US Senate

48 Vice Presidents, 45 (44) Presidents?

With the inauguration of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, we now have our 45th (really 44th) President, and our 48th Vice President!

Some reading this are saying: “Huh?”

So let’s explain the difference in numbers.

Donald Trump is the 44th person to become President, but Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, although he also won the popular vote in 1888, but Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College, the third time out of five (with 2000 and 2016 the 4th and 5th cases) where the popular vote loser won the Presidency.

Now, as to the Vice Presidency:

Several Presidents had two Vice Presidents, and one had three Vice Presidents, therefore making for four additional Vice Presidents more than Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson had Aaron Burr in his first term in the Presidency (1801-1805), and George Clinton in his second term (1805-1809).

James Madison had Clinton stay on as Vice President in his first term, but he died in office in 1812, so only served from 1809-1812, instead of to 1813. In his second term, Madison had Elbridge Gerry as his Vice President, but he served less than two years and died in 1814, so only serving 1813-1814.

Andrew Jackson had John C. Calhoun as Vice President in his first term, but he resigned with three months to go in the term, after being dumped from the ticket for the 1832 election, so served from 1829-1832. Martin Van Buren served in the Jackson second term (1833-1837), and became the last Vice President to succeed directly to the Presidency by election for 152 years, when George H. W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan in the 1988 Presidential election.

Abraham Lincoln had two Vice Presidents–Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865) who he decided to replace for his second election, and Andrew Johnson for six weeks in 1865 until Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson became President.

Ulysses S. Grant had two Vice Presidents–Schuyler Colfax (1869-1873) who came under investigation for corruption and did not run for reelection; and Henry Wilson (1873-1875) who died in office.

William McKinley had two Vice Presidents–Garret Hobart (1897-1899), who died in office; and Theodore Roosevelt, for six and a half months in 1901, until McKinley was assassinated, and TR succeeded him to the Presidency, and then won a four year term of his own in 1904.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, being elected four times to the Presidency, and prevented from occurring again by the passage and adoption of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, had John Nance Garner (1933-1941) in his first two terms; Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945) in his third term; and Harry Truman for 82 days of his 4th term in 1945, before FDR died, and Truman succeeded him, and then won a full term in 1948.

Finally, Richard Nixon had two Vice Presidents–Spiro Agnew (1969-1973), his first full term and nine months of his shortened second term, until Agnew was forced to resign due to corruption charges, and being replaced two months later by Gerald Ford (1973-1974) under the 25th Amendment, allowing for an appointed Vice President subject to majority approval by both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, with Ford serving nine months before he succeeded to the Presidency upon the resignation of Nixon, due to the Watergate scandal.

Realize that George Clinton served under two Presidents (Jefferson and Madison), and the same for Calhoun, who had served as Vice President to John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), before serving as Vice President under Jackson for all but three months of that term. So as a result, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson only had one DIFFERENT Vice President to add to the total number!

Also, realize that Grover Cleveland, in his separate terms, had two different Vice Presidents, Thomas Hendricks for 8 months in 1885, and Adlai Stevenson I (1893-1897).

Also realize that John Tyler (1841), Millard Fillmore (1850), Andrew Johnson (1865), and Chester Alan Arthur (1881), all succeeded to the Presidency because of the deaths of William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, and James A. Garfield, and never had a Vice President, since there was no 25th Amendment until passage in 1967, allowing Gerald Ford to pick Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President in 1974. And the other four Presidents who had been Vice President, and succeeded due to the deaths of the Presidents in office (Theodore Roosevelt after William McKinley; Calvin Coolidge after Warren G. Harding; Harry Truman after Franklin D. Roosevelt; Lyndon B. Johnson after John F. Kennedy) all were elected in the next term and had a Vice President.

So only 40 men (plus Cleveland in two terms, so called the 22nd and 24th President) in the Presidency chose a Vice President, and only Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, McKinley and Nixon had two Vice Presidents who were unique (not shared with another President), and FDR had three Vice Presidents with his four terms in office. So if you count 41 due to Cleveland’s unique situation, and add seven extra Vice Presidents, you get a total of 48 men who have served as Vice President of the United States!

The Positive Contributions Of The Joe Biden Vice Presidency

Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, is leaving public life after 44 years in the federal government, 36 as a US Senator from Delaware, and 8 years as Vice President.

Joe Biden is a true national treasure, who if not for the death of his son, Beau Biden, in May 2015, might have run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, and might very well have defeated Hillary Clinton, and then won the election in the crucial states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

Although Biden will be 78 in 2020, he has the energy, the knowledge, the experience needed to defeat Donald Trump, and he just might return to the Senate in 2018, if Tom Carper follows through on his plans to retire.

So it is not yet time to say Biden’s career is over, although in elective office, it might be, but he will play a public role because it is in his blood to do so, and he will not stay silent when he sees wrongs being done by the Donald Trump Administration.

The alliance of Barack Obama and Joe Biden was the closest one in American history, possibly matched by Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, who in two days will have both survived the amazing total of 36 years since the Presidency and 40 years since their election in 1976!

Obama utilized Biden’s connections on Capitol Hill; and gave Biden an office in the White House, as Carter had done for Mondale; and had weekly lunches with Biden as Carter did with Mondale.

Joe Biden was a true Presidential Advisor, full time participant, and trouble shooter, and was not afraid to disagree with Obama, particularly on foreign policy, his expertise, but was always a loyal part of the team once a decision had been made by the President.

Biden’s warm, sincere personality was lovable, and he was able to work across the aisle on Capitol Hill with Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and other influential Republicans, and the entire Senate honored him recently for his cordial and effective role in the Senate.

Biden took the lead on gay rights and gay marriage; protection of women against violence; immigration reform; environmental advancements; gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre; and the War on Cancer after his son died of that horrendous disease. Foreign leaders also, totally, respected him.

Joe Biden could be regarded as the greatest Vice President in American history, and his lifelong contributions will mark him in history as a very special political leader!

Thank you for your service to the nation and to Barack Obama, Vice President Biden!

Marco Rubio And Rand Paul Leading Struggle Against Trumpian Foreign Policy In Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are leading the struggle against Trumpian foreign policy, particularly in relation to Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Both were highly critical of Secretary of State nominee Rex TIllerson, who has zero foreign policy experience, and has spent his entire work career with Exxon Mobil, the largest corporation in the world.

Both put Tillerson’s “feet to the fire” today, and if both vote against him, he will be denied the chance to have a floor vote in the Senate, assuming that all Democrats oppose Tillerson as well.

Donald Trump is certainly on a collision course with his own party in Congress, and seems to relish it.

He reminds us most of Richard Nixon, but even Nixon did not set out to alienate his own party as Trump has.

So now we are nine days away from the official beginning of a nightmare, with a man determined to be as dictatorial as his party, the opposition party, the courts, and the news media will allow him.

It is going to be a tumultuous, confrontational four years, and the question is how much it will harm the American people, including those stupid and ignorant enough to have voted for the man often called the “Orange Trumpolini”.

Most Crucial Trump Cabinet Member To Resist Is Jeff Sessions, Attorney General Nominee— A Danger To Civil Rights And Civil Liberties!

The Trump cabinet choices are overall horrific, but the most that might be expected is to stop maybe one or two of the nominees.

It is so hard to judge which are the worst of all of them, but clearly, after reflection, the record of Senator Jeff Sessions disqualifies him for the position of Attorney General.

This is a man who has displayed racism, misogyny, nativism, and homophobia, and was opposed to extension of the Voting Rights Act, and he was already rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 by a Senate with a majority of his own Republican Party.

In an age when civil rights and civil liberties are in danger from Donald Trump and his mentality, to put Jeff Sessions into the Justice Department would set back the Bill of Rights tremendously, as Sessions is no different than if one were to select former Alabama Governor George Wallace, or former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, or former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond to be Attorney General.

These were the worst of all Southern politicians who undermined civil rights, and there is no evidence that Jeff Sessions is any different in 2017.

All that is needed is for a few Republican Senators to show courage, and vote against their own colleague, replicating the Republican Senate of 1986, as then Arlen Specter and Charles Mathias blocked Sessions from a federal district court judgeship, a very rare occurrence.

Pressure must be brought on Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona to show the same kind of courage now, within the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Otherwise, it is essential that such Senators as Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, John McCain of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Dean Heller of Nevada be appealed to, to reject Sessions.

Republicans About To Repeal ObamaCare, Which Is RomneyCare-Heritage Foundation Republican Plan Of 1990s, Leaving Millions Without Health Care!

It is hilarious to watch the Republican leadership of Congress squirm about the repeal of ObamaCare.

They want to repeal the law, but have no replacement that does not harm their own supporters, the rural and working class whites, who depend on it, but are not aware that it is ObamaCare!

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stuttered and fumbled over what replacement there is, saying there were “ideas”, but clearly the focus has been negative, just get rid of it, but now realizing 20 million Americans will be harmed if it is repealed.

The Democrats can sit back and laugh and applaud, as the Republicans are on the road to the repudiation of their party if they dare to destroy the good parts of ObamaCare.

And the Republicans are on the path to massive increase in the national debt, including their plans to give yet more tax cuts to the wealthy, a regurgitation of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, which led to the Great Recession, that Barack Obama has mostly resolved with SEVEN years of major job growth, the most in American history, but Obama gaining no credit for it, because, after all, he is the BLACK MAN!

Amazing events when one considers that ObamaCare was a compromise, instead of a public option or Medicare for All, seen as too “socialistic”.

Republicans do not want to be reminded that ObamaCare is really RomneyCare in Massachusetts, and earlier the Heritage Foundation Republican plan of Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole in 1993-1994, in opposition to Hillary Clinton’s health care plan.

But the Republicans, as always, are accustomed to lying, to deception, to manipulating ignorant, stupid people, who just do not get it that the Republicans have no real concern for rural and working class whites, but are very successful at fooling them over and over. The GOP behind the scenes laughs at their “supporters”, who are constantly being appealed to on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender, but which makes the elite wealthy ever more powerful and wealthy!

Chuck Schumer, The Great Jewish Hope: The Highest Ranking Elected Jew Ever In American Government!

The new Senate Minority Leader is New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who has been in the Senate since 1999, and defeated a tough opponent, Republican three term Senator Alfonse D’Amato.

Schumer began his political career at the age 23, and entered the House of Representatives at age 29 from Brooklyn, New York.

He had to compete first with fellow, soon to be retired Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and then his newly elected replacement, Hillary Clinton, who would seek the Presidency despite being the Junior Senator from New York.

Schumer worked his way up the leadership, being a loyal subordinate for ten years to Nevada Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and built up the Democratic majority in 2006 and 2008, before the bottom fell out, and the Democrats lost seats, from a high of 60 down to 46 and now up to 48 in 2017.

Schumer is a man who is very accessible and warm, and will do a lot of good for the Democrats, and he happens to have the distinction of being the highest ranking elected Jews ever in American government.

Yes, we have had other distinguished Jewish US Senators, but none in a leadership position in the Senate.

Yes, we had House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, second ranking in the House of Representatives, and hoping to become Speaker of the House someday, before he was defeated for nomination to his seat in 2014 by a more extremist right wing Republican, David Brat.

Yes, we have had Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who was Vice Presidential nominee with Al Gore in 2000, when they won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Yes, we have had Jewish cabinet officers, including Henry Morgenthau, Jr, Henry Kissinger, Abraham Ribicoff, and Arthur Goldberg among others, who have had impact on government.

And yes, we have had Jewish Supreme Court Justices by appointment, including Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan among others.

But Schumer has the potential to have a greater impact politically than most party leaders, so we must wish him the best fortune as the Democrats battle against the Trump Presidency.

Yesterday, Schumer gave a fighting, defiant speech to the Senate on his first day as Minority Leader, making it clear his party would contest Trump on the Cabinet and on every policy that undermines the middle class and promotes the elite wealthy against the average American.

115th Congress Begins Tomorrow: Joe Biden Could Have A Surprise (We Can Hope)!

Tuesday, January 3, is the opening of the 115th Congress, but Joe Biden is still Vice President for 17 days more, and could have a surprise up his sleeve, which is perfectly constitutional.

What is this potential surprise?

Joe Biden, in league with Democrats in the US Senate, can call for an immediate vote on the languishing Supreme Court appointment of Merrick Garland, made ten months ago, to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February of last year.

It is unheard of to deny the Supreme Court a full number of members for an entire year, but this is what the Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did, and it borders on unconstitutionality, for which the Republicans have suffered no consequences.

Joe Biden, after 36 years in the US Senate, and eight as Vice President under Barack Obama, has continued to keep good relationships across the aisle, and was praised profusely recently by Republicans, as well as Democrats, in a near eulogy about his great Senate and public service.

But that does not mean that Joe Biden is, as nice and gracious and cordial and warm as he is, not willing to be a gutter fighter over principles he believes in, and he was vehement at the unfairness of not giving Merrick Garland a Senate hearing at the least, on his unquestioned qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice.

Garland was “railroaded” in Biden’s mind, victimized for no good reason, and Joe feels Garland should not be pushed by the wayside, in his own heart and mind.

So the rumors were around, and then hushed, that Joe Biden might call for a vote of the 66 returning Senators who do not need to be sworn in by him after 12 noon tomorrow.

If he decides to call a vote, the balance of those 66 Senators is 34 Democrats, 2 Independents (Bernie Sanders and Angus King), and 30 Republicans, so on a straight party line vote, Garland would be confirmed 36-30, and Mitch McConnell and the Republicans could do NOTHING about it legally, as it is constitutional to call a vote, and there is no constitutional requirement to have hearings. Many Justices never had hearings, which only became customary and drawn out in the 1980s, when Joe Biden led the fight with Ted Kennedy against Robert Bork, and later in the 1990s and since, when Joe Biden led the fight against Clarence Thomas on the Court.

So the point is that Joe Biden knows now to play “hard ball”, and he just could surprise us tomorrow, which would lead to condemnation by the right wing and Republicans, but who really cares?

The GOP does not worry about being nasty and playing “hard ball”! In fact, they specialize and revel in it, so let them stew in their own juice!

Let us hope that Joe makes news and distinction for one of his last actions as Vice President and Presiding Officer of the US Senate.

Let him become the center of attention, and maybe, just maybe, if he stays in good health, he can break a new barrier in four years, becoming the oldest President of the United States at age 78, making Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan look like youngsters by comparison.

Certainly, Joe Biden, the common man with no fortune, running against the wealthiest and most arrogant man to ever hold the Presidency, Donald Trump, would look very tempting as an alternative in 2020, since so many think he could have won the difference in the vote in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, had he run, and son Beau Biden had not tragically passed away in 2015.

And there are strong hints that Delaware Senator Tom Carper, with a long distinguished career with six years as State Treasurer, ten years as Congressman, eight years as Governor, and 18 years as US Senator by the end of 2018, may wish to retire, so imagine this!

Joe Biden could run for and win back a Senate seat and add to his 36 years in the Senate, and be a sitting Senator if he decides to run for President again, and if not, he can still serve his nation in the US Senate, and add to his distinguished record of public service!

Widespread Protests Against Trump Inauguration Grow Day By Day!

Widespread protests against the Trump Inauguration are growing day by day.

No significant entertainers are willing to perform at his inauguration in Washington DC on Friday, January 20, 2017.

The Rockettes are divided over performance, with some dancers refusing to do so, although under pressure to follow orders.

Some members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are also reluctant to sing for the incoming President, on moral and ethical grounds.

This is all perfectly understandable, as many see performing for Trump as equivalent of performing for Adolf Hitler, right or wrong.

The fact that Trump consorts with other dictators, including Vladimir Putin of Russia, and the leaders of such nations as Turkey, and the Philippines, and even has had praise for North Korea’s leader Kim Jon Un as a “strong leader”, is indeed alarming.

One gets the feeling that Trump’s willingness to ignore security information that shows Russia hacked our election process, and therefore helped Donald Trump, and seems to be engaged in a “bromance” with Putin disgusts and alarms millions of Americans, does not phase him one bit.

The Republican Party is starting to split with Trump on this, with Senator John McCain calling for hearings on Thursday, January 5.

So there are fireworks ahead, and it is expected that there will be widespread protests against Trump centered around Inauguration Day, totally appropriate freedom of assembly and nonviolent civil disobedience, and it is all a harbinger of the next four years!

So we can wish for a Happy New Year 2017, but there are warning signs ahead of a very difficult, tumultuous year!

Trump Appointments That Declare “War”: Health And Human Services, Education, Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, Interior, Justice, Energy

Donald Trump has made a horrific list of cabinet and other appointments that have declared “war” on domestic concerns that extend from the time of Theodore Roosevelt through to Barack Obama, with particularly great threat to the heritage of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society.

The appointment of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services endangers Social Security. Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps–affecting the poor, elderly and sick.

The appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education endangers public education at all level, and concerns about college debt burdens for millions of college and university students, and promotes the “Christianization” and charter school movement against American traditions of two hundred years.

The appointment of Tom Puzder as Secretary of Labor endangers the whole labor movement advancements of the past century, including unionization, minimum wage, sick leave, overtime, and safety conditions.

The appointment of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and of Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior endangers the environment, and our national park and national forest system in massive ways that are incalculable.

The appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States endangers the enforcement of civil liberties and civil rights, and will be particularly dangerous to the rights of racial minorities, women, and gays and lesbians.

The appointment of Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy endangers the nation, as Perry is totally ignorant of science and nuclear energy, and wanted to destroy the department, based on his statements during Presidential debates in 2011 and since.

We are faced with a nightmare scenario, as probably the most that might be expected is the blocking of potentially one or two of these nominees at the most, but the clear cut possibility that all of them will be confirmed by the Republican majority in the US Senate, and the Democrats will not be able to stop any of them from destroying our domestic future!

Could Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Or Bernie Sanders Have Won In 2016?

President Barack Obama has opined that had he been able to run for a third term, which is forbidden by the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution since 1951, that he would have defeated Donald Trump.

That brings to mind the issue whether if Vice President Joe Biden had been the nominee, whether he could have won over Donald Trump.

And also, the issue arises whether Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had overcome Hillary Clinton in delegates, could he have won.

The gut feeling of this author and blogger is that either Obama or Biden would have been able to win enough additional support to overcome the Clinton deficit in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and also possibly in Florida and Ohio as well.

On the other hand, this author feels that Bernie Sanders, despite his inspiring campaign and support from millennials, and seen as the protest candidate as much as Donald Trump to many, would NOT have won, and the reasons are sad and unpleasant.

Sanders being Jewish, although he is not at all religious in any sense, would have worked against him, as anti Semitism is still an ugly reality in America.

Also, the fact that Sanders calls himself a Socialist, although far from scary or terrifying in reality, would likely have been used by Donald Trump against him, as Trump actually did call Sanders a “Communist” once or twice during campaign rallies, and the ignorant, clueless people who backed Trump would not be intelligent enough to understand the difference, and that Sanders is more like a Scandinavian Socialist from Norway or Sweden, and is no danger in any sense to American traditions.

So the best judgment of this author is that Obama or Biden could have won, but not Sanders.