John F. Kennedy

The Secret Service Crisis Over Presidential Protection

This author and blogger is literally shocked at the poor security at the White House, as demonstrated by White House “Fence Jumper” Omar J. Gonzalez, who jumped over the fence on Friday, September 19, with a knife in his hand, was able to enter the North Portico entrance, and run across the main floor of the mansion, enter the Green Room after passing the stairs that lead to the private quarters of the First Family, and only then be tackled by an agent, after another agent, a woman, failed to bring him down earlier!

And new evidence about a gun attack by Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez on November 11. 2011, became available just now, showing that the thought that only one shot had hit the White House was far from truth, as seven shots hit the building on that day, and it took four days for that fact to become evident, as the Secret Service was totally unaware of the seriousness of the gun attack, which led to the arrest of the perpetrator a few days later, not immediately!

This is alarming and terrifying, as it is clear that the Secret Service has proved its incompetence, and must undergo a major restructuring immediately, as Barack Obama and his family have faced more threats than any President of modern times, and believed to be the most since Abraham Lincoln.

If nothing is done, we might have another John F. Kennedy tragedy, and we must work to prevent that!

Right Wing Propaganda About Barack Obama Refuted By Facts!

Barack Obama has been the most vilified President since Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

There will be those who say that Richard Nixon was more attacked, and that George W. Bush was “victim” of constant criticism.

Yes, they were, as was Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter, but NONE of these Presidents came under such a barrage of total lies and mistruths on such a constant basis.

Barack Obama has been attacked on where he was born (Kenya? Indonesia? anyone?), on his being a Marxist or Communist or Socialist; of being anti white (by critics who are clearly scared of having a black President); of being anti Christian (by right wing Christians who regularly lie and deceive and distort, claiming to be following the teachings of Jesus, which they most certainly are not doing); and of being a Muslim, out to spread the Islamic faith and support terrorism!  He is also accused of being anti Semitic, and anti Israel.

Meanwhile, radical and terrorist Muslims constantly are critical of Barack Obama and have called on their supporters to find a way to kill him, and Obama has brought about more deaths of Muslim terrorists than George W. Bush or anyone else; has mounted missions to attempt to save Americans captured by the terrorists; was courageous enough to arrange the death of Osama Bin Laden, when others around him had strong doubts on the mission’s success; and now has declared war on ISIL (ISIS) and mounted a bombing campaign in both Iraq and now Syria, even though the right wing says he is afraid to go to war, and is too timid in foreign policy, all of it lies and deceit spread to ignorant people who think Obama is equivalent of a “Manchurian candidate” in the Presidency.

The charge that he is anti Semitic and anti Israel is belied by the fact of the Iron Dome system given to Israel by the United States, and the fact that ISIL (ISIS) calls Obama a President “owned by the Jews”.  Right wing Jews love to spread lies and distortion about Obama, but actually such people have complained about every American President, if they do not bow to every wish or demand of the Israeli government, while we give that nation more foreign aid than any other in the world.  So these charges are totally uncalled for, and reflect badly on those right wing Jews who spread that propaganda!

Many right wingers want to deny that Obama was ever President, and that his time in office should be not recognized as legal, as they claim his election was “stolen”, when George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 but won in the Supreme Court, unprecedented, but based on a declared 537 vote popular margin in Florida, his brother’s home state;  and only won in 2004, because of another disputed vote count in Ohio against John Kerry.

This author and blogger has witnessed so called “friends” who spew forth right wing and racist propaganda, shocking him at the level of hatred toward our 44th President.  One so called “friend” said, when he found out I am publishing a book on Presidential Assassinations and Attempts by next May or June, that he hoped I would have to write another chapter (meaning about the assassination of Obama), which totally infuriated me, and I am not one to get angry very easily.

Another time, visiting the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, with my younger son, three women of about age 70, 40, and 20 were waiting with us to see a Truman documentary, and it came up in conversation that the 20 year old was visiting her relatives in Missouri, but was from Hawaii.

When I said, “so you are from Hawaii, which will have a Presidential museum in the future”, the three women in unison said “EWWWWW” to my shock, and we turned away in shock and anger, since I did not want to be rude to them, but I could not believe such sentiments, as no one ever said that about Richard Nixon or George W. Bush or anyone else!

And when the White House experienced an ‘invasion” at the North Portico last Friday, only ONE Republican openly spoke out about it, and demanded an explanation as to how the Secret Service “screwed up”, and that was New York Congressman Peter King of Long Island, New York, who is far less conservative than the leadership and masses of members of Congress from his party.  Not a peep from John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the myriad of other Republicans, including any of the likely competitors for the Presidency in 2016.  It is almost as if, secretly, they hoped for Obama’s demise, absolutely disgraceful, and reprehensible!

The right wing would suffer mightily if anything untoward happened to Obama, and if Joe Biden suddenly succeeded to the Presidency by tragedy, it would, effectively, end the Presidential Election of 2016, with Joe Biden being the equivalent of Lyndon B. Johnson after he succeeded John F. Kennedy, meaning there would be no way for any Republican to defeat a President Biden in those circumstances. Also, it would end the campaign of Hillary Clinton under those circumstances!

It is time for the right wing, on talk radio and Fox News Channel, and the think tanks that spew forth poison, to stop their attacks and show respect for our President!

The Tea Party Out To Destroy All Progress Since 1900! Progressives MUST Fight To Retain Social Justice And Economic Advancements!

America has changed so much in the past 114 years, from the time of the Progressive Era, through the New Deal, the Great Society, and the time of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter. George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

America at the end of the Gilded Age was a selfish, greedy nation of the few elite wealthy victimizing the rest of American society.

But then came Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on big business; showing concern for labor; promoting the Food and Drug Administration; and vastly extending the concept of protection of the environment and conservation.

Then came Woodrow Wilson, who gave us the Federal Reserve Banking System; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; the Federal Trade Commission; and the first national labor laws.

Then came Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, changing our lives long term with Social Security; public works programs; bank deposit insurance; stock market regulations; the Tennessee Valley Authority; Federal Unemployment Compensation; and labor laws which gave workers and labor unions the right to collective bargaining.

Then came Harry Truman, who promoted integration of the armed forces and Washington, DC; advocated for national health care; and emphasized the need for national commitment to education.

Then came Dwight D. Eisenhower, who enforced civil rights enforcement; promoted federal aid to education; the development of an interstate highway system; and the development of a national space commitment.

Then came John F. Kennedy, who advanced civil rights; promoted the space program; started the Peace Corps; cracked down on the steel industry;  and advocated national health care for the elderly.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnson, who promoted massive civil rights laws; successfully passed Medicare and Medicaid; pursued a War on Poverty; massive increases in federal aid to education; began a national commitment to environmental and consumer legislation; and appointed the first African American to the cabinet and to the Supreme Court.

Then came Richard Nixon, who signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and attempted wage and price controls to keep down the inflation level.

Then came Jimmy Carter, who further promoted civil rights; saw the need for an Energy Department; and became the third best environmental President after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

Then came George H. W. Bush, who signed into law civil rights legislation to promote disabled people.

Then came Bill Clinton, who promoted civil rights advancements; a greater commitment to education; and attempted a national health care program.

Finally came Barack Obama, who brought about ObamaCare; promoted great environmental expansion; advocated for equality of gays and lesbians including gay marriage; and started to take moves toward immigration reforms.

So much has been done by these twelve Presidents to advance social justice, and economic reform—eight Democrats and four Republicans.

But now, the 2014 Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party extremists and the right wing radio talk shows and Fox News Channel and the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, and they have declared war on all humane, decent actions that have taken place in the past 114 years, including advocacy of destroying Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of national parks and all labor reforms and the rights of women and the poor!

This is all very shocking and unbelievable, but the battle for progressivism and the retention of the great work done from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama must be forthright and the battle for the future has just begun.  The Republican Party needs to be smashed and reconstituted, if the nation is to grow in the 21st century, rather than move backwards to the 19th century!

The Wartime Presidency: From James Madison To Barack Obama

Now that it seems evident that America is to be engaged in a long drawn-out war against ISIL (ISIS), it means that we can expect the war to last possibly a generation, 20 years, and affect every Presidential election from 2016 through at least 2032.  It will also transform the Congress, and change the direction of American history, and it comes at a terrible time, as we have greater inequities economically now than even in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

But national security and defense always trump anything else, inevitably and necessarily!

So Barack Obama, who came into office determined to end the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars started by George W. Bush, is to be the promoter of a new war, against his desire.

So this is a good time to reflect on how many Presidents have chosen or been forced  to wage war!

James Madison reluctantly took America through the War of 1812, often depicted as “The Sorry Little War”, which led to the burning of the US Capitol and the White House by the invading British forces.

James K. Polk willingly took us through the Mexican War, leading to the acquisition of the American Southwest and California.

Abraham Lincoln took us into the Civil War, believing there was no alternative to “preserve the Union”.

William McKinley was convinced that the Spanish American War was a moral cause, and it led to the development of the “American Empire” in an age of expansionism and imperialism.  He also waged war to force the Philippines to accept American overlordship, after being “liberated” by the United States from Spanish control.

Theodore Roosevelt continued the fight against the Filipino revolutionaries, in what was well hidden for years and not taught in schools below the college level,, but was known to history as the Filipino Insurrection.

Woodrow Wilson took us into the First World War, after trying to avoid direct involvement for more than two years.

Franklin D. Roosevelt took us into the Second World War against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan,  after isolationists bitterly opposed  such entrance, but forced by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  Hawaii.

Harry Truman continued our engagement in the Second World War, and used the atomic bomb against Japan, but also took us into the Korean War.

Dwight D. Eisenhower continued US involvement in the Korean War for the fist six month of his Presidency.

John F. Kennedy escalated our involvement in Vietnam, from 2,000 “advisers”under Eisenhower,  to over 16,500 Green Beret Special Forces by the time he was assassinated.

Lyndon B. Johnson massively escalated our involvement in Vietnam, reaching a grand total of 549.500 troops in 1968.

Richard Nixon continued the Vietnam War for four long years, causing a massive split in the nation, not seen since the Civil War.

George H. W. Bush took us into the Persian Gulf War, to force Iraq’s Saddam Hussein from keeping control of Kuwait, and being a threat to Saudi Arabia.

George W. Bush took us into war in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, and they became the longest wars in American history.

Barack Obama inherited both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and ended our involvement in Iraq, and is soon to end involvement in Afghanistan.  But now the war against ISIL (ISIS) is forecast to last a generation!

So 15 Presidents were commanders in chief in wartime, and this does not include invasions or bombings,  or undeclared naval wars, or wars against Native Americans!

The PBS “Roosevelts” Series Inspires Need For Progressive Leadership To Stop New “Gilded Age”!

The Ken Burns PBS series, “The Roosevelts”, started on Sunday night and continues through Saturday night, a 14 hour event, and is easily the best documentary presented on PBS in many years!

Seeing the story of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt  and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inspired a desire in this author and blogger of the need for Progressive leadership of the type that TR and FDR and Eleanor represented, now in the 21st Century, to stop the abuses and damage that right wing conservatism has done, creating a new “Gilded Age’, and seeing wealthy billionaires wield power, and attempt fix elections, similar to JP Morgan and other millionaires at the time of TR in the White House.

But TR used the Presidency and federal power to crack down on unregulated capitalism, in what became known as the Progressive Era, and future Presidents of both parties, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama followed suit, but except for FDR and JFK, not in the same exciting vein and dynamic leadership that TR represented!

We now desperately need a new “Progressive Era”, but the right wing Supreme Court, picked by conservative Republicans, has done great damage, and the Congressional Republicans have made it very difficult for President Obama to accomplish many of his goals, although he has done a great deal that can be commended, despite strong obstructionism!

But to recognize the democratic nation that TR and FDR promoted, we need a massive change, and this series could have such an effect on the American psyche in the future, and we should all pray for that as the only way to advance democracy, justice, and true freedom in America in the future!

The History Of Foreign Policy Crises At Election Time

It is nothing new to have foreign policy crises at election time in American history, whether Presidential elections or midterm Congressional elections!

Examples include:

Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Election of 1940, after Great Britain was being bombed by the Germans, and France had fallen to the Nazis.

Harry Truman in the Election of 1948, facing the Berlin Blockade Crisis with the Soviet Union.

Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Election of 1956, facing the Hungarian invasion by the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies, and the Suez Crisis in the Middle East.

John F. Kennedy facing the Cuban Missile Crisis in the midterm election of 1962.

Lyndon B. Johnson facing opposition growing in the Vietnam War after the Tet Offensive, and the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and its allies, in the Election of 1968.

Jimmy Carter facing the Afghanistan invasion by the Soviet Union, and the Iran Hostage Crisis, in the Election of 1980.

George H. W. Bush facing the Kuwaiti invasion by Iraq in the midterm election of 1990, leading to the Persian Gulf War.

George W. Bush facing the War on Terror, and the invasion of Afghanistan, and planned invasion of Iraq, in the midterm election of 2002.

And now, Barack Obama facing the Russian intervention in Ukraine, and the growing threat of ISIL (ISIS) in the Middle East, in the midterm election of 2014.

The Top 30 Presidential Cabinet Officers In American History

Presidents do not accomplish their goals and policies on their own, but rather depend on the best advice and counsel of their cabinet members.

Since the Presidential Cabinet idea was formulated by George Washington and the first Congress under the Constitution, we have had the creation over time of 15 Cabinet agencies, and some of those who have held Cabinet posts under Presidents have had a dramatic impact on their times.

Below is a list of what the author believes are those 30 Cabinet officers who have had the greatest effect on American history, without ranking them in any order:

Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington

Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State under James Monroe

William Seward, Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson

Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State under Ulysses S. Grant

Carl Schurz, Secretary of the Interior under Rutherford B. Hayes

John Hay, Secretary of State under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt

James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture under William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft

Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior under Woodrow Wilson

Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge

Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman

Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Henry Morgenthau, Jr, Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt

George C. Marshall, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under Harry Truman

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford

George Romney, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Richard Nixon

Cecil Andrus, Secretary of the Interior under Jimmy Carter

Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton

Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton

Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior under Bill Clinton

Richard Riley, Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush and Barack Obama

Note that 25 Presidents and 12 of the 15 Cabinet Departments are included in this list. Nine Secretaries of State; three Secretaries of the Treasury; one Secretary of Defense; one Attorney General; six Secretaries of the Interior; two Secretaries of Agriculture; one Secretary of Commerce; three Secretaries of Labor; one Secretary of Health and Human Services; one Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; one Secretary of Transportation; and one Secretary of Education make up the list.

Also note that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had five cabinet members who made the list; Bill Clinton had four; and Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson had three each!

The Death Of Famed Political Scientist And Historian James MacGregor Burns At Age 95

Sad news has come, that famed political scientist and historian James MacGregor Burns, of Williams College, has passed away at the advanced age of 95.

A professor at Williams College for nearly a half century, and then at the University of Maryland, Burns was the author of some twenty books, as well as a famed textbook in the field of American government, which this author used in his classes over the years, in several different editions.

The first to write a study of his friend, Senator John F. Kennedy, as he was running for President, Burns became most noted for his three volume history of the United States; his two volume study of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1956 and 1970 (which had a profound effect on this author); a study of the three Roosevelts (Franklin, Eleanor, and Theodore); studies of Congress; and also analysis of the Supreme Court. He won the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award for his second volume on FDR (The Soldier of Freedom) in 1971.

There are few scholars in political science and history who have had the massive effect on those fields that Burns had, so he will be missed, but also remembered for his tremendous contributions.

Eight Presidents Who Had A Major Role In The Military

Many of our Presidents, about two thirds, have served in the armed forces of the United States, but eight were involved in particularly notable roles in the military that stand the test of time.

These are:

George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Ulysses S. Grant during the Indian Wars, Mexican War, and Civil War.

Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish American War.

Harry Truman during World War I.

Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II.

John F. Kennedy during World War II.

Jimmy Carter in the early Cold War years.

George H. W. Bush during World War II.

Other Presidents served of course, and Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and Zachary Taylor were generals; Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley served in the Civil War; and Hayes and Franklin Pierce (in the Mexican War) and Kennedy were wounded. But these eight listed above particularly stand out in their military service of all of the Presidents who served!

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!