Utah PhillipsA good man has died. You can read about Utah Phillips, who influenced several generations of singers and activists, by clicking through to the link above, which goes to his official website. Or you can look at his Wikipedia entry, which as far as I can tell is quite accurate.The obituary and stories will tell you a lot, but as always in such circumstances they can’t capture the full essence of a life.

I met him in Vermont, when he was living in a reconditioned train caboose next to the recording studio, known as The Barn, where he and many other people (including me) recorded their music. Those days are a bit, uh, blurry — but I’ll never forget his humor and kindness.

When I moved to California, I helped put together what remains one of my most memorable evenings — a living room concert at the Saratoga home of Tom and Carol Lustenader. He came down from Nevada City in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where he’d settled later in life, and regaled us with stories and songs. I hadn’t seen him in more than 20 years at that point, but as in the old cliche we seemed to pick up our conversation pretty much where we’d left off back in Vermont.

Although he sang wonderful songs, his most indelible piece of work is unquestionably his funniest. Have a listen to Moose Turd Pie (MP3), and you’ll have a sense of this man and his times.

Rest in peace.

NY Daily News: Obama: ‘Assassination’ flap over-rated. “I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Sen. Clinton and I have been campaigning, sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make,” Obama told Radio Isla in Puerto Rico, where he and Clinton stumped in advance of the June 1 primary. “And I think that is what happened here.

This really should be the final word. Sadly it won’t be.

Look, we all say stupid things from time to time, even super-smart people like Clinton. Some of the criticism of her remarks, which were kind of weird, is so far over the top that it’s crazy. Yet journalists continue to flog it mercilessly.

Let it go.

Guardian: White House tells court of missing emails from beginning of Iraq war. The White House has admitted in court that it has lost three months of email backups from the initial days of the Iraq war, raising questions about the possible deletion of politically sensitive records.

The disclosure came in a lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive, a non-profit group that specialises in uncovering classified documents.

The archive was told it could not receive emails relating to Iraq, despite a 30-year-old law requiring the preservation of presidential records, because a system upgrade had deleted up to 5m emails.

Given the record of the Bush White House, a better bet is that these folks deliberated deleted the material to prevent anyone from knowing what was going on inside the administration. Naturally, Congress won’t even try to find out the truth beyond the normal handwringing.

But the alternative is that the administration deliberately violated the law requiring retention. Who’s going to prosecute? You already know: nobody, because these folks don’t do that sort of thing when they’re the lawbreakers.