Thursday morning. Road trip day for me. Driving back up the Overseas Highway from Key West to Key Largo today. I never tire of the scenery. But then, I love water. Hope things go swimmingly well for you today!
Mad Mike's America: Bible: Life Begins at First Breath
The Moderate Voice: Romney's Attempt to Take Credit for Auto Bailout Isn't Playing Well
Nameless Critic: Has Anyone Bothered to Point Out Some Facts About the Swiss to Michele Bachmann?
Nomadic Politics: The Strange and Unnecessary Lies of Mitt Romney
Round up by Swimgirl.(tweeter @miamiswimmer) Send tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com
Just in case there were any doubts:
Democratic officials tell POLITICO that the DNC convention isn't moving anywhere in the wake of an anti-gay rights vote by North Carolina voters.
"The convention is staying in Charlotte," said Kristie Greco, director of communications and public affairs for the Democratic National Convention Committee. -Politico
A variety of links to articles/interviews/speeches on current issues that may be of interest.[...]
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Don't look to television to save you from the crazee .....
For the time being: why not stop in for a look at news items outside the headlines, in the arts and sciences; foreign news that generates little notice in the US media and ....well, just plain whimsy.....
ART NOTES - a survey of African-American art in an exhibit highlighting the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. through September.
END of an ERA - the conservative provocateur David Horowitz - who rode to fame by transforming himself from the Far Left into a Far Right firebrand one always saw on TV - now feels abandoned by his former allies on the right.
EACH YEAR the Polar Music Awards of Sweden honor both a popular as well as a classical musician. This year's honorees: Paul Simon .... and Yo-Yo Ma.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is Tiger the Cat - an English kitteh who had to be extricated from being stuck in ... a two-inch gap between brick garage walls.
INCREDIBLE as it sounds, the brother of Nazi Germany's air force chief Hermann Göring actually helped Jews, prisoners and resistance movement figures during WW-II, with his famous name able to shield him. But it became a curse after the war, as he died in obscurity in 1966.
ART NOTES - a relatively new museum showcasing the paintings, drawings and prints of the Ab-Ex artist Clyfford Still in Denver, Colorado: is opening the second section of its inaugural exhibition through September 30th.
IN a PROFILE of Olivia Newton-John - the singer indicates that she didn't know for many years that her father worked for Britain's spy agency. "My father never spoke of his time in MI5. He wasn't allowed to, so his life was a mystery to us. He left us some tapes for after he died explaining his life, but I've not listened to them yet because it makes me feel too sad".
YOU MIGHT NOT EXPECT to see snowboards in San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile - part of the world's driest desert. Yet sandboarding - akin to snowboarding in fresh powder without having to wear heavy winter gear - is very popular on dunes stretching nearly 400 feet.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Maloos the Cat - surviving a journey from Iran to San Francisco after being found covered in mud and gasoline in the streets of Tehran.
LAST MONTH when the strongman president of the African nation of Malawi died, his successor was the daughter of a musician in a police brass band. But now Malawi's first female president Joyce Banda - and only the second in Africa after Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - has gotten off to a blazing start: firing the federal police chief (blamed for the deaths of 20 anti-government demonstrators) as well as the head of the state broadcasting company and has appointed a government that includes representatives of all the main opposition parties.
FILM NOTES - the first film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards - entitled Wings and also the only silent film to win Best Picture before "The Artist" - has been fully restored ahead of a limited release to the public.
...... and finally, for a song of the week.................... there are some musicians whose musical style is hard to pin down, and others who have written songs for legions of musicians from different styles. Someone who combines both is John Hiatt whose songwriting was his main claim-to-fame for a while, but who has (over the past twenty years) established himself as a performer in his own right.
The Indianapolis native had a stressful early life - at age nine seeing his much-older brother commit suicide, his father dying two years later and helping to steal a Ford Thunderbird with friends (for which they were caught, yet not prosecuted). Music was his one outlet, with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and the Stones his heroes. He moved to Nashville at age eighteen in 1970 (when the city was changing rapidly) and while trying to break in as a performer had a day-job as songwriter for Tree Publishing.
And he had some early success: with a recording contract and songs covered by country performers (such as Conway Twitty and Tracy Nelson) - but in addition Three Dog Night had a hit with Sure as I'm Sitting Here in 1974. His own performing began to shift from country-rock towards the new wave sound of Elvis Costello and Graham Parker during the late 1970's, but he lost his recording contract as well as his songwriting gig, anyway.
Signed by MCA in 1979, he had some notable success in the Netherlands (to this day, he cites that nation for sustaining him during the lean times) and slowly began to make critics lists (albeit without large record sales). He released Riding With the King - the title track of which Eric Clapton and B.B. King made famous over two decades later - and Roseanne Cash had hits with "It Hasn't Happened Yet" and "The Way We Make a Broken Heart". Yet his personal life started going downhill, due to a bout with alcoholism as well as his second wife committing suicide in 1985 (so difficult for someone who had already lost a brother that way) and he took time off for rehabilitation, a new marriage and a chance to regroup on the A&M label.
His 1986 album Bring the Family (with Ry Cooder on guitar, Nick Lowe on bass and Jim Keltner on drums) reflected a more roots music sound. And Have a Little Faith in Me became a hit for others (such as Joe Cocker, Mandy Moore and Delbert McClinton). The album garnered his best reviews to-date and sales began to climb.
It was not until his next album Slow Turning (produced by Glyn Johns) that he had his breakthrough; "Tennessee Plates" later appeared in the film "Thelma and Louise". John Hiatt then became a touring success for the first time. On Bonnie Raitt's own breakthrough 1989 album "Nick of Time", she featured a spirited version of Hiatt's "Thing Called Love".
In 1992, Hiatt reunited with Cooder, Keltner and Lowe as a supergroup under the name Little Village (after a a Sonny Boy Williamson song) but lasted only one album before it broke up.
He returned with his own band and has recorded a number of successful albums since, with "Perfectly Good Guitar" and "Walk On" among his best sellers. In 2000 he was named Songwriter/Artist of the year at the Nashville Music Awards and has had eleven Grammy nominations (although has yet to win one). In 2008, Hiatt was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and was honored by the Americana Music Association with a Lifetime Achievement in Songwriting Award.
His most recent album Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns was released just this past August, with songs such as Damn this Town as well as When New York Had Her Heart Broken - (as you might imagine, about 9-11) - as its strong points.
The list of performers who have performed John Hiatt songs is not only long but amazingly diverse; reflecting his own sound and cross-category appeal. In addition to the artists already mentioned, here are some more: Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Paula Abdul, Jimmy Buffett, Iggy Pop, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Jewel, Joan Baez, Aaron Neville, Bon Jovi, Earl Thomas Conley, Flaco Jimenez, Ronnie Milsap, Jeff Healey, Chaka Khan and Keith Urban. Something tells me that (partial) list ... is not yet finished.
John Hiatt begins a European tour in June before opening a US tour in Annapolis, Maryland on August 14th .. and which includes a show in Bloomington, Indiana on August 20th .... celebrating his 60th birthday near his place of birth.
My favorite song of his was the title track of Slow Turning (fair-use extract below) which was his highest-selling single (reaching #8 in 1987) and featured original Eagles member Bernie Leadon on banjo. He even managed to slip in the name of one of his early heroes (from the Rolling Stones) at the same time. And below you can listen to it.
Now I'm in my car
I've turned the radio down
And I'm yelling at the kids in the back
'cause they're banging like Charlie Watts
You think you've come so far
In this one-horse-town
Then she's laughing that crazy laugh
'cause you haven't left the parking lot
Time is short and here's the damn thing about it:
You're gonna die, gonna die for sure
You can learn to life with love or without it
But there ain't no cure
It's been a slow turning
From the inside out
A slow turning
But you come about
But you learn to sway
A slow turning
Not fade away
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Visual source: Newseum
Courage is articulating your personal convictions and evolution in a split country. Pride is what many of us feel today. Cowardice is the other guy, who can't stand up to his own followers. A sampling follows:
Hooray for President Obama, who indeed risked something today. You will hear in the coming hours and for the rest of the week that because of Joe Biden?s bit of Sunday-morning loquaciousness, Obama more or less had to do this, lest he diminish his ?brand? of high principle and authenticity, lest he lose moneyed gay donors, lest he look like a troglodyte in an administration of more enlightened sorts.Nate Silver:
And perhaps he and his aides did conclude that politically, this was the optimal course, the better wager.
But there?s plenty of doubt and plenty of dispute about that. Plenty.
President Obama?s decision to endorse same-sex marriage undoubtedly entails some political risk, but recent polls suggest that public opinion is increasingly on his side.David Frum:
According to surveys included in the PollingReport.com database, an average of 50 percent of American adults support same-sex marriage rights while 45 percent oppose it, based on an average of nine surveys conducted in the past year.
This is a reversal from earlier periods: support for same-sex marriage has been increasing, and opposition to it has been decreasing, at a relatively steady rate of perhaps two or three percentage points a year since 2004.
The president's statement today about marriage rights changes nothing?and everything.Frank Rich:
The statement changes everything because it powerfully symbolizes an awakening that so many people have had, myself included: here is a social change whose time has come, and more than come. Denying marriage rights to same-sex couples inflicts real harm on real people, while doing nothing to prevent the deterioration of marriage among non-affluent Americans.
The statement changes everything because it puts marriage rights on the 2012 ballot as a voting issue. Mitt Romney has declared?not only his opposition to same-sex marriage?but his intention to use the power of the presidency to stop and reverse it. One may doubt how intensely Romney feels about that commitment, really. My own guess: about 1/1000 as intensely as he feels about Sarbanes-Oxley. But the issue is joined even so.
And so, Obama has finally finished evolving on same-sex marriage.Mike Bloomberg:
And about time! I, for one, never understood the point of saying you were ?evolving? when many of the voters you were pandering to don?t even believe in evolution.
"This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights. No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people ? and I have no doubt that this will be no exception. The march of freedom that has sustained our country since the Revolution of 1776 continues, and no matter what setbacks may occur in a given state, freedom will triumph over fear and equality will prevail over exclusion. Today?s announcement is a testament to the President?s convictions, and it builds on the courageous stands that so many Americans have taken over the years on behalf of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, stretching back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village."BuzzFeed:
After three years of political compromise on issues from health care reform to spending cuts, Obama delivered a surprise gift to what many of his core supporters view as the civil rights issue of the day, simply by saying what everyone assumed he believed. But the distinction between implying a change and saying it outright will more than symbolic in the crucial area of campaign fundraising. Already, gay donors, mostly men, reportedly constitute 1 in 6 of Obama?s top fundraisers known as bundlers. And in the first 90 minutes after the news broke Wednesday, the campaign received $1 million in spontaneous contributions, a Democrat told BuzzFeed.Mark Blumenthal:
?This is beyond unifying ? it?s electrifying,? said Eugene Sepulveda, a former top bundler who withdrew to take a non-political job early this year. ?This man stands for right, despite the political consequences.?
In a recent New York Times column, Pew Research president Andrew Kohut noted that while "much of the growing support for gay marriage is generational," it also reflects changing opinion among older Americans. "Since 2004," Kohut writes, "support for gay marriage has increased from 30 percent to 40 percent among baby boomers, and even among seniors (from 18 percent to 32 percent)."Jonathan Rauch:
What happened? Harry Truman was fond of quoting Mark Twain: "When in doubt, do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." Now and then, politicians have a "goddammit" moment. Obama's position had clearly shifted on the issue (who was he kidding with his talk of having "evolved" but being unwilling to make news?), and there was never going to be a better time to make the switch than now--at least not while he is certain to be a non-lame-duck president.So goes conventional wisdom, but here's betting Rauch (see his post) is wrong and the upside in the end outweighs the downside. However, Obama can't know that, so count this as courage.
So Obama decided it's worth a roll of the dice to make history. Which is what he has done.
As of his announcement, favoring gay marriage is now fully, indisputably, and permanently a mainstream political position. All hint of weirdness or stigma is gone. It is also now the stated position of one of the two major political parties (only 16 years after President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed the anti-gay-marriage Defense of Marriage Act). Precisely because the issue is unlikely to decide the election this year, November's result will not revoke the issue's promotion in status even if Obama loses. Though gay couples have not achieved full legal equality, gay marriage, as an issue, has achieved full political equality. That is a landmark in the ongoing marriage debate.
Jonathan Cowan (Third Way):
Our four years of research on the middle and marriage taught us this ? if Americans in the middle believe that gay and lesbian couples want to marry to make a promise of lifetime commitment and fidelity, not to gain rights and benefits, they?ll accept it. The president?s statement was pitch perfect when it focused on allowing committed gay couples to make the public promise that marriage entails. If marriage supporters stay on that message, the middle can be won.
A few Republican members of Congress would really like the FBI to stop coddling Muslims.
Right-wing blogs have been complaining for months about the FBI's decision to purge less than one percent of their counterterrorism training materials which a review found contained inaccurate, and often inflammatory information about Islam. On Wednesday, a few members of Congress joined the fight to get that biased information reinstated.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) demanded that FBI Director Robert Mueller turn over the names of the subject experts the FBI used to review their counterterrorism training materials. Rep. Howard Cobel (R-NC) also suggested the Obama administration was forcing the FBI to get rid of materials because of political correctness.
Their remarks followed Rep. Allen West's comment last month which suggested the FBI was committing "cultural suicide" and letting the Muslim Brotherhood influence policy.
"If we continue to be recalcitrant in identifying who the enemy is and want to be less offensive to them, then we're going to put ourselves in a bad situation," West said. "Now you have an environment of political correctness which precludes these agents from doing their proper job and due diligence to go after the perceived threat."
Rep. Trent Franks told CQ earlier this year that the FBI was letting outside parties "censor the true or critical material from FBI training curricula just because someone feels it to be politically incorrect."
The FBI said in March that their review of 160,000 of pages of training materials found that less than one percent contained "factually inaccurate or imprecise information or used stereotypes." The bureau issued guidelines on how training should be handled in the future.
Their statements echoed the concerns expressed by Brigitte Gabriel, president of the anti-Muslim group ACT, who wrote that "Political correctness must not trump constitutional rights, nor hamper our country's ability to protect itself by muzzling law enforcement or hoodwinking its citizens."
Mueller stood by the FBI's review, which came about after Wired magazine brought some of the materials to light.
"I can say absolutely and with certainty that political correctness played no role in the efforts we/I undertook to make sure that we give the best training to our personnel," Mueller said at Wednesday's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. "It does us no good to have personnel who are trained with inadequate materials or misguided materials."
The global audit firms already have a bad reputation for doing whatever the client asks them to do (as long as the money is right - think Enron), so this is just a step in that direction. Time after time, this supposedly conservative and proper industry has glossed over or ignored serious problems on the books of shady businesses. Add this mix to what is widely considered to be one of the most...
The less you know, the more you believe.
Born May 10, 1960
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Officials said Dustin Gross, 19, was killed by a roadside bomb.
He graduated last year from Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling.
Once the school was notified, counselors were brought in to the high school.
The soldier's family released this statement to ABC 36 News:
"We love and are very proud of Dustin, this is very hard for us. We appreciate all the prayers, love and support from our family, friends and the community. We just need to mourn our loss in private at this time."
To little fanfare, President Obama announced last week that he signed an agreement to extend the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan for twelve more years. No one noted the irony of this, since under our Constitution, President Obama can be President for no more than another 41/2 years.
Also under our Constitution, a treaty requires the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate. (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2). No one in the Obama Administration even took a stab at explaining why this agreement with a foreign power was not being submitted to the Senate for concurrence. But the reason is obvious: the Senate would not concur.
Also under our Constitution, you will search in vain for any provision that authorizes a lengthy military occupation of a foreign country. In fact, the Constitution does not authorize a standing army, much less an army standing in Kabul. In the Bizarro world in which we live, we have 27 Attorneys General challenging the constitutionality of 35 million Americans getting health coverage, but no one challenges the constitutionality of an undeclared war (see Article I, Section 8 on that) that has now entered its second decade.
Presidential candidates Obama and Clinton obviously were separated by race and gender, but one of the few things that separated them on policy was Clinton's vote in favor of the war in Iraq, contrasted with Obama's 2002 statement that the war in Iraq was "dumb." This is what State Senator Barack Obama said, in October 2002, in the Federal Plaza in Chicago:
I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
Barack Obama was talking about the war in Iraq. But let's be honest. At this point, after 11 years of pointless, fruitless, endless war, doesn't all of that apply equally to the war in Afghanistan?