Tag Archives: US Senate

Bush 41 discusses President Jeb and 43

At the 2006 dinner celebrating Jeb Bush’s conclusion of 2 terms as Florida Governor, George HW Bush (41) broke down during his comments as he realized the likelihood of Jeb reaching the oval office was severely diminished thanks to George W, the older brother (43).

41 appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace over the weekend where he said he hopes Jeb pursues Florida’s open Senate seat (Mel Martinez has opted not to run for reelection). After which, 41 hopes that Jeb will become 45.

“I’d like to see him run for president some day,” said 41. 

That’s all we need.  The good thing is that at 85, the former president realizes that his name doesn’t sit well with many Americans.

“Right now is probably a bad time because maybe we’ve had enough Bushes in there.”

You think?

If you read some of the words the former president says about Jeb, it is obvious Jeb is suffering from Tom Smothers syndrome –  ‘Mother (and Father) always loved you best’

“I think if Jeb wants to run for the Senate from Florida, he ought to do it. And he’d be an outstanding senator. Here’s a guy that really has a feel for people, the issues in Florida and nationally, and his political days ought not to be over, says his old father.

“Now, if he decides they should be over, I’m all for that, too. He’s — need to make a living, support his wife and family, and — but he’s a good man, Chris. He’s a very good, strong man.”

Jeb has a feel for people – unlike that no good other son of his.

Bush continued to discuss Jeb’s qualifications as a potential Senator from Florida:

And I think he’s as qualified and able as anyone I know on the political scene. Now, you’ve got to discount that. He’s my son. He’s my son that I love.”

And his brother, George, is the son that I don’t.  (Let’s not even discuss Neil.)

Of course Bush 41 while speaking with Wallace already knew what we found out yesterday – the Jeb has opted not to run for the opening Senate seat in 2010.  (I’ll have more on Jeb and the Mel Martinez Senate seat in a later post.)

Chris Wallace:  “Would you really want, after all you’ve gone through yourself and your son, to have another son go through the White…”

Bush 41:   “Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s a question of — it’s about service, service to the greatest country on the face of the earth, and the honor that goes with it, but not just to be president, to be something, but to earn it and to do something that makes you worthy. And I think — I think Jeb fits that description.”

 

Wallace  asked Bush 41 about his son Bush 43:

He’ll come home with his head high, having ran a clean operation, having kept this country strong and free after an unprecedented-in- history attack, 9/11, and he’ll have a lot to be proud of, and he can start by his mother and father being very proud of him, and we always will be.”

Did he really say that 43 ran a clean operation?   Where has 41 been for 8 years?  

I agree that Bush 43 has a lot to be proud of.   Look at everything he did in his 8 years and he never had to face impeachment hearings.  Let’s see how quickly Republicans start whining that Obama must be impeached.

Chris Wallace asked Bush 41 about the ‘unfair attacks’ on 43:

Wallace: “How tough has that been on him? How tough has it been on you?”

Bush 41: “Well, I don’t know about him, but it’s been tough on his father and his mother. We’re not very good sports about sitting around and hearing him get hammered, I think unfairly.

“Now, there’s some things that clearly he deserves criticism for, but I think — I think the idea that everything that’s a problem in this country should be put on his shoulders — I don’t think that’s fair.”

Wallace: “You said earlier there are some things he could fairly be criticized for. Are you willing to tell me any of those?”

Bush 41: “No, I don’t need to go into that. You can go back to your — what do you call it? — your Google and you figure out all that.”

“Your Google?”  Like ‘the Google?”  The apple surely doesn’t fall far from the tree.

bush-41-crying

 

jeb-and-dad

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The New Senate – Fill the Seats and Fix the Mess

In November, the Democratic Party’s goal was a so-called filibuster-proof majority of 60 Senators. Of course, that number included Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders who caucuses with the Democrats and Connecticut Republican Independent Joe Lieberman who caucuses with the Democrats on certain issues and times of the month and with the Republicans the rest of the time.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s replacement hasn’t been selected yet nor has Biden officially resigned. We’re eager to find out if Caroline Kennedy will be Hillary Clinton’s replacement after she vacates her seat for the Secretary of State post. And in Colorado, Ken Salazar’s replacement has been selected. Michael Bennet has been chosen to replace Salazar who will depart the Senate for the Secretary of Interior post under President-elect Barack Obama.

Two other Senate seats are still up in the air.

In Minnesota, Comedian Al Franken has been certified as the winner by the Minnesota State Canvassing Board though Norm Coleman refuses to accept the decision. In fact, Coleman, who has lost numerous court rulings now is looking at moving this case to the Federal courts. In the meantime, Senate Republicans will make sure that Minnesota is only represented by 1 Senator.

The decision on this race could take months.

Meanwhile, corrupt Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (I can now spell and pronounce his name without hesitation) defiantly selected Roland Burris as Obama’s replacement. Though on the surface, his record appears clean enough (there are some questions but I suspect every politician has questions about their record) the fact that Burris was chosen by Blago against everyone’s wishes puts the Senate Democrats ill at ease.

Harry Reid will not seat Burris and according to reports he had been turned away at the door.

If everyone were to be seated, Democrats (with Lieberman and Sanders) would control 59 Senate seats. Remove Burris / Obama, Biden, Clinton and Franken, that brings the number to 55.

No offense guys, but we have soldiers in harms way in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are problems mounting in Pakistan, Russia / Georgia and Israel. Not to mention problems in Africa and other areas in the world. We have a global financial meltdown occurring with a recession teetering dangerously close to depression here at home. Companies are filing bankruptcy at an alarming rate with many others laying off employees at a record clip. Let’s not forget the banking bailout, the Big 3 auto companies, newspapers and so many other industries.

Job loss will result in more foreclosures and more homeless. Then we can count on more depression, drug and alcohol use and crime. Healthcare costs are out of this world and the job loss will increase those without insurance. Watch our health insurance companies as job loss and business closings reduce their membership count – thus they’ll need to reduce staff in order to stay afloat.

Of course, if the health insurance carriers were to go under, the federal government would be forced to implement universal healthcare.

And as foreclosures rise, taxes received by towns, cities, counties and states will reduce. Let’s see how many declare bankruptcy.

But let’s worry about Burris and the perception that there are questionable ties to Blago and the corruption of Chicago politics.

And let the courts drag out the Franken – Coleman election for months on end.

We have much work to do and the problems that exist within our country and the world far exceed these petty problems of Burris and Coleman.

Senator Comedian

frankenberry

Al Franken

Comedian Al Franken looks like he will officially become Senator Al Franken as the Minnesota State Canvassing Board certified his victory.

Norm Coleman had led after the initial counting of the votes but the results were tight enough to automatically spur a recount. Coleman used the courts to attempt to limit the number of absentee and discarded ballots from the recount losing every step of the way.

Franken won the recount by 225 votes. Since the courts rejected Coleman’s attempt to limit the ballots counted, Coleman returned to court in an attempt to get an additional 650 rejected votes counted. If you can’t get the votes thrown out, try to get it tied up in court.

The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected Coleman’s request paving the way for a Franken victory. Now Coleman is attempting to move this to the federal court system by challenging the results.

With the country in a recession, 2 wars and many problems to overcome, you have to admire Coleman’s ‘I must win at all costs’ mentality.

Hey Norm! It’s time to pack it in.

norm-cheers

Just who is Roland Burris?

Yesterday Rod ‘Pay to Play’ Blagojevich defied everyone by appointing former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the United States Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Upon hearing the news, I decided to give Burris the benefit of the doubt and research him myself before offering an opinion.

The problem with this is I saw his interview last night on the Rachel Maddow Show and his defensive nature was off-putting, to say the least.  Yes, it could have been related to the barrage of accusations that surfaced immediately following the announcement – all of which had to do with Blago’s troubles.  But still, he is an attorney and now will represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate.  A little decorum is expected.

I also wondered why anyone would accept an appointment by a governor who has been charged with corruption and a bi-partisan effort is underway to get Blago out of office whether through resignation or impeachment.  I’m sure people immediately wondered what Burris’s role was in this mess. 

So just who is Roland Burris?

He served as Illinois Comptroller from 1979 – 1991 and Attorney General from 1991-1995.

He is the CEO of Burris and Lebed Consulting

Burris is on the advisory council of Masters Academy.  They offer a private Christian education to urban children in the Chicago area.

In the 2004 annual report for the National Center for Responsible Gaming, Burris is listed on the Board of Directors and as a contributor.

Burris unsuccessfully ran for Chicago Mayor in 1995, US Senate in 1984 and thrice ran unsuccessful campaigns for Illinois Governor (1994, 1998 and 2002). 

The New York Times had this to say about Burris in 1998.

In some ways, Mr. Burris, 60, would seem like the perfect candidate. The highest-ranking African-American ever to be elected to state office in Illinois, he has substantial name recognition among voters, who know him from four years as Attorney General and 12 years as State Comptroller. His stewardships in those posts were generally viewed as competent and uneventful.

But close students of Illinois politics say Mr. Burris’s ambitions have been bedeviled by a mix of Democratic Party strategy, personal political allegiances, the candidate’s political conduct and recent campaign failures and race.

”In a number of ways he got pushed aside by the organization, often by specific candidates,” said Alan R. Gitelson, a political science professor at Loyola University in Chicago. ”Roland is one of the shrewdest politicians you’ll find in the state, but there’s always a detachment that existed from the party itself.”

Having grown up in the small town of Centralia in mostly white southern Illinois and moved to Chicago as an adult, he has never been easily pigeonholed as a candidate.

He has a track record of supporting issues of concern to African-Americans, because his formative experiences include efforts to integrate Centralia’s public swimming pool when he was 16, fighting racism at Southern Illinois University in the 1950’s as a student and providing loans for minority businesses while working for a large Chicago bank. But his moderate views on issues like taxation and government spending appeal to a broad spectrum.

A tailored dresser with a trim mustache, wire-rim glasses and chameleon-like charisma, Mr. Burris said that he believed the question of his race ”neutralizes itself.”

”It always has,” Mr. Burris said. ”Some people support me because I’m black. Some people won’t support me because I’m black.”

 

During that 1998 campaign for governor, Burris made a statement that generated some controversy. 

The race issue also surfaced last month when a television station showed a tape of Mr. Burris’s referring to his opponents as ”nonqualified white boys” while speaking to an enthusiastic mostly black audience. Mr. Burris apologized for the remark, saying it was an innocuous comment made in response to suggestions that he pull out of the primary so the Democratic ticket would be more racially balanced. Whites make up about 70 percent of the Democratic voters in Illinois.

 

I found Burris in a Union Corruption Update newsletter from February 3, 2003. 

Reeling from the expulsion of three organized crime members from its hierarchy, the new president of a Chicago Laborers union has asked that a frmr. state attny. general be appointed to oversee the union. But with Roland Burris having been a character witness for a Teamster expelled from office for associating with organized crime, it remains an open question whether Burris will be approved.

Last January, the “in-house judge” of the Laborers’ Intl. Union of N. Amer. permanently barred three relatives from holding office in Local 1001. Based on the testimony of law enforcement officials, frmr. mob associates, and informants under witness protection, Peter F. Vaira concluded that Bruno Caruso, his brother, Frank “Toots”, and their first cousin, Leo, had been associates of the mafia, known in Chicago as the “Outfit,” for more than 40 years.

LIUNA officials in Wash. D.C. are still accusing Local 1001 of corruption and other connections to the “Outfit” — a charge that, according to a news release, Local 1001 officials “stridently refute.” But on Jan. 17, Local bosses met with an unnamed “national union official” and “agreed to enter into a voluntary supervision agreement  if Burris is appointed to that role.”

This is not Burris’s first involvement with allegedly corrupt unions. While serving as attny. gen. in 1994, Burris was a character witness for Robert T. Simpson Jr., frmr. pres. of Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters (IBT) Local 743. In spite of that testimony, the fed. Independent Rev. Bd. (IRB) ruled that Simpson had allowed Donald Peters to continue his influence of the Chicago local after Peters had agreed to have nothing to do with the union. Peters was named as a defendant in the 1988 fed. racketeering lawsuit against the IBT.

Burris has a questionable position on gay and lesbian rights.  In the March 29, 2002 issue of Voyager – the online newspaper of Sauk Valley Community College, they stated that Burris ‘boasted of being a ‘trailblazer’ for the community by being the first elected officer to hire GBLT staff members.  He stated that he pushed to include same sex partners in domestic violence legislation and fought to add sexual orientation to hate crime legislation.’

And then he was ‘asked about his stance on civil unions’.  His reply?  “What is that?”

So he falls into that position that he is fine with gay and lesbians – just as long as they can’t marry.  I take offense whenever anyone plays dumb when asked an obvious question.

There is a tremendous amount of links out there for the 71 year old Burris.  When putting this together, I only looked at links prior to 2008 and still barely scratched the surface.  I will continue to peruse ‘the internets’ for anything additional but so far I hadn’t stumbled on anything that would incriminate Burris. 

My reservations so far are his willingness to accept the nomination from a corrupt governor involved in a huge scandal, his ties to the corrupt Chicago unions, his stance on civil unions and his horrible record in political campaigns. 

I’d like to learn more about his company Burris and Lebed.

I found no questionable activity from his time as Illinois Comptroller or Attorney General.  His experience will bode well for a United States Senator and truth be told, I am glad that a qualified African-American was selected to fill Obama’s seat as the President-elects vacancy would have left the Senate without an African-American.

 

Sources:

Masters Accademy

A Front Runner Fades and Some See Race Playing a Role – New York Times  – March 13, 1998

National Center for Responsible Gaming – 2004 Annual Report

Union Corruption Update – February 2003

Voyager – Sauk Valley Community College

The Prestige of Cabinet Selection

I am trying to understand why so many people are willing to vacate the elected office that they fought so hard to achieve in order to serve in a cabinet post for President-elect Obama.

Obama has already vacated his Senate seat representing Illinois – which has caused some commotion when Governor Rod Blagojevich decided he’d like to profit on successor selection.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden will be vacating his office shortly and we have already heard rumblings coming out of Delaware over the selection process.

Hillary Clinton (NY) and Ken Salazar (CO) have both accepted nominations from Obama to lead State and Interior respectively.  I’ve have been trying to understand why anyone would want to leave the United States Senate and the near guarantee of perpetual re-election for a position that would only last a few years at most. 

Is there greater prestige to hold a cabinet position?  I think there is, but Senate leaders also hold positions of great prestige.  I had first thought that the problem was the length of Senate service required to achieve the level of Harry Reid.  But he was first elected to the US Senate in 1987 and achieved the position of Minority Whip after just 2 years in the Senate a position now held by Dick Durbin (IL). 

So I’m at a loss. 

Then, we see that Rahm Emanuel decided to vacate his House seat for the position of Obama’s Chief of Staff.  Bill Richardson (NM) and Janet Napolitano (AZ) will be vacating the office of Governor for the cabinet positions of Commerce and Homeland Security respectively.

I know cabinet positions do possess a certain level of prestige and can open certain doors after leaving the position but how does it compare to a lifetime of service in the United States Senate? 

And when I say a lifetime of service, I am not kidding.  Ted Stevens will be exiting, only because he was convicted of corruption, at the age of 85.  Robert Byrd is the oldest at 91.  There are 4 others currently over 80 and another 20 between the ages of 70 and 80.  There are another 20 between the ages of 65 and 69 and 16 between 60 and 65. 

That means 62 out of 100 United States Senators are at least 60 years of age.  To put this in perspective, there are 23 Senators (in office today) that are older than 72 year old John McCain.  The average age of the senators is 62 which means collectively they are almost able to receive Social Security.

But I digress.

Why leave the Senate, the House or a Governor’s position for a position in a cabinet? 

After leaving President Clinton’s cabinet, Richardson became governor of New Mexico only to depart for a job in Obama’s cabinet. 

After serving in a cabinet position many take positions on board of directors, go on the lecture circuit or write books.  I could see Salazar taking a run at Colorado governor. 

For Clinton, it could be a precursor to another run at the White House.   Adding Secretary of State to her resume makes her quite a formidable candidate in a 2016 run.

Emanuel is rumored to want his old House seat in 2 years and a return to the House will make him more powerful.

That leaves the 2 governors.    Can Napolitano be eyeing a White House run in 2016?  It is possible.  Just a quick aside – Napolitano served as attorney for Anita Hill during the Senate confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas.  Hill, if you recall, claimed that Thomas sexually harassed her when she worked for him.

Richardson has served as Ambassador to the United Nations and as Secretary of Energy under President Clinton.  Richardson may believe he has another shot at President in 8 years when he will be 69 but I suspect he is preparing himself for life out of politics possibly serving on a board of directors or as an adjunct professor. 

I still don’t have my ‘why’. 

Is it the honor of being selected to serve the president?  That is the impression I got while watching The West Wing, but this isn’t a television program.

Is it the desire to make a difference for this country?  As far as Tom Daschle is concerned, I think this is what is driving him.  He is extremely passionate about fixing the health care problem in the country and it is evident in the videos that he has posted on Obama’s Change.gov site. 

I think I am going to take some time and review past cabinet holders and see where their careers led them after they served. 

Dick Cheney served as President Ford’s Chief of Staff – replacing someone by the name of Donald Rumsfeld.  Afterward, Cheney moved into the US House and served as House Whip before being selected as Bush 41’s Secretary of Defense and of course Bush 43’s Vice President.  Let’s not forget his time as Halliburton CEO during the Clinton administration.

George Stephanopoulis from Clinton’s administration and Bush’s brain, Karl Rove both can now be found on television.   

I know I didn’t yet reach the conclusion but I started this post saying that I was trying to understand why elected officials who fought for 1-2 years each election cycle for their position – who schmoozed and pandered in order to raise millions of dollars which would require constant bathing and fumigation – who ran themselves ragged campaigning, neglected their families, smeared and got smeared and in some cases sold their souls in order to win a political position that would require them to do it all again in as soon as 2 years with regards to the House – WHY WOULD THEY WALK AWAY!?! 

I think that answers the question. 

CNN speculating on Blago and Jesse

CNN claims they are a news organization.

Rick Sanchez claims to be a journalist – though I know better.  He was from channel 7 in Miami and famously squatted over the Iraq map during the first Gulf War.

Sanchez informs us that CNN had done a tremendous amount of research on the Rod Blagojevich story.  So rather than report the facts as responsible news organizations should do . . .   (I know, I know:  Facts and responsible news is an oxymoron just like jumbo shrimp.)

CNN still jumps to a conclusion linking Blagojevich to Jesse Jackson Jr.  Could it be correct?  Absolutely.  But could they be irrevocably damaging Jackson’s career?  Most definitely.

Rod Blagojevich’s career is over and rightly so.  But there isn’t enough information to responsibly report on Jackson or anyone else.  ‘Our sources tell us that ‘candidate 5’ is Jesse Jackson Jr and Blago said that ‘candidate 5’ is willing to ‘pay-to-play’.’ 

But everything we have heard about this case is pure speculation.  I have yet to hear anything that could really put Blago behind bars.  His comments are stupid and incriminating but not illegal. 

And suggesting that ‘candidate 5’ would be willing to break the law doesn’t mean that ‘candidate 5’ would actually break the law or even that he, himself (candidate 5), suggested that he would, in fact, break the law.  It could just be a gut feeling that Blago had.  It’s meaningless and certainly not illegal.

So the media (in this case Rick Sanchez) is providing a disservice to their viewers.  And it certainly isn’t just Sanchez. 

Then again, the Blago tapes didn’t stop these pundits at the news stations from falling over themselves trying to link Blago and Obama even though Blago said on the tapes that Obama would not give him anything but his appreciation. 

The RNC chairman’s balls are as big as Blagojevich’s

I understand calling for Rod Blagojevich to resign.  That’s politics.  And I will support it once additional information comes out.  I also would support impeachment hearings if Blago is found guilty and refuses to resign.

But to immediately tie Blago with President-elect Barack Obama is disgraceful. 

The chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) said Tuesday afternoon that President-elect Obama’s comments on the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich do not go far enough addressing the relationship between the two men.

Hours after Blagojevich was arrested by federal authorties [sic] for an array of corruption charges, including an effort to see profit in exchange for Obama’s recently vacated Senate seat, Obama told reporters that he has had “no contact” with the troubled governor and he was unaware of what was going on.

RNC Chairman Robert “Mike” Duncan said in a statement that Obama’s “comments on the matter are insufficient at best.”

“Given the president-elect’s history of supporting and advising Gov. Blagojevich, he has a responsibility to speak out and fully address the issue,” Duncan said.

The RNC pointed out shortly after the governor’s arrest that Obama has, in the past, had high praise for Blagojevich and advised the governor’s first run for office.

Despite Obama’s insistence that he has had no contact with Blagojevich about who might fill his open Senate seat, ABC News reported Tuesday that in late November, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said he knew Obama had “talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”

 

First, to consistently dodge reporters queries over every questionable action by the Bush administration over the last 8 years and then play these games against Obama BEFORE he is even sworn in is absolutely pathetic.

The Bush administration consistently refused to address issues involving the outing of Valerie Plame, Abu Ghraib, WMD’s, etc, etc, etc.

Second, it is clear that anytime anyone in Illinois breaks the law the Republicans will immediately question that person’s ties with Obama.  This was so [expletive] predictable. 

We are going to have a long 4 or 8 years if the Republicans are going to continue to play these games.  Distraction politics is something that we do not need.  We have to repair many domestic problems (economic, infrastructure, etc) and foreign policy issues (2 wars, Pakistan, economic, etc) and the Republicans are going to focus on Obama’s birth certificate, every shady person Obama has spoken with and Joe the [expletive] plumber.  (Sorry but Blago’s expletive laden phone conversations have carried into this post.)

The problem also is that Mike Duncan (his first name is Robert – what are you hiding?) would have said that Obama’s ‘comments on the matter are insufficient at best’ unless Obama had come out and said “Blagojevich and I are planning to sell the Senate seat in order to take care of us, our families and Illinois.”

Until the Republicans start providing answers to the questions of the last 8 years, I am going to give Obama a break on guilt by association. 

Blago has me so pissed off but this [expletive] judgmental Republican bullshit has me livid.  It’s a pure case of ‘Party before Country’ and if they can not [expletive] grow up, they need to get out of government. 

Finally, shouldn’t Duncan worry about preparing for the 2010 election since his party hasn’t done that well in 2006 and 2008? 

In other words, Mike Duncan – shut the [expletive] up!

Source:

RNC: Obama’s statement on Blagojevich ‘insufficient’ – The Hill – 09-DEC-2008