Category Archives: Mentions

Rick Perry would have difficulty honoring past vow to scrap Energy Department || Yahoo News

Rick Perry would have difficulty honoring past vow to scrap Energy Department

Senior National Affairs Reporter
Yahoo News 

The iconic moment of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s ill-fated 2012 presidential run came when he struggled during a debate to rattle off the names of three federal agencies he had vowed to eliminate — uttering an infamously painful “oops” instead of naming the Department of Energy.

In an ironic twist, President-elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that Perry was his pick to lead that very agency, which handles energy research and policy as well as the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

Once Perry has the reins, will he try to slim down — or even get rid of entirely — the agency he once vowed to eliminate?

If so, he faces a rough road ahead. Significant reform of federal agencies is difficult and has few precedents. Former President Ronald Reagan, who vowed to shut down the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, famously complained that “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”

Reagan dutifully appointed people to lead both of his least favorite agencies, and he did not succeed in shutting them down or even significantly shrinking them.

“He always respected the men who he put there; he just didn’t respect the agencies,” said Craig Shirley, a historian who has written several books about Reagan. “They either cut spending or at least they toed the line on spending.”

“Eliminating a federal agency is almost impossible,” Shirley added.

President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Energy in 1977 during the oil crisis, but its major responsibility is the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile. The agency spends about $30 billion per year — with $18.4 billion of that going to the U.S. nuclear weapons program, including maintaining, securing and designing the nukes. Another $10 billion goes to energy and physical sciences research. The current leader of the agency, Ernest Moniz, is a nuclear physicist.

It’s unclear what Perry planned to do with the nuclear weapons under his 2012 proposal to shut down the agency. Some have suggested that the military could take charge of the program, but having them in the hands of a civilian agency is seen as a crucial check on the military’s power. In a statement about his selection, Perry said he looked forward to “engaging in a conversation” about “the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first.”

Avik Roy, a policy adviser to Perry in his unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign, said he believes that Perry may focus less on slimming down or shutting down the agency and more on limiting the scope of its powers.

“Generally speaking, conservatives believe agencies should be slimmer, but it’s not really about the personnel, it’s about what powers these agencies have been assigned by Congress,” Roy said. “If you really want to reform agencies, you can slim down the staff, but if the agency has certain responsibilities invested by Congress — that’s why you have staff.”

James Burnley, the secretary of transportation under Reagan, agreed that any administration has relatively little power to change a federal agency on its own. “You’ve got a lot of power in the executive branch, but when it comes to the basic structure of the federal government, Congress does really have the whip hand.”

Reagan was able to shrink the size of a small agency in 1981, when Congress agreed to reduce appropriations for parts of the Action Agency, an umbrella agency for volunteer programs such as the Peace Corps. Years later, the agency was eliminated.

Roy predicted that Perry will be a noninterventionist leader, reluctant to intrude on private energy exploration and vigilant in trying to ensure that the department isn’t having negative affects on the economy.

 Still, there are some signs that Perry may have some cuts in mind for the department. The Trump transition team sent a 74-item questionnaire to Energy Department employees last week asking which of its programs are necessary to meet President Obama’s goals of reducing carbon emissions. The survey raised concerns that the Trump team may be considering eliminating those programs. The questionnaire even asked for the names of scientists working on climate change topics. Both Trump and Perry have denied that human-caused climate change exists, though Trump said in Fox News interview Sunday that he is keeping an open mind about it.

On Wednesday, a Trump transition official said the questionnaire was not sanctioned. “The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled,” the official told Yahoo News.

Two Patriots in the Crucible of December 1941 || Real Clear Politics

Jay Dawley graduated from West Point in 1939, having entered the military academy four years earlier. It was prescient, as his family knew that war was coming.

“My father was pretty certain of it and he said, ‘I’ll send you to any college in the country, but I think that West Point would be a good choice,’” Dawley reported to me three years ago. Of course, he noted, having an uncle in Congress — Sen. Stephen Young — helped give him a perspective on the greater world.

Dawley excelled at the Point, graduating No. 2 in his class. Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Class of ’39 and personally handed the young man from Cleveland his diploma. He recalled that FDR sat on a stool as he awarded the certificates.

Dawley was present at Pearl Harbor on that date that would live in infamy. As fate would have it, he had been due to begin leave on December 8, 1941. The Japanese had other plans for him.

He initially didn’t think it was an attack. It couldn’t have been. “I heard some bangs like airplane noises and some explosions and I thought, ‘Gosh, I’ll bet there’s a crash. Probably the Navy maneuvering or something … and I’ll bet somebody crashed.’”  But when he looked outside there were dozens of Rising Suns in the sky.

When under attack, most people seek shelter. Not Lt. Dawley, or any of the service members stationed there that day. “We got out, got our rifles and fired at these airplanes.  They were about 400 feet above us.” He did this in his bathrobe.

It was “the first time I’d ever fired at anybody in anger,” he recalled. Of course, seeing your brothers in arms slaughtered in a cowardly attack would bring out the anger in even the calmest man.

Dawley’s other immediate reaction was shock and awe: “I was just overlooking Pearl Harbor. I saw the dangers, all the smoke and things, and [knew] this is major war. And [thinking], what is my great country going to do about it? Here I am seeing the war itself start.” Imagine: witnessing an unprovoked attack first-hand, and realizing that the world, much less your country, was not going to be the same. Twenty years earlier, a generation of young men had died in the so-called War to End All Wars. Not so. Instead, another one was here.

Dawley immediately cancelled his own leave – before any commanding officer would do so. He was determined to see this through on his terms. Wars are often brought about by old men but are fought by young men. Dawley, who would rise to the rank of colonel, passed away several years ago, yet another unsung hero of military service. His father had once chased Pancho Villa all over Mexico as part of the National Guard, so service was deep in his blood. Still, the Army in 1941 was a pretty casual affair. “There was a kind of soldiering, you might say kind of goldbricking around,” was how Dawley described it. But he was still proud to wear the uniform and shortly would become prouder still.

The next day, Roosevelt made his historic call for a declaration of war before a joint session of Congress. It was a momentous occasion, and the vote was done in less than an hour after FDR gave his famous “date which will live in infamy” speech. All senators and representatives – save one – voted for war.

One of the witnesses to Roosevelt’s momentous speech was John Dingell Jr., at the time a 15-year old page in the House of Representatives. His father, John Dingell Sr., was a representative from Michigan. (Dingell Jr. would later replace his father in Congress, serving admirably for nearly 60 years.) Decades later, Dingell recalled the 500-word speech as “extraordinary,” comparing it to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. And he remembered the “enormous” applause that often interrupted Roosevelt.

Part of Dingell’s job was the help reporters get to their seats. He recalled doing so for conservative columnist Fulton Lewis and his heavy audiotaping machine. It was the first time the House permitted the use of film, photography and other recording devices in the chamber.

When it came to the vote, Rep. Jeannette Rankin’s sole objection to the war was met with hisses and boos. John remembers his father yelling, “Sit down, sister!” at the Montana congresswoman. Dingell Sr. “had enormously powerful feelings,” his son explained, partly because of his Polish ancestry. A country rich in history and culture, Poland was being decimated by the Nazis, so any opposition to the war declaration was akin, in the congressman’s eyes, to accepting such destruction. He hated the non-interventionist America First Committee with a passion for that very reason.

Dingell Jr., witnessing history, was afraid. He was a teenager, after all. “I’m scared to death, and we were not sure we could win.  First of all, nobody knew what the hell had happened.  We knew a bunch of battleships had gotten sunk, but we didn’t know how many.  We didn’t realize the day of the battleship was over and that the aircraft carrier was the new queen in the seas. … They actually thought there was going to be an invasion” of the U.S. homeland.

Roosevelt was – and continues to be – a personal hero of his. The Great Depression had crippled the United States, and FDR brought it back to life. The war would be vast in scale, but to a larger-than-life president, that made little difference.

And thus were two young men, thousands of miles apart, witnesses to history. Both were in service to their country, drawn together by a patriotism that too few today can fully fathom.

Source

Carrier Deal Mirrors Reagan’s Pragmatic Conservatism || Lifezette

Carrier Deal Mirrors Reagan’s Pragmatic Conservatism

Trump demonstrates an understanding that opportunity is created in the absence of bureaucracy

by Craig Shirley | Updated 09 Dec 2016 at 11:50 AM

Several years ago, a garden-variety liberal columnist asked me to lunch to help him understand American conservatism. Over the course of our conversation, I illustrated how the Louisiana Purchase was a good, though misunderstood, expression of American conservatism. Thomas Jefferson, in acquiring the vast tract of land from France, effectively diminished the reach and authority of the national government, while doubling the size of the nation. The deal enlarged freedom and thus conservatism.

“A free people [claim] their rights,” Jefferson said, “as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.” Fifty years later, he described the excess of government as “too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”

The scribe did not comprehend my point, even as I patiently explained it several times. For one delicious moment, I told this unreconstructed liberal: “You don’t understand.” Priceless.

Other conservatives, including the framers of the Constitution, have understood that American conservatism is mostly the absence of government and bureaucracies. Not laws, mind you — but the absence of bureaucracies. The American Constitution is unique because it says what government cannot do. It is the near-perfect expression of non-governance. Government cannot regulate speech or assembly, cannot occupy a person’s private property, and cannot infringe on a person’s right to own guns. The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 were God-inspired geniuses. Thomas Paine, the great American thinker, wrote in his 1795 work “First Principles of Government” that “in the absence of a constitution, men look entirely to party; and instead of principle governing party, party governs principle.”

Ronald Reagan also understood this. In his famed speech “A Time For Choosing” in 1964, he said that the “idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique [sic] idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.” He was mostly successful in limiting the growth of government, but he was wildly successful in growing the national private economy.

If one limits the growth of government, pulls back regulations and spurs substantial economic growth, then by definition one shrinks the authority of the state over private individuals. The citizen becomes the master of the state, rather than the slave. Freedom and bureaucracy cannot occupy the same space.

Reagan, courtesy of Jack Kemp, embraced Enterprise Zones for distressed areas as a means to spur economic growth through the exemption of taxation and regulation. “A record number of blacks, some 10.6 million, now have jobs,” Reagan said in 1985. “Since Nov. 1982, the black unemployment rate has fallen by 6.5 percentage points, and nearly one of every five new jobs generated went to a black man, woman or teenager. Blacks have gained an average of 45,000 new jobs every month for the past 31 months — twice the job gain rates of whites.”

If the Democratic Congress had given Enterprise Zones to Reagan, that record would have been better still. It was through Enterprise Zones that, Reagan believed, the absence of oppressive government would allow the free economy and freedom to flourish.

Donald Trump is not a philosophical conservative, but he revealed an intrinsic understanding of conservatism in his deal to keep Carrier’s Indianapolis plant inside the United States. Yes, it is a good thing for over a thousand families, but just as important (and what Sarah Palin does not understand) is that Trump did so by following a conservative philosophy — not violating it. Carrier said the main reason they were leaving was because of the thicket of federal regulations and heavy taxation. Even Reagan supported loan guarantees to Detroit because he perceived the various auto makers were the victims of Washington regulation and unfair competition from Japan.

Trump set out to remove those barriers for the Carrier Corporation.

This deal was simply the practical application of Reagan’s Enterprise Zones. Reagan believed in the “miracle of the marketplace” if left alone. But sometimes government has to intervene, if only to stop government or pull back unfair bureaucratic intervention. This is welcomed thinking after the stale anti-pragmatism of Obamaism and Bushism.

Trump, like Reagan, identified government as the problem.

Besides, if liberal favorites Apple and the NFL don’t have to pay any federal taxes, it seems only fair that Carrier’s tax and regulatory burden be reduced.

Craig Shirley is a Reagan biographer and presidential historian. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and the forthcoming books “Reagan Rising” and “Citizen Newt.”

Source

Historian Craig Shirley on Pearl Harbor: ‘December 7 Is the Linchpin of History for America’ || Breitbart

Historian Craig Shirley on Pearl Harbor: ‘December 7 Is the Linchpin of History for America’

by JOHN HAYWARD

Historian Craig Shirley, author of December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World, joined SiriusXM host Matt Boyle on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

“December 7th is the linchpin of history for America,” Shirley declared. “On December 6th, America was kind of a tired and run-down country, with no real national mission other than trying to get out of the Great Depression. By December 8th, we had become revolutionized and revitalized as a young and vibrant country, with a national mission that later translated into the mission to defeat Soviet Communism. But first, we had to the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany.”

“It’s really quite remarkable. You know, you think about all the things – whether the space program, or John Kennedy’s presidency, or Ronald Reagan’s presidency, or Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency – all of them stem directly from Pearl Harbor,” he mused. “Had Pearl Harbor not existed, these men would not have been President of the United States. We might never have landed on the moon. There would be no United Nations. There would be no internationalism or neoconservatism, or Bush, or any of those other things which all have, in some way, derived their policies and their programs from December 7th and the aftermath of December 7th. So it is the pick-lock of history.”

Shirley set the stage for the attack by noting “there had been, historically, a good, warm relationship between Japan and the United States.”

“Japan had been a closed society for three decades, until Matthew Perry, Admiral Perry, sailed into Tokyo Harbor in the 1850s and began an open-door – not the open-door policy, but an open-door policy. From that time forward, there had been strong trade relations, strong cultural relations, strong educational relations between Japan and the United States,” he recalled. “They were our ally in World War I. They were on our side against the Germans. When the end of the Sino-Japanese War took place in 1905, President Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, negotiated the peace talks, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Japanese felt that Roosevelt had bent over backwards to see their point of view in the war, so they always had warm affection for Teddy Roosevelt, and hence the United States.”

“We began to diverge after World War I,” he continued. “A shogunate culture, a very militaristic, macho shogunate culture begins to take root in Japan, and they start to build up their war machine. They almost revert back to the Dark Ages in many ways: Women don’t have rights. It’s a manly culture. It’s a macho culture. It’s a very bullish, arrogant culture.”

“We also passed laws restricting Asiatic immigration into the United States, and then we passed restrictive trade bills, and then we passed the Neutrality Acts of the 1930s,” Shirley added. “So by the 1930s, we’re barely talking to each other, and it’s not very warmly. And, of course, Japan, to feed its expansionist military, needs natural resources, and we’re an impediment to that. Our fleet in the Pacific is an impediment to their expansionist policies.”

“So there’s only one solution, which is one massive stroke to decapitate all the British and American military presence in the central and western Pacific, and that’s what they did on December 7, 1941,” he said.

He described that day as a typical Sunday morning. “Some people are going to church. Some people are sleeping off hangovers. One guy I knew was on the deck of the Nevada. He’s a Navy seaman. He was on KP duty and was peeling potatoes, when all of a sudden, 150 Japanese airplanes drop out of the sky with what they referred to as the ‘giant meatball’ on the side, the big red painting on the side of the planes. He has nothing in his hands except for potatoes, and as these planes are whizzing by, he’s throwing potatoes at these Japanese bombers and fighters, trying to do something, trying to do some sort of damage.”

“We were completely unprepared. We were completely asleep. No anti-aircraft fire, no guns, no ship movement, no nothing. We were just completely naked in the morning sun, left exposed to be decimated by the Japanese,” Shirley said.

He noted that communications in 1941 were not what they are today, but people still found out about it within minutes, “either through the radio broadcasts or later through newspapers that were rushed out a couple of hours after the attack, very thin newspapers that announced the attack.”

“They found out gossiping over the fence with their neighbors or in church: ‘Did you hear about the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor?’ So everybody was pretty much up to speed,” he said. “They didn’t have the details. A lot of rumors took hold, and a lot of things people got wrong, but they understood that Japan had attacked America at Pearl Harbor. That they understood. And America’s resolve changed instantly. We changed instantly from an isolationist country to an internationalist country, at least in terms of going to war with Japan.”

“There’s no resistance whatsoever. There’s no pacifists. There’s no leftists. There’s not one editorial, not one columnist, only one member of Congress – Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana – votes against our entry into the Pacific war. It passed the House with just her, overwhelmingly obviously, and it passes the Senate 83 to nothing, with no objections whatsoever. Within only several hours after Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war does he get one, and he signs it, and he says, ‘This is it,’ and he realizes now the United States is plunging into a war that they desperately wanted to avoid,” Shirley said.

“Everything changes in America,” he said. “We stop announcing ship movements and troop movements. We get used to blackouts. We get used to roadblocks. Japanese nationals begin to be rounded up. All reserves are canceled. Everybody’s to go back into their uniform, which they’d been wearing civvies most of the time. Gas rationing starts to take hold quickly, food rationing, sugar rationing, coffee rationing. Scrap metal drives, paper drives, rubber drives all take place very, very quickly after December 7th, and the nation is transformed within a matter of days and weeks after December 7th.”

“The arsenal of democracy is such that within three weeks of December 7th, Ford Motor Company, along with Fisher Auto Body and Goodyear Tire, stops producing cars – which by the way, Washington told people are complaining about Trump manipulating businesses. FDR manipulated and directed every business in America for four years,” he observed. “Washington told Detroit, ‘You are no longer to build new cars,’ and Detroit said okay. So Detroit starts churning out fabricated B-24 and B-25 bombers made out of the parts of new cars that were going to be made.”

“Kelvinator in Chicago, which made coffee pots and things like that – everybody. Children became part of the war effort, with victory gardens and scrap drives, and old people by saving grease, which was used for the treads on tanks. Everybody contributed in some way, shape, or form to the war effort,” Shirley said.

He called World War II “the most democratic war that you could imagine” because of the way it unified the country and involved people from every walk of life.

“In Vietnam, there was the college deferment. In the Civil War, you could buy your way out of service. But for World War II, everybody of draftable age was drafted. Those who weren’t, tried to enlist. And if they didn’t enlist and they weren’t drafted, then they found some other way to serve their country,” he observed.

Shirley said it was interesting to recall that “Churchill had been lobbying FDR for months” to support Britain, which he accurately presented as the “last line of defense against Nazism,” but “there was no will in this country for getting involved in another European war after World War I.”

“Even after the attack, there’s no linkage whatsoever between the attack at Pearl Harbor and our getting into the European war. The reason we get into the European war is four days after the attack, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini declare war on the United States because of the Tripartite Pact with Japan, which was a mutual defense agreement,” he pointed out. “So, therefore, we have to respond, so we declare war on Germany and Italy. But there’s no evidence whatsoever that would have gotten involved in the European war after Pearl Harbor, until Hitler and Italy declare war on the United States.”

The war America fought with Japan was exceptionally long and brutal, for as Shirley explained, Japanese military culture held it “better to die” than be taken captive.

“The Japanese soldier fought tenaciously and to the very death because they actually preferred death to being taken hostage or being taken prisoner, so it was a long slog over all these tiny atolls and islands, over three, four thousand miles across the Pacific, to invade them and to eradicate them. Guadalcanal was the tail of a bloody, bloody conflict which took months, and many, many American lives were lost,” he said.

“And we haven’t even mentioned the wounded,” Shirley added. “We lost in World War II something like 275,000 men, I believe, but it was well over a million wounded men [who] lost limbs, lost arms, lost their eyesight, lost their hearing – in some way, shape, or form were somehow badly damaged by the war effort. The casualties were exceedingly high in some instances, like Anzio in Europe.”

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Listen to the complete audio of the interview above.

Source

The attack on Pearl Harbor united Americans like no other event in our history || Washington Post

The attack on Pearl Harbor united Americans like no other event in our history

Seventy-five years ago was the last time the nation truly came together.

December 7 at 6:00 AM

The United States prides itself in being a unified country. The Pledge of Allegiance declares us “one nation under God.” The Declaration of Independence also says we are “united Colonies,” and the Preamble to the Constitution says, “We the People of the United States, to form a more perfect Union.”

And yet throughout history, we the people have rarely been interested in coming together for a common cause. We may be united in government, but we certainly aren’t in policies. During the American Revolution against British imperial rule, approximately 20 percent of the population took up the cause of the Loyalists and supported King George III. The Civil War, less than a century after the Revolution, is the prime example of divisiveness: South versus North, slaveholders versus abolitionists, states’ rights versus federal rights. The war led to hundreds of thousands of American deaths on both sides. Most other wars — the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, the First World War, Vietnam, Iraq (twice; three times counting the Islamic State), Afghanistan — were met with fierce opposition on one end and fierce support on the other.

Throughout the 240 years of U.S. history, we have only been truly united twice. Sept. 11, 2001 was a brief moment, only to be forgotten and lost in the rabbles and divisiveness of the domestic and foreign policies of the so-called War on Terror. Fifteen years later, through President George W. Bush’s two terms and President Obama’s two, we still bicker and argue over what was and is being done in the Middle East. It will continue for the foreseeable future, making whatever unity we once had on that day irrelevant.

The other time we as a country were united for a cause — one that actually lasted more than a few months — was immediately following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

The war in Europe — not yet called the Second World War — was simply known as “the emergency.” The invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939, followed by hostilities from England, France, Italy and the Soviet Union, was continuing in full swing. In June 1941, Germany opened up a second front, plowing straight into the heart of Russian territory. It was all a European matter. The United States was protected and secure between two giant oceans. And so, many thinking they were safe, it was believed that there was no need for the United States to join in the fight. Yet. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president since 1933, was determined to lend a helping hand to Britain. On May 11, 1941, he signed the Lend-Lease agreement, which allowed the United States to give military aid to Britain in their time of need. But it was fraught with political risk for FDR.

On the other side of the spectrum were the likes of the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Joseph Kennedy, who said to the Boston Globe that “democracy is finished in England. It may be here.” He also argued that the war in Europe was not for democracy, but self-preservation — an important point of contrast if the United States wanted to help. One of the biggest institutions of isolationists was the “America First” movement, which sprang up into action when Germany invaded Poland several years earlier. People from across the political spectrum were members, from 1928 Democratic presidential nominee Al Smith to aviator Charles Lindbergh. Political opinions did not matter, as long as the interest of keeping America out of the war came first. Likewise, opponents to the America First-ers were on both sides of the aisle, from FDR to Republican nominee Wendell Willkie. The American First Movement was popular; both Republicans and Democrats were members. In the 1930s, Democrats in Congress passed various Neutrality Acts, which codified the isolationism of the United States.

That all changed after Dec. 7.

The immediate aftermath of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, where hundreds of Japanese planes and bombers destroyed and damaged 19 American ships and destroyed nearly 200 planes, resulting in the deaths of 2,403 American men, women and children, was confusion and shock. How could this happen, how did this get through, why did they do this?

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt, that night via a national radio broadcast, pleaded with every American to “go about our daily business more determined than ever to do the ordinary things as well as we can and when we find a way to do anything more in our communities to help others, to build morale, to give a feeling of security, we must do it. Whatever is asked of us I am sure we can accomplish it. We are the free and unconquerable people of the United States of America.”

After the initial shock, though, Americans went to work. They had a cause.

President Roosevelt declared war on Japan on Dec. 8 before a joint session of Congress. Senators and representatives who — no more than 48 hours earlier — were champions of isolationism and critics of FDR were now in full support of war. “There is no politics here. There is only one party when it comes to the integrity and honor of this country,” said House Minority Leader Joseph Martin. Willkie, who ran against Roosevelt the year before, said, “I have not the slightest doubt as to what a united America should and will do.”

Less than an hour after the president gave his famed “date that will live in infamy” speech, Congress voted nearly unanimously for war with Japan. In the Senate, the vote was 82—0; the House vote was 388—1. The sole opposing vote, from Rep. Jeannette Rankin (R-Mont.), was met with boos and hisses. Rankin, who had voted against World War I in her first term in Congress, also abstained from voting for war against Germany and Italy. These votes effectively ended her political career.

The America First Committee dissolved, never to be seen again in any sort of political or ideological structure again. “The time for military action is here,” said national chairman Robert Wood on Dec. 11. “Therefore the America First Committee has determined immediately to cease all functions and to dissolve … There is no longer any question about our involvement … [and] can be completely defined in one word, victory.” Wood had been a hero of the First World War, and he knew danger when he saw it. Another isolationist group, Mothers of American Sons, similarly disbanded and promised all funds to go to the war effort. The Mothers had the slogan, “We want our sons to live in peace, not rest in peace on European battlefields.”

Food and gas rationing, victory gardens, Civil Defense volunteers, scrap metal drives, paper drives, rubber drives — all these stood as tangible evidence of the unity of Americans in the days after Pearl Harbor.

Revenue from war bonds bought from every walk of life were flowing in, and donations for the war effort were staking up. Bonds were a popular Christmas gift, selling from $25 to $1,000 apiece. One man, too old to fight, donated $25 for the effort; another woman sent simply $5. A senior class at Baird High School in Texas used $37.50 planned for their class picnic to buy bonds instead. A man in Manhattan, George Herman Ruth Jr., wanted to buy $100,000 worth of war bonds — he was told that the maximum was $50,000, so he bought half in December 1941 and half in January 1942. (You may know him better by his nickname, Babe.) Archbishop Francis Joseph Spellman of New York donated $1,000 to the Red Cross, and even gave “one pint of ecclesiastical blood,” as Time magazine reported.

Later in December 1941, just four days before Christmas, Roosevelt declared that New Year’s Day should be considered a “Universal Day of Prayer.”

“We are confident in our devotion to country, in our love of freedom, in our inheri­tance of strength,” he said. “But our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us. [It will be] a day of . . . asking forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecration to the tasks of the present, of asking God’s help in days to come.” So when New Year’s Eve came and went, amid wonder about what the future of the world held, Americans everywhere went to their respective churches to pray. Roosevelt himself wrote a prayer, sent out with the highest priority across the globe. In a strong, meaningful call for unity and call for strength, Roosevelt said that “the new year of 1942 calls for the courage and the resolution of old and young to help win a world struggle in order that we may preserve all we hold dear.”

Before Nov. 7, the Navy and Army were severely undermanned, partly because of their own doing. Twenty percent of men who applied were rejected for “defective teeth,” an odd reason. Due to the Selective Service being too selective, a year before the attacks, only 51,000 men were enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Some, when they were selected, refused to join as “conscientious objectors.” The Navy similarly had troubles filling their ranks.

After that fateful day, though, enlistment and recruitment offices were full to the brim. Birmingham, Ala., had 600 men volunteer in the first few hours after the attacks, many too young to even enlist. Boston’s recruitment offices had hundreds waiting in lines for hours, bonding with their newfound friends. “All recruit­ing records of the nation’s armed forces were shattered . . . as thousands of men attempted to enlist for combat duty in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard,” reported the New York Times on Dec. 10. Brigadier General Louis B. Hershey, director of the Selective Service Administration, even floated the idea of enlisting women, an issue controversial even to modern sentiment, let alone in the 1940s. Indeed, many women wanted to do their part — from wishing to enlist to donating their silk stockings for war use.

In the next four years, the United States was united against the Axis. The next several years saw the defeat of two empires and the rise of the United States as a global superpower. That is how unity works. That is how a surprise attack on a small island nearly 3,000 miles away from continental land changed the very fabric and very culture of a country. Before that fateful day, many people on the mainland would have had trouble identifying where Pearl Harbor was. It was a place of no real importance to the everyday American in Kansas or New York.  After Dec. 7, it had the entire country march hand-in-hand into battle and into victory.

Craig Shirley is the author of four books on Ronald Reagan, including the newly released “Last Act: The Final Years and Enduring Legacy of Ronald Reagan.”

Scott Mauer is the primary research assistant to Craig Shirley. He has a master’s degree in humanities and history from Hood College in Frederick, Md.

Source