Monday, April 30, 2012

Worster Yet: "It's Even Worse Than It Looks"

Finally. At last! Someone tells it like it is.  No, this is not an Etta James nor an Aaron Neville review.  I am speaking instead about the new book by two of the most grounded and intelligent Washington insiders, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, and frankly they are saying what I've been beating into my friend who lives in Bearsville aka Little Mekong aka Frogtown for as long as I've known him:

"One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier – ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition,"

In an interview promoting the book on NPR this morning , Orstein goes on to add:  "... Republicans currently inside Congress, you have a new set of litmus tests and a new outlook that leads them in directions where you can't say that there is such a thing as climate change, you take positions on things like immigration that are simply off the rails, and if you compromise, you are basically defiling what the party stands for".

Couple this attitude with the insane and insipid Grover Norquist pledge that all the Republican toadies sign and you have the perfect recipe for disaster!  WAKE THE F#@K UP AMERICA!!  REPUBLICANS PULL YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR A$$ BECAUSE YOU ARE KILLING THIS COUNTRY!!

Whew!  That really felt good.

Friday, April 27, 2012

George Zimmerman's 911 Call: You Decide

A friend and colleague of mine did not like my last post. Thought that I, a criminal defense lawyer by trade, was too harsh on Mr. Zimmerman. Then, like all good conservatives, i.e. Fox "news" viewers, practically knocked himself out with his own knee after reading a headline, opening few sentence of a news article and/or 30 second t.v. news story i.e. sound bite about the NBC reporter who was canned and rightly so, for not disclosing that the audio excerpt of Zimmerman's 911 call was edited, for time constraint purposes no doubt, but which could still leave an inaccurate or not totally true impression of Mr. Zimmerman's state of mind.

My friend went so ballistic on me, in fact, he accused me of a rush to judgment, defamation, demanded a retraction and on and on. It got so bad that at one point I had to question my own opinion, for that is what my site is, mostly opinion, hopefully informed but opinion nonetheless. I liken it to a newspaper column in that most sophisticated readers (i.e. not tea baggers or people who comment on news articles) know that they are reading an opinion piece, not a Jack Webb "Just the facts Ma'am" news story where the strict rules of journalism including multiple independent sources of corroboration apply.

So I instant messaged my friend a request to the link of the full transcript and waited...and waited...and waited.  Much like the cops I catch lying on the witness stand, I detected the frozen fear in my friend that the jig was up.  In two seconds I pulled up the full transcript and guess what, knock me over with a feather.  My conservative friend, not a trial lawyer, had taken one line out of the transcript and in the perversion of self righteousness known only to gay closeted Republican Senators, tea baggers and self-proclaimed "Christians", and turned it into a narrative that justified his contrarian support for a "... racist little pussy ass"... who got ..." bitch slapped and then like the true punk he really...was, escalated "... to deadly force instead of taking his beating from a teenager packing a bag of skittles".

But why take my opinion for it, you decide for yourself.  But as you read it ask yourself what is descriptive as opposed to what is conclusory.  Remind yourself that one person is, theoretically, a mature adult , who trained and qualified for a concealed carry license and was a neighborhood watch volunteer who was presumably educated on the most basic constitutional rights, and the other was someone's kid who has the right to be left alone when walking to the local store for some candy, no matter the color of his skin.

Although Florida has the so called Castle law, which means whether you are at home or in public, you do not have to retreat if threatened with death or great bodily harm before responding with lethal force, there is no jurisdiction in this country which allows someone to become a self-anointed vigil ante, illegally seek out trouble, violate the rights of others and then when the tables are turned and the kid you thought you could bully because you are a big Man with a gun, justifies escalating a fist fight or wrestling match into the use of deadly force just because you are getting your much deserved come uppence.

Dispatcher: Sanford Police Department. …
Zimmerman: Hey we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a
real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can
give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he's up to no good, or
he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?
Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or
sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He's [unintelligible], he was just staring…
Dispatcher: OK, he's just walking around the area…
Zimmerman: …looking at all the houses.
Dispatcher: OK…
Zimmerman: Now he's just staring at me.
Dispatcher: OK—you said it's 1111 Retreat View? Or 111?
Zimmerman: That's the clubhouse…
Dispatcher: That's the clubhouse, do you know what the—he's near the
clubhouse right now?
Zimmerman: Yeah, now he's coming towards me.
Dispatcher: OK.
Zimmerman: He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.
Dispatcher: How old would you say he looks?
Zimmerman: He's got button on his shirt, late teens.
Dispatcher: Late teens ok.
Zimmerman: Somethings wrong with him. Yup, he's coming to check me out, he's got
something in his hands, I don't know what his deal is.
Dispatcher: Just let me know if he does anything ok
Zimmerman: How long until you get an officer over here?
Dispatcher: Yeah we've got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does
anything else.
Zimmerman: Okay. These assholes they always get away. When you come to the
clubhouse you come straight in and make a left. Actually you would go past the
Dispatcher: So it's on the lefthand side from the clubhouse?
Zimmerman: No you go in straight through the entrance and then you make a left…uh
you go straight in, don't turn, and make a left. Shit he's running.
Dispatcher: He's running? Which way is he running?
Zimmerman: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.
Dispatcher: Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?
Zimmerman: The back entrance…fucking [unintelligible]
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah
Dispatcher: Ok, we don't need you to do that.
Zimmerman: Ok
Dispatcher: Alright sir what is your name?
Zimmerman: George…He ran.
Dispatcher: Alright George what's your last name?
Zimmerman: Zimmerman
Dispatcher: And George what's the phone number you're calling from?
Zimmerman: [redacted]
Dispatcher: Alright George we do have them on the way, do you want to meet with the
officer when they get out there?
Zimmerman: Alright, where you going to meet with them at?
Zimmerman: If they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the
club house, and uh, straight past the club house and make a left, and then they
go past the mailboxes, that’s my truck...[unintelligible]
Dispatcher: What address are you parked in front of?
Zimmerman: I don’t know, it’s a cut through so I don’t know the address.
Dispatcher: Okay do you live in the area?
Zimmerman: Yeah, I...[unintelligible]
Dispatcher: What’s your apartment number?
Zimmerman: It’s a home it’s 1950, oh crap I don’t want to give it all out, I don’t
know where this kid is.
Dispatcher: Okay do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes
Zimmerman: Yeah that’s fine.
Dispatcher: Alright George, I’ll let them know to meet you around there okay?
Zimmerman: Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?
Dispatcher: Okay, yeah that’s no problem.
Zimmerman: Should I give you my number or you got it?
Dispatcher: Yeah I got it [redacted]
Zimmerman: Yeah you got it.
Dispatcher: Okay no problem, I’ll let them know to call you when you’re in the
Zimmerman: Thanks.
Dispatcher: You’re welcome.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Edwards, Like Anthony, and Unlike Zimmerman, May Prove Hard to Convict

Nobody despises John Edwards more than me these days. No, I don't hate him because he is one of the most vain, self-centered,narcissistic assholes that has ever drew breath. I am pissed at him for lying to my face and to the faces of all those Minnesotans who packed that hot crowded Carpenter's Hall on the East side of St. Paul that 16 degree below zero February Night in 2008. There was not one mention that night that the campaign might be in danger or that this would be his last Presidential Campaign rally or his last ever political rally. No, it was all "...on to the Dakotas" or some such rubbish. I could not give two hoots in a hollow what becomes of this Carolina hill billie white trash.

So as much as I dislike dear old Johnny boy, I will be the first to say he does not belong on trial. Disliking someone or disliking someone's non-criminal behavior is hardly a good reason for putting all the weight of the most powerful government on the face of this earth behind winning a conviction against a pathetic fool like Edwards. Making an exception out of Edwards is no more moral than the acts of dear old Johnny boy himself. Thank you very much but I would rather look myself in the mirror each morning than stoop to the likes of his level or the level of those that are now persecuting him.

I got into a lot of hot water among my colleagues and fellow attorneys when I pontificated that Casey Anthony should be acquitted after watching the prosecution's over the top and lame brain summation of its case. Although I am way way out in front on this one, I mean for chrissakes the trial has not even started yet. But compare this to the George Zimmerman case down in Florida. Now all you have to ask yourself, would they be on trial but for their non-criminal behavior? Clearly in the case of Edwards, hate him or despise him, you have to admit that he would not be on trial but for his cad behavior.

The same cannot be said of Mr. Zimmerman who, to his great chagrin I am sure, narrates to a 911 operator his racial profiling of a young man, stalking and harassing him only to have the tables turned on him and his racist little pussy ass, getting bitch slapped and then like the true punk he really is, escalating to deadly force instead of taking his beating from a teenager packing a bag of skittles.

Well, I guess when you put it's put that way, maybe Johnboy shouldn't even be on trial . Dang it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Like most of my progressive, free thinking friends, I get forwarded, to my great chagrin, the immature drivel and pack of absurd lies that are right wing nut Republican chain emails. Any person with a third grade education and who even pays the most remote attention to current events can immediately spot these for what they are: jokes. The one thing they have in common though, the string that runs through them all is that they play on the most deep rooted and primal fears, hatred and bigotry that are the themes of current Republican politics.

Case in point, the other day my dear friend, a man whom I greatly admire as a man and a wonderful role model to my kid and countless young people forwards me the following cliches and absurd lies that is your typical Republican chain email:

Which side of the fence?

If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great

If a Republican doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a Democrat doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Republican is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat.
If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for

If a Republican is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Democrat is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a Republican is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his
A Democrat wonders who is going to take care of him. ..

And it goes on ad
nauseam. Well just to prove a point I finally decided to respond, with heavily borrowed thoughts from Angela Glover Blackwell:

You know you are an idiot if:

If you ever wondered if you are an idiot, this is a great

If a Republican likes guns, he'll vote for the Republican NRA backed candidate and against his own self interest, even if he is a felon and cannot possess a firearm or even vote!
If a Democrat t likes guns, he owns one without making a big deal of it or as if it compensates for a small penis.

If a Republican is a vegetarian, he eats cucumbers in a stall at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport with the rest of the closeted gay Republican senators.
If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he eats whatever he wants and doesn't make a big deal out of it because who the hell's business is it what you eat.

If a Republican is homosexual, he loudly denounces all homosexuals out oF self-hatred E.G. SANTORUM and his public life crashes flaming to the ground. SEE GAY CLOSETED REPUBLICAN SENATOR ABOVE.
If a Democrat is homosexual, he demands to be treated like anybody else.

If a Republican is down-and-out, he thinks about what everyone else gets and points fingers.
A Democrat wonders how he can help because there by then grace of God Goes I.


At this moment we really are two, or three Americas. And one of the Americas is really scared, really frightened, really feeling that everything they thought that they could depend on is disappearing. People who have that fear can go a couple of ways.

They can get involved, and they can think about how to change things, so that the decisions that are being made don't keep taking us down this road of insecurity. Or they can just circle the wagons, decide that anything they don't have, they don't need.

That anything that people are trying to get, that will help them to do better in life is going to be a threat to what they, and they and their children might have. And so part of what's happening is we have a good number of people in this country who are just scared, and they're shutting down. And they're closing off opportunities.

In many ways they are prepared to be a pull-up-the-ladder nation. “I got mine, and I'm pulling up the ladder so you can't get yours, because I think I have to keep you out, so I can stay in”. That group is really going down, in terms of their connection to what the future is really going to be like.

In, and by that I mean they are nostalgic for a time that never was. And avoiding a future that is inevitable. Then you have another America that sees the future. They know that the future depends on education. They know it depends on being able to make sure that those who are being left behind are educated, and brought forward. That understand that they can't get the policies and strategies in place that they need, unless they begin to tell a story that allows other people to see themselves.

And that's what I'm trying to be part of. Trying to help create a narrative that both draws together the people who understand that they need investment to go forward, and allows other people to see how they, too, could benefit from buying into that story.

So you see my friend, you do not have to be frightened. Instead of putting up fences and pulling up ladders you can show the courage to stand up for yourself and fellow working class Americans or you can continue acting like frightened children, too scared to think for your self or to help your fellow man.

Love and Happiness.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tornado Kills 6, Destroys 86 Homes in Woodward, OK: Sister and Brother-in-law Spared

Minutes after midnight Sunday morning a "massive" tornado struck my sister and brother-in-law's neighborhood on the western side of Woodward , Oklahoma. Although there were no warning sirens, my sister was awake and watching television weather reports when their living room picture window blew in. After what must have been moments of sheer terror I am happy to say that both my sister and brother-in-law are fine but the same cannot be said of their home and property.

It would almost seem disrespectful to those who lost loved ones to detail the property damage, but to give some perspective on just how close the storm came to their house, in addition to the living room window, it destroyed portions of their roof strewing attic insulation into the trees in the yard, tore off the garage door and an entire section of their backyard fence disappeared. In a very brief conversation I had with my sister yesterday, in which I could barely hear her over the buzz of chain saws in the background, she estimates the tornado passed within a half-block of their home. April 15th will always be remembered for something other than Tax Day in my family from now on; it will be our Spring Thanksgiving.

See a slideshow of the damage at the Woodward News:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alabama Shakes Letterman's World

In their ongoing quest for world Domination, Alabama Shakes stormed the Ed Sullivan Theater tonite in what may go down as one of the most memorable shows in the history of the Late Show. Celebrating his 65th birthday, Letterman had only one VIP guest, Billy Crystal, a man who only leaves his home for gala events, and the only Music Act on the planet these days, the incredible Alabama Shakes.

Crystal told a great true story about the dirtiest man in comedy, Red Foxx. How do I know Crystal is telling the truth, I have a recording of Red's album that he mentioned in the story: "Woman, You've Got to Wash Your Ass!"

But the best was saved for last, Brittany Howard and her White Boys of Alabama tore the roof off the place with a searing version of "Hold On". In the tradition started by the theater's namesake, if the host likes the act he goes over and chats with them and Dave gushed like a school girl. But who can blame him. Even my normally staid brother sent me the following mini-review of their show last Saturday in Baltimore, a show he flew out to attend from his home in Minnesota:

"The Baltimore venue was fantastic--three levels high and state-of-the-art sound and lights. The band was a tad reserved for a Saturday night and seemed to be saving for live broadcasts all week in Philly and New York. We were second through the doors and had the A-1 spot on the second level directly above the band. The band was in awe that I was calling out song titles after the opening notes, including b-sides not on the record. At one point Brittney looked up at me and laughingly said "this is a new jam, so save your breath." The drummer tossed two drumsticks at me at the end of the set and I missed both. The rhythm section is tight as hell, but the lead guitar was subdued after he broke a string early and had to play his back-up Tele all night instead of a Gibson 335."

But don't take our word for it, judge for yourself. Here's a whole set broadcast on MTV Tuesday:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vikings Up the Pressure for New Stadium, Drop Minnesota from New Apparel Line

The proverbial "Cold Omaha" is looking a little warmer these days as the Minnesota Vikings upped their not so subtle pressure on Minnesotans to build them a new stadium. About a week ago I got an email from the Viking Locker Room, the team's pro shop, announcing their new line of apparel manufactured by Nike. Going to their web site I was shocked and a lot pissed off to see that Ziggy had started to play games and our minds.

As someone born in Minnesota and raised during the Bud Grant era, I bleed purple and would be crushed to see a team which is synonymous with the state and its Scandinavian roots go the way of the Lakers and the North Stars but I do not like to be blackmailed and this page was torn straight out of Norm Green's playbook.

Norm Green, for those with short memory spans, is the most hated and despised figures in the annals of Minnesota professional sports. Green, a Canadian real estate developer had purchased the North Stars vowing to improve the team and what he needed to accomplish this task was a new arena with bigger revenue streams i.e. cheap real estate that he could develop. When Green did not get his way, the Minnesota North Stars became the Stars. One sexual harassment case and a king sized beer dumped over his head later, the team was in Dallas.

Let's just hope that Ziggy isn't feeling frisky and parched these days.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Attorney General Holder's Reply to Texas Judge

Dear Judge Smith, Judge Garza, and Judge Southwick:

This Court's letter of April 3, 2012 requested a response to questions raised at oral argument in this case. Physician Hospitals of America v. Sebelius. No. 11-40631. From the electronic recording of the argument, I understand the Court to have requested the views of the Department of Justice regarding judicial review of the constitutionality of Acts of Congress. The Court indicated that its inquiry was prompted by recent statements of the President.

The longstanding, historical position of the United States regarding judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation has not changed and was accurately stated by counsel for the government at oral argument in this case a few days ago. The Department has not in this litigation, nor in any other litigation of which I am aware, ever asked this or any other Court to reconsider or limit long-established precedent concerning judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation.

The government's brief cites jurisdictional bars to the instant suit and urges that plaintiffs' constitutional claims are insubstantial. See Appellee Br. of the United States at 17-38. At no point has the government suggested that the Court would lack authority to review plaintiffs' constitutional claims if the Court were to conclude that jurisdiction exists. The case has been fully briefed and argued, and it is ready for disposition. The question posed by the Court regarding judicial review does not concern any argument made in the government's brief or at oral argument in this case, and this letter should not be regarded as a supplemental brief.

1. The power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute. See generally, e.g., Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Co. Accounting Oversight Bd., 130 S. Ct. 3138 (2010): F.C.C. v. Beach Communications. Inc., 508 U.S. 307 (1993). The Supreme Court resolved this question in Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177-78 (1803). In that case, *2 the Court held that ‘”[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Marbury, 1 Cranch at 177.

The Supreme Court has further explained that this power may only be exercised in appropriate cases. “If a dispute is not a proper case or controversy, the courts have no business deciding it. or expounding the law in the course of doing so.” Daimler Chrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332. 341 (2006); see, e.g., Weinberger v. Salfi, 422 U.S. 749. 763-766 (1975) (addressing a statutory bar to jurisdiction). In the case before this Court - Physician Hospitals of America v. Sebelius, No. 11-40631 -we have argued that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. See Appellee Br. of the United States at 15-38.

Where a plaintiff properly invokes the jurisdiction of a court and presents a justiciable challenge, there is no dispute that courts properly review the constitutionality of Acts of Congress.

2. In considering such challenges. Acts of Congress are “presumptively constitutional.” Turner Broadcasting System. Inc. v. F.C.C., 507 U.S. 1301, 1301 (1993). and the Supreme Court has stressed that the presumption of constitutionality accorded to Acts of Congress is “strong.” United States v. Five Gambling Devices Labeled in Part “Mills. “ and Bearing Serial Nos. 593-221, 346 U.S. 441. 449 (1953); see. e.g., Gonzales v. Raich. 545 U.S. 1. 28 (2005) (noting that the “congressional judgment” at issue was “entitled to a strong presumption of validity”). The Supreme Court has explained: “This is not a mere polite gesture. It is a deference due to deliberate judgment by constitutional majorities of the two Houses of Congress that an Act is within their delegated power or is necessary and proper to execution of that power.” Five Gambling Devices Labeled in Part “Mills. “ and Bearing Serial Nos. 593-221, 346 U.S. at 449. In light of the presumption of constitutionality, it falls to the party seeking to overturn a federal law to show that it is clearly unconstitutional. See. e.g., Salazar v. Buono, 130 S. Ct. 1803, 1820 (2010) ( “Respect for a coordinate branch of Government forbids striking down an Act of Congress except upon a clear showing of unconstitutionality.”); Beach Communications, Inc., 508 U.S. at 314-15.

3. While duly recognizing the courts” authority to engage injudicial review, the Executive Branch has often urged courts to respect the legislative judgments of Congress. See, e.g., Nature's Dairy, v. Glickman, 1999 WL 1581396. at *6; State University of New York v. Anderson, 1999 WL 680463. at *6: Rojas v. Fitch, 1998 WL 457203, at *7: United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 751 v. Brown Group, 1995 WL 938594. at *6.

The Supreme Court has often acknowledged the appropriateness of reliance on the political branches” policy choices and judgments. See, e.g., Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New Eng., 546 U.S. 320, 329 (2006) (explaining that, in granting relief, the courts “try not to nullify more of a legislature's work than is necessary” because they recognize that “”[a] ruling of unconstitutionality frustrates the intent of the elected representatives of the people” ” (alteration in the original) (quoting Regan v. Time. Inc., 468 U.S. 641. 652 (1984) (plurality opinion))); Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 512 U.S. at 665-66. The “Court accords “great *3 weight to the decisions of Congress”' in part because “[f]he Congress is a coequal branch of government whose Members take the same oath [judges] do to uphold the Constitution of the United States.” Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57, 64 (1981) (quoting Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Democratic National Committee, All U.S. 94, 102 (1973)). These principles of deference are fully applicable when Congress legislates in the commercial sphere. The courts accord particular deference when evaluating the appropriateness of the means Congress has chosen to exercise its enumerated powers, including the Commerce Clause, to accomplish constitutional ends. See, e.g., NLRB v. Jones & Laaghlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 32 (1937); McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 408 (1819). See also Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, 651 F.3d 529, 566 (6th Cir. 2011) (Opinion of Sutton, J.); Seven Sky v. Holder, 661 F.3d 1, 18-19 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (Opinion of Silberman, J.)

The President's remarks were fully consistent with the principles described herein.


Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Attorney General

- 3 -

1 Million Irish Setters Against Mitt Romney

Whether you are an Irish Setter, Beagle, Golden Retriever, Peekapoo, Chow Chow, Shephard /Collie Mix or Boston Terrier you all share one firm belief:


Join the Facebook page :

Thursday, April 5, 2012

CBS News is Back

Like most members of my generation, I grew up in a household where Walter Cronkite was the patriarch of television news and television news meant CBS. Since Walter's retirement, the news division at CBS went through a lot of low points, Dan Rather's meltdown aka "what's the frequency Kenneth?", the cowardly action of management in kicking Dan to the curb when his story on the AWOL GWB was factually correct, the Connie Chung chapter and the nadir: hiring Katie Couric to host the Evening News.

Well no one is happier than myself over the incredible turn around at CBS News. It all started when they replaced Couric with Scott Pelley. Unlike his light weight predecessor, Pelley has the gravitas to pull off the hardest job in the business, the unenviable and almost impossible task of filling the chair once occupied by Cronkite.

Most recently, CBS News has raised the stakes in the television news game by hiring the best interviewer in the business , Charlie Rose, to host its morning show. Rose, who like myself must be an insominac, has pumped new life into a show that was nearly lifeless. I especially love the montage that starts off each show giving you a pictorial montage of what was happening in the world in 90 seconds.

So hats off to CBS News and welcome back to the home of Cronkite.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dakota Shakes: Ruthie Foster Shares Her Love

Love was in the air last night at the Dakota Jazz Club as Ruthie Foster's Soul Salvation Tour invaded Minneapolis like Sherman took Atlanta: she and her band "Let It Burn"!

Before the evening was over, a young couple got engaged to the strains of perhaps the most creative and beautiful arrangements of June Carter's "Ring of Fire" and a line was drawn in the sand that at least one member of my generation was not willing to cede, at least not yet, the mantle of greatest female musician to Brittany Howard and her incredible band mates in the Alabama Shakes. As far as I am concerned, as great a talent as Ms. Howard is, and I'm sure Brittany would be the first to admit it, Ruthie Foster is the First Lady of American Music.

Whether it was blues, soul, gospel or reggae, Ruthie was dead on. Her taste in material (Los Lobos, William Bell, and Bob Marley just to name a few) is exceptional. Her tone and phrasing is exquisite. While the power of her voice could easily be intimidating, her natural grace, honesty and the warmth of her personality keeps her immense talent in check. Her humanity is inspirational.

The fact that she did a duet with my personal hero and music idol, William Bell on her latest cd, is just another in a long list of reasons why I love this woman.

But how do I really feel about Ms. Foster? Just ask anyone who has been within earshot, email, or telephone range of my voice the last three months and you have heard me speak of the esteemed Ms. Foster.

Last night I was not disappointed.