Saturday, July 13, 2013

Music pick: Randy Travis

Aside from any song by Hank Williams (1923-1953) or George Jones (1931-2013) I find most country music predictable and boring. Once in awhile a gem appears and "Look heart, no hands", by featured artist Randy Travis from 1992 is one. Pretty melody, killer lyric and perfect voice combine to create an amazing song linking the magic of adult love to the magic of youthful adventure. Sadly, Travis' recent life hasn't mirrored the song, turning into a bad ride down 2 Mile Hill with no one to break his fall as he now lies near death from heart failure and a stroke at age 54.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chapman gets the P word wrong on Illinois conceal and carry law

Chicago Tribune pundit Steve Chapman got the P word wrong in his July 11 piece "Pols miss the point on conceal carry". It's not the pols who miss the point on conceal carry, its the pundits.

A couple of points Chapman either mis represented or totally missed:

1. Chicago Dems, led by Gov. Quinn and his spot on, courageous amendatory veto of Illinois conceal carry overridden by legislators beholden to the NRA, don't believe conceal carry "will unleash mass carnage". Chapman is making that up.
2. Nor do they believe amending the NRA driven bill will stop the roughly 5 shootings every day in Chicago.
3. Nor were they trying to prevent carry conceal in Illinois in that they recognize it's the
law of the land as determined by the Supreme Court in general and the US Appeals Court concerning Illinois' now defunct ban on conceal carry.

They simply wanted a bad bill amended to incorporate the nine, let me repeat, nine changes that would have made conceal carry less of a safety issue on Chicago streets already  awash with gallons of blood from 2,000 annual shootings. Chapman, like the recent Trib editorial, just mentioned a couple of objections and then moved on without any comment about their critical importance to implementing a sane conceal carry bill. Not recognizing even one of the nine amendment requests as being worthy of implementation is simply irresponsible commentary by an influential pundit and the "World's Greatest Newspaper".

The amendatory veto, in reducing the number of guns that could be concealed in public and limiting the places they could be carried into, shines a spotlight on our out of control gun culture that has poured 300,000,000 guns into our streets and homes, resulting in tens of thousands of gun deaths yearly. Neither Chapman nor the Trib addresses this issue which is the cause of those deaths, much more than simply "criminals and juveniles". Growing up in 1950's Chicago, I observed the same amount of juvenile crime but very few shootings simply because guns weren't available. The easy availability and access to guns is what distinguishes America from every other industrialized country, none of which comes anywhere close to us in gun carnage. U.S.A. is No. 1, all right.

The NRA is not primarily a gun owners lobbying group. Their single client is the gun and ammo manufacturers whose stock rises with every mass shooting, every Trib article about 1,000 Chicago shootings in six months, and yes, every conceal carry law their shills in the NRA write for cowardly legislators to pass with support from clueless pundits and newspaper editorial boards.     

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul: Not even ready for Late Night

Those of us concerned about a serious presidential run by Senator and extreme libertarian Rand Paul (GOP, KY) needn't worry any more. Rand, who last year told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow he wouldn't have voted for 1960's civil rights legislation which gave blacks full citizenship because doing so was none of Uncle Sam's darn business, continues to self destruct before his 2016 Prez campaign gets started.

We just learned that Paul's social media advisor, Jack Hunter, who co-wrote a 2011 book with Paul, used to be a neo-confederate activist. For 13 years just ending last year he was a South Carolina shock jock known as "Southern Avenger". Among Hunter's shenanigans during and before his radio days: he expressed support for Honest Abe's assassination, wore a mask sporting a Confederate Flag, and chaired the League of the South, which advocated "the secession and independence of the Southern States from this forced union and formation of a Southern Republic".

Back in 2009, Paul's Senate campaign spokesman was forced out over a racist comment and lynching image his friend posted on his MySpace wall during Martin Luther King weekend. The spokesman left this up for almost two years.

Paul may still think he's ready for Prime Time when we normal folks understand he ain't even ready for Late Night.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Music pick: Johnny Hartman

Music pick: Johnny Hartman

Johnny Hartman (1923 - 1983) may be the best male jazz ballad singer ever, but unlike Sinatra, Bennett, Eckstein and Nat Cole, he never hit the big time and faded quickly from view upon his untimely death at 59. ...He toiled much of his 37 year career singing, to quote a phrase from the featured song, Lush Life, "in some small dives". But he recorded about a dozen albums which showcase his utterly unique voice, phrasing and feel for a jazz lyric. Clint Eastwood helped resuscitate Hartman's legacy 12 years after his death by placing 7 of his dreamy ballads in his 1995 flick "Bridges of Madison County". They form a perfect romantic mood for the Clintwood/Streep affair upon which the story revolves.

Lush Life, composed by Ellington alter ego Billy Strayhorn, is one of the most complex and difficult ballads to sing in the jazz canon. Hartman's version is tops of probably a thousand or more efforts. This tune is actually under the leadership of tenor sax great John Coltrane who spins a marvelous solo after Hartman's lush reading of Lush Life. Enjoy. Hartman

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman Lush Life
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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Senator Kirk: "I've got're on your own

Today's email from my Senator Mark Kirk (Rep. IL) titled "In case you missed it...Mark Kirk: The Senator's Comeback" on CBS Sunday Morning was not needed as I saw the piece in real time. What is troubling about the Senator's otherwise remarkable recovery from a devastating January, 2012 stroke is that he has learned nothing about the need to provide a semblance of the million dollar plus health care, and year long salary continuation that facilitated his recovery, to the tens of millions without such support. When asked if the largesse that fueled his comeback made him reconsider his opposition to Obamacare and extension of unemployment to the chronically unemployed, Kirk replied, "No...I'm still a fiscal conservative...and we cannot afford it". What Kirk didn't say is that we can afford trillion dollar senseless and failed wars in the Middle East, every dollar of which he's voted for since entering Congress in 2001.

While Kirk offers his inspirational recovery as a lesson to the 800,000 annual US stroke victims, he continues the despicable and unconscionable refusal to help the truly less fortunate whose lives are destroyed by a cruel and heartless nation that only has money to prop up their fading world empire Kirk swore allegiance to when first elected to Congress. If he really wants to be an inspiration to these tens of millions, he should give up his lucrative salary and his endless medical health care benefits and then try to fully recover.

I thought that Kirk's stroke and recovery would free him from the evil greed that prevents his party from cooperating even one iota in building a fairer, more just society. Kirk's story is just another example of his political credo: "I've got're on your own".

Monday, July 08, 2013

Swiss cheese city

Reading about the 65 Chicagoans sporting bullet holes over the July 4th weekend, I've come up with a foolproof way to curb gun violence. Just give Illinois' law abiding folks the right to carry and conceal firearms. Then, the criminal guntoters will think twice and not dare draw their 25 shooter as they risk instant retribution from the armed good guys. Rather then a namby pamby bill allowing conceal and carry, lets make it real generous to the virtuous.

My proposal allows the good guys to carry their heat into saloons, work places, any business in fact that doesn't expressly prohibit it. They can carry as many guns and as many bullets as they can stuff into their pants, boots, shirts and coats. No need to check on their mental stability as anyone saying he's a good guy must be a good guy. To avoid needless government bureaucracy we'll exempt the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board from the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act. We'll define "concealed" as "mostly concealed" just in case the piece is sticking out a bit.  Finally, we'll exempt any peace loving guntoter from having to tell the Fuzz he's concealing and carrying as it's none of Officer Unfriendly's  business.

Upon reflection, those conditions might be a bit extreme. No legislature in their collective right mind would pass such a bill, would they?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

3 South American lands show US how to be good Americans

Three cheers for Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia for offering asylum to NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden. America's thanks to Snowden for exposing unprecedented, massive spying on our entire populous is to charge him under the Espionage Act and seek to imprison him till he's too old to blow a real whistle much less expose further governmental c...riminal behavior.

Since 911 Americans have ceded all sense of duty to be good citizens, allowing their government to lie and intimidate and scare them into launching criminal wars killing hundreds of thousands, including 6,729 GI's. To his credit, President Obama ended the Iraq war and set a December 31, 2014 end date for our criminal Afghanistan war. To his discredit, Obama has launched a murderous drone campaign of world wide assassination of suspected bad guys, secretly put on a list to die in violation of all American principles. To his discredit, Obama has expanded ours illegal spying program to include, besides all Americans, 38 embassies and missions of foreign lands including many considered allies.

All Snowden has done is rip the silly suit of red, white and blue off Uncle Sam leaving him to stand naked before a world weary of his war mongering and targeted assassination and now spying. If anyone wants to know how to be a good American, just look afar to Moscow where Ed Snowden awaits his fate, or south of the border to find three sterling examples of real Americanism.