Political Headlines Twitter Scandal: A Mess for Anthony Weiner, A Lesson for Congress

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Rep. Anthony Weinerr (D) of New York walks from his office to an elevator in the Rayburn House Office Building for a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday. Weiner denied Wednesday sending a lewd photo from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old woman.

  • Twitter Scandal: A Mess for Anthony Weiner, A Lesson for Congress: Rep. Anthony Weiner has been unable to put questions about a lewd picture on his Twitter account behind him. The rest of Congress might become more wary of Twitter.
    At 45,000 Twitter followers, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of New York says that he just passed Congress’s reining queen of the 140-character social media message, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota.
    That’s the upside of the congressional love affair with social media – name recognition, outreach.
    The downside is that, for the moment at least, Congressman Weiner is answering question after frenzied question about one particular tweet – a lewd picture from the waist down of a boxer-clad man, sent from his Twitter account to a young follower who is not his wife. He says he did not send it and has hired an outside firm to help find out how his Twitter account was hacked or spammed.
    For Congress, which has embraced Twitter in the wake of President Obama‘s success with social media, it is a potentially sobering lesson.
    “After all the enthusiasm from the 2008 election about the new social media, this is the kind of thing that will put a little chill into the atmosphere for members who are using this,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “It’s a reminder that technology can very easily be turned against them.”
    More than 70 percent of the current Congress tweets – 156 Democrats, 229 Republicans, and two independents, according to TweetCongress.
    “If it is a hacker, it will show to legislators how easy it is to put a politician in a media frenzy by tapping into someone’s account and sending out a picture, a statement, who knows what else,” adds Professor Zelizer. “When there is a scandal like this, politicians tend to remember it. They will think twice about this.”
    The media hordes have been hard to miss. “I didn’t send this photograph,” Weiner told a scrum of reporters who converged on him just off the House floor. “I was tweeting about a hockey game at the time. I deleted it.”… CS Monitor, 6-1-11

    Related Stories

    Anthony Weiner explodes in Congress and on Fox News Anthony Weiner rant reveals why nobody likes Congress

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Democrat Kathy Hochul Is Sworn In as House Member

112TH CONGRESS

Democrat Kathy Hochul Is Sworn In as House Member: Kathy Hochul, the Democrat who won a special election in upstate New York last week, was sworn in as the newest member of the House on Wednesday, giving her party a lift and reducing Republican dominance in the House by one.
Ms. Hochul, who had been the Erie County clerk, was surrounded by applauding Democrats before she took the oath of office administered by Speaker John A. Boehner.
“We can and must find common-sense solutions to the problems facing each of our districts and the country,” Ms. Hochul, who had once been a Congressional aide, said in a brief speech as she beamed proudly and thanked her family and supporters.
After the shellacking they took in the November elections, Democrats hope Ms. Hochul is the face of things to come as they try to regain some of the seats lost to Republicans. Coming in a solidly Republican district, her election was an upset, one Republicans attributed more to a third-party candidate than the strong opposition Ms. Hochul expressed to the Republican plan to overhaul Medicare.
Her election leaves the party divide in the House at 240 Republicans to 193 Democrats, with two vacancies…. – NYT, 6-1-11

Political Buzz June 1, 2011: House Vote Rejects Increase in National Debt Ceiling

POLITICAL BUZZ

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.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

House rejects proposal to raise debt ceiling: The House rejected a plan to raise the limit on government borrowing, in a symbolic vote of 318 to 97, setting the stage for a contentious debate with President Obama over debt reduction.

House Vote 379 – Rejects Increase in National Debt Ceiling: Yes: 97 Democrats
No: 318; 236 Republicans, 82 Democrats
Present: 7 Democrats
Did Not Vote: 10

H.R.1954 — To implement the President’s request to increase the statutory limit on the public debt. (Introduced in House – IH) 112th CONGRESS — 1st Session — H. R. 1954 — FULL TEXT OF BILL

  • Eric Cantor: Tonight’s House vote against a clean debt limit increase should serve as a clear demonstration to Secretary Geithner that there is no support in the House for a debt limit increase without real spending cuts and binding budget process reforms.
  • Debt-limit hike fails in House in symbolic vote: The House of Representatives on Tuesday defeated a bill to raise the debt limit in a vote staged by Republicans to strengthen their push for deep spending cuts in negotiations with the White House.
    By a vote of 318-97, the chamber overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama’s call to increase the $14.3 trillion debt limit without conditions. Even some Democrats supporting Obama’s position voted against it.
    “I’m going to advise my members that they not subject themselves to the demagoguery that is sure to follow” if they vote for the measure, chief Democratic vote-counter Steny Hoyer said before the vote.
    Polls show the public does not support a further increase in borrowing authority even as the Treasury Department scrambles to avoid a default that could push the country back into recession and rattle markets across the globe. Reuters, 5-31-11
  • House rejects bill to increase federal debt ceiling: With an August deadline looming, the House overwhelmingly refused Tuesday to raise the legal limit on government borrowing, setting the stage for a long, sweaty summer of haggling over the shape of the largest debt-reduction package in at least two decades.
    The vote was 318-97, with not a single GOP lawmaker supporting the measure to raise the limit on the national debt from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion – a sum sufficient to cover the government’s bills through the end of next year. Republican leaders said their troops would reject any increase without a plan to sharply curtail spending and, thus, future borrowing.
    “The American people are fed up with an endless diet of debt-backed spending,” said Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., a member of the House Budget Committee. Without “a solid, long-term balanced budget plan, it is simply foolish to continue to increase the nation’s debt limit.”
    Democrats, too, are leery of supporting a higher debt limit, which polls show is extremely unpopular with a large majority of voters. On Tuesday, they abandoned the debt-limit measure in droves, ignoring a long-standing request from the Obama administration to raise the limit before plunging into a complex and politically difficult battle over the size of the federal budget.
    “I don’t intend to advise our members to subject themselves to a 30-second political ad and attack,” House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said hours before the vote, noting that GOP leaders had offered the bill with the intention of letting their members vote against it…. – WaPo, 6-1-11
  • Pressing Obama, House Bars Rise for Debt Ceiling: The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a measure to increase the government’s debt limit, acting on a vote staged by Republican leaders to pressure President Obama to agree to deep spending cuts.
    Dave Camp of Michigan said a vote “will and must fail.”
    Republicans brought up the measure, which was defeated 318 to 97, to show the lack of support in the House for raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling without concrete steps to rein in chronic budget deficits.
    The preordained outcome followed several acts of odd political theater on the House floor: Republicans urged the defeat of their own measure, while Democrats — who not long ago were seeking just such a vote to raise the debt ceiling without attaching spending cuts — assailed Republicans for bringing it up, saying its certain defeat might unnerve the financial markets.
    Just in case, Republican leaders scheduled the vote for after the stock market’s close, and in the preceding days called Wall Street executives to assure them that the vote was just for show, to show Mr. Obama that he would have to make concessions in budget negotiations if a debt-limit increase is to pass Congress…. – NYT, 6-1-11
  • Republicans press Obama on spending: Top House Republicans pressed President Barack Obama Wednesday for a detailed plan on budget cuts, and one leading lawmaker accused him of distorting a GOP Medicare proposal at the center of the partisan divide over spending.
    White House press secretary Jay Carney said the meeting was productive despite the absence of any signs of progress. He also made clear that Obama has no intention of letting up on his assertions that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to send future Medicare recipients into the private insurance marketplace will “end Medicare as we know it.”
    “He doesn’t believe that we need to end Medicare as we know it,” Carney said at a White House briefing, about an hour after the East Room meeting between Obama and House Republicans.
    The White House session came as the GOP sought to build pressure on Obama for trillions in spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the government’s ability to borrow.
    Afterward, dozens of rank-and-file GOP lawmakers streamed out of the front door of the White House and into a caravan of blue buses waiting for them on Pennsylvania Avenue, while members of the GOP leadership stopped on the driveway to speak to reporters and camera crews awaiting them in under a steaming sun…. – AP, 6-1-11
  • The Morning Line: House GOP Heads to White House After Blocking Debt Limit Hike: If the purpose of the vote was to send a message, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his members will get to assess Wednesday if that message was received. The bill to increase the debt limit without any spending cuts failed, 318 to 97, without a single Republican vote.
    House Republicans will take that tally sheet to the White House Wednesday morning as the conference prepares to meet with President Obama to discuss the path forward on deficit reduction and, ultimately, raising the debt limit before the Aug. 2 deadline.
    Rep. Boehner also plans to show up at the White House with a new letter signed by 150 economists backing his proposal to make spending cuts in an amount greater than the amount requested in the debt limit increase.
    The 10 a.m. EDT meeting is closed to the press to allow for a more candid exchange of ideas according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. This will be the first time the president has met with the full House GOP conference since it became the majority party in that chamber in January.
    Following Tuesday night’s session, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said, “[This] vote illustrates that there is no support in the people’s House for a debt limit increase without real spending cuts and binding budget process reforms.”
    Just prior to the vote, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., described the House activity thusly: “Look, you know, it’s politics. We get it. It’s a sham.”
    Jackie Calmes of the New York Times has the vote breakdown by party.
    “Voting against the measure were 236 Republicans and 82 Democrats. No Republicans voted in favor.
    “The showdown over the issue is likely to continue well into the summer, with consequences for both parties and, potentially, for the economy and Wall Street, where the bond market in particular is watching the partisan standoff closely. Yet for all the talk of crisis should Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department says it will run out of room to meet all the government’s obligations without further borrowing, the financial markets are likely to yawn at Tuesday’s proceedings.”… – PBS Newshour, 6-1-11
  • House Republican lawmakers to meet Obama on debt: Republicans invited to a White House meeting with President Barack Obama on the troubling U.S. debt are trying to build up pressure for trillions in spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the government’s ability to borrow.
    The leader of the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, released a statement Wednesday, signed by more than 150 economists, which backs his call for spending cuts that would exceed any increase in the debt limit.
    Reducing government spending and cutting the spiraling U.S. debt are expected to be major issues heading into the 2012 election season.
    “Increasing the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts and budget reforms will send a message to American job creators that we still are not serious about ending Washington’s spending addiction,” Boehner said in the statement.
    Boehner and dozens of House Republicans began arriving in buses at the White House to meet with Obama. The session comes on the heels of a symbolic and lopsided vote the day before against a Republican proposal to raise the cap on the debt limit by $2.4 trillion. The proposal, intended to prove that a bill to increase the borrowing cap with no spending cuts is dead on arrival, failed badly Tuesday on a 318-97 vote…. – AP, 6-1-11
  • House G.O.P. and Obama Have ‘Frank Conversation’ on Debt: At President Obama’s invitation, House Republicans met with him on Wednesday and had a “very frank” airing of their views on reducing the federal debt, saying that the president must agree to deep spending cuts without tax increases, and drop his ideas for increasing spending to stimulate the economy. House Republicans spoke to reporters after their meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesHouse Republicans spoke to reporters after their meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
    “We had a very frank conversation,” House Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said as lawmakers left the White House meeting. “I thought it was productive. I’m looking forward to more serious conversations about how we reduce the deficit and the debt to get our economy going again and creating jobs.”
    Though Friday’s monthly jobs report is expected to show continued high unemployment, the second-ranking House Republican, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, said Republicans told Mr. Obama that they oppose any proposals to spend more money to jump-start the economy.
    “The discussion really focused on the philosophical difference on whether Washington should continue to pump money into the economy or should we provide an incentive for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow,” Mr. Cantor said. “The president talked about a need for us to continue to quote-unquote invest from Washington’s standpoint, and for a lot of us that’s code for more Washington spending, something that we can’t afford right now.”… – NYT, 6-1-11
  • Interviews Q&A: Mitch McConnell Explains How to Get a ‘Really Big Deal’ on the Debt Ceiling: One day after Congress rejected a $2.4 trillion increase of the federal borrowing limit without preconditional spending cuts, House Republicans are visiting the White House on Wednesday to negotiate directly with President Obama on the deficit reduction measures that will likely accompany the next debt ceiling vote. The top leaders of both parties, including the President, have been largely absent from the deficit talks currently being conducted by Vice President Joe Biden, but as the August deadline draws closer, their direct input may be the only thing that can advance negotiations. On Thursday, May 19, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sat down with TIME to discuss a wide variety of subjects. Below are lightly edited excerpts of his remarks on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction negotiations…. – Time, 6-1-11

Timothy Holder: History educator quizzes readers’ presidential knowledge

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, 6-1-11

Timothy Holder, a history professor at Walters State Community College, teaches Sunday school at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church recently.

Timothy Holder, a history professor at Walters State Community College, teaches Sunday school at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church recently.

“Hey, It’s Presidential Trivia” by Timothy Holder, TDH Communications, 106 pages

Three presidents of the United States had the nickname Hickory.

It’s an odd nickname, but Andrew Jackson was called “Old Hickory” and his political protege James Polk was called “Young Hickory” and Franklin Pierce was “Young Hickory of Granite Hills.”

Timothy Holder isn’t sure that last one really constitutes a nickname because of its long-windedness, but he found it to be an interesting fact about the country’s 44 presidents.

“Three presidents with the nickname ‘Hickory,’ who would’ve thought that?” said Holder, a history professor at Walters State Community College.

In his new book, “Hey, It’s Presidential Trivia,” published in February, Holder provides readers with many facts about the presidents that they might never have thought true.

One president spoke English as his second language. Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, grew up speaking Danish.

“You’re not a better historian for reading, but it’s fun,” said Holder, who lives near Mascot.

Holder, 44, said he always liked history growing up, but he didn’t decide to become a history teacher until he was in his 20s. He had received his undergraduate degree in Bible, thinking he might want to be a preacher.

“I was always interested in how I could learn a story in history and there was always a story leading up to that and a one leading up to that,” Holder said. “There was always more to the mystery.”

Much of his writing combines these two passions for Christian faith and history, especially biographies. Over the past eight years, Holder has authored and coauthored nine books, including “Influential Christians,” published last year and “Ask the Professor: Advice for College Grads,” which came out in January.

“Influential Christians” is a book containing biographies of 16 influential writers, musicians and preachers.

His books have all been nonfiction so far, though he hopes to write fiction in the future.

“I think what I was drawn to was the communication of the truth,” said Holder, who also teaches Sunday school at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church. “To communicate the truth, that is why I am here.”

For him, writing books is another way to communicate the truth.

His presidential trivia book, which includes at least five quirky facts for each president, plus years of service and political party, is a bit different than his other books.

However, at the suggestion of his wife, Angela, he wanted to make a more affordable book for readers to purchase at book signings.

His publishers set the price for his book fairly high at $20 to $25. He self-published the trivia book so he could control the cost.

As a professor, Holder said it is easy to find time to write over breaks and the summer. Holder wrote most of his trivia book last summer.

He already knew a lot of presidential facts from the courses he teaches, but he also did some research and “pleasure reading” to find the quirkiest facts about the country’s commanders in chief.

Just like with his lectures, Holder said he tried to inject humor into the book because he finds people focus better with a little bit of laughter.

Each month, Holder said he sets small writing goals, such as finishing 30 pages so his larger goal of writing a 300-page book doesn’t seem as daunting.

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