Finally, democracy in Washington, D.C. merits a presidential mention.
Washington Metro News
As most honest columnists will tell you, we often look upon editors with a wary eye, always worried that our perfect work will be desecrated by forces from above. Having noted this, it a perfect moment to express my respect and admiration for Mike Laws, a talented and extraordinary gentleman and editor I have worked closely with in recent years in my roles as columnist and Pundits Blogger here at The Hill. As most of you know, this is Mike's last day as he moves to greater heights in his education and career, which are destined to take him to even greater achievements going forward.
When the creation of a Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., was first announced, many commented that the idea was strange. Who would come? Why memorialize a tragedy? Is this some form of reparation for Jews?
Now, 20 years after the doors opened, these questions have been answered. Over 34 million visitors have come to witness the story told by this unique institution. Ninety percent of the visitors have been non-Jews; over 10 million were schoolchildren. The reach of the museum’s message has been global and non-sectarian, as those who dreamed up the idea hoped. Genocide prevention in all parts of the world is its goal, along with remembering this horrible example. Scholarship is augmented. Lessons learned.
There is an inherent danger to becoming a Washington, D.C., insider.
Our nation's capital is the center of power. It attracts people who are drawn to this toxic tonic called power, which can be worse than a drug when abused. One might originally come to the District of Columbia with good intentions of making America better. However, over time, people give up their principles and ideals in order to stay in power and enjoy the corrupt fruits of that fleeting power.
I must tell you that no one is exempt — Republicans, Democrats, ministers, lobbyists, bureaucrats, media, U.S. military generals, presidents, interns and everyone inside the political scene are susceptible to this corruption.
If it weren't for the tragedy, we'd enjoy the respite from politics presented by the storm Sandy. Finally, after many months of static cacophony from politicians and media's self-proclaimed pundits, the weather has blown away the noise, and offered its own, real intrusion. It forced focus on immediate needs and common problems.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was as elementary to our lives as the five-star highways are today. He was a man like Ulysses S. Grant and Lord Nelson, but he did not strive to be. Hear Nelson declaring that England demands that every man will do his duty. Read Grant’s memoirs; he was as formidable a figure on the page as he was in the field of battle. But perhaps the greatest tribute to Eisenhower is that iconic photograph of him talking to the soldiers about to enter battle in Normandy. The photo speaks to American purpose and determination. What was he talking about? A tour of the Capitol will explain that he was talking about fly-fishing. And that is the honorable riddle behind Ike. Behind the general was always the man. The general was not an artifice apart. The general and the man were the same. But Susan Eisenhower is right in her criticism of the Frank Gehry design of the Eisenhower memorial, which includes a gigundous bas relief of the famous photo. Presented this way, it looks like something out of Stalingrad.
How many visitors to Louisville, Ky., on a quick tour would look to the tallest buildings and among them see the Empire State Building but with a Dome of the Rock oddly placed on top? Or booking through Harrisonburg, Va., on I-81 in the James Madison University vicinity, rush past a knockoff of the Potola? Just coincidence, I expect. But I brought it up to one good-natured architect who has been considered among the top five these past 50 years when he was designing a law school for a college I worked at and his building seemed a ringer for a specific Italian monastery of the 12th century. It brought a mischievous smile and a quick aside to his wife, rapid fast whisperings behind the hand in Italian that I wasn’t intended to understand.
Once again, the civic leaders inside this city leave a mark that’s just as soon forgotten. This time, Marion Christopher Barry, the son of Washington’s former mayor, Marion Barry, was indicted on possession of drugs and PCP.
Insert your favorite joke here about the apple not falling too far from the tree or whatever euphemism you care to use.
Apparently, Marion Jr. was dealing the same substances his father was notorious for while running this city. And when the five-O came knocking, Junior jumped out his window and fled. At least he was smarter than the old man to have an apartment where a jump wouldn’t kill him. It was only a matter of time, however, before he returned to his apartment and was arrested.
When Jetaine Hart came to Washington in 2009, she was well-accustomed to cramming the trappings of her life into a few small suitcases and moving them from place to place. By age 20, she moved to six different homes in northern California, each time uprooting the familiar for the unknown. Jetaine wasn’t what we affectionately call an “Army brat,” whose family moved periodically as service required; she was a child in foster care. Moving was not her choice; it’s what happened to her by chance.
If you’ve been following the latest shenanigans of elected officials running the District of Columbia, it’s easy to understand why the city is so messed up. I’m referring, of course, to Lincoln-gate, where D.C. City Council Chairman Kwame Brown ordered not one, but two 2011 Lincoln Navigator SUVs for his official use. Why two? Why not? Well, he didn’t like the color of the interior on the first one the city ordered at nearly $2,000 per month in leases.
It appears Mr. Brown wanted a “black on black” SUV and no other color combination would work. The reason he gave is that model “holds its value” longer than any other. So now the chairman is cost-conscious? How pathetic. What Brown hopes readers don’t remember is his insistence that the SUV be “fully loaded,” including a DVD player in the backseat. I don’t even want to know the reason behind that request.