Tuesday, January 27, 2015

James Madison, America's 4th President

President James Madison was very similar to his predecessor, President Thomas Jefferson as both had the same political ideology and values.  President Madison’s life and career was devoted to public service from a very young age. He long admired being a student of history, law, and government, and spent his early years framing the Virginia Constitution, followed by service in the Continental Congress.  Prior to becoming America’s 4th President, James Madison served as Secretary of State to President Jefferson for eight years.  Whereas Jefferson was very strong in writing, President Madison was at his best in public speaking, often times leading fierce debates regarding the political establishment of America.

While in Congress, he spearheaded the drafting of the Bill of Rights, earning him the nickname
“Father of the Bill of Rights.”  His heavy involvement as a Congressman was instrumental in the development of the Republican Party (also referred to the Republican-Democrat Party or the Jefferson Party).  This party was in competition with the Federalists to be the leading advocate for developing American policy and agenda.

During Madison’s Presidency, he asked Congress to declare war against the British, to send a powerful message that American independence from Britain was nonnegotiable.  The War of 1812, lasted only a few years, but provided America with a renewed sense of liberation, peace, nationalism, and prosperity.  It was during the War of 1812, that the Star Spangled Banner was written by Frances Scott Key.

Prior to the commencement of the War of 1812, lots of opposition existed from the North.  They felt it would be counterproductive to the economy, financially unsustainable, and that military personnel were inadequately trained. The anti-war establishment threatened to secede from America.   Opposition was led by the Federalists party and they were proven wrong.  America’s victory and the British surrender, led to the dismantling of the Federalists party and the blueprint for today’s two party system of Democrats and Republicans.

President Madison’s wife, Dolley, had a very charming and distinguished personality.  She is historically referred to as America’s “First Lady,” due to her social grace and welcoming demeanor. Although she was a widow with a child at the age of 24, that did not impact President Madison from falling in love with Dolley.  They were married in 1794, when she was 26 and lived a life of happiness, trust, and understanding of one another.  They had no children together, yet President Madison showed lots of patience to Dolly’s son, even though her son directly harmed President Madison’s financial affairs, by mismanaging his estate.

President Madison portrait was on the $5,000 bill, which stopped printing in the 1940’s and went out of circulation in the 1960’s.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thomas Jefferson, America's 3rd President

The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson was symbolized by various firsts in American history.  Besides being the first President to win an election versus an incumbent, he was also the 1st President to enter the White House as a single man, as his wife passed away twenty years before he would lead America. 

As a leader, Jefferson was a stronger writer and thinker, than he was speaker.  He preferred sharing his ideas with the pen as opposed to using his voice.   Jefferson’s strength and ability to eloquently transition his wisdom to paper, led him to compose the initial draft of the Declaration of Independence, which was signed on July 4th, 1776, ironically exactly 50 years before his death on July 4th, 1826.

Prior to becoming President in 1801, Jefferson had a history rich in politics and civic engagement.  Besides being America’s first Secretary of State for President Washington, he also held positions such as former governor of Virginia, former Vice President of America, and former diplomat to France. 

In 1803, through Jefferson’s active negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase, he was instrumental in America purchasing 530 million acres of land from the French at a cost of $15 million. (Presently America is 2.3 billion acres in size, meaning Jefferson’s transaction represents ¼ of the USA).   His appreciation of the value of acquiring strategic land was attributed to him inheriting 5000 acres of land from his father’s death.

Jefferson’s Presidency was a dynamic time for American politics.  Two strong political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republican, were vying for influence and power.   Although America was still young, its challenges were large.  Similar to today’s political climate of Democratic vs. Republican, the two parties of the Federalists and the Democratic-Republican had differing views on how to solve their issues and challenges. 

Surprisingly, at the time of Jefferson’s Presidency, America had a debt of almost $90 million and Jefferson worked diligently to reduce this debt.  With minimal chance for America to engage in war with the French and tensions diffused, Jefferson began to reduce the budget by shrinking military expenses.  His proactive policy of fiscal responsibility reduced the debt by almost 1/3 in a short period of time.

During Jefferson’s Presidency, the state of Ohio was added to the union in 1803, bringing America to 17 states.     Besides Jefferson founding the University of Virginia, he kept himself occupied by being an inventor, writer, linguist, and farmer.  He had a difficult time adjusting to life as widowed man and as such, his grown children and their families would often times occupy the White House with him, as evidenced by his grandson being the first person born in the White House. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 2: President John Adams

John Adams has the distinction of being the first person to serve as both Vice President and President of America.  During his eight years as President Washington’s VP, he felt frustrated, underused, and underappreciated, often sharing with his wife how insignificant a role he had in America’s infancy.  He considered himself to be both a philosopher as well as a politician and often times struggled to distinguish the two.

President Adams was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard.  Upon graduating, he started practicing law and eventually turned to politics.   As a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, he was heavily invested in the American independence movement. Prior to becoming Vice President, he was an American diplomat who traveled extensively as evidenced by his positions in France and England.   His diplomatic overseas posts would serve him well as President, as this experience enabled him to strategically avert war with the French. 

During his four years as President, tensions were high between the French and the Americans as both countries were involved in naval positioning and various hostilities throughout the seas.   His leadership averted American involvement in a war and ended with a peace mission being sent to France.  Although war was avoided, various segments of America’s politicians were upset with Adam. This uproar at home partially contributed to Adams being a one term President.

Adams was the first President to reside in the White House, having moved to the home one year prior to vacating the office of President.   When construction of the White House was complete, President Adams shared a prayer with his wife, which remains entrenched in the White House for all visitors to see.  The prayer simply states, “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it.  May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

President Adams and his wife, Abigail had five children in ten years.  After his Presidency ended, he returned home to Massachusetts where he spent the next twenty five years of his life, up until his death on July 4, 1826.  Ironically, one of his biggest adversaries, Thomas Jefferson, who became America’s 3rd President and won an electoral that made Adams a one term President, passed away the same day.

The final eight years of life were very difficult on him emotionally, as his wife preceded him in death in 1818.  Their marriage was one based on romance, love, friendship, and involved years of communicating via letters due to President Adams travels as a diplomat.  Unlike his wife, President Adams lived long enough to see his son become America’s 6th President.

Monday, January 19, 2015

44 Presidents in 44 Days Using 444 words: Day 1 - President George Washington

George Washington was inaugurated in New York City on April 30, 1789, while standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street.  Upon taking the oath as America’s first President, it was his intent to establish precedence in all his future actions.   His precedence was based on the notion that principles would guide leaders as opposed to politics.

President Washington was born in Virginia to a farming family.  During his teen years, he became heavily interested in the art of military and western land expansion.  While a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he was involved in his first battle of what eventually turned into the Indian & French War.  At the age of 27, he married a widowed lady who was older than him and was a mother of two children from her previous marriage.  She also had two children who died as infants.  Although they never had children together as a couple, Washington was very fond of his step children. 

During the early parts of his marriage, he became quite agitated with the concept of British imperialism and regulations.  In 1775, as a member of the Virginia legislation, he attended the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia during which he was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.    For six years afterwards, he was heavily involved in a challenging war with the British, which ended with the British surrender in 1781 and the end of the American Revolution.

Upon the ending of the American Revolution, Washington was ready to retire from public life and live peacefully and quietly as a private citizen in Mount Vernon.   He came to the realization that the Articles of Confederation, were not functioning as intended, and thus aligned himself with the Constitutional Convention of Philadelphia in 1787.  This convention spearheaded the development of the US Constitution.   Upon ratification of the new Constitution, George Washington was unanimously elected America’s first President by the Electoral College.

President Washington strongly admired what the Constitution represented and stood for.  As such, he respected the powers of Congress, while balancing the needs of America.  He choose to lead America by having a neutral policy on various issues such as foreign policy, knowing that neutrality would make the country stronger, not weaker.   Upon finishing his 2nd term as President, he died about three years post Presidency, at the age of 67 due to a throat infection.

While bidding adieu as President, his Farewell Address encouraged his countrymen not to develop long term alliances in foreign policy, minimize preferences based on geographical distinctions, and avoid excessive political spirit.  His wife passed away three years after him and both were buried in their beloved Mount Vernon. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Un-United States of America

This past week, I was in Washington DC meeting various members of congress and their staff to discuss Syria and America's role.  I also attended the 59th Annual Conference of the National Chicken Council, where guest speakers included Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, and Ambassador Nicholas Burns among others.

A few of the takeaways of the trip were:

1.  The only interest that matters in DC, is political interest.
2.  Every single person I spoke to or heard speak, where emphatic that President Obama's Syrian policy has been an absolute disaster.  A few of those included the offices of Senator Chambliss (R), Congressman Collins (R), Senator Coons (D), and Ambassador Nicholas Burns.  I did have a meeting with Congressman Kingston (R), but he never showed up as he was tied up with various elements of the government shutdown.  His office did apologize as I waited almost 45 minutes for him to show.
3.  I was told by a Congressman that he feels Jordan will be the next country to go through what other Arab Spring countries have (i.e. revolution).
4. A congressman told me that the Syrian conflict will not end until the Syrians decide it is in their best interests to stop killing each other.  He also said that it's too late for the US to get involved and involvement should have happened in the beginning as opposed to now.  When Obama made the statement, "Assad must go," is when the US should have gotten involved. This was before the foreign elements became involved in the conflict.  His concern now is if Assad goes, the group replacing him will be worse than Assad. Had we been involved in the beginning this would not have happened.
5. All of politicians, speakers, etc., grilled Obama for weakening America's credibility.  Obama was referred to as a paper tiger, someone who no longer appears strong, someone who has encouraged and empowered our enemies, and that for someone who has spent so much time talking about Syria, he should have done something about it.  The red line comment was a back breaker for many, ranging from behind closed door meetings of the intelligence community to politicians.  They felt America's prestige took a serious hit with that Obama blunder / gaffe.
6. Chris Wallace of Fox News was adamant that Sean Hannity & Bill O Reilly do not represent that majority of Fox and they are simply opinion shows as opposed to news.  He mentioned that freedom of the press is a constitutional right and part of what makes America stronger and unique.
7.  Regarding the government shutdown, lobbyists are becoming a bigger problem than Congress.  The parties have become further apart, because there is no longer a middle ground. Each side is underestimating the other sides willingness to keep this shutdown ongoing and Senator Coons was adamant that President Obama will not walk away from his signature accomplishment (i.e. Obamacare).
8.  Regarding the Egypt conflict, the general consensus was it will be another 5 to 10 years before we see change take place in Egypt.  The whole middle east is going through a seismic shift as Americans in the past were used to seeing Arabs chant, "death to America," and now they are seeing them say, "we want to be like America."
9.  Politicians are aware that the UN estimates Syria's refuge numbers will double in the next 15 months and go from 6 million to 12 million.  They are aware that it is not in the interest of America to see all of these refugees.
10. Although Russia and the US are at odds, they also cooperate in many areas. The Russians allow the US to provide convoys through Russia because they don't want the Taliban to win.  Putin is also working with the US on narcotics issues and although Putin is aligned with the Iranians, he still doesn't want them to get a nuke.   Consensus among people I spoke with or heard speak, was that the Iranian government is definitely seeking a nuclear weapon.
11. Ambassador Burns laid out America's foreign policy the past decades of being one that wanted stability and access to oil / gas markets.  This strategic interest outweighed America's democratic interest.  He did feel that by 2017, the US will be the leading energy provider to the world and when this happens, energy needs will shift from Saudi to American states such as Texas and Louisiana. When this happens, the US relationship with Saudi should start to change and the human rights violations they are committing will become more talked about.
12.  The Russian President has taken Obama for a ride and he shouldn't be trusted. He is a cynical man and former KGB officer, who recently stated that the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union. This comment shows Putin's unrealistic thinking.
13. One of the biggest issues for America is dealing with the instability of North Korea. Major questions remain and to be discussed regarding the new President.

Visiting the Capital is a wonderful experience and touring the offices of Congress and meeting our elected officials is recommended.  DC politics can be very nasty but that shouldn't stop us from doing what we feel is in the best interest of our country.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Contact Congress and urge them to support President Obama's call for military action in Syria

Throughout history, numerous wars have been fought, millions of innocent have been killed, but rarely have Presidents used poisonous gases to kill their own citizens. On August 21st, the Syrian government, led by Bashar Assad joined the infamous list of leaders to gas their own people, preceded only by the notorious Saddam Hussein.

Congress will debate and vote in the coming weeks whether to support President Obama’s desire for military intervention in Syria.  If you believe this is the correct course of action, it is imperative that you reach out to all of your representatives in Congress and ask them to support President Obama.   As evidenced by the British Parliament vote and subsequent comments by members of American congress, this could be a close vote.  Politicians need to hear from their constituents.

This website, http://www.contactingthecongress.org/, provides all of the contact info for your representatives in Congress.  When calling, it is extremely important to be courteous and polite when sharing your comments regarding Syria.

A few talking points to consider when calling Congress:

1.       For the past 2 years, the Syrian government have indiscriminately raped women in their homes, often times with their families forced to stand by in horror.
2.       For the past 2 years, the Syrian government have killed over 100,000 innocent people and tortured 1000’s more.
3.       For the past 2 years, the Syrian government have used chemical weapons on its people multiple times without any repercussions from the international community.
4.       For the past 2 years, Russia has blocked all UN action against Syria, knowing full well that it has a financial and political incentive for Assad to remain in power.
5.       For the past 2 years, over 5 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes and refugee camps have been set up in 4 neighboring countries.

The Assad regime are committing crimes against humanity, and the US has a moral and strategic responsibility to respond.    During America’s recent intervention in Libya, Gaddafi was overthrown and zero American soldiers were killed.  Syria will not be another Iraq or Afghanistan and we need to work to convince the public of this fact. 

Additionally,  http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/page?page=states  and http://www.50states.com/news/#.UiXhPtJJMlo  provide a listing of all radio stations and newspapers throughout the US.  Calls to radio stations and letters to editors are another way to increase awareness about what is taking place in Syria.  With the vote for Congress nearing very shortly, grass roots activism plays a big role with Congress.

Monday, August 05, 2013

USF Bulls in the NFL

interesting fact about USF football:  1st season was 1997 - last year was the 15th year of playing collegiate ball and USF currently has 15 players on active NFL rosters:

Nate Allen - Safety, Philadelphia Eagles
Sam Barrington - Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
B.J. Daniels - Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
Mike Jenkins - Cornerback, Oakland Raiders
Terrell McClain - Defensive Tackle, Houston Texans
Tyrone McKenzie - Linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
Carlton Mitchell - Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Bucs
Jerome Murphy - Cornerback, St. Louis Rams
Stephen Nicholas - Linebacker, Atlanta Falcons
Jason Pierre-Paul - Defensive End, New York Giants
Mistral Raymond - Safety, Minnesota Vikings
George Selvie - Defensive End, Dallas Cowboys
Kayvon Webster - Cornerback, Denver Broncos
Jacquian Williams - Linebacker, New York Giants
Kion Wilson - Linebacker, Pittsburgh Stealers