Abraham Lincoln

The Crisis In Presidential Security: The Shortcomings Of The Secret Service Made Bare!

We wake up today to the shock that a “Fence Jumper” at the White House last night, September 19, 2014, managed to scale the fence at the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House and rush forward without any Secret Service reaction, and managed to reach the North Portico of the White House, and actually enter the doors of the White House, before being tackled and seized.

Nothing like this has ever happened before at the White House, although there have been many “Fence Jumpers”, consistently, since the Presidency of Richard Nixon onward!

Luckily, President Obama and his daughters had just left the White House and were on a helicopter on the South Lawn on the way to the Presidential retreat, Camp David, for the weekend, with First Lady Michelle Obama apparently elsewhere out of town.

Imagine if this intruder had been able to approach the President and his daughters!

Luckily, the “Fence Jumper” had no weapon on him, but that was pure luck, but it is clear he had to be mentally deranged, and COULD have been a threat to our 44th President.

Obama has already faced more threats, although none face to face, but the total is at least 40 such threats known publicly, but with indications that he has actually faced thousands of death threats in his less than six years in office, more than anyone since Abraham Lincoln!

This blogger and author has just sent to his publisher, who sought him out,  his manuscript on the threats to Presidents.  The book will be published in mid May to early June by Rowman & Littlefield, and will be entitled: ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA.  This author and blogger has just requested an extra paragraph to be added, regarding this latest threat to President Obama.

The book will cover 16 Presidents who were assassinated, or wounded, or unhurt, or indirectly threatened over the course of American history, and will also include three Presidential candidates who were struck down–Huey P. Long, who was assassinated in September 1935 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Los Angeles in June 1968; and George C. Wallace, who was shot, wounded, and paralyzed for life in Laurel, Maryland in 1972.  So a total of 19 leaders are examined for the death threats, sadly successful in six cases, wounded in three cases, and ten remaining unhurt.

Additionally, there will be a concluding chapter that examines “Fifteen ‘Might Have Been’ Presidents”, who, if history had been different, might have become President, including ten Vice Presidents; two Secretaries of State; one Speaker of the House of Representatives; one President Pro Tempore of the Senate; and one United States Senator.

The book will be a good read, and I hope my readers will consider reading it when it is available in late Spring-early Summer!

Important Anniversaries To Commemorate!

The last few days have seen some important anniversaries worthy of mention.

On September 14, the day that THE ROOSEVELTS Ken Burns series started on PBS, it was the 113th anniversary of the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the Presidency, due to the assassination of President William McKinley, who had been shot on September 6, and died eight days later.  It was no accident that the Ken Burns series, the best documentary in many years, started on that significant day, marking the beginning of the transformation of the American Presidency over the next century and more!

On September 17, two important anniversaries were noted.  The 227th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by the Founding Fathers, a group which saw a need for a strong national government and broad interpretation of the Constitution, as shown through Article 1, Section 8, the “elastic clause”, was celebrated as Constitution Day.  The right wing conservatives and most Republicans of the 2014 variety, including the despicable Tea Party Fascists, have tried to distort the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, and this warping of the Founding Fathers must be fought to reverse the damage done by these groups!

Also, September 17 marks the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, at Antietam, Maryland, in 1862, the 152nd anniversary of that tragic event, and an important moment for the Union in its battle, under Abraham Lincoln, to preserve the Union.

Also, today, September 18, is the 163rd anniversary of the NEW YORK TIMES, still the best newspaper in America, despite some notable shortcomings over the years.

So we have a lot to note and commemorate in mid September!

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!

Mitch McConnell’s Plans For The 114th Congress: Total Deadlock And Stalemate!

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky made it clear at the time of the inauguration of President Barack Obama in January 2009 that his party would refuse to cooperate with the President on any legislation or policy.

Now, facing a tough reelection battle against Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell is pledging that if his party wins the Senate majority, and the House stays Republican, that he will promote massive budget cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency, and attempting again to destroy ObamaCare. He would attach these changes to budget bills, and if Obama vetoed, then we would have another government shutdown, as disastrous as the last one was for the Republican Party and the nation!

This is ever more reason why Democrats, progressives and liberals, and independents MUST come out enmasse on Election Day to prevent a GOP Senate majority, as that will also mean no replacement on the Supreme Court if anyone leaves, which is likely, in 2015 or 2016.

Ironically, this kind of behavior would likely reverberate on the Republicans in 2016, when two thirds of the Senate seats up for election would be their party, but the attitude seems to be one of total warfare and destruction while they have control.

The Republican Party is becoming totally nihilistic and anarchistic, not worthy of the long history of the party of Lincoln, TR, and Ike!

The Top 30 Presidential Cabinet Officers In American History

Presidents do not accomplish their goals and policies on their own, but rather depend on the best advice and counsel of their cabinet members.

Since the Presidential Cabinet idea was formulated by George Washington and the first Congress under the Constitution, we have had the creation over time of 15 Cabinet agencies, and some of those who have held Cabinet posts under Presidents have had a dramatic impact on their times.

Below is a list of what the author believes are those 30 Cabinet officers who have had the greatest effect on American history, without ranking them in any order:

Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington

Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State under James Monroe

William Seward, Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson

Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State under Ulysses S. Grant

Carl Schurz, Secretary of the Interior under Rutherford B. Hayes

John Hay, Secretary of State under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt

James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture under William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft

Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior under Woodrow Wilson

Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman

Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Henry Morgenthau, Jr, Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt

George C. Marshall, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford

George Romney, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Richard Nixon

Cecil Andrus, Secretary of the Interior under Jimmy Carter

Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton

Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton

Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior under Bill Clinton

Richard Riley, Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush and Barack Obama

Note that 25 Presidents and 12 of the 15 Cabinet Departments are included in this list. Nine Secretaries of State; three Secretaries of the Treasury; one Secretary of Defense; one Attorney General; six Secretaries of the Interior; two Secretaries of Agriculture; one Secretary of Commerce; three Secretaries of Labor; one Secretary of Health and Human Services; one Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; one Secretary of Transportation; and one Secretary of Education make up the list.

Also note that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had five cabinet members who made the list; Bill Clinton had four; and Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson had three each!

Allen West And Sarah Palin: Quite A Team On Impeachment!

Former one term Florida Congressman Allen West and former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin are leading the charge to impeach President Obama!

These two are such a comedy team!

West was pushed out of the military for his reprehensible behavior with a prisoner of war in the Iraq conflict, and has shown definite delusional behavior, a mentally ill man, who served only one term in Congress, but has gained a following from the extremist right wing, with his reckless, loony statements about many issues, but focusing his attention on the President.

Palin has been an embarrassment since John McCain picked her out of obscurity to run for Vice President, and she guaranteed that he had no chance to win the Presidency, because it was immediately clear that this woman has no knowledge base, is a total fool, and an annoyance for many Americans to listen to and watch as part of the news. She has never made any contributions in any form to public discourse, and is an embarrassment not only to herself, but to the Republican Party and womanhood itself!

A new poll shows that 54 percent want Sarah Palin to go away, and only conspiracy theorists and lunatics admire Allen West.

Each served for just a couple of years in public office, and one would wish that both would simply disappear from the political scene, as they will be condemned in history as whackos, and they both undermine the concept of public service!

And what they want, the impeachment of Barack Obama, is based on no credible case; will cost the taxpayers lots of wasted money; will undermine the Republican Party legitimacy; and will end up with Obama staying in office, standing strong against hate and prejudice unseen since the time of Abraham Lincoln!

And, as has been stated before, even if West and Palin and their ilk accomplished their goal of kicking Obama out of the Oval Office, he would be replaced by Vice President Joe Biden, who would proceed to be elected to one of two terms of his own, following similar policies and ideas of his boss, so what is gained by this caper, except the elevation of Joe Biden to the Presidency?

It is clear that West and Palin, and all those other whackos who want impeachment, have no clue or understanding as to what they are doing, and its implications! Ignorance and stupidity reign instead, in the brains of these two characters and those who follow and believe in them!

Significant Fourths Of July, And The Most Important One Of All!

It has been 238 years since the Declaration of Independence, declared in Philadelphia on this day in 1776.

Some of the Fourth of Julys that have followed have been more significant than others.

In 1801, the 25th anniversary, the nation celebrated the first turnover of government to the opposition being conducted successfully four months earlier, as Thomas Jefferson succeeded John Adams.

In 1826, the 50th anniversary, Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both intimately involved in the document’s formulation, died, during the administration of Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams.

In 1831, the 55th anniversary, President James Monroe died, marking three of the first five Presidents dying on Independence Day, but it has never occurred since then. This death occurred during the administration of Andrew Jackson.

In 1876, the nation celebrated its first century of independence during the administration of Ulysses S. Grant.

In 1901, the 125th anniversary, the nation celebrated the new century, during the administration of William McKinley.

In 1976, the bicentennial was celebrated during the administration of Gerald Ford.

In 2001, the 225th anniversary was celebrated during the administration of George W. Bush.

But none of these anniversaries mattered as much as July 4, 1863, the 87th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, as the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, fought the three previous days, and won on July 3 by the Union Army over the Confederacy, insured that the Union would be preserved, the ultimate purpose of Abraham Lincoln leading the nation into the Civil War in 1861. The last real chance of the South to win independence was lost, although the war continued for another 21 months.

So July 4, 1863 is more to be celebrated than any other July 4, and we must remain thankful that those who wanted to break up the United States were overcome. We must be ready to react against any threat of further secession put forth by right wing propagandists who want America to lose its whole purpose of creation, the establishment of a democracy which would be the beacon for people all around the world, who would want to come here and be part of the American experiment in freedom. It is immigration that makes, and has made, America the great nation that it is!

Hostile Relationship Of Former Presidents With Incumbent Presidents

The question of the relationship of former Presidents with incumbent Presidents is an interesting one, with usually the former Presidents avoiding open criticism of their successors, even if they are of a different political persuasions, and did not support the nomination or election of their successors.

There are only a few cases of open criticism and attack, including:

John Quincy Adams highly critical of Andrew Jackson, and returning to Washington, DC as a Congressman to “keep watch” over his policies and actions. Adams was also a sharp critic of the slavery and expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk.

Martin Van Buren being a major critic of the expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk in the 1840s, and of the slavery policies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan in the 1850s.

John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan all critical of the policies of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Grover Cleveland being a sharp critic of Benjamin Harrison, who he had lost to, and then ran against again and defeated in 1892, and then opposed William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt on the issue of imperialism and expansion.

Theodore Roosevelt very critical of his successor William Howard Taft, who he ran against on the Progressive Party line in 1912, and then against Woodrow Wilson’s policies toward World War I, after losing to him in 1912. Also, TR was resentful that Wilson “stole” some of his progressive ideas, and enacted them as President in his first term.

Herbert Hoover harshly critical of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies during the Great Depression and World War II.

Harry Truman very critical of Richard Nixon for years before he became President, and never really making peace even when Nixon gave the Truman library the piano in the White House that Truman had played. Also, Truman was critical of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the two men only resolved their differences at the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Jimmy Carter very critical of the policies of his successor, Ronald Reagan, and at times, of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Otherwise, the tendency has been to sit on the sidelines and avoid open criticism of one’s successors to the Oval Office!

On The Brink Of A Record Not Attained Since 1825–Three Presidents With Eight Years In Office!

We are on the brink of accomplishing a record in the Presidency which has not occurred since the early days of the Republic–three Presidents in a row finishing eight years in office over 24 years!

The one and only time this happened was the administrations of Democratic Republicans Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817), and James Monroe (1817-1825).

With all of the controversies, divisions, emotions involved in the past two plus decades, IF Barack Obama can avoid any assassination threats in the next two and a half years, God willing, he will have done what Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and George W. Bush (2001-2009) did before him, finish two complete terms of office!

We have not even had two Presidents in a row finish two terms of office otherwise, an amazing record, demonstrating the trials and tribulations of the Presidency!

The only other Presidents to finish two consecutive terms of office include: Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. Of course, FDR was also elected to a third and fourth term in office.

George Washington started his first term 57 days late, so did not complete a full eight years in office, and Grover Cleveland’s two terms were non-consecutive.

Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley were elected President twice, but both were assassinated early in the second term.

Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman inherited most of a term, but were only elected President once.

Richard Nixon was elected twice, but resigned early in his second term due to the Watergate Scandal.

So this is a record, three straight Presidencies over 24 years completed, worthy of note!

A Personal Moment Of Joy For “The Progressive Professor”!

Yesterday, Sunday, June 1, was a special day, as my older son David married his sweetheart, Stephanie Levy, at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, two blocks from the White House!

The Willard has its own history, as the official inauguration hotel for several Presidents, and having had every President visit, if not stay, at the hotel, along with many other celebrities. Many Presidents since Franklin Pierce in March 1853 have stayed there, and Abraham Lincoln resided there for about ten days before his inauguration on the eve of the Civil War.

There is no greater moment in a personal lifetime than seeing one’s son or daughter marry, and I am extremely pleased to welcome a “daughter” to the family, and for my younger son Paul to welcome a “sister” into the family. Both David and Stephanie are very bright, highly motivated, hard working people, and I am proud of both of them, as well as my younger son, Paul!

This was, in its own way, a history making day, and a day to reflect about what is really important in life, and nothing is more important than family! So yesterday was a day uniting two families from South Florida and St Louis, Missouri!