Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

anvil-and-hammerLast night I heard journalist/historian Jon Meacham say in reference to [he-who-shall-not-be-named-here] that character is destiny.”

He pointed out that in his studies of past presidencies, ascending to the office of president only magnified the man’s character already in place.  At the end of their term, the person leaving the office is at their core the same person who entered.

It is not a comforting thought.

Not comforting when you consider the inaugural address he gave, one that George Will (the epitome of conservatism and not liberal in any sense of the word) called most dreadful inaugural address in history.  It so mirrored the inherent dishonesty of his character that the Washington Post actually felt compelled to fact-check it.  It was, as with everything he says,  filled with falsehoods and fear-instilling hyperbole and devoid of all sense of hope or unifying grace.

I’m glad I didn’t watch a single minute of this dark day in our history.

I will not legitimize this faux presidency.

This may offend some people.  Well, most of these same people decided with this election that what they believed was greater than the truth, that facts no longer mattered.

So, in keeping with that rule, while his presidency may exist, I do not believe it to be legitimate.

Unlike [he-who-shall-not-be-named-here] I am willing to take responsibility for my words and actions.  If by some miracle, he changes his stated course and works tirelessly for the good and rights of all Americans, I will admit my mistake.  Gladly.

But given the thought that character is destiny, I don’t think you’ll be hearing my apology any time soon.

Cheri asked me earlier in the week if I was going to be watching the inauguration.  I told her that I would rather place a body part on an anvil and play the Anvil Chorus on it with an 8 pound hammer.  I am not saying what body part to which I was referring.

I could have meant my hand. Get your mind out of the gutter!

To illustrate my point here’s a clip from The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles as they perform the Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore.



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In a recent post on WestEndTalk, the blog of the West End Gallery, artist Jeff Perrault wrote about how a piece of art is best seen when viewed under the proper conditions and the proper setting– framing was the point of his article.  Without the correct frame, a fine piece of work can sometimes be overlooked.

He cited a social experiment done by a Washington Post reporter, Gene Weingarten, back in 2007, one that I had missed.  In the experiment, one of the great violinists of our time, Joshua Bell, showed up on the Metro platform at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington.  He was as shown in the photo here, in a long-sleeve T-shirt and a baseball cap.  Nothing denoting his stature as a musician.  Well, maybe the $3.5 million Stradavarius he was playing was a giveaway but who among us would have noticed?  I mean, jeesh, the thing doesn’t even have a decal on it.

So there he was with his violin case on the floor in front of him, open and waiting for the money to start pouring in.  He started playing selections of Bach.  Part of the experiment involved him playing music that was extremely difficult, to show his virtuosity to the crowds.  For 45 minutes, he played  and at no point did he attract anything close to a crowd.  The busy commuters rushed by, coffees in hand and cellphones at their ears, never noticing the extraordinary talent on display for free, far less than the $100 tickets often charged for his normal shows.  Most people didn’t even glance his way, let alone stop.

It came down to context.  Many of those folks scurrying by could have and would have appreciated Bell’s music had they heard it in a setting in which they were expecting the performance.  It made me wonder about how many times I’ve passed by someting extraordinary simply because it was out of context, thus changing my perception of it. 

 I know this happens in a lot of cases.  One of my favorites spots in NYC is the lobby of one the Equitable Center’s building, the one on the Avenue of the Americas.  The three walls are filled with Thomas Hart Benton’s epic mural, America Today.  It is spectacular, a celebration of the breadth of American life filled with motion and magnificent color.  It never ceases to take my breath away.  Yet, day after day thousands and thousands of people passby outside those windows and through the lobby itself, many never giving it a look.


I want to try to look beyond context and just see things as they are but it is difficult in this busy world.  But I am going to try.

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Last night was a historic one for America.  A healthcare reform bill was passed by Congress and awaits approval in the Senate before being signed into law by President Obama.

Is it perfect?  Certainly not.  It couldn’t be.  Passing legislation on a subject that affects such a large segment of our economy and all of our population could never approach perfection.  Some will say it’s not enough, that it doesn’t do enough.  Others will say it goes too far, is too intrusive. 

But it’s a true start, a real framework on which to build.  It is but a first step in a long process that needs to take place in order to bring substantive change to a system that has been devouring our economy for too long.  To do nothing and maintain the staus quo on healthcare as our government has been doing for too many decades was not a realistic option.  When you’re at risk of drowning there comes a point where you’re going to want to try to swim.

And we are in deep water.  Using the latest comprehensive figures, from 2007, the US spends over 2.2 trillion dollars, or $7400 for every person living here, for a system that doesn’t even include coverage for over 15% of its population.  The newer, not yet official, numbers are even higher, with healthcare costs growing much faster than the rate of inflation.

That means healthcare is eating about 16% or more of our GDP.  The average for other wealthy nations is 8-9% and that includes coverage for all their citizens in most cases.  And better overall healthcare, acording to most statistics.  We spend more and get less than any other nation in the world.  That puts us at a competitive disadvantage globally and  is unacceptable and unsustainable. 

Something had to be done and now it is officially underway with the imminent passage of this bill.  Let’s start building on this foundation.


A couple of good articles on the subject:  Ezra Klein in the Washington Post  and Paul Krugman in the New York Times.  Klein’s view is very similar to that of mine and Krugman’s examines the contrast between the tones of the two opposing sides of this struggle.

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barack-hope-poster1   There are very few days in our lives when we realize that there is history of great magnitude occurring before our very eyes.  It is awe-inspiring to see the throngs of voters converging on the polls with steely-eyed determination, willing to stand hours so that history will not be denied.  I’m sure each has their own individual motivation but most simply desire a change in our leadership that insures and affirms the fairness and promise of  possibility in our country.

You see, the magic of America has always been about possibility.

Eugene Robinson wrote a wonderful article in  today’s Washington Post that speaks of this:

“For African Americans, at least those of us old enough to have lived through the civil rights movement, this is nothing short of mind-blowing. It’s disorienting, and it makes me see this nation in a different light.

You see, I remember a time of separate and unequal schools, restrooms and water fountains — a time when black people were officially second-class citizens. I remember moments when African Americans were hopeful and excited about the political process, and I remember other moments when most of us were depressed and disillusioned. But I can’t think of a single moment, before this year, when I thought it was within the realm of remote possibility that a black man could be nominated for president by one of the major parties — let alone that he would go into Election Day with a better-than-even chance of winning.

Let me clarify: It’s not that I would have calculated the odds of an African American being elected president and concluded that this was unlikely; it’s that I wouldn’t even have thought about such a thing.”

One new possibility becoming reality opens a door to an open and endless plain of possibility.  And that is all we ask–for a door to open.  Get out there and stand in line.  Vote.

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