Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Savoring Sakura on the Potomac

The 6821 Quintet concert at the National Gallery of Art, March 26, 2018
The 6821 Quintet performing at the National Gallery of Art, March 26 2018

For the last few years, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has been privileged to feature the 6821 Quintet, an ad hoc group of musicians, which was formed in 2015 and is comprised of members from Japan, New York and Philadelphia with through the support of the Ryunji Ueno Foundation. The 6821 Quintet derives its name from the distance between Washington, DC and Toyko, Japan.   This year’s ensemble is comprised of violinist Mayu Kishima, violinist Eric Silberger, violinist Meng Wang, cellist Clancy Newman and pianist Jason Solounias.

Sakura on the Potomac, which premiered at the 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival was composed by Japanese composer and producer Kunihiko Murai.   Sakura is the Japanese word for Cherry Blossom Tree, which includes the twelve species of Cherry Blossom Trees that encircle the  Tidal Basin in the Nation's Capital since Japan’s generous gift to America in 1912.

The 6821 Quintet also played Songs of Spring and Portraits of Sakura– our memories of bloom, which were respectively the prior two years commissions for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

During the final performance at the National Gallery of Art, two of the three composers of National Cherry Blossom Festival commissions were present.  Michael Djupstrom had performed with the 6821 Quintet for a couple of years, but also composed Songs of Spring for the 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival.  Mr. Djupstrom commended the 6821 Quintet for their remarkable cohesiveness in their artistry, especially since they only perform together one week a year.

Kunihiko Murai had written over 300 songs and 30 film scores, so composing a tone poem like Sakura on the Potomac was a new adventure.  Mr. Murai revealed that he associated lyrics in his head for Sakura on the Potomac but did not reveal them.  The composer, however, noted that he was inspired by the T.S. Eliot quotation “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land”.  This seems apt as the blossoming of the Sakura on the Potomac signals Spring in the District of Calamity (sic), a.k.a Washington, DC.

Meng Wang, Kunihiko Murai, Clancy Newman, Eric Silberger, Jason Solounias, Mayu Kishima
The 6821 Quintet pose with Sakura on the Potomac composer Kunihiko Murai 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dana Loesch on the March for Our Lives

NRA Spokesman Dana Loesch laments the hypocrisy of the March for Our Lives

David Hogg on the March for Our Lives

March For Our Lives leader David Hogg on Gun Reform Now

There is a highly publicized March for Our Lives being held on the National Mall.  It was precipitated by the Parkland Florida School Massacre.  It was supposed to be a student led memorial with an emphasis on school safety, but it serves as a vehicle for professional progressives to push for gun control using unimpeachable students as their mascots. 

Progressive groups, like ex New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety, and even Planned Parenthood have been involved in bolstering and providing organization backbone for the supposedly student led March for Our Lives.  

Many celebrities, such as Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon have vowed to be there.  Wonder if they are bringing private security into the District of Columbia, which has extremely strict concealed carry laws? Even though Baltimore City Schools do not have enough money to heat some of the classrooms, Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh is poneying up funds for six busses so that thousands of students can be bussed to DC for the political protest 

One of the survivors of the Parkland incident is David Hogg, who went from being an articulate student journalist who recounted the day's events to quite an outspoken activist for Gun Reform Now. Hogg even wondered "What if our politicians weren't the bitch of the NRA" in an anti-gun propaganda video.

These students seem happy to exercise their First Amendment rights to curtail the Second Amendment.  However, when it comes to safety, Hogg was chary about the new school rule that only clear backpacks would be allowed into school buildings because that might be embarrassing to girls who are menstruating.   OK, so vitiate the Second Amendment but kids need to express themselves and not feel embarrassed.

 During the one month nation wide memorial of the Parkland Shooting, some students were detained because they were off-message from Gun Reform Now (for example about protecting all lives, even the unborn). Many schools led the protests and would not countenance those who refused to choose sides. 

Living in the District of Calamity, one often experiencing citizens exercising their First Amendment right to free expression and petitioning their elected officials during marches on the National Mall.  But every January, hundreds of thousands of youths gather on the National Mall to try to save the lives of the unborn in the March for Life, which gets nary a peep of coverage from the media. Some Sacramento students, amongst others, have petitioned their schools to have a walk out to honor and protect life. It is dubious if the same standards will be applied as for the post Parkland protests 

These markers for the March for Our Lives clearly demonstrate that public schools have become centers for ideological indoctrination and progressive agitation rather than education or inculcating tolerance for a diversity of opinions. 

The bilious bloviations of a traumatized teen thrust into the spotlight (and does not know when to leave) ought to be taken in context, as well as the half baked public policy opinions. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Are GOP Congress Critters Really RINOS or Conservative Chameleons?

Senator Rand Paul on the problem with Republican politics

After the way that Establishment Republicans acted in their profligate  $1.3 TRILLION  for the remaining six months of FY 2018 in the Omnibus spending bill, one wonders if how Republicans ought to be portrayed.

Traditionally, the Grand Old Party's symbol is an elephant (remember?).  Cynics charge that they should be exposed as RINOs.  But considering they way many Congressional Republicans change from being a fiscally conservative party when they strive for power and then profligately spend when they are in charge, perhaps they would be better depicted as conservative chameleons.  But can they survive if the proverbial swamp is drained in the District of Calamity (sic).  

John Bolton's Blunt Diplomacy

Ex UN Amb. John Bolton on the United Nations

John Bolton, who served as one of President George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, has been named as President Donald Trump's new National Security Adviser to replace General H.R. McMaster. There had been chatter in the District of Calamity that McMaster was on the outs this week, but this personnel change followed a leak of details of President Trump's telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

  Bolton has been known as a no-nonsense diplomat who strongly believes in US national interests.  Bolton is seen as a being hawkish towards nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea  This would seem to align with the desired approach in the Trump Administration. 

Mike Huckabee on GOP Funding Planned Parenthood

Mike Huckabee on GOP Funding Planned Parenthood

Mike Lee on the Omnibus Spending Bill

Senator Mike Lee on the Omnibus Spending Bill

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rand Paul on GOP Metanoia on the Budget

Senator Rand Paul on GOP Metanoia on Government Spending

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has some harsh words for his Republican colleagues who are pushing for the six month $1.3 TRILLION spending bill to avoid another government shutdown.  But this is not the first time he has rebuked Republicans for the hypocrisy about governmental spending and the broken budgetary process. 

Ben Sasse on DC Dysfunction

Senator Ben Sasse on DC Dysfunction

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Shamrockfest 2018 Memories

Despite the mostly mild winter in the DMV, St. Patrick's Day 2018 had weather which mimicked the Emerald Isle as it was chilly, overcast with a touch of rain.  Still hearty partiers shook their fists at the sky and danced a jig at Shamrockfest, which was held on the grounds of RFK stadium.

Shamrockfest featured three stages.  The Electric Isle featured DJs spinning tunes under a big tent. DJ Clinton Matthews kicked things off at what became quite the popular venue. 

DJ Clinton Matthews spinning tunes at Shamrockfest
Watching DJ Clinton Matthews while wearing the green at Shamrockfest

The Shamrock Gold and Shamrock Green stages rotated with bands playing high energy rock with a touch of the Irish.  One had to marvel at the guitar playing prowess demonstrated by Reel Big Fish.  

Reel Big Fish performing at Shamrockfest
Reel Big Fish performing at Shamrockfest

And it was craic to rock to Carbon Leaf.

Carbon Leaf playing at Shamrockfest
Carbon Leaf playing at Shamrockfest 

Of course there was plenty of festival food and libations to enjoy, with plenty of Guinness and Jamison. 

A Guinness toast on St. Patrick's day at Shamrockfest

Shamrockfest is said to be one of the largest outdoor St. Patrick Day festivals around.  People really try to dress to impress to show their Irish.   Some chose to sport some udderly crazy costumes (sic) to have a good time. 
Having an udderly good time at Shamrockfest 2018
Having an udderly good time at Shamrockfest 2018

Shamrockfest is produced by Red Frog Events.  In mid June, they will hold Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, which is a four day music extravaganza which will feature scores of bands, headlined by Eminem, the Arctic Monkeys and The Killers. 

Hope to see you at the Woodlands.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Denouncing the Nerve of Russia Poisoning

Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley denounces Russia for nerve gas attack in Britain

Trump Administration UN Ambassador Nikki Haley denounced the assassination attempt on  a Russian double agent living in England at the UN Security Council.  Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found slumped over in Salsibury city center on March 4th and they remain in critical condition.  Haley noted that this episode was a defining moment and "The credibility of this [Security] Council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable." 

The March 4th attack in Salsibury used Novichok ("Newcomer" in Russian), a military grade nerve agent which was manufactured in secret in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s.  A-230, one of the chemicals in Novichok, is five to eight times more lethal than VX gas. This toxic assassination attempt on foreign soil exposed dozens of citizens and 200 first responders to deadly chemicals.  Still, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin deflects from responsibility for the attack. 

British Prime Minister Teresa May opined: "Either this was a direct action by the Russian State against our country or the Russian government lost control of a potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get in the hands of others."   The British Government expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended high level contacts.  In addition, there is talk that the UK may organize an official boycott of the Sochi World Cup competition this June.  Putin is mulling over retaliatory actions against the UK. 

Although the British have not invoked the "All For One, One For All" Article V Clause of NATO, there has been a rare joint statement between President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Teresa May which concluded that there was no plausible alternative explanation explanation to Russian responsibility to the Salsibury attack and Russia's non response to the British legitimate request for an explanation further underlines the responsibility.  The communique noted that the use of chemical weapons is a breach of international law and an assault on UK sovereignty.

During one of the 2012 Presidential debates, President Barack Obama mocked Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) for thinking that Russia was the premiere world threat and joked "The 1980s are now calling to get their their foreign policy back." The Salisbury chemical attack impeaches Obama's caustic quip.  Sadly, the mainstream media today is more focused on over-exposing Stormy Daniels strip tease of her truth of a Trump affair a dozen years ago than covering a serious international incident which actually involves Vladimir Putin. 

Larry Kudlow on Free Market Economics

New Trump chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow on Free Market Capitalism

Larry Kudlow has accepted the position as chief economic adviser for the Trump Administration.  

Kudlow is a well known free trader, which is in contrast to President Trump's initiative to impose tariffs, but Kudlow claims to be in accords with the White House. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Nancy Pelosi Tries to Drag Out the Vote With Ru Paul

Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Voting

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chose to be a guest judge on Ru Paul's Drag Race All Stars. Her brief message was to "Get Out The Vote".   That is really some niche marketing for the mid-terms!

Of course, Democrats will argue that they are hyping up the hustings for the youth vote, especially those who are inclined to watch programming on VH1.  But it is hard to sell Pelosi as being hip and happening as the former Speaker of the House continually has trouble remembering exactly who currently inhabits the White House. 

Democrats allies in the mainstream media have been pushing a narrative about a "Blue Wave" in the 2018 off year elections which will sweep progressives back into power.  If that is so inevitable then it makes one wonder why Democrat leaders would need to go on Ru Paul's show, which focuses on transvestites.  

While such outreach may satisfy progressive whims, it alienates blue collar traditional values voters, the demographic which was decisive in electing President Donald Trump.  Then again, progressive elements of the Democrat Party have made Blue Dogs an endangered species. That impetus complicates Democrats gaining control of the Senate (and may well cost West Virginia  Senator Joe Manchin his seat). And it is dubious if suburban voters will be ginned up to for eight months to get to the polls over a pandering appearance as a drag race judge. 

It is highly unlikely that  Pelosi's shout out to drag queens  will motive young voters to get out to the polls in November.  But those who are scandalized by pandering to the fringes will long remember Pelosi trying to drag out the vote.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

Penumbra from Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech

Winston Churchill on Socialism

On March 5, 1946, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri which framed the decades that followed World War II.

In the Sinews of Peace speech, Churchill called out the Soviet Union for forcibly applying an Iron Curtain on lands that it occupied after defeating Nazi Germany along with the Allies (principally the United States and the British Commonwealth).  

By chastising the forced communism in Soviet Occupied lands, it further alienated Soviet dictator Josef Stalin (a.k.a. "Uncle Joe").  For all practical purposes, this declared the Cold War, a conflict between the free market democratically elected United States and its allies against a communistic Soviet Union and its vassal states in Eastern Europe. 

While Churchill did not utter his bon mot about socialism during the Iron Curtain speech, it does highlight Churchill's political philosophy which made economic and moral distinctions between a forced system of equality with capitalism.  

Considering how well socialism is polling at so called institutes of higher learning in the West, it is fitting to remember Churchill's clarion call against Soviet aggression, and seek to find any examples of where communist principles have been peacefully implemented without subjugating most peoples' freedom, not creating an elite ruling class (nomenklatura) and providing a thriving economy