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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Carter, James Earl, Jr. (1924 - )
"As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students.... There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith."

-- Jimmy Carter


James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. an American politician, was the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and the Nobel Peace laureate in 2002. Previously, he had been a member of local boards for seven years, a state senator in Georgia (1963-1967), the chairman of the DNC Congressional Campaign and Gubernatorial Campaigns (1974), and the Governor of Georgia (1971-1975). He was a dark horse who won the Democratic nomination and narrowly defeated Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election.

As president his major accomplishments included the creation of a national energy policy and the consolidation of governmental agencies. He enacted strong environmental legislation; deregulated the trucking, airline, rail, finance, communications, and oil industries, bolstered the social security system; and appointed record numbers of women and minorities to significant government and judicial posts.

In foreign affairs, Carter's accomplishments included the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the creation of full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and the negotiation of the SALT II Treaty. In addition, he championed human rights throughout the world and used human rights as the center of his administration's foreign policy.

The Iranian hostage crisis was seen by critics as a devastating blow to national prestige; Carter struggled for 444 days to release the hostages. A failed rescue attempt led to the resignation of his Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. The hostages were not released until the day Carter left office, five minutes after Ronald Reagen's inauguration. Some believe, however, that the release was delayed by an agreement between Reagan campaign officials and the Iranian government. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marked the end of détente, and Carter moved to the right, boycotted the Moscow Olympics, and began to rebuild American military power.

He beat off a primary challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy, but was unable to reduce soaring interest rates and inflation rates, or lower unemployment. The "Misery Index," his favored measure of economic well-being, rose 50% in four years. He feuded with the Democratic leaders who controlled Congress, and was unable to reform the tax system or to implement a national health plan. He was defeated in a landslide by Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980.

In the decades since he left office, Carter has been seen by some people as an elder statesman and international mediator, and has used his prestige as a former president to further many charitable causes. He founded the Carter Center as a forum for issues related to democracy and human rights. He has also traveled extensively to monitor elections, conduct peace negotiations, and establish relief efforts.

In 2002, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his "efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development." Carter has continued his decades-long active involvement with the charity Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for the needy. He can actually be found participating in the construction of these houses.

Carter was the oldest of four children of James Earl and Lillian Carter. He was the first president born in a hospital. He was born in the Southwest Georgia town of Plains and grew up in nearby Archery, Georgia. Carter was a gifted student from an early age, who always had a fondness for reading. By the time he attended Plains High School, he was also a star in basketball and football.

He was greatly influenced by one of his high school teachers, Julia Coleman. Ms. Coleman was handicapped by polio. She had encouraged young Jimmy to read War and Peace; he was disappointed to find that there were no cowboys or Indians in the book. Carter mentioned his beloved teacher in his inaugural address as an example of someone who beat overwhelming odds.

Carter had three younger siblings. His brother, Billy (1937-1988), caused some political problems for him during his administration. His sister, Gloria (1926-1990), was low-key and was famous for collecting and riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles. His other sister, Ruth (1929-1983), became a well-known Christian evangelist.

He attended Georgia Southwestern College and Georgia Institute of Technology, and received a B.S. degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. Carter was a gifted student, and finished 59th out of his Academy class of 820. Carter did post-graduate work, studying nuclear physics and reactor technology at Union College. He married Rosalynn Smith in 1946.

Carter served on submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was later selected by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover for the U.S. Navy's nuclear submarine program, where he became a qualified nuclear engineer. Rickover was a demanding officer, and Carter was greatly influenced by him. Carter later said that next to his parents, Admiral Rickover had had the greatest influence on him. There was a story he often told of being interviewed by the Admiral. He was asked about his rank in his class at the Naval Academy. Carter said "Sir, I graduated 59th out of a class of 820".

Rickover only asked "Did you always do your best?" Carter was forced to admit he had not, and the Admiral asked why. Carter later used this as the theme of his presidential campaign, and as the title of his first book, "Why Not The Best?". Carter loved the Navy, and had planned to make it his career. His ultimate goal was to become Chief of Naval Operations.

Upon the death of his father in 1953, however, Carter resigned from the Navy, and took over and expanded his family's peanut farming business in Plains. There he was involved in a farming accident which left him with a permanently bent finger.

From a young age, Carter showed a deep commitment to Christianity, serving as a Sunday School teacher throughout his political career. Even as President, Carter prayed several times a day, and professed that Jesus Christ was the driving force in his life. Carter had been greatly influenced by a sermon he had heard as a young man, called, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"

After World War II, he and Rosalynn started a family. They had three sons, (John William, born in 1947; James Earl III, born in 1950; and Donnel Jeffrey, born in 1952), and a daughter (Amy Lynn, late in life, in 1967).

Early political career
Carter started his career by serving on various local boards, governing such entities as the schools, hospital, and library, among others. In the 1960s, he served two terms in the Georgia Senate from the fourteenth district of Georgia.

His 1962 election to the state senate, which followed the end of Georgia's County Unit System (per the Supreme Court case of Gray v. Sanders), was chronicled in his book Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age. The election involved corruption led by Joe Hurst, the sheriff of Quitman County. This included people voting in alphabetical order and dead people voting. It took a challenge of the fraudulent results for Carter to win the election. Carter was reelected in 1964, to serve a second two-year term.

In 1966, at the end of his career as a state senator, he flirted with the idea of running for the United States House of Representatives. His Republican opponent dropped out and decided to run for Governor of Georgia. Carter did not want to see a Republican as the governor of his state, and in turn dropped out of the race for Congress and joined the race to become Governor. Carter lost the election and for the next four years, returned to his peanut farming business and carefully planned for his next campaign for Governor in 1970, making over 1,800 speeches throughout the state.

During his 1970 campaign, he ran an uphill populist campaign in the Democratic primary against former Gov. Carl Sanders, labeling his opponent "Cufflinks Carl." Although Carter had never been a segregationist—he had refused to join the segregationist White Citizens' Council, prompting a boycott of his peanut warehouse; and he had been one of only two families which voted to admit blacks to the Plains Baptist Church —he "said things the segregationists wanted to hear," according to historian E. Stanly Godbold.

Carter did not condemn Alabama firebrand George Wallace, and Carter's campaign aides handed out photographs of his opponent, showing Sanders associating with black basketball players. Following his close victory over Sanders in the primary, he was elected Governor over Republican Hal Suit. (This would later come back to haunt him during his 1980 re-election)

In his inaugural speech, Carter surprised the state and gained national attention by declaring that the time of racial segregation was over, and that racial discrimination had no place in the future of the state. He was the first statewide office holder in the Deep South to say this in public (such sentiments would have signaled the end of the political career of politicians in the region less than 15 years earlier, as had been the fate of Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr., who'd testified before Congress in favor of the Voting Rights Act). Following this speech, Carter appointed many blacks to statewide boards and offices; he hung a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the State House, a significant departure from the norm in the South.

Carter bucked the tradition of the "New Deal Democrat," attempting a retrenchment in favor of shrinking government. An environmentalist, he opposed many public works projects. He particularly opposed the construction of large dams for construction's sake, opting to take a pragmatic approach based on a cost-benefits analysis.

While Governor, Carter made government efficient by merging about 300 state agencies into 30 agencies. One of his aides recalled that Governor Carter "was right there with us, working just as hard, digging just as deep into every little problem. It was his program and he worked on it as hard as anybody, and the final product was distinctly his." He also pushed reforms through the legislature, providing equal state aid to schools in the wealthy and poor areas of Georgia, set up community centers for retarded children, and increased educational programs for convicts.

At Carter's urging, the legislature passed laws to protect the environment, preserve historic sites, and decrease secrecy in government. Carter took pride in a program he introduced for the appointment of judges and state government officials. Under this program, all such appointments were based on merit, rather than political influence.

In 1972, as Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota was marching toward the Democratic nomination for president, Carter called a news conference in Atlanta to warn that McGovern was unelectable. Carter criticized McGovern as too liberal on both foreign and domestic policy. The remarks attracted little national attention, and after McGovern's huge loss in the general election, Carter's attitude was not held against him within the Democratic Party. In 1974, Carter was chairman of the Democratic National Committee's congressional and gubernatorial campaigns.

1976 Presidential Campaign
Carter began running for president in 1975 almost immediately upon leaving office as governor of Georgia. When Carter entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries in 1976, he was considered to have little chance against nationally better-known politicians. When he told his family of his intention to run for president, he was asked, "President of what?" However, the Watergate scandal was still fresh in the voters' minds, and so his position as an outsider, distant from Washington, DC, became an asset. The centerpiece of his campaign platform was government reorganization.

Carter was the darkest "dark horse" to win the presidential nomination of a major party since 1940. He became the front-runner early in the Democratic race, winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. But the primary season was well under way before many analysts would admit he was a serious candidate. He won by a brilliant two-prong strategy. In the South, which liberal Democrats had tacitly conceded to Alabama segregationist George Wallace, Carter ran as a moderate favorite son. When Wallace proved to be a spent force, Carter swept the region almost unopposed.

In the North, Carter appealed largely to conservative Christian and rural voters and had little chance of winning a majority in most states. But in a field crowded with liberals, he managed to win several Northern states by building the largest single bloc. Initially dismissed as a regional candidate, Carter proved to be the only Democrat with a truly national strategy, and he eventually clinched the nomination.

In the general election, Carter started with a huge lead over President Gerald Ford, in large part because of the public's resentment over Ford's having pardoned Richard Nixon. Ford steadily closed the gap in the polls even after Carter arguably won their televised debate. The cause of this erosion appeared to be public doubt about such a little-known candidate.

But Carter hung on to narrowly defeat Ford in November 1976. He became the first contender from the Deep South to be elected president since 1848. His 50.1% of the popular vote made him one of only two Democratic Party Presidential Candidates to win a majority of the popular vote since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944.

Presidency 1977-1981

Policies
The Carter Administration's foreign policy is most remembered for the Iran hostage crisis, for the peace treaty he brokered between the states of Israel and Egypt with the Camp David Accords, for the SALT II treaty brokered with the Soviet Union, for the Panama Canal Treaties which turned the canal over to Panama, for creating full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China following Richard Nixon's lead, for placing human rights as the center of his foreign policy, and for an energy crisis.

He was much less successful on the domestic front, having alienated both his own party and his opponents, through what was perceived as a lack of willingness to work with Congress — much as he had in his term as Governor. Even so, he was successful in deregulating several industries, consolidating governmental agencies, creating a national energy policy and the Departments of Energy and Education, bolstering the social security system, appointing record numbers of women and minorities to government and judicial posts and enacting strong legislation for environmental protection, doubling the size of the National Park Service.

When the energy market exploded, an occurrence Carter desperately tried to avoid during his term, he was planning on delivering his fifth major speech on energy. However, he realized the American people were no longer listening. Instead, he went to Camp David and for ten days, met with governors, mayors, religious leaders, scientists, economists, and general citizens. He sat on the floor and took notes of their comments and especially wanted to hear criticism. His pollster told him that the American people simply faced a crisis of confidence because of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and Watergate.

His Vice President, Walter Mondale, strongly objected and said that there were real answers to real problems; it did not have to be philosophical. On July 15, 1979, Carter gave a nationally-televised address in which he identified what he believed to be a "crisis of confidence" among the American people. This has come to be known as his "malaise" speech, even though he did not use the word "malaise" anywhere in the text:

I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.... I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.

The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
Carter's speech, written by Chris Matthews, was well-received, although some viewed it as too much like a sermon. But, the country was in the midst of an economy frustratingly dominated by OPEC-caused double digit inflation. But many who had hoped for some sort of simple solution found themselves disappointed.

Two days after the speech, Carter asked for the resignations of all of his Cabinet officers, and ultimately accepted five. Carter later admitted in his memoirs that he should have simply asked only those five members for their resignation. By asking the entire cabinet, it looked as if the White House was falling apart. With no visible efforts towards a way out of the malaise, Carter's poll numbers dropped even further.

On 1 October 1979, President Carter announced before a television audience the existence of the Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF), a mobile fighting force capable of responding to worldwide trouble spots, without drawing on forces committed to NATO. The RDF was the forerunner of CENTCOM.

Amongst Presidents who served at least one full term, Carter is the only one who never made an appointment to the Supreme Court.

Domestic policies
A major issue for President Carter was inflation, caused especially by continued high levels of government spending and the rising price of imported oil, which was the major source of energy for many industries. Carter added the United States Department of Energy as a new cabinet-level department.

The first head of the department was James R. Schlesinger. Carter installed solar power panels on the roof of the White House, a wood stove in the living quarters, ordered the General Services Administraion to turn off hot water in some facilites and requested that Holiday decorations remain dark in 1979 and 1980. The Holiday decorations were turned on by his successor, Ronald Reagan, and the solar panels and the wood stove were removed.

It is popularly believed that Carter appeared in a sweater to urge citizens to turn down their thermostats and conserve energy. In fact the sweater had nothing to do with energy use. He wore a sweater on inauguration day and every time he addressed the nation, to establish an informal, common man image.

Carter's government reorganization efforts also separated the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The inflation caused interest rates to rise to unprecedented levels (above 12 percent per year). The prime rate hit 21.5 in 1979, highest in history. The rapid change in rates led to disintermediation of bank deposits, which sowed the seeds of the Savings and Loan crisis. Investments in fixed income (both bonds, and pensions being paid to retired people) were becoming less valuable. With the markets for U.S. government debt coming under pressure, Carter appointed Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board; Volcker replaced G. William Miller who left to become the Secretary of the Treasury.

Volcker took actions (raising interest rates even further) to slow down the economy and bring down inflation, which he considered his mandate. He succeeded, but only by first going through a very unpleasant phase where the economy slowed down, causing a rise in unemployment, prior to any relief from the inflation. The stagnant growth of the economy (causing unemployment), in combination with a high rate of inflation, has often been called stagflation, an unprecedented situation in American economics.

On a more successful note, Carter signed legislation bolstering the Social Security system through a staggered increase in the payroll tax and appointed record numbers of women, blacks, and Hispanics to government and judiciary jobs. Carter enacted strong legislation for environmental protection. His Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act created 103 million acres of national park land in Alaska. He was also successful in deregulating the trucking, rail, airline, communications, oil, and finance industries.

Foreign policies
President Carter initially departed from the long-held policy of containment toward the Soviet Union. In its place Carter promoted a foreign policy that placed human rights at the forefront. This was a break from the policies of several predecessors, in which human rights abuses were often overlooked if they were committed by a nation that was allied with the United States. The Carter administration ended support to the historically U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, and gave millions of dollars in aid to the nation's new Sandinista regime after it rose to power by a coup.

The Sandinistas were themselves neither Communists nor a dictatorial regime, but they had contacts with Marxist movements operating in Honduras and El Salvador. They had other close ties (in terms of weapons, politics and logistics) with Cuba, and Carter showed a greater interest in human and social rights than in the historical conflict with Cuba.

Carter continued his predecessors' policies of imposing sanctions on Rhodesia, and, after Bishop Abel Muzorewa was elected Prime Minister, protested that the Marxists Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo were excluded from the elections. Strong pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom prompted new elections in what was then called Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Carter was also known for his criticism of Alfredo Stroessner, Augusto Pinochet, the apartheid government of South Africa, and other traditional allies.

Carter continued the policy of Richard Nixon to "normalize" relations with the People's Republic of China granting full diplomatic and trade relations, thus ending official relations with the Republic of China (though the two nations continued to trade and the U.S. unofficially recognized Taiwan through the Taiwan Relations Act). Carter also succeeded in having the Senate ratify the Panama Canal Treaties, which handed over the canal to Panama. This treaty helped relations with Panama.

Carter's proudest accomplishment during his Presidency was the Camp David Accords. The Camp David Accords were a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, which was negotiated by President Carter. Carter invited Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Camp David to work on the negotiations. At one point, Sadat wished to go home.

Carter informed him he was hurting a friend and this could hurt relations with their countries and personally, so he stayed. At another point, Begin was adamant about going home. Carter then signed photographs of himself and addressed each one to one of Begin's grandchildren. Begin then agreed to stay because he wanted peace for his grandchildren and all future generations of Israeli children. To this date, there is peace between the nations of Israel and Egypt.

A key foreign policy issue Carter worked laborously on was the SALT II Treaty. SALT stood for the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks and were negotiations being conducted between the United States and the Soviet Union. The work of Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon saw the creation of the SALT I treaty, but Carter wished to further the reduction of nuclear arms. It was his main goal, as was stated in his Inaugural Address, that nuclear weaponry be completely vanished from the face of the Earth.

Carter and Leonid Brezhnev, the leader of the Soviet Union, reached an agreement and held a signing ceremony. However, because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan late in 1979, the treaty was never ratified. Even so, both sides honored their commitments laid out in the negotiations.

In December 1979, USSR invaded Afghanistan, after the pro-Moscow Afghanistan government placed by a 1978 coup was overthrown. There are many theories as to why the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the region. The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan and India in the East, and Iran to the West.

The Carter administration, and many Republicans and Democrats alike, feared that the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover of Middle Eastern oil. Others believed that the Soviet Union was fearful that the Muslim uprising would spread from Iran and Afghanistan to the millions of Muslims in the USSR. After the invasion, Carter announced the Carter Doctrine: that the US would not allow any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf. Carter terminated the Russian Wheat Deal, a keystone Nixon Detente initiative to establish trade with USSR and lessen Cold War tensions. The grain exports had been beneficial to people employed in agriculture, and the Carter embargo marked the beginning of hardship for American farmers.

He also prohibited Americans from participating in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and reinstated registration for the draft for young males. Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski started a $40 billion covert program of training Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In retrospect, this contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Critics of this policy blame Carter and Reagan for the resulting instability of post-Soviet Afghani governments, which led to the rise of Islamic theocracy in the region, and also created much of the current problems with Islamic fundamentalism. However, some right-leaning historians attribute Afghanistan's instability to a combination of factors resulting from the Soviet invasion and the decade long occupation.

The main conflict between human rights and U.S. interests came in Carter's dealings with the Shah of Iran. The Shah had been a strong ally of America since World War II, and was one of the "twin pillars" upon which U.S. strategic policy in the Middle East was built. However, his rule was strongly autocratic, and he went along with the plan of the Eisenhower administration to depose Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. Though Carter praised the Shah as a wise and valuable leader, when a popular uprising against the monarchy broke out in Iran, the Carter administration did not intervene.

The Shah was deposed and exiled. Many have since connected the Shah's dwindling U.S. support as a leading cause of his quick overthrow. Carter was initially prepared to recognize the revolutionary government of the monarch's successor, but his efforts proved futile.

In 1979, Carter out of humanitarian concerns allowed the deposed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the United States for political asylum and medical treatment. In response to the Shah's entry into the U.S., Iranian militants seized the American embassy in Tehran taking some 100 Americans hostage. The Iranians demanded (1) the return of the Shah to Iran for trial, (2) the return of the Shah's wealth to the Iranian people, (3) an admission of guilt by the United States for its past actions in Iran, plus an apology, and (4) a promise from the United States not to interfere in Iran's affairs in the future.

Though later that year the Shah would leave the U.S. and die in Egypt, the hostage crisis continued and dominated the last year of Carter's presidency, even though almost half of the hostages were released. The subsequent responses to the crisis, from a "Rose Garden strategy" of staying inside the White House, to the unsuccessful attempt to rescue the hostages, were largely seen as contributing to defeat in the 1980 election.

1980 Election
Carter lost the Presidency by a landslide to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election. The popular vote went approximately 51% for Reagan, and 41% for Carter. However, because Carter's support was not concentrated in any geographic region, Reagan won 91% of the electoral vote, leaving Carter with only six states and the District of Columbia. Independent candidate John Bayard Anderson, drawing liberals unhappy with Carter's policies, won seven percent of the vote and prevented Carter from taking traditionally Democratic states, like New York, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

In their televised debates, Reagan taunted Carter by famously saying "there you go again". Carter hurt himself in the debates when he talked about asking his young daughter Amy what the most important issue affecting the world was. She said it was nuclear proliferation, and the control of nuclear arms. Carter said that the point he was trying to make was that this issue affects everyone, especially our children. However, he phrased it as if he was taking political advice from his 13 year old daughter, which led many to ridicule him.

Although the Carter team had successfully negotiated with the hostage takers for release of the hostages, an agreement trusting the hostages takers to abide by their word was not signed until January 19, 1981, after the election of Ronald Reagan. The Iranians would not release the hostages until 5 minutes after the inauguration of President Reagan. The hostages had been held captive for 444 days, and their release happened just minutes after Carter left office. However, Reagan asked Carter to head to Germany to greet the hostages.

In 1982, a small book by James B. Stewart esq. appeared on the scene. “The Partners: Inside America’s Most Powerful Law Firms” begins with Stewart’s insider description of the negotiation process for the release of the hostages. Though short, the chapter laid out clearly what had happened behind the scenes. After the hostages were taken, President Carter issued, on November 14, 1979, Executive Order 12170 -- Blocking Iranian Government property http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1979.html, which was used to freeze the bank accounts of the Iranian government in US banks, totaling about $8 billion US at the time.

This was to be used as a bargaining chip for the release of the hostages. The Iranians then changed their demand to return of the Shah and the release of the Iranian money. Through informal channels the Iranian government started negotiations with the banks then holding the money. The banks took over negotiations for the release of the hostages, not the US State Department.

When the Shah died of cancer in the summer of 1980, the Iranians wanted no more to do with the hostages and changed their demands to just the release of the hostages in exchange for the return of their money. Why the deal was not struck at that point is never explained, as it was the exact same deal that the Iranians received in January of 1981. The hostages were finally released with the signing of Executive Orders 12277 through 12285 releasing all assets belonging to the Iranian government and all assets belonging to the Shah found within the United States and the guarantee that the hostages would have no legal claim against the Iranian government that would be heard in US courts, http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1981-carter.html. Shortly after the publication of “The Partners” accusations of an “October Surprise” were leveled against the Reagan Administration. No witnesses were ever found who had anything to report, but Congress investigated the matter for years.

A small blow to his reelection campaign came on April 20, 1979, when he was attacked by a "killer rabbit" while fishing in a pond from a small boat. The swimming rabbit, perhaps ill or fleeing from a predator, attempted to board the president's craft. Carter flailed at the rabbit with his paddle, splashing water at it, and the rabbit turned and swam away. A White House photographer captured the scene on film. The story broke months after the attack, during the slow news month of August, when White House Press Secretary Jody Powell described the incident to reporter Brooks Jackson over tea; shortly thereafter, it was on the front page of The Washington Post with a cartoon take-off, Paws, of the poster from the film Jaws.

Controversies
In 1977, Carter stated that there was no need to apologize to the Vietnamese people for the damage and suffering caused by the Vietnam War as "the destruction was mutual".

In 1977, Bert Lance, Carter's director of the Office of Management and Budget, resigned after past banking overdrafts and "check kiting" were questioned by the U.S. Senate. However, no wrongdoing was found in the performance of his duties.

During Carter's administration, diplomatic recognition was switched from the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China, a policy continued into the 21st century. In response, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act.

Carter supported the Indonesian government even while it denounced the violation of human rights in East Timor.

Allegations of a secret agreement between the Reagan campaign and the Iranians were extensively investigated, both officially and by journalists, showing that stories of an "October surprise" were based on a hoax.

Post-presidency
Since his unsuccessful bid for re-election, Carter has been involved in a variety of national and international public policy, conflict resolution, human rights and charitable causes through the Carter Center. He established the Carter Center the year following his term, and currently chairs the center with his wife Rosalynn. The center also focuses on world-wide health care including the campaign to eliminate guinea worm disease. He and members of the center are sometimes involved in the monitoring of the electoral process in support of free and fair elections. This includes acting as election observers, particularly in Latin America and Africa.

He and his wife Rosalynn are also well-known for their work with Habitat for Humanity.

Carter was the third U.S. president, after Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize award. In his Nobel Lecture, Carter told the European audience that U.S. actions after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the 1991 Gulf War, like NATO itself, was a continuation of President Wilson's doctrine of collective security.

Carter has received honorary degrees from many American colleges, including Harvard University, Bates College, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since leaving the Presidency, Carter has written 20 books, all successful.

In 1994, Carter went to North Korea at the behest of President Clinton during a period of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula that were caused by North Korea's expulsion of investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency and that country's threat to begin processing spent nuclear fuel. Carter met with North Korean President Kim Il Sung resulting in the signing of the Agreed Framework, under which North Korea agreed to stop processing nuclear fuel, in exchange for a return to normalized relations, oil deliveries and two light water reactors to replace its graphite reactors. North Korea did not abide by this agreement and concealed its violation.

Though the Agreed Framework negotiated by Jimmy Carter was widely hailed at the time as a diplomatic achievement, it soon became apparent that despite their promises to Carter, North Korea had no intention of stopping its nuclear weapons program. In 2005, North Korea announced that it had nuclear weapons.

In 2001, Carter blasted President Clinton's controversial pardon of Marc Rich, calling it "disgraceful" and suggesting that Rich's contribution of $520 million to the Democratic Party was a factor in Clinton's action.

Carter visited Cuba in May 2002, meeting with Fidel Castro and becoming the first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro's 1959 revolution. Carter while President, did not lift the trade embargo against Cuba, in which he had the power to do so.

In March 2004, Carter roundly condemned George W. Bush and Tony Blair for waging an unnecessary war "based upon lies and misinterpretations" in order to oust Saddam Hussein. He claimed that Blair had allowed his better judgment to be swayed by Bush's desire to finish a war that George H. W. Bush (his father) had started.

In June 2005, Carter urged the closing of the Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba, which has been the centerpoint for recent claims of prisoner and Muslim holy book Quran abuse.

Not all Carter's efforts have gained him favor in Washington; President Clinton and both Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush were said to have been less than pleased with Carter's "freelance" diplomacy in Iraq and elsewhere. Critics of Carter's diplomatic efforts (during and after his presidency) generally concede that Carter is honest and well intentioned, but consider him to be naive about less scrupulous foreign leaders.

On November 22, 2004, New York Republican Governor George Pataki named Carter and the other living former presidents (Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton) as honorary members of the board rebuilding the World Trade Center.

Because he had served as a submariner (the only president to have done so), a submarine was named for him. The USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) was named on April 27, 1998, making it one of the very few U.S. Navy vessels to be named for a person still alive at the time of the naming. In February 2005, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter both spoke at the commissioning ceremony for this submarine.

Carter is a University Distinguished Professor at Emory University and teaches occasional classes there. He also teaches a Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. Being an accomplished amateur woodworker, he has occasionally been featured in the pages of Fine Wood Working magazine, which is published by Taunton Press.

Carter has also participated in many ceremonial events such as the opening of his own presidential library and those of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, andBill Clinton. He has also participated in many forums, lectures, panels, funerals and other events. Most recently, he delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Coretta Scott King.

Miscellaneous
On October 14, 1978 President Carter signed into law a bill that legalized the homebrewing of beer and wine.

On one occasion, Jimmy Carter was asked if there was anything in life he regretted, he replied,"Yes, the time that I stole from the collection plate as a young boy!"

He was the first president to make public statements in support of gay rights. In California in the late 1970s, voters were facing a law which would have banned gays and lesbians (and heterosexuals that endorsed gay rights) from working in the school system. At a speech in California, Carter urged voters to reject the bill. Incidentally, former California governor Ronald Reagan, who later defeated Carter, also opposed the bill. In the early days of the Carter campaign, Carter had promised to oppose discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but backed off on the pledge when he won the Democratic Party nomination.

The Carter White House had the first official visit by a gay rights organization, and allowed a group of gay veterans to participate in an official ceremony for the Vietnam War Memorial. During his unsuccessful reelection campaign, the Carter campaign competed with the Ted Kennedy campaign for the support of the gay rights organizations. However, the Carter administration's tepid support of gay rights did not please liberal Democrats (who felt Carter was too moderate on the issue) or the socially conservative Christians that Carter had previously courted and would help elect Ronald Reagan.

Quotations

"I believe in the separation of church and state and would not use my authority to violate this principle in any way."

"The government ought to stay out of the prayer business."

"As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students.... There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith."

"We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams."

 
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