Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hillary and Bill and the Right Minded

Bill Clinton is hurting Hillary in Iowa by his heavy handed treatment of Obama. They have had to be so tough in their dealings with the nasty right over the years that they have become too personal and too edgy. They have become their enemies.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Military Man For Vice President

For either Hillary or Obama, General Wesley Clark would make a good vice president candidate. A former career officer who ran for president, Clark would add to either ticket a miltiary and security dimension and also an aspect of international relations due his record in Bosnia.

Neither Clinton nor Obama has the credentials to face the increasingly difficult morale issues among the brass since the catastrophes of Don Rumsfeld. Neither has the credentials as logistical planners capable of removing the USA from Iraq's sesspool

Friday, December 14, 2007

Save Molly Pitcher

We are getting the gruesome rumor that the Molly Pitcher rest stop on the Turnpike maybe be renamed to raise money. That would be a shame.

Molly Pitcher was a real person, and despite the escapades of a one time governor, she deserves better. She was Mary Hays, who followed her husband, John Hays, who fought in the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. She would carry pitchers of cold spring water to the wounded on the front lines.

When her husband was shot, she helped maintain the artillery and became a gunner. She was named by Washington a non-commisisoned officer and later remarried a man named McCauley. She is buried in Pennsylvania.

Let us save Molly Pitcher from corporate interests

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On Primaries and Immigration

The GOP primaries have witnessed a steady stream of anti-immigration and anti-immigrant rhetoric to court the nativists in rural Iowa and isolated New Hampshire. The Democrats capture now 57% of the Hispanic vote as compared to the Republicans’ 23%. The GOP has lost about 13 points since 2006. People, it seems, are listening to the debates on immigration and to the pre-convention politics.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hispanic Disenchantment

The latest Pew Hispanic poll shows great disenchantment by Hispanics with the GOP. Under Karl Rove and his boss, Bush II, the Republicans fused anti-Castro sentiments and Christian fundamentalism to court Hispanics - especially, at first, in Florida. Bush genuinely tried to get immigration reform through Congress, but Republicans refused.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Politics in the Middle East

Now we find that Rudy's firm is working for an ethopian group that the Adminsitration finds to be a terrorist threat.

US intelliegence services reports that our long attacks on Iran for nuclear weapons were unfounded. Iran stopped producing the necessary materials in 2003. Cheney said it aint so, basing his statement on the same brilliant sources which duped the witless Bush to go into Iraq.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hillary Lags

In the new survey done by Zogby, Clinton trails McCain 42-38; Giuliani 43 to40, and Romney 43-40. Hillary also laggs behind Huckabee by 44 to 39 and Thompson by 44 to 40 percentage. The Democrats have the 08 election to blow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Odd and Ends

Bill Clinton's insistence on defending the little woman is counter-productive and makes her look more vulnerable than she is. Perhaps he should just focus on raising money for her. Let Hillary be Hillary.

The Sage of Crawford seems to have lost his Secretary of State, which probably doesn't mean much these days. She is going back and forth trying to die down a Middle East agreement which every president since Nixon has tried to accomplish. The problem is that the Palestinians won't give up violence even against their own, and the Israelis will not give up their settlements on the West Bank.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Corzine Headed for the Treasury?

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's friends are saying that his early support for Hillary will land him a cabinet post like Treasury or the FED.

For some reason this month's Atlantic magazine has decided to prop up Obama in its newest issue. Still he comes off as an imperious young candidate who is stand offish in private conversation and yet is compelling on the stump as he was in the recent Jefferson Jackson Day dinner.

When in Arkansas...

Former co head of the 9-11 investigatory committee, Governor Thomas Kean, is supporting Senator John McCain for president. It may be that he knows how unprepared New York City was before 9-11 and under Rudy.

For two weeks Obama lacerated Hillary for her evasive answer on the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Then he was asked the same question and he goes into a Daffy Duck routine.

Mike Huckabee insisted that he was one of the people; then it was found out he was a big present getter when he left the governorship. Mike argued that he was following the norms of Arkansas. Why couldn't Bill use that argument for his transgressions?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ron Paul on the Move

Ron Paul moves on and on. The cranky old man from Texas is raising money at an incredible pace. There is surely something one likes about Paul--he is straight-shooting, honest, and direct. Kind of refreshing. What will kill him is that he lives in a 19th century world of limited government that isn't possible or feasible anymore in a republic of 300 million souls.

George H.W. Bush Enjoying His Parachute

80 plus year old George H.W. Bush recently jumped out of a plane in a virile display of parachuting. Who paid for that plane and for all those staff people with him?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not Ready for an Italian American President?

The latest Wall Street Journal-NBC polls shows that over 20% of the sample has a problem voting for an Italian American for president. Also, a new book out of England - Reagan and Thatcher: A Political Marriage. Those years seem a million eons ago in many strange ways.

John Bon Jovi for Governor

Rumor is, singer Bon Jovi is considering running for governor of New Jersey.

New york post implies Bill Bradley and wife are breaking up due to infidelity.

At a McCain rally a woman asked him how to stop "the bitch," meaning Hillary. Unbelievably the great war hero did not stop her but simply answered the question. Do you remember when McCain was a man to admire?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hillary in Decline

Hillary lost ten points after her slip ups in the last debate, which shows observers how soft those polls are.

The Whys of Rudy

What do RudY Giuliani and Pat Robertson have in common? Why does a three time married, lapsed, Roman Catholic, who favors abortion on demand and gay marriage get an endorsement from an old time, fundamentalist, Protestant, evangelical who once blamed 9-11 on New York City's lifestyle? The only answer is that they both love power and Rudi looks like the strongest GOP candidate to face Hillary. Not exactly rising to the level of theology.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Congressional Override

Congress has overriden the President's veto of a huge water projects program; this is the same Congress that could not override the President's veto of the children health care bill. And this is the same Congress that was elected on a pledge to end the war, while it continues to docilely fund the war without end. Is it any wonder Congress' approval rating is even lower than Bush's???

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Pew poll, church and state

Religion and ethnicity have always been major determinatnts in American Political live. The recent Pew polls asked people which presidntial candidates they thought were "very religous.

The rankings were:



George W. Bush -43%

The irony is that Romney is having problems with fundamentalists becasue of his Mormonism.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Once Upon a Time in Cleveland...

I must admit I was with Dennis Kucinich when he saw the UFO over Cleveland. Since he confirmed that he saw the UFO and admitted it on a national debate for the presidency, I guess I can let the secret out once and for all. He and I were having a real Coke (he hates additives) and we were siting in his trailer watching the moon over the Cuyahoga River. At first, Dennis thought it was a blimp from an old Cleveland Indians game, and I thought it was a US plane looking for the Soviets. As it came closer, Dennis ran over to it and was transmitted or beamed up to the portal opening. There he and something carried on a long conversation. I think the other being was trying to convince Dennis that he should run for president and that galactic peace depended on it. Dennis, who was then unmarried, figured that it would be good idea to leave with the UFO beings in search of a better dating life. In any case, I am not sure how long he was transmitted up, but soon we were sitting together. Dennis had had a religious experience without conversion and or penance. He later talked to Shirley McLaine about his travels and she verified it must have happened. That is why we should support Dennis for leader of the free world in this election.

~ Michael P. Riccards

Photo From Sand Castle VI and The Why Files

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tancredo and Regula Leave the House. Is Huckabee Packing Any Heat?

In the House, Republican Congressman, Tom Tancredo, has announced that he will not seek reelection. He has made a career out of stoking anti-immigrant fervor. What boat at Plymouth harbor did the Tancredos come in on?

Also leaving is Ralph Regula who has been a very conservative voice in education and now sees himself as a consultant to students in the future. The content of those consultations is a mystery.

More interesting is the notion that Governor Huckebee of Arkansas has been attacked for being too liberal. It appears that he is at heart a social conservative, a preaching minister, but also has taken some positions that are somewhat populist in nature, especially on the concentrating of wealth in the United States. I think that his best statement was telling Chris Matthews that the way to prevent violence on college campuses is to allow all students to pack guns. As a former college president, I can not imagine anything worse than my students packing iron on their way to psych 101 at 8 am after a bender on Thursday night. Sometimes, one has to come out of the Ozarks.

Lastly, Mike Gravel is not being allowed to be a part of the new Democrat debate on October 30.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Guiliani for the Sox and Ticket Predictions

Guiliani has decided to root for the Boston Red Sox , a peculiar turn for a guy who is supposed to be the penultimate Yankee fan. Can it be that there are a lot of Sox fans in southern New Hampshire --living there for the GOP primary? Can it also be that he knows that Hillary will carry New York anyhow??

Speaking of Rudy, he is now advertising that he is advised by some of most ferocious neocon hawks in Foreign Policy. The leader is Norman Podhoretz, former editor of Commentary, who is arguing for immediate attacks on Iran; followed by Daniel Pipes who has called for profiling of Muslims in the USA saying that it is unfortunate but they are all suspect. Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute is arguing that the US should be ending its ban on assassination especially as it related to North Korea and Iran leaders.

It is little wonder that Rudy was unable in Iowa to say if torture included waterboarding and that sleep deprivation is not torture, since he is tired also. Waterboarding which simulates feelings of drowning has been defined as torture since the Spanish Inquisition.

Also, political experts have told me that while they see my prediction of a GOP ticket of Rudy and preacher Huckabee, they cannot see Hillary and Richardson. He is seen as too much like Bill.....so they see her going to a moderate Midwestern like Bayh or the former governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack. Too bad for her that the Democrats don't control Texas, California, or Florida.

New Jersey Hall of Fame Inaugural Class Results

New Jersey Hall of Fame results are in: Historical category includes Clara Barton (?), Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein; Enterprise includes Buzz Aldrin, Malcolm Forbes, and Robert Wood Johnson; Arts and Entertainment: Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen and Meryl Streep; Sports are Yogi Berrra, Bill Bradley, and Vince Lombardi; General - Harriet Tubman, Norman Schwarzkopf, Toni Morrison. Can we really forget president Woodrow Wilson who so impacted the twentieth century world and Caldwell born president, Grover Cleveland

These categories make no sense, Buzz Aldrin was a great austronaut, a true adventurer; Malcolm Forbes only lives here occcasionally; Bill Bradley is really from Missouri as is Yogi (but we can give Yogi a pass for his long time in Montclair), and Toni Morrison only draws a paycheck from Princeton University for teaching six students. Certainly Joyce Carol Oates is a more significant novelist. Where is Stephen Crane by the way? And the great Count Basie of Red Bank.

Also missing is actor Jack Nicholson, a more important actor than Meryl. How about Abbott and Costello or the greatest living New Jerseyan - Danny Devito

Obama Sinking In Hillary's Wake

It looks like Barak Obama is tanking faster than Ellen DeGeneris' tearful dog adoption show. Why did a man of such charisma and promise sink? Some will say that it is because Hillary has a tremendous organization, but she also has a high set of negatives. Still, Hillary comes across as rather informed on the public policy issues before the nation. You see? Ideas still matter. Her well thought out medical care proposal won plaudits, especially in her party and among many voters concerned about costs. Yet, her proposal was very similar to John Edwards' earlier proposal which no one read. And one cannot see what Obama believes about universal medical costs; he seems preoccupied with criticizing her record on voting to give the president powers to go into Iraq. Ok, you have made the point, get on with running a campaign that is meaningful to more people.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Cost of Congressional Healthcare and Some Predictions

Early prediction---for Democrats it will be Clinton and Richardson and for the GOP, Giuliani and Huckabee.

Hillary is doing especially well with women due to the universal medicare issue.

The New York Times argues that we all can't have the same healthcare plan as Congress and four-million feds. It is too expensive for us!!!

Brownback will quit the GOP primaries. He was the most pro-life candidate. It may be that abortion is less of an issue among conservatives.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Politically fickle Republican women...

Pollster Mark Penn has found that a quarter of Republican women will desert the party and go to Hillary.

Ron Paul is quoting Alan Greenspan about having his own doubts over whether the USA even needs a Federal Reserve Bank. How come Greenspan had none of these doubts when he was in office??

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This Just In...

Obama will open a campaign office in West Orange. Hillary's people keep visiting Douglas College. Latest polls show that Giuliani runs better in a state with large Italian American population. And Romney is having problems with fundamentalists over Mormonism. It looks like ethnic and group politics are alive and well in the USA.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On media and the presidential primary

Thompson will drop out of the New Hampshire race by Thanksgiving and out of the GOP primaries by Christmas.

For some reason, Time magazine wants us to know that Hillary is cold and so is her daughter. Based on what research??

Why do the cable stations insist that we must see disputes between their own media talking heads? Who really cares if Bill hates Ken and vice versa.

The New York Times features the note that the hearings against the Knight Templar misfiled for centuries in the Vatican's secret archves shows the knights were innocent of charges of heresey in the 14th century. Actually, we knew about that report in 2001.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What Do Women Want... in 2008?

By Michael Riccards and Mary Gatta

About a century ago, psychologist Sigmund Freud asked, “What do women want?” He never satisfactorily answered that question. Now as the United States approaches the 2008 presidential election, the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University and the Hall Institute of Public Policy are attempting to determine women’s priorities for the nation’s next chief executive. To do so, we conducted a presidential forum at Rutgers with a panel comprised of women leaders from New Jersey's business, academic and media industries.

The session was part of a series of forums that the Hall Institute has been conducting throughout the state to identify the issues of greatest importance to New Jerseyans for the next president. To date, the war in Iraq, the need for universal medical coverage and immigration reform have emerged as the state’s top priorities.

At our women’s forum, panelists and audience members overwhelmingly stressed the persistent and growing anxiety over economic security. With rising unemployment, rollbacks of pension funds and the contraction of medical benefits, middle class and blue collar New Jerseyans have been affected by downturns in the economy, especially for women heading up families. One out of five working women live at or below the poverty level, and over 55 percent of women provide half or more of their family’s income.

Although there is a modest family leave policy in place in the United States, there was some concern that even this unpaid leave policy may be reversed by executive order at the end of this Administration. The current Department of Labor was also seen as showing little commitment to workers’ rights. Especially significant is the need for more money for worker training and development. Working women need the opportunity to move up the ladder of opportunity in order to earn more income and achieve some greater job security. Nearly all women are a part of the American workforce at some point in their lifetime, so what happens in the world of work is of critical importance to them and to their children.

In an advanced economy such as ours, the acquisition and updating of skills is one of the surest avenues for fighting poverty and unemployment. But college and university tuitions have escalated and Pell money (federal need based financial aid) has not kept pace As a result, the important track of social mobility is being closed off to large numbers of working women who want to go on to college. In this country income, health benefits, pension rights, home ownership all are linked. And in order to understand the standard of living in which people operate, there is a real imperative to examine different methodologies so one can appreciate the true costs of living in a particular area of the country. For example, New Jersey is an especially expensive in terms of housing and taxes. A simple definition of the “poverty level” is not useful for understanding what people need to survive.

Women have been and are the main caregivers of their families. Unlike Western European countries, we do not take into account those realities and additional burdens and responsibilities, usually borne by women. Many of these nations provide PAID family leave for fairly long periods of time. Providing some recognition of those burdens is a real definition of family values -- respect for providing support for caregivers.

Comments at the forum repeatedly stressed the traumas of economic insecurity and their destabilizing effects on our society. It is necessary to resurrect the American notion of community, of recognizing the common good that unites us. The forum’s speakers and its guests wanted the next president to hear clearly the need for more support for working women and their dependents. The costs of a prolonged war are diverting enormous resources away from our social problems. Working women need a re-ordering of national priorities and changes that allow them to accentuate collective efforts, organizing and national forbearance.

# # #

The Hall Institute of Public Policy - New Jersey is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that explores issues of social, economic, educational and cultural importance to the Garden State. For more information, visit the Hall Institute online at http://www.hallnj.org/ or email info@hallnj.org.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Campaign Odds & Ends

Mike Gravel, Democrat candidate for president, has indicated that Americans are getting "fatter and dumber"--not exactly a bumper sticker that brings you votes.

Thompson has jumped to near the head of class in the GOP race. That means that it is better not to say anything in the presidency. He is supposed to be emulating Ronald Reagan. People forget that Reagan stood for clearly defined positions for decades before he came to the White House.

The President has somehow declared the mess in Iraqi a success in the making, and John McCain has fallen in line with his so called Victory Express, an old bus that is painted over--a rather appropriate symbol of his candidacy.

Bill Clinton continues his wearisome public appearances, this time to plug his new book on philanthropy.

Oprah held a fine fund raiser for Obama. Her endorsement of an obscure book can add 400,000 readers in two weeks. Maybe she can help Obama who is increasingly looks like a professor teaching an intro political science at 8 am.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Voter Turnout

We give too much importance to the venerable voters in Iowa and New Hampshire who are supposed to take the nominations of presidential candidates so seriously. It seems that New Hampshire 's turnout is 44 percent; in South Carolina 20 percent of voters turned out in 2000. Iowa has a caucus system that attracts an even lower percentage of voters. Is it little wonder that the parties are so captive of special interests and nutty blog sites? By the way, fewer than 50 percent of the eligible voters cast their ballots in the last presidential election.

Time for MoveOn to move on

Speaking of nutty blog sites, it is rather remarkable that MoveOn would plant an ad in the New York Times denouncing the integrity of General Petraeus. One wonders if MoveOn is either insensitive to attacks on the U.S. military or whether it is a front from Karl Rove. But in either case, it makes the anti-war case look bad and unpatriotic, which in turn rubs off on timid Democrats running for Congress. I disagree with Petraeus's analysis and his dressed version of "stay the course" as more Bushisms, but he has given his life to his nation and is a decorated veteran in the field. It is time MoveOn moved over.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who Do Veterans Like?

Rather remarkably Rudy Giuliani has a favorable rating of 64% among veterans compared to Mc Cain's 57%; Obama's 44%; Edwards 43%; Thompson's 40% and Hillary's 37%. The toughness stance is working with that group at least.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Warning from Michael Dukakis

Former Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic candidate for president in 1988, warns his party that it could lose in 2008. Indeed if a Republican can carry traditional areas and do well in Pennsylvania, Ohio and maybe New York or New Jersey, it could become a true forecast -- or to put it differently: What candidate can carry more big states beyond what Gore or Kerry did?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekend Musings

To a voter in New Hampshire who asked Rudy if our difficulties with the Moslem world are due to their past historical problems, he sneered back --You have a liberal arts education....

Tommy Thompson has dropped out as has James Gilmore of Virginia, who was never in it. Thompson probably knew more about medical coverage, but he sure did not seem very concerned when he was Secretary of HHS. He never seemed to focus on the issues, and when he got a question wrong, he blamed his hearing.

The Village Voice claims that Rudy had the emergency nerve center in New York City put close to City Hall so he could use it as a love nest for his women. That center thus ended up in the Twin Towers. If this charge from the counter culture newspaper went forward, it could be very serious for his campaign.

A Hillary-Rudy fight would put New Jersey in place and maybe result in some real campaigning by them, rather than using the state as a money cow.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dems Before the AFL-CIO

Apparently nobody in America watched the Democrat candidates as they groveled before the AFL-CIO. Less than a million people tuned in. The most poignant moment was when an ill man whose wife is also ill told how he lost his health insurance when his company moved out of town. It summarized in a nutshell, the most important domestic issue in this campaign.

The GOP in Iowa

As for the GOP, its candidates in Iowa discussed their personal sins on television. Rudy wisely bowed out of the discussion. Such stupidity is contagious. The worst is Tommy Tancredo, who thinks that the U.S. should bomb Mecca and Medina -- Islamic sacred cities. That is like bombing the Vatican becasue of the IRA. There ought to be a minimum IQ level to run for president.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll

Today's Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that the two New Yorkers continue to do well here, but most of the nation’s attention is focused outside of New Jersey -- on other states that have straw polls and on the various televised debates that are taking place.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Betting Odds

Call the primaries off. Intrade -- the betting website -- has odds that the next president will be Hillary with Richardson her veep.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Waiting for Godot

The GOP faithful are awaiting Godot -- that is Fred Thompson. But his early campaign staffing has been chaotic. Watch for him to fold by Christmas.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dress Code

The great decider has struck again. The White House has insisted that in this 100 degree heat the security guard will strictly abide by a dress code for tourists -- no jeans, no shorts, no sneakers, no tank tops. no flip flops. Poor dress habits lead to Al Quaeda style tourism. If we don't stop it in DC, it will go on to the new George Bush Library.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is Brownback Ready for Prime Time?

Senator Brownback is trying to argue that only he is pro-life and therefore should be the candidate for the fundamentalist vote. Does anyone think this guy is ready for prime time? Sitting in the White House making real life lonely decisions? Come on, Americans.

A Strategy that Could Backfire

There seems to be a bunch of bloggers who are not going to be satisfied until they bring articles of impeachment or at least censure against the president and vice president. There is no recognition that these actions just divert Democrats from the campaign coming up and also get the American people nervous about extremists on the left. Now we have Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore weighing in the issue. Enough.

Presidential and Poised

Even her enemies have to admit it: Hillary is getting better and better on the stump and on the television platform. She looks presidential and poised. Maybe just maybe she will win the presidential election and go on to become a very good president... Sorry Hillary haters.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fred Thompson's Past

Fred Thompson who is the new darling of the fundamentalist right was a lobbyist for a pro-abortion group. Can he be a casualty of that past?

Signs of Chaos

McCain's chief strategist and campaign manager, Terry Nelson, has resigned immediately, along with John Weaver, another key strategist. It is another sign in the chaos of what was once supposed to be the frontrunner's campaign.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Advice for McCain

McCain is being urged to resign from the Senate to focus on the presidency. Considering polls and fundraising he would be better to stay in the Senate and drop out of the campaign.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Across the NJ Border

In Pennsylvania, the state chairs have voted Giuliani top choice with McCain number 5. Thompson followed by Romney and then Gingrich.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

NJ Polls

In New Jersey, polls show Guiliani beats Hillary, but when Bloomberg is added to the mix, she wins over Rudy.

Bad News for McCain

With $2.4 million in the bank, Ron Paul has more money than John McCain - not good news for the once frontrunner.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The GOP and Medical Coverage

Republican candidates for president seem to have a difficult time on medical coverage. Rudy Giuliani finds universal health care a slippery slope to government control. This fellow was on two of the best public health care systems -- the City of New York and the federal government. McCain has the same problem --he has been on the federal and the military and. VA systems. Romney signed the Massachusetts universal health bill and made a big deal of it. There is no great mystery about what medical system we should have. All uninsured Americans should be in the system Congress has. No need for another commission.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Young America

The latest NY Times/CBS/MTV poll shows some interesting complications about young Americans. They generally support the democrats, universial health coverage, and gay marriage. But they also expect the U.S. to be successful in Iraq.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ratings Plunge

If you think Bush has low ratings, then look at Congress. The legislature now has 14 percent approval -- a step above roadkill.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Can three New Yorkers in the presidency race be too many?

If Mayor Bloomberg enters the campaign, he will help tank Rudy Guliani in the GOP race and will hurt Hillary in the general election.

Thompson , whom nobody knows much about, is already ahead of Rudy, mainly because of social issues. New York does not play well across fundamentalists.

McCain looks weaker than last week. As the war gets worse and as the generals waffle about the Bush surge, McCain looks more wrongheaded than courageous, which is unfortunate for a great hero. He is becoming the Charles Lindbergh of this generation.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Open Letter to the Candidates

The Hall Institute of Public Policy -- New Jersey has submitted an Open Letter to the 2008 presidential candidates, asking for their views on the issues of greatest importance to the state's citizens. Complete details are online at www.hallnj.org/nj2008.

Monday, June 18, 2007

New Numbers

Despite the disdain of the 24-7 talking heads on MSNBC and Fox,
Hillary appears to be getting stronger in the primaries. There is
also a major decline in McCain's ratings along with a shortage of
money. Obama seems to have peaked in some of the states but increased his lead in South Carolina.

Making Room for Gore?

If John Edwards does as poorly in South Carolina, his native state, he
has to drop out and perhaps make room for a new number 3 in the
democratic race (Gore?)

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Women with Needs"

Hillary is running very strong among poorer, less educated women, proving that class is more important than race. The Hillary campaign calls those people "women with needs," which means that they are people who do not have medical care, whose kids are going to lousy schools, who are working two or three jobs to live, and whose sons and daughters are more likely to be in Iraq. The problem with such women with needs is they are less likely to register and to vote than their wealthier conterparts, male and female.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Giving Men a Bad Name

Joe Scarborough recently asked if Fred Thompson's wife works the pole--a reference to strip club acts. Dan Rather recently said that Katie Couric's CBS news has become tarted--an obvious reference to painted women. These guys are going to give men a bad name. Maybe the real arrogance is not the candidates but the media???

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Thompson will be in by July 4, Newt by Labor Day. McCain will be out by Christmas and Richardson out by Iowa.

Click on COMMENTS below and post your predictions, or send an email to nj2008@hallnj.org.

Hillary, Wolf and Joe

The latest polls in New Hampshire show that while Hillary is not personally popular, she is still viewed as the strongest candidate and one a voter would chose in the Democrati primary.

Apparently, she has been helped by her performance in the debates. Wolf Blitzer has made her look good by asking questions that are so wildly hypothetical that she seems a voice of reason.

Speaking of a lack of reason, the palm goes this week to Senator Joe Lieberman who wants to go to war in Iran. There seems to be no understanding that the planners in the Pentagon are rightly concerned that a war in Iran will imperil our troops in Iraq. Looks like the voters in the Democratic primary in Connecticut last year were right in trying to dump Lieberman.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sopranos Finale

On the final episode of The Sopranos, Meadow says to her father that she wants to be a civil rights lawyer, "The state can crush the individual." Tony replies "New Jersey?"

Friday, June 8, 2007

President Bush Quote

On meeting a woman whose husband died in Iraq, Bush asked how she was doing. She said not good on what was also their anniversary. Bush responded, “Boy, that is a double whammy.”

New low point: Fox full day coverage of Paris Hilton.

Lower point: Picture of her being watched by President Bush.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No Child Left Behind

The war and the need for universal medical care have blocked out any serious discussion about reauthorizaiton of No Child Left Behind and the need for national achievement benchmarks and national tests.

Bloomberg Presidential Campaign?

Is any anyone concerned about the talk of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's possible presidential nomination being self funded at a $1 billion? Doesn't that remote possibility promote the importance of mandatory public financing?

Long Primary Season

The long primary season should give us a chance to get to know the
lower tier of candidates such as Huckebee of Arkansas and Biden of

Bush on Iraq Withdrawal

The Bush Administration has insisted that any withdrawal plans would embolden the Iraqi insurgents, and it has used that argument shamelessly to hold the GOP in Congress in line. But at the same it is releasing hints that it is planning a phased withdrawal from Iraq beginning before election day. Surprise, surprise.

Richardson on Meet the Press

Bill Richardson did poorly on Meet the Press over Memorial Day. His
problems may be due to his seeing himself as a vice presidential
candidate on several possible tickets so he did not want to alienate
anyone. Russett was his usual insufferable self.

Hillary to visit Iowa and New Hampshire

If Hillary stumbles in Iowa and in New Hampshire, watch for Al Gore coming in.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


In Trenton and throughout many cities, one encounters devotees of the perennial political candidate, Lyndon LaRouche of Leesburg Virginia. He has served time in prison and run for president of the Untied States and proclaims through his political action committee positions on the environment, the economy, education, and whatever topic gets his confused attention.

Now he is declaring that the old economics is dead, and a new one is needed. He has urged the forced retirement of Vice President Cheney and that we put George Bush under “compassionate care.” If we don’t, we will have a war spreading across the Middle East and also the worst financial crisis since the Dark Ages. He is critical of every president since the death of McKinley and regards Teddy Roosevelt as the nephew of a Confederate traitor. And he sees Woodrow Wilson as an advocate of the Ku Klux Klan. Only with the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt did a president challenge the corrupt clique centered in London and Wall Street.

Like many commentator, he is concerned about our economic and political dependence on fossil fuels. He presents fusion as the technology of the future. But Baby Boomers are conditioned not to believe in the harsh truth. We need “bell canto” mode of singing in the streets to woo the next generation. HUH. He opposes a money economy and wants a “physical” economic and insists that the entire international money system be liquated. Put the whole system into bankruptcy, destroy the Federal Reserve System, and end banks.

Yet he is fulsome in his support of FDR’s interventionist New Deal with its huge public works programs over the years. He denounces outsourcing and globalization, and the Anglo-Dutch Liberal imperial order. He wants the USA to invest in the physical infrastructure.

We used to control China, now it controls us. He talks a swipe at the former Secretary Treasury, Robert Rubin, who thinks like a banker—which of course he was in several senses. LaRouche wants to go back to the protectionist model—which the early FDR indeed did do.

Lastly, he concludes that the biggest terrorist threat is Vice President Cheney. Al Qaeda was created by George Bush and the Carter aide Zbigniew Brzezinski who mobilized resources for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets and which feed the al Qaeda forces. The Bushes are close to the Saudi families and interests and are personally allied to Bin Liaen’s family. These are the gist of La Rouche’s polices.

His position and than of his followers illustrates how complicated international economics has become and the difficulty of understanding the flow of capital, investment, goods and human labor in a global economy. He takes comfort from the last great president’s ways, but FDR was remarkably adaptable in his movements and philosophical underpinnings.

FDR did not understand the Depression neither did the academic economists or Was Street. But he pushed for a more humane state as part of his experimentation, and his fits and starts.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Obama Ready for Prime Time

Last week, Senator Obama came to Trenton, New Jersey. He was a guest of the AFL-CIO and his presentation was stellar. Obama is tall, thin, and yes very articulate. He is a man of some nuance in his answers, but his answers are to the point. His reception was very positive, and his denunciation of the war in Iraq brought the union members to their feet applauding. The Senator is much more impressive in person than he was in the debate several weeks ago. Clearly he is ready for prime time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Fort Dix

The planned attack on Fort Dix gives frightening testimony that homeland security is surely an issue in ‘08.

Hillary's Ratings

CNN and Fox keep wondering why Hillary's ratings don't go down every week. Maybe people respect her more than talking heads do.

The Al Gore Rumors

Rumor is Al Gore may run for president. The only people who are spreading that are his old staff members.

Royal Confusion

Queen Elizabeth frowned at President’s Bush's verbal confusion, citing the 1976 anniversary as 1776. Obviously she doesn't watch U.S. news. He has a whole string of them, your majesty.

Monday, May 7, 2007

And after Darwin?

A new nadir in American politics was reach when Chris Matthews asked which Republican candidates did not believe in Darwin. Three did not --Brownback, Huckabee, and Tancredo. Matthews will ask next time which candidates do not believe in Copernicus.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Republican Debate

Nine republican candidates in the shadow of Ronald Reagan's library debated. One would have thought Iran was more important than Iraq. McCain can off as the most resolute during the 90 minutes. Overall they seemed more articulate than the democrats debate last week. Probably that is because their world view is simpler at times even simplistic.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Thompson's Skeletons

When asked if he had any skeletons in his closets, Fred Thompson said that when he was young and unmarried he chased girls and they chased him. Now we have to interview the latter group to see what drove them to such excesses.

Rudy's Consultant

Rudy says that he will use his wife as a consultant to the president on the issue of chemical warfare. Wife III used to sell pharmaceuticals to doctors. Somehow she acquired a deep knowledge of weapons of mass destruction from peddling lipitor.

Election Issues

Bush is reciting the link between Iraq and the Al Queda. That will be the new Republican mantra in the general election--homeland security and that the Dems are weak on the issue. Somehow we forget that 9-11 took place in NYC with a Republican president, a Republican Governor and a Republican mayor.

Obama's Minister

The New York Times did a major story on Obama's controversial minister in Chicago. How long will it be before they do stories on the priests, pastors and ministers of the other candidates. Or is that level of scrutiny only for him?

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Democratic Debate

Sometimes eight is more than enough. Such was the curt, confused debate of the Democratic candidates in South Carolina last night.

The questions were often downright silly and took up precious time from the major issues of the day. MSNBC should have focused on the war, medical coverage and the envirnoment and tried to get some responses in-depth from the candidates. Instead, only some of the people could answer, and then they were restricted in the time they had.

At several points, the moderator actually asked candiates to raise their hands, including on the idea of impeaching the vice president. That was a low point in the history of debates. If these are supposed to have been based on the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, can you imagine how those men would have rebelled if told to raise their hands to designate if they favored slavery???

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bush Fatigue or Establishment Fatigue?

Obama over McCain 45 to 39% in latest poll. What is happening? There is an increasing anti-Washington sentiment. Or as George Bush Sr. has said, there is “Bush fatigue” in this country. Oh, really....

War in Iraq

The Democrats in Congress will send the President a bill on the war and its deadline, which they know he will veto. He holds a meeting with them in which he seeks their advice, which he knows they won’t consider. There is no wonder why people are so cynical about people in Washington. Meanwhile nine more brave men and women in the 42nd Division of the Airborne Paratroopers died in Iraq; the total is now 3,333.

Clinton and the Black Community

Recent polls show that among African Americans there is movement from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama. The Clintons had expected that their long courtship of the black community might secure some guarantees, but it appears that this is not going to be so.

At Iraq's Edge

There used to be a saying that politics stopped at the water's edge, but that is not true with Iraq. The Democrats, not sure why they won and what to do with the war, and the President, who is totally without a clue as what to do, are involved in a titanic battle on prerogatives. Should there be a timetable to leave or should there be benchmarks? Somehow that is supposed to be a major defining moment for the parties and also one in which the entire Middle East is at stake. But the Iraqi government has already said that it wants the U.S. out of the country by the end of this calendar year. That is their government responding to their public opinion.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Presidential Candidates

John Edwards had a 400 dollar haircut from a Beverley Hills stylist. Good by Iowa. McCain was singing a tune about bombing Iran. Is he really ok for the presidency?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Monmouth University Poll

The Monmouth University Polling Institute, in conjunction with the Hall Institute, has released a poll today showing how the 2008 presidential race is shaping up in New Jersey. Following the trend of prior presidential polls, the two most familiar NY candidates continue to lead the pack.

Michael P. Riccards, executive director of the Hall Institute think tank, which has held forums on New Jersey's 2008 presidential primary, said voters are going with who they know.

"I don't think either McCain or Obama are very well known in New Jersey; they haven't spent much time here," Riccards said. "Familiarity is important in figuring out how people will vote."

- Asbury Park Press 4/18/2007

Friday, April 13, 2007

Do We Really Need a 'War Czar'?

The White House has announced that it is seeking a new war czar to run the effort in Iraq. His or her job would be to coordinate and organize the Ameican war.I had thought we had a war czar and he was called the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces, better know as the President.In the Civil War, World War I, and especially World War II, the republic was well served by its war chief or czar. Now we need another layer of bureacracy to not make decisions in this administration. So far, four military men have turned the job down. One said, "They don't know what the hell they are doing." Not exactly an original thought, general.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Is Imus Fireproof?

The election will see many highpoints and low points, but the low points are beginning to reflect even more our public distasteful behavior. No episode better epitomizes that than Imus in the Morning and its racist attack on the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

There is the view that people can say whatever offensive things they want, whether they are sober or not, and all they have to do is indicate later, after millions have heard it, that they apologize. If Howard Stern made the remarks that Imus made… the FCC would have fined him and he would have been kicked off numerous stations across the country.

But yet this silly, tired “I-man” and his pathetic producer will be allowed to get away with it, because unlike Stern he interviews politicians instead of prostitutes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Is McCain Able?

If McCain continues to have money troubles and his support of the war runs into the problems it did immediately after his visit to the Baghdad market he will fold by July 4th.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Second Tier

Is Richardson really running for president OR vice president? Nobody has run for vice president since Henry Wallace since1940 and Chub Peabody from Massachusetts- who no one ever took seriously anyways.

Thompson Drama

Latest polls show that TV star Fred Thompson has already pulled ahead off Mitt Romney and that McCain seems frozen at 22-25%. Could the Republicans and the Democrats once again be under estimating a working actor? An additional complication is if Thompson is a candidate what happens to Law and Order on the regular broadcasting channels and does fair access embrace cable reruns as well? Thanks Pat.

The Gap

The New York Times reported that the top 300,000Americans had almost as much income as the bottom 150 millionAmericans. Is this not an important campaign issues???

Friday, March 30, 2007

Institute Recieves Feedback

Our Hall Institute panels on the upcoming election held at Monmouth University and at Stockton show how deeply worried the people are about the course this nation is embarked on.

Corzine's Endorsement

Sources say that Corzine will announce on Monday that he will support Hillary for president; this follows on a similiar announcment fromBilly Jean King.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hillary's Negatives

According to a Harris poll, about half of the adult voting population would not vote for Hillary Clinton. Although it was expected that she would have high negatives, that number is likely to startle everyone.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Obama's Growing Presence in NJ

Strong support is building for Obama in the traditional Democratic power houses in Essex and Hudson counties. These usually world weary figures must see something they like. It reminds us of when John Lindsay ran for the Mayor of New York. His slogan was—he’s so fresh and they look so tired (his opponents look weary that is).

The Resume Candidate

If one looks at resumes, the most impressive one of presidential candidates is that of Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, former ambassador to the UN, former energy secretary, and a former congressman. Some of his friends unfortunately are telling gossip columnists in NYC that he would settle for the vice presidency. Ugh, one does not run for the vice presidency and garner any excitement.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Road Show Begins

Our Presidential Forum road show began today with a taping of Carpe Diem, Montclair State University's award-winning weekly half-hour magazine show.

Host Bill Berlin discussed the 2008 presidential race with NJ Monthly Editor David Chmiel, Hall Institute Communications Director Richard Lee, and me. Air dates will be scheduled later.

On Monday, we are off to the Richard Stockton State College of New Jersey for our first panel discussion.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Ten Worst Presidents

Recently, I outlined the late Gerald Ford’s view about what presidents he admired and those he did not care for during his lifetime. And then I examined the reputations of the men who have been seen by historians as the great and near great in that office. There were no surprises of course, but there is really a dearth of public knowledge in general about American history. Now we have an even more tricky collective wisdom about the very worst presidents of the previous two centuries.

On top of the list is James Buchanan who had a long distinguished career before entering the White House, but who unfortunately simply watched as the Southern states left the Union and actually sought to buy off the secessionist and slaveholding interests during his term in office. The second worst is Warren Harding whose administration has become synonomous with corruption and cronyism. He was an elegantly handsome man with not many thoughts in his head; but he was a relief from the overly challenging and moralistic Woodrow Wilson. He is followed by Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson who was impeached and nearly convicted for opposing the Reconstruction including the 14th amendment. He wished the Southern leaders to grovel before him for forgiveness, but granted amnesties to nearly all of them, just to show that they were indebted to a poor white. He detested African Americans, and his racism was obvious even at that time.

He is followed on the list by Franklin Piece who was a Northerner who supported the slave interests in his presidency during the 1850s. Number 5 is Millard Fillmore who in the preceding term (1850-1853) advocated a compromise fathered by Henry Clay that delayed secession by allowing slavery to spread across the lower Mason Dixon line. His predecessor, John Tyler, was a Democrat parading as a Whig who moved to admit in the Union Texas and parts of the West, and thus helped increase the power of the South in the Senate. Tyler during the Civil War actually served in the Confederate Congress, committing the classic definition of treason.

After the war, the nation wanted peace and elected a warrior who promised them peace—U.S. Grant-- who for two terms presided over an administration of corruption. Added to the list, probably unfairly, is William Harrison who was president for a month, dying after contracting an illness during his long inaugural. The historians then have named Richard Nixon (tied), Herbert Hoover (tied), and Zachary Taylor to the list to get an even ten.

It is obvious that some presidents especially in the period between Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln simply served in a time when the expectations and the powers allocated to the executive were modest. They were in turn modest men with much to be modest over. But the insistence of liberal historians on ranking Nixon on its enemies list is really historical unfair and simply incorrect. A recent edition of “Foreign Policy” is much more on the mark. It ranks Nixon as third-- only behind the great Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman, who created the post war alliances, as a master of foreign policy, with his opening to China and his treaties with the Soviet Union. One may dislike his prolonging of the Vietnam war and also his complicity in the Watergate cover up, and still recognize his gifts. We don’t have to be like Nixon—a good hater. As for Herbert Hoover, he surely pales in comparison to his successor, but he had one of the most distinguished pre and post careers of any president. Even Franklin Roosevelt supported him once for president. Hoover was just not up to the ending of the Depression, but at times even FDR wasn’t either. Hoover unfortunately was a boring Teddy Roosevelt, a mild progressive who became more conservative as he came to comment on the New Deal and the welfare state. He did not do himself a service by his later reactionary comments, while FDR became more liberal and internationalist As for Zachary Taylor he was only president for a short period of time, and was proving to be a politically na├»ve leader who was learning the ropes when he too died abruptly.

We have for some reason decided to end celebrating Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays and establish something called” Presidents’ Day” , so we can sell mattresses and used cars in February. But in reality we do not want to celebrate Presidents’ Day; we want to remember the three or four truly great presidents we have been blessed with. Let us restore a commemoration to their birthdays, and forget the rest -- or at least this list.

Monday, March 12, 2007

February 5th 2008

As New Jersey joins the group of states that will have primaries on February 5th 2008, one of the unforeseen consequences will be an even greater emphasis on money and name recognition. The magical odysseys of Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, and John Edwards, maybe upended, not because of what they stand for, but because of the timetable. Large well-funded organization with candidates who are fairly familiar gives them an immense advantage in a primary day that will stretch from New Jersey to California.

Although there are many candidates in the race, there are very few that can play in this opulent ballpark. The Democrats and the Republicans are going to find that the field, sooner rather than later, will support only one or at the most two people who can challenge the current front-runners. The fear that both parties have, especially those with ideological positions on divisive issues is that they cannot attract enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

The Female Head of State

Recently, a young male acquaintance of mine said he could not see entrusting the fate of the republic to a woman president. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, perhaps it might be useful for him and all of us to take a look at women leaders elsewhere. Here is a brief list of famous Female World Leaders:

Indira Gandhi-As prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and 1980 to 1984, Gandhi led the world's largest democracy. Indians called her Mataji, or "respected mother."Golda Meir-Meir moved to Palestine in 1921 from Milwaukee and quickly became a leader in the Zionist movement. She was elected to the legislature of Israel in 1949 and served as prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

Margaret Thatcher-
Thatcher began her long career in Great Britain's Parliament in 1959. She was the first female prime minister and the longest serving. She advocated conservative economic policies during her tenure from 1979 to 1990.

Vigdis Finnbogadottir-The first popularly elected female president in history,
Finnbogadottir defeated three men in her first run for Iceland's presidency in 1980. She worked to modernize Iceland and improve the status of women until the end of her fourth term in 1996.

Mary Eugenia Charles-The first female lawyer on the Caribbean island of
Dominica, Charles was elected prime minister after the island gained independence from Great Britain in 1978. Known as the "Iron Woman of the Caribbean," Charles instituted economic reforms and environmental protections during her three-term tenure.

Benazir Bhutto-
Bhutto served as prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996 during the country's woes with huge debt, the heroin trade and Afghan refugees.

Gro Harlem Brundtland-As prime minister of
Norway from 1986 to 1989 and 1990 to 1996, Brundtland encouraged entrance to the European community. A strong proponent of women's rights, Brundtland helped lead a movement resulting in increased female participation in government. She now serves as the Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Violeta Barrios de Chamorro-Chamorro became the first women to be elected president in the Western Hemisphere when she won the elections in
Nicaragua in 1990. Her reforms failed to help the country's ailing economy and she retired in 1997.

Mary Robinson-After she was elected president of
Ireland in 1990, Robinson said of the Irish voters, "Instead of rocking the table, they rocked the system." After a successful presidency, Robinson accepted a position as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mary McAleese-Elected president of Ireland in 1997,
McAleese continues to promote the peace process between Catholics and Protestants.

Helen Clark-
Clark became prime minister of New Zealand in 1999. She had served in parliament for 19 years and held posts as the head of the health, conservation, housing and labor departments.

Tarja Kaarina Halonen-
Halonen was elected president of Finland in 2000. She had served in Parliament since 1979 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1995 until her election.

Michelle Bachelet- Bachelet was a strong advocate of human rights in Chile. She is also the first female Chilen President.

Maybe the America, which sees itself as a leader, is really a follower in an area that it likes to think it is enlightened. Wake-up men, women are not three steps behind; in fact they are actually ahead of you. More women go to college than men, and your mothers control more money than your fathers.

Law & Order Revisited

The actor and former US Senator from Tennessee, Fred Thompson, has announced to a waiting world that he is considering a run for the presidency.

If we are going to the TV series “Law and Order”, I personally would prefer Sam Waterston's character, Jack McCoy. McCoy, with his Lincolnesque pose, stands for truth, justice and the American way. He is a man of enlightenment even though he lives in New York City, has strong views on how to clean up the streets and who periodically shows a sense of compassion. He is also a person with a long history of womanizing, which certainly won’t hurt him this year.

So, if we are going to TV let us go to the star rather than to the supporting actor.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New York Pols & Their Backyard

New Jersey could be much more of a horse race than it has since 1960. Both candidates will be well funded, highly organized and very well known to citizens of our state which makes the idea of undecideds less likely in the long run.

Most recent Quinnipiac University polling shows front-runners Clinton and Giuliani widening lead in Democrat, GOP primaries.

From Eisenhower to Ike

My most recent book review for the Washington Times, takes a look at the transformation of Eisenhower to "Ike" in a work by author John Wukovits:

One cannot help but be impressed by the author's evidence of Ike's genuine concerns for his soldiers and his real hatred of the toll of war. At Ohedruf-Nord and at Buchenwald, for example, he saw firsthand the concentration camps. He ordered that the troops visit the camp near Gatha so there might be no question later of what had occurred.Eisenhower was profoundly shaken by what he saw before him; even the war-hardened Patton turned aside and vomited at the gruesome sights. There were no revisionist historians present, apparently.

When Democrats Attack

The Democrats barely announced their candidates for president and out of the woodwork come attacks by fundraisers on Hillary and counterattacks on Obama. Somehow the Democrats, who have so carefully avoided a firm commitment on getting out of Iraq, have decided to make personalities the top order of business. Bad way to convince the nation they should be back in power or would know what to do with it once they got it back again.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Senior Preferences

There has been some interest in my essay on rating the presidents. Now comes a senior postscript:

AARP Bulletin has found that for those age 50 and above, their favorite president was John F. Kennedy (23%), followed by Clinton (17%); Reagan (14%). Remarkably Lincoln comes in at only 8%; FDR at 6%; Bush at 5% and Washington at 3%. Probably they are voting the memories of their youth, and very few are taking much time to read history.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama, Hillary and Anna Nicole

Obama had a good week, Hillary had a good week, but the mass of publicity went to the unexpected death of Anna Nicole Smith. The coverage of a celebrity is generally disgusting in this nation lately, with the entire media becoming the National Enquirer of old. For some reason the blog sites and the cable networks executives have decided that we can not get enough, and maybe they are right. Even CNN, a fairly serious enterprise, chose to saturate us with the celebrity's tragedy.

Rating the Presidents

My op-ed on the presidency was published today (Lincoln's Birthday) in the Trenton Times. It also appeared in the Home News Tribune on February 7 under the title Gerald Ford on the mark in his rating of presidents.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Taming Tim Russett

Have you noticed how humble Tim Russett is after his appearance before the Libby jury?Apparently he was lacerated on the stand during day one by a defense lawyer using some of the techniques that Russett uses with his so-called guests. The problem with "got-you" journalism is that it can be played by everyone with a computer now.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Presidents According to Mo Rocca

Television humorist Mo Rocca has decided to give us a more macabre view of the presidents. He takes us around in “Arrive” magazine to a trip of presidential tombs. He has gone on the road to see some of their final resting places, and so he goes first to Tennessee, the home of three presidents including James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson to visit the Polk’s resting place in Music City. James K. Polk, one of my favorites, was a highly effective one-term president who stole a part of Mexico, captured California and parts of Oregon, and never collected a pension

He floats up to Old North Cemetery in Concern, N.H., where the best looking of our presents is buried. He was Franklin Pierce, a pro-slavery Northerner who was called a doughface by his opponents. In those days, they look politics seriously.

In Ohio, Mo visited the beautiful classical structure that houses the remains of Warren Harding. As one waitress, a graduate of Harding High School, puts it, “We all know he was bad president, but he’s the most famous person to come out of here.” Makes sense.

Mo drops off in the D.C. area. At the Arlington National Century is buried our heftiest president, William Taft, and in the beautiful Washington National Cathedral is the final retime place of Wood row Wilson, the son of a minister and a minister type preaching president in his own right. Lower in Orange County is the home of James Madison, Montpelier, which houses the shortest president we had at 5’ 4”. He was also the father of the Constitution and married Dolley.

And lastly, he goes to Menads, N.Y., the site of Albany Rural Cemetery where Chester A. Arthur is buried. You can get there up via the Amtrak Hudson line to Albany.

That is it -- no Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, or Franklin Roosevelt. We know about them anyhow.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

An Early Primary

Senate President Richard J. Codey has outlined his reasons for sponsoring legislation that would move New Jersey’s Presidential primary to the first week in Tuesday. His opinion piece on the issue is titled Message to the Democratic National Committee: “Welcome To New Jersey.”

Lincoln's Relevancy Today

The creation of West Virginia during the Civil War and Lincoln's view of military is an issue whose importance has become more than just a historical footnote. It has become part of the much larger and more contemporary debate about George W. Bush's running of the Iraqi War and American treatment of enemy combatants. To learn more, read Lincoln and the Political Question: The Creation of the State of West Virginia.

Monday, February 5, 2007

What is wrong with Joe Biden?

There comes a time when one is in office for too long a period. Joe Biden was elected at age 29 to the U.S. Senate and has for decades been given what he loves best--a podium from which to speak and speak and speak. His latest comments about Senator Obama took away from his presidential debut. In fact that was all that was covered. That is too bad because he is one of the few candidates to give a realistic solution to the Iraq mess with his ideal of a partition by sectarian affiliation in a government that could best be characterized as federalist. But rather than discuss that creative idea, the public had to listen to his wheedling forgiveness from such paragons of virtue as Rev. Al and Rev. Jesse. Biden's slip was not a one time mistake. Recently he observed that one could not go into a 7-Eleven store without seeing (Asian) Indians, and that he would run well among blacks since he represents Delaware, a state that before the Civil War had slaves. Somewhere something is missing.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Book Review

The Washington Times published my review of James F. Simon's new book today. The book istitled Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers and the review appeared under the headline Two Men and the Wrenching Issues that Divided Them.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New Jersey GOP Turns to Giuliani

The campaigns are starting so early in the season that soon the elected officials will have little time to make believe they are governing. Their job will simply be to raise money in order to run again.

Rudy Giuliani has emerged as the clear front runner in New Jersey's February 2008 Republican presidential primary, winning endorsements from a majority of the state's GOP County Chairmen, nineteen state legislators, and a long list of Republican elected officials that demonstrate support across the ideological spectrum.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Republican Edge in New Jersey '08 Poll

Quinnipiac University recently released a series of polls showing how the '08 presidential field is taking shape in New Jersey.

The presidential race in this poll is rather tight as one would expect so early in the game. McCain's positives are directly linked up to Bush's war strategies. If the president is successful then McCain will benefit; if the conflict slogs, on he will be another casualty of the unpopular war.

“It looks like problems with Sen. Hillary Clinton’s new presidential campaign are cropping up close to home,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “She has established her front-runner status among Democrats and she enjoys positive favorability ratings, but a big chunk of New Jersey voters have negative feelings about the Senator next door – enough to show two Republicans giving her a run for her money in this traditionally Democratic state,” Richards added.

Monday, January 22, 2007

DNC Penalty

On the Democratic National Committee’s proposal to penalize states for moving their primaries to the first Tuesday in February:

I think the Democratic National Committee's proposed penalty is short-sighted and rather self-defeating. The Committee has no vested interest in preferring one state over another, especially two states with larger populations and more electoral votes than some of the preferred primary states.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rating the Presidents -- By One of their Own

It is a favorite parlor game for Americans to rate or rank their presidents; it is also a preoccupation of presidential scholars and over the decades they have pretty much reached a consensus on at least the great or so called near great presidents. The pantheon includes: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Washington, and then often Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt or Harry S. Truman. It is rare though that presidents rank their own, although John F. Kennedy is supposed to have looked at one list and remarked that one had to either die in office or lead the country to war to be on the top. Some presidents have risen up in recent times though, especially Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Some have taken a beating such as Wilson, and others are being looked at with a more critical eye such as Kennedy himself. Still others such as James K. Polk and Richard Nixon have not had a really fair appraisal for a variety of very different reasons.

But we now have Gerald Ford’s observations of other presidents, at least those he knew. He has argued that Ronald Reagan is overrated, especially in terms of the collapse of the Soviet Union. He finds him a poor manager and argues that his own role in the Helsinki accords on human rights did more to win the cold war than Reagan and his much heralded military buildup which is supposed to have bankrupted the Soviets. Ford called Jimmy Carter a disaster, then as he became friends with him praised his work on the Panama Canal treaty, China, and the Middle East. He also views John F. Kennedy as overrated and Bill Clinton as simply an average president. Still he praises the older George Bush and his handling of the Kuwait war, and is very complementary about Richard Nixon as a foreign policy master despite the abyss of Watergate. He regards the best president of his time as being Dwight Eisenhower, although he too praises Truman for his handling of foreign crises during his years in office. Lastly, he was concerned about George Bush the younger’s war in Iraqi and his justification for it.

The remarkable conclusion that one can draw from Ford’s observations is that they were generally on the mark, especially as historians begin to step back and look at the contemporary post Rooseveltian presidency. Having served in that unique and demanding office gives one a different perspective than presidential historians and even most memoirists. It is interesting to see where they agree and why.

The Emergence of Obama

The contest for the presidency has taken a new and interesting twist with his emergence as a real candidate. Now the Democrats have a really charismatic figure....at least until the beltway talking heads start on him.