Presidential Emergency Action Documents

National Emergencies Act (1976)

PEAD.wc-sullivan-fbi-memo-on-pads-1967-620I’m an old political science major. Yet I was only vaguely aware of a Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADs). The Brennan Center for Justice knows, though. They are “executive orders, proclamations, and messages to Congress that are prepared in anticipation of a range of emergency scenarios.

“PEADs are classified ‘secret,’ and no PEAD has ever been declassified or leaked. Indeed, it appears that they are not even subject to congressional oversight.”

I recommend that you check out CBS Sunday Morning from 16 August 2020, at 3:50. Better, go or here with full text, which runs a little over 10 minutes. “Ted Koppel investigates White House directives, granting vast powers to the president, that are so secret even Congress cannot see them.”

Almost without limit

“Although PEADs themselves remain a well-kept secret, over the years a number of unclassified or de-classified documents have become available that discuss PEADs. Through these documents, we know that there were 56 PEADs in effect as of 2018, up from 48 a couple of decades earlier. PEADs undergo periodic revision. Although we do not know what PEADs contain today, we know that PEADs in past years—
-authorized detention of “alien enemies” and other “dangerous persons” within the United States;
-suspended the writ of habeas corpus by presidential order;
-provided for various forms of martial law;
-issued a general warrant permitting search and seizure of persons and property;
-established military areas such as those created during World War II;
-suspended production of the Federal Register;
-declared a State of War; and
-authorized censorship of news reports.”

The CBS News piece is troubling. In part, it’s because it quotes the incumbent. In March 2020, he stated, “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.” The following month, “when discussing guidelines to be issued to governors about reopening states during the coronavirus pandemic,” he said something I found quite chilling. “‘When somebody is the President of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be – it’s total.'”

Alarming

Worse, in a January 2019 article in The Atlantic, Elizabeth Goitein notes The Alarming Scope of the President’s Emergency Powers.

Aiming to rein in this proliferation [of Presidential declarations], Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976. Under this law, the president still has complete discretion to issue an emergency declaration. But he must specify in the declaration which powers he intends to use… The state of emergency expires after a year unless the president renews it. The Senate and the House must meet every six months while the emergency is in effect ‘to consider a vote’ on termination.

“By any objective measure, the law has failed. Thirty states of emergency are in effect… And during the 40 years that the law has been in place, Congress has not met even once, let alone every six months, to vote on whether to end them.

“As a result, the president has access to emergency powers contained in 123 statutory provisions, as recently calculated by the Brennan Center for Justice, where Goitein works.

Those of us who believe in democracy don’t want ANY President with this much power. And certainly, not one who has suggested he would use it indiscriminately.

Presidents Day: living exes

The pendulum now swings the other way

herbert hoover
Herbert Hoover, 31st President (1929-1933) lived until 1964
There have been times in this nation’s history when the United States has had only one living President, and others when we’ve had as many as six current and former Commanders-in-Chief.

Of course, George Washington was the first President (April 30, 1789-March 4, 1797). When he died on December 14, 1799, his successor, John Adams, was the only living President until March 4, 1801, when Thomas Jefferson took over.

These things wax and wane. From March 4, 1861 to January 18, 1862, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler (who died on the latter date), Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and the then-current occupant, Abraham Lincoln were all alive.

Yet, a decade and a half later, the US experienced the longest period with no living ex-Presidents, from July 31, 1875, when Andrew Johnson died, until the end of Ulysses Grant’s term on March 4, 1877. Taylor (1850) and Lincoln (1865) had died in office, and other ex-Presidents died relatively shortly after leaving the office.

And then, there were none

When Grover Cleveland died on June 24, 1908, there were no living ex-Presidents until Theodore Roosevelt’s term ended in March 1909, and Howard Taft became President.

Calvin Coolidge died on January 5, 1933, making lame-duck Herbert Hoover as the only living President until Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inauguration in March.

Richard Nixon became the only living President when Lyndon B. Johnson died on January 22, 1973 until Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford took over on August 9, 1974.

The pendulum now swings the other way.
From January 20, 1993 to April 22, 1994: Nixon (died on the latter date), Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton (incumbent)

From January 20, 2001 to June 4, 2004: Ford, Carter, Reagan (died on the latter date), GHW Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush (incumbent)

From January 20, 2017 to November 30, 2018: Carter, GHW Bush (died on the latter date), Clinton, GW Bush, Barack Obama, Trump (incumbent)

Losing for winning

Sometimes, the person who loses the popular vote wins the Presidency.
1824 – John Quincy Adams lost both the electoral and popular votes but won the election. Because none of the four candidates, including his eventual successor Andrew Jackson, won a majority in the Electoral College, the vote was sent to the House of Representatives. They decided JQ was the best man for the job.

1876 – Rutherford B. Hayes who won the disputed electoral vote v. Samuel J. Tilden who won the popular vote

1888 – Benjamin Harrison won the electoral vote v. Grover Cleveland who won the popular vote. Cleveland both preceded and succeeded Harison

2000 – George W. Bush won the electoral vote v. Al Gore who won the popular vote.

2016 = Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million, a lead of 48.3% to 46.2%. But her opponent received 304 electoral votes to her 227.

Also

Why No One Can Agree on What George Washington Thought About the Relationship Between Church and State

Lincoln bible unveiled in Springfield, IL

Now I Know: Almost Saved By the Bell

Z is for Abraham Zapruder, who filmed JFK’s asassination

Presidents Day 2019: Second Bill of Rights

“The unrestricted competition so commonly advocated does not leave us the survival of the fittest. The unscrupulous succeed best in accumulating wealth.”

Abraham Lincoln 1836
Abraham Lincoln, Congressman-elect from Illinois. icholas H. Shepherd, photographer. Springfield, Ill., 1846 or 1847

Some Presidential trivia:

From Summer Bowl 9 (Chuck Miller)

Donald Trump has 24, Ronald Reagan has 10, and John Tyler has the most at 30. The most what?

Who was the last U.S. President who did not nominate a judge for the U.S. Supreme Court?

JEOPARDY! game #7807 aired 2018-07-17

CITING THE PRESIDENT $400: In the 1970s: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”
CITING THE PRESIDENT $800: In the 1970s: “Our long national nightmare is over”
CITING THE PRESIDENT $1200: “I do not expect the Union to be dissolved–I do not expect the house to fall–but I do expect it will cease to be divided”
CITING THE PRESIDENT $2000: In an early 20th c. message to Congress: “We have stood apart, studiously neutral”
CITING THE PRESIDENT $2,000 (Daily Double): In the early 20th c.: “I took the canal zone, & let Congress debate, & while the debate goes on the canal does also”

JEOPARDY! game #7806 aired 2018-07-16

4, 4 (two words, each with four letters) $1000: In 1848 Martin Van Buren was the presidential candidate of this party that opposed slavery in western territories

JEOPARDY! game #7868 aired 2018-11-21

PRESIDENTIAL IRONY, Final Jeopardy! 1 of the 2 Presidents who offered Daniel Webster the VP slot; he declined both, thinking the job went nowhere.

Answers below.

Why Thomas Jefferson Owned a Qur’an

Why James Madison would say our real problem is not misinformation

“The unrestricted competition so commonly advocated does not leave us the survival of the fittest. The unscrupulous succeed best in accumulating wealth.” Rutherford B. Hayes

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944, including the Second Bill of Rights:
“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence… People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
“In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.”

“I don’t give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them, and they think it’s Hell.” – Harry S Truman, 1948

“If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956

The Eisenhower Matrix

When the President and His Chef Feuded Over Cold Beans

Thursday, August 8, 1974: the night that Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency (three hours)

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter pass up riches to live modest, giving and truthful lives

George HW Bush was a complex man who somehow perfectly embodied a simpler time: both a blue-blood and, to quote Nixon, a ‘nut-cutter’ who knew how to carry out the dirty work of politics

When New York Tried to Take Away a W

What Obama secretly did at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Pastor: When White Folks Say Obama Was an ‘Embarrassment’, Here’s What You Say

One Last Time (44 Remix) – Christopher Jackson, Barack Obama, Bebe Winans #Hamildrop

Answers to quizzes:

Summer Bowl 9:
The number of the age difference between the President and his First Lady
Jimmy Carter

JEOPARDY!
Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Abe Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt
Free Soil
William Henry Harrison or Zachary Taylor

Jackie and John Kennedy wedding
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and John Kennedy talking at their wedding reception, Newport, Rhode Island / Toni Frissell. 1907-1988, photographer, 12 September 1953


Photos from the Library of Congress. No known copyright restrictions.

George Herbert Walker Bush – President 41

George H. W. Bush lost his bid for re-election in 1992, “receiving less support than any incumbent president in 80 years.”

george herbert walker bushI’ve had complicated feelings about George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, for a long time. I don’t remember him as a Congressman from Texas in the 1960s, but I do recall his tenure as ambassador to the United Nations (`1971-1973).

Then he was named the chairman of the Republican National Committee, trying to negotiate a fine line between supporting the party and trying not to be disloyal to Richard Nixon, who was becoming increasingly mired in the Watergate scandal. His loyalty to the President, while consistent with his military training, made me mighty uncomfortable.

George Bush seemed suited to be the U.S. representative to China at a point when Sino-American relations were warming. He was passed over for Vice-President twice by Gerald Ford.

He ran for President in 1980 and was totally correct when he dubbed Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down fiscal plan as “voodoo economics.” Yet Reagan tapped Bush to be his Vice-Presidential candidate, and of course, they won.

I’m not much into conspiracy theories. But I’ve long wondered if the release of 52 Americans held hostage from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, Inauguration Day was more than a coincidence. Some cite Reagan’s tough talk, but I looked more at Bush’s CIA connections, where he was the director for a year, mostly in 1976.

Interestingly, I have few strong recollections of George H. W. Bush’s eight years as Vice-President (1981-1989), other than some odd perception that the man, whose plane was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire during World War II was some sort of patrician “wimp.”

I do recall the nasty 1988 Presidential campaign, first against Republicans such as Senator Bob Dole (KS), Congressman Jack Kemp (NY), former Governor Pete du Pont (DE) and conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson.

His acceptance speech referred to the “thousand points of light” as a vision of the United States. He picked largely unknown lightweight senator Dan Quayle (IN) as his running mate.

Though Bush found it difficult to articulate what he wanted to accomplish as president — “the vision thing”, he called it – “he handily beat Governor Michael Dukakis (MA) in the general election.” He was helped by some sleazy ads suggesting that his opponent was soft on crime. The media attack was orchestrated by the infamous political strategist Lee Atwater.

As the Los Angeles Times noted:

“During his single term in the White House, the Berlin Wall fell, newly democratic states sprang up across Central and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union came to an end.” For a time he had an 89% approval rating.

George Herbert Walker Bush passed historic legislation, including the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990). On the other hand, he nominated to the Supreme Court the very problematic Clarence Thomas (1991), and not just over the sexual harassment allegations.

“But the end of the Cold War also signaled the end of an era of American bipartisanship that the long conflict with the Soviets had fostered. Bush, the product of an earlier era, seemed out of phase with a younger, harder-edged generation of conservatives rising in his party.”

His real undoing was going back on his convention pledge: “Read my lips: no new taxes” in response to “a short, but sharp, recession that took hold in 1990 and raised unemployment…” He lost his bid for re-election in 1992, “receiving less support than any incumbent president in 80 years.”

George H. W. Bush “had been a college athlete, a Navy pilot and war hero, a business success… [Yet] he often seemed out of place when trying to communicate with voters. His… small gaffes — appearing surprised by a supermarket price scanner… — fed an image of a man distant from the lives of average Americans.”

Frankly, his standing with the American public has taken an upturn, in no small part, because of his son George W. Bush’s two terms as the 43rd President. If the first Gulf War was considered successful, I certainly appreciate 41’s restraint in NOT taking over Baghdad, which 43’s administration did a dozen years later.

In his post-presidential life, George H. W. Bush “reemerged in the public eye for his humanitarian work in the wake of the tsunami that devastated southern Asia in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Through those efforts, he became close friends with Bill Clinton, the Democrat who had vanquished him.”

In 2011, President Obama awarded Bush the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In retirement, he became known for skydiving into his 90s. I’d been concerned about his health, especially when Barbara, his wife of 73 years, died on April 17, 2018.

Whatever misgivings I had about George Herbert Walker Bush, I saw him as a basically dignified man who loved his country and his family. As Arthur, who met the man decades ago, said: “He was the last of the Old School Republicans, a type we’ll probably never see again: Kind, decent, respectable, someone with whom one could disagree without it being personal or bitter.”

Did John Anderson create Ronald Reagan?

In New York, Reagan beat Carter by 2.67% but Anderson got 7.54% of the votes.

John Bayard Anderson
John Anderson, a moderate Republican congressman back in the day when there still were moderate Republicans, ran for President in 1980 against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, the Democrat, and the Republican standard-bearer, Ronald Reagan. Of course, the former actor and California governor beat the former peanut farmer and Georgia governor by over 8.4 million votes cast.

Reagan also won an absolute majority of the voters (50.75%) to 41.01% for Carter. Anderson, who died recently, received 6.61% of the ballots. And 1.63% of the people, including, BTW, me, voted for someone else. So those who oppose the Electoral College – the system where all electoral votes go to each state winner – should be satisfied with the results, right?

But under the EC rules, was John Anderson really a spoiler, as some have suggested? 270 electoral votes are needed to be elected.

States won by Carter: DC-3, GA-12, HI-4, MD-10, MN-10, RI-4, WV-6 = 49 electoral votes.

States won by Reagan with more than 50% of the vote: AK-3, AZ-6, CA-45, CO-7, FL-17, ID-4, IN-13, IA-8, IA-8, KS-7, LA-10, MO-12, MT-4, NE-5, NV-3, NH-4, NJ-17, NM-4, ND-3, OH-25, OK-8, SD-4, TX-26, UT-4, VA-12, WY-3 = 263 electoral votes.

So if you add the states where the difference between Reagan votes and Carter votes is greater than the Anderson votes, the Republican easily hits 270. In Alabama, for instance, Reagan bat Carter 48.75% to 47.45%, a difference of only 1.3%. But Anderson only managed to scrape up 1.23% of the votes, with others garnering 2.57%. 9 electoral votes to the Republican anyway.

Anderson did very well in the Pacific Northwest, getting 9.51% of the vote in Oregon and 10.62% in Washington. Yet the difference between Reagan and Carter was 9.66% and 12.34% respectively, meaning those 6 and 9 electoral votes were destined for the GOP column.

Even Illinois, Anderson’s home state, fell into that column. Reagan, who grew up in the Land of Lincoln, got 49.65% of the vote compared with Carter’s 41.72%. Anderson’s 7.3% is less than the 7.93% of the major party candidates. 26 electoral votes solid for the Gipper.

This is not to say Anderson wasn’t a spoiler in some states. In New York, Reagan beat Carter by 2.67% but Anderson got 7.54% of the votes. AR, CT, DE, KY, ME, MA, MI, MS, NC, TN, VT, and WI theoretically COULD have gone to Carter if it weren’t for Anderson. It would not have mattered to the outcome.