Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack To Serve As ‘Designated Survivor’ For State Of Union Speech

This piece of trivia just has been revealed.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will stay away from the U.S. Capitol during tonight’s State of the Union address in order to serve as the Cabinet’s “designated survivor,” according to White House officials.

With the president, vice president, lawmakers, Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices and members of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff all sitting together in one confined space, by tradition at least one Cabinet secretary skips the speech as a security precaution.

Racist Congressman Doug Lamborn Owes Colorado A Day’s Pay

At a time when parents are trying to instill values into children, and underscore the reason sitting down and talking is preferable to swinging fists comes a story about Colorado’s biggest embarrassment.

Congressman Doug Lamborn who referred to President Obama as “a tar baby” last year is now planning to sit out the State of the Union Speech, which takes place tonight.

The racist mind of Doug Lamborn is surely something for his maker to take stock of, and deal with on Judgment Day.  But until then Congressman Lamborn’s butt belongs to the taxpayers who pay his salary and expects him to abide by some common sense along with common acts of civility.

Showing up to the State of the Union address, and acting liking someone with  responsibilities which the voters placed on his shoulders, seems to most Americans a no-brainer.

Doug Lamborn seems never to have had parents who instilled certain values or foundations within him during his youth, and therefore he acts out now in ways that are not consistent with social norms. There are many who disagree with President Obama, and yet they will respect the office of the presidency and sit in the House tonight and act civil.

The actions of this errant Republican can only be remedied in one way. Congressman Doug Lamborn needs to pay back to his constituent’s one day’s salary for the lack of work and duty he shrugged off the night of the SOTU speech.

Then Doug Lamborn should act like a man and call President Obama and apologize.

What Does Governor Walker Have To Do For Million Dollars From Out-Of-State Donors?

Not for the first time do the campaign finance laws boggle the mind, or leave many of us pondering how we will ever get a cleaner way to run elections. We have all seen and heard about the volumes of cash that pours into the campaign coffers of elected officials.

But rarely does it get more smarmy or upsetting then to hear that four donors–let me repeat that–four donors–anted by 1 million dollars for a Wisconsin candidate–and the four donors were all from outside of the Badger State.

But that is exactly what Governor Scott Walker received from corporate fat cats who think they can buy their way into Wisconsin elections. The question must be asked as to what did Walker have to do, or promise for such a bundle of cash?

What Walker has done is an unseemly way to react to the million voters and taxpayers who live in Wisconsin and signed a petition allowing them to participate in democracy at the grassroots level.

At the end of the day I think one million votes will mean much more than one million dollars.

Giving $250,000 each were Bob Perry, owner of Houston-based Perry Homes and a chief backer of the Swift Boat Veterans ads against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 race for president; David Humphreys, president of Missouri-based Tamko Roofing Products; Sarah Atkins, a quality consultant for the same company; and Stanley Herzog, chairman and CEO of Missouri-based Herzog.

Perry had given Walker $250,000 in an earlier donation, bringing his total donation to $500,000.

The latest round of giving helped Walker collect $4.5 million in just five weeks.

Why Newt Gingrich Is Like Richard Nixon

From one of my favorites, Jon Meacham.

The analogous elements are obvious. Like Nixon, Gingrich is smart, with a wide-ranging and entrepreneurial mind. Like Nixon, Gingrich is a striver who seems insecure around traditional establishment figures even though he has achieved much more than nearly all the politicians, editors and reporters he seems to at once loathe and fear. Like Nixon, Gingrich is fluent in the vernacular of cultural populism, brilliantly casting contemporary American life in terms of an overarching conflict between “real” people and distant “elites” bent on the destruction of all that is good and noble about the U.S.

Nixon was a genius at this kind of politics, speaking up, as he put it in accepting the Republican nomination in Miami in 1968, for “the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators.” In his epochal memorandum on “Middle America and the Emerging Republican Majority,” Nixon political strategist Kevin Phillips spoke of the resentments “the great, ordinary, Lawrence Welkish mass of Americans from Maine to Hawaii” felt against the liberal elites who “make their money out of plans, ideas, communication, social upheaval, happenings, excitement,” according to Nixonland by Rick Perlstein. In recently released grand-jury testimony from 1975, Nixon told prosecutors that attacking him “is going to make you much more popular with the Washington press corps, with the Georgetown social set, if you ever go to Georgetown, with the power elite in this country.”

Bloodied Images Of Presidential Candidates For Magazine Covers Are Unacceptable!

Over the top and totally unacceptable.  That is the only response that every American citizen should have in response to the actual cover for one major magazine now on the stands, and the proposed cover for an equally prominent publication. 

The bloodied and bandaged faces of Mitt Romney, President Obama, and Newt Gingrich are not representative of how this nation conducts elections, or how transitions of government take place.  While politics is rough and tumble, as it always has been from the first days of our nation, the two pictures only allow for the worst of our current divided government to come pouring forth. 

There are deep feelings on each side of the aisle, but everyone knows that there is a process by which this nation decides elections and policy directions. I find the tone and imagery of these two pictures despicable and unforgivable.  Though the story is about smear campaigns there is no way to justify the images or the underlying message.

“New York” magazine published their cover, Bloomberg did not.  However, I find the idea of such a cover ever being contemplated almost as deplorable as what “New York” actually published.

There comes a time in our national discourse when we need to take a deep breath and step back from the brink.

I wish there was at least one more magazine editor in the nation who had come to that conclusion.

It depicts Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, photoshopped to look bloody and beaten (with a similarly injured but much smaller Newt Gingrich headshot sandwiched between them in the background), to illustrate Joe Hagan’s feature about “The Dark Art of the Political Smear.” (The headline inside the magazine and on the web calls it “The Coming Tsunami of Slime.”)

Also circulating online today was a recent Bloomberg Businessweek cover that never made it to the printer. “funny seeing @NYMag cover this week…2 weeks ago we killed this cover,” Businessweek creative director Richard Turley tweeted this afternoon, along with a photo of his spiked Romney art.

This image likewise depicts a swollen and bloody-faced Romney, looking as if he just got jumped by a pack of angry Gingrich supporters. It was posted to the Businessweek design department’s Flickr account with the caption “Killed Romney Cover.”

“Each week we design a few cover possibilities for the upcoming issue,” Businessweek editor-in-chief Josh Tyrangiel told us through a spokesperson via email.

“We see where the news is going and make a final decision about the image on Wednesday afternoon,” he said. “Two weeks ago (January 16 issue, on stands January 13) we had two great pieces in the magazine: Ashlee Vance’s profile of Steve Ballmer and his efforts to reboot Microsoft, and Peter Coy’s Opening Remarks about how the GOP had turned on Mitt Romney and Private Equity. In the end, we went with Ballmer since the Romney story seemed to have already hit its peak. A lot of times these decisions are about all of us putting our finger in the air and trying to figure out which way the zeitgeist is blowing. It’s what makes the job so fun and so challenging.”

Wisconsin DNR Understaffed For Mining Issues

For the second time in about nine weeks Wisconsinites have been alerted to the shortage of workers in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  Each time the news has come in the context of how the average citizen is paying a price for not having as many government employees hired in order to do the environmental work that needs to be handled.

This morning the news was reported in the larger story about the desire of Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co. to open  a sand mine in Dane County.  With the noise and dust that operation would bring to a community there is, needless to say, a strong desire to protect local residents.  But as Ron Seely reported residents should not count on the state’s DNR.

But the state and many local governments have been caught mostly unprepared by the dramatic increase in the number of sand mines. The understaffed state Department of Natural Resources does little to monitor and regulate problems such as dust and noise.

It was just last November that another mining story in the Wisconsin State Journal reported on the process for allowing a mine to operate in the state.  That report also noted the shortage of needed DNR employees.

Members of the committee asked Coakley about permitting in nearby states, including Minnesota where the permit process was changed so that permits must be issued in a specified amount of time. Wisconsin sets no deadline for the DNR to issue a permit.

But Coakley said the DNR doesn’t have enough staff to study permitting in nearby states, a statement that raised a few eyebrows on the committee.

I am tired of the continual undermining of state workers while it is obvious to all that they perform a much-needed and valued service to our state.  In spite of the slurs and attacks they have taken over the past year it is quite clear what happens to our quality of life when there are too few in place to do the job that is required.

Senator Mark Kirk Had Surgery Following Weekend Stroke, Faces Permanent Physical Damage

CP sends wishes for a recovery that is quicker than expected.  Senator Kirk, 52, was elected in 2010 to fill the seat previously held by President Obama. He is divorced and does not have children.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., likely faces permanent physical damage and a long-term cognitive recovery after successful surgery for a stroke, doctors said Monday.

Neurosurgeons at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago said parts of Kirk’s brain are permanently damaged.

“The prospects for his full physical recovery, particularly on the left side of his body, are not great,” said Dr. Richard Fessler, a neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial.

The stroke may also result in “some facial paralysis,” Fessler added, with Kirk maybe recovering use of his left leg, but “the use of his left arm is going to be very difficult.”

Fessler said that Kirk’s “prospects for a full mental recovery are pretty good.”

45 Hours Of JFK Audio Tapes To Be Released Today

More nuggets for President Kennedy buffs to muse over.

In the scheduling discussion three days before his killing, JFK also eerily comments on what would become the day of his funeral.

“Monday?” he asks. “Well that’s a tough day.”

“It’s a hell of a day, Mr. President,” a staffer replies.

Kennedy kept the recordings a secret from his top aides. He made the last one two days before his death.

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President John F. Kennedy’s library is releasing 45 hours of privately recorded meetings and phone calls, providing a window into the final months of his life.

The tapes include discussions of conflict in Vietnam, Soviet relations and the race to space, plans for the 1964 Democratic Convention and re-election strategy. There also are moments with his children.

On one recording, made days before Kennedy’s assassination, he asks staffers to schedule a meeting in a week. He tells them he’s booked for the weekend, with no time to meet with an Indonesian general then, either.

“I’m going to be up at the Cape on Friday, but I’ll see him Tuesday,” JFK tells staffers.

The tapes, being released Tuesday by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, are the last of more than 260 hours of recordings of meetings and conversations JFK privately made before his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.