How Herbert Hoover Launched Cardinal Nation

The St. Louis Cardinals were the major league team farthest west and farthest south until the 1950s.  But that’s not the only reason the Redbirds built a massive flock of fans from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The St. Louis Cardinals owe big government statism and technological innovation a big thanks, in addition to geography and great teams.  The technology was radio.  The big government statist?  None other than Herbert Hoover.

This was just one of the amazing facts I put together reading Michael Patrick Leahy’s magnificent book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.  (Buy it today.)

Bill Hennessy Reading Covenant of Liberty

No, Mike didn’t devote page space to the Cardinals. Instead, he traces the ideological roots of the Tea Party—and the government-loving hatchet men who’ve been chopping at those roots since the Constitution was signed.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)Hoover addresses a large crowd in his 1932 cam...

Hoover used his power as cabinet secretary under Woodrow Wilson, and later Republicans Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, to grab the radio airwaves as the exclusive property of the US Government.  A champion of “associationalism” and public-private partnerships, Hoover granted mega-station power to a handful of lucky radio corporations.  These stations got 50,000 watt, clear channel licenses, allowing them to blast their signals around the continent.  And, thanks to geography, one station could broadcast around the world.

That station, KMOX in St. Louis, began broadcasting the St. Louis Cardinals in 1926. KMOX carried the Cardinals to farms, small towns, and cities throughout the Midwest and South Central states. In fact, by 1928, KMOX could be heard as far away as New Zealand, making it the first truly global radio station.The closest team to baseball fans in Missouri, Southern Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, Kentucky, and even Georgia was now available at 1120 AM.

Leahy points out the economic value of a clear channel license:

A clear channel license was, in essence, a license to print money because each clear channel station could, in the evenings, reach up to half of the geographical territory of the United States. Each station, then, could reach well over 50 million listeners, and advertisers were more than willing to pay top dollar to reach those listeners, provided of course that the programming was half way decent.

Hoover’s intention was to draw more power into the central government. In 1926,the Supreme Court struck down Hoover’s directives as Commerce Secretary. Those directives had given the government exclusive power to operate radio stations in the United States. The Navy was, for a time, America’s only radio network. It created the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) to manage its stations.

(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Matt Holliday #7...

After the Supreme Court decisions, Hoover was ordered to issue radio licenses. Unwilling to surrender control to the free market, which he despised, Hoover managed to get Congress to adopt the Federal Radio Act of 1927—and Cardinal Nation was born.

One of the first things Hoover did was create a spectrum that allocated sixteen gigantic 50,000 watt stations across the country. He licensed these stations to General Electric, Westinghouse, and a few other powerful manufacturing interests.

Earlier, as Agriculture Secretary under Woodrow Wilson, Hoover was the first to win broad government control of food production and distribution. (President Obama’s Executive Order of March 16 extends the White House’s power to take over food and other industries, augmenting the damage Hoover’s statism as done.)

Hoover’s public policy legacy, according to Leahy, was, indeed, the Great Depression, but not for the laissez-faire we learned about in school.  Instead, Hoover and his Republican Congress micromanaged the U.S. economy from the moment of his inauguration in 1929. Just as the economy began healing from the stock market crash, Hoover clobbered it with high tariffs, stifling regulations, tax increases, and soaring federal debt. (Sound familiar?)

Hoover’s autocratic control of radio helped make General Electric the government-dependent, tax-free behemoth it remains today. And it continued a precedent of broken Constitutional principles that extends back to the first hours of our republic.

By moving economic decisions from people to government, and by coopting corporations, Hoover laid the foundation for the financial disaster that struck during his administration. But he also helped make my Cardinals one of the most storied franchises in baseball.

Just one example of the way progressives have used passion to steal liberty from people.  Leahy presents more.

In Covenant of Liberty, you’ll meet the first Tea Partier, John Lilburn of London, who spent years in prison in the 1640s for his insane desire to escape the arbitrary rule of other men.  You’ll learn the underhanded tactics that Alexander Hamilton employed to circumvent Congress and the states in extending the reach of the federal government.

You’ll also be introduced to Leahy’s 4-Promises theory. That theory holds that the Constitution is a covenant in which the government makes four promises in exchange for its existence, granted by the states and the people. Those four promises are:

  • to abide by a written constitution and its “plain meaning”
  • to refrain from interfering in private economic matters
  • to honor the “fiscal constitution”
  • to exercise thoughtful deliberation in Congress

Every Tea Partier knows that the fourth principle fell in 2008 and 2009, with dynamic duo of TARP and the Bailouts. And if the principle somehow survived Bush and Paulson, it certainly died with the passage of ObamaCare and Nancy Pelosi’s frightening assertion that we’ll have to pass the bill in order to know what’s in it.  “I’ll take whatever’s behind Door Number Four, Monty.”

You will gain some remarkable insights into American history, how we got where we are, and maybe even sports when you read Covenant of Liberty—the most important book about the Tea Party by a true Tea Party founder to date. It’s the best history book I’ve read in years, and you’ll be saying the same thing after you read it.

Consent of the Governed

In the battle between conservatives and statists, a fundamental difference seems to lie in the meaning of a concept found in the Declaration of Independence:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed[.]

The dispute is how men convey consensual powers to their government.

Conservatives believe that governmental power is conveyed exclusively through the Constitution; statists believe power is conveyed through elections.  In this dispute, statists are simply wrong, provably wrong, and wholly unwilling to engage in a proper debate because they know they're wrong.

Does the Constitution Have Meaning?

For the statists to be right in claiming that elections, not the Constitution, determine our government's just powers, then they must provide a rational explanation for the Constitution.    Just as the atheist cannot explain joy or subatomic particles that preceded the Big Bang, the statist cannot explain the Constitution were just powers derived from elections.  Instead of a Constitution with means for amendment, the founders might well have adjourned after penning the first 4 sections of Article I.  Unfortunately for the statist view, they continued.

In fact, the Constitution and its Amendments make clear that the Constitution itself is the only conveyance of just powers from the people to the government.  Article I Section 9 limits the authority of Congress, and the Bill of Rights limit the power of the government as a whole.  The 10th Amendment prohibits the federal government from doing anything that is not explicitly authorized by the Constitution.

Were the intent to simply authorize elections by which Congress may do whatever it please, why did the founders waste so much time and treasure in crafting these details?  Why doesn't the 10th Amendment, and all other paragraphs that limit government power, end with words to the effect:  "Or whatever the government feels like doing."   Instead, the founders specified that government is limited to specific powers.  As Jacob Hornberger writes:

The argument [that elected officials would trample rights of citizens without Constitutional positive statements of rights] partially failed and partially succeeded. It failed to stop the passage of the first eight amendments, but it ensured the passage of the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” and the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

If elections alone determine the limits of government power, then the Constitution has no meaning oustide of its first four sections on the holding of elections.   But the Constitution does have meaning, and no statist would argue otherwise.

Consequences of Constitutional Meaning

If, on the other hand, the Constitution has meaning, then its meaning must be uniform and final.  No article or paragraph is more important than any other.  The means by which Representatives and Senators are elected is no more important than the 9th Amendment or Article V.

If the Constitution is the vessel through which power, derived from our Creator, is transmitted, in part, to the government, then any act of government that is not directly authorized by the Constitution is illegal and anti-Constitutional, just as sin is anti-God.

If the Constitution has meaning, then those who willingly advocate for anti-Constitutional government activity--Cap and Trade, the Department of Education, etc.--are anti-Constitutionalists.  They seek to destroy all limits on government power.  They advance a government capable of anything, up to and including genocide.  To the statists, the Constitution is an evil burden that must be isolated, ridiculed, and destroyed.

And they are winning.


I will personally debate any statist to defend "Resolved:  The results of an election neither increase nor decrease the just powers of the US Government."

--Bill Hennessy

Days of Free Markets Numbered

destruction1The statists are moving faster through the Constitution than Hitler moved through France.  Today, Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to advance a bill to socialize medicine without debate.

House Democrats went on record again in favor of advancing the legislation while allowing only limited debate, which would hobble the ability of Republicans to wrest concessions on one of Obama's top domestic priorities.

Accelerating the Banana Republic

In the past week, the administration has encouraged political prosecution of former Bush administration officials, has opened the possibility of prosecuting CIA agents, has submitted legislation to give him sole authority over the Internet in the United States, and has released sensitive National Security documents to give terrorists an upper hand.

While the Tea Party movement concentrates on limited government and fiscal responsibility, the establishment of a Central American-style dictatorship in the United States cannot be ignored.  It's clear that Obama intends to secure powers similar to Hugo Chavez's and the Castros'.  By the 2010 election, Obama could own all major US banks, the auto industry, the healthcare field, most major newspapers, and, effectively, the Internet.  His opposition will be unable to fund a campaign or communicate with potential supporters.

In the meantime, Obama continues to undo free markets.  He has refused repayment of TARP funds from solvent banks in order to maintain control.  He has threatened to convert those debts into common stock, making his regime the dominant shareholder.  He has fired General Motors' board and CEO, replacing them with puppets.  He has imposed salary limits on executives of bailed-out companies and has threatened to extend those limits to all businesses.

Most cruel joke of all, however, has been played by Hitler & Co. on those German capitalists and small businessmen who once backed National Socialism as a means of saving Germany's bourgeois economic structure from radicalism. The Nazi credo that the individual belongs to the state also applies to business. Some businesses have been confiscated outright, on other what amounts to a capital tax has been levied. Profits have been strictly controlled. Some idea of the increasing Governmental control and interference in business could be deduced from the fact that 80% of all building and 50% of all industrial orders in Germany originated last year with the Government. Hard-pressed for food- stuffs as well as funds, the Nazi regime has taken over large estates and in many instances collectivized agriculture, a procedure fundamentally similar to Russian Communism.  [Emphases mine.] (Time, 1938)

Substitute "Obama" for "Hitler" and "United States" for "Germany," and you have a pretty good idea what we're headed toward.  The article explains why Hitler progressively siezed businesses and industries:  he needed them to for his massive social programs.  Hitler built a mighty military, true.  He also provided healthcare, food, housing, clothing, and work to every German, Austrian, and Czech.

Hitler created quite a national youth service program, too.  It gave young poor kids hope.  They wore uniforms and learned skills like picking up trash, marching, throwing granades, and spotting Jews.

Stay Involved

To combat statism, remain active in the Tea Party movement.  Print and save important information you find on the Internet.   Stay connected with the people you met on the Riverfront or Kiener Plaza.

The American Revolution did not end when Cornwallis withdrew.  It rages on against tyranny and despotism.  It was waned, gone soft, in the affluence of its success.  But the revolution is now in the gravest dangerous since the Republic launched.  History will record your contribution.  Make your posterity proud.

Flood the House Switchboard

Don't call just YOUR Representative.  Call 5 on Thursday, April 23.  Call early.  Lock up the switchboards.  Let them know that we surround them.