Kansas

Octogenarians In Congress: Time For Age Limit Of 80, So That Younger Generation, “Fresh Blood”, Comes Into Both Houses

Age discrimination laws have disappeared in recent decades, but at the same time, there is the issue of members of Congress staying on into their 80s in growing numbers, and one has to wonder if that is good for the nation at large, or whether it helps to promote the image of Congress being out of sync with the nation, and preventing a younger generation of “fresh blood” from having opportunity to serve in Congress.

Presently, there are eight Senators and eleven House members who are in their 80s, and there are others in both chambers nearing 80 over the next few years.

Seven Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate, and eight Democrats and three Republicans in the House of Representatives are now in their 80s, and there is no indication that the House members are planning to retire in 2018.

Four of the House members are in the upper 80s right now—Democrats Sander Levin of Michigan who is 86; Democrat John Conyers of Michigan who is 88; Democrat Louise Slaughter who is 88; and Republican Sam Johnson of Texas who is 87.

Meanwhile, three of the eight Senators were just reelected to terms ending in 2022—Richard Shelby of Alabama who will be 88 then; John McCain of Arizona who will be 86 then; and Chuck Grassley of Iowa who will be 89 then.

Three others have terms ending in 2020—Pat Roberts of Kansas who will be 84 then; Thad Cochran of Mississippi who will be 83 then; and James Inhofe of Oklahoma who will be 86 then.

The other two Senators face election in 2018–Diane Feinstein of California who will be 85; and Orrin Hatch of Utah who will be 84.

The aging of Congress has been a growing trend, and it does not bode well for the future, as far as public support for Congress is concerned.

There is no realistic possibility of legislated age limits, but the growing number of octogenarians in Congress is not a good development.

George McGovern Birthday, What Would Have Been His 95th: A Moment To Remember

Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, the 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee against President Richard Nixon, would have been 95 today, a moment to remember this great man, who passed away five years ago on October 21, 2012.

McGovern may have been an historic loser, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in his race against Nixon 45 years ago.

But McGovern was, in many ways, the most principled man ever to run for President.

He ran as an anti Vietnam War candidate, who had been a fighter pilot in World War II.

He ran as a person committed to the hungry, the poor, the disadvantaged in our society. He worked across the aisle with Bob Dole of Kansas to take action to help the most deprived in our society.

He ran as a principled and decent political leader who wanted to bring America back to its purpose, to promote equality, justice and compassion.

Americans instead voted for the most unprincipled and corrupt President in American history, until Donald Trump came along.

George McGovern was my idol, my hero, as a young man in graduate school, inspired by the fact that he had, like myself, pursued a PH. D. in American history, and had taught on the college level before entering politics.

What is it about America that too often they vote for the candidate who is far less principled, decent, and compassionate–as with Richard Nixon and Donald Trump as two examples?

Why is it that we have, as a nation, too often made the wrong choice?

This is something that will be repeated until the better side of our nature finally returns to the basic principles of America, and steers away from those who exploit our fears and insecurities and worsens the American condition!

Jon Ossoff Loses Georgia Race, But All Four Special Elections Show GOP Edge Dramatically Cut From Elections In November 2016

All of the four Congressional special elections, due to sitting Republican Congressmen taking positions in the Trump Administration, were won by Republicans, but in all four districts, the margin of victory was much closer than the races for those seats in November 2016.

It is disappointing that Jon Ossoff lost the race in the Georgia Congressional District, but Karen Handel’s margin of victory is one fifth what it was for Tom Price last year.

The same for Ryan Zinke’s seat in Montana; Mike Pompeo’s seat in Kansas; and also Nick Mulvaney’s seat in South Carolina.

But one must realize all four districts are strong Red districts, so the massive narrowing of the margin of victory is a major story.

The reality is that 23 Congressional districts with Republican wins in 2016 were also Congressional districts won by Hillary Clinton, and none of these four special elections were among those 23 districts.

So it comes down to the reality that IF Democrats can win those Clinton districts, with all of the discontent and turmoil over Donald Trump and the Republican agenda, they would be on the way to a likely gain of the House of Representatives majority in 2018, whereby 24 seats need to be gained.

But to do so, the Democrats must be much more aggressive in their campaigning, and must vigorously work to recruit the best possible candidates, so that they can revive their fortunes before the Presidential Election of 2020.

This is NOT the time to be downcast over the Ossoff defeat, but to applaud how he cut down the Republican party edge in the district by about 19 points, and mobilized thousands of people to become engaged in politics, who had never done so before.

Confidence and optimism are the key words to be emphasized and pursued!

National Archives Office Of Presidential Libraries Excellent Site For All Presidential Museums From Herbert Hoover To Barack Obama

At a time when this blogger and author is adding to his list of Presidential Libraries and Museums that he has visited in person, this is a good time to make clear to my readers that an excellent site to explore, which is listed on the right side of my blog, is the National Archives Office of Presidential Libraries, which includes information on the libraries and museums of all President since Herbert Hoover through to Barack Obama, so a total of 14 such institutions.

The Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum is being planned to open in 2021 in Chicago, and it will add to the long list of reasons for tourists, as well as scholars, to visit Chicago.

This author has been fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit the libraries of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, so a total of 10 of the 13 museums that are open.

The problem with the Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and George H. W. Bush Libraries and Museums are their relative inaccessibility, particularly the case of the first two Presidents having their museums in Iowa and Kansas, quite far from major aviation hubs.

But hopefully, at some point, there will be an opportunity to visit the Houston, Texas metropolitan area, and travel the distance to the first Bush Library in College Station, Texas, at the campus of Texas A & M University.

The Urgency Of The Democratic Party Taking Back The House Of Representatives, And State Governorships And Legislatures In 2018

Jon Ossoff, the Democratic front runner in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia (Atlanta suburbs), fell just short of the 50 percent needed to win that seat in the House of Representatives, and avoid a runoff.

Now he will face Republican Karen Handel on June 20, and it will be more difficult to gain the seat, a traditionally GOP district in the past 38 years since Newt Gingrich won the seat in 1979, followed up by Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary, who vacated the seat to become part of Donald Trump’s cabinet.

One can be assured massive amounts of money will be spent on both sides of this race, which, if Ossoff wins, would be a major blow to Donald Trump and his agenda.

The 24 point swing in Kansas’s special election for the House, and now the 10 point swing in Georgia, in the first round, are signs that the Democrats COULD regain the majority in the House of Representatives in 2018, after eight years in the “wilderness”.

It is simply a sign of the reality that the Democratic Party, at a low point, having lost so many seats in both houses of Congress in the Barack Obama era, along with governorships and state legislatures, have the urgency to work very hard to start their revival.

The average number of seats gained by the “out” party in the midterm elections is 23 in the House of Representatives, and right now, the Democrats need 24 seats to regain control, so it is within potential gains that one might expect.

The US Senate will be nearly impossible to win seats, however, as only 8 Republicans are up for reelection in 2018, as against 25 Democrats.

Looking at the GOP held seats, the only possible gains, and not easily, might be Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona, and Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada. The only other possible hope would be if somehow Ted Cruz could be unseated in Texas, but that is highly unlikely. So at this point, the most that could be expected is a 50-50 tie in the Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence able to use his vote in a tied Senate.

One must realize that while many of the 25 Democratic seats are seen as safe, a large number are not so, including Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Jon Tester in Montana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. Note that Heitkamp, Manchin, and Donnelly tried to protect their flank by voting for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but McCaskill, Tester, Nelson and Casey did not do so.

But beyond Congress, it is urgent that state governorships be gained, as well as control of more state legislatures, all in planning for the next census of 2020 and the redistricting of House seats and state legislative seats that will come after 2020, with the evil reality of gerrymandering affecting the next decade.

Important Facts About President-Elect Donald Trump

Donald Trump has achieved something quite unusual.

The President-Elect is the first President to lose his home state, New York, since James K. Polk lost his home state of North Carolina in 1844, although Polk did win the state he migrated to and served in public office, Tennessee.

Since Trump has spent his whole life in Queens County and New York City, he is unique even over Polk.

Additionally, Trump will be nearly eight months older than Ronald Reagan when he takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017, being 70 years, seven months, and six days, and so the oldest inaugurated first term President in American history.

And Trump will also be the first President ever to have served not a day in public office or the military.

And Trump will be the first New Yorker to serve as President since Franklin D. Roosevelt won his 4th term in 1944, although Dwight D. Eisenhower did live in New York when he served as President of Columbia University, and Richard Nixon lived in New York when he ran for President. But Eisenhower was born in Texas and spent much of his life when not away in the military in his boyhood state of Kansas, and Nixon spent most of his life in his native California.

Trump Support Hemorraghing Rapidly In “Red” States!

Three weeks to go until the Presidential Election of 2016, and it seems clear, by public opinion polls,that Donald Trump’s support in “Red” states is hemorrhaging rapidly.

His mishandling of the sexual assault allegations has turned many Republicans against him, and his condemnation of Republican leadership, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, is damaging his ability even to hold on to the loyal Republican states.

So we have evidence that the following states are possible pick ups by Hillary Clinton:

North Carolina
Georgia
Arizona
Utah
Indiana
Missouri
South Carolina
Texas
Alaska
Mississippi
Kansas
Nebraska (or at least the Omaha area)

One can be quite certain that many of these states will, in the end, still back Donald Trump, but by a much smaller margin than for Mitt Romney in 2012 or John McCain in 2008.

But the first four on the above list look ripe for being picked up by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

I will post an entry close to the election on my final projections, and I remind my readers that, independent of Nate Silver in 2012, I projected, as he did, the precise electoral vote distribution-332-206.

I also will publish my projection on History News Network, and will be on radio with Jon Grayson of CBS St Louis, KMOX 1120 AM, Overnight with Jon Grayson, one of the radio shows I have been on, and posted on the right side of the blog, on Election Night at 1 AM ET on November 9, a few hours after the polls have closed, to comment on the results.

The South’s Continuing Impact On Impeding Democracy With Voter Restriction Laws

The South lost the Civil War, but they continue to dominate American politics.

It used to be that the South was Democratic, and that they promoted slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching.

Then, we had a Southern President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who accomplished the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the Southern wing of Democrats in Congress bitterly opposing it, and many of them, plus much of their population, abandoning the party and going to the Republicans.

Under Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, they found a home, and worked to undermine voting rights and civil rights, often with the support of those Presidents.

The state governors and legislatures became Republican controlled, and worked to limit civil rights and voting rights, and the Republican majority Supreme Court in 2013 cut back on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

As a result, Southern states and many midwestern and mountain states under Republican governors and legislatures started to pass new restrictive laws designed to undermine voting of minorities, particularly African Americans and Hispanics-Latinos.

This led to law suits and now decisions by federal circuit courts in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and earlier, Texas, to declare such restrictive laws unconstitutional, a major victory which could affect the Presidential Election of 2016.

There will likely be an appeal to the Supreme Court, a clear cut reason to make sure that the Democrats win the White House and the US Senate, as the outcome for this election is uncertain, and the future of the Court and voting rights in the future hangs in the balance.

It seems likely that the present Court might split 4-4 without Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, and that would uphold the lower court decisions declaring such laws to be unconstitutional, but no certainly of that.

The South is crucial in our nation’s politics as they hold 22 seats in the US Senate, 31 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives (138 out 435), and 162 electoral votes in the Presidential race. And this does not include the Border states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, and Oklahoma, which tend to the same politics of exclusion toward minorities and voting rights.

A Dozen Republican Governors Are The Most Horrendous In Memory!

It is amazing how so many people seem to believe that the federal government cannot be trusted, and that the true level of competence is state government–legislatures and governors, when the evidence is that, despite the many problems of the federal government, the state governments in many states is absolutely horrendous.

Both parties have their issues in state governments, but it is Republican governors which are particularly wretched as witness the following governors who have set records for the most incompetent and inhumane leadership:

Michigan–Rick Snyder, who has created a major health crisis in Flint, where the water system is totally lead polluted, and is responsible for the poisoning of many infants and young children, who will suffer effects for the rest of their lives.  For this, Snyder should be removed from office, and should be indicted and convicted and sentenced to life in prison, as effectively, he has destroyed thousands of young lives, through his decision to save money by forcing Flint to use polluted water systems.

Maine–Paul LePage, who has been totally off the wall in his rhetoric, and has displayed racism and other indications of insensitivity on a regular basis for the past five years, and faces a likely move toward impeachment and removal from office.

Kansas–Sam Brownback, who has totally bankrupted his state, and has cut education and health care coverage to dangerous levels  that undermine the state, all to cut taxes for the wealthy, and is a great example of a fake religiously devout leader.

Texas–Greg Abbott, who wants to take Texas back to the Civil War, calling for a constitutional amendment to forbid the federal government from having any influence or power over the states, arguing states rights will better protect the nation.

Florida—Rick Scott, who has refused to accept climate change as having an effect, even though his state is already seeing great evidence of the damage that the Sunshine state faces in the next 20-40 years, and also has done everything possible to undermine the lives of the poor in the state.

Wisconsin–Scott Walker, who has engaged in policies to undermine public workers and to destroy the reputation of the state as one of the most advanced states in the nation, and has also engaged in widespread political corruption on a massive scale.

North Carolina–Pat McCrory, who has managed to turn a progressive Southern state into one of the most backward, regressive states in America, one influenced by the corruption and move for dominance by the Koch Brothers in so many areas  of public policy.

Oklahoma–Mary Fallin, one of the most heartless and nasty state leaders, ignoring the growing number of earthquakes caused by the fracking industry, and totally committed to capital punishment even if there are no appropriate drugs to use for execution.

Louisiana–Bobby Jindal, who lost his Presidential ambitions, but set a record as a totally destructive and  heartless governor toward the poor of his state, and destroyed the public education system of New Orleans entirely.

Indiana–Mike Pence, who has caused a major health crisis over AIDS, by his refusal to address the issue of drug abuse, and has shown unwillingness to deal with the needs of those at the bottom of the economic system.

Arizona—Doug Ducey, who has shown total lack of competence or concern for the large number of Latinos in his state, and has shown evidence of corruption on a level that makes one wish former governor Jan Brewer was still in office, as bad as she actually was.

Kentucky—Matt Bevin, with no government experience, and a Tea Party activist, wishing to destroy the ObamaCare Medicaid system of his state, which was a model for the nation, but now is on the chopping block.

 

American Presidents And The Institution Of Slavery

Yesterday, the author was watching the reenactment of the funeral of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, on C Span 3–American History TV, and the question has arisen, while watching the event, of the truth about America’s Presidents and the institution of slavery.

It turns out, through further research, that more Presidents than once thought, owned slaves in their lifetime, and that others showed lack of concern about the institution, and compromised on it in their Presidencies.

So it turns out that 12 of the first 18 Presidents owned slaves, including

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson–some expressed discomfort in his writings, but sill benefited from the institution
James Madison—some expressed discomfort in his writings, but still benefited from the institution
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant.

Additionally, three Presidents, all Northerners, referred to as “doughfaces”, who went along with the institution through their actions, also supported continuation of slavery, including

Millard Fillmore–the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
Franklin Pierce–the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854
James Buchanan–support of the Dred Scott Supreme Court Case, and the Kansas LeCompton Constitution of 1857

It should be pointed out that Martin Van Buren had a few slaves at one point through family members but not while being President, but defended the institution while in office, and theh later had a change of heart, and ran as the Free Soil Party candidate for President in 1848, at that point opposing slavery,

Also, James Buchanan, technically, owned one slave for a brief period of time through his family, but not while President.

The same holds for Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, ownership of slaves through family at some point, but neither while President. Grant, in particular, felt uncomfortable about the slavery heritage of his wife’s family.

The point is that only THREE Presidents always condemned slavery and worked against it

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Abraham Lincoln

JQ Adams was extremely active against slavery, participating in the Amistad Supreme Court Case of 1839-1841 as one of the lawyers defending the slaves on that slave ship, in their bid for freedom, and sponsoring the move to condemn slavery in the House of Representatives, in his years after the Presidency. While a member of the House from Boston, he was censured for fighting the “gag rule”, which forbade discussion of the institution in House debate from 1836-1844. He also opposed the Mexican War as a war for slavery expansion.