The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: Politics of the Planet

Politics of the Planet

Welcome to the Anthropocene Era, dominated by humans changing the environment. []

Wind power may be closer in the Great Lakes than in the Atlantic. []

Oceans may be heading for a mass extinction. []

New ice maps of the Antarctic can help analyze global warming. []

The Politics of Tunes: A Void Too Big to Fill

The music world lost a legend on June 18 when Clarence Clemons, the “Big Man” of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, passed away at the all-too-young age of 69. With hips and a back that made it hard for him to even stand up on stage, it sometimes felt like Clemons was 69 going on 89. But Clemons and his prolific saxophone sounded like 69 going on 39 . . . and that was all that mattered.

Thanks to my Dad, I’ve been a Springsteen fan for as long as I can remember. I can’t recall the date or year or song it was that made me a believer, but I do know that it was because of the Big Man rather than the Boss. My Dad just calls him Clarence. “Listen to Clarence!” he’d scream with a smile on his face as we’d drive home from baseball practice, trying to teach his son about musicianship as he’d turn up the timeless Born to Run album.

The Big Man truly was larger than life, so much so that when my friend Jon sent me a text simply stating “RIP Clarence Clemons,” I just didn’t want to believe him. Some bands go on after one of their members passes away or quits or retires. Crosby, Stills, and Nash have done alright since ol’ Neil left. The Rolling Stones have managed for more than forty years without founding member Brian Jones. The Red Hot Chili Peppers pushed on without original guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons. But the E Street Band will never be the same.

At 61, Springsteen might still have the energy and showmanship that helped make him the greatest live act in music history. For his and all of our sakes, I sure hope he does, because Springsteen didn’t reach the Pantheon for his acoustic sets. He certainly didn’t make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the Nebraska album. And Springsteen didn’t become the Boss because of songs like “My Hometown” and “Pony Boy.” Yes, those and other songs are plenty good and special in their own right, but they have nothing on sacred Springsteen anthems like “Jungleland,” “Badlands,” and “Spirit in the Night.” Why? No sax. No soul. No Big Man.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see the E Street Band in concert four times. I’ll never forget the first show – August 17, 2003, at Dodger Stadium. It was my first concert, and my Dad took me. We sat way up top, and each time I put the binoculars to my face, I did my best to find Clarence. Even if I couldn’t see him at all times, I could always hear him.

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The Politics of Tunes: A Void Too Big to Fill

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Wellness

What’s popcorn brain? If you don’t want to find out, step away from that smart phone and get out into the world. [CNN]

New research shows that living in an urban environment can actually alter the chemical makeup of your brain, making you more anxious and stressed than you would be otherwise. [Time]

The cost of misdiagnosing children with bipolar disorder: [Newsweek]

The U.S. government just rolled out nine new designs for cigarette warning labels, coming out next year. And boy, do they do the job! [NY Times]

The next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is in 2013, and doctors are already considering which disorders could get the axe. [Huffington Post]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Love

The Politics of Love

In an opinion piece in the New York Daily News yesterday, Seth Forman presented Five arguments against gay marriage: Society must brace for corrosive change. Your correspondent is still flummoxed by the fact that people put any credence into the types of arguments that were used to deny women the right to own property or vote, to deny “mixed race” marriages, to support segregation and Jim Crow laws, etc., etc. How can these arguments hold water in a country that supposedly cherishes “freedom”? What say you, dear readers?

Just a few hours later in LGBT | ThinkProgress, Zack Ford offered a rebuttal to Forman’s “ill-informed, fear-mongering talking points” in Five (Poor) Arguments Against Gay Marriage. Who has the stronger argument in your opinion? Let us know!

And in the “odd couple” story of the week, Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul have gotten together to work on a little legislation. After 40 years of the “war on drugs” in this country, you’d think their bill would gain a little traction and find some love. Salon

Finally, in the heterosexual column this week, a new film from Mexico (directed, interestingly, by an Aussie) explores race, class, culture and a woman’s kinky sadomasochistic love affair in Mexico City. Yeah! Check out this titillating review of “Leap Year.”

Jeff Smith: Obama Should Endorse Gay Marriage Now

In his piece published yesterday in Politico’s Arena, Jeff Smith joins the RP in urging the President to endorse gay marriage now. Here is Jeff’s response to the Arena question: “Is Obama being pushed into gay marriage support?”

I don’t know what he’ll do. I do know that it’s better to lead than to follow. I also know that future public opinion on this issue is easier to predict than that on any other major policy issue.

That’s because of the stark generational split: polls consistently show overwhelming majorities of people under 40 supporting gay marriage, and overwhelming majorities of those over 65 opposing it – just as polls during the mid-1960s showed on interracial marriage (before the Supreme Court banned state anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia).

As generational replacement occurs, clear majorities of the electorate will support gay marriage, and it will require little courage to support it. Now is the time for the president to ensure that he is on the right side of history.

Tomorrow at The Recovering Politician

Whew.  What a day!

We began it with the debut of former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele at The Recovering Politician, and we end it with more national feedback on the RP’s article earlier this week denouncing the injection of anti-Semitic language into the political debate in Kentucky.

If you thought we’d take a rest from controversy, tomorrow another contributing RP joins the RP in his call for President Obama to endorse gay marriage now.

Come back for the latest developments tomorrow AM!

UPDATE: Ntl. Jewish Democratic Council Denounces Anti-Semitic Slurs in KY

Within the past hour, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) issued a release that strongly denounced the anti-Semitic language used by former Kentucky GOP gubernatorial candidate, Larry Forgy, in a TV interview that was discussed earlier today  at The Recovering Politician.

If you missed this morning’s post, here it is again.

The NJDC stated:

[T]his incident is deeply troubling and deserves condemnation from all who believe that anti-Semitic language and canards have no place in our political discourse.

To read the entire release, click here.

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Speed

The Politics of Speed

This week a 7-year-old Michigan boy got behind the wheel of his stepfather’s Pontiac Sunfire and drove it for 20 miles, hitting speeds of 50 mph. He was eventually stopped by police officers. [Detroit Free Press]

Speaking of driving in Michigan, Denny Hamlin managed to do so very fast at this week’s Sprint Cup race in Michigan; securing his first win of the 2011 season. [ESPN]

After taking the #1 spot in ESPN’s NASCAR Power Rankings last week, Dale Jr. took a hard fall to #8. Replacing him, once again, is Carl Edwards. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth both gained spots this week to round out the top 3. [ESPN]

All Left Turns has a great post on how to prepare for a race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. Whether it’s drinking a nice Merlot at your tailgate or actually cheering for California-born drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, Sonoma provides a unique atmosphere that you cannot find anywhere else. [All Left Turns]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Immigration

The Politics of Immigration

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a documentary filmmaker and former Washington Post reporter that just “outed” himself as an undocumented immigrant. Read his remarkable story, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant, and check out Define American, a website he founded to attempt to change the conversation on immigration reform.

Did you hear last week that immigrants were to blame for the forest fires in Arizona? Remember the dozens and dozens of Arizonans murdered and decapitated in the desert by immigrants? We’ve all heard (and far too many have bought into) urban myths related to immigrants, so, what the hell, Got A Problem? Blame It On Illegal Immigrants!

And yet even with all of the anti-immigration rhetoric, hysteria and demagoguery, Americans’ views on immigration have stayed relatively steady and relatively positive over the last two decades. Check out the latest Gallup Poll that shows that Americans for the most part manifest a slight preference for lower immigration levels, yet continue to believe that immigration is good for America. Oh, those crazy Americans!

And, finally, demographics often trump negative views of immigration and immigrants in many European countries, where aging populations and low birth rates have created a dearth of workers (i.e., a tax base). With American baby boomers beginning to retire this year, will the United States face a similar situation over the next twenty to thirty years? Wall Street Journal

UPDATE: Williams Blames ME for Spreading Anti-Semitic Remarks

Earlier this week, I wrote a piece for The Huffington Post that shared some absurd and offensive comments made by Larry Forgy — a former Kentucky GOP gubernatorial nominee and a prominent supporter of GOP State Senator David Williams’s 2011 campaign for Governor — regarding the Jewish faith of Governor Steve Beshear’s running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson:

The “only reason” Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear picked former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson to be his running mate was “to attract New York and Hollywood Jewish money” for the campaign.

I argued that anti-Semitism would backfire in today’s Bible Belt and noted that Williams had made no comment to distance himself from than language.

Today, Williams wisely did.

See the interview with Insight’s CN2 “Pure Politics” below.

Of course, in typical Williams style, he blamed a Democrat for starting the controversy.  


Unfortunately, Larry Forgy stood his ground in another interview with Insight. Forgy claimed that Jews such as George Soros, Barbra Streisand and Steve Spielberg would be pumping in significant loads of cash to support their co-religionist’s bid for Lt. Governor.  Of course, the reporter followed the interview by noting that none of the those famous names had contributed; and in fact, the Beashear campaign had raised only a tiny fraction of his campaign war chest in New York and Los Angeles.

I share the video interview below with a little hesitation.  I want to assure my out-of-state readers that this is not a reflection of the significant majority of Kentucky citizens who have embraced their Jewish brothers and sisters and do not believe in a Jewish conspiracy led by Soros, Streisand and Spielberg that dominates national politics.  With that caveat, check out the video below:

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