Archive for the ‘United States Presidents’ Category
Earlier today, the Washington Post reported that former President Bill Clinton will visit Wisconsin on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett in the Wisconsin Gubernatorial Recall race. Here’s a few words from Bill Clinton’s statement as quoted by the Post:
“Folks in Wisconsin have been on the front lines of fighting for working, middle-class families across America for more than 16 months,” the former president said in a statement. “I’m coming to Wisconsin to help Tom and the extraordinary grassroots volunteers on the ground.”
Now, why is this happening at this late date? It’s because voter turnout must be high from Democrats and Independents if Wisconsin truly does wish to recall Governor Scott Walker (R). The Republicans know it; the Democrats know it. And what everyone knows, but very few polls have pointed out, is this: Independents, in general, do not like Scott Walker very much. And what living Democratic President fired up Independents along with Ds? You guessed it — Bill Clinton.
Note that Bill Clinton, in the past, was not in favor of recalls; he went to California to prevent the recall of then-Governor Gray Davis in 2003, as did several other prominent Ds with national standing (such as John Edwards, then a Presidential candidate). So for him to come here on behalf of Barrett most likely means that Clinton believes the recall of Walker is the right thing to do (in addition to the realpolitik of it all, which is that Clinton, a former D Governor from Arkansas, certainly wants more D Governors).
This visit by the former President should help boost turnout, but more importantly, it will boost optimism that the recall of Walker can and will succeed because Clinton has an excellent record when it comes to helping embattled Ds. As The Hill reports tonight:
Clinton’s entrance into the race could disrupt what had seemed like a likely victory for Walker, however. The former president has posted an impressive record in 2012 endorsements to date, helping Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) and Pennsylvania attorney general candidate Kathleen Kane both win their Democratic primaries after trailing early on. Clinton also helped Maryland businessman John Delaney to a unlikely primary win in April.
So, will Clinton be able to help Barrett also? My best guess is that yes, Clinton’s visit will make a positive difference on behalf of Barrett, Lieutenant Governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell, and the four D candidates for state Senator, including my own candidate in District 21, former Sen. John Lehman.
But with all the will in the world — and Clinton does have a tremendous will — this race still comes down to turnout, which is what I expect Clinton to say tomorrow during his visit as he’s no fool. Clinton’s visit will be a boost to Barrett, Mitchell, Lehman and all of the other D candidates for state Senate, but Wisconsin’s voters must go out and vote.
As I’ve said before, my intentions are clear and have been so from the beginning. Scott Walker deserves to be recalled. So does his Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch. So does my sitting state Senator, Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). Which is why I will be voting to recall all of them on June 5, 2012 — and while I would do so without a visit from Clinton, it’s nice to know that Clinton hasn’t forgotten Wisconsin or how hard we’ve been fighting here for the past year and a half ever since Walker “dropped the bomb” and started his “divide and conquer” tactics.
Folks, today was a historic day in United States politics. It was the first time, ever, that a sitting U.S. President, Barack H. Obama, said that he is in favor of same-sex marriage. (Before this, he’d only said that his beliefs were “evolving.”)
Here’s a link (which includes a link to the video interview with ABC News reporter Robin Roberts):
Here’s a few words from the President as to why he’s changed his position:
“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.
While I’m glad the President has come out in favor of same-sex marriage, the timing of this announcement seems a bit odd. Earlier in the week, Vice President Joe Biden was castigated because he said he was in favor of same-sex marriage (here’s a link to an excellent article at the Christian Science Monitor if you don’t believe me), and actually had to backtrack. Yet now, on Wednesday — a day after the President was embarrassed in West Virginia as a convicted felon who didn’t even live in the state garnered 41% of the vote in the Democratic primary — the President has admitted that, just as Biden said last week on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama indeed is in favor of marriage equality (marriage for all people regardless of sexual orientation, which obviously includes same-sex marriage).
Still, it’s great that Obama has come out in favor of marriage equality regardless of the timing. It is historic, and it should give my friends in the GLBT community hope that, sooner rather than later, they will be able to marry the person of their choice. That is the right message to be sending in the 21st Century, even if Obama’s Republican opponent, Willard “Mitt” Romney, strongly disagrees.
Folks, if you haven’t heard this one yet, hold on to your hats: the United States Secret Service, which protects the President of the United States and is supposed to be discreet and above all, above reproach, has completely embarrassed themselves in Cartagena, Colombia.
The specifics relate to twelve male Secret Service agents who were there to prepare for Barack Obama’s impending visit to the area due to an important summit going on. These agents apparently visited prostitutes. Some of the agents were married; apparently more than one was indiscreet. At least one must have shot his mouth off about being there to protect the President (because as gloriously embarrassing as a bunch of Secret Service agents going to local prostitutes is, that in and of itself would be unlikely to get all these guys sent home, much less get the “official spokesman” of the Secret Service into the act), which is a big “no-no.”
Please take a look at this link at Yahoo (which is easier to load):
And to get a further idea what’s going on, go to the Huffington Post, which has more details (but is much tougher to load, even on broadband):
My quick take? I’ve never heard of such a thing before, so either our Secret Service doesn’t have quite the pick of personnel it used to, or these particular twelve agents must’ve had the most colossal lapse of judgment in the history of the Secret Service.
What I hope happens here is that we will find out more in coming days, as something like this needs to be exposed (pardon the inadvertent pun) in order to keep it from ever happening again.
And as for the Secret Service’s assertion that sending home twelve well-trained agents wouldn’t make any difference to the level of protection for President Obama? B.S.! (Or “banana squishies,” as this is a friendly site.)
Folks, you’re going to hear much in the next 24 to 48 hours about Rick Santorum, because Santorum won both Alabama and Mississippi this evening. While that is correct, the real news is that Mitt Romney, despite spending an enormous amount of money, finished third in both contests. (Newt Gingrich finished second.)
You must keep this very simple fact in mind in upcoming days, because assuredly Santorum and Romney are going to attempt to frame this narrative to benefit themselves.
The fact is that Romney finished third, which proves that Romney is extremely unpopular with Republican voters. (This makes me wonder just who’s going to vote for the guy if Romney does, indeed, get to the general election against the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.) There is absolutely no argument left for Romney to position himself as a moderate except to run on his record — and if he does that, he’s going to alienate even more conservative voters than he already has.
What’s odd about all this is that Romney views himself as an “inevitable” candidate; some of his campaign staff and surrogates have even hinted that Romney believes his candidacy to be “divinely inspired.” Yet finishing third after spending such a huge amount of money is not the way an “inevitable candidate” is supposed to win, something Gingrich pointed out in his concession speech tonight.
This points out that, at least for the moment, Gingrich has his pulse on what’s really going on with the Republican voters. Neither Santorum, nor especially Romney’s people — as Romney did not make a speech this evening at all — are going to say this, but it’s the plain, flat truth: between them, Santorum and Gingrich won over 60% of the vote (closer to 70% in Alabama), and that shows that around 2/3 of the Republican voters in these states really do not want Romney as their nominee.
This is the real story: how many people are going out to vote in the Republican primaries and caucuses solely to vote against Romney in some way, shape or form. Any other story, up to and including the fact that Santorum won (providing he doesn’t acknowledge this “inevitable” point), is nothing less than an incredibly distorted framing of the narrative.
Recently, I’ve grown interested in learning more about some of our First Ladies — that is, Presidential spouses — and have been reading with great interest a biography by Frances Wright Saunders, ELLEN AXSON WILSON: FIRST LADY BETWEEN TWO WORLDS . This is a woman I’d never previously thought anything about, other than maybe a brief reference as “the first Mrs. Wilson” as she died in 1914, but Ellen Axson Wilson (1860-1914) was an extraordinary woman in her own right, being an artist of some renown, as the picture of her painting Side Porch, Griswold House (1910) reproduced here shows.
But art wasn’t the only thing the first Mrs. Wilson was great at; she was extremely bright and helped her husband, Woodrow Wilson, with the research for many of his books as she read and spoke German, French, and Italian whereas he only was able to read the languages (and that laboriously by his own account). But she was a well-educated, articulate, artistic woman in her own right, someone who insisted that her three daughters be educated to the limits of their ability and that they be prepared to live the best lives they could whether they married or didn’t (as indeed, eldest daughter Margaret remained single). Ellen Wilson helped her husband yet lived her own life, too. And saw no contradiction in doing so, as indeed, there should be none . . . but who’d expect this from a woman born in 1860? (Which just goes to prove the “value” of stereotypes . . . but I digress.)
One thing that struck me from Saunders’ biography that I wish more First Ladies would emulate was Mrs. Wilson’s absolute indifference to being fashionable. Mrs. Wilson dressed well, yes. But she did not wish to be a fashion plate, saying that she had better things to do with her time and money than that — and she put her money where her mouth was, using her time for her art and to learn, grow, and change productively.
Ellen Axson Wilson was someone who lifted up everyone around her, seemingly effortlessly, because she wanted what was best for them. She put several of her cousins through college as she believed very strongly in higher education; she took in her younger brother, Edward, and made sure he, too, was well-educated and had a good start in life. And she was the type of woman who judged people by their minds, not by how much money they had or their status in life — in fact, people who were stereotypical “social butterflies” bored her silly, and she wasn’t afraid to say so.
The more I’ve read about Mrs. Ellen Wilson, the more impressed I’ve been by her — truly, she embodied the adage that “behind every great man is a great woman,” and considering her abilities and skills, it’s really a shame that her story isn’t better known — especially the fact that even nearing the end of her life (she died young at age 54 from kidney disease), she insisted that poor blacks who were living in abject poverty in Washington, DC’s alleyways be helped. And because she was such a powerful personality, even as she got closer and closer to death, the Congress actually passed “alley” legislation because it’s what she wanted.
Please see this link at the American Presidents blog for more about Mrs. Ellen Wilson; the content is great even if the spelling isn’t always up to par, and it will give you an idea of just how special the first Mrs. Wilson really was. Which just goes to show that lives matter — what we do, what we learn, and who we interact with matters — whether others realize it, or not.
Tonight’s post is about what’s been going on in politics — but as time is of a premium, let me sum it up for you in four words: a big, fat mess.
Look at the national political scene, for example. Yesterday Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said that the House “would not pass” the two-month extension to the payroll tax holiday (something that saves the average worker $40 per paycheck, as was Tweeted ad nauseum with the hash-tag #40bucks). Boehner stood firm after this Wall Street Journal staff editorial saying the deal was a no-brainer; as the editorial said:
GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.
The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.
Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.
As the editorial goes on to state, the House had voted to kill the payroll tax “holiday” on Tuesday — the exact, same bill that the Senate had passed on a bipartisan basis with an 89-10 vote — by a 229-193 highly partisan vote (meaning the Rs were mostly against; the Dems were largely for it). Speaker Boehner was standing firm, so he said, because he felt the Democrats hadn’t negotiated in good faith, but the Republican leadership (at least, anyone who isn’t currently sitting in the United States House of Representatives) en masse told Boehner he was wrong.
For example, here’s what George W. Bush’s main advisor, Karl Rove, had to say last evening (via this TalkingPointsMemo article, which quotes Rove from an appearance on the Fox News Channel yesterday — that is, Wednesday, December 21, 2011):
“I think the Wall Street journal editorial today hit it on the nail,” Rove said Wednesday on Fox News.
So today, Thursday, December 22, 2011, Speaker Boehner had to give in. He did so as graciously as he possibly could, but facts are facts; Boehner got his hat handed to him, and he’s likely to end up resigning as Speaker soon because he’s totally lost control of his caucus. And in so doing, he’s hurt his party, he’s hurt his party’s chances for winning the 2012 elections (from the Presidency on down), and he’s definitely hurt himself; these things are what tends to make a current Speaker a former Speaker, in short order, one way or another — and it’s far easier to resign than to be removed in disgrace. (And if you resign, you get the lovely “perks” that come with being a former Speaker — I’m not sure if you do if you are replaced, though it’s likely you still would. But it would still look better for Boehner if he just got out ASAP, and it probably would be a great deal better for his physical health. He truly did not look well today in his press conference.)
Tomorrow, the House will meet and attempt to pass the two-month extension of the payroll tax “holiday” by unanimous acclamation. If that doesn’t happen, I haven’t a clue what will happen next.
But I do know that the American public doesn’t like stalemates like this when political theatre threatens to interfere with real people’s lives, and they tend to hold the party who instigated such a thing responsible. In 2009, the Dems had several highly partisan fights, mostly over health care, and in 2010, they paid for it at the ballot box; now, it’s 2011, and the Rs have had several highly partisan fights, mostly over the payroll tax and the debt ceiling issues . . . my guess is that unless they get their collective house in order, fast, they, too, are likely to pay for it at the ballot box.
Now to Wisconsin’s recent political news. We continue the fight to recall our Governor, Scott Walker (R), our Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch (R), and four state Senators, including my very own Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). It was reported about a week ago that there are nearly enough signatures to recall Scott Walker, as 507,000 valid signatures (by real Wisconsin voters, no signatures of “Mickey Mouse” or “Adolf Hitler” as has been alleged by some Republican leaders, including state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), himself a target of a well-funded recall election).
Note that 507,000 valid signatures have been gathered in one month; those of us working on the recall effort (including me) have another full month left in which to get signatures. And the efforts to recall Kleefisch, Wanggaard, and Fitzgerald (among others) continue unabated; it looks good that all six Republicans targeted for recall will indeed have to face the voters in 2012 for this option: will they be retained, or will they instead be replaced?
Tempers remain high in Wisconsin. We’re frustrated by a weak economy, months of negative job “growth” (in other words, we have big, big job losses here and little actual growth going on), five or six people going for every one job, and more. Then, we have a Governor who’d rather cause trouble than govern — which is why he’s going to be recalled and replaced — we have Senators who didn’t have the sense they were born with (including my own, Van Wanggaard), and voted for something they should’ve stayed far, far away from (the whole vote on Senate Bill 10 — that is, when they voted to repeal collective bargaining for most public employees, which has caused all sorts of trouble in the state, economically and otherwise). And we have a Lieutenant Governor in Kleefisch who is either too weak to affect policy in any way so she has to parrot whatever Scott Walker tells her to say, or really, honestly believes what she’s saying — and I’m not sure which is worse.
Look. I have friends of all political stripes and I am in agreement with some of my R friends in other states when they say spending is out of control and the government should make absolutely certain every nickel is spent wisely and well. But I am against nonsensical stuff like what Walker, Kleefisch, Fitzgerald and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (also an R), my Senator, Van Wanggaard, etc., have said and done because there was no reason for it except to do one thing: bust unions, and make it harder to get Walker, et. al., on out of there.
But I have news; we will oust Scott Walker. We will oust Rebecca Kleefisch. We will oust Senators Fitzgerald and Wanggaard, all by our quite legal recall method — by getting 1/4 of the total voters in the last, highly-charged election. We must oust these people in order to restore some sense of fairness and bipartisanship to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is not a red state, nor is it a blue state; instead, it is a truly purple state. That’s why what the radical Rs, led by Scott Walker, have done here is so blatantly offensive to the vast majority of Wisconsinites I’ve talked with — including many, many Rs and Indys — and it’s why I fully expect to see Scott Walker and Van Wanggaard, among others, hitting the unemployment line ASAP.
Folks, today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01, one of the most shocking and horrific things in United States history. Due to the attacks on that day, the US “lost our innocence” regarding international terrorism. Though other, terrible attacks had occurred, most especially to the USS Cole and a previous attack in 1993 against the World Trade Center, most American citizens felt like our country could not and would not be attacked.
We were tragically wrong.
Last year, I wrote a blog about 9/11, which is posted here. In many ways, I cannot improve upon this; even though a lot has changed in a year, many of the same problems are still with us.
So instead, I’ve decided to focus on the biggest remaining problem from that fateful day: our lack of help for the first responders — the firemen, policemen, military people, and volunteers — who did their best to find surviving victims of the World Trade Center bombing, then did their best again to help clean the place up and restore it, in the process finding many of the dead who did not survive that fateful day.
I’m tired of our current crop of politicians doing nothing about this important issue. Instead, I wish our politicians would act more like President Barack Obama, and past Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have acted in the past few days. These men have been statesmen, and have publicly discussed the need for medical and financial help for the first responders — many of whom still need help and perhaps always will — because what they were doing in trying to rescue people trapped in the wreckage of the Twin Towers was inordinately stressful. These first responders were exposed to goodness-knows-what toxic substances, and that some of them have not been able to get help for the medical conditions they incurred is plain, flat wrong.
Note that Hillary Clinton, when she was still a United States Senator, urged the Congress to act and they did, but it wasn’t enough. She now is our Secretary of State, and for the most part cannot take active part in asking for more help to be given to those who gave of their time and effort on 9/11/01 and afterward. And while she’s been an outstanding Secretary of State, I wish that she was still able to call more attention to this issue as it needs to be done.
Aside from her, Representative Peter King (R-NY) and, of all people, comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart (he of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show fame) have been the most vocal and active people in the public eye who have demanded help for the first responders. Good for them; they know many of those first responders ended up with chronic medical problems due to their help on and directly after the 9/11 terror attacks, and they know it’s absolutely disgraceful that these people have had to fight for whatever little bit of help they can get since that awful day.
We must help all of those who need it who helped find victims after the Twin Towers were destroyed. If we do not, the legacy of 9/11/01, which is already distressing enough, will become that much worse. Refusing to help these people is shameful.