Another Country Music Documentary

This one was made by the BBC about the time of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. It's a little surprising to find British people interested in American country, although the Chieftains did an excellent album around the similarities between Irish and American Country music once.

Still, interested they were, and they got a lot right. There are a few quibbles, but it's a good piece overall. Being a few years older, these documentarians got to talk to some of the greats who are gone now.

The second part focuses on my favorite parts of the genre.

Unclear on the concept

Sure, free speech is important, says the Chinese TV network, but everything has common-sense limits:
"We believe any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability do not belong to the category of free speech,” the network said.

Thoughts on Ramblin', with Jerry Reed

Atlanta's own Snowman sings a pair of songs on the subject of sowing one's wild oats...

...or not.

Bee Stings

Radical, Far-Right Library Just Has Books, No Drag Queens

The following line alone is worth reading the whole thing for:

... said Xyle Parson while waving a sign that said, "Love Wins and If You Don't Like It You Can Die in a Fire."
Related: 'Love Trumps Hate!' Screams Protester While Beating Republican To Death With A Shovel

Melvin Morris Walks Morris Island

Morris was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam. Morris Island, SC, was where the Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regiment assaulted the Confederate Ft. Wagner, immortalized in the movie Glory.

Is It Still Satire If It Comes True?

The Babylon Bee: "Hillary Clinton Announces She Will Seek Reelection As President Of The United States"

Real life Hillary Clinton: "Maybe there does need to be a rematch. Obviously I could beat him again."

Go away, Hillary. It's already too hard to tell the difference between reality and satire without you adding to it.

Syria, in or out

Jim Carafano makes sense to me:
[B]y the end of Bush’s term, we had put a lot of pressure on al-Qaeda and groups like ISIS. And the threat of transnational terrorism subsided significantly.
President Obama benefited [from that when he] came in office. And about halfway through his first term, he basically kind of decided the war on terror was over. So he pulled the troops out of Iraq. We backed off in a lot of areas, and basically what we saw is, if you think of those scenes where there’s a forest fire and then the fire’s out and everybody leaves and then the sparks flare up and the forest fire kicks in again, that’s exactly what happened.
So we went from a very high level of terror, global terrorist threat, to a low level, to essentially walking away from the problem and see it reignite. And when Trump came back in office, we did a significant job of kind of putting the forest fire out again.
The challenge now is we have to watch the embers. I’m sympathetic of what Sen. Graham says, if we walk away from worrying about transnational terrorism, it’ll definitely come back. Where I would differ is what’s the most efficacious way to do that? …
There’s an argument [of] let’s have American troops everywhere doing everything. There’s a better argument, I think, which the president has made, which is, there are things that we should be doing, there are things that our friends and allies should be doing, and we should all be working at keeping watch to make sure the fire doesn’t come back together.
In the end, that’s more sustainable and will also be more effective. So I’m not sure that Sen. Graham’s right, that the answer is we put American troops everywhere all the time because we’re worried about forest fires.

Crying wolf

There are real dangers out there.  We can't afford to be jumping at shadows instead.

Brothers in Valor Project

The American Battlefield Trust has teamed up with living Medal of Honor recipients to walk Civil War battlefields and discuss their experiences of war. Here are two of the videos.

Punish Your Friends, Help Your Enemies

It's not new that America is an unreliable ally; that's been true forever. America has elections, and sometimes that means that someone with a completely different view becomes head of our foreign policy. Obama viewed Iran as a potential ally, and turned our Middle East policy upside down trying to realize that goal. Trump doesn't think Iran is an ally, and thinks instead that we shouldn't be militarily engaged there on a long-term basis.

So, for at least the third time by my count, he's attempting to withdraw us from Syria.
The decision represents a dramatic reversal for U.S. policy, which in 2015 provided air support for Kurdish militias to retake the critical town of Kobani from Islamic State and has since used Kurdish fighters as ground troops in the campaign to clear Syria of the group.

The shift could cast further doubt on the reliability of the U.S. in the region, in the wake of policy about-faces including walking away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that was painstakingly negotiated with allies who remain committed to the agreement.

Trump defended Monday his desire to end America’s so-called “endless wars,” saying his country would fight only in it’s [s.i.c.] own interest. That sentiment has been welcomed by some, while leaving allies who rely on the U.S. security umbrella feeling nervous and exposed. An increasingly detached U.S. has also allowed rivals including Iran and Russia to pursue more aggressive foreign policies and expand their influence across the Middle East.
The whole American establishment is against this move, which doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good one. The likelihood of a new, lingering war in the region is high. On the other hand, such a war will draw in and drain Turkish, Iranian, and probably Russian resources rather than American ones. If it drives up oil prices, well, that's good for us now that we're a net exporter of oil -- and very bad for China.

'Good for us,' at least, on the national level -- higher gas prices won't be much fun for the individual consumer. That sort of mercantalism seems to be part of the President's worldview. The US is done footing the bills for other people's peace and prosperity. Individual Americans may rise or fall, but "the US" is going to make more profits and pay fewer costs. Maybe it'll trickle down.

I've got to remember this one

Old and busted:  "problematic."  New and hot:  "complex legacies."

For a while it was fashionable to rebut any inconvenient argument by saying "that's been debunked."  Now I think it will be easier, and more sophisticated, to observe that the idea has a complex legacy.  Find me something with a simple legacy instead.  Something pure.  Something this week.

Customer Appreciation Day at the Feed & Seed

As chaos reigns online, especially on Twitter, outside of the DC area there's a fair amount of sanity. Today we stopped in at a local farm supply store, because we noticed an unusually large number of vehicles there as we passed it. It's the sort of place you call a 'Feed & Seed' because those are its bread and butter items: feed for livestock, seeds for planting. There's always a friendly cat or two whose job it is to hunt the mice who'd like to delve into both the feed and the seed. Sometimes there are dogs as well. Wrangler jeans are for sale to one side, as well as work boots and overalls. Everybody knows you if it's the one near your home, and they know what you probably are stopping in for today. My wife keeps the ladies who work there supplied with African violets, which the ladies continue to kill off about as fast as the wife can supply them.

Turns out the large number of folks present was because it was 'customer appreciation day,' which meant a cookout and a bluegrass band. I had a free hamburger with chili, and baked beans on the side. The wife got a hot dog with all the fixin's. We listened to the band for a while, which interspersed its songs with jokes about how lucrative bluegrass band work tends to be. "We make tens of dollars," they bragged. "Joe here is independently filthy."

I talked with an old man about how good the food was at the local Senior center, and how outrageous the prices were elsewhere. He was quite passionate on the subject. Then I bought some two-stroke oil and some birdseed, since we were there anyway.

Here's Waylon Jenning's take on one of the songs the band played. They swapped in one of the local towns for "...all the way to Georgia," which threw my wife off as she was singing along. She was deeply amused by being caught out that way.

Toward a Small, Weak State

Civil liberties can only now exist in such a context:
I used to think there might be some way to erect a legal bulwark between the ravenous state and the vast troves of private data. I now think that is a losing battle, primarily thanks to the too-common eagerness of the firms we entrusted with our intimate information to hand it over to law enforcement without even the formality of a warrant.

So we cannot keep our secrets much longer. But there is still hope. A minimal state where civil liberties are expansively interpreted and scrupulously protected offers the best chance to preserve the sphere of individual liberty. It matters much less if the state knows everything about you when it has no cause and no right to act on that information unless a genuinely serious crime has been committed.