Monday, August 31, 2009

We'll Meet Again . . . Again!

UPDATE: AND AGAIN! 09/13 -- Sweet! The Telegraph reports that Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces' Sweetheart, has now hit Number One on the Album charts in Great Britain -- at 92, she is obviously the oldest person to have ever achieved such an honor, for her recent CD release, We'll Meet Again - The Very Best of Vera Lynn.

From the story by Ben Leach:
The 92-year-old has now usurped Bob Dylan as the oldest artist to grace the number one position after her album We'll Meet Again - The Very Best of Vera Lynn went straight to the top of the charts.

Her album outsold artists including the Arctic Monkeys, Jamie T and the Kings of Leon, and beat The Beatles' much-hyped remastered editions.
Update: 09/14 -- Mark Steyn weighs in on this remarkable story of a lady whose song became an upbeat war anthem for the British. Written in 1939 by Hughie Charles and Ross Parker. He describes how it came to be recorded by young Vera Lynn.
Its slightly stodgy optimism is quintessentially British. In that summer of '39, they passed it to the bandleader Ambrose, who'd taken on a young singer called Vera Lynn. She'd sung with the Charlie Kunz orchestra and had made a solo record of a leaden novelty called "Up The Wooden Hill To Bedfordshire". But Hughie Charles considered Vera "a very nice kid" and thought "We'll Meet Again" would be right for her. So Ambrose worked up an arrangement and, as Dame Vera told me a few years back, audiences responded to it immediately, and it quickly became her sign-off song - especially when she landed her own BBC radio show a few months into the war. "We'll Meet Again" made Vera Lynn a star.
The irony was, as you'll learn from the recent BBC interview below, Vera Lynn thought sure the outbreak of war, 70 years ago this month, would spell the immediate end of her brief 15 year career. (That's right -- she had begun singing in clubs at age 7!) So with that brief taste of Mark's new post, here's hoping you'll read the entire thing. That was just a teaser. Mark's post is simply indispensible for a full understanding of the musical history setting.

(Our original post from August 31st) -- The Daily Mail reports that the World War II "Forces' Sweetheart," Vera Lynn is back on the British music charts with a "best of" CD, at the tender age of 92, and breaking her way into the Top 20! Likewise, it is reported by the Times OnLine. UPDATE: A BBC interview with her about it.

The following are the opening few grafs of the Daily Mail story, "Dame Vera Lynn storms into the top 20 with her CD of timeless tunes - making her more popular than rockers U2"

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:43 AM on 31st August 2009

Dame Vera Lynn yesterday became the oldest living artist to make it into the Top Twenty.

At the age of 92, she entered the albums chart with We'll Meet Again - The Very Best of Vera Lynn.

The album was released to coincide with the 70th anniversary on Thursday of the declaration of war.

Entering the charts at number 20, she overtook U2, the Stone Roses and Eminem.

A spokesman for her record company Decca said: 'She has proven that music of this vintage and significance can still resonate with the British public.'

The forces sweetheart kept up the spirits of millions of Britons with her songs and personality during the Second World War.
. . . .

Dame Vera Lynn was one of the truly great inspirational stars during World War II, who frequently entertained the troops in the field throughout the war, and often at personal risk.

In her case, Vera was already a veteran of that role when the United States actually entered hostilities in December of 1941, having also had a radio series beginning in 1940 called "Sincerely Yours."

She even undertook a trip to Burma, described in a book review of her newest memoir, Some Sunny Day.
At her own request she went to Burma, travelling on troop ships, in army trucks and on military aircraft. She doesn’t seem to have minded the discomforts at all. She’s almost cheerful when recollecting how she’d scoop her food "from under the solid layer of flies".

Lynn entertained audiences of thousands in the humidity and blazing heat, yet what she never forgot was that "what they needed was a contact from home rather than a concert".
UPDATE: In a very recent interview with the BBC, (ht: Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man) just a week ago on August 24th at the National Theater, Vera said, when asked, that the trip to Burma was the one memory of hers that really stood out. (Please watch. It is a wonderful video and interview, but embedding has unfortunately been disabled.) Here is how she responded to the BBC interviewer:
"For me, my visit to Burma, to be with the boys that were fighting out there because they were the 'forgotten 14th'** and it was wonderful to be able to actually be there and sing some of the songs, and take a little bit of home for this is what they wanted."
Back in February of this year, an article in the Guardian about the upcoming release of her latest memoir also noted the remarkable honor accorded her in the year 2000 --
"In 2000, a nationwide poll voted her the person who "most represents the spirit of the last century". No names were suggested to those taking part in the survey, but she won 21 per cent of the votes."
This lovely lady earned the affections of all of the Allies, one of the heartiest and bravest generations of all time. Anywhere. Ever.

One of her songs, and a title track on her new album, was the 1939 hit, "We'll Meet Again," (lyrics by Hughie Charles, music composed by Ross Parker) and a film by the same name in 1943, in which Lynn starred as singer named "Peggy Brown."

The song expressed in a simple way the enduring hope of returning that each soldier, sailor or airman embraced, as they went off to war. It also spoke to the emotions that their loved ones no doubt felt as well -- the hope that they would return alive.

Lynn recorded a whole series of songs over time, but if there was one that was her signature song it was that 1939 classic. Here is an extraordinary and rare recording of her singing the song to -- and as you can hear with -- the RAF.

There is no specific date indicated in this video, which was posted at YouTube last year by someone with the screen name and Channel, Old Shep80YearsOld.* But the track clearly reflects the early, almost quaint state of the audio technology at the time. And it also reflects the enthusiasm of the British flyers for her, and for this song.

A few examples of other songs she popularized at the time were her 1940 recording of, "The White Cliffs of Dover," an adapted Spanish song, in 1941, entitled "Yours," "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square," and another 1941 song, "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire." Toward the end of the war, she recorded, "When The Lights Go On Again."

During the 1950s, Vera Lynn became the initial trend-setter here in the United States for a generation of British musical stars to follow. She was very popular with American audiences. One of her songs of that era was, "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart."

To me, one intriguing thing about the song "We'll Meet Again," that may have lent to its immense popularity, was that it cleverly turned back on itself right in the lyrics . . . as if it was timeless!

And so it was . . . and so it is!
. . .
So, will you please say hello,
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won't be long.

They'll be happy to know,
That as you saw me go,
I was singing this song!
. . .
Few people today appreciate how much we all owe to folks like this wonderful and courageous lady. Let's just hope that her revival in Great Britain will trigger a corresponding fond recollection of her contributions here in the United States.

Her version was later (1964) featured in what was viewed as an ironic juxtaposition with exploding nuclear weapons at the end of the Stanley Kubrick film, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

Here was Vera Lynn at the age of 77, singing a few of her standards, including "We'll Meet Again," on board the QE2, some 15 years ago in 1994, during the 50th anniversary commemoration ceremonies of the D-Day landing, June 6, 1944. Her husband, musician Harry Lewis, died a few years later in 1998. They were married way back in 1939.

Recently, she made a bit of news herself, raising a few questions regarding what the current fight is about in Afghanistan. Well, if she stirs up a bit of controversy, good for her. She's certainly entitled.

Regardless, it is surely some sunny day!

# # # # #

* The channel indicates his name is Theo, from the Netherlands, who is now 81 years old. He has posted several WW II era clips on his channel, OldShep80YearsOld at YouTube.


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Monday, August 24, 2009

Kinda Catchy, No?

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Webpost!

Update, below:
President Obama took an oath of office pursuant to Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight of the United States Constitution, to wit:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Now, you really have to wonder how that portion of his obligation to "preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" which, of course, includes protecting our Freedom of Speech, squares with him officially encouraging people to "snitch" on their fellow citizens to faceless political operatives in his Office because someone may have said something "fishy" about health insurance reform!

As we are all well aware, the very First Amendment to our Constitution, contained in a bill passed in the First Congress by then-Congressman, James Madison of Virginia in 1789, and which was thereafter ratified by the American people as of 1791, guarantees to all of us the Right of Free Speech -- among several others in the "Bill of Rights."

Yet, the Obama White House has posted on their official website, a post featuring an "eat-your-peas" looking former ABC reporter named Linda Douglass, who carries on about the so-called "misinformation" being spread, which post, pasted up by one "Macon Phillips," appallingly encourages Americans to snitch on their fellow citizens if they receive or spot any information about health insurance reform that seems "fishy" to them!

That White House webpost specifically recites, in pertinent part . . . and I quote:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

Now, as an aside, I thought this public debate was supposed to be all about "healthcare reform" . . . not "health insurance reform." But let’s not get distracted.

The obvious intended intimidation factor, promoted through the White House official website, is the issue. Senator John Coryn is quite right.

As now reported, Mr. Obama now writes to his followers: "This is the moment our movement was built for."

Well, we say, "not by violating our rights!"

Tear down that webpost, Mr. President!

Update: Ed Morrissey at HotAir examines some of the ramifications in his post today, "Cornyn to Obama: Shut down Snitch Central" including a link to a Byron York piece on possible legal implications re: federal privacy law. York suggests it may not be illegal.

Ed's conclusion:

"Perhaps Congress needs to pass an Enemies List Law, since that’s exactly what this is. Note that only Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee seem concerned by this — even though Leahy chairs that committee."

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Evidence Begins To Mount

Listen as Representative Keith Ellison (D-5th Dist.-MN) was directly asked the following question about Congressional participation in the "public option" at a town hall he held on August 1, 2009 at a Wellness Center located in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Beginning at about 1:07 on the video, you can hear a constituent specifically ask him,
"Representative Ellison, are you willing to put your family on this government system, which is different from the one you are currently on? If you are not willing to put your family on the system, why should the rest of us?"
Ellison completely ignored the man's question, and just moved on to the next person, only saying,
"All right, next point."
The next constituent also confronted him about it, simply asking,
"Well, answer the question!"
But Ellison ignored him as well and just put the microphone in front of other attendees to allow them to make their quick points! Probably sensing that it was not a friendly crowd at the beginning, he told the assembled crowd -- after an enthusiastic response to one commenter -- that he didn't want
"anybody to not feel good about what they heard but you've got to try and bridle some of your enthusiasm so we can get ... go quick."
You can see him annoyingly snapped his fingers for emphasis. In other words, he obviously wanted to cut this session short! Apparently, word had gotten out about the hastily called event, and it was not a particularly friendly crowd that showed up.

Also check out the comments of the woman, beginning at 2:07 on the time clock, who pointed out that:
"there's not one program that the government's stuck it's fingers in, it's hands in, including welfare, including Medicare, including Medicaid that has worked. Our disproportions are because we are being pimped, and we are being used, and they are not going to get it any better taking care of your life!"
She also got a huge hand from the crowd in the room.

(Video, ht, Ed Morrissey, embedded at HotAir, here, via SCSU Scholars, here.)

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Public Catching On To Healthcare Gov-Gap

The public is apparently catching on to the disconnect between the healthcare benefits the Members of Congress have been helping themselves to, and giving federal workers on one hand, and the manner in which they are currently pursuing healthcare coverage with the legislation that is working its way through Congress.

Back on the 22nd of July we suggested active consideration of a modest amendment to the healthcare reform bill, based on a question that has been asked of several Congressmen, That evening, the President was also asked the question during his press conference that evening by Steven Thomma of McClatchy. Thomma pressed on follow-up for an answer on his question of whether the President and Congress should have to abide by the "public option" being offered.
Q: And what about yourself and Congress? Would you abide by the same benefits package?
He never got a complete answer. A fellow-reader of Powerline, Rick Thiel, has sent along a link to a Sunday story in the Los Angeles Times on the topic. According to the report, by Mark Z. Barabak and Faye Fiore, outlining the benefits the Congress has given themselves and federal workers over the years, an amendment to include congress under the public option was narrowly defeated in the Energy and Commerce Committee during mark-up. But Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), has managed to get a similar amendment included in the Senate version of the bill.

The L.A. Times story is entitled:

Congress' own healthcare benefits: Membership has its privileges
Lawmakers can choose among several plans and get special treatment at federal medical facilities. In 2008, taxpayers spent about $15 billion to insure 8.5 million federal workers and their dependents.
From the story:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sponsored an amendment requiring members of Congress to forgo their current health coverage and enroll in any government plan they pass to compete with private insurers.

"Let's demonstrate leadership and confidence in the system," Coburn said before his amendment squeaked through the Senate Health Committee. A similar measure was defeated in the House.

A spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi demurred when asked if she would sign up for a government-run plan. The San Francisco Democrat joined President Obama in pushing unsuccessfully for passage of a healthcare bill before lawmakers headed home for their summer recess.
Below is the link to the current House bill, which is now linked up on Powerline at this post, (ht John).

Here is the current House bill, HR 3200, as it was released by Henry Waxman's committee, Energy & Commerce, just as they were leaving town for vacation. It was released on a very close vote -- 31 - 28.
To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans
and reduce the growth in health care spending, and
for other purposes.
At the beginning of the main provisions -- the "affordability" division of the bill -- is a Statement of Purpose which specifies the following purposes. We put a few of the key phrases in bold:

(1) IN GENERAL.—-The purpose of this division is to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending.

(2) BUILDING ON CURRENT SYSTEM.-— This division achieves this purpose by building on what works in today’s health care system, while repairing the aspects that are broken.

(3) INSURANCE REFORMS.—-This division—

(A) enacts strong insurance market reforms;

(B) creates a new Health Insurance Exchange, with a public health insurance option alongside private plans;

(C) includes sliding scale affordability credits; and

(D) initiates shared responsibility among workers, employers, and the government; so that all Americans have coverage of essential health benefits.

(4) HEALTH DELIVERY REFORM.—-This division institutes health delivery system reforms both to increase quality and to reduce growth in health spending so that health care becomes more affordable for businesses, families, and government.
Let's take a look at this in light of the suggested amendment to include all Members of Congress and all federal officers and employees in the three branches under the public option:

Congress says that overall stated purpose is not just to provide "quality" health care, but equally to reduce the growth in health care spending. The amendment we're talking about would definitely reduce governmental spending, certainly in a symbolic and fair manner, by requiring those in the government to reduce their personal spending of our tax dollars on themselves!

And, because it allows government officials and employees to supplement their "basic" coverage," as they may wish, it still provides for "individualized" quality care coverage -- they would select, and pay for what additional coverage they want for themselves and their families.

After all, that's the same exact fairness they expect all the rest of us to abide by!

As far as the statement about "building on the current system," there are critics who say that the mandated "public option" would actually undermine the current system.

The offered amendment would be a solid basis by which the Congress would be required to express their faith in the continuing viability of the current system. Because they may cover themselves only with the public option, they would be implicitly saying that any additional coverage they might want to purchase would continue to be there and affordable.

Thus, they would be inherently expressing their faith in the continuing viability of the current healthcare insurance system, i.e., to be viable notwithstanding the the mandate of the "public option."

If the proponents of the "public option" are wrong, Congress would not be in favor of the public option because they would know that many or all of the remaining coverage options would collapse, or would be too expensive to realistically afford -- and their ox would get gored, right along with the rest of us.

Recall that in the "Insurance Reforms" section, one specified purpose is that it, "initiates shared responsibility among workers, employers, and the government . . ."

The amendment we're talking about is 100% consistent with the notion of "shared responsibility" by the "government." As is, the current bill is a crap-shoot for the rest of us. Members would essentially be unconcerned about their own coverage; they would continue to have such good coverage because we would be paying for it, no matter what it cost!

And finally, the reform provisions specify that one purpose is ensure that, "health care becomes more affordable for businesses, families, and government."

Unquestionably this amendment would make government "more affordable" because we wouldn't have to pay for their current "Cadillac" coverage.

So, this amendment -- to include Congress and all federal officers and employees in the public option --would be entirely consistent with each and every one of the stated purposes of the bill!

p.s., One of those who does not really believe in the continuing economic viability of the existing system is none other than our old "friend," Barney Frank (D-Mass).

Check out this video of Barney, on the fly talking to a "friendly" of his -- from the organized proponents of a "singlepayer" bill -- HR - 676, or, fully government controlled healthcare.

As you can see, Barney "helpfully" tells the guy that a single payer bill (which he says personally supports, and wishes he could get passed) simply cannot get the votes, but that this "public option" bill is essentially a Trojan Horse that will lead to "single payer! In other words, Frank believes that the "public option" bill is a helpful ruse that will get by us and lead to . . . "nationalized healthcare!"

So, that's what Barney wants, and he thinks the current bill will trick us into getting there. Meanwhile, he and all the Members of Congress continue to help themselves to considerable health care benefits at considerable cost to us all.

Gee, why should that not surprise anyone?

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