Congratulations to Sadie on Westminster Victory

Congratulations to Sadie and the Musser family for Sadie’s victory as Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show yesterday. Dan and Amelia Musser  Sadie’s owners, also own Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. I have often seen Amelia Musser walking her dogs around Grand Hotel, and Sadie often gets to enjoy room service at the hotel.

Sadie appeared on Good Morning America today and she will be on MSNBC at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow to open the New York Stock Exchange. President Obama should also invite Sadie for a visit to the White House and a play date with Bo. It would be only fair to reciprocate as in August 2008 the Musser family kindly contributed the use of the Gate House restaurant on the grounds of Grand Hotel for a Mackinac for Obama fund raiser.

Dee Dee Bridgewater at Grand Hotel and More Sunday Jazz

Above, Alex Graham opening for Dee Dee Bridgewater at Labor Day Jazz at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Dee Dee Bridgewater preforming at Grand Hotel following outstanding reviews for her appearance at the Detroit International Jazz Festival on Saturday.


If I wasn’t here on Mackinac Island, I would catch this show starting in a few minutes in Detroit:

7:30 Sachal Vasandani: The young singer, schooled at the University of Michigan, has attracted strong notices for his easy and honest versatility that begins with jazz but doesn’t end there. His second album for Mack Avenue, “We Move,” is to be released next month.

Sachal Vasandani is pictured below delivering a toast in August at the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding of New York literary agent Joanne Brownstein and Steven Jarvi, Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony.


Dee Dee Bridgewater Performing at Grand Hotel Following Great Reviews in Detroit

Reviews were fantastic for Dee Dee Bridgewater’s performance at the Detroit International Jazz Festival on Saturday. She will be performing at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island this afternoon:

Jazz vocalist Bridgewater the best in the business

By Mark Stryker
Free Press Music Critic

When she is on her game, Dee Dee Bridgewater is the most commanding jazz singer on the planet. That’s a mouthful, of course, but her performance Saturday afternoon at the Detroit International Jazz Festival should settle any arguments.

Backed by a strong student big band from Michigan State University led by native Detroiter Rodney Whitaker, Bridgewater several arrangements from her late’ 90s recording honoring Ella Fitzgerald.

Songs like “Oh, Lady Be Good,” recast as a majestically swinging waltz, and the coquettish “Undecided” (both arranged by her former husband, Cecil Bridgewater), showed off all of her gifts: the honeyed clarity of her voice; the agility and accuracy that let her grab any note in any register that struck her fancy; a storyteller’s knack for drama; and a rhythmic authority that allowed her to swing taffy pull phrases or swoop down on a lyric like a hawk.

She took big risks and reaped big rewards, improvising freely and scat singing with an exuberance that never mortgages good taste.

But technique doesn’t begin to describe the dynamism she brought to the stage. Her presence was luscious — a combination of visuals, attitude and musicianship.

She wore a strapless black dress that accentuated her curves and a gossamer red wrap. Her pate was shaved, and her face sported a 1,000- kilowatt smile and ruby lipstick. Her patter was all sass, and, like her singing, toyed with the malleable border between flirtatiousness and salaciousness.

Conservatives Consider Pelosi and Jazz Unpatriotic

Yesterday I noted that even some conservatives are getting fed up with the nuttiness coming from the conservative movement. It would seem that other conservatives have responded by showing that they can be as nutty as they want. Here is the latest thing they are whining about in the wingnut universe:

Why Does Nancy Pelosi Have a Problem With Patriotic Music?

If you’ve ever been stuck on hold with a congressional office in the past, at least you’ve been able to enjoy some good patriotic music, as opposed to the lilting tones of generic smooth jazz that have been driving elevator users insane for decades. For years, congressional offices have played patriotic anthems as the background music during hold times.

Not any more. After we were startled by the hold music when we called a House office recently, sources on Capitol Hill informed us this week that the Democratic House leadership has made a sweeping decision that congressional offices now have the options of “smooth jazz” elevator music or no music at all.

Several other conservative blogs have taken up this cause. Don’t they realize how uniquely American jazz is? We might even use this to ask why conservatives hate America–but of course we won’t as we aren’t crazy like they are.

As bizarre as it is that they would make an issue of this, they apparently have been successful, thanks to one of our far right Republicans here in Western Michigan. Fred Upton has made an issue of this in Congress. Now that this is settled, wingnuts can go back to worrying about more important things, like fluoride in the water or what type of mustard Barack Obama puts on his hamburgers. Personally I’m about to go from Western Michigan to Mackinac Island for the Labor Day Jazz Weekend at Grand Hotel. I’ll be listening to Jazz under a row of flags at Grand Hotel. Does this look unpatriotic? (Photo from Jazz Weekend 2008).


Update: Think Progress has a more realistic account of the story than is being told on the right wing sites:

Here’s what happened: Congressional offices have traditionally been able to have a choice of music or no music. The CD that had been in the congressional muzak system for “a long time” was a “patriotic tunes CD.” The CAO’s office wanted to test a program giving people a choice of multiple CDs and decided to try out a jazz CD because it’s “what a lot of companies have when you’re on hold.” However, based on the feedback they received, they simply decided to go back to the old system.

Now the right wingers can go back to protesting the NAFTA superhighway or questioning Obama’s birth certificate.

Sarah Palin’s Fate And The Liberal Values Summer Office

Ok, this is really weird. I was up at the Liberal Values summer office at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island last year when John McCain first announced Sarah Palin’s name as his running mate. Last week we decided to come up to have what should be a spectacular pre-birthday party tonight and this trip unexpectedly turned out to also be related to Palin’s career. Sarah Palin has just announced her plans to step down as governor. Damn–now who will be keeping an eye on Russia for us?

We can only speculate as to why she suddenly announced this on a Friday of a holiday weekend (assuming she was not waiting until I got back to the Grand). Maybe this is part of a plan to begin campaigning very early for the 2012 nomination–although an early start certainly did not help John Edwards. She will hardly reassure those who believe she is not qualified for national office by running with less than a full term as governor of Alaska as experience.

Maybe she is resigning because of the way she has played fast and loose with the law, with a bigger scandal being about to break. Resignation is one way to generally prevent impeachment.  I’ll be back at Grand Hotel for a long Labor Day weekend–maybe we will have an indictment by then.

Incidentally there is another connection to the Republicans with our trips to the Grand. While I was in the same suite on the day when  John Kerry chose John Edwards in 2004 and John McCain chose Sarah Palin last year, as this was a suddenly planned brief trip it was too late to get our usual suite. Instead they placed us in the Eisenhower Suite. The last time we wound up in a different room from our usual suite we were in the Nancy Reagan Suite. In some ways the Eisenhower suite is preferable. The walls are pink in here, while the Nancy Reagan Suite is very bright red.

While these two suites are tied to the Republican Party, last summer I just missed a Democratic event. A few days before coming up last summer there was a Mackinac Island for Obama event. There is also another connection to both the Democrats and scandal and our trips here. One time when we were also up for a second time the same summer and did not get our usual suite we checked out who was staying there. We saw Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow coming out of the suite we generally stay in. Her use of the room (presumably with her husband) was the first thing I thought of when her husband was later caught with a hooker outside of Detroit.

Housekeeping Notes

I’m heading out to the Liberal Values summer office for a long weekend (ie returning to Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island) so posting will probably be lighter. Hopefully the recent problems with moderation picking up far more than it should have been fixed so comments should continue to provide weekend entertainment. As long as the WiFi is working ok I should be posting intermittently.

I can’t resist a note on the June traffic numbers. Last year there was a huge increase in traffice as the primary campaign heated up. This calmed down by May when it appeared that Obama was going to win (plus blog  traffic always tends to decrease as the weather gets warmer). Traffic picked up again September through January for the general election campaign and inauguration. (Interest at the end of football season in posts with pictures of girls rumored to be dating Tim Tebow also picked up traffic.) While down from the election, traffic began to pick up again later in the spring. June turned out to be the fourth heaviest month ever (and wasn’t very far behind November 2008). June traffice was also up 35% from last year.

Obama and McCain Tie In TV Audience for Acceptance Speeches

Now that the PBS numbers have been included in the ratings it looks like a tie between the audiences watching the acceptance speeches by Barack Obama and John McCain with each estimated at having 42.4 million viewers. There is no count for C-SPAN. Obama’s speech was also given at the start of a holiday weekend, possibly reducing his audience. (I watched with a small group in our suite at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island as we knocked off a bottle of Bailey’s. Thanks to picking up a Slingbox bofore leaving on vacation I also managed to catch other parts of the convention on line over my Palm while out of the room.)

Fox had the highest ratings for the Republican convention while CNN had the highest ratings for the Democratic convention. Bill O’Reilly received his second highest ratings ever for the first night of his interview with Obama.

Interest of this magnitude in the race is encouraging, suggesting large numbers will also follow the campaign through the fall. Hopefully they will also watch critically, noticing that John McCain’s new slogan might be “American First, Truth Second.” has exposed many of the untrue statements in McCain’s acceptance speech. McCain has distorted the truth so badly about Obama’s proposals that even Fox News has pointed out McCain’s dishonesty on two occasions that I’m aware of.

Jazz Time

As has been the case each year at this time since before the birth of Liberal Values, this is time to head up to our northern Michigan offices. Liberal Values will once again be coming from the Jazz Weekend at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. (OK, so I’m heading up a couple days early. They will still be playing jazz in some of the bars). Unfortunately I’m a couple days too late for the Mackinac Island for Obama fund raiser at The Gate House. I will make sure to work in Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night, and Michigan’s opening game on Saturday. (We won’t talk about what happened the last time Michigan opened the season while I was at Grand Hotel).

This means that for the next several days posting might be down from usual. I’m certain to be on line from time to time. Our suite has a desk along a circular stretch of windows which gives a panoramic view of Mackinac Island and the Straits of Mackinac. Sitting there and blogging from time to time is certainly not a hardship. To appreciate the atmosphere in which the blog will be written, I do recommend that readers put on a jazz CD while reading the blog–and sipping a glass of wine might not be a bad idea.

And yes, this is elitist. If any PUMA members object while I’m drinking wine or cocktails at the nightly receptions on Grand Hotel’s porch with everything from cheese and crackers to shrimp, you are welcome to sit on your porch with a can of beer and some Cheese Whiz. Do you think that is how Bill and Hillary will be spending their weekend?

Mackinac Island for Obama

I was quite surprised upon looking at a copy of the Mackinac Island Town Crier which arrived today. There is a half page ad for a fund raiser for Barack Obama which includes the names of some people who I would not expect to be supporting a Democrat for president. The Mussers, owners of Grand Hotel, have even contributed the use of The Gate House restaurant for the event. (For the benefit of those who have been to the island in the past but not recently, this was the French Outpost until purchased by Grand Hotel in 2005).

The event is to be held on Monday, August 25 from 4-6 pm (which unfortunately is a couple of days before I will be arriving for the Labor Day Jazz Weekend at Grand Hotel). Further contact information is available in the ad.

Maybe I overestimated how Republican some of the people on the island are. Perhaps the backers of the event include former Republicans who, like much of the country, are now disenchanted with GOP rule. I also wonder if some are opposing McCain due to his role in blocking the renewal of the H2B visa exemptions which resulted in preventing many people who have worked on the island for years from returning to work this summer. If this is the case and Michigan business owners are considering this issue, perhaps Michigan is not in play to the extent that many Republicans believe this year.

McCain Caught by Media on Accusing Obama Of One Of His Faults

John McCain has gotten away with a lot thanks to a friendly news media. His untrue claims of flip-flopping by Obama have often been repeated by media with few reporters noting that it is actually McCain who has flip-flopped repeatedly for political expediency. Today there was a rare exception. CNN actually bothered to fact-check a claim from McCain. McCain criticized Obama for failing to be present for the vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment on September 26, 2007. They checked the record and also found that McCain was not present for the same vote he criticized Obama for missing.

Just as McCain is in a poor position to accuse anyone of flip-flopping, he is in a particularly poor position to criticize anyone for being absent for votes. While all presidential candidates tend to miss many votes, McCain is setting the record. McCain has missed 61.8% of the votes cast, exceeding even the number missed by Tim Johnson following a cerebral hemorrhage. By comparison Obama has missed 43.5% of the votes.

Another difference is that while all politicians must miss votes while out campaigning, McCain has used this as a means to avoid taking a stand on the issues. Most candidates at least announce how they would vote on votes they have missed. The most recent example of McCain avoiding taking a stand was on the Medicare vote earlier this week. Not only was McCain the only Senator to miss this key vote, he failed to respond to questions as to where he stood.

I’ve particularly noticed this tendency from McCain as the Medicare vote was the second time McCain’s has used such tactics on matters which affect me personally. Here in Michigan (and I’m sure in other states) visas for temporary workers are significant for the summer tourist industry. Every summer I go to Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island once or twice, and seeing the Jamaicans we have known for years is a major part of the trip. (The hotel is best known to those outside of Michigan as the site of the movie Somewhere in Time.) I’m afraid that those who do not frequent such resorts would not understand the significance of the friendships which can develop over the years. These are people who have seen my daughter grow up from a baby, and she runs to visit some of them even before we are checked in. Last week two different ones called to wish my wife a happy birthday, knowing that many other years we have celebrated her birthday there. It was major news in Michigan when many of the employees could not return this year due to a lapse in the law which allowed them to return for the summer with H2B visas. One reason for this turned out to be that John McCain blocked the immigration legislation which contained the H2B exemptions as he did not to vote on an immigration bill which could become a political issue this year.

There are numerous other examples, but the Medicare and immigration bills were the two which I paid the most attention to. Undoubtedly many in the news media realize that avoiding taking a stand has become common for the supposedly straight talking John McCain. This time CNN even made a point of it when he tried to accuse Obama of what he is actually guilty of. Hopefully this is just the start of the media holding McCain responsible for his statements.