THEY SAID IT. FAMOUS PRESIDENTIAL QUOTES.

As many of you know, I have published two “Presidential Quiz” blogs. They were so well received that I have decided to publish another quiz, this one on famous quotes of US presidents. So, here goes. Some are easy; others are hard. A score of 50% would be passing. 80% or more, you’re a presidential scholar. If you get fewer than five right, you are probably not smarter than a 5th grader.

Please identify who said it:

1. “Victory has many fathers, while defeat is an orphan”

a. Nixon
b. JFK
c. FDR
d. Washington

2. “Blessed are the young for they will inherit the national debt.”

a. Obama
b. FDR
c. Hoover
d. Jefferson

3. “You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should be doing for themselves.”

a. Reagan
b. Bush 41
c. Polk
d. Lincoln

4. “Look, when I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”

a. Bush 43
b. Clinton
c. Carter
d. Obama

5. “I did not have sex with that woman.”

a. Clinton
b. Cleveland
c. FDR
d. JFK

6. “What counts is not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

a. FDR
b. JFK
c. Washington
d. Eisenhower

7. “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have.”

a. Washington
b. Jefferson
c. Reagan
d. Bush 43

8. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

a. JFK
b. Taft
c. FDR
d. Obama

9. “Beware the military-industrial complex.”

a. Eisenhower
b. Washington
c. Wilson
d. Carter

10. “A government is like fire, a handy servant but a dangerous master.”

a. Truman
d. Jefferson
c. Hoover
d. Washington

11. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

a. Washington
b. Truman
c. Hayes
d. Lincoln

12. “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

a. Eisenhower
b. Nixon
c. Ford
d. Truman

13. “Government isn’t the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”

a. Reagan
b. Nixon
c. Obama
d. Coolidge

14. Being president is like running a cemetary; you’ve got a lot of people under you, and nobody’s listening.”

a. Lincoln
b. Truman
c. Clinton
d. JFK

15. “I do not chhose to run.”

a. Truman
b. Harding
c. Coolidge
d. Ford

16. “Always be sincere, even if you don’t mean it.”

a. Wilson
b. Jefferson
c. Madison
d. Truman

17. “There is no dignity so impressive and no independence quite so important as living within your means.”

a. Obama
b. Coolidge
c. Hoover
d. Bush 43

18. “I am not a crook.”

a. Cleveland
b. Monroe
c. Jackson
d. Nixon

19. “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

a. Washington
b. JFK
c. FDR
d. Tyler

20. “An optimist is presented with a problem and sees an opportunity. A pessimist is presented with an opportunity and sees a problem.”

a. Eisenhower
b. Jefferson
c. Truman
d. Pierce

Extra credit: “How many divisions does the Pope have?”

a. Hitler
b. Churchill
c. FDR
d. Stalin

Answers:

1.(b); 2. (c); 3. (d); 4. (d); 5. (a); 6. (d); 7. (b); 8. (c); 9. (a); 10. (d); 11. (d); 12. (d); 13. (a); 14. (c); 15. (c); 16. (d); 17. (b); 18. (d); 19. (b); 20. (c)
Extra Credit: (d)

CONCLUSION

Good luck. Please post your score, and no cheating on the internet!

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THE BUCK STOPS HERE

Quickly now, name the top 10 presidents in US history. Chances are, you would cite George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and FDR in some order. Not many people would think of Harry S Truman, who I believe is one of the most underrated and underappreciated Presidents in history. Time after time, he demonstrated high levels of integrety and leadership. He did what he thought was right, regardless of the political fallout. Now, Truman is generally considered by a consensus of academic historians and political scientists to have been one of the top ten Presidents in history, ranking in a group just below the aforementioned Big 5. Ironically, upon leaving office in 1952 his job approval rating was only 22%, according to a Gallup Poll, which was the lowest in history for a departing President. To put that in perspective, Richard Nixon, who left office in disgrace, departed with a job approval rating of 24%. Underrated and underappreciated indeed.

So, who was Harry S Truman? What did he accomplish to merit such high praise from historians, and why the low rating initially?

Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri on May 8, 1884. The “S” does not stand for any middle name. He was raised on the family farm. He served in the army during WWI. Afterwards, he owned a haberdashery, which eventually went bankrupt. (As a measure of his character, he paid off all creditors, even though he was not required to do so legally. It took 13 years.). Then, he entered politics, holding various offices at the local level. In 1934 he was elected to the US Senate. His big break was being chosen to run for VP with FDR in 1944. Upon FDR’s death, he became the 33rd President of the US.

Truman served as President duirng a very critical and turbulent time in US history. Luckily for us, he was up to the task. He was a very strong and decisive leader. As I said, many times, he took unpopular actions because he thought they were right. He governed by the credo of the sign on his desk in the Oval Office: “The Buck Stops Here.” Among his accomplishments were:

1. He gave the final authorization to drop the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was a very controversal decision, especially when the world saw the massive devastatation caused by these weapons. Although there was moral outrage in some quarters, the general view now is that Truman made the right decision. Japan was prepared to fight to the death, and our military advisors estimated that its capture would have likely have taken a year and cost hundreds of thousands of American lives.

2. He led the fight to allocate funds to rebuild Europe after WWII under a program that became known as the Marshall Plan. This plan was unpopular at the time, because it was expensive, and there was little appetite to help Europe, especially our defeated enemies.

3. He aggressively and successfully fought to contain the spread of communism. This was the advent of the “Cold War.” The Soviet Union, which already controlled Eastern Europe, was looking to expand its influence into Greece, Turkey and elsewhere. Were it not for Truman’s actions the world would look a lot different today.

4. He strongly advocated for creating the UN and NATO.

5. When the Soviets initiated a blockade of supplies into West Berlin, he authorized the Berlin Airlift, which effectively broke the blockade and saved West Berlin as a free city.

6. When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he acted promptly and decisively to support the South, thus preventing the Korean peninsula from turning 100% communist. Later, he fired the popular Douglas MacArthur, who was commanding our troops there, for insubordination. MacArthur was a WWII war hero, and this decision was very unpopular, but Truman did what he thought was right regardless.

7. He recognized the State of Israel just 11 minutes after its creation. His advisors had cautioned him that this action would anger the Arab states in the region, which controlled much of our oil supply, however, Truman went ahead anyway, stating that he “would decide his policy on the basis of justice, not oil.”

8. He integrated the Armed Services by Executive Order.

Truman ran for re-election in 1948 against Thomas E. Dewey, the governor of NY. Truman’s approval rating was 38% in the Spring of 1948, and he was universally expected to lose. But, the polling of the day was flawed. Firstly, it was conducted by telephone. Since many more Dems did not have telephones, they were underrepresented in the polls. Also, Gallup stopped polling several days before Election day, so he missed a late surge for Truman. You may be aware that the Chicago Tribune famously published the inaccurate headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

Truman did not run again in 1952, retiring to Missouri to lead a quiet life. He turned down numerous offers for corporate positions and commercial endorsements, as he did not want to diminish the integrety of the Presidency. Unfortunately, he had no pension, so he was actually poor. His financial situation improved, however, when Congress passed a law granting former Presidents a pension. Truman died on December 26, 1972. As I mentioned, he was not appreciated when he was alive, but with the passage of time and the perspective of history he is now recognized as one of our truly great Presidents.

TERRORISTS KILLED/CAPTURED – NOW WHAT

As everyone knows, the Boston Marathon terrorists, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaew, have been killed/apprehended. Kudos to the various law enforcement agencies involved for ending this quickly and efficiently. Additionally, kudos to the public for a considerable assist. As I predicted in my last blog, private citizens’ cameras and videos were instrumental in the identification and killing/apprehension of the terrorists. I expect Dzhokhar will be tried in Federal court, not Massachussets court, convicted and executed.

Now what? After we all take a deep breath, we have to conduct a thorough follow-up investigation. At a minimum, we have to ascertain:

1. Are they part of a larger terrorist plot? Who are their associates? Dzohokhar needs to be subjected to enhanced interrogation, so we can ascertain the answers to these and other questions.

2. Did the FBI drop the ball in 2010? Apparently, in 2010 Russia warned the FBI about Tamerlan. The FBI interviewed him and, concluding he was not a threat, let him go. On what basis? A little digging likely would have disclosed that he had spent time in Chechniya, which is known to be a hotbed of terrorism. Much of the Muslim population there is highly radicalized against not only the US, but also against Christians and Jews, in general. So, I repeat, on what basis was he deemed not to be a threat? We have to review those procedures.

3. How did the entire family come to be granted asylum as “political refugees?” The mother is a convicted criminal. Those procedures need to be reviewed as well.

PREDICTION AND CONCLUSION

The main conclusion is obvious. America is under constant attack from both internal and external sources. These people want to destroy us and our way of life. The “why” is not important. I don’t care that they are deranged, deluded, deprived, envious, want to meet Allah and 72 virgins in Paradise, or whatever. We don’t need to understand the “why.”

What we need to understand that we are at war, a war that is just as deadly as any other we have fought. In some ways it is worse, because it is on our own soil, and civilians, including children, are being targeted. We need to remain hyper-vigilant, and report anything suspicious to the authorities. For example, one of the bombing victims has disclosed that Tamerlan walked up to him, looked him in the eye, put down a satchel right in front of him, and walked away. Tragic. If you witness something like that, you must react.

Americans are tough and resilient. I believe we will rise to the challenge. After all, we always have. The cemetaries are full of people who have doubted us.

TERROR AT THE BOSTON MARATHON

Yesterday, in Boston, started out as an All American celebration – a beautiful Spring day, Patriots Day, Marathon Day, a Red Sox game. What could be better? Then, suddenly, without warning, it was all shattered by a senseless, cowardly act of violence, the type with which we have become all too familiar. The Trade Center bombing in 1993, the OKC bombing of the Murrah Building in 1995, the “Unibomber” in the late ’90s, “9/11,” the “underwear bomber” in 2009 and various school shootings from Columbine to Va. Tech to Newtown. Yes, these acts of violence have become all too familiar.

Make no mistake about it. Yesterday’s bombings were an act of terror. Everybody knows it; everybody acknowledges it, except for President Obama, who, for whatever reason, political or otherwise, seems reluctant to use the word “terror.” In his speech to the Nation he called it a “tragedy.” Tragedy, my eye! Superstorm Sandy was a tragedy. The fact that there were multiple bombs, makes this an act of terror. Some people might defend President Obama’s reluctance to use the “terror” label as a desire not to “get ahead of the investigation.” In my opinion and a that of a majority of Americans there is no question that it was. To paraphrase the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart “I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. Other, less articulate people would say: “If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” The only question is were the terrorists domestic or foreign.

At last count, there were three fatalities, including an 8 year old boy, 150 injured, and countless traumatized. Many of the injured were in grave condition. Eyewitnesses have described the scene as akin to a war zone.

For the most part, our law enforcement agencies, local, state and federal, have done an excellent job protecting us from acts of terror. Police and other agencies have devoted countless hours training; governments have provided substantial funds to improve our internal security; and by and large, the public has been accepting of various inconveniences, such as heightened airport security, designed to keep us safe. Kudos to the police, medical and hospital personnel and various other first responders for acting swiftly and decisively yesterday. Undoubtedly, their actions saved many lives. Even “regular” people were quick to assist others in need. Many people ran TOWARD the blasts not knowing if there were other bombs about to go off. Once again, Americans demonstrated their mettle in a time of need.

PREDICTION AND CONCLUSION

Yesterday’s events remind us that despite all of the above, we are never 100% safe. There are numerous “soft” targets available to terrorists, such as sporting events, schools, or shopping malls, to name a few. These venues are easier to attack, and terrorists can inflict maximum civilian casualties and get maximum publicity for the deed. We can, and undoubtedly have, prevented many terrorist acts, but we can’t stop them all. The one in a hundred that we don’t prevent is the one we hear about. This is a fact we all have to live with.

Despite the complicated nature of this case, for example, a huge crime scene area that police have described as the largest they have ever seen, I predict that the perpetrators will be found and brought to justice. I say this because (1) there is a full court press on the part of local, state and federal law enforcement; (2) there is a high degree of public outrage; (3) and someone with a cell phone or video camera must have seen something and taken an incriminating photo. All these people should turn their pictures over to the authorities. They might not even realize they have useful information.

The best act of prevention is a vigilent and educated public. You all know the drill. Be observant. Be aware of your surroundings. Know the location of the nearest exit from a building or stadium. Report any suspicious persons or packages to the proper authorities. “If you see or hear something, say something.” Your actions could save many lives, including your own.

Above all, go on with your lives. Don’t cower in the corner. If you do, the terrorists win.

THE IRON LADY

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, aka “The Iron Lady,” passed away last Monday at the age of 87. Normally, when a former chief exeutive and prominent world leader passes away his or her countrymen would demonstrate an outpouring of grief, sadness and, above all, respect. Political differences and petty quarrels would be set aside, and the media and the general populace would be respectful of the person even if they had disagreed politically. Think of our own former Presidents who have passed away in the last few decades – Nixon, Ford and Reagan. For much of his life, Richard Nixon was a very divisive figure and was one of the most despised politicians in my lifetime. Yet, when he passed away there were no demonstrations, no glee from the left and no joyous songs to mark the occasion. The same can be said for other prominent politicans in other countries. Normally, the occasion is marked with respect and dignity.

In Ms. Thatcher’s case many Britons have chosen to party like it was New Years Eve, dancing in the streets, popping champagne, etc. Some people, who must really think they are clever, are even trying to repopularize the song “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead! This behavior is outrageous, and I submit that it greatly dimishes Britons in the eyes of the world. After all, as virtually any politician knows, regardless of the extent to which you might disagree with the other person’s political positions, you respect him or her personally. Indeed, many politicians who hold diametrically opposing views are, in fact, personal friends.

So, who was Margaret Thatcher? What exactly did she do to incur this wrath upon her death some 23 years after having left office? Incidentally, many, if not most, of the demonstrators appear to be too young to remember Ms. Thatcher’s tenure as PM, or worse, had not even been borne yet. So, what is the basis of their actions? What do they know of the lady and her life?

Ms. Thatcher, though a conservative politician, was not born into wealth and privilege. She was born on October 13, 1925 in a small hamlet approximately 100 miles north of London. Her parents owned two small grocery stores, and the family lived above the store in a “cold water flat,” i.e. no hot running water. Despite these modest beginnings, she was to get admitted to Oxford University from which she graduated in 1947 with a Masters Degree in Chemistry. Before entering politics she worked as a research chemist. She entered local politics in 1948 and was elected to Parliament in 1959. She became PM in 1979.
There were few women in politics at that time, so she had to fight prejudice and preconceptions continuously her whole career.

In 1979 the UK was in dire straits economically and socially. Many major industries had been nationalized. The country was paralized by strikes. The unions were omnipotent. The average worker paid nearly half of his income to the government in taxes. Inflation and unemployment were high. (Unemployment was the highest since the Great Depression.) Although there was a worldwide recession throughout most of the 1970s, remember the US’s long gas lines, double digit inflation and stock market freefall, the UK was even worse off. Ms. Thatcher’s economic policies, which included reducing spending and curbing inflation, though unpopular with Labour/Liberal supporters, restored economic health. Her policies spurred economic growth and the growth of the middle class. Over time, they served to reduce the power of the unions significantly, reversed the trend toward nationalization and reinstituted a capitalist, free market system for the welfare state system then in vogue. It’s understandable that she alienated a large segment of the entrenched powers and their supporters. Incidentally, you may note that some of the current economic conditions in various countries, including the US, are similar, though perhaps, not as extreme yet.

In foreign affairs she enjoyed a close working relationship with both Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, she acted aggressively and decisively, sending troops and ships, which recaptured the islands in just 10 weeks.

Yes, she was a tough and decisive leader. By her own admission she was a “conviction politician, not a consensus politician.” She stood up to and held her own with anyone. The Soviets so admired and respected these traits that it was they who gave her the sobriquet “Iron Lady.” During one debate she admonished a Labour MP: “You would rather make rich people poor than poor people rich.” During a strategy discussion regarding the US’s response to Iraq’s invading Kuwait she famously admonished President Bush 41: “Now, don’t get wobbly, George.” Iron Lady indeed.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

Ms. Thatcher served 11 years as PM. She was the UK’s longest tenured PM in the 20th century and the only female ever. Other than Winston Churchill, she was arguably its most important and effective PM of the 20th century. She was the classic case of a strong, effective leader who came along at the right time. (The US could certainly use someone like her now!) Why, then, the reaction upon her death? I believe it’s attributable to several factors: Labour/Liberal propaganda, selective memory of some people, instigation by special interests, such as the unions and a liberal press, and most of all a general lack of respect that seems to be the trend nowadays.

Thoughtful, intelligent, fair-minded people would not react this way. They would recognize that although they didn’t agree with her politically, her office and accomplishments must be respected. Unfortunately, I do not see this as an isolated case, but, rather, a continuation of a disturbing trend in our society.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

President Obama is well into his 5th year as President. Upon his re-election his constituencies rejoiced, grateful that they avoided a “cold-hearted, mean spirited” Republican administration, which would seek to undo many of his administration’s socialist-style policies . Well, they got what they wished for. But, where is the improvement in the economy? Have his policies improved the quality of your life? For most Americans, the answer is a resounding NO!

Obama supporters, in particular, poor people, African Americans, women and young people, the joke’s on you, because ironically, as I predicted, Mr. Obama’s far left liberal policies have hurt you the worst. To wit:

1. Unemployment remains stubbornly high. The current rate is 7.6%. Worse, the rates for women, young people and African Americans are 12.2%, 34% and 13.3%, respectively. These percentages do not include those who have given up looking for work because of discouragement, entitlements or other reasons. We all agree that this level of unemployment is unacceptable. No one wants to see people suffer. But, Mr. Obama’s anti-business, anti-wealth policies have not been able to redress the situation.

2. Many employed lower-end workers have had their hours reduced and/or they have been re-classified as part time employees. In some cases, they have lost their eligibility for employer-provided health insurance and other benefits.

3. The price of gas at the pump is close to $4.00 on average nationwide, but near $5 in California, a liberal stronghold.

4. In January, all working Americans saw a decrease in their paychecks due to the re-establishment of the payroll tax.

5. Medical insurance rates have increased considerably as insurance companies gear up for the full advent of Obamacare next year. It is no secret that when Obamacare hits full force, the 80% of us that already had health insurance will see a sizeable cost increase in healthcare AND a decrease in the quality of care. Somebody has to pay for it, and you can be sure it won’t be the insurance companies. An additional negative of Obamacare is that it acts as a drag on hiring. In a recent survey, 77% of small businesses reported that Obamacare has adversely affected their hiring capabilities.

6. And, the cruelist irony of all for Obama supporters, the stock market has been soaring. The Dow is at an all time high. The S & P and NASDAQ indices have also increased substantially. Of course, this benfits the wealthy the most. To a lesser extent, it also benefiits everyone who has a 401k or IRA, but many Obama supporters do not have either of those.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

As one can see, the irony is that Mr. Obama’s policies have hurt the very people that he is trying to help. Yes, be careful what you wish for. Mr. Obama’s wealth re-distribution policies have not worked. To paraphrase the late Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Obama seems more interested in making rich people poorer than in making poor people rich.

As I have stated in previous blogs, these policies will not work. They have never worked anywhere else; there is no reason why they should work here. Study your history and learn from it lest you be doomed to repeat it. One might wonder if they taught economics and history at Harvard.

I predict no substantive improvement in the economic situation before the midterm elections. In that case, history shows us that Americans will make their displeasure and frustration known in the voting booth, which does not augur well for the Dems.