John F. Kennedy

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!

Quinnipiac Poll On Worst President Since WW II Is Sign Of Total Ignorance And Stupidity!

A new Quinnipiac poll for July 4th rates Presidents since World War II, and comes to the asinine conclusion that Barack Obama, engaged in the typical “sixth year” doldrums, is the worst President since 1945!

Really? Give all of us a break! This demonstrates total ignorance and stupidity of American history, and how quickly people forget past Presidents and the records they have in office.

How could Barack Obama be the worst President since 1945, with:

The highest stock market in history, up 150 percent.
Gaining back of all the millions of jobs lost in the Great Recession, plus more jobs created despite GOP obstructionism.
The deficit falling faster than at any time since Eisenhower.
Hunting down and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The capture of the perpetrator of the Benghazi deaths in Libya.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act, giving more Americans health care coverage than at any time in American history.
The passage of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau despite opposition from Wall Street, corporations and Republicans.
The appointment of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
The advancement of environmental protection on the road to the level of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt.
The promotion of the interests of the middle class against the Republican aim to destroy the middle class by lack of action.

Of course, any person could make a list of programs and policies of Barack Obama which have not worked out to their or our satisfaction, including this author.

But come on, compare Obama to George W. Bush:

Two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both causing trillions of dollars in the national debt, and not accomplishing their goals, and the war in Iraq totally unnecessary, a war of choice.
The poor handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and Mississippi and Alabama.
The failed Social Security privatization plan, which would have destroyed the program in 2008.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009, worst since the Great Depression under Herbert Hoover.

And if we are to rate the worst Presidents, how about Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who both did so much harm in office, even while admitting certain positives for both?

And to rate Mitt Romney a better choice, 45 percent, to be President now, after the failed campaign of 2012–face the facts, the American people made the right choice in rejecting Romney, arguably the worst candidate of the Republican Party since Barry Goldwater in 1964. This was a man who lied, lied, lied, constantly, more than any Presidential nominee in American history!

The fact that the poll participants showed no real knowledge of American history is troubling, as to come to such a ridiculous conclusion demonstrates total lack of understanding of what has gone on in this nation in recent years! All they react to is charisma, so that Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton rank the highest, simply based on image!

What do these involved in the poll know about Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush, as well as the Presidents that are rated high, and those rated low in the poll? Clearly, NOTHING!

Greatest Domestic Accomplishments Of Presidents Since FDR

So much attention is usually paid to foreign policy during any President’s administration, but domestic accomplishments are something that needs much more attention.

Following is what this author regards as the greatest domestic accomplishment of each President since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—Social Security Act of 1935

Harry Truman–Integration of the military and Washington DC in 1948

Dwight D. Eisenhower–Appointment of Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1953 and Associate Justice William Brennan in 1956

John F. Kennedy—Integration of University of Mississippi by James Meredith, with federal enforcement in 1962

Lyndon B. Johnson—Civil Rights Act of 1964

Richard Nixon–Creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970

Gerald Ford—Appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975

Jimmy Carter—Environmental Reform and Expansion of Public Lands 1977-1981

Ronald Reagan—Social Security Reform in tandem with Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill in 1983

George H. W. Bush—Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990

Bill Clinton—Appointment of Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994

George W. Bush—Medicare Part D Prescription Law of 2003

Barack Obama—Affordable Care Act of 2010

Discussion and commentary on this list is welcome!

Hostile Relationship Of Former Presidents With Incumbent Presidents

The question of the relationship of former Presidents with incumbent Presidents is an interesting one, with usually the former Presidents avoiding open criticism of their successors, even if they are of a different political persuasions, and did not support the nomination or election of their successors.

There are only a few cases of open criticism and attack, including:

John Quincy Adams highly critical of Andrew Jackson, and returning to Washington, DC as a Congressman to “keep watch” over his policies and actions. Adams was also a sharp critic of the slavery and expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk.

Martin Van Buren being a major critic of the expansionist policies of John Tyler and James K. Polk in the 1840s, and of the slavery policies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan in the 1850s.

John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan all critical of the policies of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Grover Cleveland being a sharp critic of Benjamin Harrison, who he had lost to, and then ran against again and defeated in 1892, and then opposed William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt on the issue of imperialism and expansion.

Theodore Roosevelt very critical of his successor William Howard Taft, who he ran against on the Progressive Party line in 1912, and then against Woodrow Wilson’s policies toward World War I, after losing to him in 1912. Also, TR was resentful that Wilson “stole” some of his progressive ideas, and enacted them as President in his first term.

Herbert Hoover harshly critical of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies during the Great Depression and World War II.

Harry Truman very critical of Richard Nixon for years before he became President, and never really making peace even when Nixon gave the Truman library the piano in the White House that Truman had played. Also, Truman was critical of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the two men only resolved their differences at the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Jimmy Carter very critical of the policies of his successor, Ronald Reagan, and at times, of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Otherwise, the tendency has been to sit on the sidelines and avoid open criticism of one’s successors to the Oval Office!

The Rising Odds Of A President Leaving Office Involuntarily!

When one thinks about it, the odds of a President leaving office involuntarily are growing.

The possibility of a President being impeached, specifically President Obama, has grown by leaps and bounds, at least if one pays attention to the lunatic Tea Party Movement crowd, which infests a portion of the House Republican Conference, and a few United States Senators, headed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz!

But of course, even if Barack Obama were to be impeached, the chance of gaining two thirds of the US Senate ready to convict and remove him, is extremely remote, and basically would never happen!

And yet, death threats are multiplying against President Obama, and the Secret Service monitors an average of 30 threats per day, not all serious, but still threats that have to be investigated, whether by someone in person, on the phone, in mail, or email, or on social media.

The author is finishing a book on Presidential assassinations, attempts, and threats, and has uncovered at least 35 serious enough threats against Barack Obama, in the sense that they have been reported in the news media, but it is clear that many more in multiple numbers, not public knowledge, have occurred!

Thank goodness the Secret Service and other agencies are doing what seems to be a great job in protecting the President and First Family, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, but all it would take is one breakdown in security, and a dirty deed could be accomplished, creating a national tragedy!

The problem is the level of hate is so intense, that many “religious” people, racists, and right wing nuts, including talk show hosts and politicians, fuel the fires, and incite people by their rhetoric, so that some whacko could get off shots at our leadership, and one can be sure that were something untoward to happen, there would be some elements of the population, which would applaud such a horrible deed!

So the odds of a tragedy, or possibly of a natural death in office grow, particularly when one considers, that we had a President die in office, either naturally or by assassination every generation from the 1840s to the 1960s, about 20 years apart in most cases, followed by the resignation of Richard Nixon forty years ago this summer.

Since the first demise of a President, William Henry Harrison, in 1841, 52 years after the establishment of the Constitution, we have had nine President leave office, four by assassination, four by natural death, and one by resignation.

But the last President to die naturally was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, 69 years ago! The last President to die in office, and by assassination, was John F. Kennedy in 1963, 51 years ago, meaning the longevity of no deaths between 1789 and 1841 is about to be matched next year! And even the last President to leave office, Nixon resigning in 1974, is 40 years ago, double the average time between deaths of Presidents over a period of 122 years from 1841 to 1963!

So one cannot help but have trepidation at the rising odds of a President leaving office involuntarily, as the years tick by! With exactly two years and seven months left in office for Barack Obama, as of today, all decent people, whether supportive or critical of his Presidency, must pray for his continued good health and safety as he faces the challenges of his times with courage and principle!

Barack Obama And Executive Orders: The Truth, Rather Than Myths!

Conservatives and the Republican Party constantly lie about Barack Obama’s use of executive orders, stating that he has issued more than 1,000 such orders!

Obama has made it clear that he will override Congressional inaction where he can, and he is absolutely correct in such assertions, but he is far from overusing the concept of executive order.

Somehow, when a Republican President uses executive orders aggressively, that is seen as alright, and even positive!

The fact is that any President will use executive orders to promote his agenda, and he has a constitutional right to do just that, and it has been done by all Presidents!

News in the past two days that Obama will use executive orders to promote LGBT employment rights, and to declare a large area of ocean off limits to mining and fishing, therefore protecting the environment, is in support of goals that Congress has been unwilling to take action on, after five years, so Obama is asserting his Presidential authority to do what should be done!

In reality, Obama has issued approximately 180 executive orders up to this point, while George W. Bush used 291 in eight years; Bill Clinton a total of 364 in eight years; and Ronald Reagan a total of 381 in eight years. At the same time, Gerald Ford used 169 executive orders in just two years and five months in office; Jimmy Carter a total of 320 in four years; George H. W. Bush a total of 166 in four years; Richard Nixon a total of 346 in five and a half years; Lyndon B. Johnson a total of 325 in five years; John F. Kennedy a total of 214 in three years; Dwight D. Eisenhower a total of 484 in eight years; Harry Truman the very high total of 907 in almost eight years; and Franklin D. Roosevelt the overwhelming total of 3,522 in twelve years!

But even Theodore Roosevelt used a total of 1,081 in seven and a half years in office; William Howard Taft a total of 724 in four years in office; Woodrow Wilson a total of 1,803 in eight years in office; Warren G. Harding a total of 522 in two years and five months in office; Calvin Coolidge the high number of 1,203 in five and a half years in office; and Herbert Hoover the high total of 968 in four years in office.

So both conservatives and progressives, Republicans and Democrats, have used executive order in large numbers, and Barack Obama is definitely on the low side of usage after five and a half years in office!

But do conservatives and Republicans care to speak the truth? The reader knows the answer to that question!

Right Wing Extremist Groups Multiply Eight Times Since Barack Obama Became President!

With the tragic news of two police officers murdered in Nevada over the weekend by an extremist right wing couple connected to the Cliven Bundy showoff with the Bureau of Land Management two months ago, it is more clear than ever how dangerous so called “patriot” groups, white supremacists, secessionists, and racists are to the political stability of this country! This is the Ku Klux Klan, Nazi elements, and the John Birch Society remnants come back to life, as if they ever had disappeared!

Statisics show an over 800 percent increase in such groups since Barack Obama became President, and the Republican extremists in the House of Representatives and the Senate, plus the right wing talk shows hosts on radio and Fox News Channel and guests that encourage such bigotry, racism, and fear of the national government, are responsible for what is happening, as they make our President out to be the devil incarnate!

Respect for the government, for law, and for law enforcement officers, has rapidly declined, and more acquisition of firearms by extremists who plot against the government and the police, presents an alarming situation.

And as has been demonstrated by the Secret Service, and other sources, death threats against President Obama continue to multiply, increasing the chances that just one time, it might succeed, and lead to a horrible tragedy.

This author has stated this before, that we must stop the hate, the division, the bigotry, and condemn those who promote it, as we do not wish or need another tragedy, such as the tragedy a half century ago in Dallas, when our youngest President ever elected, and the first Roman Catholic, John F. Kennedy, was brutally assassinated, a tragedy we are still unable to recover from in a complete fashion!

The Legacy Of Robert F. Kennedy Being Fulfilled By Barack Obama

June 6 is not only the anniversary of D Day in 1944.

It is also, sadly, the 46th anniversary of the death of Robert F. Kennedy, the former Attorney General under his brother, John F. Kennedy, and Senator from New York, who was seeking the Presidency in 1968, when he was assassinated by a Palestinian Christian immigrant, Sirhan Sirhan, shortly after winning the California primary, part of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

While there was no certainty that RFK would have been the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1968, beating out the eventual nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, it is felt by many historians and scholars that RFK would have been the nominee, and likely, would have defeated Richard Nixon and George Wallace, the two opponents of Humphrey in 1968, and become our 37th President of the United States!

The thought is that RFK would have promoted the cause of civil rights, concern about the poor, be an advocate of the environment, expanded Medicare to more than the elderly, had the backing of labor, and overall, extended the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson, much like Humphrey believed. RFK also wanted to end the war in Vietnam, and keep America out of foreign wars unless it affected the national interest in such a manner that we could not avoid engaging in war!

So, in many ways, he would have advocated in his time for what Barack Obama has stood for and advocated as President of the United States four decades later!

So we can say that Barack Obama is fulfilling the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy in a masterful and dignified manner!