Sunday, November 23, 2014

First Lady Profile #7--Dolley Madison

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Few First Ladies had more influence on the social and political life of early America than Dolley Payne Todd Madison.  As the wife of the fourth president of the United States, she played a key role in the development of the new nation's character and the quality of its public image.

Dolley Madison knew all of the presidents from George Washington to Zachary Taylor.  She served as the White House hostess for President Thomas Jefferson.  She was the official hostess during her husband's two terms in office.  Until she died in 1849, Dolley was involved in the social life of Washington, D.C.--Alice K. Flanagan

-Dolley was born on May 20, 1768 in Guilford, North Carolina, but the family soon moved to Virginia.
-Her parents were Quakers (they are against war and believe in the equality of all people)
-Dolley attended a Quaker common school
-She had to dress in plain clothes, because Quakers didn't believe in jewelry or colorful clothes, etc...  This was hard for Dolley because she loved pretty things.
-When she was 14, the Virginia Legislature passed a law which enabled slaveholders to free their slaves.  Dolley's family were one of the first families to do this, and they then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
-In 1789, her father's business failed, and he ended up declaring bankruptcy.

-Dolley had many men pursuing her, but she finally accepted John Todd's proposal, so she wouldn't be an additional financial drain on her parents.
-She was 22 and John Todd was 27 when they got married on January 7, 1790.
-On February 29, 1792 she gave birth to a boy and they named him John Payne.
-In 1793, Dolley gave birth to another boy but both him and her husband died in on the same day in October from yellow fever.
-The next year she met James Madison and they were married on September 15, 1794.  He was 17 years older than her and wasn't a Quaker, as a result the Quakers disowned her, but Dolley felt she was making the right decision.

Photo Credit: First Lady Biography for Kids
-James was in Congress, so even though the Quaker society disowned Dolley, she flourished in the political society in Philadelphia.  Also, now that she was no longer a Quaker, she could take advantage of the latest fashions.
-When Thomas Jefferson was elected President, he appointed James Madison to be the Secretary of State.  Since, Jefferson was widowed, he asked Dolley to serve as the official White House Hostess.
-She developed her own style in Washington D.C. as hostess, and was the "undisputed fashion leader" there, ordering all of her gowns from France.
-After Jefferson's two terms in office, James Madison was elected President and he and Dolley moved into the White House on March 4, 1809.
-Congress provided the funds so Dolley could furnish the White House with the help of a decorator.

Photo Credit: War of 1812 Archaeology
-On June 18, 1812 the War of 1812 began and the United States of America was again at war with the British.
-On August 24th, Dolley was alone at the White House with some servants.  She fled before the British came and rescued many important documents and a painting of George Washington.  This ended up being crucial since the British set the White House and the city of Washington on fire.
-After they left the White House, they retired to Montpelier.  They continued to entertain and often gave dinner parties for political friends.

-When James Madison died on June 28, 1836, she experienced a great loss.
-He had been working on his historical papers detailing the discussions that led to developing the U.S. Constitution.  Dolley had been helping him and after his death, she finally found a publisher, the U.S. Congress.
-She moved back to Washington in 1837 with her niece, Anna, leaving the care of Montpelier to her son.  Her son Payne was constantly drinking and gambling and racking up debts as a result.  Because of this, Dolley eventually had to sell the Montpelier estate to pay off his debts.
-She died on July 12, 1849 and was given a funeral fit for a president.
-There is a collection of Dolley Madison memorabilia on display at the Greensboro Historical Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina.

My Dolley Madison Books:
-Dolley Payne Todd Madison--Alice K. Flanagan
-America's First Ladies--Diana Dixon Healy
-First Ladies--Betty Boyd Caroli
-First Ladies of the White House--Nancy J. Skarmeas
Previous Profiles:
-Eleanor Roosevelt
-Julia Grant
-Louisa Adams
-Frances Cleveland 
-Lucretia Garfield 
-Edith Roosevelt

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Prophet's Prey--A Review

It was important for me to let the CPS know that I had never met nor spoken with any FLDS woman who had not been abused in some form.  Not one.--pg. 271
-Prophet's Prey by Sam Brower is my 8th and final book (for now) in my study of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).

-Brower was the private investigator who spent countless hours looking into all the abuse committed by Warren Jeffs and others in the leadership of the FLDS.  He accurately labeled Warren Jeffs with the title, "pedophile prophet".
With the FLDS, the Feds are facing one of the largest organized-crime syndicates in the history of this country.  Some ten to fifteen thousand members support a religion that participates in child abuse, interstate and international sex trafficking, and other crimes in support of their religious dogma.  It is a much bigger gang than Don Corleone ever had in the Godfather movies. 
I have often pondered how the public would react if the same sort of ritualistic crimes that I have investigated within the FLDS had instead centered on a congregation of Satan worshippers.  The only difference is is that Satan worshippers know without a doubt that they are going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they get caught raping a virgin.  If the FLDS crimes had been put in proper perspective, outraged citizens and lawmakers would have demanded action years ago.--pgs. 300-301
-After reading books by many of the victims, it was good to get a comprehensive, overall look at the FLDS.  Brower also put into perspective how outrageous all of the crimes of the FLDS are, but because of the mob mentality of the cult, they have gotten away with things for way too long.

-What I find most reprehensible is that Jeffs and other men raped young children, and did so in the name of God.  I can't think of a more horrific thing to do to another person and then claim that God sanctions it.  The Bible says:
If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.--Matthew 18:6
-God will hold Jeffs and all the other men accountable for the abuse they have committed.  I couldn't agree more with Brower's conclusion to his book.
We live in a country in which the practice of illegal, arranged incestuous marriage, the sexual exploitation of women and children as part of religious rituals, the trafficking of children across interstate and international boundaries, and the tyranny of breaking families apart has never been tolerated.  

There is no question that great strides have been made in this worthwhile cause, and I have faith in the ultimate outcome; but the lasting changes needed to provide for the safety and security of thousands of children have yet to be achieved.  Until the FLDS hierarchy, whoever that may eventually be, finds the human decency to stand before the world and accept responsibility for their criminal actions, and sincerely apologize to their many victims with a commitment to never again abuse or neglect another child, it will never truly be over.  Until that day, I will remain vigilant.--pg. 311
 Previous FLDS Posts:
The Treatment of Women
Carolyn Jessop--A Portrait of Courage
Church of Lies
Studying the FLDS
When Men Become Gods
The Witness Wore Red
Stolen Innocence 
Lost Boy

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sexiest Men Alive

Taylor Kitsch: What I love him in--Friday Night Lights and Lone Survivor

-People always leaves out a couple of gems in their Sexiest Man Alive Issue.  I decided I would post the ones that I agree with, and then add some great ones that they missed.

Matt Czuchry: What I love him in--Gilmore Girls and The Good Wife

Mark Wahlberg: What I love him in--Lone Survivor and Invincible

Charlie Hunnam: What I love him in--Sons of Anarchy

Who They Missed--

Timothy Olyphant: What I love him in--Justified

Anson Mount: What I love him in--Hell on Wheels

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keystone Pipeline

-60% of the American people support the Keystone Pipeline

-14 Senate Democrats joined all 45 Republican Senators in voting for it

-Labor Unions are mad at the Democrats who didn't vote for it

-It would provide jobs and have economic benefits
The project would move oil from Canada into the United States and eventually to the Gulf Coast. Supporters say it would create jobs and ease American dependence on Middle East oil. A government environmental impact statement also predicts that a pipeline would result in less damage to the climate than moving the same oil by rail.
-Yet, it failed to pass a veto proof majority by only one vote, and the President plans on vetoing it.

-However, even CNN admits that Obama will unlikely lose this battle in the end.

-Meanwhile, since Democrat Mary Landrieu (who was a big supporter since her constituents support it) wasn't able to convince enough of her fellow Democrats to pass it, she may lose in her run-off election coming up soon.

The Good News:
-Even though the bill failed the veto proof majority by only one vote, it will be back next year and likely pass.

-This will be good news for everyone, except environmental extremists.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Elise Stefanik--Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress

For all you middle-school presidents, secretaries and treasurers that aspire to lead the country some day, here is some encouraging news - Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman ever to be elected to the US Congress started the same way. The 30-year-old who defeated Democratic incumbent Aaron Woolf in New York's 21st Congressional District in the November 4th midterm elections, began her political career in sixth grade, as student council secretary.--Meera Dolasia
-She was born on July 2, 1984 in Albany, New York
-She went to the Albany Academy of Girls when she was elected the student council secretary.  She was actually able to fulfill her campaign promise with the help of a fellow leader.
-She graduated from Harvard's Institute of Politics in 2006 and was awarded the Women's Leadership Award while there.
-Immediately after graduation, she went to work for George W. Bush's Domestic Policy Council.
-A year later, she joined the office of the White House Chief of Staff.
-After Obama was elected she became the Policy Director for Governor Pawlenty’s Presidential campaign.
-She then worked as Director of Communications for the Foreign Policy Initiative.
-It was there that she helped co-found a group of think tanks called Defending Defense.

-During 2012, she worked for the Republican Party, most notably as the leader of debate preparations for Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
-After the election, she returned home to work for her parents' plywood business.
-In 2013, she decided to run for Congress.
-She defeated her Republican primary opponent, and then went on to defeat her Democrat opponent, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

-She is a young, rising star in the Republican Party.  I am excited to see what she will do when she gets to D.C.

Elise for Congress
Meet Elise Stefanik

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History!--A Review (Part 2)

Teddy Roosevelt was a brand new type of president, a hyperactive adult, and a steam engine in trousers.--The Roosevelts
Episode 2-In the Arena (1901-1910)

Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to:
-Leave the country during the course of his time in office
-Have been born in the city
-Be known by his initials, T.R.
-Go down in a submarine
-Send a transatlantic cable for purposes of diplomacy
-Own an automobile
-Win the Nobel Peace Prize
-Invite an African-American (Booker T. Washington) to dine with him in the White House
Descriptions of T.R.:
-Youngest president in history at age 42
-Brilliant, possibly a genius
-Bird Watcher
-Big Game Hunter
-Author and Naturalist
-Historian and Expansionist
-Moral Crusader and Shrewd Politician
-Proud Husband and Father
Teddy's Accomplishments While President:
-The break-up of Northern Securities
-The Coal Strike Settlement
-The Panama Canal
-The Pure Food & Drug Act
-The Hepburn Act
-An end to the Russo-Japanese War
-Millions of Wild Acres preserved for future generations to enjoy
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.--Teddy Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt:
-He saw himself as a defender of right, a moralist.
-His presidency was the first one where the American people were excited about the White House.
-He had an unbelievable amount of energy.  He raced through the day drinking lots of coffee.  He read a book a day, sometimes 3 if he had time.  He personally answered 150,000 letters that were sent to the White House.
-During the coal strike, he became the first president to mediate a labor dispute
-He bought the rights from the French to build the Panama Canal.  The Canal is one of the greatest human achievements.
-During his run for re-election in 1904, he and Edith entertained writers, artists and musicians.  The public loved reading about the Roosevelt White House.  Huge crowds appeared wherever he went.
-"He was the first American president who had the look and the sound and the education of a Harvard man and there had never been anything like that in American politics."--David McCullough
-Through all of his presidency, he was resolutely himself.  (Which is probably one of the main reasons I have always loved him.)
-He came up with the Square Deal.  The essence being that rich men and poor men should be treated equally.

-He won re-election in 1904 by a landslide.  He then made the huge mistake of promising that under no circumstances would he run again in 1908.  He later said, "I would cut my hand off if I could take back that statement."
-It was difficult to be one of Teddy's children, since living up to their father's standards was almost impossible.  Alice especially had a hard time, since she never felt like she had a real home after living with her Aunt Bamie, her grandparents and now her Dad and Step-Mom.  As a young woman coming of age in the White House, she did almost everything that a girl her age back then wasn't supposed to do.
-Teddy pushed through bills that began to rewrite the role of the government in American's lives.
-While in office, he created 18 national monuments, the National Parks went from 5 to 10 and he created the National Forest Service.
-Yet, after all his accomplishments, he didn't think he was a great president because he had faced no great crisis while in office.
-He handpicked his successor, Taft and helped him win election.
-He then went to Africa and abroad for over a year so he wouldn't be tempted to comment on decisions that Taft would make.  He hunted big game in Africa.
-He was just as popular as when he was president, when he returned home, millions of New Yorkers came out to greet him.

Franklin Roosevelt:
-He asks Eleanor to marry him when he is 21 and she is 19.  His mother had always been overprotective of him, and with his father having passed away she was concerned about being alone.
-He was fascinated with Eleanor, she was Teddy's favorite niece, but more than that he was fascinated with her substance.
-He was one of the first people to realize how intelligent she was and very substantive, there was a lot there.  He truly did love her.  When he asked her to marry him, he said he could make something of himself with her by his side.
-He and Eleanor attended Teddy's Inauguration.  13 days later on November 17th, Teddy led a parade and then made time to give Eleanor away at her and Franklin's wedding.  They took a 3 month honeymoon
-Franklin decided to run for the legislature as a Democrat, without bothering to consult Eleanor about it.

Eleanor Roosevelt:
-Eleanor had a rough childhood.  Her mother was very beautiful and was disappointed that Eleanor wasn't.  Her mother's nickname for her was Granny.
-Her father, (Teddy's brother) was an alcoholic and was absent for most of her life.  Yet, she romanticized him and her relationship with him, even after she became an adult.
-By the age of 10, both of her parents were dead.
-She went to live with her pious grandmother.  Also in the house with them was an abusive nurse, an unstable aunt and two drunken uncles.
-Eleanor was lonely and struggled with a lot of fears.  Her Aunt Bamie came to her rescue.  She recommended that Eleanor be sent away to a school called Allenswood.  She was there for 3 years and she described them as the happiest of her life, where all her fears disappeared.
-Her instructor at Allenswood insisted her students be independent minded, intellectually alive and socially conscious.  Her education made a huge impact on her and brought out her great intellect.  She was the most admired girl at her school.
-To her dismay, her grandmother made her come back from school at the age of 17.
-Her and Franklin got engaged on November 22, 1903, but weren't allowed to announce their engagement until a year later, on December 1, 1904 because of Franklin's mother.
-She volunteered to work with immigrant children in a settlement house, and took it very seriously.
-Because of this, she helped Franklin see beyond his "privileged" world.
-Her marriage to Franklin was "a bargain she would often regret."
-They each wanted something from a relationship that the other in the end couldn't give.
-Eleanor wanted an intimate, someone she could confide in.  A husband who would always be supportive and there for her.  He could not provide that.
-Franklin wanted someone who had all the devotion to him that his mother had had, but not the admonitory part.  But sadly, Eleanor could not be worshipful and had to be admonitory.
-Eleanor had hoped that Franklin's mother Sara would become the mother she never had, but it was not to be.  Sara had a 6 story town home built for Franklin and Eleanor, and Eleanor was not consulted about anything.  Sara hired all of the staff herself and Franklin and Sara oversaw the construction and furnishing of the house.  So, Eleanor had no say in anything at all, not even in hiring the nannies that would watch her children.  She resented this immensely (who wouldn't?) and Franklin didn't understand why this was such a problem for her.

Episode 1-Get Action (1858-1901)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Review of Courage and Consequence!

Photo: Karl Rove and I at Hannity's Take Back Our Country Event in 2010
The courage and conviction I saw among those aboard Air Force One and in the White House in the years ahead gave me the confidence of having been on the right side of the fight.

I wanted things on the wall that reminded me of where I came from and whom I admired.

...the leading reform opponents--this tale's true villains--were Democratic congressman Barney Frank and senator Chris Dodd. Dodd was less angry than Frank--though this could be said of virtually everyone on Capitol Hill--but he was just as wrong in his diagnosis of the problem and his opposition to reform.

At its heart and in its results, politics is the great, moving expression of our democracy. There are knaves and fools in politics, but the arena is also filled with people motivated by high ideals and great causes who work with skill, integrity, and honor.--Karl Rove
-I read this book at the beginning of the year, so this review is way overdue. 

-I have always respected Karl Rove, but this book has only increased my respect for him and President Bush. It was fascinating to see how things took place behind the scenes. A lot of it confirmed things that I thought at the time. 

-I met him at Sean Hannity's Take Back Our Country Event, and he was genuine and kind.  I have a good friend who used to work with Rove and Bush back in Texas while Bush was running for Governor, and he vouches that Rove is the real deal.

-I highly recommend reading it!

41: A Portrait of my Father

-President George W. Bush has written a new book entitled, 41: A Portrait of my Father.  This book isn't about himself or his presidency, but about his beloved father.

-I loved his first book, Decision Points, even more than I thought I would.  So, I'm looking forward to reading this new book.

-He has made appearances on CBS Sunday Morning and the Today Show.  I've watched both of them and I'm excited to see Sean Hannity's interview with him on Thursday.

-On CBS Sunday Morning, Bob Schieffer interviewed Bush, below are the opening comments to the first part of the interview:
In all our history, we've had just two sets of father-and-son Presidents . . . John and John Quincy Adams; and George H. W. and George W. Bush. The younger George Bush (President # 43) has quite a bit to say about his father (#41), and in an interview at his Presidential Library in Texas, George W. Bush has much to tell our chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer.
Links to the interviews:
-CBS Sunday Morning Part 1
-CBS Face the Nation Part 2
-Today Show Part 1
-Today Show Part 2

Monday, November 10, 2014

25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

-On August 13, 1961 East Germany began constructing the Berlin Wall which would separate East and West Germany for the next 28 years.

-Thanks in part to President Ronald Reagan and other circumstances, the wall came down on November 9, 1989.

-On June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan gave a speech at Brandenburg Gate urging Gorbachev to tear down the wall.  The phrase, "tear down this wall", was controversial and many of Reagan's aides didn't think he should say it.  Speech writer Peter Robinson wrote the controversial phrase, and Reagan went against the critics and kept it in the speech.  No one could've known how famous and instrumental that speech would become.

-Some excerpts from Reagan's speech:
President von Weizsacker has said, "The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed." Today I say: As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph. 

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
-Yesterday was the 25th Anniversary of the wall coming down. Germany celebrated and the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel led several events commemorating the fall.  She herself grew up in East Germany and was 35 years old when the wall came down.  Below are some excerpts:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel led several events Sunday, including the placing of a rose in one of the few remaining sections of the Wall  to commemorate the 138 people killed in Berlin alone as they tried to flee the Soviet-allied state.

In a speech at the main memorial site for the Wall, Merkel said that "the fall of the Wall has shown us that dreams can come true."

She called the Wall a "symbol of state abuse cast in concrete" that "took millions of people to the limits of what is tolerable."

-When I took a trip to California back in 2012, I was able to see numerous pieces of the Berlin Wall that were brought over here from Germany.  In fact, there are more pieces of the wall in the United States now than in Germany.

-It truly is a remarkable event to celebrate.  The wall coming down was a huge step for more of the world to become free and to move away from communism.  The people who live in East Germany today have a much brighter future than they did 25 years ago.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Turn: Washington's Spies

The show follows New York farmer, Abe Woodhull, who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form The Culper Ring, an unlikely group of spies who turn the tide in America's fight for independence.--AMC 
-I can't say enough good things about the new TV show, Turn: Washington's Spies.  It is based on a book with the same name, Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose.  Rose serves as a consultant for the show.  I look forward to reading the book.

-As I have mentioned many times before, I love learning about history, and am a war movie buff.  The Civil War and the Revolutionary War are my favorite to learn about because both wars were fought for freedom.

-When I home schooled my kids, we watched a TV series called, Liberty's Kids which was about the Revolutionary War.  It was very well done, and was accurate in the story it told.

-Turn tells a little bit different story, but it still looks at all sides of the Revolutionary War.  What I have been most struck by is that the British had fully taken over whole towns.  For some reason I hadn't pictured that before.