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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tim Russert Dies at Age 58

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert passed away suddenly, after suffering an apparent heart attack in Washington D.C. Mr. Russert, was indeed quite special. He will be greatly missed by many.

A journalist and a gentleman, the consummate professional, and an inspiration to his peers, Tim will be remembered most of all for being a family man. Tim was a venerable figure in the journalism profession. He loved his country, and he loved his job. His integrity can be matched by few.

Dr. Michael Neumann, an assistant to Mr. Russert reports that Russert collapsed while preparing for ‘Meet the Press’ which he moderated and has hosted since 1991. Resuscitation began immediately, but to no avail. Russert was taken to Sibley hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy later confirmed the cause of death.

Tim Russert had recently returned from vacationing in Italy with his family, following the graduation of his son Luke from Boston College. Russert, born in 1950, was raised in Buffalo, N.Y. where the flags were lowered to half mast in his honor. Russert had a unique gift for gleaning and retaining information, and clearly loved his work. He was driven by a yearning for the truth, a quest that set the tone throughout his life.

“If you could pass the Tim Russert test, you could do something in this field,” opined Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for Newsweek magazine. Brian Williams, managing editor and anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” called Russert’s death a “staggering, overpowering and sudden loss.”

“Tim Russert was a friend to millions, respected, admired and loved” said an obviously shaken Barbara Walters, who stuttered as she struggled to rise above her grief. Russert was a tireless champion of journalism, and indeed, there are those who believe it was his ceaseless work ethic that brought about his early demise. He died in his element.

During ‘Meet the Press’ this last Sunday, an empty chair was placed at the moderators table. It was a sad, defining moment for the program that won’t be soon forgotten.

Tim’s love for politics has been described as infectious. He excelled at life and at his work. My heartfelt sympathy goes to his family and loved one’s. God bless you, Tim Russert, and Godspeed. May you look down upon us and be as pleased with us as we are with all the gifts you have left behind for others to enjoy.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Sound and Recording - Sound Foundation - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo - Impeachment Now! - Skate the Razor -
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When Cotton Was King

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

White blossomed, white bolled, short staple cotton. It is the stuff of which dreams are made, and wars are fought. If you think the US Civil War was about the abolition of slavery, perhaps you may wish to reconsider.

Cotton Field
White Bolled, Short Staple Cotton

During the late 1850’s and right up through the US Civil War, Cotton was indeed an economic powerhouse, not just in the southern United States, but throughout the world. “Dare not make war on cotton,” presaged Senator James Henry Hammond in 1858. “No power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is King."

Economists agreed with the Senator from South Carolina. Cotton was the driving force behind a period of great prosperity in the south, creating an elitist upper class dependant on the success of the crop. Slavery in the US was on the wane until Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin in 1779. Unfortunately, the success of his invention brought new demand for slave labor. By 1804, the cotton crop was eight times greater than in the previous decade, and the demand for slaves was rising.

This new Southern aristocracy resulted from the ownership of land and slaves and the surest way to obtain both was to grow cotton. Its impact was long reaching. New roads were constructed and businesses sprang up along endless processions of wagons hauling the crop to various ports. Cotton’s new kingdom extended well into Texas and north another six hundred miles up the Mississippi River valley. Rest assured, where there was cotton, there was money to be made. Even smaller farms, who generally planted only for sustenance, often set aside a few acres of cotton for trading.

Caught in diplomacy.

By 1860, the South was annually exporting two-thirds of the worlds cotton, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. During the Antebellum Period, cotton was indeed king, dominating international relations with the Confederacy, a policy referred to by many as “cotton diplomacy.” This period would see the South in a new light. However, James Henry Hammond was far from accurate in his assessment. Cotton would rule under a pall of darkness, perhaps the darkest period in American history. Still, it was not cotton that was to blame for the folly of man, but man himself, who was to blame for the rise and fall of a mighty king, King Cotton.


King Cotton, the Fiber of Slavery. Author or authors unknown.
Bleeding Kansas and the Enduring Struggle for Freedom, National Heritage Area Feasibility Study. Author or authors unknown.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Sound and Recording - Sound Foundation - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo - Impeachment Now! - Skate the Razor -
Skate the Razor Blog - blogment

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Condoleezza Rice - A Trail of Failure

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

For Condoleezza Rice, her years as Secretary of State have been nothing if not catastrophic. The once rising star of the Bush administration has proven herself inept at a multitude of levels, unable to cope, let alone demonstrate even a modicum of palpable intellect or diplomacy. She has been an embarrassment to herself and the Bush administration.

Since Rice assumed the position January of 2005, the White House agenda to promote freedom and democracy worldwide has resulted in monumental failure. Under her watch the crisis in the Middle East has been severely exacerbated. The US has already suffered the loss of over 4500 lives fighting an un-winnable war against an un-definable enemy.

As for Condoleezza, her demeanor has gone from swagger to stammer. She has lost her confidence. She has lost her nerve. She has lost her credibility.

It must be painful to watch helplessly as one's reputation implodes under scrutiny. Her jingoistic prediction of pending mushroom clouds were accepted as fact by millions of good Americans and right about now many of those same Americans feel deceived. True to form, Condi has never publicly expressed remorse for the lies.

Condoleezza's trail of failure runs long. Victories have been few and insignificant at best.In nearly every notable instance, her style has led to a deterioration in diplomatic relations.

North Korea, Iran, Syria, Lebanon; take your pick. All have seen their relationship with the US languish under the Bush administration. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taken an ugly turn for the worse, while the ongoing genocide in Darfur has been all but ignored. The situation is grim.

Still, don't expect any real shift in administration policy as long as Bush remains in the White House. George W. Bush chose to be a war president. Indeed, war will be his legacy and failure his longest shadow. As Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has contributed in no small way to the undoing of this administration. Hers is a trail of failure, a trail that can only lead to a dead end.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Sound and Recording - Sound Foundation - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo - Impeachment Now! - Skate the Razor -
Skate the Razor Blog - blogment