Perfect Party Gift – “Pilgrims To Patriots”


The perfect party gift – my book, Pilgrims To Patriots, A Grandfather Tells The Story!  Instead of a bottle of wine, why not give Pilgrims To Patriots to your host or hostess at the next party?   Click here while you’re thinking about it:  direct from the publisher or on Amazon

The Nam Legacy and the Liberalization of American Universities

How did our universities get so liberal? Some say 90% of faculties and more are Left Wing.

At one time, U.S. university faculties had their share of conservatives and moderates to go along with the liberals. And, there was a diversity of thought and a tolerance for the other side.

Enter the 1960’s and the War in Viet Nam. Back then, you could get a deferment from the Draft as long as you were in college.  Most young men who were opposed to the War happily went to college or stayed as long as they could in order to avoid military service.

As the War dragged on, those with deferments finished their undergraduate years and, once again, faced the Draft. Those still opposed to the War found a way out. The Draft regulations made doctoral degree study eligible for deferment, too. So, Draft avoiders applied to PhD programs, and universities, not wanting to consign them to possible death on the battlefield, accepted them with sometimes less than doctorate-worthy credentials.

Six years later, these schools began turning out PhDs in great numbers, many of whom (being draft avoiders) were far left thinkers. Chiswick, Larsen and Pieper (IZA, 2010) found that in 1972 alone, an additional 4,000 PhDs (12% increase) can be attributed to the War (in contrast, the Korean War resulted in a decrease of 2,700 PhDs – suggesting greater patriotism of college-age men of the time).

Then, those newly-minted PhDs needed jobs. Many shunned the corporate world and that left only one place for them – university faculties. The problem was that there were too few jobs at the best schools, so these newcomers took what jobs they could get in lesser known universities and state and community colleges throughout the country. And, they began to teach their liberal slant to students everywhere.

Young liberal professors formed increasing faculty majorities. They gained power as they were promoted to the highest ranks. It should not be surprising that they put together liberal courses and hired and promoted their own kind, thereby completing a “vicious circle” of left wing indoctrination.

Today, that first wave of liberal faculty is retiring. One might think that their impact on student attitudes is retiring with them, except that they have now instilled their leftist attitudes in the next generation of professors.

Whether or not the Left is successful in maintaining its stranglehold on American universities will likely be determined in the social struggles between government control and free market solutions. What is not in question is the legacy of draft deferment policy and the War in Viet Nam in growing and consolidating liberal social policy through higher education.


Roses In Early America

Some time ago, Mr.Stephen Scanniello, President of the Heritage Rose Foundation, made a presentation to the Connecticut Rose Society describing his efforts to re-introduce the roses of history to New York City by planting surviving varieties throughout Manhattan.  In the course of his talk, he recounted how Alexander Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth had included roses in the landscaping of their estate, The Grange, in upper Harlem around 1802.

That got me to thinking – we know that roses go back long before that in the rest of the world, but what about in the New World? As a student of early American history and author of two books on our nation’s founding, I was well aware of Hamilton, his wife Elizabeth and The Grange, but I did not know about their incorporation of roses into their landscape.  So, I did a little research.  Here is what I learned.

Roses have been grown in North America for longer than most of us imagine.  When the Jamestown settlers first landed on a Virginia beach, the Native Americans were already beautifying their villages with roses.  Captain John Smith reported seeing roses all around the Powhatan camps in his journal.  He did not report the varieties, their origins or whether they were used for medicinal or culinary purposes (perhaps he did not know), but going back at least to 1606 seems like heritage enough.

The Pilgrims planted roses at Plymouth Plantation starting in 1621. Their first governor, John Carver, reported in his journal that they planted “reds, whites and damasks.”  He did not say where they got the plants and there is no mention of roses on the bill of lading for the Mayflower.  We can only surmise that, knowing what we know about the Powhatan roses, the Pilgrims might have gotten them from the surrounding Native American tribes.

In 1699, on his return voyage from London, William Penn, founder of the Pennsylvania colony, brought “18 rose bushes.”  In addition to growing them on his property, he must have propagated them, because, starting in 1731 he used them in lieu of cash for payments of rent on land parcels he was occupying.  So, we know that they were held in high value in the colonies.  Being something of a botanist, Penn also made reference to them for their “beauty and medicinal properties” in his Book of Physics.

Benjamin Franklin, the earliest of the six major Founding Fathers (I call them “The Super Six” in my book, Pilgrims To Patriots) was renowned in the western world as a ground breaking scientist.  He proved that lightning is electricity.  He invented batteries, the wood stove and bifocal glasses.  You would think that he might have dabbled in the most popular plant of the day – the rose.  He did not.  At least, there is no evidence of it in his writings or records.

Neither did another of the Super Six – James Madison.  But, we can forgive him since he was fragile and sickly his whole life, despite having outlived all the rest, to the age of 85.  Nonetheless, with an estate of hundreds of acres in which he took great pride, it is hard to imagine that he did not have them, especially since his friends did, especially Thomas Jefferson.

We know Thomas Jefferson to have been a plantsman, botanist, farmer, and landscape designer.  His papers are replete with references to his growing of Gallica’s, “Sweetbriars” (likely what we know as Eglantines), and wild roses of unnamed varieties.

Jefferson placed an order with the William Prince Nursery of Flushing Landing, New York in 1791, as follows:  “Two ‘Roses of the Month’ (!!! Yes, the merchants of the day conducted marketing campaigns very much like ours!) – ‘Old Blush’, two China roses, and two Musks, ‘r. Moschata’.”  Not only do his papers contain the original of this order, but also the receipt, signed by him.

In a November 1, 1816 journal entry, Jefferson reported his planting of roses at his getaway retreat, Poplar Forest, thus:  “…(I) planted large roses of difft. kinds in the oval bed in the N. front, dwarf roses in the N.E. oval…”  There is no doubt that Jefferson was an avid rose grower, if not rosarian.

Nor can there be doubt about John Adams’ affinity for roses.  While there is no mention in his or Abigail’s papers of his growing roses on his various personal properties, we know that he ordered the first planting of roses on White House grounds in 1800.  So, despite claims that Ellen Wilson established the White House Rose Garden in 1913, or that maybe Edith Roosevelt did in 1902, it turns out that John Adams beat them to it by at least 100 years.

Was Steve Scanniello correct when he reported that Eliza Hamilton planted roses at The Grange?  He sure was.  From Alexander’s papers, we know that he was captivated by landscaping.  In planning for the construction of The Grange, Alexander sought direction from agricultural expert Richard Peters, from Thomas Jefferson himself, and from Dr. David Hosack, a professor of botany at Columbia College and founder of the botanical garden there.

Alexander visited the botanical garden frequently and got advice from Hosack on his landscape plan.  This culminated in Alexander’s specific directions for Eliza’s installation that included the front rotunda:  “…the space should be planted with wild roses…”  He didn’t specify the varieties, leaving that to Eliza, but we know from the pride he showed in the finished estate in 1802 that she chose and positioned them wisely.

That leaves the last of my Super Six, George Washington.  As with other aspects of his life, he is credited with much, but some must be assessed with what they call in the Navy “a weather eye.”

The history books report that Washington bred roses.  The most prominent reference is to the “Mary Washington” – a double, repeating white/near white/white blend Noisette that he is said to have named after his mother.  Here’s the problem:  George died in 1799; the Noisette is reported to have been first hybridized in 1810 (by John Champney of South Carolina).  Did Washington create a rose of another class that history now assigns to him as a Noisette?  Or, has a myth “grown” up around Washington’s obvious love of roses as a simple gardener?  You be the judge.  In any event, “Mary Washington” can still be bought as a direct descendant of that original plant with those same qualities, whoever bred it.

The beloved genus rosa, has been around a long time, longer in other parts of the world than in ours, but the history of the rose on our continent goes back plenty far – back into the dim recesses of Native American history, perhaps before Europeans arrived.  We may never know whether the rose made its way over the Bering Straits with the earliest peoples, or if it first came from the East over the Atlantic.  But, we do know that those who populated the New World treasured it from the beginning for its beauty, its medicinal and culinary qualities, and its toughness.  And, we are indebted to them for it.

Alex grows what roses he can in his shaded garden and is a Board member of the Connecticut Rose Society. He is the author of Pilgrims To Patriots, A Grandfather Tells The Story, and American Amazons: Colonial Women Who Changed History, both available from Amazon in print and ebook formats.

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington


If your health insurance is subsidized under Obamacare, READ THIS!

Under Section 2002 and Regulations, if your earnings go over the Obamacare limit in any year, BY EVEN ONE DOLLAR, you will have to pay back the entire amount of the subsidy. Not just the subsidy that was paid after you went over the limit, but the amount of the subsidy for the ENTIRE year.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that your income is $50,000 and your income limit is $60,000 in order to get a subsidy. And, let’s say that your subsidy is $10,000 per year. Then, in September, things get busy at work and you start getting tons of overtime, right through Christmas. Great, you say. You can use the extra money.

Except, on December 29, your income goes to $60,001. You are then no longer eligible for a subsidy. YOU OWE OBAMACARE $10,000 and the IRS will be collecting.

What can you do? Nothing – it’s too late. You’ll have to pay.

What can you do this year? Be alert for any increase in your income. Monitor it as the year goes by. If it begins to look like you might be approaching your income limit, tell your employer that you can’t earn that much more money. You’re going to have to turn down work.

Increases in income now take on new risk. Look at any promotion, raise, overtime, bonus, annual increment, longevity payment, or second job in this new light. If the extra money will take you above the limit, will it be worth it? You may have to turn down the money.

Is there any question that Obamacare discourages work? Discourages ambition? Discourages success? This is another example.

For over a year, I have written about Obamacare – the good and the bad. It is now clear that this law can’t be fixed. Obamacare is so full of landmines that are so cross-wired with other laws and everyday values, that it must be replaced. It will take a different law with time to root out all the buried bombs, but it must be done. Otherwise, we’ll be stepping on them for the next 20 years…and blowing ourselves up.


Landmines in Obamacare

In my 2013 series on Obamacare, I warned that the law contained legislative landmines that threaten our healthcare system, our economy and our Constitution.  These landmines are cleverly worded sections that protect the most destructive requirements of Obamacare and prohibit Congress from exercising its Constitutional rights to amend or repeal them.

Thanks to Charles R. Kesler, Professor of Government at ClaremontCollege, one of the most dangerous of these landmines has been brought to light.  In an October 21, 2013 speech that he has adapted for the January, 2014 issue of “Imprimis,” Kesler explains that not only is this provision unconstitutional, but the means by which it is protected is unconstitutional as well.

This landmine is the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB).  In the Imprimis article, Kesler reveals the unconstitutional nature of this Board:  “IPAB consists of 15 members who are not elected by the people but appointed by the President.  Their job is to make recommendations to limit Medicare’s budget by reducing reimbursements to doctors.  Unless both houses of Congress overrule IPAB by passing their own equal or greater cuts to Medicare, IPAB’s proposals automatically become law.” 

Notice that the first part of the landmine is this:  while the Board is appointed and makes recommendations, as many boards do, “IPAB’s proposals automatically become law.”  Obamacare buries that usurpation of Congress deep in the verbiage. 

Let’s just dissolve the IPAB, then, you say?  Not so fast.  Kesler reveals the second and most insidious part of the IPAB/Obamacare landmine, “…no resolution to repeal it [IPAB] can be introduced [in Congress] before January 1, 2017, or after February 1, 2017.  In other words, the Constitution would be operational for one month only – and even then the repeal must pass by August 15, 2017, in order to be valid and it could not take effect until 2020!”

Does that sound constitutional?  Not in the Constitution of our Founders, nor in mine or yours, for that matter.

Maybe you’re skeptical.  Maybe you want to look up the IPAB and see for yourself.  You should, but try to find it – it’s buried.  I’ll give you a hint:  Obamacare gives these powers to the “Independent Medicare Advisory Board.”  Then, in the preamble to Sec. 3403, it sneaks in this name change:

“Section 1320(b) provides the following name change: ‘‘Any reference

in the provisions of, or amendments made by, section 3403

to the ‘Independent Medicare Advisory Board’ shall be deemed to

be a reference to the ‘Independent Payment Advisory Board’ ’’

Slick, huh?  The IPAB has no powers directly described in the law, until, that is, you happen upon that name change, tucked away from curious eyes. 

The IPAB is just one example of the landmines that Obamacare has buried in order to blow up any attempts to understand it, let alone oppose it.  I suppose the first landmine was, “You have to pass it before you can read it.”  See for yourself.

Thanks to Charles R. Kesler and Imprimis.  Passages quoted here are “Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”

Communism and Starvation in Early America

On June 12, 1987, at the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev “tear down this wall!” And, Reagan proceeded to disable the Soviet Union when he forced Soviet Communism to fall of its own weight. Few realize, however, that Reagan was beaten to the punch by our first colonial settlements some 380 years earlier.

After landing on a Virginia beach in 1607, the first Jamestown settlers made plans for organizing themselves for self-preservation. Among their plans was a communist system of production and distribution.

Each settler was to put his tools and whatever he produced (there were no women at first) into a central warehouse. Then, each was free to take from the warehouse whatever he needed to live. In went fruit, game, lumber, pelts, axes, saws, hammers, cloth, and out went…everything. Even their Powhatan Indian neighbors walked in and took things, once they discovered that they wouldn’t be stopped.

The settlers had chosen Thomas Studley to run the warehouse. He proved able to talk his way out of blame, but not prevent the outflow. And, he could do nothing about the settlers who stopped working once they learned that they didn’t have to. Then, the starving began.

It wasn’t until Studley died in 1608 (probably of malnutrition), that the settlement came to its senses. Capt. John Smith (yes, that Capt. John Smith) was appointed to replace him and what he found when he entered the warehouse shocked him. The supplies were gone, the tools had been traded by the indolent to the Powhatans for food and the warehouse was in total disarray. What was left had become infested with rats.

Capt. Smith wasted no time in setting things right. In the short run, he made rules for taking things from the warehouse and enforced them with armed guards, but he knew that that system alone would not last. After his election as Jamestown’s Governor, he did away with the communist system altogether.

Smith issued a proclamation: “…he that will not worke shall not eate (except by sicknesse he be disabled), for the labours of thirtie or fortie honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintaine an hundred and fiftie idle loyterers…There are now no more counsellors to protect you…”

It worked. Those who had not worked either started voluntarily or responded to necessity. In less than six months, twenty houses were built, a freshwater well was constructed and forty acres of fields were put under cultivation. The settlement no longer starved, as each settler fended for himself. In addition, they created a simple free market in which each bought and sold or bartered what he couldn’t or hadn’t provided for himself.

The same thing happened in the Plymouth settlement, thirteen years later. Shortly after landing at Plymouth in 1620, the Pilgrims set up a storehouse of supplies in which all were to share. Although the supplies were meager in that first winter, each person was free to take from the storehouse at will. The food ran out within weeks and nearly half of the settlement died of sickness and starvation.

The following spring, the survivors were shown by Squanto, their Indian interpreter, how to plant and grow corn and how to fish and hunt game. In the words of their Governor, William Bradford, “All the summer there was no want;” as they “took good store, of which every family had their portion…Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England…”

But, as the year before, it was not to last. By winter, the settlers had taken freely from the supplies until the storehouse was empty…and they starved for a second time.

In the spring of 1622, Governor Bradford returned to the village from a trip only to see a group of able-bodied young men playing a game in the square when they should have been working in the fields. He had seen enough. He chased them off and called for a meeting with the other leaders.

Their solution was to abandon communism and to make each family responsible for themselves. Again, in the Governor’s words, “…and so assigned to every family a parcel of land, …that they should set corn every man for his own particular…This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted.”

He concluded, “The experience … may well evince the vanity… that taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing, as if they were wiser than God. For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”

It has been said that socialism or communism only works until the money runs out. Our earliest settlers proved that even that isn’t true. The productive people will resent the unproductive takers long before the money runs out. That resentment will build until their incentive to produce is weakened and production goes down, while the unearned taking runs amok. It happened in our earliest settlements, it happened to the Soviet Union and it happens every time such a scheme is resurrected.

Must every such scheme run until it falls of its own weight, or might we learn to reject it in the first place? Governor Bradford thought it was part of the human condition: “Let none object this is men’s corruption, and…seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.” Let us take heed and follow the course fitter for us, before we, too, as a nation fall of our own weight.