Willie Nelson’s new song, “Vote ’em Out!”

November 2, 2018

Willie Nelson and Beto O'Rourke (but not at the Austin concert, I think) Image: Rick Kern / WireImage

Willie Nelson and Beto O’Rourke (but not at the Austin concert, I think) Image: Rick Kern / WireImage

Willie says we should vote for Beto, to change things.

Willie: “Take it home with you, spread it around.” Willie Nelson’s live premiere of Vote ‘Em Out performed 9/29/18 at the rally for Beto O’Rourke.

Willie Nelson headlined a rally for Beto O’Rourke in Austin, Texas, that pulled in a crowd of 55,000 people. It’s the largest political rally ever held in Texas.

Republicans call it a mob. Your children and your friends were there.

Why should you bother to vote?

October 15, 2018

Candidates for U.S. Congress want you to find hope and reason to vote in 2018. Screen capture from the advertisement.

Candidates for U.S. Congress want you to find hope and reason to vote in 2018. Screen capture from the advertisement. Left to right, Mikie Sherill of New Jersey (probably), Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, film director Amy Rice, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, and Amy McGrath of Kentucky. Other candidates in the film, not in this picture, include M. J. Hegar of Texas, Gina Ortiz Jones of Texas, and

These people need you to vote, so they can change America for the better.

They’re all women? So what?

“Women Rising.”


International production company Park Pictures and award-winning feature film director Amy Rice showcases powerful motivational stories of female leaders running for Congress this November, in “Women Rising,” a call to vote by the Serve America PAC.

There are other great ads out there for these and other candidates; this one has been getting a lot of attention, and you can see why. Cosmopolitan describes the ad:

The theory that the 2016 election might inspire women to run for all levels of political office proved true within moments of the presidential inauguration, when hundreds of women signed up for seminars on running successful campaigns. Now, less than a month before the 2018 midterm elections on November 6, women hold a record number of spots on ballots across the country.

Among the women inspired to run are eight whose work for the country started years ago, just in another form. In a new campaign video, debuting exclusively on Cosmopolitan.com, eight women who served in the U.S. Navy, Marines Corps, Air Force, and CIA–Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria from Virginia, Chrissy Houlahan from Pennsylvania, Gina Ortiz Jones and MJ Hegar from Texas, Amy McGrath from Kentucky, Mikie Sherrill from New Jersey, and Elissa Slotkin from Michigan–speak about how their service inspired them to run for office this year.

To encourage usual non-voters to vote, please circulate this advertisement as well as you can on your own platforms.

Issues you haven’t heard discussed in the campaign, 1: Clinton, on fair taxes

November 3, 2016


Slide from the Motley Fool on Clinton’s tax plan; slide is from 2015, Clinton’s position isn’t changed much. She knows what needs to be done.

With an assist from Warren Buffet.

This is wholly purloined from the campaign website for Hillary Clinton (unless otherwise noted), just to try to get a little discussion going on the real issues of the campaign.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub may do an entire series on issues not yet discussed, less than a week before the vote. Consider it public service, in the spirit of Fillmore, who remained ever conversant in public affairs and anxious to take a role to push for policies to improve America, as he saw it — and who, supported by his wives, founded the White House Library, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and the University of Buffalo (now SUNY-Buffalo) to further knowledge.

It’s outrageous that multi-millionaires and billionaires are allowed to play by a different set of rules than hardworking families, especially when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes.

Hillary, January 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton believes that we need an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. But when it comes to taxes, too often the wealthiest and the largest corporations are playing by a different set of rules than hardworking families.

Hillary is committed to restoring basic fairness in our tax code and ensuring that the wealthiest Americans and large corporations pay their fair share, while providing tax relief to working families. That’s not only fair, it’s good for economic growth, because she will use the proceeds to create good-paying jobs here in America—and make bold investments that leave our economy more competitive over the long run.

As president, Hillary will:

  • Restore basic fairness to our tax code. Hillary will implement a “fair share surcharge” on multi-millionaires and billionaires and fight for measures like the Buffett Rule to ensure the wealthiest Americans do not pay a lower tax rate than hardworking middle-class families. She’ll close loopholes that create a private tax system for the most fortunate, and she’ll ensure multi-million-dollar estates are paying their fair share of taxes. Read the fact sheet
  • Close corporate and Wall Street tax loopholes and invest in America. Hillary will close tax loopholes like inversions that reward companies for shifting profits and jobs overseas. She will charge an “exit tax” for companies leaving the U.S. to settle up on their untaxed foreign earnings. She will close tax loopholes that let Wall Street money managers pay lower rates than some middle-class families. And she’ll reward businesses that invest in good-paying jobs here in the United States. Read the fact sheet
  • Simplify and cut taxes for small businesses so they can hire and grow. The smallest businesses, with one to five employees, spend 150 hours and $1,100 per employee on federal tax compliance. That’s more than 20 times higher than the average for far larger firms. We’ve got to fix that.
  • Provide tax relief to working families from the rising costs they face. For too many years, middle-class families have been squeezed by rising costs for everything from child care to health care to affording college. Hillary will offer relief from these rising costs, including tax relief for Americans facing excessive out-of-pocket health care costs and for those caring for an ill or elderly family member.
  • Pay for ambitious investments in a fiscally responsible way. Hillary believes that we can afford to pay for ambitious, progressive investments in good-paying jobs, debt-free college, and other measures to strengthen growth, broaden opportunity, and reduce inequality. Hillary will use the proceeds from ensuring the wealthiest and the largest corporations pay their fair share to pay for these investments without adding to the debt.

Read the fact sheet


What do you think? What do your numbers show?

More, not from Clinton’s campaign:

Janelle’s story, why she’s voting for Hillary Clinton

September 22, 2016

Just watch.

What do you think?

When a good woman like Hillary Clinton runs for president, doesn’t she deserve your support? She’s got the back of so many people, and works for millions more.

Clinton’s campaign biography:

Hillary Clinton has served as Secretary of State, Senator from New York, First Lady of the United States, First Lady of Arkansas, a practicing lawyer and law professor, activist, and volunteer, but the first things her friends and family will tell you is that she’s never forgotten where she came from or who she’s been fighting for throughout her life. Hillary was raised in a suburb of Illinois where she attended public school and was raised a Methodist by her parents. She attended Wellesley College, and went on to study law at Yale. After attending Yale Law School, she went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, going door to door in New Bedford, Massachusetts. After serving as a lawyer for the Congressional Committee investigating President Nixon, she moved to Arkansas where she taught law and ran legal clinics representing poor people. She co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, one of the state’s first child advocacy groups. As First Lady under President Bill Clinton, Hillary tenaciously led the fight to reform our health care system so that all our families have access to the care they need at affordable prices. Hillary led the U.S. delegation to Beijing to attend the UN Fourth World Conference on Women and gave a groundbreaking speech, declaring that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all”—inspiring women worldwide and helping to galvanize a global movement for women’s rights and opportunities. Hillary was then elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first woman senator from New York. She repeatedly worked across the aisle to get things done, including working alongside Republicans after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. When Congress wouldn’t do enough for rural areas and small towns, Hillary didn’t back down. She launched innovative partnerships with the tech industry and provided support to local colleges and small businesses. When President Obama asked Hillary to serve as his secretary of state, she answered the call to public service once again. She was a forceful champion for human rights, internet freedom, and rights and opportunities for women and girls, LGBT people and young people all around the globe. Now she’s running for President because everyday Americans need a champion and she wants to be that champion.

Texans! Last day to register to vote in March primary elections, February 1

February 1, 2016

Texas Democrats send me e-mail, trying to make democracy in America stronger, and work better, especially in Texas:


Today is the absolute LAST DAY to register to vote for the March 1 Presidential Primary.

If you or someone you know wants to vote for Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or Martin O’Malley in the Democratic Primary but they aren’t registered to vote yet, today is the last day to get registered.

Fill out your voter registration application online — then print it, sign it, and make sure to get it in the mail before the post office closes.


If you are already registered to vote, forward this email to any friends and family members that you think haven’t registered to vote. 

Let’s do this,

Crystal Perkins
Executive Director, Texas Democratic Party

Paid for by the Texas Democratic Party (www.txdemocrats.org)
and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

I do not know why Texas Republicans did not send me a similar e-mail. I’m on their lists, too.

Excluding run-off elections where no candidate received 50%+1 in the primary, here is Texas’s election calendar for 2016, from the Texas Secretary of State:

Last Day to Register to Vote Monday, February 1, 2016
First Day of Early Voting Tuesday, February 16, 2016*
*First business day after Presidents’ Day
Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail
(Received, not Postmarked)
Friday, February 19, 2016
(NEW LAW: 11th day before election day; Application for Ballot By Mail (ABBM) and Federal Postcard Application (FPCA))
Last Day of Early Voting Friday, February 26, 2016
Last day to Receive Ballot by Mail Tuesday, March 1, 2016 (election day) at 7:00 p.m. (unless overseas deadline applies)

Democratic socialism’s darkest secret: More democracy than socialism

January 26, 2016

Fans of irony will find interesting this depiction of the of the greatest achievements in history of democratic socialism: The U.S. National Defense Highway System, better known as the Interstate Highway System.  Irony is that it is a key driver of the U.S. economy and has made possible great economic expansion that enriches capitalists greatly.

Fans of irony will find interesting this depiction of one of the greatest achievements in history of democratic socialism: The U.S. National Defense Highway System, better known as the Interstate Highway System. Irony is that it is a key driver of the U.S. economy and has made possible great economic expansion that enriches capitalists greatly. From the Online Atlas.

Stunning how some people will say Bernie Sanders makes sense in one breath, then when hearing he calls himself a socialist, claim Bernie is nuts and a threat to America.

Sanders’s supporters fight back, some. The phenomenon I describe is strongest among self-proclaimed extreme conservatives, and so is not such a huge issue in the primaries as it would be in the general election, if it is an issue at all.  A wise political strategist would not wait to confront the issue. It’s not an argument that can be answered with a bumper sticker.

Right wing publications take great pains to link any use of the word “socialism” with the now-repulsive violence of the Bolshevik Revolution and the autocratic nightmares of bureaucracy under the old Soviet-style government system, that even the Soviets abandoned. Right wingers don’t even pause to avoid saying socialism cares for people over corporations, in their blind striking out to smear anyone brave enough to take on the name.

We shouldn’t be surprised if Democrats generally defend the philosophy of democratic socialism from such demonizing.

This Tweet from one of Bernie’s guys offers to define democratic socialism rather as mother’s milk, apple pie and saluting the flag.

Is it correct? Does it persuade you?

The poster says*:

Democratic Socialism

Of the People, By the People, For the People

A political ideology which balances a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy with social ownership fo the means of production, free-market capitalism in the form of business receiving reasonable profits for goods and services while at the same time providing fair compensation to labor with a shared responsibility for civil societal needs such, but not limited to, emergency services, military, publicly-owned utilities and services, and infrastructure in the form of maintenance and management of public roadways, providing water and waste-water treatment, public parks and recreation, resource management and wildlife conservation, public ports, airports, rail lines and interstates, and in providing programs within a publicly elected representatives state and federal government.

Were I advising the Sanders campaign, I’d advise that the language in that statement be made much more reader friendly, and formatted to aid reading. But in the main, it doesn’t differ much from the Wikipedia definition.  See if you can find any critical differences:

Democratic socialism is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy with social ownership of the means of production. Although sometimes used synonymously with “socialism”, the adjective “democratic” is often added to distinguish itself from Leninist and Stalinist brand of socialism, which is widely viewed as being non-democratic. In all, democratic socialists don’t support single-party system and centralism.[1]

Democratic socialism is usually distinguished from both the Soviet model of centralized socialism and social democracy, where “social democracy” refers to support for political democracy, regulation of the capitalist economy, and a welfare state.[2] The distinction with the former is made on the basis of the authoritarian form of government and centralized economic system that emerged in the Soviet Union during the 20th century,[3] while the distinction with the latter is made in that democratic socialism is committed to systemic transformation of the economy while social democracy is not.[4] That is, whereas social democrats seek only to “humanize” capitalism through state intervention, democratic socialists see capitalism as being inherently incompatible with the democratic values of freedom, equality, and solidarity; and believe that the issues inherent to capitalism can only be solved by superseding private ownership with some form of social ownership. Ultimately democratic socialists believe that reforms aimed at addressing the economic contradictions of capitalism will only cause more problems to emerge elsewhere in the economy, so that capitalism can never be sufficiently “humanized” and must ultimately be replaced by socialism.[5][6]

Democratic socialism is not specifically revolutionary or reformist, as many types of democratic socialism can fall into either category, with some forms overlapping with social democracy.[7] Some forms of democratic socialism accept social democratic reformism to gradually convert the capitalist economy to a socialist one using the pre-existing political democracy, while other forms are revolutionary in their political orientation and advocate for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the capitalist economy.[8]

Few people want to debate what “democratic socialism” really means, chiefly because socialism is such a loaded word and concept. There are two camps, one which wants people to rationally look at cooperative activities of the world’s great democratic republics and smile at their virtues, and continue them, the Bernie Sanders camp. The other camp holds strictly to the philosophy expressed in Friedrich von Hayek’s cartoon of socialism in The Road To Serfdom**, which indicts authoritarianism, and makes an unevidenced claim that any move towards socialism inherently leads to dictatorship.

We should give Sanders and his supporters credit for trying to open discussion. But we should be ready with first aid kits when they discover it’s not an open door to discussion with conservatives, but a tempered glass window posing as a door — and administer to their contusions as they smash into it.

If you find a tempered discussion of modern democratic socialism anywhere, will you let us know?

In comments, let us know what you think even if you don’t find the perfect, tempered discussion.

Matt Wuerker's classic cartoon from the 2008 campaign, when Barack Obama was accused of socialism for proposing to increase health care coverage. Perhaps ironically, Obama's plan ended up with powerful capitalist institutions entrenched in it. Critics of socialism sill haven't noticed.

Matt Wuerker’s classic cartoon from the 2009 campaign for the Affordable Care Act, when Barack Obama was accused of socialism for proposing to increase health care coverage. Perhaps ironically, Obama’s plan ended up with powerful capitalist institutions entrenched in it. Critics of socialism sill haven’t noticed.



* I list the text here to aid in indexing for search sites.

** Link is to the version at the Mises Institute, which is generally a biased source; in this case, their biases help to make sure the cartoon version presented is faithful to Hayek’s original; otherwise, discussion there on “democratic socialism” is probably fruitless.

Early voting opens in Texas: Polling place shenanigans?

October 20, 2014

If you are confronted with voting irregularities at your polling station in Texas, call 1-844-TXVOTES (1-844-898-6837)

If you are confronted with voting irregularities at your polling station in Texas, call 1-844-TXVOTES (1-844-898-6837)

A friendly reminder from BattleGround Texas:  If you experience voting irregularities at your polling station in Texas, call 1-844-TXVOTES (1-844-898-6837).

Vote early!

Romney’s record on improving employment, holding taxes down

June 16, 2012

George Santayana warned people “who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Don’t forget this history.  Forward to those you care about.

President Obama’s campaign film, “The Road We’ve Traveled”

April 1, 2012

Some encouragement for those who follow Santayana’s Ghost, and recall history; some information to change the minds of those who don’t:

Will any Republican stand up for America?

August 12, 2011

Ezra Klein’s on-line column this morning worries me more — will any Republican stand up for America?

No, I don’t mean  lip service, I don’t mean flag lapel pins.  I mean, will any Republican stand up for the policies we need to steer through the shoals of economic woe we face in the next 60 months?

At Wonkbook Klein said:

The most telling moment of Thursday’s GOP debate wasn’t when Michele Bachmann cooly stuck a knife between Tim Pawlenty’s ribs, or when Rick Santorum plaintively begged for more airtime, or when Mitt Romney easily slipped past questions about his record on health-care reform. It was when every single GOP candidate on the stage agreed that they would reject a budget deal that was $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. Even Fox News’s Bret Baier couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. He asked again just to make sure the assembled candidates had understood the question.

Primary debates are usually watched for what they say about the candidates, but they’re generally important for what they say about the party. This one was no different. With the notable exceptions of Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, the candidates didn’t disagree over policy. They disagreed over fealty to policy.

Bachmann didn’t attack Pawlenty’s policy proposals. She attacked him for past statements suggesting he might believe in other policy proposals, like the individual mandate and cap-and-trade. Pawlenty’s assault on Romney took the same form. This debate wasn’t about what policies the candidates believed in. That was largely a given. This debate was about which of the candidates believed in those policies the most.

The best policy in this debate wasn’t the policy most likely to work, or the policy most likely to pass. It was the most orthodox policy. The policy least sullied by compromise. A world in which the GOP will not agree to deficit reduction with a 10:1 split between spending cuts and tax increases is a world where entitlement reform can’t happen. It’s a world where the “supercommittee” fails and the trigger is pulled, and thus a world in which $1 out of every $2 in cuts comes from the Pentagon. It’s not a world that fits what many in the GOP consider ideal policy. But it is a world in which none in the GOP need to traverse the treacherous politics of compromise.

Policies discussed weren’t mainline, capitalist economic policies, either.  They’re so far out in left field they can’t even see the pitcher’s mound from where they are.  Plus, they’re looking the wrong way.

Over and over again, [Michelle] Bachmann misstated basic facts. She said that Tim Pawlenty “implemented” cap-and-trade in Minnesota. He did no such thing. She said “we just heard from Standard Poor’s,” and “when they dropped our credit rating what they said was we don’t have an ability to repay our debt.” Simply not true.

S&P has never questioned our ability to repay our debt. That’s why we remain AA+. They have questioned whether political brinksmanship will stop us from paying our debt. The downgrade “was pretty much motivated by all of the debate about the raising of the debt ceiling,” said John Chambers, head of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee. That is to say, it was motivated by political brinksmanship from the likes of, well, Michele Bachmann.

It’s fitting that the candidate best able to resist compromise is the candidate who seems least able to correctly explain the policies at issue and the choices we face. It’s a lot easier to take a hard line if you don’t understand the consequences of your actions, and a lot simpler to belt out applause lines if you’re not slowed down by the messy complexities of the issues. But where Bachmann is leading, the other candidates are following. Mitt Romney knows perfectly well that a deal with $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases is a great deal for conservatives. What he probably doesn’t know is how he’s going to explain why he pretended otherwise when he was vying for the nomination.

Winners in the debate?  Unclear.  Losers?  You, me, and every American.

Can any Republican explain where in the world they got these nightmare economic policies?  Are they being made up on the spot?

Republican proposal: Double the deficits!

October 22, 2010

What’s worse that “double or nothing?”

Republican tax-cut proposals would double our deficits, some conservative sources report.

Robert Schesinger, in U.S. News and World Report:

In fact the GOP’s deficit-detonating tax-cut proposals make the Democrats with their spending look like pikers. The stimulus bill, remember, cost $787 billion. The tax-cut bill that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled last week—a combination of making permanent the Bush tax cuts and throwing in a host of other tax credits—has a price tag of around $3.9 trillion. For those keeping score at home, the self-styled party of fiscal responsibility wants to blow a hole in the budget nearly five times larger than the alleged profligacy they have spent the last year or more condemning.

Who is listening to the facts anymore?

Crib notes

February 10, 2010

Frank Cornish has some thoughts about the issue:

Sarah Palin's notes at the Tea Party convention

Photo from The Guardian

If she [Sarah Palin] wants to be president, fine, it’s a Republic not a monarchy and anyone who wants to throw his or her hat in the ring is welcome to do so.  They just need to raise money, get the supporters, convince the base of her party that if they nominate her then she will be able to push Obama out of the White House on a wave of popular support.  But then, once she is in office she will actually need to do something constructive for the country.  She will need to negotiate, and she will need to know what she is doing and what she is saying and she won’t be able to prepare for the negotiation session by putting a few phrases on her palm to remember  that “Cutting taxes good.”

The President will not be able to sit at a table in Geneva, or a summit in Rejkjavik with the leader of a Muslim nation with crib notes that say “Islam is Terrorism.”  The President will  not be able to sit with the Secretary of Education and say “We need to teach more Bible in Science Class because” (reading palm) “Genesis is the literal word of God.”

Santayana’s Ghost shifts uneasily.

Scientist steps in to try to save the day

July 19, 2009

On the one hand, you hope he’s got a good copy of the original cast recording of “Man of La Mancha,” with the late Richard Kiley singing the importance of dreaming the impossible dream.  On the other hand, you hope it’s not an impossible situation at all.

Mathematics Professor Lorenzo Sadun declared his candidacy for the Texas State Board of Education seat representing District 10. He’ll be running against incumbent Cynthia Dunbar in a district that has a history of electing people with little or no education background and a commitment to scorched Earth conservative policies — if Dunbar chooses to run again.  Dunbar has not announced her intentions.

Sadun is professor of mathematics at the University of Texas, in Austin.

Mathematics Prof. Lorenzo Sadun, University of Texas - Daily Texan photo by Mike Paschal

Mathematics Prof. Lorenzo Sadun, University of Texas - Daily Texan photo by Mike Paschal

In the 2006 election, there was no Democratic nominee. Dunbar ran against a Libertarian and won approximately 70 percent of the vote. The 2010 primary election is scheduled for March, and Sadun declared last week that he will seek the Democratic nomination.

The Place 10 seat-holder may become very influential. With the board almost evenly split, a negative or positive vote can greatly affect educational policy and standards.

If Sadun is elected, he will be the only scientist on the board. He said that even though he may encounter opposition from members of the board, he will find a common ground with his colleagues and will pursue agreement without sacrificing the quality of education for Texas students.

“Despite my taking a fairly hard line, I am a conciliator,” Sadun said. “I have not met a person who knew so much I couldn’t teach them something, and I’ve never met someone who knew so little that they couldn’t teach me something.”

District 10 includes 14 counties surrounding Travis County to the east of the county, and the northern part of Travis County.  Travis, home to the Texas state capital Austin and one of Texas’s five supercounties, was split in education board districts to limit the influence of its  highly-educated, more liberal voter population.

District 10, Texas State Board of Education

District 10, Texas State Board of Education

Burnt Orange Report wrote that Dunbar will face opposition if she chooses to run again.

Events in District 10 offer a sign of hope that the era ended when apathy from candidates and voters allowe anti-public education forces to dominate the Texas State Board of Education.  And if Sadun were to win, it would be the first time a working scientist was elected to SBOE.

Who knows?  Sadun could succeed — but if he wins a seat on the SBOE, it’s not likely he’d sing that other song Richard Kiley made famous, “Stranger in Paradise.”  He’s no stranger to quality education, and SBOE isn’t paradise.

Alaskans protest Palin

September 16, 2008

It takes guts, but some Alaskans are protesting their governor’s campaign.  They plan to use their First Amendment Rights while they can.

Description here, at the venerable Mudflats blog.  Is it true that this protest against Palin was the largest political rally in Alaska, ever?

Photos of some truly original protest signs here, at Mamadance.

Governors with broad foreign policy experience? Here’s a short list, Sen. Hutchison

September 14, 2008

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, joined a panel on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this morning, discussing the qualifications to be vice president of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

She said, “Four of the last presidents have been governors, and they have come in, every one of them, without an in-depth foreign policy experience.”  Hutchison suggested that Palin reads the newspapers and knows as much as the average governor about foreign policy, but doesn’t need significant knowledge in foreign affairs.

Hutchison challenged:  “Name one governor who has become president who has had in-depth foreign policy experience.”

It pains me when public officials demonstrate such a vast lack of knowledge about American history.  Because you’re from Texas, Sen. Hutchison, let me give you the facts, so you can avoid gaffes in the future.

1.  Thomas Jefferson, former governor of Virginia, assumed the presidency after having served as the American Ambassador to France, after extensive travels through Europe specifically to study government and foreign affairs, and after having served as both Secretary of State to George Washington, and vice president to John Adams.  If we ignore Jefferson’s service after his governorship, we would note that he read fluently in both Greek and Latin before he was 20, and had read extensively of the histories of Rome, Greece, France, Britain and the rest of Europe.  By the time he assumed the presidency he had added fluent French, passing Italian, and Hebrew to his catalog of languages.

Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican (the first of that party), the party that is today known as the Democratic Party.  Perhaps Sen. Hutchison is party blind.

2.  Theodore Roosevelt — you remember him, the guy with the glasses on Mt. Rushmore? — came to the vice presidency in 1901 from being governor of New York.  Prior to that he had been Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Navy, a post from which he wrote the book on naval power in the new age, for foreign affairs.  When the Spanish American War broke out, Roosevelt thought his desk job as head of the Navy too tame, so he created an elite corps of cavalrymen, recruiting almost equally from his old cowboy friends in the Dakotas and his Harvard friends, and insisted on service in the front lines.  His 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, the “Rough Riders” were deployed to Cuba.  Coming under fire, they stormed San Juan Hill and pushed better-trained, veteran Spanish troops off, thereby winning the battle (Roosevelt was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for this action, though many years after his death).  Among the more interesting facts:  Their horses had not made it to Cuba; Roosevelt led the charge on foot.  He always was impatient.

Roosevelt’s experience came in handy.  He was the guy who pushed the Japanese and Russians to a peace treaty, ending the Russo-Japanese War, in 1906.  Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Prize in Peace for this work (he’s the only person ever to have won the Congressional Medal of Honor and been president, and the only Congressional Medal of Honor winner to win a Nobel Prize, and vice versa.  If we’re making a case that one doesn’t need foreign affairs experience to be vice president, for fairness, we should consider that vice president’s with foreign affairs experience provide great advantages to the nation, and have advanced the cause of peace, and readiness.

New York City, the major city in New York, was in 1900 one of the world’s greatest cities, a major trading center, and one of America’s largest ports (Roosevelt had been police commissioner there, earlier).  The population of the city alone was 3,437,202.  The population of the entire state was 7,268,894.  Alaska’s population today is about 670,000

3.  Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at the White House after four years as governor of New York. Like his cousin before him, Roosevelt had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, during a period of frequent intervention in Central America and Caribbean nations.  It is reputed that FDR wrote the constitution imposed on Haiti in 1915.  In his Navy post, Roosevelt visited England and France, and made the acquaintance of Winston Churchill.  Roosevelt played a key role in the establishment of the Navy Reserve, and fought to keep the Navy from decommissioning after the end of World War I.  FDR came from a privileged family.  They made frequent trips to Europe, and by the time he was 18 FDR was conversant in both French and German.  A philatelist, his knowledge of the world’s business and trade was rather legendary.

4.  Jimmy Carter graduated high in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy, where the required curriculum includes extensive instruction in foreign affairs.  He was chosen by Adm. Hyman Rickover for the elite nuclear submarine corps.  As Georgia’s governor, Carter was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-governmental group whose intention is to create knowledge about foreign relations in the U.S. in order to aid in defense and trade, and the Trilateral Commission, a group founded on the idea that trade between the U.S., Japan and Europe can be a basis for improving international relations and trade.

5. Bill Clinton graduated from Georgetown University with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS), from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.  Phi Beta Kappa, he won a Rhodes Scholarship, designed to pick from the next generation of great leaders, and got a degree in government in his studies at University College, Oxford.  He also traveled Europe during that time.

Hutchison’s point may apply to two Republican governors who won the White House, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.  They brought other gifts, but their lack of foreign policy experience nearly led to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union in Reagan’s first term, and Bush’s lack of foreign policy knowledge probably led to the unfortunate invasion of Iraq, which has led our nation too close to the brink of national calamity.

And for good measure, let’s list this guy at #6:  Bill Richardson, the current governor of New Mexico, has a sound reputation in international relations, as a former Secretary of Energy, and former U.S. Ambassodor to the United Nations.  Among other things, Richardson talked the North Koreans into shutting down their nuclear bomb plans and operations in 1994.  When the Bush administration squirreled that deal, it was Bill Richardson again who stepped in (at the request of the North Koreans — they trust him), and got them to agree to back off the most recent bomb plans and development.  “Richardson has been recognized for negotiating the release of hostages, American servicemen, and political prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba.”  In 14 years as a congressman representing New Mexico, Richardson “visited Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sudan to represent U.S. interests.”  He previously staffed the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate, and worked for Henry Kissinger’s State Department in the Nixon Administration.

Contrary to Hutchison’s claim, of the four “recent” governors to gain the White House, two (both Democrats) had foreign relations education or experience far beyond that of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, and at least three other governors brought extensive foreign relations experience with them; one other has foreign relations experience a Secretary of State might envy.

Those are the facts.

Sen. Hutchison:  Can you earmark about $200,000 for education in foreign affairs for Dallas high schools?  Perhaps you can see, now, that experience and education in foreign affairs is useful for high office.  My students will be seeking those offices sooner than we may expect.

I wouldn’t want them wandering the world thinking lack of knowledge about foreign affairs is a good thing.

Update:  Calvin Coolidge was governor of Massachusetts before being elected to the vice presidency on a ticket with Warren G. Harding.  Coolidge’s foreign relations experience could be said to be lacking.  However, Coolidge’s experience as a mayor and governor differed greatly from Palin’s:

[From Wikipedia’s entry on Coolidge] Instead of vying for another term in the state house, Coolidge returned home to his growing family and ran for mayor of Northampton when the incumbent Democrat retired. He was well-liked in the town, and defeated his challenger by a vote of 1,597 to 1,409.[29] During his first term (1910 to 1911), he increased teachers’ salaries and retired some of the city’s debt while still managing to effect a slight tax decrease.[30] He was renominated in 1911, and defeated the same opponent by a slightly larger margin.[31]

And, later:

Coolidge was unopposed for the Republican nomination for Governor of Massachusetts in 1918. He and his running mate, Channing Cox, a Boston lawyer and Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, ran on the previous administration’s record: fiscal conservatism, a vague opposition to Prohibition, support for women’s suffrage, and support for American involvement in the First World War.[49] The issue of the war proved divisive, especially among Irish– and German-Americans.[50] Coolidge was elected by a margin of 16,773 votes over his opponent, Richard H. Long, in the smallest margin of victory of any of his state-wide campaigns.[51]

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By the time Coolidge was inaugurated on January 1, 1919 the First World War had ended, and Coolidge pushed the legislature to give a $100 bonus to Massachusetts veterans. He also signed a bill reducing the work week for women and children from fifty-four hours to forty-eight, saying “we must humanize the industry, or the system will break down.”[65] He signed into law a budget that kept the tax rates the same, while trimming four million dollars from expenditures, thus allowing the state to retire some of its debt.[66]

Update:  Lisa has a series of interesting posts on presidents and their executive experience, at As If You Care.

“I-have-gall” (not “I got Gaul”) update:  Some clown actually compared Palin to Roosevelt in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, according to Snopes.comSnopes’s response was much kinder, and less flattering to Roosevelt, than I would have been.  WSJ left off the San Juan Hill episode, the Medal of Honor, and the Nobel Peace Prize (though he won that for his actions as president).

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