Recent vice presidents who have, or will, preside over contested electoral vote counts.

History forced Al Gore into an awkward moment of irony two months after he lost the 2000 presidential election. He had to preside over the joint session of Congress that officially sealed his political fate — and to rebuff several attempts by fellow Democrats to give him a victory.

“The objection may not be received,” Gore said bluntly and repeatedly during the normally routine counting of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2001. Federal law demanded that he rule that way, and the joint session eventually confirmed the results of Election Day: George W. …

Portrait of U.S. Sen. John Kenna and his statue on Capitol Hill (Photos: Wikimedia, Architect of the Capitol)

Most West Virginians probably don’t know the name John Kenna, but they will soon if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gets her way. The statue of Kenna that represents the Mountain State on Capitol Hill is among the 11 she wants to figuratively topple because of Confederate ties.

Never mind that Kenna was a teenager when he became a Confederate soldier at the tail end of the Civil War. Forget that he spent six months of his service in the hospital after being shot. Who cares that he is remembered not for his military service but for his time in Congress…

Lady Justice (Tingey Injury Law Firm, via Unsplash)

Toward the end of His ministry, Jesus unleashed a flurry of rhetorical “woes” on the scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish leaders who badgered, berated and plotted against the Messiah for three years. One of His rebukes called them out for superficial obedience.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Jesus said. “For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23:23–24)


This weekend I returned to my roots as a congressional correspondent and C-SPAN junkie to document a piece of pandemic history that captured my fascination. I created this collage by grabbing screen shots of Thursday’s debate over legislation to provide more coronavirus aid and create a new oversight panel for keeping tabs on such aid.

Some observations I made while watching:

• Most of the lawmakers in this image are Democrats because they were far more likely than Republicans to wear face masks while speaking.

• Several more members of the House not pictured here pulled their masks down or…

Listen to the audio of air traffic control emergencies and you will hear it. Read news accounts or investigation reports of aviation accidents and you will see it. Watch documentary or fictional dramatizations of precarious flights and you will sense the gravity of it.

“Souls on board” — it is one of the most sobering phrases in aviation. Everyone from the veteran pilot and controller to the newbie passenger and casual observer understands the significance of the term intuitively. Yet its origin in aviation history is a mystery. …

Clockwise from left: Larry Walters in flight, after the flight and his flight plan (Images: Google, KTLA-TV)

Larry Walters was a truck driver by trade, but history remembers him for the patio chair he drove erratically through the approach airspace to Los Angeles International Airport. Although his risky and illegal stunt turned him into a cult hero, it also cost “Lawnchair Larry” $1,500 in FAA fines and earned him plenty of ridicule. His voyage happened 37 years ago this month.

As recounted in a 1998 New Yorker article, the story began when a young Walters visited Disneyland and saw a lady with a large cluster of balloons. He imagined what it would be like to take flight…

Clockwise from top left: George H.W. Bush as a naval aviator; Bush’s presidential portrait; son George W. Bush and family board for “Special Air Mission 41”; and the plane on the tarmac before the funeral flights began (Photos: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, White House, U.S. Air Force)

As America reflected on the life and legacy of former President George H.W. Bush in December, the FAA worked quickly behind the scenes to keep the funeral procession going — from the Houston area to the nation’s capital and back.

Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, died Nov. 30 at age 94. The events in his honor began Dec. 3 with a flight to the Washington, D.C., area for services at the U.S. Capitol and Washington National Cathedral. …

Clockwise from left: Smoke engulfs the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor; and samples of airman ID cards from the World War II and Korean War years. (Photos: Wikipedia, eBay)

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor turned today into “a date which will live in infamy.” The world war that followed reshaped the realities of aviation in many lasting ways, but one temporary yet significant change has been largely forgotten.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration started requiring civilian airmen to carry passport-style identification cards, and it investigated the national loyalty of more than 200,000 people with related airman certificates. The FAA’s predecessor agency also briefly denied ID cards to all Japanese and restricted the ability of “naturalized citizens of enemy alien descent” to get them.

The new policies became a point…

Clockwise from top left: A Time magazine cover about skyjacking; infamous “parajacker” D.B. Cooper; a hijacker holds a gun to the head of TWA pilot John Testrake; and a courier delivers ransom to a hijacked plane.

When Americans think of hijacking these days, one date sticks in their minds — Sept. 11, 2001, the day that 19 terrorists coordinated the hijacking of four airplanes and killed nearly 3,000 people. But there was a time in aviation history when “skyjackings” were so common that they were a topic of great concern at the FAA.

Stretching from the early 1960s into the mid-1970s, this “golden age of hijacking” featured the hostile takeover of more than 150 aircraft. The outbreak of lawlessness in the air led to new laws, regulations, executive orders and treaties. …

Actress Amanda Barker (right) played an FAA official on “Designated Survivor.” In her scene, she meets with the White House officials played by Kal Penn (left) and Paulo Costanzo to discuss “the bee guy.” (Screenshot: ABC)

Forget that fantastical story line on ABC’s “Designated Survivor.” Bee buffs and aviation radar experts agree — electromagnetic waves can’t kill entire colonies of honeybees.

Hollywood’s creative minds wrote that theory into the Dec. 6 episode of the conspiratorial, Washington-based drama. The show’s writers debunked the idea by the end of the episode, but considering the lighthearted plot featured an FAA character, FocusFAA decided to make a few calls — to a radar specialist, a bee scientist and two actors in the episode, among others.

They all chuckled at the idea of aircraft surveillance radar disorienting honeybees to the point…

K. Daniel Glover

West Virginia native. Homeschool and adoption advocate. Drone pilot at Airscape Photography. Views here are mine alone.

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