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Touching Story As Michael Ray Debuts On Grand Ole Opry Tonight With Grandpa’s Guitar

April 24, 2015

If mental images and emotional tugs are all one needs to conjure up the magic of a moment than what happens tonight when many around the nation tune into the Grand Ole Opry will be just about perfect.


Long-time readers to this blog know my love of the Opry.  Who can not feel the emotion of the story of Michael Ray as he takes the famed stage this evening in Nashville–all which can be heard on AM-650 WSM radio?

Country newcomer Michael Ray has his first Top 20 hit at country radio “Kiss You in the Morning.” He’s in the studio recording his first album for Warner Music Nashville and Friday night he’ll make his Grand Ole Opry debut.

It’s a trio of long-held dreams come true. But, the Opry dream may be the most precious — it’s one he shared with his grandfather Amos Roach. Roach headed the family band and Ray was on stage with them from time he was a toddler. Roach taught him to love and play classic country music. They listened to “The Grand Ole Opry” together, watched videos of Minnie Pearl and Grandpa Jones and shared a love of Porter Wagoner.

“We would just talk about how cool it would be, one day, if one of us ever got to play on it The Opry,” Ray said. “The fact that it’s here is a very surreal thing.”

The heart-breaker for the Florida native is that his grandfather isn’t here. Roach passed away of a heart attack one month before Ray found out he was going to play the Opry stage.

“It was like, ‘Damn, we almost made it,'” Ray said. “So I thought the next best thing to having him on stage was to play the guitar that he backed my family’s band with since I was 9 years old.”

The Strangest White House Correspondents’ Dinner Ever

April 24, 2015

Here is some history that is quite remarkable as we get ready for this years White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

It was nine months before Pearl Harbor.

The film ended at 9:30. Time for the president to take the spotlight. And radically change the mood. It was time to talk of war, on what was to become, and remains today, the strangest—and most important—night in the dinner’s history.

When President Obama strides to the microphone at the Washington Hilton this Saturday, he’ll be going for laughs. He’ll be poking fun both at himself and his political foes. No one expects him to address the nation. Or promise higher taxes. Or call for sacrifice. But that’s what Roosevelt did, boldly using the dinner to prepare the nation for entry into World War II. And, although the event was opened to live TV coverage when I was vice president of the association in 1993 (I’m now the unofficial historian) and has since become a cable fixture, 74 years later, no White House Correspondents’ Dinner has drawn a larger broadcast audience than the one held on that pre-television, pre-Internet night.

The correspondents back then certainly didn’t foresee how important the evening would turn out to be. They thought the event they were staging would be just like the 19 before it—an all-male gathering for an amiable mélange of soaring opera, naughty ballads, gag newsreels, hearty laughter, and generous drinking.

But that all changed about 30 hours before the dinner, when the correspondents gathered in the Oval Office for a presidential press conference, and FDR asked if he could make a nationally broadcast address at their dinner. Three days earlier, he had signed into law his much-debated Lend-Lease Act, permitting him to send badly needed aid, munitions, and equipment to Britain, China, the Soviet Union, and other countries under siege by Nazi Germany and Japan. Now, he wanted to tell the nation—and the world—what it meant.

Read the rest here–it is a great story.

Don’t Miss White House Correspondents’ Dinner On C-SPAN

April 24, 2015

My DVR is programmed!  (Starting at 5:00 P.M. Central Time.)

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday is simply one of the most talked about events–and deservedly so–when it comes to Washington power brokers and those who report on and cover them for media outlets.   It is hilarious and  glitzy.  And you can watch it all unfold in front of your television thanks to C-SPAN.

This year Cecily Strong  from Saturday Night Live will host.    The crowd will be just one amazing cast ranging from actors, actresses, members of Obama’s cabinet, and members of Congress.  And of course President Obama–like every other president–will put himself front and center with some witty lines that history shows he can most effectively deliver.

Science Shows Guns Are Root Of Problems

April 24, 2015

Just more to ponder as we prepare ourselves for more gun violence in a nation that seems unable to reason its way through a mess that in large part is the result of the delusional NRA.

 After the Sandy Hook tragedy, reporters often called me to ask for information on firearms. They wanted to know whether strong gun laws reduced homicide rates (I said they did); and, conversely, whether permissive gun laws lowered crime rates overall (I said they did not). I discovered that in their news articles journalists would write that I said one thing while some other firearms researcher said the opposite. This “he said-she said” reporting annoyed me — because I knew that the scientific evidence was on my side.

Last May we began sending out short, monthly surveys. The first question on each survey asks how much the respondent agrees with a particular claim related to firearms, and the second and third questions ask the respondent to rate the quality of the scientific literature, as well as their own level of familiarity with the scientific literature on that particular topic.

So, for example, one survey asked whether having a gun in the home increased the risk of suicide. An overwhelming share of the 150 people who responded, 84%, said yes.

This result was not at all surprising because the scientific evidence is overwhelming. It includes a dozen individual-level studies that investigate why some people commit suicide and others do not, and an almost equal number of area-wide studies that try to explain differences in suicide rates across cities, states and regions. These area-wide studies find that differences in rates of suicide across the country are less explained by differences in mental health or suicide ideation than they are by differences in levels of household gun ownership.

As I said, I wasn’t surprised by the results of that questionnaire. Still, it was nice to be able to document that the large majority of gun researchers have arrived at the same conclusion about firearms and suicide from their reading of the scientific literature

I also found widespread confidence that a gun in the home increases the risk that a woman living in the home will be a victim of homicide (72% agree, 11% disagree) and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be (64%) rather than a safer place (5%). There is consensus that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime (73% vs. 8%) and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates (62% vs. 9%). Finally, there is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide (71% vs. 12%).

Want To Know What Should Concern You Economically Speaking?

April 24, 2015

There is one topic that keeps popping up in interviews with economists, or mentioned in news reports that is most concerning.  What happens when China’s economy heads south?

About 340 pages into Henry M. Paulson’s new book on China, a sentence comes almost out of nowhere that stops readers in their tracks.

“Frankly, it’s not a question of if, but when, China’s financial system,” he writes, “will face a reckoning and have to contend with a wave of credit losses and debt restructurings.”

Mr. Paulson, the former Treasury secretary, knows a thing or two about financial crises, having been the lead firefighter during the 2008 financial collapse, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Mr. Paulson also knows more about China, its politics and the players behind it than most Westerners, having been the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs and one of the first businessmen to seek to establish ties with China more than two decades ago, regularly making trips to the country and befriending top officials

A crisis in China, even a small one, would be contagious, especially in the United States. Already, fears of a slowdown in China in recent months have led to jitters about the trajectory of the American economy.

Mr. Paulson stresses that he’s not saying a crisis is inevitable, and he believes that one can be averted if officials make the right policy decisions.

But Mr. Paulson’s anxieties about China have an unnerving similarity to the financial crisis in the United States, and his warnings demand attention.


Perhaps most unnerving is a “too big to fail” mind-set among the financial industry’s senior leaders that sounds all too familiar. In their view, if a trust company were to fail, the government would come to the rescue, leading all of them to take even greater risks.

“One of the biggest problems in China’s banking system is the moral hazard created by the expectation that the government will always step in to prop up a failed institution and assume losses,” Mr. Paulson wrote. “If the government is to discourage bad behavior on the part of market participants counting on a government bailout, it is crucial to decide clearly and decisively which institutions are systemically important and need to be supported and which creditors and investors should share in the losses.”

Of course, the tricky part for China’s government will be picking the winners and losers. As was his approach in the United States, Mr. Paulson advocates saving certain institutions, calling it “an unpleasant necessity” and suggesting that inside China, unlike the United States, there is “the political will to bail out failing financial institutions.”

Also unlike the United States, it is not clear that the public will ever fully know the depths of a bank’s problems. “Transparency in China too often means the government having all the information,” Mr. Paulson told me.

One Week Before Supreme Court Hears Gay Marriage Case And…..

April 23, 2015

…there is still more proof of the movement this nation has made with civil rights.

“A week before a closely watched U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the issue, public support for gay marriage reached a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, with 61 percent of Americans – more than six in 10 for the first time – saying gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally.”

“Identical or similar majorities favor gay marriage on two key issues before the court: Sixty-one percent oppose allowing individual states to prohibit same-sex marriages. And 62 percent support requiring states to recognize gay marriages performed legally in other states.”

Diane Sawyer And Richard Nixon Start Off On Strange Note

April 23, 2015

This must have been most unsettling for Diane Sawyer.  And probably not so swell for President Nixon, either.

Sawyer may have lacked the political expertise, but she was eager to work inside the White House nonetheless. “I kind of looked at it as another horizon, something I’d never seen,” she says.

Looking back on her first moments with the Nixon administration, Sawyer adds that her job didn’t get off to the smoothest start.

“I was a doofus,” she says. “I knocked the president down my first week there! I actually physically knocked him down… I didn’t exactly know where I was, but I was bounding down the stairs, rounded the corner and knocked him flat.”

In an instant, the Secret Service had sprung into action. “The Secret Service hoists me up over him, like a tent,” Sawyer laughs. “I thought, ‘That’s it, forever.'”

But Sawyer wasn’t fired from the White House; she instead became a valuable staffer to Nixon — even if he didn’t quite know her name at first.

“He used to call me the ‘tall girl.’ ‘I saw that tall girl, ask her to research that thing,'” Sawyer says the president would remark. “That’s how it began, really.”


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