State Department

Donald Trump And Afghanistan: No More Interest In Reform, Only Killing, A Prescription For Disaster!

Donald Trump’s speech on Afghanistan last night was what this blogger expected: Trump the warmonger, a complete switch from his “isolationist” stand during his Presidential campaign.

It was very predictable, as again, Donald Trump proved to be what he has always been best at being, a massive liar and manipulator of the truth!

The man who was a draft dodger, on the basis of bone spurs in the 1960s, and said his “Vietnam” was avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) with women at that time of his life, now has become a war President, and is allowing his overly dominant military administration to “charge on” in Afghanistan, after 16 years, the most of any American war, and inability to resolve the matter.

Afghanistan caused the loss of Alexander the Great in ancient times; of the British Empire in the 19th century; and of the Soviet Union from 1979-1989.

It is a “hell hole” with no end, and already 2,400 Americans have died in that war, and the war has also cost an estimate of between $841 billion to $2 trillion dollars, a massive waste of money that has undermined the nation! And over 20,000 men and women have been wounded, many of them seriously, and mental issues have arisen among many of these veterans, and many others who were not physically harmed.

And to top it off, Trump has indicated there is no interest in trying to make life better for Afghan civilians, but rather just to kill terrorists!

That is a prescription for endless, constant war, and bitterness, and continued growth of terrorism for decades on end!

The Taliban control an estimated 35-60 percent of the nation, and opium production in the major province that produces the drug is 80 percent under their control.

The Afghan mentality is that you kill their relatives, for generations after, the goal will be revenge, so a war is unwinnable.

And Trump seems to be stirring up trouble with neighbor Pakistan, a Muslim nation with nuclear weapons, with his hostile rhetoric.

It seems as if Trump has decided to be a warmonger–continuing in Afghanistan, while fighting ISIL (ISIS), and stirring up China with threats of trade wars, while trying to deal with North Korea, without starting a new Korean War or using nuclear weapons on Kim Jong Un; and threatening to break the Iranian nuclear agreement; and also suggesting action in Venezuela; as well as trying to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Syria, and Iraq.

All that Trump seems to be able to do is make money all of the time, while promoting American imperialism overseas, insuring engagement in more wars, and spending taxpayer money to glorify himself as a “tough guy” in international affairs, while avoiding diplomacy, and cutting the State Department budget by up to 40 percent, including NOT having many ambassadorial positions filled or even nominated after seven months in office!

Trump is a true proponent of unregulated capitalism and American militarism, precisely what has led to so much turmoil and suffering caused by the top few percent of the population who worship Wall Street and the Pentagon as the answer to all problems in America.

Meanwhile, the white and minority working class become the cannon fodder for Trump’s egotism and narcissism, as he continues to divide America, and has no concern about the tremendous damage he is causing, creating an atmosphere of civil anger and disrespect that has split America like no time since the 1960s, and in many ways, worse than that decade 50 years ago!

Massive Cuts In State Department, Transportation Security Administration, Environmental Protection Agency Proposed

The Trump Administration is calling for massive cuts in the budgets of the State Department, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others government departments.

To cut the State Department when our foreign relations are in such flux makes no sense, and endangers our national security.

To cut the TSA, when the emphasis has been on trying to prevent terrorism in our airports and on our airlines, seems totally suicidal, particularly for an administration emphasizing the issue by having a travel ban on six Muslim nations.

To cut the EPA endangers cleanup of our air and water, and undermines our ability to deal with the reality of climate change and global warming.

It all seems to be part of White House Adviser Stephen Bannon’s desire “to deconstruct the administrative state”, all of the government agencies and programs created since the time of Theodore Roosevelt through the Presidency of Barack Obama.

To many, it would seem to be promoting total chaos and anarchy in a dangerous world.

Is Donald Trump Machiavellian, As He Meets With Critics And Opponents And Ignores Many Loyal Supporters? Trying To Figure Out Trump!

Donald Trump is inscrutable, hard to figure out, as he meets with critics and opponents, such as Mitt Romney and Al Gore, and ignores many loyal supporters, including Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie. He seems to be a true Machiavellian.

The latter two went to bat for Trump, and are now being pushed aside. At the same time, Romney is being courted, and Trump has such good things to say about him, although the dangling of the State Department is continuing into a third week.

Meeting Al Gore, after daughter Ivanka had a meeting with the former Vice President, was a surprise, and Gore had good things to say about Trump, and yet, then Trump hires a climate denier, Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General, to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

Who is the real Donald Trump is anyone’s guess, but he is having loads of fun as all sorts of people are coming to Trump Tower and kissing his ring.

But the signs are clear that Trump, no matter who else he appoints, is going to be a revolutionary figure of the Right, cooperating much more than we might have thought before the campaign’s end, with the Republican leadership in Congress!

A Businessman Knows How To Run A Government Successfully? The Case Of Herbert Hoover As A Rejoinder To Donald Trump!

Donald Trump loves to say that his business experience qualifies him to be President. But his business experience has mostly been failures and bankruptcies, and he inherited money from his father, which gave him an unfair advantage, compared to 99 percent of Americans, and he set out to take advantage of every legal trick and method of manipulation to enrich himself at the expense of others, including often not paying his bills.

We have had only one businessman, Herbert Hoover, as President, and he became a total disaster after he was elected in 1928. But he was not born to wealth, was orphaned before age 10,and accomplished his great business career with his own efforts and intellect, and became a multimillionaire in the mining industry by age 40, and then devoted himself to public service.

But the difference between Trump and Hoover is that Hoover served many years in government, working for Democrat Woodrow Wilson, and Republicans Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover, before he ran for President.

He had never been elected to anything, but he had been an extremely successful and outstanding figure in the First World War effort, and served eight significant years as Secretary of Commerce. Hoover stands out as one of the small group of really exceptional cabinet officers, which usually includes other agencies, such as the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, and the Defense Department as the major areas where notable cabinet members serve a President.

Unfortunately, he had no ability to overcome the Great Depression that began in October 1929, as he was tied to a laissez faire political philosophy, and did not know how to gain backing in Congress. He was also a poor communicator, who was unable to inspire the American people with his public speeches and radio addresses. Hoover’s personality was very introverted, and he did not inspire confidence. So his business background failed him when it mattered, as President of the United States.

One can be sure that if Hoover was alive today, he would be shocked and stunned at a con artist, Donald Trump, who has had four bankruptcies, and has no understanding of government or world affairs, would have the gall to think he was qualified to lead America in the 21st century.

Death Of A President: Warren G. Harding, August 2, 1923

On this day, 92 years ago, the 29th President of the United States, Warren G. Harding, died in San Francisco, on his way back from a tour of Alaska, and taking time away from the White House, which was besieged by scandals erupting around him, causing him to be depressed and despairing from the political pressures.

Harding had never been all that interested in running, but his wife, Florence, had ambitions for him, and Republican establishment leaders of the time saw him as someone ideal in place of the image of a crusading, reform President, as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had been perceived.

Harding is best remembered for the scandals that erupted around him, generally known as the Teapot Dome Scandals, including the indictments of Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall; Attorney General Harry Daugherty; and Veterans Bureau administrator Charles Forbes, plus the later revelations of his love life before and during the White House years.

For those reasons, Harding is rated the worst President of the 20th century, and near the bottom of all Presidents in scholarly rankings.

Yet, Harding had appointed former President William Howard Taft to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Herbert Hoover to be Secretary of Commerce; and Charles Evans Hughes to be Secretary of State. Looking back, he had appointed a former President; a future President; and a Presidential nominee who lost to Woodrow Wilson in 1916. All three had a major impact on their institutions, and Hughes presided over the Washington Naval Conference and naval disarmament, an accomplishment that makes him one of the greatest Secretaries of State in American history.

Also, Harding had been responsible for the creation of the Bureau of the Budget, the first national agency to promote a national budget; and had given a pardon to Eugene Debs, the Socialist party leader imprisoned for his opposition to America’s involvement in the First World War. He had also spoken out against lynchings of African Americans in the South and Midwest, a growing phenomenon, which he strongly deplored.

His sudden death shocked the nation, and he was mourned as a popular President, until the scandals started to emerge.

The debate about his death from a cerebral hemorrhage has been to promote conspiracy theories about a coverup, that possibly Harding had committed suicide due to the scandals erupting around him, and the thought that his wife might have known about the sexual liaisons Harding had, and murdered him, and supposedly the Secret Service covered it up. But there is no basis for either of these rumors. It was known that he had gained weight and was having medical issues, well hidden at the time of his passing.

The fact that the casket was not open at his funeral, and that his wife burned a lot of documents in the year after his death until her own death in 1924, adds suspicions about Harding.

The irony is that Harding is most interesting in regards to the scandals erupting under him, the most since Ulysses S. Grant and the most until Richard Nixon; for his love life; and for the rumors about his death, not for anything else that occurred, including what has been mentioned above.

Is Al Gore Or John Kerry Viable As A Presidential Candidate In 2016? The History Of Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, And Richard Nixon!

Speculation has risen not only that Vice President Joe Biden might announce for President, but also that former Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State John Kerry, both who lost the Presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively, might decide to try for the White House yet again.

Although Hillary Clinton seems to many like a shoo-in for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, there are signs of discontent with her, and feelings among many that she is too secretive, not trustworthy, and not all that likable.

The odds are still heavily in favor of her nomination, but there are many who feel Biden, and possibly Gore and or Kerry, should consider running, as it is felt that Bernie Sanders, while performing well right now in regards to crowds and fund raising, ultimately cannot be expected to win the nomination, with his Socialist connections being harmful, due to many Americans misunderstanding the term, and being told it is harmful and dangerous.

But the question arises about Gore and Kerry, that they have both been out of the Presidential game for a very long time, with Gore out 16 years and having no public office since his loss in 2000, despite having won the popular vote over George W. Bush; and Kerry, having served in the Senate after his defeat, until he became Secretary of State after Hillary Clinton left the State Department in 2013, but being out of the Presidential race for 12 years by 2016.

So history is a guide here.

It turns out four Presidential candidates had been out of the Presidential field for very long times, as follows:

Henry Clay lost the Presidential race in 1824, and then 8 years later in 1832, he was nominated again. Then 12 years later, in 1844, he was nominated for the third and last time. Twelve years is a long time!

Abraham Lincoln last held public office in 1848, when he left the House of Representatives after one 2 year term. But then, 12 years later, he ran for President and won!

Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for Vice President in 1920 and lost, and then was sidelined by polio, not running again for public office until 8 years later, when he won the Governorship of New York in 1928. Four years later, and 12 years after losing the Vice Presidency, he won the Presidency in 1932!

Finally, Richard Nixon lost the Presidency in 1960 and lost, then ran for California Governor in 1962 and lost, and yet came back 6 years later, after 8 years out of office, and yet won the Presidential Election of 1968!

Are Al Gore and John Kerry as long shots as Clay, Lincoln, FDR, and Nixon were?

That is the issue to confront, and this author would say that while both of them seem “long shots”, we have had other “long shots”, who few thought had a chance to win the Presidency, and in recent times yet—John F. Kennedy (Catholic issue) in 1960; Jimmy Carter (Southern issue) in 1976; Bill Clinton (Sex Scandal issue) in 1992; and Barack Obama (Race issue) in 2008!

So literally, anything is possible in American Presidential politics!

What Beau Biden’s Death Shows About Joe Biden And The American People

The tragic and tormenting death of Beau Biden, the older son of Vice President Joe Biden, of a brain tumor at age 46, was not the first time that a President or Vice President has experienced the death of a family member while in office.

Presidents, including Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy had also had the death of children while in office.

Presidents, including John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, and Woodrow Wilson had wives die while in office.

But Beau Biden, while not a child, had come to be highly respected as Delaware Attorney General, and serving in the Army National Guard during the Iraq War.

Beau Biden resembled his dad in appearance, and in many ways, in his zeal to serve in public life.

Beau Biden gained the emotional support of many Delaware citizens and anyone else he touched in his public life, as well as people he knew in his private life.

The public response to his death, with the potential for his future lost forever, hit many Americans very hard, including this author, who thought of the tragic death of others in public service in their 40s, all of whom were much more consequential than Biden was. The names of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Alexander Hamilton crossed his mind.

The question that arose is why this shock and deep mourning occurred, and the author came to the conclusion that a lot of the reaction was due not only to the good nature and great public service of Beau Biden, but the widespread love and emotional attachment of millions of Americans to Vice President Joe Biden himself.

Joe Biden is in his 43rd year of public service, and it is not only this author, but millions of others who love him, who respect him, who admire his sincerity, genuine nature, true concern and desire to do good deeds for his fellow Americans.

Joe Biden is a very rare public servant, and that is why there are still millions who hope he runs for President, knowing the odds are against him to win the nomination, were he to challenge his close friend and fellow member of the Obama Administration, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Those of us who love and admire Joe Biden know he would make a great President, but that he is one of many good people, past and present, who cannot, likely, be elected President of the United States, a distinguished list.

Instead, it now seems likely that Joe Biden will end his 44 years of public service in January 2017, with the total admiration and respect of millions. The loss of his beloved son, Beau, and his own sense that it might be wise to give his family time to share the rest of his time on earth at age 74, have certainly sobered any desire to fight for the White House.

In a sense, Joe Biden saw the eulogies and deep mourning that he will gain when, at some day in the future, he leaves us. The death of Beau Biden gave us that dress rehearsal!

The Democrats Need A Competitive Presidential Race: Don’t Put All Eggs In One Basket!

Hillary Clinton may end up as the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2016, and has the theoretical edge to defeat any Republican opponent!

But there is a need for a competitive race, as it would make Hillary a stronger candidate and nominee, to have to defend and enunciate her views on her record and on the future!

And since Hillary had a health issue, there is always a chance that a health crisis could arise, and if there is no opponent in the Democratic Party, that could lead to the Democrats throwing way the Presidency if something went wrong, which is unpredictable, so there is a need for a backup plan and for opponents in the Presidential race.

The new revelations about the Clinton Foundation, and questions about Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State, also make Clinton a more controversial candidate, who needs a closer look before the Democrats give their soul to her!

It does now seem that former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley; former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee; former Virginia Senator Jim Webb; and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will soon make it a multi candidate race, and even Vice President Joe Biden may yet decide to enter the race.

All of this is all to the long term good of the Democratic Party and the nation, no matter what the eventual results might be!

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!

Secretary Of State: More Prominent Public Figures Historically Than Presidency!

The Secretary of State serves at the will of the President of the United States, and its ranks have included future Presidents; Presidential candidates who were Secretary of State and later lose the Presidency; Presidential losers who then become Secretary of State; and Presidential contenders who do not get nominated for President, but later become Secretary of State. The Secretary of State also is often a great public figure who becomes notable for his background, without having sought the Presidency. Witness the following:

Presidents who were Secretary of State—Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan

Presidential candidates who were Secretary of State and later lose the Presidency—Henry Clay, James G. Blaine

Presidential Losers who then become Secretary of State—Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Lewis Cass, James G. Blaine, William Jennings Bryan, Charles Evans Hughes, John Kerry

Presidential contenders who do not get nominated for President, but later become Secretary of State—John C. Calhoun, William Seward, Edmund Muskie, Hillary Clinton.

Great public figures notable for their background, without having sought the Presidency, but become Secretary of State—John Marshall, Edward Everett, Hamilton Fish, William Evarts, Richard Olney, John Sherman, John Hay, Elihu Root, Robert Lansing, Frank Kellogg, Henry Stimson, Cordell Hull, James F. Byrnes, George C. Marshall, Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance, George P. Shultz, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice.

So 42 of the 68 people who have served as Secretary of State are prominent in American history, while some of our 43 Presidents have NOT been notable in their careers or in their Presidency!