Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts

Obama can't kick his legacy down road

By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst

February 19, 2013 -- Updated 2122 GMT (0522 HKT)

President Obama has a small window of opportunity to get Congress to act on his priorities, Gloria Borger says.


  • Gloria Borger: Prospect of deep budget cuts was designed to compel compromise

  • She says the "unthinkable" cuts now have many supporters

  • The likelihood that cuts may happen shows new level of D.C. dysfunction, she says

  • Borger: President may want a 2014 House victory, but action needed now

(CNN) -- So let's try to recount why we are where we are. In August 2011, Washington was trying to figure out how to raise the debt ceiling -- so the US might continue to pay its bills -- when a stunt was hatched: Kick the can down the road.

And not only kick it down the road, but do it in a way that would eventually force Washington to do its job: Invent a punishment.

Gloria Borger

Gloria Borger

If the politicians failed to come up with some kind of budget deal, the blunt instrument of across-the-board cuts in every area would await.

Unthinkable! Untenable!

Until now.

In fact, something designed to be worse than any conceivable agreement is now completely acceptable to many.

And not only are these forced budget cuts considered acceptable, they're even applauded. Some Republicans figure they'll never find a way to get 5% across-the-board domestic spending cuts like this again, so go for it. And some liberal Democrats likewise say 8% cuts in military spending are better than anything we might get on our own, so go for it.

The result: A draconian plan designed to force the two sides to get together has now turned out to be too weak to do that.

And what does that tell us? More about the collapse of the political process than it does about the merits of any budget cuts. Official Washington has completely abdicated responsibility, taking its dysfunction to a new level -- which is really saying something.

We've learned since the election that the second-term president is feeling chipper. With re-election came the power to force Republicans to raise taxes on the wealthy in the fiscal cliff negotiations, and good for him. Americans voted, and said that's what they wanted, and so it happened. Even the most sullen Republicans knew that tax fight had been lost.

Points on the board for the White House.

Now the evil "sequester" -- the forced budget cuts -- looms. And the president proposes what he calls a "balanced" approach: closing tax loopholes on the rich and budget cuts. It's something he knows Republicans will never go for. They raised taxes six weeks ago, and they're not going to do it again now. They already gave at the office. And Republicans also say, with some merit, that taxes were never meant to be a part of the discussion of across-the-board cuts. It's about spending.

Here's the problem: The election is over. Obama won, and he doesn't really have to keep telling us -- or showing us, via staged campaign-style events like the one Tuesday in which he used police officers as props while he opposed the forced spending cuts.

What we're waiting for is the plan to translate victory into effective governance.

Sure, there's no doubt the president has the upper hand. He's right to believe that GOP calls for austerity do not constitute a cohesive party platform. He knows that the GOP has no singular, effective leader, and that its message is unformed. And he's probably hoping that the next two years can be used effectively to further undermine the GOP and win back a Democratic majority in the House.

Slight problem: There's plenty of real work to be done, on the budget, on tax reform, on immigration, climate change and guns. A second-term president has a small window of opportunity. And a presidential legacy is not something that can be kicked down the road.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gloria Borger.

Part of complete coverage on

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Time to respect Chavez's merits?

By Samuel Moncada, Special to CNN

February 18, 2013 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)

One Venezuelan official says the reforms enacted in Hugo Chavez's 14-year tenure deserve respect.


  • Despite perceptions, Hugo Chavez has brought social progress to Venezuela

  • Moncada: Venezuela's critics have engineered a false narrative of impending disaster

  • Venezuela has used its vast oil reserves to transform lives of ordinary people

  • Ambassador says Chavez's most significant achievement is his empowerment of the majority

Editor's note: Samuel Moncada has been the Ambassador of Venezuela to the United Kingdom since 2007 and holds a PhD in Modern History from Oxford University. He is solely responsible for the content of this analysis.

(CNN) -- Reading the international press, one would be forgiven for thinking that Venezuela is on the verge of collapse.

Over the past decade, all sorts of predictions have been made, ranging from catastrophic election defeats to the implosion of the Venezuelan economy. But the fact these predictions have failed to materialize has not deterred many of Venezuela's most fervent critics in their quest to engineer a constant and misleading narrative of impending disaster.

More: Chavez returns after Cuba cancer treatment

The reality is that ever since President Hugo Chavez was first elected, Venezuela has defied these negative predictions and brought unprecedented social progress to the country over the last 14 years. Since 2004 poverty has been reduced by half and extreme poverty has been cut by 70%. University enrolment has doubled, entitlement to public pensions has tripled, and access to health care and all levels of education have been dramatically expanded.

Venezuela now has the lowest levels of economic inequality of any Latin American country as measured by the Gini coefficient. Our country has already achieved many of the Millennium Development Goals, and is well on target to achieve all eight by the 2015 deadline.

This progress has been achieved by using Venezuela's vast oil revenues to transform the lives of ordinary people. The sheer scale of our oil reserves -- the world's largest -- guarantees the complete sustainability of the model in which the country's resources are used to stimulate growth in the economy and aid development.

But Chavez's most significant achievement has been to trigger the awakening and empowerment of the majority. A majority of Venezuelans have seen vast improvements in their living standards and, as a consequence, they have continued to defend their interests at the ballot box.

The Venezuelan people are very clear about what they want. President Chavez was re-elected in October 2012 with 54% of the vote in an election that boasted an 81% turnout. The Venezuelan people showed their support for the government again in December 2012 in the gubernatorial elections, which saw Chavez's political party win 20 out of 23 states.

Governments in Europe and other parts of the world could only dream of these levels of support after 14 years in power. This shows that social progress in Venezuela has been consolidated and that there is a desire to further expand this progress.

In the coming years, the Venezuelan government will continue to respond to the needs of the Venezuelan people. Hundreds of thousands of new homes have been built over the last two years which have not only greatly improved living standards but also provided jobs and contributed to a boom in the construction industry. The government is well on its way to meeting its target of building three million new homes by 2019.

While many economies around the world are shrinking, the Venezuelan economy grew by 5.5% in 2012. Against the backdrop of a continuing international financial crisis, commerce in Venezuela grew by 9.2% and communications by 7.2%, manufacturing grew by 2.1% and the oil sector grew by 1.4% -- making Venezuela one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America.

At a time when many countries are attacking the rights of the most vulnerable sectors of society, Venezuela is providing ever greater protection for low-income senior citizens and single-parent families with younger children or disabled dependents.

The failed development models of previous governments condemned millions of Venezuelans to poverty. Before the election of Chavez in 1998, Venezuela suffered years of falling GDP. The country had one of the worst economic records in the world -- a record that led to mass social unrest and violent military crackdowns.

Venezuela will continue on its path of social progress and empowering ordinary citizens. The greatest hope for the future is the people know that they alone hold the power to determine the direction the country will take.

After so many failed predictions, isn't it time to respect Venezuela's democracy and the will of the people?

Part of complete coverage on

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Model: Getting what I don't deserve


  • Model Cameron Russell's TED Talk has been viewed more than a million times

  • She says, as winner of "genetic lottery," she has been able to have a modeling career

  • Her looks fit a narrow definition of beauty, she says

  • Russell: I work hard but my modeling career gives my views undeserved attention

Editor's note: Cameron Russell has been a model for brands such as Victoria's Secret, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Benetton and has appeared in the pages of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and W. She spoke at TEDx MidAtlantic in October. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to "ideas worth spreading" which it makes available through talks posted on its website.

(CNN) -- Last month the TEDx talk I gave was posted online. Now it has been viewed over a million times. The talk itself is nothing groundbreaking. It's a couple of stories and observations about working as a model for the last decade.

I gave the talk because I wanted to tell an honest personal narrative of what privilege means.

I wanted to answer questions like how did I become a model. I always just say, " I was scouted," but that means nothing.

The real way that I became a model is that I won a genetic lottery, and I am the recipient of a legacy. What do I mean by legacy? Well, for the past few centuries we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we're biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures, and femininity and white skin. And this is a legacy that was built for me, and it's a legacy that I've been cashing in on.

Some fashionistas may think, "Wait. Naomi. Tyra. Joan Smalls. Liu Wen." But the truth is that in 2007 when an inspired NYU Ph.D. student counted all the models on the runway, of the 677 models hired, only 27, or less than four percent, were non-white.

Usually TED only invites the most accomplished and famous people in the world to give talks. I hoped telling a simple story -- where my only qualification was life experience (not a degree, award, successful business or book) -- could encourage those of us who make media to elevate other personal narratives: the stories of someone like Trayvon Martin, the undocumented worker, the candidate without money for press.

Instead my talk reinforced the observations I highlighted in it: that beauty and femininity and race have made me the candy of mass media, the "once you pop you just can't stop" of news.

In particular it is the barrage of media requests I've had that confirm that how I look and what I do for a living attracts enormous undeserved attention.

Do I want a TV show? Do I want to write a book? Do I want to appear in a movie? Do I want to speak to CNN, NBC, NPR, the Times of India, Cosmo, this blogger and that journal? Do I want to speak at this high school, at that college, at Harvard Law School or at other conferences? A teen just trying to figure it out

I am not a uniquely accomplished 25-year-old. I've modeled for 10 years and I took six years to finish my undergraduate degree part-time, graduating this past June with honors from Columbia University. If I ever had needed to put together a CV it would be quite short. Like many young people I'd highlight my desire to work hard.

But hard work is not why I have been successful as a model. I'm not saying I'm lazy. But the most important part of my job is to show up with a 23-inch waist, looking young, feminine and white. This shouldn't really shock anyone. Models are chosen solely based on looks. But what was shocking to me is that when I spoke, the way I look catapulted what I had to say on to the front page.

Even if I did give a good talk, is what I have to say more important and interesting than what Colin Powell said? (He spoke at the same event and his talk has about a quarter of the view count.) Isaac Mizrahi on fashion and creativity

Like many young people I believe I have potential to make a positive impact in the world. But if I speak from a platform that relies on how I look, I worry that I will not have made room for anyone else to come after me. I will have reinforced that beauty and race and privilege get you a news story. The schoolteacher without adequate support, the domestic worker without rights, they won't be up there with me.

So what do I do? I am being handed press when good press for important issues is hard to come by. These outlets are the same outlets that spent two years not reporting a new drone base in Saudi Arabia while press in the UK covered it.

They are the same organizations that have forgotten New Orleans and forgotten to follow up on contractors who aren't fulfilling their responsibilities there -- important not only for the people of NOLA, but also for setting a precedent for the victims of Sandy, and of the many storms to come whose frequency and severity will rise as our climate changes.

TED. com: Amy Tan on where creativity hides

Should I tell stories like these instead of my own? I don't feel like I have the authority or experience to do so.

How can we change this cycle? The rise of the Internet and the camera phone have started to change what stories are accessible. And we now have the ability to build more participatory media structures. The Internet often comes up with good answers to difficult questions. So I ask: How can we build media platforms accessible to a diversity of content creators?

On a personal note, what should I talk about? Do I refuse these offers outright because of my lack of experience, because I'm not the right person to tell the stories that are missing from the media? Can I figure out a way to leverage my access to bring new voices into the conversation? Right now I'm cautiously accepting a few requests and figuring out what it all means.

I'm listening, tweet me @cameroncrussell

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Cameron Russell.

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Afghanistan's future: Five questions


  • President Obama has revealed new details about the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan

  • But there are several key issues that still must be resolved in the coming months

  • The Afghan military has its critics, but the U.S. has praised its progress

  • There are fears that Afghanistan's advancements might be at risk after 2014

(CNN) -- In his State of the Union address, President Obama reaffirmed that the country's war in Afghanistan would be over by the end of 2014.

He also laid out more specifics.

Of the approximately 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now, more than half -- 34,000 -- will come home in the next year, Obama said.

At the same time, Afghan troops will assume most of the responsibility for combat missions.

"This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead," Obama said.

It was previously expected that Afghan forces would take the lead in combat missions by the middle of this year. But a U.S. official told CNN that the military transition has accelerated and that Afghans will lead all security operations by March.

What does this news mean for Afghanistan and America's longest war? Here are some key questions that will be asked in the coming months:

1. Are the Afghan troops up to the task?

There are certainly doubts.

A Pentagon review in December claimed that only one of 23 Afghan army brigades was capable of functioning on its own.

Meanwhile, literacy rates are low, desertion rates are high, and many deserters have joined the insurgency. There also have been a troubling number of "green-on-blue" attacks: Afghan troops attacking their American comrades.

But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has spoken positively about the progress Afghans have made in growing their army, reducing violence and becoming more self-sufficient. Afghan forces now lead nearly 90% of operations across the country.

"We're on the right path to give (Afghanistan) the opportunity to govern itself," Panetta said earlier this month.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he welcomes the U.S. troop withdrawal and insists his army can defend the country against the Taliban.

"It is exactly our job to deal with it, and we are capable of dealing with it," Karzai said during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

What the army needs now, Karzai says, is more equipment and firepower. He came to the Pentagon last month with a wish list asking for more helicopters, drones and other hardware, according to a senior defense official.

"We need an air force. We need air mobility," Karzai told Amanpour. "We need proper mechanized forces. We need, you know, armored vehicles and tanks and all that."

2. What presence will the U.S. have after 2014?

The plan is to withdraw all combat troops but keep a residual force in the country to help train Afghans and carry out counterterrorism operations when needed.

The size of that force is still being discussed.

Gen. John Allen, the former commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, recommended between 6,000 and 15,000 troops. But that figure was lowered to a range between 2,500 and 9,000, according to a defense official.

There might not be any U.S. troops at all if the United States cannot come to an agreement over immunity with Afghanistan. There was no American presence in Iraq at the end of that war because the Iraqi government refused to extend legal protections to U.S. troops.

Karzai, who's in favor of a residual force, said he would put the immunity decision in the hands of Afghan elders, and he expressed confidence that he could persuade the elders to see things his way.

Leaving no U.S. troops at all would be a major misstep, said Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst. He said the U.S. has abandoned Afghanistan already, in 1989, and the decision left America with little understanding of the power vacuum that led to the Taliban's rise in the first place.

"The current public discussion of zero U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan ... will encourage those hardliner elements of the Taliban who have no interest in a negotiated settlement and believe they can simply wait the Americans out," Bergen wrote in an op-ed for "It also discourages the many millions of Afghans who see a longtime U.S. presence as the best guarantor that the Taliban won't come back in any meaningful way."

3. What's at stake?

The main fear among the Afghan people is that the country could revert to another civil war once the United States withdraws its combat troops. The Taliban are still "resilient and determined," according to a recent Pentagon report, and insurgents continue to carry out attacks and pose a major security threat.

"Some people we've spoken to sort of take it for granted that there's going to be a civil war when the United States leaves," said CNN's Erin Burnett on a recent trip to Afghanistan. "It happened before when the Soviet Union left (in 1989)."

For all the violence Afghanistan has seen in the past decade, it has also seen major advancements in human rights and quality of life.

"During the Taliban, basically there were thousands of girls going to school in Afghanistan. Now you have millions of girls going to school," Burnett said. "So there's been real progress on women's rights. Obviously there remain a lot of problems -- honor killings, forced marriages, domestic violence -- but there has been real progress."

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, once America's top commander in Afghanistan, said the Afghan people are "terrified."

"They're terrified because they think they have something to lose," McChrystal said. "There has been progress made. There is a better life. There are girls in school. There are things that are better than they were and opportunities potentially ahead.

"But they're afraid that if we completely abandon them in 2014, as they perceive we did in 1989, (things) would all go back."

And in Washington, there are worries that the wrong move could put the United States right back where it started, with nothing to show for a bloody conflict that started in 2001.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-California, expressed concern last week that a hasty withdrawal could be "needlessly fraught with risk."

"Since the president took the commendable step of deploying a surge to Afghanistan in 2009, we have known that our hard-fought gains are fragile and reversible," McKeon said. "That isn't my assessment, but the consistent opinion of experts both military and civilian."

4. Who will lead after Karzai?

Afghanistan's only president of this century won't be in charge for much longer.

Elections are scheduled for April 2014, and Karzai has reached the term limit set by his country's constitution. He told Amanpour it's "absolutely time to go."

"A new president will come to this country. A new government will come to this country. And I'll be a happily retired civil servant," he said.

So while Afghanistan oversees a major military transition, it also will have to make a political transition.

Who will lead the country during this critical moment in its history? Will the vote go smoothly, without violence and without controversy? There were reports of ballot tampering and other violations in the last one.

The answers might be just as important to Afghanistan's security as the readiness of its troops.

"The single biggest challenge for us is the political transition, the elections of 2014," said Saad Mohseni, the media mogul behind Afghanistan's Tolo Television. "(If) we have credible elections, I think we'll be OK for the next five, six years. (If) we don't, there is a real danger that we'll see instability, especially in 2014 as the U.S. troops withdraw."

5. What part will the Taliban play?

Despite the ongoing insurgency, Karzai seems eager to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban and include them in the political process.

The Taliban pulled out of talks last year, but Karzai said last month they "are very much conveying to us that they want to have peace talks. They're also people. They're also families. They also suffer, like the rest of Afghans are suffering."

Javid Ahmad, a Kabul native now with the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, believes revitalized peace talks are essential to Afghanistan's future and to the legacy of America's war.

"If withdrawing responsibly in 2014 is indeed high on President Obama's agenda, then he has little choice but to prioritize and accelerate the peace talks, negotiate a cease-fire between all sides, and reach a settlement that ensures that the Taliban lay down their weapons," Ahmad wrote in a recent column.

But will the Taliban be willing to cooperate? And if they enter negotiations, how much of an influence would they have on an Afghan society that has seen so many changes in the past decade?

"There have to be some red lines," said Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister for political affairs. "Some of the achievements that we've had in the last 10 years can't be negotiated."

Karzai sounded confident that most of the Taliban would acknowledge this.

"I think there is now a critical mass in Afghanistan of the educated, of the Afghan people who want a future of progress and stability," he said. "And I think also that the Taliban recognize that this corner has been turned, the majority of them. Some may be there among them who would not -- who would remain, you know, in the darkest of the mindset possible. But those are a few."

CNN's Chris Lawrence, Mike Mount and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

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Meteor shows need to keep eye on sky

By Colin Stuart, special for CNN

February 15, 2013 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia


  • Meteor explosion above Russia left hundreds of people injured

  • Meteor came on day asteroid expected to pass 27,000 kilometers from Earth

  • Earth is sprinkled with around 170 craters also caused by debris falling from space

  • Stuart says unexpected meteor shows importance of monitoring space for potential threats

Editor's note: Colin Stuart is an astronomy and science writer, who also works as a Freelance Astronomer for the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London. His first book is due to be published by Carlton Books in September 2013. Follow @skyponderer on Twitter.

London (CNN) -- Reports coming from Russia suggest that hundreds of people have been injured by a meteor falling from space. The force of the fireball, which seems to have crashed into a lake near the town of Chebarkul in the Ural Mountains, roared through the sky early on Friday morning local time, blowing out windows and damaging buildings. This comes on the same day that astronomers and news reporters alike were turning their attention to a 40 meter asteroid -- known as 2012 DA14 -- which is due for a close approach with Earth on Friday evening. The asteroid will skirt around our planet, however, missing by some 27,000 kilometers (16,777 miles). Based on early reports, there is no reason to believe the two events are connected.

Read more: Russian meteor injures hundreds

Colin Stuart

Colin Stuart

And yet it just goes to show how much space debris exists up there above our heads. It is easy to think of a serene solar system, with the eight planets quietly orbiting around the Sun and only a few moons for company. The reality is that we also share our cosmic neighborhood with millions of other, much smaller bodies: asteroids. Made of rock and metal, they range in size from a few meters across, up to the largest -- Ceres -- which is 1000 kilometers wide. They are left over rubble from the chaotic birth of our solar system around 5000 million years ago and, for the most part, are found in a "belt" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But some are known to move away from this region, either due to collisions with other asteroids or the gravitational pull of a planet. And that can bring them into close proximity to the Earth.

Read more: Saving Earth from asteroids

Once a piece of space-rock enters our atmosphere, it becomes known as a meteor. Traveling through the sky at a few kilometers per second, friction with the air can cause the meteor to break up into several pieces. Eyewitnesses have described seeing a burst of light and hearing loud, thunderous noises. This, too, is due to the object tearing through the gases above our heads. If any of the fragments make it to the ground, only then are they called meteorites.

Such events are rare, but not unprecedented. An object entered Earth's atmosphere in 1908 before breaking up over Siberia. The force of the explosion laid waste to a dense area of forest covering more than 2000 square kilometers. It is not hard to imagine the devastation of such an event over a more highly populated region. The Earth is sprinkled with around 170 craters also caused by debris falling from space. The largest is found near the town of Vredefort in South Africa. The impact of a much larger asteroid -- perhaps as big as 15 kilometers across -- is famously thought to have finished off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Opinion: Don't count 'doomsday asteroid' out yet

It is easy to see why, then, that astronomers are keen to discover the position and trajectory of as many asteroids as possible. That way they can work out where they are heading and when, if at all, they might pose a threat to us on Earth. It is precisely this sort of work that led to the discovery of asteroid 2012 DA14 last February by a team of Spanish astronomers. However, today's meteor strike shows that it is not currently possible to pick up everything.

A non-profit foundation, led by former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, wants to send a dedicated asteroid-hunting telescope into space that can scan the solar system for any potential threats. For now, astronomers will use Friday's fly-by to bounce radar beams off 2012 DA14's surface, hoping to learn more about its motion and structure. One day this information could be used to help move an asteroid out of an Earth-impacting orbit. This latest meteor over Russia just goes to show how important such work is and how crucial it is that we keep our eye on the sky.

Read more: NASA estimates 4,700 'potentially hazardous' asteroids

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Colin Stuart.

Part of complete coverage on

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What does Kim intend with nuclear test?


  • North Korea enjoys international community chatter about its nuclear program

  • Dates of nuclear test and rocket launch have significance, writes Joo Sung Ha

  • Joo works as a newspaper journalist and came from North Korea

Editor's note: Joo Sung Ha is a Seoul-based journalist for Donga Ilbo, a newspaper in South Korea. He graduated from North Korea's Kim Il Sung University and trained as a reservist artillery officer. He has been imprisoned in China and North Korea. This piece was submitted in Korean and has been translated.

(CNN) -- On Tuesday, the international community reacted to North Korea's third nuclear test by calling its action "provocative," while South Korea's foreign minister warned that it was a "clear threat to international peace and security."

It was what Kim Jong Un, the nation's young leader, wanted.

From the North Korean government's view, the more pressure the international community places on its nuclear testing, the better. They enjoy the chatter among the world's leaders and at the U.N. about how North Korea's nuclear program must be stopped at all cost.

Joo Sung Ha defected from North Korea and is a journalist based in Seoul.

Joo Sung Ha defected from North Korea and is a journalist based in Seoul.

On January 23, the North Korean foreign ministry notified that they intended to carry out a test. They also sent photos of Kim Jong Un holding a meeting with senior officials.

If Kim had not acted by going through with the underground blast, it would have appeared that he had succumbed to pressure from the international community. In North Korea the authority of the "king" in the dynasty system cannot be compromised.

The date of the nuclear test -- conducted on February 12 -- is also significant, as it fell just days short of the 71st birthday of Kim's late father, Kim Jong Il, on February 16. Many North Korean events are associated with symbolic dates for the Kim family. On December 12, just days before the first anniversary of Kim Jong II's death, Pyongyang launched its first rocket into orbit -- despite international uproar.

North Korea has staked its pride on these events. Saving face is more important than international sanctions, even if hundreds of thousands of ordinary North Koreans have died of hunger.

Even so, I cannot say the motivation behind North Korea's nuclear test is for Kim's pride alone. It also sends a message to its people that "Kim Jong Un leads the world."

Even with the nuclear test, the government knows that war will not arise. But to its people, it can give the impression that war is impending.

Inheriting his father's position at such a young age -- he's believed to be in his 20s -- many in North Korea may question whether Kim has the clout to lead. But through this test, Kim wanted to send a strong message domestically that he is in charge.

What happens if they do develop an effective nuclear weapon? Does North Korea intend to attack the United States? That is impossible. If North Korea attacks, it will be sent back to the Stone Ages -- the leadership in Pyongyang is well aware of that.

Does this point to an eventual attack on South Korea then? South Korea is protected by a nuclear umbrella -- meaning that the United States will protect it. In return for Seoul limiting its own nuclear weapons capability, Washington offers its protection. If North Korea attacks South Korea, it's effectively an attack on the United States.

Another major reason why North Korea is developing a nuclear capability is that its conventional military is dated and there are doubts about whether it can defend itself. While North Korea has an estimated 1.2 million soldiers, making it the third largest military behind China and United States, this is only a number.

It may be hard to believe but for almost 20 years, there have been continued food shortages in the military, to the extent that as many as 20% to 30% of the armed forces have actually disappeared -- with many deserting their post by way of a bribe to their superiors. Those that do remain in service are often involved in petty crime to get by, such as stealing from the civilian population.

North Korea requires military service for 10 years. During those years, most are discharged without even having fired 30 bullets. Without sufficient fuel for planes, airborne troops have not had much training. In 1990, I stood guard at a post in Pyongyang. The anti-aircraft weapon I used was a 1940s era model from the Soviet Union.

If war is to occur, North Korea could not stand, even for days, and it is well aware of that. But could it count on traditional ally, China, for support?

Starting from Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, the North Korean regime has never fully trusted China. The message that China is a nation that could strike North Korea at the "back of the head" has been passed down over the years to Kim Jong Un, his grandson. Since North Korea cannot count on Beijing fully, it has turned to the nuclear option as a deterrent.

North Korea would not risk a pre-emptive attack on the South, but the Kim dynasty now believes it has a card to protect itself, which is its main objective. For this reason, even if millions of people starve to death in the effects of the harsh sanctions, North Korea will keep trying to develop its own nuclear capabilities.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joo Sung Ha.

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Obama and Rubio: How did they do?

(CNN) -- CNN asked for views on President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, which was dominated by domestic issues such as the economy and need to reinvigorate the middle class, gun control, minimum wage, early education and immigration. Afterward, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida delivered the Republican response.

Sutter: A night that offered no hope for the jobless

John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion. He heads the section\'s Change the List project, which focuses on human rights and social justice.

John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion. He heads the section's Change the List project, which focuses on human rights and social justice.

After Barack Obama's speech and Marco Rubio's rebuttal, we should have heard from Kim Peters.

The 47-year-old single mother, who has been more or less unemployed since the start of the Great Recession, wore fuzzy Shrek slippers as she watched the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night from the middle of an empty living room south of Atlanta.

If the country and the president could have peered back at her through her small TV, they would have seen the piles of black trash bags, full of clothes, in the corners of the room. They haven't been unpacked since she was evicted from her last apartment. They would have seen the worry in her eyes -- felt the panic that wakes her up at 3 a.m. and makes her wonder how long it will be before she and her 7-year-old daughter end up homeless. Full story

Granderson: Rubio must have missed the year of the woman

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for, is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for, is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and

You would think that in the shadow of a general election dubbed "Year of the Woman," the last thing any Republican in Washington would want to do is tick off women.

And while the Violence Against Women Act passed in the Senate by a healthy bipartisan majority a few hours before President Obama's State of the Union address, the fact that 22 senators -- all Republicans, all men -- voted against it should be troubling to GOP leaders.

And perhaps the most troubling aspect of that is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the so-called savior of the Republican Party, was one of those Republican men.

Just think: A few hours before Rubio was to deliver a message reflecting a new Republican Party, he casts a vote that screams more of the same. Full story

Welch: Obama's 'do-something' plan for 'have-nothing' government

Matt Welch is editor-in-chief of Reason and co-author of \

Matt Welch is editor-in-chief of Reason and co-author of "The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America."

The two most memorable lines of President Barack Obama's fourth State of the Union address were the ad-libbed: "Get it done" (which doesn't appear in the remarks as prepared), and the emotional "They deserve a vote," concerning victims of gun violence.

As exasperated appeals for an obstructionist Congress to get off its duff, the exhortations provided emotional catnip for Democrats. For the rest of us, however, they were sobering reminders of what governing liberalism has deteriorated into: content-free calls to take action for action's sake.

Consumers of national governance are within their rights to ask just what we've gotten in return for ballooning the cost of the stuff since 2000. The answer may lie in not just what the president said, but what he has assumed we've already forgotten. Full story

Rothkopf: Obama's message: I'm in charge

David Rothkopf is CEO and editor-at-large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.\n

David Rothkopf is CEO and editor-at-large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

It is sometimes said of a great actor that he could hold an audience spellbound while reading a laundry list. This is essentially what President Obama tried to do on Tuesday night. As State of the Union addresses go, his was artless. It lacked inspired phrases or compelling narrative. Save for the energy he gave it at key moments, it was pedestrian.

It was also very important.

It was important because with it, Obama returned in earnest to the work of governing. Having won a clear victory in November, and having spent the intervening months putting out the wildfires our Congress likes to set, he delivered word Tuesday night that he had a clear and full agenda for his second term. Full story

Navarrette: A kinder, gentler, wiser Marco Rubio

Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

Sen. Marco Rubio was ready for his close-up, and he got it. Now you know what all the fuss is about.

Rubio, a rising star and possible 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, was picked to deliver the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union sddress.

The selection tells you a lot about what the Republican Party has in store for Rubio, and what this 41-year-old son of Cuban immigrants can do for a party that needs to become more user-friendly for Latinos. His remarks were also delivered in Spanish. Full story

Slaughter: Obama dares Congress to get the job done

Anne-Marie Slaughter is a former director of policy planning in the U.S. State Department and a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.

Anne-Marie Slaughter is a former director of policy planning in the U.S. State Department and a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.

The hallmark of the 2013 State of the Union address was progressive pragmatism.

Time and again, President Obama punctuated his proposals with the refrain: "We should be able to get that done." After his call for "bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit," he said: "We can get this done," and later, "That's what we can do together."

When he proposed the addition of three more urban manufacturing hubs and asked Congress "to help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America," he added: "We can get that done." Full story

Coleman: Where was the foreign policy?

Isobel Coleman is the author of \

Isobel Coleman is the author of "Paradise Beneath Her Feet" and a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

President Obama's State of the Union address predictably focused on his domestic priorities.

Immigration reform, a laundry list of economic initiatives including infrastructure improvements (Fix it First), clean energy, some manufacturing innovation, a bit of educational reform and the rhetorical high point of his speech -- gun control.

As in years past, foreign policy made up only about 15% of the speech, but even within that usual limited attention, Tuesday night's address pointed to few new directions.

On Afghanistan -- America's longest war -- Obama expressed just a continued commitment to bringing the troops home, ending "our war" while theirs continues. On Iran, there was a single sentence reiterating the need for a diplomatic solution, which makes me think that a big diplomatic push is not likely. Full story

Greene: In 2013, democracy talks back about State of the Union

CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include \

CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story" and "Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War."

"To report the state of the union." Within the first few seconds of President Barack Obama's address Tuesday night, he quoted the late President John F. Kennedy, who 51 years ago used those words to describe a president's annual duty.

As Obama spoke, citizens around the country were tapping away at keyboards, posting and sending messages -- public and private -- characterizing their own view of how the union, and its president, are faring.

Obama told the packed House of Representatives chamber: "We can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger." And those citizens around the country, typing away, were in essence saying: We'll be the ones to decide that, thank you very much. Full story

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The opinions in this commentary are solely those of the writers.

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Obama's chance to lead?


  • John Avlon: President Barack Obama is well-positioned to help solve debt problem

  • He says Obama should avoid temptation favored by some Democrats to put off action

  • Relatively modest changes in entitlements could help ensure their survival, Avlon says

  • Avlon: Obama can rally his party behind deficit cuts that won't hurt economy

Editor's note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns." He is a regular contributor to "Erin Burnett OutFront" and is a member of the OutFront Political Strike Team. For more political analysis, tune in to "Erin Burnett OutFront" at 7 ET weeknights.

(CNN) -- "What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. ... We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."

So said President-elect Barack Obama at a Washington Post editorial board meeting in January 2009, just days before taking his first oath of office. He was talking about the importance of dealing with the long-term deficit and debt.

The rhetoric hasn't met the record -- debt has exploded under Obama's watch. Reasonable people can forgive the president for expenses incurred while confronting the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression -- and, let's be honest, alternative paths of austerity have not worked that well across the Atlantic. But now is the time to get serious about reigning in our long-term debt, which now exceeds an unsustainable 70% of gross domestic product.

At this moment of maximum political capital, Obama is perfectly positioned to act on his original impulse in the State of the Union on Tuesday night.

But there is a dangerous bit of hubris sweeping the Democratic Party, which says that dealing with deficits and debt is a sucker's bet, best left to the next Republican president.

Instead, the Keynesians are riding high and arguing that deficit and debt is not a primary concern to most voters and irrelevant to economic growth. And so the pregame expectation setting comes: White House minions told The Washington Post not to expect the president to present "an ambitious new plan to rein in the debt" in the State of the Union.

Opinion: Obama needs to lay out a plan on climate crisis

This would be a major mistake and a costly lost opportunity.

With an eye toward his legacy, Obama should follow his original instincts and put the power of presidency behind a balanced long-term plan to deal with deficits and debt -- including spending cuts, tax reform and, most importantly, entitlement reform.

This is the time for Obama to pull a Nixon in China.

Just as only a committed anti-communist such as Nixon could establish relations with communist China, Obama is perfectly positioned to do what he knows is necessary to preserve the long-term strength and solvency of the social safety net: Medicare and Social Security.

This does not mean draconian cuts or a voucherization of the existing system as imagined by Rep. Paul Ryan and many House Republicans. But it does mean following through on the president's previous negotiated offers to consider "chained CPI," which would lower inflation-related increases in Social Security benefits, and to raise the eligibility age for Medicare.

Formula adjustments such as these can save billions of dollars over the next 10 years, keeping these popular programs solvent. Other solutions, such as raising the Social Security payroll tax cap to more than the current income cutoff of $110,000, are worth consideration as part of a package. This is an idea that liberals love because it extends the progressivity of the tax code to the wealthiest Americans.

Alternatively, we could means-test Social Security to make sure it serves primarily as a safety net -- or (gasp!) raise the retirement age. When the Bowles-Simpson commission suggested raising the retirement age to 69 in 2075, it was met with howls of outrage from unions in particular. This makes no sense, especially if common-sense exemptions are made for manual labor.

Beltway cynics say that the bipartisan deficit and debt reduction plans that are often cited have no chance of passing Congress. When you look at the pathetic support for Bowles-Simpson when it was actually put to a vote in the House last March -- 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats supported it -- you see why cynicism is always a safe bet in Washington.

But take a step back, and you'll see much broader support among the American people. The Pew Research Center found that the top three issues are "strengthening the economy" (at 86%), "improving the jobs situation" (79%) and "reducing the budget deficit" (at 72%). Crucially, the deficit has shown the biggest increase as an issue over the past four years -- up 19 percentage points from 2009. This is evidence of a pent-up demand for action -- but it will require presidential leadership.

Of course the devil is in the details, and politicos will point out that when confronted with tough medicine to deal with deficits and debt, even alleged tea party supporters balk (hence the classic "Government Get Your Hands Off My Medicare!" sign that I saw at one 2009 rally).

But strengthening America to remain competitive in the 21st century will require getting our long-term debt under control along with other important but less poll-prioritized policies such as comprehensive immigration reform and a public-private infrastructure bank to fund nation-building "here at home."

The State of the Union is a chance for the president to put forward a balanced bipartisan solution that contrasts with radical conservatives who believe that increased tax revenues from closed tax loopholes can't be part of a big deal to bring down our debt. Wall Street lawyers will fight to protect every loophole they embedded in our tax code, but their argument doesn't begin to make sense to people on Main Street.

Obama will probably point out Tuesday night that economic growth is the essential X Factor to reducing long-term deficits and debt. On this point at least, he and some conservatives might agree. But dumb meat cleaver cuts such as the looming sequestration could push our economy back into recession.

That's why a smart balanced alternative plan is necessary. But it will require presidential leadership and putting some Democratic sacred cows on the table.

This doesn't just make practical sense in a divided government (a reality some Democrats seem to forget) -- it makes compelling political sense as well. By seizing the mantle of fiscal responsibility -- in contrast to fiscal conservatism -- Obama will build on his post-election bump among centrists and some independents.

The more Machiavellian Democrats might argue that this outreach could only serve to isolate Republicans more. Nonpartisan strategists might argue that this approach would drive a wedge between reasonable Republicans and the House radicals.

But the real reason for Obama to address the need to reduce long-term deficits and debt directly is because it's the right thing to do for our country -- and he is uniquely positioned to achieve it. Just as Nixon could go to China, a Southern Democrat such as Lyndon Johnson was needed to pass civil rights legislation and Bill Clinton was able to sign welfare reform after decades of Republicans talking about it, Obama can put our country on a balanced path of long-term economic growth and fiscal responsibility.

Bottom line: Obama has the political opportunity, but does he have the political will? We'll all find out in real time if he decides to lead on this issue or just be the latest in a long line to kick the can further down the road.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.

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Why pope will long be remembered

Tim Stanley says Pope Benedict will be seen as an important figure in church history.


  • Timothy Stanley: Benedict XVI's resignation is historic since popes usually serve for life

  • He says pope not so much conservative as asserting church's "living tradition"

  • He backed traditionalists, but a conflicted flock, scandal, culture wars a trial to papacy, he says

  • Stanley: Pope kept to principle, and if it's not what modern world wanted, that's world's problem

Editor's note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."

(CNN) -- Journalists have a habit of calling too many things "historic" -- but on this occasion, the word is appropriate. The Roman Catholic Church is run like an elected monarchy, and popes are supposed to rule until death; no pope has stepped down since 1415.

Therefore, it almost feels like a concession to the modern world to read that Benedict XVI is retiring on grounds of ill health, as if he were a CEO rather than God's man on Earth. That's highly ironic considering that Benedict will be remembered as perhaps the most "conservative" pope since the 1950s -- a leader who tried to assert theological principle over fashionable compromise.

Timothy Stanley

Timothy Stanley

The word "conservative" is actually misleading, and the monk who received me into the Catholic Church in 2006 -- roughly a year after Benedict began his pontificate -- would be appalled to read me using it. In Catholicism, there is no right or left but only orthodoxy and error. As such, Benedict would understand the more controversial stances that he took as pope not as "turning back the clock" but as asserting a living tradition that had become undervalued within the church. His success in this regard will be felt for generations to come.

He not only permitted but quietly encouraged traditionalists to say the old rite, reviving the use of Latin or receiving the communion wafer on the tongue. He issued a new translation of the Roman Missal that tried to make its language more precise. And, in the words of one priest, he encouraged the idea that "we ought to take care and time in preparing for the liturgy, and ensure we celebrate it with as much dignity as possible." His emphasis was upon reverence and reflection, which has been a healthy antidote to the 1960s style of Catholicism that encouraged feverish participation bordering on theatrics.

Nothing the pope proposed was new, but it could be called radical, trying to recapture some of the certainty and beauty that pervaded Catholicism before the reforming Vatican II. Inevitably, this upset some. Progressives felt that he was promoting a form of religion that belonged to a different century, that his firm belief in traditional moral theology threatened to distance the church from the people it was supposed to serve.

If that's true, it wasn't the pope's intent. Contrary to the general impression that he's favored a smaller, purer church, Benedict has actually done his best to expand its reach. The most visible sign was his engagement on Twitter. But he also reached out to the Eastern Orthodox Churches and spoke up for Christians persecuted in the Middle East.

In the United Kingdom, he encouraged married Anglican priests to defect. He has even opened up dialogue with Islam. During his tenure, we've also seen a new embrace of Catholicism in the realm of politics, from Paul Ryan's nomination to Tony Blair's high-profile conversion. And far from only talking about sex, Benedict expanded the number of sins to include things such as pollution. It's too often forgotten that in the 1960s he was considered a liberal who eschewed the clerical collar.

The divisions and controversies that occurred under Benedict's leadership had little to do with him personally and a lot more to do with the Catholic Church's difficult relationship with the modern world. As a Catholic convert, I've signed up to its positions on sexual ethics, but I appreciate that many millions have not. A balance has to be struck between the rights of believers and nonbelievers, between respect for tradition and the freedom to reject it.

As the world has struggled to strike that balance (consider the role that same-sex marriage and abortion played in the 2012 election) so the church has found itself forced to be a combatant in the great, ugly culture war. Benedict would rather it played the role of reconciler and healer of wounds, but at this moment in history that's not possible. Unfortunately, its alternative role as moral arbiter has been undermined by the pedophile scandal. Nothing has dogged this pontificate so much as the tragedy of child abuse, and it will continue to blot its reputation for decades to come.

For all these problems, my sense is that Benedict will be remembered as a thinker rather than a fighter. I have been so fortunate to become a Catholic at a moment of liturgical revival under a pope who can write a book as majestic and wise as his biography of Jesus. I've been lucky to know a pope with a sense of humor and a willingness to talk and engage.

If he wasn't what the modern world wanted -- if he wasn't prepared to bend every principle or rule to appease all the people all the time -- then that's the world's problem rather than his. Although he has attained one very modern distinction indeed. On Monday, he trended ahead of Justin Bieber on Twitter for at least an hour.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Stanley.

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What beats Grammy? Immortality

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time


  • Bob Greene: Grammy nominated acts should remember the real prize comes later in life

  • He says at a hotel he ran into a group of singing stars from an earlier era, in town for a show

  • He says the world of post-fame touring less glamorous for acts, but meaningful

  • Greene: Acts grow old, but their hits never will and to fans, the songs are time-machine

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include "When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams"; "Late Edition: A Love Story"; and "Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."

(CNN) -- Memo to Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Ocean, Hunter Hayes, Mumford & Sons, Miguel, the Alabama Shakes and all the other young singers and bands who are nominated for Sunday night's Grammy Awards:

Your real prize -- the most valuable and sustaining award of all -- may not become evident to you until 30 or so years have passed.

You will be much older.

But -- if you are lucky -- you will still get to be out on the road making music.

Bob Greene

Bob Greene

Many of Sunday's Grammy nominees are enjoying the first wave of big success. It is understandable if they take for granted the packed concert venues and eye-popping paychecks.

Those may go away -- the newness of fame, the sold-out houses, the big money.

But the joy of being allowed to do what they do will go on.

I've been doing some work while staying at a small hotel off a highway in southwestern Florida. One winter day I was reading out on the pool deck, and there were some other people sitting around talking.

They weren't young, by anyone's definition. They did not seem like conventional businessmen or businesswomen on the road, or like retirees. There was a sense of nascent energy and contented anticipation in their bearing, of something good waiting for them straight ahead. A look completely devoid of grimness or fretfulness, an afternoon look that said the best part of the day was still to come.

I would almost have bet what line of work they were in. I'd seen that look before, many times.

I could hear them talking.


The Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight," a No. 1 hit in 1961).

Little Peggy March ("I Will Follow Him," a No. 1 hit in 1963).

Little Anthony and the Imperials ("Tears on My Pillow," a top 10 hit in 1958).

Major singing stars from an earlier era of popular music, in town for a multi-act show that evening.

It is the one sales job worth yearning for -- carrying that battered sample case of memorable music around the country, to unpack in front of a different appreciative audience every night.

It's quite a world. I was fortunate enough to learn its ins and outs during the 15 deliriously unlikely years I spent touring the United States singing backup with Jan and Dean ("Surf City," a No. 1 hit in 1963) and all the other great performers with whom we shared stages and dressing rooms and backstage buffets:

Chuck Berry, Martha and the Vandellas, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, James Brown, Lesley Gore, Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, the Kingsmen, the Drifters, Fabian, the Coasters, Little Eva, the Ventures, Sam the Sham. ...

Jukebox names whose fame was once as fresh and electric as that now being savored by Sunday's young Grammy nominees.

Decades after that fame is new, the road may not be quite as glamorous, the crowds may not be quite as large. The hours of killing time before riding over to the hall, the putrid vending-machine meals on the run, the way-too-early-in-the-morning vans to the airport -- the dreary parts all become more than worth it when, for an hour or so, the singers can once again personally deliver a bit of happiness to the audiences who still adore their music.

Greene: Super Bowl ad revives iconic voice

As the years go by, the whole thing may grow complicated -- band members come and go, they fight and feud, some quit, some die. There are times when it seems you can't tell the players without a scorecard -- the Tokens at the highway hotel were, technically and contractually, Jay Siegel's Tokens (you don't want to know the details). One of their singers (not Jay Siegel -- Jay Traynor) was once Jay of Jay and the Americans, a group that itself is still out on the road in a different configuration with a different Jay (you don't want to know).

But overriding all of this is a splendid truism:

Sometimes, if you have one big hit, it can take care of you for the rest of your life. It can be your life.

Sunday's young Grammy nominees may not imagine, 30 years down the line, still being on tour. But they -- the fortunate ones -- will come to learn something:

They will grow old, but their hits never will -- once people first fall in love with those songs, the songs will mean something powerful and evocative to them for the rest of their lives.

And as long as there are fairground grandstands on summer nights, as long as there are small-town ballparks with stages where the pitcher's mound should be, the singers will get to keep delivering the goods.

That is the hopeful news waiting, off in the distance, for those who will win Grammys Sunday, and for those who won't be chosen.

On the morning after that pool-deck encounter in Florida I headed out for a walk, and in the parking lot of the hotel I saw one of the Tokens loading his stage clothes into his car.

His license plate read:


I said to him:

"You sing lead on 'She Cried,' right?"

"Every night," he said, and drove off toward the next show.

The next show.

That's the prize.

That's the trophy, right there.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.

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