Harry Truman

A “Nice”, “Authentic” Person, Not A Mean Spirited, Uncaring Person: What People Want For Their Next President!

Americans are confused and upset about the uncertainties facing the nation, due to the political split in Congress and in the state legislatures. They might seem to cheer on a nasty, bullyish candidate who, momentarily, appears to vent their frustrations. But when emotions calm, that is not what the American people are looking for!

They want someone who is a “nice guy”, “authentic”, “real”, “truly concerned” about the issues and problems, confident and sure of himself, and a good debater who can overcome his opponents with his facts, knowledge, and charm, and convince the American people he is the right person for the Presidency! Joe Biden fits that description precisely, and even his opponents in the Republican Party, including Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and many others, respect and like him personally!

No Republican Presidential candidate fits that bill, not one of them.

Neither does Hillary Clinton fully evoke that feeling, and Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley simply do not have the ability to go all the way, and Sanders has the issue that most Americans are totally ignorant of the word “Socialism” and its meaning, and that harms his candidacy!

Face it, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Dr Benjamin Carson, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina—all of these come across as mean spirited and uncaring.

Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio come across in a somewhat better fashion, as does George Pataki and Jim Gilmore, but none of them have the personality and genuine nature of Joe Biden!

We have never elected a President since World War II, with the exception of Richard Nixon, who was not likable when elected. Lyndon B. Johnson, while not that likable, was in office before he faced election, as was Harry Truman, so they are not included. But all the others, despite whatever shortcomings they had, were likable when they were elected, except for Nixon.

We want to “like” our President, and the Republican Party has a major problem with “likability”, which guarantees they will lose, even to a candidate such as Hillary Clinton, who is not seen as particularly “likable”, while Sanders, O Malley and Joe Biden are all very “likable”. But Biden stands out over O’Malley and Sanders!

The Top Ten Transformational Presidents

The issue of “transformational” Presidents has revived lately, as it is clear that we are living through a “transformational” Presidency of Barack Obama, with still a year and a half to go in his tenure in the Oval Office.

With all of the controversy that surrounds Barack Obama, there is no doubt now that Obama has been a transformational President in so many ways.

So the question arises, who among our Presidents has been “transformational”? And in what order would Presidents on this list be ranked?

It seems clear that the top of the list would have to be George Washington, for having established standards and traditions that would be long lasting; and Abraham Lincoln, for keeping the Union together during the Civil War, and ending slavery.

Following Washington and Lincoln would be Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took America through the Great Depression and the Second World War, and changed the relationship of the federal government with the population of the nation, promoting a safety net that would help those most needy. He also created a large federal government that would never become smaller again, due to the Great Depression and the Second World War, and then the Cold War.

Once we go beyond Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, ranking gets much more difficult, but this author thinks the rest of the top ten would be as follows from number four to number ten:

Theodore Roosevelt, who would revive the Presidential office from slumber and use the “bully pulpit” to accomplish reform and federal government regulation of the economy, and started America’s role in world affairs.

Lyndon B. Johnson, who would promote the passage of massive reforms, including civil rights laws, Medicare, and a War on Poverty.

Woodrow Wilson, who would promote major reforms domestically and involvement in world affairs, taking America out of isolationism as a policy during the First World War.

Ronald Reagan, who changed the direction of the nation to Conservatism after a half century of Liberalism, and negotiated arms agreements with the Soviet Union, and helped to bring down the rival super power.

Barack Obama, who brought about health care coverage for most Americans; avoided a massive war; promoted social change in many areas; presided over a major revival of the economy only matched by FDR; and became a major environmental supporter.

Harry Truman, who responded to the Cold War with the Soviet Union in an effective way and determined the direction of foreign policy for a half century, and institutionalized the New Deal of FDR.

James K. Polk, who accomplished the great expansion of American territory by treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, creating the continental United States.

Notice that Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton do NOT make this list!

Commentary on this analysis is welcomed!

Presidents And Difficult Diplomacy: TR, FDR, Truman, JFK, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama

Presidents have to deal with recalcitrant nations in diplomacy, including nations that are our adversaries.

The key is to promote agreements, with the ability to verify and hold nations accountable, under international agreement. It is not an issue of trust, as many nations see other nations as rivals, but rather the ability to come to agreements with the understanding that violations can lead to a confrontational situation if they are not kept.

Presidents have regularly taken bold steps in diplomacy with other nations, whereby they suffered from strong criticism as being naive and weak, but history tells us they actually demonstrated courage and principle, that international agreements could be upheld if both sides wish to avoid military confrontation.

So we have President Theodore Roosevelt negotiating agreements with a newly ambitious Japan after the Russo-Japanese War.

So we have President Franklin D. Roosevelt deciding to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union after 16 years of non recognition.

So we have President Harry Truman deciding to recognize Israel, and in so doing, alienating Arab nations in the Middle East.

So we have President John F. Kennedy agreeing to the Nuclear Best Ban Treaty in 1963 with the Soviet Union, and it is still in effect today. This came after the Cuban Missile Crisis, which many believed the result would not be obeyed by the Soviet Union, but they did precisely what was required under the settlement.

So we have President Richard Nixon, who made arms limitation agreements (SALT I) with the Soviet Union, and opened the door to contacts with the People’s Republic of China, both moves that are now hailed, although criticized at the time.

SO we have President Jimmy Carter accomplishing something no one would have believed, an agreement between Israel and Egypt, and mutual recognition, in what became known as the Camp David Accords. Additionally, Carter decided to recognize the Communist government in China as being China, rather than Taiwan.

So we have President Ronald Reagan, after calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, negotiate arms agreements with Mikhail Gorbachev.

So we have President Bill Clinton bringing about peace between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, an event that seemed impossible of achievement, known as the Good Friday Agreements of 1998. He also established diplomatic relations with Vietnam, a generation after the end of the divisive war in Vietnam was lost.

So now we have President Barack Obama negotiating an agreement to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons, with five other nations engaged in the process, and to prevent war, while guaranteeing the security of Israel and Arab nations. Like all the others, it is a gamble, as no one can be sure of Iran’s ultimate actions, but it has worked out in all of the other cases. He also has established diplomatic relations with the government of Fidel and Raul Castro in Cuba.

And yet, nothing is a panacea, as Russia and China still present a challenge, but progress was made to avoid war, and that is happening again now, with the understanding that if the agreement is broken, war is always an ultimate alternative!

Theodore Roosevelt And Gifford Pinchot Turning Over In Their Graves At Republican Party War On National Parks And Other Environmental Concerns!

The Republican Party a century ago had leaders who cared about the environment, and promoted conservation as a basic national policy.

Governor and later Senator Robert LaFollette, Sr. of Wisconsin; Senator George Norris of Nebraska; US Forestry Service Director and later Governor of Pennsylvania Gifford Pinchot; and President Theodore Roosevelt, all of them progressive Republicans in domestic affairs, made the promotion of national and state parks and monuments a priority. They set a standard for Democrats who followed their lead, including Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and now Barack Obama, who just announced three new national park designations in California, Nevada, and Texas. Obama has added 260 million acres and 19 national monuments in office, making him one of the great leaders on that endeavor. We should also mention Republican President Richard Nixon, who despite many faults and shortcomings, did enough to be rated number two among Presidents on the environment, by a conservation group.

Additionally, we were fortunate to have such outstanding Secretaries of the Interior as Harold Ickes under FDR; Stewart Udall under JFK and LBJ; Walter Hickel under Nixon; Cecil Andrus under Carter; and Bruce Babbitt under Clinton to emphasize the importance of the environment in all of its manifestations.

But the Republican Party of present times is anti conservation, anti environment, fights the concept of global warming and climate change, and has allowed itself to come under the influences of wealthy energy interests that would love to mine uranium in the Grand Canyon; destroy native American and paleontological sites; and conduct fracking for natural gas, despite the vast dangers to health and safety, including water pollution and greatly increased earthquake activity, as in Oklahoma, for instance. The Koch Brothers have had a particularly deleterious effect on the issue of the environment. And Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma is the worst possible enemy of the environmental movement in Congress, and is head, by seniority, of the Senate committee that deals with the subject.

The failure to see the importance of preserving our natural treasures is mind boggling, and those groups involved in promoting the environment know they have a massive challenge to keep what was given to us, and until the 20th century, was being gutted by rapacious capitalists in the oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, and lumber industries who only saw, and still see, only the almighty profit motive, including lack of concern for danger to wildlife!

Could We Have Four Way Race For President, As In 1860, 1912, and 1948?

With the American political system in turmoil right now, and Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders getting most of the attention, and Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, the so called “Establishment” candidates getting heavy criticism from within and outside their party structures, one has to wonder if it is possible we might have a four way race for President, with any result possible!

Certainly, either the Republican or the Democratic nominee would win the election, but it might lead to a situation where that winning nominee only gets as low as Abraham Lincoln gained in 1806 (39.5 percent) or as Woodrow Wilson gained in 1912 (42 percent) of the entire vote. Or the winner could gain as much as Harry Truman gained in 1948 (49.5 percent).

It all depends on how strong the third and fourth party candidates would be, with all four candidates in 1860 gaining double digit support; three of the four candidates in 1912 gaining double digit support; and only the two major party candidates in 1948 gaining double digit support.

Right now, if Donald Trump rain as a third party candidate, it would seem he would gain double digit support, while if Bernie Sanders ran, it seems more likely that he would gain medium single digit support.

The 1948 situation, where the third and fourth party candidates only gained about two percent each of the popular vote seems unlikely, but even in that year, one of those candidates (Strom Thurmond) gained four states and the second highest number of electoral votes up to that time for a third party candidate

The 1912 situation, with two candidates having results in the 20s and the winner 42 percent seems more likely in 2016, with the fourth candidate gaining about the six percent that Socialist Eugene Debs gained in 1912, with Bernie Sanders likely that individual.

The 1860 situation, with all four candidates being double digit, and the winner being under 40 percent could also happen, but still the two major party candidates would win the bulk of the electoral votes, and one would win the Presidency.

With the likelihood that Hillary Clinton (the presumed Democratic nominee) will be able to keep the loyalty of a higher percentage of her party than Jeb Bush would have in the Republican Party; and with Donald Trump likely to gain more total public support than Bernie Sanders, we would have the result being Hillary Clinton winning, and the potential for Donald Trump to beat out Jeb Bush or some other Republican for second place in popular votes and electoral votes, making the 2016 GOP Presidential nominee only the second major party nominee (after William Howard Taft in 1912) to end up third rather than second in the final election results!

Jimmy Carter: The Most Underrated, Unappreciated President Since World War II!

Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary today, a year and a half shorter in duration then George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s marriage, the two longest in Presidential history!

Both George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have reached the magic age of 90, with Bush 91 on June 8, and Carter to be 91 on October 1.

It is a blessing that both are still with us, but it would seem as if Jimmy Carter is likely to outlive Bush, based on health conditions right now.

Bush is being, properly, appreciated in his 90s, but Carter remains the most underrated, unappreciated President since World War II.

The critics, mostly Republicans, conservatives, and right wing supporters of Israel’s often extremist government, are always on the attack, and this blogger has heard from audience members when he gives lectures, that Jimmy Carter is an anti Semite, which is farthest from the truth!

Jimmy Carter could be said to be anti Israel’s government, when it has been right wing extremist, as for instance, it is now under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But people forget how he managed to bring about the only enduring moment in the Middle East since World War II–the Camp David Accords—which brought together former warriors and enemies, Anwar Sadat of Eyypt and Menachim Begin of Israel, despite their being far apart on the issues of Middle East peace.

This is the most impressive and enduring moment of the Carter Presidency, and is not fully appreciated for what it was and is, even today! And Carter is most certainly NOT an anti Semite, and there are many Jews in America who are not pro Israel automatically when the government there is right wing extremist as it is now!

Carter also brought about the Panama Canal Treaty, an historic event; promoted Human Rights, a fundamental principle of this man of high morality, who would eventually win the Nobel Peace Prize; and worked to free the hostages in Iran peacefully, as frustrating as that was, rather than bomb Iran and see all 52 Americans killed in response, the likely result had he gone “hawkish”.

If the attempted rescue in April 1980 had worked out, it is likely that Jimmy Carter would have had a second term, and Ronald Reagan would be a footnote in history!

Carter also became the third best environmental President in American history, after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon; promoted free elections, human rights, democracy all over the world through the Carter Center; condemned violence against women and mistreatment of the poor around the world; emphasized the spreading of health care and education to the deprived parts of the world; and even condemned the most extreme right elements of his own Baptist faith.

He became the most activist former President in American history, and has survived longer after his time in office than any President, now going on 34.5 years on July 20. And his Vice President, Walter Mondale, survives at 87.5 years of age, making them the longest lasting Presidential-Vice Presidential team ever in American history!

Jimmy Carter is not perfect, in or out of office, but he is a very decent man, well meaning, brilliant in intellect, and the author of 27 books, including his new book, released today, entitled: “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety”, a worthwhile read!

It is clear that only when he passes from the scene, like Harry Truman, will he come to be appreciated for the great man and human being he is, always trying to do his best, but humble enough to be willing to concede his shortcomings, much of which he expresses in this new book!

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.

Serious Republican Presidential Contenders: Part I–Scott Walker Of Wisconsin

Having looked at 12 Republican Presidential contenders who, together, make up a clown bus, it is time to analyze now the four serious Presidential contenders, and today we will look at Scott Walker.

The Governor of Wisconsin has won three elections for Governor, including a recall vote in 2012. That in itself makes him a formidable candidate.

He is backed by the Koch Brothers, Charles and David Koch, and that means he will have whatever financing is needed for a Presidential campaign.

But in league with the Koch Brothers, Walker has declared war on organized labor, and dramatically weakened the public labor unions in Wisconsin, leading to the recall vote in 2012, which, surprisingly, he won.

Walker has said he hopes to destroy the labor union movement nationally if he is elected President.

He has also presided over widespread corruption and cronyism, which is starting to be investigated by news media and prosecutors, and he could face an indictment anytime, similar to what has happened to former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and might happen to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Already, there are accusations that he gave corporate supporters and campaign donors $124 million in taxpayer money.

The question of why Walker never finished college has not been answered, with the belief he might have been expelled. The idea that he did not have time to return to finish one semester of college is lame, and he would be the first non college graduate in the Presidency since Harry Truman. And Truman was well read and thoughtful, while Walker has shown no signs of such, but only of promoting his own ambitions at the expense of average working Americans in Wisconsin. He has worked to destroy the Wisconsin progressive tradition of Robert La Follette, Sr., Robert La Follette, Jr., William Proxmire, Gaylord Nelson, Patrick Lucey, Russ Feingold and others of both parties in the Badger state!

And considering that such politicians as Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann, and many others who are not exactly brilliant, DID finish college makes one wonder about Walker and why he did not make it a goal to finish a four year degree!

Yes, it is true that only about one third of adults have finished a four year degree, but the President of the United States is supposed to be better than most of us in his educational attainments.

This does not mean that finishing a college degree guarantees success in life, or even great intellect, but still it seems like it should be a basic requirement that a President and his top advisers, and members of Congress and state legislatures SHOULD have finished a four year degree, at the least, if such person wishes to govern us.

Walker’s anti labor stance; his connection to the Koch Brothers; and his lack of a college four year degree are just the tip of the iceberg, and with corruption charges seemingly likely soon, Scott Walker should NOT be permitted to be the 45th President of the Unites States!

George H. W. Bush On His 91st Birthday!

George H. W. Bush, the 41st President, celebrates today his 91st birthday.

Often ignored since he left office, other than his two sons’ electoral victories as Governors of Texas and Florida; George W. Bush’s Presidency; and Jeb Bush’s nascent campaign for President, to be announced on June 15; the elder Bush looks so much better than his two sons at this point of history.

Bush followed Ronald Reagan and preceded Bill Clinton, two men of great oratorical ability and charismatic presence. Both of them are rated higher in Presidential polls of experts and scholars.

However, a new public opinion poll, rating popularity of former living Presidents, places the elder Bush and Bill Clinton in a statistical tie at 64 percent popularity, an amazing fact when one considers that the elder Bush lost reelection to Bill Clinton in 1992, with the second worst defeat of a sitting President for reelection in American history, only surpassing William Howard Taft in the 1912 election.

But as a former President ages, popularity rising is not unusual, and particularly after a President dies, as with Harry Truman.

More books are being published on George H. W. Bush in the last couple of years, and the volume of publication will continue to grow, as history looks kinder on the elder Bush.

We have had more than 22 years pass since his Presidency, and the elder Bush is remembered for:

Winning the Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, and leading the United Nations coalition brilliantly.

Promoting the reunification of Germany, despite many people’s fears that Germany would become a threat to European stability.

Bringing about a dignified end to the Cold War in 1991, by dealing with the falling Mikhail Gorbachev, and his successor Boris Yeltsin in a way that promoted calm in the world.

Advocating a civil rights law for the disabled and handicapped, the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Demonstrating courage in promoting a tax increase after pledging not to raise taxes, as the national and international situation in 1990 required such action.

If Pat Buchanan had not opposed the elder Bush in the Republican primaries in 1992; and if Ross Perot had not run so strongly as an Independent candidate in the Presidential Election of 1992, winning 19 percent of the vote, the elder Bush would have won a second term, and we would not have had Bill or Hillary Clinton as important figures in American history and politics.

So at least, on his 91st Birthday, the elder Bush can feel happy that he has survived long enough to see his popularity soar to 64 percent; to see one son serve as President for eight years, and another son about to try to set a record of three members of the same family serve in the White House.

Imagine if Jeb Bush, somehow, were to become President in 2017. and the elder Bush were to survive another nineteen plus months, and former First Lady Barbara Bush, who just became 90 on June 8, were also to survive!

They would witness two sons becoming President of the United States, surpassing John Adams, who only saw one son, John Quincy Adams, make it to the White House.

Even if one does not like or admire the Bush Family, that would be some magnificent achievement, which would have to be celebrated!

70 Year Anniversary Of End Of World War II, And Honoring Harry Truman On 131st Birthday!

Today marks 70 years since the end of World War II, which ushered in the modern world that the vast majority of Americans live in!

It also marks the 131st Birthday of President Harry Truman, who had come into office less than a month earlier, and became our most courageous and decisive President of modern times, both in domestic and foreign policy over the next eight years, but was unappreciated in his time.

Only once Truman died in 1972, did we realize his greatness, and how he had proved an ordinary man, following a giant figure, Franklin D. Roosevelt, could indeed fill his shoes very well, and do what was right most of the time, and ignored attacks and had confidence that he had gone the right direction. He also knew how to go on the attack against the regressive nature of the opposition Republicans.

America was extremely fortunate to have Harry Truman as our Commander in Chief after FDR, and visiting the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, is a trip into the greatness of this man! He dealt with the Cold War, the Korean War, the recognition of Israel, the integration of the military and Washington DC public places, and insuring the continuation and expansion of the New Deal under his domestic programs known as the Fair Deal. He prevented a reversion back to the failed policies of the Republicans under Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.

While he could not accomplish much of what he wanted to do in domestic policy, he set the standard for Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Happy 131st birthday, Mr. President!