Sunday, June 5, 2011

Yet more political trivia (Easier this time)

1.) Which President died while having his portrait painted?

2.) Which former House Majority Leader was once an exterminator?

3.) Which former Senate Majority Leader made commercials for Viagra after retiring?

4.) On what television show was former U.S. Rep. Ben Nelson (D - GA) a regular cast member?

5.) What role did #4 play?

6.) On what television show was former U.S. Rep. Fred Grandy (R - IA) a regular cast member?

7.) What role did #5 play?

8.) Name the late movie star who married JFK's younger sister, Pat (Hint: she divorced him in 1966.)

9.) What were Bobby Kennedy's last known words?

10.) What was the last movie made by Ronald Reagan?

Grading Scale
8 - 10: Brilliance
5 - 7: Pretty darn impressive
2 - 4: Still not bad
1: Work on it a little

*** Answers in comment below ***

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Political trivia

This is installment # 2 of our political trivia game! To my complete and total shock, someone actually got nine of ten right last time. So, we'll be ramping it up a bit!! Good luck!

1. During the 1952 Presidential campaign, Richard Nixon gave a face-saving speech addressing some (alleged) improprieties. One of said improprieties was his having improperly accepted a gift (a puppy for his daughters) ... the media ultimately named the speech after the dog, what was the dog's name?

2. Name the American hero who leaked the "Pentagon Papers" to the New York Times? (Hint, he is my Facebook friend.)

3. What was President Ford's name at birth?

4. What Supreme Court Justice played professional football while attending Yale Law School?

5. What was the answer to #4's nickname as a football player?

6. Who is the only man in history to both throw a perfect game in Major League Baseball and serve in the U.S. Senate?

7. In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court - name her predecessor.

8. In 1989, the U.S. Senate rejected one of its' own former members who had been nominated as Secretary of Defense by George H.W. Bush - name the Senator AND two reasons why they rejected him.

9. Which U.S. Representative served the longest CONTINUOUS term as Speaker of the House?

10. Which Vice President told a U.S. Senate to "Go f--- yourself" on the Senate floor?

Grading Scale

9 - 10: Genius!

7 - 8: Brilliance!

5 - 6: Better than average!

3 - 4: Work on it, but you're getting there!

1 - 2: Hit the books!

0: Why are you torturing yourself?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Modern Political trivia

Recently, a Facebook friend suggested that I come up with political trivia questions for my little group of friends. Having won many such contests myself, I said to myself: "Who better?" The questions below are not easy, and I will give anyone who can answer them (without the assistance of Google or Wikipedia) serious props! Just for fun, some of the answers are clues to proceeding answers! (Before you ask - Yes, I do know the answers without assistance!) You can leave your answers in a comment; best of luck and you can look for me to do this periodically!


9 - 10: I'm very impressed!
7 - 8: Still impressive, but work on it!
4 - 6: Not bad.
2 - 3: Crack open an encyclopedia.
1: Lightweight

1. In 1964, then Sen. Ted Kennedy broke his back in a plane crash. Which other U.S. Senator was flying in the plane with him?

2. The answer to question number 1 was the father of which future U.S. Senator?

3. Which future Vice President showed the answer to number 1 the door? What year?

4. Where did LBJ attend college?

5. Who are the only sitting Governors to lack a 4-year college degree?

6. Which President's original last name was Blythe?

7. Who was the youngest man to ever serve as President?

8. What were Robert Kennedy's last known words?

9. What was the name of FDR's dog?

10. What Supreme Court Justice served the longest on the bench?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why I will never forget March 30, 1981

Since the advent of television in the thirties and forties, each generation has had its’ very own date in history which can never be forgetten. The fifties had Sputnik; the sixties had the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK; and the seventies had Nixon’s resignation. My generation (growing up in the eighties,) actually had two such moments: the day Ronald Reagan was shot and when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the former. It’s a day I will never forget.

I was just five years old and living in a suburb of Miami, Florida. Like a typical Kindergartner, I was playing outside with some neighborhood kids when my Mom suddenly appeared at the front door of our house with a crestfallen look on her face. “Pauly, come inside now please,” Mom said in a tone of voice I’d never before heard. “Why, Mom?” I replied as I walked up to her. It was nowhere near dinner time yet and the sky was clear, so I was wondering what I had done. “Please come inside, the President has been shot!” I immediately started to cry and went inside as she’d asked, wondering why she was so upset. I now understand that the world had suddenly turned upside down and she wanted her youngest son close to her. In retrospect, I can’t blame her.

As was customary for me, I had a lot of questions for Mom that day. I was five and very inquisitive. As was customary for Mom, she eventually got sick of answering my volumes of questions and told me to go read a book. Instead, I glued myself next to her in front of the television. At the time, all I knew was that Reagan was the new President (he’d been in office less than three months,) and that he’d been hit once. I remember Mom crying a little when the television reported (erroneously) that Press Secretary James Brady had died at the scene.

Reagan was at the Washington Hilton that day when John W. Hinckley, Jr., the scion of a wealthy Texas family of Republicans, opened fire with a .22 caliber pistol. His motive (if it can be called that,) was to impress (lesbian) movie actress Jodie Foster, who had co-starred in the film Taxi Driver several years before. Hinckley, then 25, ironically shares a birthday (May 29th,) with the last President to die by an assassin's bullet, John F. Kennedy. Hinckley was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and remains at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in D.C.

The shooting made the effervescent Reagan more popular with a once suspicious electorate. Gone were the concerns about his age (at 69, he was the oldest man ever elected President,) after he pulled through with flying colors and a hardy constitution. Reagan even managed to crack jokes with his doctors before surgery, reporting telling them “I hope you’re all Republicans!” The suspect suddenly became an eighties icon and spent nearly all of the rest of the decade in the White House.

What March 30, 1981 meant to me

In case you can’t tell from reading my blog posts, I am not a Republican … not even close. So, my memories of that day have nothing to do with any particular feeling for Reagan himself. I will never forget that day for one simple reason: it was one of the very few times I saw my mother truly vulnerable and frightened. Mom is a senior corporate executive and I’ve seen her intimidate men twice her size and multiple times her strength. She’s survived the death of two husbands and countless other bumps in the road of life, and always came out on top. But that day, I saw something in her eyes and I knew all was not right. It was a look of fear and uncertainty, the very same look she gave me that morning when the Twin Towers went down. For that reason only, I will never forget March 30, 1981.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who's not who among the GOP hopefuls and why

I’ve already spoken aplenty about the current crop of declared GOP candidates for next year’s Presidential election – and who wants to beat a dead horse (or a dead elephant, for that matter)? Today, I’d like to take a look at those that seem to be choosing not to run and discuss how this affects the GOP’s chances. With the President consistently polling around 50% in approval ratings (the touchstone for his re-election candidacy,) and the Tea Party dropping like a stone in current national polls, the current crop of Republicans in the race becomes all the more important.

Unlike their counterparts, the GOP Presidential sweepstakes usually fills up with some head-scratchers early on and then thins out. Democrats would seem to attract more serious candidates to their Presidential plebiscites, perhaps because there are fewer ideologues among the blue crowd. This year’s laughable gaggle includes businessman Herman Cain, former Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, notorious nut-job Michele Bachmann, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Nobody (including myself) has ever heard of Cain, Roemer has been out of office for nearly twenty years, Bachmann is in just her third term in the House and can’t even crack the leadership ladder, and Gingrich has been on the sidelines since early 1999.

The GOP has a nice history of recycling candidates. Bob Dole had to seek the nod three times (1980, 1988, and 1996,) before actually winning it (and getting stomped by scandal-plagued Bill Clinton); John McCain had to run twice after running face first into the wall that was George W. Bush in 2000; and even Ronald Reagan ran three times before winning it (1968, 1976, and 1980.) This year’s second-timers are the co-runners-up from the last cycle: Former Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. So, it’s been the exception that a first time candidate wins the GOP nod: Dubya took it in 2000 in his first try – prior to that, the last man to do so was Barry Goldwater in 1964!

The 2012 crop for the GOP is quite thin and could be a harbinger of some big wig stepping into the race later and claiming the prize. A recent vintage name (such as Sen. Rand Paul of Tennessee,) could also decide to give it a go, although it would probably just be to run as a way to build nationwide name recognition to try again in 2016. The crop thinned after two big rising GOP stars got caught up in very messy adultery scandals last year.

Gov. Mark Sanford was often rumored to harbor presidential ambitions, but abandoning the state to carry on an adulterous affair (in violation of state law,) while lying to your own aides yields an end to one’s political career. Sanford left office in total disgrace early this year and is presently licking his wounds in the political graveyard known as the lecture circuit. Sen. John Ensign was badly hobbled by his own scandal, where it was revealed that he was screwing a member of his staff (who happened to be married to another staffer,) and is limping out of the Senate next year. The twin killing left the Republicans short of legitimate contenders and the result is a nearly silly group.

Also shortening the list was the Republican debacle known as the 2006 mid-term elections. That (wonderful) year, then President Bush sank in the polls due to his bungling response to Hurricane Katrina and the Democrats took back the House and Senate in short order. Among the Democratic pick-offs that year were Senators George Allen (VA) and Rick Santorum (PA.) The loss left Allen to seek to restore himself to the Senate next year while Santorum is (for some odd reason) running for President anyway and getting widely ignored.

The 2010 mid-terms were a debacle of historic proportions for the Democratic Party, but those elected who might be of presidential timber are still several years away. The Tea Party revolution also put in place legislators that are WAY too far right to be of any consequence nationally. Nevertheless, pols like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio could have a future in the national arena if felicity smiles upon them. They just need to develop the experience portions of their respective rap sheets.

My question about next year’s GOP contenders is this: why aren’t any of the big dogs in the race? Sen. Mitch McConnell is nearing seventy and has always lusted after the Majority Leader position – but there’s no guarantee the GOP will take the Senate in 2012 (especially without a strong candidate atop the ticket,) and McConnell is your stereotypical Deep South Republican that won’t make it to the top of the ladder. McConnell’s #2, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, is stepping down after 2012 – so he’s out, too.

John Thune

Thune was the 2004 “Giant Killer” who edged out then Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle after three terms. He was re-elected in 2010 without opposition and his rugged good looks and folksy Midwestern drawl have gotten him some attention. The GOP Senate elders tabbed him for great things early on, naming him a deputy whip in his first term. Nevertheless, Thune, 50, has already ruled out a 2012 run without saying why and has also said he won’t be in the running to succeed Kyl as whip. He could change his mind on the latter to raise his profile for 2016, at which point he’d be just fifty-five.

Jeb Bush

I’ve said my piece about my home state’s former czar (um, Governor,) in previous soliloquies, so I won’t spend much time on him here. Bush would seem to be done with politics, at least in part because of the damage his big brother wreaked upon the family (and party) political brand. He left office in early 2007 a popular man, but has stayed out of the spotlight since. It’s said that Jeb is content to manage the future political fortunes of his son, George P. Bush, and remain under the radar. Had Dubya nosedived in historical fashion during his second term, Jeb might’ve made for an impressive candidate in 2008. There is no doubt that he could raise the money, but he didn’t bother with a 2010 Senate race that would’ve been over had he simply said he wanted it. So, barring the intervention of some (real, not political,) deity Jeb will remain a non-candidate.

John Boehner

The idea of a Boehner candidacy is almost amusing. First of all, the current House Speaker can’t get thru a speech without bawling and, second, he’s living his political dream as Speaker (now matter how difficult the Tea Partiers are to manage.) The Speaker of the House almost never runs for President, because there is too much risk. Boehner would have the support of the party elites, but is better off staying where he current resides. The people of Ohio’s 8th district will keep right on sending back to the House and that’s where the Tan Man should stay.

The Rest

The current Republican cast of characters is unimpressive to most. When former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah and Gary Johnson of New Mexico are throwing their hats in the ring and not being heckled mercilessly, you know the crop is thin. I’ve beaten that point to death, so I won’t dwell. Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi is considered a strong contender, but conservative Deep South candidates usually don’t run that well nationwide (George W. Bush was an extreme exception.) The GOP has little outside that base and their partners in the Midwest. The GOP may well take back the Senate in 2012; but outside of the Lord himself filming a campaign commercial for them, that will be the height of it.

Thanks to the Tea Party, the GOP is undergoing a further rightward shift that could marginalize them permanently. As Americans learn what the Tea Party’s true agenda is (killing what remains of our Middle Class,) they are less likely to keep on winning races. Governors Rick Scott, Scott, Walker, and John Kasich are so busy trying to kill every labor union known to man that they are forgetting the very people they were elected to serve. You can bet that bottom dollar none of the three will see reelection. The Tea Party “establishment” is getting exactly what they do NOT need: exposure. The more America sees of someone like Michele Bachmann, the less likely they are to be trusted with anything as precious as the Presidency of the United States.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The story of Connie and how Paul became Paulytics

Life is a funny thing - it almost never turns out the way we planned. That’s a good thing, though, because it makes for great humor and lessons learned. What is truly ironic is the way people you completely forgot about or don’t even really know turn out to be an influence on you. I’ll stop with the “sweet mystery of life” stuff now and share a truly ironic happenstance and how it has affected my life and politics.

The year was 1986, and I was in 5th Grade at Mirror Lake Elementary School in Plantation, FL. My father, Robert, had died of cancer early that school year and I brought his briefcase to school as a way of bringing him with me. I got picked on a lot for it - that’s what happens when a ten year-old sticks out like a sore thumb. To my credit, I had a big mouth and was lightning fast with comebacks – which meant I got my butt kicked occasionally. I had vision problems (I was born with a lazy eye that was later corrected through surgery, and wasn’t a fast runner, either.) This made me an easy and obvious target (deservedly so.) So that was not a great year for me. In retrospect, I could’ve helped myself, but didn’t.

Since I couldn’t see too well, I sat near the front of the class. My teacher that year, Mrs. Benson, didn’t like me very much. As such, in the latter part of the year, she moved me off to the side where I could see the blackboard and, at the same time, not bother her with my ADHD. I moved there and sat next to a little blonde girl named Connie. She just sat there, minding her own business and little smart-ass me decided to strike up a friendship the only way I knew how: by being a jackass.

One day, I walked up to Connie and said simply: “Good morning, Constance!” She ignored me at first, and quickly found that I was tough to ignore. She was a sweet kid, and didn’t know that this was my way of trying to be buddies with her, so she told me (repeatedly) to shut my trap. Needless to say, my little entreaty didn’t work. Connie and I attended school together for another seven years, but never really talked or became friends. We wouldn’t become friends until many years later.

Fast forward to 2008: I was working in the Investment Banking game back home in South Florida after attending college and graduate school. The financial panic of the recession had just kicked in and nobody wanted to sell their company in such an environment. That gave me precious little to do (my firm eventually went ‘belly-up’ and almost took me with it,) so I turned to the brand new diversion I’d recently discovered to while away my (now useless) time: Facebook!

As most of its denizens will tell you, Facebook is a wonderful place to find all the people you thought (or hoped, depending on your perspective,) you’d lost forever. After opening the account, I needed some “friends” or people I knew with whom to connect. I looked up my old high school, added some people I remembered, and decided I’d done a good thing. Now I could see what all those people were up to. For a guy with a career in an evaporating field, it was great. That meant I had something to do besides listen to CEOs complain about how their companies were dying and how could I even ask if they wanted to sell.

One of the first people I found was good old Connie from 5th Grade. By then, she’d forgotten all about my stupidity but had become quite vocal in her own little (conservative) way. I had degrees in political science that were going to waste with a career in finance, so I quickly decided to use Facebook as my personal bully pulpit to express my ideas and spread my personal (liberal) gospel. This was good, in that it gave me an outlet and a captive audience, and bad (I quickly found myself arguing with several of my vitriolic conservative former classmates.)

I logged on to Facebook one day to find a comment from Connie on one of my pictures. It was an opening salvo in the coming battle between two old acquaintances turned liberal and conservative – it started an argument that still has not ended as of this writing three long years later. The comment read: "You know, you didn’t grow up to be a bad looking guy and I just think that maybe if you weren’t such a Democrat that you wouldn’t be single still.” I was a little surprised, we hadn’t said a word to each other after 5th Grade (that I can remember, anyway,) but I was glad she seemed to be into politics – it gave me someone with whom to banter and debate.

The debates started then and there and have never really stopped. We’ve gotten to know each other a bit personally, so now I tone down the rhetoric and even defend her at times. At first, I was determined to “win” or at least to gain some ground. To her credit, I never did. For a little woman, she’s got a certain spunk that I’ve come to greatly respect and even admire. We debated endlessly on every political topic known to man: foreign affairs, welfare, unemployment, the Tea Party, Sarah Palin … you name it, we argued about it ... publicly!

Both Connie and I used to update our statuses regularly. Each one, in turn, turned into a debate on politics. We ran each comment stream up past the hundred mark, going back and forth. She once posted something about being frustrated with a long line at her local Wal Mart … it turned into an endless debate on welfare. I posted that I was at the dentist – that turned into a debate on health care reform.

My other Facebook friends all got sick of my little political rants and eventually either turned off my notifications or deleted me altogether. When that started, I decided to create a second account to air my politics – the new one would only have my political friends and be a place for my fellow liberals to rant. When it came time to give the new account a name, I quickly decided on using a nickname Connie had given me “Paulytics” (pronounced “politics,” and a play on my name.) Good ol’ Connie was my very first friend (which I’m sure she now regrets.)

It was only about six months ago that I created my little avatar, now known as Americus Paulytics ( It’s grown exponentially into something of a Facebook news service for liberals – offering commentary, punditry, humor, and all the liberally-slanted political news anyone could want. I’ve branched out into blogging (obviously) and am currently creating a website independent of Facebook where my friends and I will collaborate. I even incorporated it (yes, really) and created several political groups that offer people a forum in which to rant about different subjects (the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, John Boehner, and several others.) Through recommendations, requests, and word of mouth, “Americus” now has twice the friends that I (personally) do.

Today, Americus Paulytics is a small but growing little group of Facebook liberals who provide original content and share news stories with about 1600 people (the vast majority of which are liberals.) I even have a couple of partners who help and make suggestions. Not that I’m bragging, but it’s neat (even my mother likes it,) and is my very own creation. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments and some actually rely on us as a legitimate news organization. In that sense, I’m fulfilling my dream - for that, I have to thank Miss Connie for encouraging me. I’m sure she’s not going to be pleased when (and if) she reads that, but it’s my way of saying “thank you.”

Life is a huge mystery … you never know until you live it. After years of falling by the way side, it was the little blonde from 5th Grade that (successfully) encouraged me to do something with my education, trying where others had failed. She probably dislikes the result (she actually stays off the page now since there are 1590 other liberals that will comment if she posts anything,) but I certainly have to appreciate her tacit contributions. If this little idea of mine ever goes anywhere, I will have Connie to thank!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

RIP Geraldine Ferraro

When I was a little kid, I watched a show called “Maude.” Although I was young and didn’t quite pick up on all of the plot lines, I enjoyed the independent spirit of the main character (portrayed by future "Golden Girl" Bea Arthur.) The show' main character, Maude Finley, was a three time widower and a sassy, women's lib icon in a perennial battle with males and their egos.

Former U.S. Representative and Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine A. “Gerry” Ferraro was the very embodiment of the spirit that “Maude” had tried to capture: a strong woman with a can-do attitude battling men and their silliness on a daily basis while being successful in “their” world. Ferraro passed away this morning after a twelve-year battle with cancer, she was 75.

Ferraro was a brassy, sassy woman of the eighties with the typical big liberal heart and audacity to spare. Ferraro was no skirt-wearing princess in the Sarah Palin mold, but a blunt, brilliant, accomplished woman who blazed a trail for which she was never thanked. After raising her family and doing pro bono legal work for women in family court, Ferraro was appointed head of the now famous “Special Victims” unit of the Queens, NY district attorney’s office in an era where female prosecutors were an extreme exception. Once there, she became an advocate for abused children and women and gained notice for her effectiveness and tough fairness in plea bargain negotiations.

Never one to sit still, Ferraro decided to seek a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the somewhat conservative 9th Congressional district in Queens. At the time, the 9th was a conservative blue-collar area made famous as the setting for the television show “All in the Family.” Ms. Ferraro ran on a law and order platform touting her experience as a prosecutor and beat out two better known candidates in the Democratic primary. She billed herself as “conservative with a small ‘c,’” running on the slogan “Finally, a tough Democrat.” She easily won the primary and went on to an Election Day landslide.

Once in the House, Ferraro became a protégé of then Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil and quickly gained notice within the party. She would serve as a deputy chair of the 1980 Carter/Mondale re-election campaign and was elected Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus after just one term – a meteoric rise for a member of the slow-moving House. Her quick rise and reputation as a political moderate gained her the admiration of former Vice President Walter “Fritz” Mondale.

On July 12, 1984, Ferraro would make history when recent vintage Democratic nominee Mondale named her as his running mate. Ferraro was also the first Italian-American to be nominated to a major party’s national ticket; she was just 48 years old. Mondale and Ferraro lost in historic fashion on Election Day, as Ronald Reagan took 49 of the 50 states and even Ferraro’s 9th Congressional district.

Having not stood for re-election to her House seat in 1984 so as to concentrate on her Vice Presidential bid, Ferraro left the House in early 1985 but remained active in party circles. She ultimately decided against challenging then incumbent Republican Sen. Alphonse M. D’Amato, but would change her mind six years later. After a tough, divisive 1992 primary, Ferraro lost to then NY Attorney General Robert Abrams by less than one percentage point.

After the bruising loss to Abrams, Ferraro would join the Clinton Administration the following year as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights – a post she held until 1996. In 1998, Ferraro again ran for the Senate, this time losing badly to current NY Sen. Chuck Schumer. The primary was classy and not especially contentious, with Ferraro endorsing Schumer the following day. Schumer, who out-spent Ferraro 5 – 1, would go on to finally unseat the much hated D’Amato that fall.

After her second bid for the Senate failed, Ferraro mostly stayed out of the spotlight. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma shortly after the campaign ended, but didn’t disclose it until 2001. Ferraro would later assist Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful Presidential campaign in 2008 and continued her career as a political commentator, even joining Fox News (yes, really) for a brief time in the late nineties.

Gerry, as she was known, is gone now – and along with her another strong, trailblazing female figure who never “knew her place.” America is better for having known her, something not many people have written in their obituaries. I can still remember being a little boy watching her on television and thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s awesome!” Countless little girls also watched and were inspired. Ferraro was a big part of the reason why this country will eventually have a woman President. She was also proof that America was, and still is, the “Land of Opportunity.”