Grand Ole Opry Used In Argument On Floor Of United States Senate

This made me smile

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Thursday joined Senate Republicans in a colloquy on the floor of the Senate to address the “Senate’s Democratic leadership for not producing a budget or considering appropriations bills.” Senator Alexander said coming “to the Senate and not being allowed to vote on appropriations bills is like being invited to join the Grand Ole Opry and not being allowed to sing.”

Alexander knows a thing or two about music, and the famed Grand Ole Opry.


About seven years ago I audited a course at the UW on Russian history.  Surrounded by 20-year-olds I offered a general comment on the first day about the role kremlinologists played while I was growing up.  The professor having a birds’ eye view of the class stopped me mid-thought upon seeing the questioning look on the faces of the younger students, and defined the term.

Truth is as a teenager I thought being a Russian scholar and perhaps working in the state department as a kremlinologist would be rather exciting.  I have always enjoyed better understanding governments that seem so cloaked in mystery.  The Kremlin has always been such a place.

That memory came back this afternoon after reading of the latest twists and turns taking place in Russia was it undergoes “de-Medvedevization”.

On Thursday, lawmakers began the process of revisiting yet another modest change from Mr. Medvedev’s constrained presidency: his decision last year to end the practice of changing the time twice a year, moving Russia permanently to summer time. The bill’s sponsor did not mince words, saying Mr. Medvedev’s decision was “absolutely unacceptable for a huge part of” Russia.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, journalists could tell a political figure had fallen out of favor by deciphering a sort of bureaucratic code: an article in Pravda would appear, pointing at “drawbacks” in his rule, or his spot on the Red Square receiving line would drift toward the back. If it got really bad, he would be airbrushed out of group photographs.       

While it has not reached that point for Mr. Medvedev, the four and a half months since he left the presidency have brought a pointed departure from the course he set. The words “reset” or “modernization” are seldom mentioned, privatization of state-owned companies is in doubt and the direct gubernatorial elections Mr. Medvedev reinstated as a parting gesture have been weakened by the insertion of a Kremlin-controlled screening process for the candidates.       

Criticism of Mr. Medvedev has begun to appear in mainstream outlets. Thursday’s news about the time change seemed like more of the same. “So in winter it will not get light an hour later, and in summer it will get dark an hour earlier — all this with only one goal: so that Mr. Medvedev, greeting the early dusk, will remember that he is nobody,” wrote the journalist Mikhail Fishman on Facebook.

Best Quote In Today’s Newspaper From Rahm Emanuel

A great read about President Obama’s China policy in this morning’s newspaper included a great quote from Rahm Emanuel.  ( More on news quotes here.)

At the center of the internal debate on China was a president, who despite being born in Hawaii and spending childhood years in Indonesia, is less beguiled by China’s history and culture than many of his predecessors were, aides said. Once in office, they said, Mr. Obama came to view China primarily through an economic prism. He is angry at what he sees as Beijing’s refusal to play by the rules in trade, and frustrated by the United States’ lack of leverage to do anything about it.

It is little surprise that Mr. Obama would look east. The president’s Asia, however, lies not on the wind-swept ramparts of the Great Wall of China but in the tropical swelter of Singapore and Indonesia. He identifies more with the languid rhythms of Jakarta, aides say, than with the crackling energy of Shanghai.       

An adviser recalled a breakfast at a summit meeting in Toronto in 2010 that Mr. Obama shared with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, which was so relaxed and serene that afterward the president’s hyperactive chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told him, “Now I see what your Asianness is about.”

Trivia: Jimmy Carter Sets A Record

From today’s Wisconsin State Journal

A little over a week ago, Jimmy Carter became not the oldest, but the  longest-surviving former president. As of Sept. 8, Carter had survived his  presidency by 11,554 days, one day more than former President Herbert  Hoover.

Carter, like Hoover, has the advantage of being a one-term president, but  unlike Hoover, Carter continues to add to his record.

Might I add that Jimmy Carter is one of the best examples of what life can provide after a major defeat or loss.  After being voted out of the White House Carter became an international problem solver, thinker, writer.   Carter has made a difference in the world, and one can only hope for many more years for this remarkable person.


‘After-The-Fact Quote Approval’ Needs To Be Flushed

The New York Times can be the leader on this issue, one that had allowed the journalism horse and cart to be switched around.

In a nutshell The New York Times told its reporters not to engage in “after-the-fact quote approval” with sources.  This rather strange practice of news sources being allowed to approve quotations in stories after the fact allowed for all sorts of chicanery, especially from politicians.

The fact is that allowing sources to control the quote, in some cases allows for the tone and content of a story to be altered or skewered.  If a source can not talk to a reporter without having the final say as to whether a quote is approved for publication is just not in the best interest of the news consumer.  It certainly is not in the best interest of the journalism profession.

A directive was issued to Time’s reporters that the ‘quote approval’ will no longer be allowed for the nation’s most famed newspaper.

I am very proud of The New York Times for leading on this issue.

While this matter has been much discussed over the years as a way to limit ‘the blind quote’ which many reporters are uncomfortable with, and readers seem to view with suspicion, there is no way that a journalist should turn over the approval of a quote to a source that has many reasons to wish it not be printed.

Steps such as this one taken by NYT is yet another effort to bind the newsroom with the readers they inform and educate.  Every time such a move is made it demonstrates the respect news operations show to their readers/viewers and adds yet another layer of credibility to their news product.