Archive for the ‘Presidents’ Category
by: Stephen Collinson and Eugene Scott
In a remarkable press conference marked by grace and devoid of self-pity, former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that four spots of cancer had spread to his brain.
Carter, 90, said he initially thought he had only weeks to live when he first learned of the diagnosis. He’s now more optimistic, placing his fate in the hands of God. At the news conference in Atlanta where he sat alone before a bank of reporters and cameras, Carter said he would begin a course of radiation therapy on Thursday afternoon.
“I have had a wonderful life,” Carter said with the same unsparing honesty and meticulous detail that marked his presidency. “I’m ready for anything and I’m looking forward to new adventure,” Carter said, in the 40-minute appearance before the cameras, in which he frequently beamed his huge smile and never fell prey to emotion.
“It is in the hands of God, whom I worship.”
Carter, speaking slowly and softly and wearing a coat and tie with blue jeans, said he had been overwhelmed with phone calls of support — including outreach from Secretary of State John Kerry and former presidents George H. W. and George W. Bush, who called at once. Carter said he wasn’t in a lot of discomfort but had some shoulder pain.
Carter said in the immediate aftermath of the diagnosis, “I just thought I had a few weeks left (to live), but I was surprisingly at ease — much more so than my wife was.”
His devoted partner Rosalynn, the former First Lady, looked on, as Carter described her as the “pinnacle” of his life. “We’ve had 69 years together, still together,” Carter said.
The former president announced that he would cut back on the globetrotting personal diplomacy, peacemaking, election monitoring and pioneering public health work with which he has redefined the role of presidents once they leave office. He said his symptoms first appeared during a trip to Guyana earlier this year. On his return, doctors found a small tumor on his liver and diagnosed melanoma, which was later found to have spread to four spots on his brain.
Carter’s sanguine acceptance of his prognosis seems to lie in his deep religious belief, and he pledged to continue teaching Sunday school at his church “as long as I’m physically able.”
“I do have deep religious faith, which I’m very grateful for, and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t go into an attitude of despair or anger or anything like that. I was just completely at ease.”
He continued: “I can’t really anticipate how I’ll be feeling. Obviously I’ll have to defer quite substantially to my doctors who are in charge of the treatment,” Carter said Thursday, saying he’ll get his first radiation treatment this afternoon.
Carter had a “small mass” removed from his liver in an early August surgical procedure. So far, he said the only places where cancer had been found in his body were in his brain and liver, though he also discussed his family’s history with the disease. He said it is likely that other spots of cancer would show up elsewhere in his body.
Elected in 1976 and ousted in the 1980 election by Ronald Reagan, Carter has a family history of pancreatic cancer — a disease that claimed his father, brother and two sisters. His mother had breast cancer, which later spread to her pancreas.
“For a long time my family was the only one on earth that had four people who have died of pancreatic cancer,” he said.
After providing a detailed briefing on his diagnosis, Carter was asked to reflect on his life and career in politics, including the single term presidency between 1977 and 1981 that yielded some notable achievements overseas but ended when Republican Ronald Reagan swept to power amid the humiliation of a 444 day hostage crisis in Iran and a sickly economy at home.
Carter said that looking back, he wished he had insisted on more firepower for a botched U.S. 1980 operation to rescue the U.S. hostages in Tehran, which ended when a helicopter crashed into a U.S. transport plane in the desert, killing eight servicemen.
“I wish I had sent one more helicopter to get the hostages, and we would have rescued them, and I would have been reelected,” Carter said.
The veteran Democrat said that on reflection however, he would have traded a second term for the Carter Center, which is renowned the world over for its advocacy of human rights and democracy, and which earned the former president the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
He said that if he had one wish for the rest of his life it would be that he gets to see peace in the Middle East but bemoaned the fact that that goal seems “more dismal than any time I remember in the last 50 years. The only process is prhttp://www.cnn.com/2015/08/20/politics/jimmy-carter-cancer-update/index.htmlactically dormant,” he said, and took a swipe at the administration of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The government of Israel has no desire for a two-state solution, which is the policy of all other nations in the world, and the United States has practically no influence compared to past years in either Israel or Palestine. So I feel very discouraged.”
And he said that he was hoping to outlive one of the many scourges that has caused misery for millions of people in tropical Africa that his Carter Center has worked to eradicate.
“I’d like for the last guinea worm to die before I do.”
by: John McMurtie
When Jimmy Carter nearly bounds out of a hotel armchair to greet a journalist, it’s refreshing to see that the 90-year-old former president has not been passing the time — like so many of us these days — deep in a smartphone. Instead, he’s holding a book, a murder mystery by P.D. James.
Carter has been an avid reader all his life, and he is certainly no stranger to the written word. He has just published his 29th book, “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety” (Simon & Schuster; 257 pages; $28). It’s a sweeping and often tender overview of his life in which he guides readers through his hardscrabble boyhood in the mostly African American community of Archery, Ga. (where he was raised in a Sears, Roebuck house and worked on the family farm), his time in the Navy (where Harry Truman’s order to end discrimination in the armed forces was “accepted with equanimity” — unlike what he witnessed at home), and, of course, his presidency and remarkably prolific post-presidency as a tireless activist. The book also includes some of his poetry and paintings; he recently finished a 30th book, a self-published collection of his art, which he took up in the Navy.
Carter lives in Plains, Ga., about two miles from Archery. He spoke about his book and current affairs on a one-day visit to San Francisco. His answers have been edited for length.
Read entire article here.
Q: What are you reading now that you like?
A: I just got this when I was in Denver. [Holds up a copy of P.D. James’ novel “A Certain Justice.”] The people at Tattered Cover, which is my favorite bookstore in the nation, when I asked them if they had a recent P.D. James, they gave me a whole stack of P.D. James. I finished another book on the Kindle yesterday. It was a book by a Norwegian writer, an exciting murder mystery called “The Snowman” [by Jo Nesbo].
Before that I read the autobiography of Willie Nelson, who’s my buddy. Willie Nelson used to be a running partner of mine. He was a darn good athlete, by the way. I think he had four letters in high school. He still was an avid runner when I was in the White House. So he would spend the night with me on occasion at the White House, and as he said in his autobiography, he smoked pot on the roof. [Laughs.]
Former President Jimmy Carter once told Rolling Stone magazine that “all the good things I did as president, all the mistakes I made – you can blame half of that on Willie.”
Q: You stayed downstairs?
A: I did, yeah. He concealed his true partner and claimed that he was smoking with one of the servants at the White House, which was not exactly true. [Laughs.] It’s an interesting book. He extolls marijuana throughout the book, that he tried beer and tried whiskey and tried harsher drugs, but he settled on marijuana as the one that was for him.
Q: While we’re on the subject, what do you think of the direction the nation has taken, state by state, at least, as far as marijuana is concerned?
A: Well, I’ve commented on this a lot. In 1979, I made a major speech and I called for the decriminalization of marijuana. And it was well-received. When I was governor, we had a contest among southeastern governors, at least, to see who could have the smallest prison population. And so we decided among ourselves not to put people in prison for the possession of marijuana but to offer treatment for people who had an addiction. So when I was president, we evolved a nationwide policy, and that was one of the premises.
But at that time, we had one person per thousand who was in prison in America. A hundred people per hundred thousand. Now we have 750 people per hundred thousand. We have seven and a half times as many people in prison. And we have eight times as many black women in prison now as we did in 1981, when I left the White House. So that’s been one of the major concerns I’ve had as a non-lawyer, to criticize the American justice system, which is highly biased against black people and poor people. And it still is.
But I think there’s an awakening now of a realization that we too early congratulated ourselves on the end of racial prejudice and white supremacy. And that was a feeling that we had when I was president, that we had pretty much overcome that problem.”
— Jimmy Carter
photo: Sarah Rogers
Willie Nelson and Jimmy Carter: Our Real American Heroes
by: Malcolm Jones
For a couple of weeks now, I have been enjoying the easygoing and remarkably addictive pleasure of Django and Jimmy, the new album by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. The title cut celebrates a pair of formative influences, Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers, and I could have stood a few tracks covering the work of those artists (Willie did put Django’s “Nuages” on a recent album and frequently performs it in concert). But this isn’t really a concept album. Instead, it’s just two great musicians having fun. Or should I say, still having fun. Merle is 78. Willie is 82. They could do anything they like—including nothing at all—at this stage of their illustrious careers. But they’ve chosen to make music, writing songs and performing actively. And thank goodness for that.
At the same time, I’ve also been reading the latest Willie Nelson autobiography,It’s a Long Story: My Life (the first version, Willie, appeared in 1988), as well as the autobiography of former President Jimmy Carter, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.
Both Nelson and Carter have indeed led long, full lives, and both clearly believe those lives are far from over. Carter ends his book talking about spending more time on his painting and woodworking—things he can do, he says, when he slows down and can no longer build houses for Habitat for Humanity, or go skiing, or broker another peace agreement. Willie ends a little more poetically, noting that even coming home is the beginning of another journey.
(I know it looks awkward to call one man by his first name and the other by his last, but it just feels dead wrong to call Willie anything but Willie, and never mind that I don’t know him any better than you do. And calling Jimmy Carter Jimmy sounds presumptuous, if not disrespectful. So from here on it’s Willie and Carter, and consistency be damned.)
If time has slowed either of these gentlemen, it would be hard to say how. Each man is clearly up and at it every day. Upon leaving the presidency in 1981, Carter quickly founded the Carter Center in Atlanta, which was initially a forum for crisis mediation around the globe before becoming one of the foremost NGOs in the fight against diseases in the Third World. As he writes, “I was not interested in just building a museum or storing my White House records and memorabilia; I wanted a place where we could work.” He has also been a highly visible volunteer with Habitat, and written countless books on subjects including public policy, his childhood, women’s rights, and nature, as well as books of poetry and even fiction: The Hornet’s Nest, about the American Revolution, is the only novel ever written by a president, and it’s not half bad. Typically, after people asked him repeatedly if he ever just kicked back and had fun, he wrote a book about that (downhill skiing, mountain climbing, birdwatching, and fly fishing).
Hard work is a constant theme in Carter’s life, whether it be farming, political campaigning, or mediating some international dispute. The child who took shorthand in school is father to the man who undertook a speed reading course when he reached the White House. But work, in Carter’s life, is never separated from learning something new, and learning is never separated from purpose. Perhaps this comes from the way he grew up. In the Depression-era South, if you wanted food, you grew it. If you wanted furniture, you built it. Self-sufficiency was not an ideal, it was simple reality.
A Southern boy like Carter, Willie grew up in rural Texas doing his share of farm work, too. In his case, of course, music was a much bigger part of life right from the start (his grandmother, who raised him and his sister, Bobbie, was the town’s music teacher). But here again, the principle of self-sufficiency held sway: if you wanted music, you made it yourself.
The conventional wisdom denigrates Carter’s presidency and extols the man, but no one ever asks the obvious question: if a decent, hardworking, intelligent man can be great but can’t be a great president, isn’t there something wrong with the way we think about the presidency?
As for Willie, he may have led a messier life (four marriages, trouble with the IRS), but he’s the man who gave us “Crazy,” “Night Life,” and “Funny How Times Slips Away,” tunes that still remind us just how subtly artful—and how moving—good country songs can be.
At a time when genuine American heroes are hard to find, I’d say Jimmy Carter and Willie Nelson are as close as it gets and better than most. Neither man is falsely modest, but neither is full of himself. Both are still full of wonder—at the world and at what they’ve done in it. As Willie muses about his songwriting, “When songs fall from the sky … all I can do is catch them before they land. They are mysterious gifts [that] strip me bare and leave me amazed … Did I really write these songs, or am I just a channel chosen by the Holy Spirit to express these feelings?”
Men of faith, men of action, contemplative men who believe in getting things done and helping the downtrodden wherever and however they can—if I had to instruct kids coming along about where to look for heroes, I’d start with these books, which in their very different ways are like roadmaps for rich, useful lives.
And if an extraterrestrial were to approach me and ask, what does America have to show for itself, I wouldn’t hesitate. Ray Charles might be dead, I’d say, but Jimmy Carter and Willie Nelson still walk the planet. And if you think can do better than that, then let me introduce you to Dolly Parton.
Willie Nelson is joined on stage by former President Jimmy Carter, who played harmonica on “Georgia on My Mind,” at Chastain Park Amphitheater on July 27, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. The two are longtime friends. President and Mrs. Carter and daughter Amy visited Willie on his bus, before the show.
On July 27, 2008, Willie Nelson and B.B. King performed at Atlanta, Georgia’s Chastain Park Amphiteater. Among the thousands of fans — President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Carter.
On July 29, 2004, Willie Nelson performed “Living in the Promiseland”, on the night presidential candidate John Kerry accepts the nomination at the Democratic National Convention” at Boston’s Fleet Center. Carole King and Mavis Staples also performed.
This day in Willie Nelson History: President Jimmy Carter joins Willie Nelson on stage in Georgia (7/27/2008)Sunday, July 27th, 2014
On July 27, 2008, Jimmy Carter joined Willie Nelson and Family on stage and played harmonica on “Georgia On My Mind” during a concert at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta.
“Five different times I’ve been on the stage with Willie Nelson,” Carter said. “He always calls me up on his final number, which is usually ‘Amazing Grace,’ and we sing a duet together. He’s very careful to turn the microphone completely away from my voice.” – Jimmy Carter
Former President Jimmy Carter once told Rolling Stone magazine that “all the good things I did as president, all the mistakes I made – you can blame half of that on Willie.”
On September 9, 2004 Willie Nelson performed a concert in Plains, Georgia, for an upcoming TV special, “CMT Homecoming: Jimmy Carter In Plains”
The concert was filmed in September, for a special airing in December 2004, when CMT featured a special homecoming event, with the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, for an intimate look at the small town that he still calls home and where he spends the holidays with wife Rosalynn, his children and grandchildren – Plains, Ga.
In this one-hour documentary, CMT Homecoming: President Carter In Plains, President Carter welcomes his longtime friend, country legend Willie Nelson, to Plains for the reunion. Nelson joins President Carter for a tour of his childhood home, his boyhood haunts, and the town that holds a special place in President Carter’s heart. The two friends swap stories of what it was like growing up in small towns and reminisce about their friendship that has lasted decade.
In honor of Plains, Nelson performs for everyone in the town, and the fans get a surprise when President and Mrs. Carter join Nelson on stage.
Thanks to Alice from Georgia for sending pictures.
“For the women, I think Obama is the guy. I really think [women’s health care] is a big issue, and that’s the one that I think Obama is on the right side of history. I think that will have a big influence on the election. I’ll probably vote for him.”
“He’s really shown what a president is supposed to do with all the problems with weather that we’re having on the East Coast,” Willie explained, giving more props to President Obama. “He’s acting very presidential. Nice to see him and Governor Christie coming together, and showing us what it’s like when two people originally on opposite sides come together for the good of the country.”
by: Dan Merica
Washington (CNN) – Former President Jimmy Carter once told Rolling Stone magazine that “all the good things I did as president, all the mistakes I made – you can blame half of that on Willie.”
The Willie that Carter is referring to is none other than Willie Nelson, the famed “outlaw” country singer known for his unique sound and his affinity for marijuana. Although Carter was known as a buttoned-up president – during the 1976 campaign, he regularly highlighted his Southern Baptist roots and his role as a Sunday school teacher – the former governor of Georgia was also known to escape the pressures of the presidency by listening to Willie Nelson.
And on September 13, 1980, the president’s love for the music of the “redheaded stranger” was fulfilled when Nelson played for Carter at the White House. The night was certainly a unique one. Not only did first lady Rosalynn Carter sing a cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” with Nelson, but the country star claims that after the concert he smoked marijuana on the White House roof.
In a joint interview with Entertainment Weekly, Nelson and Carter laughed about the subject: Carter: I would guess that Willie and my sons knew a lot more about that than I did. That was one of the things that Willie and I never did discuss much. But I don’t think there’s much doubt that there was—
Nelson: Actually, short-term memory — I don’t remember a lot that happened then.
Carter: Yeah, my memory’s kind of short on that subject, too.
The Carter-Nelson relationship was not just a passing one. Nelson joined Carter on the campaign trail in 1976 – even though during that campaign Carter had called for tough penalties on marijuana usage. In the same Entertainment Weekly interview, Carter credited Nelson with helping him win the election. “I think that was one of the reasons I won, because I did align myself with characters like these, who were admired by hundreds of millions around the world,” Carter said. “I think as much as any performer who has ever lived, Willie has had an intimate and natural relationship with working people.”
It seems Nelson appreciated thoughts like that. In the Country Music Channel documentary “Jimmy Carter in Plains,” Nelson says that Carter is “my favorite president.” Close friends to this day, Carter has joined Nelson on stage a number of times since the White House performance in 1980.
When Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, Willie Nelson was there to serenade him with “Georgia on My Mind.” Most recently, on June 16, 2012, Carter joined Nelson on stage at a concert in Atlanta, where the duo sang “Amazing Grace” for the crowd. According to reporting by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and video from the performance, Carter even put on an iconic red bandana like Nelson’s.