You know, someone once said that when a black man would be elected as President “When Pigs Fly”…. Well, what do you know, Swine Flu….
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Tags: 100 days, funny stuff, humor, obama, Presidents, swine flu
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Did you realize that President Obama probably signed his stimulus package at the same desk where President Clinton got his package stimulated?
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Okay, had to share this one… Photos of the new Presidential ride are officially ‘out’. I’ve taken this article directly from AOL, so if you want to see the photos, you’ll need to go here.
Photos of New Presidential Limo Leaked
By Mike M. Ahlers and Eric Marrapodi
Copied from CNN
WASHINGTON (Jan. 6) – As a candidate, Barack Obama promoted hybrid cars. As president, he’ll be handed the keys to one. Sort of. Shortly after taking the oath of office, Obama will climb into the Mother of All Hybrids — part car, part truck and, from the looks of it, part tank.
In keeping with recent tradition, the Secret Service will place a brand-new presidential limousine into service January 20 to drive the new president on the 2-mile jaunt down Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade.
Already, spy photos of the limo — with patches of gray primer — have leaked out. And already, the reviews:
“Ugly as sin,” says one car enthusiast on an auto Web site. “Can’t we make a hotter ride for our prez?”
“Sheesh,” says another, “why don’t they just transport the president around in an Abrams tank.”
One news agency, noting its 8-inch-thick doors, says the limo can withstand a “direct hit from an asteroid.” But GM spokeswoman Joanne K. Krell laughed off the comments. “And it will fix you a latte if you ask,” she jokes. In truth, the new presidential limo is a Cadillac, Krell said, although it is “not a direct extension of any single model.”
“The presidential vehicle is built to precise and special specifications, undergoes extreme testing and development, and also incorporates many of the top aspects of Cadillac’s ‘regular’ cars — such as signature design, hand-cut-and-sewn interiors, etc.,” Krell told CNN.
“Cadillac is honored to serve and renew this great tradition,” she said. “And it is entirely appropriate that an American president has at his service a great American vehicle.”
For much of the country’s history, the Secret Service didn’t even drive the president, evidently oblivious to the dangers of asteroids.
In the post-Lincoln horse-and-buggy era, it was customary for a security detail to closely trail the president, according to a Secret Service history.
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Categories : Humorous Tidbits, Irritations..., Main
I am under 45 years old,
I Love the outdoors,
I am a Republican reformer,
I have taken on the Republican Party establishment,
I have many children,
I have a spot on the national ticket with less than two
years as governor of my state.
DID YOU GUESS??????? Scroll down to see the answer…..
I am Teddy Roosevelt in 1900
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Tags: funny stuff, humor, President #26, Presidents, riddles, Teddy Roosevelt, Useless Tidbits
Categories : Fun Stuff, Humorous Tidbits, Main, Useless Tidbits
Happy Anniversary to Franklin D. Roosevelt, on the anniversary of his first fireside chat as President. I was going to simply write a synopsis about his speech, but as I started reading it, doesn’t it look sort of familiar to what’s happening today? Take a long, good look at his speech, and the quote below.
The quote is from a campaign speech (I’m terribly sorry – I couldn’t tell which one…) that describes corporate America….
Hmmm. What’s this about Bank of America controlling a third of the banking market??? And Citigroup controlling almost another third??? Now, I’m no economist, but even I know that it’s not a good idea to have monopolies. Can anyone say Microsoft?? (Not a monopoly my heinie…)
One of my friends, Rich, is an economist, and I was just remarking to him about how our history seems to repeat itself every 70 years or so. Keep in mind this is the 75th anniversary of this speech – TO THE DAY! Okay, so now for the speech. I am taking this directly from John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=14540.
I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking—with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the . making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms, should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.
First of all, let me state the simple fact that when you deposit money in a bank the bank does not put the money into a safe deposit vault. It invests your money in many different forms of credit—bonds, commercial paper, mortgages and many other kinds of loans. In other words, the bank puts your money to work to keep the wheels of industry and of agriculture turning around. A comparatively small part of the money you put into the bank is kept in currency—an amount which in normal times is wholly sufficient to cover the cash needs of the average citizen. In other words, the total amount of all the currency in the country is only a small fraction of the total deposits in all of the banks.
What, then, happened during the last few days of February and the first few days of March? Because of undermined confidence on the part of the public, there was a general rush by a large portion of our population to turn bank deposits into currency or gold—a rush so great that the soundest banks could not get enough currency to meet the demand. The reason for this was that on the spur of the moment it was, of course, impossible to sell perfectly sound assets of a bank and convert them into cash except at panic prices far below their real value.
By the afternoon of March 3d scarcely a bank in the country was open to do business. Proclamations temporarily closing them in whole or in part had been issued by the Governors in almost all the States.
It was then that I issued the proclamation providing for the nationwide bank holiday, and this was the first step in the Government’s reconstruction of our financial and economic fabric.
The second step was the legislation promptly and patriotically passed by the Congress confirming my proclamation and broadening my powers so that it became possible in view of the requirement of time to extend the holiday and lift the ban of that holiday gradually. This law also gave authority to develop a program of rehabilitation of our banking facilities. I want to tell our citizens in every part of the Nation that the national Congress—Republicans and Democrats alike—showed by this action a devotion to public welfare and a realization of the emergency and the necessity for speed that it is difficult to match in our history.
The third stage has been the series of regulations permitting the banks to continue their functions to take care of the distribution of food and household necessities and the payment of payrolls.
This bank holiday, while resulting in many cases in great inconvenience, is affording us the opportunity to supply the currency necessary to meet the situation. No sound bank is a dollar worse off than it was when it closed its doors last Monday. Neither is any bank which may turn out not to be in a position for immediate opening. The new law allows the twelve Federal Reserve Banks to issue additional currency on good assets and thus the banks which reopen will be able to meet every legitimate call. The new currency is being sent out by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in large volume to every part of the country. It is sound currency because it is backed by actual, good assets.
A question you will ask is this: why are all the banks not to be reopened at the same time? The answer is simple. Your Government does not intend that the history of the past few years shall be repeated. We do not want and will not have another epidemic of bank failures.
As a result, we start tomorrow, Monday, with the opening of banks in the twelve Federal Reserve Bank cities—those banks which on first examination by the Treasury have already been found to be all right. This will be followed on Tuesday by the resumption of all their functions by banks already found to be sound in cities where there are recognized clearing houses. That means about 250 cities of the United States.
On Wednesday and succeeding days banks in smaller places all through the country will resume business, subject, of course, to the Government’s physical ability to complete its survey. It is necessary that the reopening of banks be extended over a period in order to permit the banks to make applications for necessary loans, to obtain currency needed to meet their requirements and to enable the Government to make common sense checkups.
Let me make it clear to you that if your bank does not open the first day you are by no means justified in believing that it will not open. A bank that opens on one of the subsequent days is in exactly the same status as the bank that opens tomorrow.
I know that many people are worrying about State banks not members of the Federal Reserve System. These banks can and will receive assistance from member banks and from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. These State banks are following the same course as the National banks except that they get their licenses to resume business from the State authorities, and these authorities have been asked by the Secretary of the Treasury to permit their good banks to open up on the same schedule as the national banks. I am confident that the State Banking Departments will be as careful as the national Government in the policy relating to the opening of banks and will follow the same broad policy.
It is possible that when the banks resume a very few people who have not recovered from their fear may again begin withdrawals. Let me make it clear that the banks will take care of all needs—and it is my belief that hoarding during the past week has become an exceedingly unfashionable pastime. It needs no prophet to tell you that when the people find that they can get their money— that they can get it when they want it for all legitimate purposes—the phantom of fear will soon be laid. People will again be glad to have their money where it will be safely taken care of and where they can use it conveniently at any time. I can assure you that it is safer to keep your money in a reopened bank than under the mattress.
The success of our whole great national program depends, of course, upon the cooperation of the public—on its intelligent support and use of a reliable system.
Remember that the essential accomplishment of the new legislation is that it makes it possible for banks more readily to convert their assets into cash than was the case before. More liberal provision has been made for banks to borrow on these assets at the Reserve Banks and more liberal provision has also been made for issuing currency on the security of these good assets. This currency is not fiat currency. It is issued only on adequate security, and every good bank has an abundance of such security.
One more point before I close. There will be, of course, some banks unable to reopen without being reorganized. The new law allows the Government to assist in making these reorganizations quickly and effectively and even allows the Government to subscribe to at least a part of new capital which may be required.
I hope you can see from this elemental recital of what your Government is doing that there is nothing complex, or radical, in the process.
We had a bad banking situation. Some of our bankers had shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in their handling of the people’s funds. They had used the money entrusted to them in speculations and unwise loans. This was, of course, not true in the vast majority of our banks, but it was true in enough of them to shock the people for a time into a sense of insecurity and to put them into a frame of mind where they did not differentiate, but seemed to assume that the acts of a comparative few had tainted them all. It was the Government’s job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible. And the job is being performed.
I do not promise you that every bank will be reopened or that individual losses will not be suffered, but there will be no losses that possibly could be avoided; and there would have been more and greater losses had we continued to drift. I can even promise you salvation for some at least of the sorely pressed banks. We shall be engaged not merely in reopening sound banks but in the creation of sound banks through reorganization.
It has been wonderful to me to catch the note of confidence from all over the country. I can never be sufficiently grateful to the people for the loyal support they have given me in their acceptance of the judgment that has dictated our course, even though all our processes may not have seemed clear to them.
After all, there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work.
It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.
I think I’ll leave this one open for discussion….
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Tags: banking, economics, FDR, Presidents, speeches, Useless Tidbits
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Yay! President’s Day is here! Hail to the Chief, we have chosen for the nation! Hail to the Chief, we salute him one and all! Hail to the one we have selected as commander! Hail to the President, Hail to the Chief!
Okay, I know I’m going to receive a bit of criticism for this last President. Many of us have made fun of him, and for some good reasons. Like saying the word “Nucular”. And pretending to read a book, following along with some schoolkids, but the book was upside down. Okay, so maybe in some ways he’s a puppet. But at least he’s backed with a ‘balls to the walls’ VP (who, incidently, needs more target practice in my opinion…)
That’s right! Our 43rd President, George W. Bush! Can we call him Walker, Texas Ranger? Oh yeah. Don’t want to insult the Rangers…. One annoying point I have to point out about the previous administration, was that the night before the staff switch, some funny employees removed all the W’s from the keyboards…. Heh heh heh. Uhhh, Beavis? Oh, I almost forgot. Once again, today’s post is sponsored by Wikipedia.
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the forty-third and current President of the United States of America. He previously served as the forty-sixth Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 and is the eldest son of former United States President George Herbert Walker Bush. He was inaugurated as President on January 20, 2001 and his current term is scheduled to end on January 20, 2009. He was a 2001 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
After graduating from college, Bush worked in his family‘s oil businesses. In 1978, he made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before returning to politics in a campaign for Governor of Texas. He defeated Ann Richards and was elected Governor of Texas in 1994. Bush was elected to the Presidency in 2000 as the Republican candidate in a close and controversial contest, in which he lost the nationwide popular vote, but won the electoral vote.
As president, Bush signed into law a $1.35 trillion tax cut program in 2001, and in 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act. In October 2001, after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism and ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda, and to capture Osama bin Laden. In March 2003, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the war was necessary for the protection of the United States.
Running in the midst of the Iraq War, Bush was re-elected on November 2, 2004; his presidential campaign against Senator John Kerry was successful despite controversy over Bush’s execution of the Iraq War and domestic issues. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism. He has the distinction of having some of the highest and lowest approval ratings of any president in history during his term. His domestic approval rating has ranged from 90 percent (the highest ever recorded by The Gallup Organization) immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks to a low of 24 percent, the highest level of disfavor for any sitting president since Richard Nixon. [Gee, I wonder why?]
Facing opposition in Congress, Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the U.S. in 2001 to increase public support for his plan for a US$1.35 trillion tax cut program — one of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history. Bush and his economic advisers argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers. With reports of the threat of recession from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Bush argued that such a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs. Others, including the Treasury Secretary at the time Paul O’Neill, were opposed to some of the tax cuts on the basis that they would contribute to budget deficits and undermine Social Security.
Under the Bush Administration, Real GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent, considerably below the average for business cycles from 1949 to 2000. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has grown by about 30 percent since January 2001. Unemployment rose from 4.2 percent in January 2001 to 6.3 percent in June 2003, dropping to 4.5 percent as of July 2007. The on-budget deficit for 2006 was US$434 billion, a change from an US$86 billion surplus in 2000.Inflation-adjusted median household income has been flat while the nation’s poverty rate has increased. By August 23, 2007, the national debt had officially risen to US$8.98 trillion dollars; the national debt has increased US$3.25 trillion dollars since Bush took office.
While some argue that the Bush-era economy has mostly benefited the wealthy and not the majority of middle and lower-class citizens, and still others have claimed the exact opposite; information available suggests that the standard of living has increased on all rungs of the socio-economic strata — with the bulk of income gains having gone to the top 1 percent, whose share of income has increased substantially.
Another significant part of the Bush economic plan was the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.
Education and health
The No Child Left Behind Act aimed to measure and close the gap between rich and poor student performance, provide options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and target more federal funding to low-income schools. Critics argue that Bush has underfunded his own program, and Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy has claimed: “The tragedy is that these long-overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not.” Many educational experts have criticized these reforms, contending that NCLBA’s focus on “high stakes testing” and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive. Bush increased funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and created education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. However, funding for NIH failed to keep up with inflation in 2004 and 2005, and was actually cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years.
In 2007, Bush opposed and vetoed State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation which was tied by the Democrats onto a war funding bill and passed by Congress. The SCHIP legislation would have significantly expanded federally-funded health care benefits and plans to children of some low-income families from about 6 million to 10 million children. It was to be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax. Bush viewed the legislation as a move toward the liberal platform of socialized health care, and claimed that the program could benefit families making as much as US$83,000 per year who would not have otherwise needed the help.
Social services and Social Security
Bush promoted increased deregulation and investment options in social services, leading Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare and created Health Savings Accounts, which would permit people to set aside a portion of their Medicare tax to build a “nest egg”. The retired persons lobby group AARP worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave their endorsement. Bush said the law, estimated to cost US$400 billion over the first 10 years, would give the elderly “better choices and more control over their health care”.
Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security, which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his agenda despite contrary beliefs in the media and in the U.S. Congress, which saw the program as the “third rail of politics,” with the American public being suspicious of any attempt to change it. It was also widely believed to be the province of the Democratic Party, with Republicans in the past having been accused of efforts to dismantle or privatize it. In his 2005 State of the Union address, Bush discussed the allegedly impending bankruptcy of the program and attacked political inertia against reform. He proposed options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments, creating a “nest egg” that he claimed would enjoy steady growth. Despite emphasizing safeguards and remaining open to other plans, Bush’s proposal was criticized for its high cost, and Democrats attacked it as an effort to partially privatize the system, and for leaving Americans open to the whims of the market. Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events (“Conversations on Social Security”) in a largely unsuccessful attempt to gain support from the general public. Despite energetic campaign by Bush to promote his Social Security reform plan, by May 2005 the public support for the Bush proposal declined substantially and the House GOP leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda. The proposal’s legislative prospects were further diminished by the political fallout from the Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. In the run-up to the 2006 congressional elections, the Republican leadership in Congress put the hot-button issue of the Social Security reform on the back burner. No substantive legislative action was taken on this issue in 2006. After the Democrats took over control of both houses of Congress as a result of the 2006 mid-term elections, the prospects of any further congressional action on the Bush proposal appeared to be dead for the remainder of his term in office.
Environmental policy and global warming
Upon arriving in office in 2001, Bush did not support the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bush partially based this decision on the fact that the Senate had voted 95–0 in 1997 on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the protocol. Bush asserted he would not support it because the treaty exempted 80 percent of the world’s population and would have cost the economy tens of billions of dollars per year, and was based on the uncertain science of climate change. The Bush Administration’s stance on global warming has remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities during his presidency.
In 2004, the Director of NASA‘s Goddard Institute, James Hansen, publicly and harshly accused the Administration of misinforming the public by suppressing the scientific evidence of the dangers of greenhouse gases, saying the Bush Administration wanted to hear only scientific results that “fit predetermined, inflexible positions” and edited reports to make the dangers sound less threatening in what he asserted was “direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science.” Other experts, such as former United States Department of Energy official Joseph Romm, have decried the Bush administration as a “denier and delayer” of government action essential to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming. Bush had said that he has consistently noted that global warming is a serious problem, but asserted there is a “debate over whether it’s manmade or naturally caused”. In his 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush renewed his pledge to work toward diminished reliance on foreign oil by reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing alternative fuel production.
In 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Initiative, aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution through the use of emissions trading programs. Critics contended that it would have weakened the original legislation by allowing higher levels of pollutants than were permitted at that time. The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.
In 2006 Bush declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, creating the largest marine reserve to date. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument comprises 84 million acres (340,000 km²) and is home to 7,000 species of fish, birds and other marine animals, many of which are specific to only those islands. The move was hailed by conservationists for “its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area.”
During his 2008 State of the Union Address Bush announce that the U.S. would commit US$2 billion over the next three years towards a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change. He declared that; “along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive.”
During the speech, Bush announced plans to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to work with major economies and through the United Nations to complete an international agreement that will slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. He stated that; “this agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.” 
Okay, without getting into my own political views, of which there are many, I will give Bush credit for the good work he is doing at his ranch. While many of our political powerhouses hail from large families with lots of moola, most live in expansive estates that cost thousands of dollars every month to maintain. Bush really has a good thing going on his ranch in Texas. Solar power put to good use, I hear he even has a wind turbine for extra power, they make good use of just about everything on the ranch too. Scraps are turned into compost, which is then used for fertilizer and food for cattle. Even the cow patties are used for fertilizer in the veggie garden. Bush has made many, many, many, many mistakes in office, but at least in his personal life he’s trying to make a difference. Just a good ‘ol boy trying to make a difference.
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Tags: George W. Bush, politics, President #43, President's Day, Presidents, Useless Tidbits, Wikipedia
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Once again, short on time. This is a President that deserves some special recognition as he kept the country together after JFK’s death. Once a VP, this President took over after the most popular President ever elected was assassinated.
Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was the thirty-sixth President of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Johnson served a long career in both houses of the U.S. Congress, and in 1960 he was selected by then-Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to be his running-mate. After Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election, Johnson became the thirty-seventh Vice President, and in 1963, he succeeded to the role of presidency following Kennedy’s assassination. He was a major leader of the Democratic Party and as President was responsible for designing the Great Society, comprising liberal legislation including civil rights laws, Medicare (health care for the elderly), Medicaid (health care for the poor), aid to education, and a “War on Poverty.” Simultaneously, he escalated the American involvement in the Vietnam War, from 16,000 American soldiers in 1963 to 550,000 in early 1968.
He was elected President in his own right in a landslide victory in 1964, but his popularity steadily declined after 1966 and his reelection bid in 1968 collapsed as a result of turmoil in his party. He withdrew from the race to concentrate on peacemaking. Johnson was renowned for his domineering (or dominating) personality and the “Johnson treatment,” his arm-twisting of powerful politicians.
After America entered the war in December 1941, Johnson, still in Congress, became a commissioned officer in the Navy Reserves, then asked Undersecretary of the Navy James Forrestal for a combat assignment. Instead he was sent to inspect the shipyard facilities in Texas and on the West Coast. In the spring of 1942, President Roosevelt needed his own reports on what conditions were like in the Southwest Pacific. Roosevelt felt information that flowed up the military chain of command needed to be supplemented by a highly trusted political aide. From a suggestion by Forrestal, President Roosevelt assigned Johnson to a three-man survey team of the Southwest Pacific.
Johnson reported to General Douglas MacArthur in Australia. Johnson and two Army officers went to the 22nd Bomb Group base, which was assigned the high risk mission of bombing the Japanese airbase at Lae in New Guinea. A colonel took Johnson’s original seat on one bomber; it was shot down and everyone died. Reports vary on what happened to the B-26 Marauder carrying Johnson. Some accounts say it was also attacked by Japanese fighters but survived, while others claim it turned back before reaching the objective and never came under fire. MacArthur awarded LBJ the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest medal, for his actions.
Johnson reported back to Roosevelt, to the Navy leaders, and to Congress, that conditions were deplorable and unacceptable. He argued the South West Pacific urgently needed a higher priority and a bigger share of war supplies. The warplanes sent there, for example, were “far inferior” to Japanese planes, and morale was bad. He told Forrestal that the Pacific Fleet had a “critical” need for 6,800 additional experienced men. Johnson prepared a twelve-point program to upgrade the effort in the region, stressing “greater cooperation and coordination within the various commands and between the different war theaters.” Congress responded by making Johnson chairman of a high-powered subcommittee of the Naval Affairs committee. With a mission similar to that of the Truman Committee in the Senate, he probed into the peacetime “business as usual” inefficiencies that permeated the naval war and demanded that admirals shape up and get the job done. However, Johnson went too far when he proposed a bill that would crack down on the draft exemptions of shipyard workers if they were too often absent. Organized labor blocked the bill and denounced Johnson. Johnson’s mission thus had a significant impact in upgrading the South Pacific theater and in helping along the entire naval war effort. Johnson’s biographer concludes, “The mission was a temporary exposure to danger calculated to satisfy Johnson’s personal and political wishes, but it also represented a genuine effort on his part, however misplaced, to improve the lot of America’s fighting men.”
1948 contested election
In 1948, Johnson again ran for the Senate and won. This election was highly controversial: a three-way Democratic Party primary saw Johnson facing a well-known former governor, Coke Stevenson, and a third candidate. Johnson drew crowds to fairgrounds with his rented helicopter dubbed “The Flying Windmill”. He raised money to flood the state with campaign circulars, and won over conservatives by voting for the Taft-Hartley act curbing unions and by criticizing unions on the stump. Stevenson came in first, but lacked a majority, so a runoff was held. Johnson campaigned even harder, while Stevenson’s efforts were poor. The runoff count took a week as the two candidates see-sawed for the lead. The Democratic State Central Committee handled the count (not the state, because it was a party primary), and it finally announced Johnson won by eighty-seven votes. The committee voted 29-28 to certify Johnson’s nomination, with the last vote cast on Johnson’s behalf by the Temple publisher Frank W. Mayborn, who rushed back to Texas from a business trip in Nashville, Tennessee. There were many allegations of fraud on both sides. Thus one writer alleges that Johnson’s campaign manager, John B. Connally, was connected with 202 ballots in Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County that had curiously been cast in alphabetical order. Robert Caro argued in his 1989 book that Johnson had rigged the election in Jim Wells County, and other counties in South Texas, as well as rigging 10,000 ballots in Bexar County alone.
However, the state Democratic convention upheld Johnson. Stevenson went to court, but — with timely help from his friend Abe Fortas — Johnson prevailed. Johnson was elected senator in November, and went to Washington, D.C. tagged with the label “Landslide Lyndon,” which he often used deprecatingly to refer to him.
Johnson’s success in the Senate made him a possible Democratic presidential candidate. He was Texas’ “favorite son” candidate at the party’s national convention in 1956. In 1960, Johnson received 409 votes on the first and only ballot at the Democratic convention, which nominated John F. Kennedy. The possibility that Lyndon Johnson, who for nearly twenty-four years had been a member of congress, might someday become president of the United States increased when he took the oath as vice president on January 20, 1961 (Vaughn Davis Bornet, The Presidency of LBJ, p. 1).
Tip O’Neill, then a representative from Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts, recalled that Johnson approached him at the convention and said, “Tip, I’d like to have you with me on the second ballot.” O’Neill, understanding the influence of the Kennedy name, replied, “Senator, there’s not going to be any second ballot.”
During the convention, Kennedy designated Johnson as his choice for Vice President. Some later reports (such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.‘s) say that Kennedy offered the position to Johnson as a courtesy and did not expect him to accept. Others (such as W. Marvin Watson) say that the Kennedy campaign was desperate to win the 1960 election against Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and needed Johnson on the ticket to help carry Southern states.
While he ran for vice president with John F. Kennedy, Johnson also sought a third term in the U.S. Senate. His popularity was such that Texas law was changed to permit him to run for two offices at the same time. Johnson was reelected senator, with 1,306,605 votes (58 percent) to Republican John Tower‘s 927,653 (41.1 percent). Fellow Democrat William A. Blakley was appointed to replace Johnson as Senator, but Blakley lost a special election in May 1961 to Tower. In 1988, Lloyd Bentsen, the Vice Presidential running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, and also a Senator from Texas, also took advantage of “Lyndon’s law,” and was able to retain his seat in Senate despite Dukakis’ loss to George H. W. Bush.
After the election, Johnson found himself powerless. Despite Kennedy’s efforts to have Johnson busy, informed and at the White House often, his advisors and even some of his family were dismissive to the Texan. Kennedy appointed him to nominal jobs such as head of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, through which he worked with African Americans and other minorities. Though Kennedy probably intended this to remain a nominal position, Taylor Branch in Pillar of Fire contends that Johnson served to force the Kennedy administration’s actions for civil rights further and faster than Kennedy intended to go. Branch notes the irony of Johnson, who the Kennedy family hoped would appeal to conservative southern voters, being the advocate for civil rights. In particular he notes Johnson’s Memorial Day 1963 speech at Gettysburg as being a catalyst that led to much more action than otherwise would have occurred.
Johnson took on numerous minor diplomatic missions, which gave him limited insights into international issues. He was allowed to observe Cabinet and National Security Council meetings. Kennedy did give Johnson control over all presidential appointments involving Texas, and he was appointed chairman of the President’s Ad Hoc Committee for Science. When, in April 1961, the Soviets beat the U.S. with the first manned spaceflight Kennedy tasked Johnson with coming up with a ‘scientific bonanza’ that would prove world leadership. Johnson knew that Project Apollo and an enlarged NASA were feasible, so he steered the recommendation towards a program for landing an American on the moon.
Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
An hour and 39 minutes after President Kennedy was shot two cars in front of him in a Dealey Plaza motorcade, Johnson was sworn in as President on Air Force One in Dallas at Love Field Airport on November 22, 1963. He was sworn in by Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes, a very close friend of his family, making him the first President sworn in by a woman. He is also the only President to have been sworn in on Texas soil. Johnson was not sworn on a Bible, as none could be found aboard Air Force One; a Roman Catholic missal was discovered in Kennedy’s desk, and this book was used during the swearing-in ceremony.
To investigate Kennedy’s murder, Johnson created a special panel called the Warren Commission. This panel, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, conducted hearings about the assassination and concluded that Oswald did indeed shoot the President without conspiring with anyone. Not everyone agreed with the Warren Commission, however, and numerous public and private investigations continued for decades after Johnson left office.
The wave of national grief and soul-searching following the assassination gave enormous momentum to Johnson’s promise to carry out Kennedy’s programs. He retained the senior Kennedy appointees, some for the full term of his presidency. Even the late President’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, with whom Johnson had an infamously-difficult relationship, remained in office until leaving in 1964 to run for the Senate.
1964 Presidential election
On September 7, 1964, Johnson’s campaign managers for the 1964 presidential election broadcast the “Daisy ad.” It portrayed a little girl picking petals from a daisy, counting up to ten. Then a baritone voice took over, counted down from ten to zero and a nuclear bomb exploded. The message was that Barry Goldwater meant nuclear war. Although it was soon pulled off the air, it escalated into a very heated election. Johnson won by a sweeping landslide. Johnson won the presidency with 61 percent of the vote and the then-widest popular margin in the 20th century — more than 15 million votes (this was later surpassed by Nixon’s defeat of McGovern in 1972).
In the summer of 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was organized with the purpose of challenging Mississippi’s all-white and anti-civil rights delegation to the Democratic National Convention of that year as not representative of all Mississippians. At national convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey the MFDP claimed the seats for delegates for Mississippi, not on the grounds of the Party rules, but because the official Mississippi delegation had been elected by a primary conducted under Jim Crow laws in which blacks were excluded because of poll taxes, literacy tests, and even violence against black voters. The national Party’s liberal leaders supported a compromise in which the white delegation and the MFDP would have an even division of the seats; Johnson was concerned that, while the regular Democrats of Mississippi would probably vote for Goldwater anyway, if the Democratic Party rejected the regular Democrats, he would lose the Democratic Party political structure that he needed to win in the South. Eventually, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Reuther and black civil rights leaders (including Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King, and Bayard Rustin worked out a compromise with MFDP leaders: the MFDP would receive two non-voting seats on the floor of the Convention; the regular Mississippi delegation would be required to pledge to support the party ticket; and no future Democratic convention would accept a delegation chosen by a discriminatory poll. When the leaders took the proposal back to the 64 members who had made the bus trip to Atlantic City, they voted it down. As MFDP Vice Chair Fannie Lou Hamer said, “We didn’t come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn’t come all this way for no two seats, ’cause all of us is tired.” The failure of the compromise effort allowed the rest of the Democratic Party to conclude that the MFDP was simply being unreasonable, and they lost a great deal of their liberal support. After that, the convention went smoothly for LBJ without a searing battle over civil rights. Johnson carried the South as a whole in the election, but he lost the white voters to Goldwater in the Deep South states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina.
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