Speakers Table

Arnold, Easy Like Sunday Morning

September 10, 2012

On my walk to work this past Sunday I saw the Lucky Dog Adoption event in front of The Dog Shop in Georgetown. I currently have two adopted dogs Ella and Rue but decided to cross the street and see what was going on.

While walking through the alley of 47 dogs in need of a home, I saw a Beagle named Arnold. His sweet face stuck out in the crowd and made me walk right over to him. He's not a puppy, he's not the youngest, but he is the sweetest.

Words cannot describe how endearing Arnold is. He has such a presence ... his eyes just look like he's going to start talking, a quality that's always appealed because it often indicates their intelligence. Sadly, my home has no room for a third, but my heart strings started to tear a bit because I knew just how special is Arnold.

(Photo by: luckydoganimalrescue.org)

After leaving the event I decided to do whatever it takes to get Arnold adopted into a loving home for his senior years. A perfect fit for an older individual in need of a companion, or for someone who recently lost a pet or for a full house that has enough room and love,  Arnold is a companion for all!

Why Arnold is such a great dog. He's wonderful around adults, children, and other dogs. He was rescued from a high kill shelter and currently has been in the Lucky Dog Rescue program for almost a year. In dog years that's seven years, way too long for this loving dog to be without a home.

He is a special needs dog with some arthritis but moves freely and pain free with anti-inflammatories. His favorite thing to do is to be in a car and he has a love of squeaky toys. His nickname in the shelter is the "shoplifter" because at adoption events he "steals' toys from the Petco. He's is a character and easy like Sunday morning!

If you have room in your heart and home, please contact Joanne at joannek@luckydoganimalrescue.org and check out Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

Remember, the best breed of dog is "adopted."

Written by Krista Johnson, owner of Ella-Rue in Georgetown.

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Time for Bicyclists To Be Held Accountable?

August 27, 2012

I love to ride a bike.

Riding a bike is great exercise, a wonderful leisurely activity and excellent for your health ... except when the rider has sub-standard cycling skills or is not doing his best to “share the road.”  My biggest fear is hitting a cyclist who is not following the rules of the road, which happens way too often.  I stop at a stop sign, then accelerate and whoosh - as I’m getting ready to turn,  a bike flies past unaware of my acceleration. In Georgetown it’s a daily occurrence.

Accidents happen on the road when someone does something unexpected.  We need better education so that motorists and cyclists know what the laws and expectations are. For instance, the“Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) last month posted nine rectangular signs stating "Bicycles May Use Full Lane.” SHA plans to post similar signs on 18 state highways in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.”

The signs  "warn motorists that bicycles may be operating anywhere within a traffic lane," according to SHA Administrator Melinda Peters.”  The purpose - to ensure that drivers and cyclists have the same expectation.

As the commerce of Capital Bike Share and interest in cycling continues to grow, there are far more bicyclists on the roads than ever before. In fact, CBS  promotes they have over 1,670 plus bikes  at over 175 area locations.  It's time for cyclists to be held accountable in the same way motorists are, for breaking the law, running stop signs, exceeding the speed limit and not giving pedestrians and other vehicles the right of way ... not to mention impeding the flow of traffic.

The varying levels of  cyclists’ skills,  from what you’d expect of the professional courier vs the novice bike renter - contribute to the problem.  Lack of skills result in dangerous activity such as running stop signs, which in turn causes drivers to dodge cyclists, other drivers and oblivious pedestrians texting and listening to music ... all, a recipe for transportation disaster. 

I’m shocked there aren’t more accidents.  I propose that current laws be modified to require that cyclists be licensed, wear helmets and obey the same laws as automobile drivers, as appropriate.  At the very least, cyclists should be required to complete a certain level of training to ride on city streets.

Out of curiosity I googled, “statistics on bike accidents.” 

Here are a few recent bike accidents facts and statistics from the website of the Law Offices of Lewis and Tompkins:

• Each year, an estimated 67,000 cyclists visit an emergency room with a bicycle accident head injury.

• A biker not wearing a helmet is 14 times more likely to die in a bicycle accident.

• A bike rider is killed every six hours in the United States.

• The majority of people killed in bicycle accidents are male. The average age of a bike accident victim is 40.

• According to the National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior, only 50 percent of cyclists wear their helmets occasionally and only 35 percent wear their helmets at all times.

• Three out of four fatal bicycle accidents involve deadly head injuries.

As bicycles become more and more popular out of the economic need or the desire to save energy and get fit, we need to place more responsibility on cyclists to become better trained on riding on city streets and more accountable for their own safety and the safety of others who may be adversely affected by their poor riding habits.

For information on acquiring the pocket guide to D.C. bike laws, visit DDOT

Written by Janice Ockershausen, owner of Best Bark Media, a Georgetown business

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On Sally Quinn, Money, Power, Bipartisanship and My Inner Veblen

June 21, 2012

Sally Quinn-bashers have once again been at work—ridiculing an essay headlined Sally Quinn announces the end of power in Washington.

Granted, Ms. Quinn has never delighted my inner Veblen. The essay among other things recalled the era when Quinn and her husband, Ben Bradlee, “might have attended five-course dinners a couple of nights a week, with a different wine for each course, served in a power-filled room of politicians, diplomats, White House officials and well-known journalists.” Never mind the Trumpian aura of a Quinn-bylined commentary appearing in the Washington Post with her name as the first two words in the headline above the announcement (was the copy desk trying to sabotage Ms. Quinn by way of the third-person reference?). Talk about a love of conspicuous consumption, D.C. style!

All in all, however, as many of the Quinn haters would concede, those glittery dinner parties of yore were harmless stuff compared to the oh-so-businesslike purchase of elections made possible by Citizens United. The Quinn essay is smack on the mark. Money has usurped power in D.C., or, to be far more precise, Wall Street clout and other corporate toxins have poisoned Washington. Real-life Gekkos are also disenfranchising American voters—both through brilliantly Orewellian commercials and actual anti-voting initiatives—even though we’re the ones who supposedly sent the politicians to D.C. in the first place. Corporate boards today are the true American electorate. Here’s to more efficient and callous plutocracy! Perhaps we can replace the electoral college not with a direct vote but with a PAC-sponsored meeting every four years of the combined directors of the top companies in the S&P. The Street’s mindset has even won at the Washington Post Company itself—Ms. Quinn’s employer—which has shortchanged its newsroom in favor of the bottom line, an unwitting but still grotesque parody of Kay Graham’s desire to be a prize-winning business woman. I much prefer Ben Bradlee’s repeatedly realized ambition to be a more traditional kind of journalistic prize winner. I’m not anti-business and understand the need for profit in the private sector, whether from newspapering or toilet paper, but enough is enough.

Let me also stick up for Sally Quinn’s defense of yesteryear’s bipartisanship (strikingly shown by the photograph that ran with her article—of Kay Graham warmingly greeting the Reagans despite her deceased husband’s Democratic ties, and despite the the Post’s Watergate-related battles with prominent Republicans). It is no act on her part. Among the regular guests of Sally Quinn’s more conservative parents, in her youth, was none other than Barry Goldwater, who, like Ronald Reagan, lacked the full jihadist fervor of today’s rightwing warriors. She can see conservatives as family friends, not just bulls-eyes for rhetoric. Yes, bipartisanship at its worst can lead to fiascoes like “No Child Left Behind” and squelching of dissent and mindless support of futile and immoral wars, as well as the lack of a single-payer plan and completely universal coverage, which would help us rein in healthcare costs. But bipartisan flexibility can also result in, for example, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency—actually born in the Nixon era; yes, the very bureaucracy that scads of Republicans today want hobbled or destroyed.

Furthermore, when conservatives and liberals regularly supped together at Antoinette-sumptuous dinners, the debates on the House and Senate floors were less hateful. You could say that Georgetown dinner parties reflected, not created, bipartisanship, but I myself think it was a mix; perhaps enough of the old-time parties would have at least helped to save the U.S. from a credit downgrade exacerbated by all the hyperpartisanship, especially on the Republicans’ side. The long-term result of all this political dysfunction was not and is not merely “inside baseball”; rather, the loss of countless jobs and billions in American wealth, far, far beyond the Beltway. Just because Georgetown can be preternaturally self important—I take more than a few nostalgic potshots at that in The Solomon Scandals, set in the Washington of several decades ago—doesn’t mean that Quinnlike hostesses are devoid of usefulness to the cosmos at large.

At a considerably less rarefied level of D.C.-area society, I can recall the protracted but always good-natured jousting between my parents and our Republicans neighbors south of Alexandria when I was growing up. In a catty attack on Ms. Quinn, New York Magazine made fun of her comments about a buffet table incident in the 1950s when “Senator Strom Thurmond, grinning from ear to ear, had one hand on my behind and and other on my mother’s.” I didn’t know Sen. Thurmond, but Harry S. Dent, Sr., his aide and architect of the notorious Southern Strategy, which taints so much of the GOP even today, lived almost next door. The Dents and like-minded people were always neighborly toward us and we toward them despite our fervent loathing of segregation, whether or not it was passed off as "states' rights"; and in the end, our side prevailed in the U.S., with Thurmond at least mitigating his destructive stridency, lest the political world leave him behind. He even hired some African-American staffers and voted for a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. But here’s the real lesson. Both sides had believed they could educate the other one out of its wrongheadedness. Conservatives learned from liberals, and vice versa. 

Today, alas, political strategy all too frequently is not to outeducate but rather to outbully and outspend, with bought think tanks taking the place of thinking. In the old Georgetown, the dinner chatter was a chance to educate while compartmentalizing—while separating the issues from the people, and one issue from the other. No perfection back then, no nirvana! But right-wing billionaires and other special-interest extremists did not so easily dominate the national agenda. Norquistian fanatics on a particular issue could not dictate to an entire party (the one with three letters in its nickname) and reduce the need for the Georgetown kind. That is what Sally Quinn, her haughty side notwithstanding, fathoms endlessly better than do so many of her critics.

And a few related thoughts…

Out of fairness to Ms. Quinn, a stranger to me, as I have emphasized with the honorific, I’ll ping @sallyquinndc to see if she wants to weigh with in her own thoughts, especially about the headline over her essay. I would love to know the full story of the headline’s origins. “If the Post had run a more restrained headline or at least hadn’t used your name there,” I’d ask her as well, “do you think so many haters would have ganged up on you for yet another bashing?”

The pro-Quinn faction, of course, might also see major positives here. If Ms. Quinn is already dead, why do so many of her enemies still care about her opinions? Meanwhile the Post Web crew must be grateful to Gawker and the like for the resultant hit count. The headline, at least as I’m seeing it on the Web, is pure catnip for search engines. A lesson from the latest Quinn controversy, whether or not the headline in the end flattered Ms. Quinn? Definitely. If the Post wants to maximize profits for its shareholders, the paper should expand, not shrink, her writing duties—her flaws notwithstanding—and favor her with attentive editing so she comes across as less guillotine-worthy to her enemies. She’ll still find plenty of other ways to provoke them while jacking up Web traffic. How many Posties enjoy the same name recognition? With luck, she can even mentor a few more like her, albeit with the haughtiness quotient dialed back; Katharine Weymouth’s editors could do worse than to restore the old color and excitement from the Bradlee era. With the Post local coverage so lacking—I blame the miserliness of the Post business side, not the actual reporters—I spend a lot more time reading the New York Times than the paper across the river from me. More Quinn and the like, mixed with in-depth hyperlocal coverage of plebes and nonplebes alike, might restore my enthusiasm. Back in the Bradlee days she was a Web personality before the Net even existed; and it would be folly not to bring her back to the very center of limelight.

In fact, I would suggest that, with the encouragement of Sally Quinn’s employer, but most definitely without any proposed $250,000 charges or other contemplated transactions of the ilk that sullied the Post a few years back, Ms. Quinn resume her bipartisan salons within the limits of time and energy (in photos at least, she has held up well for someone who will celebrate her 71st birthday on July 1). Just turn Ms. Quinn loose and let her socialize for the love of it, not for commerce, unless you count good fodder for Style. But would Power People come? Well, surely not every politician is out to ostracize Ms. Quinn; besides, what better way for conservative Republicans from moderate districts to show open-mindedness than to drink and dine with her? Mix those guests with the standard Democratic suspects, and perhaps D.C. can become just a tad less hate-ridden and dysfunctional and save a few jobs in Muskogee.

By David H. Rothman, a writer and D.C. -area native

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