John F. Kennedy

November 22–52 Years And Still In Recovery From JFK Assassination

For anyone who was at least eight years old in 1963, they will never forget the shock of the John F. Kennedy Assassination on this day 52 years ago!

We will never forget where we were when the shocking news was revealed, and we are still reverberating from the effects of that tragic event.

We have had no Presidential death in office since, and the odds are catching up, with a world burdened by “lone wolves” domestically, and international terrorism!

The death threats against President Barack Obama have been, as I reveal in my recent book, the greatest in number of any President since Abraham Lincoln.

Just this past week, it was revealed that a person was arrested who had made dangerous threats against President Obama on Facebook, including wanting to feed Obama to a wood chipper!

What kind of crazy mind would think up something like this, and also, thankfully, write about it, so that he could be apprehended?

Mental illness, along with religious fanaticism, are the main causes of the threats faced today by our President, but one can wonder, as many has, how Obama has survived nearly seven years without being directly harmed.

Not only Obama, but all Presidential candidates and the next President and Vice President, whoever they are,  have been and will be under constant threat in a overly dangerous world!

It makes one wonder why any sane person would want to seek the Presidency or serve in that office!

Major Features On “Progressive Professor” Blog

Many of my readers may not realize, or be paying attention to, the fact that besides commentary on political and historical events, the blog also includes multiple radio interviews, as well as op-eds, relating to my recent book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN  PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015).

There are, as of now, 13  interviews on the right side of the blog, which a reader can click on to listen to many of my radio interviews in the past three months.  Additionally, there are 2 op-eds that I have published on the website THEHILL.COM in the past month .  Soon, there will be two C Span videos, one with the author interviewed for an hour by Brian Lamb to be aired on C Span on Sunday, November 29 at 8 pm, 11 pm, and 6 am on Monday, November 30 ; and a lecture and book signing on my book at Florida Atlantic University in Jupiter, Florida, lasting 90 minutes, to be taped on December 8, 2015, and being shown on C Span sometime in January.

There are also, on the right side of the blog, past radio interviews on other current events topics; several newspaper interviews in past years and one from a month ago; and three videos of 90 minute lectures I did at Florida Atlantic University on Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson in recent times.

There is also a new feature, CONTACT ME, which allows for anyone who is interested in requesting my participation in future lectures, interviews, or scholarly engagements to contact me, and is located on the top of the blog on the right.

In Crisis Moments, Should An American President Resign, As Reckless Republicans Are Suggesting? Of Course Not!

Think of how many times a crisis has arisen in American history during an administration of innumerable Presidents!

Should James Madison have resigned as he fled the capital as the British invaded Washington, DC  in August 1814 during the War of 1812?

Should Abraham Lincoln have resigned when various times in the Civil War the Confederacy won major military battles from 1861-1863?

Should Franklin D. Roosevelt have resigned when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941?

Should John F. Kennedy have resigned when Russian missiles were discovered in Cuba in 1962?

Should Ronald Reagan have resigned after the loss of 252 Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, due to Islamic terrorism?

Should George W. Bush have resigned after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by Al Qaeda?

In these and innumerable other situations, of course the answer is NO!

But now, suddenly, reckless Republicans want Barack Obama to resign due to the Paris terror attacks, which they blame Obama for, even though ISIL (ISIS) is the outgrowth of the disastrous and unnecessary Iraq War waged by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

This demand for resignation occurred after “Jihadi John”, who slaughtered foreign hostages by knife, including Americans; and a leading figure in ISIL (ISIS) in Libya, were killed by American air strikes, but before the tragic Paris terror attacks, as if the Republicans have s simple answer to the threat of Islamic terrorism!

So in a crisis moment, the nation should rally around the President, as is typical in most cases historically.  But even when not unifying around the President, no leader should bow to political attacks, and instead go to work and face the crises that arise, as so many Presidents have done throughout American history!

“We Must Take Our Government Back!”—To What, May We Ask?

Carly Fiorina said it last night in the GOP debate; Donald Trump has said it; so has a multitude of others in the Republican Party debates so far—“We must take our government back!”

Back to what, is the question!

Back to a time when women were “dutiful” housewives who stayed home, avoided education and employment, and were totally dependent upon their husbands?

Back to a time when “Negroes” were segregated by law and custom and “knew” their place not to complain?

Back to a time when “Negroes” were lynched at will and no one seemed to notice?

Back to a time when gays and lesbians were openly discriminated against in all areas of life without any protection or support of their rights?

Back to a time when child labor existed as young as six years old, and they and poor women who worked were paid far less than men?

Back to a time when there was no Social Security system for the elderly and disabled?

Back to a time when immigrants were barred from coming to America if they were Jewish or Catholic or Asian in origin?

Back to a time when labor unions did not exist, and work places were totally unsafe, and there was no workers compensation for injuries at work?

Back to a time when corporations “raped” and pillaged the environment for their own selfish purposes?

The list could go on and on, and who would “love” if all this was to return, from the 1950s, 1920s, and the “Gilded Age” of the late 19th century?

Conservatives who have fought against and resisted all of these changes and reforms brought about by progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt; Progressive Era reformers at all levels;  Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal coalition; Harry Truman; John F, Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; 1960s reformers at all levels; Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton; Barack Obama; and the constant battle of modern progressives and liberals to protect and expand all of the great political, social and economic reforms of the 20th century, hard fought, and the battle goes on in 2015!


With Only Three Candidates Left In The Field, Is There Any Chance For The Rise Of Martin O’Malley As The Democratic Presidential Nominee?

Now that there are only three Democratic Presidential candidates—Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley—the question rises whether O’Malley has any shot at the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016.

In past years, when change was seen as desired, young, new generation, appealing Democrats—Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts in 1960; former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia in 1976; Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas in 1992; and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois in 2008, came from behind to win the nomination and then the election.

All were underdogs and not in front in public opinion polls in the fall of the year before each national election.

So looking at Democratic Party history, O’Malley MIGHT have a shot at defeating two opponents a full generation older than him—16 years younger than Clinton, and 22 years younger than Sanders.

But no one seems to think that this can happen, as Clinton in particular, and Sanders to some extent, have taken all of the oxygen out of the room.

O’Malley, if he were running in any other year, would have a real chance with his exceptional record as Maryland Governor, and earlier Baltimore Mayor, and has proved his skills and ability, but sadly, it seems a long shot that O’Malley can move beyond five percent, but miracles have happened before, as with the four most recent elected Democratic Presidents!

Have Democratic Presidents Been Treated “Better” Than Republican Presidents By News Media Since FDR Onward? NO!

If you listened to Republican and conservative propagandists, it would seem that the Republican Party  is at a disadvantage when it comes to the “liberal”, “mainstream” news media, in coverage of Presidents and Presidential candidates.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who studies American history KNOWS that Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have all been subjected to an inordinate amount of attacks and criticism on every issue and personal quirk imaginable, and many have been purely fiction and mythology!

The job of ALL news media is to challenge, expose, and reveal weaknesses and inconsistencies in Presidential candidates, and Hillary Clinton, in particular, has had much more attacks, criticism  and fictional and mythological stories than ANY GOP Presidential candidate.

But the fact that Marco Rubio has issues with handling his finances; that Donald Trump has had three marriages and multiple bankruptcies; that Dr. Benjamin Carson has sponsored phony nutrition supplements that supposedly cure cancer; that Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and Bobby Jindal support an anti gay church leader who advocates gays be murdered; that Chris Christie has left his state in financial tatters and is still being part of the investigation of the “Bridgegate” Scandal in New Jersey; that Carly Fiorina lies constantly about just everything she talks about; and numerous other issues and controversies that  are real and true, not fabricated, is something that the news media and hosts of political debates should be expected to address, and to confront the candidates on these issues.

Instead, the Republican candidates as a group are “crybabies”, and Ted Cruz has suggested that a political debate be conducted by right wing conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin, none of them legitimate journalists, but instead pure hate propagandists who exploit the gullible nature of too many listeners on talk radio and viewers of Fox News Channel.

And yet, one Republican Presidential candidate, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, says the party and candidates need to stop complaining and “sniping”, grow up, and expect the news media to be on the offensive, and to be mature enough to deal with it, and really answer the questions posed to them, just as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley have to deal with regularly!  And that makes John Kasich a legitimate and serious Presidential candidate, separating the adults from the chidren!

Three Speakers Of The House Who Were “A Heartbeat Away” From The Presidency!

The Presidential Succession Act was changed in 1947 from what it had been in the earlier law of 1886.

Instead of the cabinet officers being next in line after the Vice President, the new law, in effect now for 68 years, has the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a Congressman elected by one Congressional district, as next in line.

So therefore, three Speakers of the House have been “a heartbeat away” from the Presidency, in mid 1947-1948, November 1963 to January 1965, and October to December 1973 and August to December 1974.

Joseph W.  Martin Jr. was the first Republican Speaker in 16 years, when the law changed, and when threats against Harry Truman by the Zionist Stern Gang in 1947, as reported by Margaret Truman, occurred, and Martin was a heartbeat away.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and Lyndon B. Johnson, who had suffered a heart attack in 1955 became President, 73 year John W. McCormack was next in line for 14 months, and the recognition of this fact and his advanced age, led to the passage and ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967, providing for an appointed Vice President to fill a vacancy after hearings by the House of Representatives and Senate.

Carl Albert was the third Speaker to be next in line when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in October 1973, and Albert remained so for two months until Gerald Ford was selected and confirmed as the the first Vice President under the 25th Amendment.

Again, Albert was first in line from August 1974, when Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became President, until December 1974 when Nelson Rockefeller was selected and confirmed as the second Vice President under the 25th Amendment.

So for a total of about two years, we have had Speakers of the House, and all three of the opposition party to boot, as “a heartbeat away” from the Presidency.

And although no President or Vice President has left office since 1974, the odds of such an event occurring at some point in the future is mounting, and worrisome, with three out of four years since 1947 having the opposition party in the Speakership as two heartbeats away from the Presidency!

21 Significant Speakers Of The House In American History

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives this week, it makes one focus on  the 54 House Speakers in American history, and recognition of the fact that twenty one of them were quite significant figures in the American past.

Probably the most prominent of all was one of the earliest Speakers, Henry Clay of Kentucky, who became Speaker as a freshman in 1811, and served three different times as House Speaker, from 1811-1814, 1815-1820, and 1823-1825. a total of more than six and a half years, as Congress did not meet back then for many months in any years, but sixth longest serving.  Clay is considered the most famous Congressional figure in American history in both houses of Congress, and was an unsuccessful Presidential nominee three times, in 1824, 1832, and 1844.  He was a giant figure in American political history and American politics.

John Bell was Speaker in 1834-1835, and was also a Presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party in the Presidential Election of 1860, trying to prevent the Civil War by running as an alternative to the three other candidates that year—Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge.  He won three states and 39 electoral votes, carrying Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the Electoral College.

James K. Polk became the only Speaker so far to become President of the United States, in the Presidential Election of 1844, after having served as House Speaker from 1835-1839.  He is considered the most successful one term President, deciding due to ill health to refuse to run f0r reelection in 1848, but gaining the whole American Southwest in war with Mexico, and arranging the peaceful acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain.  His retirement from the Presidency was the shortest in American history, only 105 days.

Robert M. T. Hunter was the youngest Speaker of the House at the age of 30, serving from 1839-1841, and later as Confederate Secretary of State in 1861-1862 during the Civil War.

Howell Cobb served as Speaker from 1849-1851, being 34 when elected, and served as one of the founders of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Schuyler Colfax served as Speaker from 1863-1869, and as Vice President in the first term of President Ulysses S. Grant from 1869-1873, being the first of two Speakers to serve in the Vice Presidency, the other being John Nance Garner under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

James G. Blaine served as Speaker from 1869-1875, 10th longest serving with a little over five years, and later was the Republican nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1884.  He also served as Secretary of State under James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison, and was present at the site of the Garfield assassination in 1881.

Thomas B. Reed served as Speaker from 1889-1891 and 1895-1899, and was nicknamed “Czar Reed”, because he wielded great power in the Speakership, which added to the stature and influence of the Speakers after him.

Joseph Cannon served as House Speaker from 1903-1911, added the most power to the Speakership, more than Reed, but then saw a “revolution” of progressive Republicans led by George Norris of Nebraska, which stripped him and future Speakers of the absolute power that Reed and Cannon had waged, and was pushed out of the Speakership when the opposition Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 1910.  He was eighth longest serving Speaker, nearly six years, and had a House office building named after him despite his fall from power in 1910.

His successor, Champ Clark, served as House Speaker from 1911-1919, fifth longest serving at seven  years, and nearly won the 1912 Democratic Presidential nomination, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Nicholas Longworth served as Speaker from 1925-1931, punished progressive Republicans and restored much of the power of the Speaker under Joseph Cannon, and was married to Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.  Later, a House office building would be named after him.

John Nance Garner served 15 months as House Speaker from 1931-1933, and then became Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and served two terms in that office. He became famous for his statement that the Vice Presidency was not worth  “a bucket of warm piss!”  He opposed much of the New Deal, and tried to win the nomination against his boss when FDR sought a third term in 1940.  On his 95th birthday, President John F. Kennedy wished him “Happy Birthday” just hours before his assassination on November 22, 1963. Garner died at age 98 in 1967, the longest lived Vice President or President, and just 15 days before his 99th birthday!

Sam Rayburn was the most prominent, and longest serving Speaker of the House in American history, serving a total of 17 years in three rounds as Speaker, from 1941=1947, 1949-1953, and from 1955 to near the end of 1961, when he died in office.  A House Office Building is named after him, and only he and Henry Clay served three separate terms as Speaker.  He was one of the most prominent members in the entire history of the House of Representatives, engendering great respect and admiration, and served under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

John W. McCormack was the third longest serving House Speaker, a total of nine years from 1962-1971, and served as House Majority Leader all of the years that Sam Rayburn was Speaker.  He presided over the New Frontier and Great Society legislative package under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Carl Albert served as Speaker from 1971-1977, seventh longest serving in the office, and a heartbeat away when Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President in 1973, until Gerald Ford was confirmed as Vice President under the 25th Amendment in 1973, and again when Ford became President in 1974 until Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed as Vice President at the end of that year.

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was the second longest serving House Speaker, a total of ten years from 1977-1987, serving under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  He served the longest consecutive years as Speaker, and was an unabashed liberal, but negotiated a Social Security compromise agreement with Ronald Reagan in 1983, which became the mark of bipartisanship.

Thomas Foley served six years as Speaker from 1989-1995, and became the first Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for his House seat in 1994, retiring him from the House of Representatives, but he served as Ambassador to Japan for President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001.  He was ninth longest serving Speaker.

Newt Gingrich served as Speaker for four years from 1995-1999, having been the leader of the “Republican Revolution”, where the GOP took back control of the House of Representatives after 40 years in “the wilderness”.  Highly controversial and combative, Gingrich led the fight against President Bill Clinton, and moved for his impeachment in 1998, but then was forced out by an internal rebellion in his own party at the end of 1998.  He sought the Presidency in 2012, but fell short of the nomination, and remains an outspoken active commentator on politics.

Dennis Hastert became the longest serving Republican Speaker in American history, serving eight years from 1999-2007, fourth longest serving, seen as non controversial after Gingrich, and being Speaker under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  He became involved in a sex and financial scandal dating back to before he was in Congress, and faces prison time as this article is being written, having pleaded guilty.

Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker, serving four years from 2007-2011, and remains Minority Leader today, and her two Congresses under George W. Bush and Barack Obama accomplished more legislation, particularly under Obama, than any Congress since the 1960s.

John Boehner served almost five years as Speaker from 2011 until this past week, facing highly contentious opponents in his own party, the Tea Party Movement, now known as the Freedom or Liberty Caucus, a group of about 40 Republicans, who made his life miserable, and finally, he resigned, and has handed over authority to Paul Ryan, who was Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney in the Presidential Election of 2012, and had been Chair of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, before becoming Speaker this week.


New Presidential Record Of Survival In Office, Surpassing 1789-1841!

For the first nearly 52 years of the Republic, every President survived his term of office, from George Washington until William Henry Harrison.

Once Harrison died in office, we had a President die in every generation, with seven of the eight dying, having been elected in a zero election year–Harrison 1841, Abraham Lincoln 1865, James A. Garfield 1881, William McKinley 1901, Warren G. Harding 1923, Franklin D. Roosevelt 1945, and John F. Kennedy 1963, and joined by Zachary Taylor, dying in 1850, a zero year after being elected in 1848.

This became known as the “Zero Election Year Syndrome.”  It occurred seven straight zero election years from 1840 to 1960.  It was finally overcome when Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt in 1981, and when George W. Bush avoided tragedy on September 11 and throughout his Presidency, despite some serious threats.

Since JFK died, we have not had a Presidential death since, almost 52 years, although Richard Nixon did resign from office in 1974, even that being 41 years ago.

The question is how long can this new record of Presidential survival last, in a time of international terrorism and domestic turmoil.

There have been more death threats against Barack Obama than any President since Abraham Lincoln.

The last President to have a serious threat was Ronald Reagan, shot and seriously wounded in 1981, 34 years ago.

But every living President has had death threats, before, during, and after being in office.

A discussion of all these assassinations and threats are covered in my new book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA (Rowman Littlefield), out since August 15, and available at the R & L website with a 30 percent discount offer, or at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books A Million websites.

This author has done more than 25 radio interviews, and will be interviewed by C Span Q & A Brian Lamb next week, and the hour long interview will be available to be seen on C Span One a few weeks later at 8 pm, 11 pm on a Sunday night and 6 am the next Monday morning Eastern time, and will become part of the permanent interviews of Brian Lamb at C, available for interviewing anytime!

Vice Presidents And The Presidency: Being Elected A Lost Cause!

With Vice President Joe Biden announcing he would not run for President, due to bad timing to announce caused by the family tragedy of the loss of his son Beau Biden in May, it adds to the reality that any Vice President has great odds against him if he wishes to use the Vice Presidency as a launching pad for the Presidency.

Only four Presidents have been able to run from the Vice Presidency for President and triumph, with all but one in the first 50 years of the Republic, as follows:

John Adams 1796

Thomas Jefferson 1800

Martin Van Buren 1836

The other President is George H. W. Bush in 1988.

Never until the 1940s and after did a sitting Vice President ever get considered at all for the Presidency, other than if he succeeded the President by natural death or assassination.

So we had Vice President John Nance Garner trying to win the 1940 Democratic Presidential nomination, but unfortunately for him, Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to seek a third term.

In 1948, former Vice President Henry Wallace in the third term of FDR tried for the Presidency as a third party candidate (Progressive Party), fighting against fourth FDR term Vice President Harry Truman, who had succeeded FDR upon his death in 1945.

Alben Barkley, Vice President under Truman in his full term, tried to win the 1952 Democratic Presidential nomination, but his age was used against him, which may have been good, since Barkely died during the next term when he would have been President.

Richard Nixon ran for President to succeed Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960, but lost in a close election to John F.  Kennedy.  Of course, Nixon won eight years later, being the first Vice President elected since Martin Van Buren in 1836, but eight years after.

Hubert H. Humphrey ran for President in 1968 to succeed Lyndon B. Johnson, but was defeated by Nixon, and tried for the nomination again in 1972, but failed to be selected as the Presidential nominee.

Walter Mondale ran for President in 1984 after he and Jimmy Carter were defeated in 1980 for a second term, but lost to Ronald Reagan.

George H. W. Bush is the only exception to this reality, winning in 1988 after serving two terms as Vice President under Ronald Reagan.

Dan Quayle tried for the Republican nomination in 1996 after serving one term under George H. W. Bush, but flopped badly.

Al Gore ran for President in 2000 after two terms as Vice President under Bill Clinton, and of course won the popular vote, but lost the hotly contested electoral vote in Florida, with Supreme Court intervention, leading to the victory of his opponent George W. Bush.

Dick Cheney had tried briefly for the Presidency in 1996, but when he was Vice President under George W. Bush for two terms, his health was fragile and he chose not to try for the Presidency in 2008.

And now Joe Biden, after two terms as Vice President under Barack Obama, has reluctantly decided not to run for President in 2016, due to the tragic death of his son Beau in May, and the grieving period preventing organization of a Presidential campaign.

So the record shows, with the exception of Richard Nixon eight years later and George H. W. Bush, no Vice President has succeeded in modern times to the Presidency unless the President died in office, or with the case of Richard Nixon resigning, led to Gerald Ford succeeding him in the White House.