Monday, December 7, 2009

When Excellence is Staring You in the Face and You Don't Even Know It


The 2009 University of Akron soccer team has put together one of the most impressive seasons in NCAA history and people in Ohio and even on the Akron campus are just starting to realize it. Instead, the Zips soccer team has been overshadowed by the opening of a new football stadium populated by a football team that has never matched the modern day success of the real footballers.

After beating Tulsa on Saturday, the University of Akron soccer team is headed to the NCAA College Cup to play for the national championship. They currently are 23-0-0 and have tied Indiana University for the longest winning streak in NCAA history. If they win the next two games, the Zips will finish with a perfect record, the first time in over three decades that has been accomplished.

Having watched some of the games this year, I can tell you that this is some of the finest soccer I have ever seen. The Zips are as disciplined and dominating as I have witnessed and every single player has bought into the team concept preached by Coach Caleb Porter. As long as Porter is roaming the sidelines, the Zips soccer program will be top tier. My hope is that Porter will be rewarded with the kind of contract that will keep him in Akron for the long term. His 68-11-7 record over four seasons is no fluke. Hopefully he'll be add one NCAA championship as head coach to his lengthy list of accomplishments.

Monday, November 23, 2009

To Bow or Not to Bow, That is the Question



The president had this to say about "the bow" to Japanese Emperor Akihito:

"I’m representing the United States of America. And we’re talking about a friend, and we’re talking about an ally. We’re talking about a nation with whom we have constructive relationships."

That wasn't President Barack Obama saying that about his recent bow to the Japanese Emperor. That was President George H.W. Bush saying that in 1989 in response to a reporter's query about his bow to the new Japanese Emperor.

Presidents bow. President Richard Nixon did so when he visited China and bowed to Mao Tse-Tung. President Obama did so when greeting the Saudi King and the same Japanese Emperor. Presidents even hold hands with other leaders, as President George W. Bush did with Saudi King Abdullah (I didn't hear the Veep complaining about that).

Despite what former Vice President Richard Cheney said, it's really not a big deal. Presidents of both parties bow. It's a sign of respect in many cultures. Just because we don't do it in America doesn't mean it signals weakness when an American president bows to a foreign leader, especially an ally. Now, if they had curtsied, that might be another story...


Obama and Psalm 109: How Very Unchristian



There is a slogan that is appearing on bumper stickers and t-shirts all across the land:

"Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8"

Very biblical. Sounds pretty innocent right? Not quite:

"Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

It gets worse:

"Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."

I'm a big believer in free speech and civil liberties. Freedom and liberty let the sun shine on the vermin. Vermin look more sinister and ugly in the daylight as they scurry into the sewer or under a rock.

However, this slogan represents a direct threat to President Obama. It is not funny and the message is clear. It is no different than someone advocating for the assassination of the president on a street corner or in a train station. You simply can't do it and if you do, expect a visit from the U.S. Secret Service.

I pray that the government is up to the task of protecting this and every president that serves our country. Based on the level of crazies on the right that hate this president, the Secret Service have and will continue to have their hands full.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ohio's U.S. Senate Race, Governor's Race, Dead Heats


In a Quinnipiac University political poll of registered voters in Ohio, Republican Rob Portman has overtaken his Democratic rivals, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Democratic Governor Ted Strickland is in a dead heat with Republican Challenger John Kasich at 40% support for each. Given the recent decline in President Barack Obama's numbers in Ohio and the relative surge in the Republican brand, this is not terribly surprising. However, because of the large number of undecideds in the race, anything could happen between now and May and November.

What is shocking, however, is the fact that Fisher has yet to pull away from Brunner despite the backing of many heavyweights in Ohio's political establishment and despite Brunner's anemic fundraising. Democrats do not seem overly excited about Fisher's candidacy and may be ripe for the picking if Brunner can turn around her listless campaign and demonstrate that she is viable.

Expect the primaries to start getting nasty on both sides of the aisle as the May primary is beginning to loom large on the campaign calendar. Tom Ganley, the conservative car dealer, has indicated he is in it to the end and will dip into his wallet. Likewise, Brunner appears to be in it to win it as well. The next few months should make for some good political theater during the winter doldrums.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bob Ney: Out of Bush's Federal Housing Program and into the College Classroom

From time to time I invite elected officials, policy makers, news media, etc. to speak to my political science classes at The University of Akron. From sitting members of Congress to members of the Ohio executive branch, to law enforcement officials, I have already had a number of people visit with my students this semester. Today I had former Congressman Bob Ney visit three of my classes.

When I told colleagues I invited Bob Ney to come to campus to speak to my students, most of them looked at me with blank stares or raised eye brows. Afterall, this is the same Bob Ney that got mixed up in the Jack Abramoff scandal and ended up doing time in a Federal prison in Morgantown, West Virginia. However, since getting out of "Bush's federal housing program" (as Ney often quips) in 2008, he has been trying to resurrect his life and has begun a career as a political analyst for Talk Radio News Service and has his own self-titled talk news show on WVLY AM 1370 which airs out of Wheeling, West Virginia, every weekday from 1-3 p.m.

I had a feeling that he would be a great speaker and that students would benefit from hearing from a person who was at the pinnacle, lost it all, and is trying and put his life back together. Some of the best American stories are those of redemption and Bob Ney's may be one of those. My instincts were right: the students were enthralled by his very American story and were taken with his candidness. Ney talked openly about his fall from grace and took responsibility for his actions. And, his political instincts are as sharp as ever. Ney spoke about current events and challenges facing the president and Congress and did so with a balanced eye. I now understand why Ellen Ratner and Talk Radio News Service took a significant chance on Ney by giving him a job when he left prison. If you want rabid partisanship and red meat, Ney is not your guy. If you want thoughtful analysis and blatant candor absent the filter of oppressive ideology, Ney is your guy.

I am glad my students got the opportunity to hear the former Congressman today and many of my students were as well. In fact, one student raised her hand and asked him to come back. That has never happened with any guest speaker I've had before...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Newt the RINO

It's amazing how things change in politics. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), the architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution and the first Republican Speaker of the House to serve since Joseph Martin (R-MA) in 1955, is now a moderate, unworthy of being called a true conservative. He is too liberal to run for president. This is according to red meat eating firebrands such as Michelle Malkin.

Are we living in an alternative universe? Newt Gingrich is not a conservative? No wonder real moderate Republicans have fled the ship or should I say been chased out of the increasingly small tent. In the search for ideological purity, the Republican base is shrinking and the tent is near collapse. Just witness the carnage of the special election for New York's 23rd Congressional District where the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, is being gored from the right by the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman.

Writes Dan Balz of WaPo:

"The Republican nominee, backed by local party leaders, is Dede Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman. Like some other northeastern Republicans, she is generally conservative on many fiscal issues but favors both abortion rights and gay rights. She is, say her supporters, the kind of Republican who can win a race in a district like New York's 23rd.

But Scozzafava hardly represents what the base of the Republican Party believes. She is out of step on core issues and, as a result, has drawn opposition from the right. Doug Hoffman, running on the Conservative Party ballot, is challenging the GOP nominee and his growing strength makes it possible that Democrat Bill Owens could grab the seat away from the Republicans.

The race has badly divided the national Republican hierarchy. The contest has become an early example of the fights likely to play out in the future as Republicans argue among themselves about how best to rebuild their party after two devastating defeats in 2006 and 2008.

Scozzafava enjoys the support of former House speaker Newt Gingrich, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the National Rifle Association. Hoffman has won the backing of two prospective 2012 presidential candidates -- former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and a host of other prominent conservative Republicans."

To me it's self-defeating behavior. Upstate New York is not Mississippi. If moderate Republicans are not allowed to compete for offices by forces in their own party, it will be a long time until the GOP sniffs majority status. A deep southern party does not a majority party make.

Democrats have their own issues with tears in the tent. Just witness the infighting between liberals and Blue Dogs over health care reform. But none of these minor skirmishes approach the Civil War brewing on the Right. Newt Gingrich not conservative enough? It truly is a new era we live in.

Hat Tip: Political Wire

Akron Press Club Fall 2009 Senate Candidate Installment 2: Rob Portman

From the press release:

The Akron Press Club Presents Rob Portman, Republican U.S. Senate Candidate, Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Trade Representative, and Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The event is co-sponsored with The University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

When & Where: Thursday, October 29, 2009 at the Martin Center, 105 Fir Hill, on The University of Akron campus. Buffet luncheon at 11:45 a.m. Program follows. $10 Press Club Members - $15 Non-Members
Contact Michelle Henry at 330-564-4211 or e-mail to smhenry@cmoresearch.com to make a reservation.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Akron Press Club Fall 2009 Senate Candidate Kickoff: Tom Ganley

The Akron Press Club is bringing in all of the major candidates for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat this fall. First up is president and CEO of the Ganley Automotive Group, Tom Ganley, on October 1.

From the press release:

"An Ohio native, Tom Ganley is president and CEO of the Ganley Automotive Group, headquartered in Cleveland. Ganley, who began his career with one Rambler dealership in Euclid, now runs the largest automotive group in Ohio, composed of 32 dealerships employing more than 1,000 people.

Ganley has stated that the issues that are important to him include education, foreign policy, gun rights, health care, immigration, jobs, national debt, national security and taxes. Ganley has been the spokesperson for Buckle-Up Cleveland, an automotive safety initiative sponsored by the Cleveland Police Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

In May 2001, he was named president and CEO of Crime Stoppers of Northern Ohio. In 2006, Ganley was named Man of the Year by the Cuyahoga County Police Chiefs Association for his leadership and support of law enforcement in the Cleveland area. Other special recognition awards have come from the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate for outstanding accomplishment, the Gold and Silver Award from the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Community, and the Cleveland Police Historical Society’s Man of the Year.

The cost for the event’s buffet luncheon is $10 for Press Club members and $15 for non-members. Reservations are requested; to make reservations, call 330-564-4211 or e-mail to smhenry@cmoresearch.com ."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Keeping Things in the Presidential Thought Bubble



I know there have been many times, when in the middle of a lecture or answering a question during class, I say something I probably shouldn't have. My students do it all the time too. When they do, I tell them to keep that comment in the thought bubble (you know, the cartoon bubble which shows what a character is thinking) and not say it out loud. Once it's out there you can't take it back.

I'm sure President Obama wishes he would have kept the comment that Kanye West was a "jackass" in the thought bubble. But he's the president and just about everything he says or does in public will be caught on camera. The good news for the President is that most people agree with him--Kanye West acted like a total jackass at the 2009 VMA awards. The bad news is that he'll probably have to call West and apologize for speaking the truth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Fallacy of the Post-Racial Society



It is quite ironic that in our supposedly "post-racial" age that the ugly face of racism is rearing it's head openly and often in public. Jimmy Carter is right. Maureen Dowd is right. I've said it here before: many Americans cannot accept the fact that we have a black president. Never have, never will.

How do I know?

We have polls which tell us so.

I have people who have personally told me so.

This all began long before the election (see video above)--the "post racial America" has always been a fantasy.

Is everyone who opposes President Obama a racist? Of course not. The great majority of those who oppose him are not.

However, there is a loud, fringe element, baited by the open hostility and racism of merchants of hate such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who have gained the courage to openly flout their extremist leanings. Just check out You Tube--it's all over the place. And it's both discouraging and frightening.




Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Our Nation's President Deserves to be Treated with Respect"



The headline is not my quote, that's Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a fellow partisan of Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), the man who heckled President Barack Obama during his health care speech to Congress and the nation. It was a deplorable act.

No American president should be subject to that kind of disrespect. For a sitting member of the House of Representatives to shout "You lie!" in the middle of a presidential address is beyond disrespectful. It further poisons the toxic atmosphere surrounding the nation's politics.

But perhaps it won't. Perhaps fellow Republicans will be so embarrassed by this breach of protocol and civility that they will reign in the most radical elements of their party. Thankfully, many Republicans lawmakers denounced Wilson's outburst.

Wilson, himself, in immediate damage-control mode, issued the following statement:

"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."

Oh, and by the way, Wilson was the liar, or at least wildly incorrect. The President's bill would not extend benefits to illegal aliens.

Ted Kennedy's Letter to President Obama


Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote a letter to President Barack Obama shortly before he died, most of which was on the topic of health care. It is powerful.

Here is a taste:

"There will be struggles - there always have been - and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat - that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country. And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family's health will never again depend on the amount of a family's wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will - yes, we will - fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege."

See the full letter here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Akron Press Club Event: Professor Kevin Jacques to Speak on "The Financial Crisis, Past To Present: A Former Regulator’s View"

WHAT: The Akron Press Club will present a talk by Dr. Kevin T. Jacques, the Boynton D. Murch Chair in Finance at Baldwin-Wallace College, titled "The Financial Crisis, Past To Present: A Former Regulator’s View."

WHEN: 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

WHERE: Martin University Center, 105 Fir Hill on The University of Akron campus.

THE SPEAKER: Prior to joining the faculty at B-W, Jacques spent 14 years as an economist with the U.S. Department of Treasury in Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for advising treasury and Bush administration officials on economic and financial policy issues. While at the treasury, Jacques also advised representatives of foreign governments on matters of international banking and financial policy. In 1994, he served on the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, examining systemic risk in financial markets. Jacques’ research has been published in numerous journals and books and has been presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

HOW: The cost for the event’s buffet luncheon is $10 for Press Club members and $15 for non-members. Reservations are requested; to make reservations, contact Michelle Henry at the Center for Marketing and Opinion Research at 330-564-4211 or her an e-mail. Click here for more information on the Akron Press Club.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Al Franken's Unique Talent

When I was a kid, I could put together a jigsaw map of the United States with my eyes closed. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has bested me. Check out his unique talent.



Hat Tip: Political Wire

President Obama Speaks to America's School Children: "In America, You Write Your Own Destiny"


President Barack Obama will speak to America's schoolkids today. The White House has posted his prepared remarks here.


Highlights:












My Take:

All presidents--Republican or Democrat--should open up the school year this way.

From top to bottom, it's a great speech.

It's a great message.

It is not partisan in any way, shape, or form.

It's embarrassing that the President of the United States had to "clear" his speech with the media and public beforehand by releasing it early.

I hope that school districts short-sighted enough to give into the pressure from the extreme-right and not show the speech live will rethink their stance and show it to students later.

It's a message all students should hear.
Good for people like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former First Lady Laura Bush for supporting the President on this.

For all you knuckle-draggers that screamed at your local school officials about showing the speech or kept your children home so they did not have to watch the speech: you are morons, plain and simple. Absolute morons. Hopefully your children will not be permanently tainted by your ignorance and our country will not suffer from scores of children raised by morons like you.

Obama Schoolkids Speech Hilarity


Andy Ostroy posted his own version of President Obama's September 8 speech to schoolkids at Huffington Post. It is a very witty piece of political humor. I have put it up in its entirety.











The REAL text, posted by the White House, is here. Enjoy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Media Pandering Revealed in the Wake of the Blagojevich Mess


Gawker has a fascinating post up detailing the lengths the mainstream media went to book embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich and his wife on their programs at the height of the scandal that resulted in his impeachment and removal as Governor of Illinois. Gawker used the FOIA process to reveal the great lengths the media would go to book the Gov:

"On the morning he was arrested on corruption charges last December, Rod Blagojevich was the nation's biggest greaseball. So obviously, the national press was willing to say anything to land an interview. And we've got their emails to prove it. We reported a little over a month ago that the Today show had booked Blagojevich to appear on the morning he happened to be arrested by the FBI, but bumped the interview so they could flack for Jay Leno's new show. We found that out through a Freedom of Information Act request to the state of Illinois asking for e-mails from representatives of the media to Lucio Guerrero, Blagojevich's press secretary."

The results are very revealing...and probably embarrassing to the authors of the emails. My personal favorite is the one below--short, sweet, and to the point...

Hat Tip: Political Wire

Traficant Out of the Pokey, Comes Home to a Hero's Welcome

After seven long years in federal prison, James Traficant, the former Congressman with the crazy toupee from Ohio's Mahoning Valley, is home. Not only is he home, he came home to a hero's welcome--1200 fans of the eccentric politico showed up to see their hero.

"'I was a quarterback. I was a congressman. Now I'm a convict,' Traficant said, his signature toupee firmly back atop his head. 'I wouldn't change one single thing. And to the powerful enemies that I have, I'll just say this to you: They had to cheat to convict me.' At times it was hard to tell if Traficant was joking or lashing out. He warned the crowd that agents from the FBI and IRS were probably in the parking lot taking down license plate numbers, to which the crowd laughed. They then grew serious when he said Northeast Ohio had to start changing the country, because so many others are afraid to stand up to the government. 'I think it's time to tell the FBI and the IRS that this is our country and we're tired -- tired of the pressure, tired of the political targeting, tired of a powerful central government that is crippling America,' he said."


It will be fun to watch what he does next. My guess is he will not opt for a quiet retirement...


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Obama's Upcoming Address to Schoolkids Creating Faux Controversy


Why would President Barack Obama's address to the nation's schoolkids be controversial? It is so controversial a number of schools are opting out and outraged parents are putting pressure on them to do so. It shouldn't be. He is after all the president. He occupies an office that until recently was held in high regard by all Americans. It doesn't matter who the president is--Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Obama or Bush--he is the president and an address to the nation's schoolkids should be welcomed not criticized.

I remember going to school and having the pictures of the presidents hanging on the wall. Not pictures with Hitler moustaches drawn on them or devil eyes like we've seen the wingnut crowd do recently. Just their portraits. They were given the respect they were due.

The faux controversy over the presidents address to school kids is just that--a controversy created by wingnut talk radio and bought into by a hyper-conspiratorial and ill-informed American public. This is just the latest example that many in the American public have lost their mind.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The "Birther" Crazies are Winning in Arkansas

We know that Arkansas consistently ranks in the bottom half with regards to public schools. Thus it comes as no surprise that only 45% of Arkansans believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States while 55% believe that he wasn't or are "not sure" if he was. The birther crazies are winning in Arkansas.

I've already written on this topic and probably will again but the level of paranoia, fear, and ignorance in the United States is stunning. Newsflash America: your president is black and has an unusual name. He was born in Hawaii. He's an American and he's your president. Deal with it.

Hat Tip: Political Wire

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Great Philosophical Divide in the Health Care Reform Debate



This statement reflects the basic difference of philosophy between most Liberals and Conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. Democrats and Liberals view health care as a right, Republicans and Conservatives view it as a privilege. This overarching disagreement is at the heart of what has plagued attempts to reform the health care system for decades.

Perhaps it is the ideological difference in interpretation of the words in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Whether or not someone believes health care is incorporated in this phrase probably goes a long way to determining their stand in this debate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dancing With DeLay

Dancing With the Stars announced its lineup for Season 9 and former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) is among them. Yup. Tom DeLay. The only politico that would have surprised me more is former Speaker Dennis Hastert *R-IL).


I've never been a big fan of the show but I may have to tune in from time-to-time to watch this season...

Brett Favre, Huckster

Huckster: "a cheaply mercenary person"

Yes, I know this blog is about politics but as the creater/owner/CEO I have license to digress. And, as a lifetime Green Bay Packer fan I have a responsibility to write on the following topic: Brett Favre. For many years, wise friends tried to tell me that Favre was a prima donna--a spotlight-craving diva. I always poo-pooed them. I was sucked in by the awe-shucks, wrangler-wearing, John Deere mower-riding good ol' boy from Kiln, Mississippi who was born to heave the pig.

Those days are over. Favre has committed treason for reasons of revenge and money. He has signed with the Minnesota Vikings. But I fret not. I am glad. Green Bay will visit Minnesota October 5. It will be great sports theater. Minnesota's offensive line had better construct an iron curtain around the 39 year old diva because the Packers will be out for blood. And with every sack I will cheer. He is the hero no more. A huckster has arisen in his place.



The Vacationing President

CBS News' Washington Unplugged has a 15 minute segment on the history of modern presidents and their vacation habits. It's a cool watch.

Interesting tidbit: President George H.W. Bush could play 18 holes of golf in 90 minutes. If true, that's almost unheard of. I wonder what his average score was.


Watch CBS Videos Online

Hat Tip: Political Wire

Monday, August 3, 2009

FLOTUS Fashion

If you like fashion and you like First Lady Michelle Obama, the website "Mrs. O" is for you. The "site hopes to be a central, ever evolving resource to chronicle Mrs.O’s look, while providing fashion commentary and information." (Hat Tip: American Presidents Blog)

Another Mrs. Obama fashion watcher is: Michelle O. Style

I'm not a fashionista, but for those who are, you will probably be ga-ga over these sites. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Glenn Beck's Deep-Seated Hatred for America



It is no surprise that the Right wing in this country has a problem with President Barack Obama just as it was no surprise that the Left wing was passionately against President George W. Bush. That is as it should be. However, crazy wing nut talk show host Glenn Beck's comments on the FOX and Friends morning show go beyond any kind of reasonable commentary or dissent. He said: "This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture....I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.'' (Of course, not to be outdone, right wing nut job Michelle Malkin then called the President a racial opportunist on the Today show).

I am a big supporter of free speech and defend Beck's right to say what he wishes; however, I also would lose no sleep if people boycotted FOX, advertisers pulled their spots, and Beck lost his job. It's 2009, not 1959. America, for the most part, is way past this kind of mentality. Disagree with the president's policies, fine. Play to the fringe racists and White separatists in the country, not fine. Unfortunately, it looks like nut jobs like Beck, Malkin, Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity etc., are going to try and take down this presidency by playing the race card. These fanatics are what's wrong with our political system--they (as well as those on the extreme Left) make it very difficult for the two parties to have a reasonable dialogue through which policy is made and our country is made stronger (just witness the treatment of South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from the Right because he dared support President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court).

I recommend Ron Reagan's response to Beck's comments. It is dead solid perfect.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tracking Supreme Court Nomination Votes in the U.S. Senate, 1789-Present


The U.S. Senate has a site which tracks all votes on Supreme Court nominations from 1789 to the present day. The site contains a bevy of information and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.

Neither of George W. Bush's nominees coasted to the bench and faced similar criticisms from the Democrats:

Alito's vote total: 58-42
Roberts' vote total: 78-22

Bill Clinton's nominees faced little opposition:

Breyer's vote total: 87-9
Ginsberg's vote total: 96-3

George H.W. Bush had a mixed record. Souter was a slam dunk; Thomas squeaked by:

Thomas' vote totals: 52-48
Souter's vote totals: 90-9

Reagan was 4-1 as Bork went down to defeat, the last time a nominee failed in a U.S. Senate vote:

Kennedy's vote totals: 97-0
Bork's vote totals: 42-58
Scalia's vote totals: 98-0
O'Connor's vote totals: 99-0
Rehnquist's vote totals for elevation to chief justice: 65-33

I really do think the political environment has changed. Scalia and Ginsberg combine for a 194-3 vote? Can you imagine either justice sailing though in the 21st century? Ideology is now used as a litmus test. It shouldn't be.

Lindsey Graham and the Blind Ideologues


Politico has a great interview with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who, after getting scorched on the Right for his support of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, hits back at the ideological purists of his party:


If only more members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, would take the same attitude, much more could be accomplished to actually address the serious problems of the country. As the article points out, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg were overwhelmingly approved by the Senate: 98-0 and 96-3 respectively. At that time, Senators who opposed these nominees on the basis of ideology nevertheless realized that they were highly qualified for the bench and that it was the president's prerogative to nominate qualified people to the highest court in the land.


Does the fact that Graham is looking beyond politics and ideology a worm? Hardly. I'd call him a statesman.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peacetime Abe


I happened across another interesting Abraham Lincoln blog, this time created by a Lincoln historian from Anderson University. In an interesting post, the blog author asks what a Lincoln presidency would have looked like absent the Civil War:


I can't disagree with that. Lincoln would have been seriously challenged in terms of party unity had he not had the Civil War as a unifying principle. Absent that, the abolitionist wing and conservative wing may well have torn the party in two.

"Peacetime Abe would have confronted two stark and difficult realities that were not so readily apparent during the war. First, the fact of the Republican Party's geographic isolation: not just its total lack of presence in the South, but also the fact that the Republicans got shut out of the Border States, as well. This would have seemed a dire political reality to both Lincoln and other party leaders during his first term; they surely would have thought that they could not count on a four-way split of the American electorate again in 1864, as in 1860....Second, the party's fissure between radicals and conservatives would have been quite pronounced, and required a good deal of smoothing over by Lincoln and other party leaders. The war did this for Lincoln, in many ways. In the real world, from 1861 to 1865 the two wings of the Republican Party could at least agree on one thing: the need to defeat the Confederacy. But after the war the divisions in the party became very apparent. Something like this Reconstruction process would have confronted Peacetime Abe. Take all this together, and I think Peacetime Abe as party leader would likely have steered his presidency in a fairly conservative direction....All presidents steer towards the political center once they enter office. Peacetime Abe would have done so, but the need would have possibly been even more pronounced. And this would have had a decided impact on his policymaking."

An interesting thesis from the A. Lincoln blog and one I'd tend to agree with. However, I wouldn't agree that all presidents steer toward the political center once they enter office. There are plenty of examples to discredit that thesis (Bush 43, LBJ, FDR just to name a few).

I have listed the blog in the blogroll. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Birthers" Gone Wild



The above and below videos show the level of derangement among the so-called "birther" movement--people who are convinced that President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen and that his birth in Hawaii is a lie. I have a word of advice to the birthers: seek professional help. You are playing with a few cards short of a full deck.

John Avlon, a former Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, describes the Birther movement in a must see Daily Beast article:

The birthers may be Right wingers but crazies exist at both ends of the political spectrum. Who can forget the "truthers" from the Lunatic Left and the anti-government Libertarians who are convinced that 9/11 was a Bush/CIA/Israeli-sponsored plot to grab dictatorial powers? Both these fringe group of crazies are in the same league as the Holocaust deniers and those that claim the moonwalk never happened 40 years ago. (However, the moonwalk denier mindset did produce one of my favorite 1970s "B" movies: Capricorn One, a 1978 film starring James Brolin, Elliott Gould, and O.J. Simpson, Sam Waterson, Telly Savalas, and Brenda Vaccaro, about a faked Mars mission).

A number of organizations (including Factcheck.org, PolitiFact.com, Snopes.com) have looked at the evidence and found that this is all nonsense. So I repeat what I said earlier: seek professional help (of course, if you are a birther or truther or denier of any kind you probably won't because you will believe that the mental health professionals are also part of the conspiracy).

Unfortunately, birthers are starting to gain an audience and support from conservative members of Congress and congressional candidates. Of course conservative talk radio loons like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have been beating this drum since the campaign.

It is sad that our politics have descended to this level. Reasonable people should be able to differ on policy without one side calling the other "socialist" or "communist" or questioning the president's citizenship. Of course, whoever said these crazies were reasonable?

Hat Tip: Political Wire.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Awaiting the Reopening of Ford's Theater Museum


The Abraham Lincoln Blog (which I happened across and highly recommend) has a nice write-up of the reopening of museum at Ford's Theater, the place where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. I visited the theater and museum almost four years ago and it was spectacular then. Since being renovated, my expectations are even higher.

From the WaPo: "They dressed Mr. Lincoln again yesterday for his upcoming public appearances. They buttoned his vest, straightened his tie and smoothed his frock coat. Four people helped pull on his pants. Wearing white cotton gloves, they picked lint from his left shoulder, slid on his boots and reattached his left arm with a tiny wrench. The dried blood near the knees of his pants, they could do nothing about. This was, of course, not the real Abraham Lincoln being re-dressed in the new museum at Ford's Theatre. It was only a cloth-and-metal mannequin clad in the clothes the president wore the night of his assassination. But curators, volunteers and technicians fussed as if they were dressing the real man, clucking over the unmatched buttons on his fly and marveling at the oil still oozing from his boots 144 years after he took the carriage to Ford's on April 14, 1865. The dressing of the mannequin, and its installation in its new glass case, were among the last tasks before the museum reopens to the public July 15. The museum has been closed for almost two years while it and the famous theater were renovated as part of a $50 million project. The theater reopened in February."

Friday, July 10, 2009

"She Might As Well Have Been A Bonbon"

An absolutely sizzling piece by Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, about soon-to-be former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Among other quotes from Noonan's surgical strike:

"In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough."

"Mrs. Palin's supporters have been ordering her to spend the next two years reflecting and pondering. But she is a ponder-free zone. She can memorize the names of the presidents of Pakistan, but she is not going to be able to know how to think about Pakistan. Why do her supporters not see this?"

"Her lack of any appropriate modesty did her in. Actually, it's arguable that membership in the self-esteem generation harmed her. For 30 years the self-esteem movement told the young they're perfect in every way. It's yielding something new in history: an entire generation with no proper sense of inadequacy."

"The elites made her. It was the elites of the party, the McCain campaign and the conservative media that picked her and pushed her. The base barely knew who she was. It was the elites, from party operatives to public intellectuals, who advanced her and attacked those who said she lacked heft. She is a complete elite confection. She might as well have been a bonbon."

Perhaps the best quote from the article is one I highlighted above: "She was out of her depth in a shallow pool." I find this to be a dead-solid-perfect statement which is why her VP nomination was so frightening, especially in a post-9/11 world. Vice President Joe Biden may have to have some of his comments walked back from time-to-time, but no one, no serious person, questions his "depth" or understanding of the issues. In the future, I hope all presidential candidates, regardless of party, pick the very best person to serve instead of looking to the electoral map or attempting to shore up the base.



Hat Tip: Political Wire.

JibJab's Obama the Superhero Video



I'm a big fan of JibJab. The lyrics to their video of the 2004 presidential campaign (below) still bounce around in my skull. Their latest presidential spoof video is a good one. Enjoy.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No One is Bulletproof Anymore

Two questions.

1. Who was the happiest guy in the world when the news of Governor Mark Sanford's affair with a woman in Argentina became public?

2. Who was the happiest guy in the world when news of Michael Jackson's death broke?

Answer to 1: Senator John Ensign (R-NV)

Answer to 2: Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC)

Let me explain. The juicy details and the bizarre missing persons act surrounding the Sanford affair revelations eclipsed most all news of the Ensign affair, a rather standard affair which occurred with one of his own Hill staffers. I'm sure the Senator was mighty relieved to be off the front page. I'm also certain that the Governor felt the same type of relief, not that he wished death upon anybody. However, only a sudden death to an icon such as Jackson could have pried Sanford off the front page.


These are not the first two public figures to get caught stepping out on their spouses, just the two latest. The list is endless and includes people from all walks of life, all parties, all ideologies. I am still baffled at this kind of reckless behavior from the most public of figures.

Somebody told me the other day that the problem is that public figures think they're bulletproof, that no one can touch them, and that they'll never get caught. This is a foolish notion, particularly in the 21st Century when most every person is equipped with a cell phone with video and picture taking capability. Every person on the street is a potential citizen journalist just one click away from posting a video on You Tube and exposing the lies of any public figure. Big Brother is everywhere and he's every one of us. No one is bulletproof anymore.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Extinction of National Journal's Capital Source


I used to subscribe to National Journal--one of the best publications to cover Beltway politics. A benefit to a subscription was the compendium that NJ put out semi-annually (though in recent years, that became annually) that went to subscribers: The Capital Source. In fact, as someone who used that handbook religiously, it was the main reason I was considering once again subscribing to the National Journal, an excellent, but extremely pricey publication.


I won't be re-subscribing after all. I spoke with a National Journal representative earlier today who informed me that the Capital Source was retired and won't be coming back. Apparently there wasn't much demand for the publication. The timing is silly if you ask me. It would seem that demand for such a resource is highest at the outset of a new presidential administration--particularly one in which there has been a party changeover. I'm sure production costs are significant for the handbook; perhaps a web-based only version would significantly cut down on production costs and entice people like me to subscribe. I am hoping that National Journal rethinks this shortsighted decision but am not expecting anything to change. In the meantime, does anyone out there know of a similar publication or database available to the public?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Daily Beast's Cheaters Club Pictorial


The Daily Beast has a pictorial about some of the most infamous political sex scandals in recent times. I was going to (and probably still will) post about these all-too-common episodes of infidelity, especially the recent ones concerning Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

It never ceases to amaze me how so many elected officials, drunk with their own self-importance and surrounded by sycophants and cheerleaders, destroy their marriages and families, usually with young children suffering collateral damage.

Perfecting Presidential Pronunciation

A very interesting article in Politico about President Barack Obama's penchant for perfecting the pronunciation of names and places. In fact, Obama's correct pronunciation of Pakistan caused controversy during the 2008 presidential election because some of his critics felt his pronunciation was not American enough.

According to Politico: "In Obama’s view, pronouncing someone’s name or hometown correctly is a simple way of showing respect, they say. It’s a sort of baseline diplomacy. That’s particularly so in foreign relations, where aides say the president will privately practice pronouncing a leader’s name a number times before saying it publicly. It’s not just people’s names. Obama also often pronounces places in their local way. Take Pakistan — or PA-kih-ston, as the president says. Obama has pronounced Pakistan the way Pakistanis do for as long as he’s been in public life — a thoughtful consequence of him having Pakistani roommates in college that has its share of critics. The president affords the same effort to other important words in a culture. In the Muslim – or Moo-slim, as Obama says — world, he pronounces Taliban as Tal-e-bon, and Koran as Ku-ron."



Two countries' pronunciations not mentioned in the article that Americans regularly slaughter: Iraq and Iran.

The way most Americans pronounce Iraq and Iran: I-Rack and I-Ran
Proper pronunciation: E-Rock and E-Ron.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin Hanging Up Her Spurs



Wow. Not many saw this coming. Not only is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin not running for reelection, she is resigning her post near the end of July. A surprising move to say the least. There is and will continue to be rampant speculation as to why Palin decided not to serve out her full first term. Here are some of the possible reasons:

1. She is gearing up her 2012 presidential run early.
2. She is under investigation for some of her actions as governor and some bad news will be forthcoming.
3. She realizes she is a rock star to many on the Right, fills arenas, and can make a boatload of cash as a private citizen by charging exorbitant speaking fees.
4. She is tired of being in the public spotlight and wants to retire to a quiet life of snowmobiling and hunting in Wasilla.

I think it's a combination of #3 and #1. No way #4 has any credence--as Palin likes to say, she's not wired that way. And #2 has possibilities.

My take: Palin will be able to make a ton of money without the constraints and rules of being an elected official. This will also allow her to run for the White House for the next three years without the handicap of having to govern a state. I'm very confident we haven't seen the last of Palin or her surprises.

Breaking News: Michael Jackson Still Dead

Yep. Still dead. Hasn't risen. Though the way the media has been over-covering this story you would think he's the Second Coming. A peek at Google News this morning yielded almost tens of thousands of articles and blog posts alone. That doesn't even speak to the television and radio coverage. Do I really have to see every nook and cranny of his Neverland Ranch, especially knowing what may have gone on in there with young children? The death of a former president doesn't even yield this kind of attention.

Here's the deal. Michael Jackson was a talented entertainer. He could sing and dance (though one could make a reasonable argument that he hadn't produced a decent album since Thriller in 1982). Jackson's personal struggles are well-known and need not be rehashed here. The details surrounding his death are suspicious and the complete picture will take months to sort out. The custody battle over his children will also take months if not years to sort out. And people will continue to buy his albums in record numbers as they have been since news of his death. Essentially, this story will be with us for a long time.

But does it deserve the kind of attention it has received and will receive? To quote a wise old journalist friend of mine: "With no disrespect for the deceased, one could surely ask at what point would an international pop star's death cease to be a media commodity to be endlessly marketed above all other issues?" I say enough already. There are so many more pressing issues today that should receive attention in the news cycle. I am hoping that most Americans will have the same reaction that I have when I flip through the television stations and come upon yet another story about the life and death of Michael Jackson: an uncontrollable twitch of the thumb upon the remote which immediately changes the channel.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Minnesota Finally Has Two Senators

Article I, Section 3 of the United States Constitution mandates that the "Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state." For nearly six months, the state of Minnesota has had only one U.S. Senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, and for nearly eight months, the election for this one seat was waged in the courts.


The 2008 Minnesota Senate race is a lesson to all Americans and to all people who care about Democracy and democratic institutions: every vote counts. Just as in the 2000 presidential election, the 2008 Minnesota Senate race demonstrates that a handful of votes can decide the outcome of an election. If you care about your government, the direction of the country, and your own interests, take the time to register and go to the polls. I often lecture in a classroom that seats about 300 people--the margin of victory in this instance. A room full of people can change history--everyone needs to remember that.
Oh, and one last thing. For those of you who thought it funny to vote for a candidate and then write-in celebrities, sports figures, and other nonsensical people, places, and things as an add-on: congratulations, the joke's on you. You cost tax payers and donors millions of dollars in court costs and legal fees. The only people that benefited from your stupidity were the attorneys.

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