Lyndon B. Johnson

Happy 107th Birthday, President Lyndon B. Johnson!

107 years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson was born, destined to have a career that would change the lives of more Americans than any other President, including Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Many will remind us of the disastrous Vietnam War, which LBJ waged, and which forced him out of office, giving up a chance to be only the second President to serve more than eight years, the only one doing so being FDR!

Many will point out that LBJ is accused of being involved in the assassination plot against John F. Kennedy, well spread by several authors, but still seen as highly speculative.

Many will tell us of the statements that LBJ was possibly the most corrupt President in American history, and the one who enriched his own fortune more than any other, without any positive proof of their allegations.

Many will look to find other chinks in the armor of the 36th President, and certainly, LBJ would be the first to declare his own imperfections, including his tendency to use racist Southern terms for African Americans, common in Dixie in his lifetime.

But even with whatever shortcomings there were, and whatever mostly unprovable accusations that are lodged against him, there is certainly another LBJ–the man who used the powers of his office to better the lives of more Americans—-the elderly, the sick, the poor, the uneducated, the ethnic minorities, deprived whites, women—-than any President before him, and unmatched by any President since his time.

The Great Society did so much good, much of it still with us 50 years later, a goal that LBJ had, to match and surpass his “idol”, FDR, and his New Deal programs of 30 years earlier.

Poverty was cut dramatically in the time of LBJ; more people had a chance to get an education than ever before; Medicare and Medicaid came into being, providing a “safety net” added to the Social Security programs of FDR; Civil Rights laws finally fulfilled the purpose of what Abraham Lincoln had promoted a century earlier; the environment, consumer protection, transportation and urban affairs improvement became the priority of the federal government; public radio and television offered enlightenment and still do; and we saw the beginnings of opportunity for top positions in the federal government for ethnic minorities who had never played a role in government affairs before.

So despite obvious faults and shortcomings, Happy 107th Birthday, Mr. President!

The Die Is Cast! Hillary Clinton Is A Flawed Candidate Who Can No Longer Be Assured The Presidency, And The Democrats’ Hold On White House Is Now Endangered!

After Hillary Clinton’s contentious press conference a few days ago, regarding the Email controversy,  and with time to reflect on the situation, one thing is very clear.

Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate who will face problems winning  the Presidency, and the Democrats’ hold on the White House is now endangered!  This is the danger of “putting all your eggs in one basket”!

This comes at a time when rumor has it that Vice President Joe Biden has, supposedly, decided not to run for President.

If that is so, then, as things now stand, the Democrats are left with the likelihood that Bernie Sanders, who has always proudly declared that he is a Socialist, is their front runner, with what seems like little chance that Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, or Jim Webb could overtake him and become competitive.

And it seems that anyone else, such as former Vice President Al Gore or Secretary of State John Kerry, both past Democratic Presidential candidates, from 16 and 12 years ago, are unlikely to run, and in any case, would be long shots for the Presidency at this point.

This would be the time for a “new generation” of leadership to rise, with Martin O’Malley, the former Governor of Maryland, to be that individual—the new John F. Kennedy, or Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama—but that seems highly unlikely to occur.

It seems clear that the dream of having the first woman President, and it being Bill Clinton’s wife, long believed to be a fait accompli, is not going to happen, and if it somehow does anyway, that it would be a highly flawed Presidency.

Hillary Clinton seems to many neutral observers, and even some Democrats, to be a “Nixonian” kind of personality, surrounding herself with “yes” advisers, who are unwilling all along to tell her that the appearance of impropriety and lack of ethics is clear cut.

Hillary Clinton has so messed up her campaign by her behavior and actions as Secretary of State, and lame attempts to “cover it up”, that her candidacy is one of damage control, rather than being able to advance ideas and programs.

Hillary Clinton is very intelligent and capable, but she is, sadly, going to have a campaign dominated by the Email controversy, and the implication, which may be untrue,  that she has lied, deceived, and manipulated the truth about her activities.

Her behavior and actions now endanger the ability of the Democrats to retain control of the Presidency.  If one looks at the Electoral College situation, it should have been easy for the Democrats to win the White House, but now everything is unsettled, including the possible effect of the Donald Trump candidacy.

If the Democrats lose the White House, then the Republicans would have the ability to put the Obama Presidency’s accomplishments and advances in domestic and foreign policy into reverse, a true tragedy for the nation.

It would also endanger much of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It would probably mean a permanent, long term, right wing swing of the Supreme Court, affecting the next generation and more of legal and constitutional interpretation.

If the Democrats lose, Hillary Clinton will be blamed for the demise of what should have been an easy victory for the Democrats, but more importantly, the nation would suffer from a totally different approach to labor, the environment, women’s issues, race, immigration, science, and so much more.

So now, if not ever before, it is essential that the move of many to say “Run, Joe, Run”–to pressure Vice President Joe Biden to run—is now not just what Biden supporters wish to occur, but an absolute demand that he MUST run to save the Democratic Party and the American people from a right wing future in our government!

“Speaks Without Notes”; “Has Passion And Joy In Campaigning”; “Speaks His Mind”—Traits Of Donald Trump AND Joe Biden!

It has been pointed out that billionaire Donald Trump “speaks without notes”; “has passion and joy in campaigning”; “speaks his mind”, all traits that most politicians, including Presidential candidates, often do not have.

Well, there is someone else who has the same traits that Trump has, but also has tons of REAL government experience; a record of REAL accomplishments; a true compassion for those NOT wealthy; a sincerity, authenticity, and genuine nature rarely seen in politicians; a person with not a mean bone in  his body; a person who would “give the shirt off his back”; a true man of the people, who has managed to serve longer than any political leader in public office in the entire history of the nation; and has NOT enriched himself in the manner that most politicians do!

In these other traits mentioned in the above paragraph, Donald Trump is entirely different, the diametric opposite of this other person who shares the traits in the first paragraph.

Who am I talking about?  Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden!

It can be argued that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton cannot compete in the traits that Donald Trump and Joe Biden share.  Bernie Sanders  may share the traits in the first paragraph, but his connection to the “dirty” word “Socialism” creates many potential complications were Sanders to end up as the Democratic nominee for President, a real “long shot”!

A debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would be the debate of the century, as Joe Biden would combat the demagoguery of Trump with a strong, rational, but fiery and emotional attack on “Trumpism”.  Biden has already proved how he can make “mince meat” of Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin in Vice Presidential debates.  He proved to be the best debater in the Presidential primaries of 2008, but of course could not overcome the star power of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

But now, coming off the successful and significant Vice Presidency of Joe Biden, he would have the best opportunity to overcome the phenomenon of Donald Trump, and institutionalize the Obama Presidency, and keep the virtues of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Donald Trump: A Mix Of Wendell Willkie, George Wallace, And Ross Perot

Donald Trump’s Presidential candidacy has brought back memories of three other Presidential candidates.

First is Wendell Willkie, a corporate leader and Wall Street industrialist from Indiana who had never run for public office, who wowed the Republican convention in 1940 with his charisma, rhetoric, and attack on “career politicians”.  He was able to win the Republican Presidential nomination in 1940, and run a good but losing race against the master politician, Franklin D. Roosevelt, running for an unprecedented third term.

Next is George C. Wallace, Governor of Alabama, who formed the American Independent Party in 1968, rallying those opposed to the Civil Rights laws passed under Lyndon B. Johnson.  He attracted angry working class whites, and won 13.5 % of the popular vote, the fourth best percentage for a third party in American history.  He also won five Southern states and 46 electoral votes, making him the second best in total states and electoral votes in American history, only behind former President Theodore Roosevelt, who won six states and 88 electoral votes as the nominee of the third party known as the Progressive (Bull Moose) party, in 1912.  TR also is the only third party nominee to end up second, rather than third in the election results.  His campaign in 1912 decimated the Republican Party under President William Howard Taft, and helped to elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

And then we have Ross Perot, a billionaire businessman who had never run for public office, who ran an independent race twice, winning nearly 19 percent of the vote in 1992, and 8 percent of the vote in 1996, while winning no states in the Electoral College.  He appealed to those who were disgusted with the federal government, and worried about the growing national debt.  His candidacy undermined the Republican Party nominees, President George H. W. Bush in 1992 and Senator Bob Dole in 1996, and elected Democrat Bill Clinton twice.

Now we have Donald Trump, a billionaire, who has developed an appeal to those who are disillusioned with politics and the federal government, making him similar to Perot.  But Trump also appeals to the baser instincts in many people, those who dislike African Americans, Latinos, immigrants in general, in these ways having similar views  to Wallace.  These Trump supporters  also think women should not be treated equally, preferring the old image of women who should cook, clean, and be available for the sexual satisfaction of their men, but with no rights over their bodies and reproduction,  similar to the Tea Party Movement.  Also, there is a distaste for labor rights, and for the environment, and an orientation toward absolute belief in religion as the gospel, and a repudiation of science.

Can Trump “storm” the Republican Party, as Wendell Willkie did in 1940; or will he run on a third party, like Ross Perot, and make it impossible for the GOP to win the White House?  And will Trump continue to appeal to the George Wallace type voters, and promote a right wing populism as Wallace did?

This is what is yet to be evolving, but in many ways, Trump is a combination, right now, of Willkie, Wallace, and Perot!

50 Years Of The Voting Rights Act, And Reluctance To Enforce It By Supreme Court And Many States Now A Sad Reality!

On August 6, it will be 50 years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, overcoming a near century of the denial of the right to vote to African Americans, despite the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870.

The Southern states denied African Americans the right to vote through all kinds of methods for three quarters of a century, but finally it was a Southern President and many Congressional Republicans joining with Democrats that caused that denial of democracy to be overcome, finally.

And Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, all Republicans, continued to endorse, promote, hail, and extend the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

But then the Supreme Court majority under Chief Justice John Roberts weakened enforcement in a Supreme Court decision in 2013 (Shelby County, Alabama V. Holder), effectively giving license to states run by Republican governors and legislatures to pass new restrictions on voting, that would not only hurt African Americans, but also Hispanics, poor whites, the elderly, college students—all being required to make onerous efforts to meet the new restrictions on voting rights, when there was no earlier evidence of voting fraud.

This sad reality has pained John Lewis, Georgia Congressman, who was involved in the movement for voting rights in Alabama (the Selma-Montgomery March), and was seriously beaten, along with others who were killed, fighting peacefully for the basic right to vote.

So while we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this path breaking legislation, we have to hope that the Supreme Court will revisit what it has done by a 5-4 vote in the next term, with the hope that they will reconsider what they have done, based on the discrimination now being practiced in many states across the nation.

“Fit” And “Unfit” Presidents In American History

The issue of Presidential health is an important one, as the stresses on the Chief Executive, are, and have been, massive over time, and the job ages all Presidents noticeably.

But separate from general health, there is also the issue of how “fit” or “unfit” Presidents have been while in office, and those who have been active in athletic activities before and during their White House years.

The list of truly “fit” Presidents has favored the younger Presidents over time, but there are also cases of other Presidents who have made being fit an important part of their image as Presidents. These Presidents participated in sports, and even when having health issues over time, they still emphasized the active life.

So the truly “fit” Presidents would include:

George Washington

John Quincy Adams

Andrew Jackson

Abraham Lincoln

Theodore Roosevelt

Dwight D. Eisenhower

John F. Kennedy

Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan

George H. W. Bush

George W. Bush

Barack Obama

All of the above 12 Presidents did a lot of exercise throughout their lives, and some were in the military as generals (Washington, Jackson, Eisenhower).

Those Presidents that would qualify as particularly unfit would include:

John Adams

Martin Van Buren

James Buchanan

Chester Alan Arthur

Grover Cleveland

William McKinley

William Howard Taft

Warren G. Harding

Lyndon B. Johnson

Bill Clinton

All of the above 10 Presidents had major issues with weight, particularly Taft and Cleveland.

Of course, “fitness” has nothing to do with greatness in the White House, as Franklin D. Roosevelt proves! But FDR also had massive upper body strength, despite the polio that prevented him from walking.

July 30, 1965 To July 30, 2015: 50 Years Of Medicare!

Today is the 50the Anniversary of Medicare, finally brought about by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

An idea originally proposed by Theodore Roosevelt in his Progressive (Bull Moose) Party campaign of 1912; further conceptualized by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the mid 1930s, but thought to be moving too rapidly for Congress, when there was the fight over Social Security in 1935; and promoted by Harry Truman in his promotion of his Fair Deal, it was signed into law with former President Truman sitting next to Johnson at the Truman Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri.

Johnson accomplished what John F. Kennedy wanted to fulfill in his New Frontier agenda, but was unable to do because of the opposition of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills of Arkansas, but Johnson convinced Mills to move ahead, as part of LBJ’s great “wheeler dealer” abilities to promote his Great Society.

Medicare was a “God send” to millions of senior citizens, who no longer had to go into poverty as a result of medical and health issues, and it made the last years of the elderly a lot less stressful and worrisome.

Of course, the issue of cost overruns and corruption has arisen, and with people living longer, there is a long term problem in Medicare, but careful administration and some tax increases will manage to keep Medicare afloat for the long run, although present House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate in 2012), wants to phase it out over time.

Many Republicans want this, but Democrats will fight tooth and nail to insure the continuation and financial stability of the greatest social program since Social Security, an essential part of the “safety net”, and part of the social justice agenda of liberals and progressives since the time of Theodore Roosevelt!

Historic Leaders Of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is one of the most important of all committees in the history of that body, having begun as early as 1816.

It is one of the most significant committees, with many future potential Presidential seekers wishing to be seen as “experts” on American foreign policy.

It is a committee often in conflict with the President of the United States on strategy and policy toward other nations.

There have been many colorful leaders of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, who have become famed or notorious for their principles and impact on American foreign policy.

The committee again has become focused on as part of the heated debate over the Iran nuclear deal, and its recent former Chairman, John Kerry, is now the Secretary of State, charged with gaining the support of the committee, which, clearly, however, under Republican control, is a lost cause.

Among its leaders have been Presidential nominees Rufus King, Henry Clay, and John Kerry; President James Buchanan; and Vice Presidents Hannibal Hamlin and Joe Biden.

Such prominent political figures, other than those mentioned above, who served as Chairman of the committee include: Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Sumner, John Sherman, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., William Borah, Arthur Vandenberg, J. William Fulbright, Frank Church, Charles Percy, Richard Lugar, Claiborne Pell, Jesse Helms, and present Chairman Bob Corker, with Fulbright serving the longest as Chairman, 16 years from 1959-1975.

Those who made the most news included Lodge fighting Woodrow Wilson on the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations; Vandenberg playing a crucial role in backing the containment policy of President Harry Truman, despite them being from different parties; Fulbright fighting against the Vietnam War under Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon; and Helms being a major problem for Bill Clinton on many foreign policy issues.

A “Nice”, “Authentic” Person, Not A Mean Spirited, Uncaring Person: What People Want For Their Next President!

Americans are confused and upset about the uncertainties facing the nation, due to the political split in Congress and in the state legislatures. They might seem to cheer on a nasty, bullyish candidate who, momentarily, appears to vent their frustrations. But when emotions calm, that is not what the American people are looking for!

They want someone who is a “nice guy”, “authentic”, “real”, “truly concerned” about the issues and problems, confident and sure of himself, and a good debater who can overcome his opponents with his facts, knowledge, and charm, and convince the American people he is the right person for the Presidency! Joe Biden fits that description precisely, and even his opponents in the Republican Party, including Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and many others, respect and like him personally!

No Republican Presidential candidate fits that bill, not one of them.

Neither does Hillary Clinton fully evoke that feeling, and Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley simply do not have the ability to go all the way, and Sanders has the issue that most Americans are totally ignorant of the word “Socialism” and its meaning, and that harms his candidacy!

Face it, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Dr Benjamin Carson, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina—all of these come across as mean spirited and uncaring.

Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio come across in a somewhat better fashion, as does George Pataki and Jim Gilmore, but none of them have the personality and genuine nature of Joe Biden!

We have never elected a President since World War II, with the exception of Richard Nixon, who was not likable when elected. Lyndon B. Johnson, while not that likable, was in office before he faced election, as was Harry Truman, so they are not included. But all the others, despite whatever shortcomings they had, were likable when they were elected, except for Nixon.

We want to “like” our President, and the Republican Party has a major problem with “likability”, which guarantees they will lose, even to a candidate such as Hillary Clinton, who is not seen as particularly “likable”, while Sanders, O Malley and Joe Biden are all very “likable”. But Biden stands out over O’Malley and Sanders!

Promotion Of Equal Justice: Barack Obama And Prison Reform

President Barack Obama yesterday did something no President has ever done–visit a federal prison In Oklahoma, and talk with officials and inmates who are in prison for long periods of years for nonviolent criminal offenses realted to drugs.

The fact that we have about one percent of the population in prisons, many of them for drug offenses, has become a national issue, with Republicans, such as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky joining Democrats such as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey calling for reform.

Obama is making this a national commitment to reform our entire justice system, which sees so many more African Americans and Hispanics languishing in prison, while whites are able to avoid the large percentage of drug convictions.

The War on Drugs of Richard Nixon was made more strict and harsh under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in particular, putting people with nonviolent offenses, who committed three such crimes, being sentenced to life.

Now Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders in prison for a long time, and has done close to 100 such commutations, making him the moat active President since Lyndon B. Johnson in that regard.

Equal justice is his mission, and he is well on the road to that accomplishment, through the hard work of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, following up on the excellent work in this area of former Attorney General Eric Holder!