Harry Truman

February 9, 1950 And Now: The Ugly “Red Scare” Revived!

On this day in 1950, Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy came to notice when he accused the Truman Administration of being “soft on Communism”.    This  began a nearly five year rampage of accusations against government officials, college professors, journalists, actors, and many ordinary citizens, that they were either “pinkos” or were actually Communists who had undermined the nation in favor of the interests of the Soviet Union and Communism.

Many politicians and others joined the crowd of attacks, and many others in and out of government were terrified, and kept silent, as people’s lives were ruined.  This had begun even before McCarthy became infamous, and the film TRUMBO well portrays what happened to Hollywood writers in the later 1940s, and the role of actor John Wayne, actor Ronald Reagan, and Congressman Richard Nixon, among others, in that “witch hunt”.

This is a day to recall, because it is clear that we are witnessing the beginning of attacks on Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a democratic Socialist, who just became a member of the Democratic Party this past year, and is now, contending for the Democratic Presidential nomination seriously. Bernie Sanders is no danger in any sense, but he is now facing vicious attacks beginning, and they will not stop as long as he has a serious chance to be the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2016.

Donald Trump has called Sanders a “Communist”, and if Sanders becomes more of a serious contender beyond his expected win in New Hampshire, then we will see a slew of such attacks by Republicans and the right wing, making Sanders out to be Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel Castro, all wrapped in a 74 years old Senator, who is the longest serving Independent in all of American history!

This is very disturbing, and all good people MUST, whether they support or oppose Bernie Sanders, fight against a new “McCarthyism”, as to have a new period of a Red Scare is simply intolerable, and it must be exposed for the evil that it is!

Hillary Clinton Campaigning As A “Progressive”, Against Husband Bill Clinton’s “Moderate” Presidency!

Hillary Clinton is campaigning as a “progressive”, but her husband, while in office as the 42nd President, was far from progressive!

Many would say that Bill Clinton (1993-2001) was a “raging moderate” in so many ways.

Despite being attacked by Republicans incessantly, and being impeached by them as well, Bill Clinton actually cooperated with them on many issues, and was also often quite critical of liberals in his own party.

Witness:

He signed into law the end of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1995.

He signed into law the end of the federal guarantee of welfare in 1996, leaving it to the states to decide levels of support of single mothers and children, and the elderly and disabled.

He signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which was a big step back from the idea of gay equality.  Earlier in 1994, he had promoted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, backing away from equality for gays.

He signed the Omnibus Crime legislation in 1994, which was a major crackdown on crime, and that allowed the arrest and incarceration of many young people, many of them African American and Latino, on minor drug charges, filling up America’s prisons.

He signed NAFTA into law in 1993, which undermined labor, and caused an influx of foreign goods, due to the low tariffs, now opposed by his wife.

He signed into law a repeal of much of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1998,  which led to bank expansion of loans and mortgages, and much larger banks that helped to lead to the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

He called himself a “New Democrat” in 1992, criticized liberalism often, and was involved in the centrist Democratic Leadership Council group.

This does not mean that Bill Clinton did not have some really positive aspects domestically to his Presidency, but he was certainly considered by many to be a “Republicrat”, rather than a Democrat.

He, along with Jimmy Carter, were the least progressive Democratic Presidents, when compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and also Barack Obama, after Carter and Clinton.

This might be because Carter and Clinton were Southern Democrats, but the point is that Bill Clinton, while good on some issues, was not a progressive, as his wife now is campaigning on against Bernie Sanders!

Does it mean that Hillary Clinton cannot have “learned” from the mistakes  of the 1990s, honestly?  NO, but the point is she is very different as a campaigner than her husband was!

Of course, when one thinks about it, Hillary is running for the Presidency a full generation after her husband won his second and last term, the last time he was facing the voters!

 

Imagine A Three Way Presidential Race Of Three New Yorkers, And Possibly Two Of Them Of Reform Judaism Religion!

The scenario now exists that the Presidential Election Of 2016 could involve THREE New York residents competing against each other, an idea which seemed impossible to happen even with one candidate since the time of Thomas E. Dewey’s loss to Harry Truman in 1948.

We saw Nelson Rockefeller fail three times in the 1960s to be the GOP Presidential nominee; we saw Robert Kennedy’s tragic campaign come to an end in 1968 by assassination; we saw John Lindsay attempt a Presidential run in 1972 and fail badly; we saw Mario Cuomo flirt with the idea in 1992 and decide not to run; we saw Rudy Guiliani flop badly in 2008; we saw George Pataki also flirt with the idea of running, and when he finally did in 2015, totally flop; and of course, we saw Hillary Clinton fail to stop Barack Obama in 2008.

At the most, it looked like Hillary Clinton would run, as she has again in 2016, and would have a good chance to be the first New Yorker to run for President and actually be the nominee since 1948, but the idea that THREE candidates would all be from New York is amazing, considering the rise of the Sun Belt since World War II, and the slow decline of New York into political oblivion, although still even now the fourth largest state.

But now we have Clinton; we have Bernie Sanders, who is a Vermont Senator, but grew up in Brooklyn, and left for Vermont in 1968, but is still a New Yorker in the way he speaks; we have Donald Trump who is certainly a New Yorker through and through; and we have former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, originally from Boston, but a long time New Yorker, and Mayor from 2002-2014.

So the possibility of three New Yorkers running is very much alive, and if Sanders is the Democratic nominee and Bloomberg, alarmed by Sanders’ candidacy as well as Trump as a possible Republican nominee, does actually run on a third party or independent ticket, we would have two Reform Jews running along with Presbyterian Trump!

The Republicans’ Penchant Toward Abolishing Government! Why They Cannot Be Allowed To Control The Executive Branch!

The Republican Party has created lots of employment for people who want to run for office and be part of the government.

And yet, the Republicans are always out to abolish government, even though they are part of it!

Going back to 2012 and even further back as far as the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even earlier to Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson,  and actually even earlier with James K. Polk and Abraham Lincoln, the Republicans would love to abolish (in no special order):

The Internal Revenue Service–Wilson

The Social Security System–FDR

The Department of Labor–Wilson

Mine Safety and Health Administration–Carter

Occupational Safety and Health Administration–Nixon

National Labor Relations Board–FDR

The Department of Commerce–TR

The Department of Health and Human Services–Ike and then Carter reorganization

The Food and Drug Administration–TR

The Medicare System–JFK and LBJ

Medicaid System–LBJ

State Children’s Health Insurance Program–Clinton

Affordable Health Care Act–Obama

The Department of Education–Ike and then Carter reorganization

Federal Aid To Education—Ike

The Department of  Agriculture–Lincoln

The Department of Energy–Carter

The Department of Housing and Urban Development–JFK and LBJ

Civil Rights Acts—Ike, JFK, and LBJ

Office of Equal Employment Opportunity–LBJ

The Department of the Interior–Polk

The Environmental Protection Agency–Nixon

Bureau of Land Management–Truman

National Park Service–Wilson

Federal Emergency Management Agency–Carter

Consumer Product Safety Commission–Nixon

Corporation for Public Broadcasting–LBJ

National Endowment for the Arts–LBJ

National Endowment for the Humanities–LBJ

Federal Reserve System–Wilson

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau–Obama

United States Postal Service–Nixon

Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)–Nixon

This is a list of 33 government agencies and programs that the Republican Party, at different times, and particularly during Presidential and Congressional campaigns, has promoted that we abolish!

The following Presidents were responsible for these government agencies and programs:

James K. Polk–1  Abraham Lincoln–1–TR—2–Wilson–4–FDR–2–Truman–1–Ike–4—JFK–3—LBJ–8—Nixon–5—Carter–5–Clinton–1—Barack Obama–2.

So THIRTEEN Presidents of both parties—nine Democrats and four Republicans— have presided over the creation of government agencies and programs that have made life better for the American people!

If one gave the Republican Party total control, we would see our government decimated, and only private corporations and the greed of the elite upper class would rule and regulate every aspect of American life!

Watching the South Carolina GOP debate yesterday, this is always their game plan–abolish, abolish, abolish!   Hate government, undermine government, defund government, fear government, distrust government!

Why do the Republicans advocate all this, and yet wish to be the government?

The answer is that their hatred and suspicion of government is promotion of anarchy and chaos, without regulation to promote a level playing field, and give average  Americans a fair shake and the possibility of advancement!

This is why the Republican Party cannot be entrusted with control of the executive branch, as that is one way, no matter what happens with the Congress, to protect the government agencies that have made life better for vast numbers of Americans in the last century and even earlier!

 

 

 

 

Activist Vs. Passive Presidents, 1901 To The Present

There have been 19 Presidents since the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the Presidency in 1901, upon the assassination of William McKinley.

Some have been activists, hard workers, dynamos, who saw the Presidency as a position that required constant attention, and avoided much vacation time, but even when on vacation, these activist Presidents were always working and alert to changing events.

Among the 19 modern Presidents, the following 11 Presidents would qualify as part of the activist category:

Theodore Roosevelt

Woodrow Wilson

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harry Truman

John F. Kennedy

Lyndon B. Johnson

Richard Nixon

Jimmy Carter

George H. W. Bush

Bill Clinton

Barack Obama

The other 8 Presidents since 1901 were much more passive, avoided work, were quite frankly lazy, and took lots of vacation time, often were not alert to changing events, and delegated authority to others:

William Howard Taft

Warren G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan

George W. Bush

Note that all eight passive Presidents were Republicans, while only Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush were activist Republicans, joining the 8 Democratic Presidents in that category!

Also, note that the eleven activist Presidents all were highly intelligent and curious about the world around them, while the eight passive Presidents were generally less naturally intelligent, with the exceptions of William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover, both highly intellectual and accomplished, although both were seen as unsuccessful in office, and defeated for reelection!

Two Projects Left Hanging: Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial And Adams Memorial, In Washington, DC!

There are two Memorial projects in limbo for the National Mall in Washington DC, an area already overloaded with buildings and memorials, with the new National Musem of African American  History and Culture scheduled to open in the Fall of 2016.

The debate over the design and funding of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial has been raging for more than a decade, with the descendants of President Eisenhower unhappy over the proposal, and private funding hard to come by.  So it is not clear if such a Memorial will be constructed at all, with some arguing that there are already Eisenhower memorials in Abilene, Kansas (The Eisenhower Presidential Library}, and in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the Eisenhowers retired to after the Presidency.

Some have argued that Eisenhower, while rated in the top ten Presidents, is clearly lower ranked than three other Presidents who do not have national memorials in Washington DC—Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Truman,

Then, there is the plan to build an Adams Memorial in Washington DC, to honor President John Adams; First Lady Abigail Adams; President John Quincy Adams;  First Lady Louisa Catherine Adams; Charles Francis Adams, Sr.; and the latter’s two brilliant sons, Henry Adams, and Brooks Adams, all part of the illustrious family which gave us so many brilliant public figures!

But as with the Eisenhower project, there have been many delays, relating to the design and private funding of such a memorial, with the only historic site for the family being the homes and burial places of the Adamses in Massachusetts.

Some would say we have too many memorials already in Washington, DC, while others would disagree strongly with that assertion, as the nation’s capital is the location that more Americans and foreign tourists visit than any other site in the nation!

 

America’s Fascist Demagogues In History: Huey P. Long, Joseph McCarthy, George C. Wallace, Patrick Buchanan!

The United States has had its Fascist demagogues in the past nearly hundred years of our history, but luckily, they “burned out” very quickly.

We had Democratic Governor and Senator Huey P. Long, who condemned the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s era of the Great Depression.  He had a big following on radio; drew large public crowds; preached “Every Man A King” and “Share The Wealth” as he attacked Wall Street; had his own group of “storm troopers” to protect him;  and made clear that he hoped to come to power on a national level, having alienated his Senate colleagues and the President by his tactics and showmanship.

His potential threat disappeared, however, when he was assassinated in the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge in September 1935, a mystery that still exists today, as covered in Chapter 7 of my book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015).  He reminded many of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, both of whom had not yet become as aggressive and warlike as they would become in the mid to late 1930s and early 1940s.

Then we had evil personified in Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin, who stirred fear and insecurity in America in the early 1950s, when he accused Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and many government and other public figures of being Communists, or “soft on Communism”.

He ruined thousands of people’s lives, caused their deaths or complete destruction of their lives, but it was all a ploy backed by right wing conservatives, who continue to honor him, even after his political downfall in December 1954 when the US Senate condemned him, and his early death of alcoholism in May 1957.  This despicable man was a true Fascist demagogue with too many people ready to back him, but his cockiness and arrogance and false charges finally brought him down.

Then we had Democratic Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama, who sowed racism in America as he stood in the door of the University of Alabama in 1963 to attempt to block integration of the state university, and allowed police brutality in Birmingham and elsewhere, leading to the bombing of a black church and the death of young girls in the explosion.

A true Fascist demagogue of the worst kind, he actually gained five states and 46 electoral votes as a third party candidate for President in 1968.  Then, while running in 1972 again, he was shot and paralyzed for life by an assassin, a tragic event for sure, but brought on by his notoriety and demagogic nature.  Wallace’s story is well covered in Chapter 11 of my new book mentioned above.

And then we had Patrick Buchanan, an aide to President Richard Nixon and President Ronald Reagan, who promoted nativism and racism and antisemitism, including Holocaust denial,   as he campaigned against President George H. W. Bush in the 1992 primaries; against Bob Dole in the 1996 primaries;  and then ran as a third party candidate of the Reform Party in 2000.

Due to confusion in Palm Beach County, Florida, Buchanan gained 4,000 votes that were intended by voters for Al Gore, but mistakenly, these elderly, mostly Jewish voters punched the wrong hole on the “butterfly” ballots, and by doing so, caused the election of George W. Bush statewide, officially by a total of 537 votes, sadly denying Al Gore the Presidency, despite his national popular vote lead of 540,000!

Buchanan clearly was and is a Fascist demagogue, who, however, has become someone ignored, and no longer has a major media presence in his later years, as he once did on cable television as a political commentator on MSNBC and CNN, although he still is on Fox News Channel and PBS.

And now we have, at the least, two Fascist demagogues, now considered the front runners in the Republican race for President—Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz!  Again, the fight against right wing Fascism and its elements–racism, nativism, misogyny, antisemitism—remain a battle decent people must fight with every ounce of their energy!

Wars Since 1969 All Under Republicans: Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq!

When one examines American history since the inauguration of Richard Nixon 47 years ago this coming January, one comes to the conclusion that all of our military engagements that led to combat deaths have been under Republican Presidents!

Republicans have always been willing to point out that Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson, all Democrats, led America into major wars–World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

But since Nixon became President and continued the Vietnam War for four more years, causing greater casualties than under Lyndon B. Johnson, all four wars that have been fought have been under Republican Presidents:  the Vietnam War from 1969-1973; the Persian Gulf War in 1991; the Afghanistan War begun in 2001; and the Iraq War begun in  2003.  These wars occurred under Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.  The war in Iraq was continued by Democrat Barack Obama until 2011, and the Afghanistan War still continues on a smaller scale under Obama.

Two Speakers Of The House Who Could Have Become President Due To Presidential Assassination Issues

In 1947, the Presidential Succession Act was changed from cabinet members to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate being right behind the Vice President of the United States.

Since then, as a result of the change of the law, there have been two circumstances involving Presidential assassinations and threats, which provided for the possibility of the Speaker of the House of Representatives becoming President.

The first was Republican Speaker Joseph W. Martin, Jr of Massachusetts in late 1947.  The Zionist Stern Gang group, terrorists fighting for the creation of an Israeli nation, had been engaged in violence and assassinations against the British and their control of Palestine.

Margaret Truman, the President’s daughter, claimed her father, President Harry Truman, was threatened with death by letter bombs sent by the Stern Gang to Washington, DC, which were intercepted without harm by the Postal Service, with the assistance of the Secret Service.  Had Truman been harmed, however, we would have a switch of parties in the White House, and the second Speaker to become President, with the first being President James K. Polk in the Presidential Election of 1844.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963,  Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had suffered a massive heart attack in 1955, became President, and had he died in office over the next 14 months, Democratic Speaker of the House John W. McCormack of Massachusetts, who was 73 years old, would have become President.

A Secret Service revelation in recent years was that President Johnson was in danger of being shot by an agent overnight after the Kennedy assassination, when he walked out of his home after midnight, leading to an agent, who thought there was an intruder on the property, to withdraw his firearm and aim it until he realized it was the President.  The story is that Johnson backed up in shock, but imagine if he had been killed about ten hours after becoming President!  And then we would have had the oldest President in American history, Speaker McCormack, an unwilling heir apparent!

These incidents make one wish that the Presidential Succession Act  be returned to the 1886 law, making the cabinet members of the President, starting with the Secretary of State, next in line after the Vice President.  But that is unlikely to happen, particularly while the Republican Party controls Congress!

Politicians Who Served On The Supreme Court In The Past Hundred Years

The Supreme Court has, in recent decades, become a group of lower court judges who move up to the Supreme Court.

The thought that politicians, who were elected to public office or appointed to a President’s cabinet, would end up on the Supreme Court, is no longer a likelihood, which is, in many ways, tragic, as being a politician gives a different perspective on law than those appointed to lower courts and moving up to the Supreme Court.

Among those few politicians elected or appointed to public office who served on the Supreme Court in the past century of time are:

Charles Evans Hughes–Governor Of New York 1907-1910, Republican Presidential nominee in 1916, Secretary of State 1921-1925, along with serving as Associate Justice 1910-1916 and Chief Justice 1930-1941, appointed by William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover.

William Howard Taft—Secretary of War 1904-1908, President of the United States 1909-1913, along with serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1921-1930, appointed by Warren G. Harding.

George Sutherland—Utah Congressman 1901-1903, Senator from Utah 1905-1917, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1922-1938, appointed by Warren G. Harding.

Hugo Black–Senator from Alabama 1927-1937, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1937-1971, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Frank Murphy–Mayor of Detroit 1930-1933, Governor of Michigan 1937-1939, Attorney General of the United States, 1939-1940, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1940-1949, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Harold Burton— Mayor of Cleveland Ohio 1936-1940, Governor Of Ohio 1941-1945, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1945-1958, appointed by Harry Truman.

Sherman Minton—Senator from Indiana 1935-1941, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1949-1956, appointed by Harry Truman.

Earl Warren—Attorney General of California, 1939-1943, Governor of California 1943-1953, along with serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1953-1969, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

These eight Supreme Court Justices include four Governors, three US Senators, three Cabinet members, two Presidential candidates, one Congressman, two Mayors, and one State Attorney General.

Two prominent politicians came under consideration for the Supreme Court under President Bill Clinton, but both turned down an appointment—New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Maine Senator and Majority Leader George Mitchell.  Both would have been valuable additions to the Court, but instead two people with judicial experience—Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer—were chosen, although they have worked out very well in their time on the Court.