December 23, 2004

Andrew Napolitano for President

Okay, he's not running, but I think he probably should. He's a regular contributor to Fox News, roundly criticizes things like the Patriot Act and other violations of civil liberties, and takes a very balanced, informed approach to the Constitution without sacrificing his commitment to the individual liberties of Americans.

He is (or at least was) a Republican. He is linked here in a writing he did for Cato talking about how the government breaks its own laws. With Judge Jim Gray in California and Andrew Napolitano (he became the youngest life-tenured judge in the history of New Jersey) it would appear the pro-liberty movement is getting more successful people from the ranks of eloquent, intelligent, experienced people.

Rather than just shouting off our moral principles, which any idiot (Michael Moore, Sean Hannity) can do with ease, Gray and Napolitano show us that being intelligent, balanced and passionate is the most persuasive path for libertarians to pursue.
Alan Henderson: Up-Armor 97% Done

Linking to a NewsMax story, Henderson points out in his blog that the National Guardsman who questioned Rumsfeld about scrap metal and so forth was wrong. Ninety-seven percent of the vehicles in his team had already been up-armored, leaving 20 that remained unarmored and 830 that were done. The 20 were already going through the process at the time.

The National Guardsman got the bad info from a reporter named Pitts, who rehearsed with him. Interesting to hear that not only was the guy 1) inciting a National Guardsman to commit an offense (I believe they call it insubordination; uniformed soldiers can't talk like that to superiors), 2) instigating a major news story, but 3) it was incorrect.

What's interesting is that Rumsfeld is actually looking somewhat vulnerable now, based off his grumpy reaction to a bad story. Naturally I don't expect to hear this reported anywhere, except Fox news which will probably repeat it a number of times.
Kiwi Pundit: Anti-Semitic Bias

Kiwi Pundit points out three situations of passport forgery and how the smallest violation, two Israelis, is treated to the biggest media response. He didn't say anti-Semite, but I'm not going to avoid using it here. Even if it's subconscious, it's still an unfounded bias.
How Does The Supreme Court Work?
#1 Mandamus, Marbury and Jurisdiction

In the real life Supreme Court, the landmark case Marbury v. Madison established the power of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution and to overturn acts of Congress that violate the Constitution. Most people high school and beyond are aware of this simple fact. What most people are not aware of is the true matter on which the Court first ruled an act of Congress unconstitutional.

Well, it needs some background. Jefferson became our third President after the election of 1800, and was to take office March 4th. Adams and his Federalist-dominated Congress were still in charge, and they passed a Judiciary Act creating new courts that would be staffed by Federalists. On March 2nd, Adams appointed 42 Federalists to be judges, all of whom were confirmed by the Senate on March 3rd. William Marbury was one of these men, appointed Justice of the Peace for the District of Columbia.

Adams signed all 42 of the Senate-consented appointments, and Secretary of State Marshall affixed the seal of the US on them. Marshall then became the Chief Justice of the United States, having been appointed by Adams to the office in early February, and swore Jefferson in on March 4th.

There's a lot of history and trivia here. The election of 1800 wasn't decided until the second half of February, because at that time the Vice President was not the junior partner to the President, but rather the runner-up in the Electoral College. So Burr, nominally Jefferson's VP, took as many votes as Jefferson in the EC and then didn't tell the House of Representatives to vote him down. It was almost humorous if you lived in any other country. This year was also the first time a President had taken the oath of office in DC, then taken in the as-yet uncompleted Capitol's Senate Chamber, which is now the Old Senate Chamber. There's more, but that's all history and trivia.

One of the interesting facets of the case is that Marshall sat in judgment, and wrote the unanimous decision for the Court, of an act he himself had only just recently performed. In one sense, he sat in judgment of his own actions (as well as the actions of others).

Now, when Jefferson took office, the 42 appointments were signed, sealed but not delivered. He ordered the new Secretary of State, Madison, to not deliver them. He considered them invalid, too late to be delivered. Marbury sued to get his commission and sit as Justice of the Peace. He wanted the Court to issue a writ of mandamus (mandamus is Latin for 'mandate') forcing the Secretary of State to deliver them. He cited the Judiciary Act of 1789 (distinct from the then-recently passed Judiciary Act of 1801) which granted the Court the power to "issue writs of mandamus in any persons holding office under the authority of the United States."

The Court's unanimous decision was interesting. It found that legally the commission belonged to Marbury and the other 41 last-minute appointments. The fixing of the seal of the United States made the appointment complete, not the delivery. This required a little reading between the lines of the Constitution, because it was never specified there when it happened. But he also found that the Court couldn't use mandamus against the Secretary of State.

Mandamus is the product of original jurisdiction, not appellate jurisdiction. If a court is the originating court - the court that has first dibs on a case - then it can use mandamus in appropriate situations. Appellate courts cannot issue a writ of mandamus against those it does not hold original jurisdiction. When the Congress 12 years earlier had given the Supreme Court mandamus over "any persons holding office under the authority of the United States" it had given the Supreme Court original jurisdiction.

The original jurisdiction of the Court is dictated by the Constitution as "all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party" in Article III. In the Constitution, the Congress can make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. It has no power, however, to increase the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

The power of mandamus gave the Court original jurisdiction, but it gave original jurisdiction beyond the limits of the Constitution. As such, it was unconstitutionally. This is where the Court first used judicial review and overturned an act of Congress for being unconstitutional.

The politics of the decision are simple. Marshall was a Federalist and he wanted to stick it to Madison and Jefferson for refusing the appointments Marshall himself had helped make. But there was very little chance that the President would even listen to the Court. Rather than author a decision the President could have ignored - and thus forever relegated the Court to small peanuts issues - Marshall chastised the President but removed his own ability to challenge it directly. Instead of challenging the President, they took on the constitutionality of an act of Congress. It's widely regarded as a brilliant decision for cutting a very tactical path while still using very credible legal arguments.

And with just a bit of humor we notice that, perhaps innocently, Marshall found that the commission became complete not with delivery, not with Senatorial consent and not with Presidential signature, but with the Secretary of State's affixing of the seal. He ruled that the person capable of completing and making official an appointment was the same post he had just vacated before becoming Chief Justice.

The misuse of mandamus was the mechanism ruled unconstitutional in Marbury v. Madison. For such an important case, it's a surprisingly tedious and mundane issue. But it's an important area for those interested in either history or law.

December 22, 2004

Why People Hate Rumsfeld

I like Rummy. He's not the best politician and not the best Secretary, but he's honest and he's got good ideas. I also trust him. He knows he won't be President, and he says what he thinks. That's horrid for a diplomat but entertaining to watch. Not the best Secretary, but one of the best politicians.

Partisan Democrats hate Rumsfeld because he's in the Bush Administration.

The traditional military establishment hates Rumsfeld because he's trying to reform them into a smaller, lighter, mobile force that costs less money, and they're into Overwhelming Force and getting bushels of money from Congress.

McCain hates Rumsfeld because he's more of a conventional, Colin Powell, Overwhelming Force doctrine kind of guy. I also really like McCain, because he's honest and wonkish, even though he's populist.

Ultimately, Rumsfeld's lack of tact makes him abrasive, but then Bolton still has his job in State and they hate abrasive people even more over there. Rumsfeld is unpopular because he's trying to really change the military. He's getting bad press because his style is very gruff and blunt. If he were only a reformist or only gruff then he'd be more popular, but doing both makes enemies too quickly.

Of course, Iraq wasn't his style - Afghanistan was. If you want to study Rumsfeld's success or failure in doctrine, Afghanistan is a good example. Considering they had elections and now have an elected governemnt with female participation, I'd say it was pretty successful.

The problem in Iraq was the usual problem with fuckhead politicians. As with the economy, which they refuse to make either socially-centered or market-centered, they refused to make the war in iraq wholly Rumsfeld mobility doctrine or Powell Overwhelming Force doctrine.

The result was they had too many troops to be mobile like Rumsfeld wanted and not enough troops to have overwhelming force like Powell and the military wanted. Fuckhead politicians. Sometimes the Golden Mean just doesn't apply.

They should have done one or the other. Personally, I think they should've done mobility doctrine, used special forces heavily (Kerry supposedly wanted this in the campaign season, and he was going to fund SpecOps better) to take out military installations, use ground forces to secure various areas after them, and then don't fire the Iraqi army. The Republican Guard could not be toyed with, but most of the traditional army didn't care about Saddam and surrendered almost on sight (remember in march and April all the video footage of Iraqis walking down roads past US soldiers to give themselves up).

They should've kept on the Iraqi army, made sure they got paid, and then given them stupid stuff, guarding buildings, etc. If you're worried about corruption then keep US soldiers around to monitor from time to time.

Better than firing 300 or 400 thousand soldiers, even if they aren't very well trained. Might as well have just handed their addresses over to the insurgency.

But that would be a huge cost burden to keep on the Iraqi army and to try and do our own overwhelming force. Ultimately, Overhwleming Force can only work two ways: genocide or fear. Either you scared them to death or you killed them all. Since we're not willing to accept the moral and political dimensions of genocide (rightly so) and we're nowhere near the financial capacity to scare the entire insurgency out of fighting - men and women willing to blow themselves up - we need something besides overwhelming force.

Overwhelming Force is the same idea brought to you by the people who think more money will fix any political problem. Sometimes it's not how much you spend but where you spend it.
Incompetent AL Abortionist Loses License
And Provisionally Suspended In MS

This is from LifeNews, a pro-life news website. I figure they're biased but they're not going to just flat out lie about facts any more than the ACLU or Planned Parenthood would make up a news story.

    In November 2003, a Birmingham, Alabama woman died just 10 hours after DeHenre performed an abortion. In February 2001, a 22-year-old woman required a hysterectomy after an abortion he performed, and three other cases of injured women were noted from 2001-2003.

Dehenre performed abortions in AL and MS but he says he probably won't practice any longer. He blames pro-lifers, saying they want to overturn Roe v. Wade. Apparently the "gross malpractice" the AL medical board accused him of was actually motivated by evil fundamentalist politics. What a joke.

Even pro-choice people would agree that incompetence and killing your patients is a serious matter and revoking your license to practice is hardly the scandal of the century. Anyway, this is quite good news because there won't be any more of these procedures from him, botched or otherwise.

December 21, 2004

Neo-Libertarian Site Changes

I've gotten around to figuring out how to integrate the blog and my web-site. It took a lot of fiddling around, reading poorly-worded explanations on RSS and Atom feeds, figuring out the technological difference between publication and syndication, discovering and subsequently futzing with my FTP server, and of course quite a bit of amateur html edits to reorganize the location, color, size and URL for various things around here.

The NavBar, you will notice if you use it, is not in the same place as on the rest of the site, in part because I didn't try for very long to move out and in part because it would be pretty bulky to put it over there and to still include the links and so forth below it (stealing inspiration from the source code of the home page). I might just do it one day anyway, but for now I think this is enough change.

I'm not a programmer, so I don't really have anything but amateur training at this (like most online people) and I'm not suited to doing it for too long because I usually hit a wall where I can't just fake-act like I know what I'm doing.

Regardless, it's integrated now, so hooray. Check out the main site if you like. The newest thing on there is in the issue articles; I spruced up the abortion one very minorly and maybe a week ago I added a long thing on ANWR (which is different from the ANWR blog entry and in which I've modified my position in light of some facts and deductions).

I suppose now I really know what synergy means.

Maybe web development amateurs integrating blogs into their web pages is the the Spirit Quest of the wired world. Instead of walking off into the forest to hallucinate off of hunger, exhaustion and peyote, you spend hours trying to integrate programs without getting a restroom break or a TV interval. Instead of a cryptic animal Spirit Guide you find random web pages and super-geeks who seem to know everything but in reality give worthless advice. The line between cryptic wisdom and arrogant dumbassery is apparently somewhat subjective.

Or maybe I'm the only idiot who doesn't know how to professionally develop websites but tries to do it anyway.

December 20, 2004

DoJ Lawyers publish legal opinions online (tip: Volokh take 1 take 2)

The Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel is responsible in part for formulating and writing the legal opinions of the Department of Justice, the White House and the United States. Needless to say this is a position of no small influence and no puny respect. When they publish opinions it has an influential effect in the legal community to reinforce the status quo or to legitimize reformist or non-status quo perspectives. It also indicates the direction of the Administration in jurisprudence.

We have a few trends from the White House regarding legality and constitutional jurisprudence as it stands - arguing against federalism in the medical marijuana case Ashcroft v. Raich, arguing for nearly unlimited powers in the Gitmo cases (e.g. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld) and so forth. So, mostly non- or anti-libertarian positions.

Well, that's not changing, except for gun control. In 2001 the OLC came out in favor of the Second Amendment as an individual right, not a colective or quasi-collective right. Just recently they published it online. This is substantive because the current constitutional is more or less that whatever Congress wants to do is okay. Of course, that's not the official stance, but that's close to how it's really practiced. Also, the Second Amendment produces few to no constraints against the power of the states - it was not 'incorporated' or nationalized by the Fourteenth Amendment.

If I were going to argue the libertarian position to somebody, I'd first point out (with a nod to friend Ed L. MacDougall) how some folks seem to think that "the right of the people" in the Second Amendment is collective while "the right of the people" in the Fourth Amendment is individual. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The reason it doesn't make sense is political: if you believe something politically then you are likely to believe the Constitution is on your side.

Of course, George Mason and others said during the time of constitution-writing that the right to keep and bear arms was an expressly individual right. How else could it be? Why would the Founders write a Second Amendment to protect individual rights like speech, religion, privacy, trial rights and individual liberties and then make one securing... the right of states to have militias? Not very likely that's what they meant - if they were trying to protect the right of states to keep militias they'd have been more specific.

The reason pro-gun control (and anti-gun) advocates don't explain the reasoning behind the Second Amendment is simple: they can't come up with one that backs their side, so they don't try. The Founders didn't want people to be disarmed. They were looking at English history: Kings Charles II and James II had used English laws to disarm political opponents: the Whigs and the Protestants, respectively. In and just before the American Revolution, the British had sometimes disarmed American towns. Obviously they wanted to protect people from having their guns taken away and connected it directly to tyranny.

They were very plain and explicit. It's too bad they didn't make their language in the amendment even more explicit, because apparently "right of the people" and "shall not be infringed" are too complicated.

Anyway, those are the arguments I'd make. It's weird that we get bogged down in the largely over-stated statistics of both sides instead of the basic constitutional language.

The other decision OLC has published online is on the war powers of the President. They found an extremely broad power of the President to basically do whatever he deems justified againast any person, organization, state or foreign country harboring terror and to preemptively invade countries whether they're linked to the 9/11 attacks or not.

Pretty broad stroke, there. That's what Clarence Thomas wrote in the Hamdi case, basically saying the President can do whatever's needed because there's a war going on. Of course, the rest of the court disagreed with that, and Scalia sided with Stevens to actually end up to the left (pro-civil liberties) side of the plurality's decision.

So, two interesting issues. I think it bodes not well for libertarians in the Republican coalition that on most constitutional issues - economics, federalism, foreign policy and the like - the White House is running a very centralizing, controlling, pro-federal, pro-executive version of everything. It's only on gun control that the Bush Administration is moving in a libertarian direction.

It used to be such that the Republicans were, if not more libertarian at least less openly hostile toward constitutional libertarianism. That's not true anymore. One interpretation would say that as the GOP gains national party it's shedding the outsider, reformist, limited-government aspects of its platform because they only serve to limit their own activities. Another interpretation would say that the GOP shed those perspectives and THEN America trusted them to have power.

Personally, I think it's simply the viewpoint of the President and his people on what is most effective for doing what they want to do (fight hard in the war on terror, fight the drug war even against medical users) and what best matches their ideological precommitments (against gun control, against medical marijuana, etc.) - it's just too bad that the libertarians in the coalition are being alienated.

This isn't some campaign promise to drop later, this isn't an empty statement to the public to make political hay. Legal briefs from the OLC are primarily directed at influencing policy and influencing the opinions of legal experts, jurists and academics. They are setting the groundwork for a long-term policy shift away from the federalism of the Rehnquist court and trowards what critical, cynical libertareians would no doubt call "an Imperial Presidency" policy that allows the White House free reign to do as it likes in foreign policy.

They're talking about a serious and deep split in the Libertarian-Social Conservative coalition, and if the problem advances it could see a substantial shift in the political debate and culture of the US.

December 05, 2004

The Cause of the Civil War

A surprising number of people in the libertarian movement credit tariffs are the source of the Great Rebellion, and suggest that the war was an act of tyranny and belligerence. This is almost always, in my experience, an anti-war libertarian, and I believe that one's position on the 1860s is a defining trait toward paleolibertarianism. Lew Rockwell, anarchists, some of the economic Austrians and in general the most purist libertarians tend to take this position that the Civil War is misunderstood, the South was maligned, slavery was on the outs anyway, and the North was evil and dictatorial. I call them paleolibertarians, though these statements are a symptom and not the fully defining trait of paleolibs.

I have an extensive argument on why tariffs were not the cause and slavery was. I have argued this constantly so it's nice to have finally written what I hope is a comprehensive reason why the South seceded over slavery, not tariffs. I wrote it first to post here on SomethingAwful's D&D board. I am reproducing it now because I think it's a fun discussion. Anyone looking for reading on the subject should get Eric Foner's wonderful book and an easy read (for me) Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: the Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War.

So now, why DID the war happen? Why did we get the war? They seceded and we fought. Why?

On the Dixie side:

South Carolina seceded over slavery and the fear of what the North would do. Remember, the Republicans were almost entirely a party of the North and the West, a sectional party. Thus, they had next to no legitimacy in the eyes of Southerners and Lincoln had not appeared on the ballot throughout most of the South. They seceded to defend slavery - their economy and their way of life.

Really, you can't be surprised. It was socially threatening, to both the poor whites who had somebody to look down on and the Planter class (truly a pseudo-aristocracy, only 1 or 2% of the population in most states) who depended on cheap, exploitable labor to rise to such wealth and maintain an inefficient, feudalistic manorial system of plantations. Socially it would have changed everything - and indeed it did. Economically it meant an entire restructuring of the economy and a sudden spike in the cost of labor, something they were not happy about.

It also fought their self-image. In the late 18th century slavery was ignored or unspoken of. After a few decades it underwent vicious assaults by a small and slow-growing percentage of Yankees, and Southern sociologists and academics took up a defense of the South and slavery. Slavery went from a necessary evil to a positive good - instead of a bad thing they needed, it was something to be preferred and enjoyed. So they held onto slavery as part of their lives.

Of course, they felt slavery was humane - that black people were savages who could not govern themselves and would not feed or care for themselves otherwise, instead going about to be lazy or drunk or violent and raping. They also felt that they treated slaves as family members, supported and fed them, and criticized Yankee factory labor as 'wage slavery' - which is the real origin of the term in the US.

It affected the South across the board, and slavery was the issue. You'll notice secession is determined by slavery. In rough order, the more slaves the state had proportionally, the faster it seceded (roughly) - South Carolina, with a HUGE proportional slave population, went first. Virginia, with one of the lowest slave proportions in the CSA (it was the Chesapeake, where slaves were less useful, and had the largest population of free black people at the time), seceded in the last round of states. The border states of MD, MO, DE and KY had slave populations more like 10, 15% or less and so did not secede. It was almost directly relative.

On the Yankee side:

Lincoln invaded for politics and ideology - both slavery and unionism (both tied the concept of a representative republic). His constituency and political base included several prominent groups at this time:

- old Line ex-Whig Republicans, staunch union-loving big government conservatives who wanted to save the union at all costs (and opposed slavery after that)
- radical and liberal Republicans from the Liberty and Free Soil Parties who wanted the opposition of slavery and suppression of the 'Slave Power' at all costs (and wanted the union saved after that)
- moderate Republicans, like Lincoln himself, who wanted BOTH: the union saved and slavery opposed
- ex-Democrats in the GOP, who more than perhaps any other group had an abiding hatred of the South after their perceived abuse in the Southern-dominated Democratic Party, and held positions supporting the union and opposing slavery

This entire constituency had plenty of reasons to support the war - they rallied behind the flag, rallied around democracy, but mostly they rallied to unionism and shortly thereafter to abolitionism.

It's rather obvious in retrospect WHY he invaded. He had a coalition of people who, when added together, hated slavery, hated the South, and loved the union. Of COURSE they supported invasion like that. Plus I mean, people thought it could be the end of democracy.

The average person in the North genuinely believed that if the South split off then the Americas would become just like Old Europe - a damnable title if there were any in the US of the 1860s - and constantly fight, backstab and squabble. It was WIDELY held that the American republic persevered because the people were unified and did not uselessly fight and war each other. Therefore, the Civil War was an attack on the entire continent's way of life and living, or so the average person thought. Then factor in unionism, patriotism, anti-slaveryism, etc.

I laugh at tariffs as the cause. Pish. It wasn't tariffs. Here is the South Carolina Secession Causes primary-source document. The word 'tariff' and any derivation do not appear there, neither does the word 'rate' or 'rates.' There is no mention of 'trade' or anything about 'excise.' The word importation appears once, relating to slaves, and the word tax appears once, again relating to slaves. It wasn't fucking tariffs, it was slavery.

What reasons DID SC give for seceding? Basically, it's a historical lesson about the sovereignty and independence of each state, the right of secession, the need to be free, and then an explanation of how slavery was supposed to be an integral part of the Constitution and was obviously legal but now the free states (they said non-slaveholding states) were hostile to it. That's it. A lot of energy devoted to explaining the legal and moral right to secede, all the justifications focused on the North's hostility to slavery. Yeah, REALLY tariff-focused folks - they hated tariffs so much SC didn't mention them once in the causes of secession. That's SO fucking believable I can't stand it.

Was there any difference in tariffs? Yes. The South was agrarian, they engaged in a great deal of beneficial trade with Britain and wanted low tariffs to encourage the trade. The North was industrializing since the 1820s and 1830s, they were at a substantial loss compared to Britain and they wanted protection to compete. Simple, if not ethically based. So the CSA dropped tariffs from the 1857 US rate of 15% average to 13.3% average. The GOP in 1858 bumped it up to average in the 20s or 30s, then years and decades later got closer to 47%. So... what, they seceded to cut tariffs from 32 to 13.3 percent? Yeah, that really seems like it's worth a whole damn war, considering that Southerners had been often supporting higher tariffs from the president and even Congressmen.

Tariffs were to be the main issue after Reconstruction ended and before imperialism really got kicking - the 1880s especially. They fought over it constantly and realized that there was an awful murky middle ground since there were almost NO free traders (a direct tax being supremely unpopular) and few closed-borders protectionists.

Of course, the issue is more complex to us modern-day types - the 1850s and 1860s GOP strongly represented business and commercial interests that wanted protection. The Democrats of the same time strongly represented non-business elements that wanted cheaper goods and were openly hostile to business and commerce. So funnily enough it was the pro-intervention people defending an advanced economy, unlike today when the anti-industrialization, anti-corporation people hate free and open trade. (Of course, I'd have been free trade back then on principle, like the UK Liberals of the era who were pro-free trade and pro-business).

Does the Constitution mention tariffs? It mentions excises, yes, but only in a single clause - where it merely authorizes Congress to create them. Oooh, big compromise there.

Does the Constitution mention slavery? Not in direct verbiage, it being horribly tasteless to defend freedom and slavery at once, but it contains several critical slave compromises, in fact three of the four most important constitutional compromises after bicameralism:
- the 3/5ths Compromise giving partial representation on the basis of non-voting resident slaves
- the Fugitive Slave Clause allowing Southerners to reclaim escaped slaves
- the 1808 Compromise that protected the slave trade until 1808 (twenty year period) at which point Congress could vote to ban it

The slavery compromises are regarded widely now as they were then: critical to the inclusion of the slave states (or at least, those south of Virginia) to being included in the Union. Without these compromises it's VERY likely no Constitution could have been created. In fact, Thomas Jefferson wrote a scathing indictment of King George relating to slavery for placement in the Declaration of Independence. He was always seen as a hothead, which he was, and the other members of the writing commission removed the segment from the presented draft in order to not scare off the Southern delegates - unanimity was considered vital to the Declaration.

After these times, the US had major national compromises. Were they tariff levels? Did they set trade policy or work on internal improvements? No! It was the Compromise of 1820, the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. These were seen as major aspects of the American government - the Missouri Compromise (1820) was placed alongside the Constitution and the Declaration by most Americans.

When the country erupted in riots and violence before the war, was it pro-tariff people killing anti-tariff people? No! It was stuff like Bleeding Kansas where support for and opposition to slavery became cause for murder. And John Brown stole muskets and built a small militia of Biblical swordsmen to free the slave and cause a general rebellion - NOT to do anything regarding tariffs.

When the North and West created the Republican Party, was it a coalition of people who loved tariffs? No, because in the first year or two the ex-Democrats - Barnburners in New York and anti-slavery Democrats especially - who started it up. Even after it was full of ex-Whigs by a 3 to 1 ratio, the ex-Whigs even acknowledged that there was a greater proportional role from the ex-Democrats and that the ex-Democrats possessed almost all of the activist strength in the organization. Unfortunately for LewRockwell and Dixiecrats everywhere, the ex-Democrats in the GOP were very fearful of large tariffs or Whigs coming in to push protectionism and the strong preponderance of Republicans were not interested in protectionism; the heart and soul of the GOP activists were disproportionately leaning anti-tariff.

When new states were added or opposed, was it to maintain balance in the Senate on the tariff issue? No, everyone admitted it was to keep the balance on slavery. Everybody knew this was the case and said so. Slavery absorbed the Congress' time.

When the Supreme Court worked on controversial cases, were they governing the tariff? No, it was Dred Scott v. Sanford, which attacked the root of abolitionism and kicked the corpse of the Missouri Compromise. It was the Lemmon case, which was to be heard by the Supreme Court on the eve of the Civil War, and would have overturned a NY state ruling against the transit of slaves through the North and would have de facto legalized slavery in the entire US. Nobody was running cases on tariff-raisers or tariff-dodgers. Christ.

Did tariffs divide the nation geographically? In part, yes, just as economic interests divide the country today. But the tariff was an acceptable issue to support in the South, at least in part - the old Whig party had been competitive in the South. In 1840, Whig William Henry Harrison won NC, GA, TN, MS, LA and KY of the South, even though Whigs were quite pro-tariff. Henry Clay won only NC, TN and KY in 1844 - but he lost a number of Northern, pro-tariff states as well and came within a couple swing-points of winning GA, LA and VA. Overall 1844 and 1840 saw very respectable numbers given to the pro-tariff Whig. But GOP's Fremont in 1856 received votes from only two slave states - MD and DE, which together gave him a mere 600 votes - the Southerners instead gave the non-Democratic votes to... the pro-tariff Whig-American candidate Fillmore. In the South, supporting the tariff was less popular due to economic exigencies but very common - but voting for a perceived abolitionist like Fremont or Lincoln was not heavily unpopular but actually impossible. Anti-slavery candidates were not allowed on the ballot, but pro-tariff candidates had a very reasonable chance at winning Southern states. That should be telling.

Was the election of Lincoln a stunning, unprecedented victory for the pro-tariff forces that the South had uniformly opposed? No. Again, the South had often supported pro-tariff candidates. Lincoln and his Republican party were a coalition with one clear political link: opposition to slavery. From the unionist, stodgy conservative Whigs to the Barnburner Democrats to the Radical Free Soilers to the Moderate leader, the GOP was linked by people who thought slavery detestable - and the South as leading a divisive Slave Power bent on shaping the country to its will (which conservative unionists saw as disunion and anti-slavery radicals saw as moving slavery into the North). There was no precipitating event in 1860 from the tariff perspective, because Lincoln thought the tariff too divisive an issue to even include in the 1860 GOP platform (though it was). The election of Lincoln, the first GOP victory of the White House, WAS a precipitating even in the slavery battle, because the GOP was united around slavery and opposition to the South more than any other issue.

Tariffs, supposedly the REAL reason behind the Great Rebellion, were so critical that they were completely unmentioned by South Carolina, the state to begin secession, which instead blamed northern hostility to slavery and state independence almost exclusively. The tariff was such a pressing national issue that it had zero compromises in the Constitution or in the US society, unlike slavery which had at least three in the Constitution and three hugely important compromises subsequent to that. The tariff presented no major court cases like slavery did with Dred Scott and Lemmon. Tariffs failed to incite violence like Bleeding Kansas or John Brown. Pro-tariff literature was not being sent into the South and censored by Democratic postmasters, but abolitionist newsletters were. Southern states often voted for pro-tariff candidates but when it came to anti-slavery Fremont and Lincoln they couldn't even get on the ballot.

The tariff line is a joke, invented by Dixiecrat apologists for the South and Marxist opponents of the United States, and furthered by pacifists and paleolibertarians with a political interest in explaining away any war as unnecessary. The South seceded to defend the economic and social aspects of slavery; the North invaded to defend the political and ideological interests of unionism-republicanism and anti-slaveryism. It's not as ideal as I'd like - the Yankee men marching gallantly through the streets freeing starving slaves and whisking them away to fulfilling, respected lives in the Western territories - but it's definitely a good start, and damned more justifiable as a war than the tariff explanation is as an argument.