Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "Rebloggable By Request"

Anonymous asked:  Any thoughts on Bob Dole’s recent Senate appearance to ask for the passing to the UN Disability Treaty?

I wish I could say that I was surprised that the Senate didn’t do the right thing despite the appearance and support of a nearly 90-year-old Bob Dole who not only dedicated his life to public service, but did so with significant disabilities because of the fact that he very nearly gave up his life fighting for this country in World War II.

I wish I could say that I was surprised, but I’m not.  Nothing surprises me anymore about the Senate or the House, particularly in this 112th Congress.  I’m hoping that enough was done in November to, for a lack of a better term, flush the waste out of the Capitol so that the 113th Congress can get some good things done for our country.

It just makes me angry now.  It makes me angry that these are our representatives.  It makes me angry that 38 United States Senators voted against ratifying a treaty that was basically an international version of our own American With Disabilities Act.  The United Nations modeled the treaty after the ADA in order to urge people around the world to take care of and no discriminate against people with disabilities.  And after frail, wheelchair bound Bob Dole made an appearance in support of the treaty’s ratification, he was wheeled out of the Senate chamber and 38 American Senators said no. 

Thirty-eight American Senators opposed that treaty while Arizona Senator John McCain, who spent nearly six years being tortured in a North Vietnamese prison and can’t even raise his arm into the air to be recognized by the presiding officer, sat in that chamber.  I can’t even imagine how Senator McCain can caucus with those Senators in the future and work together with them.  I can’t understand it.

38.  Thirty-eight Senators rejected that treaty while Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Inouye was in the chamber.  Senator Inouye is 88 years old and disabled.  Do you know why Senator Inouye is disabled?  BECAUSE HE LEFT HIS ARM ON A HILLSIDE IN ITALY FIGHTING FOR HIS COUNTRY.  That was after he had already been shot in the stomach attacking a German bunker.  A German grenade blew his right arm off of his body as Inouye prepared to toss his own grenade.  Do you know what happened when Daniel Inouye’s arm was blown off of his body?  He reached down with the arm he had left, pulled the grenade that he was about to throw out of the closed hand of his severed right arm, and then he finished the job that he had started, tossed the grenade at the Germans, and kept shooting with the arm he had left until he passed out.  Thirty-eight of Senator Inouye’s colleagues rejected an international treaty protecting the rights of people like Inouye as he sat there.

It’s shameful.  After the vote, John Kerry (another American who served his country and was wounded in combat, by the way) said it was “one of the saddest days I’ve seen in almost 28 years in the Senate and it needs to be a wake-up call about a broken institution that’s letting down the American people.”  I couldn’t agree more with Senator Kerry except for one thing:  rejecting this treaty lets down the people of the world — 700 million of whom are disabled.

Thirty-eight United States Senators should be ashamed of themselves and their constituents should be disgusted by their representation.  Shame on you, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boozman of Arkansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Dan Coats of Indiana, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Bob Corker of Tennessee, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Mike Lee of Utah (who took the lead in opposing the treaty’s ratification), Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, David Vitter of Louisiana, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.  If I were running the DSCC, I would target all 38 of you in your next campaigns and lay your vote for the rejection of this treaty’s ratification on your doorstep every night so that you step in it every morning and drag it with you every time that you speak to a veterans organization or a group of people with disabilities or a senior citizen.  I’d add “go to hell”, but with the 112th Congress in charge, I’m not positive that we aren’t already there.

Anonymous asked:  How much would you pay to be able to laugh at Mitt Romney tonight and keep reminding him about how much he lost by? Good riddance to you Mittens.

Just because I voted for Barack Obama doesn’t mean that I want to see Mitt Romney destroyed, or even hurt.  I don’t agree with Governor Romney’s politics, but I don’t wish him ill and I certainly wouldn’t disrespect him.

This is the problem with American politics — Americans like the person who asked this question.  They are on both sides of the aisle and they are equally horrible for our country.  Last night, I found no glory in the fact that Mitt Romney lost; instead, I was hopeful and happy that Barack Obama won.  I didn’t go to the polls to vote against Mitt Romney; I was there to vote for Barack Obama.

Much like John McCain four years ago, Mitt Romney went out with class last night, and he deserves our respect.  I have never thought that Mitt Romney was a bad man.  I thought Obama would be a better President, but there was never any hatred on my part for Romney.  We can disagree with his politics or the way he campaigns, but there is no reason to look at Mitt Romney as a villain.

Yes, Governor Romney is incredibly wealthy and was probably out-of-touch with “average Americans” like you and me.  But with all of that money, Romney could live a life of leisure and never have to work at anything again.  Instead, what did he do?  He devoted himself to public service.  There’s no question that he loves his family and has a great relationship with them.  He spent a significant amount of time in a leadership role with his church — not just by sitting in a pew every Sunday but by taking a leadership role where he gave up time to help the families and people of his community.  Saving the Salt Lake City Olympics, serving as Governor of Massachusetts, running for President in 2008 and 2012 — none of those things were token jobs where Romney was a figurehead that got the credit while others did the work.  They were all challenges that Romney tackled with hard work and, in each instant, he “left everything on the field”, as he said in his concession speech last night.

Make no mistake about it — running for President is one of the most difficult, exhausting, and thankless journeys that an American can take.  Everyone who runs for President makes tremendous sacrifices, and nobody seeks the Presidency because they are bad people who want to do harm to the United States.  Candidates for the Presidency like Mitt Romney — win or lose — are patriots.  They have a vision for this country and the passion to put themselves on the frontline.  To serve all of us.

Laugh at Mitt Romney?  Taunt him?  No, I would thank Mitt Romney.  I’d tell him that I may not have cast a ballot for him, but that I appreciate the sacrifices he made in order to try to move our country forward.  I’d admit that I disagree with his politics, but that I respect his beliefs and admire his passion for going after what he felt was right.  I’d tell him that I know last night was probably one of the most difficult experiences of his life, but that he conceded with class, he demonstrated a remarkable work ethic throughout the campaign, and that I hoped that my fellow Democrats would have offered their support of him if Obama had lost as seamlessly and earnestly as he offered his support for the President during his concession.

We cannot and will not bridge the divisions in this country if we continue to be ugly towards each other.  Politics alone will not take us where we need to be.  There must be some magnanimity, some cooperation, some compromise between all of us — from the President and the Congress to the State Governors and Legislatures, and right on down to you and me and our neighbors.  “Politics” and “compromise” are dirty words because we drag them through the mud along with anyone connected to those ideas.  That has to stop.  It has to stop between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, it has to stop between the talking heads on cable news networks, and it has to stop with people who anonymously leave messages on blogs encouraging a celebration over the heartbreaking defeat of someone who put everything on the line to serve his country.  Celebrate Obama’s victory, not Romney’s defeat.  Congratulate Obama and his supporters, but don’t hesitate to appreciate Romney’s work ethic and devotion to service.

We are at our best when all of us — or at least the largest majority of us — are moving forward.  We are at our best when we remember the first word in our nation’s name is “United”.  The idea of a constant conflict pitting Democrats vs. Republicans where one side must win and one side must lose is not progress.  It’s Civil War without violence — but not without casualties.  As someone who knew something about Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant, once said, “Let us have peace.”  We should follow General Grant’s advice and add, “Let us have progress.”  With peace and progress will come prosperity for all of our people.

Anonymous asked: Obama’s father is Muslim, ergo he is Muslim. It’s the same thing that, since my Mother is Jewish, I’m Jewish, even though I don’t practice.


IT’S NOT A RACE; IT’S A RELIGION!  NOBODY IS BORN A RELIGION!  That’s something that is acquired.  It’s something that is chosen.  It’s not something in your genetic, ethnic makeup.  Maybe it’s bestowed upon you after you are born by your parents, but if you don’t understand it, you aren’t a true believer.  If you don’t practice it, you aren’t a true believer.  Once you reach the age of reason and make the decision for yourself, you become what you say you are and believe you are.  Barack Obama says he is a Christian.  That makes him a Christian, not Muslim, no matter what his father might have been.

This is why people get angry and storm embassies and kill innocent people — because so many people (Americans more than ANY other people) are ignorant and unashamed at displaying that ignorance.  That leads other people who take their religion or culture very seriously to decide that there’s no need in differentiating between innocent and ignorant since we don’t take the time to understand THEIR differences.

Please, everyone reading this, READ A FUCKING BOOK.  Or, fuck, just look at Wikipedia and get some sort of basic understanding of simple goddamn foundations of race, religion, and culture.  If you can’t do that, shut the fuck up and stop sharing your stupidity and, yes I’ll say it again, IGNORANCE, with the world because you’re ruining the human experiment.  Seriously, you’re destroying our species.  That’s how important it is — we’re going to go extinct because people are getting exponentially dumber.

Anonymous asked:  you’re pretty knowledgable about rap and from what you’ve written we know you know a lot about the streets so i have to know-what do you think about the drake vs. chris brown beef?

Ha!  I think it is a very telling generational difference:  my generation had 2Pac vs. Biggie, Death Row vs. Bad Boy, East vs. West, and even Jay-Z vs. Nas.  The current generation has Drake vs. Chris Brown.  It’s probably indicative of our country’s decline in some way that I don’t feel like fully connecting at 2:00 AM.

Anyway, it’s not right to classify Drake vs. Chris Brown as a “beef”.  You’re insulting “beef”.  It’s something, I guess, but it should be illegal to compare their slap fights and bottle-throwing on the same level as 2Pac vs. Biggie or Jay-Z vs. Nas.  That was beef.  Chris Brown and Drake are turkey or chicken or duck, but not beef.  And that actually makes sense in a way because, from what I read, “duck” is all anyone needed to do to avoid getting caught up in the crossfire of their little “battle”.  What was Chris Brown’s battle scar again?  A cut chin?  I would bet his hands were bruised, too, because that can happen when you are holding really tightly on to your bodyguard as you are led out of the club. 

They both need to take their weak shit and get the fuck out of here so that they can make their next dance track.  An R&B beef?  I think Brandy vs. Monica had more respect on the streets.  What are Chris Brown and Drake fighting over anyway?  Rihanna and her big-ass forehead?  No thank you, I’ll take an order of Rita Ora instead six days a week and twice on Sunday.

Good to see that Chris Brown has graduated from beating up girls, though.  Then again, Drake looks like one of the Muppets, so your street cred doesn’t really increase if you stop hitting girls just to move on to hitting Bert or Ernie.  I guess none of that matters, though, since RCA Records happily keeps Brown employed (just like the Grammys had no problem having him perform on their broadcast) despite the domestic violence and the fact that he got himself involved in another altercation that bordered on violence.  Anytime Chris Brown is mentioned on television, it should be in a split screen with the photos of a bruised, bloody Rihanna so that no one forgets what a piece of garbage he is. 

Then again, if there’s one thing that we’ve learned about giving celebrities numerous chances because of their talent despite a seemingly obvious pattern or habit of violence, it is that no further harm ever comes out of such situations, right?

Oh, well, besides that one.

Anonymous asked:  I know its just a silly movie and you joked about it a few days ago and I know that Abraham Lincoln didn’t really kill vampires but in his writing did he write about a fear of vampires or worries about vampire problems?

You know, the first time I got a question like this, I laughed about  it.  But, since then, I’ve received numerous question about vampires and zombies and I just don’t know how to react anymore.  Part of me thinks that a bunch of people are conspiring together to drive me crazy so that my head will explode.  But…and this is FAR more frightening…I’ve come to the realization that most of the questions I get about this are serious. 

Let me reiterate…most of the numerous questions that I have received about Abraham Lincoln or other historical figures battling VAMPIRES or ZOMBIES seem to be completely serious.  I understand when someone is being silly and ironic or trying to be funny and rile me up, but far too many people have followed up on questions about vampires and zombies for me to just chalk it up to good old fashioned fun.  There are people reading the words that I write on this website who genuinely think that Abraham Lincoln or other historical figures may have spent time battling VAMPIRES and ZOMBIES.  And what is really scary is that when I joke about it and sarcastically answer their question, they usually respond with, “Haha, but seriously, how much evidence is there supporting it?”

And I just…I don’t know…I just want to delete everything I’ve written and move to an island in Fiji with all of my books and a big gun so that I can immediately shoot any human being who lands on my beach, even if they are lost and shipwrecked and perfectly normal.  Or join al-Qaeda and punish this country for allowing a frighteningly large population of people to walk around when they have to ask questions about zombie/vampire battles.

I mean, no disrespect, but why are so many people SO fucking dumb?  Isn’t it scary that, when Washington was inaugurated in 1789, there were less than 4 million people in the United States, yet our leaders included Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Jay, Burr, Madison, Monroe, Henry, Paine, Hancock, Gallatin, Lee, Pickering, Clinton, Rush, and dozens of other legends, but in 2012, there are 315 million Americans, only 9% of the country approves of Congress, there isn’t a simple majority that approves of either major Presidential candidate, millions of Americans believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs and humans lived together, and more than one person genuinely wonders whether historical figures may have battled vampires or zombies in the past.

Anonymous asked:  did Washington stepping down after 2 terms impact the country or presidency throughout history? was it a good thing that he did it?

It certainly had a big impact and for many reasons.  One thing it did was unofficially create the two-term tradition that no President challenged until 1880 when Ulysses S. Grant, who had served from 1869-1877, made a bid for a third term at the Republican National Convention.  Grant led through 35 ballots, but the nomination eventually went to James Garfield.  The unwritten, unofficial two-term tradition held up until Franklin D. Roosevelt won a third term in 1940 (followed by a fourth in 1944) before the 22nd Amendment officially limited a President to Washington’s original two elected terms.

More importantly than the unofficial tradition-cum-Constitutional limit was the remarkable example that George Washington set by retiring to Mount Vernon in 1797.  It wasn’t just a precedent — everything Washington did during his two terms set a precedent.  No, retiring and returning to life as a civilian was something bordering on heroic.  After leading the country through the Revolution and those first two terms as President, Washington could have continued on as President until his dying day.  Washington could have expanded the powers of the Presidency, protected himself from the ever-growing partisan rancor of the early republic, and become something closer to a King or dictator. 

Instead, he retired.  He served two terms, peacefully handed the power and the Presidency over to John Adams in 1797, and, with his last act as President, by merely transacting the quiet transition from President Washington to President Adams, he established the precedent of a powerful civil servant voluntarily relinquishing his job, his influence, and his country to a new leader.

As his Presidency drew to a close in 1797, Washington was aging and tired.  His beloved Mount Vernon estate on the Potomac River in Virginia had fallen into disrepair due to his long and frequent absences from home — throughout the long Revolution, during his service in the Continental Congresses and Constitutional Convention, in New York City for the first 20 months of his Presidency, and in Philadelphia for the remainder of his two terms.  During his first term, he was stricken with pneumonia and nearly everyone who treated him or visited him during his illness were convinced that he was going to die.  He was exhausted and felt that he had done his duty to his country, fulfilled his obligations, and deserved to return to Virginia so that he could roam his estate on horseback, monitor the work being done, entertain guests, and spend time with family and friends that he had been separated from for far too long, far too often.

The American experiment of government was a radically new idea.  The idea of a “President” was an innovation.  Earlier “Presidents”, such as the presidents of the Continental Congresses or the Constitutional Convention, were not Administrators or Executives.  Those earlier incarnations of “Presidents” were simply the presiding officers of a legislative body — a position very much like the Speaker of the House, the presiding officer of the Senate, or the chairman of a committee in our current Congress.  While the Constitution and The Federalist Papers outlined the duties of the President of the United States who would lead the Executive branch of government and serve as Commander-in-Chief, it was George Washington who shaped the office into what it would become and, just as important, what it would not become.

So, it is perhaps one of the most admirable qualities of Washington — one of the intangible aspects of his personality, his belief system, his integrity, and his vision (too many historians discount Washington’s cunning political ability and distinct vision for the nation he helped create) — that he did not seize every bit of power that he could wield, downplayed the pomp and circumstance that some of his contemporaries suggested should accompany the President, and became the first of many Presidents who would make a distinction between the man and the office.  Nobody is bigger than the office itself, and by walking away and heading back to Mount Vernon, Washington demonstrated that men die or lose or fail, but the position — the Presidency itself — never falters.  As long as it is protected and respected, leaders will come and go, they will step into the position almost as if it were a vehicle, and they will follow Washington’s example by ensuring a peaceful transition that pays tribute to the majesty of the office and the brilliance of the country they serve.

Because of how he served and how he returned to life as a civilian, George Washington is often compared to Cincinnatus, the heroic leader of the early Roman Republic, 400 years before Caesar.  Cincinnatus, like Washington, was more than happy to work his farm and live the quiet life of a country gentleman, although Cincinnatus emerged from more humble beginnings.  When soldiers from several different tribes invaded Rome, Cincinnatus was called from his farm and pressed into duty, cloaked with dictatorial powers.  Such power is undoubtedly appealing and most certainly addictive, especially in the 5th Century BC, when absolute power could guarantee absolutely everything — wealth, women, food, fine linens.  Like Washington, Cincinnatus battled the invading armies and vanquished them, and as peace returned to Rome and Senators hailed their dictator, Cincinnatus resigned his position and returned to his farm.  Several years later, an insurrection was brewing and Cincinnatus was again asked to take absolute power and put down the rebellion by whatever means necessary.  He did so, and once again retired to his farm.

The fact that Washington, even in his own lifetime, was compared to Cincinnatus — in fact, nicknamed the “American Cincinnatus” by some — is more than appropriate.  For Washington was also given something close to absolute power on two different occasions and did not hesitate to give it up once he had done his duty.  His retirement from the Presidency in 1797 is one occasion, of course, but the first happened in 1783.

Washington, as the commanding General of the Continental Army, was invested by the Continental Congress to prosecute the Revolutionary War as he saw fit — a commission which basically conferred absolute power upon the Virginian.  As the war came to an end and the United States went about the work of creating a foundation for their young country, General Washington appeared before the Continental Congress and resigned his commission.  No one had asked him to.  Nobody had pressured him to.  No suggestion was ever made.  Like Cincinnatus, Washington gladly put down his sword so that he could return to Mount Vernon and pick up the plow.  In England, when King George III heard a preposterous rumor that the American General who led the nation to victory and independence against the most powerful empire on the planet was voluntarily giving up power so that he could return to his Virginia farm, the King, with a hint of admiration said, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Nearly 230 years later, the words of the King who lost America still ring true about the heroic General who helped win his nation’s independence and became the American Cincinnatus.

Anonymous asked: How were the final years of some of the oldest living presidents healthwise?

Well, the five longest-living Presidents were Gerald Ford (93), Ronald Reagan (93), John Adams (90), Herbert Hoover (90), and Harry Truman (88).  George H.W. Bush will turn 88 on Tuesday, and Jimmy Carter will turn 88 in October.

Ford is the longest-living President by about a month-and-a-half and his health was pretty damn good well into his 90’s.  He had a minor stroke at the 2000 Republican National Convention, but it didn’t slow him down that much.  I believe Ford was skiing in Colorado into his early-80’s, continued playing golf until his late-80’s, and that his doctors finally forced him to quit swimming when he was 92.  He continued making sporadic public appearances until shortly after his 90th birthday, and I believe one of his final major public appearances was Reagan’s funeral in Washington in 2004, a month before Ford’s 91st birthday.  Thomas M. DeFrank interviewed Ford dozens of times throughout the last three decades of Ford’s life, but the interviews were embargoed until Ford died.  DeFrank published an incredible book after Ford’s death in December 2006 called Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford (BOOKKINDLE) and it’s fascinating because of Ford’s candid comments as well as the fact that DeFrank intimately chronicled the last few years of Ford’s long life.  According to DeFrank, Ford’s health didn’t begin to noticeably decline until he was 91.  After that, Ford began having some memory lapses and heart trouble.  He was no longer allowed to travel, so most of his time was spent at his home in Rancho Mirage.  In the last year of his life, Ford spent some time in the hospital for various illnesses and more heart ailments.  The last time he was seen in public was in April 2006 when President George W. Bush visited the Ford home and Ford walked out on the driveway for a photo.  Ford actually looked pretty well, but he was frail and had to be supported by his wife, Betty, and by President Bush, who held Ford’s hand.  Ford passed Reagan’s record and became the longest-living President in November 2006, but by then he was practically bedridden.  He died on December 26, 2006 in Rancho Mirage.

Reagan, of course, was about two weeks shy of his 78th birthday when he left office in 1989.  After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1994, Reagan released a letter in his unmistakable handwriting announcing his illness and basically withdrawing from public life.  His last official public appearance before that had been Richard Nixon’s funeral in April 1994.  Reagan continued going to his office in Los Angeles, but his symptoms progressed.  Reagan was in fantastic physical shape throughout his life, however, so he lived with Alzheimer’s for ten long years.  By 1998 or 1999, he was having a difficult time recognizing familiar faces.  In 2000, the final known photograph of Reagan was published, showing him and Nancy kissing on his 89th birthday.  Reagan barely looked any older in the photo than he did as President; his hair had a little bit more silver in it, but was still predominantly jet black (Reagan’s barber swore that it was natural).  By that point, Reagan no longer recognized his family, but he held on, even after falling and breaking the ball joint in his hip.  Reagan was bedridden for most of the last two years of his life and died eight years ago this week at the age of 93 from pneumonia and complications of Alzheimer’s.

John Adams lived to see his son, John Quincy Adams, become President in 1825, but his advanced age prevented him from attending JQA’s inauguration.  After leaving office in 1801, the elder Adams spent the next quarter-century reading and writing, rekindling an old friendship with Thomas Jefferson, which resulted in one of history’s most remarkable pen pal relationships.  When his eyesight failed him, Adams dictated letters and had family members read to him, but the last few months of his life were largely spent in bed and he had to turn down an invitation to visit Boston on the Fourth of July for the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  Fittingly, Adams died on July 4th, 1826, at the age of 90 from heart failure and pneumonia.  His last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives!” but his friend and rival Jefferson, the man who was his fellow Revolutionary in 1776, served as his Vice President and defeated him for the Presidency in 1800 had died a few hours earlier — on the same day, which just happened to be the Fourth of July, and which just happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.

Herbert Hoover was also 90 years old when he died.  Hoover had been out of office for 31 years — longer than any other President in history (although Jimmy Carter is quickly closing in on that record) — when he died in his palatial suite at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on October 20, 1964.  Hoover’s health was very good up until the last year or two of his life and he looked strong when he and Harry Truman dedicated the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in Iowa on Hoover’s 88th birthday in 1962.  That year, Hoover had a cancerous tumor removed from an intestine and began suffering from internal bleeding.  Hoover’s poor health prevented him from attending JFK’s funeral in 1963 and he was deaf and blind during the final year of his life until he died of massive internal bleeding.

In retirement, Hoover became close to Harry Truman and Truman continued an active role throughout the early-1960’s.  When Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare, which Truman had long advocated, he signed the bill at Truman’s Library in Missouri and issued the first Medicare cards to the former President and former First Lady Bess Truman.  Like his friend Hoover, Truman began suffering from internal bleeding and gastrointestinal problems in the late-1960’s and withdrew from public life, although he frequently visited his Presidential Library outside of Kansas City.  In December 1972, Truman was admitted to Research Hospital in Kansas City as his organs began to fail and he died on December 26, 1972 at the age of 88.  A frail and ailing former President Lyndon Johnson ignored his own doctor’s orders and flew to Kansas City for Truman’s funeral.  Less than a month later, Johnson died.

George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter are both approaching the top five list for longest-living Presidents.  Bush 41 will turn 88 on June 12th, and is still very sharp mentally, although he can no longer walk.  Bush has lived long enough to see his son serve two terms as President and, to prove that he is a badass, went skydiving from an airplane on his 85th birthday.  A neurological problem related to Parkinson’s disease now requires Bush to use a wheelchair, but he is otherwise healthy and continues to make public appearances from time-to-time.  Carter will turn 88 on October 1st, and shows no sign of slowing down.  To my knowledge, he’s had few health problems and definitely no serious issues that we’ve heard about.  He continues his non-profit work in troubled spots around the world with the Carter Center and The Elders.

Anonymous asked:  so are you gay? i thought you were hetero!

No, I am not gay.  I am straight, but I don’t have to be gay to be outraged by the denial of basic rights, injustice, and government-sanctioned inequality.  All I have to do is wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and recognize that I am a human being in order to understand that other human beings — including people I love and care about very much — are robbed of the “unalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

One does not need to be gay to understand the importance.  That’s where too many people get confused.  As I have said before, when you really break down what is going on, this isn’t an issue about sexuality or morality or religion, just as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s wasn’t a racial issue or a Southern problem. 

This is a human rights problem.  The fight for equality today is a battle against the same ignorant, oppressive forces from 50 years ago.  We haven’t been completely victorious and we never will be until there are no conditions, no doubts, and nothing that people can’t do just because of their gender, sexuality, race, religion, etc.

Anonymous asked:  Well, what were some of Clinton’s domestic accomplishments then? (Also, thanks for reminding me of Ike’s accomplishments!)

Oh, man…

•Longest economic expansion in American History; 116 consecutive months of economic growth
•Lowest unemployment rate in 30 years
•Turned significant budget deficits into three straight budget surpluses
•2000 budget surplus was the largest in American History
•First balanced budgets since 1969
•COPS Program: 10,000 more police officers on the streets
•Lowest violent crime rates in a quarter-century
•Welfare reform; 53% reduction in welfare recipients
•Children’s Health Insurance Program
•Family and Medical Leave Act
•The Brady Bill (Handgun violence prevention)
•Record low poverty rates; lowest poverty rates ever for single mothers, African-Americans, and the elderly
•More jobs created than in any other Presidential Administration
•Lowest inflation rate since JFK was President
•Established drug czar; reduced drug use in children and overall; drug-related murders decreased by nearly 50% in the Clinton Administration
•Highest home-ownership rate in American History
•90% increase in funding for Head Start and ECE programs
•Minimum wage increase
•Adoption and Safe Families Act
•Increased Title-I funding; reduced classroom size; expanded Pell Grants and Work Study Program; Lifetime Learning Tax Credit; HOPE scholarships
•Hate Crimes Enhancement Act
•Megan’s Law
•Crackdown on deadbeat dads; Reduced number of children reported abused or neglected
•Lowest rate of teen births in the 60 years since records started being kept
•Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Care Portability Act
•Medicare/Medicaid reform and security
•Increased numbers of children receiving immunizations and vaccinations
•Increase in preservation and conservation of forests, rivers, coastlines, and prairies; tens of millions of acres of forests preserved; 9 new national monuments created;
•Safe Drinking Water Act
•Reinventing Government Initiative to streamline the federal government
•Smallest federal workforce in 40 years
•Lowest percentage of GDP spending since the Johnson Administration
•21st Century Community Learning Centers/After-school programs (Your humble Presidential historian wrote one of these after-school program grants and funded a program for over 100 kids in Sacramento for 6 years, so I’ll always appreciate President Clinton for this)

Anonymous asked:  What do you think about Republicans who want Obama to fail at his job?

To be fair to Republicans, there were plenty of Democrats who wanted George W. Bush to fail at his job, too.  It’s borderline treasonous thinking.  We only have one President, and our President — whether Democrat or Republican — are not the Presidents of their party, but the Presidents of all of us.

I want all of our Presidents to succeed.  Sometimes, I want a different President, or I want the President we have to lose an election, but I never want our President to fail.  If our President fails, we all lose out on something.  It’s not good for anybody; even his political opponents.

While Republicans like Dick Cheney or Mitch McConnell take shots at President Obama at every turn, I’ll hope that the majority of Republicans throughout the country feel the same way as George W. Bush, who has said, “I love my country a lot more than I love politics.  I think it is essential that Obama be helped in the office.”

Anonymous asked:  Blood or Crip?

I post a lot of hip-hop and I’ve written a lot about where I am from and how I grew up, so I’m going to go ahead and say something since you asked. 

My life — and all of our lives, obviously — has been filled with important experiences that turned me into who I am today, for better or worse.  It seems like a lifetime ago when things were rougher, and I feel lucky that I have made it where I am now.  I’ve been out of the streets for a long time.  I found my passion and I followed the path that has led me to this moment, answering this question, and I’m fortunate that it worked out for me.  The neighborhood was a long time ago, and I now live just a few blocks from the Missouri River in a tiny, quiet, rural town that is about as far away from Del Paso Heights and North Sacramento as you can get.  I’m in a peaceful place — in many different ways.

I understand why young people are drawn to gangs.  There is a sense of belonging, a need to fit in, a thirst for status or reputation, and, sometimes, just a hope that someone is there to watch your back.  I just hope that most people who are pulled into the world eventually find their own passion and their own way out, whatever that might be.

Now, are any of them reading this right now?  Unlikely, but if there was a website like this about a subject that interested me when I was a teenager, I would have read it. 

So, if there’s just one person who understands what I’m saying and is at the place where I once was, I say this to you:  There are other ways.  There are other ways to represent your community, other ways to protect your people, other ways to prove your loyalty, and other ways to feel like you are safe.  I understand what you feel and I appreciate how hopeless it sometimes seems, but this is a very big world.  Don’t let the street signs and the neighborhood lines and the colors of your flag be your boundaries.  The only limits that you have are the shackles that you place on yourself. 

And, I promise you this: nobody in the neighborhood resents you if you make it out.  You are always one of them, and they will always be proud of you.  That pride is real and forever, and I absolutely guarantee that those who make it out of the neighborhood earn a different type of respect — and you’ll feel that love and pride from the oldest O.G. to the greenest rookie soldiers on the block.  Because you make it out of the neighborhood, but the neighborhood never leaves you.  You are the shining star and you continue shining because you know where home is, and home knows how bright you’ve become.  And that light will hopefully inspire someone else to rise and shine.

Anonymous asked:  Actually, John Paul II was the third longest reigning Pope.  Pius IX and Peter both served longer.  By the wy, would John Paul II have been a good president?

St. Peter’s a weird one, though, because he just kind of said, “I’m the Pope”, and when someone said, “Huh?  But…”, he immediately interrupted and yelled “I KNEW JESUS!  DID YOU KNOW JESUS?  RIGHT, SO SHUT UP!”

I mean, the Papacy kind of evolved from the second Pope, Pope Linus, saying, “Hey, so St. Peter told me that Jesus told him that Peter was basically God’s closest representative on Earth and that I’m Peter’s successor, so that’s what’s up.” 

Plus, St. Peter was kind of presumptive.  He decided he was Bishop of Rome and the Prince of the Church because Jesus once told him, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church”.  So, Peter naturally assumed, “Well, that means I’m the church’s foundation”.  No, Peter, I think it means Jesus didn’t like that your name was “Simon”, so he changed it and told you where he was building his church

Anonymous asked: Do you think Bush dumbed himself down to try to relate to the middle class?

Yes.  So did Clinton, Bush 41, Reagan, and Carter — and those are just the modern Presidents; anti-intellectualism has been a campaign strategy for two centuries. 

Carter is one of the most obvious cases of a candidate who dumbed himself down — he campaigned as this simple peanut farmer from southern Georgia who taught Sunday school and carried his own bags.  Do you know what Jimmy Carter was before he took over his family’s peanut farmer after his dad died?  He was a nuclear physicist and handpicked by Admiral Rickover to be the top engineer on one of the U.S. Navy’s first atomic submarines. 

This has always been one of the things that most disappoints me about Americans and American political candidates who think simplicity is a strength when it comes to holding the most important, powerful job in the world.  I’ve written about it before, so let me just share those previous thoughts about anti-intellectualism while we’re on the subject:

On Anti-Intellectualism, July 22, 2010:

Anti-intellectualism has ALWAYS been a favorite of American political campaigns.  For some frustrating reason, Americans don’t like somebody who is *too* smart.  I don’t know about you, but I want my President to be the smartest guy in the country.  Most of the time, campaigns just dumb things down because they know it appeals to the people.  It’s one of the biggest things that bothers me about this country — dumbing things down works.

This is not a new tactic.  It’s also not a dead tactic.  In 2008, we had Sarah Palin and Joe The Plumber speaking for the “regular Americans”.  The thing is, I don’t actually know any “regular Americans” who pride themselves on being simple people.  Why this works in political campaigns is beyond my ability to understand.  It is Walmart advertising and it is infuriating.

When did this start in Presidential campaigns?  Definitely during the 1824 campaign that John Quincy Adams won against Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William H. Crawford.  It didn’t work in that campaign because the election was decided by the House of Representatives, but Jackson campaigned as the down-to-earth, man of the people.  In 1828, he did the same thing and won.  Other Presidents who used the same tactic successfully:  William Henry Harrison in 1840; James K. Polk in 1844; Zachary Taylor in 1848; Franklin Pierce in 1852; Abraham Lincoln in 1860; James Garfield in 1880; Benjamin Harrison in 1888; Warren G. Harding in 1920; and Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Besides the Bush 43 campaigns, Carter is the most recent clear example of a President who completely dumbed down his abilities and personality for his Presidential campaign.  In 1976, Carter campaigned against Gerald Ford as the smiling peanut farmer from Georgia who was ready to bring the Presidency back to the people.  In reality, Carter was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy who studied nuclear physics, was a disciple of Admiral Hyman Rickover, and handpicked by Rickover to serve as the engineering officer on one of the first atomic submarines.

I don’t understand why this appeals to the American electorate.  I don’t understand why it works.  All I know is that it is not a good reflection on the American electorate as a whole.  If anybody says, “Oh, I voted for him because he was dumber than the other guy”, they should have their right to vote revoked.

and, "The Intelligence of George W. Bush", November 8, 2010:

I’ve made this argument for years.  George W. Bush was not dumb.  He may have done some dumb things and he may have sounded dumb when he talked once in a while, but Bush was one of the most ambitious and politically clever Presidents in recent history.

People tend to forget that George W. Bush wasn’t this guy that he portrayed himself as during his campaigns — the rough-hewn rancher from West Texas who was running to rid Washington of politics-as-usual and unite the country.  Bush was born in Connecticut, attended East Coast prep schools, earned degrees from Harvard and Yale, and his political experience included being Governor of Texas but also being one of his father’s most ideologically devout campaign warriors.

Depending on your political beliefs, what Bush did as President may have been bad for this country and world.  I tend to believe that he was terrible for the world.  What he did, however, was prove that he had the ability to do what he wanted to do and he had very specific, solid beliefs that he followed through on.  It doesn’t make him a good President, but he was an effective President when it comes to doing what he wanted to do.  You can’t do that while being dumb.

Bush was a bad speaker, especially when reading from a script — so was his dad.  Off-the-cuff, though, he was very good.  His campaign appearances were smooth and impressive.  He connected with Americans far better than Al Gore and John Kerry did in 2000 and 2004.  And in the debates of 2000 and 2004, EVERYONE believed that Gore and Kerry would destroy Bush.  But they didn’t.  In fact, Bush won the majority of those debates.  He lowered expectations and then exceeded them.  Dumb guys wouldn’t have done that.

George W. Bush wasn’t dumb.  He was underestimated and that’s what made him so dangerous.  When people underestimate someone, they tend to lower their guards and think that the person is harmless.  If politicians or political parties want to defeat an opponent, they should never label that opponent as dumb.  It’s never a good strategy because for some ridiculous, inexplicable reason, Americans either like or sympathize with dumb people.  Actually, maybe that’s not so inexplicable.  It’s just ridiculous.