Friday, May 18, 2012

Dick Clark, the man behind 'Bandstand' By Geoff Boucher

Television's Dick Clark helps cut his 47th birthday cake during a break in rehearsals for an upcoming television special in Santa Monica, Ca., December 1, 1976. Helping him celebrate are (l) singer Barry Manilow and comedian David Brenner. Clark is wearing a smock to protect him while he is madeup. Photo: Anonymous, AP / 1976 AP

Television's Dick Clark helps cut his 47th birthday cake during a break in rehearsals for an upcoming television special in Santa Monica, Ca., December 1, 1976. Helping him celebrate are (l) singer Barry Manilow and comedian David Brenner. Clark is wearing a smock to protect him while he is madeup.



LOS ANGELES -- Dick Clark, the youthful-looking television personality who literally introduced rock 'n' roll to much of the nation on "American Bandstand" and for four decades was the first and last voice many Americans heard each year with his New Year's Eve countdowns, died Wednesday. He was 82.

Clark died after suffering a heart attack at a Santa Monica hospital following an outpatient procedure, according to a statement by his longtime publicist, Paul Shefrin. Clark's health had been in question since a 2004 stroke affected his speech and mobility, but that year's Dec. 31 countdown was the only one he missed since he started the annual rite during the Nixon years.

With the exception of Elvis Presley, Clark was considered by many to be the person most responsible for the bonfire spread of rock 'n' roll across the country in the late 1950s. "Bandstand" gave fans a way to hear and see rock's emerging idols in a way that radio and magazines could not. It made Clark a household name and gave him the foundation for a shrewdly pursued broadcasting career that made him wealthy, powerful and present in American television for half a century.

Nicknamed "America's oldest teenager" for his fresh-scrubbed look, Richard Wagstaff Clark was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 1929.

Clark and "American Bandstand" not only gave young fans what they wanted, it gave their parents a measure of assurance that this new music craze was not as scruffy or as scary as they feared. Buttoned-down and always upbeat, polite and polished, Clark came across more like an articulate graduate student than a carnival barker.

He helped transform rock 'n' roll into a cultural force, and in the beginning he did it by introducing artists such as Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and the Comets, James Brown, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers for the first time. All made their national television debuts on "Bandstand."

As the music matured through the years, Clark played a potent role in star-shaping, and the Mamas and the Papas and Madonna would join the long and eclectic list of performers who got that first big boost on "Bandstand." Clark himself joined many of his show's guests in 1993 when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On Aug. 5, 1957, from the no-frills Studio B of WFIL-TV on Market Street in Philadelphia, Clark greeted a national audience for the first time with the backdrop of a faux record store, a concrete floor and a crowd of giddy teens in clean-cut mode: Ties for boys, no slacks for girls and no gum chewing were the rules from the first day.

That 3 p.m. show, broadcast locally, quickly became the first hour and a half of national airtime devoted to teenagers, their music and their fashions. By the end of 1958, it was a full-fledged sensation with 40 million viewers tuning in to ABC to learn about the newest dance step, rock star or fashion style.

The first record on the premiere show was the then-shocking single "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" by the ribald Jerry Lee Lewis. The juxtaposition of bracing music such as that with the show's tame trappings -- party games, a roll call of giggling kids, viewer voting on the best couple -- would do more to put the emerging music into the mainstream than any other forum of the day.

While Clark embodied a "safe" aura on camera, off camera he was the prototype for the fledgling music scene's new-model impresario. There would be close to three dozen songs played on the show on any given day, and Clark huddled constantly with record executives and his staff to decide which tunes got the highly coveted airtime.

By 1959, there was grumbling in the industry that "Bandstand" was too beholden to Philadelphia interests, particularly those that intersected with Clark's growing portfolio of companies. From a hit record's birth in the vinyl-pressing shop to its christening on the radio station turntable, Clark had a stake in its business life.

For the fans watching at home, Clark was simply the chaperon on their first date with rock 'n' roll.

"It's got a great beat, and you can dance to it," or some permutation of that phrase, became the mantra of fan life during the "Bandstand" tradition of rating records. Three records would be played, and members of the "Bandstand" dancing brigade would give them a numeric grade anywhere between the odd parameters of 35 and 98. Clark would announce the average, and fame and fortunes could be decided with that calculation.

That staple feature, along with the lip-syncing appearances by new stars and the countdown of the day's hits made the show the template for the entire new television sector of music shows. "Soul Train," "Solid Gold," "America's Top 10" and "MTV's Total Request Live" were among the range of shows that would borrow from the formula. To artists, especially in the show's first decade, a booking on the show was a stamp of career arrival.

Clark would host "Bandstand" until 1989, leaving just a few months before the show's cancellation. Its impact had waned in the music video and MTV era, but Clark, the show's signature name, endured in his role as the unofficial emcee of American broadcasting.

On "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," launched in 1972, he counted down the last seconds of every year from Times Square in Manhattan. He found a surprise hit in the 1980s with "TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes," a franchise that correctly banked on the appeal of Hollywood stars flubbing their lines. His work and investments went into game shows, among them "$20,000 Pyramid" and "Scattergories," as well as television movies and awards shows.

Ryan Seacrest, who subsequently took over main hosting duties on the countdown show from Clark, said in a statement Wednesday, "I idolized him from the start. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world."

"I loved Dick Clark. He was so instrumental in my career as well as all the other Motown acts and so many others in the recording business," singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson said.

Clark is survived by his wife, Kari Wigton Clark, whom he married in 1977. He is also survived by two sons and a daughter from two previous marriages.

In 1981, with "Bandstand" entering its twilight, Clark said that the show was No. 1 on his personal career countdown. "I feel about 'American Bandstand' the way I would about a member of my family.

"I'm sentimental about it. It was the beginning of everything for me."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Obama's Gay Marriage Flip Shows How Big Money Sets His Agenda



Election '12: The one thing that can be concluded from President Obama's sudden "evolving" support for gay marriage ahead of a big Hollywood fundraiser is that money talks. It's how he governs. Just don't call it democratic.

Politicians are often rightly criticized for twisting with the winds of polls. Obama is different, and not in a good way. Instead of making decisions based on principle — which might occasionally go against polls — Obama's decisions are based purely on who donates the most money.

His sudden shift on gay marriage this week proves it.

He changed his stance ahead of a $40,000 a plate fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of movie star George Clooney where wealthy gay- and gay-oriented donors had threatened to withhold donations, according to a Washington Post blogger.

The Post also reported that one out of six of Obama's campaign bundlers are gay and, as Obama declared his support for gay marriage against his previous vague stances, it was their big money that was talking.

Now, on principle alone, it's a given that Obama has probably always favored gay marriage based on his far-left orientation. But his most loyal constituents — including African-American and Latino voters, along with the majority of the voting public — are dead-set against it. That would explain why he's always hemmed and hawed about the issue, effectively voting "present."

In coming out for gay marriage, Obama showed that something's even more important to him than voter sentiment — campaign donations.

This week's resounding vote against gay marriage in North Carolina, the state that will host the 2012 Democratic convention, would seem to be reason enough for a politician on the fence to support the voters. North Carolina's rejection of gay marriage is nothing special in itself — 32 gay marriage measures have been put on state ballots, and all have failed.

That Obama didn't heed this says a lot about how he governs. Whoever gives him the most cash gets his agenda through, no matter what the public thinks of it.

And this isn't the first time.

Polls show that two-thirds of the public favor building the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canada's tar-sands oil to U.S. refineries, a move that would seal U.S. energy security for years and create 20,000 jobs.

Obama, who takes big money from environmental groups and wealthy activists in favor of the same, is willing to buck the public to please those donors.

The same holds with the so-called feminist agenda, supported by big-dollar donors in places like San Francisco. Obama's move to let taxpayers pay for birth control under ObamaCare was unpopular with the public.

When a showdown with the Catholic Church occurred over whether it should be forced to pay for it in violation of its religious principles, Obama refused to budge. To him, his wealthy donors' cash is more important than the size of the Catholic vote.

And don't forget Big Labor and its agenda.

Polls show the public detested the Card Check bill, Big Labor's effort to force unwilling workers into unions by ending their right to secret ballot. Obama supported the unions. Why? Big Labor gave $400 million to elect Democrats in 2008 and a similar amount in 2012. Only a poll-driven Congress stopped him.

In all instances for Obama, the campaign money trumped voter sentiment. That's how he rolls.

Is that democratic? Hardly. Instead of consent of the governed, Obama's decision making amounts to rule by plutocrats, whose desire prevails no matter how outrageous their agenda is to the voters.

It also suggests a cynical view of elections — that whoever has the most money necessarily wins, regardless of his political agenda.

And it represents open contempt for the voters — a certainty that they will vote for Obama no matter what distasteful decisions he makes. Interesting.

Whatever comes of his gay marriage stance, one thing is certain — this is how Obama governs: He who has the most money wins.

It's a tad ironic, given Obama's nonstop class-warfare stances supposedly in favor of the 99%. Actually, nobody is more devoted to the 1% than he is.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Race for VP Candidate Plays Out in Public


04 May 2012

The process for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s to select his running mate is taking place publicly in a way it hasn’t in the past.
Interested parties must feign disinterest while at the same time showing that they have all the qualities to make themselves an asset to Romney both on the campaign trail and in office, Politico reports.
“We’re in the phase now that I’d call the vice presidential casting call. Everyone’s effectively being called in to read their line, and see if they’ll be cast for the role,” Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who worked for Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, told Politico.
In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain looked at several choices but made the unexpected selection of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. And that was after the name of another long shot, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, was leaked to the media.
In 2000, George W. Bush named Dick Cheney to head of his search committee and then ended up picking Cheney.
The first imperative for those seeking the vice presidential slot is to avoid messing up.
“You don’t do anything demonstrative,” Democratic strategist Michael Berman, who helped with Walter Mondale’s vice presidential search in 1984, told Politico. “You basically deny your interest without being stupid about it, in a sense.”
Contenders for the job so far include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Virginia Gov.Bob McDonnell, and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Obama Seeks Sovereignty Surrender Via LOST Treaty



Sovereignty: Even if he's not re-elected, the president hopes to leave behind a treaty giving a U.N. body veto power over the use of our territorial waters and to which we'd be required to give half of our offshore oil revenue.

The Law Of The Sea Treaty (LOST) has been lurking in the shadows for decades. Like the Kyoto Protocol that pretended to be an effort to save the earth from the poisoned fruit of the Industrial Revolution, LOST pretends to be an effort to protect the world's oceans from environmental damage and remove it as a cause of potential conflicts between nations.

Like its Kyoto cousin, LOST is an attempt at the global redistribution of power and wealth, the embodiment of the progressive dream of the end of the nation state as we know it and the end of political freedom by giving veto over all of mankind's activities to a global body — in this case something called the International Seabed Authority, located in Kingston, Jamaica.

The ISA would have the power to regulate 70% of the earth's surface, placing seabed mining, fishing rights, deep-sea oil exploration and even the activities of the U.S. Navy under control of a global bureaucracy. It even provides for a global tax that would be paid directly to the ISA by companies seeking to develop the resources in and under the world's oceans.

As Heritage Foundation senior fellow Peter Brookes notes, the U.S. government now can collect royalty revenues from oil and gas companies that wish to drill on our extended continental shelf — the undersea areas beyond 200 miles of our coast. But if we ratify LOST, we'd have to fork over as much as 7% of that revenue to the ISA for redistribution to poorer, landlocked countries.

Maritime and jurisdictional disputes would be settled by the ISA, which presumably would tell the U.S. Navy where it could and could not go. Freedom of navigation has been guaranteed by the U.S. Navy and, before it, the British Royal Navy. Now it would be the ISA. This meets perfectly the definition of the "global test" Sen. John Kerry, a backer of LOST, said in 2004 that our actions must meet.

With a possible new White House occupant and Republican majority returning to the Senate in 2013, LOST is back on the front burner. Kerry is quietly working to recruit Republican votes needed to ratify the treaty. LOST is also backed by Sen. Richard Lugar. It will be brought up soon for ratification, perhaps as early as next month, and was delayed — analysts believe — by Lugar's belief it would hurt him in the Indiana primary.

LOST was a bad idea when President Reagan refused to sign it in 1982 and actually fired the State Department staff members who helped negotiate it. It was drafted at the behest of Soviet bloc and Third World dictators interested in a scheme to weaken U.S. power and sovereignty while transferring wealth from the industrialized to the developing world.

Reagan rightly decided the U.S. shouldn't be a part of this global resource grab and redistribution of wealth. The treaty was co-authored by Elisabeth Mann Borgese, an admirer of Karl Marx and a socialist who ran the World Federation of Canada.

She views the oceans as the "common heritage of mankind" and in a 1999 speech declared, "The world ocean has been and is, so to speak, our great laboratory for the making of a new world order." We prefer the world order under Reagan, where we called our own shots.

Romney wins 3 more primaries By UPI


WASHINGTON, May 9 (UPI) -- Presumptive Republican U.S. presidential nominee Mitt Romney, with three more states in his win column Tuesday night, went after his Democratic opponent.

The former Massachusetts governor, whose list of GOP rivals has been winnowed to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas through months of primaries and caucuses, picked up bunches of delegates in Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia, closing in on the 1,144 he needs to clinch the party's nomination at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer.

While he still doesn't quite have the nomination in hand, Romney has started honing his political attack on President Barack Obama, CBS News said. On Fox News Channel's "The Sean Hannity Show," Romney criticized Obama's stance on women's issues and foreign policy while painting the president as a big-money incumbent.

"We've got a long way to go. The first chapter of the process seems to be over and we're coming together," he said. "Against an incumbent with a billion dollars he's raising, with an extraordinary machine that'll be attacking me on a personal basis day by day, that we're the underdogs."

Romney said there would be "incendiary effort on the part of the Obama team" he doesn't think will resonate with the American people.

Romney criticized Obama for trying to "make friends with some of the world's worst actors," such as Syrian President Bashar Assad, instead of trying to "communicate our strength, our determination, and indicate if people want to be friends with America, that they're going to have to hold to the principles that we find dear."

On women's issues, Romney said he found it "misguided and wrong and dishonest" to suggest Republicans don't respect women.