Nick Ashford, songwriter, dies at 70

Nick Ashford of Ashford & Simpson died Monday. He and his wife, Valerie Simpson wrote tons of hits for Motown, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Reach Out And Touch Somebody’s Hand,” sung by Diana Ross and “You’re All I Need To Get By” sung by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

And they wrote this hit for themselves:

Nick Ashford was 70 and had been suffering from throat cancer.

Libya … and a question of honor

Big news today in north Africa. After 42 years, it looks like Moammar Gaddafi is about to be overthrown. The rebels went into Tripoli faster than thought possible, and now, it’s an urban war, with the remaining Gaddafi loyalists holding out, some fighting to the end.

Reports are scattered. Some say the rebels have caught a few of Gaddafi’s sons. Others indicate the rebels aren’t in as strong a position as they say they are. What is known is that rebels raided Gadaffi’s daughter’s house and Moammar, for now, is nowhere to be found.

So, given all that, you’d think there would be jubilation in the land, right? Obama earlier seemed to get us in another Arab/Muslim war while we’re already tied up in Afghanistan and Iraq. But instead of having the U.S. take the lead, the ones doing the planning have been the British, the French and the Qataris. The U.S. under the NATO umbrella flew airstrikes and provided intelligence, which made the jobs of the allies and the rebels much easier. We’re not bogged down in another war, no U.S. military casualties and it’s not a battle on our tab.

So what’s to criticize? Roll Call chimes in:

Top Republicans criticized President Barack Obama on Sunday for not moving quicker on Libya but lent their support for U.S. military action, even as they strongly urged the administration to expand the mission to remove dictator Moammar Gaddafi from power. …

“I’m glad we’re finally doing something,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t know how many people have died as we wait to do something, and I thank God for strong women in the Obama administration. I don’t know what finally got the president to act. But I’ve very worried that we’re taking a back seat rather than a leadership role.”

Obama “waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it,” Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But now, it is what it is. And we need, now, to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that it didn’t — we didn’t act much more quickly, and we could have.”

OK. So Lindsey Graham and John McCain are saying Obama didn’t act quickly enough to end the reign of a murderous dictator. Well, I’m sure if either of them had gotten within a hundred yards of Gaddafi, they would have made the ultimate sacrifice and taken him out themselves.

No one would accuse them of doing anything that would appease the madman. Like this, for instance:

I’m guessing most of us don’t speak Arabic. But those folks in the clip, shaking Gaddafi’s hand two years ago, on Aug. 14, 2009, are Republican senators Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman and … wait for it … Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

Well, that doesn’t mean anything, I’m sure they were laying down the law and telling Gaddafi that if he got out of line, America would snuff him like a bug. Here’s a USA Today report on the tongue lashing:

A delegation of U.S. senators led by John McCain met with Libya’s leader Friday to discuss the possible delivery of non-lethal defense equipment.

The visit and Washington’s offer of military equipment was another sign of the improving ties between the former longtime adversaries.

“We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of non-lethal defense equipment to the government of Libya,” McCain said at a news conference. He gave no details on the kind of military equipment Washington is offering.

Non-lethal military equipment? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

But back to the point. Words escape me on McCain and Graham. No, scratch that. Here are the words: “They are without honor.”

Bad timing on Romney’s home improvement

Mitt Romney appears to be tone deaf when it comes to flaunting his wealth while the rest of the country is struggling:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is planning to nearly quadruple the size of his $12 million California beachfront mansion.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and the nominal front-runner for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination, is planning to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot home facing the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, Calif., and replace it with an 11,062-square-foot home, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. …

Romney began consolidating his real estate portfolio. Romney and his wife, Ann, sold for $3.5 million the 6,500-square-foot colonial home in Belmont, Mass., where they raised their sons. They also sold a 9,500-square-foot home at the Deer Valley ski resort near Park City, Utah, for close to its $5.25 million asking price, according to a 2010 Associated Press report.

The couple still maintain a vacation home along Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, as well as a townhouse outside Boston that they consider their primary residence.

One of John McCain‘s problems in the 2008 election was that he lost count of the number of houses he owned. Mitt counted and found too many. So he unloads a few for millions and plans a huge expansion on the coast.

Expect his opponents for the GOP presidential nomination to jump all over this.

DSK rape case nears end

The Manhattan district attorney is giving up the prosecution. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is expected to walk on Tuesday:

Three months after authorizing Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s swift indictment after his arrest on sexual assault charges, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has decided to ask a judge to dismiss the case, a person briefed on the matter said on Sunday….

While there has been widespread speculation that Mr. Vance would drop the case, it is nonetheless an extraordinary turn of events, for both Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, an enormously powerful international banker and a leading candidate for the French presidency before his arrest, and his accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, a 33-year-old immigrant from Guinea.

Her credibility as a witness began to crumble after prosecutors discovered what they characterized as a series of lies she had told, though none bore directly on her version of the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

The criminal case is over. A civil suit is in the process. But Strauss-Kahn will be walking down the Champs d’Elysees on his way to the Louvre a lot sooner than thought.

All you need to know about class warfare

Check out this episode of “The Daily Show,” where Jon Stewart tears apart the idiots at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and Fox Business channels for saying it’s unfair to tax the rich because the poor don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes.

Then go to this clip from PBS that shows most Americans are out of touch with income inequality in the U.S. When presented with three charts, they thought Sweden‘s distribution was where America stood. As for the chart that represented America’s distribution, most people though it was a chart for a Third World country. (Just for the record, the third chart, where things were distributed equally, was idiotic, and people who selected that one shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery.)

There is no excuse for anyone not understanding what the distribution of wealth is in this country.

Here’s a chart posted on various blogs back in February:

The truth is out there. Not the “truth” created by Fox News, but the thing rational people call reality.

If your world view has been shaped by Fox, and if you fall for the GOP line that the rich are under assault and the poor are a bunch of freeloaders, you are a sad, sad human being.

Palling around with terrorists: the Bachmann edition

Always good to know who the presidential candidates have working on their campaigns:

The evangelical organizer who helped Michele Bachmann win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa Saturday was previously charged with terrorism in Uganda after being arrested for possession of assault rifles and ammunition in February 2006, just days before Uganda’s first multi-party elections in 20 years.

Peter E. Waldron spent 37 days in the Luriza Prison outside Kampala, where he says he was tortured, after being arrested along with six Congolese and Ugandan nationals for the weapons, which were described variously in news reports as having been found in his bedroom or a closet in his home. The charges, which could have led to life in prison, were dropped in March 2006 after a pressure campaign by Waldron’s friends and colleagues and what Waldron says was the intervention of the Bush administration. He was released and deported from the east African nation, along with the Congolese. On Saturday, Waldron told The Atlantic in Ames that he was a staffer for Bachmann and responsible for her faith-based organizing both in Iowa and South Carolina. But he also declined repeatedly to give his name. …

Waldron has been described at times as a leader of a wide variety of organizations, including Advancing American Freedom (co-founder); Christians Restoring America’s Greatness (founder and president); Cities of Faith Ministries (founder); the Contact America Group, Inc. (president); and The Save The Family Foundation (president).

Just another Christian soldier in the Bachmann Tea Party crusade. Which I guess is now needed more than ever, what with the decline of the U.S. and the rise of the Soviet Union. Just quoting the congresswoman here:

But what people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.

Should someone tell her the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore?