Gerald Ford, nice guy

December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford died today. He was 93, the longest-surviving ex-president.

President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford walk with their daughter, Susan, and family dog, Liberty, at Camp David Aug. 7, 1976.
President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford walk with their daughter, Susan, and family dog, Liberty, at Camp David Aug. 7, 1976. Photo probably by David Hume Kennerly.

When a president dies, newspapers and news magazines pull out the stops to make their coverage of the person’s life exhaustive. You’ll see a lot about Gerald Ford in the next few days.

Gerald Ford, White House portrait, by Everett Raymond Kinstler
Official White House portrait of President Gerald R. Ford, by Everett Raymond Kinstler, painted 1977.

My college internship* with the U.S. Senate took me to Washington in 1974, just after Ford had assumed the Vice Presidency under the new rules of the 25th Amendment. Ford was selected as Vice President after Spiro T. Agnew had resigned in lieu of being prosecuted for taking kickbacks from his days as governor of Maryland. Within a few months he was elevated to the presidency when Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974.

But for a few months he was President of the Senate. Starting with Spiro Agnew, vice presidents no longer spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill fulfilling their Constitutional duties as Senate leader. Hubert Humphrey had been quite active as vice president, carrying key messages from the White House to the Congress, and from Congress to the President, and pushing legislation with Lyndon Johnson, in what was surely one of the most effective legislative teams in the history of the world.

And when he was acting as President of the Senate, I first ran into Gerald Ford — literally.

I interned with the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, in the office of the late Secretary of the Senate Frank Valeo. Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) signed my credentials (we didn’t have photo I.D.s in those days), and since Mansfield had so few interns, or staffers, we, and I had the run of the Capitol (and Washington, too — with Mansfield’s signature I could get into the White House press room, which was a great place to hang out then. I also had Senate floor privileges, the value of which became clear to me only years later when I staffed for another senator. As an intern I could walk on the floor at any time, and sometimes did to watch debates. Staffers generally cannot do that at will.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Seymour Papert update

December 26, 2006

MIT’s Media Laboratory says they will post updates as they get them.  As of today, Dr. Papert is resting in Massachusetts General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), taking no visitors, and still in a coma.

Meanwhile, there is also an electronic get-well card you may sign.


‘First, Roy Moore came for Keith Ellison . . .’

December 26, 2006

While denying that they have any racist or other xenophobic intent, critics of Minnesota’s U.S. Representative-elect Keith Ellison, like the abominable Dennis Prager, continue to try to gin up reasons why he cannot carry his own scriptures to Congress, why he cannot have the rights that every school child in America has, because the scriptures Ellison carries are Islamic.

Except for Roy Moore, the Xian Nationalist, unreconstructed Christian Reconstructionist, and Christian Dominionist who probably got the memorandum about how they aren’t supposed to talk about it in public, but who lets it fly anyway.

Representing the Great Booboisie, Roy Moore says Ellison should not be seated in Congress at all.

Alabama’s voters were wise to reject Roy Moore as governor, after Moore burned the people so badly when they trusted him to be chief justice of the state’s supreme court, and he instead turned the court into a circus of religious pomposity and disregard for the laws of religious freedom. Another History Blog Fisks the manifold, manifest errors Moore makes.

I cannot escape the feeling that Moore is speaking for most Reconstructionists and Dominionists, Read the rest of this entry »


Teaching Carnival #18

December 26, 2006

Your students and their parents will tell you, “education” is not the same thing as “teaching.”

Nor is this an exercise in instruction for how to properly bark a carnival, or run the roller coaster or Ferris wheel — but go check it out anyway.  More good stuff, more good blogs, more good links:  Teaching Carnival #18 at xoom.

(And until a few minutes ago, I didn’t know there were separate carnivals, either.)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Another History Blog


Accidental humor — Fillmore and Bush

December 26, 2006

Whitehouse.gov features biographical and other information on every president. As a baseline source of data, it works very well.

So, preparing for the anniversary of Millard Fillmore’s birth (January 7, 1800), I was checking details at the site, and I noted that it carried a “related links” box.

Millard Fillmore coloring book, done by a kid, from White House

Millard Fillmore is widely considered to be one of the worst, or most inactive, presidents in U.S. history. He was an accidental president, taking office on the death of Zachary Taylor. Trying to avoid controversy and confrontation he let fester many of the problems that would lead to the Civil War. He was a one-term president — his own party refused to nominate him for election on his own, in 1852. After the Whig Party crashed and burned, Fillmore accepted the nomination of the American Party, more commonly known as the Know-Nothing Party, in 1856. “Millard Fillmore” is shorthand for “failed presidency” in most lexicons.

So, what should we make of the box on the page, “Related Links,” which points to President George W. Bush? Read the rest of this entry »


Thinking outside the bathtub: Here, read this!

December 26, 2006

How did I find KnowHR? I don’t remember now. I do remember that it featured a very interesting post on presentations, one of the areas of pet peeves of mine, especially as they related to bad PowerPoint presentations offered to teachers for use in the classroom — or worse, offered by teachers in the classroom.

We corresponded briefly on turning-point “presentations” in history (Go see, here, here, and here).

“HR” in that blog’s title stands for “human resources,” I’m guessing — they lean toward corporate human resources issues. That’s a long way from history and teaching history, for some people. Sadly, it’s a long way for many administrators and other leaders who could use some HR tips about how to get history taught better . . . but I digress.

KnowHR recently featured a “z-list.” It’s a list of blogs that you probably ought to look at from time to time, high quality blogs with material you can use — but blogs you won’t get to in the normal course of your business. It was tagged with a meme: Pass the list along, and add a couple of other very worthy blogs at the end. I’m passing it along, below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


Carnival of the Liberals #28

December 26, 2006

I rather like the image of the Statute of Liberty. As an icon of freedom, it’s among the best. Help keep it: Go read the 28th installment of the Carnival of the Liberals, over at Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted).


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