Saturday, April 07, 2012

An important Easter message from the Rose City Park United Methodist Church

It seems that this particular sign, which appeared outside the Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon, has gone viral. I'm always intrigued to read that something has gone viral. I'm not sure how one determines such a thing, but, apparently, it's true.

I will say that I like the sentiment and have been saying similar things for quite some time. I begrudge no one their belief in a supreme being or an interest in organized religion, much as I don't share either. If such beliefs actually make people kinder and more interested in the well-being of others, what a wonderful thing. But if it doesn't, who needs it? What, really, is the point?

Sadly, I have known more than a few who trundle off to church every Sunday, but see no contradiction in hating significant segments of the population based on race, creed, national origin, you name it.

The point is: more kindness, less hatered, however you come around to it.

It seems the church has been getting more positive than negative responses to the message by a rate of 30 to 1. And, according to a Huffington Post article:

An Internet poll of readers on The Blaze, a conservative website created in part by Glenn Beck, showed that, at time of writing, more than 69 percent of respondents agree with the statement, compared with 22 percent that disagree.

Perhaps there's hope for us.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)


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Friday, April 06, 2012

Aaron Sorkin's new HBO show - The Newsroom

By Richard K. Barry

Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin is at it again, this time with a new show on HBO called "The Newsroom." Huffington Post describes it like this:
"The Newsroom" follows fictional cable news anchor Will McAvoy (Daniels) as he attempts to keep an even temper during his nightly programs. But when asked for a "human moment" in the trailer, he says, "When you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the fuck you're talking about!"

Jeff Daniels stars as news anchor Will McAvoy. The show also features Emily Mortimer as the executive producer, John Gallagher Jr., Allison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn and Dev Patel; with Jane Fonda in a recurring guest spot.

"The Newsroom" premiers on Sunday, June 24 on HBO. Here's the trailer. Looks pretty good. At least with Sorokin, we know the writing will be great.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Behind the Ad: Fact-checking Romney

By Richard K. Barry

Who: The Obama/Biden Campaign

Where: Nationally

What's going on: I don't think I'd be the first person to have noticed that Mitt Romney has a problem with the truth. He just kind of says whatever fits with his bullshit characterization of President Obama and runs with it. It seems that the Obama/Biden campaign team has noticed this as well and put together a couple of clever ads recently. It's a simple technique, juxtaposing exactly what one side says to a clip showing that it's simply untrue. Jon Stewart may not have invented this, but he's perfected it on the Daily Show.

When someone has an interest in politics and wants to have credibility with themselves and others, that person tries really hard to be objective when it comes to the political talent and skill of candidates with whom they might not agree. I know I do. I just can't watch Romney, no matter what he is saying, and see anything other than a very weak candidate. The lying aside, if that's possible, he's not very good at this whole politics thing. These two clips below say it all for me. He's going to get the voters who were always going to be against Obama. Is he going to get any support from those who know how to think for themselves? That's the question

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Toronto Blues Jays in the longest home opener win

By Richard K. Barry
J.P. Arencibia

Today was opening day for a lot of Major League Baseball teams. The team I've been most interested in since the mid-1980's, the Toronto Blue Jays, of my adopted home town, got off to what looked like a rocky start, but pulled it out in 16 innings by a score of 7 to 4. This was, I just read, the longest opening day game in baseball history.

The game eclipsed the previous longest openers - 15 innings between Cleveland and Detroit in 1960 and the same length between Philadelphia and Washington in 1926. You see. Baseball is all about history, maybe more than any other game. Not sure why that is, but it's true.

I watched the first pitch at work at 3:05 in a colleague's office. The Jays were behind 4 to 1 late in the regular course of nine innings and then managed to tie things up and send it into extra frames, as the announcers say.

I have to admit that I more or less gave up on the Jays as I headed out for drinks with friends. Then sitting around the table later that evening one of our number mentioned that he just passed the television behind the bar and the game was still going on.

At some point, in the 16th, J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer that sent the Blue Jays to the 7-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. Too bad I didn't see it end. That would have been fun.

I just wrote all this because it feels so good to have baseball back and have my fingers type some of those rusty baseball cliches. I have no idea how the Blue Jays will do this year. The odds are probably against them. But a long weekend lies ahead and I get to watch a few games, which I am going to enjoy.

Just as a note, I sympathize with my co-blogger, Carl, who is a New York Mets fan and wrote about that on opening day. They were my first love and I continue to pull for them, but I don't live there anymore and a person can only have one favourite team. I suspect, however, that he and I will both be watching the playoffs without a team in the hunt come the fall.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Opening Day

By Carl
There are so many reasons to be discouraged on this, the most hopeful day of the year: Major League Baseball officially opens the 2012 campaign.
See, I'm a Mets fan.
As a DISH Network subscriber, access to even the SNY network, the home of the Mets, is unavailable. Now, I could look at the positives to this, not least of which is it forces me to go sit in a bar to watch the ballgames, but as I'm currently trying to correct dietary deficiencies, this is suboptimal.
It also helps me be in denial about just how bad this team will be this year. After all, if I can't see it, it can't frustrate me and make me ache to my bones.
How bad is this team? Let me put it this way: based on my performance last year in a softball league-- slow pitch, no less-- I entertained a half-baked fantasy of trying out. At age 54. With all the accumulated injuries that entails.
I suspect I would have been a plus for the side.
This is a team that has a starting pitcher who's arm was sewn back on, a la a rag doll, a third baseman playing out his contract, a left-fielder who can't even hit his weight (and isn't even morbidly obese), a right fielder so monstrously large that he has a phobia about running, a shortstop who could arguably make more errors than assists this season (plus he's replacing one of the best players in the game)...
...And an owner group so inept, they actually managed to make money with Bernie Madoff!
How are the fans reacting to all this? Well, for the first time in the 50 year history of the team, Opening Day at home is not sold out. Indeed, the Mets are actually discounting tickets. The 15, read that correctly, 15,000 fans who buy the remaining seats for today's game will get free passes to either Friday or Saturday's game, too.
This is all very discouraging.
When, in the handful of times the Mets have been legitimate contenders over their storied 50 year history-- for a team with a really shitty record, they have some pretty remarkable achievements to their credit-- it's been fun to be a fan.
In 1969, when the team literally went from worst to first over the course of three seasons, the city had an electricity that put Mets baseball front and center in a national spotlight, it was that powerful.
In 1973, when the team went from worst to first in eight weeks, and took the vaunted dynasty of Oakland to seven games (that the Mets really should have won, but that's a different story), the addition of the legendary Willie Mays at the end of the regular season seemed like an after-thought, an unnecessary distraction.
And in 1986, when the Mets swaggered through the rest of the season only to receive a wake-up call in the World Series, the team reflected the city: arising from the shambles and debris of a lost decade, soaring like Icarus, only to be reminded that we too are mortal, saved from crashing only by the bats of Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, Ray Knight and of course, Mookie Wilson (the one possession I have that I know I will never auction or sell, no matter how dire my woes, is a ball autographed by Wilson and Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner at the same time: one of only a half-dozen or so such known balls.)
Those were all fun, exciting times.
This year is, well, remember the old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times"?
This year is interesting. But it's also a great time to be a wonk-fan, because it gives you the opportunity to observe the mettle of a team in dire straits: with no money, and no prospects of getting money anytime soon (five years, I figure, before the Madoff stuff settles out) how will this team even try to compete in a division where all four other teams maked marked improvements, and contains two perennial playoff contenders?
You can mark time, and play it for laughs the way the Original Mets did in the early Sixties, but there's too much money at stake now. You can hunker down and cut costs, trade players and hope for a miracle. That was the way of the late 1970s Mets, who shed arguably the greatest pitcher of my lifetime along with some really solid ballplayers, and got the least possible return for them.
Those were dark days, the days of de Roulet.
Or, you can grit your teeth and double down on the effort. The pressure's off, because no one, and I mean NO ONE, has expectations for this team. Winning half their ballgames would be a miracle, and would require a collapse on the part of at least one other team ranked ahead of them, and some pretty sloppy play by the others.
I'd like to see that. I'd like to see David Wright get his uniform gritty and dirty (he's playing out a contract, so at least he has incentive.) I'd like to see Johann Santana yell at a pitching coach for trying to take him out of a nothing game (he could be playing for a trade to a contender.) I'd like to see Jason Bay be cagey and get hit by a few pitches to get a baserunner or start a brawl (he has nothing to play for. It shows.)
What I don't want to see is a team metaphorically looking at their calendars and working out tee times for October. I mean, they'll need them to be sure, but focus on the game in front of you, is what I'm saying.
Put in that kind of effort, and the fans will come. I know I've sat at Mets games where there were more umpires on the field than fans, where the ushers offered us field level box seats just for walking in, where the vendors would stand and chat with fans for innings because its not like they were going to make money anyway.
Those were dark days, the days of de Roulet.
The players owe this to the people who work at the stadium, to make that effort to bring the fans in: the vendors, the ticket sellers, the ushers. These folks make next to nothing, and it would be nice to save some jobs even at that level of compensation.
And if someone at the Mets is reading this, please settle the deal with DISH. At this point, you need every rooter you can get your hands on. You're cutting your nose to spite your face.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Joe Scarborough knows a lot of pessimistic Republicans

By Richard K. Barry

I watch Morning Joe every day. It's a part of my daily ritual. I generally only have time to sit through about 45 minutes before I have to head off to work. I must say, I have mixed feelings about Joe Scarborough, the main host of the show. I think we're all supposed to be impressed that MSNBC, the "liberal" network, has this right-winger carrying so much water for the station. Take that, "fair and balanced" Fox!

Every now and then, I'll admit, Joe can be pretty entertaining, especially when he takes on Republicans for being flat out crazy or when he articulates views that might be self-evident but which would likely not be uttered by most conservatives.

Such was the case when Joe offered that "no one" in the GOP establishment believes Mitt Romney will beat Barack Obama in the general election.

Just in case you can't open the attached clip, this was his comment:

Nobody thinks Romney's going to win. Let's just be honest. Can we just say this for everybody at home? Let me just say this for everybody at home. The Republican establishment--I've yet to meet a single person in the Republican establishment that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election this year. They won't say it on TV because they've got to go on TV and they don't want people writing them nasty emails. I obviously don't care. But I have yet to meet anybody in the Republican establishment that worked for George W. Bush, that works in the Republican congress, that worked for Ronald Reagan that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election.

It's hard to argue with someone's claim that they have yet to speak to a single person with a particular characteristic who believes something to be true or not true. In Joe's case, he's either making it up, hasn't talked to a lot of Republicans about the matter, or the GOP leadership honestly believes it is truly screwed. Maybe he's just exaggerating to make a point. It's got to be one of those.

Don't me wrong. I think the way things look now Obama is going to win. It's just that so much can happen between now and November that I'm having a hard time believing the Republican establishment is quite that pessimistic.

I suppose it makes for good television.

Apparently, Mark Halperin, a semi-regular on the show, said that Romney "might" win and that he didn't totally agree with Scarborough's take.

That makes for somewhat less good television, but it's a more credible assessment. Let's not get too cocky here.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Still pushing Hillary in 2016 -- and I'm not alone

In my own small way, I have been pushing the idea of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016. I think she'd be great, and apparently I have company.

What does the list of encouragers look like, in no particular order?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently told Charlie Rose on PBS that, "Yes, that would be so exciting."

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has said that she would be "one of the first" to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, and, if you can believe it, Donald Trump has even said positive things about the possibility. Go figure.

Most intriguing, though, is the comment by Bill Clinton that he would be "happy" if Hillary sought the presidency, though he is sticking to the script that he doesn't think she will. As he told Good Morning America:

I believe that she's being absolutely honest with you when she says she doesn't think she'll go back into politics. But if she comes home and we do this foundation stuff for the rest of our lives, I'll be happy; if she changes her mind and decides to run, I'll be happy.

I think that comment speaks volumes. It says to me that Bill knows his wife and knows that when the time comes she will be very tempted to get back into politics.

For her part, Hillary has been saying things like, "It's flattering, but, you know, I'm not planning to do that," adding that she has no "desire or intention" to run again for the White House.

Of course, even a casual observer would realize that these are non-denial denials. All they suggest is that someone else in her party currently has the job and is running for re-election and that it would be highly inappropriate for her to create unwanted background noise. We get that. 

I'm not saying she will do it. I don't think she would risk a high-stakes run in which there were difficult odds against success. But if things align in any reasonable fashion, I don't see how she could say no. 

In my humble opinion, her kind of political talent comes around rarely, and it would be foolish for the Democratic Party not to encourage any aspirations she might have.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Nikki Haley says women don't care about birth control, unless they do

By Michael J.W. Stickings

She was okay on Colbert last night -- amusing for a politician, and fairly likeable, if also typically partisan (can't give Obama any credit whatsoever for the economy!) -- but her appearance on The View yesterday included this brilliant nugget, in response to an easy lob-ball question from resident conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck (see clip below):
"Women don't care about contraception," Haley said, "they care about jobs and their families..." She was cut off by Joy Behar, who bristled along with the rest of the panel and noted that women should care about contraception. "The media cares about contraception," Haley tried again, and then concluded that while women might care about contraception, they just want to be able to make those decisions themselves, without government involvement. Interesting position for a female Republican governor!

Indeed. Sounds like she's a tad conflicted, as perhaps are many Republican women watching their party wage war on... women.

Of course it's obvious that women (and a lot of men) care about contraception -- they all use it, after all (pretty much, anyway). I suspect that what Haley meant is that in terms of political issues women care more about jobs and the economy than birth control, that is, that women don't want birth control to be a political issue at all -- because it's a settled and firmly private matter, as most of us thought it was before Republicans decided to make it a centerpiece of their misogynistic war.

It just didn't come out that way, and her view that women should be able to make decisions themselves, in private, is a rather un-Republican one these days.

She said on Colbert that she wouldn't accept an invitation to be on Romney's ticket, but of course that's what she has to say. And it seems to me that she'd be a serious contender for the nod given her various demographic and ideological bona fides.

She'll just have to make sure to get the orthodox GOP talking points down if she wants to move up in the party.

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Santorum's addiction

Watching Rick Santorum deliver a speech from Pennsylvania on the night of the Wisconsin primary, something very disturbing occurred to me. Santorum is having a very hard time letting go of the national spotlight. 

He performed so poorly in the early going of the whole nomination process and has, let's be honest, been able since to sieze a significant piece of the national stage. It's all been so improbable. Now that it's time to say goodbye, he can't do it. 

He's mainlining adulation and has no idea how to wean himself off it. He's jonesing for his next fix. Maybe he thinks it'll be the GOP primary in his home state of Pennsylvania. I don't know.

He's in a kind of bubble that happens in politics when a candidate gets so addicted to the attention that nothing matters but the next applause line.

That's Santorum's addiction and it's getting sad. It's over, Rick. Get out, go away, shoo!

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Predictable sweep: Romney wins Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C.

We were going to live-blog the Republican primaries in Maryland, D.C., and Wisconsin this evening, but, really, what was the point?

It looked like a Romney sweep going in, and a Romney sweep it was. Or will be, once the returns are all in.

Right now, at 10:53 pm:

He's beating Santorum 48 to 30 in Maryland (with Gingrich at 11 and Paul at 10) -- 59% reporting.

He's beating Paul 70 to 12 in Washington, D.C. (with Gingrich at 11 and Santorum off the ballot) -- 58% reporting.

And he's beating Santorum 42 to 38 in Wisconsin (with Paul at 12 and Gingrich at 6) -- 71% reporting.

What does it all mean? Just that Romney moves further out in front and is now the even likelier winner. But we knew that already.

So the only news, and we see it in how the media are reporting the results and trying to make something of tonight's results, is that Romney now has more than half of the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

All of which is to say, it's over. Not that that's news, but we can now stop talking about the Republican race, other than a mention here and there, and get on with things.

The only hope for Santorum was a win in Wisconsin to balance Romney's wins in Maryland and D.C. That looked like a possibility as recently as a few weeks ago, but Romney was well ahead in all the recent polls.

Simply put, Santorum has run out of steam. Credit him for coming out of a distant nowhere and emerging as the voice of the right, and for a time of the anti-Romney majority of the GOP, but he was always at a huge disadvantage against Romney, mostly in terms of money and organization but also in terms of not having the party establishment behind him at all, and it was only going to be a matter of time until Romney finished him off.

After losses in Alabama and Mississippi on March 13, Illinois on March 20 was a decisive victory for Romney, a reminder of Romney's broader if still deeply limited appeal -- and of the inevitability of an eventual Romney win. Today, particularly the vote in Wisconsin, just adds to that.

So what now? Well, we have three weeks until five primaries in Romney's northeastern stronghold: New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware. He will win all five -- yes, he'll win Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania. And then it will really be over, even if Santorum and/or Gingrich stay in the race.

So that's it. A big, if numbingly predictable, night for Romney.


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Santorum claims California universities don't teach U.S. history

Are we still paying attention to Rick Santorum? Well, sure, for the time being. I was rooting for him to beat Romney -- for obvious reasons -- but his campaign, for all its stunning wins (given that he seemed to come out of nowhere), has been one long series of gaffes and missteps and, well, lies.

The latest... as he said yesterday in Wisconsin, where he's hoping against hope for a come-from-behind win today:

I was just reading something last night from the state of California. And that the California universities – I think it's seven or eight of the California system of universities don't even teach an American history course. It's not even available to be taught. 

Um, what exactly was he reading? Or was that a lie, too? Because, as Think Progress notes:

In fact, of the 10 UC system schools, just one (San Francisco) doesn't offer American history courses. But that's because it doesn't offer any humanities courses at all — it's a medical school.

Meanwhile, Berkeley, Irvine, Davis, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz all offer numerous American history courses. All require students to take U.S. history before they can graduate.

University of California spokesperson Brooke Converse emailed to note that every single UC undergraduate program is required to study "American history and institutions," though specific requirements vary at each campus.

Go away, Rick. Just go away. You had it going there for a bit, what with your folksy populism and seeming authenticity, but your continuous stream of right-wing bullshit (whether about birth control or education or whatever), as much as Romney's money, has taken its toll. You're done. And now you're just looking more and more like the fool you really are.

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Rick Perry, DUI

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was under the influence of painkillers during televised presidential debates over the last year to help relieve severe back pain, according to a soon-to-be released eBook on the 2012 Republican race for president obtained by The Daily Caller.

"It became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates," write the authors of "Inside the Circus."

This would explain a lot, given his miserable debate performances, when he frequently looked (and came across as) dazed and confused, but another explanation, perhaps a complementary one, is just that he's a moron who was way, way, way out of his depth.

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Keep it zipped, Mitt

Ann Romney says there's a "real" Mitt lurking somewhere behind the shameless pandering facade of a human being we've seen so far on the campaign trail:

Ann Romney defended her husband's sense of humor today during a radio interview, explaining that if people think the candidate seems too stiff at times as the host suggested, she thinks "we better unzip him and let the real Mitt Romney out."

The thing is, if you unzip Mitt, isn't what you'll find... stiff?

Sorry, but that's the double entendre here. And if you're going to use the word "upzip," Ann, you'd better be prepared for the obvious.

Seriously, maybe there is some semblance of a real human being, a real Mitt, down in there somewhere, but does anyone really believe that the upzipped Mitt on the campaign trail would be all that different than the zipped version? Even the unzipped one would be completely phony and manufactured, just as much an act of shameless pandering. Remember Mitt in Alabama saying "y'all" and talking about eatin' cheesy grits? Remember how utterly ridiculous that was? Well, the unzipped Mitt would be just like that, Mitt trying desperately, pathetically, to come across as authentic and genuine -- and failing miserably.

Because, really, the real Mitt is probably the privileged rich douchebag who's been out there sucking up for votes, an out-of-touch plutocrat who just keeps embarrassing himself on the campaign trail. Sure, he may have something of a sense of humor, and maybe that's what Ann sees, but there's no way Mitt will suddenly expose himself, such as there is a self with a soul in there, for all to see. He's too far gone for that.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

From My Collection - Harry Belafonte: Jump Up Calypso

This is an album by Harry Belafonte, an American singer, songwriter, and actor. It was released in 1961.

Belafonte has also been a social activist of some significance for much of his life. I'm currently working my way through his autobiography, which came out last year. It's called My Song: A Memoir.

Besides covering his rise an an entertainer and his own struggles as a black man in the '50s and '60s dealing with racism in his profession, it also tells of his intimate involvement in the civil rights movement, including his association with Martin Luther King. It's a good read.

In the '50s, Belafonte was known as the "King of Calypso" for bringing the Caribbean style of music to a wider audience. Likely his best known song is "The Banana Boat Song," with the signature lyric "Day-O."

He was born in Harlem to a mother of Jamaican decent, and though he spent time in the Caribbean growing up, as he notes in his book, his status as an American citizen may have saved him from being deported at various times for his social activism. Though we don't have the time or space to cover much of his activism, it was significant, as was his success as a performer, which helped him bankroll many of his political and social interests over the years. All in all, a very interesting story.

While known best for Calypso music, he recorded in many styles, including blues, folk, show tunes, and American standards.

Jump Up Calypso reached number three on the Billboard Pop Album Chart. Tracks are:

Side One:
Sweetheart from Venezuela (Alexander, Gordon)
Go Down Emanuel Road (Irving Burgie)
The Baby Boy (Alexander, Claverly)
Gloria (Ryan)
Land of Sea and Son (Burgie)
Goin' Down Jordon (Burgie, Woods)

Side Two:
Jump in the Line (Bell)
Kingston Market (Burgie)
Monkey (Burgie, Span)
These are the Times (Burgie)
Bally Mena (Burgie, Robert de Cormier)
Angelina (Burgie)

If you've bothered to read this list carefully, you may be wondering who Irving Burgie is. Here's a part of the Songwriters Hall of Fame entry for him:

Irving Burgie has long been acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of Caribbean music. His songs to date have sold over 100 million records throughout the world. Irving's classic Caribbean standards include such familiar hits as "Day-O," "Jamaica Farewell," "Island In The Sun," "Angelina," and he was co-writer of "Mary's Boy Child."

Irving Burgie has written some 35 songs recorded by Harry Belafonte, including 8 of the 11 songs on Harry's 1956 album, Calypso (the first album in America to sell over one million copies). Irving penned songs for the Kingston Trio ("The Seine," "El Matador," and "The Wanderer") and for other groups. His song "Day-O" appears in the "We Are The World" video, and is featured in the hit film Beetlejuice.

Since we are talking about Calypso music, I thought it might be appropriate also to acknowledge Burgie. It is amazing that 35 songs of his were recorded by Harry Belafonte. "Day-O," as noted, was featured in the film Beetlejuice. Another song featured in that film is "Jump in the Line," which is actually on Jump Up Calypso, the album we are discussing here, both songs performed by Harry Belafonte in the movie.

Here's a clip of "Jump in the Line" as it appeared in Beetlejuice, a film directed by Tim Burton and starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, and Winona Ryder. Always loved this scene.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Mitt Romney's enthusiasm chasm, according to Mitch McConnell

Last week, Richard wrote about Mitt Romney's "enthusiasm chasm," translating Marco Rubio's rather half-hearted endorsement as:

Yep, Romney is going to be the Republican nominee and I'm a Republican so I guess I'll be supporting him.

Well, Rubio isn't alone. A lot Republicans are having a hard time getting behind Romney with anything resembling enthusiasm. And we all know that Romney isn't exactly beloved by the grassroots primary voters who are holding their noses at his very presence, if not vehemently opposing him. And it's not like the conservative elite likes him much either, whether it's Dear Leader Rush or Krazy Kristol, while those who are behind him, like Will and Krauthammer, just don't seem all that convincing -- and seem like they're trying to convince themselves as much as anyone.

The latest example of a high-profile elected Republican unable to summon any enthusiasm at all: Mitch McConnell, who said this yesterday:

It's absolutely apparent that it's in the best interests of our party at this particular point to get behind the person who is obviously going to be our nominee and to begin to make the case against the president of the United States.

In other words: "Okay -- (sigh) -- looks like Romney will be the nominee, so we might as well support him -- (yawn) -- because at least he's not Obama.

And there was more:

Most of the members of the Senate Republican Conference are either supporting him, or they have the view that I do, that it's time to turn our attention to the fall campaign.

So other Republican senators are unenthused as well. It ain't just McConnell.

Oh, sure, he also said that Romney's "going to be an excellent candidate," but that only means that Mitt has been a not excellent candidate so far.

And McConnell hasn't even formally endorsed him yet. It's like he's just supporting him by default, supporting him because he's likely going to win and because, well, Republicans have to support the Republican, like it or not.

He added:

I think he will be an outstanding nominee. I think he can win the election.

Well, he has to say that, doesn't he? He has to express optimism. He has his standing as a big-time Republican leader to uphold, after all.

Based on what else he said, though, it's hard to believe he means it.

Yes, Romney's enthusiasm chasm is massive.

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An open letter to CNN: Stop letting Republicans play you like fools


Dear CNN,

Please excuse the language, but there is no fucking controversy. All Obama told President Medvedev was that he'd have more flexibility to work on a nuclear arms deal after the election.

And so Biden was completely right: "The idea that in this election year we're going to be able to deal with an agreement with the Russians on further reducing our nuclear arsenals... is difficult.

Actually, I'd say that's an understatement. It's next to impossible.

Republicans are trying to score political points off the president's remark -- including Romney, who used it, pathetically, to try to deflect attention away from releasing his tax returns.

They're trying to turn this into a controversy. Do you not see that?

And you, like so many in the mainstream media, are playing right along. Or, rather, right into their hands, making something out of nothing and being the mouthpiece for their anti-Obama narratives.

And it really is nothing. All the president was acknowledging was a pretty obvious political reality. In any election season, you just can't get things done, particularly important things like an arms agreement.

I explained all this in a post I wrote in response to how Republicans were making a big deal of it, using it to smear the president as anti-American, as prepared to sell America out after the election:

Winning an election means pandering, at least to some degree, to the electorate, and on national security issues, particularly complicated international ones, Americans are, by and large, deeply ignorant and prone to prolonged spasms of jingoism. Particularly on the national state, you need to be "tough," or at least to appear to be, and for the jingoistically ignorant that means saber-rattling. Republicans have been successful on the national state in large part by playing directly to this jingoistic ignorance and so by appearing to be tough (e.g., torture detainees! bomb Iran! flaunt America's nukes like a massive national hard-on!). All President Obama is doing is recognizing this unfortunate political reality...

President Obama, far more than pretty much every Republican, understands the complexity of international relations. What he is saying is not that he will capitulate, that he will give Russia whatever it wants, but that he will work with Russia on long-term solutions to these challenging problems, that he will treat Russia as a partner for peace.

Republicans are just vomiting up their usual partisan outrage. If they don't believe it, they're cynical. If they do, they're just plain stupid.

As for you and the rest of the media, you'd do well to stop letting them play you for fools.

Enough already.

Somewhat less than best regards,

Michael Stickings

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If it's Obama, it's got to be bad.

and if it's bad it's got to be Obama.

By Capt. Fogg

Am I a hard-core Democrat? I have no idea, but I don't remember the last time I was of voting age and the Republicans offered a decent candidate for any office higher than county commissioner.

But someone who sends me an endless series of fabricated, fictitious and venomous "articles" proving that Barack Obama is the Devil's evil twin, just told me that's just what I am yesterday and even though I'm a Democrat only by default, I guess I'm flattered. You see, he's yet to send me anything that didn't prove to be a baseless and usually flimsy lie and that makes him mad. He's often told me I "always have an excuse" when I expose him as a gullible idiot and seditious liar as though the truth were an excuse -- and of course if debunking lies makes me a Liberal apologist, telling them must make him, by his definition, a Republican liar, if I might be excused the tautology.

The latest offense was a short video of the President, leaving the podium and kicking open a door under the rubric:

The tantrum!!
Picture worth ten thousand words -
"The little boy" did not get his way - this wasn't in the news, but it sure can be visualized.....

"Poor baby" did not get his w
ay and had a "tantrum."
Bet you won't see this on network TV: Obama l
eaving a meeting with Congressional leaders after Cantor told the president "Republicans would not vote for his proposed tax hikes."

What tax hikes? I guess the media has covered that up too!

It's typical to include rhetoric about the "media" not wanting us to know something to cover up the fact that it never actually happened, but in this case, the video actually was taken from "network TV" because it appeared as a joke on Jay Leno. No, of course it wasn't in the news any more than the previous pictures of a huge arms cache "on the Arizona border" the media didn't want us to hear about, or didn't care about because it actually was found hundreds of miles away in Mexico and had nothing to do with Arizona. Think these good folks know that illegal immigration is way down or that this administration has deported in less than 4 years, more than the Republican liars did in 8? If it's Obama, it's got to be bad.

Then there was the one showing Obama with his feet on the desk and the hysterical denunciation that insisted this desecration of a desk by this "arrogant, immature, self-centered idiot" proved he thought of himself as a king and that "generations to come" would feel the effects of his having had his feet on the desk.

This being another tu quoque attempt at distracting from Bush's naked imperialism, constitutional infractions, financial malfeasance, war crimes and putting his feet on the desk, of course I countered, like a hard core Democrat with this:

Of course one can find many pictures of many presidents with many feet on desks on the Internet. I'll leave that search to you, but I never expect evidence of fraud or the irony attached to it to have any effect on the lower orders of humanity. Inconvenient proof will only generate further rage, further scurrilous attacks and won't begin to stem the flow of fake picture after fake story after malicious and fictitious malediction.

So am I a hard core Democrat? Not really and I do perceive that Democrats have their own shibboleths and conceits and that they aren't always as scrupulous at fact checking as they might be, but I'm comparing apples to road apples here. There is no excuse for the bottomless cornucopia of scurrilous stories, fake videos and doctored photographs that have infested the Internet for the ignorant armies of the angry Right to use as a weapon.

Take the series of fake pictures designed to "prove" that Trayvon Martin was a dangerous thug now filling up the blogs and mailboxes. No, nothing is too racist or too false or too pathetic for the cause to ignore it nor do any of the GOP employees who work overtime creating it really have to worry about their constituents finally catching on to the long con. The left behind, the outmoded, the surplus population of maladapted Republican miscreants simply aren't capable of the level of honesty, the level of cognitive function needed to question anything so delightfully, so soothingly, so self-importantly hateful.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Women could put Obama over the top in November

Actually, not just over the top. There's a long, long way to go, to be sure, but women could hand Obama a landslide.

As USA Today reports:

President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation's dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side.

In the fifth Swing States survey taken since last fall, Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points.

The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney's support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.

But why would women be shifting in such large numbers to the president? Oh, right, because Republicans are waging war on them.

Ultimately, it'll be the economy, stupid, that will determine how these swing states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin -- go, but, looking at that list, there's no reason Obama should be able to win all of them.

And if women in particular see it as a choice between a likeable president who is effectively managing an improving economy (and cares about issues like health care and education) and a privileged rich douchebag who advocates plutocracy and belongs to the party of theocracy -- a contrast that will become much clearer over the course of the campaign -- well, you have to give Obama the decisive edge.

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