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Bill and Hillary Clinton Made $30 Million In Past 16 Months

May 16, 2015

The numbers are staggering and do suggest a problem for Hillary Clinton.

How can she be the face for middle-America in the 2016 presidential election and feel the sting of wages that have stagnated across the country while her family made $30 million dollars in the past 16 months?

Perceptions are vitally important in politics and facts such as the ones released this weekend poses a hurdle that Hillary needs to address sooner rather than later.  She needs to break past the image that is being cast of her as a very rich person who has lost touch from where she came.

There is no way to make a claim the money was not made from speechmaking or that she and her husband, Bill, are not now in at least the top 0.1% of the population when it comes to incomes.    There is nothing wrong with being on the speech circuit or making lots of money.  Bravo for the ability to make that happen.  But with the money comes an image issue that makes for complicated politics.

Hillary needs to find a way to break out into the open and confront in a more powerful way a connection with the country about her concerns over the need for more jobs and far healthier wages at a time when she is being cast as being out of touch.  If she does not the Republican Party will define her and once that is done it will be much harder to reverse the narrative.

First Stutz Blackhawk Car Ever Bought To Be Sold Today In Elvis Presley Auction

May 16, 2015

 

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Elvis Presley’s custom-designed tour bus, built in 1976, is up for auction today from Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills. The bus features spots for nine sleepers and was originally designed for the King’s backup back, the TCB Band — which, of course, stands for “taking care of business.”  The presale estimate for the bus is between $100,000 to $200,000.

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Other items being auctioned today include Elvis’ marriage certificate to Pricilla, one of his guitars and Elvis’ 1971 Stutz Blackhawk car, which is expected to sell for more than $400,000. Elvis was the first person to ever buy a Blackhawk car. The King picked up the very first one in 1970, for $26,500.

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Congress Needs a Spine

May 15, 2015

If I were to comment in one blog post about every problem that congress has I would be writing until mid-summer.  At the top of my list of grievances is the amount of money in elections, not enough members establishing personal relationships with other members in Washington, and the continual playing to the fringes of their respective parties instead of honing their skills to the middle where compromises can be fashioned.    That is my quick summation of what are some of the top problems congress faces.

Today in the newspaper I came across the perfect example of one of those points made quite clear.

The House of Representatives on Thursday debated the defense bill and one amendment would have allowed the Pentagon to consider allowing some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to enlist in the military.    The matter was not binding, and yet from what happened it would have appeared that a massive immigration bill was pending for a final vote.   To quell the uprising an amendment to strip the measure was passed.

But consider why such a tepid non-threating idea about the children of immigrants and the military was such a hot-button issue.

Democrats said the uproar demonstrated Republican lawmakers’ concerns that any votes that appear supportive of an immigration overhaul could become ammunition in primaries.

“They continue to be held hostage by their base,” said Rep. Steve Israel of New York, a member of House Democratic leadership. “They wake up every morning in fear of a primary, they go to bed every night in fear of a primary and they spend all their time on the floor in fear of a primary.”

And, of course, it is true.

Look at what was done to Senator Lugar, and threatened against Senator Graham along with a host of others who have this quaint notion that governing means sitting down with the other party and working out a deal on a variety of issues.

I have stated at times that if I were ever elected to office it would be a perfect one-term experience.  I would proceed to cast my votes and strike deals that made a difference for the state and nation.    If it struck voters as appropriate they could send me back for another term.  But there is no way I would play to the home crowd or the fringes of my own party so to just ‘stay in office.’

I do not go about my days living in fear that every action I take will lose friends or merit favorable attention.  I live life rather straight up and if folks like me at the end of the day that is great–if not that is fine, too.  That lesson is one every member of congress should try to learn.    I also come from the position that good policy makes for good politics, so if one is doing the nation’s business the voters will be there on election day to support a candidate.

If we had more members of congress who just went to work and did their job without thinking they needed to be the most loved one back home we all would be much better off as a nation.  The fact is congress is not loved, and what constitutes a productive day in congress is not anything most of us would recognize as such.  

So here is a thought for congress.  Stop looking over your shoulder for every incoming slur or attack as it is just a waste of time.  It does not make for healthy living, and certainly does not make for a productive congressional session.

B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, And Ray Charles And Others Make Magic Happen

May 15, 2015

In memory of B.B. King who made Beale Street light up the sky with the blues.

Jeb Bush Made The Ted Kennedy Mistake

May 14, 2015

As I watched the Jeb Bush train wreck take four days to play out this week I thought back to November 1979.

At about the same time the Iranian hostage crisis was starting to happen CBS newsman Roger Mudd sat down with Senator Ted Kennedy who was planning a race for the White House.  Mudd had a question that anyone with a day of experience in politics should have been able to expect and then answer.

“Why do you want to be president?”

The rambling and quite remarkably awful answer from a man I admired and always felt had the makings of presidential leadership left many stunned.  There was no one to blame other than Kennedy for the embarrassing performance.

Speed forward to this week’s awful attempts to answer a most basic question that was posed to potential GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush.  In short the question was how would you have acted regarding the invasion of Iraq, what would you have done?

There is no way in heck Bush did not know this would be one of the first questions he would have to deal with when running for the presidency.  With any level of political experience a person this many years removed from the war, along with the mood of the nation in relation to the decision to go to war, meant it would take a real effort to screw up the response.

But Bush did screw it up royally.

Not once.

Not twice.

Not three times.

If took Bush four days and four different times at bat to finally address the question and move the answer past his lips.

This whole event over the past days has been bizarre because we are not talking about a political novice who made the errors.

I am stunned because I think Bush is the most capable of the people running or planning to run for president from the Republican Party in 2016.   I am stunned too because I did not buy into the narrative from many who think Bush has not been on the political stage for so many years that he is out of practice and therefore will stumble and make mistakes.  I did not subscribe to that view and have stated he would ultimately become the GOP nominee.

I still hold to the nominee prediction but am re-thinking how tough the nomination fight might become.  Not only were his answers way off base but there seemed not be any safety net of advisors who could blunt the mistakes or quickly guide him to answering coherently in short fashion.   Instead Bush was left to flounder for four days, and it looked awful.

What played out this week was what one might expect from a novice.     All Bush can be thankful for today is that the primary contests are many months away.

Madison Police Perspective Important To Think About Too

May 13, 2015

There has been no shortage of conversations of all sorts regarding the police shooting in Madison of Tony Robinson.    The neighborhood where the matter happened has been ripe with all sorts of perspectives and opinions over the past months.  During the past two days it is almost impossible to not talk about the release of the report from the district attorney or not wonder if some portion of Williamson Street will be closed to traffic for a protest march.

But as I listen to those conversations I am noticing a severe lack of consideration for the way police must deal with calls to residences.  As has been well reported for many weeks Robinson was not in any way armed with a weapon.  But a police officer going into any residence with a most active situation underway has no way of knowing what weapons might be discovered.   In the case of Robinson the officer heard what he felt was an assault taking place, and therefore needed to act.

We need to be mindful when the populace can own every type of gun imaginable in any number they wish that a member of law enforcement must be prepared for the worst.  And when from any logical point of view there is a volatile situation occurring it is essential that law enforcement be prepared.   Forcing police officers to think in those terms is sadly the reality of the times we live in.

And the voters are in some part responsible for that being the case.

There are many ways to address matters of better schools and more jobs with better wages that can create healthier and safer communities.  But we also need to be aware there is another way to address problems that will help reduce crime and lessen the threats to police officers.  That comes with demanding the NRA be put in their place, gun control measures be adopted, and sanity brought to bear on the number of guns that are on the street.  It is time we truly consider what police have to always be aware of every time there is a call for their service.

Voters who do not push candidates for office to address too many guns being on our streets, or do not demand responsible gun control measures be passed in legislative bodies are, at the end of the day, needing to own their share of the reason we have dreadful events play out far too often in urban settings.

As I have stated many times it is very sad and troubling to see a young man die, such as with Robinson.  I recall the morning following his death was chilly but sunny and there was a hint of spring in the air.  As I walked around the neighborhood it struck me hard that this young man was also in the spring of his life.  There was no way not to feel the pain of the loss.

There are no easy answers to any of the complicated elements to the story surrounding Robinson.  They are all sad.  But it is not fair to leave out of so many conversations the fact that police are human like everyone else,  hurt like everyone else, and desire strong safe communities like everyone else.  That part of the dialogue has been missing these past weeks and it is most noticeable.   The very ones who often place themselves in harms way to protect us needs far more recognition than they have received.

And Then There Was Another One….

May 13, 2015

Sometime the cover of a book reaches out and says, “Open Me”!  The bright yellow cover and the quote on the spine were all it took…..the paper cover also was enticing.  It is a history of Victorian England as seen through the eight assassination attempts on the queen’s life, ranging from attacks by lone madmen to one of the first modern terrorist plots. Paul Thomas Murphy teaches interdisciplinary writing on Victorian topics at the University of Colorado and sits on the board of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States.

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