Torn between two lovers: Strange story and the perfect blues song to go with it

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I hate it when this happens.

 

Blues song, dedicated to the miscreant’s wife.

“Another Mule Kickin’ in Your Stall,” is supposed to be metaphorical.

In this case, though, it’s all-too-real. Elvin Bishop does a great, laid-back version of this Muddy Waters song. There are several great versions, if you are interested. Junior Wells has a fine rendition, featuring his harmonica. So does the great blues piano player, Otis Spann, here. Bobby “Blue” Bland does a growling version here.

Let’s go with Elvin’s easy, wistful version.

ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, April 24

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 French elections: For the first time in modern history, both main parties were defeated in first round; Centrist Emmanuel Macron faces right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen in the May 7 final ballot.  

This from France 24:

French centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen have qualified for the second round in the French presidential election with 23.7 percent and 21.7 percent of the vote respectively.

  • Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen have qualified for the second round of the French presidential election, according to early results.
  • French President François Hollande has called Macron to congratulate him.
  • Conservative leader François Fillon conceded defeat and called on supporters to vote Macron
  • Socialist Party candidate Benoît Hamon, who got just 6.2% of the vote, said he took full responsibility for the election drubbing. –France 24

The Associated Press says:

French voters shut out the country’s political mainstream from the presidency for the first time in the country’s modern history, and on Monday found themselves being courted across the spectrum for the runoff election.

The May 7 runoff will be between the populist Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, and French politicians on the moderate left and right immediately urged voters to block Le Pen’s path to power. . . .

Both center-right and center-left fell in behind Macron, whose optimistic vision of a tolerant France and a united Europe with open borders is a stark contrast to Le Pen’s darker, inward-looking “French-first” platform that calls for closed borders, tougher security, less immigration and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.

European stock markets surged on the open as investors welcomed the first-round results, with Macron favored to win. German Chancellor Angela Merkel wished Macron “all the best for the next two weeks.”–AP

Big week coming in Washington: Looming deadline to avoid government shutdown, Trump promises to roll out tax-reform plan this week, and the negotiations on health care continue.  Fox News report here.

The Hill reports that “Top Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms” Democrats say that is a deal-breaker for them.

Comment: I don’t see a Republicans willing to risk a shutdown for it, either. At least a significant number in both the House and Senate will think it’s the wrong fight right now.

 Krauthammer on US leverage in the North Korea crisis  (National Review Online)

His main arguments:

  • It is not a fake crisis.
    • He argues (as I did here last week) that North Korea is headed for a nuclear breakout that would be irreversible.
    • He fears that deterrence might not work because we cannot be sure the Kim Regime is rational.
  • The US has strong cards to play, short of war, by pressuring China. As Krauthammer puts it:
  • Chinese interests are being significantly damaged by the erection of regional missile defenses to counteract North Korea’s nukes. South Korea is racing to install a THAAD anti-missile system. Japan may follow. THAAD’s mission is to track and shoot down incoming rockets from North Korea but, like any missile shield, it necessarily reduces the power and penetration of the Chinese nuclear arsenal.
  • For China to do nothing risks the return of the American tactical nukes in South Korea, which were withdrawn in 1991.
  • If the crisis deepens, the possibility arises of South Korea and, most important, Japan going nuclear themselves. The latter is the ultimate Chinese nightmare. These are major cards America can play.

Our objective should be clear: At a minimum, a testing freeze. At the maximum, regime change. –Charles Krauthammer at National Review Online

 Venezuela meltdown, on edge of civil war

The NYT headline is “Armed Civilian Bands in Venezuela Prop Up Unpopular President

Comment: The word “leftist” appears for the first time in paragraph 5. The word “socialist” first appears in paragraph 19, referring to Hugo Chávez “vision of a Socialist revolution to transform Venezuela’s poor neighborhoods.”

No word yet from political analysts Sean Penn or Danny Glover.

 “Union chief asks public to withhold judgment on American Airlines flight attendant”  (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

The attendant is

accused of “violently” snatching away a baby stroller from a mother, inadvertently hitting her with the stroller and narrowly missing her small child on a Dallas-bound flight from San Francisco on Friday. –Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Comment: “We know you have a choice of airlines to smash your head in. We’re glad you chose ours.” 

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ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, April 23

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 French head to polls in first round of Presidential election amid tight security. (France 24) The four candidates offer starkly different paths forward. ZipDialog will discuss the two finalists after they are chosen.

Comment: The stakes go well beyond France. They involve the future of the EU, NATO, immigration, and the economy. Several candidates have ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia, as well.

 A memory from the 1950s: Producer who rigged quiz shows dies at age 95  (New York Times) Now, for $64,000, can you name that producer?

Albert Freedman, the producer who was pushed by a competing program’s sponsor (Geritol), to find a more appealing figure to appear as winner. He found Charles Van Doren, told him how the scheme would work, and got him to come on Freedman’s program, “Twenty-One.”

Comment: What Freedman and Van Doren did was standard show biz tinsel–costume jewelry presented as diamonds. But it was the honest 1950s and the quiz shows were being presented as authentic, so its discovery created a huge national scandal.

 In a successful operation, the Surgeon General is removed, replaced temporarily by his deputy  (Washington Post) No side effects.

The removed physician, Vivek Murthy, was a controversial appointment because the biggest item on his c.v. was his political support for Obama.

The interim replacement is Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams.

Comment: Trump’s political opponents think the frontrunner is Dr. Nick Riviera.

 Headline of the Day: “Florida state senator who resigned over racial slur hired former Playboy, Hooters models (Fox News)

The Florida state senator who resigned this week after using a racial slur previously hired a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model with no political experience to be consultants for his political action committee.

The PAC for Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican, hired the women last year and paid them a total $3,500, The Miami Herald reported Saturday, based on state records. –Fox News, based on Miami Herald reporting

Comment: Gee, I wonder why you would hire the beautiful women with no political experience as consultants? Hmmmm.

 The Palestinian Authority pays a monthly salary to the families of terrorists who kill innocents. It is their standard policy. Their favorite targets are Jews. The money, of course, comes from western donor governments, who have not insisted that this stop or that their official school textbooks stop their deadly incitement and remove vicious anti-Semitic materials.

Comment: Beyond shameful. Morally disgusting–both for the Palestinian Authority (of course) and for the donor governments who say nothing. They know their money is fungible, and they know the P.A. is directly subsidizing terrorism, yet they say little and do not insist on a change.

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 Much appreciation to Israel Pickholtz for his information about the Quiz Show Scandals (now updated) and his clarifying question about the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists.

 

Bad Vibes: Another Goofy Crime Story

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Headline in Canada’s National Post:

Ontario woman told sex shop clerk she had HIV before lunging at him with needle and stealing vibrators

[Naomi] Shawana fled the store with both vibrators (the second was worth about $100) and left the area in a waiting taxi — her means of getting to the store. –National Post

Comment: “I received an unusually large tip,” said the taxi driver, “after bringing the trip to completion.”

ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, April 22

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 There are four big, dangerous big international stories:

  1. Reports that China is squeezing North Korean gasoline supplies
    • If true, Beijing is sending an unmistakable signal
  2. Reports that Iran has a secret new facility to develop nuclear triggers for its future bombs
    • The report comes from a dissident group that has been accurate in the past (story here)
  3. French elections Sunday that could undermine the European integration project
    • Two of the four major candidates in Sunday’s election will go into the runoff
    • Three candidates have Russian backing
    • Two of those could undermine the European integration project and pull France out of its (partial) NATO membership
    • The implications of those withdrawals would be grave and would transform European and world politics . . . for the worse
  4. Turkey’s Erdogan using a fraudulent vote count to seize all power in his country

    • Ataturk’s project, begun a century ago, was to create a secular state
    • It never became a full democracy, but it was not a full dictatorship, either
    • Erdogan, who is fundamentally reversing Ataturk’s project, has “coup-proofed” his military, taken control of the judiciary, and a diminished role for the legislature
    • To complete this consolidation of power, he will have to repress a restive population and hold together a country on the verge of splitting apart

These are obviously not “one-day stories,” and ZipDialog will stay with them and highlight what’s most important about them as they unfold.

 Pyongyang, North Korea: Gas stations sharply restrict purchases, suggesting China is reducing supplies  (Fox News)

China would not confirm or deny.

It is the main source of North Korea’s energy.

Comment: For China, the difficult task is to get a stubborn Pyongyang to change policies without breaking the regime, which is not in China’s interest. Doing too little risks deeper American involvement, which is not in China’s interest either.

 Michigan doctor, wife arrested for (allegedly) conspiring to perform female genital mutilation  (Fox News)

According to the criminal complaint, some of Attar’s victims, ranging from ages 6 to 8, are believed to have traveled interstate to have the procedure performed.

Female genital mutilation is prevalent in some majority Muslim countries and is sometimes called “cleansing” by its practitioners. It involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, often performed without anesthesia. It is designed to ensure females remain virgins until marriage.

According to a 2013 census by the Population Reference Bureau, approximately 500,000 women and girls in the United States have undergone the procedure or are at risk of the procedure–Fox News

The Los Angeles Times reports:

International health authorities say female genital mutilation has been performed on more than 200 million girls, primarily in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. –LA Times

 The inside story from lawyers who brought down Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes before him  (Washington Post)

The accuser was wavering. She wanted to go public . . . but Perquita Burgess was afraid, her attorney Lisa Bloom said.

The attorney worked hard to convince Burgess to go public, asking her explicitly to do what Rosa Parks had done. Then, according to the WaPo

[Bloom] also explained to her client in stark terms what she hoped to accomplish: “The mission was to bring down Bill O’Reilly.” –Washington Post

 American Airlines: Video of flight attendant who “whacks a mother with a stroller while she holds her twin babies and reduces her to tear” (Daily Mail)

Comment: This is why market competition is so great. First, United Airlines drags a passenger off the plane. Well, in a cutthroat market, you cannot expect American Airlines to stand still. It’s great to see them step up their game and start smacking around their customers, too. They must be poaching some of the ace customer-service folks from United.

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Constituents clueless about the Constitution: Activists shout down a PRAYER at a town hall meeting

Jack Bergman is a retired Marine General, now representing Michigan’s first congressional district. A lifetime of serious service to his country.

Like most representatives, he holds town halls during Congressional breaks–and takes the questions and, sometimes, the heat.

Republicans like Bergman are getting a lot of heat, much of it organized and funded by left-wing groups.

That could be free speech–the right to speak and assemble, the right to pose hard questions to their elected representative.

Or it could be the opposite of free speech–denying others the right to speak and question their representative

That denial is exactly what protesters from the leftist group “Indivisible” did at Bergman’s town hall.

The group, Indivisible, sprang up in December with a “practical guide to resisting the Trump Agenda.”

Rep. Bergman’s town hall began with a prayer, led by a pastor. Nothing unusual there. Many meetings in the Midwest and South begin that way. As President Obama put it so sympathetically and eloquently, “They get bitter. They cling to guns or religion.” (Guardian) Apparently, Indivisible has the same charitable view.

It’s a free country, pardner, think whatever you want. Unfortunately, Indivisible goes further–and that is not okay. In fact, it tramples on others’ freedoms:  

Protesters from the organizing group “Indivisible” started a congressional town hall meeting off on a contentious note when they heckled a minister offering the opening prayer.

Congressman Jack Bergman was holding a meeting with constituents in Gaylord, Michigan on Thursday.

As Grace Baptist Church Assistant Pastor Dr. Derek Hagland began a prayer, several in the crowd shouted “separation of church and state” loudly, drowning out the pastor’s words. –The American Mirror (article here)

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Besides violating the First Amendment while ostensibly defending it, Indivisible fundamentally misunderstands the concept of “separation of church and state,” whose purpose is not to prevent a public displays of religion at voluntary events but to prevent the state establishing one religion or prohibiting another.

Btw, the phrase “separation of church and state” is not a constitutional one. It came some years later, in Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists. In the brief letter (here), he was giving his interpretation of the First Amendment language that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

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There are legitimate disagreements about how far the state should go in limiting religious practices that conflict with other laws or rights.

This case, however, is not one of them. Not by a long shot. If a congressman wants to begin his town hall with a prayer, that’s his right and it is the right of his constituents to pray, not pray, or perhaps consider it an additional reason to vote for or against the congressman.

But it is not there right to prevent the prayer or shout down others who are not harming them.

To put it bluntly, the people who did this are not just bullies. They are idiots.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, April 21

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 ISIS terror in Paris’ Champs-Élysées

Comment: Why would Islamic terrorists strike so close to the election, in such prominent spot? What’s the logic?

They surely know it will increase support for the most hardline anti-Islam candidates. They must calculate that such candidates will strengthen their own radical basic in poor, bitter, poorly-integrated areas in France and across Europe. That is, they want to drive a wedge between French Muslims and the rest of the country, hoping the Muslims will then side with ISIS.

The high-profile attack also signals strength to their supporters around the world. They are saying, in effect, that we may be losing their territorial Caliphate in Iraq/Syria, but we can still cause death and destruction to the Infidels. Of course, all non-Muslims and perhaps even Muslims who are not in ISIS are infidels.

Meanwhile, Europe itself is in the midst of a cultural, political, and organizational crisis, besieged on several fronts with no clear leaders and confusion over what to do about Islamic immigrants, Russia, the EU, and Turkey.

 US intel agencies reexaming leaks, could indict Julian Assange and WikiLeaks (CBS)

They are also engaged in a major hunt for the sources of multiple devastating releases of information, some to WikiLeaks, some to news outlets.

 VERY prominent financial exec says there are “some warning signs [in the economy] that are getting darker” (Bloomberg)

The comments came from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager (over $5 trillion). Fink stressed how much depends on corporate earning and political action in Washington.

The stock market needs validation that U.S. corporate earnings will stay strong and that the policies of President Donald Trump regarding taxes, regulation and infrastructure will advance in Congress in order to move higher, Fink said.

“If we don’t have earnings validated in these higher P/Es [price/earnings ratios] we could adjust downward 5 or 10 percent from here,” Fink said. “If the administration does succeed on some of these items then the market will then reassert itself going higher.” –Larry Fink, interviewed by Bloomberg News

 Fine piece on the Mississippi Delta blues, local food, and other attractions in Clarksdale and points south  (Jackson, MS, Clarion-Ledger)

It comments on the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, and a lifelong favorite of mine, Chamoun’s Rest Haven (Lebanese food) in Clarksdale.

Comment: The omission of Abe’s Bar-B-Q is a serious error of omission that should be corrected immediately by the Clarion-Ledger.

People don’t go to Abe’s for the view or white table cloths. They go for some serious pulled-pork sandwiches.

In other Mississippi news: Gov. Phil Bryant vetoes a budget line-item spending $50,000 on a PR campaign telling people wild hogs are dangerous. His point: they are dangerous, but you should already know that unless you are an idiot. He was more polite.

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