English sculptor Clifford Wight is shown in the rust shirt sharpening a chisel and that is sculptor Ralph Stackpole in the cap and goggles. There is a Stackpole sculpture outside the San Francisco Stock Exchange. You can see the entire Rivera mural at the San Francisco Art Institute here.
Glenn W. LaFantasie makes a good case for James Buchanan ( our 15th president) in this essay, Who’s the worst president of them all? When it comes to who least deserves to be honored today, it’s a close call between the 43rd and 15th presidents
What really mattered to him, however, was the prospect of finding a judicial, rather than a congressional or a presidential, solution to the sectional issue of slavery. Going beyond accepted political bounds, and ignoring the principle of separation of powers, Buchanan had used his influence to sway a Northern Supreme Court justice to side with the Southern majority in a pending case, Dred Scott v. Sandford. When he delivered his inaugural, Buchanan already knew the outcome of that case, although in his address he deceitfully alluded to the forthcoming decision by saying of the Court: “To their decision, in common with all good citizens, I shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may be.” Two days later, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney issued the most infamous decision in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court — an opinion holding that Dred Scott, a slave who sued for his freedom because he had lived with his master for a time in a free state, was not free; that no slave or black person could be a citizen of the U.S.; that Congress had no power to exclude slavery from a territory; and that the slavery exclusion clause of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional. The opinion did not resolve the sectional controversy as Buchanan and the Taney court had hoped. Instead, it produced thunderous outrage throughout the North. In the South, of course, the decision was cheered. But Northerners saw the court’s action as a partisan ploy.
Ignoring the clamor of criticism from the North, Buchanan nestled into the White House by surrounding himself with advisors who told him what he wanted to hear rather than what he needed to know. The new president lived in a bubble, despite the fact that the nation was beginning to crumble around him. During his first year in office, an economic depression (referred to as the Panic of 1857) hit the country and persisted for his entire term in office. With striking ineptitude, Buchanan failed to deal with the economic crisis in any effective manner, which only helped to increase bitterness between Northern commercial interests and Southern agrarians. Spouting his philosophy of limited government, he told the public that the government lacked the power “to extend relief” to those hardest hit by the depression. As he promised to reduce the federal debt and all government spending, Buchanan nevertheless oversaw during his one term in office a growth in federal spending that amounted to 15 percent of the budget in 1856. When he left office, Buchanan handed over a $17 million deficit to Lincoln.
There are quite a few parallels between Buchanan and Bush 43. Presidents tend to live in a bubble, There is almost an inevitability about it. But there are bubbles and then there are bubbles like thick cement echo chambers. The kind of self justifying echo chamber Buchanan and Bush lived in. LaFantasie does think, as many historians do that Bush 43 has been the worse president in their lifetime and Bush usually makes the top five worse of all time. The CIA is required by law to review classified documents and release those that are no longer considered vital to national security interests, to fulfill requests by way of the FOIA ( Freedom of Information Act- The CIA’s FOIA site). As time goes by we’ll be seeing even more about the Bush-Cheney era. Besides that there are bound to be more revelations from administration and government insiders. So those rooting for Bush 43 to be designated the worse president may yet see your predictions come to pass.
The newest official meme. The three trillion-dollar debacle that was the Iraq war, the loss of about three trillion dollars in national wealth due to the housing bubble and Wall St malfeasance are not to blame for the current state of the economy, the federal deficit or individual state budget problems. Those high ticket items combined with the conservative determination not to rise any revenue to pay for their off the chain binge spending from 2000 o 2008 also being ignorable factors. I know adults, reality based thinkers and the last liberal Republican living in an undisclosed location in New England, think those facts are hard to ignore, but ignored they are. Republicans and Democrats alike have decided our current financial situation and projected future problems are all due to the meager safety net – derisively refereed to as entitlements. The nation is broke, damn it and it is those thread bare entitlements that are to blame. There is No Budget Crisis in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Florida, Indiana, Michigan or Ohio. The Crisis is Our Unwillingness to Make Rich Pay Their Share
U.S. corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash — trillion, not billion. The same people who shipped millions of jobs overseas, caused the financial crisis, and pay themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses every year are now sitting on a mountain of cash. Yet both state and local governments feel the need to give them more tax cuts. To what end? So they can create more profits and sit on bigger piles of cash, so they can play monopoly as they buy each other out, or so they can give themselves even bigger bonuses? There is no indication that they are interested in doing anything to spur the economy.
In December we heard the Republicans tell us that people making over $250,000 per year couldn’t afford a 4 percent tax increase, and it would be terrible for the economy to increase their taxes. Thirty years ago they were paying 70 percent in taxes. Now they pay half that, but a 4 percent increase is just too much to bear.
Now we are told that state workers making $40,000 to $60,000 per year are stealing the state blind. The same workers who for the last two years have taken over a 3 percent pay cut in the form of furloughs are now told they haven’t sacrificed enough. Now they must forfeit 7 percent or more of their pay, and give up their right to negotiate their future. What is appalling is the state workers were willing to give up the money to help out the state. All they asked was to keep their right to negotiate. Yet the wealthiest in our country aren’t willing to give up anything to help our country out of the financial mess they created.