Category Archives: Politics

Inspiration

In a concert Mary Chapin Carpenter once introduced her song, “The Last Word,” as many songwriters do, by telling the audience what inspired her to write it. She observed that often writers are inspired by the beauty of nature or an overwhelming feeling of love. “I wrote this one,” she said, “because I was pissed off.”

Today, all mankind is on my nerves.

Years ago, a loved one made me laugh when she shouted, very seriously, “What is everybody’s problem?” Today I can relate. Surely it isn’t me. (I know, it’s I.)

The experts say that making a list can be a good first step in addressing the source of one’s anger. So here goes.

  1. When people who borrow my books write in them
  2. When texters walk in front of moving cars
  3. Rush Limbaugh
  4. Rush Limbaugh
  5. Rush Limbaugh
  6. When people expect the Earth to revolve around them
  7. When people over-post on Facebook
  8. When people spew venom on Facebook
  9. Facebook
  10. When The Washington Post doesn’t know who from whom
  11. Me, for over-consuming and under-producing — and getting pissed off.

Thanks. I feel better.

13 Comments

Filed under Family and Friends, Music, News, Politics, Rants and Raves, Technology and Social Media

SOPA opera digest

I’d like it to be noted that I endured 24 hours without Wikipedia. But I didn’t. I got in.

Meanwhile, Internet stakeholders-turned-doomsayers appear to have scuttled the online piracy debate captained by the film and television industries. And judging by the millions of followers they engaged by blacking out popular websites, it appears the U.S.S. SOPA could sink, at least as of this moment.

In my aim to be an informed citizen, I spent way too much of yesterday trying to educate myself on this smoking hot issue, another in a long series that has Americans fiercely divided. As if we needed another.

I actually read the entire House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, as well as everything, pro and con, that was posted on my favorite websites by my favorite people, and I talked live with several stakeholders. I’ve cracked open the Senate version, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA.

As usual, I came away with mixed feelings.

As someone who has lived and worked in the hotbed of hullaballoo that is our nation’s capital, I continue to witness firsthand how advocacy groups can twist any public policy issue in their favor, and scare people—often with little effort–into supporting their causes. And people are willing to rally on a moment’s notice when they’re told the end is near.

Who remembers the rumor about 10 years ago that the federal government was going to impose a 25-cent fee on every e-mail message sent and received? I received about 50 bucks’ worth of messages from naïve friends urging me to help beat it back. They cited a bogus bill number that anyone with a clue would have known was neither a House nor Senate measure. It was a hoax.

I’m not saying the SOPA/PIPA proposals or the death knell the tech firms are singing are hoaxes. This is a real issue with high stakes on both sides. What I’m bemoaning here is how quickly some people who have never read a piece of legislation in their lives take up arms based on panic induced rhetoric.  You can’t tell me that every website user who is protesting actually understands what’s in both bills. I know I don’t.

Here’s how I see it.

People and companies who create artistic works are entitled to the income they earn for those works. And these aren’t just the big movie, TV and recording stars. They are members of camera crews, editing staff, key grips (whatever they do), hair and make-up artists, extras, even the little old ladies like my Aunt Patsy who play the small parts they work so hard to get. Their income is being taken from them when foreign websites pirate and traffic their work products.

I use Google and Wikipedia an average of 20 times a day. As an unpaid amateur blogger, I consider Wikipedia my official go-to source for unofficial useless information and Google my treasure trove of silly images, legally available and otherwise. Facebook and Twitter? Big fan. I’d like them to be there for me. I don’t believe Google or Wikipedia should solely bear the burden of policing the content that flows through them, nor do I think they should be censored. But I do believe they have a responsibility to refrain from facilitating criminal activity that harms U.S. workers and businesses and to cooperate when law enforcement has to intervene. So sue me.

Here’s what I’d like to see.

First of all, I’d like to see both sides avoid playing the jobs card. There are jobs at stake on both sides. And these days in the United States, everything has a jobs angle.

Next, I’d like to see the bill’s drafters do some redrafting to address any provisions that produce unintended consequences. This is a challenge given the Internet as we know it isn’t even 20 years old, and criminals are typically a step ahead of the law.

Further, I’d like to see all of us, as regular citizens playing happily on the Internet, simmer down, become better educated before we panic, and think for ourselves. Regardless of where we stand, on this or any other issue.

Need a chuckle break from the madness? Enjoy  yesterday’s amusing take on what would happen in a Wikiless world, by The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse.

5 Comments

Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics, Technology and Social Media

Texas treat

What I would have given to have been able to take notes as I watched the play Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards, at the Kennedy Center this week.

In fact, I had tucked a notepad and pen into my purse, thinking I might be able to capture a memorable line or two for later use. But I was so riveted to the stage (figuratively, of course) that I abandoned the notepad and lived in the moment—for two and a half hours of this one-woman play.

The play is the brainchild and product of movie, television and stage actress–and now playwright–Holland Taylor, also newly deemed my favorite actor.

After having met and admired former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Taylor was inspired to memorialize Richards in a play about her life, à la Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of Mark Twain. She began the endeavor following Richards’ death in 2006.

There’s little arguing that Richards was both an inspiring and polarizing political figure in the United States in the 1980s and 90s, though people around the world were amused by her colorful use of language, her unique and thoughtful perspectives and her unbridled passion for changing the world around her.

I knew about Ann Richards even before she commanded national attention because I worked in the government affairs office of a large Texas corporation when she was State Treasurer.

A memorable line in her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention was only one of hundreds characteristic of her, many of which I heard for the first time at the Kennedy Center.

Regardless of what anyone thought of Governor Richards, I can’t imagine a soul on the planet who wouldn’t fall head over heels for Holland Taylor’s portrayal. The posture, the mannerisms, the accent—specific to her little part of Texas—were traits flawlessly mimicked, with the help of Tom Hanks’ dialect coach, and the late Stella Adler, the acting instructor with whom Taylor worked for much of her career. The hair—which the late columnist Molly Ivins called “Republican hair” and which my mother used to say looked like Richards had it done at Dairy Queen—was the work of noted wigmaker Paul Huntly.

Ann closes at the Kennedy Center January 15, so there’s still time, and worth the scramble, to last-minute get tickets. If you miss it in Washington, the play heads to Broadway next.

Here, have a peek:

I went with four of my former lobbyist cronies. Now that’s our idea of Girls’ Night Out.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Theater

Sole food

Does this chilly January morning find Jack Frost nibbling your nose?

While watching news coverage of the New Hampshire primary over breakfast yesterday, I gagged on a banner caption that read:

Paul nibbling Romney’s heels

Once I got the unseemly visual out of my drowsy head, my next reaction was to laugh at the mixed-up phrase. In the race for the GOP nomination, Ron Paul is, figuratively, of course, “nipping at” Mitt Romney’s heels, not nibbling them.

Before I sent an e-dig to a friend who I knew was working on location for the station I was watching, I thought I’d better dig a little deeper. It seems the only error the station made was not putting the nibbling reference in quotes–and perhaps omitting “at.” Paul indeed said in a post-primary speech, “We’re nibbling at his heels.” (Again with the “we.”)

This might be the first time a candidate put his opponent’s foot in his mouth.

10 Comments

Filed under All Things Wordish, Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics

Civics meets syntax

Even before the 2012 election process begins in earnest in a few days, I already have indigestion.

It used to be that this Beltway baby salivated at the onset of an election year, and all the intellectual and ideological meat it served up. I don’t know anyone who’s hungry any more, except maybe television stations with ad time to sell.

I count myself among those who have lost their appetite from the shallow rhetoric and competitive sparring—and I suspect that’s just about everyone.

However, my particular beef has to do with (surprise!) language. Perhaps my ear is too acutely attuned to misuses, but I’m aurally assaulted day after day, not just by the candidates but those who cover them. Considering the fact that we’re in this for the long haul, I’d like to see us clear a few things up:

“Congress and the Senate” is incorrect. “Congress” and “the House” are not one and the same. Congress is composed of both parts of our bicameral system–the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Congress did not “adjourn” in December. A Congress adjourns just once, at the end of a two-year Congress. Members “recessed” until 2012, when the second year of the 112th Congress begins.

“Re-doubling” is re-dundant. According to some news outlets, the primary season has this or that candidate “re-doubling his efforts” in this or that state. Unless the pol is quadrupling his efforts, this is incorrect.

“We” is not the candidate. Candidates of both parties are equally guilty of the relatively recent practice of pluralizing themselves in speech. If the United States were governed by a monarchy, this might be a “royal we,” but we are not.

Have you noticed this? The candidate refers to himself, or occasionally, herself, as “we.” I can assume “we” refers to his campaign team, his administration, his volunteers. He’s being nice. He’s being inclusive. “We” is fine when he refers specifically to the campaign team.

But to say “We are the candidate who will [reduce the deficit, reform Social Security, insert the promise of your choice]” is not just incorrect, but absurd. It makes me wonder if pluralizing the pronoun is a scheme intended to spread the blame when the electoral matter later hits the fan.

Come to think if it, I might just vote for whoever refers to himself as “I.” (Just as long as he doesn’t use it as an objective pronoun.)

9 Comments

Filed under All Things Wordish, News, Politics

Slow it down, run it back

I don’t suppose the White House, the organizers of political debates or the NFL would consider checking with me first.

The last two nights, I had conflicts that precluded my watching national events or otherwise attending to entertainment needs. I’m still catching up on what happened.

Wednesday night, I twitched and trembled when a social commitment kept me from watching Republican candidates debate the nation’s affairs and poke each other in the eye. I trusted I’d catch enough clips in the morning to catch up, but even a broad scan of news channels—as well as newspaper accounts and commentary—failed to bring me adequately up to date.

Thanks to my cousin, I was able to read the full account online and now feel completely caught up and entertained. The piece even culled the notable language twists and gaffes, just as I would have, had I tuned in.

Last night, the President graciously agreed to address a joint session of Congress at an early hour so as to not delay kickoff of the 2011-12 football season. Problem was, I was on my way to a special dinner and had to listen to the speech on the radio on the way over.

No problem, you think? The president—any president—addressing a joint session of Congress is my red carpet. I like to catch the lead-up commentary, be there for the knock on the door, hear the President announced and closely watch the procession down the center aisle. I note whose hands are being shaken, who gets a wink or a pat on the back, who sits with whom, what colors the women are wearing and the sneers on the faces of members of the opposing party. You don’t get that on NPR.

As if there weren’t enough entertainment on the menu, I also missed my brother’s live interview with Food Network Star winner—and Sandwich King—Jeff Mauro on his weekly culinary radio program.

I have a busy work day ahead but I won’t lie, I’ll be slipping in some personal time to catch up on everything I missed.

You know, they really ought to invent some sort of device that allows you to record programming for future viewing.

3 Comments

Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics, Technology and Social Media

No skivvies, no service

From the flaky folks who banned the Happy Meal – a new piece of legislation that makes so much sense it’s ridiculous.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will consider legislation requiring naked people to place something under their bottoms when they sit in public or eat in a restaurant. Let’s hope the bill goes so far as to prohibit that something from being a restaurant-issued napkin. Ewww. Double ewww.

The legislation was introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener (of course). I assume Clerk Johnson entered it into the record.

Wiener is a new board member who took his seat earlier this year, presumably donning drawers. Wiener represents a nudist-friendly district so, au naturally, is behind nudists’ rights. However, he felt that public parading of privates had gotten out of hand—that hanging out unharnessed posed health concerns.

I’ve taken the liberty of crafting a campaign slogan for Member Wiener’s initiative. This can be cross-stitched on a 12-inch square linen, which doubles beautifully as a sampler and a can cozy.

If you sit down,
dining in town,
Be a chum
And shroud your bum.

6 Comments

Filed under Food, Health, News, Politics