In honor of Presidents’ Day, the NYYRC contributors, in conjunction with the Saunders Report, decided to duke it out written-word style to see, once and for all, who was our Most Badass President. Stay tuned for more installments.
Most Badass: Zachary Taylor
By Roger Sacha
So who is the most badass President? Zachary Taylor. Who’s that, you ask? Our 12th President. And a serious badass.
You see, the consummate badass human is John Wayne, and Taylor (nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready”) is the most John Wayne-esque President. The Duke was basically the same character in each of his films, the American we wanted to project to the world. Jimmy Carter (when was the last time we cited him approvingly?) said, “John Wayne was…a symbol of many of the most basic qualities that made America great. The ruggedness, the tough independence, the sense of personal conviction and courage – on or off the screen – reflected the best of our national character.”
Using that criteria for badassness, it’s got to be Zach Taylor. First, look at the guy. He’s got gravel in his guts, and spit in his eye. He is going to put up with precisely no nonsense from you or anyone else.
Even though Taylor was a general, he always wore beat-up old jackets and pants that had seen better days. He was no Winfield “Fuss and Feathers” Scott, that’s for sure, am I right people? (Scott was also a general and presidential candidate who wore fancy, frilly jackets and big fluffy hats.) Taylor liked chewing tobacco – a lot – and he could hit a spitoon from six feet out.
Let’s talk battlefield bravery. Taylor and his fifteen healthy men fought off six hundred Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Winnebago warriors during a night attack during the Battle of Fort Harrison. Seriously? 600 to 15? That’s Rooster Cogburn-on-steroids-caliber stuff.
Want to talk bigger battles? Ok, let’s talk Zach Taylor’s Mexican American War battles of Palo Alto, Resca de la Palma, Monterrey, and Buena Vista, all of which he won even though he was outnumbered. At Buena Vista (not Del Boca Vista) Taylor was outnumbered four to one, facing General Santa Anna – the same guy who slaughtered Davy Crockett and the boys at the Alamo. Atop Old Whitey, his prized horse, Taylor directed the American forces from a plateau in full view of the enemy. Taylor dispatched Jefferson Davis’ Mississippi Rifles against the Mexican lines, sending them reeling back, then ordered Braxton Bragg to open up on the enemy with artillery. “[D]ouble shot your guns and give ‘em hell, Bragg.” Taylor said. At least two shots tore through Taylor’s clothing, but he never flinched and won a resounding victory.
His men adored him, and his four military victories elevated the war hero Taylor to the Presidency on the Whig ticket. On his way to Washington, Taylor’s ship got ice-bound in between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and President-elect Taylor walked 13 miles through the snow to fetch a sleigh. That’s even farther than my Granddad had to walk to school uphill both ways.
In office, Taylor had one big problem to face – which he faced like an ultimate badass, staring down Congressmen, Governors, and even his own Vice President. After the Mexican-American War, America got a huge swath of Mexican territory, which Southern governmental leaders, backed by Vice President Millard Fillmore, thought should be open to slavery. Since Taylor was a Southern slave owner, it was expected that he would allow slavery in the territories.
Taylor foresaw that allowing slavery in the territories would tear America apart. Taylor put Union over sectionalism, and he was prepared to stop Southern agitation of the issue forever. “No man could have been more devoted to the Union or more opposed to the slavery agitation,” wrote Thomas Hart Benton, “and his position as a Southern man and slave-holder, his military reputation and his election by a majority of the people would have given him a power in the settlement of these questions which no President without these qualifications would have possessed.” When Southern Congressmen and Governors called for a Secession Convention, Taylor threatened to resign his office and personally lead troops to quash any rebellion, followed by hanging the leaders. Talk of secession collapsed for the time being amidst pro-Union, pro-Taylor sympathy, especially in the Upper South. Nobody messed with Zachary Taylor.
Unfortunately, cholera morbus (not bad cherries, as some believe) did Old Rough and Ready in, and he died in the Executive Mansion after just sixteen months in office. In his eulogy of Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the man’s quintessential badassary, “It did not happen to Gen. Taylor once in his life, to fight a battle on equal terms, or on terms advantageous to himself—and yet he was never beaten, and never retreated. In all, the odds was greatly against him; in each, defeat seemed inevitable; and yet in all, he triumphed. Wherever he has led, while the battle still raged, the issue was painfully doubtful; yet in each and all, when the din had ceased, and the smoke had blown away, our country’s flag was still seen, fluttering in the breeze…His rarest military trait, was a combination of negatives—absence of excitement and absence of fear. He could not be flurried, and he could not be scared.”
In honor of Presidents’ Day, the NYYRC contributors, in conjunction with the Saunders Report, decided to duke it out written-word style to see, once and for all, who was our Most Badass President. Stay tuned for more installments.
Most Badass: Andrew Jackson
By Chris C.
When wondering who the most badass president is, you need to look no further than number seven, Andrew Jackson. His badass exploits are so numerous that it was challenge to whittle them down to fit this forum. Jackson summed himself up with the sentiment, “I was born for a storm and a calm does not suit me.” He was a man who was a standout leader and a reckless frontiersman. He crushed all his enemies, staked honor above all else, and was a loving husband and surrogate father.
You might wonder how Andrew Jackson developed into such a badass. It begins in the Waxhaw region of South Carolina where he grew up in a fatherless frontier household. At age 12, his leisure activity was joining the local militia to aid in our revolution against the British. Jackson was taken prisoner, and forced into servitude. A British officer demanded he shine his shoes, but Jackson refused. The British officer consequently slashed Jackson with his sword. Jackson attempted to block the blow but wound up with gashes on both the hand and head. He was placed in a British prison camp where he caught smallpox and defeated it, as he did with all other enemies. He was eventually released and served out the rest of the Revolution in the militia. To this day, he is the only president to serve as a prisoner of war. The Revolution took the lives of both of his older brothers, as well as his mother, leaving Jackson with a lifelong hatred for the British that would fuel some of his later actions in battle.
Following the Revolution, orphan Andy bounced around the homes of different relatives until he wound up in Salisbury, North Carolina where he took up practicing law. It was here that Jackson really hit his stride. He spent his free time dueling, drinking, and gambling. The man would proceed to fight 103 duels, or affairs of honor, in his life. As a result of this, it was proclaimed that he had so much lead in him that he rattled like a bag of marbles. The most exemplary incident occurred in the defense of his wife’s honor. Jackson squared off at ten paces against a renowned marksman and allowed him to shoot first. Jackson took a bullet to the chest. Unfazed, Jackson raised his pistol and shot the man dead. The bullet that struck Jackson was too close to his heart for removal, and remained lodged there for the rest of his life.
Jackson gained much of his badass reputation from the Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans. It was during the Creek War that his soldiers gave him the nickname “Old Hickory.” This was a testament to his toughness. At the Battle of New Orleans (fought after the war had ended but before news reached him that the British had already surrendered), General Jackson was outnumbered almost 2:1 by the British, and proceeded to crush them with his rag-tag army of volunteer militia, army regulars, free blacks, Indians, sailors, and pirates. Making this motley group into a cohesive fighting force was a testament to Jackson’s strength as a leader. His men proceeded to inflict over 2,500 British casualties while only suffering 71, making New Orleans the greatest land victory of the War of 1812.
How many presidents can lay claim to militarily conquering Florida? Only one, and it’s Old Hickory. Jackson was given orders by the Monroe administration to terminate a conflict with the Seminole Indians near the Georgia/Florida border. Jackson believed the best way to do this was by seizing all of Florida from Spain. He informed the administration it would be done within sixty days, and it was. During the campaign, his ruthlessness in battle earned him the nickname “Sharp Knife” from his enemies.
Old Hickory also lays claim to being the first president to face an assassination attempt and the only president to beat the hell out of his assailant. A deranged Englishman aimed a pistol at Jackson, which misfired . He then proceeded to pull out a second pistol, which also misfired. Jackson would not have any of it, and proceeded to beat the assailant senseless with his cane. Jackson had to be restrained by several congressmen who were accompanying him.
Leadership, duels, wounds, and conquests, these exploits should leave no doubt in your mind that Andrew Jackson was the biggest badass to lead our great nation.
In honor of Presidents’ Day, the NYYRC contributors, in conjunction with the Saunders Report decided to duke it out written-word style to see, once and for all, who was our Most Badass President. Stay tuned for more installments.
Most Badass: Theodore Roosevelt
By Brian M.
Teddy Roosevelt isn’t just the most badass President of the United States. The dude was a f#@&ing superhero. Know why the US could “walk softly and carry a big stick” when he was in charge? Because foreign leaders knew that he would walk softly to their front door and punch their dumb faces off if they got out of line. Here’s how I know.
At 54 years old, he was shot in the chest by a crazy unemployed bartender before delivering a speech in Milwaukee. So he went to the hospital, right? Nope. He said, “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose,” pulled out his notes, which had a bullet hole through them, and spoke for 90 freakin’ minutes, adding, “No man has had a happier life than I have led…”.
Not convinced yet? Ok. Well, during the Spanish-American War, he got bored in his “desk job” as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. So, he basically demoted himself to Lieutenant Colonel, rounded up a group of guys, named the group the Rough Riders, and hopped on a ship to Cuba where he fought hundreds of Spaniards with guns and fists and won the Medal of Honor.
I feel like you still might be on the fence, so here’s another one. When he was President, his hobby was boxing with 20-something, champion fighters. In fact, he took a hit that mostly blinded him in his left eye. His reaction was to say, “Fortunately it was my left eye…if it had been the right eye I should have been entirely unable to shoot.” Then, he took up jujitsu. JUJITSU. I am not creative enough to make that up.
Want more? You got it. My man had no patience for complaining. When Teddy was 51 years old, he received letters from cavalrymen complaining about having to ride horses for 25 miles a day during training. So he got on a horse, rode 100 miles in a single day, and told them to stop whining.
After he was done being President and showing up men half his age, he took a vacation…to go on a 2,500 mile safari in Africa hunting elephants, hippos, and rhinos. In fact, he was such a badass hunter, that the Teddy Bear is named after him. He was on a bear hunting trip where nobody was having any luck until a dude found an injured bear and tied it to a tree for Teddy to shoot. Teddy don’t roll like that. He was all like, “That’s unsportsmanlike.” So somebody drew a cartoon of that moment, and then a guy in Brooklyn sold stuffed “Teddy Bears” to kids, and everybody got on board. Oh, almost forgot – he had a PET BEAR. He named it Jonathan Edwards. I’m serious.
Don’t get me wrong, Teddy wasn’t all badass all the time. Once in a while he got sad. Like the day in 1884 when his first wife and mom died on the same day. His grief expression of choice was to take off for the Badlands in the Dakota Territory to drive cattle and hunt big game. Then, somebody stole his boat in the middle of the winter on the Little Missouri River, and that really pissed him off. So, Teddy hunted the perps down and dragged them, and the boat, back to the sheriff.
While engaging in all this badassery, Teddy was like the husband and dad of the millennium, raising six kids and writing his family all kinds of tender lovin’ letters.
Whenever I’m in doubt from now on, I’m just going to ask, “What would Teddy do?” And then I’m going to curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb. Because whenever Teddy was in doubt, he probably wrestled with his pet bear, or beat the hell out of a bigger, quicker, younger man while he thought up his next badass move, which would surely be better than whatever crap I can come up with.
By: Chris C.
Happy 206th Birthday Abraham Lincoln! Lincoln might embody the American Dream more than any other man to inhabit the White House. He was born in a log cabin and was almost entirely self-taught. He overcame the poverty of his youth through hard work and perseverance eventually becoming a lawyer, state legislator, congressman, and finally President. The wisdom of our 16th President is timeless, and in celebration of his birth here are some Lincoln Lessons.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”
Magnanimity in victory was perhaps Lincoln’s greatest gift to our country. Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address slightly more than a month before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Lincoln was preparing the nation for peace after four brutal years of war, and he decided the best way to bring the nation back together was forgiveness and not additional killing. There would be no retribution as is seen in most civil wars. Lincoln reminded the country that we are all one people, and that enough suffering had already been endured. If not for Lincoln’s vision of the South being welcomed back with open arms, we would not be the country we are today.
“…she has two sons who want to work. Set them at it, if possible. Wanting to work is so rare a merit, that it should be encouraged.”
Lincoln was right in that the desire to work is rare, and that is especially true in today’s entitlement culture. We should be pushing people towards jobs as opposed to the government dole. Lincoln labored from his early childhood as a farm hand, mill operator, rail splitter, and flat-boatman. The hard work involved forged his character. He appreciated the value of working as should we.
“… in this country, one can scarcely be so poor, but that, if he will, he can acquire sufficient education to get through the world respectably.”
Lincoln had a great appreciation for education, and saw it as a stepping stone to self-improvement. Lincoln was primarily self-taught, having had only about 18 months of formal schooling. However, lack of formal education didn’t hold Lincoln back as he redoubled his efforts to educate himself and build a better life. Lincoln had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and from his childhood read voraciously. Even though he was poor and uneducated, Lincoln’s drive propelled him to learn and better himself. As with Lincoln, all Americans, regardless of monetary situation, can better themselves through their own hard work, and commitment to learning.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.”
Lincoln’s determination was perhaps his greatest character virtue. Whether overcoming lack of education and poverty or saving the Union, Lincoln’s will was unbending. His perseverance saved the Nation. He was committed to restoring the Union at all costs despite immense pressure to let the southern states walk. Lincoln weathered a storm as no other president had to. In the face of open rebellion, he had to fight many in his own party and the press to convince them the cause should not be abandoned. A weaker president may have allowed the Union to slip away, and may have given up after losing battle after battle in the war’s eastern theatre. Commander after commander failed Lincoln until he found a winner in Grant. Despite the hardships and the challenges, Lincoln never wavered in his resolve to restore the Union. His determination and perseverance serves as a model for us all.
Please stop falling prey to standard liberal “gotcha” questions. It’s embarrassing, predictable, and destructive to your credibility. Do your homework, or don’t run for office. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about along with suggested responses and some bonus color commentary:
Question 1: Do you believe in evolution?
Example of a bad answer: Gov. Scott Walker replied, “I’m going to punt on that one…I believe in the evolution of trade in Wisconsin.”
Good answer: Yes. I also believe that human life on Earth is a miracle.
Commentary: [Forehead smack.] The governor’s instinct was to give a diplomatic nod to religious conservatives. The problem is that this instinct can lead to alienating many voters unnecessarily. To borrow a sentiment from Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore, when someone asks you if you [believe in evolution], you say YES. Even popes have been comfortable discussing evolution since at least 1950. In that conversation, they have acknowledged that species have undergone physical changes over time, and they have simply separated the body from the soul. You can be religious and recognize reality. It’s not that hard.
Question 2: Do parents have to vaccinate their kids?
Example of a bad answer: Sen. Rand Paul said parents should have some degree of choice in the question of whether to vaccinate their kids because of cases where mental disorders have allegedly resulted from vaccines.
Good answer: Yes, except for certain cases meeting criteria for medical exceptions, i.e. compromised immunities or allergies.
Commentary: The senator’s instinct was to be consistent since he is a libertarian-minded guy. The problems are that (1) the research at the foundation of the anti-vaccine movement is obsolete and has been debunked by international studies with millions of subjects, and (2) failing to vaccinate carries externalities, i.e. exposing other kids to diseases like the measles that were essentially eradicated. If someone asks you if [parents should vaccinate their kids], you say YES.
Question 3: Do you believe in climate change?
Bad answer: Congressman Don Young said, “I believe this is the biggest scam since Teapot Dome.”
Good answer: I support cleaner air and cleaner water. The question is what sorts of policies balance environmental concerns and economic security. That is why I support an all-of-the-above energy policy where we explore for oil while simultaneously developing alternative fuels. It does not have to be one or the other.
Commentary: The left and the media have put politicians into boxes as either deniers or believers. The Pentagon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other credible sources tell us that pollution from fossil fuels harms the environment. Denying that fact destroys candidates’ credibility, especially with swing voters, and so they should stop doing it. And, fighting over whether the climate is or is not changing is a distracting side show. Where right-leaning candidates can catch their opponents on their heels is when they ask, “So what should we do?” That is when the real debate begins because candidates must make choices that balance economic interests with environmental ones. The good news is that candidates can deliver a positive message on this issue by an embracing an “all of the above” energy policy. [Note: This does not mean that anyone should condone fudging data or that some in the environmental movement are not credible. It also does not mean that it is a good idea for the government to hand out tax dollars to failing companies like Solyndra.]
Candidates, I hope that you will take these tips as they are intended – to be helpful in raising the level of political discourse in America as we enter the critical 2016 campaign cycle.
Happy February! It’s cold outside, but, considering recent events, your political discussions will likely be very heated. Here are your talking points.
Netanyahu’s Congressional Address:
• Last week, Speaker of the House Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress and speak about the threats posed by a nuclear Iran.
• The White House complained the invitation was a “breach of protocol,” as foreign policy is assigned to the Executive Branch pursuant to the Constitution.
• There has been no progress in Iranian negotiations for years, only repeatedly delayed deadlines. Congress is considering a bi-partisan bill which ratchets up sanctions on Iran. Israel faces an existential threat if Iran gets the bomb – Netanyahu’s address is both necessary and appropriate.
• While Netanyahu is here, Obama won’t meet with him. His schedule is simply too packed, according to the White House.
• Oh, and just for those folks still complaining – let’s not forget that the President invited South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to address Congress in 2011…without asking Speaker Boehner.
So That’s How You Take Swift Action Against ISIS:
• ISIS (the jayvee team, according to POTUS) recently killed a captured Jordanian fighter pilot, Moath al-Kasasbeh, by burning him alive.
• In response the Jordanian government quickly executed two jihadist prisoners. Jordan’s King Abdullah is ticked, and in a meeting with the members of the House Armed Services committee started quoting Clint Eastwood’s flick The Untouchables.
Robin Hood Budget:
In the past few days, Obama submitted his proposed budget to congress.
• The Obama budget would contain $2.1 trillion in new taxes (although the administration cited lower gas prices as an economic boost similar to a tax cut, they believe a tax increase of $2.1 trillion on businesses and the wealthy would help the economy.)
• The Budget proposed has no chance of being adopted by Congress, but it gives us some insight into the President’s priorities. The proposal indicates that President Obama believes the midterm election meant nothing, and he does not want to “find common ground”. Hence Obama is giving the middle finger to the voters who sent him a message in November, telling America the era of bigger government is not over.
• A recent analysis of the budget predicts that taxes will actually increase on people making between $49,000 and $84,000 – the same middle class folks Obama sought to help in his State of the Union. Only 12.5% of middle class singles would see a tax decrease. Only 10% of elderly taxpayers receive a tax cut under this budget. Most elderly people would pay an additional $152.
• Under this budget proposal, the federal death tax would increase from 40% to 60% on the inheritance’s capital gains, and capital gains taxes on dividends (money that has already been taxed once) would increase from 23.8% to 28%.
• The majority of people that would benefit from “tax cuts/credits” under the proposal pay no federal income taxes anyway. In other words, they would be receiving additional “welfare” through Obama’s proposed tax “credits.”
• All of the new tax revenue will be used for “welfare” tax credits, infrastructure spending, and free community college. On top of that, an additional $474 billion will be added to the deficit as a result of the increased spending.
• The proposal would raise the national debt to $26 trillion by 2025.
• The additional spending includes $48 billion for green energy interests that supported Obama’s re-election as well as $2 trillion for the costs of Obamacare.
The Republicans’ Quest for the 2016 Candidate:
• All factions of the GOP are looking for their perfect candidate. There never will be a candidate that every faction will agree with 100% of the time. The prime characteristic that the factions neglect when vetting candidates is charisma.
• When electability, charisma, and personality are not properly considered, we are dealt candidates who cannot win races that the GOP should not lose. Examples include Doug Hoffman, the uninspiring tea party candidate in New York’s 23rd congressional district in 2009 or the Christine O’Donnell “I am not a witch” disaster of the 2012 Delaware Senate campaign.
• It is time for the partisan talking heads, tea partiers, and the establishment to consider and accept that a candidate with charisma, high likability factor, and 85% policy agreement is a better pick than a candidate without charisma and likability, but agrees 100%.
• We must stop fighting within the party over a meaningless 15%, especially when the candidate with a 100% agreeable rating essentially has a 0% chance of winning. Now is the time for all groups within the GOP to gain some perspective and to realize that a candidate who cannot win, is not a candidate.
Romney for President III (not gonna happen):
• 2012 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney recently announced that he will not seek the party’s nomination in 2016. Governor Romney is a good man and would have made a good President. But it is time for the GOP to move forward and nominate someone new. To win back the White House, the Republican voters need to select a candidate that is not only articulate and charismatic, but has also demonstrated that he/she is willing to fight and do what is required to defeat the democrat party that will undoubtably sink to unthinkable levels to win.
BallGhazi! Deflated Footballs:
• The New England Patriots and their quarterback, Tom Brady, were accused of illegally deflating footballs to gain an advantage over their opponents. This professional sports controversy, two pounds of air in a football, caused a greater mainstream media firestorm than the Benghazi cover-up, the IRS scandal, and ObamaCare’s disastrous “unintended” consequences, combined.
Quote of the Week
“Prison is a Socialist’s Paradise, where equality prevails, everything is supplied, and competition is eliminated.” – Elbert Hubbard