Lyndon B. Johnson

President Warren G. Harding Love Letters Revealed After Nearly A Century!

This author and blogger has taught at the college level now for 42 plus years, and one of his favorite discussions was of the Presidency of Warren G Harding (1921-1923), generally acknowledged as the worst President of the 20th century, and close to the bottom of all Presidents on any ranking, sharing that with James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce.

Harding is not remembered for very much, but he was the President who appointed former President William Howard Taft to be Chief Justice; pardoned Socialist leader Eugene Debs from prison; had his Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, who had been the Republican Presidential nominee in 1916 against Woodrow Wilson, negotiate the Washington Naval Conference that promoted naval disarmament; established the first federal child welfare program; supported the idea of an eight hour work day; advocated an anti lynching bill to protect African Americans; and created the Bureau of the Budget.

He also had the greatest popular vote victory for a first term President in American history, and the percentage of the vote was only later surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon after already residing in the White House!

Despite these accomplishments, Harding is best remembered for the scandals of his administration in the Justice Department, the Interior Department, and the Veterans Bureau (all of these generally known as the Teapot Dome scandals); and also, even more notably his sexual liaisons in and out of the White House years, most notably with Nan Britton, with whom he had an illegitimate daughter; and with Carrie Phillips, who he shared love letters discovered in the 1960s, but banned from revelation and publication at that time to avoid embarrassment.

Well, now those love letters, originally held by the Ohio Historical Society, are opened to scholars and journalists, and are the most extensive set of love letters ever discovered about any President! Much of it is x rated, and a bit shocking to many, as he describes his private parts as “Jerry”, and is extremely descriptive in his sexual language.

So one of the stories I told my students, that they would have to wait decades to learn about in detail, is open and available, revealed this week at the Library of Congress!

It will bring more attention to the 29th President, but is unlikely to raise him from the basement of rankings of Presidents of the United States!

Tea Party And Republican House Want Radical Changes In Medicare And Social Security!

Leave it to the Republican Party, and particularly its Tea Party extremists, to propose, as part of the House of Representatives budget proposals, to raise the eligibility age for future retirees for Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Presently, one must be 65 to gain Medicare, and the proposal is to raise it to 67!

Presently, one must be 67 to gain Social Security full benefits for future retirees, and the proposal is to raise it to 70!

This is pure right wing radicalism, by a party which overwhelmingly, in its past, opposed both Medicare in the 1960s and Social Security in the 1930s, when they were first made law!

These two programs are the most popular social programs, brought to America by the Democratic Party under Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and have had a lot to do with the growth of the middle class and a sense of security for the elderly!

Instead of raising the Medicare tax slightly, and raising the limit on Social Security to at least $250,000 income, instead of $117,000, insuring the viability of these programs long term, instead the GOP wishes to make life harder for those nearing retirement age, forcing many to work longer years full time, rather than having some time to enjoy life and take life easier after decades of toil, many of them often working at low wages, exploited by corporations and employers in general, who have an anti labor attitude!

This is an issue for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond, that under no circumstances will there be a radical change in Medicare and Social Security allowed, because of the greed, selfishness, and lack of concern for the average American by the elite upper class that votes Republican, and victimizes the rest of the population!

Expansion Of Executive Orders Of FDR, Ike, LBJ On Prevention Of Job Discrimination Under Federal Contracts Now Expanded To LGBT Community By President Obama!

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to do what Congress has failed to do, but needed doing!

In the tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, Obama is expanding the concept of Presidential action to prevent job discrimination under federal contracts with corporations, which originally covered race and ethnicity, then became one of gender, and now will cover workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender!

This is the moral and ethical thing to do, as no one should be fired because of his or her sexual orientation, any more than for race, ethnicity, or gender!

It cannot apply to all workers under the executive order, as only Congress could do that, and that seems unlikely, but it can cover workers employed under federal contracts.

So this is another in the long line of contributions that Barack Obama has made to ending of discrimination by government against its own population.

Assuredly, it will infuriate the Right, and there will be further discussion of possible impeachment, but that will all go for naught, as impeachment, even if it occurs, and it might, will NOT lead to Obama being forced out of office.

And again, a reminder! If it were to happen, we get Joe Biden, and that would be a great alternative, and insure a Biden victory in 2016!

Presidents And Intelligence

A YouGov Survey on the past eight elected Presidents, therefore not including Gerald Ford, ranks their “intelligence” with unusual results.

The word “intelligent” has different meanings to different people.

Is it based on grades while in school?

Is it based on ability to get things done effectively?

Is it based on oratorical skill and charm and charisma?

Is it based on accomplishments in office?

Is it based on personal popularity with the American people?

Is it based on reaction to crises that arise?

Does being “intelligent” matter as much as other characteristics, including: honesty, experience, ability to inspire, boldness, and having a sense of humor?

What it comes down to is that how people react to Presidents is very personal, and trying to rank them on the word “intelligence” is simply extremely political in nature!

According to the YouGov poll, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most “intelligent” of the eight recent Presidents, followed by Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Notice that the first two are also seen as most “successful”, while Obama, even under attack recently, looks better than the rest, and the senior Bush is remembered for the Persian Gulf War, which led him to an all time high public opinion poll rating of 91 percent.

The other four recent Presidents, generally seen as “failures”, or at least seen as negative, are in order: Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George W. Bush.

Interestingly, George W, Bush and Barack Obama have the highest percentage, both 17 percent, thinking they are not intelligent at all! This is purely emotion based on opposition that each has had from his critics!

What it comes down to is that this poll is basically useless, as it fails to look at historical reality and the record of each President!

If that was done, one could argue that LBJ should rank the highest in pure accomplishment in domestic affairs, in a way that still affects us, while Richard Nixon would rank highest in pure accomplishment in foreign policy, despite his many other shortcomings, including Watergate.

In pure native intelligence, based on information we have on their backgrounds, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter would rank the highest.

Ronald Reagan has been over inflated in image, while George H. W. Bush has been underrated for his accomplishments.

Barack Obama cannot be adequately evaluated while in office, while George W. Bush, ranking last, seems likely to remain that way for the long run!

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!

50th Anniversary Of Civil Rights Act: Most Significant Law Since Social Security In 1935!

Today is a day to celebrate, as it is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of Lyndon B. Johnson, the most significant single law passed since Social Security under Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935!

The Civil Rights Act has had a massive impact on American society, just as the Social Security Act has had.

And yet, there are those who would love to repeal the Civil Rights Act, as well as those who would love to repeal the Social Security Act.

There are those who hate the idea that African Americans and others are treated equally under the law, and would wish for the return of Jim Crow segregation, just as there are those who hate the “welfare state” represented by the Social Security Act!

The battle for human dignity continues unabated, as the right wing will never give up trying to make America return to the Gilded Age mentality, before workers were given any rights; before immigrants started to have some respect; before women acquired equal rights to vote; before African Americans gained their right to racial equality; and now as gays and lesbians strive to gain total equality and freedom as much as straight people!

This is a moment to applaud Lyndon B. Johnson for the great deeds he accomplished in civil rights and voting rights, and at a time when the reactionary Supreme Court has started to backtrack on the Voting Rights Act, showing a true ignorance of history!

And finally, in the future, in 2060, the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of ObamaCare, the most significant single piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act and the Social Security Act, and Barack Obama will be given the proper respect and admiration that he might never receive in his lifetime!

Democratic Presidents Come Out Fighting Against Republican Obstructionism!

The history of American politics is one of Republican obstructionism to Democratic Presidents, and five Democrats in the White House coming out swinging against their opponents, going to the people to gain their backing.

Such was the case with Franklin D. Roosevelt in the midterm Congressional elections of 1934 and the Presidential Election of 1936!

Such was the case with Harry Truman in the Presidential Election of 1948, where he gained the name “Give Them Hell Harry.”

Such was the case with Lyndon B. Johnson in the Presidential Election of 1964 against Senator Barry Goldwater!

Such was the case with Bill Clinton in the Presidential Election of 1996, despite the GOP Congress of 1995-1996.

Such was the case with Barack Obama in the Presidential Election of 2012, and now Obama has come out fighting again, making clear that he will not allow Republican obstructionism to prevent his use of executive orders to accomplish as many of his goals as possible, without legislative action!

This is all to the good, and hopefully, he can rally independents and Democrats to come out and vote, to keep the Republicans from gaining control of the US Senate, and maybe narrow the Democratic deficit, or win control of the House of Representatives!

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!