Thursday, May 23, 2013

Michelle Nunn attends DSCC fundraiser with President Obama

Michelle Nunn gave the latest indication today that she will be entering the U.S. Senate race by showing up to a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser with President Barack Obama.

The fundraiser came after Obama spoke at Morehouse College's rain-soaked commencement. Neither Obama nor U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, the chairman of the DSCC, mentioned Nunn in their remarks, though Bennet said: “We believe Georgia presents us with the greatest opportunity for a pickup.”

U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Augusta – who often tries to avoid Obama – turned down the chance to run for Senate, turning national Democrats' complete focus to Nunn, the CEO of the nonprofit Points of Light and daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn. No doubt she got a hard sell from some combination of Obama, Bennet and DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil, who was spotted in the audience.

There were about 100 guests at the Arthur M. Blank family office, with an entry fee of $10,000 per couple, or $32,400 for a couple to be a “sponsor.” According to an invitation we’ve seen, the sponsors included: Arthur M. Blank, Governor Roy  E. Barnes, Mayor Kasim Reed, Pinney Allen & Buddy Miller, Ken Canfield, Larry and Carol Cooper, Buddy Darden, Kirk and Barbara Dornbush, Daniel & Sonya Halpern, Samuel and Louisa Jackson, Tharon Johnson, Kristin Oblander, Justin Tanner, Michèle Taylor and Mack Wilbourn.

Reed must have gotten in Obama’s ear about the Port of Savannah; the president mentioned the need to deepen East Coast ports to prepare for bigger ships coming through the Panama Canal.

Obama also had this to say about the mood in D.C. Maybe those dinners are working?

    “You’re starting to see in Washington some sense even among the most partisan folks there that we’ve got to — the balance has tipped too far away from getting stuff done. And that’s why, for example, I’m optimistic about our capacity to get immigration reform done.”

There were no specific mentions all day of the Benghazi/IRS/AP scandal troika currently dominating the Washington scene. The closest was this, after talking about the need to get beyond short-term politics.

    "Which doesn’t mean that there aren't going to be politics involved; it doesn’t mean that there are not going to be some rough and tumble. And one thing that I think folks like myself and Michael and Kasim and others learn is that if you get in this business folks are going to take their shots at you -- and I've got the gray hair to prove it."

And no, there was no mention of the Georgia Dome.

Who else got to mingle with POTUS? As the local pool reporter today, I spotted Andy Young at the fundraiser. Also U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson, D-DeKalb; and Cedric Richmond, D-La. and Morehouse grad; hitched a ride down from D.C. on Air Force One this morning. Reed, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves and Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeffrey E. Turner greeted Obama when he arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Astronaut Chris Hadfield's Space Oddity poignant, says David Bowie

DAVID Bowie has given Commander Chris Hadfield the thumbs up for the astronaut's zero gravity version of Space Oddity.

The five-minute video posted by NASA drew a salute from Bowie's official Facebook page: "It's possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created."

In a high-flying, perfectly pitched first, the Canadian astronaut on the International Space Station is bowing out of orbit with a musical video of his own custom version of David Bowie's 1969 classic.

It's believed to be the first music video made in space, according to NASA.

Commander Hadfield's personalised rendition of Space Oddity was posted on YouTube yesterday, one day before his departure from the orbiting lab. He's wrapping up a five-month mission that began last December.

Commander Hadfield has returned to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule, along with American Thomas Marshburn and Russian Roman Romanenko, landing safely on the steppes in Kazakhstan.

Commander Hadfield, 53, a longtime guitarist who played in an astronaut rock 'n' roll band, recorded the video throughout the space station. He had some down-to-Earth help from a Canadian music team.

"With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here's Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World," Commander Hadfield said via Twitter.

The spaceman altered some of the lyrics of Bowie's original version, singing "Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing left to do." The Bowie version goes "... and there's nothing I can do." And instead of "Take your protein pills and put your helmet on," it became, "Lock your Soyuz hatch and put your helmet on".

Planet Earth provided a stunning backdrop for many of the scenes.

"It's just been an extremely fulfilling and amazing experience end to end," Commander Hadfield told Mission Control on Monday. "We're, of course, focusing very much on flying the Soyuz home now and looking forward to seeing everybody face to face. But from this Canadian to all the rest of them, I offer an enormous debt of thanks." He was referring to all those in the Canadian Space Agency who helped make his flight possible.

Commander Hadfield, an engineer and former test pilot from Milton, Ontario, was Canada's first professional astronaut to live aboard the space station and became the first Canadian in charge of a spacecraft. He relinquished command of the space station on Sunday.

He sang often in orbit, using a guitar already aboard the complex, and even took part in a live, Canadian coast-to-coast concert in February that included the Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson and a youth choir, and featured the song ISS, "Is Somebody Singing?"

ISS is NASA's acronym for the International Space Station.

Also last February, Commander Hadfield joined the Irish band The Chieftains and two ground-bound astronauts in a Houston concert, singing the lead on Moondance.

NASA broadcast the video on its daily space station update late on Monday morning.

One of the video collaborators was piano arranger Emm Gryner, part of the Bowie band in 1999 and 2000.

"Planet Earth IS blue," she said in her online blog, "and there's nothing left for Chris Hadfield to do. Right. Safe travels home Commander!"