#27: William Howard Taft: A Friendly View

As you can imagine, the supply of available biographies still in print for Theodore Roosevelt was somewhat larger than the selection for William Howard Taft.  Roosevelt was larger than life and such an iconic presence that books are still written about him and make the New York Times best seller list frequently.  Taft on the other hand is best known for getting stuck in the bathtub and is largely a foot note in history as an unremarkable president but a better supreme court justice.

The fact that Taft spoke like a supreme court justice and seemed about as likeable as a friendlier Antonin Scalia may have been why he needed a friend to write this biography for him.

The book I read was written in the 1930's by what seems to have been a Taft enthusiast and would certainly have been written when he was still living.  My belief is that this was a sort of public opinion minded book written within the recent end of Taft's presidency in 1913, like a "Decision Points" for George W. Bush or "Dreams of My Father" for Barack Obama.

The book explores some interesting parts of Taft's life, like his time where he served as Roosevelt's Secretary of War as the essential ruler of the Philippines after the Spanish American war where it portrays him as a wise and benevolent leader.  During and after this time, it also details Taft's desire to join the Supreme Court and details how Roosevelt convinced him instead to "do his duty" and run for the presidency after his term was up in 1908.  The author then seems to insinuate Roosevelt craved power and turned on Taft in 1912 where he tried to take the party nomination from him but Taft ultimately prevailed. 

More or less, Taft is portrayed as a noble, self sacrificing statesman while Roosevelt is portrayed as a force of nature, not in full control of his own passions and whims.

This is of course the book the author was most likely paid to write, so it's important to take it with a grain of salt, but it's interesting to see an early 20th century biography designed to drive poll numbers more than informing people.


Gun Rights and Gun Wrongs

Text of the 2nd Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It seems like the gun debate is going to go on now no matter how many times the issue got brushed under the rug by both parties in the past.

I'm very conflicted on where I stand on this issue.  As a libertarianish person, I tend to ere on the side of rights, but am concerned over the extremism I hear in some of the gun rights advocates.

I believe in the right to own guns, but the idea that the government has no business deciding who is allowed to have guns or how deadly the guns are allowed to be is ludicrous.

It's not that I fear guns or anything like that.  In fact, I own a 20 gauge, a 12 gauge and a 22.  Unlike Barack Obama, I do not shoot these guns "all the time", but I do feel it at least establishes that I'm not some sheltered city dweller that fears anything deadlier than a three inch knife.

The NRA and other organizations are correct in that the right to bear arms was not just for hunting.  If you really read the constitution, it refers to a well organized militia.  The thing that seems to be lost on many of the NRA lobbyists and the voters they manipulate though is that this militia was for the protection and not the overthrow of the government.  The thing that is hard for many to understand in this day and age was that there was no "standing army" or permanent professional fighting force.  Militias were gathered from local citizens who provided their own arms (muskets at the time) in the event another country or the native population would attack their state.

The idea that the 2nd Amendment was solely to prevent Tyranny is absurd.  Were this true, then George Washington himself would have violated the constitution by having the army put down the Whiskey Rebellion.  The idea that any government would accept its own demise as legitimate is ridiculous.

It makes no sense that I need to take a test to get a drivers license and then continually get my vision tested throughout my life to ensure I'm not a danger to myself or others on the road but any one could go to a gun show and buy a gun without so much as a criminal background check.  You could have a Nazi tattoo on your forehead and be wearing a shirt that says "I like to kill people" and you could walk out of there with the ultimate instrument of life and death.  This is wrong and anyone with any sense should agree.

Regarding the lethality of weapons that are allowed, I'm not sure where I stand on this, but I do know that there has to be some limit.  The idea that malcontents are allowed to have the same firepower as a seal team storming a fortified perimeter is nonsense.  If you think this seems unconstitutional, then you need to ask yourself if your neighbor should be allowed to set up mortars in their yard or if you should be able to go to Arizona and buy a nuclear weapon.  Just because it can fit in your hands doesn't mean their should be no limits to its power.

The NRA and all their special interest parrots are ultimately not acting in the interest of gun owners.  Pushing their dystopian, Mad Max vision for the country with armed details for all and kindergarten rifle patrols just will allow people like Nancy Pelosi who hate guns to write all the rules.  Nothing is not an acceptable answer for what the nation should do about its mass murder problem.