News and Politics

Discussion about news and politics

The Wartime Presidency: From James Madison To Barack Obama

Now that it seems evident that America is to be engaged in a long drawn-out war against ISIL (ISIS), it means that we can expect the war to last possibly a generation, 20 years, and affect every Presidential election from 2016 through at least 2032.  It will also transform the Congress, and change the direction of American history, and it comes at a terrible time, as we have greater inequities economically now than even in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

But national security and defense always trump anything else, inevitably and necessarily!

So Barack Obama, who came into office determined to end the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars started by George W. Bush, is to be the promoter of a new war, against his desire.

So this is a good time to reflect on how many Presidents have chosen or been forced  to wage war!

James Madison reluctantly took America through the War of 1812, often depicted as “The Sorry Little War”, which led to the burning of the US Capitol and the White House by the invading British forces.

James K. Polk willingly took us through the Mexican War, leading to the acquisition of the American Southwest and California.

Abraham Lincoln took us into the Civil War, believing there was no alternative to “preserve the Union”.

William McKinley was convinced that the Spanish American War was a moral cause, and it led to the development of the “American Empire” in an age of expansionism and imperialism.  He also waged war to force the Philippines to accept American overlordship, after being “liberated” by the United States from Spanish control.

Theodore Roosevelt continued the fight against the Filipino revolutionaries, in what was well hidden for years and not taught in schools below the college level,, but was known to history as the Filipino Insurrection.

Woodrow Wilson took us into the First World War, after trying to avoid direct involvement for more than two years.

Franklin D. Roosevelt took us into the Second World War against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan,  after isolationists bitterly opposed  such entrance, but forced by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  Hawaii.

Harry Truman continued our engagement in the Second World War, and used the atomic bomb against Japan, but also took us into the Korean War.

Dwight D. Eisenhower continued US involvement in the Korean War for the fist six month of his Presidency.

John F. Kennedy escalated our involvement in Vietnam, from 2,000 “advisers”under Eisenhower,  to over 16,500 Green Beret Special Forces by the time he was assassinated.

Lyndon B. Johnson massively escalated our involvement in Vietnam, reaching a grand total of 549.500 troops in 1968.

Richard Nixon continued the Vietnam War for four long years, causing a massive split in the nation, not seen since the Civil War.

George H. W. Bush took us into the Persian Gulf War, to force Iraq’s Saddam Hussein from keeping control of Kuwait, and being a threat to Saudi Arabia.

George W. Bush took us into war in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, and they became the longest wars in American history.

Barack Obama inherited both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and ended our involvement in Iraq, and is soon to end involvement in Afghanistan.  But now the war against ISIL (ISIS) is forecast to last a generation!

So 15 Presidents were commanders in chief in wartime, and this does not include invasions or bombings,  or undeclared naval wars, or wars against Native Americans!

The “Southern” Culture A Detriment To American Society!

We have been hearing a lot about the “Southern Culture”, recently, in detrimental ways.

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to continue to discriminate openly against African Americans, Latinos, and gays and lesbians, and not apologize one iota for Southern behavior!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to endorse abuse of women, whether wives or significant others, and give excuses for rape and smacking and beating of women if they anger men!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is for African American men, in particular, but not only them, to give very harsh corporal punishment to their children, because that is the way that African Americans in the South were taught to deal with children who are unruly and disobedient.  So it seems to be alright that football players, who as an example are often 250-300 pounds, to whip and beat their four year old sons or daughters, and claim it is acceptable discipline, particularly because these bulky football players were treated that way when they were young!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to worship football players in colleges, which put the emphasis on sports, rather than on academics, the major purpose of a university!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to claim to be religious, “good Christians”, while not practicing the teachings of Jesus Christ, and not giving a damn for the poor, whether minority or white, and making their lives, therefore, a living hell!

It is clear that “Southern Culture” needs to be addressed as a major detriment to American society and progress!

The PBS “Roosevelts” Series Inspires Need For Progressive Leadership To Stop New “Gilded Age”!

The Ken Burns PBS series, “The Roosevelts”, started on Sunday night and continues through Saturday night, a 14 hour event, and is easily the best documentary presented on PBS in many years!

Seeing the story of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt  and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inspired a desire in this author and blogger of the need for Progressive leadership of the type that TR and FDR and Eleanor represented, now in the 21st Century, to stop the abuses and damage that right wing conservatism has done, creating a new “Gilded Age’, and seeing wealthy billionaires wield power, and attempt fix elections, similar to JP Morgan and other millionaires at the time of TR in the White House.

But TR used the Presidency and federal power to crack down on unregulated capitalism, in what became known as the Progressive Era, and future Presidents of both parties, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama followed suit, but except for FDR and JFK, not in the same exciting vein and dynamic leadership that TR represented!

We now desperately need a new “Progressive Era”, but the right wing Supreme Court, picked by conservative Republicans, has done great damage, and the Congressional Republicans have made it very difficult for President Obama to accomplish many of his goals, although he has done a great deal that can be commended, despite strong obstructionism!

But to recognize the democratic nation that TR and FDR promoted, we need a massive change, and this series could have such an effect on the American psyche in the future, and we should all pray for that as the only way to advance democracy, justice, and true freedom in America in the future!

The History Of Foreign Policy Crises At Election Time

It is nothing new to have foreign policy crises at election time in American history, whether Presidential elections or midterm Congressional elections!

Examples include:

Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Election of 1940, after Great Britain was being bombed by the Germans, and France had fallen to the Nazis.

Harry Truman in the Election of 1948, facing the Berlin Blockade Crisis with the Soviet Union.

Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Election of 1956, facing the Hungarian invasion by the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies, and the Suez Crisis in the Middle East.

John F. Kennedy facing the Cuban Missile Crisis in the midterm election of 1962.

Lyndon B. Johnson facing opposition growing in the Vietnam War after the Tet Offensive, and the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and its allies, in the Election of 1968.

Jimmy Carter facing the Afghanistan invasion by the Soviet Union, and the Iran Hostage Crisis, in the Election of 1980.

George H. W. Bush facing the Kuwaiti invasion by Iraq in the midterm election of 1990, leading to the Persian Gulf War.

George W. Bush facing the War on Terror, and the invasion of Afghanistan, and planned invasion of Iraq, in the midterm election of 2002.

And now, Barack Obama facing the Russian intervention in Ukraine, and the growing threat of ISIL (ISIS) in the Middle East, in the midterm election of 2014.

“THE ROOSEVELTS” 14 Hour Documentary Series For Seven Straight Nights, September 14-20, By Brilliant Documentarian Ken Burns!

One of the greatest documentarians of the modern era is Ken Burns, who has done magnificent and brilliant work on such topics as “The Civil War”, “Baseball”, “The Dust Bowl”, “Jazz”, and many other wonderful topics, is now taking on a massive challenge with his 14 hour series over seven nights on “The Roosevelts”, an in depth study of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt.  The series is on for seven straight nights from September 14-20 on PBS.  And why September 14?  Because that is the day 113 years ago, that TR succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of William McKinley, from an assassin’s bullet eight days earlier!

This blogger, who in 1981 published a book on the New Deal, has always found FDR his favorite President, and has also admired TR, and really appreciative of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

This is a must series for all Presidential “junkies”, and considering that the two Roosevelts are in the top five of any legitimate Presidential poll of scholars at number 2 for FDR and number 4 for TR, this is a series any intelligent and interested person should watch, and it will also be available for DVD sale immediately.

This is a premiere series, unlikely to be surpassed in quality and excellence any time soon!

Barack Obama Success Versus The Public Opinion Polls

Barack Obama has been the most successful President in economic affairs in modern times, surpassing Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

So says the conservative journal FORBES, and who is to argue with them coming up with this conclusion?

Obama has presided over the greatest stock market growth in American history, but also has seen tremendous economic expansion and creation of jobs not seen since the Clinton Administration.

Of course, unemployment is still 6.1 percent and many people have dropped out of the job market, and unemployment compensation has not been extended.

And of course, the minimum wage has not been increased, and should be, if based on the cost of living, would be triple what it is now–$7.25 an hour!

Infrastructure spending is essential, but has been prevented by the Republican Party.

The point is that despite the inherited Great Recession, Barack Obama has done miracles on the economy, and has succeeded in killing more Muslim terrorists than anyone else, including Osama Bin Laden and Libya’s dictator, Muamarr Gaddafi.

And yet, despite all this and much more, recent public opinion polls show a low point in the 30s for Obama, including one third disillusioned Democrats.

But it is clear that these polls are not to be relied on or believed, and it is obvious that those polled do not understand what has happened, and are clueless as to public affairs, and are more reacting to the right wing attacks on Obama, rather than using their own intellectual abilities.  It is scary how a large portion of the nation is ignorant, and ill informed!

Fox News Channel, And Misogyny, Racism, And Homophobia!

What is it about conservatives, particularly FOX News Channel, but also much of right wing talk radio, that they have absolutely no shame or embarrassment in their prejudices, and seem to revel in it?

All along, but more evident recently, is the misogyny, racism, and homophobia regularly displayed, and conservatives and Republicans, with very rare exceptions, fail to condemn it, and therefore are guilty by association!

It is not saying that there are no liberals and progressives who, at times, have displayed misogyny, racism, and homophobia, but it is extremely rare for that to occur, while for conservatives and Republicans,  it is par for the course, and without apology or embarrassment displayed!

It makes one wonder how any decent person could ever be insensitive enough to believe that women are inferior; that minority groups are the scum of the earth, who deserve to be shot by police; and that gays and lesbians are to be condemned for an immoral life style by the narrow mindedness of organized religion!

The Democratic Women In Senate Races

The role of women in the Democratic Party Senate races is becoming much more significant, and at this time, there is a good chance that many will be successful, including the incumbent women and the challenger women.

In the first category, we have Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

In the second category, we have Senate candidates Natalie Tennant in West Virginia, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Michelle Nunn of Georgia, and Amanda Curtis of Montana.

At this point, two months before the election, the odds are good for Landrieu, Hagan, Shaheen, Grimes and Nunn, with Tennant and Curtis more likely to fail to be elected to replace retiring Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus.

With 16 women Democratic Senators, it is likely that we will see  a few more in 2015!

The Intriguing Greg Orman, Independent Candidate For US Senate In Kansas

The most intriguing Senate race in 2014 suddenly becomes that of Kansas, a “red state”, which has not elected a Democrat since the Great Depression!

The Democratic nominee has dropped out, leaving Senator Pat Roberts with only an independent candidate, Greg Orman, a very appealing candidate, who has voted both Democratic and Republican in the past, including for Barack Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, and wants to make Washington DC work.

Orman is frustrated with inability of Congress to work, and he pledges that he will join the Senate caucus of the party that he believes is more attuned to change after the midterm elections, and that makes it likely he would become the third Independent Senator, along with Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine.

Orman has a real chance to win the seat now, and this would almost certainly guarantee that the Senate would remain Democratic, as Roberts’  seat seemed safe before now.

So this will be the most watched race of all, more than Mitch McConnell in Kentucky!

The Odyssey Of Charlie Crist

Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida is attempting a comeback to the Governorship, this time as a Democrat, after having left the GOP in 2010, running as an Independent for the US Senate, which he also ran for as a Republican in 1998.

This is the most important race for the Governorship, as Florida is the largest state to have a truly competitive race for Governor or Senator, as California and New York are “Blue”, and Texas is “Red”.

This is also a rare case of a Governor switching parties and winning on the other party line, only five times before in American history, and also a rare race of a former Governor against the sitting Governor who replaced  him, with Rick Scott being his opponent.

Crist is seen by many as a chameleon, a person who is untrustworthy and slick and good at manipulation, but also he is extremely charismatic, a great orator, very handsome with his white hair, and someone hard not to like on a personal level, while Scott is none of these attributes, and is seen by many as totally crooked, with his Medicare scams that he paid millions of dollars in fines, but avoided prison time, which many think he should have served!

It is ironic that Charlie Crist was on the short list of Senator John McCain for Vice President in 2008, and now, if he wins the Governorship of the fourth largest state, and a crucial swing state for 2016, it is conceivable that he could be the Vice Presidential running mate of Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, or really, almost any Democratic Presidential nominee.

And of course, were something to go wrong, he could be President of the United States by succession, or even being the nominee in four to eight years after 2016 for the Presidency, after having served as Vice President of the United States!

What an interesting odyssey for Charlie Crist, and the future is there for much more, if he is able to come back as Florida Governor!