Lyndon B. Johnson

The Desperate Need For Infrastructure Spending: The Collapse Of America’s Public Works

SIXTY MINUTES on CBS last night drew attention to the desperate need for infrastructure spending, as we are on the brink of the collapse of America’s public works, most of it done in the 1930s to 1960s, but horribly ignored for the past 20 years in particular.

Bridges, tunnels, highways, seaports, airports are in such disrepair that we cannot compete economically with much of the Western world.

We seem unable to realize that not only are lives at danger, but the whole economic system is at risk if a major highway or bridge collapses, making it impossible for millions of people to reach work by automobile, and to have the ability to do the normal every day activities that fuel our economic growth.

We committed to public works projects in the time of the New Deal and Franklin D. Roosevelt; to interstate highway development under Dwight D. Eisenhower; and to all kinds of other projects during the booming economy of the 1960s under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

But in the past 20 years, mostly under GOP Congressional control, we have lost the vision and the recognition of the dire need for investment, and for commitment to rebuilt our infrastructure.

This is ironic, since the two single greatest public works projects in American history were the Transcontinental Railroad under Republican Abraham Lincoln; and the interstate highway system’s inception under Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But then, the Republican Party of the last two decades, and even more right now, is a skeleton of its old self, and the nation is the ultimate loser!

Barack Obama: Who Is Our 44th President?

The attacks on Barack Obama, our 44th President, have reached a point of being totally ridiculous and preposterous in so many ways!

Critics say Obama is a Muslim, even though he never attended services at a mosque, and has called himself a Christian. Meanwhile, he has had America war against terrorist Muslims, and has used drones and troops to kill more Muslims than George W. Bush, including Osama Bin Laden!

Critics say Obama is a weak President, who has been unwilling to confront Vladamir Putin and defend Ukraine, while George W. Bush did not confront Putin on military action in Georgia in 2008; Lyndon B. Johnson did not confront the old Soviet Union on military action in Czechoslovakia in 1968; and Dwight D. Eisenhower did not confront the old Soviet Union on military action in Hungary in 1956.

Critics say that Obama is an “Emperor” or “King” because of action on immigration reform, but this is the same President they have said is “weak”, and when Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and all of the other Republican and Democratic Presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower took action on immigration, none of them were called “Emperor” or “King”. So Obama is a “weak” President who is also an “Emperor” or “King”?

Critics say Obama is a Socialist, but Obama accepted the Newt Gingrich–Bob Dole–Heritage Foundation–Mitt Romney concept of health care, when he pushed for “ObamaCare”, which gives private insurance companies full control over health care when many Democrats and liberals and progressives really want “Medicare for all”.

Critics say Obama is anti capitalist, but Obama has tied himself to Wall Street much more than many Democrats and liberals and progressives wish he had, and the stock market is at an all time high, up about 250 percent from when he came in.

Critics say Obama is adding more to the national debt than anyone, forgetting he came in at the lowest point in 75 years, and that much of the new debt was an outgrowth of the disastrous George W. Bush economic policies that would have added the same to the national debt if John McCain and Mitt Romney had been elected President.

Critics say that Obama refused to work with the opposition party, but NO President EVER had such obstructionism as Barack Obama has had, and Republican Presidents, in particular, have found that opposition Democrats, while challenging them, NEVER promoted total lack of cooperation as the extremist right wing Republicans, led by the Tea Party Movement, have done over the past six years. Despite that, Obama has presided over a long list of accomplishments.

Critics blame Obama for the loss of seats in Congress in midterm elections, when ALL Presidents have faced that, except Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. Harry Truman in 1946, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, Bill Clinton in 1994, George W. Bush in 2006, and now, Barack Obama in 2014, have seen the opposition party gain control of both houses of Congress. Also, FDR in 1938, Truman in 1950, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, John F. Kennedy in 1962, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, Richard Nixon in 1970, Gerald Ford in 1974, Jimmy Carter in 1978, Ronald Reagan in 1982, George H. W. Bush in 1990, and Barack Obama in 2010 lost seats, and in the case of Obama, control of the House of Representatives.

These are just eight ways in which the critics of Obama are manipulating the truth and the facts, and despite all these attacks, Barack Obama stands tall and will look much better in history than his critics wish to concede!

Media Distortion Of Presidential Approval Ratings Undermine Obama And Democrats In Midterm Elections!

The news media has done a terrible job in reporting and analyzing Presidential approval ratings of Barack Obama.

We constantly hear that Obama has very low approval ratings, when the present approval rating is 43 percent.

Of course, 53 percent say they disapprove of the President’s performance, which is not a good thing for the administration.

But what the media do not tell us is that even with his all time low rating a few months ago of 39 percent approval, the facts are that Barack Obama has the highest rating for lowest approval of any President since John F. Kennedy!

With all of the attacks on Obama that have come, incessantly, from conservatives and the Republican Party, Obama’s 39 percent low rating ever in office can be compared to the following lowest ratings of other Presidents:

George W. Bush 19
Harry Truman 22
Richard M. Nixon 23
Jimmy Carter 28
George H. W. Bush 29
Lyndon B. Johnson 35
Ronald Reagan 35
Bill Clinton 36
Gerald Ford 37

Only Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower had higher lowest approval ratings of 48 and John F. Kennedy had 56.

Additionally, Richard Nixon with 67, Ronald Reagan with 68, Bill Clinton with 73, Gerald Ford with 74, and Jimmy Carter with 75, all had lower highest approval ratings than Obama with 76. The other Presidents since FDR had higher highest approval ratings, with Dwight D. Eisenhower with 79, John F. Kennedy with 80, Lyndon B. Johnson also with 80, Franklin D. Roosevelt with 84, Harry Truman with 87, George H. W. Bush with 89, and George W. Bush with 92.

So the purposeful negative portrayal of Obama’s lowest approval rating has contributed to the negativism that the Democrats face, and may, very well, undermine the Democrats two days from now in the midterm elections.

The Coming War On The 17th Amendment By Conservatives!

The right wing in America has a planned strategy to conduct war on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, one of the greatest of all amendments added since the first ten were enacted as the Bill of Rights!

The 17th Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1913, came as the outgrowth of the Progressive Era, and occurred at its peak, the vigorous campaign for progressive reform promoted by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the Presidential Election of 1912. It was also endorsed by the incumbent President, William Howard Taft, who had elements of progressivism in him despite his general reputation as a conservative, which led to his disastrous third place finish in 1912, despite being the Republican nominee.

The 17th Amendment developed in reaction to “muckraker” David Graham Phillips’ path breaking non fiction exposure, “THE TREASON OF THE SENATE”, which demonstrated the corruption of the US Senate, and its leading figure, Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, and led to direct popular election of the US Senate from 1913 onward.

One could argue that even with popular vote, the US Senate often disappoints us, and there are Senators who are an embarrassment and a disgrace to that legislative body.

But now, conservatives are promoting the idea of the repeal of the 17th Amendment, returning us to the method in the Constitution adopted in 1787, to have the often corrupt state legislatures choose the Senators, and deny the population the popular vote involvement in selecting the members of the upper body of Congress.

The theory has developed that all the laws passed to promote political, social and economic reform since 1913, including the massive reforms of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and all other Presidents might be repealed as illegitimate if the Senate method of election returned to the pre 1913 system.

This is an alarming development, and joined with the desire to get rid of the 16th Amendment (federal income tax) and the 19th Amendment (woman suffrage), all of these “Progressive” amendments, could, if enacted take us back to the 19th century Gilded Age!

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.

Why Joe Biden Will Run For President!

Vice President Joe Biden is often ridiculed by critics for his verbal gaffes, but Joe Biden is the real article!

Joe Biden has a wealth of experience, 44 years in government by 2016, and NO ONE matches that!

Joe Biden gets along well with Congress, and is, in many ways, similar to Lyndon B. Johnson in ability to get things done, including for Barack Obama. At the same time, he is NOT the gross individual that LBJ often demonstrated, much more classy on a personal level.

Joe Biden is charming, charismatic, and well liked personally, all of which LBJ was not! He knows how to communicate to the American people, and to get people to listen and notice!

Joe Biden is dynamic as a speaker, still looks handsome in his early 70s, and is so correct in many of his judgments about foreign policy, and except for Hillary Clinton and Jon Huntsman, no one else has the credentials in world affairs.

Joe Biden is sincere, genuine, and real, and how many politicians are that?

Joe Biden is, clearly, running for President, and his rousing speech on Labor Day shows that, as he is the man of labor, the man of the common man, the average guy who goes to work every day and just wants a leader who gives a damn about him and his aspirations!

Joe Biden has been raising money quietly, and visiting states and garnering support from people who know he is the man who has always been there for them.

His odds, if Hillary Clinton decides, ultimately, to run are long, but Joe Biden has never been afraid of a challenge, as when he had an aneurysm in 1987, that might have killed a less courageous man.

And if Hillary surprises us and does not run, Joe Biden will be the front runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, and while others might challenge him, do not bet on him losing, if that scenario occurs.

Joe Biden has been underrated for years, but he is someone that you ignore at your own peril, as he is always in the forefront on domestic and foreign policy issues!

And one scenario that would unify the Democrats, even those who have doubts about Hillary Clinton, due to her connections to Wall Street, and her “hawkish” views on foreign policy, is to run Joe Biden for an unprecedented third term as Vice President!

Now that would be some dynamite team, Hillary and Joe together, and it would be unbeatable against any Republican opponent in 2016, even though that opponent, almost certainly, would be quite a bit younger than Hillary and Joe! But the experience of Hillary and Joe are unmatchable!