Human Rights

Presidents Judged On Compassion And Empathy: Few And Far Between

The traits of compassion and empathy are not automatic parts of any person’s makeup and character, but rather needs to be cultivated from childhood on by a family environment that emphasizes commitment to others, rather than exploitation of others for one’s own gain.

Difficult childhood experiences can, of course, affect personality, and often cripple any sense of compassion and empathy for others.

So one could argue that any President who had owned slaves, as ten Presidents did, are lacking in compassion and empathy, as they were able to separate their willingness to exploit others for personal gain.

One could also say that anyone who grew up in an environment that overlooked the human rights of native Americans, or displayed racism and nativism toward people of other races, nationalities, and religions, also would be seen as lacking in compassion and empathy.

So by this standard, the number of Presidents with elements of compassion and empathy are few and far between. However, there are some who have background that would seem to eliminate them from this category, but who, in reality, demonstrated growth and recognition of shortcomings and overcame them in the Presidency. In other words, they changed over time.

So who would fit on the list of compassion and empathy in office?

In the 19th century, we would place John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and James A. Garfield in his few short months in office before the tragedy of assassination shortened his life.

In the 20th century and since, we would include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama.

This does not mean that one cannot find criticism of these ten Presidents’ policies, for surely one can.

But even with elements that can be seen as shortcomings, these ten Presidents in general can be seen as the most compassionate, empathetic Presidents we have had.

Which Presidents would be seen as having the least compassion and empathy in American history?

This author would say Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, with Trump at the head of the list.

The Farewell Address Of Barack Obama: Likely To Be One Of Best And Most Influential In American History

Barack Obama will give the 35th Farewell Address this evening in Chicago, where his career began.

All Presidents, except the eight Presidents who died in office, have given farewell addresses, although Richard Nixon’s final speech was awkward, and not really a Farewell Address.

Grover Cleveland had the chance to do it twice due to two nonconsecutive terms of office.

Most Farewell Addresses have been unmemorable, and one has to wonder what Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy might have said had they lived to retire from the Presidency.

But three Farewell Addresses in particular stand out.

George Washington (speaking out against political parties, and support of avoiding foreign entanglements).

Dwight D. Eisenhower (warning against the Military Industrial Complex dominating).

Jimmy Carter (speaking of the need to deal with the energy crisis, warning of the dangers of nuclear proliferation, and calling for continued pursuit of human rights around the world).

No one would ever say that Washington, Eisenhower, and Carter were great public speakers, but they all spoke words that have reverberated ever since.

Expect tonight that Barack Obama, who is a great public speaker, and has uttered many great speeches, will give a Farewell Address memorable for the ages, as he moves toward being part of history in ten days!

Would Mike Pence Help Donald Trump And Be An Asset? NO!

Mike Pence is said to be Donald Trump’s choice for Vice President.

The Indiana Governor brings his comparative youth at age 57 compared to Trump who is 70.

He brings 12 years of Congressional experience and leadership of the Republican Conference for two years, as well as four years as Governor of a potential “Swing” State, which went to Barack Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

He is a less dynamic person, not the type to seek controversy, and very different in that sense than Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich.

But his hard line social conservative views, which make him popular with the Christian Right, is not going to help Donald Trump win the Presidency.

Pence allowed the passage and signing of a bill that discriminated against gays and lesbians in public accommodations, and then had to ask for a revision of it, when corporations decided to oppose it and moved to stop expansion into the state, a blow to the Indiana economy. In backing off a bit, he alienated the most extreme social conservatives, who are anti abortion, anti gay rights and anti gay marriage, deny climate change, and work against women being equal in a family unit to their husbands.

We are not going back to the 1950s, or to a white supremacist America, where minorities have little input or concern, and where whites claim they are being discriminated against.

This election will be the 1950s white dominated America pre civil rights, pre woman;s rights, pre gay rights, pre environmental movement, pre immigration reform America against 21st century America with all of the advancements in human rights and science that have occurred in the past half century!

War On Gay And Lesbian America In Full Swing By Religious Fanatics And Republicans!

The shocking murder of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, along with 53 others wounded, many of them in serious condition, is a sign of the war on gays and lesbians raging in America by religious fanatics and Republicans!

The perpetrator was a Muslim fanatic, a person devoted to ISIS, but it is not just Islamic terrorism that is guilty of this crime.

It is religious fanaticism of all religions, which refuses to treat gays and lesbians as human beings with basic human rights, as much as straight Americans.

It is white Americans, black Americans, Hispanic Americans who use their religious fanaticism to hate gays and lesbians, with many people repudiating their own children and other family members.

It is evangelical Christian extremists, Catholic extremists, Jewish extremists, Hindu extremists, Mormon extremists–extremists of all religions—who promulgate hatred and prejudice and discrimination.

It is ministers who promote hate, and priests who promote hate from their pulpits.

It is Republicans who refuse to accept gay rights and gay marriage, and refuse to mention that this terrorist event involved gays and lesbians, as if the people killed do not matter.

It is Donald Trump refusing to acknowledge until just now that gays and lesbians were killed, only bragging that he was “right” that this was another example of radical Islamic terrorism, and calling on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to resign for refusing to use that term. It took Trump two days until now finally to show concern that it was gays and lesbians who were the victims.

Donald Trump should resign from the race if he refuses to accept that gays and lesbians have the same rights as anyone else in America, including marriage rights, as decided by the Supreme Court of the Unites States.

This is a human rights crisis of massive proportions, and the religious fanatics and Republicans cannot be allowed to triumph, as this would be a crime on the scale of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust against gays and lesbians, often forgotten!

Silly Season: Comparing Donald Trump To Ronald Reagan Is Preposterous!

With Donald Trump  having led public opinion polls for the Republican Presidential nomination for six months now, “silly season” is beginning, as we are starting to have Trump compared to former Presidents, when he is not at all like any former President!

The most preposterous is the comparison of Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan.

One does not have to be a Reagan fan, which this blogger most certainly is not, to consider such a comparison totally crazy!

There is no comparison between the two men that makes sense other than that Reagan was considered a long shot for the nomination and the Presidency, as Trump is right now.

But otherwise, there are no similarities, except maybe the fact that both Reagan and Trump were formerly Democrats.

But what advantages did Reagan have?

Reagan had been Governor of California for eight years, while Trump has never been in public office.

Reagan had developed strong conservative convictions, while Trump has no strong beliefs other than his own ambitions.

Reagan was never a narcissist, while Trump is the personification of narcissism.

Reagan was always charming as a person, hard not to like, even if you did not agree with him, while Trump is obnoxious and disgusting as a person.

Reagan was widely read on political principles, while Trump never has any connection to the facts and truth and is a massive liar unseen in modern history.

Reagan set out to unite the nation around nationalism in a safe, civilized manner, while Trump loves to incite his audiences through disgusting examples of racism, nativism, and misogyny.

Reagan never trusted the Soviet Union and avoided praise of Russian leadership, while Trump has endorsed the leadership of Vladimir Putin, and doubts the violations of human rights that are clearly going on in present day Russia.

Reagan promoted immigration reform, while Trump exploits the anti immigrant extremism of much of the Republican Party in 2015.

Reagan was able to unite Republicans around his leadership, while Trump would be unable to unify the party and would be more polarizing in the White House than any President, bar none.

Reagan knew how to conduct diplomacy, and never set out to insult foreign leaders and governments, while Trump revels in insults and bad behavior toward the outside world.

Reagan may have had mental lapses starting to develop in his second term, but Trump is clearly mentally unbalanced now, and would be a danger as to his rhetoric and actions, were he to become President.

So any comparison of Trump and Reagan is purely ridiculous!

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!

Anthony Kennedy, The Third Choice Of Ronald Reagan For The Supreme Court In 1988!

President Ronald Reagan had the misfortune of having two Supreme Court nominees rejected near the end of his term, and forced to choose someone else for the Court.

His nomination of Robert Bork, and then, Douglas Ginsburg, and his selection of Anthony Kennedy in their place in 1988, was a moment of tremendous historical importance.

With either Bork or Ginsburg, it is almost certain, if not so, that gay rights and gay marriage would not have accomplishes the majority votes in 2003, 2013, and now 2015, granting gays and lesbians complete equality, including the right to marry!

The importance of one man and one vote is clear cut, as under our system, the Supreme Court, much more than we realize, has a majority of one vote on significant cases, and that one vote majority transforms America for good or for evil.

One vote on the Court decided Bush V Gore in 2000; one vote on the Court decided the Citizens United Case in 2010; one vote on the Supreme Court decided the dramatic weakening of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

And the historic importance of Anthony Kennedy cannot be underestimated, as he has been the swing vote on the Court since Sandra Day O’Connor left the court ten years ago. Often, he has sided with the conservatives, but about one third of the time with progressives, as in these various gay rights cases.

Kennedy has had great courage, and he will suffer mightily with denunciations, death threats, and need for Secret Service protection, from right wing crazies who will wish him dead for his role in changing American society permanently.

Anthony Kennedy is truly a profile in courage and principle, and will play a positive role in the history of human rights, when this era we are living in, is written about in future generations!

Gay Marriage Finally National: The Advancement Of Human Rights Reaches A New Pinnacle Of Social Justice!

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay restaurant and nightclub in Greenwich Village in New York City, was raided by police, leading to a large scale riot. It was the beginning of the gay rights movement, the struggle against oppression.

46 years have passed, and on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the right of gays and lesbians to marry everywhere in the United States, a path breaking advancement in human rights, reaching a new pinnacle of social justice. It makes America a more perfect democracy, promoting equality and liberty for another class of citizens who have faced oppression. It is a tremendous expansion of human rights and social justice!

America is a better nation for this fantastic development, and much credit is due to several people, including:

Then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was the first chief executive to promote gay marriage in California, and officiate at many gay weddings n 2003. He is now Lieutenant Governor of California, and likely successor to Governor Jerry Brown in the next gubernatorial election in 2018.

Ted Olson and David Boies, opposing attorneys in the Bush-Gore Presidential battle in 2000, who pursued the constitutional case promoting gay marriage, helping to lead it to Supreme Court decision yesterday.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in four crucial Supreme Court cases, in 2003 (Lawrence V Texas), two in 2013 (Hollingsworth V Perry) and (US V Windsor), and yesterday (Obergefell V Hodges) Without him, none of this advancement of gay rights and gay marriage could ever have occurred. Interestingly, all four of these cases were decided on June 26, of those years, 2003, 2013, and 2015!

The history of the gay rights movement is yet to be written, but it will be seen as part of the great movement forward as evidenced by the abolitionist crusade against slavery; the woman suffrage movement; the civil rights movement; the labor union movement; the environmental movement; the disability reform movement; the promotion of a safety net as represented by Social Security, Medicare, and now ObamaCare; and the immigration reform movement!

Gay Rights Moves Ahead With Popular Vote Victory Of Gay Marriage In Ireland, But Marriage Is Not Something To Be Voted Upon By The People!

The gay rights movement has been gaining many victories in the past decade, particularly in America, but now we have the shock of formerly conservative Catholic Ireland having a referendum on gay marriage, with the final vote being 62-38 accepting it.

This is the first nation where popular vote has been the method for gay marriage, but that does not mean that the issue of marriage should be voted upon by the people.

The idea that who one wants to marry should have his or her decision left up to others is disgraceful, and imagine if that had been done about interracial marriage in the 1960s in America, instead of a Supreme Court decision.

Allowing people to utilize their prejudices and hate to deny others basic human rights is unacceptable in every way!

So while it is a great victory in Ireland, asking the masses of the population to decide whether someone has a right to marry, it is not a trend that should be encouraged, as it should be left up to the courts, or the legislative branch to deal with such an issue of civil and human rights!

Indiana Governor Mike Pence Allowing Religious Prejudice To Discriminate Against Gays And Lesbians: Violation Of Civil Rights!

Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a possible Republican Presidential candidate, has just demonstrated why he is not acceptable as the nominee of his party or as President of the United States!

America is not about to elect a man who allows the religious prejudice of right wing evangelical Christians toward gays and lesbians to become a law, one which violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in regards to public accommodations!

If a business can refuse to serve people because of their sexual orientation, the next step is to say that a business can refuse to serve African Americans, as has now happened in a South Carolina restaurant!

Or a business could use their right wing evangelical Christianity to justify not serving Jews, or Latinos, or disabled people, or senior citizens, or Muslims, or Asian Americans, or Native Americans!

This violation of human rights, using the excuse of religion to promote and advocate prejudice, needs an injunction to stop the enforcement, until it is reviewed by the judiciary in Indiana, and ultimately, the Supreme Court, as otherwise, it will lead to other states doing the same thing!

One must not forget that in the Christian faith, we have seen past discrimination against Jews and African Americans in the name of Jesus Christ, as if Jesus would have approved of the kind of bigotry so often practiced, including endorsement of antisemitism, slavery, and racial segregation!

All businesses must get a license to operate, and part of the requirements for any business should be legal agreements that ban any discrimination against anyone seeking to work in the business, or any customers of the business!