Friday, March 13, 2015

Vice-Precedence Podcast Episode 3 – Aaron Burr

This episode, Matt Saxe and Jason Klamm talk about the subject of their upcoming graphic novel, the misunderstood and fascinating Aaron Burr.  They also discuss the musical "Hamilton."


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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Episode 3 - Garret Hobart and Thomas Marshall

This month, Matt Saxe and Jason Klamm bring back the Vice-Precedence podcast talking about two VPs with narrow misses to the Presidency, and who also made brief appearances in Ken Burns' "The Roosevelts."

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Friday, September 19, 2014

New Vice-Precedence Podcasts Coming Soon

To all of our loyal and patient fans, a quick thank you.  Since we started Vice-Precedence as a blog back in 2009, we've changed platforms a few times, and obviously started a really fun VP podcast.  Since it remains the only such podcast, we really owe it to the subject matter to get going o ...

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We're Back! More Hubert Humphrey from Vice-Precedence.

Its been a long time since I've posted a blog, so forgive me for neglecting this and if this post is a little rusty. I admit, the blog hasn't been updated in quite say the least.

At the same time, I encourage you to check out the Vice-Precedence Facebook page, where we always post the latest breaking VP news in politics and culture and the links to check them out. Also, we've "Liked" every VP that's on Facebook (thanks to Wikipedia) so you can see for yourself who the heck Garrett Hobart is when we mention him. We're trying to get up to 300 Members/Fans there, so if you haven't joined yet, please do and encourage others to do so as well. We really appreciate your support.

I want to take this time to thank our newest fans on Facebook. Its thanks to one of them, Deanie Mills, that I am writing this blog.

On May 27th it was what would have been the 100th birthday for former VP Hubert Humphrey. There were articles in the local paper here in MN, but for the most part, as Deanie pointed out in a post on her Facebook page, it was ignored. Of course I was the first to reply to her and point out that we here at Vice-Precedence had not forgotten the centennial of the birth of "The Happy Warrior", and provided links to our FB page, my post on Humphreys 99th birthday the year before, and some of Humphreys most famous quotes. The response was amazing. People told stories about Humphrey and posted all sorts of quotes such as the following:

"I worked for Hubert Humphrey in Washington during his last term as the junior senator from Minnesota. He was a complex, engaging, thoughtful man. I knew him when he was the physically hale and hearty Humphrey most people remember (if they remember him at all), and I knew him in the last months of his life, after chemotherapy had reduced his body to a shell of its former self. His kindness and his concern for others never wavered."-Nancy Arvay

"I can think of three occasions where the electorate chose the wrong guy, and before that Presidents term was up it was clear to everyone but the biggest of fools that they'd screwed up: Bush v Gore, Bush v Kerry, and Humphrey v Nixon."-Ronald E. Carson

"What a great post!"-Dana Mahoutchian

"Very nice Matthew!"-Ronald E. Carson

At the same time over on HuffingtonPost, this was posted by Professor Joel K. Goldstein the Vincent C. Immel Professor of Law at the Saint Louis University School of Law. Titled "The Legacy of a Liberal" it too got quite a bit of attention for a post about a former VP who had passed away over 30 years before. My replies to people here defending Humphreys legacy and at the same time calling out 60's liberals led to some spirited comments and debate by both conservatives and liberals of all ages. When I first posted my comment there I had just recently joined HuffPo and hadn't posted much, so I didn't have any Fans there. But with these comments in just one day I had 24 Fans, one posting enthusiastically:

"Right on, mrmattrs!...Fanned."

So thats pretty cool. All this encouraged me to post a blog here and to watch something I have saved on my Tivo for awhile, the documentary "Hubert H. Humphrey: The Art of the Possible". Its a very good documentary with some prominent talking heads (President Carter, Bill Moyers, etc.) amazing archival footage-(see LBJ in nothing but shorts and sunglasses talking with Humphrey in a shirt and tie), and Humphrey commenting on his life growing up in rural South Dakota, to his meteoric rise in Minnesota politics from teacher to Mayor of Minneapolis (at age 33!) and Senator (at 37!) and his long career in public service in his own words as well.

The doc does a great job of showing how difficult and complicated it was for Humphrey to get the Civil Rights Act thru the Senate against massive filibuster and blocking techniques of the racists of the South in his own party and "you can't legislate morality" anti-government Republicans. It was the longest filibuster in American history, lasting over 3 months and taking up 4 million words. Newly elevated President LBJ put passing this landmark bill fully on Humphrey. He was attacked on the right by conservatives and racist Southerners and on the left by civil rights activists and liberals who thought he was moving too slowly. However, thru compromise, negotiation, toughness, and tenacity, he did it. One of the greatest accomplishments in American legislative history. It also shows how heartbroken he was by the events of the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention and losing the Presidency--a Presidency he should have earned twice. This is a doc well worth checking out.

Its time for America to remember these things about Hubert Humphrey. And that's part of what Vice-Precedence aims to do. We're working on all sorts of things here and we'll honestly try to do some more blogs. VP Biden is working on all sorts of important policy, both foreign and domestic for the current administration, former VP Cheneys book is coming this summer, and who knows what our other former VP's may be up to? Plus with all the Republican Presidential candidates fighting it out for the top spot as their party's Presidential nominee, one of them may end up being the VP candidate--or it could be someone who's a relative unknown! Remember Sarah Palin? I'm sure you do. Rest assured, we'll report it all here. Don't forget to watch our trailer and other videos on YouTube and post your comments there and on Facebook and here! Thanks and Happy VP'ing!

Matt Saxe

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Ultimate "Vice-Precedence" Vice-Presidents List!

Hey Vice-Precedence Fans!

Sorry its been so long since I have posted a blog. Been very busy working on things for "Vice-Precedence" as well as other things. Life happens you know.

The following is a list I complied in the early days of pitching "Vice-Precedence" to production companies. I recently had the opportunity to go over it again and decided to enhance it a little. Its a list of ALL the veeps who never became President with a few intriguing and/or bizarre facts and even quotes from and about the VP's. Its a great way to familiarize yourself with all the VP's and is also good for a laugh.

The Vice Presidents Themselves:

1.Spiro Agnew - Sued the creator of the "Spiro Agnew Watch."

2.Alben Barkley - While VP at age 71 he married his 38 year old sweetheart - The only VP to marry in office.

3.Joseph Biden- “The one thing I want my kids to remember about me is that I was an athlete. The hell with the rest of this stuff.” Vice-President Joseph Biden on his 40 year political career.

4.John Breckinridge - Indicted for treason when he joined the Confederate Army; he wasn't pardoned until 1958.

5.Aaron Burr – Besides killing Alexander Hamilton in America’s most famous duel while serving as VP, he was also put on trial for treason. Died on his 80th birthday, on the same day that his divorce from his 2nd wife became final, on grounds of HIS adultery.

6.John Calhoun - President Andrew Jackson said he would "hang Calhoun as high as Haman" for his part in the South Carolina revolt of 1832.

7.Dick Cheney - Shot a guy in the face and also has lesbian daughter.

8.George Clinton - Wanted New York to be its own country, and because he was the richest man in the state, he would be king.

9.Schuyler Colfax - Nicknamed "Smiler", he was almost impeached for taking bribes.

10.Charles Curtis - Was 1/8 Native American Indian; his great-grandmother was a Kaw. "1/8 Kaw Indian and 7/8 incompetent," says one historian.

11.George Dallas - Nominated by his brother-in-law. The city is NOT named after him.

12.Charles Dawes - Won the Nobel Peace Prize for the Dawes Plan to rebuild Europe after WWI, but it put such a huge strain on the German economy that it allowed Hitler to seize power in Germany, causing WWII.

13.Charles Fairbanks – Fairbanks, Alaska is named after him. “No public speaker can more quickly drive an audience to despair.” The Nation magazine on VP Fairbanks speaking skills.

14.John Nance Garner - "The Vice-presidency isn't worth a bucket of warm piss." - Vice President Garner

15.Elbridge Gerry -The dirty political trick "gerrymandering" is named after him. At the Constitutional Convention argued that the vice-presidency was pointless and refused to sign.

16.Al Gore - The lead in one of the biggest grossing documentaries of all time. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Grammy, Oscar, and the 2000 popular vote, but not the Presidency.

17.Hannibal Hamlin - While VP served as a cook in Maine Coast Guard for 60 days, peeling potatoes, never rising above the rank of private.

18.Thomas Hendricks - Racist who voted against 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, the amendments that freed the slaves and gave them citizenship and civil rights.

19.Garret Hobart - Cast deciding vote on Philippine independence, he voted to make them an American colony.

20.Hubert Humphrey - President Johnson dressed him up as a cowboy and in an oversize 10-gallon hat and paraded him in front of the press, laughing at Humphrey the whole time.

21.Richard Johnson - Never married, but had 3 common-law wives, all his former slaves. Sold one after she ran away.

22.William King – Most likely a homosexual. Nicknamed "Aunt Fancy" and "Miss Nancy," he took the oath of office in Cuba. Died 46 days later.

23.Thomas Marshall - "Once there were two brothers. One ran away to sea: the other was elected vice-president of the United States. And nothing was heard of either of them again." - Vice President Thomas Marshall. Should have been made President after Woodrow Wilsons stroke. The First Lady and presidents doctor conspired to make sure Wilson stayed President even though he was incapacitated.

24.Walter Mondale - As the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1984, Mondale won 1 state-his home state. Has been mentioned 3 times on “The Simpsons” and once on "Futurama", most memorably for having the U.S. Navy’s laundry ship named for him.

25.Levi Parsons Morton - Turned down offer to be Vice-President under Garfield, if he had accepted, would have become President within a year, due to Garfield’s assassination. Drove the first rivet into the Statue of Liberty. Died on his 96th birthday.

26.Dan Quayle - Misspelled "potato" at grade school spelling bee,was burned in the most famous VP debate in history with “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”, and argued with fictional TV character Murphy Brown.

27.Nelson Rockefeller – Was so rich he donated his VP salary to charity. Refused to live in official VP residence because his own mansion was nicer. Funded "Citizen Kane" but never had any interest in seeing it. Died of a heart attack while having sex with his 27 year old mistress.

28.James Schoolcraft Sherman – Native Americans gave him a name in their language meaning “Four-Eyes”. Nicknamed "Sunny Jim" he received 3,500,000 votes for Vice-president... after he died.

29.Adlai Stevenson - Not the one you may have heard of, but his grandfather. Nicknamed “The Headhunter”.

30.Daniel Tompkins – Signed the bill banning slavery in New York. Became an alcoholic while VP and a year after he left office died broke and drunk at 51. It turned out the state of New York owed him $100K.

31.Henry Wallace - Invented new strands of corn, strawberries and chickens. Ran as Communist and Progressive Presidential candidate in 1948.

32.William Wheeler - After he received V-P nomination, Presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes asked his wife, "Who is Wheeler?"

33.Henry Wilson - Birth name Jeremiah Jones Colbath, changed it at age 27. He was an indentured servant for 11 years. Started his own shoe factory, educated himself by reading 1,000 books, then devoted his life to ending slavery and for workers rights.

Hope you enjoyed this. Happy Holidays from "Vice-Precedence"!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Good Fight

Yes, dear reader, that is your author, Jason C. Klamm, with an almost brand-new copy of Walter Mondale's recently-released "The Good Fight," his political autobiography. Yes, that's me standing in Barnes & Noble with said book. But it's not exactly what it seems. It's actually the end of a very long story.

Let me preface the tale I'm about to tell with a sincere statement. Those of you who have read my blogs know that I have a passion for this office and - though I like to have fun with the quirkier elements - I have a deep respect for the office's place in American history. If I didn't, I wouldn't be writing a blog, book and documentary about that office, nor would I use them to make the argument that this is a highly integral office. So I can be sincere, as I will be now: Walter Mondale is one of the most important Vice Presidents we've ever had, and he changed the office massively, all for the better.

For nearly the last two years, Matt and I have been endeavoring to get Vice President Mondale to agree to an interview for the documentary. Originally, his office was concerned, perhaps understandably, about the comedic bent of Vice-Precedence. Maybe he was worried about being cornered, afraid it would turn unexpectedly into a to-be comic interview a la The Daily Show. Nevertheless, we explained to Mr. Mondale that we respect the office and have been using humor simply to tell the story. At one point, almost two years ago, he was ready to go, but his availability changed when a trip to Japan got in the way. After years of serving under President Clinton as Ambassador to Japan, it's not hard to see why he might want to get away from the cold Minneapolis winter to enjoy the comfort and respect Japan (rightfully) bestows upon him during his visits.

So we waited, hoping to approach again when we thought Mondale might be available. After all, if we could make a strong argument for our film and raise the capital for me to fly out to Minneapolis (Matt's HQ for the last two years, hence the fortuitous proximity to Mondale) to co-direct and co-interview, this would be a major accomplishment. Since 2006, we've been struggling to get a sitting or former VP who never became President (of which only four are still living) to sit down for an interview to help get an insider's perspective on the office - the ultimate perspective, really. Needless to say, we saw no harm in checking back in with Walter Mondale.

So we did. And on June 21, 2010 - two years after Matt's move to Minneapolis - we got an unexpected, but welcome, surprise:
Subject: RE: Request for Interview with Vice-President Mondale.
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2010 11:58:22 -0500

Mr. Mondale would be happy to meet with you. However, he can't do it this summer. Any chance, sometime in the fall would work?
Matt's response spoke for both of us:
Wanted you to see this for yourself. Major accomplishment. So happy I can barely contain myself!

Well, his response as directed to me. I'm sure he was more professional in his direct reply to Mondale's secretary. Later that week, things started to get solid.
Subject: RE: REPLY-Request for Interview with Vice-President Mondale.
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2010 11:07:07 -0500

September 11-21 does not work.
October 5-7 does not work
October 26 - November 9 does not work
How about if we schedule it sometime the week of October 18 in the morning here in Mpls.?
So we did, and Mondale's secretary penciled us in. Matt and I were ecstatic, to say the least. We had a date set. Though things were rough here in LA and in Minneapolis (Matt and I don't make a living blogging about the Vice Presidency), the plan was for me to fly out as soon as I could afford it. We started immediately putting out the feelers for crews, connecting with everyone we knew. Even though it took us awhile, we found ourselves a dedicated local Minneapolis crew, made up of fresh film students and two experienced instructors, all who were set to give us their time, lend us their equipment and expertise, and - for the film students - get their first taste of working on a feature documentary film.

After some further rough patches (my day job laying off 20% of its workers, me included), we quickly recovered, and were lucky enough to have our wonderful followers on Facebook donate $150, which came to exactly half of what we needed to get me out to Minneapolis at the last minute - to be exact, October 5, leaving this landmark interview less than two weeks away, on the 18th. I dug deep into my pockets and pulled out the difference, and received my confirmation happily. It wasn't easy financially, but the decision was an easy one to make - Mondale was a landmark Vice President, and the story of his Vice Presidency needed to come from his mouth.

Which brings me to the photo above. I bought the book the night before I bought my non-refundable airline ticket, at the local Barnes & Noble, a day before it was supposed to be on the shelves. I say local, when I actually had to drive a few miles down the street to find a Barnes & Noble that knew where to find their copies of "The Good Fight." The photo of a bearded yours truly, holding that book, sadly, was taken just last night. And no, I hadn't lost my original copy. This was the very same copy I purchased less than two weeks ago, excited at the prospect of interviewing my first Vice President.

Let me explain.

Yesterday - Friday - as I was prepping for my early Saturday flight to Minneapolis, I received a call from Matt. "Jason, I have horrible news," Matt said, not one to ease a person into bad news. "I just got off the phone with Vice President Mondale, and he's not happy with the comedy aspect. He's not going to do the interview." My heart sank. From the very beginning, the Vice President was aware that a film entitled "Vice-Precedence: Being Number Two in the White House" had a comedic edge to it. Now, after all of this effort, volunteered time, and donated money, he decided to change his mind - and all because of the word "comedy." Matt explained to him, on the phone, that we take the office seriously - that, in fact, we've been working on this film for almost five years, out of our own pocket the entire time, because we respect this office. It didn't change his mind.

Why? We can't be certain. Mondale recently appeared in Al Franken's film "God Spoke," which was filled with humor - but Franken respected Mondale, as we do. On November 22, Mondale will interview with A Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor, who, as his audience will attest, does a humorous show, and can still show respect. He laughed with Today Show host Amy Robach, who (all due respect) knows what I can almost guarantee is next to nothing about the Vice Presidency, which Matt and I have been studying for the last five years, becoming two of the country's few Vice Presidential experts.

Whatever his reasoning, this turn of events sent me packing - or unpacking, as it were. Two non-refundable tickets, to and from Minneapolis, and one brand-new hardcover copy of a memoir that I absolutely had to read in preparation for the trip were enough to leave me wondering why I ever began this journey in the first place. Four years ago, when Matt proposed the idea to me, I was skeptical, but when the stories were revealed to me and we realized these stories had never been told on film, we knew we had something - something really good.

We're going to move forward, if much slower now, due to the resources that were lost in the shuffle, but the momentum is there. The story can still be told. Even if it takes us another five years - which it well could - we will finish this project, hopefully one day having the honor to ask Vice President Mondale personally about his life's work helping those people who "are hurtin'" (to quote Mondale from The Today Show), and how he changed the office we are so passionate about for the better. Maybe he'll even sign my deck of cards from Mondale's Air Force Two. We can only hope.

As always, thank you for your support (and in this case, your financial support as well), and good Vice-Presidenting.

- Jason C. Klamm