Abraham Lincoln

From Strom Thurmond To Paul Thurmond: Is The Civil War Finally Over In The South?

South Carolina, which started the Civil War at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, MAY have finally conceded defeat on June 23, 2015, with the courageous speech by State Senator Paul Thurmond, son of the notorious segregationist and racist Governor and Senator Strom Thurmond, who made his career on racial division.

A burden to the Democratic Party, when Lyndon B. Johnson was able to overcome Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans, and courageously get through Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Senator Strom Thurmond quickly switched to the Republican Party, and over the next generation, the Confederate South transferred its loyalties to the Republican Party, despite their hatred of the party because of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

The Republicans welcomed and embraced the segregationists, and did whatever they could to appeal to the prejudices of many Southern whites, rather than elevate them to a level of tolerance and open mindedness.

And when the Supreme Court damaged the Voting Rights Act in a 2013 decision, it was Republican state legislatures and Governors who rushed to pass voter restriction laws, designed to harm African Americans and other minorities, as well as the poor, reminding us of what had happened after Reconstruction ended in the late 19th century. They were not afraid to show their purpose, to deny people the vote on flimsy grounds, and showed no conscience.

This sudden transformation after the Charleston Massacre is what finally brought out the truth, that the Republicans have been promoting racism, and even after the disaster, many Republican office holders and Presidential candidates were slow to react.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was hesitant to call for removal of the Confederate Flag, but finally did so under duress, but it was state Senator Paul Thurmond, son of Strom Thurmond, who showed true courage and guts in denouncing what his father had stood for, and saying the flag must be removed.

There are still plenty of bigoted Southerners in South Carolina and elsewhere, who rushed to buy Confederate flags, shirts, and other paraphernalia, but thank goodness that Walmart, Ebay, Amazon and other retailers announced the end of such sales yesterday.

It is time for the Republican Party nationally to stop voting restriction laws, and truly compete for the African American vote and the Hispanic-Latino vote too, and also to stop the attack on women and on gays and lesbians, as they are now the party of so much hate. The white racist vote is rapidly declining, and the GOP is living in the past, reveling in its promotion of narrow mindedness and intolerance!

We are all in this together as a nation, and the Republican Party must change dramatically, and must repudiate the Tea Party Movement whackos, or it will expire in the near future!

The Clown Bus Group Of Republican Presidential Contenders, Part III: The US Senate

In two earlier entries, we have discussed five “losers”, who were or are Republican Governors, but are not to be seen seriously as qualified to be President for various reasons; and three non office holders who think their medical and business careers make them Presidential material, but only in their deluded minds.

In Part III today, we will look at four figures who have served in the US Senate, three still there, and one who left nearly a decade ago.

First, we have Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a look alike for Joseph McCarthy, the old Communist witch hunter of the 1950s. Cruz had no problem shutting down the government in 2013, and continues to call for every part of ObamaCare to be repealed, despite the fact that Texas has more people who have no health care, including Medicaid. Cruz is a very evil man; a very nasty man; a very dangerous man to give executive power to; a man who thinks he is extremely brilliant, simply based on his Princeton and Harvard Law School degrees; a Senator disliked by just about all of his Republican colleagues; a man who would divide America and the Republican Party with his destructive Tea Party extremism.

Then we have Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is the son of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the libertarian champion. The two Pauls have a lot of young people who seem to adore them, as they both hate government, and both are isolationists in foreign policy. Rand Paul is an optometrist, who set up his own association, rather than go through the national organization, and it makes one wonder as to his true skill as an eye doctor. He has blundered on so many issues, and does not come across as very bright; has shown lack of concern for the poor in his own state; has made statements against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as being enforceable; has led filibusters in the Senate that have made one wonder about his ability to get along with others; but at the same time, has shown concern about privacy rights and the issue of minor drug offenses that has imprisoned so many young people, many of them African American. So despite his faults, he has some redeeming values, but he is not highly regarded by the Republican establishment, and to believe a libertarian will be nominated and elected President requires hallucinations by those who imagine such an event happening.

Then we have South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is the major “hawk” in the Senate, along with his good friend, Arizona Senator John McCain. There is not a war or country that Graham and McCain do not wish to intervene in, and both are diametrically the opposite of Rand Paul on foreign policy. While Graham has some more humane views on some issues domestically, he has no real support that could win him the nomination for the Presidency, and many hold it against him that when in the House of Representatives, he led the move toward impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998.

And then we have former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who lost his Senate seat in 2006 by a landslide; who won the Iowa Caucuses in 2012; but who is a right wing extremist on social issues, and is committed to disobey a Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, which is pending, if he becomes President. Santorum is infamous for outrageous, narrow minded views, as he is the favorite of the Religious Right, and his social views would take back America to many decades earlier. His chances of being the nominee are the lowest of these four Senators, all of whom are embarrassments to the historical traditions of the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower!

So we have covered now 12 of 16 potential Republican nominees, and further analysis of the four remaining candidates—one Senator, one former Governor, and two sitting Governors—will be forthcoming soon.

The Growing Threat Of Right Wing Domestic Terrorism To President Obama And Presidential Candidates

The horrifying Charleston, South Carolina Massacre reminds us of the growing tide of racism and hatred that has emerged in the six and a half years of Barack Obama’s Presidency.

Barack Obama has faced more death threats than any President since Abraham Lincoln, and the mounting threats have taxed the Secret Service, which is responsible for his safety, that of his family members, and protection of the White House and its grounds from “Fence Jumpers”, who have become more bold in recent years, including Omar Gonzalez, who scaled the fence last September and entered the White House and almost made it to the stairs for the private quarters of the President and his family.

But it is also the hate groups which have multiplied in recent years, and have an effect on unstable, mentally ill people, mostly young men, many of them rightfully called domestic terrorists. The threat of foreign religious and political extremism also hangs heavy over the responsibility of the Secret Service to protect the President, the Vice President, other top government officials in the line of succession, and Presidential candidates.

There is a growing sense of foreboding and fear that the President, who has 19 more months from today until he leaves office, is in great danger, with any slip up by the Secret Service one too many.

Right wing domestic terrorism against Americans who are subjected to hate because of their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or identity, or political persuasion is a danger not only to regular citizens, but also to Presidential candidates in the political season we are now entering.

Hillary Clinton, already protected as the wife of a former President, is under Secret Service protection, and Bernie Sanders, being a Socialist, also faces dangers not faced by right wing candidates on the Republican side, although Jeb Bush, brother and son of former Presidents, is also a target.

And Donald Trump, with his provocative mouth attacking Obama, Clinton, Bush and others, is a perfect foil for right wing lunatics to plan to attempt assassination plots against our President and others seeking the Presidency.

The reality of death threats against President Obama is covered in Chapter 16 of my forthcoming book, entitled; “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama,” available August 15 from Rowman Littlefield Publishers, and can be purchased at a 30 percent discount using the code available on this blog. It is well worth a read!

What Beau Biden’s Death Shows About Joe Biden And The American People

The tragic and tormenting death of Beau Biden, the older son of Vice President Joe Biden, of a brain tumor at age 46, was not the first time that a President or Vice President has experienced the death of a family member while in office.

Presidents, including Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy had also had the death of children while in office.

Presidents, including John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, and Woodrow Wilson had wives die while in office.

But Beau Biden, while not a child, had come to be highly respected as Delaware Attorney General, and serving in the Army National Guard during the Iraq War.

Beau Biden resembled his dad in appearance, and in many ways, in his zeal to serve in public life.

Beau Biden gained the emotional support of many Delaware citizens and anyone else he touched in his public life, as well as people he knew in his private life.

The public response to his death, with the potential for his future lost forever, hit many Americans very hard, including this author, who thought of the tragic death of others in public service in their 40s, all of whom were much more consequential than Biden was. The names of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Alexander Hamilton crossed his mind.

The question that arose is why this shock and deep mourning occurred, and the author came to the conclusion that a lot of the reaction was due not only to the good nature and great public service of Beau Biden, but the widespread love and emotional attachment of millions of Americans to Vice President Joe Biden himself.

Joe Biden is in his 43rd year of public service, and it is not only this author, but millions of others who love him, who respect him, who admire his sincerity, genuine nature, true concern and desire to do good deeds for his fellow Americans.

Joe Biden is a very rare public servant, and that is why there are still millions who hope he runs for President, knowing the odds are against him to win the nomination, were he to challenge his close friend and fellow member of the Obama Administration, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Those of us who love and admire Joe Biden know he would make a great President, but that he is one of many good people, past and present, who cannot, likely, be elected President of the United States, a distinguished list.

Instead, it now seems likely that Joe Biden will end his 44 years of public service in January 2017, with the total admiration and respect of millions. The loss of his beloved son, Beau, and his own sense that it might be wise to give his family time to share the rest of his time on earth at age 74, have certainly sobered any desire to fight for the White House.

In a sense, Joe Biden saw the eulogies and deep mourning that he will gain when, at some day in the future, he leaves us. The death of Beau Biden gave us that dress rehearsal!

Mike Huckabee, The Supreme Court, And The “Supreme Being”!

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a candidate for the Presidency, and a former preacher as well, is going off the deep end in his vehement opposition to gay marriage.

Apparently, Mike Huckabee believes that the American people do not need to obey judges and the federal courts, and the Supreme Court, if they do not like or agree with their decisions.

If Barack Obama were to say this, he would be pushed toward impeachment, but Mike Huckabee is promoting disobedience of the judiciary, and shows total ignorance of our legal history!

What he is advocating, taken to its extreme, would mean that the Citizens United case would be ignored, and that billionaires would not be able to distort our election process, something any sensible person would advocate, but the only way to overcome this is by constitutional amendment!

So if gay marriage is made legal in all of America at the end of June, the only way to overcome it is to bring about a similar constitutional amendment.

The same goes for those who are upset about interracial marriage, civil rights laws, the lax enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, racial integration, and a whole host of other “objectionable” decisions made by the courts and the Supreme Court over 226 years of our history!

Mike Huckabee demonstrates his ignorance of our history, and of the significance of Chief Justice John Marshall, and of “judicial review” and the famous Supreme Court case, Marbury V. Madison in 1803.

Presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and really ALL Presidents; and many other government figures over the years; and citizens of America throughout its history, have denounced Supreme Court decisions!

BUT the only alternative is a constitutional amendment, ladies and gentlemen, and for any Presidential candidate or President to call for defiance of the Supreme Court is grounds for impeachment and removal from office.

In America, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter, good or bad, and really, it is both, depending on the issue and how people perceive it!

We are NOT a theocracy, and the “Supreme Being”, that Mike Huckabee advocates, is NOT the final arbiter of constitutional cases, and never has been! Thank goodness for that, as it would take away the democracy that America has evolved into over more than two centuries of American history!

Long Out Of Office Republican Presidential Contenders, Or Never In Office: A Record Number In History!

It is not totally uncommon for politicians who have left office to run for President years later.

Abraham Lincoln had not been in public office for 12 years, after serving one term in the House of Representatives, when he ran for and won the Presidency in 1860.

Richard Nixon had not been in public office for 8 years, although he ran for California Governor two years after leaving the Vice Presidency in 1960, and won the Presidency in 1968.

Ronald Reagan had not been in public office for 6 years, although he ran unsuccessfully for the Presidential nomination of his party two years after leaving the Governorship, and won the Presidency in 1980.

But now, in 2015, we have a whole slew of candidates out of public office for a long time.

Jeb Bush left the Florida Governorship in 2006, so it will be ten years since he held office.

Rick Santorum lost his Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2006, so it will be ten years since he held office, although he ran for the Presidential nomination of his party in 2012.

Mike Huckabee left the Arkansas Governorship in 2006, so it will be ten years since he held office, although he ran for the Presidential nomination of his party in 2008.

George Pataki left the New York Governorship in 2006, so it will be ten years since he held office.

Jim Gilmore left the Virginia Governorship in 2001, so it will be 15 years since he held office, although he ran briefly for the Presidential nomination of his party in 2008, and lost an attempt at a Senate race in 2008, as well.

Bob Ehrlich left the Maryland Governorship in 2006, so it will be ten years since he held office, although he ran for reelection in 2006 and lost, and tried again for the Governorship in 2010 and lost both times to Martin O’Malley.

This is a record number of candidates who have been out of office for so long, 10-15 years in duration.

Also, three candidates have NEVER held public office–Carly Fiorina, Dr. Benjamin Carson, and Donald Trump.

So NINE potential candidates out of what are now a potential 18-19 in total have long ago left office, or never held office!

American Presidents And The Institution Of Slavery

Yesterday, the author was watching the reenactment of the funeral of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, on C Span 3–American History TV, and the question has arisen, while watching the event, of the truth about America’s Presidents and the institution of slavery.

It turns out, through further research, that more Presidents than once thought, owned slaves in their lifetime, and that others showed lack of concern about the institution, and compromised on it in their Presidencies.

So it turns out that 12 of the first 18 Presidents owned slaves, including

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson–some expressed discomfort in his writings, but sill benefited from the institution
James Madison—some expressed discomfort in his writings, but still benefited from the institution
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant.

Additionally, three Presidents, all Northerners, referred to as “doughfaces”, who went along with the institution through their actions, also supported continuation of slavery, including

Millard Fillmore–the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
Franklin Pierce–the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854
James Buchanan–support of the Dred Scott Supreme Court Case, and the Kansas LeCompton Constitution of 1857

It should be pointed out that Martin Van Buren had a few slaves at one point through family members but not while being President, but defended the institution while in office, and theh later had a change of heart, and ran as the Free Soil Party candidate for President in 1848, at that point opposing slavery,

Also, James Buchanan, technically, owned one slave for a brief period of time through his family, but not while President.

The same holds for Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, ownership of slaves through family at some point, but neither while President. Grant, in particular, felt uncomfortable about the slavery heritage of his wife’s family.

The point is that only THREE Presidents always condemned slavery and worked against it

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Abraham Lincoln

JQ Adams was extremely active against slavery, participating in the Amistad Supreme Court Case of 1839-1841 as one of the lawyers defending the slaves on that slave ship, in their bid for freedom, and sponsoring the move to condemn slavery in the House of Representatives, in his years after the Presidency. While a member of the House from Boston, he was censured for fighting the “gag rule”, which forbade discussion of the institution in House debate from 1836-1844. He also opposed the Mexican War as a war for slavery expansion.

Is It Unusual For Three Or More Consecutive Terms For A Political Party In The White House? NO!

The myth has been promoted that it is “unusual” for a political party to keep control of the White House for more than two terms, eight years, but nothing could be further from the truth!

In the first political party system, the Federalists held power for 12 years (1789-1801) under George Washington and John Adams, although the name “Federalist” did not exist formally until 1794, after the battle between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson created the first party system.

The Democratic Republicans then held power for 24 years (1801-1825) under Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.

The newly constituted Democratic Party held power for 12 years (1829-1841) under Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

The newly constituted Republican Party held power for 24 years (1861-1885) under Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, and Chester Alan Arthur, although Andrew Johnson was never a Republican, but rather a Democrat put on the national ticket for election reasons by Lincoln in 1864, and Johnson having a disastrous relationship with the Republican Congress, and facing impeachment proceedings.

The Republican Party then held power for 16 years (1897-1913) under William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft.

The Republican Party then held power for 12 years (1921-1933) under Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.

The Democratic Party then held power for 20 years (1933-1953) under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

The Republican Party then held power for 12 years (1981-1993) under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

So political parties have held control of the White House for more than two terms a total of EIGHT TIMES, ranging from 24 years twice, 20 years once, 16 years once, and 12 years four times!

Also realize that Grover Cleveland and Al Gore won the national popular vote in 1888 and 2000, but lost the electoral college. Had they become President, then there would have been 12 straight years of Democrats from 1885-1897, assuming Cleveland might have gone for a third term in 1892, instead of trying to return to the White House; and if Al Gore had won in 2000, it would have been at least 12 straight years of Democrats from 1993-2005, and potentially a second Gore term in 2004!

150th Anniversary Commemoration Of Lincoln Assassination Live on C Span 2 AND C Span 3–American History TV Tonight And Wednesday Morning!

C-Span 3–American History TV–is a wonderful station well worth watching on a regular basis! So is C Span 2!

Tonight, starting at 8 pm, the ceremonies commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln Assassination at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, DC, will be aired live, with the exact moment of assassin John Wilkes Booth’s shot at 1015 pm into the skull of Lincoln, and the candlelight vigil after this shocking event, including the carrying of Lincoln’s body across the street to 516 10th Street NW to the Petersen House.

The next morning, at 7 am, C Span 2 and or 3 will cover the moment of the declaration of Lincoln’s death at 722 am and the reaction afterwards, with President Barack Obama expected to issue a declaration of a Day of Remembrance, for what is considered the most path breaking single moment in all of American history!

The sad thing is that a pro Confederate hate group is going to “celebrate” the assassination of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, a commentary on how the Civil War has not fully ended, and also a statement of the hatred and division that still exists in some people’s heads who are, either, descendants of the Confederate troops who fought the Union in the Civil War, or are simply racists and secessionists, who still dream of breaking away from the United States, or plotting against its leadership, including President Obama, who has had more death threats in office than anyone since Lincoln.

And a reminder that my forthcoming book devotes Chapter 2 to the Lincoln Assassination, and also devotes part of Chapter 16 to the death threats, which are constant, against President Obama.

70th Anniversary Today Of Greatest 20th Century President’s Passing: Franklin D. Roosevelt!

On this day, April 12, 1945, 70 years ago, the greatest 20th century President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, died in Warm Springs, Georgia, after 12 years and 39 days in office. Many Americans could not recall any other President, as FDR had played a dominant role in the lives of Americans and in world affairs, through the two greatest crises since the Civil War under Abraham Lincoln—the Great Depression and the Second World War!

FDR had initiated a massive set of domestic reforms, known as the New Deal, which had changed the lives of millions of Americans in a positive way, and give the nation hope and confidence in the future, at a time when we had a higher unemployment rate, 25 percent, than we would ever have again. FDR transformed the role of the federal government, and brought about such permanent reform programs as Social Security; Unemployment Compensation; Minimum Wage; Labor Union recognition; the accomplishment of massive public works projects; federal insurance on bank deposits; agricultural subsidies; regulation of banks, the stock market and corporations; public housing; aid to the disabled and dependent children; conservation of natural resources; and so many other programs and ideas.

Then, FDR faced the dangers of Nazism in Germany, Fascism in Italy, and the aggression of Imperial Japan, when it looked as if democracy would be snuffed out worldwide, including in the United States. The greatest military effort since the Civil War created many problems in the postwar world, as the Soviet Union rose out of the war to become the new challenger to freedom in what became known as the Cold War, something FDR was trying to figure out how to deal with, when he died suddenly of congestive heart failure in the early months of an unprecedented fourth term, prevented from happening again by the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

One has to wonder how the nation would have fared had FDR been forced to leave office in January 1941 by term limits, as there was no obvious good alternative leader to FDR at that time. The challenge of overcoming isolationist sentiment, and then the Axis Powers aged FDR and caused his premature death at a delicate time when the war in Europe was one month from ending, and the war against Japan seemed likely to go on for several years. Fortunately, Harry Truman took up the mantle and handled the crisis of ending the war and the postwar world, as well as could be expected, as one looks back 70 years.

FDR had his shortcomings as all Presidents do, but the United States was blessed with a great, dynamic leader that we remember today on the 70th anniversary of his passing!