Balanced Budget Amendment the Answer? Pryor says no, Boozman says yes (part 9)(Famous Arkansan, Art Porter Sr.)(Conspirator Part 4)

I survived last night even though there were several tornadoes all through Arkansas last night.

America has too many bureaucrats and they are dramatically overpaid. This mini-documentary uses government data to show how federal, state, and local governments are in fiscal trouble in part because of excessive pay for a bloated civil service.

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.

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:

7.) Debt Buy-Down Provision

This is Rep. Bob Walker’s idea that would allow taxpayers to dedicate up to 10 percent of their income tax payments to retirement of the national debt. Politicians earmark spending all the time. Taxpayers should have the same right.

Rules Matter

Those budget process reforms are vitally important to the balanced-budget exercise because the rules of the game matter. The rules dictate outcomes. For more than 20 years, forces that favor spending have consistently prevailed over forces that favor fiscal restraint. That pro-spending bias in Washington threatens to cripple our nation’s economic future.

Let me conclude by retelling a story about the late great Washington Redskins football coach George Allen. Allen lived by the motto “the future is now.” He traded all the Redskins draft picks for over-the-hill veterans. He spent millions of dollars of owner Jack Kent Cooke’s money to purchase expensive free agents. After several years of that, Cooke finally fired Allen. When asked why, Cooke responded, “When George Allen came to Washington I gave him an unlimited budget. But George managed to exceed it.” That’s the way taxpayers now feel about our politicians in Washington.


Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame
1994 Candidates

Arthur (Art) L. Porter, Sr. (1934 – 1993)

Pianist Art Porter was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on February 8, 1934. Porter, the Arkansas Jazz Statesman, never officially worked as a touring musician, choosing instead to perform, teach, contribute to his church as well as to other charitable causes in his hometown and state. There were two exceptions: In 1977 at FESTAC 77 (the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture) and at jazz festivals in Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands during a 1991 European Tour with his son, saxophonist Art Porter, Jr.

Porter graduated from Dunbar High School in 1950, and attended AM&N College in Pine Bluff, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 1954. He went on to earn a Master of Science in Music Education from Henderson State University in 1975. He taught at Mississippi Valley College, Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College. He also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Shorter College and was pianist/organist/choral director at Bethel AME Church in Little Rock.

Porter formed the now legendary Art Porter Trio in 1962. This group continued to work in Little Rock and around the state through May of 1993. The group performed jazz in local Little Rock night clubs such as The AfterThought, Cajuns Wharf (for 8 years), The Brown Bottle, The Camelot Hotel, Profiles, in a club bearing the name ‘Art’s Place’ and other locations too numerous to mention. Many musicians became part of the famed Art Porter University. His formation of the Art Porter Singers in 1976 and the musical mentoring of and friendship with President Bill Clinton is still felt even today.

Porter produced two ground breaking programs on the Arkansas Educational Television Network: “The Minor Key”: a weekly series portraying black culture in Arkansas, and “Porterhouse Cuts”, a series of 10 shows which were aired throughout the southeastern region covering 14 states. He produced several albums including “Little Rock A.M.” and “Something Else.” His latest recording, “Portrait of Art,” was released after his death, on February 8, 1994 (his birthday), with proceeds going to help promising young musicians realize their musical dreams.

Porter has appeared on stage with Pharoah Sanders, Steve Allen, O. C. Smith, James Leary, Al Hibbler, the Northwest Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Little Rock Jazz Machine, and many others. His groups have performed at the Eureka Springs Jazz Festival, Jazzlites, Wildwood Jazz Festival, Music Festival of Arkansas, Hot Springs Arts Festival, and at the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation’ss Monday Jazz Series. Porter was the first recipient of the Arkansas Jazz and Heritage Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.

Photo #8

Toby Kebbell
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.

(Boston Globe) Ty Burr and Wesley Morris review Robert Redford’s historical drama about President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in ‘The Conspirator.’

I found this article on the internet:

The Hanging of Mary Surratt
Judicial murder and government dirty linen–Part One

by Al Benson Jr.

After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, eight people were put on trial and found guilty–four sentenced to long prison terms and the other four sentenced to hang. One of those sentenced to hang was Mary Eugenia Jenkins Surratt, the first woman ever to be hung in the United States. John Wilkes Booth had supposedly been shot and John Surratt had escaped to Canada, eventually to make it all the way to Europe. These eight were seemingly all that were left and the government wanted to make sure they talked as little as possible to anyone.

Historical opinions have been divided as to whether Mary Surratt was really guilty as one of the Lincoln assassins. Author Nathaniel Weyl has called Mary Surratt “…an innocent woman hanged for conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln.” My own opinion is that this is pretty close to the truth. That doesn’t mean that Mrs. Surratt was totally without knowledge of all that went on. She may well have been aware of the proposed attempts to abduct Mr. Lincoln, but, as far as assassination went, I don’t think she had a clue.

When it came to the conspirators’ “trial” (if such it can really be called) Mrs. Surratt had a good lawyer to start out with, Reverdy Johnson, former U.S. senator and, in 1849, U.S. Attorney General, and at the time of her trial, a Maryland senator. According to the book The Lincoln Conspiracy: “He was such a formidable opponent, it was immediately apparent to the prosecution that he must be removed. Johnson was to be assisted by Frederick Aiken and John W. Clampitt, each in practice only one year and each trying his first big case. Clampitt was 24 and Aiken even younger.” After some judicial maneuverings, the prosecution succeeded in getting Johnson to remove himself and so Mrs. Surratt was stuck with the two younger, more inexperienced lawyers. While they did the best they could they were no match for the legal scalawags the federal prosecution brought forth to handle them.

The way the federal government dealt with Mrs. Surratt was strongly reminiscent of the way it would later deal with the Plains Indians in the far West–it flat out broke its word, but then, what else have we come to expect from government? Otto Eisenschiml wrote in In the Shadow of Lincoln’s Death“When the Washington authorities put hoods over the heads of the men accused of conspiracy against Lincoln’s life, they committed a strange act. When they added stiff shackles–manacles which made writing impossible–and forbade all intercourse with the outside world, there arose a misgiving that the purpose was not punishment, but the enforcement of silence.” Eisenschiml also noted that the government changed the prison locations of those not hung from Albany, New York to the far-out Dry Tortugas, where the convicted men were confined, literally for years in solitary cells and were prevented from conversing with any outsiders. You have to wonder what the government was afraid these men would have to say, and whatever that might have been, they were going to make darn sure no one ever heard it.

One man on Edwin Stanton’s staff was Colonel William P. Wood, the man who ran Old Capitol Prison. Though he worked for the government, it appears that Colonel Wood still had some modicum of conscience left. In 1883 he wrote a series of articles for the Washington Sunday Gazette, in which he sought to tell all he knew about the conspiracy trial, most of which he said had never been revealed to the public. Again, what else is new? Even today we get sanitized versions of everything from who killed Kennedy to the war in Iraq.

Wood wrote of Mrs. Surratt that: “…there were guarantees made to her brother by the writer, upon authority of Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, that she should not be executed.”  Wood hinted that such guarantees were given “…in exchange for information by Mrs. Surratt’s brother regarding (John Wilkes) Booth’s probable course of flight. The fact that the War Minister made such a promise gives food for thought. Very likely, he had at no time intended to live up to his promise.” And Wood, calling attention to this rank betrayal, said “…these conditions were violated, and…this deplorable execution of an innocent woman (followed).”

The court announced the guilty verdict on the morning of July 6th. Mrs. Surratt was not informed of it until the middle of the day, at which time she found out she was to be hung at noon the following day. Eisenschiml observed that “Such a short space of time between a sentence and its execution is practically unheard of.” Apparently whatever Mrs. Surratt and the others knew, the government was going to make sure they had no chance to pass it on to others.

John T. Ford, owner of Ford’s Theater, followed all these events as long as he lived. You could say he had somewhat of a consuming interest, so he gathered what facts he could. In 1889, he revealed something most people had never heard. He said that: “The very man of God who shrived her soul for eternity was said to be constrained to promise that she should not communicate with the world. Mr. Clampitt, one of her lawyers, confirmed what Ford stated. Mrs. Surratt pleaded with the priest to be allowed to tell people before she died that she was innocent of the crime of which she had been convicted. The priest refused her. It seems he had been made to tell her, after absolution and the sacrament, that she should be prevented from making any declaration as to her innocence. The priest later denied this. If the government had nothing to cover up, allowing her to make a last statement would have hurt nothing.

However, Eisenschiml has noted that: “What was vital was this: the condemned woman must not be permitted to harangue the crowd from the scaffold. There she might go beyond the mere question of her guilt, and every one of her words would be broadcast by news-hungry journalists.” And the powers that be couldn’t have that now, could they? Interestingly, our so-called “history” books never reveal any of this. The winners of the War of Northern Aggression have deemed that all this is information we are better off without. That way we don’t know enough to ask embarrassing questions.

To be continued.


About the Author

Al Benson Jr.’s, [send him email] columns are to found on many online journals such as Fireeater.Org, The Sierra Times, and The Patriotist. Additionally, Mr. Benson is editor of the Copperhead Chronicle [more information] and author of the Homeschool History Series, [more information] a study of the War of Southern Independence. The Copperhead Chronicle is a quarterly newsletter written with a Christian, pro-Southern perspective.

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