25 most-viewed presidents’ documents at the American Presidency Project

December 4, 2015

Every U.S. history teacher is familiar with a great on-line resource assembled by John Woolley and Gerhard Peters at the University of California – Santa Barbara, The American Presidency Project.  Or, if by some oversight any teacher is not familiar with it, someone should do them a favor and let them know.

It’s an ambitious project of cataloging and making available in one place all the official papers of the presidents of the United States, speeches, press conferences, executive orders, and miscellaneous material including election speeches. The project started in 1999, and as of today contains more than 111,000 documents.

Masthead photo collage from the American Presidency Project at the University of California - Santa Barbara

Masthead photo collage from the American Presidency Project at the University of California – Santa Barbara

In 2008, the project started counting access to the documents, and can now give us seven years of data as to which documents of presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, are the most popularly accessed.

Before you read further, ponder this question: Which presidential speeches, documents and miscellanea do you think should be in the top 25 documents people look in a decade? Surely students and scholars, and policy wonks, would be interested in Lincoln’s inspiring words at Gettysburg, perhaps his two inaugural addresses, or the Emancipation Proclamation. FDR’s first inaugural address, “nothing to fear but fear itself,” ought to be among the top. Wilson’s 14 Points, perhaps? Washington’s Farewell? John Kennedy’s inaugural? Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society speech? Eisenhower’s farewell, warning of the “military-industrial complex?”

Now look at the list. What does it tell us that these are the top 25 sought-after documents from the American Presidency Project? What does it tell us that what we might expect to be in the top 25, are not? Tell us in comments what you think.

Here’s the top 25 Most Viewed Documents since 2008 at the American History Project; hotlinks go to the document at AHP:

The 25 Most Viewed Documents Since 2008
#1 John F. Kennedy
Inaugural Address
#2 Republican Party Platforms
Republican Party Platform of 1956
#3 Democratic Party Platforms
2008 Democratic Party Platform
#4 Republican Party Platforms
2008 Republican Party Platform
#5 John F. Kennedy
Executive Order 10990 – Reestablishing the Federal Safety Council
#6 Democratic Party Platforms
2012 Democratic Party Platform
#7 Republican Party Platforms
2012 Republican Party Platform
#8 George W. Bush
Address to the Nation on the Terrorist Attacks
#9 Ronald Reagan
Inaugural Address
#10 John F. Kennedy
Executive Order 11110 – Amendment of Executive Order No. 10289 as Amended, Relating to the Performance of Certain Functions Affecting the Department of the Treasury
#11 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fireside Chat on Banking
#12 Barack Obama
Inaugural Address
#13 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Letter on the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Service
#14 John F. Kennedy
Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Nobel Prize Winners of the Western Hemisphere
#15 Franklin D. Roosevelt
1944 State of the Union Message to Congress
#16 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Inaugural Address
#17 Barack Obama
Executive Order 13603 – National Defense Resources Preparedness
#18 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Executive Order 6102 – Requiring Gold Coin, Gold Bullion and Gold Certificates to Be Delivered to the Government
#19 Republican Party Platforms
Republican Party Platform of 1860
#20 George Bush
Executive Order 12803 – Infrastructure Privatization
#21 Abraham Lincoln
Inaugural Address
#22 George Washington
First Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union
#23 William J. Clinton
Inaugural Address
#24 Democratic Party Platforms
Democratic Party Platform of 1960
#25 John F. Kennedy
Address of Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States – Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

How has ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act) affected your family? Please take this poll

March 31, 2014

Taking America's pulse and heartbeat

Taking America’s pulse and heartbeat

Answers cannot be traced by me, by the way; answer accurately, with abandon.


Wisconsin Republicans ignore Wisconsin voters’ views, and teachers

June 16, 2011

It is now quite clear that the people of Wisconsin disapprove of the union-busting, school-busting, library-killing antics of Wisconsins’ Republican Gov. Ahab Walker, and the Republicans in the legislature.

So, why don’t the Republicans do what the people of Wisconsin want, instead?  Why are Wisconsin Republicans acting as a special elite, ignoring voters’ wishes?

Forbes columnist Rick Ungar wrote:

A Rasmussen poll out today reveals that almost 60% of likely Wisconsin voters now disapprove of their aggressive governor’s performance, with 48% strongly disapproving.

While these numbers are clearly indicators of a strategy gone horribly wrong, there are some additional findings in the poll that I suspect deserve even greater attention.

It turns out that the state’s public school teachers are very popular with their fellow Badgers. With 77% of those polled holding a high opinion of their educators, it is not particularly surprising that only 32% among households with children in the public school system approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who strongly disapprove.

Can anyone imagine a politician succeeding with numbers like this among people who have kids?

These numbers should be of great concern not only to Governor Walker but to governors everywhere who were planning to follow down the path of war with state employee unions. You can’t take on the state worker unions without taking on the teachers – and the teachers are more popular than Gov. Walker and his cohorts appear to realize.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Wisconsinite Jean Detjen.


Eugene Robinson: “The GOP’s rude awakening on health-care repeal”

January 23, 2011

Eugene Robinson stuck to the facts, and noted that by a careful count, 62 percent of Americans oppose the Republican vote to repeal the new health care law:

What actually happened, though, is that the Republican majority managed to win the votes of just three Democrats – all of them Blue Dogs who have been consistent opponents of the reform package anyway. In terms of actual defectors, meaning Democrats who changed sides on the issue, there were none. This is momentum?

The unimpressive vote came at a moment when “the will of the people” on health care is coming into sharper focus. Most polls that offer a simple binary choice – do you like the “Obamacare” law or not – show that the reforms remain narrowly unpopular. Yet a significant fraction of those who are unhappy complain not that the reform law went too far but that it didn’t go far enough. I think of these people as the “public option” crowd.

Eugene Robinson, op-ed writer, Washington Post
Washington Post header for Eugene Robinson’s columns                                                                      .

The numbers:

A recent Associated Press poll found that 41 percent of those surveyed opposed the reform law and 40 percent supported it. But when asked what Congress should do, 43 percent said the law should be modified so that it does more to change the health-care system. Another 19 percent said it should be left as it is.

More troubling for the GOP, the AP poll found that just 26 percent of respondents wanted Congress to repeal the reform law completely. A recent Washington Post poll found support for outright repeal at 18 percent; a Marist poll pegged it at 30 percent.

In other words, what House Republicans just voted to do may be the will of the Tea Party, but it’s not “the will of the people.”

[My math:  43% +19%=62%.]

The facts:

The CBO, which “scores” the impact of proposed legislation, calculated that the health-reform law will reduce federal deficits by at least $143 billion through 2019. Confronted with the fact that repeal would deepen the nation’s fiscal woes, Republicans simply claimed the CBO estimate to be rubbish. Who cares what the CBO says, anyway?

Er, um, Republicans care, at least when it’s convenient. Delving into the CBO’s analysis, they unearthed a finding that they proclaimed as definitive: The reform law would eliminate 650,000 jobs. Hence “Job-Killing” in the repeal bill’s title.

One problem, though: The CBO analysis contains no such figure. It’s an extrapolation of a rough estimate of an anticipated effect that no reasonable person would describe as “job-killing.” What the budget office actually said is that there are people who would like to withdraw from the workforce – sometimes because of a chronic medical condition – but who feel compelled to continue working so they can keep their health insurance. Once the reforms take effect, these individuals will have new options. That’s where the “lost” jobs supposedly come from.

So, in other words, Republicans voted to keep people slaves to jobs that provide health care benefits.  The party of  Abraham Lincoln has fallen so far not even Abraham Lincoln at his most charitable moment would recognize it any longer.


TARP saved my nation, and all I got was this bitter, cold tea party

October 5, 2010

Remember TARP, the Toxic Asset Relief Program?

Oh, that’s right — we hate it.  Big hole in the federal budget and all.

Then you should be dancing that it died Sunday night, right?  Yeah, that’s right:  TARP expired.

But, maybe we should be lamenting its passage, and celebrating it.  It ended up costing us almost nothing but the problem of having Tea Party, ignorant ingrates involved in the campaign.  It might even have turned a profit.  In any case, it didn’t leave a big hole in the federal budget, and there is little doubt that it saved us from the Greater Depression.

See the story at NPR:

What do we do with the end of TARP?

And what do we do with the news that TARP will not have cost anything like the $700 billion we thought it would? What if it really cost $50 billion, or less?

What if, in the end, the Toxic Asset Relief Program so controversial at birth and vilified throughout its two years of life turns out to have turned a profit for the government and the taxpayer?

We — most of the news media this is — simply don’t know what to do with this news.

The suggestion that TARP did not blow a hole in the federal budget potentially blows a hole in some other presumptions as well. Economists will argue for years over the necessity of TARP, and the rest of us can argue over the bonuses investment bankers still got (and continue to get).But we won’t argue about whether the government could or should have done more to prevent the collapse of the credit markets and the mass failure of banks in 2008. Because the government did do TARP, and those other things did not happen. We did not go back to 1929 or worse. And, unlovely as it may be, TARP remains the closest thing we have to an explanation for that.

Still, the expiration of the program as Sunday turned to Monday passed largely unremarked. And insofar as the media have noticed the story of TARP’s apparently much-reduced cost, that tale has been anything but ballyhooed.

(For an exception, see the package offered Sunday evening by Guy Raz and the crew at Weekend All Things Considered.)

On the last business day before TARP expired, The New York Times and The Washington Post did report the much-reduced cost figures — mentioning the potential for the program to actually make money for taxpayers in the final accounting.  But the Times put the story in the Business Section, and the Post played it on the Federal Page.

What other “common sense” delusions will misdirect this year’s election vote?

What thanks do we get?  What thanks do we give?


Skeptics noise broad; no deep effects on American opinions

July 2, 2010

A commenter with the handle Klem complained about my outlook on global warming issues, in a recent post about the desperation I see in the warming denialist world.  Klem finds my views not pessimistic enough:

Those purloined emails have ultimately destroyed the IPCC, it has no credibility with the public anymore. You seem like a smart guy but I can’t believe after this amount of time you still don’t understand this. And you say it’s the anti-warming camp which is desperate? Oops I think you’re in denial.

I’ve been involved in environmental issues since well before the first Earth Day.  Lack of understanding among the public at large is a constant issue, and not a recent development.  Lack of support for a clean environment rarely is an issue, however.  The old progressive era push for clean water, clean air, outdoor activities, and healthy living, continues probably stronger today than ever before.  No one defends smoking stacks as symbols of progress anymore.

Even petroleum companies spend millions in advertising to tout their “green” tendencies.  Big Oil doesn’t spend money like that if they don’t have clear indicators that it’s effective.

One indication of how deep is the desire for environmental protection is the mini-movement chronicled and maybe led by conservative writer Rod Dreher, known as “crunchy conservatism.” Dreher wrote about conservatives who, from most outward appearances — Birkenstock sandals, organic-food heavy diets, environmentally-friendly yards and homes — might be considered lefty environmentalists, but who adhere to conservative social and economic policies, and the Republican party (yes:  educated people who vote against their own best interests; go figure).

No matter how odd their views on economics, no matter how odd their views on their fellow humans, they recognize the basic benefits of the progressive movement on their own lives, and they would like to conserve those benefits.

Have the so-called skeptics changed those trends?  Did the stealing of e-mails convince most Americans that scientists are evil, conniving, and wrong?

Rather than take the denialists’ methods, the famous MSU technique*, how about we actually ask people what they think?

Recent polls with some depth on environmental issues show most Americans to be quite  level-headed about warming and other environment issues, and not so subject to the hot winds of talk-without-fact from Fox News, the Heartland Institute, or other paragons of science denialism.

Most Americans remain concerned about global warming

Pay attention to reality for a moment; the headline on the press release is, “Large majority of Americans still believe in global warming, Stanford poll finds”:

Three out of four Americans believe that the Earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and want the government to institute regulations to stop it, according to a new survey by researchers at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

The survey was conducted by Woods Institute Senior Fellow Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication and of political science at Stanford, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The results are based on telephone interviews conducted from June 1-7 with 1,000 randomly selected American adults.

“Several national surveys released during the last eight months have been interpreted as showing that fewer and fewer Americans believe that climate change is real, human-caused and threatening to people,” Krosnick said. “But our new survey shows just the opposite.”

For example, when respondents in the June 2010 survey were asked if the Earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74 percent said yes. And 75 percent said that human behavior was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred. Krosnick has asked similar questions in previous Woods Institute polls since 2006.

“Our surveys reveal a small decline in the proportion of people who believe global warming has been happening, from 84 percent in 2007 to 74 percent today,” Krosnick said. “Statistical analysis of our data revealed that this decline is attributable to perceptions of recent weather changes by the minority of Americans who have been skeptical about climate scientists.”

In terms of average Earth temperature, 2008 was the coldest year since 2000, Krosnick said. “Scientists say that such year-to-year fluctuations are uninformative, and people who trust scientists therefore ignore this information when forming opinions about global warming’s existence,” he added. “But people who do not trust climate scientists base their conclusions on their personal observations of nature. These ‘low-trust’ individuals were especially aware of the recent decline in average world temperatures; they were the ones in our survey whose doubts about global warming have increased since 2007.”

According to Krosnick, this explanation is especially significant, because it suggests that the recent decline in the proportion of people who believe in global warming is likely to be temporary. “If the Earth’s temperature begins to rise again, these individuals may reverse course and rejoin the large majority who still think warming is real,” he said.

Ah, the Fickle Public — it appears only a small fraction of the public is fickle, after all.  Shifts in public opinion on the reality of warming were driven by weather, not weather men.

The poll also specifically addressed the effect of the computer break-in that exposed a few thousand e-mail messages from climate scientists under attack by anti-green critics:

‘Climategate’

“Overall, we found no decline in Americans’ trust in environmental scientists,” Krosnick said. “Fully 71 percent of respondents said they trust scientists a moderate amount, a lot or completely.”

Several questions in the June survey addressed the so-called “climategate” controversy, which made headlines in late 2009 and early 2010.

“Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain – characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues – and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC),” Krosnick said. “Our survey discredited this claim in multiple ways. ”

For example, only 9 percent of respondents said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicate that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13 percent said the same about the controversial IPPC reports.

That may explain why Anthony Watts’ logo for his Australian tour shows a kangaroo whose rear end has just been kicked (you can tell by the stars).

Climate skeptics butt-kicked in Australia logo

In cartoons, stars show where a character has been punched or kicked, right?

No agreement to control greenhouse gases came out of the Copenhagen conference last fall.  So-called climate skeptics patted each other on the back, claimed victory, and proceeded to send Christopher Monckton on his Bonnie Lies All Around the World Tour.  In cool light of morning, however, the facts can’t be silenced:  Warming continues, science shows the extremely high probability that humans cause it, official investigations show that climate scientists who had their e-mails stolen were victims of crime, not perpetrators, and climate skeptics failed to stop warming with their big-dollar, nice-banquet meetings with the Heartland Institute, or anywhere else.

If they are skeptics, they are pretty bad at it, falling like chumps for a story that fourth-grade science project made the case they have failed to make everywhere else, and for the story that one of their comrades was sent a bomb in the mail (it turned out to be a misdirected fuel filter).

No wonder Americans remain concerned about warming.

_____________

* Make S[tuff] Up

More, resources:


Democrats take solid South

October 25, 2009

Bob Moser says they can.  He’s talking about how to do it at SMU this week.

Can’t make it?  Buy the book.

The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
and the
Geurin-Pettus Program in the Department of Political Science
at Southern Methodist University
invite you to



Bob Moser, editor of the Texas Observer and an award-winning political reporter for The Nation, has chronicled Southern politics for nearly two decades.

In Blue Dixie he argues that the Democratic Party needs to jettison outmoded prejudices about the South if it wants to build a lasting national majority.  With evangelical churches preaching  a more expansive social gospel and a massive left-leaning demographic shift to African Americans, Latinos, and the young, the South is poised for a Democratic revival. Moser shows how a volatile mix of unprecedented economic prosperity and abject poverty are reshaping the Southern vote. By returning to a bold, unflinching message of economic fairness, the Democrats can in in the nation’s largest, most diverse region and redeem themselves as a true party of the people.

Books will be available for purchase.

THURSDAY, October 29, 2009

Noon to 1 pm
Texana Room, DeGolyer Library
6404 Hilltop Ln. & McFarlin Blvd
Bring your own brown bag lunch!

Better, make it to the lecture, buy the book, listen to Moser and let him autograph it for you.

For more information, please call 214-768-2526 or email carberry AT smu DOT edu

Invite a friend to a brown-bag lunch:

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