“Traitors and Secessionists”

How Republican reaction to wartime dissent stoked tensions and almost led to violent revolution in Illinois.

During the American Civil War, intense disagreement over the conduct of the war erupted in Illinois. Republicans, members of the party that elected President Abraham Lincoln, supported the war, while members of the Democratic Party split between pro-war and pro-peace factions. In 1862, two issues inflamed the peace faction: the military draft and emancipation of slaves. Republicans conflated opposition to these issues with disloyalty and sympathy for the Southern Confederacy.

Though Illinois was a free state, many Illinoisans opposed political equality for African Americans and didn’t want freed black slaves moving north. After President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, Illinoisans let their opposition known when they returned a Democratic dominated legislature in the midterm elections that November.

Republicans in Illinois did not lie prostrate as the Democratic-controlled legislature attempted to pass resolutions calling for an armistice, legislation that hindered use of the state militia, and obstructed the draft. On the last day the legislature sat in session before its spring recess, in February 1863, a Senator and farmer from McLean County in central Illinois, Isaac Funk, delivered a widely published speech condemning the Democrats for their obstructionism.

“I say that there are traitors and secessionists at heart in this Senate!” he shouted. “Their actions prove it. Their speeches prove it… I can sit here no longer and not tell these traitors what I think of them… I am willing to pay my whole fortune, and then give my life, to save my country from these traitors that are seeking to destroy it.”

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GOP Only Has Itself to Blame for Electoral Defeats

The Republican Party squandered its 2016 majority and failed to make a compelling case to voters.

Results are in for local elections in Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi, and the trend is not looking good for Republicans. Democrats continue to make gains after the “blue wave” last year, and took control of the Virginia Senate and House for the first time in more than two decades. In one northern Virginia race, a candidate openly calling himself a Democratic Socialist won a seat in the Virginia Assembly.

Back in 2016 and 2017, Democrats were dismayed as it looked like they couldn’t win any important races. Republicans and conservatives controlled every branch of the Federal Government, but failed to accomplish even their most basic campaign promise of repealing Obamacare. We got one tax cut, which while nice, hardly makes up for squandering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who blames everyone and everything but herself for losing to Donald Trump in 2016, Republicans should look inward and re-evaluate their messaging and electoral strategy. Politics is a game of addition, not subtraction. Republicans and conservatives are constantly harping on how radical and out of touch Democrats are–but then why are the Democrats winning?

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Trump Support Led to Show’s Cancellation: Roseanne

ABC execs fired Roseanne and canceled her comeback because they were afraid she would humanize Trump voters, she recently told Joe Rogan.

A few days ago, actress and comedian Roseanne Barr appeared on episode #1359 of The Joe Rogan Experience. Amidst an often incoherent and meandering interview, Roseanne and Rogan had an insightful exchange regarding the canceling of the popular continuation of her sitcom Roseanne in March of last year.

Roseanne, in which she played the titular character, Roseanne Conner, originally aired on ABC from 1988 to 1997. Roseanne was a sharp, take-no-prisoners working class mother who appealed to a wide audience in Middle America. The show’s realistic portrayal of blue collar life won a legion of fans, and when it returned to TV in 2018, its two-part premier drew over 25 million viewers. There was only one problem, Roseanne Barr was an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, and so was her character on the show.

Roseanne, who has publicly struggled with mental illness and substance abuse her entire adult life, is no conservative. She grew up with gay siblings, and was one of the first television personalities to feature openly gay characters on her show. She was a member of the Green Party, and in 2012 ran for President as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. Founded in 1967, the Peace and Freedom Party is dedicated to “feminism, socialism, democracy, ecology, and racial equality.”

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A Confrontation in Paris

How an effort to shut down a newspaper in Edgar County, Illinois led to one of the Civil War’s most violent home front riots.

In February 1864, the raging gunfire of the American Civil War echoed far from Edgar County, Illinois, yet the conflict seemed fearfully close to home. In the small east-central Illinois town of Paris, elements of the 12th and 66th Illinois Volunteer Regiments were on leave, visiting friends and relatives. “In a social way everything had been done to make their visit a pleasant one,” wrote the local Daily Beacon News, but not everyone welcomed the presence of the soldiers.[1]

Democrats opposed to the war and to the policies of the Lincoln Administration, known as copperheads by their critics, were afraid furloughed volunteers would force them to take loyalty oaths or attempt to shut down the newspaper office of the Paris Times, a Democratic periodical.

Earlier that month, Union soldiers had paid a visit to Amos Green, editor of the Times (and a “Jeff Davis patriot” according to some), after locals in the nearby town of Kansas had reported that between 100 and 150 armed “butternuts” were converging on Paris on his orders.[2] Under the watchful eyes of the soldiers, Green swore an oath and pledged a sum of money to prove his loyalty.

In the middle of February, a soldier named Milton York, scion of a local family known for its abolitionism and its support for the Republican Party, shot and seriously wounded an outspoken copperhead named Cooper. According to one account, the sheriff of Edgar County, William S. O’Hair, attempted to arrest the soldier, but one of York’s compatriots prevented him at the barrel of a rifle from doing so. According to the Mattoon Independent Gazette, York was eventually arrested, but the court released him on a technicality and he rejoined his regiment.[3]

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Mattis Scolds America

Jim Mattis’ restrained criticism of President Trump, and American politics generally, is more devastating than a hundred MSNBC polemics.

President Donald Trump has had a rough week. The top story this weekend was the departure of his longtime executive assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, after she revealed personal details about the President’s family to the press. Then there was his spat with FOX News, which employs Trump allies like Sean Hannity and reports from a center-right perspective but also doesn’t shy away from criticism.

Neil Cavuto excoriated him, saying, “First of all, Mr. President, we don’t work for you. I don’t work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you. Call balls and strikes on you. My job, Mr. President, our job here, is to keep the scores, not settle scores.”

But for me, the most devastating criticism Trump faced was from his former Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis. Mattis resigned in December 2018 over a disagreement about troop withdrawals from Syria. He’s also releasing a new book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, which while critical of Trump’s foreign policy and leadership style, apparently isn’t openly critical enough for the left.

One Vanity Fair headline even read “Mattis Says He Loves America Too Much to Call Trump a Moron”. Sorry, Vanity Fair, not everyone is a partisan hack who views everything as a political litmus test.

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Fact-Checking POLITIFACT

The political fact-checking website can’t help giving a boost to Bernie Sanders

I often read websites like POLITIFACT, Snopes, and FactCheck.org to help sort through the news and lend a more critical eye to what I read on the Internet. After all, every news site is loaded with bias and misrepresentation these days. So I was surprised when I read this article at POLITIFACT rating a recent statement by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as “Mostly True”. The POLITIFACT writers couldn’t help doing their own editorializing to give a boost to the candidate.

Sanders’ statement concerned the gap in average life expectancy in McDowell County, West Virginia vs Fairfax County, Virginia, implying the disparity in wealth was to blame for the disparity in health. In a speech at George Washington University on June 12, he said:

“In 2014, for example, in McDowell County, W.Va., one of the poorest counties in the nation, life expectancy for men was 64 years. In Fairfax County, Va., a wealthy county, just 350 miles away, life expectancy was nearly 82 years, an 18-year differential. The life expectancy gap for women in the two counties was 12 years.”

Bernie Sanders at George Washington University

POLITIFACT pointed out that the two counties were on opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to income. McDowell County has a median household income of $25,595 and Fairfax County has a median household income of $117,515. The median household income is the point at which half of households earn less than that amount and half earn more.

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The Equal Rights Amendment is Dead, Stop Pretending it Isn’t

Media activists continue pushing the myth that passage of the Equal Rights Amendment is right around the corner. The deadline expired in 1982.

Last year, Illinois symbolically voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), what would have been the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution if it hadn’t expired without the required support of 38 states. Sunday, on his show Last Week Tonight, comedian [?] John Oliver begged his audience in thirteen states where ratification failed to reverse their states’ decisions.

“Any of these 13 states has a huge chance to change how history views them forever,” he said.

In 1972, Congress passed the ERA and sent it to the states for ratification with an initial deadline of March 22, 1979. Constitutional amendments require ratification by three-fourths of the states. When the deadline approached without the required number of states, Congress extended it to 1982.

Supporters of the ERA argue that only one more state is needed to ratify the amendment and enshrine it into the U.S. Constitution, but this is wishful thinking and not supported by facts. Five states that initially voted to ratify the ERA later rescinded their ratification prior to the deadline, which expired on June 30, 1982–nearly 37 years ago.

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