George W. Bush

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!

Left Handed Presidents On “Left Handers Day”!

Today, August 13, is “Left Handers Day”!

About 10-15 percent of the population, supposedly, is left handed, and it is certainly much more common now than in the past, due to children being forced to learn to be right handed in the past, because of belief that it was a sin to be left handed.

So as far as we know, left handed Presidents have occurred only in the past century, although there are those who think Thomas Jefferson may have been left handed or ambidextrous; and that James A. Garfield was the same, due to the statements that he could write in Latin and Greek with both hands at the same time!

Other than possibly Jefferson, and the case of Garfield, the list of left handed modern Presidents includes:

Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Harry Truman (1945-1953)
Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
George H. W. Bush (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
Barack Obama (2009-Present)

This means that for 29 of the past 41 years (since 1974), we have had left handed Presidents, all but Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush!

It also means that 7 of the last 14 Presidents (from Hoover to Obama) have been left handed! This is 41 of the past 86 years!

It is also a fact that in 1992, all three Presidential candidates (Bush Senior, Clinton, Ross Perot) were lefties, and the same with 1996 (Clinton, Bob Dole, Perot)! And in 2008, the two major party Presidential candidates, Obama and John McCain, were also “southpaws”!

Political Campaign Debates’ Impact On American History

Do political campaign debates matter?

Absolutely, and the first such case is Abraham Lincoln Vs. Stephen Douglas in the Illinois Senate race of 1858, which helped elevate Lincoln to the Presidency, although losing the Senate seat due to the Democrats controlling the state legislature, and choosing incumbent Democrat Douglas for the new term of office.

Since Presidential debates came about in 1960, and then revived starting in 1976, there have been moments when they really mattered, even if often boring, including:

1960–Richard Nixon sweating and looking tense, while John F. Kennedy smiled, looked tanned, was relaxed.

1976–Gerald Ford says Poland is a free nation, which helps to elect Jimmy Carter in close race.

1980–Ronald Reagan talks about the “Misery Index” and says “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”, and defeats Jimmy Carter.

1984—Ronald Reagan says he will not use age as an issue to show the “youth and inexperience” of opponent Walter Mondale, who he defeats.

1988—Vice Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen tells opponent Dan Quayle that he is not another John F. Kennedy, and sets the image of Quayle for all time as an incompetent Vice President, and have no chance to be President when he decides to run in 1996.

1992—George H. W. Bush looks constantly at his watch, during the debate with Bill Clinton, who defeats him, and also Ross Perot.

2000–Al Gore walks over to George W. Bush as he answers question, comes across as a weird action, and also breathes deeply at Bush responses, making Gore seem haughty and condescending.

2008—Sarah Palin does an embarrassing performance in Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden, harms John McCain campaign.

2012–In Republican Presidential candidate debates, Rick Perry cannot remember the three agencies of government he wishes to eliminate, which ends his candidacy.

2012—Joe Biden laughs at Paul Ryan statements in Vice Presidential debate, weakens Ryan image as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Also, political campaign debates draw attention to the race, and there will be many Presidential debates starting tonight for the Republicans, and in October for the Democrats.

50 Years Of The Voting Rights Act, And Reluctance To Enforce It By Supreme Court And Many States Now A Sad Reality!

On August 6, it will be 50 years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, overcoming a near century of the denial of the right to vote to African Americans, despite the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870.

The Southern states denied African Americans the right to vote through all kinds of methods for three quarters of a century, but finally it was a Southern President and many Congressional Republicans joining with Democrats that caused that denial of democracy to be overcome, finally.

And Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, all Republicans, continued to endorse, promote, hail, and extend the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

But then the Supreme Court majority under Chief Justice John Roberts weakened enforcement in a Supreme Court decision in 2013 (Shelby County, Alabama V. Holder), effectively giving license to states run by Republican governors and legislatures to pass new restrictions on voting, that would not only hurt African Americans, but also Hispanics, poor whites, the elderly, college students—all being required to make onerous efforts to meet the new restrictions on voting rights, when there was no earlier evidence of voting fraud.

This sad reality has pained John Lewis, Georgia Congressman, who was involved in the movement for voting rights in Alabama (the Selma-Montgomery March), and was seriously beaten, along with others who were killed, fighting peacefully for the basic right to vote.

So while we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this path breaking legislation, we have to hope that the Supreme Court will revisit what it has done by a 5-4 vote in the next term, with the hope that they will reconsider what they have done, based on the discrimination now being practiced in many states across the nation.

25 Years Since The Middle East Crisis Which Led To Persian Gulf War Against Iraq, Led By President George H. W. Bush

It was 25 years ago this week that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, invaded Kuwait and incited US intervention by January 1991, in what became the six week Persian Gulf War.

Iraq had even been supported by the United States during the Iran Iraq War in the 1980s, but it now became the major menace of the Middle East, and forced the United States to intervene, with the backing of Saudi Arabia, which feared it would be the next victim of Iraqi aggression.

So President George H. W. Bush created a United Nations coalition, and with the assistance of General Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, James Baker, and Dick Cheney, and others, the fear that it would be a long war turned out not to be the case.

The UN went into this war, the first since the Korean War, with the understanding that the goal was to force Iraq out of Kuwait, and nothing more, so Saddam Hussein was able to remain in power, cause more trouble, and lead to another Iraq War, which would go on for many years under his son George W. Bush, and be ended under Barack Obama.

The whole mess in the Middle East became much more complex as a result of all of these circumstances, and helped, as we look back, to the rise of ISIL (ISIS), with not only the continued disarray in Iraq, but also with the revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and the horrific civil war in Syria.

Despite all these circumstances, George H. W. Bush, now 91, is seen as having done the right thing a quarter century ago, and keeping the limits set up by the United Nations coalition that fought the war in true unity with the United States. It is still one of his greatest accomplishments as President.

“Fit” And “Unfit” Presidents In American History

The issue of Presidential health is an important one, as the stresses on the Chief Executive, are, and have been, massive over time, and the job ages all Presidents noticeably.

But separate from general health, there is also the issue of how “fit” or “unfit” Presidents have been while in office, and those who have been active in athletic activities before and during their White House years.

The list of truly “fit” Presidents has favored the younger Presidents over time, but there are also cases of other Presidents who have made being fit an important part of their image as Presidents. These Presidents participated in sports, and even when having health issues over time, they still emphasized the active life.

So the truly “fit” Presidents would include:

George Washington

John Quincy Adams

Andrew Jackson

Abraham Lincoln

Theodore Roosevelt

Dwight D. Eisenhower

John F. Kennedy

Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan

George H. W. Bush

George W. Bush

Barack Obama

All of the above 12 Presidents did a lot of exercise throughout their lives, and some were in the military as generals (Washington, Jackson, Eisenhower).

Those Presidents that would qualify as particularly unfit would include:

John Adams

Martin Van Buren

James Buchanan

Chester Alan Arthur

Grover Cleveland

William McKinley

William Howard Taft

Warren G. Harding

Lyndon B. Johnson

Bill Clinton

All of the above 10 Presidents had major issues with weight, particularly Taft and Cleveland.

Of course, “fitness” has nothing to do with greatness in the White House, as Franklin D. Roosevelt proves! But FDR also had massive upper body strength, despite the polio that prevented him from walking.

Is Al Gore Or John Kerry Viable As A Presidential Candidate In 2016? The History Of Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, And Richard Nixon!

Speculation has risen not only that Vice President Joe Biden might announce for President, but also that former Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State John Kerry, both who lost the Presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively, might decide to try for the White House yet again.

Although Hillary Clinton seems to many like a shoo-in for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, there are signs of discontent with her, and feelings among many that she is too secretive, not trustworthy, and not all that likable.

The odds are still heavily in favor of her nomination, but there are many who feel Biden, and possibly Gore and or Kerry, should consider running, as it is felt that Bernie Sanders, while performing well right now in regards to crowds and fund raising, ultimately cannot be expected to win the nomination, with his Socialist connections being harmful, due to many Americans misunderstanding the term, and being told it is harmful and dangerous.

But the question arises about Gore and Kerry, that they have both been out of the Presidential game for a very long time, with Gore out 16 years and having no public office since his loss in 2000, despite having won the popular vote over George W. Bush; and Kerry, having served in the Senate after his defeat, until he became Secretary of State after Hillary Clinton left the State Department in 2013, but being out of the Presidential race for 12 years by 2016.

So history is a guide here.

It turns out four Presidential candidates had been out of the Presidential field for very long times, as follows:

Henry Clay lost the Presidential race in 1824, and then 8 years later in 1832, he was nominated again. Then 12 years later, in 1844, he was nominated for the third and last time. Twelve years is a long time!

Abraham Lincoln last held public office in 1848, when he left the House of Representatives after one 2 year term. But then, 12 years later, he ran for President and won!

Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for Vice President in 1920 and lost, and then was sidelined by polio, not running again for public office until 8 years later, when he won the Governorship of New York in 1928. Four years later, and 12 years after losing the Vice Presidency, he won the Presidency in 1932!

Finally, Richard Nixon lost the Presidency in 1960 and lost, then ran for California Governor in 1962 and lost, and yet came back 6 years later, after 8 years out of office, and yet won the Presidential Election of 1968!

Are Al Gore and John Kerry as long shots as Clay, Lincoln, FDR, and Nixon were?

That is the issue to confront, and this author would say that while both of them seem “long shots”, we have had other “long shots”, who few thought had a chance to win the Presidency, and in recent times yet—John F. Kennedy (Catholic issue) in 1960; Jimmy Carter (Southern issue) in 1976; Bill Clinton (Sex Scandal issue) in 1992; and Barack Obama (Race issue) in 2008!

So literally, anything is possible in American Presidential politics!

Proper Republican Strategy: Attack Donald Trump Or Ignore Him? Neither Will Help GOP Brand!

The Republican Party is in deep trouble, as Donald Trump has now emerged in first place in some public opinion polls, passing Jeb Bush, and leaving everyone else far behind.

This brings up the issue: What is the proper Republican strategy to deal with Trump, attack him or ignore him?

In reality, neither will help the GOP brand!

If the decision is to attack him, Trump will be infuriated, and will strike back and set out to destroy the GOP totally. He will bluster and bloviate, and will have the means to form an independent movement or third party.

If the Republicans choose NOT to attack and, therefore, to ignore him, they will be complicit in his racist and nativist viewpoints, which many of them actually agree with.

No political party can succeed now or in the future which sets out to demonize ethnic minorities, because, like it or not, the nation is becoming more diverse, and will be minority majority within three decades, counting Hispanic and Latino Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans.

There is no way to bring back, even if people wished it, a mostly white Anglo America, as that is not going to happen.

The rapidly aging white Anglo population is dying off, and the nation and the Republican Party MUST face reality.

But is that likely to happen for 2016?

The answer is NO, and therefore, the GOP is rapidly becoming a dinosaur, and trying to make voting more difficult will require more effort to overcome such restrictions through the courts and through political action to register voters and meet the onerous requirements that some Republican governed states have put on the elderly, the poor, college students, and racial minorities in a purposeful manner.

And with a Democratic President, a likely Democratic Senate, and a possible Democratic House of Representatives, the Republicans will be marginalized further. And a Democratic President will have the ability to insure that the Supreme Court and lower federal courts move to the left, and overcome the conservative influence of Ronald Reagan, and the two Presidents Bush.

Once constitutional law goes back to the Warren Court image of the 1950s through the 1970s, the country will have been transformed in a way that the Republicans will never recover, until they abandon the far right image they have developed over recent years. Only then will the Tea Party influence finally dissolve and disappear!

Serious Republican Presidential Contenders: Part II—The Importance Of Florida And Ohio

We have, so far, examined 13 of the 16 Republican Presidential contenders, most of whom could be considered a “Clown Bus”!

Only four of the 16 are serious contenders, and so far we have looked at Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, who President Obama would like to see as the nominee of the opposition party, as he believes Walker’s terrible economic record, his anti labor stance, and his dramatic attack on the University of Wisconsin budget, along with the connection to the Koch Brothers, would make him easy to defeat.

And then there are the three remaining contenders, from crucial swing states Florida and Ohio, so arguably the three best primed to have a real chance to win the Presidency.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother and son of two earlier Presidents named Bush, comes across as more moderate, more mainstream than just about any other contender, but he had a mixed record as Florida Governor, and has been out of office for ten years by 2016, and last ran 14 years ago by 2016. He is, certainly, seen as a man among boys, but he also is too close to the neoconservatives who took us into endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also exhaustion at having a third President Bush, after the disastrous Presidency of his brother, George W. Bush.

Then we have the youthful, good looking, charismatic Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who is Cuban American, but much more appealing and less extreme than fellow Cuban American Ted Cruz of Texas. But Rubio has come across often as not too bright; has distorted the story of his parents leaving Cuba to make it seem as if it happened under Fidel Castro, when it happened two years earlier; has come across as having no guts on immigration reform; and has had issues with his finances and his connections with Norman Bramam, a South Florida auto dealer and billionaire. Some see him as the equivalent of a Republican Barack Obama or John F. Kennedy, but that is pure illusion.

And then we have the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who had 18 years in the House of Representatives, and was House Budget Committee Chairman, and has accepted Medicaid under ObamaCare as Governor of Ohio since 2011. He is very personable, engaging, and experienced, including recently, in a way that no other GOP contender can match him. And he comes from the crucial swing state of Ohio, more crucial than Florida, another swing state. And why is Ohio more important than Ohio? The answer is that every single Republican President from Abraham Lincoln to George W. Bush has won Ohio, so it is an essential state on the road to victory.

While all three of the above are serious contenders for the White House, it is clear that John Kasich would be the strongest, most competitive nominee imaginable, similar to what Jon Huntsman was in 2012. But that is precisely why the Republicans, almost certainly, will NOT select Kasich.

In any case, the Republican Party is on the road to defeat for the White House, and Donald Trump only further complicates that whole situation.

The 10 Worst, Most Disastrous Supreme Court Justices Since 1900

The Supreme Court has had 58 of its 112 members since 1900, with 9 of them being Chief Justices, and 4 of those also having earlier served as Associate Justices.

It is more fun to discuss the greatest Supreme Court Justices since 1900, as done in an earlier blog post, but here are the 10 worst, most disastrous Supreme Court Justices, listed chronologically,

Willis Van Devanter
James Clark McReynolds
George Sutherland
Pierce Butler
Fred M. Vinson
Tom C. Clark
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Samuel Alito

The first four are known as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, united against the New Deal, and causing Franklin D. Roosevelt to become engaged in the controversial Court Packing Plan of 1937. Van Devanter was appointed by William Howard Taft; McReynolds by Woodrow Wilson; and Sutherland and Butler by Warren G. Harding.

Vinson and Clark were appointed by Harry Truman, with judicial appointments one area that Truman was rated as poor in selection, despite other areas of strength in his Presidency.

Powell was selected by Richard Nixon; Scalia by Ronald Reagan; Thomas by George H. W. Bush; and Alito by George W. Bush.

Powell wrote a memorandum that had a long range influence, promoting the development of right wing think tanks, and forecasting the eventual Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010, granting corporations and wealthy individuals the right to engage in politics without any financial limitations. He saw those who wished to regulate business as dangers to unregulated capitalism, and argued for aggressive actions against any regulatory power by governments at all levels. This memorandum was sent before Powell was appointed to the Supreme Court, and was not generally known about until recent years, after his death.

So 3 of the 10 worst Justices were selected by Democrats, and the other 7 by Republicans, a total of 8 Presidents involved in these terrible selections.