Thursday, January 26, 2017


Gilding the Lily

Yesterday provided an excellent example of what is currently the bane of news reporting: the urge
to "spin" important stories to fit
a preferred narrative rather than just, you know, report the news.

While I was glad to hear that the U.S. House of Representatives had voted to pass HR7, a stricter version of the Hyde Amendment (which has been used annually to prohibit Federal funding of abortions), I was less than thrilled by the way this incremental bit
of progress was being reported.

In essence, the biggest change is the elimination of the need for annual renewals of the Hyde Amendment itself. But news outlets on BOTH sides of the ideological divide on abortion were reporting that the ban on Federal funding for abortion had been made "permanent." One report even went so far as to claim that the ban would now extend "into perpetuity."

Of course, in legislative terms there is no such thing as "permanent," or "in perpetuity." That whole notion is antithetical to self-government, and courts have consistently ruled that any attempt to bind future legislative or executive action is unconstitutional. Here is a short list of things which were once enshrined in law that are no longer operative:
        • slavery
        • segregated schools
        • 55 mph speed limit
        • wage and price controls
The motivation on both sides of this debate is to make yesterday's vote seem like something bigger than it is. It is highly likely, for instance, that if the Democrats were to retake control of the House of Representatives repeal of HR7 would be the first order of business. So much for "permanent."

Considering that the hot topic in Washington in the wake of November 8 has been
repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), it is comical to see folks claiming that any legislative enactment is "permanent."

My objection to that sort of hyperbole is that it corrupts our civic discourse. We need
to be able to discuss issues (and report news about those issues) without such absurd exaggerations.

"Shall I bring you your lance, Don Quixote?"

Shut your pipe...

Feast Day

Today we celebrate the feast day of Sts. Timothy and Titus, two disciples of St. Paul who figure prominently in New Testament accounts of Paul's life and works.

Timothy was martyred late in the 1st century, and is the patron of those who suffer from stomach or intestinal disorders.

Titus served as an important emissary of Paul, and for his efforts was eventually named bishop of Crete, where he lived out his days. Titus is the patron of the United States Army Chaplain Corps.

Requiescat in Pace

As Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show

Yesterday brought news of the death
of actress Mary Tyler Moore, one of the most popular performers in television history. She was 80.

Mary first came to stardom as the female lead on landmark comedy series The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961
to 1966, a role for which she won two Emmy Awards.

As Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

A few years after her stint on that show ended, she went on to even greater acclaim as the star of  
The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970 to 1977.

That program consistently ranks at
or near the top of every list of greatest TV programs of all time, and Mary won another three Emmy Awards for her fine work in it.

As much as any woman on television as I was growing up she shaped my notions of the ideal woman: smart, funny, capable, and warm-hearted.

"She was really good in Ordinary People, too."

Yes, she was, and richly deserved her Academy Award nomination for playing against her warm, wholesome image...

  Maybe Stop Inflicting New Wounds Daily?

From the pen of Chip Bok, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On January 26, 1934 Huey Pierce Smith was born in New Orleans. Performing and recording as Huey "Piano" Smith he was a major figure in the history of New Orleans R&B music, first as a sideman for artists like Earl King, Lloyd Price, and Little Richard, then as a leader of his own group.

Original 1957 45 rpm single
In 1957 Smith earned his first
RIAA gold record with "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," a rollicking hit that deftly blended Smith's influences from Professor Longhair to Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Domino. The song sold over one million copies, and peaked at No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

The single was released with the vocal version ("Part 1") on the A-side, and an instrumental version ("Part 2") on the B-side. Fifteen years later the song charted again for rocker Johnny Rivers.

Smith had an even bigger hit in 1958 with "Don't You Just Know It," which peaked at No. 9 on the Hot 100 and was also a million-selling record. That tune became Huey's signature song, but for me "Rockin' Pneumonia" will always be the song that best exemplifies his playing style.

Today's send-off is the original vocal version of Huey's jaunty hit, paired with some still images by a fan. Enjoy...

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