Eager faces, furry or not

President Obama recently went to Texas A & M University, in College Station, TX to speak about volunteerism. Check out the cadets and Collie Reveille VIII, the school’s mascot. They sure seem very excited to have this honor.  (Click on the photo to see it in its full size glory.)

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Tedicare . . . Golden Retriever Style

I saw Phoenix Woman’s blog post, Public Option: Tedicare for All, and knew I wanted to create a compelling image to go with the idea.

So, now that we’ve established that what Max Baucus and his insurance-industry buddies want is not what Teddy Kennedy wanted, the question is: What did Teddy Want?

We’ve already established that, too: Single-payer, or “Medicare for all”. But since he couldn’t get that, he compromised by backing the inclusion of a strong public option in whatever legislation came before Congress.  HR 3200 has it. So does the Senate HELP Committee bill. But nothing that Big Bucks Baucus backs has a public option of any sort, much less a strong one.

Baucus is trying to fool us all into thinking he and Kennedy never disagreed on anything health-care-related, when in fact Kennedy and Baucus sparred openly this year over the inclusion of a public option in health care reform legislation.

As both David “Kagro X” Waldman and Jane Hamsher point out,  naming a bad bill after Teddy is an insult to his memory.   It’s better to name the key thing he wanted, the one thing that was non-negotiable to him, after him:  The public option.

My first image, which is free for folks to use and share with others who believe in a public option CHOICE in health care reform, was this cute teddy bear as it so fits the loving nature of Senator Kennedy.

But, then I decided to create a Golden Retriever inspired Tedicare image. What do you think? Click on it to see a supersized version

You can also get some cool items with these images at my foundation’s Cafe Press store. All profits from their sale will be donated to Firedoglake’s campaign for the public option. To check out our Tedicare items, just click here.

Kennedy AND his dogs … Grieving all the way around

I got to meet two of Senator Kennedy’s dogs three years ago during a second tour at the White House with my Senate pal, Patty Kennedy.
I had originally visited the US Senate in 2000, helping Patty with the publicity of her incredible book, Bailey Bymyside: Golden Lessons for Life (to see some of the lessons from the book, click here).

Senator Kennedy’s dogs were being walked by staff members as he was, of course, busy doing the people’s work. I was told that the Senator brought his dog to work about once a week. And, he brought a tennis racket as well so that he could hit balls for his dog to retrieve and bring back to him.

In the May 2006 Boston Globe Interview, Making a Splash, reporter Susan Milligan speaks to folks not really knowing Ted Kennedy, despite 40 years in the Senate and speeches galore. For, it was when you could catch him playing fetch with his dogs that one could really see him come alive. How disappointing it was that I was not able to see him do just that with his dogs.

Follow the senior senator from Massachusetts, known for beating up tobacco lobbyists and conservative Supreme Court nominees, into his Capitol Hill office – the inner office, the one decorated with a framed, handwritten note from John F. Kennedy as a child, with pictures of Edward M. Kennedy standing alongside Martin Luther King and past presidents – and he quickly morphs into 8-year-old Teddy Kennedy. “Do you know how much I missed you? Do you KNOW how much I missed you?” Kennedy coos at Splash, his Portuguese water dog who has been awaiting his owner’s return from a Senate committee hearing. Kennedy bounces a tennis ball, sending the large, curly-haired canine running around the bustling office before settling comfortably next to the senator.

It was endearing to hear him interrupt the interview to ask Susan if she wanted to see a trick. But, as we all know, our dogs do not always perform on command.

Splash, Susan would like to see the ball, if you would show it to her. Can you show me the ball? Will you show me the ball? Splash. Please. SPLASH. Will you show me the ball? Come on, come on, show me the ball. Thank you. You know I want that ball, and you know I want that ball now. SPLASH. Please. Now you know I want that ball, and you’re not going to give the ball to me? Come on, come on. Look. Show it to ME. Where are you going with that ball? Why are you teasing me? You know I want that ball more than anything in the world. Well, I guess you won’t let me see it.

I was happy to know that the good Senator was enjoying his last months by immersing himself in what he loved best — being by or on the water . . . with his beloved dogs by his side.

I only worry about how Splash, Sunny, and new puppy Cappy will handle his absence, as dog lovers do understand that dogs go through a grieving process as well, as expressed here by behaviorist Jean Donaldson.

It seems implausible that dogs, who bond so strongly, would not feel really bad when someone they’re close to disappears. Now, whether they have the accompanying cognitions that so complicate human grief is something I’m less convinced of. I know people whose dogs have struggled with the loss of a family member (people and dogs), becoming depressed, anxious, lost and rudderless. And I can see how this could be compounded by changes in routine brought on by the grieving process of remaining family members.

And, I am sure that Kennedy’s dogs will be missed on the hill, as he was never hesitant to utilize his furry companions in every aspect of his working life.

Now, lobbyists, staffers and other Hill dwellers say they mourn not only the passing of Kennedy but also he end of a unique chapter in Capitol Hill’s canine history. With their black curly hair, floppy ears and bouncy gait, Kennedy’s dogs became a part of the lawmaker’s nearly 47-year Hill tenure.

Kennedy’s Senate office always had water bowls and tennis balls on hand. Major legislation was hammered out as White House officials patted fuzzy heads and threw balls during meetings. The dogs were known to snooze under committee room tables.

“It’s like the end of an era,” said Kennedy’s former judiciary committee general council David Sutphen. “I find it hard to believe you’ll have another senator with a dog who comes to meetings all over the Capitol. It’s kind of the closing of a chapter.”

Public Option: Tedicare for All! – Updated

I saw Phoenix Woman’s blog post, Public Option: Tedicare for All, and knew I wanted to create a compelling image to go with the idea.

So, now that we’ve established that what Max Baucus and his insurance-industry buddies want is not what Teddy Kennedy wanted, the question is: What did Teddy Want?

We’ve already established that, too: Single-payer, or “Medicare for all”. But since he couldn’t get that, he compromised by backing the inclusion of a strong public option in whatever legislation came before Congress.  HR 3200 has it. So does the Senate HELP Committee bill. But nothing that Big Bucks Baucus backs has a public option of any sort, much less a strong one.

Baucus is trying to fool us all into thinking he and Kennedy never disagreed on anything health-care-related, when in fact Kennedy and Baucus sparred openly this year over the inclusion of a public option in health care reform legislation.

As both David “Kagro X” Waldman and Jane Hamsher point out,  naming a bad bill after Teddy is an insult to his memory.   It’s better to name the key thing he wanted, the one thing that was non-negotiable to him, after him:  The public option.

So, here is my image, which is free for folks to use and share with others who believe in a public option CHOICE in health care reform.

Please share me with others

Please share me with others

Please spread the word and this fun image, which I believe so fits the loving nature of Senator Kennedy.

August 28 Update
You can also get some cool items with this image at our Cafe Press store. All profits from their sale will be donated to Firedoglake’s campaign for the public option.

To check out our Tedicare items, just click here.

Not dog related, but sooooo biting

Two blog posts really had me thinking today. Both, quite biting I have to say.

First, I didn’t know just how dumb some folks are, and sadly, these days, we are getting a much higher dose than normal of teh stupid making it to our television sets. I hope you knew that there are 50 states in the USA, and that Hawaii is one of them. Eight percent of the folks in North Carolina don’t know that.

Unfortunately, Helen (of Margaret and Helen fame), who is just wicked smart and funny as hell, doesn’t get to make it to the teevee.  Her latest posting, I remember an America where black men didn’t grow up to be President, is just too good. EVERYONE needs to read it.

Margaret is it just me or did combing your hair become optional when going out in public? I’ve been watching news clips of these town hall free-for-alls and we have definitely become a nation of tired,  poor, and huddled masses  clearly tempest-tossed, but without access to a good beauty salon. Universal Hygiene – now that is something I could get behind. And all of them are asking for their America back. I wonder which America that would be?

Would that be the America where the Supreme Court picks your president instead of counting all the votes? Would that be the America where rights to privacy are ignored? Would that be the America where the Vice President shoots his best friend in the face? Or would that be the America where an idiot from Alaska and a college drop-out with a radio show could become the torchbearers for the now illiterate Republican party?

I fear that would not be the America they want back. I fear that the America they want back is the one where black men don’t become President.

I remember that America. In that America people screaming at public gatherings were called out for what they were – an angry mob. Of course, they wore sheets to cover up their bad hair. Let’s be clear about something:  if you show up to a town hall meeting with a gun strapped to your leg, the point you are trying to make isn’t a good one. Fear never produced anything worthwhile.

And what’s all this crap about killing your grandmother? Are you people honestly that stupid? This has become less an argument about healthcare reform and more a statement about our failed education system. Margaret, I don’t know what plans you’ve made up there with Howard, but down here with Harold, we have living wills to determine how we will leave this world when the time comes. Mine states that unless the feeding tube is large enough for a piece of pie, I don’t want to be hooked up to it. Harold, of course, says his can only be connected to him if the other end is connected to a bottle of single malt scotch.

Now shame on me for making a joke about a serious subject, but if these morons are going to show up and scream at their elected officials, they need to educate themselves about the subject at hand.  No one is planning on killing you or your grandmother with rationed healthcare or death squads. By the looks of the American citizenry turning out for these town hall meetings,  we’re doing a fine  job of killing ourselves with fast food, cigarettes and an overindulgence of ignorance.

The Founding Fathers couldn’t have seen this coming. If they had, the right to free speech would have been conditional upon one’s ability to read. But the  Founding Fathers didn’t plan on the likes of Palin, Cheney and Limbaugh.

I too long for the America I remember as a child, Margaret. The one where men used guns to hunt quail and women visited a beauty salon at least once a week. Oh, those were the days. I wish we had them back. I mean it. Really.

Yea, an organic garden at the White House

I originally posted below almost 2 months ago about the Obama family planting an organic garden at the White House. We signed various petitions and today it has been confirmed. There will be a garden!!

First Family To Plant White House Veggie Garden

ABC News’ Brian Hartman Reports: President Obama’s latest shovel-ready project is close to home — in fact, right in his own yard. In an effort to promote healthy eating, the first family will be planting a vegetable garden right on the White House grounds. ABC News’ Ann Compton and Sunlen Miller report that the new White House vegetable garden will be dug up and planted on the South grounds of the White House — near the fountain but out of view of the main house.

Though the 16-acre complex is maintained by the National Park Service, one worker who preferred to remain anonymous assured ABC News that National Park Service staff won’t do the sowing and planting. The White House residence staff will handle that.

As first reported online by food writer Eddie Gehman Kohan, who reports on food issues related to the Obamas, First Lady Michelle Obama told Oprah Winfrey’s “O” magazine, “We’re … working on a wonderful new garden project.”

In the April issue of the magazine, Mrs. Obama tells Winfrey, “We want to use it as a point of education, to talk about health and how delicious it is to eat fresh food, and how you can take that food and make it part of a healthy diet.”

A variety of organic food and sustainable agriculture advocates have been pressing the Obamas to plant such a garden.

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1792: Construction on the White House – known first as the ‘President’s House” – begins on what had been a tobacco plantation.
1800: Construction is completed. President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams move into the White House as its first residents. Adams plants the first “First Vegetables” but is soon after voted out of office.
1801: Thomas Jefferson takes office, reaps where Adams sowed, and redesigns the garden plan adding a number of ornamental and fruit trees. It is worth noting that some of the first White House gardens, including Jefferson’s, were dug and tended by slaves.
1814: British troops set fire to the house, destroying its interior. Three years of reconstruction and renovations take place which include building the portico and painting the President’s House white.
1825: President John Quincy Adams plants fruit trees, herbs and vegetables to help support his own household.
1835: President Andrew Jackson builds an “orangery” for growing tropical fruit.
1857: Orangery is demolished and a full-scale greenhouse is built.
1902: Greenhouse is demolished and replaced by West Wing.
1918: President Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson recruit a flock of sheep to mow and fertilize the First Lawn at a time when the country was trying to conserve resources – human, financial and fuel – for the war effort.
1943: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt plants a large Victory Garden on White House lawn over the objections of the US Department of Agriculture inspiring millions of Americans by her example.

1954: President Dwight Eisenhower installs a putting green on White House lawn.
1979: President Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House roof and tends an herb garden.

1981: President Ronald Reagan removes the solar panels and proposes that ketchup be considered a vegetable for public school lunches, a proposal that is lambasted by health officials and the media and quickly withdrawn.

1990: President George H. W. Bush declares the White House kitchen a “no broccoli zone.
1995: Chef Alice Waters writes to President Bill Clinton calling for organic gardens on the grounds of the White House and the Vice Presidential mansion. Clinton at one point responds “send me the seeds,” but soon after gets caught sowing his own wild oats in a scandal that becomes the dominant flavor of his second term of office.

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Edible landscapes for all: can you dig it? Yes, you can!

My hubby has planted an organic vegetable garden at our home since 1987, as well as several fruit trees. Our Golden Retrievers have loved it, of course, and often have taken to feeding themselves . . . or trying to dig up the spoils (such as sweet potatoes). The organic yield is unbelievable, but sadly, we are virtually the only home in the neighborhood that utilizes much of our small piece of land (1/3 acre) this way.

The future is going to be more fresh, juicy and delicious than a lot of us realize. That’s because edible landscapes are going to be more integrated into our yards, neighborhoods, towns, and cities in the future than they have in the recent past. To make this happen, though, more people need to be asking for and digging these landscapes. Here are a few things you can do to help:

1) Sign the “White House Food Garden Petitionwhich Eat The View will deliver to the Obamas along with a diverse collection of heirloom seed packets. Eat the View is the citizen-led campaign to plant a large Victory Garden on the White House lawn. (I signed already and it took virtually no time at all.)

2) Identify a landscape near you that you think should be “edible-ized”. Start with your own yard, neighborhood, or child’s schoolyard. You can also ask your elected officials at the state and local level to lead by example. The Governors of Maine, North Carolina & New York are already eating from gardens planted at their official residences.

3) Become a supporter (check out my forum profile page here). Also, grab some great photos or widgets to place on your own webpages and blogs. You can grab photos here and you can get some really cool widgets here. This is our favorite photo.

Learn more about gardening at Kitchen Gardeners International, a 501c3 nonprofit founded in Maine, USA with friends from around the world. Their mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home-cooking, and sustainable local food systems.

Stevie Wonder-ful . . . Final Version

FINAL UPDATE

Click here to see the performance.

On February 25, 2009 I provided the post below. But, it was not complete as I was still waiting anxiously for the Library of Congress to add the webcast of their “Sketches of a Life” commissioned piece. Well, it was just posted on its Web site. And, it does not disappoint.

Folks definitely need to take the time out to experience this special gem. Stevie alternates between three different instruments, surrounded by a 21-piece chamber orchestra, surely an event you would not ever expect to see. His early classical training shows through and one sees an artist that can master it all.

Stevie’s commissioned piece is then followed by two delightful encores of “Overjoyed” and a sing-along of “My Cherie Amour.”

__________________________________________

Photo by Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press

As Shepard Fairey’s iconic HOPE portrait came to represent Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008, Stevie Wonder’s music and exuberance came to symbolize the the campaign’s soul. His music (songs like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “Higher Ground”) was heard at nearly every campaign stop.

Honestly, I think very few folks can resist Stevie Wonder’s music, or deny his incredible talents. Already one of the most decorated artists in pop music history, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with 25 Grammy Awards and an Oscar, on Sept 2, 2008, the Library of Congress named Wonder the winner of its second Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Monday night Wonder received the award, also performing a new piece commissioned by the library for the celebration.

Stevie Wonder reminisced Monday night about getting “talking books as a little boy from the Library of Congress” before premiering a new song commissioned by the library, which will award him its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. I didn’t know that anyone would ever ask me to do it,” says Wonder about the instrumental composition Sketches of a Life, which he played on two pianos and his signature harmonica, accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble. He began working on the piece in 1976 and finished it in 1994, the day Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.

Sketches draws upon his life experiences, including memories of his late mother, Lula Mae. “I can hear her voice, I can hear her joy, I can hear my cry of missing her,” he told reporters before the show in the library’s Coolidge Auditorium. “Those cries are really tears of joy, knowing that we are closer than ever to becoming a united people in the United States.”

The audience of about 450 included Wonder’s wife, two sons and brother, plus members of Congress and the family of George and Ira Gershwin, for whom the award is named. They gave the new composition a rousing standing ovation. Wonder thanked the crowd for influencing him: “You’ve allowed me to see that you’re able to see beyond color and to see into the soul of the heart.”

Wonder’s work had been initially recognized by the Library of Congress in 2005, his 1976 double album, “Songs in the Key of Life,” added to the National Recording Registry. This collection honors recorded works that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”

In writing this post, I learned that Stevie Wonder undertook the study of classical piano, and later, music theory. Such classical leanings, however, are not surprising.

At the Library of Congress last night, the Motown legend spoke of a longtime “love for classical music” — of listening to Stravinsky, Bach and Beethoven. And then Wonder ambled onstage at the library’s Coolidge Auditorium and gave the world-premiere performance of “Sketches of a Life,” a classical composition that he began writing in 1976, when he was still at the peak of his pop-songwriting powers.

Accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble, Wonder alternated between piano, electric keyboard and his trusty harmonica during a largely autobiographical work in nine movements. His melodic gifts were on generous display during the nearly 20-minute piece, though the chords tended to be darker and more haunting than the ones Wonder usually writes. The music, though, was no less lyrical or soulful.

He’s hardly a classical purist, of course: “Sketches” leaned at times toward pop show tunes and jazz. One movement was something like chamber funk, with Wonder vamping on the clavinet as the ensemble’s sound swelled. Another segment was basically a blues-jazz instrumental, with Wonder taking off on a lyrical harmonica run over piano chords and a swaying beat — all while jazz legend Herbie Hancock nodded his head in the audience.

Still, Wonder seemed comfortable with the form, and even displayed impressive restraint for a newcomer in the classical sandbox, staying away from bombast and saving the musical flyover for the triumphal, regal finale, which was full of horn fanfare.


________________________________

This video below of Pavarotti & Stevie Wonder additionally shows Stevie’s comfort with classical performers. When asked about his own personal heroes and influences, Pavarotti was included. This song, “Peace Wanted Just To Be Free” from the 1998 performance, Pavarotti & Friends for the Children of Liberia, is just fabulous. Be sure to catch the end where you will see how genuinely moved Pavarotti was by Stevie’s performance.

“The Gershwin Prize was created to honor an artist whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation,” James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement. “Stevie Wonder’s music epitomizes this ideal.”

The prize, which was created last year, commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. Essentially, it is the pop music corollary to the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The first Gershwin Prize was awarded in May 2007 to Paul Simon.

Tonight, some mighty lucky folks will be able to experience Stevie Wonder and many other performers at the concert, In Performance at the White House.

President Obama might turn a few heads if he broke into song tonight while presenting Stevie Wonder with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. But Wonder would be unfazed.

During inaugural festivities in January, “I gave the president my harmonica,” Wonder says. “He said, ‘I can’t play this thing.’ But I said, ‘You could do anything.’ ” ….

Wonder remembers discovering George Gershwin through Sam Cooke’s rendition of Summertime. “Later I found out that came from Porgy and Bess, and was amazed to learn about all the different places and genres” his music drew on, and the diversity of artists who embraced it. “You have jazz musicians playing it and opera singers doing it. That’s incredible music.”

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Thankfully, the concert will be broadcast tomorrow on PBS at 8pm EST. It looks to be amazing. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated Stevie Wonder’s life and music, bestowing upon him the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, the then senator said: “If I had one musical hero, it would have to be Stevie Wonder. “When I was at the point where you start getting involved in music, Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness’ First Final and Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life. Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we’ve ever seen.”

The show features performances from: Wonder, India.Arie, Tony Bennett, Wayne Brady, Anita Johnson, Diana Krall, Mary Mary, Martina McBride, Rickey Minor, Paul Simon, Esperanza Spalding, will.i.am, and Mary Mary.

This was part of President Obama’s presentation of the award:

So, it is my extraordinary privilege to present the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular song to an artist who has stirred our hearts and our souls for a generation, whose music knows no boundaries, an inspiration to us all.

Stevie has always drawn on the incredible range of traditions in his music. From them he’s created a sound that at once uniquely American, uniquely his own, and yet somehow universal. Indeed, this could be called the American tradition – artists demonstrating the courage and talent to find new harmonies in the rich and dissonant sounds of the American experience.

Tonight’s prize is also personal for me. As Stevie knows, I’m a huge fan. And he has been a great supporter. When I was first discovering music, just like Michelle, it was Stevie’s albums that I found and his songs became the soundtrack of my youth. Through them I found peace and inspiration, especially in difficult times. And I think it’s fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me. We might not have married. The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship.

And I’m not alone. Millions of people around the world have found similar comfort and joy in Stevie’s music, and his unique capacity to find hope in struggle, and humanity in our common hardships. This gift that music affords us, transporting us from the here and now, relieving us of our burdens, even if it’s just for the length of a song. And this gift given to us by artists like Stevie is something we can all share.

Here is another video of Stevie showing his versatility, in a magnificent duet with Tony Bennett:

Stevie Wonder-ful . . . Updated

Photo by Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press

As Shepard Fairey’s iconic HOPE portrait came to represent Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008, Stevie Wonder’s music and exuberance came to symbolize the the campaign’s soul. His music (songs like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “Higher Ground”) was heard at nearly every campaign stop.

Honestly, I think very few folks can resist Stevie Wonder’s music, or deny his incredible talents. Already one of the most decorated artists in pop music history, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with 25 Grammy Awards and an Oscar, on Sept 2, 2008, the Library of Congress named Wonder the winner of its second Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Monday night Wonder received the award, also performing a new piece commissioned by the library for the celebration.

Stevie Wonder reminisced Monday night about getting “talking books as a little boy from the Library of  Congress” before premiering a new song commissioned by the library, which will award him its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. I didn’t know that anyone would ever ask me to do it,” says Wonder about the instrumental composition Sketches of  a Life, which he played on two pianos and his signature harmonica, accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble. He began working on the piece in 1976 and finished it in 1994, the day Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.

Sketches draws upon his life experiences, including memories of his late mother, Lula Mae. “I can hear her voice, I can hear her joy, I can hear my cry of missing her,” he told reporters before the show in the library’s Coolidge Auditorium. “Those cries are really tears of joy, knowing that we are closer than ever to becoming a united people in the United States.”

The audience of about 450 included Wonder’s wife, two sons and brother, plus members of Congress and the family of  George and Ira Gershwin, for whom the award is named. They gave the new composition a rousing standing ovation. Wonder thanked the crowd for influencing him: “You’ve allowed me to see that you’re able to see beyond color and to see into the soul of the heart.”

Wonder’s work had been initially recognized by the Library of Congress in 2005, his 1976 double album, “Songs in the Key of Life,” added to the National Recording Registry. This collection honors recorded works that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”

In writing this post, I learned that Stevie Wonder undertook the study of classical piano, and later, music theory. Such classical leanings, however, are not surprising.

At the Library of Congress last night, the Motown legend spoke of a longtime “love for classical music” — of listening to Stravinsky, Bach and Beethoven. And then Wonder ambled onstage at the library’s Coolidge Auditorium and gave the world-premiere performance of “Sketches of a Life,” a classical composition that he began writing in 1976, when he was still at the peak of his pop-songwriting powers.

Accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble, Wonder alternated between piano, electric keyboard and his trusty harmonica during a largely autobiographical work in nine movements. His melodic gifts were on generous display during the nearly 20-minute piece, though the chords tended to be darker and more haunting than the ones Wonder usually writes. The music, though, was no less lyrical or soulful.

He’s hardly a classical purist, of course: “Sketches” leaned at times toward pop show tunes and jazz. One movement was something like chamber funk, with Wonder vamping on the clavinet as the ensemble’s sound swelled. Another segment was basically a blues-jazz instrumental, with Wonder taking off on a lyrical harmonica run over piano chords and a swaying beat — all while jazz legend Herbie Hancock nodded his head in the audience.

Still, Wonder seemed comfortable with the form, and even displayed impressive restraint for a newcomer in the classical sandbox, staying away from bombast and saving the musical flyover for the triumphal, regal finale, which was full of horn fanfare.


________________________________

This video below of Pavarotti & Stevie Wonder additionally shows Stevie’s comfort with classical performers. When asked about his own personal heroes and influences, Pavarotti was included. This song, “Peace Wanted Just To Be Free” from the 1998 performance, Pavarotti & Friends for the Children of Liberia, is just fabulous. Be sure to catch the end where you will see how genuinely moved Pavarotti was by Stevie’s performance.

“The Gershwin Prize was created to honor an artist whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation,” James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement. “Stevie Wonder’s music epitomizes this ideal.”

The prize, which was created last year, commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. Essentially, it is the pop music corollary to the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The first Gershwin Prize was awarded in May 2007 to Paul Simon.

Tonight, some mighty lucky folks will be able to experience Stevie Wonder and many other performers at the concert, In Performance at the White House.

President Obama might turn a few heads if he broke into song tonight while presenting Stevie Wonder with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. But Wonder would be unfazed.

During inaugural festivities in January, “I gave the president my harmonica,” Wonder says. “He said, ‘I can’t play this thing.’ But I said, ‘You could do anything.’ ” ….

Wonder remembers discovering George Gershwin through Sam Cooke’s rendition of Summertime. “Later I found out that came from Porgy and Bess, and was amazed to learn about all the different places and genres” his music drew on, and the diversity of artists who embraced it. “You have jazz musicians playing it and opera singers doing it. That’s incredible music.”

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Thankfully, the concert will be broadcast tomorrow on PBS at 8pm EST. It looks to be amazing. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated Stevie Wonder’s life and music, bestowing upon him the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, the then senator said: “If I had one musical hero, it would have to be Stevie Wonder. “When I was at the point where you start getting involved in music, Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness’ First Final and Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life. Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we’ve ever seen.”

The show features performances from: Wonder, India.Arie, Tony Bennett, Wayne Brady, Anita Johnson, Diana Krall, Mary Mary, Martina McBride, Rickey Minor, Paul Simon, Esperanza Spalding, will.i.am, and Mary Mary.

This was part of President Obama’s presentation of the award:

So, it is my extraordinary privilege to present the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular song to an artist who has stirred our hearts and our souls for a generation, whose music knows no boundaries, an inspiration to us all.

Stevie has always drawn on the incredible range of traditions in his music. From them he’s created a sound that at once uniquely American, uniquely his own, and yet somehow universal. Indeed, this could be called the American tradition – artists demonstrating the courage and talent to find new harmonies in the rich and dissonant sounds of the American experience.

Tonight’s prize is also personal for me. As Stevie knows, I’m a huge fan. And he has been a great supporter. When I was first discovering music, just like Michelle, it was Stevie’s albums that I found and his songs became the soundtrack of my youth. Through them I found peace and inspiration, especially in difficult times. And I think it’s fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me. We might not have married. The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship.

And I’m not alone. Millions of people around the world have found similar comfort and joy in Stevie’s music, and his unique capacity to find hope in struggle, and humanity in our common hardships. This gift that music affords us, transporting us from the here and now, relieving us of our burdens, even if it’s just for the length of a song. And this gift given to us by artists like Stevie is something we can all share.

Here is another video of Stevie showing his versatility, in a magnificent duet with Tony Bennett:

I cannot wait for the Library of Congress to add the audio file of their “Sketches of a Life” commissioned piece. Hopefully, it soon will be posted soon on its Web site.

Nothing more important than family …. furry or not

Micky and Loki

He may have thanked his dogs in his Golden Globes acceptance speech, but he brought his beloved Chihuahua, Loki, to the awards ceremony at the Venice Film Festival in September. ''Loki is the love of my life,” he told The New York Times.

Mickey Rourke’s beloved Chihuahua, Loki, died on Monday night at the age of 17. Micky provided this heartfelt statement: “Loki is deeply missed but with me in spirit. I am very blessed she fell asleep peacefully in my arms.”

The Wrestler star strokes Loki on an Italian TV show in November. In a recent interview he said that he likes little dogs because you can hold them close, smell their fur and feel their hearts beating.

The Wrestler star strokes Loki on an Italian TV show in November. In a recent interview he said that he likes little dogs because you can hold them close, smell their fur and feel their hearts beating.

Hildy G. definitely knows Tom is ‘man’s best friend’ — Updated

the official mascot of the Geoghegan for Congress campaign.

Hildy G -- official mascot of the Geoghegan for Congress campaign

FEB 19 UPDATE:
Found out that Tom got the DFA endorsement. If you voted in the poll for him, thanks so much!

Thomas Geoghegan is a Chicago labor lawyer and author. A graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, he has represented the United Mine Workers, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and currently works at Despres, Schwartz and Geoghegan. Right now he is in the run of his life to take Raum Emanuel’s vacated seat. The progressive group Democracy for America is conducting a poll to decide which candidate to support in the primary. If Tom Geoghegan (pronounce by rhyming with Reagan) comes out on top, DFA will ask their network of hundreds of thousands of progressives committed to grassroots change to contribute to help Tom to victory on March 3. Now through Monday at midnight, you can cast your vote for Tom.

It takes less than 60 seconds to record your vote for Tom in this poll, and ask your friends to do so as well. The poll can be found here.

Tom is incredibly bright and talented, the two books that he’s written (Which Side Are You On? and The Law in Shambles) uniformly treasured by folks working so hard to make a difference. Some folks think he is actually too intellectual for this job, but then, consider how successful this quality has been for our current quite wonkish President. It is sad that many have seemed to penalize the ultra-bright, but I am cheered by the success of numbers guru Nate Silver (who just computed his Oscar picks btw).

But, back to Tom. You must read the following story about Tom by Kathy G. It will surely tell you all you need to know about why I feel so strongly about him and my need to show such support.

Tom Geoghegan has an exceedingly long list of good deeds to his name. This is the story of one of them. It’s the tale of how one small dog battled the entire Leviathan bureaucracy of the University of Chicago for her home, her family, and indeed, her very life. And how, amazingly enough, she won that fight — but only because her case was championed by one Thomas Howard Geoghegan.

I’ll begin at the beginning. Once upon a time, my husband and I had two dogs, Hildy, a small beagle mix, and Django, a large dog who is part German Shepherd. Hildy is a lively pup, very bright, friendly, and easy to train. She has never been aggressive and we’ve never had any serious behavioral issues with her.Django, alas, was another story. He was a sweet boy at heart, but troubled. He was restless and hyper, and had the unfortunate habit of aggressively pawing at people. In the few months we had him, we never did manage to housebreak him, and taking him out was like walking Godzilla on a leash. His tail was cut off, and we theorized he’d been abused, or used in dogfighting. We tried to train him ourselves, and we worked with our terrific vet, Tom Wake, on finding a medication that would calm him down. To this day, I sorely regret not hiring an outside trainer to work with him.Well, you can see where this is going. One day, six months or so after we adopted him, he bit the guest of a resident of our building. The bite did not break the skin or require medical attention, but still, it was unprovoked, and so obviously that raised red flags. The resident complained about this incident to our landlord, which is the University of Chicago. I was aware of the complaint, but stupidly, I assumed it wouldn’t result in anything more serious than a warning and, perhaps, restrictions on when and where Django was permitted to leave and enter the building.

Two weeks later, I was stunned to receive a hand-delivered letter from the landlord ordering us to get rid of both our dogs in ten days, or face immediate eviction! The moment I read it, I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. In the manner of many couples without children, Mr. G Spot and I dote on our dogs. They are members of the family, and an inexhaustible source of entertainment, companionship, and unconditional love. The rhythm and structure of our days is formed by the tasks we carry out to care for them: feeding them, and taking them for their morning, afternoon, and evening walks. The idea of losing them was heartbreaking.

And I have to say, I didn’t see it coming. Oh all right, I probably knew in my heart that Django was in serious trouble, but on the conscious level at least, I was in blithe denial of that fact. And I certainly never so much as imagined that they’d make us give up Hildy. After all, what she did ever do? She was a sweet little dog, an innocent bystander who was being condemned without a fair hearing, her reputation smeared because of guilt by association. The outrageous injustice of it made my blood boil.

After reading this anguish-inducing missive, the first person I called was Mr. G Spot, who was out of town. I couldn’t reach him. And then, in full panic mode, I called Tom Geoghegan. Partly that was because he’s one of our closest friends, but mainly it’s because he’s a lawyer. What I wanted from him was simply a referral for a lawyer who dealt with landlord/tenant disputes, or pet issues. But what I got from him was much, much more.

He asked me to fax the letter and our lease to his office, which I did. Then he and his legal team set to work. The person who actually did the grunt work and handled the details of the case was Tom’s wonderful associate, Mike Persoon, or “Spoon,” as everyone calls him.  He was out collecting petition signatures to get Tom’s name on the ballot for this election.

Tom’s law firm sent a letter to our landlord urging that they let us keep both dogs, and offering to  negotiate terms (with my husband and I agreeing to make them wear muzzles, only use certain entrances, etc.). The letter was referred to the University of Chicago legal team. There were negotiations and lots of back and forth.

Now let me interject right here, that the University of Chicago is a fearsomely powerful institution. It rules Hyde Park with an iron fist. It has remade and swallowed up entire neighborhoods. Trust me, you do not want to mess with these fuckers. Because when it comes to a community’s rights, or an individual’s rights, vs. the behemoth that is the U of C, the individual, or the community, is bound to lose. Every bloody time.

So, as you might suspect, those mofos had written the lease to within an inch of its life, and basically it allowed them to do whatever they damned please in terms of pets. Even though we technically live in a building where pets are allowed, that is considered a “privilege” which can be revoked at any time, at their discretion.

This being the case, we did not stand the ghost of a chance of keeping Django. After much soul-searching, heartache, sleepless nights, and angst-filled consultations with our vet, Dr. Wake (who btw, along with Tom and Spoon was one of the heroes of this drama, and went above and beyond, going out of his way to lobby the university to allow us to keep both dogs), we decided to give up Django, but do all in our power to keep Hildy. This was wrenching for me, and to this day Django literally haunts my guilty dreams. But we came to the conclusion that it was the least bad thing to do.

And, as a result of Tom’s agreeing to take on the case, and Spoon’s hard work and mad skillz as a negotiator, that, in the end, was what we were allowed to do. Furthermore, we got an extension of sorts for Django — we were able to keep him until we found a place for him in a no-kill shelter, which we eventually did.

I don’t know what in the world we would have done otherwise. Moving would have been unaffordably expensive and a huge hassle, and Mr. G Spot in particular was opposed to it. Placing a dog in a no-kill shelter is a difficult and time-consuming process; there are always far more animals needing placement than there are slots, especially when the economy starts to tank. The prospect of having to take Hildy and Django to the city pound to be euthanized horrified us, but it was a real possibility. It’s no exaggeration to say that Tom and Spoon may have saved both their lives.

And btw, there’s no way I could have negotiated this outcome myself. I refrained completely from communicating with the landlord about this manner, because I was so emotional about it, and I was afraid that if I tried to discuss it I’d be too tearful, or too angry. Or both.

And the kicker here? After Spoon negotiated this outcome, we asked Tom to send us a bill. And he stubbornly refused to take a dime. This in spite of the fact that the time the firm spent on this case meant fewer billable hours from paying clients. And also in spite of the fact that a small public interest firm like Tom’s tends not to be rolling in dough in the first place.

So, what is the takeaway from this story? What is the point I’m trying to make here?

Well, I think this little anecdote illustrates something important about Tom — about his values, about the way he approaches his legal practice, and about what kind of Congressman he would make.

In the matter of this little dog drama, why did Tom act the way he did? Well, it’s not because he’s dog person — he’s not really an animal person at all. But there were a couple of things going on, I think.

First of all, when it comes to capacity for empathy, Tom ranks pretty highly, and he obviously wanted to relieve my distress. Secondly, he is a stand-up guy who is there for his friends.

But it goes beyond that. Unlike so many in the elite professional class to which he belongs, Tom has a strong aversion to sucking up to rich and powerful assholes. On the contrary, his life has been all about service and helping people in need. And his innate sympathies are always with the powerless, the screwed over, the dispossessed and disenfranchised.

The underdog, if you will.

So you see, when it comes to a fight between one undersized and insignificant mutt, on the one hand? And a ginormous, filthy rich, and scary-powerful institution like the University of Chicago, on the other?

Tom’s gonna be on the side of the dog. That’s fundamental to who he is.

You can donate to Tom Geoghegan’s Congressional campaign here; volunteer here; join the two Geoghegan Facebook groups here and here; and follow Tom on Twitter here.

Call me silly, but I LOVE these!

Malia and Sasha in their new inaugural coats

Malia & Sasha's new inaugural coats

Inspired by the First Family’s unique style, these i see spot “First Coats” are so charming. The lightweight Spring Coats feature extra soft fleece with satin buttons and ribbon trim. They are only sized for smaller dogs, though, with sizes for dogs with body lengths from 8″ to 19″ and approximate weights of 3 to 30 lbs.

At our Foundation’s Apparel Store, we have lots for folks to enjoy, to tickle their own fancy or to dress their dogs up in style. It seems that even a fun scarf on a dog can bring joy to others. Some dogs engage in Animal-Assisted Activities. Such activities, designed to strengthen someone’s quality of life, are typically performed by volunteers and are generally “meet and greet” activities. We have wonderful stretch scarves and tanks, many with great holiday themes. The i see spot quality is exceptional and they are the only ones we’ve found to be true to sizing, and to comfortably fit larger dogs such as Golden Retrievers.

Please let me know if you may be interested in this new “First Family” wear and I will order some to stock at the store.

_______________________________

One of the foundation sponsors, i see spot, has donated some of their products to us to help with fundraising. For 20 years,i see spot’s parent company, L.A. SAM, INC., has been designing and manufacturing for the apparel industry. From successful adult contemporary lines to children’s clothing, L.A. SAM has built its reputation as a leader in quality garments made in the U.S.A. It is this experience, love of dogs, as well as the nine years of design collaboration between the company’s owners, Sandy Maroney and Sharon Bolger, that has inspired the newest L.A. SAM, INC. direction into the dog couture market.

In July of 2003, i see spot was launched, its ongoing success attributed most of all to quality. The fabrics are carefully chosen and designed with the comfort of the dog as the main priority.

Despite the devastation . . . a Koala love story emerges – Updated with video

Koala Love Story Wins Hearts After Fires
Reuters, February 11, 2008

CANBERRA (Reuters) – A love story between two badly burned koalas rescued from Australia’s deadliest bushfires has provided some heart-warming relief after days of devastation and the loss of over 180 lives.

. . . it was after reaching a wildlife shelter that Sam met and befriended Bob, who was saved by wildlife workers on Friday, two days before Sam, in Boolarra, about 180 km from Melbourne.

Tree, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 26 years, said it was extremely rare to get so close to a koala so he asked his colleague Brayden Groen, 20, to film him. “You can how she stops and moves forward and looks at me. It was like a look saying “I can’t run, I’m weak and sore, put me out of my misery”,” Tree told Reuters.

“I yelled out for some water and I sat down with her and tipped the water up. It was in my hand and she reached for the bottle then put her right claw into my left hand which was cold so it must have given her some pain relief and she just left it there. It was just amazing.”

Sam was taken to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson. Her story was reminiscent of a koala named Lucky who survived the 2003 bushfires that destroyed about 500 homes and killed four people in the capital of Canberra. Lucky became a symbol of hope.

Colleen Wood from the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter that is caring for Sam and Bob said both koalas were doing well while other animals like possums, kangaroos, and wallabies were also starting to emerge from the debris. She said Sam had suffered second degree burns to her paws and would take seven to eight months to recover while Bob had three burned paws with third degree burns and should be well enough to return to the bush in about four months.

Bob (top), rescued from last week's deadly bushfires, puts his paw around new friend and fellow fire survivor Sam as she recovers from her burns at Southern Ash Wildlife Centre near Melbourne February 11, 2009. REUTERS/Southern Ash Wildlife Centre/Colleen Wood

Bob (top), rescued from last week's deadly bushfires, puts his paw around new friend and fellow fire survivor Sam as she recovers from her burns at Southern Ash Wildlife Centre near Melbourne February 11, 2009. REUTERS/Southern Ash Wildlife Centre/Colleen Wood

“They keep putting their arms around each other and giving each other hugs. They really have made friends and it is quite beautiful to see after all this. It’s been horrific,” said Wood.

“Sam is probably aged between two to four going by her teeth and Bob is about four so they have a muchness with each other.”

Wood said about 20 koalas had been brought into her shelter in recent days, several of whom had bonded as koalas are known to clump together, but none had garnered the same attention as the new Internet star Sam.

Tree, a volunteer with the Country Fire Authority Victoria, has visited Sam since her rescue and was delighted to see she had found a boyfriend in Bob. “They’ve really taken a shine to each other as they are both burnt and share the same burnt smell,” he said.

“My heart goes out to the people in these fires and this was so innocent so people have used this to distract them from all the sad stuff that has gone on. It gives people a bit of hope.”

A mutt like me

Senator Obama is featured in book about puppy mills, A Rare Breed of Love, with this photo of him holding Baby, the three-legged poodle rescued from an abusive puppy mill operation.

250px-obamaposter

An artist's support

This is an update to this post that I put up last month.

That is how PE Obama describes himself. And, it is why he wants to get a rescue to be the first Presidential pet. That had inspired artist, Shepard Fairey, responsible for a poster series supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008. Who can forget the iconic “HOPE” portrait? It was actually just acquired by the US National Portrait Gallery, and became part of the permanent collection, the gallery hoping to have the image on display by Obama’s Inauguration Day.

The day Obama stated his interest in adopting a dog from the shelter was a slightly brighter one for the approximately 7 million adoptable dogs & cats killed each year in this country. The staggering reality is that for each one sold at a pet store or by a breeder, another perfectly worthy one is killed.

Our nations shelters are filled to capacity with all kinds of amazing adoptable animals including, as Obama put it, “Mutts like me.”

On the heels of Obama’s comment, I got a call from Pia Salk, an animal advocate who works with North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, Adopt-a-Pet.com. Pia simply asked if I might be willing to collaborate on a way to have my art help these animals. I’m all for adopting from the shelter! My wife and I share our home with 2 pooches, George and Weezie, who is a rescue. They are the happy canine siblings to our 2 human daughters.

I have created a limited edition run of 400 signed and numbered silk-screen prints that will be available soon at MuttsLikeMe.com. The proceeds will go to getting the furry non-partisan U.S. residents, who share our country, saved and into homes. Shepard Fairey

Image fashioned after a mutt named Honey that artist had as a kid

Shepard Fairey, Time Magazine named “Icon Maker” of the year, has graciously used his talents to help our shelter pets! He has made an icon out of the American mutt, proving that every mutt is truly a masterpiece. You can help spread the word on behalf of the millions of furry U.S. ‘residents’ currently waiting to be adopted! There are downloads that are downright huge (so that you can post poster-size professional images) as well as code to add to your own personal websites.

Click here to get the image and spread it around.

_____________________________________

UPDATE: Shepard Fairey Sues Associated Press Over Obama Poster

Shepard Fairey, the visual artist who created the iconic “Hope” poster of Barack Obama, has filed suit against The Associated Press, according to court documents. Last week, The A.P. said in a statement that the poster, based on an A.P. photograph taken by Mannie Garcia in April 2006, requires its permission for use of the image, and that it is seeking credit and compensation for its use in Mr. Fairey’s works. In the suit, filed in United States District Court in New York, lawyers for Mr. Fairey are seeking a declaratory judgment which would rule that Mr. Fairey’s poster does not infringe on The A.P.’s copyrights and is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. The complaint also seeks an injunction enjoining The A.P. from asserting its copyrights against Mr. Fairey, his company, Obey Giant, and anyone in possession of the poster or works derived from it, as well as a jury trial.

It is important to note that Shepard’s complaint also includes protecting anyone in possession of works derived from the Obama hope poster. That would actually include the Adopt poster above, which shows you how crazy the A.P. is being here.

For those George Clooney fans (who couldn’t be though), here is the original photo that was utilized for the poster that Shephard Fairey:


You asked for proof?

At Majdanek Concentration Camp, a roomful of shoes confiscated from those murdered

At Majdanek Concentration Camp, a roomful of shoes confiscated from those murdered

I feel quite strongly about us looking at the lessons of history so that we do not repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It is hard for me to get my head around the fact that there is a stubborn group of folks who deny the existence of the holocaust, and I agree with Dr. Deborah Lipstadt here:

This is not a debate. I have said many times I do not debate deniers. First of all, it suggests that there are two equal sides to the issue. would you expect a scientist to debate someone who believes the earth is flat? Of course not.

Secondly, deniers are notorious distorters and liars. [Some of those who simply parrot what others say — and Williamson may be in this category — may not realize the extent of the lies and the distortions.] And it is impossible to debate a liar. It is like trying to nail a blob of jelly to the wall.

It bothers me that the nonsensical news networks persist in showing both sides to an issue, even if one side is just spouting outright lies. Just consider the current economic crisis after 8 years of failed republican policies and tax breaks and the words of nobel laureate, Dr. Paul Krugman:

Thirty-six out of 41 Republican Senators voted for the proposed DeMint amendment to the stimulus bill — a massive package of permanent tax cuts that would create a huge hole in the budget, while doing very little to help the economy. There isn’t much room for bipartisanship when 87.8% of the other party is totally irresponsible.

But, getting back to the existence of the holocaust, I am simply in love with Professor Lipstadt who penned the following letter to Bishop Williamson who rather ridiculously says he is going to wait until he finds “proof” of the Holocaust before recanting his denial (in the face of demands by Pope Benedict).

It has come to my attention that you are looking for “proof” of the Holocaust. Let me assure you that such proof exists in reams.

The most expeditious means for you to determine that all the “claims” you have made both on your webpage and in interviews are completely bogus would be to read, in its entirety, the verdict of Judge Charles Gray who presided in David Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt. The judgment can be found at http://www.hdot.org/trial/judgement

You will see there that each of your arguments is shown to be based on bogus documents, fabrications of evidence, or misinformation. This is what we call in common parlance: lies.

Other links can be found on my blog where we have prepared an extensive, point by point, refutation of your claims. This will also take you the Myths and Facts section of www.hdot.org, where you will find even more refutations of your various claims about the gassing process.

You may also want to visit to the Holocaust History Project, where you will find yet additional refutations.

Finally, I also suggest you read the expert report of Robert Jan van Pelt who carefully demolishes the various claims you and other deniers make about the gassing process.

You will see that your arguments are based on false and mistaken suppositions. In short, sir, there is no dearth of evidence. There is only a dearth of willingness to remove the blinders from one’s eyes.

Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D.
Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.

Dr. Lipstadt’s letter bounced back so she sent a copy of it to the Argentinian headquarters of the SSPX, where Williamson is currently based. She also will be sending a copy of the letter to the headquarters.

More of this please

The rescue dog situation is out of control, due to the foreclosure rate being out of control. It’s nice to see someone speaking the truth for a change. Sadly, the stimulus that is going to pass is going to filled with way too many tax cuts to be of real help with keeping us from sliding into a second depression. The following is a posting from Jed L at Daily Kos of the Jed Report.

The so-called “moderate compromise” in the Senate cuts $140 billion in spending from the stimulus legislation, but leaves in place between $300 billion and $350 billion in taxes.

This is important, because it’s not just how much they cut, it’s what they cut.

According to the CBO’s conservative estimate, for every $140,000 increase in GDP, one job is created. The CBO also projects that stimulus spending — not tax cuts — has the biggest impact on GDP.

The multiplier for stimulus spending generally ranges between 1 and 2.5, meaning for every $1 spent between $1 and $2.50 in additional GDP is generated. In contrast, the multiplier for tax cuts for the wealthy is 0.5 — or less. (See the last page of this pdf from CBO for their full list.)

So what does that mean for the Senate “compromise”? It means it will generate between 1 million and 2.5 million fewer jobs than the original proposal.

If Congress ultimately passes the Senate compromise without dramatically improving its effectiveness, they will be making President Obama’s job even tougher than it should be.

Congress should follow the President’s lead — this is a time to be bold, not cautious. This is a time to do something that works, not cave in to the failed ideas of the past.

How sad is this?

Senator Ted Kennedy laughs ahead of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President on the West Front of the Capitol. (UPI Photo/Win McNamee/Pool)

U.S. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., collapsed and was taken from the luncheon at the Capitol marking the inauguration of Barack Obama as president.

ABC News reported Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WVa., was so upset he was removed form the luncheon as well.

The incident came before Congress presented Obama and Vice President Joe Biden crystal balls and photographs of the inauguration commemorating their ascension to office.

ABC initially said Kennedy, who has been battling brain cancer, suffered convulsions.

The best part.

It was so nice to see Pete Seeger, at age 89, make it to perform at the inaugural performance this weekend. And, unbelievably, he was spry enough to jog off the stage with his fellow performers. That part simply blew me away. We should all be so fit. But, it was his smiling face on that stage that said it all.

Pete’s voice is basically gone at this point and his wife will tell you he’s lost without his hearing aid, but he still performs, so enlisting the help of his incredibly talented grandson, Tao Rodríguez-Seeger. When he was sixteen, in 1986, he began performing with his grandfather. He sings in English and Spanish and it is his vibrant voice that you hear in the rendition above.

Here is Pete from earlier days: