Transcontinental Railroad System

C Span 2017 Presidential Survey: Dramatic Rise Of Dwight D. Eisenhower And Ulysses S. Grant Since First Poll In 2000

The C Span 2017 Presidential Survey demonstrates the dramatic rise of two war heroes in our two major wars: Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War II, and Ulysses S. Grant in the Civil War.

Both were Republican Presidents with low historical esteem as Presidents, particularly Grant, but both suffering from long term negative images in the White House.

But Ike, as Eisenhower was affectionately known, has soared from 9 in 2000 to 8 in 2009 to 5 in 2017, surpassing Harry Truman, who dropped slightly from 5 in 2000 and 2009 to 6 in 2017.

And Grant, who was 33 in 2000, soared amazingly to 23 in 2009 and now 22 in 2017.

Ike was well liked, but thought of as a weak, lackadaisical President when he left office in 1961, more remembered at the time for playing golf than anything else.

People thought of the fact that Ike “allowed” the Soviet Union to go into space first in 1957; and that the U-2 Spy Plane Incident in 1960 complicated relations with the Soviet Union, and ignored the many accomplishments of the 34th President.

Since then, his stock has risen with the understanding of his handling of the Little Rock Crisis in 1957; his ability to work with leaders of the opposition Democrats (Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson) who controlled Congress for 6 of his 8 years; his acceptance of the New Deal programs of FDR; his creation of a federal commitment to health, education and welfare through the HEW Department in his first year; his promotion of the interstate highway system as a followup to Abraham Lincoln’s transcontinental railroad; his signing the first two Civil Rights laws since Reconstruction; the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and National Defense Education Act in reaction to Sputnik; his refusal to escalate to major involvement in Vietnam and warning his successors, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, to avoid the morass that occurred; and his path breaking Farewell Address, warning of a military industrial complex endangering American democracy and American foreign policy.

Grant was thought of historically as a great General in the Civil War, gaining the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to end the Civil War, but as President best remembered for his liquor problems, making him a certifiable alcoholic; massive scandals around his Presidency, typified by the Credit Mobilier Scandals; two Vice Presidents (Schuyler Colfax and Henry Wilson) involved in corruption; and economic hard times leading to the worst economic downturn (the Panic of 1873) until that time, with a massive depression that undermined the majority party outside the South, the Republican Party, and led to the contested Election of 1876.

But in recent years, there has been recognition of Grant promoting racial equality through backing of Congressional Reconstruction in the South and the support of the 15th Amendment and laws against the Ku Klux Klan and additional Civil Rights legislation; promotion of an Indian peace policy very different from earlier and later times; his around the world tour after his Presidency adding to his stature; his amazing Memoirs, written as he was dying of cancer, and still considered a classic work, unsurpassed by any other President; and the deep mourning and honoring of Grant in death, including the commemoration of Grant’s Tomb in New York City in 1897. No one even in 2017 is rating him in the top 20 Presidents, but his rise from very low to middle status is quite an accomplishment, although it is hard to imagine him rising any further.

The question arises whether modern Presidents, including Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon, who have fallen in recent times in the Presidential polls, will yet arise and pass Grant, and knock him down below them in the future. Historians are constantly changing their perceptions of our Chief Executives, and it will continue into the long term future.

The Desperate Need For Infrastructure Spending: The Collapse Of America’s Public Works

SIXTY MINUTES on CBS last night drew attention to the desperate need for infrastructure spending, as we are on the brink of the collapse of America’s public works, most of it done in the 1930s to 1960s, but horribly ignored for the past 20 years in particular.

Bridges, tunnels, highways, seaports, airports are in such disrepair that we cannot compete economically with much of the Western world.

We seem unable to realize that not only are lives at danger, but the whole economic system is at risk if a major highway or bridge collapses, making it impossible for millions of people to reach work by automobile, and to have the ability to do the normal every day activities that fuel our economic growth.

We committed to public works projects in the time of the New Deal and Franklin D. Roosevelt; to interstate highway development under Dwight D. Eisenhower; and to all kinds of other projects during the booming economy of the 1960s under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

But in the past 20 years, mostly under GOP Congressional control, we have lost the vision and the recognition of the dire need for investment, and for commitment to rebuilt our infrastructure.

This is ironic, since the two single greatest public works projects in American history were the Transcontinental Railroad under Republican Abraham Lincoln; and the interstate highway system’s inception under Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But then, the Republican Party of the last two decades, and even more right now, is a skeleton of its old self, and the nation is the ultimate loser!

The Transportation Infrastructure Crisis In America’s Future

The United States became the nation it is today because of the development of transportation infrastructure, highlighted by the transcontinental railroad system in the middle and late 19th century, and the interstate highway system of the middle and late 20th century, along with the growth of cities and mass transit.

Now, a century and more later, with growing population and the aging of the infrastructure, there is a dire need for renovation and rehabilitation of our transportation network, but the cost will be substantial, and the trend is toward delay and avoidance of the responsibility of our government at all levels to deal with the essential rebuilding and expansion of our transportation network.

With the Republicans in control in the House, it seems as if there will be major cuts in spending on infrastructure, estimated to be a one third cut on interstate highways and mass transit, and attempting to end federal support of the Amtrak train system in the Northeastern United States.

It is estimated by experts that $1 trillion needs to be spent on maintenance and growing demand with increased population, and this does not include the estimated $2 trillion necessary to rebuild roads, bridges, water lines, sewage systems, and dams that have reached the normal level of longevity. These estimates do not even include the cost of air transportation investments for the long term future.

The US is way behind investment in the area of infrastructure, as compared to Russia, China, India, and Brazil, and the economic competition of the future will be shaped by decisions made now, often in a short sighted momentary way, to our tremendous need for investment in large amounts.

Are we again to wait until there is a literal short term crisis to react to the reality of what needs to be done? Is the answer just to patch up with band aids, rather than to face the responsibility of dealing with the future now, rather than later, when it will be more expensive?

The reality is that lack of action will cause state and local governments to raise sales and property taxes to deal with what the federal government has reneged on, and it will also lead to more privatization of services, which will also cause much higher taxation down the road, no pun intended!

There is an old saying that applies here: “Penny wise, Pound foolish”!

Time For High Speed Rail Projects Across Nation: Great Step Forward!

The Obama Administration is committing Recovery Act funds to promote intercity high speed rail projects across the nation, and Vice President Joe Biden announced today $53 billion over the next six years to advance such projects.

This will promote economic recovery by creating many jobs, save oil consumption by encouraging more people to travel to work and on vacation on high speed rail, and improve the environment as well.

Already, we have high speed “bullet” trains in Japan and South Korea, as well as in Great Britain and France, and they offer convenient travel and have put these nations way ahead of Americans in envisioning the future of transportation!

This is another stage of the transportation revolution, as much as Abraham Lincoln promoting the transcontinental railroad network in the 1860s, and Dwight D. Eisenhower advocating the interstate highway system in the 1950s!

The Obama goal is provide high speed rail transportation to 80 percent of the American people over the next 25 years! This is a priority that needs to be accomplished, but the Republicans in the House of Representatives may stand in the way of this investment, which would indeed be tragic! πŸ™