Archive for the ‘immigration’ Category

Is Ebola airborne ?

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Ebola has become an uncontrolled epidemic in Africa. I have previously posted on Ebola elsewhere.

UPDATE: There is now a conclusion that Liberia and Sierra Leone are lost.

But Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told DW that he is losing hope, that Sierra Leone and Liberia will receive the neccessary aid in time. Those are two of the countries worst hit by the recent Ebola epidemic.
“The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” he said. That time was May and June. “Now it will be much more difficult.”
Schmidt-Chanasit expects the virus will “become endemic” in this part of the world, if no massive assistence arrives.

This is from a German source. Our own CDC will not yet say this.

In the balance therefore, the probability is that the virus is not airborne — yet — but it is more dangerous than its predecessors. This would account for its ability to slip through the protocols designed for less deadly strains of the disease. It’s not World War E time, but it’s time to worry.

And: This may be a new strain with more virulence.

The results of full genetic sequencing suggest that the outbreak in Guinea isn’t related to others that have occurred elsewhere in Africa, according to an international team that published its findings online in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). That report was from April 2014.

Now, we have more news. From 2012, we know transmission in animals may be airborne.

While primates develop systemic infection associated with immune dysregulation resulting in severe hemorrhagic fever, the EBOV infection in swine affects mainly respiratory tract, implicating a potential for airborne transmission of ZEBOV2, 6. Contact exposure is considered to be the most important route of infection with EBOV in primates7, although there are reports suggesting or suspecting aerosol transmission of EBOV from NHP to NHP8, 9, 10, or in humans based on epidemiological observations11. The present study was design to evaluate EBOV transmission from experimentally infected piglets to NHPs without direct contact.

The study of this potential explosive development showed:

The present study provides evidence that infected pigs can efficiently transmit ZEBOV to NHPs in conditions resembling farm setting. Our findings support the hypothesis that airborne transmission may contribute to ZEBOV spread, specifically from pigs to primates, and may need to be considered in assessing transmission from animals to humans in general.

Now we have more articles appearing about this.

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

If the New York Times is publishing this, somebody is worried.


The future of the middle east

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

The rise of ISIS seems to have caught the attention of hitherto oblivious segments of the US public. Cutting off the heads of western journalists seems to do that. What we are seeing is the total collapse of civilization in that part of the world.

That is what civilizational decline looks like in real time. The roots of the crisis were visible four years ago before the so-called Arab Spring beguiled the foreign policy wonks. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrian farmers already were living in tent camps around Syrian cities before the Syrian civil war began in April 2011. Israeli analysts knew this. In March 2011 Paul Rivlin of Tel Aviv University released a study of the collapse of Syrian agriculture, widely cited in Arab media but unmentioned in the English language press (except my essay on the topic).

The Syrian food crisis had a lot to do with the collapse of Syria.

In response to the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, President Assad reduced taxes on oil and sugar, and cut import tariffs on basic foodstuffs. This action had unintended consequences. A blogger on the Syrian website reports, “I spent fifteen days on formalities to reduce customs duties on some basic food items, but I have not seen a glimmer of hope on the horizon. This was supposed to reduce the prices of the targeted goods. On the contrary, a liter of oil that sold for 65 Syrian pounds [US$1.38] now sells for 85 pounds.” That’s an increase of 30% over the month. Other bloggers report that the prices of basic foodstuffs have risen by 25% to 30%.

This has resulted in the presence of 14 million refugees with no hope of relief.

When I wrote in 2011 that Islam was dying, this was precisely what I forecast. You can’t unscramble this egg. The international organizations, Bill Clinton, George Soros and other people of that ilk will draw up plans, propose funding, hold conferences and publish studies, to no avail. The raw despair of millions of people ripped out of the cocoon of traditional society, bereft of ties of kinship and custom, will feed the meatgrinder. Terrorist organizations that were hitherto less flamboyant (“moderate” is a misdesignation), e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood (and its Palestine branch Hamas), will compete with the caliphate for the loyalties of enraged young people. The delusion about Muslim democracy that afflicted utopians of both parties is now inoperative. War will end when the pool of prospective fighters has been exhausted.


Is Britain beginning the revolution we need ?

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

A “Seismic Shock is coming to the British political system.

Douglas Carswell, a prominent Conservative MP has announced he is switching to UKIP. a new political party that has been attacked as “racist” and has been attracting a larger constituency from the British traditional voters.

A new political party has appeared in Britain called UK Independent Party. It has been called racist and a number of other things that might sound familiar to Tea Party members here.

For example:

News reports about the rising primary school population in England fail to mention the ‘elephant in the room’, said MEP Paul Nuttall.

“It is accepted that primary schools have increasing numbers of pupils, which causes all manner of problems, but what is frequently not referred to is why we have such a boom in numbers.

“And the answer is unlimited immigration into this country. It hits some areas harder than others but there cannot be many primary schools in the country which have not been affected at all,” said Mr Nuttall, UKIP Education spokesman.

Why is this controversial ? In the 1990s, the Labour Party opened the floodgates of immigration from Pakistan. The Conservatives have mentioned reducing this but have done little about it.

Steven Woolfe, UKIP Migration spokesman, attacks Conservatives for ‘lying to electorate’ on promises to cut migration, adding that ‘it is no wonder their own MPs are losing faith in them and they are haemorrhaging support to UKIP.’

“These shocking figures today show that the Government does not have a handle on immigration. The Conservative Party promised to cut net migration to tens of thousands and yet it has shot up by a staggering 68,000 in just one year. It is quite simple. They lie to the electorate. They lie to try to keep votes. Well they are being found out.

This is one reason why UKIP is hated. For example, of the 1400 young girls made sex slaves by “Asian” men, several were taken from foster parents because they had voted for UKIP.

A couple had their three foster children taken away by a council on the grounds that their membership of the UK Independence Party meant that they supported “racist” policies. The husband and wife, who have been fostering for nearly seven years, said they were made to feel like criminals when a social worker told them that their views on immigration made them unsuitable carers.

Sounds like the Tea Party to me.


Teaching in a majority black high school.

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

This essay has been around for a while but I saw it for the first time today. It is powerful but depressing. I wonder how applicable it is to the Chicago school system? I have a nephew who has a step daughter in a public school that is about half black. Her mother has to go to the school about once a week to complain about bullying. Catholic schools’ tuition is far higher than it was when I lived there.

Here it is.

A few excerpts: Until recently I taught at a predominantly black high school in a southeastern state.

The mainstream press gives a hint of what conditions are like in black schools, but only a hint. Expressions journalists use like “chaotic” or “poor learning environment” or “lack of discipline” do not capture what really happens. There is nothing like the day-to-day experience of teaching black children and that is what I will try to convey.

Most whites simply do not know what black people are like in large numbers, and the first encounter can be a shock.

One of the most immediately striking things about my students was that they were loud. They had little conception of ordinary decorum. It was not unusual for five blacks to be screaming at me at once. Instead of calming down and waiting for a lull in the din to make their point — something that occurs to even the dimmest white students — blacks just tried to yell over each other.

This must be an impossible place to try to teach. Are there any kids who want to learn?

Black women love to dance — in a way white people might call gyrating. So many black girls dance in the hall, in the classroom, on the chairs, next to the chairs, under the chairs, everywhere. Once I took a call on my cell phone and had to step outside of class. I was away about two minutes but when I got back the black girls had lined up at the front of the classroom and were convulsing to the delight of the boys.

Many black people, especially black women, are enormously fat. Some are so fat I had to arrange special seating to accommodate their bulk. I am not saying there are no fat white students — there are — but it is a matter of numbers and attitudes. Many black girls simply do not care that they are fat. There are plenty of white anorexics, but I have never met or heard of a black anorexic.

“Black women be big Mr. Jackson,” my students would explain.

“Is it okay in the black community to be a little overweight?” I ask. Two obese black girls in front of my desk begin to dance, “You know dem boys lak juicy fruit, Mr. Jackson.” “Juicy” is a colorful black expression for the buttocks.

The attitude toward learning is totally negative. That is “Acting white.”

“Once I needed to send a student to the office to deliver a message. I asked for volunteers, and suddenly you would think my classroom was a bastion of civic engagement. Thirty dark hands shot into the air. My students loved to leave the classroom and slack off, even if just for a few minutes, away from the eye of white authority. I picked a light-skinned boy to deliver the message. One very black student was indignant: “You pick da half-breed.” And immediately other blacks take up the cry, and half a dozen mouths are screaming, “He half-breed.”

I have been teaching medical students for about twelve years. About 1/3 to 1/2 are black, most of them are foreign born, either Africa or the West Indies. Most are more dark than the average American born black but some, as those from Ethiopia, may be quite light skinned. The foreign born blacks have a totally different attitude than the American blacks. Of course, with medical students, I am seeing the highest achievers.

Even so, I have met college students who are from Africa. One, I remember quite well, was attending Dartmouth in the mid-ninties. He worked the night shift in the dining hall, which was open 24 hours at the time. He could not understand white students who would come to the dining hall at 3 AM drunk. What were they doing at such a prestigious and rigorous college ?

I also examine recruits for the military in Los Angeles. I talk to these kids and about 1/4 are black. Hispanics seem to be about twice their share in recruits but both groups are highly motivated. Some of the blacks are foreign born and I have spent some time talking to them. They show none of the social pathology I see in this article but, of course, it would be hopeless for such kids to try to join the military even if they wanted to. One young man I talked to last month is 25 and has 17 half-siblings. He said he never wanted to see any of them again. He is drug free and trying to improve his life. He was raised mostly in foster care and, I suspect, was luckier than most in his situation to had that upbringing.

Most of the blacks I taught simply had no interest in academic subjects. I taught history, and students would often say they didn’t want to do an assignment or they didn’t like history because it was all about white people. Of course, this was “diversity” history, in which every cowboy’s black cook got a special page on how he contributed to winning the West, but black children still found it inadequate. So I would throw up my hands and assign them a project on a real, historical black person. My favorite was Marcus Garvey. They had never heard of him, and I would tell them to research him, but they never did. They didn’t care and they didn’t want to do any work.

Anyone who teaches blacks soon learns that they have a completely different view of government from whites. Once I decided to fill 25 minutes by having students write about one thing the government should do to improve America. I gave this question to three classes totaling about 100 students, approximately 80 of whom were black. My few white students came back with generally “conservative” ideas. “We need to cut off people who don’t work,” was the most common suggestion. Nearly every black gave a variation on the theme of “We need more government services.”

My students had only the vaguest notion of who pays for government services. For them, it was like a magical piggy bank that never goes empty. One black girl was exhorting the class on the need for more social services and I kept trying to explain that people, real live people, are taxed for the money to pay for those services. “Yeah, it come from whites,” she finally said. “They stingy anyway.”

Is there any hope for these people ?

My department head once asked all the teachers to get a response from all students to the following question: “Do you think it is okay to break the law if it will benefit you greatly?” By then, I had been teaching for a while and was not surprised by answers that left a young, liberal, white woman colleague aghast. “Yeah” was the favorite answer. As one student explained, “Get dat green.”

There is a level of conformity among blacks that whites would find hard to believe. They like one kind of music: rap. They will vote for one political party: Democrat. They dance one way, speak one way, are loud the same way, and fail their exams in the same way. Of course, there are exceptions but they are rare.

Whites are different. Some like country music, others heavy metal, some prefer pop, and still others, God forbid, enjoy rap music. They have different associations, groups, almost ideologies. There are jocks, nerds, preppies, and hunters. Blacks are all — well — black, and they are quick to let other blacks know when they deviate from the norm.

Reading this essay, and I recommend it, has made me a little more comfortable with the concept of amnesty for illegal aliens.

My black students had nothing but contempt for Hispanic immigrants. They would vent their feelings so crudely that our department strongly advised us never to talk about immigration in class in case the principal or some outsider might overhear.

Whites were “racis’,” of course, but they thought of us at least as Americans. Not the Mexicans. Blacks have a certain, not necessarily hostile understanding of white people. They know how whites act, and it is clear they believe whites are smart and are good at organizing things. At the same time, they probably suspect whites are just putting on an act when they talk about equality, as if it is all a sham that makes it easier for whites to control blacks. Blacks want a bigger piece of the American pie. I’m convinced that if it were up to them they would give whites a considerably smaller piece than whites get now, but they would give us something. They wouldn’t give Mexicans anything.

We live in interesting times.

What is a “True Conservative?”

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

We are facing a lot of major issues that seem to divide the Republican Party. There is immigration and deficits. There is the little matter of Obamacare. There is the matter of international relations with countries like Iran and Syria.

Right now we have the immigration bill that has been passed by the Senate after being written by the “Gang of 8.” This bill, like so many major pieces of legislation lately, was written in secrecy and has not been through the usual committee process. “We have to pass it to see what is in it.”

As if Obamacare were not enough, here we have another opaque and mysterious bit of legislation that is thousands of pages of incomprehensible legalese.

Jennifer Rubin weighs in with a rather beltway-oriented view. Fair enough as she writes in the Washington Post.

The immigration battle, the debate over U.S. involvement in Syria and the flap over NSA surveillance have suggested two starkly different visions of the GOP as well as two potential paths for the GOP.

The question remains whether the GOP will become the party of: Sen. Rand Paul, Ky., or Sen. Kelly Ayotte, N.H., on national security; The Gang of Eight or the Gang of Three (Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions) on immigration; Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio, or Rick Santorum on gay marriage; Broad-based appeal (e.g. Govs. Chris Christie, Gov. Scott Walker) or losing ideologues (Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Michele Bachmann). I don’t know that Angle and O’Donnell were “ideologues.” Angle, at least was an amateur, somewhat like other candidates supported by the Tea Party.

I’m not sure I agree with her choices but let’s think about it.


Immigration and the Gang of Eight.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The Senate has served up another in Harry Reid’s menu of bills with no hearings and no amendments except those he approves. This is not how the Senate is supposed to work and is a large part of the reason that Congress has produced such bad legislation since 2008. Now, we have another massive bill which is being presented with minimal hearings and debate.

The “Gang of Eight” has written this bill and it is supposed to be fast tracked with no argument. Marco Rubio has been pressing for approval and now Paul Ryan is aboard.

In an interview last week with the Catholic television network EWTN, Ryan recalled his history at Kemp’s side and how they worked together to fight Proposition 187, a California ballot initiative that prevented non-citizens from using the state’s social services.

One reason why immigration worked in this country for 150 years was the fact that immigrants were here to work and support themselves. There was no welfare for them. Prop 187 in California was passed with 60% of the vote and even had majorities on heavily Hispanic districts. It was ruled “unconstitutional” by the California Supreme Copurt and the decline of the “Golden State” had followed. His reasoning at the time ?

“I actually campaigned with Jack Kemp against a thing called Prop 187,” Ryan told host Raymond Arroyo. He said they both worried that the proposal would burn Republicans within the immigrant community, and “make it so that Latino voters would not hear the other messages of empowerment.”


Lessons from Boston

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

One jihadist is dead and the other is in custody. The younger bomber’s wounds have not been described so it is impossible to say if he will survive. The emergency is over and now it is time to think about why this happened. It now appears that both young men were long time residents of this country and, at least the younger was a citizen. Both had registered to vote, according to Nexis. The older brother was married with a child. His wife had converted to Islam and, according to reports yesterday, was wearing a full chador when she was taken from their home protesting about a male FBI agent handling a Muslim woman. She was lucky, as one commenter observed, that she was not strip searched as Chechen women have been prominent in terrorism cases in Russia, sometimes as suicide bombers wearing bomb belts.

The majority [of suicide bombers] are male, but a huge fraction — over 40 percent — are women. Although foreign suicide attackers are not unheard of in Chechnya, of the 42 for whom we can determine place of birth, 38 were from the Caucasus. Something is driving Chechen suicide bombers, but it is hardly global jihad.

I doubt the Times’ insistence on the absence of Islamist motives although Chechens have been at war with Russians for centuries. The suicide bomb is a common weapon for jihadists. The Palestinian “Mother of Martyrs” comes to mind.

Mariam Farhat, who said she wished she had 100 sons to die while attacking Israelis, died in a Gaza city hospital of health complications including lung ailments and kidney failure, health official Ashraf Al-Kidra said. She was 64.


Do we really want amnesty ?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The question about illegal immigration seems to have settled on the issue of amnesty. Republicans seem to be wavering about the benefits or disadvantages of the prospect of millions of new voters trending left politically. The issue of the advantage of Republican support for amnesty is highly questionable, if not dubious.

Getting killed almost three-to-one among Latino voters understandably concentrates the mind, but it’s no reason to lose it. The post-election Republican reaction has been built on equal parts panic, wishful thinking and ethnic pandering.

It’s one thing to argue that amnesty is the right policy on the merits. It’s another to depict it as the magic key to unlocking the Latino vote. John McCain nearly immolated himself within the Republican party with his support for amnesty and did all of four points better among Latino voters in 2008 than Mitt Romney did in 2012, according to exit polls.

Mickey Kaus asks if the GOP is being led astray by Fox News.

Does Fox News now have an All-Amnesty lineup? Looks like it. Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have now fallen in line behind World Citizen Rupert Murdoch’s support of ”sweeping, generous immigration reform,” including a “path to citizenship.” Karl Rove was always on board, of course.

The problem with unlimited immigration is the welfare state. Until 1965, the new immigrant was on his own and the negative consequences were chiefly those of competition for low wage jobs. With the appearance of generous welfare benefits in 1965, the new immigrant might improve his situation even without working.

I don’t know how this will turn out but I am sure that it will not produce any benefit for the Republican Party

Obama and amnesty

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

On Friday, as is often the case, Obama announced a new executive policy to impose a two year moratorium on deportation of young illegals if they can show they were brought here as children and have finished high school with no encounters with the law. They must be under 30 and were brought here before age 16. He promised that citizenship was not included and did not mention if family members were affected. Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security announced that this was the new policy but there has been no confirmation of an executive order.

I don’t have a real problem with this policy but it avoids Congress and legislation, a problem that even Obama acknowledged last year. It is a transparent ploy to appeal for Latino votes. Everyone knows that.

It also will close an opening for compromise.

Obama’s decision probably reduces the likelihood that the scenarios of greatest concern to me will come to pass, especially if Obama is re-elected. Irate Republicans are even less likely than before to cooperate with the administration on this issue now that it has acted so high-handedly and in such a patently political manner. As Marco Rubio, who is planning to sponsor some sort of DREAM Act, said today, by imposing a new policy by executive order, Obama has made it harder in the long run to reach consensus on “comprehensive policy,” i.e., one that gives illegal immigrants additional benefits and a path to citizenship.

The attraction of the action taken by Obama may have been that it would trump a possible Republican compromise on this topic. Now, suspicion has grown that amnesty and voting rights are the next step. The use of executive order for such a change in policy has been attacked as illegal.

So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices. That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.

Even Obama said the same a few months ago in explaining his then inaction. “I wish I could wave my magic wand,” Mr. Obama said. “Until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again… At the end of the day, I can’t do this all by myself. We’re going to have to get Congress to act. I know Nancy Pelosi’s ready to act. It’s time to stop playing politics.”

Well, playing politics is the order of the day and the Republicans should focus on the illegality of doing it by executive order and not on the policy, itself. With proper safeguards, the policy is a good idea although there may be backlash from semi-skilled unemployed who just got a million new competitors. Certainly the unemployment figures should now be adjusted for all the new legal job seekers.

The distraction of the Daily Caller reporter interrupting the president was an amusing sidelight. Had Obama demonstrated humor and a benign manner, it might have been a good moment for him. Instead, he showed anger and the incident will probably lead to more interruptions as it seems to be the only way to ask this president a question.

The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge- I

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Friday, August 2, 1923 was to be Coolidge’s last day of vacation at Plymouth Notch. He had posed for photographs for the small pool of reporters who covered his doings. They had shown him chopping away rot from a maple tree, wearing his suit pants and vest but bowing to the informality of the occasion by removing his suit coat. He had previously worn a woolen smock that had belonged to his grandfather for such chores but, recently, there had been accusations that it was a costume of some sort. He remarked that “In public life it is sometimes necessary in order to appear really natural to be actually artificial.”

The Coolidge family retired early. A telegram from San Francisco conveying the news of the president’s death reached reporters staying in a boarding house in Bridgewater, Vermont. They hastened the eight miles to Plymouth Notch and knocked on the door of John Coolidge’s house. He awakened his son who then dressed and came downstairs. He was informed in a telephone call from his father’s store to Secretary of State Hughes that the oath of office could be administered by a notary. Coolidge returned home and, at 2:47 am, his father administered the oath of office as president.

The nation’s newspapers carried drawings and painting of the scene the next day. It is still the only instance of a father administering the oath of office of president to his son and of a man taking the oath at home. The house was small and lacked indoor plumbing. It was typical of Coolidge in its lack of pretension and the image was a powerful one to begin his presidency. After the oath was administered, the Coolidges returned to bed, also typical. They arose at 6 am and began the trip back to Washington with a stop at his mother’s grave in a nearby cemetery. These symbols would stand him in good stead when the Harding scandals began to fill the newspapers in the months to come.

Harding’s body was returned to Washington on August 7 where he lay in state in the Capitol. Coolidge issued a proclamation for a day of national mourning and it was apparent that Harding was genuinely liked by the public. The funeral was in Marion, Ohio on August 10.

In 1923, the presidency was very different from what it became under Hoover and Roosevelt. Coolidge greeted White House visitors in person, the last president to do so. He had one secretary and no aides. His telephone was not on his desk but in a nearby booth and unused. He did not know how to drive a car. He had carefully cultivated his image, even to his famous lack of small talk. At a dinner party while vice-president, a woman next to him at the dinner table told him she had a bet with her husband that she could get him to say at least three words. His reply was, “You lose.”

Now, he was president. In 1924, he told William Allen White that “A lot of people in Plymouth can’t understand how I got to be president, least of all my father.” He added, “Now a lot of those people remember some interesting things that never happened.” White’s comment was that Coolidge never grinned after his jokes. This misled some people into thinking he was dumb. Rural Vermonters appreciated his wit but many of the intelligentsia did not. He did not suffer fools gladly, for one thing. Once, after a long and animated conversation with financier Bernard Baruch, he asked why Baruch was smiling. The financier replied, “Mr President, you are so different from what people say you are. Your smile indicates both amusement at that and interest — and I hope friendliness.” Baruch added, “Everybody says you never say anything.” “Well Baruch,” Coolidge replied, “many times I say only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to people. Even that is too much. It winds them up for twenty minutes or more.”

One of Coolidge’s most famous sayings was made to Hoover, who he disliked, on the latter’s ascension to the presidency in 1928. ” You have to stand every day three or four hours of visitors. Nine-tenths of them want something they ought not to have. If you keep dead still they will run down in three or four minutes. If you even cough or smile, they will start up all over again.” Will Rogers appreciated Coolidge’s dry wit. “Mr Coolidge had more subtle humor than almost any public man I ever met. I have often said I would like to have hidden in his desk somewhere and just heard the sly little digs that he pulled on various people that never got ‘em at all.”

Another story concerned his wife’s asking about the preacher’s sermon in church that morning. “What did he talk about.” His reply was concise. “Sin.” When asked for more detail, he replied, “He’s against it.” Someone told him the story one day and his reply was “It would be better if it were true.” Still, these stories indicated a warmth toward him that was widely held and that would serve him well. His son, Calvin, inherited the family wit and showed it one day when working at a summer job as a laborer. One of the other boys said, “Gee. If my father was the president , I wouldn’t be working here !” Calvin replied, “You would if your father were my father.”

Harding had held twice weekly press conferences and Coolidge assured the reporters that would continue. He held a total of 520 press conferences in the next five years. The questions were submitted in writing and he answered those he chose to. The answers were to be attributed to a “White House spokesman.” He was genuinely liked by reporters and commented on his excellent relations with the press in his Autobiography. He needed a secretary and was advised well by Congressional leaders to hire C. Bascom Slemp, a 53 year old former Congressman and master political strategist. Coolidge faced a difficult relationship with his Republican colleagues in the Senate. Harding had been one of them and was a friendly man; neither was true of Coolidge.

There was Frank Stearns, an old supporter from Massachusetts. Coolidge liked to have Stearns with him even though both might not say a word. He thought better when Stearns was there. One day, after an hour in which neither said a word, Stearns rose to leave and Coolidge said, “Stay a while longer.” Dwight Morrow, a friend from Amherst and now a partner at JP Morgan was another close friend. Murray Crain was gone but his assistant, William Butler, was there. He was RNC chair, with help from Coolidge, and, when Lodge died, Butler took his place in the Senate. House Speaker Gillett was the fourth of the “Massachusetts gang.” Aside from them, Coolidge had few friends.

Mellon and Hoover with Coolidge

He retained Harding’s cabinet although several left under a cloud by 1924. The last to leave was Hoover, to run for president in 1928. Coolidge respected but did not like Hoover, calling him “Wonder Boy.” His most trusted adviser was Treasury Secretary Mellon. At their first meeting, Mellon told the president he had come to resign. The president said, “Forget it.” Coolidge was the last president to write all his own speeches and they have stood up well over time. He was also the first to use radio in reaching out to the public. When asked for a theme of his administration, he answered “stability, confidence and reassurance.” We are currently seeing how important the lack of those qualities may be in economic recovery, or the lack of it. It is possible (more of this later in a summing up) that his decision to retire in 1928 may have led to the Great Depression as Hoover was an active progressive and Roosevelt followed his lead almost completely. The depression of 1920-21 was the last to be treated with Laissez Faire economics. The 1929 crash and depression might have been short as the country was already emerging in 1932 in spite of Hoover’s misguided policies. We will never know.

One area where Coolidge enjoyed the approbation of everyone was with his wife, Grace. She was witty, attractive and provided a useful contrast to her husband. Their two sons were also attractive and a positive aspect of his presidency although that was to be dashed during the summer of 1924. Coolidge had four months to prepare before he would be obliged to state his policies before Congress. Major problems included the war reparations issue which would eventually lead to the 1929 crash and much of which was out of his hands as Benjamin Strong and the other major central bank leaders were almost immune to political influence. The other members of this small club included the Bank of England director Montagu Norman, Bank of France director Emile Morceau, and Hjalmer Schacht of the Reichsbank. These men controlled world finance and tried to “sterilize” the reparations that France had insisted Germany pay for World War I. Strong was ill with tuberculosis and died in 1928, leaving the Federal Reserve in weak hands.

The Washington Naval Conference of 1923 was considered a success. It had major consequences as Japan was encouraged and England was damaged but Coolidge was a very determined disarmament advocate for fiscal reasons. He had little interest in foreign affairs although he was a mild supporter of the League of Nations and was not an isolationist as Hiram Johnson had been. Relations with Mexico had been poor since the 1911 Mexican revolution and Albert Fall had been expected to help with this but he chose to enrich himself instead. Ironically, the Teapot Dome scandal did eventually have some beneficial effects such as large capacity oil storage facilities in Pearl Harbor.

It also got a beautiful new library for my alma mater, the University of Southern California. Rufus von Kleinschmidt, president of the university, agreed to testify as a character witness for Harry Doheny, one of the principals in the Teapot Dome affair. Doheny donated a magnificent library that is still the center of the campus. It was donated in memory of his son, H L Doheny Jr and the date of his death is given as 1921. Many still probably assume that he was wounded in the war and died of his wounds but, in fact, he was shot by his mistress.

Coolidge’s first address to Congress as president took place on December 6, 1923. He presented a list of requests that continued Harding policies. Immigration was to be restricted for the first time. Railroads needed investment. Highways were to be funded although the states were expected to do much of this. He included other issues, such as civil service reforms and military and naval increases. Harding had been a great Navy president and Coolidge continued almost all his policies. He declined suggestions to cancel foreign debts, they would be canceled eventually anyway in the Depression. He differed a bit from Harding in his enthusiastic support for civil rights for “colored people” and advocated funding for black doctors and colleges. He opposed support for crop prices, which would become a major issue the rest of his presidency. His State of the Union address was the first to be broadcast to the American public. It was well received. The next night, at the annual Gridiron Dinner, he announced that he was a candidate for 1924.

His most important recommendation was for a reduction in the income tax rates, possibly one reason why Ronald Reagan was so fond of him. Wilson had raised income tax rates during the war to very high levels. The federal income tax had only been introduced in 1913. In 1914, only 360,000 tax payers had paid any tax at all. The Progressives who had been behind the constitutional amendment had seen it as a redistributionist measure and expected that only the rich would pay taxes. However, in 1917, Congress passed a surtax as a war measure that affected anyone with more than a $6,000 income. At $100,000 income, the tax was 25%. After the war, the surtax remained in place bringing in $1.3 billion in 1919 and over $1 billion in 1920, years of severe recession, if not depression. In 1920, the top bracket was 70% and while everyone talked about tax cuts, nobody seemed to do anything about it until Harding took office.

Coolidge had to convince a reluctant Congress about tax cuts. The Simmons-Longworth Bill, the best he could get, cut maximum surtax rates to 40% but raised the estate tax and added a gift tax. He wanted to return to pre-war rates but it was a hard fight. There is nothing new under the sun, least of all Congressional spending. The Coolidges worked on building friendships and entertained more than the Hardings had. One issue that was divisive was Prohibition. It was a Progressive initiative and Gifford Pinchot, a Progressive governor of Pennsylvania and passionate Prohibitionist complained that Coolidge was a weak supporter. The conventional wisdom has come down to us that Prohibition was a cause supported by blue nose Republicans. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pinchot supporters encouraged him to run against Coolidge in the 1924 primaries. They noted that brewery interests had supported Coolidge in Massachusetts. PInchot had already clashed with Coolidge when he asked him to intervene in a coal strike in Pennsylvania. Coolidge declined.

In October, 1923, the Tea Pot Dome scandal began to surface. Coolidge was under suspicion for a while as he had been present at many cabinet meetings where decisions were made. Eventually, he was shown to be clear of any involvement and his reputation as incorruptible kept him out of the scandal. Senator Thomas J Walsh of Montana, a Democrat and maverick, had been leading the investigation. Coolidge then took charge of the investigation, outflanking Walsh by appointing a special counsel. In fact, he appointed two, a Democrat and a Republican. This act took much of the partisan steam out of the scandal and it did not affect the 1924 election.

Harry Daugherty was the next Tea Pot Dome figure to come under scrutiny. He had been Harding’s campaign mastermind but he had no relationship with Coolidge. However, the austere Coolidge resisted efforts to dismiss Daugherty. He said “I will not remove the Attorney General, for two reasons. First, it is a sound rule that when the president dies in office, it is the duty of his successor for the remainder of that term to maintain the counselors and policies of the deceased president. Second, I ask you if there is any man in the cabinet for whom- were he still living- President Harding would more surely demand his day in court?

Tremendous pressure was brought to bear on Coolidge. One evening, February 18, 1924, William Borah, a powerful member of the Senate, was urging the president to request Daugherty’s resignation. As he talked, Daugherty walked into the room. Coolidge had arranged a mano a mano. The next day Burton K Wheeler (who was to incur my father’s bitter enmity by his isolationist antics in 1940), a freshman Democratic Senator from Montana, introduced a resolution calling for an investigation of Daugherty’s Justice Department. It was all based on innuendo. Recent investigation of the entire scandal has suggested that Daugherty, while appearances were not good, bore little responsibility for the crimes committed by some of his associates. In fact, some (including Coolidge’s biographer Robert Sobel) have concluded that the real target was Coolidge. He was well liked by the public but had little support within the GOP, especially the bosses.

Coolidge stood firm and many of the attacks on him by Democrats backfired. On February 29, the Democrats called upon him to release the tax records of Doheny, Fall and Sinclair. He refused noting this was prohibited by law. Slemp, his secretary, appeared before Congress as a witness and was questioned about telegrams he had seen. Nothing of consequence resulted. Burton K Wheeler then accused Daugherty of criminal activities. Daugherty retaliated with an accusation that Wheeler, a Democrat, was involved with the Industrial Workers of the World, the “Wobblies,” a radical socialist group. Eventually, the entire matter deteriorated into a series of accusations directed at each side. Daugherty refused to provide Justice Department records to the Senate committee and, eventually, this provided Coolidge with a justification to request his resignation and end the controversy.

For Daugherty’s replacement, Coolidge chose an Amherst alumnus (naturally), named Harlan Fisk Stone, former Dean of Columbia Law School and a distinguished judge. To replace Denby, Borah suggested Curtis Wilbur, an Annapolis graduate and Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. Both were outstanding nominations and they were quickly confirmed. First, Coolidge had to ease Daugherty out and he asked Chief Justice Taft, with whom he had a close relationship, to bring Daugherty around to reality. Coolidge replied to Daugherty’s protests with ” I am not questioning your fairness or integrity. I am merely reciting the fact that you are placed in two positions; one is your personal interest, the other your office of attorney general, which may be in conflict. How can I satisfy a request for action in matters of this nature on the grounds that you, as attorney general, advise against it, when you are the individual against whom the inquiry is directed necessarily have a personal interest in it?” Daugherty protested but resigned the next day.

Harlan Stone was easily confirmed as Attorney General and the entire matter faded from public view, especially after Senator Wheeler was himself indicted on a bribery charge. He was eventually exonerated but the public lost interest in the committee and the scandal. The only people actually tried were Fall, Doheny and Sinclair. Later, after the matter had faded from the press, Wheeler and Walsh had occasion to meet with the president to plead for a road project in Montana. He listened to their presentation then commented dryly, “Well, I don’t want to see any scandal about it.” Wheeler told the story on himself

The entire matter had left Coolidge a popular president with the country but not in Washington. The politicians had not wanted him on the ticket in 1920 and they did not want him in 1924. His legislative agenda, some thirty recommended pieces of legislation, was defunct with only one item passed. That was a minor bill reorganizing the diplomatic service. The Soldiers’ Bonus Bill passed both houses of Congress and was vetoed by Coolidge as it would be by Roosevelt. It passed over his veto in the form of a paid up insurance plan which cost the government $2 billion. Coolidge signed the immigration bill with reluctance because it singled out Japanese immigrants for a total ban. This would have repercussions later in foreign policy with Japan. Newspapers commented on the record of Congress ignoring Coolidge’s agenda in legislation. However, the public was behind Coolidge. The 1924 election was coming quickly.

This is becoming too long for a single post and will be continued this weekend.