Archive for July 2012

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has a message for his conservative members: cool your jets on the most politically volatile issues for now — we have an election to win.

At his weekly Capitol press briefing Thursday, the nation’s most powerful Republican subtly but unmistakably sought to quell his right-wing members who have been pushing to reignite battles over government funding levels and President Obama’s requirement that employer health insurance plans cover contraception without co-pays.

Since the spring, House Republicans have been barreling toward another government shutdown standoff by passing budgets and appropriations bills that violate last fall’s bipartisan debt limit agreement. Boehner signaled a preference for a continuing resolution that keeps the status quo until after the election.

“We’re going to come to an agreement with our colleagues in the Senate to try to make sure that the government’s funded — that there’s no opportunity for games to be played,” he told reporters.

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Fareed Zakaria “Well, it turns out, again, that there’s some recently released data that contradicts the claim. The Pew Foundation released one of its global surveys in June, soliciting opinions from several countries around the world.

When asked if they have some or a lot of trust in President Obama, the numbers are overwhelmingly positive across most of the world. In Britain, for example, which was Romney’s first stop on his foreign tour, 80 percent of people trust Obama, compared with 16 percent who trusted George W. Bush. Most countries surveyed have much higher approval ratings of America in 2012 than they did in 2008, when Bush was President. And, by the way, consider the reasons Obama’s ratings are low in one area in particular, the Arab world.

The two strongest justifications given by people in every Arab country that was surveyed were, first, that he has not been fair in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and second, that he has used drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan to go after terrorists.

In other words, the reason Obama has lost some of his global popularity is that he is perceived as too pro-Israeli and too hawkish. Think about that, Mitt Romney.

Romney has tried to use the standard-issue Cold War Republican attack on Democrats; the world is dangerous, our enemies are growing strong, Obama is weak. The problem is most Americans recognize that none of this is really true.

The world is actually quite peaceful right now. Our adversaries, like Iran, are weak and isolated. China is growing strong, but it has not used its power to contest America in major national-security terms.

The one enemy Americans recognize and worry about remains al- Qaeda and its affiliated Islamic terrorist groups, and Obama has been relentless in attacking them.

Now, Mitt Romney is a smart man who has had much professional success, but even Republican insiders have admitted to me that he has been strangely amateurish on foreign policy.

His campaign, they note, is not staffed by the obvious Republican foreign policy heavyweights, people like Robert Zoellick, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, Richard Haass, Stephen Hadley.

As a result, he has blustered about Russia’s being our greatest geopolitical adversary. Actually, it is a second-rate power. He seems willing to start a trade war with China. He’s vague yet belligerent about Syria and Iran. He’s gone back and forth on the timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Romney faces a tough problem. President Obama is the first Democrat in nearly 50 years to enter an election with a dramatic advantage in foreign policy. The last time was Lyndon Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater in 1964. But, unless Romney can craft a smart, strategic alternative, that gap will only get wider.”

The Dirty Blondes at Red Square Friday July 27, 2012   Leave a comment

My Monday, your Friday was a long day at work. I got out, ate a bite and was ready to head to Red Square for The Dirty Blondes. The opening ceremony for the Olympics was on and pretty spectacular. The band was to go on at 9, and at 8:30 or so, Mike Oldfield hit the London stage to play Tubular Bells live. Cool! The kids going to dreamland and the giant monsters were a great visual for Mike and his band. They wrapped up just about 8:40, my deadline to head out the door. Anything on video is cool. Something live will never happen again.

I made quick work of the walk and slid into Red Square. I was going to try a Fiddlehead, but the keg ran dry, so I went back to the familiar Switchback. The band in the middle was just tearing down, so I found a nook and waited. I said Hi to Diane and Becky at different times, but soon enough, t was time to rock.

The stage in the alley had a full row of chairs on the right, and full tables on the left. The place was full all the way back to Church st. A few of us hardy souls crowded to the front and the band hit the stage with a roar. There was an extra guitar player with them, making two guitars, bass, drums, and two blonde singers. Becky and Diane were sporting Olympic medals and they kicked into Crybaby. They were loud and ferocious as they tore through the set. The sound was not overly clear, but blisteringly loud. The vocals were buried a bit, except for the song Eric sang, that were almost non-existent. They got a bit better at the end, but hey, what are you going to do. It wasn’t perfect, but they rocked all of the classics to the bone. We did the Kung Pao. We celebrated with Hallelujah. We rocked to the bone with Burn, Easy Rider, and the oft requested by Becky, Whore. At one point Diane tossed boxes of sparklers to us. We held the lights high as the band pummeled us with the set. They went through the litany of drummers who will never be the drummer for The Dirty Blondes, on the brilliant Ornan’s Song. Oh Dirty Blondes was sweet as always. We danced, we screamed the lyrics, and great fun was had by all. Towards the end, Diane tossed medals to the crowd, and the band wrapped it up with Drunk. It was about an hour of pure furious fun.

I took the closest door, swung up Church st, and headed for home. My Tuesday, your Saturday called.


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Mitt Romney “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,”

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“Good old Mitt,” The Guardian‘s Paul Harris tweeted. “His charm offensive in the UK failed to be charming, but he really pulled off the offensive bit.”

Posted July 28, 2012 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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The News International phone-hacking scandal reached a significant mark in the road Tuesday: The Crown Prosecution Service announced charges against former News of the World editors and executives, including Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, relating to hacked voicemails.

Brooks, the former News of the World editor and former News International chief executive, faces charges relating to the voicemails of teenage murder victim Milly Dowler. Coulson, who edited News of the World at the time of the alleged hacking, faces charges relating to Dowler and British government officials. Six other former News of the World staffers — including private investigator Glenn Mulcaire — also face charges.

“… [I]n relation to eight of these 13 suspects there is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to one or more offenses,” CPS legal adviser Allison Levitt said in a statement. “All, with the exception of Glenn Mulcaire, will be charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006. The communications in question are the voicemail messages of well-known people and/or those associated with them.”



Posted July 24, 2012 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. The attacks and counterattacks in this presidential campaign are, I supposed, inevitable. But let’s be honest, they’re largely untrue or irrelevant.

Whatever the paperwork shows, Mitt Romney was not running Bain Capital after February 1999. Even if he had been, outsourcing jobs to lower a company’s costs and, thus, ensure its survival is not sleazy; it’s how you run a business efficiently. Is President Obama suggesting that we put up tariff barriers to prevent outsourcing in the future?

On the other side, Romney’s recent claim accusing the president of shoveling government grants to his political supporters is so twisted that it earned him “The Washington Post Fact Checker’s highest score for distortion, “Four Pinocchios.” And his recent refrain that Obama’s views are “foreign.” It is frankly disgraceful

Below all this mudslinging lies a real divide. Obama has been making the case that the U.S. economy needs investment in infrastructure, education, training, basic sciences and technologies of the future. Those investments, in the president’s telling, have been the key drivers of American growth and have allowed people to build businesses, create jobs and invent the future.

Romney argues that America needs tax and regulatory relief. The country is overburdened by government mandates, taxes, rules that make it difficult for businesses to function, grow and prosper. He wants to cut taxes for all, reduce regulations, streamline government. All this, in his telling, will unleash America’s entrepreneurial energy.

Both views have merit. It would make for a great campaign if the country had a sustained discussion around these ideas. Then, the election would produce a mandate to move in one of these directions.

Now, I think Obama has the stronger case. We do need a tax and regulatory structure that creates strong incentives for businesses to flourish. The thing is we already have one.

The World Economic Forum’s 2011-12 Global Competitiveness Report ranks the United States No. 5 in the world and number one among large economies. Whether compared with our own past of, say, 30 years ago or with other countries, the United States has become more business- friendly not less over the last 30 years.

America is worse off than it was 30 years ago in infrastructure, education and research. The country spends much less as a percent of GDP on infrastructure, research, development, education, and training than it did in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. We spend half as much on R&D as we did in 1960.

The result is that we’re falling behind fast. In 2001, the World Economic Forum ranked U.S. infrastructure second in the world. In the latest report, we’re 24th. In the 1970s, America led the world in the number of college graduates. As of 2009, we were 14th among the countries tracked by the OECD.

In other words, the great shift in the U.S. economy over the past 30 years has not been an increase in taxes and regulation, but rather a decline in investment in human and physical capital. President Obama has real facts on his side, which makes it somewhat depressing that his campaign has focused on half-truths.”


Posted July 23, 2012 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Republican anger over President Obama’s directive to grant states flexibility on implementing welfare reform has hit the campaign trail, and the White House is offering rankled Republicans a response: Get over it — your own party’s leaders, including Romney himself, asked for those waivers.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to Republicans (PDF) reminding them of their party’s own prior support for state leniency in implementing welfare reform. She argued that in 2005, Republican governors wanted even more flexibility than Obama is now willing to grant.
“For years, Republicans and Democratic Governors have requested more flexibility in implementing welfare reform so they can meet their states’ specific needs,” she wrote Wednesday to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-WI) and Senate Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who have unveiled legislation to block the move. “In 2005, 29 Republican governors requested ‘[i]ncreased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit’ so they might more ‘effectively serve low-income’ Americans. Certain elements of the proposal endorsed by the 2005 Republican governors were very far-reaching and would not be approved under the Department’s proposed waivers.”

Vedora at Higher Ground July 18, 2012 with Deja Brew   Leave a comment

After a week of lots of music and getting over tired and sick, I really wanted a nice relaxing Wednesday, which is Saturday, in my world. Vedora were set to play Higher Ground’s Northern Exposure series that night, so I bought a $6 ticket from Caroline and planned to go to the show. She gave me an extra, so I asked Nathan if he wanted to go. He worked until 8 and showtime was 8:30, so I left a message on his phone, taped a ticket to his door, and took the bus to Higher Ground. I got in and settled and did not have to wait long for Vedora to hit the stage. Dressed in white, they opened with that new one that slowly builds, completely rocks, then eases off. Cool! About halfway through Nathan showed up with Hillary.

The band picked it up for a nice rocker as the room slowly filled. Basalt Anchor followed, and was sounding good until the bass amp developed problems. They fought their way through it and got it working for the next couple of rockers. They were sounding good again and announced Dragnet. After starting it, there were more problems. They abandoned it and moved on to something the bass would let them play. Terrarium sounded very sweet an powerful. They wrapped up the set in rocking style and called it a night. It was a bit of a rough show, but their perseverance paid off, and they ended the night with a very impressed audience.

We stayed for a couple of songs by Deja Brew. Their funk wasn’t overly original or played overly fiercely, so it did not grab me. I would have been ok leaving earlier, but the only way you will ever know what a band is like is to listen. I wasn’t rewarded, but am happy I gave them a chance.

Vedora Rocking

Posted July 20, 2012 by tmusicfan in Rock Shows

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Stewart “See, Mitt Romney’s whole campaign is based on the idea that he’s run a business, so he knows how to create jobs.  One problem..”

Reporter “When Mitt Romney was CEO of Bain capital in the ’90’s, Bain invested in a series of companies, including call centers and manufacturers that expanded overseas, sometimes at the expense of American workers.”

Stewart “He never said where he was going to create those jobs.  That doesn’t look good for Mitt Romney.  Luckily, he’s got a bit of an excuse.”

Reporter “Romney says he took a leave of absence from Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Salt Lake Olympics, which means he never had control of the companies doing the outsourcing.”

Stewart “Aah, he had nothing to do with the outsourcing because at the time he was bringing foreigners to America to take our gold.  One small problem with Romney’s explanation.  Between 1999 and 2002, Bain’s SEC filings stated that Romney was the Chief Executive Officer, President, and Managing Director of the firm and they paid Romney at least $100,000 a year.  Mitt?”

Romney July 13, 2012 “The documents show that there’s a difference between ownership, which is that I owned shares in Bain, but I did not manage Bain…When you leave an enterprise, and you have other people who are managing the enterprise, who take responsibility for all the investment decisions, who decide who’s going to get hired and fired, who decide compensation decisions, they’re the managers, they’re the people running the business.”

Stewart “I was just the guy with the smoke-screenish yet still legal title of CEO and Managing Director, who was paid at least $100,000 a year to do, what according to me, Mitt Romney, was nothing.  And that’s the kind of common sense business experience I hope to bring to the White House.  What?  Can a brother get a surrogate..?”

Ed Gillespie “He took a leave of absence, and in fact, he ended up not going back at all, and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result.”

Stewart “Wow, retired retroactively.  See in 2012, I realized the company I was legally CEO of in 1999 did things that would hurt my Presidential run, so I, retroactively, wasn’t there.”—bain-damage