘unconscionable'” in many circumstances.

Scalia was joined in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Those five justices have formed the majority in other cases favoring corporations over individual interests.

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