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Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

As soon as my wife saw the absurd shtick that Clint Eastwood delivered at the Republican National Convention speaking to an empty chair that possessed an invisible President Obama, she turned and deadpanned to me, “Oh my god, you can never paint a chair again.”  I laughed but didn’t fret.  There have always been plenty of  readings for the meaning of the chair in various cultures as well as in my paintings so a new, albeit ridiculous, interpretation wouldn’t make much of a difference.  But it has made me go back through my files and look at some of the chair paintings from the past.

I try to figure out which president each might be.

I’ve found quite a few Lincolns, a Taft and both Roosevelts.  Then there was a Jefferson, a Grant and a Clinton.  All three assassinated presidents were there– McKinley, Garfield and JFK.  George Washington and Old Hickory , of course.  Still looking for a Polk and a Martin Van Buren.  I think it may be difficult to find a Millard Fillmore but, hey, you never know.  He should actually be easiest to find as he hailed from not far from me in the Finger Lakes region but he still is not located in my paintings.

The painting above?

Dick Nixon.  And if Clint Eastwood thought the Obama chair had a potty mouth, wait until he gets a load of this chair.

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The current debt limit debate that’s currently taking place in our nations’s capital somehow brings to mind the TV series from the early 70′s, Kung Fu.  It featured the late David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a young man living in the mid-19th century whose father was an American and his mother Chinese.  Orphaned at an early age, he is trained as a Shaolin monk in both Eastern wisdom and martial arts.  When his spiritual mentor, Master Po (…take the pebble from my hand, Grasshopper…), is killed by the Emperor’s nephew, Caine exacts revenge and is forced to flee to America to find his half-brother. The show followed Caine as he traveled through the Old West trying to pass quietly yet always coming  face to face with hateful bullies who seem immune to the wisdom that Caine delivers in a cool and calm manner.

You probably see where this is going.  In our own scenario, I think President Obama has taken on the role of Kwai Chang Caine and has tried to deal with the situation with rational thought and actions.  He has remained cool and calm yet it has brought no response.  Like most bullies, logic makes little impression and a calm response is seen as weakness which only spurs on even more aggressive bullying behavior.

That’s where we are in our own episode.  Caine has faced the bullies, delivered some tidbits of Zen wisdom and is told by the bullies to get out the way because they were going to burn down the town and everyone in it, including Caine.  It is time for Caine to act.

Now, as much as I enjoyed the little spoonfuls of wisdom that Caine administered each week, I watched the show as teenager to see him ultimately beat the hell out the bullies, to dish out deserved social justice in a whoop-ass manner.  As much as I admire the calm rationale of  President Obama, he must now stand up to those bullies who have taken our system hostage, who have said that their way is the only way.  He must stop talking ,  bloody the bullies’ noses and take the club from their hands.  Exert power–that is what they understand, the only thing they respect and fear. 

Invoke the 14th and simply raise the debt limit.  Just do it.  You given us the aphorisms, we’ve heard the words.  But the bullies are still threatening to burn down the town and get rid of you in the process.  It’s the part of the show where you’re supposed to kick some asses and kick them hard. 

Do it.  This town needs to get back to work.

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Is there a gas leak  in here?
What the hell is going on lately?
You’ve got Joe Wilson screaming at President Obama.  Serena Williams melts down at the US Open, swearing at and threatening a line judge.   Kanye West jumps the stage at some MTV awards show taking the microphone from the surprised winner and berates the crowd because Beyonce didn’t win.  On Saturday,  thousands  ( not millions, not even hundreds of thousands) marched on Washington, still quivering with anger and screaming that they want their country back and that Muslims were taking over Washington.  Bury Obamacare With Kennedy signs were distributed through the crowd.  Classy.
Last night I flipped on the Yankees game and there on the screen was a writhing mass of players, flailing away at one another.  Base brawl.  This ugly edginess that has been so apparent of late had even reached into the very thing I was hoping would be a refuge from all this craziness.
Why this anger, why now?  I wish I had answers.  There has definitely been a coarsening of society, a loss of the niceties and manners that once defined civil society,  something that has been pointed out a lot lately.   Maybe it’s that people feel they have lost their voice and that the only way to be heard is to scream.  Maybe it’s just the fact that with all media being omnipresent, every word, every act is recorded.  There is no timeout, no stepping back from the glare of  the spotlights to stop and think about the effect of one’s actions.  Every action causes a reaction and suddenly, while one is still dealing with the initial action, there is the reaction to be faced.  And the reaction to that reaction.  And so on and so forth until the universe folds into itself and there is nothing but a great void.

angrymanIs there a gas leak in here?

What the hell is going on lately?

You’ve got Joe Wilson screaming at President Obama. Serena Williams melts down at the US Open, swearing at and threatening a line judge. Kanye West jumps the stage at some MTV awards show taking the microphone from the surprised winner and berates the crowd because Beyonce didn’t win. On Saturday, thousands ( not millions, not even hundreds of thousands) marched on Washington, still quivering with anger and screaming that they want their country back and that Muslims were taking over Washington. Bury Obamacare With Kennedy signs were distributed through the crowd. Classy.

Last night I flipped on the Yankees game and there on the screen was a writhing mass of players, flailing away at one another. Base brawl. This ugly edginess that has been so apparent of late had even reached into the very thing I was hoping would be a refuge from all this craziness.

beckWhy this anger, why now? I wish I had answers. There has definitely been a coarsening of society, a loss of the niceties and manners that once defined civil society, something that has been pointed out a lot lately. Maybe it’s that people feel they have lost their voice and that the only way to be heard is to scream. Maybe it’s just the fact that with all media being omnipresent, every word, every act is recorded. There is no timeout, no stepping back from the glare of the spotlights to stop and think about the effect of one’s actions. Every action causes a reaction and suddenly, while one is still dealing with the initial action, there is the reaction to be faced. And the reaction to that reaction. And so on and so forth until the universe folds into itself and there is nothing but a great void.

Okay, that’s the worst that could happen.  But the fact remains, we are a nation spoiling for a fight at the moment.  Can we simmer down without boiling over?  I don’t know.  Hope so, but the idea of thoughtful, civil discussion on any matter seems like a pipedream at the moment.  Especially given the invective and prodding from guys like Beck and Limbaugh whose very livelihoods depend on this anger and division being kept alive.  I just hope we can all take a breath and  find common ground to stand on.  Let’s just  hope our better angels haven’t flown the coop…

Just remember the words of Voltaire:

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

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Obama Health CareI have said it before that I am hesitant to talk about political things in this blog, instead focusing on my work as a painter.  It’s kind of like the old advice about not talking about religion or politics, especially given the fact that I am, in fact, a small businessman.  But there are some things that are too important and this is one of them: healthcare.

President Obama addressed the congress and the country last night in what I thought was a very effective speech.  I could’ve done without all the standing ovations which I thought sometimes disrupted the president’s rhythm but the shots of congress were very revealing.  It was very effective to see the sour faces of the Republican opposition all gathered together and to see the doubt on their faces at points as to whether they should  stand and applaud.  There was Eric Cantor disgracefully disrespectful as he twittered away.  There were some who stood and waved papers as though they were birthers holding up their birth certificates.

But most revealing was the shout of You lie! that  emerged as the President spoke about the plan not covering illegal immigrants, a point that has been verified by a number of non-partisan fact checking organizations.  The culprit was Joe Wilson, a South Carolina republican who showed the world the face of the party who has devolved into one of obstruction for their own short-term political gains rather than of one who fights for the betterment of the American people.  It was ugly and was an overt indicator of the disrespect the republicans have for the President.  He thought this was a town hall meeting, I guess, where you can yell down anyone even when you’re obviously wrong.  The only bright spot from this is that his opponent in the next congressional race, Rob Miller, has raised over $100,000 in contributions since last night .

I was glad to hear the President speak about the cost of reforming healthcare in relation to the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan  and to the costs of the Bush Tax Cuts.  The very same republican congressmen who wholeheartedly voted to ransack  our future to line the pockets of the the very wealthiest now claim we just can’t afford to do this now.  Well, the Bush Tax Cuts by most accounts will cost us over 2 trillion dollars over the decade with some putting the cost at closer to 2.5 trillion.  Close to a trillion dollars of that went to the top 5% of the population.

Now to be fair,  these figures don’t take into account the stimulative effect of the tax cuts but even right-leaning sources such as the Heritage Institute put that figure at about 25% of the total cost which means that these tax cuts still are almost twice as expensive as reforming all of healthcare.  And that’s before you factor in the stimulative effects of a better and more universal healthcare system, such as jobs being created to meet the needs of expanded care and costs being lowered via better preventative care.  The worst part of the tax cuts is that they directly depleted our coffers, reducing our income tax revenues to a point where we would be in trouble at this point even without the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas the proposed healthcare will not,  in theory, add anything to our deficit.

So how any of these republicans who voted for the tax cuts can seriously declare that reforming healthcare now is simply another indicator of their willingness to sacrifice the betterment of the American public for their own political gain.  I hope President Obama was serious in his promise to directly confront those who spread lies and fear, to make them accountable for their actions.  This is also something we can do as citizens.

Be aware.  Check the facts.  Be proactive, not reactive.  Let your voice be heard.  Now.

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