Monopolies

Transformative Presidents In Domestic Affairs: Impact On American Democracy!

With Presidents Day coming up on Monday, it is a good time to reflect on which Presidents were transformative in domestic policy making.

The list of Presidents who made a real difference in domestic affairs would include the following, chronologically:

George Washington—under whom a National Bank and protective tariff, promoted by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, were adopted, having a long range effect on America’s growth.

Thomas Jefferson—under whom recognition of the wisdom of Alexander Hamilton’s economic policies was recognized.

Abraham Lincoln—under whom a promotion of the transcontinental railroad, adoption of the Homestead Act providing free land for settlers, revival of a centralized banking system, and the enactment of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, occurred.

Theodore Roosevelt—under whom conservation of natural resources became a major policy, the first regulation of meat, food and drugs took place, the first intervention in labor disputes without an anti labor attitude evolved, and first anti trust law suits succeeded in breaking up monopolies.

Woodrow Wilson—who accomplished the most domestic reforms until his time, including labor laws, agricultural credit legislation, the Federal Reserve being created, and the first regulatory commission for big business (the Federal Trade Commission) was created.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—under whom the New Deal transformed America domestically with a myriad of programs, including labor laws, Social Security, agricultural aid, and public works programs, with anti trust law suits being pursued.

Lyndon B. Johnson—under whom the Great Society programs, including ideas of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy not accomplished in their terms in the Presidency, were passed into law, including civil rights, education, Medicare, the War on Poverty, and numerous other programs, including consumer and environmental legislation, the most change since the New Deal.

Richard Nixon—under whom the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety Health Administration, and Affirmative Action were passed into law.

Barack Obama—under whom a national health care law was passed, the most significant legislation since the 1960s.

Other Presidents who had an impact, to a lesser extent, include:

Grover Cleveland
William Howard Taft
Harry Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Jimmy Carter
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush

Robert Bork, Controversial And Rejected Supreme Court Nominee, Dead: Brings Back Memories And Reflections On Effect On Supreme Court

Twenty five years ago, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork, former Solicitor General and Acting Attorney General under President Richard Nixon, as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His death was announced today by his son.

Bork had become controversial for firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate Scandal, as ordered by President Nixon. But he also became controversial for the judicial viewpoint known as “originalism”, which contended that judges and Justices should always interpret the Constitution solely on the basis of what the Founding Fathers enunciated in the 18th century, and not consider changing times in their decisions.

This alarmed progressives, liberals, labor supporters, African Americans, women, environmentalists, and others who saw him as a threat to progress on race and gender, and also on privacy rights, including abortion and contraceptives, of which he vehemently was on record as an opponent of such rights not contained in the original Constitution. Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden became major critics, and his nomination became a massive controversy, and made it that future Supreme Court nominees would be examined with a “fine tooth comb”, making them less willing to be as forthcoming as Bork was in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Bork also believed in no limitation on police rights, and thought evolution should not be taught in public schools as fact, therefore promoting fundamentalist religion as part of the curriculum of schools. He was confrontational in his approach, giving as good as he received in the pursuing debate. He displayed no problem with the growth of monopolies, and had no interest in the rights of gay men and women.

After a bitter battle, he was rejected, and this affected the future Court, as Anthony Kennedy became the new appointee the following year, and now after almost 25 years on the Court, has become in recent years the “swing” vote on many cases, therefore having a major impact on constitutional law.

Do not forget that Kennedy’s vote on Gay Privacy rights, in Lawrence V. Texas in 2003, transformed the gay rights movement, and it is thought likely that his vote will call for the allowance of gay marriage when the cases presently before the Court come up for consideration in March, and decision in June!

There is no way that Robert Bork would have been a “swing” vote on the Court, and might very well have been MORE conservative and right wing than either Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas have turned out to be, so it was a great moment when Bork, with his radical right agenda, wishing to turn back the decisions of the Earl Warren and Warren Burger Courts that expanded individual rights from the 1950s through the 1980s, was soundly rejected!

Two Republicans Not In Tune With Party Direction: Jeb Bush And John McCain!

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain have complained about the direction of the Republican Party in the past few days.

Bush, certainly a conservative, has questioned the rightward tilt of the party, saying it is a party that his dad, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, would have a problem recognizing, and a problem also being nominated by the present GOP.

McCain has been highly critical of the wild spending by billionaires, such as Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers, and the former author of the McCain Feingold law that tried to limit campaign finance, made it clear that he disagreed with the Citizen United decision of the Supreme Court, and believed corporations were not people, a line that Mitt Romney has used in his campaign speeches.

The best thing that could happen is the walloping of the Tea Party Movement and its mentality in the upcoming elections, but there is no guarantee that such will happen, and therefore, there is concern that democracy will decline, with McCain referring to Theodore Roosevelt’s attack on monopolies in big business a century ago, an action totally reversed by the right wing Supreme Court two years ago.

One can long for the “good old days” of a reasonable Republican Party, and wonder if what Jeb Bush and John McCain advocate will ever return to American politics!