Barack Obama

Latest Presidential Ranking Survey For Presidents Day Changes Ratings Of Several Presidents Upward And Downward

The game of Presidential rankings is one always changing, and the newest survey of scholars, including this author as a participant, does not disappoint in that regard.

The Siena College survey, now done six times since 1982, once for each new President being considered in the rankings, has some surprises.

157 experts, questioned by the Siena College Research Institute, raised two of the Founding Father generation to the top ten, with James Madison number 7 and James Monroe, his successor at number 8. In so doing, two modern Presidents were dropped out of the top ten, with Ronald Reagan at number 13 and Lyndon B. Johnson at number 16.

A rare occurrence was that Abraham Lincoln was number 3, when usually he is on top, although in earlier Siena College surveys, Franklin D. Roosevelt had been number one, now number two, with George Washington moving up to number one.

Barack Obama, number 8 in the American Political Science Association survey in 2018, and number 12 in the C Span 2017 survey, ended up number 17 in the Siena College survey, so below such Presidents as Woodrow Wilson, James K. Polk, John Adams, and Bill Clinton.

And Donald Trump, who was dead last in the APSA poll, was number 42, above James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, with Johnson ending up below Buchanan, the opposite of both the C Span and APSA surveys.

Of course, the game of Presidential ranking is a never ending and highly debatable one, and the way that Presidents are ranked is purely in the eyes and expertise of the beholder.

Should a great man, such as Madison or Monroe, but not as accomplished as more modern Presidents, such as Reagan or LBJ, be higher in the ratings?

That is left up to how people perceive Presidents, and whether they include the whole life, or just the actual years of the Presidency, in their judgments.

America Will Never Be A “Socialist” Country, But We Have “Socialist” Ideas Americans Want To Keep: Social Security, Medicare, Environmental, Labor, Consumer, Health Care, Education, And Civil Rights Laws, All Which Make Capitalism Work Better!

Donald Trump attacked “Socialism” in the State of the Union address, knowing full well that is simply a code word to attack progressive reforms that have become part of the American tradition and system of social justice.

“Socialism” in America is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Federal Environmental Laws, Federal Labor Laws, Federal Consumer Laws, Federal Health Care, Education and Civil Rights Laws.

These laws are the hard, years fought for, efforts of primarily Democrats and some moderate Republicans over the century since Theodore Roosevelt, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and even contributions of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and innumerable Senators and Congressmen and state governors who saw these laws as essential for American advancement.

We are a nation of capitalism but with “socialism” mixed in, due to the promotion of such legislation by the Socialist Party of the 20th century, and its leaders, including Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, and most Americans support and see the need for the laws we have.

We are not going to go back to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, as the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the 1960s, and the Obama era have made our nation better, and the right wing attack on all these reforms will be fought bitterly and defeated!

Trump’s State Of The Union Address: LIES, LIES, LIES!

President Donald Trump gave his second State of the Union Address last night, and it was full of lies, mistruths, and pure propaganda.

Trump claimed the economy has been brilliant under him, completely forgetting, conveniently, that the greatest economic revival from an economic downturn was under Barack Obama, who came in with 10 percent unemployment and brought it down below 5 percent; and the stock market having its greatest percentage growth ever under any President.

Trump claimed crime by undocumented immigrants was a massive problem, when the crime rate by American citizens is far higher, and crimes by undocumented immigrants, while sadly occurring and creating some victims, is NOT a major issue across the nation. It is white supremacists who are Americans, who are committing most crimes, and the victims are people of color.

Trump claimed that the Mexico border is seeing a massive flow of “caravans”, a claim which is totally created in his imagination, as the migration across the border is the lowest since the 1970s, but he has no issue in making Mexicans the enemy, and undermining relations with our neighbor, which shares a 2,000 mile border with us.

Trump talks about the need for infrastructure spending, and the issue of health care, but his administration has failed to deal with either issue, and instead has just been out to throw millions of Americans off the Affordable Care Act, without any alternative.

Trump speaks about the accomplishments of women, but it is because of his misogyny that we have seen the election of more women to Congress than ever before in American history, and they will not tolerate his sexism, and are working to fight for the rights of women, including to their own bodies.

Trump calls for the end of investigations, but it is the responsibility of Congress and the Justice Department to learn all of the facts about corruption and manipulations of the election, and Trump is on the Titanic, and the ship is sinking. His threat that no progress can be made is empty, as nothing positive has been accomplished in his first two years, and political scientists rate him after one year as number 44 out of 44 Presidents. Even conservatives and Republicans who are part of the American Political Science Association rate Trump only number 40 out of 44. So Trump will not survive his term and will be rated the absolutely worst President in US history, a well deserved conclusion.

One Year To The Iowa Caucuses, And The Democratic Presidential Race Is Wide Open And Even Chaotic

One year from February 3, a Monday in 2020, we will witness the 2020 Democratic Presidential Caucuses, the first test on the road to the Presidential nomination, as it turned out to be exactly 11 years ago on January 3, 2008, when Barack Obama won out over Hillary Clinton.

One year out, it is impossible to figure out who will be the Democratic Presidential nominee, but with the urgency that it is essential that whoever is selected is able to win the Presidency, and save the nation from a second term of Donald Trump or a succession of Mike Pence.

Within just one month, February 3 to March 3, assuredly, the field, which may start as high as 25 candidates, will be winnowed to no more than 5, and March 3, Super Tuesday, with California and Texas and a vast number of other states voting, could cut it down to no more than 3 finalists.

A prognostication, which may prove to be totally preposterous in retrospect in a year, this blogger senses that the following five will be the ultimate finalists:

Vice President Joe Biden, representing the older, establishment, experienced group of candidates and the Barack Obama legacy.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, representing the Midwest heartland, and like Biden, appeal to white working class voters.

Former San Antonio Mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, a Latino, and younger by months if he became President than Bill Clinton, from Texas, representing the largest minority in America in a state and section of the nation with growing potential to turn Blue in the next decade, and transform the Electoral College in favor of the Democrats long term.

Senator Kamala Harris of California, mixed race (mother from India and father from Jamaica), often called “the female Barack Obama”, representing a candidate who revolutionizes the whole election process with her presence, and if she wins California, it could propel her into front runner status.

I would sense that the Presidential-Vice Presidential team will come from this group of five, but we shall see as the next year transpires.

95th Anniversary Of Woodrow Wilson’s Death: The Decline In Historical Reputation, Although Still In Top Quarter Of All Presidents

On February 3, 1924, Woodrow Wilson, who had been in retirement only for nearly three years, died in his home, the Woodrow Wilson House, in Washington DC, at the age of 67.

Wilson had never fully recovered from the massive stroke he suffered on October 2, 1919, and he was unable to gain support of the US Senate for the Versailles Treaty and American membership in the League of Nation that he had fought for when he attended the Peace Treaty negotiations in France, the first President to travel overseas as America’s diplomat.

Wilson had accomplished much domestic legislation that was memorable, including the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, and the first federal labor laws.

But his record on racial segregation was horrendous, and he opposed the woman suffrage movement for a long time. He also presided over massive attacks on civil liberties during the First World War, totally intolerant of dissent.

And his mission to the Versailles Peace Conference ended in failure, as America did not join the League of Nations, and ratified its own peace treaty with Germany and the other nations on the losing side of the war.

Wilson’s reputation for his accomplishments kept him in the top ten of all Presidents for many decades, but lately he has come under fire, and his spot in the Presidential polls of scholars has declined. He is now out of the top ten at number 11 in the C Span Presidential Poll of historians conducted in 2017, after having earlier been number 6 in 2000, and number 9 in 2009. The American Political Science poll of Political Science professors had pegged Wilson at number 10 in 2014, and in 2018, he slipped to number 11, the same as the most recent C Span poll.

The troubling part is that Wilson fell behind Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson in the recent polling, and is only 15 points ahead in the C Span 2017 poll over number 12, Barack Obama, just as he left the Presidency.

So do not be surprised that Wilson will likely slip to number 12 in the next polling, with Obama surging ahead of him, as Obama looks ever better in comparison to Donald Trump, who ended up at the bottom of the APSA 2018 poll as number 44 out of 44.

Inspiring January 20s—1961 And 2009, And Then Depressing January 20s, 2017 And Today

Today is commemorated as the Presidential Inauguration Day every four years, since the passage and ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, changing the date from the original March 4 from 1789 to 1933, to the new date starting in 1937 and every fourth year after.

The history of January 20 is one of two particularly inspiring Inauguration Days, those of John F. Kennedy in 1961, with his soaring oratory, and Barack Obama in 2009, with the largest Inauguration crowd in American history, and with this author and blogger in attendance with his older son, witnessing the historic event.

Kennedy was the youngest elected President, and the first and only Catholic President, and Obama was the first and only mixed race African American President, and both appealed to the highest ideals of the American spirit.

Already, both are rated in the top third or better of our Presidents, and both will always excite and inspire our image of what America could be.

But sadly, now we are in a crisis, which makes Richard Nixon look better, something thought to be impossible after the Watergate Scandal. We never thought we could have a worse and more corrupt President than Nixon, who with his manifest shortcomings actually had some positive contributions.

But with Donald Trump, we have a wrecking ball out to destroy American domestic policies since Theodore Roosevelt onward, and American foreign policies since Harry Truman onward.

We have a President who has collaborated and colluded with the Russian government of Vladimir Putin, and yet we have one third to 40 percent of the nation totally in delusion, and proving that as PT Barnum said long ago, “There’s a sucker born every minute!” People who should know better have their heads in the sand, as if they are ostriches, and nothing will convince this ill informed and morally deficient portion of the population to see the reality of the disaster we face.

Donald Trump gave a bitter, divisive Inaugural Address two years ago today, and has not stopped from his mission of total destruction, and division of our population with his insults, his racism, his nativism, his misogyny, his repudiation of our long time allies, and his promotion of the destruction of the environment and the concept of civil rights and civil liberties in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

January 20, 2017, was not a day to celebrate, and January 20, 2019 is not either, as the Federal Government Shutdown continues, with the long range goal of the undermining of the Federal government agencies, and the destruction of the lives of millions of dedicated workers, and the collapse of the American economy, as we hurtle toward another Great Recession or maybe even another Great Depression.

It is impossible to have hope that we can survive this Trump disaster without long range damage and harm that will permanently undermine the future of American democracy.

The Wealthiest And The Poorest Presidents

The American Presidents have varied greatly in wealth acquired or inherited in their lifetimes.

Some were born poor, such as Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, due to family circumstances, with Clinton and Nixon acquiring wealth in their lifetimes, but Johnson would still be the seventh poorest President at death, according to statistics.

Materials gathered by scholars have led to conclusions on the net worth of our 44 Presidents, including their post Presidential years.

Easily, at least by the knowledge we have now, Donald Trump is likely the wealthiest President, although subject to change by further Congressional investigation of Trump’s finances, sure to come in the 116th Congress by congressional subpoenas. By estimate, Trump is wealthier than all the other 43 men who have been President of the United States.

After Trump, probably John F. Kennedy, had he not been assassinated, would have inherited close to $1 billion later in his life.

Other than Trump and Kennedy, George Washington would be considered the wealthiest President, in modern terms, around $580 million.

Behind him would be Thomas Jefferson ($234 million); Theodore Roosevelt ($138 million); Andrew Jackson ($131 million); James Madison ($112 million); and Lyndon B. Johnson ($108 million), with all those numbers being estimates.

Other Presidents who had substantial estimated wealth would include Herbert Hoover ($82 million; Bill Clinton ($75 million); Franklin D. Roosevelt ($66 million); and John Tyler ($57 million). Clinton acquired most of his wealth post Presidency by speeches and authored books, and will likely rise much higher if he lives a long life.

At the other end of the scale, we had 13 Presidents who had $1 million or less wealth by all estimates, in 2016 dollars, including in ranked order:

William McKinley

Warren G. Harding

James Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

James A. Garfield

Chester Alan Arthur

Woodrow Wilson

Calvin Coolidge

Harry Truman

Notice that the bulk of these Presidents served in the years from Buchanan to McKinley, the last half of the 19th century, a total of seven out of eleven Presidents.

The three Presidents from Wilson through Coolidge also are on this list, and Harry Truman ends up as the least prosperous President at his death, as compared to Andrew Johnson the poorest at birth.

Barack Obama is rated just below John Tyler at number 13 on the wealth list at an estimated $40 million, with potential over a long lifetime to become one of the top few wealthiest Presidents by speeches, books, and other activities due to the stature and prestige of being a former President in modern times.

Other Presidents are rated in the middle on wealth, such as George W. Bush at $39 million; George H. W. Bush at $26 million; John Quincy Adams at $23 million; John Adams at $21 million; Richard Nixon at $17 million; Ronald Reagan at $14 million; Dwight D. Eisenhower at $9 million; and Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter at $8 million each.

Walter Mondale 91 Years Old, And Adds To Record Of Longest Surviving Retired Vice President, With Longest Surviving Retired President, Jimmy Carter

Today is former Vice President Walter Mondale’s 91st birthday, and he adds to the record daily as the longest surviving retired Vice President, sharing that with the longest surviving retired President, Jimmy Carter. Both will have been out of office for 38 years on January 20.

Mondale is at this point the 5th oldest Vice President in American history, with John Nance Garner (under Franklin D. Roosevelt) having reached the age of 98; Levi Morton (under Benjamin Harrison) dying on his 96th birthday; George H. W. Bush (under Ronald Reagan) reaching the age of 94; and Gerald Ford (under Richard Nixon) reaching the age of 93. Only John Adams (under George Washington) otherwise reached the age of 90, surpassed by Mondale a few months ago.

Mondale also goes down as, in many ways, the most active, involved, and engaged Vice President we have ever had, although it does seem as if Joe Biden may have been as intimately involved with Barack Obama during their two terms of office, with more information on that involvement to follow with future research.

Happy 91st Birthday, Vice President Mondale, and many more, and the same for President Jimmy Carter, who will become the longest lived President on March 22 of this year; will reach 95 on October 1; and will have the longest Presidential marriage on October 17, with his beloved wife, Rosalynn.

The Struggle Of Donald Trump With Chief Justice John Roberts More Dangerous Than Earlier Challenges Of Presidents To Supreme Court Chief Justices

Donald Trump has challenged Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court, just as he has challenged every other institution of government, but Chief Justice John Roberts seems well prepared to deal with Trump, if and when he gets out of hand.

It is certainly a dangerous struggle, as Donald Trump has an authoritarian bent unlike any earlier President, but it seems clear that Roberts is ready to do what must be done to keep the President within the Constitution.

Earlier in history, there were major confrontations of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson with Chief Justice John Marshall; Abraham Lincoln with Chief Justice Roger Taney; Franklin D. Roosevelt with Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes; Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon with Chief Justice Earl Warren; Richard Nixon with Chief Justice Warren Burger; and Barack Obama with Chief Justice John Roberts.

But Trump has demanded that the court system favor him in all of his executive orders, and other executive actions, but the Court has refused to back him on a regular basis, leading Trump to say that there are Clinton Judges, Obama Judges, and Bush Judges, but Roberts responding that there are no such descriptions, as all are dedicated to the rule of law, a true rebuke of the President.

On a recent executive order to deny asylum automatically to those who seek it, the Court ruled 5-4 against it, with Roberts joining the four Democratic appointments on the Court, and he has earlier upheld ObamaCare in 2012, and at other times, has sided against conservatives.

It is clear that Roberts sees the Supreme Court as “his Court”, and is concerned about the reputation of the Court long term, so one can be assured that if a case comes up against Trump trying to grab too much power, that he will, likely vote against him, as the entire Court, including three Nixon appointees, voted against him in US V. Nixon of 1974, and when the Court, including two Clinton appointees unanimously voted against Clinton in the Clinton V. Jones Case of 1997.

Goodbye And Good Riddance To Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan: A Despicable Legacy Of Ayn Rand Worship And Obedience To Donald Trump

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will be leaving Congress, and the best way to look at it is: Goodbye and Good Riddance.

Ryan is a despicable legacy of Ayn Rand worship, whose goal in Congress, luckily unmet, was to wipe out the Social Welfare State of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, along with other reforms brought about by other Presidents of both political parties.

Ryan seemed excited at the thought of ending Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, although he gained from Social Security when his father died when he was a child, but seemed unperturbed in denying those less fortunate, and poor mothers and children the idea of any government support in their plight.

A so called “good Catholic”, who actually was denounced by Catholic leaders for his hard hearted attitude toward the poor and sick, he was anti abortion but did not care what happened once a child was born.

Ryan also showed willingness to be obedient toward Donald Trump’s abuse of power, and he presided over a massive increase in the national debt by his promotion of massive tax cuts to the wealthy, and his party now has to own the great increase in the national debt that occurred under George W. Bush and Donald Trump, which he ignored, while being constantly critical of Barack Obama, and refusing to come up with an alternative to ObamaCare.

The thought that he could be a heartbeat away from the Presidency as the potential Vice President under Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Campaign was horrifying, and this author denounced Ryan regularly at that time, and was bitterly attacked by the right wing in a vicious manner, but that did not intimidate me in calling him a disgraceful and despicable Republican leader.

To say that he was worse than the previous Speakers John Boehner and Dennis Hastert is quite a testimony to the disaster he represented as two heartbeats away from the Presidency while Speaker from 2015-2018.

He is being replaced by Democrat Nancy Pelosi, previously Speaker of the House from 2007-2011, the most productive years of any Speaker going back to the times of Thomas “Tip” O’Neill from 1977-1987.