In celebration of Inauuration Day, I thought it would be fun to post something different, but still appropriate. Therefore, I have prepared a “Presidential Quiz.” This will enable you to test your historical acumen. The questions range from ridiculously easy, to give you a degree of confidence, to absurdly hard and obscure, to separate the real historians from the “great unwashed.” Furthermore, you young readers will see that history did not begin in 1980 as you may have thought. Here we go, and no peeking at Google! The answers appear below in the “Conclusion.”

1. How many Presidents has the US had?

a. 42
b. 43
c. 44
d. 45

2. Which President was nickamed “Old Hickory.”

a. Andrew Jackson
b. Thomas Jefferson
c. Teddy Roosevelt
d. Barack Obama

3. Who was the first President to be born in the US?

a. John Tyler
b. Andrew Jackson
c. William Henry Harrison
d. Martin Van Buren

4. Which President never actually ran for the Presidency?

a. Dwight Eisenhower
b. Thomas Jefferson
c. George Washington
d. John Adams

5. Who consummated the “Louisana Purchase?

a. George Washington
b. Thomas Jefferson
c. James Madison
d. Harry Truman

6. Who was the first president to be elected without a majority of either the popular vote or the Electoral College?

a. John Quincy Adams
b. George W. Bush
c. George H. W. Bush
d. Grover Cleveland

7. Which president added the most territory to the US during his tenure?

a. Thomas Jefferson
b. James Polk
c. Zachary Taylor
d. Theodore Roosevelt

For extra credit, name the states added.

8. Who was the first president to use “Hail to the Chief” when entering a room?

a. James Polk
b. Theodore Rosevelt
c. William Taft
d. Chester A. Arthur

9. Which president is generally credited with “winning” the “Cold War?”

a. Dwight Eisenhower
b. Ronald Reagan
c. Franklyn Roosevelt
d. Lyndon Johnson

10. Which president accidentally instituted the 7th inning stretch?

a. Theodore Roosevelt
b. Franflyn Roosevelt
c. Woodrow Wilson
d. William Taft

11. Which of the following was NOT president?

a. James Buchanan
b. Benjamin Harrison
c. Henry Clay
d. Millard Filmore

12. Who was the first president to occupy the White House?

a. George Washington
b. John Adams
c. Thomas Jefferson
d. James Madison

13. The term “ok” or “okay” was derived from which president?

a. John Tyler
b. James Monroe
c. Martin Van Buren
d. Millard Filmore

14. Which president, after winning the election, was president-elect, senator-elect and a member of the House of Representatives simultaneously before being sowrn in as president?

a. Chester A. Arthur
b. Grover Cleveland
c. James Garfield
d. Benjamin Harrison

15. It is reputed that the baby Ruth candy bar is named after the daughter of which president (not Babe Ruth)?

a. Benjamin Harrison
b. Woodrow Wilson
c. William Taft
d. Grover Cleveland

16. Who was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms?

a. Theodore Roosevelt
b. Grover Cleveland
c. James Monroe
d. Andrew Jackson

17. Which president had a children’s toy named after him?

a. Ronald Reagan
b. Gerald Ford
c. William Taft
d. Theodore Roosevelt

18. Which president was a direct descendent of two passengers on the Mayflower?

a. George Washington
b. John Adams
c. Milliard Filmore
d. James Madison

19. Who officially named the president’s residence the “White House?”

a. Theodore Roosevelt
b. James Monroe
c. John Adams
d. William Taft

20. Under whose presidency was the Oval Office designed?

a. Theodore Roosevelt
b. William Taft
c. FDR
d. Calvin Coolidge

Extra credit: FDR was elected president four times. How many vice presidents served under him?


This quiz turned out to be harder than I originally intended. You have to be a presidential historian to get them all correct. However, I think you can be proud of yourself if you got more than half correct. On the other hand, if you got them all wrong you’re NOT smarter than a 5th grader (and maybe should repeat the 5th grade)!


1. c; 2. a; 3. d, 4. c; 5. b; 6. a; 7. b – AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, WY; 8. a; 9. b; 10. d; 11. c; 12. b

13. c; 14. c; 15. d; 16. b; 17. d; 18. b; 19. a;; 20. b; EC – 3



Governor Cuomo and the New York legistature are to be congratulated. New York has become the first state to pass a stricter gun law in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Moreover, this was accomplished in a bi-partisan manner. Yes, amazingly, Republicans and Democrats worked together to find common ground to, in the words of Larry, the Cable Guy, “Get ‘er done.” Other states have been talking about it. The Feds have been talking about it. NY has done it! NY has reminded us all of what politics is supposed to be all about, which the President and Congress appear to have forgotten: COMPROMISE TO ACCOMPLISH.

To be sure, the law is not pefect. There are elements of it that displease liberals and conservatives alike. The gun control enthusiasts wanted an outright ban; the second amendment and NRA supporters view the law as a first step toward an abrogation of their constitutional right to bear arms. However, I think most people will find it to be very reasonable and will support it.

Briefly, the major elements of the law are as follows:

1. Mandates that all assualt weapons and pistols be registered with NYS.
2. Requires all gun owners to recertify gun permits every five years.
3. Strenthens penalties for possession of an illegal gun, or any gun on school grounds, during a drug sale or during commission of a felony.
4. Weapons databases will not be subject to disclosure under FOIA.
5. Mental health professionals must report patients they deem to be a threat to themselves or to others. Such patients must then surrender any guns and/or permits for guns.


Today, President Obama will announce his proposed gun legislation package. He will do it like he does most things, with much glitz and razzle dazzle. (He will be accompanied by children who, supposedly, have written to him about gun control.) I agree with most observers that the package will face a tough fight in Congress, with much debate and finger-pointing. After all, gun control, along with abortion, is probably the most emotional issue in this country. There are many diverse views that deserve to be heard and will be heard. In the end, I expect that Congress will pass some form of gun legislation, although it may not be exactly to Mr. Obama’s liking.

I hope that Mr. Obama does not become frustrated and resort to trying to accomplish his goals by Executive Order. EOs have their place. There is ample precedent for them, but Obama supporters beware. EOs can be a slippery slope. You may support his expanded use of EOs now, but this may embolden future Presidents, who may not share your political beliefs, to do likewise. I don’t know where the line is legally; probably, even constitutional legal scholars would differ. However, common sense tells one that they should not be used to bypass Congress’ constitutional powers. After all, let’s not forget, our system of government is all about “checks and balances.”


Few issues spark as much emotion in Americans as guns. The second amendment of the U. S. Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, states “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Many Americans react strongly to any attempt to chip away at this right. The right to purchase legally and maintain a handgun is one thing. The question is in this day and age is should that right extend to assualt weapons, automatic, semi-automatic, and similar destuctive weapons that can be and have been used by criminals to kill large numbers of innocent people. I seriously doubt the Founding Fathers anticipated the advent of these types of weapons much less how they would be used by criminals.

Currently, there are approximately 300 million firearms owned by civilians in the U. S. That is an astronimical number when you consider that the total population is only 307 million people, including children! Furthermore, of the murders committed in the U. S. in 2010, 67% were committed with handguns. That would strongly indicate that guns contribute to violent crime. In addition, periodically we suffer through a heinous event like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Newtown. There is a hue and cry and much handwringing. The left wants to enact stiffer gun control laws, including a ban on certain types of weapons; the NRA and conservatives cite the right to bear arms and treat any action as an enfringement of the second amendment. In the end, the outrage fades away, people focus on other issues and nothing gets done.

Will this time be any different? No one knows, but the Obama administration seems committed to taking strong action. Biden’s study group is recommending, among other things, a ban on assault weapons, mandatory background checks, restrictions on gun shows, a national database of firearms and mental health programs designed to curtail mentally challenged people from acquiring guns. I don’t think any objective person would object to a ban on assault weapons. The others could have unintended consequences and could be difficult and costly to administer. The NRA and conservatives would likely resist some or all of these proposals and offer proposals of their own. (One such proposal they have put forth is the use of armed security guards in schools.)


Reaching a consensus will be difficult, but this is an issue that needs to be resolved. All parties must work hard to find common ground. Each side must realize that it will not get everyhthing it wants and settle for what it can get. Sounds easy and obvious, right? But, our government has not been able to operate this way in some time. One danger I foresee is that if O cannot get Congress to pass the bill he wants he may issue an Executive Order to accomplish the same thing. Given the history of this issue and the emotions it evokes, I think this is a strong, if not likely, possibility.

Presidents issue EOs all the time, but O has issued more than 1,000 EOs during his tenure as President, much more than any other previous president. Moreover, although some have dealt with routine issues, such as student loans, others have dealt with serious, controversial issues, such as immigration and abortion. Legal experts are divided over the constitutionality of some of them. In my opinion, an EO on this issue would be unwarranted and unwise. O would be viewed by most people as circumventing Congress and overreaching his authority. It would be very controversial, and its constitutionality would likely be challenged in the courts.



When Western European countries began to establish settlements and colonies in North America they called it the “New World.” Eventually, the 13 original colonies became an independent country, the United States of America, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, over 500 years later, the New World is in danger of regressing into the New Europe, at least economically. For the past four years, America has been transitioning from a state based on initiative, risk-taking, free entertprise and self-reliance to one based on big government and entitlements. The transition has been so gradual that most Americans are not even cognizant of it. The most recent election results have accelerated the process. I fear that if it remains unchecked it will continue to accelerate until, like a snowball rolling downhill, it will become an unstoppable avalanche destroying everything in its path.

The signs are there if one wants to look:

1. We just re-elected a President who has espoused publicly the philosophy of wealth redistribution. He uses code words and phrases like requiring “those who can afford it” and the “rich” to pay their “fair share” and help the “needy.” Sounds reasonable and benign, but raising taxes in this manner penalizes achievers at the expense of non-achievers. Also, we’re not just talking about income taxes, but also taxes on capital gains, to help pay for medicare and Obamacare. Furthermore, as far as resolving our $16 trillion debt and huge annual deficits, these taxes are like putting a bandaid on cancer. The additional revenue only funds the government for a week or so; it doesn’t begin to resolve the broader problem. Don’t be surprised if we are told soon that more taxes on the wealthy are needed, perhaps, a return to the 90% marginal rate of the 1950’s or even a “wealth tax,” which some far left pundits have already proposed.

2. Many if not most Americans agree that we must cut spending in conjunction with raising taxes, but, of course, there is no consensus on which areas to cut. Everyone wants to cut someone else’s program. President Robin Hood and the Dems have vigorously opposed any meaningful spending cuts and have not proposed any spending cuts of their own. Nor will they unless they are forced to do so by the GOP as part of the debt ceiling negotiations. (In that event, they will probably claim the GOP is holding the economy “hostage” by holding up approval.)

3. The size of government has been increasing steadily. Nearly one-half of the population is now receiving some kind of government assistance. Some of this assistance, like social security and aid to the truly needy or disabled, is appropriate. But, entitlements have risen to record levels in both dollars and percentage of population. Every recipient can’t be “truly needy.”

4. The nation’s debt is over $16 trillion and increasing by the second. Try to wrap your mind around that number for a minute. Most people can’t conceive of a number that high, which is part of the problem.


O’s ultimate goal is for the government to take care of (that means control) its citizens’ life from “cradle to grave.” He doesn’t think or care about how we will pay for it. Folks, that philosophy, plus wealth redistribution, in a nutshell, is the Western European model I referred to earlier. That’s where we’re headed. What’s worse is that a majority of Americans seem to want it. They like the largesse of the government.

Is this majority, greedy, lazy, oblivious, or some combination of the three? This is not the America I grew up in. This is not the America of the last 300 years. The attitude seems to be “Why work for it when you can get it handed to you?” “He’s getting it, why shouldn’t I?” The problem is that “eventually, as Reverend “Wrong,” I mean Reverend Wright, said: “America’s chickens will come home to roost.”


Well, President Robin Hood, er Obama, got what he wanted. He managed to increase taxes without any corresponding spending cuts despite the fact that the understanding all along was to match tax increases with a roughly one-for-one reduction in spending. Furthermore, he has made it clear that he wants even further tax increases as a condition for any spending cuts. Yep. Now that he has been re-elected, the gloves are off. He has become emboldened and more feisty. Any doubts about his political intentions have been laid to rest. Let’s hope that our country’s economy will not be laid to rest as well over the next four years.

The President intends to push his wealth redistribution beliefs and policies as far as he can. At his core, he is still the Chicago community organizer. Simply put, he wants to take from the achievers and give to the non-achievers. (Yes, there are some people who are legitimately in need of government assistance, but I am not talking about them.) Our President has failed to understand that when you become the President of the United States you are the President of ALL the people, not just a segment of them.

The President believes big government should provide everything for everyone, cradle to grave. His economic model is the socialism practiced in Western European countries. He fails to see or chooses to ignore that that system has not worked. This is not opinion or speculation. It is empirical fact. Just look at Greece, Spain, Portugal, etal.


The President now talks about the need for even further tax increases and pays lip service to spending cuts. Everyone knows the three biggest expenses are debt service, entitlements and the military. Debt service cannot be cut; in fact when interest rates increase, as they inevitably will since they are at historical lows, debt service will increase. That leaves entitlements and/or the military. The President and the Dems will strongly resist any reductions in entitlements; in fact, they want to increase them. The GOP will likely resist any meaningful reductions in defense. So, it will be extremely difficult for our elected officials to agree on any significant reductions in the $16 trillion debt. In fact, we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t spiral out of control further.

Don’t be fooled by the recent surge in the stock market. That was a “relief rally” over the government reaching a deal. Apparently, a “half-assed” deal was viewed as being better than no deal. Eventually, the market will realize that the debt crisis was not solved, just deferred, and the gains will be reversed, or worse.

So, if you thought the fiscal cliff negotiations were difficult last week, just wait until the next one at the end of February when we will also have to deal with Congressional authorization to increase the debt ceiling. Once again, we will be subjected to more rhetoric, half-truths, finger-pointing, and lack of leadership by both the Congress and, especially, the President.


Happy New Year to all you “cliff danglers” out there. Do you feel any differently? Today, we woke up to a new year and a new economic reality. We have officially fallen over the “fiscal cliff,” … or have we?

That’s right; our government has done it again. Wasted months and months on rhetoric and political postering, waited until the last minute, scrambled around, put together a “half-assed” deal that the Senate passed in the wee hours of January 1 amid much fanfare and sent to the House for consideration. (Incidentally, what are the chances that any senator has actually read the bill he or she approved in such haste?) If the House approves the measure, not a sure thing, President Obama will sign it, and we will climb back over the “fiscal cliff,” conveniently, before the financial markets open tomorrow. Thus, we will have fallen over the “fiscal cliff,” but not really. If you are confused, don’t worry, so, apparently, are our elected officials. i

Among other provisions, the bill raises income tax rates and limits deductions on individuals earning over $400,000 and on households earning over $450,000. Additionally, it leaves the Bush middles class taxes rates in place and extends unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, which were due to expire. I have no problem with that, but I do have a problem with the fact that it defers any spending cuts for two months. That’s right. The government has done what it does best, what I predicted might happen. It deferred a difficult decision; it “kicked the can down the road” once again. It created another “fiscal cliff” in two months. Let the next Congress worry about it. For those of you who are not keeping score, the end of February just happens to be when the U. S. will need to have its debt ceiling limit raised, which has to be approved by Congress. Those negotiations should be fun!


Many conservative representatives have expressed displeasure with the bill, but I believe the likelihood is the House will pass it. Politically, they have been backed into a corner and have little choice. However, they will not be happy, and they will remember this. Consequently, they will be less prone to compromise prospectively. Therefore, this may prove to be a pyrrhic victory for the Dems.

Also, let’s not forget that the country does have a $16 trillion debt that still needs to be addressed by judicious, perspicacious spending cuts, not last minute backroom dealing. Debt reduction is essential for the long-term health of our economy. Unfortunately, based upon the track record of the Obama Administration and the current mood of the electorate I see little chance of that occurring in the near future.