Conflicts Of Interest

I’m a little late this time around with my annual declaration of potential conflicts of interests. I do this every year because I think readers have a right to know where journalists are coming from.

I admit that being a blue-collar guy who doesn’t take $25,000 consulting fees like George Will, it’s a bit easier for me than some of journalism’s six-figure stars. When Will quoted tycoon Conrad Black in a column recently, he neglected to mention his financial arrangement with the man, which, when it was exposed, he said was none of your business. I respectfully disagree. People have a right to expect from a journalist that he or she is giving them his or her honest, unbiased, uninfluenced opinion. I can say to you that I carry water for no man, no political party and no ideology.

My only income is from the sale of this column, now and then some rent from a little house in Georgia, and Social Security. Makes me feel old just to say that. I belong to only three organizations: the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The Sierra Club membership is new; I’ve been a member of the other two for years.

I’m registered as a Democrat. My political philosophy is best described by reading George Washington’s farewell address. He didn’t say one word with which I disagree.

Therefore, I am a conservative in the old, traditional sense. I believe in the smallest and weakest government consistent with national security. I believe in no foreign entanglements, no foreign aid and no getting involved in other people’s wars. I agree with Washington that foreign influence — and I’m personally referring to the Israeli lobby — is a poison for the republic. We should never go to war for anybody’s interests but our own, and we should never allow a foreign country to dictate who our allies and our enemies are. I don’t believe in dual loyalty.

Washington said we should treat all foreign countries equally and have no habitual attachments to either foreign friends or foreign enemies, because such attachments will cloud our ability to see our own national interests. Amen.

Naturally, I believe that the Constitution spells out and restricts the powers of the federal government, that it should be strictly construed in the context of its own time, and that the federal government can never legitimately exceed those boundaries. My Southern ancestors fought and lost a war over this, but as the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens put it so eloquently, "We surrendered our swords, not our principles, at Appomattox." You can support this bloated empire if you like, but as for me, I shall seek the restoration of the republic where, to use the words of James Madison, state governments would do 95 percent of the governing.

To put Washington’s philosophy into modern context, we should not allow international organizations such as the World Trade Organization to interfere in our internal affairs. Setting trade policy is the duty of Congress. We should not allow a central bank to do what the Constitution assigns to Congress — to wit, to coin money and set its value. We should not belong to the United Nations or to NATO. We should not aspire to be the world’s policeman and trash collector.

Neither political party represents my views, but unlike a lot of Southerners, I’d rather deal with an honest socialist in the Democratic Party than a socialist or a fascist in the Republican Party who hides behind conservative rhetoric. Don’t forget, you got Republican rhetoric about balanced budgets but a balanced budget only during a Democratic administration.

Besides, I haven’t forgiven the Republicans for the war and Reconstruction and the destruction of the republic. I suppose I should say for the record that I am not a racist, since so many people confuse the war and the South with slavery and racism — when in fact both were national, not regional, afflictions.

My purpose in writing is to provoke thought, not necessarily agreement. That’s about it, except to say that I dearly appreciate my readers.

Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner.

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