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Judicial Trivia

April 10, 2015

I am reading Marcia Coyle’s The Roberts Court and came across this tidbit.

The Solicitor General is the only federal official with an office in both the judicial and the executive branches of government.

Book You Need To Know About–The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

April 10, 2015

Chris Matthews interviewed Kate Anderson Brower on Hardball yesterday and simply put there is no way to not be super excited about a new book regarding an inside look at the White House as told from the view of the staff.  Brower spent four years covering the Obama White House for Bloomberg News and is a former CBS News staffer.    Her book, The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House seems the perfect way to start spring reading in your favorite sunny spot.  If you love history, presidential politics, and also a dose of inside tidbits this book is just for you–and me!

In the voices of the residence workers themselves—sometimes wry, often affectionate, always gracious and proud—here are stories of

  • The Kennedys—from intimate glimpses of their marriage to the chaotic days after JFK’s assassination
  • The Johnsons—featuring the bizarre saga of LBJ’s obsession with the White House plumbing
  • The Nixons—including Richard Nixon’s unexpected appearance in the White House kitchen the morning he resigned
  • The Reagans—from a fire that endangered Ronald Reagan late in his second term to Nancy’s control of details large and small
  • The Clintons—whose private battles, marked by shouting matches and flying objects, unsettled residence workers
  • The Obamas—who danced to Mary J. Blige on their first night in the White House

One of my favorite historians gave fantastic praise to the book.

“Kate Andersen Brower’s The Residence is one of those rare books that is both elegant portraiture and highly readable, important White House history. The anecdotes are fresh and the analysis cogent. The stories about Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama are irresistible. Highly recommended!” — Douglas Brinkley, editor of The Reagan Diaries.

WMTV’s John Stofflet To Interview President Obama

April 10, 2015

This is the type of news that makes anyone who ever worked in broadcasting smile and just be very pleased.

On Facebook WMTV’s John Stofflet posted the following.

“The White House is on the phone”. That’s what they told me last night after the 6 pm news. I thought they were kidding…but it was indeed the White House. I have been invited to interview President Barack Obama at The White House next week for NBC 15 News.  I have never interviewed a sitting President. I am quite honored to have been chosen.

This is one of those moments in a broadcasting career that makes one take note that all the hard work over the years has been for a reason.  All the early mornings and late nights and dealing with management all pale in light of the fact that a presidential interview is soon to happen.

Stofflet has been one of the solid anchors and reporters that Madison has been able to turn to for news and so it seems natural for him to be selected to sit down in the White House and display his journalistic skills.

I think it fair to say that everyone who worked in broadcasting (and that includes me) or ever dreamed of being in the profession will be with Stofflet in spirit as he travels to Washington.  We certainly all will be watching his interview and congratulating him on his return.

Well done, John Stofflet on getting this amazing reporting assignment!

More Evidence GOP Needs To Address Hispanic/Latino Concerns

April 9, 2015

How much more will it take for Republicans to smell the coffee?

“In the new MSNBC/Telemundo poll, which contained a Latino oversample, Democrats enjoy a 31-point advantage in party ID among Latinos, 47%-16%, with 36% identifying themselves as independents. That’s compared with Democrats having 7-point advantage among all voters in the poll. But get this: Political ideology among Latinos is almost identical to all voters… In other words, there are plenty of conservative Latinos. They’re just not willing to identify themselves as Republicans.”

Bob Schieffer To Retire From “Face the Nation” This Summer

April 8, 2015

For every time there is a season.

I knew the retirement of Bob Schieffer was approaching and yet wish it were not true.  He remains my type of reporter and journalist from the old school where knowing how to write a tight informative lead sentence matters when telling a story.  He remains balanced and grounded in getting a solid grip on the fundamentals of a story.  Schieffer also know how to dig and question so to better understand where the story is heading tomorrow.

It may sound strange but every Saturday night for well over a decade I make sure that my ‘Sunday coffee mug’ is clean and ready for a hot beverage come the next morning.  The mug is the official “Face The Nation” one with the logo that was used for years on the famed CBS show and placed in front of those being interviewed by Bob Schieffer.  A great friend sent the mug to me while he visited New York, and the use of it every Sunday morning is now just a long running tradition.  The mug is really symbolic for the deep respect I have for the man who anchors the Sunday broadcast.

Bob Schieffer remains one of those rock solid reporters who I have turned to in times of national upheaval for an honest dose of news.  During election seasons he always demonstrated a long running love of the political process.  He is gifted with political analysis that makes the younger faces around him seen so….well…average.  He has a keen sense for blending his professional journalistic skills with a dose of humanity, and a touch of humor, to make his time on-air well worth my time.  It has been that way for decades.

He never has let me down.

That may be the finest words one can give to a reporter like Bob Schieffer.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson Standing Up For Her Constitutional Rights

April 8, 2015

I very much respect and honor those who stand up for their rights.

Be it union workers, gay couples, or women seeking equal pay I admire the ones who take a stand, draw a line, and fight for their rights.

So when I read the email alert that came my way on Wednesday afternoon regarding the legal fight Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson plans to wage against the partisan attack aimed at her I did several fist pumps from my office chair.   The old adage of never mess with smart people came to mind as I read this story.

Abrahamson argued in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Madison that the change should not be applied until after her current term ends in 2019. She argues that the law should remain as it was in 2009 when she ran for re-election for the duration of her 10-year term.

To have the selection process change immediately would shorten the term of office to which Abrahamson was elected, she argued, and would therefore violate her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection rights.

While it is no secret that I have strongly supported Abrahamson over the years it is also well known by those who stop regularly to read this blog that my feet are cemented to a process of how government needs to work and operate.  Without a well defined process that is adhered to citizens will not have faith or trust in those who serve them.

I posted earlier this week the placement of the amendment on the spring ballot to change how a chief justice is selected was a partisan move by Republicans who have differences with Abrahamson.  I stated that such a move works to undo the will of the people who when last electing her for a fourth term did so as they wanted to see her continue to serve as chief justice.     The amendment strikes at the very heart of the process where the voters are able to elect the ones they wish to serve them.  As a citizen and voter who cast my ballot at the time Abrahamson was seeking re-election I feel my rights are now being undermined by this amendment.

I think a large segment of the state who have thought about this matter in a logical way as opposed to being swayed by radio ads on conservative talk shows understand that since 1889 Wisconsin’s constitution has worked rather well when providing that “the justice having been longest a continuing member of the court” serves as chief justice.  To undermine that sensible and time-honored way of selecting our chief justice all for the sake of partisanship makes many feel very uncomfortable.

So there is much to applaud when the 81-year-old chief justice goes to federal court the day after the amendment passes in the spring election and says in essence ‘Hell, no!’.

Too often over the past few years the people of Wisconsin have been forced to endure a whole lots of political shenanigans.  Those who work hard, pay the taxes, and play by the rules have watched as partisan hacks maneuver, plot, and scheme to make points on their political score cards.  So it is mighty refreshing to see Chief Justice Abrahamson stand up and use the law to stop yet another over-step by the GOP.

You fight hard Shirley Abrahamson and as you do know there are many in this state who support you all the way!

UW-Madison Historian Stanley Kutler Was Indispensable Part Of Richard Nixon Story

April 8, 2015

Had it not been for the tireless work of UW-Madison historian Stanley Kutler one of the truly great political stories in this nation would have been less understood.  In addition, I would not have experienced the many hours of recorded drama that unfolded from inside the White House of President Richard Nixon.   As a Nixon history buff I can state most clearly that Kutler is an indispensable man when it comes to the story of the 37th president of the United States.

Stanley Kutler died on Tuesday.

It was due to the lengthy legal battles that Kutler waged for the public release of the tapes that makes him a national name.  Those efforts allowed us to be better understand more about the role Watergate played within the White House and how Nixon was deeply involved.    There is no way not to sit back and just be thrilled from hearing conversations between Nixon and Billy Graham, Henry Kissinger, H.R. Haldeman, and others from a list that is seemingly endless.  Each conversation reveals the mood and mindset of a working president.

But even after the tapes were released Kutler kept working and seeking out more material to have made public so to better illuminate the Nixon Watergate era.

Kutler was instrumental in 2011 for allowing us to know what questions were posed to Nixon in June 1975 as part of a grand jury investigation, and the way the former president responded.  The sessions took place near Nixon’s California home for 11 hours over two days.  Though a pardon had been granted by President Ford, something which I agreed with, Nixon still risked consequences for perjury if he lied under oath.

What makes this all the more intense of course is this was the first time an ex-president had testified before a grand jury, and as readers know it is rare for any grand jury testimony to be made public. As a result however of a court proceeding from Kutler’s relentless search for the truth, twenty-six folders of grand jury material are online and available at the archives in College Park,  Maryland.

One can go on and on about the historic and immensely interesting documents and tapes that Kutler worked to make public.    The problem is how does one ever say thanks for the devotion and time expended by a man who loved history in a way that few do?  Perhaps by reading and devouring the treasure trove of documents and loving history as he did.

I would have loved to have met Kutler and had coffee with him and just listened to the tales about the legal battles over the tapes.  The same legal battles that forced Nixon to keep writing books to pay his own legal challenges after leaving the White House.  I think in the end it was a win-win for all involved as Nixon did have some sage advice to offer about foreign policy.

One can imagine the conversations Nixon and Kutler might have up in the clouds when they meet.  Chances are Kutler will be first to get Nixon to admit to what happened to the missing 18 minutes on the tapes.  And something tells me Rose Woods being  twisted around at her desk will not be the answer.

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