Franklin D. Roosevelt

Happy 107th Birthday, President Lyndon B. Johnson!

107 years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson was born, destined to have a career that would change the lives of more Americans than any other President, including Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Many will remind us of the disastrous Vietnam War, which LBJ waged, and which forced him out of office, giving up a chance to be only the second President to serve more than eight years, the only one doing so being FDR!

Many will point out that LBJ is accused of being involved in the assassination plot against John F. Kennedy, well spread by several authors, but still seen as highly speculative.

Many will tell us of the statements that LBJ was possibly the most corrupt President in American history, and the one who enriched his own fortune more than any other, without any positive proof of their allegations.

Many will look to find other chinks in the armor of the 36th President, and certainly, LBJ would be the first to declare his own imperfections, including his tendency to use racist Southern terms for African Americans, common in Dixie in his lifetime.

But even with whatever shortcomings there were, and whatever mostly unprovable accusations that are lodged against him, there is certainly another LBJ–the man who used the powers of his office to better the lives of more Americans—-the elderly, the sick, the poor, the uneducated, the ethnic minorities, deprived whites, women—-than any President before him, and unmatched by any President since his time.

The Great Society did so much good, much of it still with us 50 years later, a goal that LBJ had, to match and surpass his “idol”, FDR, and his New Deal programs of 30 years earlier.

Poverty was cut dramatically in the time of LBJ; more people had a chance to get an education than ever before; Medicare and Medicaid came into being, providing a “safety net” added to the Social Security programs of FDR; Civil Rights laws finally fulfilled the purpose of what Abraham Lincoln had promoted a century earlier; the environment, consumer protection, transportation and urban affairs improvement became the priority of the federal government; public radio and television offered enlightenment and still do; and we saw the beginnings of opportunity for top positions in the federal government for ethnic minorities who had never played a role in government affairs before.

So despite obvious faults and shortcomings, Happy 107th Birthday, Mr. President!

The Die Is Cast! Hillary Clinton Is A Flawed Candidate Who Can No Longer Be Assured The Presidency, And The Democrats’ Hold On White House Is Now Endangered!

After Hillary Clinton’s contentious press conference a few days ago, regarding the Email controversy,  and with time to reflect on the situation, one thing is very clear.

Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate who will face problems winning  the Presidency, and the Democrats’ hold on the White House is now endangered!  This is the danger of “putting all your eggs in one basket”!

This comes at a time when rumor has it that Vice President Joe Biden has, supposedly, decided not to run for President.

If that is so, then, as things now stand, the Democrats are left with the likelihood that Bernie Sanders, who has always proudly declared that he is a Socialist, is their front runner, with what seems like little chance that Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, or Jim Webb could overtake him and become competitive.

And it seems that anyone else, such as former Vice President Al Gore or Secretary of State John Kerry, both past Democratic Presidential candidates, from 16 and 12 years ago, are unlikely to run, and in any case, would be long shots for the Presidency at this point.

This would be the time for a “new generation” of leadership to rise, with Martin O’Malley, the former Governor of Maryland, to be that individual—the new John F. Kennedy, or Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama—but that seems highly unlikely to occur.

It seems clear that the dream of having the first woman President, and it being Bill Clinton’s wife, long believed to be a fait accompli, is not going to happen, and if it somehow does anyway, that it would be a highly flawed Presidency.

Hillary Clinton seems to many neutral observers, and even some Democrats, to be a “Nixonian” kind of personality, surrounding herself with “yes” advisers, who are unwilling all along to tell her that the appearance of impropriety and lack of ethics is clear cut.

Hillary Clinton has so messed up her campaign by her behavior and actions as Secretary of State, and lame attempts to “cover it up”, that her candidacy is one of damage control, rather than being able to advance ideas and programs.

Hillary Clinton is very intelligent and capable, but she is, sadly, going to have a campaign dominated by the Email controversy, and the implication, which may be untrue,  that she has lied, deceived, and manipulated the truth about her activities.

Her behavior and actions now endanger the ability of the Democrats to retain control of the Presidency.  If one looks at the Electoral College situation, it should have been easy for the Democrats to win the White House, but now everything is unsettled, including the possible effect of the Donald Trump candidacy.

If the Democrats lose the White House, then the Republicans would have the ability to put the Obama Presidency’s accomplishments and advances in domestic and foreign policy into reverse, a true tragedy for the nation.

It would also endanger much of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It would probably mean a permanent, long term, right wing swing of the Supreme Court, affecting the next generation and more of legal and constitutional interpretation.

If the Democrats lose, Hillary Clinton will be blamed for the demise of what should have been an easy victory for the Democrats, but more importantly, the nation would suffer from a totally different approach to labor, the environment, women’s issues, race, immigration, science, and so much more.

So now, if not ever before, it is essential that the move of many to say “Run, Joe, Run”–to pressure Vice President Joe Biden to run—is now not just what Biden supporters wish to occur, but an absolute demand that he MUST run to save the Democratic Party and the American people from a right wing future in our government!

“Non Politicians”–Presidential Winners And A Few Presidential Nominees

With three Republican Presidential candidates for 2016 being “non politicians”, people who have never served in a government position on the city, state or national level, the issue arises: have there been any other such candidates in the past?

It turns out that we have had several military generals who never served in a civilian position, that could qualify as “non politicians”.

This includes the following:

Zachary Taylor 1848 (Mexican War)

Winfield Scott 1852 (Mexican War)

George McClellan 1864 (Civil War)

Ulysses S. Grant 1868, 1872 (Civil War)

Winfield Scott Hancock 1880 (Civil War)

Taylor and Grant were elected, while Scott, McClellan, and Hancock were defeated in their attempts to become President.

McClellan did serve as Governor of New Jersey from 1878-1881, AFTER running for President against Abraham Lincoln.  But Taylor, Scott, Grant and Hancock never ran for public office.

Additionally, Horace Greeley, the New York Tribune publisher, ran for President in 1872, as the candidate of the Democratic Party and the breakaway group in the Republican Party opposed to Grant’s reelection, known as the “Liberal Republicans”.  He served very briefly as an appointed member of the House of Representatives, but not by vote of the people, but rather a choice of Whig Party leaders to fill a short term replacement before the election for the next term in Congress.  He served a total of only three months from December 1848 to March 1849, and did not run for the New York City seat.  Technically, one could say he had that political experience, but so little in time, that he could be seen as basically a “non politician” when he ran for President 24 years later, although being the editor of the New York Tribune was certainly “political” in nature.

Then we have Wall Street industrialist and businessman Wendell Willkie, who ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, after stirring the Republican National Convention and overcoming much better known Presidential candidates, but while running a good race, he lost, and then supported the World War II effort and cooperated with FDR until Willkie died in late 1944.

And finally, we have billionaire Ross Perot, who ran for President as an independent in 1992 and as the Reform Party candidate in 1996.

So only Zachary Taylor and Ulysses S. Grant were “non politicians” who were elected President.

The odds of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, or Dr. Benjamin Carson being elected President in 2016, therefore, are astronomical!

“Speaks Without Notes”; “Has Passion And Joy In Campaigning”; “Speaks His Mind”—Traits Of Donald Trump AND Joe Biden!

It has been pointed out that billionaire Donald Trump “speaks without notes”; “has passion and joy in campaigning”; “speaks his mind”, all traits that most politicians, including Presidential candidates, often do not have.

Well, there is someone else who has the same traits that Trump has, but also has tons of REAL government experience; a record of REAL accomplishments; a true compassion for those NOT wealthy; a sincerity, authenticity, and genuine nature rarely seen in politicians; a person with not a mean bone in  his body; a person who would “give the shirt off his back”; a true man of the people, who has managed to serve longer than any political leader in public office in the entire history of the nation; and has NOT enriched himself in the manner that most politicians do!

In these other traits mentioned in the above paragraph, Donald Trump is entirely different, the diametric opposite of this other person who shares the traits in the first paragraph.

Who am I talking about?  Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden!

It can be argued that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton cannot compete in the traits that Donald Trump and Joe Biden share.  Bernie Sanders  may share the traits in the first paragraph, but his connection to the “dirty” word “Socialism” creates many potential complications were Sanders to end up as the Democratic nominee for President, a real “long shot”!

A debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would be the debate of the century, as Joe Biden would combat the demagoguery of Trump with a strong, rational, but fiery and emotional attack on “Trumpism”.  Biden has already proved how he can make “mince meat” of Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin in Vice Presidential debates.  He proved to be the best debater in the Presidential primaries of 2008, but of course could not overcome the star power of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

But now, coming off the successful and significant Vice Presidency of Joe Biden, he would have the best opportunity to overcome the phenomenon of Donald Trump, and institutionalize the Obama Presidency, and keep the virtues of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Donald Trump: A Mix Of Wendell Willkie, George Wallace, And Ross Perot

Donald Trump’s Presidential candidacy has brought back memories of three other Presidential candidates.

First is Wendell Willkie, a corporate leader and Wall Street industrialist from Indiana who had never run for public office, who wowed the Republican convention in 1940 with his charisma, rhetoric, and attack on “career politicians”.  He was able to win the Republican Presidential nomination in 1940, and run a good but losing race against the master politician, Franklin D. Roosevelt, running for an unprecedented third term.

Next is George C. Wallace, Governor of Alabama, who formed the American Independent Party in 1968, rallying those opposed to the Civil Rights laws passed under Lyndon B. Johnson.  He attracted angry working class whites, and won 13.5 % of the popular vote, the fourth best percentage for a third party in American history.  He also won five Southern states and 46 electoral votes, making him the second best in total states and electoral votes in American history, only behind former President Theodore Roosevelt, who won six states and 88 electoral votes as the nominee of the third party known as the Progressive (Bull Moose) party, in 1912.  TR also is the only third party nominee to end up second, rather than third in the election results.  His campaign in 1912 decimated the Republican Party under President William Howard Taft, and helped to elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

And then we have Ross Perot, a billionaire businessman who had never run for public office, who ran an independent race twice, winning nearly 19 percent of the vote in 1992, and 8 percent of the vote in 1996, while winning no states in the Electoral College.  He appealed to those who were disgusted with the federal government, and worried about the growing national debt.  His candidacy undermined the Republican Party nominees, President George H. W. Bush in 1992 and Senator Bob Dole in 1996, and elected Democrat Bill Clinton twice.

Now we have Donald Trump, a billionaire, who has developed an appeal to those who are disillusioned with politics and the federal government, making him similar to Perot.  But Trump also appeals to the baser instincts in many people, those who dislike African Americans, Latinos, immigrants in general, in these ways having similar views  to Wallace.  These Trump supporters  also think women should not be treated equally, preferring the old image of women who should cook, clean, and be available for the sexual satisfaction of their men, but with no rights over their bodies and reproduction,  similar to the Tea Party Movement.  Also, there is a distaste for labor rights, and for the environment, and an orientation toward absolute belief in religion as the gospel, and a repudiation of science.

Can Trump “storm” the Republican Party, as Wendell Willkie did in 1940; or will he run on a third party, like Ross Perot, and make it impossible for the GOP to win the White House?  And will Trump continue to appeal to the George Wallace type voters, and promote a right wing populism as Wallace did?

This is what is yet to be evolving, but in many ways, Trump is a combination, right now, of Willkie, Wallace, and Perot!

Three Quirks Of Presidential Election History: 1872, 1912, 1940

We are now fully in Presidential election season, with constant focus on the candidates and the issues.

But when one looks back to Presidential election history, one discovers so called “quirks” in the 1872, 1912, and particularly the 1940 presidential election cycles.

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant, seeking a second term, faced Democratic and “Liberal Republican” Presidential nominee Horace Greeley, the editor of the famous New York Tribune newspaper, which had had such a dramatic effect on the issue of slavery and the evolution of the Republican Party. Greeley had also promoted Abraham Lincoln’s nomination in 1860.

Greeley, who was quirky in his personal life, seen by many as an “oddball”, became the candidate of so called “Liberal Republicans” who did not like the policies and actions of the Grant Presidency.

Of course, Grant defeated him, but only 24 days later, before the Electoral College could meet and cast its official votes, Greeley died, marking the only time that a Presidential candidate died during or after an election campaign, but before the inauguration. To top off the tragedy, Greeley’s wife had died a week before the election, and therefore, Greeley died only 30 days after his wife had passed away. Imagine if Greeley had won over Grant, which would have necessitated his Vice Presidential running mate, Benjamin Gratz Brown, to become the President-elect!

In 1912, President William Howard Taft was in a three way race with former President Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party line, and with Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, who would win the three way contest.

But six days before the election, Vice President James Sherman died in office, so when the Electoral College met, it was agreed that Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler would be substituted on the Electoral College ballot to receive the 8 electoral votes for Vice President that Taft received for President. This is the only time a sitting Vice President or even Vice Presidential candidate died during the election campaign or before the inauguration.

And in 1940, Businessman Wendell Willkie was nominated for President by the Republican Party to run against Franklin D. Roosevelt, seeking a third term in the White House. Senator Charles McNary of Oregon was chosen as Willkie’s running mate for Vice President.

FDR went on to win, but meanwhile, in an oddity, it turned out that McNary died in February 1944, and Willkie died in October 1944, therefore marking the only time that an entire Presidential ticket, luckily the losing one, failed to survive the term that they were competing to serve in. Luckily so for the nation, as that would have required the Secretary of State for Willkie to have taken over just before the 1944 election, and at a crucial time in World War II!

80 Years Of Social Security And Counting: The Most Successful “Safety Net” Program In American History!

On August 14, 1935 the Social Security Act became law during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins key figures in promoting its passage.

For the first time, there was the pledge of providing senior citizens with some financial support in their later years.

Additionally, widows and orphans, and the disabled would be covered under the law.

The US was behind Germany, Great Britain, and France, industrialized nations which had enacted such legislation decades earlier.

There was bipartisan support from progressive Republicans and from Democrats, but more conservative Republicans set as their goal to destroy Social Security, as early as the Presidential Election of 1936.

But Social Security has survived eight decades, and has done so much good for the nation, and its most vulnerable citizens.

Even now, there are proposals to change Social Security, as was done in 1983, by a deal between President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, raising the retirement to age 66 and 67 for full benefits, depending on year of birth.

Now there is the call to raise the retirement age further, and cut benefits over the long haul, bitterly opposed by progressives and Democrats. Also, George W. Bush tried to privatize part of Social Security, which failed of enactment in 2005, but again is being promoted by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

The tax base has been raised, but even now, only the first $118,500 is taxed, and many feel there should be no limit on the tax base, as that allows those who make much higher incomes to avoid further taxation, and putting the burden on the average American who does not earn more than $118,500.

The point is that by raising the tax base to unlimited income would insure the long term survival of Social Security.

It is essential to insure that the most successful “Safety Net” program in American history continued to survive and prosper!

The End Of A Dangerous Situation: The Resignation Of Richard Nixon In 1974

When one looks back at crises in American history, the top of the list are the Civil War, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, and the Cuban Missile Crisis up to that time in our history.

But in all four situations mentioned, we had a strong, decisive President who handled the situation extremely well.

We were fortunate to have Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy as our Presidents at the times of these crises.

But once one goes beyond these four transformational moments in our history, then we come to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon on this day 41 years ago.

Yes, the argument can be made that Richard Nixon had a dramatic and positive effect on areas of domestic and foreign policy, during his five and a half years as President.

But Richard Nixon was also, without question, the most corrupt, dangerous President we had ever had in our history, bar none.

Richard Nixon had mental issues, and saw opponents as enemies, and seemed willing and able to allow aides to abuse power, and for himself to set out to destroy opposition in any way possible.

There was concern in the tense times of the summer of 1974 that Nixon might try to declare martial law, and his Chief of Staff, Alexander Haig, had already told the Pentagon to ignore any potential order from Nixon to suspend the Constitution, which would have established a dictatorship.

This is not to say that Nixon actually would have done so, as he was well aware of the need to do what he could to protect his damaged legacy in history, in any way that he could, but still, the threat, and the sense of mental instability was terrifying at the time.

And this lesson of Richard Nixon makes clear that the news media must be aggressive in pursuing the truth about the true character of all Presidential candidates, and despite attacks, make us aware of their shortcomings, particularly in the mental health area, as the nation cannot afford to elect a man or woman who might be dangerous to our national security and safety due to mental instability.

No one is entitled to be President, and we do not need an unstable person holding the powers of the most significant political position in the entire world!

Likelihood Of Oldest Presidential Candidate Race Ever In American History!

As the 2016 Presidential campaign heats up, it looks more and more likely that the two major party nominees will be among the oldest ever nominated or elected.

The Democrats have the following candidates who will be 64 or even beyond 70 as possible nominees:

Hillary Clinton 69
Joe Biden 74
Bernie Sanders 75
Jim Webb 70 (but nearly 71)
Lincoln Chafee 63 (but nearly 64)

The Republicans have the following candidates who will be 64 or beyond as possible nominees:

Jeb Bush 63 (but nearly 64)
Donald Trump 70
John Kasich 64
Rick Perry 66 (but nearly 67)
Jim Gilmore 67
George Pataki 71
Dr Benjamin Carson 65

Between the likely Democratic nominee and the likely Republican nominee, we can expect the oldest combination of Presidential candidates if one for each group above are the chosen nominees.

Right now, the Democratic nominee seems likely to be one of the top three on the list–Clinton, Biden or Sanders; and the Republican nominee likely to be one of the top three on that list—Bush, Trump, Kasich.

However, IF the Republican nominee turns out to be the younger candidates, such as Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio, we could have a bigger difference in age than we have rarely had, with only vast differences in age of William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and 1900; Franklin D. Roosevelt and Thomas E. Dewey in 1944; Harry Truman and Dewey in 1948; Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale in 1984; Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush in 1992; Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996; Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008; and Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012.

Note that in the cases of a much older and much younger opponents, the older candidate won with McKinley, FDR, Truman, and Reagan, but the younger candidate won with Clinton twice and Obama twice.

If Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee or Lindsey Graham were the GOP nominee, the average age of the two opponents would still be close to the highest in history, with their average age in the low 60s at inauguration.

Remember that the only Presidents to be 64 or older at inauguration were Ronald Reagan, William Henry Harrison, James Buchanan, George H. W. Bush, and Zachary Taylor.

The only other Presidents over the age of 60 at inauguration were:

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Andrew Jackson
John Adams
Gerald Ford
Harry Truman

So only 10 Presidents out of 43 were 60 or older when taking the oath, while now we are very likely to have both candidates over the age of 60, with 11 out of 17 Republican candidates being over 60, and 5 out of 6 (Martin O’Malley the exception) of the Democratic candidates over the age of 60.

So while we had a “new generation of leadership” three times in the past half century with John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, now we are almost certain to have an “old generation” of leadership coming to power on January 20, 2017.

Calvin Coolidge Becomes President Upon The Death Of President Warren G. Harding In 1923

Calvin Coolidge had been Vice President of the United States under Warren G. Harding for two years and five months, when, suddenly, he became the 30th President of the United States upon Harding’s death.

Coolidge also became the sixth President to succeed to the office due to the death of the incumbent President. Also, he became the second President to be elected to the office after succeeding his President in the White House.

Coolidge would serve five years and seven months in office, choosing not to run in 1928, with some thinking he sensed the Great Depression was coming, and wished to leave the Presidency at that time, to avoid having to deal with what became the worst economic collapse in the nation’s history.

Instead, his successor, Herbert Hoover, would gain the ire and hatred of millions of Americans, who would give Hoover a resounding defeat for reelection, and leading to a political transformation, with the Democratic Party, after decades of being in the “wilderness” benefiting from the Great Depression, and becoming the majority party in voter registration and loyalties.

It is now believed by many scholars that Coolidge chose to leave because of the clear cut effect of his son, Calvin, Jr’s, death in 1924, which seemed to have transformed his personality, from one of gregariousness to one of withdrawal in most public situations. Looking back now, it is amazing how Coolidge continued his run for a full term in 1924, and lasted another four years, before finally choosing to enter retirement, as the loss of his son clearly put him into a state of depression.

The effect of his son’s death, however, may also have contributed to Coolidge’s early demise, as he died after the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt over Herbert Hoover, but before Hoover left office.

Only James K. Polk, Chester Alan Arthur and Woodrow Wilson had failed to survive their successor’s term in office, other than Coolidge.