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View Diary: Pardon Me, Mr. President (72 comments)

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  •  My Favorite Lincoln Quote... (16+ / 0-)
    "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

    ----- U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins) Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)

    •  My Second favorite Lincoln quote (10+ / 0-)

      Abraham Lincoln famously explained the constitution's Presidential War Powers provisions this way:

      "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure…. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, "I see no probability of the British invading us" but he will say to you "be silent; I see it, if you don’t."

      "The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood."

      Too bad our congressional leaders abrogated that authority!
      •  While a fan of Abraham Lincoln (1+ / 0-)
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        And not a fan of war, I do, in the spirit of a friendly conversation, ask you where you think this president derived his "powers" to wage war on states that had left the Union. I only bring this up because I, as a liberal, am often confronted with fellow travellers who believe war is good for nothing, no matter the circumstance. Americans with European ancestry, however, often make an exception for WWII and Americans with African ancestry have a hard time fathoming how the Civil War was in anyways 'bad' despite the deaths of some 600,000 Americans.

        Again, this is not in the spirit of accusation. Only curiosity: Clauswitz said war is the continuation of politics by other means, which makes the evaluation of the 'worth' in human lives and treasure of a war a political consideration, something within the realm of the presidency. But war, as a moral consideration, transends and escapes the presidency. Are you one who'd say, like a priest, all war is forbidden regardless of the circumstance?

        •  On absolutes and hypotheticals... (1+ / 0-)
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          Your post has two questions in it:

          "where you think this president derived his "powers" to wage war on states that had left the Union."
          Are you one who'd say, like a priest, all war is forbidden regardless of the circumstance?
          The first is a question of legality and the second is a question of morality.

          Question #1

          Lincoln didn't just charge in an declare war on the southern states arbitrarily. He did try to negotiate the issue of slavery with the secessionist states but they broke down and failed. In fact there were a long series of compromises made to the slave owning states between 1820 and 1860.

          Lincoln, like the northern states who had banned slavery, felt that if they stopped the expansion of the evil of slavery, that it would die out as it had in other nations that had initiated similar geographic bans on the practice.

          The southern states challenged the ban in the northern states and demanded the right to take their slaves with them into the northern states and have them recognized as their property. That led to the Dred Scott decision by SCOTUS.

          So it became a states rights issue with the southern states trying to enforce their laws on the northern states, while the northern states had said that they could keep their slaves within their boundaries... just don't bring them into the northern states.

          War did not begin over that issue however, but over the southern states seizing federal property beginning with the attack on Fort Sumter. The seizing of federal property spread through the southern states after that.

          So the southern states were the first to take up arms and force the issue upon Lincoln.

          The southern states took the position that the constitution was a compact that they could arbitrarily decide to withdraw from. Lincoln took a literalistic view, as did the northern states and President Buchanan who preceded him that the founders had written in the constitution and intended that it was to be a "perpetual union."

          Lincoln had sworn to uphold the constitution and when the south attacked Fort Sumter it was seen as an insurrection. They had forced his hand and Lincoln invoked the  Militia Act of 1792, which was a series of statutes enacted by the second United States Congress in 1792. The act provided for the President of the United States to take command of the state militias in times of imminent invasion or insurrection.  

          So there is the answer to where did Lincoln's legal authority come from to engage in war with the south.

          Question #2... the morality of war?

          or as you put it...

          But war, as a moral consideration, transends and escapes the presidency. Are you one who'd say, like a priest, all war is forbidden regardless of the circumstance?
          Over the years I have come to the point of view that it is wiser not to speak in absolutes as they fail to take into consideration all possible circumstances around your point of decision.

          Like Lincoln, who did not seek the war with the south, I feel that for a nation to go to war is far to serious a matter to be left to one man. Going to war is a decision that must be shared by all of the people since they will ultimately bare the consequences in the loss of life and treasure and it must be an absolute last resort.

          Your question implies a theological basis though when you used the phrase, "like a priest, all war is forbidden regardless of the circumstance?"

          That question could be rephrased as, "Are their any circumstances under which you would kill another human being?"

          Mahatma Gandhi answered no... but he did wage war on the British Empire with his "noncooperation with evil" which he saw as a moral imperative and said that his demonstrators should view their participation in the same way as any soldier who takes up arms does and be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

          Gandhi was not a wimp as some have stated even here on this website. He offered his country men a way out of the moral dilemma of what to do when confronted with evil. He gave them a different way than to take up arms in opposition to the British tyranny of his nation and he won.

          A close friend of mine stated one fundamental truth of human existence, "the only things you can really call your won in this life are your moments of decision."

          I would take it one step farther as I don't think you really know what you will do, despite your philosophical stance, until those moments of decision find you.

          It is easy to state one's philosophy on any subject, but it is another thing to live up to it when those circumstance... those moments of decision find you.

          I could take the easy way out at this point and say from the ideals of the religions and philosophy that I aspire to, killing under any circumstance is wrong.

          But I have never in my 60 years been presented with a situation where I had to make that decision. Fate has been most merciful to me in that respect, but it is a question that I have pondered.

          My father was an FBI agent and I did hospice care for him. He never talked about his work but I found an old scrap book that my mother had kept of newspaper clippings and he worked on many very prominent investigations from the days of the Chicago mobs through WWII.

          I asked him right before he died, "Of all the cases that you have worked on, what is the thing that you are the most proud of?"

          He answered without hesitation, "The thing that makes me the proudest is that I never had to kill anyone in the line of duty."

          Knowing there is a considerable distance between ones stated moral imperatives and ones actions I would have to say I don't really know the answer to your second question.

          Would I take up arms to oppose an evil on a national scale? Would I be willing to kill to save a person or people I didn't know? Would I be willing to take a life in order to save a loved one?

          Just in the spirit of friendly conversation and curiosity... how would you answer those questions yourself?


    •  Unfortunately, Lincoln never said that (0+ / 0-)

      That quote has been attributed to a forged letter.  The 1950 encyclopedia performed some sloppy research and mistakenly put that letter in.

      But there are plenty of quotes from Lincoln that would disqualify him from current Repuke primaries today!

      In an insane society, the sane man would appear insane

      by TampaCPA on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 07:39:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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