Hubert Dwane “Hoot” Hester Dead, Fiddler Extraordinaire, Grand Ole Opry Legend


Multi-instrumentalist Hubert Dwane “Hoot” Hester, 65, a master fiddler who played with legends ranging from Ray Charles to Earl Scruggs and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry staff band for more than a dozen years, has died.  Eleven months ago he was diagnosed with cancer.  For over 40 years he made music in Nashville.

Hester was born Aug. 13, 1951 on a small Kentucky farm near Louisville. He came from a musical family and began playing the fiddle as a child. He began his career as a professional musician during the early 1970s with The Whites. Upon relocating to Nashville in 1973, Hester found work backing Donna Fargo, Mel Tillis and others.

In addition to his work as a session musician, Hester played on multiple television shows, including “Nashville Alive” and “Pop Goes the Country.” When the program “Nashville Now” was created in the 1980s, Hester was hired to be the house band’s fiddler and utility player. That position, said WSM DJ and Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs, likely made Hester “the most visible fiddle player in America at that time: He was on television five nights a week.”

“He was always a positive person to be around,” Stubbs added. “He was a dependable person, a team player, and a tasteful musician. Whatever was required of him, he did it well.”

After “Nashville Now” went off the air in the mid-1990s, Hester spent time in Steve Wariner’s band and was one of the founding members of the Western Swing outfit The Time Jumpers. In 2000, he was hired as a member of the Opry staff band, where countless listeners heard his fiddle over the radio every weekend.

The Words From GOP Senator Margaret Chase Smith Still Work In Election 2016

After reading the speech from 1952 by GOP Senator Margaret Chase Smith I created the following meme.


“Morning Joe” Making News

First let me say my weekday mornings start with Morning Joe.  I really enjoy–and learn–from the assembled group who take on not only the headlines but tackle down into the issues and get to the ‘why’ of events.

This morning I posted on Facebook the very strong and vocal point Mika made about the absurdity of the Donald Trump campaign.

Mika on “Morning Joe” summed it up perfectly this morning concerning the Trump campaign. “We are just pretending to make up analysis of stupidity.” There is no seriousness to Trump or his campaign and it is a joke that thinking people try to make it seem real or somehow within reason by talking about it.

Now there is more news to report as Nielsen’s August ratings are out and show a significant upset in the cable news ratings wars.  MSNBC trounced CNN in prime time (8-11pm) among both total viewers and the key demo of adults 25-54. (FAUX News’ prime time programming is actually down in both categories year to year)

But in the morning show battle Morning Joe handily beat New Day for the 18th consecutive month and, for the third month in a row, Morning Joe deliver the biggest total audience for the 6-9am time period in MSNBC’s 20 year history.


Democrats In Line To Be Senate Majority Party

As the days pass there is more and more polling data to show that Democrats have a very good chance of becoming the majority party in the U.S. Senate.  With the GOP holding a 54-46 majority, Democrats need to pick up four Senate seats if they win the White House (because the vice president gets to break a 50-50 tie), and they need five seats if they don’t.

I am feeling very good about Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana switching to the Democratic Party.

In Pennsylvania there is strong evidence that Donald Trump is hurting GOP Senator Tommey.  Challenger Katie McGinty is coming on strong and shows the ability to take this right to Election Night.   I also have New Hampshire as a place where Trump huts far more than he helps the GOP incumbent.

Democrats can realistically get to four pickups and control of the Senate if Clinton wins the presidential race. But Nevada might be a key state because a GOP win there means Democrats will have to win another state elsewhere.   But I suspect by the time Nevada polls close Election Night we will already have the senate in our control.



John McCain And Debbie Wasserman Schultz Deserve Wins In Primaries Tuesday

As if we have not had enough primary excitement already this year the heat is being turned up again as Arizona and Florida will be the flashpoints on Tuesday as both parties prepare to make some news.  As readers know I am a liberal Democrat in the mold of Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.   In others words I have strong views on policy that also have a strong pragmatic underpinning.

Pragmatism is far too often set aside by extreme elements in both parties–and it is that very lack of pragmatism which is at the center of why I think the following candidates will win–and why their opponents will fail.

That is why I predict–and truly desire–Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to win their primaries tomorrow.  In each case there are separate reasons as to why I feel as I do.

There is no doubt I have differences with McCain on many domestic issues such as spending cuts, or his views on judicial appointments.  But it is also true I have been in strong agreement with him, such as his desire for being far tougher on Syrian President Assad.   McCain advocated for a no-fly zone at one point and a military message to Syria that no one would miss in what was being said.  He was right.

There needs to be members of the senate with institutional memory and deep insight into foreign policy–even though we may not always harken to their views.  Having educated and experienced people like that in government allows for a wider debate.   McCain offers that role to this nation and to put it plainly–even at those times when I strongly disagree with him—I want him at the table.

There is absolutely no way I desire in any shape, manner, or form the lightweight challenger to McCain, Kelli Ward, to be anywhere near the seat of power.  She is part of the national problem of angry voices and limited intellect.   Ward has misplaced bombast for reason and that disqualifies her for office.

Meanwhile in Florida Debbie Wasserman Schultz deserves to be re-nominated for congress.   If one takes her votes into account she is a solid liberal Democrat.  And being a Democrat she worked as DNC chair to make sure an actual member of the party was nominated for president.  While Hillary Clinton was a Democrat, Bernie Sanders was not.  Sanders could not prevail for a run for president without attempting a take-over of the party.  Schultz fought back and is now facing a challenge from Bernie Sanders disciple Tim Canova.

I come from the old school of politics that we dance with the one who brought us to the dance.  Bernie never paid his dues at the chicken dinner circuit over the years for Democrats and there was nothing owed to him from the DNC.  Schultz was right and she will not lose her seat because she did the correct thing for her party.

It should be noted that in her congressional district Clinton defeated Sanders 68%-31%.

Staying in Florida I am hoping that Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy prevails over Alan Grayson for the U.S. Senate nomination.   Grayson is a lose tire on a car going too fast.

Charles Osgood Leaving CBS Sunday Morning

It seems the voice of Charles Osgood has always been a part of the world we live in.   From his comments on radio (WBBM is where I hear him) to Sunday mornings on CBS.  But now after 22 years as anchor of CBS Sunday Morning, Osgood has announced that his final broadcast will be Sunday, Sept. 25th .  No successor has been announced. The final show in September will be a special 90-minute tribute to the man that many simply summed up, love.

CBS Sunday Morning is far and away the highest-rated Sunday morning news program on TV.  It should be noted that his show was growing at a time when many other shows have been shrinking. CBS News said he will continue to make occasional appearances on the program, however. And Osgood will continue to host his daily news commentaries for CBS Radio.  (Of which I am very pleased to know.)

Since its inception in 1979 CBS Sunday Morning has had only two perennial hosts.  Osgood and Charles Kuralt, the reporter-anchor also known for criss-crossing the United States for his “On the Road” segments. Upon taking over for Kuralt in 1994, Osgood kept many of the show’s traditions intact, including its long-form feature stories and idyllic shots of nature that conclude every broadcast

With Osgood in the anchor chair, the program won three daytime Emmys for outstanding morning program. Since he joined the network in 1971 Osgood had been a reporter and anchor for every broadcast on CBS.  That is simply one of the most amazing facts I found for this post.

Many will miss him, but the tone of his voice and his unique way of delivering his words and thoughts will always remain.

Do Americans Think Donald Trump Would Help Minorities?

From ABC News

Despite GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recent pitches for African-American and Hispanic support, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would do more to help minority communities if elected president.

ABC News together with our partners at SSRS survey research firm asked our online opinion panel about Trump’s recent appeals to minority voters.

Sixty-four percent said Clinton would do more for minority communities as president while 36 percent chose Trump.

Asked to give a one-word response to a video of one of Trump’s recent appeals to African-American and Hispanic voters.  56 percent reacted with a negative word, such as “liar,” “lies,” “disgusted,” or “stupid.” 

I suspect other responses are not printable.

Saudi Arabia And The Exporting Of Wahhabism

Over time I have often mentioned how important newspapers are to our awareness of the world and how we gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of the issues of the day from  their printed pages.  No news program on television allows the time to explore in depth–nor does the limited time allowed for news on radio.  Long formatted talk shows can delve into the matters such as that which I post about, but it is newspapers which continue to do the heavy lifting of reporting everyday.  By doing so they allow for the furthering of dialogue we need to be engaged in as citizens.

That is why I applaud reporter Scott Shane for his fantastically researched and well toned article on Saudi Arabia and the role that nation has played around the world due to the exporting of Wahhabism.   This is not the first time I have posted about the absurdity of Wahhabism, or the need for modernity within Islam as a whole.  I ponder like many whether the long arc of a reformation is underway within Islam, and the strong counter-reactions are but a part of the change.  Shane makes it clear that the decades of stressing Wahhabism by the Saudis has made for a chaotic world.

If you have time and interest please read the article. You will be better informed as a result.

There is a broad consensus that the Saudi ideological juggernaut has disrupted local Islamic traditions in dozens of countries — the result of lavish spending on religious outreach for half a century, estimated in the tens of billions of dollars. The result has been amplified by guest workers, many from South Asia, who spend years in Saudi Arabia and bring Saudi ways home with them. In many countries, Wahhabist preaching has encouraged a harshly judgmental religion, contributing to majority support in some polls in Egypt, Pakistan and other countries for stoning for adultery and execution for anyone trying to leave Islam.

And for a small minority in many countries, the exclusionary Saudi version of Sunni Islam, with its denigration of Jews and Christians, as well as of Muslims of Shiite, Sufi and other traditions, may have made some people vulnerable to the lure of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups. “There’s only so much dehumanizing of the other that you can be exposed to — and exposed to as the word of God — without becoming susceptible to recruitment,” said David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington who tracks Saudi influence.