Monday, August 31, 2009

Something to Ponder

As I work on the aforementioned project that will hopefully help us fund Vice-Precedence, I would like you to ponder the picture to the right. No time for a full blog today, so I'm asking for your help, in the form of excessive pondering.

I found a bottle of this at a hot sauce shop - yes, such a thing exists - at the Farmer's Market in West Hollywood this weekend. In an attempt to show my girlfriend the infinite number of hot sauces with names containing "ass" and various euphemisms for flatulence, I came across this gem. I ask you - how might the geniuses of satire that are the makers of hot sauce have treated your favorite (or least favorite) VP or VP candidate. Geraldine Fire-Arro? That's all I got.

Jason C. Klamm

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Triple VP Birthdays Today!

This is one of those things where people would say-"You're making that up".

We hear that a lot with "Vice-Precedence", that we're just making stuff up when we tell someone how John Breckinridge disguised himself as a pirate and then got attacked by actual pirates, or how William Rufus De Vane King was called "Miss Nancy" because he wore jewelry, silk scarves, and wigs all around Washington, or even how Lyndon Johnson made Hubert Humphrey dress up in cowboy clothes complete with a 10-gallon hat and paraded him in front of the press laughing the whole time.

Well, its all true and just goes to prove that "Truth is stranger than fiction" and so is this. Today, August 27th is the birthday of not one, not even two, but THREE Vice-Presidents!

Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincolns first VP was born today-August 27th in 1809 in Maine. Hamlin was added to the ticket with Lincoln to provide East coast balance to a Western ticket and because Maine was a very strong Republican state, it was the first state to become a truly Republican state-electing Hamlin governor at the very beginning of the party's existence.

Hamlin is best known for spending the majority of his time as VP back home in Maine and only coming to Washington when he absolutely had to. Feeling he had to give something to the war effort, Hamlin served as an enlisted man-a buck private really, as a cook on a ship for the Maine Coast Guard for 60 days. Steve Tally pointed out in "Bland Ambition" that had Lincoln been assassinated while VP Hamlin was in the Coast Guard (and it almost happened-Twice!) it would have been the largest promotion in U.S. military/political history. From enlisted potato-peeler to Commander in Chief in a snap!

The second VP born today was Charles G. Dawes, born August 27th 1865 in Marietta, Ohio. His picture graces this edition of the blog. Dawes served as Vice-President under Calvin Coolidge from 1925 to 1929. The two men hated each other however and this led to Dawes being a very ineffectual VP.

Dawes was nicknamed "Hell and Maria" because of his famous statement to the U.S. Senate at hearings on overspending during World War I. When pressed about the issue in a heated moment, Dawes burst out-"Hell and Maria, we weren't trying to keep a set of books over there! We were trying to win a war!"

Dawes was the creator of the Dawes Plan which was a program to help restore the economies of Europe after WWI, and for his efforts Dawes won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. Unfortunately, the plan was so harsh on Germany and its economy and people, and so unworkable that it fell apart and helped to lead to World War II. Oh well, at least he tried.

Finally, the third VP born on this day of August 27th in 1908 in Stonewall, Texas was Lyndon Baines Johnson. The Legendary LBJ himself, "Landslide" Lyndon. LBJ of course went on to become President after the tragic assassination of President Kennedy, so he won't be someone we focus on in the film. LBJ has been the subject of many books and even a TV movie where he was played by Randy Quaid, and there are many well known anecdotes about him. However I would be remiss if I didn't list some fact about him here, so here's what I'll leave you with. LBJ was very proud of "Little" LBJ, mostly because it wasn't little at all, he nicknamed it "Jumbo".

So on that note-Join us here at Vice-Precedence in saying:

Happy Birthday Hannibal Hamlin!

Happy Birthday Charles Dawes!

Happy Birthday LBJ!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Uproar over Cheney and CIA and "The Lion" is Gone.

Well, Vice-Precedence readers, its all hit the fan.

On Tuesday night everything exploded over Attorney General Eric Holders decision to investigate CIA interrogation tactics and appoint a special prosecutor to do so.

First of all, former VP Cheney said that the CIA agents who are being investigated "deserve our gratitude." That they "saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks."

Cheney then said Attorney General Holder's action "serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security."

Notice that "if any were needed"? Big shot at the current administration.

Republicans came to Cheney's defense. Represenative Pete King (R. Long Island, NY) who said about the revelation that agents used mock executions to intimidate prisoners: "I see nothing wrong with this. If it's to save someone's life, it would have been immoral not to threaten."

Congresman King said President Obama was
"giving the impression of an administration that's out of control. By letting Holder do this, he (the President) has either lost control of his administration or we can't believe anything he says." Which to me seems pretty harsh and inaccurate. President Obama has stated many times that he wants to move on from the past. This is Attorney General Holders decision and he made it.

CIA documents released by the Justice Department show that some interrogators knew they might have broken the law with harsh tactics that included the controversial tactic of waterboarding.

"One officer expressed concern that, one day, agency officers will wind up on some wanted list," the documents showed.

Here's how the mainstream press looked at it and reported it:

From the Tuesday, August 25 World News on ABC:

BRIAN ROSS: ...It was clear today that the partisan battle lines have been drawn over the CIA, led on one side by the former Vice President, who has long been the chief defender of the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques.

DICK CHENEY, FILE FOOTAGE: They were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do.

ROSS: It was at Cheney's request that the CIA made public yesterday two top secret reports that said the detainee interrogations were pivotal. “Detainees have given us a wealth of useful information on al Qaeda,” the report says, “thwarting a number of al Qaeda operations,” including a proposed 9/11 style attack on Los Angeles, on London's Heathrow airport and the capture of a leading southeast Asia al Qaeda leader who reportedly had 70 operatives ready to carry out terrorist attacks in the West.

Nowhere in the reports, however, does the CIA ever draw a direct connection between the valuable information and the specific use of harsh tactics. So, Charlie, there's just enough for both sides to argue about, while CIA officers in the field are left to figure out just what is expected of them.

From the NBC Nightly News Tuesday August 25th:

ANDREA MITCHELL: ...So who's right? The new documents reveal that 30 of the detainees -- a third of those held in the CIA secret prisons -- were subjected to the questionable practices. Cheney says the tactics “saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks.” His proof -- in part, this memo, describing how 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was water boarded 183 times, admitted to a series of plots: One, in late in 2001, to crash a hijacked airliner into the tallest building on the U.S. west coast, another in early 2002 to send al Qaeda operative and U.S. citizen Jose Padilla to set off bombs in apartment buildings in an unspecified major U.S. city and a never before disclosed plan in 2003 “to employ a network of Pakistanis to target gas stations, railroad tracks and the Brooklyn bridge in New York.

But administration officials say there is no way to know whether the same information could have be obtained from him without waterboarding or whether he would have given it up sooner had he been handled differently. In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the International Red Cross in 2006 he lied to fool his questioners.

TOM PARKER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: He made stuff up to deliberately mislead his interrogators and make them stop and took pleasure in the fact that the United States had probably wasted money responding to these fabrications.

MITCHELL: An argument experts say that may never be resolved. But tonight, John McCain who opposed the Bush/Cheney interrogation policies, criticized the Attorney General's decision to investigate CIA interrogators, creating more political headaches for the White House.

While this seems like a new revelation, famous investigative reporter Seymour Hersh talked about this way back in March. Here's a link about his appearance talking about it here in MN.

So we'll see where it goes. Its not surprising to see Mr. Cheney responding so virulently to the openings of these investigations. The question of if he will be called to testify by the special prosecutor will be something we will follow closely here on Vice-Precedence.

I would be remiss in not noting the passing of "The Lion of the Senate" Edward "Ted" M. Kennedy. Senator Kennedy had been one of the Senators of Massachusetts since 1962. That's 46 years. Four decades of service to our country. He worked on over 300 bills that became law. He worked with every VP (who presides over the Senate-I hope you readers know that by now) from that time to today, including on a landmark Job Training Bill in 1982 he co-sponsored with then Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana. In fact, many say that the work that Senator Quayle did with Sen. Kennedy is what brought him to the attention of then VP George Bush and led him to the Vice-Presidency.

In doing research for today's blog I tried to find a comment from VP Cheney on the passing of Senator Kennedy, but I couldn't. However, I (too easily) found some truly hateful things being said about Sen. Kennedy that I really don't feel like reposting here. I am not going spread mindless hate from mindless people.

However I found one that stood out because it's the best known and has even been paraphrased by Jay Leno: I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than go driving with Ted Kennedy.

In reading this and other disgusting comments, I thought about what people on the Left may do when VP Cheney passes. After all, people already love to rip on him and many violently hate the former VP just as much as people on the Right hate the late Senator Kennedy. I can only hope that people on the Left can show better restraint then those on the Right. The problem I have with this is that despicable comments just make people hate each other more. It doesn't make one side better than the other to take shots at a man who has just died. If you disagree with someones politics-thats fine-but try to keep it decent. Senator Kennedy made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he was respectful and polite in the Senate-all while strongly fighting for those liberal causes he believed in. In his 46 years in the Senate he learned how to work in a bipartisan way, as his bill with Dan Quayle shows. He was fiercely partisan, but open to compromise. It can never be forgotten that his direct actions did lead to another persons death, but at the same time he accomplished many great things for this country. We're all only human and all of us fail in some way. Lets look at Senator Kennedys willingness to work with those who disagreed with him as an example to follow and try to be civil to each other out there. Thanks for reading. RIP Senator Kennedy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Biden Takes Money from Criminal

The power of the misleading headline is amazing. Luckily, its just my headline this time.

Harper's broke the story (online, at least) that what they call a "major democratic donor" was arrested for attempting to defraud CitiBank out of about $74 million by saying they had about that much in collateral. Hassan Nemazee, who chairs the appropriately-named Nemazee Capital and did the defrauding, one can assume, is also a frequent donator to the Democratic Party, to the tune of $150,000 since 2006.

Some of that money went to Joe Biden.
Nemazee (and a woman I asssume to be his wife, it should be noted) donated a total of $9,200 to Biden's campaign during that time, as well as some cash to Hillary, according to the Huffington Post's donation tracking software. The likelihood that Biden actually knew who he was taking money from, of course, is ridiculously low. It makes a good argument for campaign finance reform, but other than that, it's fairly innocuous, as much as you can see any Republican or Independent with an axe to grind taking it and twisting it to their needs.

Mr. Namazee's office had no comment on his arrest when I called up and spoke to their remarkably relaxed receptionist, so I decided to do a little hunting about him for my own education. What Harper's failed to mention (it was a brief piece) was that Hassan Nemazee isn't just a guy who "raises" capital. He's also the former finance chair of both John Kerry's and Hillary Clinton's campaigns. In late 2008, The New York Observer ran a piece abut Nemazee being accused of funneling campaign contributions through his adult children (The Huffington Post's campaign contributions database confirms each of his children donating $4,600 a piece, the same as he and his wife), one of whom summarily wound up working for Rudy Giuliani's law firm.

Luckily for Joe, his hands are clean. He clearly ran the smaller campaign. The question remains to be asked, though, as to where the line should be drawn, and just how politicians vet the people who bring in their money. After all, this latest presidential campaign shattered records, partially due to Obama backing down on a pact made with John McCain to stick to capped contributions. One hopes this report doesn't fall too far into the back pages.

Until tomorrow, dear readers, I wish you Biden dreams and Cheney wishes.

Jason C. Klamm

P.S. - Nemazee Capital also has a blog.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Update: Investigation of CIA to Take Place!

Those of you who follow this blog know that I have been following Vice-President Cheneys involvement in the creation of the covert CIA Assassination Squad to go after the top Al-Queda leaders in the wake of 9/11. New CIA Director Leon Panetta dissolved the program which never really got off the ground and carried out no missions. Still, members of Congress have called for an investigation due to the fact that this program was kept a secret from the highest members of Congress involved in national security and many other reasons. This assassination squad was very similar in mission and formation to the teams created by Israel for the purpose of hunting down the terrorists responsible for the tragedy in Munich at the Olympics in 1972. Though I doubt any of them looked anything like Eric Bana. Last week I revealed that it wasn't just the CIA involved in this plan but also the highly controversial private security firm Blackwater was also brought in to work on the program. Even though Director Panetta dissolved the program immediately upon learning of it, its stirred up a hornets nest of interest among many in Washington and around the country.

Today the U.S. Justice Departments Ethics Office has sent a recommendation to Attorney General Eric Holder that he reopen a slate of cases of abuse and torture by the CIA of Al-Queda detainees. This could possibly lead to either Congress or the Ethics Office ordering an investigation into these CIA assassination squads.

Also today the Justice Department will release their internal investigation into how the CIA treated prisoners at Guantanamo in Cuba and other prisons around the world.

Its possible we could learn about who in the previous and this current administration knows about what happened with torture and the assassination squad.

President Obama has stated many times his desire to "not look back" but Attorney General Holder feels these new revelations merit investigation. Could we be seeing Congressional hearings similar to the famous Church Committee hearings in the 1970's which revealed the CIA's abuses? Will former VP Cheney be called in to testify? What is going to be revealed next? Stay tuned here for more and thanks for reading.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blogged Down in No Details

Though I'm admittedly no journalist, I know the kinds of pitfalls that come from writing about the "reporting" of other blogs. Even if the blog I'm reporting on belongs to CBS News.

Throughout the numerous articles that spoke about the particular stop Biden made to make some speech today, nothing stood out to make me care what he was speaking about. It's still mostly The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the details of which I know very little, or about as much as anyone who will end up voting on its passage. However, among all the AP-ripoffs and rewordings, I found a blog on CBS News using the kind of title no one with my level of intelligence should fall for. "Is Biden Looking Ahead to 2016?"

Naturally, there are many reasons that grabbed my attention. "Looking Ahead" is an obvious nod to my political alter ego who shares my name, who wrote a book entitled "Looking Forward," and 2016, the year my character becomes eligible to be a presidential candidate, further seals the deal that this CBS News blogger is trying to communicate with me on some other plane. Mostly, though, its the question-marked title proposing that our fresh, young veep might be poised to pull the old Veep Standard and follow-up his time at the Observatory with a stint in the White House.

So I clicked, poised to read some juicy tidbit about Biden's secret desires as revealed through an anonymous friend or staffer, or some analysis deeper than anything I might be able to muster, given my lack of time and journalism degree. I began asking myself questions, like "What kind of president would Biden be?" and "How is he qualified to be president?" and "Does this mean we might have to cut him out of our book? Luckily, the answer is no. The weakness of any book on the VPs is that you're invariably writing it during the term of a man who one day may become president. And, let's face it, the odds of something interesting happening during his term right as you're about to go to print are pretty good.

Luckily for me, my curiosity was left thirsty, as this blog contained nothing of the sort of answers or analysis I had hoped for. Outside of the punctuation and spelling errors, the blog fell victim to the same disease many journalists and bloggers have fallen to - an acute misunderstanding of the Vice Presidential office. Or, as its known to me, "Hewitt's Disease."

The blog showed its colors thus:
"The vice president has taken an active role in foreign policy debates and on issues that are central to the administration -- most notably, he has been one of the biggest advocates of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the economic stimulus plan which was passed and signed by President Obama in February."

Firstly, not only is this the biggest reveal of the article, its also the least thought about piece of information. Thinking that the VP is showing presidential mettle because he's taking "an active role in... issues that are central to the administration" is not understanding the office in the least. Its not as though Biden came up with some huge novel of a plan, proposed it to Obama, sent it through some sort of committee, then waited up till all hours to hear the news, his head buried in his palms with the fear of rejection eating away at his very soul. Someone in the administration said "Joe, you should probably do this," to which Biden said "Okay." I don't know how many times this needs to be said, but THE VICE PRESIDENT HAS NO FUNCTION. None. Sure, he breaks tie votes, but a random-number generator could do that.

Secondly, lauding his advocacy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - an act the administration is pushing through Biden - is a spurious claim of political autonomy on the part of Biden. If Biden weren't pushing this act, he wouldn't be doing his job. The blog might as well be saying Jimmy should manage the McDonald's because he's taken the initiative to make food. That's a huge logical overstep, assuming that Biden's basic duties and line-towing are somehow indicative of being presidential.

Finally, the real point is, of course Biden wants to run in 2016. Not sure if anyone can do this, but let's think back to Auust 23, 2009, almost a year ago, when Barack Obama took the time out to personally text-message his millions of supporters individually to let them know that he had chosen Biden for his running-mate (which, by the end of the night, read "Bidnz veap lolz, omfg so xozted"), who, if you'll also remember, was his competitor in a race to become President of the United States.

Sure, as the article points out, Biden would be 74 by the time his chance rolls around (a little over twice my own age at that point, I'll point out), but he's had the desire before. Hell, I heard a little rumor on NPR just the other day that pol-turned-pundit Mike Huckabee is considered a "front-runner" (by who, I'm not sure) for the Republican ticket in 2012. In a day when Mike Huckabee gets a second chance, there's no way the guy a heartbeat away from office is going to pass up the chance. So, just in case there's some doubt, I'll answer any lingering questions the CBS Blogger, Stephanie Condon, might have.

Yes, Joe Biden wants to the President of the United States, and he'll likely run in 2016.

- Jason C. Klamm

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More on Cheneys CIA Plot

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers!

I am sure many of you remember my previous post-Cheney and the CIA Plot!-last month. Its a post that got a lot of attention since it was about how new CIA Director Leon Panetta canceled a program in the CIA that was started a few weeks after 9/11 that was later revealed to be the training and formation of assassination squads who would go after the top Al-Queda leaders. The program was kept secret from Congressional leaders on VP Cheneys orders and never really got off the ground due to logistical issues. Director Panetta dissolved the program and then informed Congress about it and about how VP Cheney had ordered people in the CIA to not tell Congressional leaders about it. There are more details in the previous blog if you are interested. Some members of Congress were furious about this program being kept secret from them and are still debating about having hearings about this and calling former VP Cheney to testify.

Well now it has been revealed by The New York Times in an article by Mark Mazzetti that in 2004, Blackwater-the extremely controversial private-security firm, was hired by the CIA for a still unknown part in this plan. Though it is speculated they were used for reconnaissance and training.

The Times quoted Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman, who would not provide details about the canceled program, but said Director Panetta's decision on the assassination program was "clear and straightforward."

"Director Panetta thought this effort should be briefed to Congress, and he did so," Gimigliano said. "He also knew it hadn't been successful, so he ended it."

Blackwater which is located in North Carolina, has since changed its name to Xe Services in an attempt to make the public forget about its negative reputation brought on by numerous incidents. The idea that the CIA needed to bring in a privately owned company for a program involving the assassination of enemies of the U.S. is part of the reason why Director Panetta canceled the program. To read the full article (and I recommend you do because its fascinating) copy and paste the link below into your browser.

One wonders how Mr. Cheney will respond to these new revelations and if they will spur Congress to actually have the hearings that some want to have and call former VP Cheney to testify. Stay tuned here for any breaking news on this subject and thanks for reading.

Matt Saxe

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Politics are language. Language is politics. I'm learning this more and more in an attempt to analyze the Administration of Change and the way they use language in the same way the last administration did, only to slightly more liberal ends.

I've been acting and writing in character of a wanna-be politician for five years now, since the summer of 2004. It took me until very recently to realize that my character (who shares my name), who was raised on politics in that he watched politicians on TV, and believed that being a politician was about giving lip-service to things rather than understanding the fundamentals of governmental processes, isn't far off. He was based off my own naive hopes to be a politician as a kid (I still have them but realize that my knack for words would be better off putting words into the mouths of fake politicians), which, I think, actually makes him more legit, because, I would imagine, a lot of politicians start out wanting to change but not knowing how. The way journalism students start out thinking they won't be hacks. Oh, journalists.

Language is a huge part of my character - he expresses himself through words, just not well-thought-0ut ones. This is a trait evident even in speeches - not just by Biden, but certainly not excluding his - and not just the improvised rambling of notoriously uncomfortable-sans-cue-cards politicians. Joe Biden spoke at a middle school today on the Recovery Act. There was nothing glaring about what I've had the chance to read of his speech, but the longest line in an excerpt stood out. Just a little.

"We're committed to giving you every chance possible to come up with the best ideas to deal with that dropout to get more kids to college." [From]

There's a lot that can be done with that sentence, and a lot can be taken from it. Though its innocent-seeming enough, let me break it down, as if I were giving the speech. Which I could, and well.

This means I care. No matter what I say or promise in the rest of this sentence, whether it happens or not, I tried. And you'll give me another shot.

This is a statement that is actually more limited than it sounds, but at this point in the sentence, it means that I and the Administration want to enable you to do something. Perhaps with cash. That's positive.

Ahh, well, there you go. What I've just done is promised you that I will enable you to come up with ideas. However, if you're in education, and you can't do this on your own, I should probably be doing my speech in flash cards.

So what's just happened here is that I have told you that I am committed to enabling your idea-coming-up-with skills toward the end of "dealing with" the dropout rate. Forget that you already have your own ideas, and that you're already dealing with it on a regular basis. The money I mentioned, which I haven't technically promised yet, will help you figure out how to deal with the problem. After all, I'm not an educator. Not my job. How can I help the people and systems and kids and deficits who won't help themselves? And let's not forget my subtly folksy tone. Maybe it doesn't translate as well when transcribed, but "that dropout rate" sounds considerably not unlike how Sarah Palin might consider saying that line. "The" dropout rate would be more appropriate, but now I'm just south of personifying it. I've made you feel comfortable, haven't I?

So now that I am determined to allow you to come up with your own ideas on dealing with that pesky ol' dropout rate, I'm delighted to give myself the chance to be comfortable with the opportunity to deliver to me the privilege of leaving the stage before you take it upon yourself to have the initiative to decide for yourselves whether or not to whip yourselves into one of those frenzies.

- Jason C. Klamm

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheney VS W?

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers!

I just want to go along with Jason and say how great a book "Bland Ambition" is. Several times while reading it I laughed out loud and was introduced to many facts I had never heard of and ideas I had rarely, if ever, thought about. Since the publication of "Bland" there hasn't been another book approaching its scope and level of scholarship and humor. There's a reason why the few books about this subject published since "Bland" use it so much, as Jason points out, because its the best right now. Hopefully our book can be just as good in its own way. On a personal note, Professor Tally is a very nice and open guy and has been a big supporter of getting this film made and we're grateful to him for his support and being a part of our film.

As for VP Cheney, on Monday "The Washington Post" had some comments from the former "enforcer" of the last administration that weren't exactly praise for his former boss. According to Cheney, President Bush "went soft" in his second term, and didn't take enough of his (Cheney's) advice on policy and caved in to criticism from the public and Congress-both of which Cheney doesn't have much respect for in my opinion. In fact, Cheney said that the fact that public opinion influenced President Bush's policies in his second term was an example of "moral weakness".

Cheney, it seems to me, has come around to these opinions since he started working more on his (STILL UNTITLED! ARGHH!) book and has examined those last days in office more closely. What with that recent cover-story in TIME exposing the friction and division between President Bush and VP Cheney in their final months in office over Scooter Libby, it seems that Cheney is trying to get his side of the story out even before his book comes out.

It seems that back at the end of his and Bush's term, besides being furious about the Presidents refusal to pardon Libby (as I reported in an earlier blog and was shown in TIME) he was also frustrated by the fact that President Bush was taking his advice less and less and showing that he was his own man and not Cheneys "Yes-Man" or puppet as many had said for seven years. To me, that's a good thing in a way-its all well and good to take advice from people you respect, but sometimes, you have to follow your own instincts, conscience, and gut. Especially if you're the President of the United States and you're calling yourself "The Decider".

"The Washington Post" story reported the following for their article, for which they interviewed associates working with Mr. Cheney on his book-here is this unnamed associates quote:

"In the second term, Cheney felt Bush was moving away from him, he said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney’s advice. He’d showed an independence that Cheney didn’t see coming. It was clear that Cheney’s doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory,”

Very interesting.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it looks like both his and President Bush's memoirs will both come out around the same time-the week of 9/11/11-the Tenth Anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. What will the former Presidents response be to all this? So far, nothing. Is he saving it all for his book? We'll see, and as soon as we know-you'll know.

Thanks for reading!

Matt Saxe

Monday, August 17, 2009

Recommended Reading: Bland Ambition

If you're going to read about the VPs, there are a few books that are necessary to finding out the most absurd and interesting VP stories. In the top two, at least for me, is Steve Tally's "Bland Ambition." The book was so inspirational, and Tally's voice so biting and funny, that he ended up being our first interview for the film, clips of which you'll find in our trailer and teaser.

The book is a great follow-up to earlier books, the first to really hammer home just how silly the office and the Veeps themselves have been. Though Matt and I have gone out of our way to go in our own direction with the subject matter (even the humor), we owe a considerable debt to Steve Tally for helping us realize we were on the right track.

Since Tally, no one has come close to creating another comprehensive book on the Vice Presidency (without quoting and citing Tally heavily, or quoting Wikipedia), and that's our aim. We've just decided to take our biggest pot-shots at historians (not Tally, or most VP historians for that matter, mind you) and let the Veeps lives, stories and quotes dig their own holes. Or, in some cases, not.

"Bland Ambition" is a witty primer, and, if you're interested in the Veeps, it belongs on your bookshelf.

And, until Vice-Precedence lands on your bookshelf, don't forget to become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

- Jason C. Klamm

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dick Cheney VS Michael Vick

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers!

On Monday the newspaper cartoon strip "Tank McNamara" which is about a former football player turned sportscaster started a storyline about how National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell is dealing with suspended players and indicted criminals Donte Stallworth, Plaxico Burress, and recently released convicted dog-fighter Michael Vick. In Mondays storyline-former VP Cheney made a guest appearance over the phone giving advice to "Commissioner Goodell".

Cheney's advice as written by strip creators Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds resulted in the "Washington Post" deciding not to run the strip this week. What was Cheney's advice to Commissioner Goodell that got the strip cancelled this week? Well, its pretty simple.

"Kill him" is the straightforward guidance given to the Commissioner from Mr. Cheney. Supplemented by the qualification "Well, not you personally."

So far the Post has not commented further on this controversy. The NFL made a middle-of-the-road safe statement. Joe Browne, the league’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs, said: “By nature, cartoonists, like newspaper columnists, present — and are entitled to — their opinion even if it is not a balanced one."

There has also been no comment from VP Cheney on it, although, considering all the shots the creative community take at Cheney, this one is minor. As soon as I hear any more about Mr. Cheneys book, or if Congress will call him to testify on the CIA assasin squad, or about the Valerie Plame scandal, or anything important, I will let you know. I will be out of town on Friday, so I may not be able to post anything. Its kind of a slow week, but when news breaks on anything VP related, Jason and I will be reporting on it. Thanks for reading and supporting us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bye-Bye Biden?

No. But in a quick Google News search this morning I stumbled upon another blog commenting on this piece in Politico. The other blog, Daily Kos, made its assessment of an article that suggests Obama will likely search for a new Veep in 2012 thus:
"You would be hard pressed to find a more ham-handed example of concern trolling. Anywhere... And kudos to Politico for offering Hugh Hewitt the platform to spread this nonsense. It's very fair and balanced of them."
So I gave the article a shot. After all, this is my first real examination of any office in real-time, so someone suggesting the sitting VP might be replaced - and suggesting so only six months into a new administration - is quite interesting.

What's even more interesting, here - and believe me, I'm not defending Biden, neither am I against the man - is Hugh Hewitt's (the author of the Politico article) lack of understanding of how the VP works. Maybe he decided to go back to the good old days of FDR, where he changed Veeps twice. Or perhaps to Lincoln, who decided Hannibal Hamlin, who, as historian Steve Tally put it in our interview with him, "went home" instead of fighting, wasn't the best face forward for the Lincoln Administration. Or maybe - and this is more likely - he didn't research at all. Just assumed.

The problem with going back to a Lincoln or an FDR is that in their camps - and in FDR's case, among the majority of Americans - these guys were indestructible. FDR was elected four times, and Lincoln was reelected during a war. They were their day's equivalent of the teflon politician, and Obama, as slick and popular as he might be, isn't there, just yet.

Additionally, the Vice President, at least since Mondale, and definitely since Cheney, has become a man of power, at least in the right hands. Biden has experience and his own strengths, and, though he might not have much power at the moment, the office has that potential much more than in the days of FDR's three VPs.

Then there's consideration number three - Obama's image. He knows that much of the reason why he was elected was his passion, enthusiasm and intelligence. Who in their right minds, who is elected on the basis of their ability to judge the state of things, would put those integral qualities into question? He would essentially be saying "I made a mistake in choosing the man who could potentially replace me as the most powerful man in the country. As the country's first black president who anyone could predict would echo the Camelot years, I didn't at all think about the likelihood that someone might want to hurt me, so I chose some names out of a hat. Please excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my chin."

This is one case where Obama would be best suited - and it hurts me to say this - to take a cue from George W. Bush, should Biden prove the mistake this one radio host believes him to be. He shouldn't admit he was wrong. And the likelihood that he would - in this case, anyway - is low. What would we hear? We'd hear a lot of what we heard in the debates, just slightly reworded. Here's a little test - whenever you listen to Obama or Biden talk about one another right now, replace "The President" or "Joe" with "The Senator."

"Sure, Joe and I differed on some things, but our message was the same."
"The President and I have not always seen eye to eye, but that's the magic of the system. We can disagree and work together in perfect harmony."

However the administration actually feels about Biden and his role (likely very good, as he's thus far been a strategic first or second strike in PR, saying rather overtly what Obama only suggests might be true), they're keeping him. They need him, and, as W proved, they need consistency. They can admit all the mistakes they want, but you never admit your running mate was one of them - it shows you don't get people, and that you're short-sighted. Short of a sex scandal, they won't replace Biden. In this day and age, as they used to say "it just isn't done."

- Jason C. Klamm

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cheneys Legacy Question

Hey Vice-Precedence readers! Well, as you regular readers know I cover former VP Cheney on the blog here. Recently a friend of mine asked me what I personally thought of Mr. Cheney, and how I think history will see him. I thought it would make an interesting blog.

This is an interesting question as it is being asked by many and is something historians are arguing about now. I think most of us can agree that its relatively too soon to say what posterity and history will say about the Bush/Cheney administration. As former President Bush is fond of pointing out, when Harry Truman left office he had the lowest popularity ratings of practically any President. As time passed, especially in the wake of Trumans death and the scandal of Watergate, both the American people and historians began to look back at Trumans legacy and found much to admire in the tough decisions he had to make, his honesty and integrity, his "The Buck Stops Here" sense of responsibility, and how accurate he had been in his description of the disgraced Richard Nixon as a "no good lying bastard". His legacy was further enhanced by the publication of the best-selling and Pulitzer-Prize winning biography "TRUMAN" by David McCullough in 1992. Now when the polls are done of "The Best Presidents", Truman is consistently in the top ten.

Could something similar happen to President Bush and VP Cheney in 25 or 30 years? Hard to say right now. For now, President Bush is keeping to himself and not expressing his opinions on the current administrations policies. Cheney however-(as this blog has pointed out numerous times) has been one of the most vocal critics of the Obama Administration. Is this one of the strategies Mr. Cheney is employing to enhance his legacy? I think that both Bush and Cheney are distressed that the majority of Americans have, by electing Obama, rejected the policies of his time. So perhaps Cheney is using his criticisms of the Obama Administration as a way to defend his legacy.

It seems that right now he and Bush are relying on the fact that since the tragic events of 9/11 there have been no further attacks on American soil by the terrorists. Its strong evidence to many Americans that the decisions they made (and I admit-they were tough decisions) were correct. It is my belief that Mr. Cheney is going to use his (still untitled) book to try to defend the decisions he and President Bush made regarding Americas safety, as well as their other policies.

How will history judge Mr. Cheney? Hard to say. My friend asked me what I personally think of Mr. Cheney, and I have thought about it and have tried to come at it as a historian (which in a way, I am-at least of the Vice-Presidency) and separate my personal politics from his record. Its my opinion that its too early to truly come to a judgment of his record. Personally, I didn't agree with many of the decisions he and President Bush made, and I admit I'm not a great admirer of his record, but that's just my personal opinion. I do think that Mr. Cheney is an incredibly intelligent man, and that he was doing what he honestly thought was best for the country. At the same time, I do think he made some incorrect political and military decisions, and that he had some personal ambitions that he wasn't afraid to try to accomplish while in office and that these goals sometimes weren't in the best interests of the country. Overall though, I honestly think that for the most part,he did what he thought was right, and didn't worry too much about his popularity-good thing too, because there is no denying, he is one of the least popular VP's in American history.

There is one thing I am absolutely sure of that also can't be denied-Richard Cheney was the most powerful and influential VP in American history. Period. How history judges the Bush Administration will be a direct judgment on Cheney as well. Will his book help his legacy or will it not? Will history share my opinions? We will see. As soon as any new news on Mr. Cheney comes out I'll be reporting it here. Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hopemoir: Veeps (Part 2)

And now, for part 2 of the Veep-related excerpt of my book, "Looking Forward: A Hopemoir."

A Future President's Vice (Part 2)

I will need to find a person who not only shares my values, but has values just slightly askew of mine. If they read my positions on a certain issue like the environment, the reaction I want to see is one of curiosity. I want to know they are taking in everything I believe and then to feel free to disagree with me. The ideal candidate would, of course, disagree just enough to have a mind of his own, but not so much as to cause me to doubt myself. The Vice President, after all, is not a member of the Cabinet.

He can serve in a capacity similar to that of a Cabinet member, however, doling out advice and providing me with strategy that comes not from a sycophantic point of view, but from a bright, educated person who was more than qualified enough to be personally chosen by me to help represent my positions, character and capacity to lead to the entire nation. Ideally, my Vice President would also champion those issues I will not have the time to take on in my daily presidential duties. He or she should have the capability to take on foreign policy issues, diplomacy, national crises, massive financial disasters or keynote speeches at college graduations at a moment’s notice. When the Vice President is as capable to run as I am, then he has proven himself as a Qualified Potential Successor.

I cannot discount the possibility that my Vice President might be a woman or a minority. With that in mind, I don’t. As the political landscape changes, a new variety of politicians will show up to graze on that landscape’s fertile and abundant grasses. I am more than open to balancing my ticket with any person willing to take my ideas and run with them, especially if they represent a portion of the population I can’t possibly understand. Though I, myself, have lived not only in Los Angeles but in New York, Chicago, Oklahoma and England, I could easily find room in the executive branch for someone from a state neighboring any one of those I could at one point have claimed residency in.

As a partial minority with one-sixteenth Native American blood, I would be honored to run with a candidate who is at least fifteen-sixteenths of any minority, including Native American. Should my Vice President be a woman, I will make any and all accommodations needed to provide her with the comfort necessitated by her sex. She may also help assay the office with a refreshing perspective that any of her male peers might not be privy to.

Regardless of whom I choose to take over when I pass on, one thing remains consistent about that choice – I must consider many things when making it. Most important of those things is you, the reader. There is a likelihood that you are just the person I need at my side in 2020 and 2016. I mean this quite literally. Should you be in agreement with at least 94 percent of what you read in this book, and currently qualified to eventually be of age to run alongside me, I ask that you consider how you can best make the changes you want to see. Do you want to make these changes on your own, with no one to assist you in realizing your dreams? Or do you want the assistance of someone with the potential to make 94 percent of those dreams a reality?

Whether or not you are the specific potential candidate to be my Vice Presidential candidate, one thing is certain – you will be there when I choose my VP. I will make my choice known, on and to all the other readily available and interested media. Before that happens, however, you can have a say in who or whom I choose. You can send suggestions of qualified candidates my way, as they become so qualified. Your recommendations mean more to me than those of people who have spent their entire lives insulated from the world by Washington, DC. You, the people, who remain insulated from the realities of Washington and the political process by having lives to live, have the power to take precious time out of those same lives to participate in a decision normally reserved strictly to a candidate and his paid advisors.

- Jason C. Klamm
Visit for more fake campaign info.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Obama and Cheney in "The Advocate"

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers!

Still no news about Cheney's book, or if he will be called to testify before Congress on the CIA assassination squad. Its sort of a slow week in Cheney news after the huge amount of press last week with the TIME Magazine article and Cheney on the cover.

The most interesting thing I found today that touches on Cheney was the cover story of the LGBT Magazine THE ADVOCATE where they claim that President Obama is not living up to the expectations and promises he made to the gay community. The LGBT community strongly supported President Obama during the 2008 campaign, but to many in the movement so far, that support hasn't been rewarded.

The article cites several prominent gay leaders such as ACT UP founder, playwright and author Larry Kramer, Dan Choi-founder of the West Point gay alumni group Knights Out, and Facebook co-founder and President Obama's online campaign supervisor Chris Hughes and their disappointments on whats happening with the Obama Administration. In one of my first blogs I touched on how Cheney has come out in favor of gay marriage and his support of lesbian daughter Mary (who I wrote about in my last blog) and the fact that he has a grandson being raised by his daughter and her longtime partner Heather Poe. At this moment in the gay rights movement, when the gay community is so eager to repeal the ban against gays in the military and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and especially to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act, is former VP Cheney the bigger champion for gay rights then the President?

What do you think Vice-Precedence Readers? Let me know and Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hopemoir: Veeps

A man who is second-in-command is always first in line with regards to those beneath the commander.
- Jason Klamm

Okay, so that's not an ACTUAL quote of mine. Well, not of the real me. It's a quote of the me to the right. With the Biden beat ever slower, I thought I'd do my best to give our loyal readers a taste of previously-published material. Namely, my book. Namely, "Looking Forward: A Hopemoir," my alter-ego's campaign "mani-festive," based off of our award-winning pilot presentation that got us national exposure through Comedy Central & FX.

As I finished the book up last October, just in time for the elections, I realized that, with my new knowledge on the country's least-appreciated office, I would be remiss not to have my character examine the office in his... way. What I later realized is that his "way" is not unlike that of an historian. He goes against the grain for impact, rather than being able to back everything he says up. Unlike historians, however, he has no idea why he's doing that. As far as he understands it (from watching a lot of TV news as a kid), politics is saying things with conviction. He is passionate about having passion.

Following is the first of a two-part blog series of excerpts from the chapter on his choice of VP, entitled "A Future President's Vice." If you like it, please purchase the book on " and tell your friends.

A Candidate’s Potentia Pro Tempore (Part 1)

It is no exaggeration to say the average candidate overlooks the Vice President. Prior to any major election, the choice of VP is left until the last second as a surprise to increase interest in a candidate’s campaign, at least temporarily boosting their numbers in the polls. The choice of Vice President is always a cold one. If you are from the North, pick a Southerner. If you’re white, choose an older white candidate. The basic and contrived opposition that comes with the Vice Presidential choice grows tiring to the average American, who inevitably votes for the primary candidate, without much thought, if any, put towards the qualifications of their VP as a potential president.

What presidential candidates fail to realize is that the Vice President is not simply the most unappreciated officer in the executive branch. He might also be the most important.

Though I haven’t made a choice – I have a rather lengthy list to cull from, and a list of those whom I feel might grow to be good potential VPs – I am always pondering on how to best make my choice. I have to choose a man or woman with such extreme duality in their personality that both sides almost cancel one another out. I have to find not a blank slate, but a slate so completely covered in chalk as to be illegible. This person must not simply be prepared to take over all of the duties of Commander-in-Chief at a moment’s notice, and have the skill and capability to serve the office as well as his predecessor, but he must function exceptionally in the constitutionally-mandated duties of the Vice President.

The law of the land lays out a very specific path for the VP to take. He must preside over tied votes in the Senate. This single duty allows the VP to be perhaps the most useful person in Washington simply because he isn’t weighed down by a constitutionally-required function, other than the rare tie-breaking Senatorial vote. With a substantial expense account and the free time to serve at his own pleasure, unlike the inundated Cabinet, the Vice President can bring about social and political change unlike any other office-holder in the entire government.

With this in mind, I must find a person who can capably hold down such an office while still finding time for themselves, as they may be called, any time, to serve in my stead. At the same time, I would like my future Vice President to leave the office in a professional state should I, in the case of Vice Presidential illness or incapacitation, need to take on the duties of both President and Veep.

-Jason C. Klamm

Secret Service VS Mary Cheney

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers.

Well, as soon as I know more about former VP Cheney's book, or if he will be called to testify before Congress about the CIA assassin squad, or if there is any breaking news about him, I will let you know ASAP.

I've posted here on Liz Cheney-the former Vice-Presidents daughter and how she his helping her father with his book, and along with him has been very critical of the Obama Administration, and has even voiced her own political ambitions-could she be planning a run for the House or even the Senate in Virginia?

I've also written about Cheneys' support for gay marriage and gay rights-since his daughter Mary Cheney is a lesbian. Mary Cheney has been with her partner Heather Poe for seventeen years, and Ms. Cheney gave birth to a son Samuel David Cheney on May 23 2007. Now, some people have pointed out that during campaigns Mr. Cheney never really voiced his opinions on gay rights, and Mary, too stayed out of the spotlight and wouldn't speak about gay issues. It especially became an issue during the 2004 Presidential campaign where Marys sexuality was brought up in the Vice-Presidential and Presidential debates.

Gay rights advocates criticized her for waiting until after the 2004 election to voice her disapproval of George W. Bush's positions on gay rights. During Mary Cheney's May 19, 2006 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Letterman addressed some of the issues raised by the gay community and Mary's lack of action on behalf of her community. He questioned Cheney on why she waited two years after the 2004 election to speak publicly about gay marriage and rights. Cheney told Letterman that she really had no influence over the administration’s position on gay rights and that even if she did, it wasn't her job to influence political policy. Even though Mary has been a gay and lesbian outreach coordinator for the Coors Brewing Co., and has been criticized by right-wing organizations like James Dobson's Focus on the Family and The Concerned Women for America, she has a rocky relationship with the majority of the gay community.

Now it has been revealed that she may also have had a rocky relationship with the Secret Service during her fathers term as VP. In this past weekends New York Post in an article about the new book In the President’s Secret Service by Ronald Kessler, he writes that Mary Cheney was not exactly an easy person to deal with-that she was jealous of the new car used to drive around her sister Liz, that she demanded that the Secret Service drive her and her friends to restaurants and when agents refused, she had them reassigned.

Mary Cheney has denied these rumors in a statement: "These stories are simply not true, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the men and women of the Secret Service,” she told Kessler.

So who's telling the truth here? Mary or former agent Kessler? Will her father address these controversies in his upcoming book? Stay tuned here for more and thanks for reading.