Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saying Goodbye To July

July 31st is always the most bittersweet day of the year for me; it marks the end of my favorite month of the year and the countdown to autumn begins in earnest. True, fall does have it's redeeming virtues, like cooler days and nights, foliage, Halloween, and of course football. But I'm like most people....I live for summer. And it's always a little sad when you get that first inkling that summer is slipping away. Those feelings become more marked and poignant with each passing year.

But it's still summer, and there is a lot of time to celebrate it. Today I made my midsummer pilgrimage to Rutgers Gardens in North Brunswick, NJ (near the Cook College Campus) for their summer open house. It was crowded, but a warm and pleasant 80 degree day, with wine tasting, vendors, and Jersey Fresh produce for sale (can't beat a half dozen large ears of corn for four bucks).

And there were the sights of the Gardens, which like all gardens this summer took a bit of a beating from the extreme heat and mini-drought we'd been experiencing in the region. Some flowers were past peak prematurely, probably because of the stress they were under. But some displays weathered the conditions extremely well.

I took my camera and tripod, and here's a few of the sights from today's open house.

Enjoy August.....and the rest of your summer.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anthony Weiner ; The Day After The Tirade

Anthony Weiner, Democratic Congressman from New York's Ninth District, went on a tirade on the House floor after a bill that would have set aside a multi billion dollar fund for 9/11 responders and others affected failed to proceed through the House.

Much of his wrath was directed against his co-sponsor on the bill, Long Island Republican Peter King. In this interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, sitting in for Chris Matthews on HARDBALL, Weiner admits that his once cordial working relationship with King has, to say the least, reached a snag.

And he calls out the GOP as "The Party of No!"......only 12 Republicans voted in support of the bill. Twelve Republicans, that's all, voted to help fund the medical expenses of those who responded to a city's and a nation's cry for help on that tragic day, September 11, 2001. Remember, these responders were not only from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut....they came from all over the country. The "no" votes from Red State Republicans probably affected some of that Congressperson's very own constituents.

Weiner makes a point about the Democratic approach in legislating ...."Sometimes we as Democrats bring library books to a knife fight".

The ghost of Lyndon Johnson is probably smiling because of this guy, telling it like it is.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

President Obama 0n THE VIEW- No Justin Bieber and Who's Snooki?

The 44th President of the United States became the first sitting chief executive to visit a daytime talk show....and the only controversy to arise when Barack Obama visited the ladies of The View was when the POTUS responded to a question regarding Jersey Shore's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi with ""I've got to admit, I don't know who Snooki is."

But the free world wants to that true?  Does the President really know who Snooki is?.

This should give Fox News something to talk about for most of August...but more on that later.

Barbara Walters returned from recent heart surgery to co-host the show, which was taped yesterday, along with cohorts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. In recent weeks the President did receive criticism in certain circles because his appearance was seen as frivolous while the situation in the Gulf slogs on, the nation claws it's way out of a recession, and we are engaged in two wars in the Middle East.

But I couldn't disagree more. This was a brilliant move on his part. Mr. Obama was able to sit down and answer questions at length and in a relaxed atmosphere about those situations, in a small unscripted forum. He touched on the crisis in the Gulf, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the state of the economy, and he spoke of his faith in the resiliency of the American people to bounce back after the financial collapse of 2008.

The President was asked about his decision in early life to embrace his African heritage instead of calling himself bi-racial....and he referred to talking about this choice extensively in his writings. He sparred gently with resident conservative Hasselbeck about the slow progress in job creation in the post recession economy, and said that we're doing better but must do more. Obmama also talked about creating a $30 billion fund for smaller lending institutions to help America's small businesses. Today Senate Republicans blocked the bill. And, he quipped at the beginning of his sitdown, he wanted to appear on The View because it's one show that wife Michelle watches.

Obama talked about the Shirley Sherrod controversy, and admitted that his administration didn't do a good job in handling it.  He also talked about the role media plays in creation of controversy, and how the stories of co-operation between the parties never makes the news....Obama said it's because conflict sells, and co-operation doesn't.

The conversation got a bit lighter when the ladies went into a "Lightning Round"  style line of questioning. Check out the video below.

Now we know that the President will not be attending Chelsea Clinton's wedding, that his own daughters are not interested in boys yet, that he knows Lindsay Lohan in in jail, that the thought of Mel Gibson makes him stammer....and that he has a new IPhone and uses his IPod. His playlist includes Jay Z, Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra....but no Justin Bieber. Obama did say he was a nice young man who did appear in Washington some months ago, and he enjoyed Justin's performance.

But.....when Joy Behar asked the President if  Snooki should run for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, following the footsteps of a certain half term governor of that state, the President said he didn't know who Snooki (left) was.

 And now we have a brewing controversy- because Mr. Obama told a joke earlier this year, and Snooki was one of the punchlines.

At the White House Correspondents Dinner this past winter was wowing the crowd. This is what he said about the star of JERSEY SHORE.

“This next provision is called the Jersey Shore-Up. It reads, ‘The following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill: Snooki, JWOWW, The Situation and House minority leader John Boehner".

What do you think? Will Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh be yelling "Flip-flop"?

Does anybody really care?

You mean Snooki's 15 minutes aren't up yet?

NEWSFLASH!!!!! Dateline 6:15PM July 30 2010 Seaside Heights, NJ..........This just in.... Snooki Arrested!!!!! As a nation prays and waits.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Elisabeth Hasselbeck's Philosophy on Lesbians | Fancast News

I'll be right up front...I think Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a very beautiful young woman. All politics aside.

But the more she talks, the more I ask; is she possibly the most vapid woman living in "the lower 48"?

Elisabeth has a theory as to why there is an increase in women trying a lesbian lifestyle late in life, even after many years of marriage.

"Older men are going with younger women, leaving the women with no one.”

Hey, I didn't say it. Check the video below; here's Elisabeth with Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and Sherri Shepherd on Tuesday's (July 28) episode of the The View.

Let's extend this logic out a bit further. Rather than taking up ceramics, joining a book club, or going to over 50 events, these women just wake up one day and decide, "Gee....that's it. I'll become a lesbian!"

And I guess because of the diminishing supply of young women, young guys have only two alternatives; discover the wonderful world of Cougardom, or else start "walking the other side of the street.

Anyway...this song's for you, Ms. Elisabeth.

READ MORE.......Elisabeth Hasselbeck's Philosophy on Lesbians | Fancast News

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MadMen; The Music of the Era, 1964-65

Episode One, Season Four of Mad Men did what we've come to expect- they did the unexpected. Season Three ended in December 1963 and Season Four's opener found us at Thanksgiving, 1964, and Episode Two leads to Christmastime 1964.

To make a long story short, the obvious thing to have done to start this season would be showing the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce advertising firm post JFK, and in the early stages of Beatlemania and the British Invasion....but the writers zagged when we thought they would zig. They avoided the obvious; and that's why they're writers of great teleplays and I'm a lonely ole blogger.

While checking out the queries to this blog about the show there were many searches involving the music on MADMEN, and that of the mid 1960's. So I thought, just for fun, I'd put some songs from 1964-65 on as a sampler of the direction music was going in that era. Previously I've said that dozens of new careers were launched with the arrival of the Beatles in 1964 (some even lasting to this day), but many, many more of the older American acts were killed off by the British Invasion. In this sampler I've included some of the acts that came over from the UK, some of the American survivors, and some Americans who initially copied the look and/or sound of the British acts. There was one notable exception, and there was one act that could not be included on the playlist....and they were the biggest act of them all.

The owners of the Beatles catalog haven't granted permission for use on So Included above is video footage from one of the most significant events in the history of rock....the Beatles play Shea Stadium in New York, on August 15, 1965. This was the first stadium rock show....ever. And if it looks primitive by today's standards....well, it was. They were trying to invent the wheel. And for the youngin's who may not know; the old guy introducing John, George, Paul, and Ringo was the legendary TV showman and newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan.

On the the playlist you'll find survivors The Beach Boys and Roy Orbison, and one of the last mega-acts to be produced by Phil Spector, The Righteous Brothers. Motown stars The Supremes, The Temptations, and Marvin Gaye started to have their greatest crossover hits in the mid 1960's. The era also saw the arrival of the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks, who are either still together or have members still actively recording. Bob Dylan shocked the folkies and went electric, feeling their wrath initially, but his change of musical direction was a bellweather for those who followed, among them the Byrds.

Some British groups had staying power, others didn't. The Searchers had a sound that can be heard in bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Wallflowers, and REM, and The Nashville Teens were one hit wonders who popularized John Loudermilk's TOBACCO ROAD.....which became the title to Episode One, Season Four of MADMEN.

Also on the list.....The Yardbirds with ace guitarist Jeff Beck; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (featuring ex Yardbird guitarist Eric Clapton and future Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie); from Belfast, THEM with the young lead singer Van Morrison; Dusty Springfield, the beautiful soulful blonde from across the pond; also from the UK, the Animals and the first lineup of The Moody Blues, who's lead singer Denny Laine became a longtime member of Paul McCartney's WINGS; The talented one hit wonder (and precursor to Aretha Franklin) Fontella Bass; and the "Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

This playlist will probably be modified and switched around a bit....but I think I'll leave it up for the duration of the series.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. What a time it was!

Late Edition Just a few words to the one or two of you who still may think I'm just a crazy left wing blogger who hates all things Republican....not true!

Leading off the Playlist in The Searcher's version of song first recorded by Jackie DeShannon, Needles and Pins.

The song was co-written by legendary music producer Jack Nitsche and a man who later served as a Republican Congressman from California's 44th District from January 3, 1995 until his untimely death in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998.

His name.....Salvatore Phillip Bono, aka "Sonny".

So put THAT in your Tea Bag...and drink it, ice it, put lemon on it, I really don't care.

Update! October 23 The playlist has been changed! To see or listen to the playlist described in this entry, please click here.

Mr. President- Have A REAL Sub (Jersey Style)! And Don't Forget The Provolone!

You may love President Barack Obama....or maybe you don't. But you'll have to admit one thing....he can really pick a good sub shop.

Tomorrow the President of the United States visits my backyard on a trip to the Tastee Sub Shop on Plainfield Avenue in Edison, NJ, just around the corner from Route 27....the former senator from Illinois will be yards away from what used to be called "The Lincoln Highway". The President will meet Tastee co-owner Dave Thornton, and three other New Jersey small business owners; Theo Mastorakos of Rochelle Park, Catherine Horsburgh of Wayne, and Brian Bovia of Sicklerville.

I first went to Tastee Sub Shop when I was a kid, a whole lot of subs and many pounds ago. Now, the President won't have to worry about having to wait very long to get served....its one of his job perks. And parking won't be a problem either (it can be pretty tough at lunchtime). Just be's bad corner, and sometimes Jersey drivers get an attitude (not me......I haven't given anybody an obscene gesture in at least a week).

A few suggestions, Mr. President.....with all due respect. Get a whole #2, with extra oil and vinegar, everything on it....but NIX on the hot peppers, you still have to meet the ladies on The View....and if the counter guy asks you what kind of cheese you want ask for PROVOLONE!!!!! No Swiss, cheddar, American, Cheese Whiz....only PROVOLONE for a REAL Jersey sub.

Remember John Kerry campaigning in South Philly in 2004, and he went for a cheesesteak....and PUT SWISS CHEESE ON IT?

In my opinion, that Swiss cheese gave George Bush a second term.

My cautionary tale is over.

Mangia!!!!! Eat your heart out, John Boehner!

Monday, July 26, 2010

LOST IN JERSEY; The 9/11 Monument You've Never Heard Of

It lies directly across from Manhattan, with Brooklyn in the distance, Staten Island to the right, and the Statue of Liberty is straight ahead. And the question is this; if a 100 foot tall monument to 3,000 slain people is built and there isn't anyone there to see it, is it still a monument?

There was a family emergency in the past week, and my cousin Rich came up from Georgia. After things began to fall in to place we started to talk about the usual stuff relatives do when we haven't seen each other in awhile.

Over a beer or two Rich asked if we had ever been to the "Teardrop Monument" in Bayonne. We had no idea what he was talking about. Then Rich explained to us that there was a monument to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center in Bayonne, about 20 miles north of here, facing the the spot where the Twin Towers once stood.

Sorry....never heard of it. Where did you hear this?

Rich explained that the monument was a gift from the people of Russia to the United States, and it was dedicated on the fifth anniversary of the attacks in 2006,

Sorry Rich....this ain't ringin' any bells. Are you sure this isn't some Urban Legend?

No, its the real deal, Rich answered....his wife checked it out on a site dedicated to separating fact from fiction. Yes, the so-called "Tear Drop 9/11 Monument" was real, and it was in Bayonne, New Jersey.

So, on Saturday July 24, 2010, in near 100 degree heat we set out on our expedition to find the rumored but seldom seen "Tear Drop 9/11 Monument".

We headed north on the Jersey Turnpike and got off at Bayonne, and we got lost in the harbor area for about an hour.... but we could see a large tower in the distance, but couldn't find the road we wanted (no, we had no address, so GPS was out). After asking three different people for the same directions three times we finally got some that made sense; he directed us to Harbor View Park, the former Military Ocean Terminal, or 51 Port Terminal Boulevard, off of Route 440.

And there it was....100 feet high, a magnificent sculpture, the work of Russian sculpture Zurab Tsereteli. Moved to tears after the attacks, Tsereteli wanted produce a monument to the victims of 9/11. He went to work almost immediately, and chose the site on the Bayonne waterfront that faced directly where the Twin Towers once stood. The monument would be of a tower being split in half, with a single four ton nickel tear drop suspended from the center. The Russian government got into the act, and President Vladimir Putin was present for the groundbreaking of this gift to the American people from Russia on September 16, 2005.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

MADMEN, Season 4- 1964 And The REAL Beginning of "The Sixties"

In the final episode of Season Three of MADMEN, Roger Sterling, Peggy Olson, and Joan Harris are sitting at a table, checking out accounts and organizing the new Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce ad agency. It is around Christmastime, 1963, a little less than a month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Roger said to Peggy, " Could you get a cup of coffee for me, Peggy?" Peggy didn't even look up.....and she responded to the senior partner, "No.".........The times. we see are, a changin'.

The best show on television, Madmen, returns on Sunday July 25, 10 PM EDT on AMC with the former partners and some staff formerly at Sterling Cooper now getting the the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency off the ground. Don Draper and wife Betty have split, Joan's doctor husband has joined the army, and Don and Lane Pryce have their names on the door of the new agency. Season Three ended in December, 1963; JFK was dead, and the nation was in shock and in a state of mourning. But it was all going to change very quickly; one era was over, and another was about to begin. Forget what the calendar said; the 1950's lasted until December 1963 and died with John F. Kennedy, as did the innocence of a nation. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (henceforth to be referred to as SCDP) was an entity born at the very same time of the greatest pop cultural shift since motion pictures began to talk.

I'm going to tell personal reflections of 1964 (yes, I'm old enough to remember and to have experienced it), with some the aid of some "notes". It was a time like no other in my life....but first, let's return to December, 1963.

We had watched a beloved president murdered on a Friday afternoon, and then saw the accused assassin murdered two days later on Sunday on national TV. Think about it; 20 million people were eyewitness to murder....and technology made it possible. By 1963 TELSTAR, the first communications satellite, was operational. For the first time in history we could watch an event LIVE from Europe, or Africa, or the Far East. The wonder of this communications advance brought an uninvited consequence; and we saw it when Jack Ruby cut down Lee Harvey Oswald while America watched and ate its Sunday brunch.

Ir was in the period of time after Christmas, 1963 and before New Year's that I was sitting around, listening to the radio. WMCA, now a Christian radio station in New York, was at that time a solid #2 in the rock and roll radio market- it was AM, of course; FM radio was for symphony was a toy that no one knew what to do with. The jock on WMCA was talking about this musical group that was taking Great Britain in a way that no one did since Elvis in 1956. British rock and roll acts didn't fair well in the United States to that point; Cliff Richard, "The British Elvis", was on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW a year or two before- I remembered seeing him and thinking the guy was an Elvis "wannabe" before anybody knew what a 'wannabe" was.

Anyway, the jock talked up this group.....and he played their new record. It was I Want To Hold Your Hand by this group from Liverpool called The Beetles....sorry, that was spelled wrong. BEATLES....kind of a homage to Buddy Holly and The Crickets. I thought they were good, and had tight harmonies similar to the Everly Brothers. But that "jingle-jangle" sound....were those guitars? I had never heard of a twelve string Rickenbacker before.

Yes, a different, unique, and a fresh sound, I thought ....and so did a lot of other people. So much so that Capitol Records rushed an LP, MEET THE BEATLES, into print around two weeks later. A competing release of different material, INTRODUCING THE BEATLES (with a weird cover that showed John, George, Paul, and Ringo all with technicolor red hair) was released by the smaller VeeJay Records. And Swan Records rushed out an early hit single, SHE LOVES YOU, around the same time.

BEATLEMANIA, and the British Invasion, took place without benefit of the 24/7 news cycle, or TWITTER, or any of the hand held devices that give us instant news and media. It was remarkable how quickly it all happened, in a matter of weeks. On Christmas Day, 1963 most Americans had never heard of The Beatles. By January 10 they were all over the radio dial and the first clips from British TV had been shown in the United States. By February 1, 1964 the Beatles had the #1 single in America. On February 9 The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show; 73 million Americans watched their debut on American TV.

In mid December America was in a depressed funk; a month later four Brits with funny haircuts got us going again. And American pop culture would never quite be the same.

Overnight all things British were good; Carnaby Street, Mary Quant, miniskirts, and guys with long hair. And American music was turned upside down. The "DooWop " groups, the Teen Queens, the dance craze of the week, the pseudo Elvises, the pretty boy idols pre-1964 were out. Only MOTOWN, The Beach Boys, and Roy Orbison seemed to weather the purge. American pop music went through an upheaval not seen in entertainment since talking pictures killed the careers of silent movie stars in the early 1930's.

The Beatles were followed by The Dave Clark Five, The Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, the Animals, and a scruffy lot from London who called themselves The Rolling Stones. Also, there was a hit record in 1964 from a British group with a name straight from the Deep South, The Nashville Teens. The song was Tobacco Road; and this is the also the title of Madmen's Season Four opener. As noted in the previous link, David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun reminds us that the song's lyrics mirror the childhood of Don Draper, born Dick Whitman. Draper, now divorced, is living alone and is a weekend dad to his two children.

Nineteen sixty-four was the beginning of America's infatuation with "the Youth Culture". MADMEN and the new SCDP agency will be there at the beginning of this shift, which would only intensify as we progressed through the decade. In the final episode of Season Three, Shut The Door, Have A Seat Roger and Don seemed insistent on having Pete Campbell join the new firm. Pete, though a whiny little snake, had good instincts as to what appeals to American youth.  Pete Campbell, tolerated by all and despised by most, could find himself in a position of power and influence in the new firm.

In that same episode we saw Joan's husband join the Army. In November of 1963 the Diem regime  was overthrown in Vietnam, and that regime was toppled by a counter coup in January, 1964. That coup would be overthrown by another counter coup in August, just weeks after the "incident" in the Gulf of Tonkin began the escalation of US involvement in Vietnam, a war that was intended to save that country from "global Communism", but only succeeded in tearing America apart and helping to create political divisions that can be felt into the 21st century.

In July, 1964 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, outlawing unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in public schools and in the workplace, and in public accommodations. It was a bill championed by President Lyndon Johnson, a white Southerner, and passed with the help of progressive Democrats and overwhelmingly by moderate Republicans. Southern Democrats balked at their support of the bill; Johnson knew that the passage would probably cause damage to the Democratic Party in the South for generations to come. He was right; the "Solid South" went from being solidly Democrat to solidly Republican....conservative style.

On the same day of the Gulf of Tonkin incident (August 4th), the bodies of civil rights workers James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were found in rural Mississippi. The three were involved in a voter registration drive in the South's most segregated state. They were arrested and later released to members of the Ku Klux Klan who subsequently murdered them. Justice was delayed for decades for the murders. The image at the right appeared in Life magazine. It shows Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price at their arraignment, both were Klan members. Rainey was acquitted, Price served four years of a six year sentence. Details of the crime, the arrests, trials, and updates can be found here.

Also in the month of August, civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, the Vice Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party addressed the credentials committee to challenge the all white Mississippi delegation. Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded John F. Kennedy after JFK's assassination, became the party's nominee for the presidency in the convention that was held in Atlantic City. Johnson would beat Republican Barry Goldwater in a landslide. But the image that sticks with me the most about that convention was Robert Kennedy ascending the podium, and the ovation he received.... it lasted 22 minutes until RFK began his speech. Robert Kennedy and President Johnson despised each other, but RFK served as Johnson's attorney general until September, 1964. He resigned from the cabinet, and began his successful run as senator from New York.

And during 1964 Richard Burton married Elizabeth Taylor (for the first time), the New York World's Fair opened in Flushing Meadow Park, the New York Mets opened they're new home at Shea Stadium, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in the World Series; the Yankee Dynasty was over, and the National League, which integrated more thoroughly than the American League with black and Latin players, became most dominant in Major League Baseball.

Martin Luther King would win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Pete Townshend of The Who would smash his guitar on stage for the first time. Bob Dylan hooked up with the Beatles; Dylan allegedly turned them on to marijuana....both The Beatles and Dylan would go on evolve as artists and influence generations of musicians. On ABC TV a show dedicated to the new music of The Sixties, Shindig, made it's debut on September 16; the next day Elizabeth Montgomery became a TV star with the debut of Bewitched....both shows were on ABC, then the perennial last place network of the "Big Three".

In October Nikita Khrushchev, who once threatened to "bury" the United States, was out as the leader of the Soviet Union. The next month the Verrazano Narrows Bridge would open, connecting Staten Island with Brooklyn. Vatican II opened in Rome the same month. In December the Free Speech movement began at the University of California at Berkeley; Lenny Bruce would be sentenced to four months in prison for obscenity; Goldfinger would open, with Sean Connery as "Bond...James Bond".

And on December 27, 1964 the Cleveland Browns would beat the Baltimore Colts in the NFL Championship Game. This would be the last world championship that a sports team from Cleveland would win; the championship drought has now reached 46 years.

Where the characters of Madmen will go this season remains to be seen. The firm of SCDP enters a world much different than the one we last saw them in during the first three seasons. Politically and culturally, America entered an era that could be called the best and worst of times. Many people born after 1970 look at the Sixties as a time of creativity and fun; there was plenty of that, to be sure. But it was also a time of fear and violence, where leaders were gunned down, inner cities erupted after years of frustration, college campuses were hotbeds of protest and sometime confrontation, and death became a fixture on the evening news via the images from Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War affected all; everyone either served or had a family member or friend who served. Many knew someone who died in combat.

Hopefully this exercise in recall and rediscovery will help those who want to know what the times were like....indeed, 1964 might have been the most transformative year of the last half of the 20th Century.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Shirley Sherrod Scandal; Keith Olbermann's Special Comment

Keith Olbermann takes a break from his vacation to make a Special Comment on the role of the Right and the Left in the story of Shirley Sherrod.

In a word....BRAVO!

The Shirley Sherrod Story; How A Little Knowledge.....Plus "The Sin of Omission" ....Is A Dangerous Thing

"And on the day after the day after".

You probably know the story well by now.

Conservative activist Andrew Breitbart posted a 38 second snippet of a speech by US Ag worker Shirley Sherrod gave to an NAACP on his website Big The edited video came across as racist remarks that appeared to show Ms Sherrod's resentment in helping a poor white farmer in 1986 when Ms Sherrod worked for a non-profit rural farm aid group.

Then all hell broke loose. Because Shirley Sherrod, an African American woman from the Deep South who's father had been murdered by white racists in 1965, became the victim of an extreme right wing smear. And it got worse; Sherrod was condemned by the NAACP, and fired by the Department of Agriculture by order of Secretary Tom Vilsack, and then vilified by many in the mainstream media, none of whom knew the facts.

Breitbart and the lackeys at FOX NEWS ran with the story of Sherrod's alleged racism, showing the doctored speech as an example of the black racism that exists within the NAACP and in the Obama administration. The only problem was the accusation was false. As can be seen in the video below is the true context of Sherrod's speech, and remarks of the Georgia farm couple she helped in 1986 and who to this day regard as a friend.

As the truth began to unfold, there was backtracking by the NAACP, the Department of Agriculture and Secretary Vilsack, and by the White House, who today offered an apology.

But maybe it's too little too late.....Vilsack and the Department of Agriculture and the NAACP took a huge hit, as did the Administration; they threw Shirley Sherrod under the bus in an overreaction to the falsehood initiated by Breitbart, nurtured by the usual suspects at FOX NEWS, and sold to the rest of the news media as fact. Few did any followup, and Shirley Sherrod was sacrificed by Secretary Vilsack before he or anyone under him could or would investigate.

Did anyone in that department ever hear of due process?

Or to ask the question when did the incident of alleged racism take place?

But the Million Dollar Question is.....did anybody in the administration consider the source?

I'm a Democrat, and I voted for this President.....but right now, I'm more than a little ashamed of this administration. Shirley Sherrod, an anonymous public servant, had to resign from her job via Blackberry in order to protect the Obama Administration, even though she was being denied her day in court.

Welcome, Young Skywalker, to The Dark Side.

Shirley Sherrod was fired from her job because the Obama Administration was scared to death that Glenn Beck would be using her as his latest cause celebre, an example of what was wrong with America. And the NAACP, who wanted racist elements of the Tea Party movement ousted- and saw Mark Williams and the Tea Party Express- get the boot- was afraid of being hounded into extinction by Breitbart, FOX News, and the rest of the Right Wing Gasbags (please see ACORN, R.I.P.). The timing of the release of the Sherrod tape by Breitbart, just after the ouster of Williams, has a very, very, very foul odor about it.

Shirley Sherrod was lied about on Fox News, and by Andrew Breitbart, plain and simple.....and the people who should have been looking out for her- her bosses and the Administration- threw her to the wolves, and then were shamed into apologizing to her, and doing the right thing, even offering her another job in the Department.

If I were her, I'd take my time.

Shirley Sherrod is the only one to emerge as a winner in this sad affair....a great and loyal American, and a true role model, she maintained her dignity in this sad rush to judgment.

The villains? Fox and and Andrew Breitbart. They'll be back.....they're like athlete's foot, irritating and never quite curable.

And the fools....the main stream media, the NAACP, Tom Vilsack, Robert Gibbs.....and the buck has to stop at the top....sorry, Mr. President.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Refudiate This! Is Sarah Palin Norm Crosby's Long Lost Daughter?

Most the civilized world has heard the latest Palinism; Sarah invented the word "refudiate" during a speech, and even TWEETED it later on (ahhhh.... while tweeting didn't that red line under the word indicating it was mispelled, or not a word, set off any all?).

Sarah decided to compare her malaprop to Shakespeare inventing words, and to Dubya's "misunderestimate" and Barack's "wee-wee'd up" (is that a diminutive form of being pissed off?).

But take a look at the following video and pay attention to the conversation Harry Smith has with Erica Hill at it's conclusion.


You mean to say John McCain said "refudiate" as well?

This got me thinking.....whatever happened to "The King of The Malaprop", comedian Norm Crosby. Well...Norm is still alive, and will be 83 years old this September. Obviously, he must be semi-retired at this point in his life.

In keeping with the political side of things, Norm Crosby roasts Senator Barry Goldwater in this old DEAN MARTIN CELEBRITY ROAST....looking at some of the other guests (William Conrad, Dan Rowan) my guess is that the show is from the late 1970's or early 1980's.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tea Party Express Leader Mark Williams Kicked Out of Movement

Mark Williams, the leader of The Tea Party Express, who railed against accusations of racism within The Tea Party while referring to President Obama as "an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug" has been kicked out of the National Tea Party Federation after he posted a blatantly racist blog entry in rebuttal to the request of the NAACP to oust fringe racist groups from their organization.

Williams, who in the past has referred to Obama, former President Jimmy Carter, and the Democrat Party as "enemies of America" on his website, called the Manhattan boro president a "Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned fink on Anne Frank", and led a recent fight to ban the building of a mosque near Ground Zero, posted a "satirical" piece on his blog in which he wrote a letter to President Lincoln on the behalf of "colored people". Below an excerpt, as reproduced by The Daily News.

"We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"

Yesterday on CBS's Face The Nation, Tea Party Federation spokesman David Webb said the following.....

"We have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation because of the letter that he wrote"

Williams' response to his expulsion appears on his website's July 18th entry.

Mark Williams is no stranger to this blog. In the past we have referred to his words and actions, and included two entries when he mixed it up a bit with MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan and CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Buckingham Nicks on THE PLAYLIST; Treasures From The Past

Good morning and happy Sunday.

Today, let's have a little diversion from politics and current events, I wanted to feature some music featuring Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks from the days prior to their joining Fleetwood Mac, when the duo appeared as Buckingham Nicks, and released the self titled album in 1973.

Three of the songs are from the Buckingham Nicks album. But leading off is Sorcerer, from Stevie's 2001 solo album Trouble In Shangri-la. The song was written in the early 1970's, however, and was performed by Buckingham Nicks on tour. It was supposedly considered for Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, but didn't make the cut.

The three other songs are Crying In The Night, Stephanie, and Don't Let Me Down Again. For more information about Lindsey, Stevie, Buckingham Nicks, and their joining Fleetwood Mac, please see the two related articles posted in 2009.

If you're troubled by the gratuitous implied nudity of the young Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (pictured).....that's tough!

Have a great Sunday...and stay cool.

Note! On July 27 2010 I changed the PLAYLIST mentioned in this blog entry. To hear the PLAYLIST that includes Buckingham Nicks click here.

Looking Back After posting this entry a few hours ago, memories of the first time I heard Buckingham Nicks danced raucously in my head. It was a time long ago, in a land, far, far, away, that being the Kingdom of Breckenridge, Colorado, where I first heard the record, courtesy of some old friends. Those were great times, involving some wonderful people....but it also brought up a memory of a very scary incident in my life that I have all but blocked out.

Because while in those mountains I came face to face with three animals that would a short time later maul a child to death.

After getting out of the Air Force I made my way to Breckenridge in early 1976, and settled in with an old buddy in in condo we could barely afford across from Peak 9, overlooking the town. My friend worked for a doctor, I worked at the ski area, doing a bit of everything; I shoveled snow, worked the lift, did kitchen prep, tended bar, flipped burgers, washed dishes....but the most important thing was I got to ski for free. I made friends with a lady named Joni; she worked in the kitchen of the Peak 8 restaurant Joni's hubby Dan was the "Propane Guy"; he drove the truck and delivered fuel to the residents and renters. I would visit Dan and Joni and share music, bringing over Springsteen and Neil Young; they would offer fantastic four alarm chili, Coors, and various herbs to enhance the experience. It was a pretty good trade. Since I didn't have a car I would ride to work with Dan and Joni in the AM, and either hike a couple of miles home after work or hitch hike (hey, it WAS the Seventies).

One of the albums they had was Buckingham Nicks; they were fans from before they joined Fleetwood Mac. As for me, I was a Mac fan from the era of Kiln House; later in the Air Force I started to listen to all of the late 1960's Mac with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. But Dan and Joni were not Mac fans- in fact, they were puzzled as to why Stevie and Lindsey would ever want to join the Mac, who were perceived to be just another Seventies revolving door band.

Mind you, this was the winter of 1976-77, almost two years after Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac and released the white Fleetwood Mac, album, and months before they would become rock icons with the release of Rumours. Looking back on it now, it seems even further in the past than it was, and even more unlikely that a group that had been on the cusp of disbanding at least three times in the previous five years would become cultural immortals with what would become (at that time) the greatest selling record in history.

So...I initially posted this entry, and I thought of those days, and Dan and Joni, and Breckenridge. And then I recalled an incident that same year that might have been the most terrifying day of my life.

I couldn't get a ride home from work, so I cut through the woods, up the side of the mountain, more than 10,000 feet above sea level to get back to the condo. On most days I would only see squirrels, crows, and an occasional mule deer. But this day was different.....I met Satan.

Satan was the name of a German Shepherd- St Bernard mix that I had heard of; he belonged to one of the locals in Breckenridge, and he had the reputation as a biter.....I had never seen him until this day. But a few hundred yards from getting to my condo Satan met me on the trail, with two other smaller dogs- I have no recollection what kind of dogs the other two were, only of Satan. They were clearly the followers, and Satan was the Alpha dog....he truly seemed like a Hound From Hell, the curse of the Baskervilles transported to the Colorado high country.

Satan was black, had longish hair, and a stare and a growl that induce shivers all these years later. He must have weighed in excess of one hundred pounds; I noticed he was not frothing at the mouth and didn't appear to be rabid; but he just growled as he blocked the path, just daring me to approach him. The other two dogs joined in on growling. I didn't dare bend down to pick up a stick or rock; they would have sensed my fear and attacked. And had I retreated down the hill, the dogs might have attacked me as prey.

So I decided to advance, but to get off of the trail and find an alternate way up the mountain. I went forward, never looking at the dogs....all three stayed behind me, sometimes nipping at my pants leg, but not biting. I could feel them brushing and drooling on my leg, just adding to my quiet terror.This was CUJO before Stephen King wrote the book, and this time he had accomplices. I heard nothing but barks, snarls, and growls for minutes that seemed like hours....but I just put one foot in front of the other and never looked back.

(Note....I just referred to myself as "he" and not "I" in the previous paragraph before making corrections. Thirty-three years later and the incident seems surreal, and its like I'm remembering this for the first time in many years. I managed to block most of these details out until this morning. The story gets worse).

But I kept walking up the mountain; I was afraid that I was going to trip and get mauled by these crazed dogs....and I could not show that fear. I'm not the most heroic guy on the planet, but I managed to pull it off. After awhile the three dogs went away, and I made it back to the condo....and I needed a couple of shots of OLD GRAND DAD to settle down again.....doubles.

Satan had no resemblance whatsoever to a "pet". How he became that vicious and menacing, I'll never know; there are few "bad dogs", but a heck of a lot of bad owners. What is clear that when he was turned loose to roam with the two other dogs they started to revert to feral- I'd heard of it happening but have never been in the middle of it as an eye witness.

And there is a sad epilogue to the story; Satan and the two other dogs did kill. A few weeks later a little girl was mauled to death by the three of them. Other than the following release from The National Canine Research Council I can find no other information online; the little girl would have been a grown woman approaching age 40 now. So sad.

In 1977, three loose roaming dogs killed a girl in Breckenridge. The owners and caretakers were charged with criminally negligent homicide for the reckless management of their dogs.

I guess the most chilling aspect of this little story I pass more and more milestones .....that my life could have very well ended that day. Instead, the soon to be killer dogs went for easier prey, a small girl who's name I don't remember on a late winter's day in 1977.

Yes.....a little bit of "stream of consciousness" on a hot summer afternoon in July, 2010.

Remembering some old friends, and a day in which I lived a nightmare.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Worst Tax Burden Per Person of Any State; And the "Winner" Is..........

 Red state, blue state....Republican, Democrat....conservative, liberal.

But the bottom line matters little. Because for all the bluster you hear about "tax and spend liberals" and "fiscally responsible" conservatives, the bottomline is remarkably similar.

A listing of the Pain Index found in US News & World Report shows that of the Top Ten states with the most tax burden per citizen and the biggest budget cuts, resulting in less "bang for your buck", is evenly divided among what are nominally designated as "red states" and "blue states".

Five of the states are traditionally Democratic, and the other five usually vote Republican. But here's an interesting note; of the five "blue" states listed- California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Delaware, Rhode Island- all but Delaware have Republican governors (Don Carcieri-RI, Arnold_Schwarzenegger- CA, Linda Lingle-HA, Chris Christie-NJ).

Don't shoot me....I'm only the messenger. Talk to Mort Zuckerman.

But the winner shown in the list below.....the 49th state.

Alaska....the state that gave us a famous half term governor, is the state that leads the nation in The Pain Index.

1. Alaska: $1,265
2. California: $855
3. Wyoming: $698
4. Rhode Island: $619
5. New Jersey: $602
6. Delaware: $453
7. Hawaii: $444
8. South Carolina: $475
9. Utah: $437
10. Oklahoma: $470

Sarah Palin, who left office after little more than half of her term was complete- and made a zillion dollars in the process- apparently had left a real mess for her successor, Sean Parnell, to clean up.

And there's a sizable group of people in the Republican Party- and the Tea Party- who want this woman to run for president in 2012.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Disaster; Day 87; Oil Flow Cut Off (So Far)

On the 87th day of the crisis and with possibly 184 million gallons spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has been able to cap the breach on the well leaking crude as a result of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon platform in April.

The next 48 hours are critical to see how if this cap will hold, and all involved, and those in the affected regions, have their fingers crossed.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is not the end, nor the beginning of the end, but possibly the end of the beginning.

Say a prayer.

READ MORE....from, the AP, and Colleen Long and Harry R. Weber

Limbaugh "Eulogizes" George Steinbrenner; Part II, The "Explanation" (Huh?)

In an attempt to explain his words on the death of George Steinbrenner to an internet site, Rush Limbaugh has only made what he initially said just a bit more bizarre, controversial.....and just a little more whacky.

And of course, he injected more racial overtones into the "discussion"....are there really only three members in the New Black Panther Party ?

Anyway, Limbaugh's rant earned him a place on Keith Olberman's Worst Persons list last night on COUNTDOWN, along with the omnipresent Sharon Angle (GOP candidate for Senate in Nevada), and some blond with no eyebrows who thinks a Glenn Beck presidential run should be mentioned in the same breath with George Washington.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Limbaugh "Eulogizes" George Steinbrenner; Those Were Accolades.....Weren't They?

America's gasbag strikes again!

While mentioning the death of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Rush Limbaugh managed to find a way to get a racial angle into it.

What seems amazing to me is on an MSNBC message board the usual "Dittoheads" lined up in Rush's defense.....but do these geniuses realize that the term "cracker" is usually a pejorative used to describe poor whites, mainly from the South? And George Steinbrenner, dead less than 48 hours, is being trashed by Limbaugh, who either consciously chose not to show proper respect for this iconic American because it's "good theater", or he doesn't have the brains or the good manners to know better.

Also, Limbaugh's inferences about Steinbrenner's racial politics.....making ballplayers of color rich while firing white managers "left and right"....are something straight out of an old ALL IN THE FAMILY script. Had Archie Bunker been with us today he'd be an AM talk show host with a 10.0 share. For now, people of his ilk will just have to settle for Rush.

And as for Mr. Limbaugh....the only thing more disturbing than his words are his apologists.

So click the video below (if you dare), and hear Mighty Mouth at his worst.

George Steinbrenner, New York Yankees, Rush Limbaugh,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

George M. Steinbrenner III, 1930-2010; Remembering "The Boss"

A couple of weeks ago I commented on a friend's blog about how often we improperly use the term "icon", sometimes using the word to define a flavor of the month personality or "This Year's Blond". ICONS should personify an era, be larger than life....John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe or the Beatles; or Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Michael Jordan, Micky Mantle......or George Michael Steinbrenner III.

Steinbrenner, who died this morning of a massive heart attack, was the personification of an icon. The longtime 80 year old principal owner of the New York Yankees, who bought the team in 1973 for $8.8 million and turned the Yankees into an empire worth an estimated $3 billion.....and has been said to have laid out $200,000 of his own cash to complete the purchase from CBS.

It's hard to believe when looking at the Yankees now to think of where the team was in 1973. They were the #2 team in New York to the exciting young upstart Mets- New York, despite all of the Yankee championships was a National League town at heart, first with the Giants and Dodgers, and from 1962 the Mets. Attendancewise the Yankees peaked in 1948 with almost 2.8 million fans flocking to old Yankee Stadium. But attendance began a a slow decline, down 1.3 million in 1964, the year the Yankees lost to St Louis Cardinals in seven games in the World Series. The Yankees would not return to the Series until 1976....the Dynasty crumbled, and within two years the Yankees were a last place team. It was an era defined by the unfortunate ownership of CBS (who purchased the team from Dan Topping and Del Webb in 1964), sometimes called "The Horace Clarke Era", named after the mediocre second basemen during those years.

In 1973, the year Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, attendance was about 1.3 million after failing to top one million in 1972; their average of 15, 552 was fifth out of a twelve team American League. Steinbrenner, who once claimed he would be a "hands off" owner, soon started to turn things upside down. No facial beards and haircuts were mandatory; manager Ralph Houk left, soon followed by Bill Virdon and by 1976 it was time for Billy Martin (Act One). Billy would serve five terms as Yankees manager altogether.

But the thing that turned the Yankees around relatively quickly was free agency, recently won by Major League baseball's players....Catfish Hunter came over from the Athletics, and soon "The Straw That Stirs The Drink", Reggie Jackson, took the money and came to the Bronx. Through trades and the farm system the Yankees had Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss, Thurman Munson, and Sparky Lyle, among others, and the nucleus for what became known as "The Bronx Zoo". There were for World Series appearances and two World Championships from 1976-81, and clubhouse drama, and Billy Martin being fired, Bob Lemon hired, Billy returning and being fired a second time.

The 1980's was the Era of Mattingly and Winfield on the Yankees.....and it was also the era defined by the impetuous nature of Steinbrenner. As WFAN radio personality Mike FRancesa has said, George changed managers in the decade the way most people change shirts. Eight different men managed the team in the 1980's; Billy Martin three more times, Gene Michael and Lou Pinella has two separate terms, Bob Lemon, Dick Howser, Clyde King, Dallas Green, and Yogi Berra all had time at the helm. Yogi was fired 16 games into the 1985 season- he didn't speak to Steinbrenner for more than a decade.

And in 1982 I returned home from a Yankee-Tigers Sunday afternoon game in April, a tough loss for the Yanks, to find out that Bob Lemon had been fired AGAIN as Yankee manager;it was 14 games into the season. He was replaced by Gene Michael, and "Stick" was bounced for Clyde king before season's end....three managers, a fifth place finish, and a 79-83 record.

Yes it was crazy...and it was Steinbrenner at his worst. He reacted like a fan and bounced leadership at every turn. it was a circus, and an embarrassment as a fan to watch. And of course, there was the case of Steinbrenner hiring gambler Howie Spira to dig up dirt on outfielder Dave Winfield, an action that got Steinbrenner a suspension from Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent in 1990. It was the second suspension for Steinbrenner, who got two yaers in the early 1970's for illegal campaign contributions to the Nixon campaign....but there was alot of that going on.

Steinbrenner returned from his 1990 suspension in 1993, a changed and more mellow man. Much of the bombast of his early years was gone. In 1995 he let manager Buck Showalter go after the Yankees first postseason appearance since 1981, and replaced him with veteran manager Joe Torre. What followed was an era that came to define the later Steinbrenner years, and the rebirth of a dynasty. There was The Core Four- Andy Petitte, Mariano Rivaera, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neil, Tino Martinez....and ex Mets David Cone, Daryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden. There were World Championships in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000, as well as American League pennants in 2001 and 2003. Torre led the Yankees to the post season in every one of his 12 seasons as manager. And the Yankees became the hottest ticket in town, topping 3 million in attendance from each yearfrom 1999 on, and 4 million from 2005-08, last four years of old Yankee Stadium.

George Steinbrenner was responsible for the jewel that is the new Yankee Stadium; it was built with Steinbrenner's own money. And it was Steinbrenner who saw the changing economics of the game and became the first baseball owner to start a cable TV network for his team; today the YES network is the most successful regional network in the United States.

Just about every former player says the same thing about George Steinbrenner....he was a tough and demanding boss, but when he became a Yankee you were a Yankee for life. Many times former players down on their luck, or players needing a second or third chance, had George Steinbrenner in their corner. His charitable donations sometimes flew below the radar, because he wanted it that way. And he became a pop culture figure, with commercials for VISA and MILLER LITE, an appearance on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and his " non-appearance appearance" on Seinfeld as himself (as portrayed by Larry David) was done because his grandchildren loved the show. Steinbrenner had script approval of any episode he "appeared".

You can say many things about George Steinbrenner, and the chances are you were right....he could be loud, a bully, impetuous, bombastic. Or charitable, kind, loyal, and sentimental. Or an amazing business man, an visionary, and a man who helped to revive baseball not only in New York, but nationally. He changed sports and our culture, and became the dominant sports figure in the media capital of the world.

Before Bruce and Tony Soprano, there was already one Boss in these parts.

And today he left us.

Thanks, George.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Franklin Roosevelt's "Second Bill of Rights"; The Job Remains Unfinished

Yesterday I woke up bright and near the crack of dawn, so early there was nothing but infomercials and bad movies on the tube, so I decided to check out the ON DEMAND movies. I had about two hours until it would be time for breakfast so I checked out Michael Moore's Capitalism;A Love Story. I highly recommend it to all. If you're a Moore fan (like me), you'll be laughing and crying at the same time at the mess we find ourselves in because of the shell game played with people's lives by Wall Street, the banks, insurance companies, Big Oil, and the Fortune 500....not to mention by those elected officials who are supposed to be looking out for us on the local, state, and national levels.

And before any of you on The Right say, "Yeah, just some additional Democrat propaganda".....not so fast. More than a few Dems are taken to the woodshed, members of the Senate, House, and members of President Obama's economic team.

The bottomline is the September 2008 collapse was a joint effort by many components; there's plenty of blame to go around.

One of the topics covered in the film was one that I have heard mentioned before, but never looked into. Rare film footage was shown of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union address from January 11, 1944. FDR gave the address from the White House instead before the joint houses of Congress; his health was starting to fail, and he had the flu. The first part of the address was given to a radio audience, but second portion of the speech was recorded on film, though it was assumed lost for years.

In the filmed part of the address, FDR proposed the establishment of a Second Bill of Rights, one that would guarantee economic opportunity for all and thus insure the growth and sustenance of our democracy. This would not be a change to the Constitution, only a bill that would level the playing field and free all in our pursuit of happiness.

Below, an excerpt from the address.

"It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.”[2] People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."

FDR was a true visionary. He saw the Constitution not as a static document, but one that was expansive, and one that was subject to change as fitting the times.

In today's political atmosphere...and the growth of the Tea Party movement and New Libertarianism, some would think Roosevelt's idea anathema and a blow to the true intent of the Founding Fathers in the adoption of the Constitution and The (first) Bill of Rights.

But would that really be the case?

As long ago as the birth of The Republic, the more progressive Founding Fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, saw that economic inequality was the enemy of a free state, and that to allow poverty to exist was an abomination.

A quote from Thomas Jefferson.

"Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on."

FDR never lived to see the any application and adoption of this New Bill of Rights in the United States. It is a great irony that the defeated fascist nations of Germany, Italy, and Japan adopted most of these same principles after their destruction by the United States and her allies. And The United Kingdom and France, and other Western European nations that were occupied by the Nazis, rebuilt from the rubble using the outline given by FDR on that January night in 1944.

But America lagged behind in adoption of the Second Bill of Rights; the world's most successful democracy went ahead into an era of prosperity for many in the 1950'and 1960's, and on to the present day, but left many behind economically in the wake of this Great Abundance.

The great question remains....why?

For further reading and some possible answers, please check out FDR's Second Bill of Rights- and Why We Need It Now from Democraticunderground,com.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bob Sheppard, "The Voice of Yankee Stadium"; 1910-2010

I was saddened to hear the news earlier today of the passing of Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard, age 99, who for nearly 60 years graced The Stadium with his velvet tones and precise, concise pronunciation and articulation. There was no shouting, no grandstanding, no lunacy....just a distinguished voice that seemed to come from another realm.

He began his career in 1951, when a young rookie named Mantle joined the Yankees; also on the roster were Rizzuto, Berra, and DiMaggio. When he called his final Yankee Stadium game on September 5, 2007 names like Joba Chamberlain and Robinson Cano, as well as "The Core Four"- Jorge Posada, Andy Petitte, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter- were in pinstripes.

I saw many games at Yankee Stadium over the years, and heard Bob Sheppard's voice announce each at bat and pitching change. But there was one very out of the ordinary game Sheppard worked that only about 6,000 people ever saw; there was no TV, and only a small radio audience.

About six years ago on a Saturday night at Waterfront Park in Trenton, I was in the stands watching the Thunder play an Eastern League opponent (I don't remember who), when over the PA system came the familiar Voice of Yankee Stadium...or was it?

"Nice Bob Sheppard impression", I thought. After all he had been at Yankee Stadium calling the day game that ended after 4 PM. He's over 90 years old, he would have to literally fly from the Bronx to Trenton in less than three hours. And besides, why would he be here, doing the public address of a Trenton Thunder game?

The regular announcer did the breaks between innings, with the contests and dizzy bat races, and Chase the Golden Retriever acting as "bat dog", and "Boomer" the mascot leading the cheering kids.....but player intros were done by "The Guy Who Sounded Like Bob Sheppard".

However.... in the eighth inning an announcement was made by the regular announcer regarding that night's "special guest announcer".

The Voice was indeed the real Bob Sheppard, bringing just a little bit of Yankee Stadium's magic and ambiance to Trenton and the Double A Eastern League. Who woulda thunk it?

Mr. Sheppard also worked New York Giants home games for many years, from Yankee Stadium to the Yale Bowl to old Giants Stadium. He gave that job up in 2005.

Below, a video tribute from a fan, featuring the words of Joe Torre, Whitey Ford, Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, and Reggie Jackson.

Letter From NJ Congressman Rush Holt On Deepwater Horizon and Atlantic Drilling

Weeks ago I emailed my congressman, Rush Holt, a Democrat representing New Jersey's 12th District, to thank him for his opposition to President Obama's proposed expansion of oil drilling in the Atlantic (since suspended). Also onboard were Democrats Frank Pallone, who's district includes many shore communities in Monmouth County, and both of our Senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez. I suggested at the time that all New Jersey legislators regardless of political affiliation should oppose expansion of oil drilling off of our coast; the disaster in the Gulf should have opened eyes....if it did not, those eyes are either blind or not worthy of one's vote.

Congressman Holt was kind enough to send me an old fashioned "snail mail" response to my email, which I received yesterday. He is one of the good ones, ladies and gents.

Below, is the letter (minus my home address and my real name; that's right, "Hugh Jee" is an acronymn).

My thanks to Congressman Holt for his thoughtful and personal response.

Click the documents below to zoom in.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Keith Olbermann On The LeBron/ ESPN Debacle

"Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in".....Michael Corleone, The Godfather, Part III

I my previous post I made it appear that it would be my last words (and entry) on the decision of Fredo, errrr, LeBron James to leave Cleveland and join the Miami Heat.

But how often do you get to see a real Anakin Skywalker morph into Darth Vader before millions on national TV as ESPN's broadcast of The Decision became the ratings champ for that night? Early numbers indicate ESPN did a 7.0 share for the LeBron media event, which appeared to be as controlled as anything George W. Bush or Barack Obama could command for an alleged presser.

This was more than a sports was a pop cultural phenomenon, though it does well to recognize the show was fruit of an unholy alliance between a narcissistic superstar and a network that prostituted itself to a level that surpassed WWE wrestling.

Here's what Keith Olbermann had to say on COUNTDOWN, with guest Will Leitch of The New Yorker

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