Category Archives: Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEWS: “Upstairs at the White House” and “Backstairs at the White House”

Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West (1973), Warner Books
My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House by Lillian Rogers Parks (1961), Fleet Publishing
Reviewed by Gregory Hilton
Margaret (Maggie) Rogers could not afford a babysitter so she often took her daughter to work. She was a maid and her daughter Lillian would follow her from room to room as she did her daily cleaning. One afternoon she was told to turn down the bed in the master bedroom. As soon as Mrs. Rogers finished, she was summoned to help the lady of the house with a dress fitting. Lillian, 9, was told to stay behind in the bedroom. Continue reading

Social Security and Reflections on the Power Town by Gregory Hilton

"Bad Boy: The Life And Politics Of Lee Atwater" by John Brady, DeCapo Press, 352 pages.

Why is Reform So Difficult?
New York is the nation’s financial capital and Los Angeles has the entertainment industry, but Washington, D.C. is the Power Town. Over the past three decades I have been fortunate to know some of the key players. I admire all of them, and they are intelligent, hard working and have good intentions. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: The Oil Crisis of 1973-1974 by Karen R. Merrill, Ph.D., St. Martin’s (2007), 192 pages

Reviewed by Gregory Hilton
1973 was not a good year for America’s prestige and psyche. Problems involving Vietnam, Watergate and inflation were looming, but the most significant long term obstacle is described in The Oil Crisis of 1973-1974 by Karen R. Merrill. A key turning point occurred 37 years ago today when President Richard Nixon signed legislation which would dominate political debate for the next 8 years. Continue reading

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner: Their $267,000 First Date by Gregory Hilton

1949: The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles.

Movie actress Ava Gardner, one of the most beautiful women of the 1940’s and ’50s, was associated with many famous men. According to Time magazine, she was the most photographed woman in the world during the World War II era. She was 5′ 6″, a size zero, and had an 18 inch waist, 36-18-36. Gardner never won an Academy Award but the American Film Institute lists her as one of the top 25 greatest stars of all time.
Her best known films are Show Boat, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Barefoot Contessa, The Sun Also Rises, On The Beach, Seven Days in May, The Night of the Iguana and Mogambo, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Continue reading

“Decision Points” By George W. Bush

Former President George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points will be released tomorrow, and for the first time in two years he is returning to the public arena. The verdict of history is already pointing toward his vindication, and he is now ahead of President Obama in several opinion polls. There is a disappointing conversation now being held at Politico on the topic “Will Bush’s Memoir Change Any Minds? The radical left and libertarians are repeating their usual lies, and several conservatives are doing a poor job of defending the Bush legacy. This is what they should be saying. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: “40 More Years: How Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation” by James Carville, Simon & Schuster, 209 pages

Review by Gregory Hilton
40 More Years: How Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation was published on May 4, 2009, and the author was the architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory. James Carville never imagined that six months after publication Democrats would lose governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, and were on the way to turning over Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Continue reading

The Path to Power: Two Young Authors Outline a GOP Comeback by Gregory Hilton

Young voters do deserve special thanks from the President. They gave him the margin he needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries and caucuses, and in the general election Generation Y gave him a staggering 66% to 32% margin. If McCain had won 52% of the youth vote he would be in the White House today. The President’s approval ratings have fallen significantly in all age groups, but the drop among young voters has been the sharpest for any age demographic.

BOOK REVIEWS: Generation Right: The Young Conservative in the Age of Obama (2010) by Dan Joseph, Xlibris, 186 pages; and Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation by Jason Mattera (2010), Threshold, 288 pages. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: “The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory”

The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory, by David Plouffe, Viking, 390 pages, reviewed by Gregory Hilton

President Obama’s popularity has plummeted, and Democrats are now headed for a significant setback in the 2010 midterm election. Survey data already has the President losing a hypothetical 2012 re-election campaign to former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA). Continue reading

We Could Use a Man Like Uncle Joe Again: Speaker Cannon Would Have Been Popular This Year by Gregory Hilton

Inauguration Day, March 4, 1921. President Woodrow Wilson leaves the White House for the last time with Senator Warren Harding (R-OH), Rep. Joe Cannon (R-IL) and Senator Philander Knox (R-PA). Cannon was 84, but would outlive both Presidents Wilson and Harding.

Rep. Joseph Cannon (R-IL) was a vigorous foe of government spending, taxes, deficits and liberal legislation. He certainly would have approved of today’s Tea Party movement. Both his critics and admirers referred to him as Uncle Joe, which was the title of his autobiography. He was the most powerful Speaker in the history of the House of Representatives, and held that office from 1903 until 1911.
At the same time he served as Chairman of the Rules Committee. Legislation approved in committees would never make to the House floor if Cannon was opposed. If a bill included new spending measures, Uncle Joe’s opposition was often automatic.
The seniority system was not used in those days, and the Speaker was also able to control legislation by appointing all committee chairmen and members. Leaders of the so-called progressive era said they were consistently thwarted by “Cannonism,” which meant Congressional intransigence.
Uncle Joe was first elected in 1872 and served on Capitol Hill for 48 years. It was a record which remained unbroken until 1958. Despite his years of service, he only introduced one bill and it was a minor matter concerning post offices in 1874. He told one opponent, “The country does not need any legislation.”
Cannon was Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee for eight years. He explained his job by saying: “You may think my work is to make appropriations, but it is not. It is to prevent them from being made.”

  • For six years the Speaker was successful in stopping passage of personal, corporate and inheritance taxes. He said income taxes were unnecessary because the government had sufficient revenues from tariffs. Democrats and liberal Republicans were in favor of a 2% income tax, but Cannon questioned how long that rate would stay in effect.
    The Senate enacted the income tax several times, but the Speaker was always able to defeat it until his last term. His effort to amend the income tax so it would expire after two years was not successful. Despite his opposition, the House passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution establishing an income tax on July 12, 1909, and it bears Cannon’s signature.
  • Cannon always battled liberal Republicans, and referred to himself as a staunch conservative. He said President Theodore Roosevelt, a fellow Republican but a progressive, had “no more use for the Constitution than a tomcat has for a marriage license.”
  • On April 6, 1917, the House of Representatives debated a resolution to declare war on Germany. The Constitution had not yet been amended to grant women the right to vote, but several states had already done so. Freshman Rep. Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) remained silent throughout the roll call on America’s entry into World War I, and was planning not to vote.
    The clerk was calling the roll for the final time when former Speaker Cannon appeared at her side and said, “You represent the women of the country in the American Congress. I shall not advise you how to vote, but you should vote one way or another.”
    Rankin made up her mind and was one of 50 lawmakers to vote no. She was defeated in the next election and did not return to the House for 22 years. On December 8, 1941, she became the only lawmaker to vote against World War II, and was promptly defeated once again.
  • In 1923, the year Cannon left the House, Time magazine put him on the cover of its first issue. Cannon had been chairman of the committee whose work resulted in construction of the first office building for lawmakers. It opened in 1908, and in 1962 it was renamed the Cannon House Office Building.

The former Speaker died at the age of 90 in 1926, and if you want to learn more see Tyrant From Illinois: Uncle Joe Cannon’s Experiment With Personal Power by Blair Bolles (1951), or his autobiography, Uncle Joe Cannon, (1927).

The Libertarian Attack on Abraham Lincoln by Gregory Hilton

PHOTO: According to the Claremont Institute, “The book is a compendium of misquotations, out-of-context quotations, and wrongly attributed quotations — one howler after another, yet none of it funny.”

BOOK REVIEWS: Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe, Crown, 224 pages, 2006 and The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, Prima, 272 pages, 2002. Both books by Thomas J. Lorenzo, a senior faculty member at the libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Just when you think the Libertarian Party could not stoop any lower, they take another major swing at a great American icon. Libertarians always blame America first for any evil in the world, and now their target is the man historians rank as our finest president, Abraham Lincoln. They claim Lincoln “destroyed the Founders’ vision of our Republic.” Libertarian Bruce Koerber of Cedar Rapids, Iowa calls Lincoln “an ego-driven interventionist.”
The Libertarians are promoting both of the above books. The title of an article on the “Daily Ron Paul Liberty Forum” refers to the late President as “our first dictator,” and notes:

Lincoln was a ruthless dictator of the most contemptible sort. A conniving and manipulative man, and a scoundrel at heart, he was nowhere near what old guard historians would have us believe. This beast ruled the country by presidential decree, exercised dictatorial powers over a free people, and proceeded to wage war without a declaration from Congress. . . Lincoln was a consummate con man, manipulator, and a State-serving miscreant.

Attacks on Lincoln are a standard part of the stump speech of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the former Libertarian Party candidate for president. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, the author of both books, describes the 16th President as a “corrupt and brutal tyrant who micromanaged the murder of thousands of innocent civilians.”
He accuses the 16th President of “orchestrating the murder of some 350,000 fellow American citizens.” Because of Lincoln, DiLorenzo says “America was on the road to becoming just another corrupt, mercantilist empire like the British and Spanish empires. . . It was not to end slavery that Lincoln initiated an invasion of the South.”
In his 2002 attack on Lincoln, DiLorenzo writes:

“A war was not necessary to free the slaves, but it was necessary to destroy the most significant check on the powers of the central government: the right of secession. . . The idea of equality was a sheer absurdity” to Lincoln. “The real purpose of the war was to end once and for all the ability of American citizens to control the federal government by possessing the powers given to them by the Tenth Amendment, including the power of nullifying unconstitutional federal laws, and secession or the threat of secession.”

The libertarian attack on Lincoln needs to be answered because it is being repeated by many so-called “constitutional conservatives” and members of the tea party movement. They are now claiming the Civil War was not fought over slavery.
They instead maintain the war was about tariffs and imposing a powerful central government. DiLorenzo says the South was “invaded,” even though the South began the war with its attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.
DiLorenzo and his libertarian allies believe slavery has gotten a bad rap. They claim slaves were treated fairly and segregation should have been left alone. The libertarians are especially critical of Eric Foner, a professor of history at Columbia University and the author of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. Foner responded to their comments by noting:

I consider them cranks. Their views on the Civil War era, reconstruction and slavery are not in tune with modern scholarship. They live in their own little world with their own little ideas.

Many of DiLorenzo’s appearance have been coordinated by the Libertarian’s main action arm, the Campaign for Liberty, as well as other libertarian groups. He was a featured speaker at the Libertarian forum during the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference.
The forum was entitled “Lincoln on Liberty: Friend or Foe?” The libertarian answer was to label Lincoln a firm foe of liberty, and DiLorenzo was enthusiastically cheered by the mostly college age audience.
As previously indicated, Ron Paul, the once and future Libertarian Party presidential candidate, often denounces Lincoln. In an appearance on “Meet the Press” in 2007, Paul said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was about taking over property rights and it had nothing to do with race relations. He said Ronald Reagan was a “failure” because he didn’t bring down the federal government to “constitutional levels.” The Texas lawmaker then went on say:

Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. Every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn’t sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.

DiLorenzo and Paul both try to make Abraham Lincoln appear to be a racist. Fortunately, Lincoln has left us hundreds of pages of his writings and speeches. He saw slavery as a form of tyranny and condemned it over and over again. He believed it was an unequivocal moral evil. The libertarans simply ignore the evidence.
The turning point in Lincoln’s life was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed slavery to spread into the territories. Upon its passage Lincoln said, “This covert zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it for the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.”
Lincoln repeatedly made references to the Declaration of Independence and its principle, that “All men are created equal”. This equality clause was a central focus of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which were reprinted as a best seller in 1859.
That same year Lincoln said “The Republican principle — the unalterable principle, never to be lost sight of — is that slavery is wrong.” Near the end of his life, Lincoln was in favor of giving blacks full voting rights.
Lincoln was a product of the 19th century and he made statements which did not reflect perfect treatment in all social situations. However, to claim those statements negate his work for racial justice is a terrible misrepresentation of Lincoln’s struggle. It must also be noted that Lincoln’s views changed, and his commitment to racial equality grew stronger with the passing years.
DiLorenzo tries to prove that Lincoln did not care about the slaves because of this famous statement:
“My paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it. . . . What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps save the Union.” Lincoln was especially careful in the choice of his words. He did not say his “sole objective” was to save the Union, he instead referred to a “paramount objective.”
Were The Confederates Advocates of Small Government?
Another outrageous claim by the libertarians is to portray the Confederate States of America (CSA) as opponents of big government. The CSA definitely wanted a huge government which would permanently enslave the three million blacks living in the south. They wanted a government which would control every aspect of a slaves life.
According to Joshua Felipe, the CSA wanted to:

Control every single moment of a slaves life, every minute of their day; it would tell them where to go, what to wear, where to sleep, when to work, when to eat, what to eat, when to speak, when to be silent. This is probably the biggest form of government that human beings have ever invented in the whole of history.
I vigorously support Abraham Lincoln’s federal takeover of the southern states, and his highly commendable commitment to human rights. Lincoln viewed secession as an attempt to expand slavery. The Confederacy was based on the glorification of inequality and tyranny. The southern leaders clearly spelled out their views. Their motivation was not to be left alone, it was to enshrine slavery. CSA President Jefferson Davis said all black people are “not fit to govern themselves,” and they should be treated in a manner similar to ‘lunatics, criminals and children.'”