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The Many Sides of Joni
Mitchell´s ´Both Sides Now´

Wall Street Journal, by Gail Sheehy

Original Article

Posted By:Hazymac, 8/24/2014 1:47:55 PM

Back in 1968, when I was 30, my entire life blew up. I had a life plan and it collapsed for no rational reason. I had been a newspaper reporter in New York but left the job to help editor Clay Felker start New York magazine. My marriage was breaking up and I was falling in love with Clay. The song that carried me through those years and all stages of my life is "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell. I first heard the song in 1968, when Judy Collins´s version was a huge radio hit. But when I heard

For the sake of discussion I post this brief remembrance of this song, which has become a standard. In some ways Joni Mitchell, with her leftwing politics and fairly explicit rejection of Christianity, is analogous to Christopher Hitchens, whom many of us nonetheless admired for his honesty and his synaptic prose style. Joni´s work strikes me the same way. Her last verse in this song ("But now old friends are acting strange...") reveals a wisdom that belied her age (24) when she wrote the words. Her career has advanced the art of songwriting. I´m a fan.


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Reply 1 - Posted by: Gallo3, 8/24/2014 2:18:19 PM     (No. 9979037)

Wife has been singing Joni´s songs since they first came out, with myself accompanying.
Joni has left a fabulous catalog of music, my favorite being the 1976 album ´Hejira´ - with Jaco Pistorius playing bass.
You want to get a new album to run on a continuous loop in your car? load Hejira off I-Tunes.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: shamrock, 8/24/2014 2:19:15 PM     (No. 9979039)

I guess I wasn´t as deep as OP, never cared for her style. I thought I read that she wrote that song about her battle with depression.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: Italiano, 8/24/2014 2:21:16 PM     (No. 9979041)

I loved that song back then, and I still do. 45+ years of life´s ups and downs added perspective.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: califedup, 8/24/2014 2:23:07 PM     (No. 9979043)

The skull faced Joni Mitchell produced nothing but drug addled, hippie mush. Both sides now is a shining example of what your brain produces when it´s on drugs.

Thank God no one plays this caterwauling, soggy, self pitying song in public anymore.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: Japanorama, 8/24/2014 2:28:20 PM     (No. 9979050)

Anyone whose philosophy derives from a song by a 25-year-old pop singer is not capable of much critical thinking.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: Italiano, 8/24/2014 2:32:16 PM     (No. 9979053)

Well, Mac, I guess we´re morons. Our intellectual superiors have spoken.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: Halfvast Conspirator, 8/24/2014 2:37:49 PM     (No. 9979059)

Attended a JM concert once, she started off by saying she thought she had the flu, wasn´t feeling too well, but would give it a try anyway. She did OK, but not totally up to her standard. So the break comes, after a while some scruffy dude is walking around the stage, moving things around, guy next to me says, "That´s Neil Young!" We´re all like, no, can´t be. So then Joni comes back out and says, look I am feeling really bad, but I want you to have a good show, so I called my friend Neil Young to see if he would come help me out. The crowd went crazy. He plays for an hour or so, then she comes out and they sing a coupla of songs together, while she is apologizing for not being able to finish the show. It was probably the best show ever, and she was totally classy.

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Reply 8 - Posted by: Hazymac, 8/24/2014 2:49:16 PM     (No. 9979067)

Fellow writers recognize in Joni´s best songs flashes of imagery and recognition that leave the listener thinking, "That is so true; I wish I had written that myself." "Both Sides, Now"--there is a comma in the title--has that quality. So too does her best love song, featuring her mountain dulcimer with acoustic guitar dubs and her early career high soprano voice, from the album Blue (1971), entitled "A Case of You."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YuaZcylk_o "A Case of You"

My college girlfriend immersed me in Joni´s music back in the mid-´Seventies--what was I going to do? bore her with heavy metal?--and I have been forever thankful. I´m also in agreement with #1 that Hejira (1976) is a great album, the last in a run of seven outstanding LPs before her jazz period (also good, but in a different way).

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Reply 9 - Posted by: smcchk, 8/24/2014 3:06:58 PM     (No. 9979089)

Senior year of high school/early college days flashback! A beautiful song then and now. Imagine being able to still relate to a song 40+ years later.

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Reply 10 - Posted by: 4justice, 8/24/2014 3:13:12 PM     (No. 9979092)

Geez, 4, one would think we were talking about today´s hip-hop and rap...Not Mitchell. Do you know anything about Mitchell or her music? She was not Janis Joplin or Grace Slick...she actually was a good songwriter and fairly good singer who actually was not so much a part of that crazy scene aside from the time period she was in. She may not be your style, but I feel she also doesn´t deserve that kind of negativity. I prefer a lot of music from the 30s, 40s and 50s and even classical (I studied classical voice for 8 1/2 years)...as well as more contemporary R&B, soul and pop of the 60s and 70s. But I´ve learned to appreciate several genres of music for being what they are. I even got into country in the late 80s. But I don´t even try to compare Al Green to Mario Lanza. I don´t compare Beethoven to Bing Crosby or John Gary. How can anyone compare Mitchell to Jeanette MacDonald, Ella Fitzgerald or Joan Sutherland? Not saying you would compare them...but I also don´t think you know much about her either.

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Reply 11 - Posted by: Italiano, 8/24/2014 3:16:07 PM     (No. 9979094)

My last post was facetious, but I think that a big part of the deal with songs has to do with where you were in your life when they first came out. I was a teenager and, by definition, brain-dead (e.g, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix lyrics made sense, which of course they don´t and never did.)

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Reply 12 - Posted by: richwill, 8/24/2014 3:19:43 PM     (No. 9979099)

I have quit reading the WSJ. This soap opera article is the reason.

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Reply 13 - Posted by: uno, 8/24/2014 3:21:20 PM     (No. 9979103)

One of the millions of stories about why music is so important to so many.

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Reply 14 - Posted by: SezzieBear, 8/24/2014 3:23:29 PM     (No. 9979107)

I have always liked the song but have to say my favorite version is the duet by Clannad and Paul Young.

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Reply 15 - Posted by: mitzi, 8/24/2014 3:31:11 PM     (No. 9979117)

Sometimes - a song is just a song...

I prefer the philosophy of Aquinas to Joni Mitchell´s.

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Reply 16 - Posted by: earlybird, 8/24/2014 3:34:50 PM     (No. 9979120)

Never cared for her or this rambling song, which was typical of the period. Masses of itinerant minds, looking for profundity in song lyrics.

Most of them didn´t "know life at all".

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Reply 17 - Posted by: alliecat, 8/24/2014 3:47:54 PM     (No. 9979133)

Let her speak for herself. Here is a 16 minute interview with Joni after she turned 70. It shows lots of imagery of her paintings too...She has God given talent to burn... http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/joni-mitchell-reflects-on-her-life-and-legacy-1.1307145

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Reply 18 - Posted by: doublesharp, 8/24/2014 3:57:33 PM     (No. 9979143)

She would have been a nobody if she wasn´t Bob Dylan´s girlfriend. Hippie dippy navel gazer.

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Reply 19 - Posted by: eljay, 8/24/2014 4:04:10 PM     (No. 9979148)

The original article is pretty I I I I . . . um, narcissistic

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Reply 20 - Posted by: Hazymac, 8/24/2014 4:06:16 PM     (No. 9979151)

The reactions to this post are instructive. Some have their mental hatches locked down tightly, World War II submarine style; others have the exploratory gene. Not having lived in other LDotters´ domiciles, I make no judgments. Each to his own.

But Joni, with her one hundred (at least) different guitar tunings, could always put a different musical spin on any song she recorded, even songs written by others, such as "How Do You Stop" (with back up vocals by Seal).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOTQnJVDOiw ("How Do You Stop")

If that makes me shallow, I wear it well, and take no offense. As a revelatory bone tossed to fellow LDotters, this is the best thing I ever posted here. As Vaughn Monroe once sang, "...Sound off! (Sound off) ... Cadence count, one, two, three, four...."

One other thing: If I had a choice of four people to invite to dinner, I´d invite Joni. Really! We´d have a capital time together, even with the political haggling. Are you listening, Joni?

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Reply 21 - Posted by: Mickeymat, 8/24/2014 4:09:05 PM     (No. 9979152)

Always been a fan of Mitchell. But this article was just awful.

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Reply 22 - Posted by: StormCnter, 8/24/2014 4:09:37 PM     (No. 9979153)

I can offer bandaids, OP/#20. I´ve been there.

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Reply 23 - Posted by: Hammock, 8/24/2014 4:12:05 PM     (No. 9979156)

Gifted songwriter. "Sweet Bird" was her best as far as I´m concerned.

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Reply 24 - Posted by: Seething Citizen, 8/24/2014 4:54:02 PM     (No. 9979182)

I remember the song so well! Really liked it. I was unhappily stationed in Libya at the time, Wheelus Air Base.

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Reply 25 - Posted by: msjena, 8/24/2014 5:11:39 PM     (No. 9979191)

She was never Bob Dylan´s girlfriend. That was Joan Baez. I liked Joni back in the day, but never viewed her as philosopher or guide for living. I think she peaked at her Blue album. Jazz and blues didn´t suit her.

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Reply 26 - Posted by: wilarrbie, 8/24/2014 5:26:47 PM     (No. 9979204)

I loved just about everything JM did - have many of her albums still. As a moony, moody, angst filled teenager (and older!)her songs were a comfort that I wasn´t alone with similar thoughts. But to this day - if "You Turn Me On, I´m A Radio" comes on - I will sing along in my own little duet with her. My favorite!

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Reply 27 - Posted by: Calvinesq, 8/24/2014 5:40:58 PM     (No. 9979220)

Joni was a fine songstress. Hejira,I believe, is a reference to Muhammad´s flight from is adversaries as told in the Koran. Back then the reference was like seeing the nearest popular guru.

Anyway, I liked her music and voice. My favorite in this genre, however, was Jim Croce, who died tragically and way too young.

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Reply 28 - Posted by: ASAvet, 8/24/2014 5:45:48 PM     (No. 9979223)

I´m a huge fan of Judy Collins, of this song not so much. Favorite album of all time is "Colors of the Day."

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Reply 29 - Posted by: columba, 8/24/2014 6:04:27 PM     (No. 9979240)

When we are in our teen years, there is nothing that is not important. This song is remembered by individuals who were teens then. I prefer (for depth) Ba Ba Ba Barbara Anne, however.

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Reply 30 - Posted by: paloalto, 8/24/2014 6:12:01 PM     (No. 9979247)

I have no dog in this Joni Mitchell good/Joni Mitchell bad fight. I just wanted to comment on the Gail Sheehy article itself. This article is so lightweight it may as well have been written in invisible ink. Apparently Ms. Sheehy has written a new book that´s coming out on September 2nd and methinks she must have naughty pictures of someone at the Wall Street Journal to get this piece of fluff published to promote said book.

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Reply 31 - Posted by: earlybird, 8/24/2014 6:22:29 PM     (No. 9979254)

Eons ago Gail Sheehy wrote sort of pop-psyche lifestyle pieces for women´s magazines. Eons ago.

That about covers her.

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Reply 32 - Posted by: mitzi, 8/24/2014 6:24:33 PM     (No. 9979256)

Fr. Robert Barron has a YouTube videos on the spiritual theme in Bob Dylan´s lyrics.

Easy to find via Google.

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Reply 33 - Posted by: Udanja99, 8/24/2014 7:31:21 PM     (No. 9979305)

I was in high school and college when she was at her peak and loved her music. Her jazz, blues and new age albums did nothing for me at all. But in the last couple of decades, what I´ve liked about her the most is that she continued to be photographed smoking cigarettes when it has been anathema to the rest of the left. It´s so "in your face". Gotta love it!

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Reply 34 - Posted by: f64, 8/24/2014 7:37:32 PM     (No. 9979310)

Back in the day I went to see Judy Collins at a free concert in Central Park. Of course she sang "Both Sides Now".

0 - BTW that wasn´t the last verse. The last verse started "I´ve looked at life from both sides now...". The verse was repeated twice.

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Reply 35 - Posted by: Carolina Kat, 8/24/2014 7:56:48 PM     (No. 9979328)

Can´t say as I have strong feelings one way or t´other, music is a matter of tastes, and as long as you aren´t stuck in an elevator with someone playing something you hate, why does it matter what anyone else likes or doesn´t. As to this song, I played it on the piano back in high school, so have the tune hammered in, not so much the lyrics. I´ve got my own version for the horses: "Hooves and mane and feeling proud, taking trails I´ve newly found, A little rain, a little sun, I really don´t mind - life at all. I´ve looked at life from both sides now, from on the horse to in the dirt, and it really really is better… when you hang on." The horses love it.

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Reply 36 - Posted by: fobo, 8/24/2014 10:01:56 PM     (No. 9979434)

While I admit to finding "Both Sides Now" a bit sappy, I´d have to argue that "Blue" is one of the best albums of the 70´s (along with Dylan´s "Blood on the Tracks").

I read somewhere that Mitchell considers herself a painter whose career was waylaid by music.

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Reply 37 - Posted by: smcchk, 8/24/2014 11:02:28 PM     (No. 9979483)

#20, you would be an excellent dinner companion. Good luck with Joni.

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Reply 38 - Posted by: garyhope, 8/25/2014 11:58:41 AM     (No. 9980130)

As a former musician, I think Joni Mitchell is very talented and very damned good as a songwriter and band leader.

She always drank good wine and hired good drummers and other musicians. That makes her worthwhile in my viewpoint.

Gail Sheehy on the other hand,...who cares what her "feelings" are or were. What makes her think we care about her superficial and lightweight thoughts are? Not me.

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Reply 39 - Posted by: Hazymac, 8/25/2014 2:19:15 PM     (No. 9980400)

Re #34: That was the last verse (see below). What you quoted from was the refrain (which changes slightly each time, reflecting the verse just completed).

Many years ago Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin guitarist) quoted Joni´s last verse: "But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say I´ve changed. Well something´s lost but something´s gained in living every day." He said he wished he had written it. That´s the highest possible praise from a fellow songwriter.

I agree that what Gail Sheehy has written is, in itself, unimpressive and jejune; it was my excuse to get other LDotters into a discussion of one of my all time favorite artists, whose work remains vital in my life even decades after I first heard it.

Here´s "Taming the Tiger" from 1998, featuring Joni´s cigarette-deepened latter career voice. The song makes a direct reference to William Blake´s Song of Experience: "Tyger, Tyger" (Burning bright in the forests of the night). Joni, same as Yr Hmbl Srvnt and E. Hemingway, loves cats.


This has been a most successful thread. I love hearing my friends´ opinions.

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Reply 40 - Posted by: jdf, 8/25/2014 6:24:01 PM     (No. 9980731)

Help Me, A Case of You, River, A Free Man in Paris, Blue.... as a songwriter, JM has one of the greatest books in pop music. Her paintings are pretty amazing too.

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Reply 41 - Posted by: jdf, 8/25/2014 6:50:32 PM     (No. 9980775)

“Most of the hippie values were silly to me,” Mitchell says. “Free love, come on. It’s a ruse for guys. Look at the rep I got. It was a list of people whose path I crossed... in the summer of love they made me into this love bandit. So much for free love. Nobody knows more than me what a ruse that was.”

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Reply 42 - Posted by: GomerShabazz, 8/25/2014 7:11:57 PM     (No. 9980811)

It´s entertaining to watch old hippies get old and face death.....blah blah blah....doesnt mean squat when your worm food!...maybe you can tell God he is a sexist bigot, homophobe......good luck idiot!

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Daily Mail [UK], by David Martosko    Original Article
Posted By: KarenJ1- 10/2/2014 9:11:57 PM     Post Reply
A recently retired Secret Service agent told MailOnline on Thursday that former director Julia Pierson´s resignation will be welcomed by the agency´s rank-and-file because ´people in the service thought she was a joke from Day One.´ He attributed her swift fall from grace to a cadre of ´p***ed off agents who had had enough´ of feeling disrespected by the service´s first female director. ´Putting her in charge was part of the [Obama] administration´s push to feminize the service after the "hookergate" nightmare,´ the agent said, referring to agents who were fired after patronizing prostitutes during a security-check trip to Colombia

The Case for Panic
35 replie(s)
Washington Free Beacon, by Matthew Continetti    Original Article
Posted By: StormCnter- 10/3/2014 5:27:33 AM     Post Reply
Deadly, irrational, and determined, the intruder snuck across a weakened perimeter. Eluding capture, the intruder was detained only after missteps and close calls. The spin began soon after the threat was isolated. Information was selectively leaked. Half-truths and untruths were uttered. Responsibility was avoided; privileges and credentials asserted; authority reasserted. Trust us. Remain calm. Don’t panic. This is the template of recent events. A mental case jumps the White House fence. He makes it to the East Room before he’s tackled by an off-duty Secret Service agent. Initial statements turn out to be misleading or false. We discover that lapses in

Courts Will Decide If Chimps Should
Have Same Rights As Humans

28 replie(s)
New York Post, by Lia Eustachewich    Original Article
Posted By: mc squared- 10/4/2014 10:08:43 AM     Post Reply
It’s the “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” A New York appeals court next week will consider whether chimps should have the same rights as human beings. The extraordinary proceeding is the result of a lengthy battle by animal-rights activists who argue that animals with human qualities — including chimps — are entitled to human protections, including freedom from captivity. Steven Wise, part of the Nonhuman Rights Project, which is leading the effort, will have to convince a panel of Albany appellate judges that a chimp name Tommy is a “legal person” to get him moved from a cage

Another weird Obama pronunciation
28 replie(s)
American Thinker, by Thomas Lifson    Original Article
Posted By: magnante- 10/4/2014 11:22:06 AM     Post Reply
What on earth is an ohbee-guynee? Apparently it is a weird Obamaspeak pronunciation of OB/GYN (pronounced oh-bee-gee-why-en). For the president’s benefit, let me specify that means a doctor who delivers babies and takes care of the lady parts. When President Obama announced the departure of Eric Holder from his position as attorney general, he also mentioned his “good friend,” the AG’s wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, and he called her an “ohbee-guynee.” (snip) it almost seems as though someone raised in a fantasized USSR training camp for deep cover agents was inserted into the identity of Barack Obama and loosed upon

28 words that Democrats
really wish President Obama
didn’t say today

26 replie(s)
Washington Post, by Chris Cillizza    Original Article
Posted By: Dreadnought- 10/2/2014 10:48:52 PM     Post Reply
President Obama was at Northwestern University on Thursday to deliver an economic speech that, he and his team hoped, would lay out the case for why the public is better off today than they were six years ago -- even if they didn´t feel it in their everday lives. Instead, Obama just gave every Republican ad-maker in the country more fodder for negative ads linking Democratic candidates to him. Here are the four sentences that will draw all of the attention (they come more than two thirds of the way through the speech): "I am not on the ballot this

We’ve made the
Ebola crisis worse

26 replie(s)
Telegraph [UK], by Geoffrey Lean    Original Article
Posted By: Attercliffe- 10/3/2014 11:45:50 PM     Post Reply
It is the stuff that nightmares are made of, and day by day it is getting worse. The Ebola epidemic, says Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), is now “the greatest peacetime challenge” since the Second World War. Yet her own organisation’s tardiness, partly caused by cuts, together with reductions in--and misuse of--funds elsewhere, are largely responsible for Ebola spiralling out of control. [Snip] It’s just the beginning. At present the numbers of people infected are thought to be doubling in under 30 days--and the blue-chip US Center for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that, if Ebola

Meghan McCain on Secret
Service: ´I hated all of them´

24 replie(s)
The Hill (Washington DC), by Judy Kurtz    Original Article
Posted By: JoniTx- 10/3/2014 12:30:44 AM     Post Reply
Meghan McCain joined the dog pile on the Secret Service this week, saying she’s had “nothing but horrible experiences" with the agency and likening the agents to “glorified mall cops.” The 29-year-old author and television personality, who is also the daughter of former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), opened up on Pivot’s “TakePart Live” about some of her interactions with the Secret Service. "I have nothing but horrible experiences with the Secret Service,” McCain said. “One of my friends called them glorified mall cops and I don´t think that´s terribly far off. I found them cliquey. I hated

Michelle Obama: U.S. Has Improved
´By Almost Every Economic Measure´

24 replie(s)
Breitbart Big Government, by Warner Todd Huston    Original Article
Posted By: Desert Fox- 10/4/2014 10:36:54 AM     Post Reply
In a speech in Boston, First Lady Michelle Obama left behind talk of exercise and school lunches, exchanging it all for bald politics by claiming that under her husband the US economy is now better off "by almost every economic measure." The First Lady appeared at the Strand Theater Friday to stump for Martha Coakley´s campaign for Governor of Massachusetts. Coakley needs help badly, as even in blue, blue Massachusetts, the race between Democrat Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker is essentially a toss up. In her remarks, Obama pushed the President´s newest campaign line that he has saved the economy based on

Some Blacks See Secret Service
as Flawed Shield for the President

23 replie(s)
New York Times, by Peter Baker    Original Article
Posted By: KarenJ1- 10/3/2014 12:16:43 PM     Post Reply
WASHINGTON — Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland was at the grocery store the other day when he ran into an elderly black woman who expressed growing concern about President Obama’s safety. Why, she asked, wasn’t he being better protected by his Secret Service agents? The furor that led to this week’s resignation of the director of the Secret Service resonated deeply among blacks, outraged that those supposed to be guarding the first black president were somehow falling down on the job — and suspicious even without evidence that it may be deliberate. “It is something that is widespread in

White House says it has
Ebola virus under control

23 replie(s)
The Hill [Washington, DC], by Sarah Ferris    Original Article
Posted By: KarenJ1- 10/3/2014 6:55:38 PM     Post Reply
Top White House officials on Friday worked to reassure the American public that the national response to Ebola is under control. Leaders of the country’s health, defense and military branches stressed that they are taking the right steps to contain the spread of the deadly virus, which was first diagnosed in the U.S. on Tuesday. Top White House officials on Friday worked to reassure the American public that the national response to Ebola is under control. Leaders of the country’s health, defense and military branches stressed that they are taking the right steps to contain the spread of the deadly virus, which

Most Texas abortion clinics shut down
as abortion rights recede in South

23 replie(s)
Christian Science Monitor, by Patrik Jonsson    Original Article
Posted By: StormCnter- 10/4/2014 7:48:03 AM     Post Reply
ATLANTA — Texas, America’s second-most populous state behind California, saw 13 of its last abortion clinics turn away women on Friday, after a federal appeals court upheld a law that practically guarantees that only a handful of clinics will remain open in the state. The strictest-of-its-kind Texas law requires abortion providers to build hospital-grade facilities and obtain sometimes impossible-to-get hospital admitting privileges. After signed into law last year by Gov. Rick Perry (R), the law forced most of the 41 clinics operating to close. Thursday’s ruling wiped out a brief victory this summer for abortion rights proponents,

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