Balanced Budget Amendment the Answer? Pryor says no, Boozman says yes (part 8)(Famous Arkansan, Patsy Montana)(The Conspirator, part 2)

 It is 9:35 pm and we have been hiding from Tornadoes all night and I hope they are finished bothering us for the evening. 

Ronald Reagan on Balanced Budget Amendment

Photo detail

Steve Brawner in his article “Safer roads and balanced budgets,” Arkansas News Bureau, April 13, 2011, noted:

The disagreement is over the solutions — on what spending to cut; what taxes to raise (basically none ever, according to Boozman); whether or not to enact a balanced budget amendment (Boozman says yes; Pryor no); and on what policies would promote the kind of economic growth that would make this a little easier.

It’s rare in a democracy for anybody to get everything he or she wants, so only two paths remain: status quo, which is a slow march to the abyss; or compromise, which would save the country.

Last week, Republicans and Democrats chose compromise after making the country endure a lot of drama that was unnecessary and frankly not very interesting. Hours before shutting down the government, the two sides agreed to a budget deal involving relatively minor spending cuts and then went their separate ways, each blaming the other for the brouhaha. I don’t want to say the whole thing was orchestrated, but they have had a lot of practice at this.

Had the government actually shut down, the country would have felt the results. The last time that happened, 1995-96, was a prosperous and peaceful time that could absorb Washington shenanigans. Today the country is still in the midst of a weak economic recovery and involved in three major combat operations. Investors, no matter what language they speak, do not like uncertainty, and for the United States, these are uncertain times.

Temperatures are about to run even hotter. President Obama is scheduled to at last unveil some of his deficit reduction ideas this week, while some Republicans are threatening to oppose raising the country’s debt ceiling above its current $14.3 trillion limit absent meaningful spending cuts. Democrats say failing to raise the ceiling would undermine the government’s full faith and credit and would choke the economy’s recovery, and they probably are right. Some Republicans counter that, absent that threat, the government is never going to change, and they probably are right as well.

If Pryor and Boozman can jointly propose the Safe Roads Act, can Republicans and Democrats work together long enough to meaningfully address the deficit?

I am hoping that the answer to Brawner’s question is yes!!!! The deficit problem has to be addressed, and it is time for both Democrats and Republicans to stop playing politics and get us to a balanced budget.

Over the next few days I want to take a closer look a Cato Policy Report from July/August 1996 called “Seven Reforms to Balance the Budget” by Stephen Moore. Stephen Moore was the Cato Institute’s director of fiscal policy studies, and afterwards, a Cato senior fellow. This article is based on testimony he delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on March 27, 1996. Moore commented:

6.) A Statute of Limitation on All Spending Programs

It has been said that the closest thing to immortality on this earth is a government program. Congress doesn’t know how to end programs–even years and years after their missions have been accomplished. A five-year sunset provision should apply to every spending program in the budget–both entitlements and discretionary programs. That would require the true “reinvention” of programs by forcing the reexamination of every program, including entitlements, every five years.

Patsy Montana is another famous Arkansan.

Cowboy’s Sweetheart was recorded on August 16, 1935.

Patsy Montana (Rubye Blevins)

Inducted in 1996

 (1914-1996) – This Hot Springs native who grew up in Hope was known as the “Queen of Country Western Music.” She was one of the first country singers to successfully cultivate a cowgirl image. Her 1935 recording “I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” which included a virtuoso yodeling piece, was the first big hit by a female country singer, making her the first female country singer to have a single sell more than one million copies. She wrote over 200 songs during her career. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, shortly following her death. www.patsymontana.net

I went to see the movie “The Conspirator” the other night and I really enjoyed it. Since then I have been digging up facts about the trial and the people involved in the trial.

Ray Suarez reports on a new film profiling Mary Surratt, the sole woman implicated in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the questions raised about the use of military commission trials, both then and now. He is joined by screenwriter James Solomon and retired U.S. Army Col. Fred Borch

image 1

Mary Jenkins was born in in Waterloo, Maryland, in May, 1823. Educated at a Catholic femaleseminary in Alexandria, Virginia, she married John Harrison Surratt when she was seventeen. The couple went to live on land that he had inherited just outside of Washington at Oxon Hill. In 1851 a fire destroyed their home the couple decided to rebuild a combined home and tavern.

In 1853 Surratt purchased 287 acres of farmland in Prince George’s County. He built a tavern and post office and the community eventually became known as Surrattsville. Surratt worked as the local postmaster until his death on 25th August, 1862.

In October, 1864, Mrs. Surratt decided to rent the Surrattsville property for $500 a year to an ex-policeman, John M. Lloyd, and moved to a house she owned at 541 High Street,Washington. To make some extra money she rented out some of her rooms.

During the American Civil War, her eldest son, John Harrison Surratt, joined theConfederate Army. Her other son, John Surratt, worked as an agent for the Confederacy. He met others working as secret agents including John Wilkes Booth who stayed at the Surratt’s boardinghouse when he was in the area. It is not known if Mrs. Surratt knew if these men were working for the Confederacy.

On the 17th April, police officers arrived at Mrs. Surratt’s boardinghouse. Lewis Powell was also at the house and the two of them were arrested and charged with conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. When the police searched the house they found a hidden photograph of John Wilkes Booth, the man who had assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on 14th April.

Louis Weichmann, one of Mrs. Surratt’s borders, and John M. Lloyd, the man who rented the tavern at Surrattsville, were also arrested and threatened with being charged with the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Kept in solitary confinement both men eventually agreed to give evidence against Mrs. Surratt in return for their freedom.

On 1st May, 1865, President Andrew Johnson ordered the formation of a nine-man military commission to try the conspirators. It was argued by Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, that the men should be tried by a military court as Lincoln had been Commander in Chief of the army. Several members of the cabinet, including Gideon Welles(Secretary of the Navy), Edward Bates (Attorney General), Orville H. Browning (Secretary of the Interior), and Henry McCulloch (Secretary of the Treasury), disapproved, preferring a civil trial. However, James Speed, the Attorney General, agreed with Stanton and therefore the defendants did not enjoy the advantages of a jury trial.

The trial began on 10th May, 1865. The military commission included leading generals such as David HunterLewis WallaceThomas Harris and Alvin Howe and Joseph Holt was the government’s chief prosecutor. Mary SurrattLewis PowellGeorge AtzerodtDavid HeroldSamuel MuddMichael O’LaughlinEdman Spangler and Samuel Arnold were all charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln. During the trial Holt attempted to persuade the military commission thatJefferson Davis and the Confederate government had been involved in conspiracy.

Lincoln’s Assassins

Assassin’s Accomplice

Joseph Holt attempted to obscure the fact that there were two plots: the first to kidnap and the second to assassinate. It was important for the prosecution not to reveal the existence of a diary taken from the body of John Wilkes Booth. The diary made it clear that the assassination plan dated from 14th April. The defence surprisingly did not call for Booth’s diary to be produced in court.

At the trial John M. Lloyd told the court that on the Tuesday before the assassination Mrs. Surratt and Louis Weichmann visited him. Lloyd claimed that Mrs. Surratt “told me to have those shooting-irons ready that night, there would be some parties who would call for them. She gave me something wrapped in a piece of paper, which I took up stairs, and found to be a field-glass. She told me to get two bottles of whisky ready, and that these things were to be called for that night.”

When Louis Weichmann testified he told the court that he had seen John Wilkes BoothLewis PowellGeorge Atzerodtand David Herold in Mrs. Surratt’s house together. This supported the prosecution’s claim that the boarding house was where the assassination plot had been planned.

Weichmann also testified that as far as he knew Mrs. Surratt was not disloyal to the Union cause. A large number of friends and neighbours also appeared in court and stressed that they had never head her express support for the Confederacy.



Execution of Mary SurrattLewis PowellDavid Herold and 
George Atzerodt
 at Washington Penitentiary on 7th July, 1865.

On 29th June, 1865, Mrs. Mary Surratt, Lewis PowellGeorge AtzerodtDavid HeroldSamuel MuddMichael O’Laughlin,Edman Spangler and Samuel Arnold were found guilty of being involved in the conspiracy to murder Lincoln. Surratt, Powell, Atzerodt and Herold were all sentenced to be hanged at Washington Penitentiary on 7th July, 1865.

Five out of the nine members of the Military Commission, recommended that Mrs. Surratt be shown mercy “due to her sex and age”. President Andrew Johnson was later to say he was never told this and he gave the order to hang the woman who he pointed out “kept the nest that hatched the egg”.

On 7th July, 1865, Mary Surratt, still pleading her innocence, became the first woman in American history to be executed by the federal government.

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