For the first time in a century and a half, the Whig Party has successfully elected a candidate. Is the party of Henry Clay making a comeback?
On Tuesday, the party of Lincoln notched a big win. No, not the GOP, but the Whig Party, the original party of Lincoln. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Robert Bucholz defeated Democrat Lorretta Probasco to become the judge of election for the Fifth Division of the 56th Ward by a margin of 36-24 to become the first elected Whig in Philadelphia, if not the entire country, in roughly 150 years.
Henry Clay, 1843. (Library of Congress)
Bucholz is a member of the centrist Modern Whig Party, which was founded in 2007 and claims to be successor to the Whig Party, which was one of the two major parties in the United States during the early 19th century. (The Modern Whigs are not to be confused with the True Whig Party, which ran Liberia as a one-party state for over a century until a military coup in 1980.) The original Whig Party elected two presidents, William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor and was led by such notable statesmen as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. However, it broke up in the 1850s as the issue of slavery came to the fore in American politics.
The original Whigs focused on issues that now seem somewhat dated. The party was strongly in favor of restoring the Bank of the United States, higher tariffs and federal involvement in building internal improvements, like canals. In an email to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bucholz described the party as focused on “pragmatism.” He wrote that the Modern Whigs “believe that politics is all about compromise instead of getting everything you want and giving up nothing. The recent gridlock in Washington could not have happened under Modern Whigs."
The chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia said Tuesday night that Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial run was just a warmup for 2016.
In election night remarks just after polls closed, Pat Mullins, the chair of the Republican Party of Virginia, claimed that Terry McAuliffe's campaign was "really designed to elect Hillary Clinton in 2016" and just a practice run for the blueprint that Democrats would use in that state.
Mullins took the stage in a mostly empty hotel ballroom to share some personal thoughts, saying that he'd save the "ra ra speech" for later but wanted to get something off his chest. He immediately accused Democrats of running "the dirtiest, most devisive, most despicable campaign" he had ever seen and railed at the outside money coming in from "Planned Parenthood, the unions and Mayor Bloomberg." Mullins also noted contemptously that the zip code from which McAuliffe had raised the most money was 90210.
McAuliffe is a longtime Clinton ally and both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have campaigned on his behalf.
A bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians cleared an important procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Monday.
By a 61-30 vote, the Senate voted for cloture Monday evening on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. The bill, which prohibits workplace discrimination against gay and lesbians, received support from every Democrat present, as well as seven Republicans. It is expected to pass the Senate this week after amendments are added to expand the exception for religious organizations.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, arrives at the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Although more than 60 senators had pledged their support to end debate and move forward with the bill, there was some suspense over the final result. A number of senators, including two pledged to support the bill, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), were unable to make it back to Washington for the vote. As a result, the votes in favor remained perilously perched at 59, just one shy of the 60-vote margin needed to achieve cloture, as Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) went into the Republican cloakroom to coax support from two wavering Republicans, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Eventually, both Portman, who already supports same-sex marriage, and Toomey came around, allowing ENDA to clear the crucial proceedural hurdle. Afterward, on Twitter, Portman’s openly gay son wrote, “Go Dad.”
Presuming ENDA reaches final passage in the Senate, it still must be approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has already announced his opposition. Advocates remain cautiously optimistic, however, noting that ENDA is supported by roughly three in four Americans.
While the bill to end workplace discrimination against gay and lesbians seems poised to pass the Senate, it faces a new hurdle in the House.
The path towards the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA becoming law took one step forward on Monday morning but two steps backward when Speaker of the House John Boehner came out against the measure. The bill, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, was endorsed by Sen. Dean Heller, (R-NV) giving it the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Heller’s support may help ENDA pass the Senate, but Boehner’s opposition dealt a major blow to its chances in the House.
Just minutes after Heller’s office announced that the Nevada Republican was supporting the bill, Boehner came out against the measure. In a statement, Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said “The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”
Boehner’s opposition means it is very unlikely that ENDA will be brought to the House floor for an up-or-down vote, which hurts but doesn’t totally derail the legislation’s chances. Supporters could still attach it as an amendment to a defense-spending bill or even try to use a legislative maneuver called a discharge petition to force a vote, if they can get a majority of the House behind the bill.
ENDA is likely to pass the Senate in the coming days, which would be the first time that the anti-discrimination bill has ever been passed by that chamber. The result will be a victory for LGBT advocates who have pushed to pass an anti-discrimination law for decades. But the likely consequence of Boehner’s open opposition will be to make a Senate victory merely symbolic. ENDA’s approval by the Senate will be an important milestone but the bill still needs to pass the House of Representatives to become law.
A leaked memo appears to undermine significant details in a new book from a witness to the embassy attacks. But its alleged author tells The Daily Beast he didn't write it.
The Benghazi whistleblower whose new book details massive security failures in the run-up to the September 11, 2012 attacks denies he wrote an incident report made public this week that undermines key details in his memoir.
The debate over the Obama administration’s actions before and after the attack on the U.S. mission was reignited following an Oct. 27 60 Minutes report featuring an interview with Morgan Jones, a pseudonym for a British security contractor who trained and advised the local Libyan guard force for the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Jones’s book, The Embassy House, was released two days later and contains a firsthand account of his time in Benghazi and his actions during the series of attacks that resulted in the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
In a fundraising email to supporters, E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, attacked Sean Parker.
E.W. Jackson, the far right wing Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia has now added Sean Parker, a tech mogul instrumental in the success of Facebook, to an enemies list that includes gays, Planned Parenthood and yoga practitioners.
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Candidate E.W. Jackson is controversial to say the least. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
In an email to supporters tonight entitled "Pirates," Jackson slammed Parker, a Virginia native who recently donated $200,000 to Jackson's Democratic opponent, State Senator Ralph Northam. In the email, Jackson labels Parker an "eccentric unethical billionaire." In particular, he singles out the Facebook mogul for criticism for his role founding Napster, the pioneer file sharing service from the early 2000s. In the email, Napster is characterized as a "music pirating service shut down in the early 2000s for theft of intellectual property" and because of his involvement, Parker is labeled an "unethical pirate."
In his disdain for Parker and Napster, Jackson, an evangelical minster, finds unexpected common ground with the heavy metal band Metallica, which famously launched a lawsuit against the file-sharing website in 2000 that eventually forced Napster into bankruptcy.
A Montana state senator running for Congress speaks with a very distinctive regional accent.
A Montana rancher running for Congress may have left his roots behind but not his heavy Maryland accent.
Matt Rosendale is a Republican state senator from Glendive, Montana who recently announced his candidacy for the state's at-large House seat. In a campaign video released today, Rosendale discusses individual liberty and freedom as images of the Montana landscape flicker across the screen. It all seems familiar for a Republican from the Mountain West, save for his voice. The images and rhetoric may be Montana but the accent is all Maryland.
Rosendale was born in Baltimore and raised on Maryland's Eastern Shore and it shows in every syllable he utters, particularly those which use the letter O. The result is somewhat jarring. After all, he may look like a Montana Republican, talk like a Montana Republican but he sounds like someone from "Balmer, Merlin." One almost expects him to start addressing voters as "hon" or announce that his favorite beer is Natty Boh. Although Rosendale has been successful running for local office, his distinctive accent may not be as endearing statewide. After all, Maryland is a long way from Montana.
Do you want to see Dirty Wars, the movie exposing and criticizing U.S. drone policy and secret military operations around the world? If so, the American Embassy in Australia has got you covered with some free tickets.
“We're so excited for this weekend! Join us for a whole raft of critically acclaimed American films at the Canberra International Film Festival! We have double passes to Our Nixon, Dirty Wars, Kill Your Darlings, Blackfish (pictured), John Dies At The End and Any Day Now,” the embassy’s Facebook page announced on October 28.
The next day the embassy’s Twitter feed announced “Would you like FREE tickets to Blackfish or Dirty Wars at the @CIFF_Canberra this weekend? Get in touch!,” Dirty Wars is currently scheduled for a November. 3 screening at the Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF).
Ted Cruz advocated overturning nearly 100 years of Supreme Court precedent on Wednesday.
In a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C, the Texas senator advocated overturning the high court’s 1920 decision in Missouri v. Holland. In that case, the Court upheld as constitutional a treaty that required the federal government to enact laws regulating migratory birds after a previous statute on the subject was found unconstitutional in a lower court. In its opinion, written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, the Supreme Court suggested that the treaty power is broader than the Congress’s normal lawmaking power.
Cruz made the statement while discussing a case called Bond v. United States which also deals with the scope of the treaty power and will be heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The Texas senator said “Missouri v. Holland, it may be possible for the court to distinguish that case. There are grounds on which you could distinguish it. But, if you can’t distinguish it, then Missouri v. Holland should be overruled.”
However, Missouri v. Holland is considered a major case, not just for its implications for the treaty clause, but because a critical passage in the court’s decision embodies the judicial philosophy of “a living Constitution.” Holmes wrote in his opinion “The case before us must be considered in the light of our whole experience and not merely in that of what was said a hundred years ago.” As a result, overturning Missouri v. Holland would be an important blow for conservatives in the broader legal wars over how to interpret the Constitution.
The State Department has no intention of providing Congress more witnesses to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, despite Sen. Lindsey Graham’s threat to hold up all nominations until he gets satisfaction on the issue.
The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya is seen in flames following an attack on September 11, 2012. (Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters, via Landov)
Graham’s Monday morning demand came after a new CBS 60 Minutes expose that featured an interview with a British security contractor who was on the ground and fought on the State Department compound and at the CIA annex during the attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. The contractor, calling himself Morgan Jones, claimed that he had repeatedly warned officials about the vulnerability of the facility.
The expose also featured Stevens’ deputy Greg Hicks, who said he was preparing a third request for more security in Benghazi at the time of the attack, and Lt. Col. Andy Wood, one of the top security officials in Libya at the time, who said he had repeatedly warned the State Department that the Benghazi mission was going to be attacked by Al Qaeda.
Grilling contractors over the failures of the Obamacare website, members of Congress from both parties sharpened their knives for next week, when the HHS secretary will face the music.
There was finally bipartisan agreement over one aspect of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, when lawmakers from both parties on the House Energy and Commerce Committee attacked two executives from the contractors responsible for building healthcare.gov over the website’s snafus. In a political ritual almost as old as and deeply reminiscent of the human sacrifices practiced by the Maya, Cheryl Campbell, a senior vice president at CGI Federal, which was the lead contractor on federal health exchange and its website as well as Andrew Slavitt of Quality Software Services Inc, a subdivision of United Healthcare, were berated by lawmakers from both parties.
Congressmen didn’t just berate the contractors for incompetence, they also used them to score political points. When Democrats like Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes asked if the website failures had any connection to the underlying law, the contractors said no. Several Republican congressmen pressed the contractors on whether, if they were President Obama, they would have let healthcare.gov launch. Needless to say, the executives under question declined to put themselves in the President’s shoes.
There were plenty of partisan fireworks, too. After Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) claimed that part of the source code in the website violated federal health privacy laws under HIPAA, he provoked the ire of Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). Pallone thought that Barton’s question turned it into “monkey court,” arguing that since health information isn’t needed to enroll—as pre-existing conditions are irrelevant under Obamacare—HIPAA doesn’t apply.
Jofi Joseph, an official in the National Security Staff at the White House, was fired last week after being caught as the tweeter behind @natsecwonk, a feed that’s been leaking internal information since 2011. Josh Rogin reports.
A White House national security official was fired last week after being caught as the mystery Tweeter who has been tormenting the foreign policy community with insulting comments and revealing internal Obama administration information for over two years.
Jofi Joseph, a director in the non-proliferation section of the National Security Staff at the White House, has been surreptitiously tweeting under the moniker @natsecwonk, a Twitter feed famous inside Washington policy circles since it began in February, 2011 until it was shut down last week. Two administration officials confirmed that the mystery tweeter was Joseph, who has also worked at the State Department and on Capitol Hill for Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Joe Biden. Until recently, he was part of the administration's team working on negotiations with Iran.
During his time tweeting under the @natsecwonk name, Joseph openly criticized the policies of his White House bosses and often insulted their intellect and appearance. At different times, he insulted or criticized several top White House and State Department officials, including former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, Secretary of State John Kerry, and many many others.
Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and chair of the House Budget Committee, called on Kathleen Sebelius to resign as Secretary of Health and Human Services Tuesday afternoon over the issues with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
On a conference call to support the gubernatorial campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Ryan stated that he thought that Sebelius should lose her job over tech issues involved in the launch of healthcare.gov.
Ryan, a longtime opponent of Obamacare, said, "I think this rollout has been a fiasco, not just because they have bad tech but because the law itself is so fundamentally flawed. We gave the administration every chance to delay the law and delay the mandate." The Wisconsin congressman recalled testimony from Sebelius before the House Ways and Means Committee, where she gave "the impression that [the launch of the federal health exchange] would be almost flawless."
Former Washington Post writer Laura Blumenfeld on Monday became the latest in a long list of journalists who have joined the Obama administration when she took up an appointment in the State Department’s Middle East office.
A speaker of Arabic and Hebrew, Blumenfeld will now be in charge of strategic communications in the State Department’s office handling negotiations for Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East Peace Process. Kerry has tapped former Ambassador to Israel and Brookings Institution scholar Martin Indyk to lead that effort inside the Obama administration.
“Laura Blumenfeld started today in Martin Indyk’s office,” an Obama administration official told The Daily Beast. “Her job will be to coordinate all outreach – press, Hill, think tank, and people to people. Laura brings decades of journalism experience to her new job and will be an integral part of our effort to achieve Middle East peace.”
After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called Tea Party stalwart Rep. Louie Gohmert “a person of no intelligence” in an interview on NBC Nightly News on Wednesday, the back and forth between the two continued Thursday with Gohmert suggesting that McCain “would be better off with 'no intelligence.'”
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Gohmert said:
"Obviously, Senator McCain would be better off with ‘no intelligence’ since he does not know the Syrian opposition he met with is infested with al Qaeda and terrorist kidnappers. His ‘intelligence’ even caused him to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that burned churches and killed Christians, as the senator stood against the will of the massive majority of Egyptians including moderate Muslims, Christians, and secularists who demanded the Muslim Brotherhood extremist persecutions must end."
The spat started when Gohmert accused McCain of supporting al Qaeda at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of evangelical activists on Friday. McCain’s office initially “declined to dignify Gohmert’s comment with a response.” However, when asked about it during an interview with NBC Nightly News about the debt deal on Wednesday, McCain dismissed Gohmert’s comments, saying, "Sometimes those are, comments like that are made out of malice, but if someone has no intelligence, I don't view it as being a malicious statement. You can't respond to that kind of thing."
After President Obama announced a shift in approach to the conflict in Syria, Josh Rogin joins ‘The Daily Rundown’ on MSNBC to offer his take on whether the move was too little, too late.