Political Headlines July 9, 2011: Remembering First Lady Betty Ford, 1918-2011

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

The Fords embrace in the Oval Office, December, 6, 1974.

Betty and Gerald Ford in the Oval Office
The Fords embrace in the Oval Office, December, 6, 1974.

(Photo: Gerald R. Ford Library)

FORMER FIRST LADY BETTY FORD: 1918-2011

IN FOCUS

Betty Ford dies at the age of 93: Betty Ford, 93, a self-proclaimed “ordinary” woman who never cared for political life but made a liberating adventure out of her 30 months as first lady, died Friday.

THE HEADLINES….

  • Former first lady Betty Ford dies at 93: Betty Ford, wife of former President Gerald Ford and the founder of the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse and addiction, has died at age 93…. – WaPo, 7-8-11
  • Betty Ford: A free spirit who became an inspiration to millions: Former first lady Betty Ford’s triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California. Mrs. Ford passed on Friday…. – CS Monitor, 7-9-11
  • Former first lady Betty Ford dies at 93: Betty Ford, the former first lady whose triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California, died at age 93, a family friend said late Friday.
    Her death Friday was confirmed to The Associated Press by Marty Allen, chairman emeritus of the Ford Foundation. Family spokeswoman Barbara Lewandrowski said later that the former first lady died at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. Other details of her death were not immediately available. Ford’s husband, Gerald, died in December 2006.
    Betty Ford had undergone surgery for an undisclosed ailment in April 2007. During and after her years in the White House, 1974 to 1977, Mrs. Ford won acclaim for her candor, wit and courage as she fought breast cancer, severe arthritis and the twin addictions of drugs and alcohol. She also pressed for abortion rights and women’s rights…. – AP, 7-9-11
  • Betty Ford 1918-2011 Betty Ford, Former First Lady, Dies at 93: Betty Ford, the outspoken and much-admired wife of President Gerald R. Ford who overcame alcoholism and an addiction to pills and helped found one of the best-known rehabilitation centers in the nation, died Friday in Palm Springs, Calif. She was 93. Her death was confirmed by Chris Chase, Mrs. Ford’s biographer.
    The news of her death at Eisenhower Medical Center brought statements of condolence from President Obama, former Presidents George Bush, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, and Nancy Reagan, the former first lady.
    Few first ladies have been as popular as Betty Ford, and it was her frankness and lack of pretense that made her so. She spoke often in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorsed legalized abortion, discussed premarital sex and revealed that she intended to share a bed with her husband in the White House.
    When her husband’s voice failed him the morning after he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976, it was she who read the official concession statement with smiling grace. And when Mr. Ford died in December 2006, it was Mrs. Ford who announced his death. The six days of national mourning returned her to a spotlight she had tried to avoid in her later years, living in Rancho Mirage, Calif., a golf community southeast of Palm Springs, and tending to her clinic there, the Betty Ford Center…. – NYT, 7-9-11
  • Snyder: Betty Ford was “outstanding Michigander”: Gov. Rick Snyder says the state is mourning the loss of former first lady Betty Ford, a woman he calls an “extraordinary woman” and an “outstanding Michigander.” In a statement Friday, Snyder said Ford was “a shining example of how one person can truly make a difference.” The governor says he and his wife, Sue, extend their sympathies to the Ford family.
    Ford family spokeswoman Barbara Lewandrowski says Ford’s body will be sent to Michigan from California for burial alongside former President Gerald Ford, who is buried at his namesake library in Grand Rapids…. – AP, 7-9-11
  • Private memorial for Betty Ford will be Tuesday in Palm Desert: Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will be among those delivering eulogies for the wife of the nation’s 38th president.
    A private memorial for former First Lady Betty Ford will be held in Palm Desert on Tuesday, with a eulogy to be delivered by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, before her remains are flown to Michigan and laid to rest beside her husband, a family representative said Saturday.
    Ford, 93, died of natural causes Friday afternoon, surrounded by family members at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. She had been hospitalized with a brief illness but, contrary to some news reports, did not suffer a stroke, said Greg Willard, the Fords’ longtime attorney.
    “I wanted to express the gratitude and thanks of the Ford family for the magnificent outpouring of sympathy that they have received literally from around the world. It’s been, quite frankly, heartwarming beyond measure,” Willard said during an afternoon news conference…. – LAT, 7-9-11

QUOTES BY BETTY FORD

(On hearing her husband take the oath of office in August 1974): “The words cut through me, pinned me to the floor. I felt as though I were taking the oath with him, promising to dedicate my own life to the service of my country.

“I was the wife of the President of the United States.”

“What an astonishing place for Elizabeth Ann Bloomer to have come to.”

(On meeting Ford): Fall 1947: “Once I’d said marriage was the last thing on my mind, and he’d made it clear it was no part of his program either, we could relax, have a good time, go to all the football games. He wanted a companion, and I filled the bill. As for me, I liked handsome blond men, I found him physically attractive; I enjoyed his company and his friends.”

November 1948: “When he first told me he was going to run for Congress, I didn’t know what running for Congress meant. I was very unprepared to be a political wife, but I didn’t worry because I really didn’t think he was going to win. At that time, only old men went to Congress.”

(On children and motherhood): “I was always there at three-thirty when the older ones came home from school and in the days when we still had infants, I was a pretty average mother. If I had a quiet hour, I dived into a historical novel. … I was a den mother. I was a Sunday-school teacher. I was an interior decorator and a peacemaker and a zoo keeper. We raised every kind of an animal in the world.”

(On Ford’s Vice Presidency): Dec. 6, 1973: “Before he got this new job, I’d been planning to work at a hospital three days a week, because I needed to feel I was doing something for someone else. … Suddenly I had more projects than I could handle.”

(On Ford becoming president): “I had such belief in my husband. I never doubted he could do it. … But I wasn’t sure what kind of First Lady I would be. There was a great deal of whooping and hollering right at the beginning because I’d said Jerry and I were not going to have separate bedrooms at the White House, and that we were going to take our own bed with us. … Even now, after all those years of married life, I like the idea of sleeping with my husband next to me.”

“I figured, OK, I’ll move to the White House, do the best I can and if they don’t like it, they can kick me out, but they can’t make me somebody I’m not.”

“I think it wasn’t so much that the White House altered me in any essential way as that I found the resources with which to respond to a series of challenges. You never know what you can do until you have to do it. In the beginning, it was like going to a party you’re terrified of, and finding out to your amazement that you’re having a good time.”

(On getting breast cancer): “…I never felt hopelessly mutilated. After all, Jerry and I had been married a good many years and our love had proved itself. I had no reason to doubt my husband. If he’d lost a leg, I wouldn’t have deserted him, and I knew he wouldn’t desert me because I was unfortunate enough to have had a mastectomy. Neither of us can walk away from the other.”

“Lying in the hospital, thinking of all those women going for cancer checkups because of me, I’d come to recognize more clearly the power of the woman in the White House. Not my power, but the power of the position, a power which could be used to help.”

(On equal rights): “A housewife deserves to be honored as much as a woman who earns her living in the marketplace. I consider bringing up children a responsible job. In fact, being a good housewife seems to me a much tougher job than going to the office and getting paid for it. What man could afford to pay for all the things a wife does, when she’s a cook, a mistress, a chauffeur, a nurse, a baby-sitter? But because of this, I feel women ought to have equal rights, equal Social Security, equal opportunities for education, an equal chance to establish credit.”

(On campaigning in 1976): “I hadn’t wanted Jerry to be president, but I had long since accepted his decision to run. You plan your life one way, it goes another. When the time came, I felt he would be the best man for the job, and I was willing to take on four more years in the White House.”

“I had never expected to go out and campaign for my husband for president of the United States… At first I was petrified to get up and speak, particularly without a prepared text. In the beginning, I used to feel sick. After a while, I became so involved I stopped thinking about my stomach and carried on like the rest of the troops.”

(On her 1978 hospital stay for substance abuse): “For 14 years, I’d been on medication for the pinched nerve, the arthritis, the muscle spasms in my neck, and I’d lost my tolerance for pills. If I had a single drink, the alcohol, on top of the pills, would make me groggy.”

“I entered Long Beach to rid myself of dependence on drugs. Even now, I think staying off medication will be harder for me than staying off liquor because I have pain which comes often. For the present, I seem to be dealing with it. It’s mind over matter a lot.”

QUOTES — ON BETTY FORD’S PASSING

  • Susan Ford Bales, Steven Meigs Ford, John Gardner Ford and Michael Gerald Ford: “It is with great sadness that we inform you that our beloved mother Betty Ford has passed away at 93 years of age. She died peacefully today at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California.
    Mother’s love, candor, devotion, and laughter enriched our lives and the lives of the millions she touched throughout this great nation. To be in her presence was to know the warmth of a truly great lady.
    Mother’s passing leaves a deep void, but it also fills us with immeasurable appreciation for the life we and Dad shared with her.”
  • “Throughout her long and active life, Elizabeth Anne Ford distinguished herself through her courage and compassion. As our nation’s First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women’s health and women’s rights. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment. While her death is a cause for sadness, we know that organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.” — President Barack Obama
  • “Laura and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Betty Ford. We admired her as a First Lady and valued her as a friend. She made countless contributions to our country, and we especially appreciate her courage in calling attention to breast cancer and substance abuse. Because of her leadership, many lives were saved. Tonight our prayers go out to Mrs. Ford’s entire family.” — Former President George W. Bush
  • “Barbara and I loved Betty Ford very much. She was a wonderful wife and mother; a great friend; and a courageous First Lady. No one confronted life’s struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced. The Betty Ford Center, which already has helped change the lives of thousands of people, will be her lasting legacy of care and concern. We were proud to know her. We were proud to call her a friend. We will miss her very much.” — Former President George H. W. Bush
  • “Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of Betty Ford, a close personal friend and our frequent partner in bipartisan efforts to improve mental health and substance abuse care in our nation. She was a remarkable political spouse, whose courageous candor helped forge a new era of openness after the divisiveness of the Vietnam War and Watergate. Also, as a tireless advocate for women’s rights and social justice, she helped to improve the lives and opportunities of countless women and children. We extend our deepest sympathy to her family at this difficult time.” — Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter
  • “We are deeply saddened by the passing of First Lady Betty Ford. As a staunch advocate for women’s and equal rights, Betty paved the way for generations of women to follow. Her courage, compassion, and commitment to helping our nation deal with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction helped thousands of people to a successful recovery and in the process she helped to save countless families. …. Betty was a remarkable woman whose legacy will live on in people around the country whose lives are longer and better because of her work. Our thoughts and prayers are with her children and grandchildren. We are grateful for her contributions, and for her kindness to us. We will miss her.” — Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton
  • “I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford’s death. She has been an inspiration to so many through her efforts to educate women about breast cancer and her wonderful work at the Betty Ford Center. She was Jerry Ford’s strength through some very difficult days in our country’s history, and I admired her courage in facing and sharing her personal struggles with all of us. My love and deepest sympathy go out to the entire Ford family at this very sad time.” — Former First Lady Nancy Reagan
  • “It is with deep sadness that Jill and I learned of the loss of Betty Ford. Throughout her life, Betty displayed strength, courage and determination that provided hope for millions of Americans seeking a healthier, happier future. Her legacy and work will live on through the millions of lives she has touched and the many more who will continue to look to her for inspiration. Her family will remain in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.” — Vice President Joe Biden
  • “Mrs. Ford was a courageous pioneer, a groundbreaking First Lady, and a forceful advocate for anyone suffering from addiction or breast cancer. America fought her struggles with her and learned alongside her. She was brave, outspoken and kind. As a journalist, I had the opportunity to interview her several times and she was just fascinating. She was a wonderful woman who stood up for any human being struggling in the shadows of their personal pain. One of my highlights as First Lady of California was to honor her with a Minerva Award in 2005. My heart goes out to her entire family. Her daughter Susan is a dear friend of mine and continues to carry on Mrs. Ford’s work in such a powerful way.” — Former California First Lady Maria Shriver
  • “Betty Ford was a marvelous example of courage, faith and leadership as First Lady, and as a wife and mother. Our nation and state mourn her passing and we extend our hearts and prayers to the Ford family.” – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
  • “Betty Ford was an outstanding Michigander and a shining example of how one person can truly make a difference. Her groundbreaking work in breast cancer awareness and treatment as well as her pioneering efforts to help those struggling with addiction changed the lives of millions of people for the better. She was a role model for us all as she lived her life with grace and dignity. While Michigan mourns the loss of this extraordinary woman, we are thankful for her years of dedication to our state and its people.
    Sue and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Ford family, in particular children Michael, John, Steven and Susan.” – Gov. Rick Snyder
  • “Betty Ford was a woman of incredible grace and courage. She served our nation in so many ways — as a partner to her husband as he steered the ship of state through turbulent times; as a powerful voice for breast cancer victims; as an advocate for women’s rights; and as someone who as been as responsible as anyone for our society’s awareness of substance abuse and improvements in its treatment. She spent a lifetime breaking down barriers for millions to follow. Barbara and I join Michigan and the nation in mourning her loss.” – U.S. Sen. Carl Levin
  • “Jock and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Betty Ford, the former First Lady of the United States and a longtime champion of women’s rights. Betty and her husband, the late President Gerald Ford, represented a voice for civility, consensus-building, and integrity at a most challenging time for our nation. She had a profound impact on our country that will last for generations. She helped to raise awareness about women’s health issues and made great contributions to our society. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ford family during this difficult time.” – U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe

Political Headlines June 16, 2011: Weinergate: Rep. Anthony Weiner Announces his Resignation after Sexting Scandal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS: REP. ANTHONY ANNOUNCES HIS RESIGNATION AFTER SEXTING SCANDAL

Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday after weeks of being embroiled in a scandal over lewd text messages.
Craig Warga/News

Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday after weeks of being embroiled in a scandal over lewd text messages.

Rep. Anthony Weiner announces his resignation: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) announced his resignation Thursday in Brooklyn, again apologizing for his actions. At a news conference where he was heckled by bystanders, he said “the distraction I have caused” had made it impossible for him to remain in office.
The news conference comes hours after a Democratic source claimed Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) plans to step down from his House seat Thursday after revelations of his lewd online exchanges with women.

Rep. Anthony Weiner Resignation Speech: “I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused. I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma…. I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do, but the unfortunately, the distraction I created has made that impossible… Today I announce my resignation, so my colleagues can get back to work and my neighbors choose a new representative, and most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.”

  • PHOTOS: WEINER’S WOMEN: Anthony Weiner’s ‘sextual’ partners: PHOTOS Women of Weiner-Gate: Porn star, college student, single mom among his ‘sext’ pals.
    TIMELINE: THE RISE AND FALL OF WEINER
  • Weiner resigns in wake of sexting scandal: Embattled New York Rep. Anthony Weiner is resigning from Congress, saying he cannot continue in office amid the intense controversy surrounding sexually explicit messages he sent online to several women…. – AP, 6-16-11
  • Live blog: Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns: We live blogged Rep. Anthony Weiner’s resignation announcement. The New York Democrat has admitted he sent sexually explicit messages to women through Twitter and Facebook.
    Weiner spoke at the Council Center for Senior Citizens in Brooklyn, in the district he’s represented since 1998…. – USA Today, 6-16-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns after online sex scandal: Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned today after admitting to sexually charged relationships with women on Facebook and Twitter.
    “Today I announce my resignation … so my colleagues can get back to work and my neighbors can choose a new representative,” the New York Democrat said, in brief remarks at a senior citizens center in Brooklyn.
    A Democratic source, who asked for anonymity, confirmed to USA TODAY that Weiner informed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of his plans last night while she was attending the annual congressional picnic at the White House…. – USA Today, 6-16-11
  • Weiner Quits House Seat Over ‘Mistakes’: Representative Anthony D. Weiner, an influential Democrat who had been considered a leading candidate to be the next mayor of New York City, said Thursday that he was resigning from Congress following revelations of lewd online exchanges with several women.
    “I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused,” Mr. Weiner said, adding that he had hoped to be able to continue serving his constituents. “Unfortunately,” he said, “the distraction I created has made that impossible.”
    Mr. Weiner announced his resignation in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, at a senior center where he announced his first campaign for City Council in 1991.
    On Wednesday night, Mr. Weiner called Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative Steve Israel of New York while they were at a White House picnic to inform them he had decided to resign, a top Democratic official said.
    The news came as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old congressman of his committee assignments, a blow that would severely damage his effectiveness.
    Mr. Weiner began telling his most trusted advisers about his decision on Wednesday night by phone, informing them that it no longer seemed fair to his constituents and his colleagues for him to remain in office…. – NYT, 6-16-11
  • Anthony Weiner resigns: Disgraced congressman calls it quits over sexting scandal: Rep. Anthony Weiner finally stepped down Thursday after a three-week cybersex scandal that turned the once promising politician into a laughingstock.
    “I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do,” Weiner said. “But the distraction that I have created has made that impossible.”
    Then Weiner said he was resigning his seat and in a sign of how low his stock had fallen in a district that reelected him handily several times, some in the crowd actually broke into cheers – and one man was heard yelling “bye-bye pervert.”
    Weiner paused for a moment and then finished his statement. It was an unusually terse statement from the normally loquacious liberal…. – NY Daily News, 6-16-11
  • Anthony Weiner resigns from Congress, apologizes for ‘embarrassment’ he caused: Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from Congress on Thursday, apologizing for the “embarrassment” his personal behavior caused to his family and colleagues.
    Standing without his wife but before a horde of media at a senior center in his Brooklyn district, Weiner said he had hoped to continue his work in the House but “unfortunately, the distraction that I created has made that impossible.”
    Resigning, Weiner said, will allow him to “continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.”
    Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, recently returned from overseas travel with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His Democratic colleagues have been steadily ramping up pressure on him to step down, and were prepared to take further action had he tried to stay on.
    Pandemonium erupted in the room as Weiner made his announcement, which lasted less than five minutes. “Bye-bye, pervert,” one man screamed as others showed support for Weiner…. – LAT, 6-16-11
  • Weiner’s colleagues say scandal isn’t the end of his career: As they absorbed news of his coming resignation, colleagues of Rep. Anthony Weiner expressed a mix of relief and regret at his stunning downfall Thursday.
    “It’s a loss,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “He could articulate the issues very well and dramatize them. Anytime you lose that kind of talent, of course it’s a loss.”
    “There is life after Congress for Anthony Weiner and I hope he devotes himself to repairing the damage he caused to his personal life,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement…. – LAT, 6-16-11
  • Ami Eden: Weiner follies: OK, now that Anthony Weiner is closing the zipper on his congressional career and stepping down — it’s time to focus on his critics.
    Let’s start on the right.
    In the past few campaign cycles, a standard line from Jewish conservatives has been… liberals should learn to love conservatives because support for Israel is more important than abortion rights and a host of other domestic issues.
    Well… Weiner has been one of the hawkish supporters of Israel in the Democratic caucus. He’s a regular at the annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America, often taking the stage to declare that he represents the “ZOA wing of the Democratic Party.” I’ve seen him adapt the line for other crowds — “I represent the CAMERA wing of the Democratic Party.”
    To be clear, ZOA — which has been a strong critics of U.S.-led diplomatic efforts, Israeli concessions and the idea that the current Palestinian leadership is a partner for peace — did not throw Weiner under the bus over Twitter-Gate. It’s president, Morton Klein, praised Weiner’s record and said his troubles represented a “terrible loss for the pro-Israel community.” But Republicans who talk about the importance supporting Israel, like GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, had no trouble saying it was time for Weiner to go.
    Of couse, after the scandal broke, it might be unrealistic to expect partisans to take a pass on the scandal, just because Weiner was, from their perspective, good in one area. But what about before the fact? Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing muckraking blogger who broke the story, was a featured speaker at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering on Sunday in Los Angeles.
    It turns out that several RJC members also helped bankroll Breitbart:

    “My first event was held here,” he told the audience. “Not in this esteemed room, but in the bar downstairs.” Since then, Breitbart said, he’s had the chance to speak to RJC gatherings numerous times, and he acknowledged that he has financial backers from the ranks of the RJC. “What a lucrative alliance we’ve created,” Breitbart said.

    Hey, it’s a free country, and no one forced Weiner to live up to his name in so many different ways. But next time you hear a Jewish conservative talking about how Jewish liberals should put domestic concerns aside to worry more about Israel… just remember… a bunch of Jewish conservatives helped bring down one of Israel’s staunchest congressional defenders over these tweets.
    But liberals, wipe that self-satisifed smile off your face. How many times in the past 15 years have you ripped into Republicans for trying to impeach Bill Clinton over his sexual indiscretions and lying under oath. Somehow all these Democratic leaders who have spent years painting Ken Starr and the congressional GOPers as waging a puratanical crusade against the will of the people took just a few days to conclude that Weiner had to go.
    Weiner sent tweets to young women, Clinton had an actual affair with his intern.
    Weiner lied to the press, Clinton lied under oath.
    Weiner lied for a few days, Clinton lied and roped his Cabinet into the lies for about eight months.
    Why exactly did Weiner have to go, but Bubba had to stay?
    OK, OK. That’s politics. But, still. – JTA, 6-16-11

Anthony Weiner announces his resignation from Congress in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Anthony Weiner announces his resignation from Congress in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Justin Lane / EPA)

Political Headlines June 15, 2011: Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Republican Governor Scott Walker’s Anti-Union Bill

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS: WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS ANTI-UNION LAW

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker: “The Supreme Court’s ruling provides our state the opportunity to move forward together and focus on getting Wisconsin working again.”

  • Court allows Wisconsin’s union law to take effect: A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court handed Republican Gov. Scott Walker a major victory Tuesday, ruling that a polarizing union law that strips most public employees of their collective bargaining rights could take effect.
    In a 4-3 decision that included a blistering dissent, the court ruled that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority when she declared the law void. She sided with a lawsuit that claimed Republicans didn’t provide proper public notice of a meeting that helped get the original legislation approved.
    The legislation sparked weeks of protests when Walker introduced it in February. Tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on the state Capitol for weeks and Democratic senators fled the state to prevent a vote, thrusting Wisconsin to the forefront of a national debate over labor rights.
    Walker claimed that the law, which also requires public employees to pay more for their health care and pensions, was needed to help address the state’s $3.6 billion budget shortfall and give local governments enough flexibility on labor costs to deal with deep cuts to state aid. Democrats saw it as an attack on public employee unions, which usually back their party’s candidates…. – AP, 6-15-11
  • Wisconsin Court Reinstates Law on Union Rights: The Wisconsin Supreme Court cleared the way on Tuesday for significant cuts to collective bargaining rights for public workers in the state, undoing a lower court’s decision that Wisconsin’s controversial law had been passed improperly.
    The Supreme Court’s ruling, issued at the close of the business day, spared lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Capitol from having to do what some of them strongly hoped to avoid: calling for a new vote on the polarizing collective bargaining measure, which had drawn tens of thousands of protesters to Madison this year and led Democratic lawmakers to flee the city in an effort to block the bill.
    Republican leaders had warned on Monday that if the Supreme Court did not rule by Tuesday, they would feel compelled to attach the same measure to the state’s budget bill, which is expected to be approved this week…. – NYT, 6-15-11
  • Divided Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds anti-union law: A sharply divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a controversial measure that curbs the collective bargaining rights of public workers in the state can go into effect.
    In what was essentially a 4-3 decision, the high court overturned a lower court, which had ruled Republican lawmakers violated the state’s open meetings law when they passed the measure in March.
    “Access was not denied,” the Supreme Court declared in Tuesday’s decision. “There is no constitutional requirement that the legislature provide access to as many members of the public as wish to attend meetings of the legislature or meetings of legislative committees.”
    But Tuesday’ 68-page decision was a thicket of concurrences and dissents, reflecting the sharp divide the measure has created in the state itself.
    David Prosser, whose recent reelection to the state’s high court had been hotly contested by opponents of the union measure, wrote in his eight-page concurrence that GOP legislators had good reason to rush things they way they did, given the ugly mood of protesters at the Capitol.
    “The circuit court concluded that the legislature should have provided public notice of the special session conference committee 24 hours in advance,” Prosser wrote.
    “The court did not acknowledge that thousands of demonstrators stormed and occupied the state Capitol within a few hours of the notice that a conference committee meeting would be held.”
    But Justices Shirley Abrahamson, Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Coons disagreed, saying their colleagues had rendered a “hasty judgment” in a case where “the answers are not clear and our precedent is conflicting.”
    The three in dissent blasted the order to overrule the lower court, saying it was “based on errors of fact and law.
    “They inappropriately use this court’s original jurisdiction, make their own findings of fact, mischaracterize the parties’ arguments, misinterpret statutes, minimize (if not eliminate) Wisconsin’s constitutional guarantees, and misstate case law, appearing to silently overrule case law dating back to at least 1891,” the three said…. – Reuters, 6-15-11
  • Court allows Wisconsin’s union law to take effect: The ruling on the law, which strips most public employees of collective bargaining rights, is a major victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
    The Wisconsin Supreme Court handed Republican Gov. Scott Walker a major victory on Tuesday, ruling that a polarizing anti-union law stripping most public employees of collective bargaining rights could take effect.
    In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority when she said Republican lawmakers had violated the open meetings statutes and declared the law void….
    In a one-sentence reaction, the governor said: “The Supreme Court’s ruling provides our state the opportunity to move forward together and focus on getting Wisconsin working again.”… – LAT, 6-15-11
  • Supreme Court reinstates collective bargaining law: Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial plan to end most collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.
    The court found that a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when it hastily approved the collective bargaining measure in March and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had halted the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.
    The changes on collective bargaining will take effect once Secretary of State Doug La Follette arranges for official publication of the stalled bill, and the high court said there was now nothing to preclude him from doing that. La Follette did not return a call Tuesday to say when the law would be published.
    The ruling came on lines that have become familiar in recent years for the often divided court.
    The majority opinion was by Justices Michael Gableman, David Prosser, Patience Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. The other three justices – Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Crooks – concurred in part and dissented in part. Abrahamson’s dissent was particularly stinging as she upbraided her fellow justices for errors and faulty analysis…. – Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, 6-15-11

Political Headlines June 13, 2011: Michele Bachmann Announces She is Running for the Republican Presidential Nomination During GOP New Hampshire Debate

POLITICAL HEADLINES

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

Michele Bachmann Announces Candidacy for President: Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota interrupted her answer to a question at a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire to announce that she had filed papers on Monday to formally declare her candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.

  • Michele Bachmann enters presidential race: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, an outspoken Republican with close ties to the tea party, announced Monday that she is running for president, a candidacy that could further shake up a volatile fight for the GOP nomination.
    The first female contender to enter the 2012 race, Bachmann announced her bid during a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire. The third-term Minnesota congresswoman has been leaning heavily toward a run over the past few months, visiting early primary states, raising money and railing against President Barack Obama.
    “We cannot risk giving President Obama four more years to dismantle our nation. We must act now,” Bachmann said in a fundraising letter sent within an hour of her entrance. “That’s why I’ve made the decision to get in this race.”
    She brings high energy, charisma and proven fundraising ability to the race to nominate a Republican challenger to Obama. She also is known for unyielding stances, biting commentary and high-profile gaffes.
    Bachmann is attempting the rare leap from the U.S. House to the presidency…. – AP, 6-13-11
  • Michele Bachmann uses GOP debate to announce presidential candidacy: Rep. Michele Bachmann used the first major presidential debate of the 2012 campaign to announce that she is formally running for president.
    For Bachmann, the conservative from Minnesota, the announcement was expected, but the timing of it was not. She had been expected to declare later in the month in Iowa.
    But early in the debate in Manchester, N.H., live on CNN, Bachmann said that she had filed her paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission to launch a presidential fundraising committee.
    She said she would soon make a public announcement. CNN’s John King, a bit flustered, quickly pushed Bachmann to return to addressing the debate topic at hand.
    Bachmann, 55, has served in the House since 2007. A former tax attorney, she’s popular among “tea party” activists. At present, she is the only woman in the GOP field.
    She also appeals to social conservatives. The mother of five, she has also served as foster parent to 23 other children…. – LAT, 6-13-11

Political Headlines June 12, 2011: First Photos of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Released

POLITICAL HEADLINES

IN FOCUS: GABBY GIFFORDS PHOTOS RELEASED

First photos of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since the January 8, 2011 shooting were released early morning on June 12, 2011.
To correct the AP article, it does not seem to be discoloration on the left side of her foreheard, but an indent, a result of the injuries Gabby Gifford endured from the shooting.

  • First photos of Gabrielle Giffords released: The first photos of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since she was shot in the head in a mass shooting in Tucson about five months ago were released early Sunday. The photos appeared on her Facebook page.
    Both pictures show the congresswoman outside. In one she is alone and smiling at the camera, her hair trimmed short with the skin on the side of her head slightly disclored but with no clear sign of any scarring. In the other, she is sitting with a woman.
    Giffords has been in a Houston rehab facility since two weeks after the Jan. 8 shooting. Six people were killed and 13 were injured, including Giffords.
    Since the shooting, the only time the public was able to glimpse Giffords was April 27 as she boarded a plane to Florida to watch astronaut husband Mark Kelly launch into space. The grainy footage showed Giffords slowly but purposefully walking up the airplane’s stairs…. – AP, 6-12-11
  • Gabrielle Giffords’s life and career: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, known as a rising star in the Democratic party, is smiling in the latest photos released of her, five months a Tucson shooting left her hospitalized… – WaPo, 6-12-11
  • Photos of Congresswoman Giffords:
    Background of the photographer
    The photos were taken by P.K. Weis of SouthwestPhotoBank.com. He has worked as a photojournalist in the Southwest for about four decades. He worked at the Tucson Citizen for 36 years, including 30 as photo editor, until the paper closed in 2009. Weis has known Congresswoman Giffords for more than a decade, since before she was first elected to the Legislature.
    Statement by the photographer “Any photographer in the country would have loved the opportunity to take these pictures and I was delighted to be asked. I’ve known Gabby for more than a decade and her staff asked me to do it because she wanted someone who was not a stranger – someone she would be comfortable around. The photos were taken in her room and in an outside area of the hospital.
    “In addition to the congresswoman, her mother, one of her staff members and a close friend were there. Doctors and nurses also came in and out.“
    It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in 4½ months. I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too.” — Rep. Gabrielle Gifford Official Facebook Page, 6-12-11
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