George H W Bush

Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito MUST Go!

Three members of the Supreme Court live in their own parallel world of the Founding Fathers and the Gilded Age and the 1920s, and refuse to consider modernization as a factor in their judicial judgments!

Antonin Scalia, appointed in 1986 by Ronald Reagan; Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991 by George H. W. Bush; and Samuel Alito, appointed in 2006 by George W. Bush are a team of three, which has worked against gender equality,racial equality, fair treatment to immigrants, and gay rights, among other modern controversies.

Often, Chief Justice John Roberts joins them, and sometimes, but less often than Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy also joins to make a right wing five on the Court.

But Roberts and Kennedy have also taken stands with the four liberal justices on the Court lately–Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

It is time to demand that Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito adjust to modern times, or else leave the Court, and there is a dire need to have a constitutional amendment to limit the terms of all federal judges at all levels, to promote open mindedness and diversity, and allow for change after, at most 18-20 years!

George W. Bush Promotes Brother Jeb For President!

We have had two Bush Presidencies, but now George W. Bush is promoting his younger brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, to run for President in 2016!

Jeb Bush would be seen as part of the Establishment Republicans, not a popular group in the extreme right wing Tea Party Movement that has hijacked the traditions of the Republican Party historically.

Jeb is not nativist like many Republicans on immigration; after all, his own wife is Mexican-American!

Jeb has never gone as far to the right as many Republicans do today, and that makes him suspect among them.

And of course, there is exhaustion over the concept of a third Bush Presidency, after twelve years of Bushes in the past 26 years, with only Bill Clinton between them, and if Jeb became President, with only Barack Obama between the two sons of George H. W. Bush.

Jeb would be a mainstream, rational choice for President, but that is not the bent of the GOP of 2014.

And Jeb has NOT been running for public office since his second gubernatorial run in 2002, and will have been out of office for ten years, by the Presidential Election of 2016. And no one ever elected President has been out of public office as long as Jeb will have been, other than those who were generals, or businessman Wendell Willkie in 1940, with the one other exception being Abraham Lincoln, who had been out of public office for 12 years when elected to the Presidency in 2016!

Jeb would bring intelligence, knowledge, and competence to the White House, much more than his brother George W. had in 2000.

But he also represents the past, and is very likely to cater to the right wing, and most certainly, would NOT be a progressive oriented President, anymore than his brother or dad.

The odds of Jeb deciding to run should be seen as 40 percent, and the chances of being the nominee is more like 30 percent, and the odds of being elected would be no more than 45 percent.

The best guess is that Jeb will decide, ultimately, NOT to run, as his own wife seems reluctant, and that is an important factor in any candidate’s decision to run.

Imagine though a scenario of Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton. Would that encourage voters to stay home or to come out in droves to vote? More likely, the latter!

Statesman Jimmy Carter Reaches Age 90, Fourth President In A Row To Reach That Magical Age!

Today, October 1, is the 90th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), making him one of four Presidents in a row to reach that magical age.

Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush all reached the age of 90, Bush just this past June, and Ford and Reagan dying at age 93, with Ford being six weeks older than Reagan.

Now six Presidents, including John Adams and Herbert Hoover, have reached that age, and it is clear that modern medicine and sanitation have helped the Presidents in office from August 1974 to January 1993 to have accomplished this massive achievement!

Carter also has set an ongoing record of nearly 34 years out of office, and shares that with his Vice President, Walter Mondale, as the longest surviving team in the White House in American history!

Carter has long been vilified, and called a “failure”, “the worst President of modern times”, and other insulting terms by people who are ignorant, lacking in knowledge of what makes a President significant.

No one is going to assert that Carter was a highly successful President in the top ten or fifteen, and the fact that he was soundly defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980, harms his historical reputation, as Presidents who lose reelection never stand high in polls of Presidents in history.

But this man was decent and honest, humble and sincere, and accomplished the following:

The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the most outstanding accomplishment in Middle East diplomacy of any President before or since.

The negotiated return of the Panama Canal, to its rightful owners, the nation of Panama, righting the wrong done by Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

The strong principle of human rights as an important goal in American diplomacy.

The third best record of any President on environmental reform, and creation of public lands, only behind Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and more amazing, since Carter only had one term in the White House.

The establishment of the Health and Human Services Department, the Education Department, and the Energy Department, all added to the President’s cabinet.

Out of office, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, for his human rights record; his promotion of fair elections around the world and the advancement of health care and education through his Carter Center; and his building of housing using his own and his wife Rosalynn’s hands, as part of Habitat For Humanity.

He also wrote 28 books, making him the most prolific President of modern times, and competing with Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon for his extensive writings.

Jimmy Carter set a new standard for former Presidents giving their service to the nation, as Bill Clinton has done, and Carter is often called the best former President of the United States for his contributions in the 34 years since he left office.

Jimmy Carter had obvious shortcomings, but he has lived long enough to be regarded as a statesman, and be given the respect he deserves!

So Happy 90th Birthday, Mr. President!

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, “Selma” Film, And The Effect Of The Voting Rights Act of 1965: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama!

The new documentary, SELMA, about the March from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965, leading to “Bloody Sunday”, where state troopers and snipers fired on peaceful marchers demanding their right to vote, reminds us of a transitional stage in American history, when African Americans would regain the right to vote given to them in the 15th Amendment in 1870, and then denied in the South for about 75 years!

Alabama Governor George Wallace represented the worst of Southern racism, and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a true hero then and now, had his head beaten and bloodied n the Selma March, but the horrible event led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965!

It is tragic that the Supreme Court allowed a reversion in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act two years ago, and that has led to new movements, and not only in the South, to make it harder for African Americans, Latinos, women, poor people, and college students to vote, and that could affect the Midterm elections of 2014!

But Lewis made the comment which is so TRUE: If it had not been for Voting Rights Act coming out of the Selma March, there likely would NEVER have been an open minded progressive Presidency of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

That would have been a tremendous tragedy, as no Republican President , whether Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, or George W. Bush, made civil rights enforcement a key goal of their times in the Presidency!

So thank goodness for the fortune that the sacrifices of the Selma Marchers brought us the great progress  we gained under Carter, Clinton, and now Obama!

The Tea Party Out To Destroy All Progress Since 1900! Progressives MUST Fight To Retain Social Justice And Economic Advancements!

America has changed so much in the past 114 years, from the time of the Progressive Era, through the New Deal, the Great Society, and the time of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter. George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

America at the end of the Gilded Age was a selfish, greedy nation of the few elite wealthy victimizing the rest of American society.

But then came Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on big business; showing concern for labor; promoting the Food and Drug Administration; and vastly extending the concept of protection of the environment and conservation.

Then came Woodrow Wilson, who gave us the Federal Reserve Banking System; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; the Federal Trade Commission; and the first national labor laws.

Then came Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, changing our lives long term with Social Security; public works programs; bank deposit insurance; stock market regulations; the Tennessee Valley Authority; Federal Unemployment Compensation; and labor laws which gave workers and labor unions the right to collective bargaining.

Then came Harry Truman, who promoted integration of the armed forces and Washington, DC; advocated for national health care; and emphasized the need for national commitment to education.

Then came Dwight D. Eisenhower, who enforced civil rights enforcement; promoted federal aid to education; the development of an interstate highway system; and the development of a national space commitment.

Then came John F. Kennedy, who advanced civil rights; promoted the space program; started the Peace Corps; cracked down on the steel industry;  and advocated national health care for the elderly.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnson, who promoted massive civil rights laws; successfully passed Medicare and Medicaid; pursued a War on Poverty; massive increases in federal aid to education; began a national commitment to environmental and consumer legislation; and appointed the first African American to the cabinet and to the Supreme Court.

Then came Richard Nixon, who signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and attempted wage and price controls to keep down the inflation level.

Then came Jimmy Carter, who further promoted civil rights; saw the need for an Energy Department; and became the third best environmental President after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

Then came George H. W. Bush, who signed into law civil rights legislation to promote disabled people.

Then came Bill Clinton, who promoted civil rights advancements; a greater commitment to education; and attempted a national health care program.

Finally came Barack Obama, who brought about ObamaCare; promoted great environmental expansion; advocated for equality of gays and lesbians including gay marriage; and started to take moves toward immigration reforms.

So much has been done by these twelve Presidents to advance social justice, and economic reform—eight Democrats and four Republicans.

But now, the 2014 Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party extremists and the right wing radio talk shows and Fox News Channel and the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, and they have declared war on all humane, decent actions that have taken place in the past 114 years, including advocacy of destroying Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of national parks and all labor reforms and the rights of women and the poor!

This is all very shocking and unbelievable, but the battle for progressivism and the retention of the great work done from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama must be forthright and the battle for the future has just begun.  The Republican Party needs to be smashed and reconstituted, if the nation is to grow in the 21st century, rather than move backwards to the 19th century!

The Wartime Presidency: From James Madison To Barack Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The History Of Foreign Policy Crises At Election Time

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

Examples include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presidents And Intelligence

A YouGov Survey on the past eight elected Presidents, therefore not including Gerald Ford, ranks their “intelligence” with unusual results.

The word “intelligent” has different meanings to different people.

Is it based on grades while in school?

Is it based on ability to get things done effectively?

Is it based on oratorical skill and charm and charisma?

Is it based on accomplishments in office?

Is it based on personal popularity with the American people?

Is it based on reaction to crises that arise?

Does being “intelligent” matter as much as other characteristics, including: honesty, experience, ability to inspire, boldness, and having a sense of humor?

What it comes down to is that how people react to Presidents is very personal, and trying to rank them on the word “intelligence” is simply extremely political in nature!

According to the YouGov poll, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most “intelligent” of the eight recent Presidents, followed by Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Notice that the first two are also seen as most “successful”, while Obama, even under attack recently, looks better than the rest, and the senior Bush is remembered for the Persian Gulf War, which led him to an all time high public opinion poll rating of 91 percent.

The other four recent Presidents, generally seen as “failures”, or at least seen as negative, are in order: Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George W. Bush.

Interestingly, George W, Bush and Barack Obama have the highest percentage, both 17 percent, thinking they are not intelligent at all! This is purely emotion based on opposition that each has had from his critics!

What it comes down to is that this poll is basically useless, as it fails to look at historical reality and the record of each President!

If that was done, one could argue that LBJ should rank the highest in pure accomplishment in domestic affairs, in a way that still affects us, while Richard Nixon would rank highest in pure accomplishment in foreign policy, despite his many other shortcomings, including Watergate.

In pure native intelligence, based on information we have on their backgrounds, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter would rank the highest.

Ronald Reagan has been over inflated in image, while George H. W. Bush has been underrated for his accomplishments.

Barack Obama cannot be adequately evaluated while in office, while George W. Bush, ranking last, seems likely to remain that way for the long run!

Eight Presidents Who Had A Major Role In The Military

Many of our Presidents, about two thirds, have served in the armed forces of the United States, but eight were involved in particularly notable roles in the military that stand the test of time.

These are:

George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Ulysses S. Grant during the Indian Wars, Mexican War, and Civil War.

Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish American War.

Harry Truman during World War I.

Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II.

John F. Kennedy during World War II.

Jimmy Carter in the early Cold War years.

George H. W. Bush during World War II.

Other Presidents served of course, and Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and Zachary Taylor were generals; Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley served in the Civil War; and Hayes and Franklin Pierce (in the Mexican War) and Kennedy were wounded. But these eight listed above particularly stand out in their military service of all of the Presidents who served!

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!