Southwest

Speakers Of The House Of Representatives Who Sought The Presidency, And Now Paul Ryan?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is second in line for the Presidency after the Vice President under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the third such law.

The first such law, from 1792-1886, put the Speaker third in line for the Presidency, with the Vice President and the President Pro Tempore of the US Senate ahead of him, later reversed in 1947.

The second law, from 1886-1947, did not include the Speaker in the line of succession, but rather the Cabinet officers after the Vice President.

In our history, only one Speaker of the House became President, James K. Polk of Tennessee, from 1845-1849, and he proved to be one of the more significant Presidents, adding more real estate to America than anyone other than Thomas Jefferson.  This was accomplished by treaty with Great Britain over the Pacific Northwest in 1846, and by war with Mexico from 1846-1848, which added the Southwestern United States to the Union.

But seven other Speakers sought the Presidency, including the following:

Henry Clay of Kentucky sought the Presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844, and is regarded as the greatest single legislator in the history of both houses of Congress.  In 1844, we had the only Presidential election where the two opponents had both been Speaker of the House, Clay and Polk!  Clay lost his three elections to John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Polk.

John Bell of Tennessee was the Constitutional Union Party nominee for President in 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, and lost to Abraham Lincoln.

James G. Blaine of Maine was the Republican nominee for President in 1884 and lost the election to Grover Cleveland, and was also Secretary of State under three Presidents–James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and a full term under Benjamin Harrison.

Thomas Reed of Maine lost the nomination of the Republican Party in 1896 to future President William McKinley.

Champ Clark of Missouri lost the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1912 to future President Woodrow Wilson.

John Nance Garner of Texas, after being Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt for two terms from 1933-1941, lost the nomination of the Democratic Party to his boss, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940

Newt Gingrich of Georgia lost the Republican nomination for President to eventual nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

So four Speakers were nominated for President, with only Polk winning; and four other Speakers lost the nomination when they sought the Presidency.

Now we may have a ninth such Speaker seeking the Presidency, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose name is being promoted, despite Ryan’s denial of any interest in running for President.

The California Drought A Tragedy For The Nation!

Climate change and global warming is becoming a crisis for America’s economic future, and particularly in California, where one out of every eight Americans reside.

The drought going on in California is historic, and it will affect agriculture directly, but also the entire economy not just of the Golden State, but of the nation at large.

Shortages of fruits and vegetables will dramatically raise the cost of living, and these are foods that are so important for the health of all human beings.

Jobs will be lost as the parched earth of California continues to multiply, and water supplies are rapidly dwindling, and water is a basic of all sustenance.

Santa Ana winds and generally high dry heat conditions otherwise lead to massive fires that destroy much of the forested areas and threaten homes and lives.

And while the center of attention is California, the same situation affects the western half of the nation, from the Midwest to the Great Plains to the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest.

There are no easy answers as to how to address this crisis, but political stalemate on the environment insures long range damage that will harm America, its economy, and long range well being!

The False Glamor Of Secession: The “Red” States, Quebec, And Scotland

The concept of secession has become a key word in society when there are discontented people who somehow believe central government in a democracy is evil, because it will not allow them to pursue their prejudices.

So we have, more in the past than right now, the glamor of secession that has been promoted by French speaking Quebec to overcome the English influence in the rest of Canada, although Quebec would be in very poor economic shape if it did secede.

We also have the move for Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom, breaking away from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but in reality, that would impoverish Scotland.

And then we have the “Red” states, particularly those in the South, but also including the Southwest and the Great Plains, who dream of secession, mourning the failure of secession during the Civil War.

And yet, it is these “Red” states that are, by far, the poorest states in America, and get loads of benefits from the national government that they profess to hate!

It seems more the reality that these people living in the “Red” states who wish secession are purely ignorant, lack education, and have no clue as to how much they benefit from the federal government, so they are spiting themselves with their own stubbornness.

But really, what it comes down to is that they resent the inability to discriminate freely against African Americans, Latinos, women, and gays, due to federal laws and intervention by federal courts.

These states claim to be “devout” and “religious”, but actually are far from being so, as they lack all ethics and morals that true religion teaches!

These states have many people who wish the 19th century was back, when men dominated women, whites dominated over African Americans, and a small plantation elite controlled all government, much of it in the national government, until that “evil” man, Abraham Lincoln, came along and reasserted the basic teachings of the Founding Fathers, that this was a nation of freedom, liberty, and justice, even though many of the Founding Fathers practiced hypocrisy and deception themselves, but knew it was wrong! The Civil Rights Movement had begun with the end of slavery, a long, hard fought battle still being waged!

Lincoln opened up a new concept of America, and he would see leaders in the 20th century, including Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson assert federal authority in the manner of Lincoln, revolutionizing the two political parties. The Democrats would become the Republicans of the Civil War in principle, and the Republicans would become the old, prejudiced Southern Democrats, fighting against equal opportunity and justice.

Meanwhile, the people of the “Red” states became victims, who were appealed to on the basis of fundamentalist religion, which had worked against integration of the races, and wanted to keep women down in a subservient position, and worked against promotion of equality for gays and lesbians, even though they had such people in their own midst, preaching one thing and conducting their lives as the opposite, pure hypocrisy!

Once the struggling people of the “Red” states realize they have been victimized by religious and political propaganda, the Republican Party will be as dead as a doornail, as it is a party based on pure hypocrisy and lack of basic principles of the party they created 160 years ago!

America’s Underappreciated Presidents—James K. Polk, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush

With Presidents Day celebrated on Monday, this is a good time to reflect on which Presidents are underappreciated for their contributions in the White House.

Five Presidents, four of them having only one term, and three of them soundly defeated for reelection, are often overlooked in an unfair manner.

These five underappreciated Presidents are as follows, chronologically:

James K. Polk (1845-1849), Democrat—-who did not wish a second term in office, died only three months after his term of office, but accomplished more than any President, regarding expansion of the nation, as he negotiated the gaining of the Pacific Northwest with Great Britain, and went to war with Mexico to gain the Southwestern United States. Because of Polk, highly controversial due to his manipulation of conditions setting up war with Mexico, and often criticized as an “imperialist”, we gained more land than any other President, including Thomas Jefferson with his Louisiana Purchase.

Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897), Democrat—-the only two term non consecutive terms President, although winning the popular vote three consecutive times, Cleveland accomplished the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act, promoted civil service reform, and became regarded as a man of strong principles, including refusing to take over Hawaii, after a treaty was negotiated by the previous President, Benjamin Harrison. A rare President on the concept of opposing the addition of territory to the United States, he refused to go to war with Spain over the issue of Cuba in his second term, and opposed the Spanish American War and the Filipino Insurrection intervention under William McKinley, standing out as a leading anti imperialist.

William Howard Taft (1909-1913), Republican—-was unfortunate in coming in between two very charismatic Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, both of whom would end up ranked in the top ten of all Presidents, in most polls of experts on the Presidency. Taft also was the worst defeated President running for reelection, competing against both TR and Wilson, and ended up third, rather than second in defeat, and winning only 23 percent of the vote, two states, and eight electoral votes. But he deserved better, and did have the distinction of becoming Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the 1920s, where he was much happier. But Taft actually signed a highly successful regulation of the railroads, the Mann Elkins Act of 1910; won lawsuits causing the breakup of the monopolies of Standard Oil, United States Steel, and International Harvester; and supported two constitutional amendments, the 16th (Federal Income Tax) Amendment, and the 17th (Direct Election of United States Senators) Amendment.

Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Democrat—served one divisive term, defeated for reelection by Ronald Reagan, due to the Iran Hostage Crisis, high inflation and unemployment, and the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, and faced primary challenges from Ted Kennedy and Jerry Brown. But he accomplished the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt; the Panama Canal Treaty; the promotion of the principle of human rights in foreign policy; the advancement of the environment, making him the third best President on that issue; and creation of three cabinet agencies–Health and Human Services, Education, and Energy. And his post Presidency, now the longest in American history, has been a model for Bill Clinton’s post Presidency, and Carter continues to promote human rights and economic and social reform nationally and world wide, and is often considered the best former President of the United States in American history.

George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), Republican—the second worst defeated President in American history, despite having led the coalition which forced Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, lessening a threat to the Middle East oil supply and the government of Saudi Arabia, in the Persian Gulf War of 1991; being the President under whom the Cold War came to an end in a stable manner in 1991; managing the unification of Germany between 1989 and 1990 in a skillful manner; and promoting the passage of civil rights law for the disabled population of America, a major reform in American history. Bush was always considered a master in the field of foreign policy, and for years after, had an impact on policy making through his significant staff members, who continued to have an impact.

All five Presidents deserve a better coverage and appreciation, despite the fact that each could be roundly criticized for events that would cause them to be overlooked as outstanding Presidents. Presidents Day is an appropriate time to do so!

Total Poverty, Deprivation, Lack Of Safety Net For Substantial Numbers Of Americans The Reality: The “American Dream” Denied!

Despite the denial and lack of concern of many conservatives and Republicans about the tremendous maldistribution of wealth which has developed in the thirty two years since Ronald Reagan came to the Presidency, new statistics indicate just how desperate many Americans are, and how that desperation is particularly obvious in the South and in the Southwest parts of the United States.

Nearly half of US households, containing about 132 million Americans are in a dire situation, where they do not have any emergency funds for as little as three months, if a natural disaster, medical emergency or sudden unemployment occurred.

Think of the mental anguish these people go through if any of the above emergencies suddenly arise, with a feeling of no hope, and the possibility of homelessness, total destruction of personal credit, and the likelihood of becoming sick from stress itself!

Thirty percent of Americans do not have a savings account, and eight percent do not have any bank account at all.

In ten states, the poverty and hopelessness of a substantial part of the population is most evident, including in order:

Nevada
Georgia
Mississippi
Florida
Arkansas
North Carolina
Tennessee
New Mexico
Arizona
Louisiana

Notice also that only three states of these ten listed are “Blue” or Democratic (Nevada, Florida, New Mexico), while the other seven are “Red” or Republican.

With so many people in these states and others having little or no health insurance coverage, and low wage jobs predominating, and high credit card debt levels, one wonders how these unfortunate citizens cope with waking up daily, with such gloom and doom on the horizon! The “American Dream” is being denied!

Ten Other Presidential Elections That Transformed American History For Better Or Worse

In addition to what are considered the ten most important Presidential elections in American history, there are also ten other elections that transformed our history, as history would have been different had the results been the opposite of what they were.

In chronological order, these elections are as follows.

Presidential Election of 1844—If James K. Polk had not won over Henry Clay, the likelihood of gaining the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain, and gaining the Southwest by war with Mexico, together the greatest land expansion since the Louisiana Purchase under Thomas Jefferson, would have been far less likely. But also the Civil War might have been delayed without the battle over freedom or slavery in the Mexican Cession territories gained from the war.

Presidential Election of 1864—An election often ignored, if Abraham Lincoln had not won over General George McClellan, who he had fired from Union Army military leadership, the Civil War, in its late stages, might have ended differently in some form, hard to determine.

Presidential Election of 1876—If the Electoral Commission and Compromise of 1877, giving Rutherford B. Hayes victory over Samuel Tilden, had not occurred, after a disputed election result in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, there might have been civil war erupting all over again.

Presidential Election Of 1896—If William McKinley had not defeated William Jennings Bryan, there might have been no Spanish American War, no Filipino Insurrection, and no gaining of overseas colonies, as Bryan opposed the idea.

Presidential Election Of 1916—If Woodrow Wilson had not squeaked out a victory over Charles Evans Hughes, he had readied plans to hand over the Presidency to Hughes early, with the Secretary of State resigning, Hughes being named Secretary of State, the Vice President resigning, and then Wilson resigning. Wilson left behind a hand written memorandum to this effect, concerned about the transition of power as the dangers of World War I came closer to the possibility of American participation.

Presidential Election Of 1928—If Herbert Hoover had lost to Alfred E. Smith, the likelihood of a very different reaction to the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 might have led Smith to being the equivalent of Hoover’s successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his New Deal.

Presidential Election of 1968—If Hubert Humphrey had defeated Richard Nixon, it is likely that the Vietnam War would have ended earlier, and that there would not have been a Watergate scandal, and instead a continuation of the Great Society begun by Lyndon B. Johnson.

Presidential Election of 1976—If Gerald Ford had defeated Jimmy Carter, it is likely that after 12 years of Republican control and growing economic and foreign policy challenges, that the Democrats would have retaken the White House in 1980, and there would have been no Ronald Reagan Presidency.

Presidential Election Of 1992–If George H. W. Bush had not had to deal with an economic recession and the third party challenge of Ross Perot, the second highest popular percentage third party effort in US history, it is very likely that Bill Clinton would never have been President.

Presidential Election of 2000—If the popular vote recount in Florida had been continued, and the Supreme Court had not intervened to declare the election over, then Al Gore would have become President instead of George W. Bush, and there might not have been a September 11 terrorist attack, the resulting war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and likely not a tremendous growth in the national debt from $5 trillion to $10 trillion

How much history would have been different if only the results of these elections had been other than what they were!

One Term Presidencies: Seven Significant Leaders Not Appreciated

Tomorrow marks one year to the inauguration of the next President of the United States, and the question arises whether Barack Obama will become another one term President.

Historically, those who have been one term Presidents and lost re-election have tended to go down in history as “losers”, “failures”, and as “insignificant” in American history.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Consider the following cases:

John Adams–one of the most significant Founding Fathers in the Revolution and Federalist Eras, but defeated by Thomas Jefferson in the first political party struggle.

John Quincy Adams–brilliant in diplomacy before his Presidency as one of our greatest Secretaries of State, and exceptional as a Congressman for nearly 18 years after his Presidency, fighting against the evil of slavery, but losing to Andrew Jackson.

William Howard Taft–much underrated President who also served later as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but losing to Woodrow Wilson, and even ending up behind his promoter, Theodore Roosevelt, who ran on a third party line, the Progressive Party, the greatest third party performance in American history.

Herbert Hoover–acknowledged as great humanitarian as aide to Woodrow Wilson during World War I, and as Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, but paralyzed by the Great Depression and slow to react to the massive crisis it presented.

Jimmy Carter–Despite major accomplishments in office, particularly in foreign policy, lost reelection to Ronald Reagan because of the Iranian hostage crisis, but pursued commitment to fighting disease and promoted diplomacy and free elections after his Presidency, and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

George H. W. Bush–very talented as Ambassador to China, United Nations Ambassador, and head of the Central Intelligence Agency before his Presidency, but despite his victory in the Gulf War, he was defeated due to the economic recession and the third party candidacy of Ross Perot, and lost to Bill Clinton.

Another one term President who chose NOT to run for re-election, of course, had a very successful term of office. James K. Polk gained the Oregon Treaty with Great Britain, giving America the Pacific Northwest states, and waged war with Mexico, gaining California and the Southwest states. Worn out by his labors, he chose not to run, and died 103 days after retirement, the shortest retirement period of any President in American history.

So the whole concept that one term Presidents do not matter is shown to be totally incorrect.

The Flaws Of A Mitt Romney Presidential Candidacy

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has many virtues, many positives, that should make him a model candidate for the White House, including:

1. Strong business background with Bain Capital and as head of the Salt Lake City Olympics Committee for 2002.
2. Promoted a health care plan in Massachusetts which is seen as a major success by many.
3. Bright, intelligent, photogenic candidate, with great family image, including his wife and five sons.
4. Knowledgeable about economic matters, and seen as Presidential caliber in many people’s minds.
5. Has presented good body language in debates and has greater potential to appeal to moderates, Independents, and conservative Democrats.

Despite all of the above, there are a long list of flaws that will make it difficult for Romney to win the GOP nomination for President, and if he does, to win the election over President Barack Obama. Among them are :

1. Romney comes across as a chameleon, a person who is constantly over the years changing his views on many issues, seen as originally a moderate and trying to paint himself as a conservative–therefore perceived as a phony candidate, and a “flip flopper”!
2. Romney was not well liked personally by his opponents in the 2008 Presidential race, particularly John McCain and Mike Huckabee, and is not even now well liked by the Bush clan and other Establishment Republicans.
3. Romney is not well regarded by evangelical Christians, a large group in primaries and caucuses, because of his Mormon faith, and one wonders could he win the “Bible Belt” South and Great Plains, areas usually Republican. but seeing Mormons as a cult, and not Christian!
4. All through the race for the GOP nomination, despite Romney showing the best ability in polls to compete with President Obama, there has been a constant search for an alternative, whether Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, and now Chris Christie, not a sign of much feeling of emotion or passionate feelings of love for Romney.
5. Romney has shown insensitivity toward average people, by joking that he is unemployed; by talking about his Cadillacs collection; and by having a project to increase the size of his home to a mansion at a time when many are losing their own homes. Being the richest candidate in the race may give him a money edge, but he comes across as not understanding the problems of the middle class!
6. Despite his recent improved debate performances, Romney still has an image of being stiff, uncomfortable in his own skin, not totally relaxed, and not truly knowing how to deal with irate questioners at rallies, and with strong criticism. It makes one wonder would he be able to work well with Congress, whether his own party or the opposition, with so little political experience, only one term as Governor, and thinking his lack of a career in politics is a plus, which it really is not!
7. Romney’s ability to get people out to vote for him is doubtful, since he does not evoke strong feelings of support, and his poll numbers are still seen as very soft.
8. Romney’s attempt to steer clear of the Tea Party Movement makes one wonder if he could ever work well with fellow Republicans, who in many cases would be much further to the right politically than he would feel comfortable being himself, once in office.
9. Can a candidate from the Northeast, the stronghold of Barack Obama, have any opportunity to defeat him in any scenario that would add up to 270 electoral votes? That seems highly doubtful, as in many ways, Romney comes across as somewhat distant in the same way as two past Massachusetts Democrats who ran for President had trouble overcoming–Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004. Those two who lost to father and son Bush did not face a man with the charisma and emotional feelings of support that Barack Obama has had, and even in bad times, still has to some extent today!
10. By coming out hard line against immigration reform that allows illegal immigrants and their children a path to citizenship, Romney, like other Republicans, is losing the future, as Hispanic population and voter participation is growing in the Southwest and across the nation, and they are not likely to throw support to a candidate who demeans them and treats them as not deserving of respect and empathy for their futures in America!

There are probably other points that could be made, but it is clear that Mitt Romney has major flaws in so many ways that his candidacy for President is going to require a lot of luck and good fortune for him to end up in the Oval Office!