Your student’s supplemental learning is more important than ever. Ensure your children and students know the history of the people and events that make up our country’s past.

They won’t know where they’re going until they know where they’ve been. If you would like to have Terry Lynch present his one of a kind historical portrayal programs at your school or library:


Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Apple a Day...

Recent stories in the news about the health, vigor and stamina of our Presidential candidates has put the spotlight on the transparency of their health records, or lack thereof.

Being the President of the most powerful country in the world requires a certain skill set.  It also requires strength, stamina, and a relatively healthy individual, right?

It would seem that the overall health of the President of the United States would be paramount to the process of leading our country, or is it?

Before today’s 24/7, in your face news , how much did the average citizen really know about the health of the President?

Our founding father, George Washington was said to suffer from a number of ailments during the
course of his life, among which included:  diphtheria, tuberculosis, small pox, dysentery, malaria, quinsy, carbuncle (possible tumor), pneumonia (?), and epiglottitis.  Many of these ailments were, at the time, treated with bloodletting.  Washington was also thought to have had Klinefelter syndrome, in which males carry an extra X chromosome and can be infertile.  Washington had no children with his wife, Martha, but adopted her two children from her first marriage.  While no one’s business, could you imagine one of the news agencies getting hold of this little nugget of info?  What’s more, could you imagine a candidate being elected with that list on their file?

According to Dr. Robert Lahita, chairman of the department of medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey, about 1/2 of all U.S Presidents have at one time or another suffered from mental illness.

It has been often documented that Abraham Lincoln suffered from severe depression.  However, John Adams suffered from bipolar disorder and James Madison was stricken with a high fever that for three weeks left him "deranged”.

In the midst of the financial panic that plagued the country in the 1890s, President Grover Cleveland discovered a lesion on the left side of his palate that was said to be cancerous . As Americans waited for him to create economic stability, the president had the tumor removed while sailing on the yacht Oneida to his summer home. The crew was sworn to secrecy.  If this news had gotten out, who knows what would have happened to our nation’s economy?
During the Wilson administration in 1918, Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed on his left side. Wilson’s wife Edith, the secretary of state, his personal physician and private secretary all kept his condition secret.  It is now well known that the first lady really acted as president for most of Wilson's term.
One of the most well-known was the polio FDR kept largely secret during his record four administrations. According to the University of Arizona, Roosevelt won the cooperation of news reporters to minimize the extent of his condition and was generally photographed only above the waist.

Generally, secrecy was the norm before for a President's health records until about 50 years ago.  John F. Kennedy was the last president to have largely undisclosed health records.  Among other ailments at the time of his death, Kennedy suffered from Addison's disease, an adrenal gland disorder that could have contributed to his jaundiced skin and bouts of weakness.

Consequently, in 1967, the 25th amendment of the Constitution ended the absolute secrecy of the ailments or conditions of a President.  The amendment covers the presidential succession in cases of death, sickness, or incapacitation. 

While it is very important to know that a candidate is healthy enough to hold the office of president of the United States, is it as earth shatteringly important to know every little illness, every little hiccup or... cough?  It’s food for thought the next time you call the boss to take the old sick day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Debates?? That's Debatable!

We’ve been through the caucuses, the primaries , and the conventions.  If that didn’t do enough to set your hair on fire, what’s up next?  THE DEBATES!  While it hasn’t been entirely confirmed that these meetings of the minds are going to come off as planned,  is that so unusual?  Will this be the first time in history if they do not?  How can we have an election without debates?

The answer to a couple of the main questions?  Yes, in this day and age, it is unusual, and detrimental to the voter to not have some sort of debate of the issues.  Is it the first time in history?  Absolutely not.

In the past, while there had been senatorial debates (Lincoln-Douglas, 1860) and presidential primary debates (Dewey-Stassen, 1948) and (Stevenson-Kefauver, 1956), before 1960, it was seen as “unseemly” for a candidate for president in the general election to campaign for office in the way that nowadays is so familiar.

The first debates were the now famous Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960.  The results of those debates depended on  how you heard or watched them.  Those who listened on the radio thought Nixon was the winner.  Those who watched on TV thought the victor was Kennedy.  One would think this form of campaigning was off and running after the infamous 1960 debates.  However, there wouldn’t be another debate between Presidential candidates until 1976 when Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter debated incumbent President Gerald Ford.  

After 1976, presidential debates have taken place with each election cycle. In the past, for the most part, the topic of  presidential debates has focused primarily on foreign and domestic policy, as well as defense.  However, in recent years, after 9/11, the topic of national security has also become an important issue for voters to take into consideration when deciding who will lead the country.

The format of a presidential debate is as follows.  Generally, candidates give  short opening statements.  The rest of the approximately 90 minutes is divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes, with topics selected and announced beforehand by the moderator. Each segment opens with a question, after which each candidate has two minutes to respond. The moderator uses the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the topic.

Debates in an election cycle are beneficial to voters in that they become familiar with the stand candidates have on issues, the policies for which they feel passionately , as well as their demeanor.

Will we have an opportunity to hear the candidates debate the issues this election cycle?  Time will tell.  However, if they do, listen carefully.  Do the candidates understand the issues?  Are they working for the good of the people?  Remember your future is at stake!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Campaign Craziness!

The days and months are flying by in this election cycle.  It has become quite a show!  It seems that never in the history of our country has there been a more contentious, ridiculous and downright weird campaign.  But wait...guess what’s up next on the agenda:  THE CONVENTIONS!

The national Presidential nominating conventions occur after the completion of the primaries and caucuses. The parties make official their choice of one candidate for president and one candidate for vice president. 

The very first convention was held by a political party that no longer exists. The Anti-Masonic party would have a short life, but leave behind a lasting influence on presidential politics. In Baltimore, MD on September 25, 1831, delegates met and chose as their presidential nominee William Wirt, a former U.S. attorney general. The 1831 meeting also saw the creation of the first formal party “platform,” or statement of principles.  Within months of this first convention, both the Democrats and National-Republicans would follow suit with their own conventions.

John Davis
Talks of multiple ballots to determine a nominee are not completely foreign.  In 1924, during a circus-like atmosphere in New York’s Madison Square Garden, entire delegations voted for one candidate on one ballot, only to have the entire delegation switch to another on the next ballot. Some delegations ran out of money and simply left. There were rumors of bribery and backdoor deals. A captive radio audience listened for 16 days straight—with a total of 103 ballots cast before a compromise was reached that saw both leading candidates, New York Governor Alfred E. Smith and William McAdoo of California, bow out, leaving John W. Davis of West Virginia as the last man standing. 

This year’s conventions promise to be barn-burners.  Included are said to be a candidate who has not yet conceded,  one that might possibly under  indictment, and another... well,  another  for whom a circus-like atmosphere might be just the thing.

The Republican National Convention will be in Cleveland, Ohio from July18-21 at the
Quicken Loans Arena.  The Democratic National Convention will be Philadelphia, PA at the Wells Fargo Center from July 25-28.  Be sure to tune in. It is all part of being an informed, intelligent voter!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What's the Deal with Caucuses?

Caucuses, caucuses, caucuses...what’s all the hubbub about? What are they?  Why are they important?  What do they mean?

If you have been within earshot of a television or radio or have cast an eyeball on the internet lately, you can’t help but be inundated with stories, opinions or analysis about the upcoming caucuses in IA, NH, AR or SC.

What are these gatherings and where do they come into our political process?  The actual definition of a caucus is a meeting of the members of a legislative body who are members of a particular political party, to select candidates or decide policy.   Why are they so important?  Originally, this was the way a party’s candidate was chosen for the general election.  However, during the early 20th century, there was a movement to give more power to the citizens as far as choosing their party’s candidate.  Thus, the primary election was born.

Today, caucuses have basically the same function as a primary election in that residents of a state cast ballots, and the one with the most votes wins.  However, there is a bit more to it than that.  Not only do the residents cast a vote for a particular candidate, but they have a bit more political business to tend to as the night wears on.

The two political parties run the various caucuses.  In other words, there are Democratic caucuses, and there are Republican caucuses.  The residents, after casting their ballots in their respective precinct, also discuss the candidates, deal with their state’s party business, and they also pick delegates for their political convention. 

Each party has their own rules and processes for a state caucus. For example, in IA, Republicans are allowed, unlike at a primary election, to campaign and even make a brief speech endorsing their candidate before the balloting begins. 

Democrats handle things a bit differently.  They also handle state party business, give speeches, choose convention delegates, etc., but unlike the Republicans, when the Dems arrive at their precinct, they immediately break up into smaller groups based on their candidate.

Groups with too few people for a candidate are automatically broken up, and the members are persuaded by members of other groups to join their group for another candidate.  Caucuses have no bearing on who will eventually win the White House.  Winners of a particular caucus usually have a bit more staying power in an election cycle...but not always.  

For example, in 2008, While Senator Barack Obama won the IA Democratic caucus and eventually the White House, on the flip side, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee won the Republican caucus,  and three months later wound up conceding to Arizona Governor John McCain, who had come in third at the Caucus.

So why do we make a big deal about these caucuses?  Since 1972, the Iowa caucus, also held in January, became very important to Democrats when the most votes went to front-runner Edmund Muskie, and insurgent candidate George McGovern.  The win proved to be a boost to McGovern’s campaign.  McGovern then gained momentum at the following caucus in NH, and eventually became the party’s nominee.  The same occurred in 1976 when Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter won in IA and used this win to boost him into NH.  Basically, these caucuses serve as a tool to get the momentum train rolling into the primaries and conventions.

Some question the effectiveness of this process.  When only about 10 % of voters in either party participate in the caucus process, is this really a true read on what the rest of the country is thinking, or is it basically a way to, as mentioned before to gain momentum as the election cycle moves forward?

The 2016 election season is now well on its way.  It’s been an interesting one, and it promises not to disappoint.  Caucuses while in existence in one form or another in our political process since 1724, have only in the past 50 or so years become an integral part, along with the primary and general election, of electing our commander-in-chief.