Theodore Roosevelt

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute For The United States Senate Opens Today!

A wonderful event takes place today, March 30, 2015!

The opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute For The United States Senate today on the University of Massachusetts, Boston campus, adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, will bring many distinguished political leaders, along with President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, together to celebrate the life and career of one of the greatest US Senators in American history.

But it will also celebrate the great institution of the US Senate, and will encourage knowledge and scholarly research on the most fascinating legislative body ever created by free men and women!

Tourists and scholars will love the exhibits, and the full scale replica of the US Senate chamber, as well as the exhibits and documents on the life and career of Ted Kennedy, who served the fourth longest period of time in the history of that body, about 46 years and nine months duration.

Few Senators have had the impact on the Senate and the nation of the brother of the 35th President of the United States, and the nation’s most outstanding Attorney General. It is arguable that Ted Kennedy had the significance that few other Senators have had, and almost on the level of a Presidency!

Ted Kennedy devoted his life to the betterment of average Americans, despite his great wealth, and in that regard, he can be compared to two “aristocratic” Presidents of another family name—Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Promoting study of the US Senate will enrich all of us, and this is definitely on the list for this blogger to make another vacation trip, with the express purpose of spending time in this great new museum!

Third Parties Or Independent Candidates For President In 2016? A Waste Of Time And Effort!

It seems clear that many Americans are disgusted with the two party system, as they see the Democrats and the Republicans as “owned” by Wall Street and the billionaires.

So therefore, there are calls for a third party or independent movement, but it is unlikely to happen in any serious way, and certainly, will have little or no effect on who wins the Presidency.

But if any effect, it would lead to those who are discontented discovering that by voting for a third party or independent candidate, they have helped to elect the worse choice of the two major party nominees!

In American history, twice there has been a serious third party or independent nominee who has helped to defeat a sitting President or a popular vote winner and promoted the election of a candidate seen by many who voted for the third party as far less desirable.

Only Theodore Roosevelt in 1912; and Ralph Nader in 2000 are seen as having any real impact on the election results, helping to lead to the election of Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush. William Howard Taft lost his Presidency due to the third party candidacy of TR; and Al Gore lost the chance to be President because of the third party candidacy of Ralph Nader.

Looking ahead to 2016, there is no prominent personality planning to run on a third party. Those who have said they would not run include: former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman; former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; and environmentalist Ralph Nader. These individuals have a certain appeal to many Americans, but they well recognize they have no chance to win, and could only mess up the election by running, as NO third party or independent has EVER been elected President, with only Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 making a really respectable performance as candidate of the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, winning 6 states nationwide, 27.5 percent of the popular vote and ending up second rather than third, and gaining 88 electoral votes!

Civil Liberties And The Presidency: From John Adams To Barack Obama

When it comes to the issue of the Presidency and the Bill of Rights, many Presidents have scored at an alarmingly low rate, often despite many other virtues that these Presidents have possessed.

John Adams set a terrible standard when he signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

Andrew Jackson forcibly decreed the removal of five Native American tribes (The Trail Of Tears) from their ancestral lands and relocation in Oklahoma, supposedly forever, but with the discovery of oil in Tulsa, the territory was opened to whites in 1889, and reservation life became the norm.

John Tyler, through negotiation to add Texas to the Union, and accepting its institution of slavery, helped to create the slavery expansion issue as one which would divide the nation and lead to Civil War, and Tyler was part of the Confederate government and gave up his American citizenship.

James K. Polk further promoted the expansion of slavery through war with Mexico, and had no issue with slavery anywhere and everywhere.

Millard Fillmore, signing the Compromise of 1850, allowed the South to pursue fugitive slaves in the North.

Franklin Pierce, signing the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854, made the expansion of slavery develop into the Kansas Civil War, which led to the Civil War.

James Buchanan endorsed the Dred Scott Decision, which allowed expansion of slavery everywhere in the nation, if a slave owner chose to move to the North with his slaves.

Abraham Lincoln suppressed press freedom; allowed preventive detention; and imposed a military draft that one could escape only by paying a fee that only wealthy people could afford.

Andrew Johnson wanted to restrict the rights of African Americans after the Civil War, and was an open racist, much more than anyone.

Grover Cleveland promoted the reservation life and adaptation to white culture for Native Americans through his signing of the Dawes Act in 1887.

Theodore Roosevelt spoke and wrote often about superior and inferior races, seeing only intellectual accomplishment and military strength as the basis to admire individuals of other races, but believing in white supremacy and the “Anglo Saxon” race.

Woodrow Wilson backed restrictions on citizens during World War I, and presided over the Red Scare under Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer after the war, as well as showing racist tendencies toward African Americans and Japan. He signed the Sedition Act of 1918, and issued an executive order segregating African Americans in Washington, DC.

Franklin D. Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans under executive order during World War II, and did little to deal with the racial problem in the South.

Richard Nixon arranged for bugging and wiretapping of his “enemies”; arranged break ins and “dirty tricks”; and became engaged in obstruction of justice and abuse of power, leading to moves toward impeachment and his eventual resignation from the Presidency, due to the Watergate Scandal.

Ronald Reagan cut back on civil rights enforcement, and showed insensitivity on the issue of apartheid in South Africa.

George W. Bush pushed through the Patriot Act, and the government engaged in constant civil liberties violations as part of the War on Terror.

Barack Obama also promoted violations of civil liberties, as part of the continued threat of international terrorism.

So 17 Presidents, at the least, have undermined our civil liberties and civil rights, often overlapping.

Vice President Joe Biden: What Are You Waiting For? Time To Enter The Presidential Race Now!

With the questions arising over the viability of Hillary Clinton, it is time for Vice President Joe Biden, who has desired to be President now for the past 28 years, to put his “hat in the ring”, as Theodore Roosevelt called it when he announced his Presidential candidacy in 1912.

Joe Biden is one of the most colorful, charismatic, dynamic political figures to arise in a long time. He is more experienced than ANY Presidential candidate in the past, having served 36 years in the United States Senate, and eight years as Vice President by the end of 2016, a total of 44 years, unmatched by any President or nominee in American history.

Joe Biden has been at the center of American history since 1972, when he was elected, days before his 30th birthday, and overcame the personal tragedy of the loss of his wife and daughter in a horrific auto crash just weeks after his victory.

Joe Biden was a leading voice in the Senate on all kinds of issues that are important–civil rights, women’s rights, labor rights, the environment, and as Vice President on gay rights and gay marriage. He has also risen to chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate, and despite what Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has said, Joe Biden has been correct on most foreign policy issues, including his suggestion in 2003 that Iraq should be divided into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish sections, so obviously true that Iraq was the false creation that has been a nightmare since after World War I.

Joe Biden is the most genuine, real, authentic person in American politics, and one can feel he is a “regular guy”, a man who was the “poorest” in the Senate, only having his home, his salary and his wife’s salary as a professor as his assets, and truly not being a millionaire many times over, as most members of Congress are.

Yes, Joe Biden has faults and shortcomings, but who does not among us, and particularly among politicians?

Yes, he plagiarized a term paper one time in law school. Yes, he once copied wording of a speech of a British politician. Yes, he acts goofy at times with some of his public utterances, and at times of swearing in of Senators to their new terms of office. And yes, he has been sometimes too “touchy feely” with wives or daughters of other officials, something a bit weird, but he has never been accused or associated with any inappropriate liaisons with other women, and is very dedicated to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who has been a great Second Lady! He has never been accused of drunkenness or illegal drug use.

But he is so engaging and charming even when he blunders. Joe Biden does not have an evil bone in his body, and has never been personally nasty to anyone, and is even well liked by Republican opposition leaders, who feel they can work with him even when they seem to detest President Obama.

Joe Biden has been a very loyal and active Vice President, who has added to the office tremendously, and been invaluable in his advice , and he is a great emissary to Capitol Hill, a kinder, gentler version of Lyndon B. Johnson. He has been a tremendous asset to the President and the nation over the past six years, and has restored the dignity of the Vice Presidency after the decline in reputation and likability and trust and respect under the previous Vice President, Dick Cheney.

Joe Biden would bring excitement to the race with his oratory, and would know how to give the Republican Party “hell”, as Harry Truman did seven decades ago. And yet, he would still gain the respect of his opponents which he still has today in 2015 after 42 plus years in American politics, and how many other public figures can say that? And he made mincemeat of Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan in debates for the Vice Presidency in 2008 and 2012, and was one of the best debaters in the 2008 Democratic Party primary debates.

Yes, Joe Biden will be 74 right after Election Day in 2016, but Ronald Reagan was older in his second term, and there is no age limit in the Presidency constitutionally, and many of the other potential candidates will be around the same age, or in their 70s during the next Presidential term. Age is just a number, particularly, with someone as energetic and engaged as Joe Biden is.

If Joe Biden was our 45th President, America would be better for it, and Joe Biden would do his best in dedicating very minute of his time and every bone in his body to the advancement of America to a better position both in domestic policy and in foreign relations.

It Is Time For Other Democrats To Start Presidential Campaigns!

It has been a foregone conclusion to many political observers that former First Lady, former New York Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to announce for President, and based on polls, is a runaway winner of the nomination, and likely to be our first woman President, and to be our 45th President of the United States!

It has never been a good omen that other Democrats have been reluctant to challenge Hillary Clinton, and are, seemingly, afraid to “test the waters” and announce their own candidacies.

Never in American history, except often when a sitting President or sitting Vice President is running for President, have we seen so many potential party challengers in either party simply stay on the sidelines, and of course, there have been challenges to sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents that make them sharper and insure they are better candidates. Such cases as Richard Nixon in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, George H. W. Bush in 1988, and Al Gore in 2000 have run better races because of challengers. Presidents such as Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush have had to work harder to gain a nomination for the next term, and they all failed to be elected, but this was part of the political game.

So why anyone, including Hillary Clinton, should expect to have no rivals, is outlandish, and not good for the Democratic Party or democracy.

And frankly, after Hillary Clinton’s poor, unacceptable explanation on her emails on Tuesday, refusing to hand over the server of her email, eliminating thousands of emails by her own decision claiming privacy rights, and basically taking a hard stand on the whole matter, there is a clear cut reason for challengers to her nomination for President. Hillary Clinton has opened up a major wound in her candidacy, and it will not go away, and now it seems highly likely she is a flawed candidate in a major way, and is not anywhere near insured that she could carry enough states and electoral votes to become our 45th President.

The Democratic Party and the nation NEED challengers, instead of putting all their “eggs in one basket”, gambling that Hillary Clinton will be able to overcome the old Clinton image of the 1990s, of cover ups, of deceptions, of victimization claims, of stalling tactics, of creating legal issues, that so soured many people about the Bill Clinton Presidency.

Yes, Hillary is brilliant, and qualified, and talented, and intelligent, but she is not the only man or woman who is such, but to put the future of the Democratic Party in her hands is a tremendous gamble, and the country needs a Democratic President more than they need Hillary Clinton herself!

Added to her stubbornness and secrecy about the emails is her stated refusal to return contributions to the Clinton Foundation from leaders and citizens of nations, many in the Middle East, who abuse women and deny them equal rights, a subject Hillary Clinton is well known for advocating since her time as First Lady, attending the conference in Beijing, China in 1995, and speaking up for equality and fairness for women around the globe. But now, suddenly, that issue is on the back burner, and the millions in contributions are more important, and that shows that, having become wealthy, and having tons of money in the foundation as well, that Hillary Clinton has lost her sense of values and principles, and just wants to be President, because she wants to be President, as Ted Kennedy wanted to be President in 1980, when he challenged President Jimmy Carter, but had no real agenda other than wanting to occupy the Oval Office!

Hillary Clinton is not entitled to be President, any more than any other candidate, but for the good future of the party and the American people, it is time for other Democrats to come out of the woodwork and declare their candidacies, and fight hard for the nomination, and save the American people from a horrific set of alternatives for President in the Republican Party.

At this point, Hillary Clinton could take down the Democratic Party and the nation, crashing in defeat, and as a result, leading to a GOP Supreme Court that would last for the next 30 years; and a repeal of much of the good programs of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and beyond!

We could see the good work done in domestic affairs by Presidents of both parties, including Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, destroyed by a right wing Congress, a right wing President, and a right wing Supreme Court.

We could also see the “neoncons” being triumphant, and taking us into more foreign wars, particularly in the Middle East, and leading to the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of American men and women, sent to fight by a burgeoning defense industry that would make record war profits!

And we might see the end of any sense of what is right and wrong about women’s rights, minority group rights, gay rights, labor rights, and environmental rights.

The nation’s future is more important than what happens to Hillary Clinton, as she has had a stellar career in so many ways, but that does not mean that she is automatically entitled to become our next Commander in Chief!

And if the next President is not a woman, so what? That will come in time, but should not be the crucial factor in selecting the next President of the United States!

So, Democratic Presidential “wannabes”, come out of the shadow, show courage, and announce for the Presidency, as time is afleeting!

The Shame Of Alabama, The Republican Party And the Supreme Court On The 50th Anniversary Of The Selma To Montgomery March!

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965.

On this significant anniversary, three things are clear.

Alabama has NOT shed its image of bigotry!

The Republican Party, many of whose members supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is not sending anyone to commemorate this event. Late news reports indicate that former President George W. Bush and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are to show up, but few other Republicans, and none other than McCarthy in the leadership of the GOP.

And the Supreme Court has contributed to the withering away of the Voting Rights Act by its 2013 decision permitting new voting rights restrictions!

Not only is racial discrimination still very obvious in Alabama and much of the South, but now Alabama is the center of a so called states rights struggle over gay marriage, with the state Supreme Court, headed by George Wallace like Chief Justice Roy Moore ordering that gay marriage be stopped, after a federal judge ordered it go forward, and with the Supreme Court poised to consider the case, which will be decided by June.

So prejudice, discrimination, and the false argument of states rights still reigns in the original home of the Confederate government!

And for the GOP to bypass major representation at this premier civil rights anniversary is to the shame of the party of Lincoln, TR, and Ike!

And for the Supreme Court and African American Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Chief Justice John Roberts to promote a weakening of the Voting Rights Act two years ago, and see what it has wrought on voter suppression, is to the shame of the top Court of the land, which has not done its job to uphold the Constitution of the United States!

The Smartest Presidents Based On Intellect, Not Success!

Being smart, being intelligent, being brilliant is something that in no way guarantees success, but can be noticed for what it is, and we have had our share of Presidents who have been among the brightest public figures we have been blessed with.

Chronologically, this select list would include:

John Adams (1797-1801)
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
James Madison (1809-1817)
John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
James A. Garfield (1881)
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Notice that only three or four of these Presidents are seen as having been successful, including Jefferson, Roosevelt, Wilson and Clinton.

Notice that Hoover, Nixon, and Carter are seen by many as failures or certainly as being in the bottom half of the Presidents.

The two Adamses and Madison are saved by their other massive accomplishments, so are rated in the second ten of our Presidents by most historians.

Garfield, considered the most brilliant between the second Adams and TR is the great unknown, being shot after four months in office and dying after six and a half months in office, but believed to be brilliant and an unknown factor as to his potential for greatness.

Notice that George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy, all rated very high in rankings of Presidents, do not qualify on intellect or pure brilliance, and yet some, particularly Lincoln, FDR, and Kennedy have long been highly honored and respected, despite not fitting the definition of being part of the most brilliant intellects we have had in the Presidency!

March 4th: A Day Which Will Live In Presidential History!

March 4th is an historic day, the day every fourth year was the Presidential inauguration date through the inauguration of 1933, and then superseded by the 20th Amendment, which changed the inauguration ceremonies every fourth year to January 20, beginning in 1937.

So March 4, 1789, was the inception of our Constitution, but George Washington was not present in New York City, and was not to arrive until April 30, 57 days late, therefore making his two terms in office short of eight years, being approximately two months less than that!

March 4, 1801, was the inauguration of our first opposition president, with Thomas Jefferson succeeding his election rival, John Adams, who he had served as Vice President, and the beginning of peaceful transition from an “in’ party to an “out” party.

March 4, 1829, was the inauguration of the “people’s President”, Andrew Jackson, who represented the voice of the “common man” of the times.

March 4, 1861, was the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln to his first term, in the midst of a crisis that soon led to the Civil War.

March 4, 1865, was the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, about a month before the Civil War ended, and this was the greatest inauguration speech yet devised. And today marks exactly 150 years since that fantastic speech of reconciliation.

March 4, 1905, was the inauguration to an elected term of Theodore Roosevelt, who had succeeded the assassinated William McKinley, and was the first Vice President succeeding to the Presidency who was elected to his own term, and had the greatest popular vote percentage in election history up to that date.

March 4, 1913, was the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, who would accomplish more domestic reform in his first term than any President before him, and only surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson after him.

March 4, 1933, saw the last inauguration on that date, and it was the coming to power of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the worst days of the Great Depression, and his inauguration speech was the greatest since Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in 1865.

American Presidents And Wealth Estimates In 2015!

An update on the net worth of America’s Presidents, their total wealth at time of death, or for the living Presidents, what it is as of 2015, including inflation as a factor, reveals the following:

John F. Kennedy was the wealthiest President, worth within the range of $125 million to possibly $1 billion!

Due to this uncertain range, George Washington might be the wealthiest at $525 million.

The other Presidents over $100 million in net worth are:

Thomas Jefferson $212 million

Theodore Roosevelt $125 million

Andrew Jackson $119 million

James Madison $101 million

Five Presidents over $50 million up to $98 million include:

Lyndon B. Johnson $98 million

Herbert Hoover $75 million

Franklin D. Roosevelt $60 million

Bill Clinton $55 million

John Tyler $51 million

The next six Presidents are worth between $20 million and $27 million, as follows:

James Monroe $27 million

Martin Van Buren $26 million

Grover Cleveland $25 million

George H. W. Bush $23 million

John Quincy Adams $21 million

George W. Bush $20 million

The next five Presidents are worth $10 million to $19 million, as follows:

John Adams $19 million

Richard Nixon $15 million

Ronald Reagan $13 million

Barack Obama $12 million

James K. Polk $10 million

The next ten Presidents are worth between $2 million and $8 million, as follows:

Dwight D. Eisenhower $8 million

Gerald Ford $7 million

Jimmy Carter $7 million

Zachary Taylor $6 million

William Henry Harrison $5 million

Benjamin Harrison $5 million

Millard Fillmore $4 million

Rutherford Hayes $3 million

William Howard Taft $3 million

Franklin Pierce $2 million

The remaining 11 Presidents are worth between under $1 million up to less than $2 million, in the following order:

William McKinley

Warren G. Harding

James Buchanan onward are each worth less than $1 million downward, with Truman the poorest.

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

James A. Garfield

Chester Alan Arthur

Woodrow Wilson

Calvin Coolidge

Harry Truman

Many of the early Presidents were landowners and slave owners, and were, therefore, extremely wealthy.

The Presidents of the middle and late 19th century were mostly quite poor, including those who were military generals.

Presidents since 1929 have been generally much wealthier in most cases.

Many Presidents in modern times have become wealthy through speeches and writings.

Bill Clinton has the potential to become of the wealthiest Presidents in American history as time goes by, and more so, if his wife, Hillary Clinton, becomes President! The long term potential for Barack Obama is also for great wealth over his lifetime, leaving office at age 55!

American Political Science Association Presidential Poll Substantially Different Than 2009 C Span Poll

It has been nearly six years since the last C Span poll on Rating Presidents took place in 2009, and now we have the American Political Science Association Poll of 162 Professors, scored late in 2014, and the differences between the two polls is startling.

First, the number of Presidential experts questioned is two and a half times as many now than in 2009.

But more than that difference is the ranking of many on the list, as for instance:

John F. Kennedy fell from 6th place to 14th place.

Andrew Jackson went from a tie for 12th place up to 9th place.

Dwight D. Eisenhower reached the highest he has ever been polled, up to 7th place.

Bill Clinton shot up from 15th place to 8th place.

Harry Truman fell to 6th place from 5th place, and Thomas Jefferson went from 6th place to 5th place.

Woodrow Wilson fell from 9th place to 10th place.

Barack Obama, not part of the 2009 poll, but ranked in 15th place in an early poll in 2011, ended up in 18th place.

James Madison (13th) moved ahead of James Monroe (17th) in the ranking, which seems odd when one looks at their Presidencies, with Monroe being 14th and Madison 20th in the C Span poll.

James K. Polk slipped from tied for 12th to 19th, which seems really strange.

Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson slipped one each, from 10th and 11th places, to 11th and 12th places.

This author disagrees greatly with this poll in many ways, including:

Kennedy being dropped eight places seems acceptable, except that to put Jackson, Clinton, and Madison ahead of him seems not very sensible.

Jackson is back in the top ten, but it seems wrong to move him up.

Clinton being in the top ten may help Hillary Clinton, but realistically, this author thinks he is much too high, and will eventually slip out of the top ten back to mid teens where he was. He has risen fast, being 21st in the 2000 C Span Poll and 15th in the 2009 poll.

Truman should have remained ahead of Jefferson, and in fact, should be moved up to 4th ahead of Theodore Roosevelt and Jefferson, due to his crisis leadership, and will end up there in time in this author’s belief.

Wilson has been slipping constantly, from 6th in 2000 to 9th in 2009 to 10th now, but this author would put him a bit higher and ahead of Jackson, Clinton, and Eisenhower.

Obama slipped from an early 2011 poll of 15th down to 18th, but this author would put him back at about 13th, ahead of Jackson, Madison, and Monroe.

Madison being ahead of Monroe seems ridiculous for his Presidency, although Madison was a great man, but not very successful as President.

Polk being an “imperialist” is a negative image to many, but no one term President was as successful, and he should not end up behind many of those ahead of him, and should remain about 12th or 13th.

Reagan and Johnson dropping one position each is not a big difference, but this author would put Johnson ahead of Reagan.

The debate on ranking Presidents will go on, but these are my thoughts on the topic, and I welcome commentary and analysis on this issue of ranking Presidents in 2015!