Presidents Day 2017: Nixon’s the One

JFK Calls about Furniture

George Washington’s first inaugural address (April 1789), referring to himself: “One, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpractised in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

Now I Know: The Case of George Washington versus Pinocchio

John Quincy Adams: When The People Cheered

Presidents in Our Backyard – Part 1 (Martin Van Buren, Chester A. Arthur, Ulysses S. Grant)

The highest-ranked President who only served one-term is James Knox Polk.

Sarah Knox Taylor, the second daughter of Zachary Taylor and the first Mrs. Jefferson Davis

This is an actual standard fantasy I’ve had over the years: I’m captured, and the Americans think I’m a spy. I name all the Presidents correctly, including the year entering the office and political party – I really CAN do that – then they shoot me, because OBVIOUSLY, I’m a Soviet/Russian/Chinese spy, since NOBODY knows Millard Fillmore (1850-1853, Whig), who was New York State Comptroller before becoming Vice-President.

Worst president ever: The ignominy of James Buchanan – On the way to the Capitol for the inauguration of his successor on March 4, 1861, Buchanan told Abraham Lincoln, “If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland [his home in Pennsylvania], you are a happy man indeed.”

Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address (1861)
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Lincoln’s Great Depression

Now I Know The Vice:President (David Rice Atchison) and John Wilkes Booth’s Heroic Brother

Are You a Presidential Beard Connoisseur?

Ulysses S. Grant’s Veal & Sweet Potato Fries

The first President to ban immigrants?

Chris Churchill: A chat with President Chester A. Arthur

Now I Know: Grover Cleveland’s Pole Tax

‘All for each and each for all:’ Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal

Theodore Roosevelt holds that it is “unpatriotic, servile, and morally treasonable to proclaim that there must be no criticism of the President.” (1918)

Who was the first president to visit Canada? I was surprised.

Quora: Which US President had the most foresight?

Listening In: JFK Calls about Furniture (July 25, 1963)

Lyndon Johnson Speech Before Congress on Voting Rights (March 15, 1965): “There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem. And we are met here tonight as Americans—not as Democrats or Republicans–we are met here as Americans to solve that problem.”

Lyndon Johnson orders pants.

Nixon Aide Reportedly Admitted Drug War Was Meant To Target Black People. “Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.” Anyone who read Michele Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow already knew this.

Nixon’s Vietnam Treachery. This was treason.
US fatalities in the Vietnam war:
1969 – 11,780
1970 – 6,173
1971 – 2,414
1972 – 759
1973 – 68
1974 – 1
1975 – 62

Now I Know: The Red Menace (Nixon in China)

Three Presidential $1 Coins were issued in 2016, the final year of the program, for Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, and Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter had the audacity of still being alive; hope he’ll get one down the line, after he passes away.

Now I Know: Reagan and Gorbachev’s Green Pact

You Must Remember This podcast – Storm Warning: Ronald Reagan, the FBI and HUAC (THE BLACKLIST EPISODE #8)

10 Books to Understand the Obama Presidency

Presidential Payroll: What Commanders in Chief Have Earned Since 1789

Music and communication

I do have affection for Chester A. Arthur.

cher-dyingMore Ask Roger Anything questions from Chris:

How do you explain to your daughter how to vet sources?

It must be from an example. Just recently, my daughter said, of a tabloid cover in the supermarket, “Cher isn’t really dying, is she?” We watch a couple of news networks, plus Comedy Central, not every day, but often enough, so she can clearly see that shows often offer different emphases.

In your opinion, is Wikipedia a reliable source?

Depends on the topic, and the compiler. There’s an old cliche about a newspaper providing perfect information for topics I know nothing about, but less so for things with which I am familiar. I recently linked to the Wikipedia for the band Blotto, and I noticed that it NEVER mentioned the band members’ actual names. This was a failing.

Some posts are frozen in amber, perfectly accurate as of November 2013, e.g., but not so much today. Whereas other posts are updated regularly to reflect new music released or films made. Deaths are often, but not always, caught.

I specifically remember that back in 2004 or 2005, I corrected a mention that the next Presidential election would be in 2007, when, of course, it was 2008.

Still, when I’m doing research for a topic about which I know nothing, Wikipedia can be very useful, ESPECIALLY the links to the various footnotes.

What’s one area of scientific research that you think we should be funding more (other than medicine and climate change)?

Well, climate change is huge and would include the potential for everything from island nations flooding to the future loss of the maple syrup industry from the continental United States. Once you’ve eliminated climate change and medicine, what I think you have left is space exploration. It has very often answered many questions for answers here on earth, including those two topics.
What’s been the most surprising world change in your lifetime?

Communication, for good and for ill. You make friends on Facebook with people around the world, you have fights with total strangers on Facebook, often about really stupid stuff. You text your friends, while you ignore those physically around you.

I’ve been the guy reading the newspaper, maybe only a dozen years ago, and someone, as often as not, would comment on a story, or maybe just quietly read over my shoulder. Or I’d read over someone else’s shoulder. Those electronic devices don’t seem to open one up to one’s immediate environment, even as one can learn about the most recent terrorism in Turkey.

The Internet allows for more information, but also misinformation, disinformation, satire, lies. We can see Arab Spring or police misconduct, but also LOL cats and Stare-down Sammy, which got 34 million views on Facebook, and was shown on the CBS morning news; I thought it was a waste of air time.

There have been conspiracy theories for a long time, but they can propagate far more freely these days. Even objective facts will be disputed, and as a person dealing with, ideally, objective information, this can be both frustrating and exhausting. (See also my answer about Google.)

I’ve actually had this conversation about an article someone read. (I’m a librarian; a variation of this happens a LOT.)

Her: Is it true?
Me: Where did the information come from?
Her: Facebook!
Me: But what was the ORIGINAL SOURCE of the information?
Her: I TOLD you, Facebook!

Who is your favorite president and why?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was rich and rather pompous and arrogant. His ailment thought to be polio at the time, but now believed to be Guillain-Barre syndrome, humbled him, and made him a champion for those less well off. And he had a great partner in Eleanor, with whom he seemed to have achieved an understanding regarding his infidelity.

He was imperfect, the Japanese internment being chief among his failures. But he initiated a lot of useful programs, some of which are around today, such as Social Security and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

I do, though, have affection for Chester A. Arthur, a product of the spoils system who became a reformer for civil service.

Tom the Mayor queried:

What is your Favorite Beatles song?

The last time I made a list, it was 3. Help 2 Got To Get You Into My Life 1 Tomorrow Never Knows. Re: TNK, I recently saw Paul, Ringo, and Georges Harrison and Martin discuss its intricacies. But Help! is something I can sing with my daughter.

What is your Favorite Aretha Franklin Song?

The last time I made a list, it was 4. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone 3. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman 2. Sweet Bitter Love (1966). 1. Respect
Of course, Respect is a great cover. Since You’ve Been Gone has always been a favorite because it stifled deejays. But Sweet Bitter Love was in a quartet (or more) of songs that I played when romance went south.

What is your Favorite Joni Mitchell song?

The last time I made a list, it was 2. A Case of You 1. River. River reminds me of my late friend Donna George. But the poetry of A Case of You touches me too.

The Presidency; home alone

I alternate: I read newspapers, work on the computer, clean, watch TV while riding the stationary bike.

Scott is back with more questions: In the first one hundred years of the US, which president do you find the most fascinating?

Who do you find the most fascinating US president after those first one hundred years?

It occurred to me that, depending on how you measure the first 100 years, one could put Grover Cleveland in both chronological camps, since the first President under the current Constitution was elected in 1789, and Cleveland’s terms were 1885-1889 and 1893-1897. Not that I would, but I COULD.

There are a number of early Presidents who I find fascinating: Jefferson, Madison, JQ Adams, Jackson (for the wrong reasons), but primarily for their service before (or in Adams’ case, after) the Presidency. It’s hard to argue with choices such as Washington or Lincoln.

Still, I’ll pick Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President (pictured), who became President upon the death of the assassinated James Garfield in 1881. He was a real patronage guy earlier, but when he moved into the Oval Office, he became a reformer. From “Publisher Alexander K. McClure recalled, ‘No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired … more generally respected.'” He was an upstate New Yorker, BTW, though born in Vermont. He died only a couple of years after his term ended.

More recently, it’s probably Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President, who succeeded the assassinated John Kennedy in 1963. The Texan was SO right on many civil rights issues. Of course, he was SO wrong on Vietnam, and his expansion of the war cost too many lives. He suspected that Nixon was interfering with the peace talks in 1968, yet did not want to weaken the Presidency and kept his own counsel.
Jaquandor is back:

You are alone for an entire day, as in, your family has to go somewhere and you’re on your own. And it’s your day off. What do you do, and what do you eat?

I alternate: I read newspapers, work on the computer, clean (vacuum and/or wash dishes), watch TV while riding the stationary bike. I’m always listening to music, except when the television’s on.

I’ll make some elaborate omelet, made with whatever I can find in the refrigerator, for breakfast; if I haven’t had any lately, buy Indian takeout for lunch; scour for leftovers – it might be the Indian food again – for dinner.

There are lots of ‘black’ stereotypes. Which one or ones irritate you the most?

It’s what black people are supposed to sound like. My father was very fussy about his children not speaking with street lingo, but rather with standard English. So people have said that I don’t “sound” black. Well, I AM black, and this is what I sound like; ipso facto, I sound black, Jack.

You asked this of me, so I’m turning it back: Are we really in a ‘post-racial’ society, and if not, how attainable IS such a thing?

Oh, goodness, no. In some ways, the myth that the Obama election meant that we as a nation are beyond race, has temporarily slowed progress. The narrative is belied by any number of bits from the last thing I wrote in answer to a question of yours.

Racism, and homophobia, and a lot of bigotry become mitigated only by knowing people who are not like yourself. It gets chipped away a little at a time, like the sea gradually wearing down a sandcastle on the beach. It doesn’t go away at once; sometimes, things get worse before they get better. Maybe in another 50 years?

Are there any countries you think you’d like to visit if not for the fact that you’re pretty sure you wouldn’t find anything you liked eating there?

Garrison Keillor has made me nervous about Scandinavia; all that talk about lutefisk, which I had once and found to be awful.

I decided that I wouldn’t back any more Kickstarter items for a while. Then Elaine Lee and Michael William Kaluta, who had had an unjust run-in with Disney/Marvel not long ago over their creation, Starstruck, are putting out a new Starstruck item. OK, after that one, NO MORE Kickstarter for a while.

Jane Henson 1934-2013, widow of Jim, and a force in her own right.


Presidents Day 2013: books, 1912, and longevity out of office

Which four presidents were assassinated?


JEOPARDY! Show #6451 – Monday, October 8, 2012


With his opponents dividing the vote, this Democratic challenger was elected
This incumbent president accepted the Republican nomination & did no campaigning; electoral votes: 8
Theodore Roosevelt used this metaphor when announcing his run, hence the button seen here
Eugene V. Debs garnered almost 1 million votes representing this left-leaning party
*Everyone wanted change even back then; the opposing campaign slogans were The ____ Freedom & The ____ Nationalism (same word)

2012 was a big year for Abraham Lincoln. He was featured in two movies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and that other one. But he did NOT invent Facebook. And secede from the Union? Lincoln has something to say about THAT.

The other guy who got a lot of play was Thomas Jefferson. There was Master of the Mountain: “The real truth about Thomas Jefferson. Forget Sally Hemings — a historian discovers the ugliest side of a founding father in his ledgers.” Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, and previously, American Lion [Andrew Jackson] and Franklin and Winston, insists he’s not letting Jefferson off the hook.

The Meacham book was one of the Good Reads’ best history & biography, along with Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard: “A riveting historical narrative of the shocking events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the follow-up to mega-bestselling author Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln.” Also selected: The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson #4) by Robert A. Caro.

In 2013, HBO will air a documentary about Bill Clinton, who is giving his full cooperation. It will be directed by Martin Scorsese.

As of early September 2012, Jimmy Carter became the U.S. president who lived the longest after leaving the office, overtaking Herbert Hoover. Navigate the length of retirement field on this Wikipedia page, and you’ll see that they are followed by Ford, J. Adams, Van Buren, Fillmore, GHW Bush, who just passed Truman, then after him, Nixon, and Madison, the first person this list who served two full terms (though Truman practically did). If I Google for the answer, John Adams often comes up as the answer. That was accurate until Hoover overtook him in 1958.

Carter, incidentally, is severing his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, because of the church’s choice “to interpret holy teachings… to… subjugate women.”

America’s Greenest Presidents. The tease said the top two were Republicans, which made it very easy to pick. Carter was third.

The “Checkers” speech was the making of Richard Nixon. Speaking of the 37th President, Throughout Richard Nixon’s presidency, three of his top White House aides obsessively documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras.” A Kickstarter campaign will help the documentarians “launch OUR NIXON out into the world.”

JFK campaign stamps and Vintage anti-JFK GOP Coloring Book from Early 60s. You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to conclude, as RFK, Jr. did, that the Warren Commission Report was “a shoddy piece of craftsmanship”.

There was a What’s Your White House IQ quiz in Parade magazine. The print version was better. It would ask “Which four presidents were assassinated?”, whereas the online version would make it multiple choice. I DO know the answer, BTW, without the prompts.

Girl discovers all US Presidents except one are related to a former king.

President Obama, again. Plus Obama and his predecessors.

This is a comedy bit: 26 Ways President Obama Has Completely Ruined The Country.

Hard Times – George H.W. Bush Campaign Song. During the 1992 election, Fresh Bush and the Invisible Man released this single.

National Review outraged that Obama called Holocaust ‘senseless violence’; he was essentially quoting Ronald Reagan.

The 2012 Chester A. Arthur Presidential Dollar was finally released after a lengthy delay. It was the first Presidential coin not minted for circulation and struck only in very limited quantities for collectors only. Still hate that; the next three are out now, Cleveland 1, B. Harrison, and Cleveland 2. More on Chester A. Arthur.

JEOPARDY! answers

Woodrow Wilson
William Howard Taft
Throwing his hat into the ring
The Socialists

Presidents Day – coins and candidates

We may have other chances at a candidate born in the fifties, but Paul will certainly be our last chance to select a Depression baby.


They blew it. The US Mint is dropping the $1 US Presidential coin. Well, not entirely. Those entities that sell them to collectors will receive some, but I can’t, in good conscience, BUY a $1 coin for $3 or more. Lost history, plus a chance to drop the dollar bill missed. Plus they ended the public run with an assassinated President, James Garfield, and dissed poor Chester A. Arthur, who would have been released this month. Hey, if you happen across any of them, post-Garfield, please let me know.
I was looking at the 2012 Republican field for President and realized that I should be supporting Ron Paul!

I jest about that, but if Ron Paul were somehow elected, he would have a quality that no other U.S. President has had: he would be born in the 1930s; his birth was in 1935. We’ve never had ANY President born in the 1930s, OR the 1950s, for that matter. Barack Obama was born in 1961, both Bush II and Clinton in 1946, both GHW Bush and Carter in 1924, and Reagan, Ford, Nixon, and Kennedy all in the 1910s.

Looking at the potential field, some of which never got traction, and others who dropped out, we have, besides Paul:

Newt Gingrich, Buddy Rohmer 1943
Herman Cain 1945
Willard “Mitt” Romney 1947
Rick Perry 1950
Gary Johnson 1953
Michele Bachmann 1956
Rick Santorum 1958
Jon Huntsman 1960

We may have other opportunities to select a President born in the fifties, but Paul will certainly be our last chance to pick a Depression baby.

Lists of best and worst Presidents tend to engender partisan debates. Here, then, is Salon’s Who’s the worst president of them all? It’s really difficult not to have Buchanan in the bottom three, at least.

Richard Nixon’s Watergate grand jury testimony. Watergate was a pivotal moment in both my life and the country’s.
A little off-topic: This year is the 100th anniversary of “Melody in A Major” by Chicago banker Charles G. Dawes, later Vice-President under Calvin Coolidge. You might recognize the song, with lyrics added decades later, as It’s All In The Game.

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