Ronald Reagan

The Uncertainties Of American Politics: Envisioning Donald Trump As Possible President!

Some observers are starting to wonder whether billionaire celebrity Donald Trump could actually be elected President of the United States!

It would seem to be impossible, a crazy idea!

And yet, when one looks at history, one has to consider the following:

In 1911, who would have thought that a recently elected Governor of New Jersey, and former Princeton University President, named Woodrow Wilson, would become President in the Presidential election of 1912?

In 1959, who would have thought that a mediocre Senator of Catholic religion, named John F. Kennedy, would overcome his faith and become President in the Presidential election of 1960?

In 1967, who would have thought that a losing Presidential candidate in 1960 and losing gubernatorial candidate in California in 1962, named Richard Nixon, would overcome his losses and bad press and become President in the Presidential election of 1968?

In 1975, who would have thought that an obscure one term Governor of Georgia, who many ridiculed, named Jimmy Carter, would overcome his obscurity and Southern heritage, to become the first elected Southerner to the Presidency in the Presidential election of 1976, since Zachary Taylor in 1848?

In 1979, who would have thought an aging actor, who had already tried twice for the Presidency, named Ronald Reagan, would overcome disadvantages to become President in the Presidential election of 1980?

In 1991, who would have thought the governor of a small Southern state, Arkansas, named Bill Clinton, would overcome a sex scandal that had destroyed Gary Hart in 1987, and go on to become President in the Presidential election of 1992?

And in 2007, who would have thought that a mixed race African American with the strange name of Barack Hussein Obama, would overcome Hillary Clinton, and go on to become President in the Presidential election of 2008?

So who is to say that Donald Trump cannot overcome obstacles and go on to become the 45th President of the United States in the Presidential election of 2016?

The Five Worst, Most Dangerous Republican Presidential Candidates!

The Republican Party is offering us a disgraceful group of candidates for the Presidency, with most of them being an embarrassment to the glorious history of the party historically!

The Republican Party was the party of the Civil War and the end of slavery!

The Republican Party was the party, originally, of progressivism in the early 20th century!

The Republican Party was the party of moderate centrism, under Dwight D. Eisenhower, and offered many governors and senators who were moderate centrists or moderate progressives, in the image of Nelson Rockefeller, in the years after Ike was in the White House!

But since the time of Ronald Reagan, the Republican party has moved so far to the Right and been captured by Christian conservatives and Tea Party extremists, who have moved the party out of the mainstream. The party has allowed itself to be influenced by Fox News Channel and talk show hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and Laura Ingraham!

So we have a group of candidates, some of which can be seen as the worst, most dangerous candidates imaginable!

We would include in the list of five worst, most dangerous Republican Presidential candidates the following:

Donald Trump
Ted Cruz
Mike Huckabee
Scott Walker
Rick Santorum

Any of these five would be especially threatening to the nation’s future, both in domestic and foreign policy! Luckily, only Walker, at this point, seems a real threat, but Trump is taking all of the oxygen out of the room with his divisive candidacy, including personal insults against all of his opponents.

In so doing, he is insuring a Republican party loss by a massive landslide in the Presidential Election of 2016!

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!

The Top Ten Transformational Presidents

The issue of “transformational” Presidents has revived lately, as it is clear that we are living through a “transformational” Presidency of Barack Obama, with still a year and a half to go in his tenure in the Oval Office.

With all of the controversy that surrounds Barack Obama, there is no doubt now that Obama has been a transformational President in so many ways.

So the question arises, who among our Presidents has been “transformational”? And in what order would Presidents on this list be ranked?

It seems clear that the top of the list would have to be George Washington, for having established standards and traditions that would be long lasting; and Abraham Lincoln, for keeping the Union together during the Civil War, and ending slavery.

Following Washington and Lincoln would be Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took America through the Great Depression and the Second World War, and changed the relationship of the federal government with the population of the nation, promoting a safety net that would help those most needy. He also created a large federal government that would never become smaller again, due to the Great Depression and the Second World War, and then the Cold War.

Once we go beyond Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, ranking gets much more difficult, but this author thinks the rest of the top ten would be as follows from number four to number ten:

Theodore Roosevelt, who would revive the Presidential office from slumber and use the “bully pulpit” to accomplish reform and federal government regulation of the economy, and started America’s role in world affairs.

Lyndon B. Johnson, who would promote the passage of massive reforms, including civil rights laws, Medicare, and a War on Poverty.

Woodrow Wilson, who would promote major reforms domestically and involvement in world affairs, taking America out of isolationism as a policy during the First World War.

Ronald Reagan, who changed the direction of the nation to Conservatism after a half century of Liberalism, and negotiated arms agreements with the Soviet Union, and helped to bring down the rival super power.

Barack Obama, who brought about health care coverage for most Americans; avoided a massive war; promoted social change in many areas; presided over a major revival of the economy only matched by FDR; and became a major environmental supporter.

Harry Truman, who responded to the Cold War with the Soviet Union in an effective way and determined the direction of foreign policy for a half century, and institutionalized the New Deal of FDR.

James K. Polk, who accomplished the great expansion of American territory by treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, creating the continental United States.

Notice that Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton do NOT make this list!

Commentary on this analysis is welcomed!

Presidents And Difficult Diplomacy: TR, FDR, Truman, JFK, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama

Presidents have to deal with recalcitrant nations in diplomacy, including nations that are our adversaries.

The key is to promote agreements, with the ability to verify and hold nations accountable, under international agreement. It is not an issue of trust, as many nations see other nations as rivals, but rather the ability to come to agreements with the understanding that violations can lead to a confrontational situation if they are not kept.

Presidents have regularly taken bold steps in diplomacy with other nations, whereby they suffered from strong criticism as being naive and weak, but history tells us they actually demonstrated courage and principle, that international agreements could be upheld if both sides wish to avoid military confrontation.

So we have President Theodore Roosevelt negotiating agreements with a newly ambitious Japan after the Russo-Japanese War.

So we have President Franklin D. Roosevelt deciding to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union after 16 years of non recognition.

So we have President Harry Truman deciding to recognize Israel, and in so doing, alienating Arab nations in the Middle East.

So we have President John F. Kennedy agreeing to the Nuclear Best Ban Treaty in 1963 with the Soviet Union, and it is still in effect today. This came after the Cuban Missile Crisis, which many believed the result would not be obeyed by the Soviet Union, but they did precisely what was required under the settlement.

So we have President Richard Nixon, who made arms limitation agreements (SALT I) with the Soviet Union, and opened the door to contacts with the People’s Republic of China, both moves that are now hailed, although criticized at the time.

SO we have President Jimmy Carter accomplishing something no one would have believed, an agreement between Israel and Egypt, and mutual recognition, in what became known as the Camp David Accords. Additionally, Carter decided to recognize the Communist government in China as being China, rather than Taiwan.

So we have President Ronald Reagan, after calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, negotiate arms agreements with Mikhail Gorbachev.

So we have President Bill Clinton bringing about peace between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, an event that seemed impossible of achievement, known as the Good Friday Agreements of 1998. He also established diplomatic relations with Vietnam, a generation after the end of the divisive war in Vietnam was lost.

So now we have President Barack Obama negotiating an agreement to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons, with five other nations engaged in the process, and to prevent war, while guaranteeing the security of Israel and Arab nations. Like all the others, it is a gamble, as no one can be sure of Iran’s ultimate actions, but it has worked out in all of the other cases. He also has established diplomatic relations with the government of Fidel and Raul Castro in Cuba.

And yet, nothing is a panacea, as Russia and China still present a challenge, but progress was made to avoid war, and that is happening again now, with the understanding that if the agreement is broken, war is always an ultimate alternative!

Proper Republican Strategy: Attack Donald Trump Or Ignore Him? Neither Will Help GOP Brand!

The Republican Party is in deep trouble, as Donald Trump has now emerged in first place in some public opinion polls, passing Jeb Bush, and leaving everyone else far behind.

This brings up the issue: What is the proper Republican strategy to deal with Trump, attack him or ignore him?

In reality, neither will help the GOP brand!

If the decision is to attack him, Trump will be infuriated, and will strike back and set out to destroy the GOP totally. He will bluster and bloviate, and will have the means to form an independent movement or third party.

If the Republicans choose NOT to attack and, therefore, to ignore him, they will be complicit in his racist and nativist viewpoints, which many of them actually agree with.

No political party can succeed now or in the future which sets out to demonize ethnic minorities, because, like it or not, the nation is becoming more diverse, and will be minority majority within three decades, counting Hispanic and Latino Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans.

There is no way to bring back, even if people wished it, a mostly white Anglo America, as that is not going to happen.

The rapidly aging white Anglo population is dying off, and the nation and the Republican Party MUST face reality.

But is that likely to happen for 2016?

The answer is NO, and therefore, the GOP is rapidly becoming a dinosaur, and trying to make voting more difficult will require more effort to overcome such restrictions through the courts and through political action to register voters and meet the onerous requirements that some Republican governed states have put on the elderly, the poor, college students, and racial minorities in a purposeful manner.

And with a Democratic President, a likely Democratic Senate, and a possible Democratic House of Representatives, the Republicans will be marginalized further. And a Democratic President will have the ability to insure that the Supreme Court and lower federal courts move to the left, and overcome the conservative influence of Ronald Reagan, and the two Presidents Bush.

Once constitutional law goes back to the Warren Court image of the 1950s through the 1970s, the country will have been transformed in a way that the Republicans will never recover, until they abandon the far right image they have developed over recent years. Only then will the Tea Party influence finally dissolve and disappear!

Jimmy Carter: The Most Underrated, Unappreciated President Since World War II!

Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary today, a year and a half shorter in duration then George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s marriage, the two longest in Presidential history!

Both George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have reached the magic age of 90, with Bush 91 on June 8, and Carter to be 91 on October 1.

It is a blessing that both are still with us, but it would seem as if Jimmy Carter is likely to outlive Bush, based on health conditions right now.

Bush is being, properly, appreciated in his 90s, but Carter remains the most underrated, unappreciated President since World War II.

The critics, mostly Republicans, conservatives, and right wing supporters of Israel’s often extremist government, are always on the attack, and this blogger has heard from audience members when he gives lectures, that Jimmy Carter is an anti Semite, which is farthest from the truth!

Jimmy Carter could be said to be anti Israel’s government, when it has been right wing extremist, as for instance, it is now under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But people forget how he managed to bring about the only enduring moment in the Middle East since World War II–the Camp David Accords—which brought together former warriors and enemies, Anwar Sadat of Eyypt and Menachim Begin of Israel, despite their being far apart on the issues of Middle East peace.

This is the most impressive and enduring moment of the Carter Presidency, and is not fully appreciated for what it was and is, even today! And Carter is most certainly NOT an anti Semite, and there are many Jews in America who are not pro Israel automatically when the government there is right wing extremist as it is now!

Carter also brought about the Panama Canal Treaty, an historic event; promoted Human Rights, a fundamental principle of this man of high morality, who would eventually win the Nobel Peace Prize; and worked to free the hostages in Iran peacefully, as frustrating as that was, rather than bomb Iran and see all 52 Americans killed in response, the likely result had he gone “hawkish”.

If the attempted rescue in April 1980 had worked out, it is likely that Jimmy Carter would have had a second term, and Ronald Reagan would be a footnote in history!

Carter also became the third best environmental President in American history, after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon; promoted free elections, human rights, democracy all over the world through the Carter Center; condemned violence against women and mistreatment of the poor around the world; emphasized the spreading of health care and education to the deprived parts of the world; and even condemned the most extreme right elements of his own Baptist faith.

He became the most activist former President in American history, and has survived longer after his time in office than any President, now going on 34.5 years on July 20. And his Vice President, Walter Mondale, survives at 87.5 years of age, making them the longest lasting Presidential-Vice Presidential team ever in American history!

Jimmy Carter is not perfect, in or out of office, but he is a very decent man, well meaning, brilliant in intellect, and the author of 27 books, including his new book, released today, entitled: “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety”, a worthwhile read!

It is clear that only when he passes from the scene, like Harry Truman, will he come to be appreciated for the great man and human being he is, always trying to do his best, but humble enough to be willing to concede his shortcomings, much of which he expresses in this new book!

The Odd, Unusual History Of Democratic Presidential Contenders For 2016

It is not well known or recognized, but it is reality that more than half of the Democratic Presidential contenders for 2016 were actually NOT always identified as Democrats.

We have Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the most successful Independent and Socialist in Congress in American history! He has allied with the Democrats in caucuses for years, but only finally declared himself a Democrat when he announced his candidacy for President.

We have Lincoln Chafee, who is the son of a former Republican Senator, John Chafee, who was also a Richard Nixon cabinet member as Secretary of the Navy in the 1970s; succeeded his father in the Senate as a Republican; then became an Independent when he ran for Governor of Rhode Island; and only in 2013 switched his loyalties to the Democratic Party.

We have newly announced former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, who switched from Republican to Democrat before running for the Senate in 2006, but was a Ronald Reagan cabinet member as Secretary of the Navy in the 1980s, just as John Chafee was more than a decade earlier.

And then we have Hillary Clinton, who as a high school student was a supporter of Republican Barry Goldwater for President in 1964, although she never registered as a Republican!

Only Martin O’Malley of Maryland and likely future candidate Joe Biden have an “unblemished” record as Democrats throughout their lives!

The 10 Worst, Most Disastrous Supreme Court Justices Since 1900

The Supreme Court has had 58 of its 112 members since 1900, with 9 of them being Chief Justices, and 4 of those also having earlier served as Associate Justices.

It is more fun to discuss the greatest Supreme Court Justices since 1900, as done in an earlier blog post, but here are the 10 worst, most disastrous Supreme Court Justices, listed chronologically,

Willis Van Devanter
James Clark McReynolds
George Sutherland
Pierce Butler
Fred M. Vinson
Tom C. Clark
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Samuel Alito

The first four are known as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, united against the New Deal, and causing Franklin D. Roosevelt to become engaged in the controversial Court Packing Plan of 1937. Van Devanter was appointed by William Howard Taft; McReynolds by Woodrow Wilson; and Sutherland and Butler by Warren G. Harding.

Vinson and Clark were appointed by Harry Truman, with judicial appointments one area that Truman was rated as poor in selection, despite other areas of strength in his Presidency.

Powell was selected by Richard Nixon; Scalia by Ronald Reagan; Thomas by George H. W. Bush; and Alito by George W. Bush.

Powell wrote a memorandum that had a long range influence, promoting the development of right wing think tanks, and forecasting the eventual Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010, granting corporations and wealthy individuals the right to engage in politics without any financial limitations. He saw those who wished to regulate business as dangers to unregulated capitalism, and argued for aggressive actions against any regulatory power by governments at all levels. This memorandum was sent before Powell was appointed to the Supreme Court, and was not generally known about until recent years, after his death.

So 3 of the 10 worst Justices were selected by Democrats, and the other 7 by Republicans, a total of 8 Presidents involved in these terrible selections.

The 15 Greatest Supreme Court Justices Since 1900

The Supreme Court has become more controversial than ever in recent years, and the decisions of the John Roberts Court in 2015 only added fuel to the fire, regarding who the greatest and worst Supreme Court Justices have been in American history.

We have had 112 Supreme Court Justices, and 17 Chief Justices, including 5 who served as Associate Justice as well.

58 Justices have served since 1900, with a few selected before that date but serving into the 20th century. This includes 9 Chief Justices, including four who had served as Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.

If one had to select the top 15 Supreme Court Justices since 1900, without ranking them specifically, but instead creating a list chronologically, they would be listed as follows:

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Charles Evans Hughes
Louis Brandeis
Harlan Fiske Stone
Benjamin Cardozo
Hugo Black
Felix Frankfurter
William O. Douglas
Earl Warren
William J. Brennan, Jr.
Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun
John Paul Stevens
Sandra Day O’Connor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Note that 9 of these 15 Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Republicans—Holmes by Theodore Roosevelt; Hughes by William Howard Taft and then elevated to Chief Justice by Herbert Hoover; Stone by Calvin Coolidge; Cardozo by Herbert Hoover; Warren and Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Blackmun by Richard Nixon; Stevens by Gerald Ford; and O’Connor by Ronald Reagan.

Democratic Presidents chose the following: Brandeis by Woodrow Wilson; Black, Frankfurter and Douglas by Franklin D. Roosevelt; Stone elevated to Chief Justice by FDR; Marshall by Lyndon B. Johnson; and Ginsburg by Bill Clinton.