Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Lumineers: "Stubborn Love" (live on Austin City Limits)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here are The Lumineers performing the very catchy "Stubborn Love" on Austin City Limits last year.

They got a bit overplayed during a brief period of folk-pop popularity, mostly the even catchier "Ho Hey," but they're actually quite good, and this is one of their best. Enjoy!


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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The extraordinary deeds of ordinary men

By Capt. Fogg

I won't comment on the proposition that the men who were honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor yesterday had been overlooked because they had been identified with some less favored ethnic group. It takes away from their individual stories and suggests that by honoring them we're doing them some sort of favor by elevating them to the level of "regular" Americans.

Having listened yesterday to the long recitation of the deeds of these medal recipients, I don't doubt that they all earned the long delayed distinction in full. In fact I felt that although I had only turned on the TV for a quick check of the stock market, I was duty bound as an American to watch the entire ceremony -- and I did. None of these men seem to have borne a grudge for having been overlooked and that's more to their credit and speaks more to their character, but no one who endured such risk or paid such a price should ever be forgotten even by those like me who may not have approved of the actions that put them in harm's way and cost so many of them their lives.

We're a nation that loves to say "support the troops" instead of supporting their interests while they serve and afterwards. There's far more to support than pestering anyone in uniform with applause while voting for politicians who constantly attack their benefits. Applause is cheap, medals are inexpensive. Remembering what happens when we go to war; remembering what apparently ordinary men have done and can do when something needs to be done and despite the danger or the personal consequences, is a part of the obligation they place on us and the least we can do in return. 

Read more »

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On the Hustings

(CNN): "The Political Forecast: More Democrats to retire this week"

(The Hill): "Scott Brown pans 'self-serving' pledge"

(Detroit News): "Poll: Schauer gaining on Snyder in Michigan governor's race"

(Washington Post): "Republicans seize edge in the fight for the Senate majority"

(The Times-Picayune): "Edwin Edwards will announce run for Congress on Monday, sources say"


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Way out there

By Mustang Bobby

It’s been twelve days since Malaysia flight MH 370 disappeared on its way to Beijing and nothing has been heard from it since. It’s a complete mystery as to what’s happened to it. That hasn’t stopped any number of people from coming up with theories from the conspiracies to the absurd, including my own snark that it had been abducted to the Delta Quadrant by the Briori as in an episode of Star Trek Voyager.

I was kidding, and in light of the probable loss of life, it was not especially tasteful. But that has never held back CNN, which bills itself rather self-consciously as “the most trusted name in news” the way Fox calls itself “fair and balanced.” But when it comes right down to it, they’re little more than a supermarket tabloid on TV.

Exhibit A:

After a commercial airline pilot had trouble explaining where the missing plane could be, CNN anchor Don Lemon turned Sunday to Brad Meltzer, host of the History Channel’s “Decoded.” The two spoke about the possibility that there may be no logical explanation for why the jet vanished nine days ago.

“Especially today, on a day when we deal with the supernatural, we go to church, the supernatural power of God. You deal with all of that,” Lemon said to Meltzer. “People are saying to me, why aren’t you talking about the possibility — and I’m just putting it out there — that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?”

“We all kind of roll our eyes at conspiracy theories, but what conspiracy theories do is they ask the hardest, most outrageous questions sometimes,” Meltzer responded. “But every once in a while they’re right. I think why it’s captured our attention is because there’s no logical explanation right now.”

“I’m not one of those believers that aliens came down or anything like that,” he added. “But you do have to stop and go, how does a jetliner with almost 200 people on it just disappear? How are they just gone?”


(Cross-posted at Mustang Bobby.)

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A.M. Headlines

(New York Times): "Putin recognizes Crimea secession, defying the West"

( "Marketplace enrollment hits 5 million milestone"

(The Hill): "White House going all-in with March Madness for ObamaCare"

(The Star-Ledger): "New bridge scandal emails bring in key Christie political strategist"

(CBS News): "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 probe digs into past of all on board missing Boeing 777"


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Monday, March 17, 2014

A.M. Headlines

(Time): "Guinness withdraws from St. Patrick’s Day parade over LGBT ban"

(CNN): "Crimea votes to break from Ukraine, join Russia. What happens next?"

(New York Times): "Global crises put Obama’s strategy of caution to the test"

(The Hill): "Help me: Obama prods young on O-Care"

(Roll Call): "Ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish push for immigration overhaul"


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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Those awful, obnoxious, hateful right-wing Irish-Americans

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With St. Patrick's Day coming tomorrow, this piece by Salon's Andrew O'Hehir -- "How did Irish-Americans get so disgusting?" -- is definitely worth a read. Key point:

[T]he end of the IRA's guerrilla war had a less salubrious effect on the Irish-American population, and I say that in full awareness that on the surface that's an offensive statement. What I mean is that the last connection between Irish-American identity and genuine history was severed, and all we're left with now is a fading and largely bogus afterlife. On one hand, Irishness is a nonspecific global brand of pseudo-old pubs, watered-down Guinness, "Celtic" tattoos and vague New Age spirituality, designed to make white people feel faintly cool without doing any of the hard work of actually learning anything. On the other, it's Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Pat Buchanan and Rep. Peter King, Long Island's longtime Republican congressman (and IRA supporter), consistently representing the most stereotypical grade of racist, xenophobic, small-minded, right-wing Irish-American intolerance. When you think of the face of white rage in America, it belongs to a red-faced Irish dude on Fox News.

Well, yes. Irishness is certainly more than that, but those two sides of it are rather prominent, to say the least, in Irish-American circles. (I say this not as an Irish-American but as an English-Canadian, though with a fair amount of Irishness in me as well.)

Ireland itself is a beautiful place in many ways, and there is of course much to recommend it, along with its inhabitants. (There is even something to recommend Irish republicanism, if not so much its manifestation in terroristic violence, much of it paid for by Irish-Americans.) But as is so often the case, there is a world of difference between the homeland and the diaspora, and it's certainly fair to point to the elements of Irishness that have become the unfortunate realities of its manifestation in America.

And when it comes to the political stereotype, as represented in right-wingers like O'Reilly, Hannity, and so many others, it's just insane. New Irish immigrants were the targets of vicious discrimination and bigotry, after all. They fled famine back in the homeland but also oppression -- a famine created by oppression, oppression that denied them dignity as well as self-governance. In America, as in so many other parts of the "New" World, they found, at long last, freedom, once the discrimination and bigotry ran their course. And yet now a huge swath of Irish-Americanism is very much what O'Hehir describes: racist, xenophobic, small-minded, intolerant. For the likes of O'Reilly and Hannity, it's like they learned nothing, or perhaps learned that what was done to them could be done to others by them. And so they ban gays from their parades when not so long ago they were denied jobs and treated with contempt by the English majority in America.

The tattoos and spirituality, the outward appearance of some mystic Irishness with nothing to back it up, are mostly just banal and silly. It's the vicious right-wing ideology and partisanism that is so much worse, that impacts so horribly on other people's lives, that is such a stain of hypocrisy on those who practise it, that is the stereotype, rooted in reality, that good and decent Irish-Americans should wish to toss in the dustbin of history.

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