Podcast Episode 143: Earmarks

Donald Trump wants Congress to bring back so-called earmarks. This raised concern among some conservatives and libertarians. They believe earmarks lead to more spending and bloated budgets, earmarks are the best path to responsible, transparent government. Thomas Jefferson thought so, as did Madison and Monroe. So does Ron Paul. I give you the historical perspective in this episode of The Brion McClanahan Show.

Podcast Episode 142: From Oligarchy to Republicanism?

Was the antebellum South an “oligarchic” society? Many modern scholars seem to think so. One in particular, Forrest Nabors, argues that the South was only saved from itself by the noble Republican Party during Reconstruction. Before that point, the South was not “American” nor did it have “American” institutions. This is pure hogwash, and I explain why in this episode of The Brion McClanahan Show.

Podcast Episode 141: The Worst Presidents?

The neo-con historians strike again. Should we not expect this from the National Review? Of course, but a recent piece by “conservative” Jay Cost on “The Worst Presidents?” is particularly bad. Eric Foner could not have written it better. In fact, I wonder if Foner guest wrote the column. Cost considers Pierce, Buchanan, and Andrew Johnson to be the worst presidents in American history…after saying …more

Podcast Episode 140: Finding Community Radio

Podcasting has become an important part of mass media. It has allowed everyone with a voice, a hobby, or an opinion to have an outlet for mass media consumption. It has not always been so. Traditional radio dominated this type of media for decades, and its staying power even in the age of podcasting is undeniable. The “national” talk radio trend of the last thirty …more

Podcast Episode 139: Rural vs. Urban America

Urban America has never trusted rural America. That has been the case since the 18th century and it has not changed in 200 years. This dichotomy has created a political, economic, and social fissure in American life and is one of the more important trends in American history. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece entitled “One Nation Divisible” explaining the modern differences between …more

Podcast Episode 138: Emotivism and American Politics

American politics has become a game of emotion. This is by design. We cannot have rational arguments because people “feel” their vote rather than “think” it. Such is the case with most cultural issues, from immigration to Confederate monuments. Paul Graham’s book “Confederaphobia” outlines this nicely, but the problem is bigger than what he describes. Emotivism is a cancer, but killing it will be almost …more

Podcast Episode 137: Occam’s Razor and Simple History

I hear many people–including “distinguished historians”–suggest that the War for Southern Independence can be explained by one word: slavery. Years ago I had someone tell me this was justified by “Occam’s Razor,” the idea that the simplest explanation was usually the correct one. That might work for science or theology, though that is debatable, but it does not work for history. I explain why in …more

Podcast Episode 136: Roy Moore, Taxes, and Local Government

Depending on who you ask, now that the dust has settled in the Roy Moore election and Trump has signed a new tax bill, all is either well or awful in the American Empire. It doesn’t matter either way. Sure, I want to save money in taxes, doesn’t everybody, but the tax bill and the Moore election are two reasons why everyone should be thinking …more

Podcast Episode 135: The Long War, 1789-Present

Historians like to keep things neat and tidy and thus often compartmentalize different periods in Western Civilization. The profession’s infatuation with monographs has led to a climate where the “longue duree” is often overlooked. That is unfortunate because it misses the conjunction between political, military, economic, and social history. As we reflect on American involvement in World War I, it is important to see that …more

Podcast Episode 134: John Dickinson and Originalism

A fan of the show emailed me asking what books, websites, etc. should he be reading to determine original intent. Of course my Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution was designed for that purpose, but there are several other good books and websites that discuss either originalism or provide the primary sources to understand the concept. And of course there were members of the founding …more