Community Palette

A Synonym for the D.C. Democratic State Committee: Dysfunctional

February 28, 2012

Many have asked what the purpose of the D.C. Democratic State Committee is. In a city that is so overwhelmingly Democratic it has very little to do and they prove time and time again that even with little to do they can’t do it well.

They no longer appear to have an annual Kennedys-King dinner which may be a blessing as at one a few years ago there were so many mistakes in the program that it was embarrassing for them to hand it out. A number of years ago they printed a poster to support Democratic candidates in the District and misspelled the name of our delegate to Congress. In 2008 they got into trouble for how they raised and accounted for the money to cover their expenses at the convention.

Often considered their prime reason for existence in D.C. is handling the quadrennial selection of delegates to the Democratic National Convention. The District of Columbia in 2012 will get 39 delegates and 2 alternates to the convention but most of those slots are filled by DNC party officials or DC elected officials. This year there are only 13 delegates and one alternate who will be determined by a vote at a caucus on March 3rd. But if you try to get information on the caucus as late as Tuesday morning by going to the State Committee website you would think that they are doing everything possible to hide the event from the public.

I was told that they recently developed a new website. But Google the D.C. Democratic State Committee and it takes you to their old site which is still functioning. If you wade through all the information on that site you finally come across the fact that the March 3rd Caucus will be held at the D.C. Convention Center. WRONG!

Then call someone and find their new site and on the home page you find a listing of the approved candidates for delegate but still no location for the Caucus. The candidates are listed by the two Congressional Districts which D.C. is split into for the purpose of selecting delegates. Funny since we don’t even have one voting member in Congress.

Be that as it may, Wards 1, 2, 6, and 8 make up District #1 and Wards 3, 4, 5 and 7 make up District #2. But on the home page you find the list of candidates but don’t see which Wards make up which District. If you read through every document on the site you will eventually find that the caucus is actually being held at University of the District of Columbia (UDC) from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. But they don’t tell you in which building, or give the courtesy of giving directions to UDC. They don’t mention that after 11:00 am you can just stop by and vote and don’t have to stay for the whole caucus. Or that there is actually an opportunity for those that celebrate their Sabbath on Saturday or who may be out of town to vote on Thursday at a different site after calling to make an appointment.

Just wait to hear the moaning after it is all over about how surprised they are that so few Democrats turned out to vote. The time has come to either remake the DC Democratic State Committee into a functioning organization if people still believe it has a purpose, or  have the Democratic National Committee just take it over.

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Cursing in Public

February 23, 2012

It’s fascinating that the D.C. Council had to pass a new rule to prohibit councilmembers from cursing during public meetings. One would think that adults would just abide by this without needing a written rule. Maybe the council can now put a jar on the dais and each time someone says a bad word they would have to put in a dollar, just like they do in a lot of kindergarten classes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the rule is fine but adults should know better than to use profane language in their debates whether they are at a public meeting or not. Good discussions and debates even in private shouldn’t have to rely on the use of profanity. When someone has to resort to cursing in an argument it is often because they have run out of anything intelligent to say. So instead of just keeping quiet they curse at the other person.

The use of profanity in discourse isn’t something new and it usually results from frustration or intense dislike. I have never seen profanity accomplish anything in the way of influencing another person or making them change their mind and in fact it usually ends a debate and makes the person who it is used against just dig in deeper on their opinion.

We have seen public discourse go downhill over the years and the current debate between liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans is a prime example. It isn’t always the use of profanity but often just using language that denigrates each others' religion, beliefs and way of life in ways that don't accomplish anything or change anyone’s mind.

In many ways, our children’s use of social media tools may make intelligent debate a lost art. When you can communicate using LOL, BRB, LMAO, or hundreds of other shortened ways of saying something, you lose the ability to hold a good conversation. People no longer write letters and schools often don’t teach the classics. You can graduate from high school in the District of Columbia without having ever gone to the Smithsonian or seen a play. So is it any wonder that intelligent and intellectual conversation and debate has become something of a lost art.

While we may often think our political opponents are just plain stupid when they disagree with us, calling them that will only make matters worse. Just watch the reaction of the person you curse out or denigrate in a conversation and see how it impacts the entire discussion. We have seen schoolyard bullies and how their words can impact a child who is weaker or less able to hold their own. At the same time we have seen adults get so riled up by being called names that they resort to threatening or actual violence in response. Being a verbal bully never leads to a good result.

Our councilmembers should stop bullying each other, or calling each other names and at the least, apologize to each other when things do get out of hand. Doing so would make a good example for our children.

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President Obama Honors 2011 Recipients of the National Medal of Arts

February 15, 2012

Any event at the White House is exciting but when the President and Michelle Obama are honoring the Arts and Humanities it is even better. There was a small reception prior to the awards presentation and a larger one immediately after. I had the good fortune to have a front row seat and got to meet some of the awardees.

Michelle Obama (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Michelle Obama

There were eight recipients of the National Medal of Arts including Rita Dove, Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995. The statement in the program talked about Ms. Dove’s poetry as a blend of politics with beauty, lyricism and critique. Also receiving an Arts Medal was Al Pacino who was recognized for his iconic contributions to American film and theater as an actor and director. Mel Tillis was honored for his contribution to country music and his over 1,000 songs and 60 albums.

The Humanities Medal recipients included Robert Darnton for his commitment to making knowledge accessible to everyone and his vision for a national library of digitized books and Teofilo F. Ruiz for his scholarship in history and exploring the role terror has played in society for centuries. Also receiving an award was National History Day for inspiring more than half a million young Americans each year to write, perform, research and document the human story.

Peter D. Rosenstein and Sarah Jessica Parker (Photo by: Kevin Naff) Peter D. Rosenstein and Sarah Jessica Parker

The biggest round of applause for the President came when he said, “As long as I am the President this country will remain committed to the Arts and Humanities and to what they do to lift and inform the human spirit.” Now we can only hope that federal budgets will match the rhetoric, but in these difficult economic times unfortunately funding is being cut rather than even remaining stable.

There were some additional familiar faces at the event including Sarah Jessica Parker who was gracious and talking and taking pictures with everyone who approached her. The event took place in the East Room and the reception ran into a few other rooms including the incredible red room.

Peter D. Rosenstein and Kevin Naff (Photo by: White House Marine Guard) Peter D. Rosenstein and Kevin Naff












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