Category Archives: National Stuff

Contemporary Art, Gone the Way of the Buggy Whip and the Typewriter?

I wonder to myself if contemporary art, like the stuff being painted today, like today’s fine art, has it, or is it going the way of the buggy whip and the typewriter? This is from a contemporary painter (and a good one!!) no less.

In the movie “Other People’s Money,” Danny DeVito’s character, Larry the Liquidator, a successful corporate raider, sort of, very sort of, like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, compares the company in question to the last buggy whip maker, technology having made buggy whips obsolete. No point in having a buggy whip factory around anymore.

Lots of things have become obsolete. Camera and film stores, Ritz Camera and Infocus in Newburyport, sayonara.

CD stores… adios.  Newspapers, alas, are going goodbye.  Patch-AOL here we come. HuffPost the updated, un-obsolete medium. Books, adios. Kindle, the Nook, IPad, cha-cha-cha.

The United States Post Office, oh dear.

The typewriter – gone with the wind.

Twitter and texting, yup. Complete sentences, TMI.

Starfish, digital photo by 4eyesphoto (used with permission)

"Starfish," digital photo by 4eyesphoto (used with permission)

None of this is bad, it just is. Most of it is really fascinating. But what about the quaint idea of painting.  Photoshop, my love hate relationship with Photoshop, in my mind, has changed painting forever.  And for goodness sakes, any photo can now be put on canvas in an hour by places like CVS.

The thing that make my heart go pity-pat when I walk into a gallery, is really great digital photography. It reminds me of that now quaint painting style, Photorealism, one of the last contemporary art movements, that used to make my brain twirl. And there is some amazing digital photography being made.  The photo by 4eyephoto.com that gave permission to use their incredible photograph “Starfish,” to my son’s theatre company for their poster, a gorgeous example.

The quaint art of painting going the way of the buggy whip – reality??

Where to Vote in Massachusetts and Newburyport on Tuesday, November 6, 2012

vote

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a very cool tool to find out where to vote in Massachusetts and in Newburyport!! this Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

You just enter your street number and its name, and your city or town, or your zip code, and voila, it tells you exactly where to go!! (it even tells you what ward you are in, and how to get in touch with the City Clerk).

Once you put in your information, it also has a link to a copy of the state’s sample ballot for your location, so that you can see who to vote for, as well as what the 3 ballot questions are, and what the 2 non-binding ballot questions are. (The link to the sample ballot is at the top after your address, where it says, “My State Ballot”, under “Who is on my Ballot.”)

Voting hours are 7am to 8pm.

Be sure to vote.

To use this fun “where to vote” tool, please press here.

For a link to a copy of Newburyport’s sample ballot, please press here.

sample-ballot3

When you press the link, the state’s sample ballot will look like this.

Paul Ryan’s Plan, The Middle Class and Nursing Homes

Medicaid pays for 60 percent of people in nursing homes (and that includes people in Newburyport).

“..his (Paul Ryan’s) budget would impose immediate cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor that funds nursing-home care and other benefits for 6 million U.S. seniors.”  – Bloomberg Businessweek,  Brian Faller, August 14, 2012

“Among the victims someone’s grandparents who, without Medicaid, won’t be able to afford nursing home care…  Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Downs syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the people who count on Medicaid.”   The Wall Street Journal, Aug 17, 2012

So if your spouse, parents or  grandparents are in a nursing home, and their care is paid for by Medicaid, and Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney get elected, they plan on cutting Medicaid ASAP.  And what happens to Middle Class families? It would look as if they would be faced with the draconian choice of letting their loved one not be cared for, or quitting a job to provide full-time care.  What does that do to the finances of the Middle Class, it would throw them into chaos, which is what one of the things that Medicaid (and as a btw… under President Reagan, Medicaid legislation was passed so that spouses would not go bankrupted – Reagan’s spousal safety net) is meant to prevent, here in Newburyport, locally, and all across America.

Preservation is in the Business of Saving Communities

Preservation is in the business of saving communites

Preservation is in the business of saving communities

Newburyport preservation quotes:

“There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here and there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”

—Richard Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Newburyport and the Ideological Right – They Deliver

Maybe my hyperventilating over Governor Romney’s running mate (see previous post), Tea Party darling, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh endorsed, Paul Ryan, has something to do with my first-hand local experience with the “slash and burn,” “take no prisoners,” “malign all opposed” politics of the folks who do not want to preserve Newburyport’s historic assets, the proposed Local Historic District (LHD), led by a member of Newburyport’s very own Tea Party, and I gather fan of the John Birch Society.

On my walk around Newburyport this weekend, I ran into a friend who wanted to know what I thought of the article in the Boston Globe about the progress of Newburyport’s Local Historic District’s (LHD), and the LHD’s slow winding path getting to the Newburyport City Council.  And in the course of our conversation, I said something to the effect that, “People wonder why, at this point, I’m not doing more.” The response was, “Well, you got the shit kicked out of your, everyone knows that.”  For which the person got a hug.

Fox News Opinion on the web has a piece called, “America’s coming civil war – makers vs takers,” predictably the wealthy, the makers, pitted against everyone from seniors, to folks who need help with student loans to go to college.

Our local “Say No to LHD” folks definitely feel like that same strident, militant mindset… heck, it is that same militant mindset.  The LHD, in their minds, equals “social engineering,” yes, this is true (I hate to even link to the actual factual proof, because it gives the John Birch Society such pleasure. How do I know that, because that particular post went viral, via the John Birch Society’s Facebook page – I wish I was kidding).

Yes, and anonymous townies, threatened by “newcomers,” joined in the fray (and townies who no longer live here, or live/visit here periodically).  But it is our own John Birch tea party folks who are still willing, if not proud, to give their names to the cause of stridently and militantly destroying Newburyport’s hope of having a Local Historic District.  (They also, as I understand it, complain loudly to their city councilors, the mayor, the press, when a pro-LHD human being loses it, the person in question, I believe, has been identified.)

Do I have first hand experience with the hatred of the ideological Right?  Yes.  Do I know that they will deliver on their promise?  Yes.  Does that make me worry about Governor Romney’s pick for Vice President, that it isn’t all fluffy talk, that delivery of this far right ideology is very real?  Yes, you betcha.

Hyperventilating

Ever since Governor Romney announced his VP pick, (late Friday night during the Olympics??) Paul Ryan, I’ve been hyperventilating.  Really (unfortunately).

The issue, Medicare.  If Romney/Ryan squeak by in November, I’d squeak by under their Medicare radar before it turns into a voucher payment plan, but I’m still hyperventilating. Why?  I’ve paid my own health care cost as an artist from way back in the dark ages (“in the day,” maybe not quite that long), and to say I don’t trust the healthcare private insurance folks to do anything but look after their bottom line, without state and federal regulation, would be a vast, vast understatement.

(In 1990, I paid $340 a month for my son and myself, for GREAT health insurance. Today, here in Massachusetts, that kind of health insurance that we had, doesn’t exist for any price (that I know of). Something similar, but not really, would go for $2,165 (a month). For a family $3,545 (a month).  In New York State for a parent and child, a similar, but not really, insurance exists for $3,176 (a month). For a family, it’s a whopping $5,294.  How about those apples? And people think Massachusetts is bad!)

As an artist, I’ve been waiting for the day when I am relieved of the onerous burden of crazy individual $1,000 a month and rising health insurance premiums (and that’s cheap compared to a state like New York State, demonstration above), and having an offspring that has fallen right next to the preverbial artistic tree, I’ve always wanted that for him and his family as well – some sort of safety net, you betch’a.

Private Health insurance industry to regulate itself, no, no, no – dream land.

Medicare vouchers to keep up with health insurance cost, please, dream on.

That’s my main hyperventilation.  But the other, Mitt Romney was an old fashion Republican moderate  in Massachusetts (I know, I know, you know).  But with Paul Ryan, darling of the hijacked Tea Party, as his running mate, has he sold his soul? or was he lying way back “in the day?”  Not good either way.  To have someone so ideologically extreme on the ticket, unsettling and telling.

“…the only way for Ryan’s numbers to work would be to effectively eliminate nearly all non-defense discretionary spending, including not just much of the social safety net but infrastructure spending, R. & D. investment, federal support for education, air-traffic control, regulatory and public safety spending, and so on (editor’s note, moi – let’s not forget NPR and The National Endowment for the Arts). This would be, needless to say, a radical remaking of the federal government.  …it would basically return the federal government to something like its nineteenth-century role—and early nineteenth-century at that.” The New Yorker,  August 12, 2012, “Paul Ryan’s Budget Games.”

“More than three-fifths of the cuts proposed by Mr. Ryan, and eagerly accepted by the Tea Party-driven House, come from programs for low-income Americans. That means billions of dollars lost for job training for the displaced, Pell grants for students and food stamps for the hungry. These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops raised their voices in protest at the shredding of the nation’s moral obligations.

Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”

It (the federal government) will not be there when the unemployed need job training, or when a struggling student needs help to get into college. It will not be there when a miner needs more than a hardhat for protection, or when a city is unable to replace a crumbling bridge (editor’s note, moi – or sidewalk).

And it will be silent when the elderly cannot keep up with the costs of M.R.I.’s or prescription medicines, or when the poor and uninsured become increasingly sick through lack of preventive care.  New York Times, August 11, 2012, “Mr Ryan’s Cramped Vision.”

So I’m hyperventilating for my offspring and his family’s future, much less my old age, should I get to live that long, should this pair get elected in November.

“..the Ryan budget is a plan that forfeits the future and global leadership to China.” Steve Clemens, The Atlantic, August 13, 2012.

George is Grinning and Orren Fox

George

George

George is grinning, huge wide smile, and those of you who have been readers of the Newburyport Blog for any length of time know that George is usually a glum sort of fellow, even with his passionate romance to Georgiana Tadpole (if you really would like to know about any of this frog stuff please press here).

Instead of telling the readers of the Newburyport Blog what is making George smile so hugely right off the bat (although he’s not smiling in the picture, I couldn’t get one of him smiling), I’m going to start at the beginning.

Way, way back (“in the day,” I’m not sure if it’s that far back) in 1990 I painted a whole bunch of paintings for a major New York show, oil on panel, and the panels warped (I used the wrong kind of panel – never did it again).  Panic city, you betcha.  I went to what was then Wendover Woodworks on Liberty Street in Newburyport, and one of the owners, Andy Willemsem saved my sorry soul by making some absolutely gorgeous frames that solved the warping problem and saved yours truly.  It was then I met Andy’s partner in this wonder furniture creating place, Henry Fox.

About 15 years ago, wandering around my Newburyport neighborhood, I ran into Henry Fox, who told me the harrowing tale of his son, born 3 months early with a host of medical problems who had been saved by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MassGeneral in Boston, and had just been moved to one of the more local hospitals.  I later shared this story with other families who had critically ill new borns, including my most wonderful neighbors, who found themselves and their newborn son also at MassGeneral. (The young man is now happily running around our neighborhood.)

Andy Willemsen moved on and Henry Fox named his wonderful furniture business after his two sons, “Fox Brothers.” (Still there on Liberty Street in Newburyport, still amazing.)

Fast forward to 2012, yesterday, a “new” or “new” to me, George and I being 5 years late to the story (not quite as bad as my late arrival to the David Sedaris planet, see earlier post, but not so good)  local Newburyport blog called “Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs,” by a fifteen year old young man called Orren Fox.

I’m thinking Fox?? Fox?? Henry Fox?? The timing’s right.

And sure enough this blog is written by Henry’s son Orren, the one in intensive care 15 years ago.  How cool is that, but it gets so much better.

Scrolling down the blog’s sidebar the young man has been interviewed/written up by the Huffington Post, NPR, Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe to name a few, and has been to the White House, March 7, 2012,  for “Know Your Farmer Event.”

I’m beginning to join George in grinning from ear to ear about this young chicken farmer and organic food activist.

“Margaret Mead would have loved Orren.  A soulful and gifted young man who has done more to help make a positive impact by 15 than most folks do in a lifetime.” From Do Lectures.

And Orren has added bees, in “Bee Happy” – check it out here.

AND Orren has serendipitly gone into business with his brother Will (with a little help from Dad) making “FoxBoys” longboards, skateboards in the most glorious shape, a little like a boat, read and see all about them here.

And Orren Fox is so media savvy as to make grown “social media” folks weep – along with the Happy Chickens blog there are the Facebook pages that one actually enjoys looking at and reading, and twitter accounts.  But it may be in the blood because his Mom, who gave birth to him all those many 15 years ago, is Libby Delana, the founding partner of Newburyport’s Mechanica, the next generation branding firm.

So if you are discouraged by the news or local or federal politics, life in general, go investigate Orren Fox, a young man who transcends the sustainable movement.  It doesn’t matter if you are dark “green,” light “green,” in-between or orange; right wing, left wing, moderate or independent.  When you read about this fantastic story, you like George, will be grinning from ear to ear and doing a dance in the end zone of your choice.

Almond Meal-Flour Cookies (They are Gluten Free)

And now for something completely different.

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour at Market Basket and Natural Grocer in Newburyport, click to enlarge.

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour at Market Basket and Natural Grocer in Newburyport, click to enlarge.

A lot of people arrive at the Newburyport Blog looking for “Newburyport, Gluten Free.”  I get emails from folks wondering if there is a Newburyport gluten free support group.  Nope, there isn’t, but I’ve sure have learned a whole lot about good old gluten free stuff, including the wonders of Almond Meal, incredibly good for you (whether you are gluten free or not), if you click the thumbnail of the back of the almond meal package, you’ll see.

The wonders and nutritional value of almond meal, press to enlarge.

The wonders and nutritional value of almond meal, press to enlarge.

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour can be found at Market Basket here in Newburyport as well as Natural Grocer.  It’s magic.  Aside from easy to bake cookies, that have changed my gluten free life, it’s also an amazing coating along with parmesan chess on things like fish, it has its own oil.  Who knew.  Now the readers of the Newburyport Blog know.  The frogs wish that almond meal had come into their lives decades ago (were they around decades ago, I don’t think so. Frogs!!).

_______________________________________________

Vanilla Almond Meal Cookies (and variations)
(Adapted from Elana’s Pantry, elanaspantry.com, Elana Amsterdam, website and cookbook)

1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
Dash pumpkin spice or cinnamon (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup oil, canola or grapeseed oil (each has slightly different effect, I use canola oil)
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons GF vanilla

  1. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Stir together sugar and water, add vanilla in a smaller bowl and then oil and combine.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry.
  4. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350° for 5-6 minutes
  6. Cool and serve (can also freeze, I freeze in plastic square containers separated by wax paper, can put in microwave to unfreeze or eat frozen!)
  7. Makes around 27 cookies, about 60 calories each
  1. For chocolate cookies use 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 Table spoons cocoa powder (put into the dry ingredients)(I also like a dash/shake of cinnamon).
  2. For orange cookies use 1 teaspoon orange extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like a good shake/dash of pumpkin spice).
  3. For peanut butter cookies work in 1-2 teaspoons peanut butter at the end.
  4. For marble black and white cookies, take half  the mixture and add 1T of cocoa. Take one half vanilla and one half chocolate mixture for each cookie. (You can also add a teaspoon of peanut butter to the vanilla mixture to make marble black and white peanut butter cookies.)
  5. For lemon cookies use 1 teaspoon lemon extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Zest from one lemon optional, but delicious, and I like a good shake/dash of pumpkin spice.
  6. For chocolate chip cookies, use the vanilla recipe and add Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels, the tiny ones. (You can also add chopped slivered almonds, and chopped dried mango is also fantastic. Any of those three ingredients, separate or together, are terrific.)

(There is also a more detailed almond meal-flour chocolate chip recipe here.)

For Newburyport’s LHD, Conspiracy Theories Just Don’t Fit

I totally agree with the P.Preservationist.  When it comes to advocating for Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) one cannot have a rational back and forth discussion with folks who bring in an expert from the John Birch Society, to explain a conspiracy theory about the United Nations (UN) hatching a social engineering plot about lowering the standard of living for all Americans, and linking that to historic preservation and a proposed Local Historic District in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  (I am not making this up, see previous post.)

Newburyport, Creepy is Us

It would be hard to make this stuff up. It appears that this is being fairly aggressively advanced by our own Newburyport Republican Committee.

An information session on Agenda 21 by leading expert, Hal Shurtleff (who is a member of the John Birch Society).

“Join Bill (Hudak) at the Newburyport RTC (Republican Town Committee) Meeting at Stripers (January 12, 2012 7:00pm – 9:00pm)  in Salisbury for an important information meeting regarding Agenda 21.

Throughout our Country, in MA, and right now in Newburyport, the rights of homeowners are under attack with increased momentum. This is not a coincidence. Please read below to learn about the factors that result in fewer property rights for families across America.

Agenda 21 has infiltrated Newburyport as well as hundreds of other towns. Elected Mayors and town officials are solicited and encouragement (often with taxpayer funded grants) to participate in the many Agenda 21 programs. These programs often come to a city with nice names like The Green Communities Act, Sustainable Development, and ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). They result in mandates like stretch building codes and the mentality that accepts powerful local historic districts (my emphasis). These organizations appear locally driven, but they represent the coordination of local governments by global entities and the U.N. with social engineering as a true objective.

Mayors and city legislatures may not comprehend what they are endorsing when committing a city to an Agenda 21 Program. Regardless of the specific Agenda 21 program, citizens soon realize their choices become limited, homeowner rights are restricted, and they lose economic progress in their city.” The quote can be read here.

It would be hard for me to believe that any Democrat in my city of Newburyport would feel this way. The Republican website (Bill Hudak for US Congress) points to a website written by Rosa Koire for more information. Rosa Koire has also written exactly the same thing on another website.

“In a nutshell, the plan calls for governments to take control of all land use and not leave any of the decision making in the hands of private property owners.  It is assumed that people are not good stewards of their land and the government will do a better job if they are in control.  Individual rights in general are to give way to the needs of communities as determined by the governing body.  Moreover, people should be rounded up off the land and packed into human settlements, or islands of human habitation, close to employment centers and transportation.  Another program, called the Wildlands Project spells out how most of the land is to be set aside for non-humans.

U.N. Agenda 21 cites the affluence of Americans as being a major problem which needs to be corrected.  It calls for lowering the standard of living for Americans so that the people in poorer countries will have more, a redistribution of wealth.”

And this is being used as a way to fight against the proposed Local Historic District in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

For me this is beyond a “good grief.”

Editor’s note:  New York Times article, February 4, 1012, “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot,” here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/us/activists-fight-green-projects-seeing-un-plot.html

Party Affiliations in Local Newburyport Politics?

cartoonOk, it’s a little dated. I drew it back in September 2007 for the Newburyport Blog and I’m too lazy to draw another one. Paris Hilton, who?? Probably to be replace by Kim “let’s get divorced” Kardashian. And super-duper cutting coupons (boy, did I get flack for that one), now a major cable TV show. And “poverty,” is that on anyone’s radar anymore??

But the basic premise is the same. So little interest, much less overall civic passion, in our local Newburyport elections/governing stuff.

And it has been a goal of mine to try and make local government in some small way engaging. And, actually, not to brag, but to brag, someone actually told me that they became involved in Newburyport civic involvement because of The Newburyport Blog. I said to myself, “Say what?” But truth be told, a got a little teary, really, at making a difference in just one person’s life.

And I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the Newburyport Republican Committee’s decision, at least for this last election, to actively sponsor and support local Newburyport candidates. And their invitation to vote for 1 or 2 Newburyport City Council At-Large candidates, instead of all 5.

I would say, and I’ve run this by a fair amount of people, that this involvement and suggestion created a certain amount of anxiety in almost all the candidates running this week for Newburyport City Council At-Large, and also some odd version of hostility that I haven’t seen before. In Newburyport City politics, hostility has often been us –vast understatement (we’ve been referred mega times as “Cannibal City” after all), but it’s always been issues, and sometimes, sadly, personalities, but always non-partisan. And in the last few years, things have become more civil, to the point, where one often thinks that the calm almost drove the Undertoad to higher peaks.

This involvement and suggestion by the Newburyport Republican Committee, certainly created some buzz, at least for maybe 5%-1.5% of the Newburyport population. Whether to get party politics overtly involved in Newburyport elections, not illegal, not a crime, but a wise decision for the good of the City of Newburyport? One wonders. And if that decision stays, it will definitely create a new dynamic.

Newburyport, November Election, Heroes

As an electorate we want “heroes.” It’s one of the reasons that President Obama and Governor Deval Patrick got elected. But once real reality decisions start getting made on people’s real life, our “heroes” fall fast and far from the pedestal that the electorate put them on.

The voting public could project all sorts of things on Obama and Patrick while they were running for office, and when whatever that fantasy didn’t materialize, a big push down from that pedestal.

Sarah Palin is not stupid. Much easier to be a larger than life advocate than be governor, balance Alaska’s budget and get grief for it. Being an activist has its advantages over being a politician that actually has to do stuff.

So two things. Possibly the best thing that could happen to the country would be a Republican sweep this November, and then those Tea Party candidates would have to start making those hard, sometimes almost impossible decisions, and yup, you betcha, they will have feet of clay, and down from the pedestal they will go.

Or the Democrats could realize that our heroes are still heroes. It is far more heroic to try and do something about the state of the world then to speculate on it (bloggers have a much easier time over politicians–so does Sarah Palin).

The Democrats could embrace that President Obama is challenging the Pharisees, the hypocrites, the Republican party/the Tea Party (swiftly becoming one in the same), and turning over the money changing tables in Washington and on Wall Street.

The Democrats could start thinking of their president and themselves as Robin Hood, giving to the poor and the middle class, a noble undertaking. The Democrats could start acting as if they are proud of their accomplishments, instead of oozing an air of apology. We have our heroes. They are going through the fire, and yes, that’s one of the things had heroes do.

Newburyport, Election, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck–The Power of Myth

If you are a Democrat this November, be scared (and vote).

I’ve sat and watched this spring and summer as the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and Glen Beck have gone from, “Yeh, right,” to, “They are going to succeed and they aren’t going away.”

For the Tea Party, it goes way beyond, “Throw the bums out!” It goes way beyond that, it is a mission from God. Seriously. Somewhere on the Newburyport Blog I have a link to the video of Sarah Palin, in her church, and the “anointed” are “laying hands” on her, and asking for the power of the spirit to use and guide her.

(I know this world, I understand this world. In a distant part of my life, I married into this world. It’s one of the reasons Frankie Schaeffer and I are such good friends.)

It’s about abortion, for the conservatives it’s always been about abortion, and gays, because if the “homosexuals” takeover, in their minds, American becomes Sodom and Gomorrah, and is forever “damned.”

Sarah Palin isn’t a politician, she is Joan of Arc. She is mythic, leading the righteous to save the world. The Tea Party is not the Tea Party, it is David against Goliath. And yes, the Democrats are “Goliath.” And in the Old Testament, David stuck around for a long time.

The Democrats need to understand their own myth. Equal justice, Robin Hood. Obama as Robin Hood, the Democrats as his band of Merry Men and Women. Give to the poor and the middle class.

Or better yet, Obama as Christ in the Temple, overturning the tables of the money changers, the Democrats as a sea of apostles. Christ against the Pharisees. The Republicans being the Pharisees, the hypocrites.

Talking about policy isn’t going to help the Democrats in this last month before the election. They have got to understand what the Tea Party and Sarah Palin have so brilliantly accomplished and fight back with their own true power of myth.

Newburyport and Governing

One of my huge questions about President Obama, was yes, this is an intelligent man, yes, he could run one remarkable campaign, but, when push comes to shove (pun intended), could he govern?

And after Sunday’s historic vote on Health Care Reform, love it or hate it, the answer is in my mind, most definitely, “Yes.”

I was concerned that as a nation we had done something so historic by electing our first black president, that just that accomplishment alone would paralyze us from going forward. That after (and yes, probably during) the election of President Obama, there seems to me to be a blistering undercurrent of often collective unconscious racism, and could President Obama and the country move forward with this added obstacle.

And after our own Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s election, would President Obama still be as unrelenting in his quest of Health Insurance Reform?

I am moved and inspired by this remarkable and persistent accomplishment.

And one of the things that also concerned me, was that expectations for our new president were so high and unrealistic, that there was no way anyone could live up to those hopes and anticipations. It was a very long fall from the exceedingly high pedestal that he had been placed on.

Conversely, in Newburyport, MA what I have heard since the November election for Mayor of Newburyport, is that the expectations for Mayor Donna Holaday were low if non-existent. This perplexed me, but it has also worked in her favor, big time.

So many people have said to me that they are “surprisingly” impressed with our new mayor Donna Holaday. My response is always one of surprise, and I am delighted to not only reassure people that Donna Holaday, in my mind, is already one terrific mayor, but also to fill in some of the details in why I would think that.

And the question with any new mayor is for me, “Can they govern?” And my hope is that, yes, Donna Holaday would be able to govern Newburyport, MA in a remarkable way.

Newburyport, Meeting Governor Deval Patrick

I get a call asking me if I would like to meet Governor Deval Patrick at a small “meet and greet.” This meet and greet is to take place in a half an hour. Short notice. The caller thinks that this might “cheer me up.”

Why the caller would think I would need cheering up? Possibly my deep, abiding funk at losing Senator Kennedy’s seat to a Republican Scott Brown. Or the fact that it is February in Newburyport, New England.

I think, “What the heck. It would cheer you up. You’ve never met the Governor. It’s not snowing and it’s actually light outside.”

I look at what I am wearing, my artist painting attire, and quickly change into something slightly tidier. I figure if I keep my coat on, who’s to know? This does not exactly appear to be “black tie.” Nor does it appear that the “fashion police” are going to be about.

I make my way down to our historic Newburyport downtown, and realize, what can I say, I wasn’t paying that much attention to the phone call, that this is a campaign meet and greet for the Governor. Fine by me.

The Governor Patrick gets out of the car without a coat. I immediately would like him to have a coat. It’s freezing outside. This has no relevance. The Governor also is a lot shorter than I imagined him to be. This has no relevance. The Governor also has one firm handshake, and I wonder if I was a politician whether or not I would have a firm handshake as well. If I would do handshake strengthening exercises. Or if I would go the limp handshake route, thereby saving my handshake muscles. This has no relevance whatsoever.

There is a lot of talk among the “meet and greeters” that the Governor is in re-election trouble. Obviously the election of Republican Scott Brown has people spooked. There is talk of a feckless (I love that word, it was one of my father’s favorites) state and federal Democratic Party, that might throw the Governor to the proverbial wolves. There is talk that the Governor has made too many enemies. (Well, of course he’s made enemies, that’s what happens when hard choices are made during the governing process. Good grief.)

Ed Cameron, the organizer of all of this, is unflappable (another one of my father’s favorite words). He shepherds both his two young daughters and the gaggle of meet and greet with an astounding calm.

Ed Cameron can deliver. In charge of Newburport’s campaign to elect Governor Deval Patrick , he did a masterful job. And getting out the base for Martha Coakley, he was more than competent. Newburyport voted Democrat in the special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat. By a squeaker, Newburyport was a blue dot, surrounded by a red mass in Essex County. Ed Cameron is no one to be trifled with.

And even with the “mistakes” that Governor Deval Patrick may have made while governing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, good grief, I would not want to see another Republican Governor. My funk would be deep and possibly intractable.

Newburyport, et. al–One Step Back

Newburyport et. al (“et. al”=abrr Latin, et. alii=”and others”), “two steps forward and one step back.”

“Two steps forward and one step back,” according to Wikipedia, “Is a catchphrase reflecting on an anecdote about a frog trying to climb out of a water well; for every two steps the frog climbs, it falls back by one step, making its progress arduous.”

George loves this. George being one of the political consultants to the Newburyport Blog. Finally, after all this time a reference to “frogs.”

george_thumbs-up.jpg

George extremely happy that frogs are once again being “taken seriously” on the Newburyport Blog.

George, btw, has been lobbying for his own “Fan Page” on Facebook, as the consultant to the Newburyport Blog. (I might just do it, to show him that his “fans” are most likely froggy few and far between.)

And for this “Liberal Democrat,” the election for the Massachusetts Senate seat is most definitely “one step back.” (A lot more than “one” step.)

And in my funk, (I am most definitely in a funk about the result of the Massachusetts special election), I’m thinking that the “two steps forward and one step back,” applies to almost every political attempt at progress, whether it is from a Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Progressive, Conservative, Rightwing, Independent, whatever point of view.

It’s just how stuff works. The Democrats made huge history, giant leap forward, with the election of an Afro-American president. In the cyclical nature of things, at least “one” step backwards probably could have been expected.

And in Newburyport, MA, the election of 2007 ushered in one of the most “progressive” Newburyport City Councils that I have ever seen. The mantra was for “hang on to your hats,” “full speed ahead” with a progressive agenda.

Election 2009, for a myriad of reasons, a progressive Newburyport Council, not so much. And why this should surprise me? It should not. In Newburyport, it has been my observation, that from whatever point of view, the path is never linear, it always seems to me to be, “two steps forward, one step back.”

Newburyport, Massachusetts Election Postmortem

Oy Vey.

I still haven’t calmed down. But Jon Stewart pretty much nails it for me in the segment the day before the “historic” Massachusetts senate race (a few things I disagree with, maybe more thoughts on that later).

The Massachusetts Election
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mass Backwards
January 19, 2010

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mass Backwards
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

And with all scathing criticism leveled at President Obama from the Right, Middle and Left, Jon Stewart also pretty much nails it for me on that subject as well.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Barack Obama is Not a Magic Negro

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The First 364 Days 23 Hours
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Newburyport–Finding Out Where to Vote

People are trying to find out where to vote in Newburyport.

If you live in Newburyport and do not know where you go to vote, the Newburyport City Clerk has this link. Press HERE.

You just put in your street number, city/town, state and zip code.

It works for everyone in Massachusetts. It is from Secretary Galvin’s Office.

And vote for Martha Coakley, the Democrat (D).