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John McCain: A Republican, A Hero, An Enigma

August 30, 2018

John McCain is many things. He is a Republican, a hero and an enigma. I respect and honor his service to the nation during war and peace but was not sorry he lost especially in the general election when the person he lost to was Barack Obama. In his last Senate campaign he took an ultra-right wing position on immigration to satisfy his Arizona constituents. He was a rich man who once couldn’t remember how many houses he owned.

He is an enigma in so many ways. Every time he did something I agreed with friends would remind me of where he stood on so many issues. He opposed a federal minimum wage, voted for privatizing Social Security and even once voted against a more robust education bill for veterans.

 

As he did during his last Senate campaign he often took positions to try to get elected and then backed away from them. One example was during a presidential primary campaign, when McCain sharply criticized leaders of the religious right as “agents of intolerance” allied to his rival, Gov. George W. Bush, and denounced what he said were the tactics of “division and slander.” McCain even singled out Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as corrupting influences on religion and politics and said parts of the religious right were divisive.” Then in an interview in March 2007, David Brody for CBN news asked McCain about these comments, “Do you regret saying it? Do you feel like you need to apologize for it at all? To which McCain responded, “I was angry. And sometimes you say things in anger that you don’t mean. But I have put that behind me. It’s over.”

 

McCain often mixed religion with politics forgetting the Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.When interviewed in 2007 by Beliefnet, a website that covers religious affairs, McCain was asked if he thought a non-Christian should be president of the United States. He answered, “I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith.” Later he said, “I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values.” But later added his belief that “America is a Judeo-Christian nation.”

 

McCain voted against federal funding of birth control and sex education and against spending $100 million to reduce teen pregnancy by education and contraceptives. He also voted more than once against legislation requiring insurance plans that cover prescription drugs to also cover birth control. Yet he voted yes on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

 

In 2017, his vote saved the Affordable Care Act when he voted against abolishing it making a strong statement on the floor of the Senate about not passing legislation that hadn’t gone through proper order, which included all the committees and hearings. But even before the applause for that speech died down he apparently reversed himself by voting for the Trump tax bill even though it included significant last minute changes made behind closed doors.

 

In 1983, McCain opposed creating a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and only reversed his position when Arizona rescinded a King State holiday and there was an economic boycott and image problems for the state. Then in April 2008, McCain said, “We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong.”

 

When it came to LGBTQ rights he was against a federal right to gay marriage wanting it left to the states and he voted no on a bill that would have extended the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation. He also voted no on giving the LGBTQ community job protections. Yet he was a strong supporter of Eric Fanning, an openly gay man, speaking out and fighting for his confirmation on the Senate floor when he was nominated as Secretary of the Army.

 

You can understand how much McCain will be missed when looking at the acquiescence and sycophantic behavior of the current Republican Congress to the despot in the White House. Agree or disagree with him his voice and wisdom will be missed.

There are millions of Americans of all races, genders, nationalities and political persuasions who honor him and thank him for his service to our nation.

 

This article first appeared in the Washington Blade.


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Two Talented Artists at Gallery 50 Rehoboth Beach

August 16, 2018

Gary Fisher (Photo by: Gary Fisher) Gary Fisher

Two talented artists will be exhibiting their work in Rehoboth Beach. Their art will line the walls of Gallery 50, at 50 Wilmington Avenue. The Gallery first opened its doors in 2007 and regularly offers a variety of artworks from renowned, established and emerging artists in a variety of mediums. In addition to being a gallery they have a master framer who can frame anything from your important works of art to your children's masterpieces.  

 

The first show opens Friday evening, August 17th and features the work of  Gary has had a long-time career as an environmental enforcement attorney with the US Justice Department. He began painting almost 30 years ago. During that time he has developed a wide following and says about his art, “It is an expression of the beauty I see around me and my optimistic outlook on life.” He added “My paintings reflect my highly individual vision of the scenery or subject matter that surrounds me. Color dominates my vibrant surfaces as the play of light is expressed in applications of intense, and sometimes surprising hues. Paint strokes are infused with an exuberant energy. The results are dream-like canvases that evoke a sense of playfulness and spontaneity.” 

(Photo by: Jason Wright)

It isn’t always easy to get one of his pieces as much of his work is now on a commission basis. Over the years Gary has been featured in special exhibits at the Children’s National Medical Center, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, U.S. Government buildings, and U.S. embassies around the world as part of the State Department’s ‘Art in Embassies Program’. 

 

The second show begins Friday, August 31st and features the work of Jason Wright. Jason makes his home in Hawaii. He studied painting and graphic design at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC. While there he began his career illustrating and designing graphics for the surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding industry.  That makes sense as aside from being a talented and accomplished artist Jason is a medaled athlete and skydiving instructor. I think he just likes the freedom of being in the water and up in the sky and the challenges the sports he participates in represent.

Jason Wright (Photo by: Jason Wright) Jason Wright

 

About his work Jason said “This show continues my study on the beauty of isolation. I wanted to evoke the mystery and magic one feels during first light on a cold winter day. That special moment when the golden hues of the sun collide with the cool tones of the water which often reminds me of childhood. It’s a feeling I've always wanted to capture. These paintings are inspired by my time spent on the eastern shore over the years chasing winter swells and my love of the small towns and rural areas that surround the beach towns.”  Jason’s paintings are created with a palette knife and are a mixture of oil and acrylic paint. His studio is located on The Big Island of Hawaii and he said, “My love for nature has never faded. I still catch the surf on my way to the studio every day.”

For more information feel free to contact Gallery 50.  


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'The Pianist of Willesden Lane'

July 31, 2018

Last year, a lucky few had the good fortune to be at the Washington premiere of The Pianist of Willesden Lane with Mona Golabek in a one night performance at the French Embassy. She had just completed acclaimed performances in London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. 

 

Mona Golabek is an American concert pianist, author, and radio host, and in this show shares her mother’s story, based on her best-selling book, The Children of Willesden Lane.  Mona is the daughter of Lisa Jura, a concert pianist, and French resistance fighter Michel Golabek. Set in Vienna in 1938, and in London during the Blitz, The Children of Willesden Lane tells the true story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist who dreams about her concert debut at Vienna’s storied Musikverein concert hall. But with the issuing of new ordinances under the Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changes, except for her love of music and the pursuit of her dream, as she is torn from her family and sent on the Kindertransport to London. Although Mona's mother was rescued, her maternal grandparents died at Auschwitz. Her Father, Michel Golabek, received the Croix de Guerre for his heroism in the French Resistance during WW II.

Mona Golabek (Photo by: holdontoyourmusic.org) Mona Golabek

 

This story touched me personally because my mother, also from Vienna, escaped the Nazis at the age of fourteen and with my grandmother made their way through London to the United States. They were lucky and were reunited in New York a number of years later with my grandfather. However like Mona’s grandparents, my father’s parents died in Auschwitz. 

 

I am excited now others will get the chance to see and hear the amazing Mona Golabek at the Kennedy Center when Theater J Presents, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, Based on the book,  The Children of Willesden Lane, By Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, adapted and directed by Hershey Felder. 

 

The Pianist of Willesden Lane combines enthralling storytelling with breathtaking live performances of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and more. This tour-de-force performance is a celebration of hope, resilience, and the power of music to help us survive even the darkest times. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "... this elegant, heartfelt solo show... is an arresting, deeply affecting triumph." 

The show runs from September 12 – 30, 2018. Tickets are available at the Kennedy Center and for group sales contact Brian Andrade at brian@theaterJ.org. 


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