Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Palin Quits Politics to Be an Author...

...So that she can become a politician again.

CNN reports that the title of Sarah Palin's memoir will be "Going Rogue: An American Life." Her obvious attempt to be a rogue among mavericks - the outcast of the misfits, the outsider of the outsiders - will probably sell as many books to those who buy things to be ironic as to those who genuinely want to see Palin be president. Like it or not, she's staying exposed.

This is a subject I need to do much more research on, but to my knowledge there hasn't been one failed Vice Presidential candidate to get this kind of attention or following that didn't hit it big afterward. Certainly, the media has helped that last two generations of politicians move from the idea of aesthetics as a necessity to enable change to the idea of aesthetics as a necessity to make the appearance of change, but it can't be denied she has appeal.

A book is a landmark for many politicians. It is either the beginning of strong intent or the last word on an administration or figure. No politician - save for Henry Wallace, who also liked to breed corn - ever wrote a book because a book needed to be written. Even Profiles in Courage, JFK's Pulitzer-winning book, was the launching pad for his presidency. This is a proposal. Sarah Palin is saying "Here is my life, nothing excluded. I did good things and bad things, and was justified in doing the good things. I have political experience and life experience, which is what you really need to be elected into an office." This is what they all say. It doesn't always work, but it rarely hurts. At least it opens the door for her to write her own fantasy novels about Alaskan Werewolves if this whole politics thing doesn't work out.

Jason C. Klamm

Monday, September 28, 2009

Biden Comic Preview!

On October 14, Bluewater Productions (who we interviewed in one of our first blogs) releases the Joe Biden comic in their "Political Power" series. Again, story-wise, they seem to pull no punches in a preview I recently found, which you can find here. Let us know what you think. As I've said, I'll be in line on Wednesday.

Jason C. Klamm

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vice-Presidential Stamps?

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers!

Well, there still isn't much news out there right now on the Vice-Presidents, and of course, life can't only be about the VP's you know. For example, yesterday I had to go to the post office.

While waiting in line I saw a display about all the stamp collections available this year. Many were very interesting and beautiful-birds and flowers, State Flags, lots of Abraham Lincoln stamps commemorating his 200th birthday, Edgar Allan Poe and "The Raven", and more. One particularly caught my eye-Supreme Court Justices. Now, of course its appropriate to have stamps for Supreme Court Justices. However it got me curious, and I wondered-"If there are Supreme Court Justice stamps, are there Vice-President stamps?"

So I went to the Post Office website and looked through the archives they have online of stamps going back to 1997. They have everything that you can imagine to capture the interest of collectors or attract new collectors; from Star Wars and DC Super-Heroes to Vintage Black Cinema and Commemorative Cars, flowers, seashells, Disney characters, animals, fictional animals from childrens picture books, football coaches, baseball players, authors, movie stars like Jimmy Stewart, landmarks, bats, extreme sports, folk singers, African-American heroes like Malcolm X and Paul Robeson, holidays, Christmas cookies, carnivorous plants, practically anything you can imagine-but as of 1997-no exclusive Vice-President stamps. This struck me and made me think-there has already been a documentary on the Supreme Court on "American Experience" on PBS, and now-stamps before the Vice-Presidents. Where's the love for the Veeps?

So I ask you Vice-Precedence readers, do you think we should start a campaign to get the Post Office to create a series of Vice-President stamps? The post office does listen to Americans about creating series and stamps. Its how fans of the legendary radio comedian Jack Benny who was famous for always saying he was 39 got the post office to create a 39-cent Jack Benny commemorative stamp. Is it something we should pursue? Would it be interesting? Let us know.

Make sure to stay tuned here at Vice-Precedence for all the latest and breaking news about the VP's. Believe me when I say we are following every breaking news story on former VP Cheney and current VP Biden and anything having to do with past VP's as closely as we can. Please make sure to become a Fan of ours on Facebook, visit YouTube to watch the trailer and rate it and favorite it, and post comments here on the blog. Let us know you are out there and Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bush on Biden

A former Bush 43 speech writer was interviewed recently in GQ. With the kind of humor you wouldn't expect from someone who worked in that administration, he paints an oddly human picture of Bush, with a certain irreverence aimed at letting us see the former President's funny side. He weighs in on Palin and Biden (you can find the section, if brief, about Biden, here) with some unexpected ribbing (unexpected at least in him taking shots at Palin), and it's an interesting read.

Not a lot else in the VP world at the moment, but the article is worth checking out, though it's also worth thinking about how easy it is to be so rapt by an article written by a guy claiming to have the inside scoop and showing us this human side of Bush, when he was one of the elite few who got to help lie to us every day. Sure, he came in late in Bush's term, so he was part of damage control, most likely. But I don't trust the words of a speech writer or a publicist, especially when they claim to "finally be telling the truth" (not his words, just the jist of these sorts of essays).

Cynical? No. Just careful. I'd rather read Cheney's book, even if it is co-written (he never writes alone, famously writing alongside his wife before becoming VP). At least he'll say what he means, and I'll be pretty sure he isn't putting me on.

Good night, and good vice-presidenting.

Jason C. Klamm

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Day at Vice-Precedence

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers.

Well, its a slow day on the news front for former VP Richard "Dick" Cheney-who I follow for the blog. No news about anything going on really with Mr. Cheney-whose operation seemed to go well. I will let you know if anything breaks with it.

For those of you who read my article on Chris Rocks' documentary film about black womens hair-"Good Hair"-that comes out soon- that want to know more, there was an interview with Rock in the new issue of GQ that just came out this week.

In Cheney news, Jonathan Alter at NEWSWEEK wrote a rather incendiary article on the former Vice-President where he states:

" much as I'd like to see Cheney frog-marched out of Jackson Hole and sent to prison for violating his oath, it would set a bad precedent."

If you're interested in reading the entire article, copy and paste the address below into your browser, its an interesting article.

As most of you readers know I am following Mr. Cheney's progress on his (still untitled) book, and found an article where renowned historian Joseph J. Ellis gives advice to Mr. Cheney on writing his book. Professor Ellis won the Pulitzer Prize for his excellent work (which I have read and enjoyed) “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation,”. The chapter in this book on the Burr-Hamilton duel is particularly interesting for me of course-but in my opinion Ellis like many historians, makes the mistake of being a little too impressed with Hamilton, and a little dismissive of Burr. Still, overall its an excellent read, and Professor Ellis is a gifted writer of history. Here is his advice to former VP Cheney as he tackles his own chronicle of his career:

There is some scholarly consensus that the memoir Ulysses S. Grant wrote for money while he was dying is the greatest presidential memoir, though it’s almost entirely about his military career. Believe it or not, Calvin Coolidge’s memoir is great at explaining his Vermont origins and the values he brought to the presidency. Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” is the most candid and compelling self-portrait, perhaps because it was written before he knew he would become president.

John Adams’ autobiography is the best example of how not to do it. Angry, obsessed with settling scores, often incoherent in its rambling asides — and I love the guy.

Avoid coming across as angry, trying to settle scores and writing rambling asides.

The greatest memoir in American history, I think, is “The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography.” He not only sustains an ironic perspective on himself but on the entire 19th century. Benjamin Franklin’s “Autobiography” is a close runner-up. Like Henry Adams he had the ability to see himself historically, which is very hard to do.

If Dick Cheney’s memoir is to have any lasting influence, it will need to confront his failures, most especially regarding Iraq and the hyperbolic reaction to 9/11. Based on his most recent public statements, that seems unlikely. He will probably follow the John Adams model, which will yield a self-justifying testament designed to rally the right-wing base of the Republican party. Another blip on the radar screen.

One can only wonder if Mr. Cheney will take this advice, as he's not really known for doing that. As soon as anything breaks on the CIA investigations, Mr. Cheney's book, or anything Vice-Presidential, you can count on us to report it ASAP. Please keep supporting "Vice-Precedence" by reading this blog, posting on our Facebook page, going to YouTube and watching our videos and rating and posting comments on them, and most of all-letting friends and family know about it all. We need to spread the word and get more readers and Fans. Thanks for your support and I will see you here Thursday.

Matt Saxe

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cheney Meat-Carving Photo Creates Uproar

What a title huh?

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog readers. Well, I was worried about what I would write today, since former VP Cheney went under the knife yesterday for elective back surgery. You can read all the details below in the quick little blog I posted yesterday on learning the news. From all reports-the surgery went well.

So I was worried, but luckily(?) a new story was revealed. This week in NEWSWEEK a photo was published showing former VP Cheney sticking a knife into a piece of meat on a bloody carving board with a quote about the CIA torture controversy we've been covering. You can see the picture above.

Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly was very upset with how NEWSWEEK cropped his photo and made sure to call attention to it in an essay called "Chop and Crop". Here's what he wrote in its entirety:

"The Sept. 14th Newsweek cover line — “Is Your Baby Racist?” — should have included a sub-head, “Is Dick Cheney a Butcher?”

Featured inside the magazine was a full-page, stand-alone picture of former Vice President Dick Cheney, knife in hand, leaning over a bloody carving board. Newsweek used it to illustrate a quote that he made about C.I.A. interrogators. By linking that photo with Mr. Cheney’s comment and giving it such prominence, they implied something sinister, macabre, or even evil was going on there.

I took that photograph at his daughter Liz’s home during a two-day assignment, and was shocked by its usage. The meat on the cutting board wasn’t the only thing butchered. In fact, Newsweek chose to crop out two-thirds of the original photograph, which showed Mrs. Cheney, both of their daughters, and one of their grandchildren, who were also in the kitchen, getting ready for a simple family dinner.

However, Newsweek’s objective in running the cropped version was to illustrate its editorial point of view, which could only have been done by shifting the content of the image so that readers just saw what the editors wanted them to see. This radical alteration is photo fakery. Newsweek’s choice to run my picture as a political cartoon not only embarrassed and humiliated me and ridiculed the subject of the picture, but it ultimately denigrated my profession.

Photojournalists fight the credibility battle every day, from combating digitally faked photos to being lumped in with the paparazzi, a group of camera-carrying cretins who have no respect for anything, particularly the people they hound. In the case of my Cheney photo, Newsweek is guilty not just of blurring but of blowing up that line between tabloid-style sensationalism and honest photojournalism.

This incident is another example of why many people don’t believe what they see or read. And America clearly notices these shifts in journalism. This week, the respected Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a poll stating that nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed believe that news stories are inaccurate and biased — 25 years ago, the number was half that.

We photojournalists have a long and storied tradition of striving for objectivity. Many of my colleagues have died flying that banner. I consider myself as much historian as photographer, having spent a 40-year career endeavoring to make photographs that inform, not misinform. My heroes are the likes of Joe Rosenthal, who photographed the Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima; Eddie Adams, whose photo of a South Vietnamese police officer shooting a Viet Cong suspect changed the course of a war; and countless others who have hung their lives out to capture the facts through the lens of a camera. Their photos have provided a raw and unflinching view of the world and have contributed to a free society’s understanding of sometimes harsh reality.

The advent of digital photography and the proliferation of instant images have dulled the power of historical photos against the steady and relentless 24-hour drumbeat of the “breaking story” syndrome, which holds publications and networks hostage to the relentless demands of feeding the News Monster. It doesn’t help to have the photos misrepresented on top of that.

However, I still believe in the power of the image to empower, embolden and inspire. Photojournalists, editors and writers must continue the struggle to turn their trained minds and eyes to telling and showing the truth, and holding that quivering line of credibility against what is beginning to feel like insurmountable odds."

Well, Kennerlys essay created an uproar from the Right as a perfect example of the "liberal media bias". K. Daniel Glover who has worked for Congressional Quarterly and The National Journal who now writes for the conservative website Accuracy in Media stated that:

"NEWSWEEK's reputation will continue to plummet as long as it keeps looking at the world through a lens with the cap on it."

NEWSWEEK Vice-President of Corporate Communications Frank J. DeMaria responded to Kennerly's essay with a statement of his own on behalf of the magazine:

We doubt any reasonable reader would, in David’s phrase, think something “sinister, macabre, or even evil” was going on in that image as presented. Yes, the picture has been cropped, an accepted practice of photographers, editors and designers since the invention of the medium. We cropped the photograph using editorial judgment to show the most interesting part of it. Is it a picture of the former vice president cutting meat? Yes, it is. Has it been altered? No. Did we use the image to make an editorial point — in this case, about the former vice president’s red-blooded, steak-eating, full-throated defense of his views and values? Yes, we did.

Some people are saying that there is more outrage at this cropping of the photo than about the former VP's support of questionable interrogation tactics. Some say this is the worst kind of psuedo-journalism. Its an interesting controversy- another controversy in the long string of them surrounding this polarizing VP.

We here at "Vice-Precedence" believe in giving you the unvarnished, non-partisan truth, so I would like to post Kennerlys picture in its entirety here on the blog. However its protected and copyrighted, so the best I can do is post the cropped photo, remember-NEWSWEEK cropped it to show just the former VP sticking the knife into the piece of meat on the bloody carving board-not the entire picture of the Cheney Family. However here is the link to Kennerlys article so you can see the whole picture. When viewed in its entirety without the quote about the CIA issue, it is simply a picture of an American family-maybe not some peoples idea of an "ideal" American family. But certainly a unique one in many ways.

Let us know what you think of this story. Keep spreading the word about "Vice-Precedence". Finally, to all our Jewish readers-Happy New Year! Have a great Rosh Hashannah weekend. L'shana Tova! Thanks!

Matt Saxe

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Cheney in Surgery Today!

Hey Vice-Precedence blog readers! I hope you have already read Jasons blog today on VP Bidens role in the Obama Administration in Iraq. If not-please do. Its fantastic.

Just wanted to let you know about this breaking news.

Today Former VP Cheney, who as everyone knows has had a series of health issues for a long time-mostly heart related-(yeah yeah insert your own "I didn't know he even had a heart." joke here) is possibly going under the knife as I write this now. But its not for his heart-which considering the fact he's had 4 heart attacks is something of a medical miracle. No, the surgery is NOT for his heart. What it is it you may ask?

His spokeswoman Lucy Tutwiler said that Mr. Cheney is having surgery today on his back. Here is their official release:

"Former Vice President Cheney went to The George Washington University Hospital this morning for elective surgery to deal with lumbar spinal stenosis,"

The AP says that lumbar spinal stenosis is an often-debilitating back condition caused by pressure on the nerves in the lower spine. It is caused by compression of nerves in the lower back, most often producing pain or numbness, tingling and weakness in the legs and buttocks.

Thats right-Cheney is having pain or numbness....on his buttocks. Dick Cheney's buttocks. Wow. Dr. Anthony Caputy, chairman of the hospital's neurosurgery department, is performing the operation.

We here at "Vice-Precedence" wish a successful surgery to the former VP and a speedy recovery as well. Stay tuned here for all the latest news in VP's as proved by that story. Thanks!

Matt Saxe

Bad Cop, Good Cop

On his last visit to Iraq (pictured right), Joe Biden went with a little more pizazz. He was there to get everyone excited not just about the Obama Administration and their plans to end the war, but about Joe Biden, a non-president who hoped to genuinely act in Obama's stead. This time around (not pictured right), on his third trip, Biden is playing the Good Cop to the Bush Administration's Bad Cop, a relationship that has persisted since George Bush I created a similar situation in Iraq and Bill Clinton stepped up to usher in a new era of peace.

Any head of state knows that one's perception of peace is relative to how much one knows about what is actually going on in the world. Making lip service to peace is always easy - from those who want it and don't know how to get it and from those who don't want it and say they do - but making actual strides in terms of peace is very difficult, because, outside of the most simply-decided peace (the end of a war), the path has rarely been tread.

But what I personally find most interesting here is that, conceptually, the "Good Cop, Bad Cop" analogy (not the best, I'm aware), in comparing the Bush and Obama Administrations, seems to apply most strongly to the seat of the Vice President. As far as the war in Iraq, the Vice President has, in both administrations, taken a strong role. Certainly, Cheney is only coming out in the press about it all now, sort of a more honest ghost of who he was while in office, but the comparison between him and Biden is a stark and interesting one. Meanwhile, our President is involved in the healthcare debate (or, as David Cross put it on a local radio show this morning, "The Healthcare Yellings") and spends little time addressing one of the main issues on which he was elected - the war. That said, I wouldn't, in this case, call that a bad thing. At least in terms of the Vice Presidency.

The Vice President has regularly been given diplomatic duties, from simple showboating and handshaking to serious debate about issues and conflicts while in the affected country. Rarely, though, has the Vice President taken up a full wing of policy in the President's stead. This, as Matt and I have often argued, is how the Vice President ought to function, in practice, at least, if not in law (though law would actually be preferred). Biden's time in Iraq, whether fruitful or not, whether more PR than substance, still says a lot about the Obama Adminstration's trust and respect for the office's potential. It should be made clear that the Veep has only potential, and, given Biden's role in cleaning up after the bulk of the Iraq war, it seems Joe might be on the road to realizing it.

Jason C . Klamm

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cheney Grabbag

"The University of Wyoming will open the new Dick Cheney Center for International Students. And really, who loves foreigners more than Dick Cheney?"
Jay Leno

"The GOP has so much momentum that they're already looking forward to who can take down Obama in the 2012 election. Last week, the Wall Street Journal suggested Dick Cheney. Which can only mean one thing: Someone at the Wall Street Journal lost a fiddle contest to Dick Cheney."
Stephen Colbert

I thought it might be fun to come in on a lighter note with all the CIA and doom and gloom that usually follow Dick Cheney news like a burst of sulfur, flame and brimstone. So there you go. I think both of those above jokes are pretty funny.

The article Colbert refers to was written by James Taranto on August 31st, where he says:

"If the Bush administration's policies really did keep us safe for 7½ years, then it stands to reason that the Obama administration's policies may be endangering us now. Certainly that is how the public would see it in the event of another terrorist attack.

If that happens, heaven forbid, Obama will be seen to have failed in the most basic presidential duty, and the Bush administration will be vindicated. As inconceivable as it may seem today, the 2012 election may end up turning on national security. Republicans would be wise to nominate someone with both toughness and experience. Under such circumstances, it's hard to think of a better candidate--assuming, of course, that he could be persuaded to run--than Richard B. Cheney."

So he's at least got 1 vote if he decides to run. Taranto must be part of that infamous 10 to 15% who approve of former Vice-President Cheney's policies. Notice how Taranto makes sure to throw in that "heaven forbid" to show that he positively doesn't want the U.S. to be attacked while Obama is President-he may hate the President, but not that much-and he wants to make sure he can cover himself with that.

On the other hand, on the 8th anniversary of 9/11 two former Marines felt it was their duty to address what former VP Cheney said about torture in that FOX News Sunday interview I wrote about. In the interview Cheney basically said he approved of water-boarding and had no problems with the methods used at Guantanamo Bay. You can see my earlier blog for more detail.

The two Marines who felt compelled to respond to this are no lightweights (as if any Marine is-have you ever met one? They're all as tough as a $2 steak in Vegas), but are former Commandant Charles Krulak and Marine General Joseph Hoar who succeeded General "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf at Central Command. Here's what they had to say:

"... we never imagined that we would feel duty-bound to publicly denounce a vice president of the United States, a man who has served our country for many years. In light of the irresponsible statements recently made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, however, we feel we must repudiate his dangerous ideas -- and his scare tactics.

What leaders say matters. So when it comes to light, as it did recently, that U.S. interrogators staged mock executions and held a whirling electric drill close to the body of a naked, hooded detainee, and the former vice president winks and nods, it matters.

The Bush administration had already degraded the rules of war by authorizing techniques that violated the Geneva Conventions and shocked the conscience of the world. Now Cheney has publicly condoned the abuse that went beyond even those weakened standards, leading us down a slippery slope of lawlessness."

Think of the courage it must take for these two Marines to say something like this. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that I'm pretty sure the majority of their fellow Marines disagree with them about these issues. Still, they went and said this. We should all be grateful that such men serve and protect our country.

Now, as I have said before-in my opinion it is too early to really judge what VP Cheney's legacy will be. History may vindicate the tough decisions he and President Bush had to make. And I have no problem with the U. of Wyoming naming a center after him-he was the major donor, is an alum, and has a long and distinguished service record.

Sometimes I get accused of being partisan here, but I just want to state for the record, that I do my best to look at everything regarding all the VP's from a standpoint of objectivity-from a historians point of view. I've criticized Democratic VP's on the blog here before-like pointing out the racism of Thomas Hendricks. I have said before that no matter what you may think of Cheney's politics, you have to admire the fact that he is so vocal about the issues he believes in and how he really doesn't care about what people think of him-its almost Thoreau like in a way. I think healthy debate without name-calling, the way the former Marines Hoar and Krulak did, is exactly what this country is all about, and is a lot more constructive than just saying "Dick Cheney's the DEVIL!" or "Obama's a COMMIE!" as so many other bloggers and pundits do. Basically what I am saying is: Let's try to elevate the argument above grade-school playground name-calling, and that you can trust "Vice-Precedence" to give you the straight story.

Finally, I ask you all to please keep supporting Vice-Precedence. Get the word out, visit us on YouTube to view the trailer and Rate It with 5 stars and post a response to something you've read here on the blog. Let us know you're out there, because we are grateful for your support and encouragement. It makes a huge difference to know we have your support. Thanks!

Matt Saxe

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Aaron Burr Association

Hey Vice-Precedence Readers.

Well, since there isn't much news about former VP Cheney right now-the naming ceremony at the U. of Wyoming on Thursday that I blogged about went fine, even with the protesters, I thought I would write about something else today.

In doing our research for the film Jason and I have come upon many unique people and organizations. One of the best groups we found was the ABA-The Aaron Burr Association. As hopefully you our fans and readers know by now, Aaron Burr is one of the most infamous figures in American history-even people with little interest or knowledge of American history know of his famous duel with Alexander Hamilton thanks to the "Got Milk?" commercial where, while he was VP he killed the former Secretary of the Treasury and fellow Revolutionary War hero. Later he was put on trial by the federal government for treason for supposedly trying to conquer the lands west of the Mississippi River acquired in the Louisiana Purchase and Mexico and make himself Emperor of these lands. Just for the record-he was acquitted of these charges.

Burr is considered by the majority of historians and the general public as one of the villainous figures in our country's history because of this duel-which is all the majority of people know about him. However, the ABA is determined to make sure our third Vice-President is remembered for more than that:

The ABA's mission as stated in their Constitution written in 1946 is:

"To keep alive the memory of Colonel Aaron Burr as a student, a soldier, a lawyer, a politician, a patron of the arts, an educator, a banker, and as a husband and father" and "to secure for him the honor and respect which are due him as one of the leading figures of his age."

They cite the facts the Burr was an early feminist-supporting the education of women far more than the other Founders, served bravely in many terrifying combat situations during the Revolution, was a strong foe of slavery, founded Chase Manhattan Bank, and was considered by many as the greatest Senator in the country while in office in the early days of the Republic.

I found this group interesting-sort of an American parallel of the Richard the III Society in Great Britain-whose goal it is to protect the character of the "Hunchback King" from the artistic liberties of William Shakespeares' play where he is portrayed as the worst kind of villain, a homicidal sadist and murderer of children whose bloody ambition knows no bounds.

The ABA has an annual meeting every year where activities focus around Aaron Burr, at the 2006 meeting they held a reenactment of Burrs' treason trial which was presided over by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, serving in the same role as his predecessor in the Supreme Court-the greatest Chief Justice of all-John Marshall, who presided over the original proceedings. Justice Scalias' verdict: "Not Guilty", just like John Marshall 199 years earlier.

In fact, I found the group so interesting, that I called the president of the association: Stuart Johnson, and spoke with him, and he is a very polite and dedicated man when it comes to the organization. Since the dues are only $25 a year, I figured, "What the heck?"-and joined myself. There are members from all over the country who support the organization and believe in its mission.

The fact that an organization like this exists, and has existed for 63 years, shows that people do care about our Vice-Presidents. If you're interested here's the website address:

Thanks for reading and keep spreading the word about "Vice-Precedence"!
Matt Saxe

Friday, September 11, 2009

Biden's Everyman

It's difficult to write anything different on a news day when the attacks of September 11, 2001 are the top subject of every news page and blog. Joe Biden, though, did speak during a memorial for the victims of the attacks, saying:

"There's a special fraternity for those of us who've lost spouses and children."
Which is a reminder, during Obama's well-written rhetoric (poignant though it may be), that a politician can be human without being so flawed as to lose complete respect for him. Biden lost a daughter and his first wife in a car accident in 1972, long before he was anybody, and, as is the case with people who lose loved ones, it seems positive to find some kind of solace in the fact that you aren't the only one who has lost what's important to you. Today's title refers to Joe as an Everyman not for purely cynical reasons, even if I am constantly suspicious of any upper-class American making any attempt to relate to me or people less fortunate. The title comes from some respect, because the Everyman image the White House gets from Biden seems rooted in truth. On a day like today, Biden could step back and remain quiet (not likely, in any case), he could photo-op the hell out of the day, or he could state the truth, which, in his case, would inevitably end up on camera. If you're going to say something that will be broadcast to the nation on a day like today, it should be something positive, and that shouldn't be viewed with cynicism.

That said, there's a little cynicism in me today, but mostly for the media and their approach.

Again, Biden is indeed an Everyman to some degree, and one who has lost family members. Also, today is the 8th anniversay of 9/11 (it still seems odd to me that we need a truncated title for a mass murder). In a way, September 11th is like Christmas for the media. They have to report on it, for sure, but they not only are guaranteed views, but they tend to (mostly) take the day off of bashing people who they might traditionally bash.

Here is where I make a plea to the media as Tiny Tim might do on Christmas. -- Lay off. Report on what counts, because, sadly, there will always be death, we just hope not to see it on the scale of the killings we are memorializing today. I don't want to use September 11th as my day to say "leave the poor Vice President alone." I just ask that the media use a day like this for some perspective, despite the fact that they seem to have learned so little in eight years. Perhaps, if you report on what is happening - and something always is - rather than what could happen or what doesn't matter, the people watching what you have to offer might find their own solace in the unavoidable truth. Today is an example - for the media, anyway - of how people want to know what is going on, and how they appreciate one another when they are faced with one another's humanity.

Now I burn my soapbox.

Jason C. Klamm

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cheney Naming Controversy-Go Cowboys!

Hey Vice-Precedence readers!

Well, as you probably all know, former Vice-President Cheney is a historic VP, not only because of the power and influence he wielded in the Bush White House from 2000-2008, but also because he is the first person in the Executive Branch to hail from the great western state of Wyoming! Cheney served in the House of Representatives for the "at-large" district of the state for 10 years, 1979-1989 before being named Secretary of Defense by the first President Bush.

Wyoming is a truly beautiful state known for its amazing wild places-its the home for the U.S.'s definitive and most famous national park-Yellowstone, as well as its proud cowboy heritage as indicated by its Rodeo Days, and the image of a cowboy on a bucking bronco on its license plate and state quarter which you can see here on the blog, and in the nickname of the University of Wyoming-the Cowboys, where VP Cheney received his B.A. and his Masters in political science.

Well, today in Laramie at his alma mater there will be some controversy as the University dedicates the new Cheney International Center on campus. The building is being named in honor of former VP Cheney not only for his service to the U.S., but also because of the $3.2 million he and his wife Lynne donated over their years during his vice-presidency for the complex. Mr. and Mrs. Cheney will both be in attendance today as the new center is dedicated.

Some folks in Laramie in the heart of one of the reddest Red states, are not so happy about it and are protesting the dedication and have a petition signed by over 150 people about naming the center for Cheney. Suzanne Pelican, who started the petition and is an extension educator in the university's College of Agriculture is quoted as saying:

"Cheney's support for harsh interrogations - torture, some say - is one reason to oppose naming the center after him. We feel that by naming it the Cheney International Center, that the programs and UW can't avoid being identified with that ideology and that approach to global politics that the Bush-Cheney administration championed."

Nancy Sindelar is also opposed to the naming of the center for the former Vice-President. She is a Laramie resident who just happens to be with the group Veterans for Peace. "Mr. Cheney is not the best example of demonstrating how nations should get along with each other," said Sindelar, "Putting his name on an international center is counter intuitive."

So, today Sindelar and Pelican will both be part of a protest march to the UW campus quad, Proxy's Pasture, where the ceremony will take place. They have said they will be present, but have promised to not disrupt the ceremony.

The President of the University of Wyoming, Tom Buchanan, responded to the controversy by writing an Opinion piece for the Casper Star-Tribune saying that protesters need to realize that "tolerance and diversity cut many ways," and to think of how beneficial the center will be for students on campus.

"Whether you are Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Catholic or Protestant, gay or straight, white or black, you are welcome at the University of Wyoming. Should we subject potential donors and the purpose of their gift to public referendum? I think not," Buchanan wrote.

So far Mr. Cheney has not commented on the controversy, (as usual) and there has been no word yet if he will be called to testify about the CIA issues as we reported, and he still has not revealed the title for his book! As soon as we hear anything about it any of those things here at Vice-Precedence, we'll let you know. Thanks for reading and keep spreading the word on Vice-Precedence! We need your support and appreciate everything you do for us. Thanks.

Matt Saxe

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Documentaries-Why Not Vice-Precedence?

Recently I was reading the paper, and came across a story about the controversy in the Black/African-American community about hair. Specifically-womens' hair. Specifically-Malia Obama's hair. While in Rome, Italy on vacation, 11 year old Malia Obama, the Presidents older daughter, wore her hair in twists. Conservative posters and commentators on the conservative blog Free Republic attacked her as looking inappropriate and unfit to represent the U.S. of A. Some posters used very racist terms including "ghetto whore" and other things I'd prefer not to think about. What kind of jerks attack an 11 year old girl for her hair? Anyway, this led to more focus from the mainstream media into a controversy that has been going on for generations in Americas black community.

For a long time, many black women have used chemical straighteners to give themselves long, silky straight hair, getting rid of their kinks and natural curls. Not only do these chemicals create a feeling on the heads of those using it of burning and itching at the same time, but they're expensive-leading to them being given the nickname "creamy crack." Many black women feel that its imperative to straighten their hair to look attractive and clean. Others feel that doing so is "selling out" and their natural curly and kinky hair is fine the way it is. Its a big deal in the community and stirs up heated arguments:

"For black women, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't," says Professor Ingrid Banks, an associate professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "If you've got straight hair, you're pegged as selling out. If you don't straighten your hair, you're seen as not practicing appropriate grooming practices". She even wrote a book about the subject titled "Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women's Consciousness."

Many African-Americans are burned out about the argument asking "Why can't hair just be hair?" Well, the most successful black comedian of all time has decided to answer the question. Chris Rock has produced a documentary film titled "Good Hair" to delve into this controversy and explore how far some women go to straighten their hair into those straight smooth locks that have become the "standard"-from schoolgirls having their hair relaxed chemically to a teacher doing a weave costing $1000 in this economy.

What all this shows to me is, if a documentary film, a successful one at that-the film won a Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival-can be made about womens hair, why can't one be made about the Vice-Presidents of the United States? Also, why can't it be just as successful-if not even MORE so? I think it can. No, I know it can.

Lets be honest, the only reason this film was made was because Chris Rock who is a rich, talented, internationally known celebrity wanted to get it made.

Seriously, our film is full of fascinating characters-who actually are REAL people, funny and exciting true stories, has to do with how the government of the United States works, the American voting public, an interview with a genuine American Legend in Gore Vidal, and more. Why not us? I know that our film can be a success. I know people will really enjoy it. Everyone I have shown the trailer to, even people who don't really know much about or are even interested in history, have found this fascinating and entertaining. Because it IS.

We need your help fans. We don't have a Chris Rock giving us money to make our film. We don't even really have access to someone like that. We need good word of mouth, we need buzz, then we can attract someone like that to help us out. Please encourage your friends to become fans on Facebook, read and post here on the blog, watch and rate the trailer on YouTube, spread the word to the world. My next blog will go back to focusing on former VP Cheney and historical VP's and VP trivia. Thanks for your support.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vice President Ted Matthews

It's been a rough week for blogs, but a productive week as far as future projects go. With a new television project being developed and a screenplay being courted, we aren't doing half bad - and this all means good things for Vice-Precedence.

I've decided to make this, my next brief blog, about one of my favorite VPs ever - a fake one. In 1996's underrated "My Fellow Americans," starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner, John Heard (Emmy nominated for a guest spot on "The Sopranos," but most famously Kevin's dad in "Home Alone") played Vice President Ted Matthews. The film was filled with obvious references to and amalgams of existing Presidents and VPs. James Garner's former president Matt Douglas was a promiscuous liberal, while Jack Lemmon's penny-pinching former president Russell P. Kramer was a legacy-obsessed conservative. Both easy stereotypes to write, but, then again, so is Vice President Ted Matthews. At first.

He comes off as Dan Quayle was presented in the media - the perfect idiot. He resonated with audiences immediately. Though they were already four years into the Clinton Administration, Al Gore was never as polarizing or universally hilarious as Dan Quayle, so he was the obvious model for Matthews.

Since the movie is now thirteen years old, I feel a "spoiler alert" is something of a misnomer. But spoiler alert.

Besides just being a great comedy, the film is simultanesouly a political thriller - the director walked a similar line in a film that could've ended up complete garbage - the new Get Smart - but again accomplished mixing genres seamlessly. There is very real danger, some very real murders - and an unexpected twist that is just as much farce as anything else. The mastermind of the plan that almost kills the two protagonists, it turns out, is the Vice President himself. Having put in place a plan to oust the president, he succesfully ascends, in a move Aaron Burr would've applauded. Naturally, the Hollywood ending shows him being caught and thrown in jail - something we've never seen happen to a VP or President because, well, "If the president does it, it's not illegal." He never said anything about the VP in that case. Maybe because Agnew's deeds had already been proven quite illegal, even if he hadn't personally rigged any elections.

The movie's portrayal of the Veep is pretty fascinating, posing an interesting question. How would such a situation - the VP ousting the president through such a scheme - play out in real life? The comedic question, of course, is what if Dan Quayle turned out to be a tactical genius but a practical idiot. I suppose I'm thankful such a thing has never actually happened, but I have to admit - the idea of Joe Biden getting sneaky behind Obama's back is so intriguing it makes my brain leak. We need a new Burr to mix stuff up.

Jason C. Klamm

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ponder again...

Screw hot sauce - what if Palin pulls a Ferraro and writes a book?

Think about it.

Then become frightened.

Sorry for the brief blog.

-Jason C. Klamm

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cheney and the CIA-Part 2. Plus Cheney on Town Halls.

"I just think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage long-term to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say,"

These were former VP Dick Cheney's words on Sunday on "Fox News Sunday" in response to the decision made by Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether CIA operatives used torture in their interrogations of suspected terrorists, and if it was politically motivated and if by doing this it increased the risks to national security that all Americans are currently living under.

Former VP Cheney did this interview on "Fox News Sunday" his first since the announcement by the AG's office that an investigation was going to take place, from his ranch in his home state of Wyoming. Mr. Cheney went on to say, as he has said many times before, that it is his belief that the Bush Administrations use of "enhanced interrogation techniques"-particularly the controversial type known as waterboarding, in which water is poured on to the face of a prisoner to simulate drowning-prevented further terrorist attacks and saved American military and civilian lives. Many people consider waterboarding torture, while others do not. Waterboarding was used on all three top Al-Queda leaders who had been captured repeatedly, including the "Ringleader of 9/11" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was subjected to it 183 times. It was clear from his use of the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" that Mr. Cheney doesn't consider waterboarding torture.

Cheney furiously lashed out at the Obama administration saying that this second guessing by AG Holder and others "offends the Hell out of me frankly."

He went on to accuse President Obama of leading "an intensely partisan, political look-back at the prior administration."

"The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, 'How did you do it?' " Cheney said. "Instead, they're out there now threatening to disbar the lawyers who gave us the legal opinions."

This comment leads many to believe that this was the first confirmation by someone in the Bush Administration that a Justice Department classified report will recommend that two former Justice Dept. lawyers have disbarment proceedings launched against them for giving their approval to the use of the interrogation techniques.

Both of these lawyers are no longer in the Justice Department: John C. Yoo is a professor at UC Berkeley (how the hell does a Bush Administration official land in liberal bastion "Beserkley"?) , and Jay S. Bybee is now a federal judge.

Cheney further went on to say that he doesn't think that CIA agents should be put up on criminal charges for using waterboarding excessively, or for having made mock execution threats on prisoners with an electric drill and a gun.

"So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?" Fox News moderator Chris Wallace asked.

"I am," former VP Cheney answered, making clear that he is not backing down from what he believes to be right.

As to whether Mr. Cheney is willing to help out the Justice Department in its investigation, it would seem the answer is, probably not without a fight.

"It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in," Cheney said.

In previous blogs I have reported on how many claim Mr. Cheney said President Bush "went soft" at the end of his term regarding his disagreeing with VP Cheney on issues like pardoning Scooter Libby and attacking Iran, and going along more with popular opinion. On Sunday Cheney refuted these reports saying that they were "wrong". However, with all the anecdotal evidence, especially what was revealed in the TIME Magazine cover story article in July, I find it hard to believe him here.

He also gave hints about his still untitled book, saying that it will "lay out my view of what we did" including where he and the President agreed and disagreed. He also gave it a little plug saying:

"Its going to be a great book."

Wow. I have to make sure I reserve my copy-once he's actually given it a title.

As usual with something this controversial people on Capitol Hill and around the country are taking sides. For the most part Conservatives think this whole investigation is overblown and completely partisan, while Liberals think that it needs to be done to cleanse the country of the stain of torture and to reveal the truth. However, well known liberal Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has misgivings about the investigation.

She said she understood Attorney General Holder's reasons for launching the probe, but "the timing of this is not very good" because the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she is the Chairperson of, is already investigating CIA interrogation and detention techniques.

"Candidly, I wish that the attorney general had waited," she said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Meanwhile in his own party, Senator John McCain (R. of Arizona-do I really need to tell you this?) went on CBS's "Face the Nation" hours after Cheneys interview and while he disagreed with former VP Cheney about the use of waterboarding (he believes its torture, and I think if anyone in the country knows what torture is-he does) but agreed with him about the investigation by the AG office being unneccessary.

"I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan," said the former Republican candidate for President. "I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq… I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members."

When "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer pressed him about how he could have learned that from a member of Al-Queda, McCain replied with a story telling how he and his good friend Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) had an interview of their own with a captured "high-ranking member of al Qaeda," McCain said that the prisoner told them that pictures of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib had allowed the terrorist organization "to recruit thousands of young men."

However, despite his acknowledgment and his own personal example that the use of these "enhanced interrogation techniques", (and in his opinion torture techniques), were in violation of international law — laws ratified by the United States that he himself has fought for - and were counterproductive — Senator McCain still insisted that Attorney General Holder was wrong to launch an investigation into the matter.

"I believe the President was right when he said we ought to go forward and not back," he said. "I worry about the morale and effectiveness of the CIA. I worry about this thing getting out of control and us harming our ability to carry out the struggle we are in with radical Islamic extremism."

"For us now to go back, I think would be a serious mistake." McCain concluded.

While the interview with Cheney on "Fox News Sunday" focused mostly on the CIA issue, Chris Wallace also asked the former VP about the current health care debate. Mr. Cheney made it clear that he is 100% against President Obamas reform policies. When Wallace asked him what he thought of the Town Hall meetings where there have been all sorts of ugly incidents complete with screaming, name-calling, and crying all across the country, Cheney said he thought these meetings were "basically healthy".

“I think the fact that there’s a lot of unrest out there in the country that gets expressed in these town hall meetings,” Mr. Cheney said, “with folks coming and speaking out very loudly about their concerns, indicates that there are major, major problems what the administration’s proposing.”

Hmmm, I wonder what he thought about the anti-war protesters screaming invective while he was in office? Kind of different when the shoe is on the other foot I guess.

As soon as anything else breaks on this I will let you know. I will say that for my next blog, I will talk some more about this, but I will also be talking about documentary film-making and the frustration I feel about getting "Vice-Precedence" done. I feel its time to say something about it. Thanks VP readers!

Matt Saxe