Monday, February 19, 2018

Zachary Taylor on the Presidency

President Zachary Taylor on the Presidency

Even though it's really Washington's Birthday (observed), most people refer to this federal holiday as President's Day.  

Some Presidents, like James K. Polk or Franklin Pierce, barely pierce the collective mind.  Others may feel strongly that the elected official is "Not MY President".  However, Zachary Taylor, the twelfth US President, strongly rebuked this ideation.

Revisitng What the Hail?

Fergie's faux pas rendition of the National Anthem at the 2018 NBA All Star Game revived a simmering controversy about performing the Star Spangled Banner. Wags on social media contend that Fergie's sultry stylings declared war against the National Anthem and was the worst ever. 

Obviously they have forgotten Roseanne Barr’s 1990 San Diego Padre’s atrocity of an anthem, which was more unfunny performance art than honoring our Nation.

Christina Aguilera’s performance of the National Anthem at Superbowl XLV was marred by a lyric malfunction. The pop star botched the ramparts verse and instead sang “What so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last gleaming”.  This echoed a prior line, which she also flubbed. 

Aside from the lyrical miscued, Aguilera tried switching up the melodies a couple of time, to less successful effect than Whitney Houston at Superbowl XXV. Houston managed to put the Star Spangled Banner back on the Billboard charts. 


Personally, I was watching in a boisterous space where viewers were more capable of witnessing how adeptly Aguilera’s wardrobe covered her tattoos. One can surmise that  Aguilera was quite nervous, as some of her prior renditions of the Star Spangled Banner at sporting events were outstanding.  And it seems that she was concentrated more on changing the melody than on the lyrics.

Our crowd cheered along with the crowd in Dallas when the video feed switched to our troops serving in Afghanistan.  As I rewatched the video, I noticed the shot of Pittsburg Steelers Cornerback William Gay chocked up with emotion during the National Anthem.

Even spirited and heart felt renditions of the National Anthem can cause controversy, as Jose Feliciano’s rendition during game 5 of the 1968 World Series in Detroit did, or Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitar version at Woodstock in 1969.

Lyrically, Francis Scott Key’s poetic magnus opus is poignant, but he conveniently set it to “To Anacreon in Heaven”, an English pub song used as a sobriety test. For me, the only more testing melodic line in America's songbook standard is the genius who set Happy Birthday to the children's song  "Good Morning to All" from 1893.

Nevertheless, the Star Spangled Banner means something for most Americans. That explains egregious expressions and politicizing of the National Anthem seems to strike such deep chords. The NFL television ratings are markedly down as players Taking a Knee during the National Anthem, which many link to patriotic fans protesting and the League repeatedly allowed this perceived disrespect. 

[This piece was originally published on DCBarroco.US but updated after aesthetic outrages]

Clarence Thomas on Victim Culture

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas on Victim Culture

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mika Brzezinski on Talking About Gun Control Immediately After the Florida School Shooting

Mika Brzezinski on Talking About Gun Control Immediately After the Florida School Shooting

Less than a day after the Parkland Florida School Massacre, in which at least 17 people were killed, MSNBC Anchor Mika Brezinski was insistent about having constructive talk about solutions.  Considering the midtown Manhattan mores of the mainstream media, this mean venting about gun control. Brzezinski threatened to unbook any guests on the Morning Joe who wanted to defer this constructive talk to either wait for confirmed details or out of respect for the victims' families. 

It is natural as members of the media cover this travesty live, they will opine supposed "answers" to make sense of the mire.On Fox News, conservative Sean Hannity got on his hobby horse for his entire hour in prime time to push for all schools to hire armed veterans for school security. For cash strapped districts, a guest suggested having federalized security, like the TSA.  The morning after the Parkland School Shooting, Salem Radio's centrist Republican Hugh Hewitt wondered why there was not a "No Buy List" for mentally troubled individuals. While that touches on the mental health aspect, it raises issues about an over expansive no-buy list, as Obamacare barred many Veterans diagnosed with PTSD from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Although there are many indications that the shooter had a troubled teen with many mental illness markers, inevitably the knee jerk reaction for this so called "constructive talk"  will be a gun grab or advocating measures like a better background check (which have already been instituted).

Just as reality shows are somewhat scripted, Morning Joe is positioned to proffer reliable perspectives. Mika's booking benchmark shows how progressive will not let a good crisis to go to waste to grab guns.

Susan B. Anthony on Women

Susan B. Anthony on Women

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

About Senator Joe Manchin and a Victory for the Swamp

Larry O'Connor a Joe Manchin and a Victory for the Swamp

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been representing West Virginia in the Senate since the death of Senator Robert Byrd in 2010.  Manchin ran on a pledge protect Second Amendment rights as well as to to take dead aim of Barack Obama's Cap and Trade policy, which severely threatened the coal industry.  

While he may call himself a centrist or perhaps a conservative Democrat, in modern terms he ran as a Republican.  But now Mountain State voters may well wonder if Manchin was just blowing smoke around election season.

As Manchin vies for a second full term, he is considered the most vulnerable Senate incumbent for Election 20118.  Manchin's refusal to drift to the left endangers himself with the progressive drift of Democrats, yet he is chary about crossing the aisle to the Republican side.

So in a bid to save his seat, Senator Manchin took the the Senate floor to promote a pledge of bipartisan cooperation and agreement.  While that sounds noble and constructive, the reality is that Manchin was coercing his colleagues not to campaign against him or raise money against him.

 An incumbent wants to ensure that notable opposition can not criticize him on the hustings because of a supposed pledge of bipartisan cooperation.  How convenient! No wonder pundits and comedians are so critical of anything labeled bipartisan

Radio commentator Larry O'Connor surmises that Manchin is trying to obscure the fact that he votes with Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) regarding the tax reform. Manchin also campaigned hard for Hillary Clinton in 2016, which proved quite out of step with his West Virginia constituents.  

The Republican National Committee used Twitter to expose Senator Manchin's Janus faced campaigning, as the supposed maverick conservative Democrat posed with both Planned Parenthood as well as Pro Life activists.  

Manchin laughed off this apparent hypocrisy saying that he'd pose for pictures with anyone.  Larry O'Connor laments that this was one more victory for the swamp co-opting a maverick.  

 It may be better to think of this as  sort of a pyrrhic victory which salts the swamp and causes the District of Calamity to be drained of unviable swamp creatures and Congress critters.

Frederick Douglass on Freedom of Speech

Frederick Douglass on Freedom of Speech