Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Establishment Doubles Down on Romney

JP Morgan honcho Jamie Dimon, once a “fat cat” ally of President Obama, seems to have strayed to Republican contender Mitt Romney.

Dimon, a lifelong Democrat who was rumored to be on Obama’s short list for treasury secretary before he settled on Tim Geithner, met privately with Romney on Tuesday morning before a fund-raiser at Brasserie 8¹/2 hosted by Highbridge Capital, a JPMorgan-owned hedge fund.

Dimon, who was spotted “in a discreet one-on-one” discussion with Romney, cannot publicly endorse a candidate because he sits on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. But he donated to Democratic candidates in 2008 and privately supported Obama.

While Dimon’s spokesperson declined to comment, a JP Morgan insider tells us that Dimon has not attended an Obama fund-raiser and has not made any contributions to his campaign during this election cycle. And Dimon has met privately with many of the Republican presidential candidates.

Political insiders are buzzing that a defection would signal further Wall Street hostility toward Obama, who famously called them “fat cat” bankers in 2009. Dimon responded, “I don’t think the president of the United States should paint everyone with the same brush.”

One insider said, “There is not a person on Wall Street, with the exception of the genetic Democrats, who would get anywhere near supporting Obama. The hostility to the administration is huge. Dimon will continue to look bipartisan, then work behind the scenes to get a Republican elected.”

There were few big Wall Street names openly linked to Obama’s fund-raisers in New York. And we’re told ticket sales for Obama’s Friday event with Warren Buffett have been slower than expected, with staffers calling and e-mailing supporters to shift tickets at up to $35,800. Obama’s team insist they are expecting a “packed house,” but didn’t get back to us about Dimon last night.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/obama_top_fat_cat_strays_C9qcrURkB9L9JkImemgBwL#ixzz1ZGvNSNLu

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Heard through the Grapevine Today...

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes

from the Baltimore Sun
The fall theater season is just beginning, but the Everyman Theatre production of "A Raisin in the Sun" surely will qualify as one of its highlights. African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 classic is a period piece with timeless appeal.

It is really brought alive by an excellent cast that makes you feel as if you are witnessing social conditions in segregation-era Chicago in the 1950s. You feel grounded even before the first word of dialogue.

Set designer James Fouchard is quite a carpenter, because his construction of a faded but well-maintained apartment is so persuasive that it's not surprising when one of the characters actually makes scrambled eggs on the kitchen stove.

When family members talk about the dismal view through that kitchen window, the emotional effect admittedly is somewhat marred by lighting designer Jay A. Herzog's habit of having stage lights glaringly reflected in the apartment windows. A badly bungled lighting cue in a bedroom scene doesn't help matters, either.

It's worth making a note of such shortcomings, because they're so out of keeping with what otherwise qualifies as a triumph of set construction and period-suitable furnishings. Just as Hansberry constructed a play in which even the small talk has big implications, everything you see on stage places you within the world inhabited by the Younger family.

You feel secure as you survey this set and then get to meet the individual family members. "A Raisin in the Sun" has such fully three-dimensional characters that every family member completely holds your attention. Although the story indicates that Walter Lee Younger should qualify as the main character, it somehow would not seem right to thereby state that other family members are less crucial to the plot.

Seeing various productions of "A Raisin in the Sun" over the decades also serves as a reminder that the casting of a specific production can pull your attention — and your sympathy — to various family members.

As Walter Lee, KenYatta Rogers embodies the frustration of a young black man whose job as a chauffeur for white clients symbolically means he'll always be driving for somebody else.

Although Rogers certainly makes you feel that frustration, the most powerful emotional charge in this production comes from Dawn Ursula as Walter Lee's wife, Ruth, who quietly works as a maid for white families and yet who is not afraid to speak up when it's called for. Ursula, who has given many fine performances in local theater, has such a wonderfully expressive face that she anchors this production.

Walter Lee and Ruth's young son, Travis, is alternately played by Jaden Derry and Isaiah Pope.

Also no slouch when it comes to being expressive are Fatima Quander as Walter Lee's outspoken sister, Beneatha, who is a college student hoping to go to medical school; and Walter Lee and Beneatha's recently widowed mother, Lena (Lizan Mitchell), in whose long-occupied apartment everybody still dwells.

The socially pointed plot involves Lena awaiting a life insurance-related check that may change the family's fortunes. Individual family members have very different notions about where that money should be spent; and secondary characters also get to offer their opinions about how a black family can achieve upward mobility in a racially divided society.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ballet, Anyone?

Livin' the Good Life

Never take confident counsel, Cyrnus, with a bad man when thou wouldst accomplish a grave matter, but seek the counsel of the good, Cyrnus, even if it mean much labour and a long journey.
- Theognis of Megara (69-72)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

SIlence is Golden

Never have I betrayed a dear and loyal comrade, nor is there aught of the slavish in my soul.
- Theognis of Megara (529-530)

Friday, September 16, 2011

On Congressional Super Committees

CHAPTER XXXV - THE REASON WHY THE CREATION OF THE DECEMVIRS IN ROME WAS HARMFUL TO THE LIBERTY OF THAT REPUBLIC, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT IT WAS CREATED BY PUBLIC AND FREE SUFFRAGE

The election of the Ten citizens (Decemvirs) created by the Roman people to make the laws in Rome, who in time became Tyrants, and without any regard took away her liberty, appears to be contrary to what was discussed above, that that authority which is taken by violence, not that which is given by suffrage, harms the Republics. Here, however, the methods of giving authority and the time for which it is given, ought to be considered. For when free authority is given for a long time ((calling a long time a year or more)) it is always dangerous and will produce effects either good or bad, according as those upon whom it is conferred are good or bad. And if the authority given to the Ten and that which the Dictators have are considered, it will be seen beyond comparison that that of the Ten is greater. For when a Dictator was created there remained the Tribunes, Consuls, (and) the Senate, with all their authority, and the Dictator could not take it away from them; and even if he should have been able to remove anyone from the Consulship, or from the Senate, he could not suppress the Senatorial order and make new laws. So that the Senate, the Consuls, and the Tribunes, remaining with their authority, came to be as his guard to prevent him form going off from the right road. But in the creation of the Ten all the contrary occurred, for they annulled the Consuls and the Tribunes, and they were given authority to make laws and do every other thing as the Roman People had. So that, finding themselves alone, without Consuls, without Tribunes, without the appeal to the People, and because of this not having anyone to observe them, moved by the ambitions of Appius, they were able in the second year to become insolent. And because of this, it ought to be noted that when (we said) an authority given by free suffrage never harmed any Republic, it presupposed that a People is never led to give it except with limited powers and for limited times: but when either from having been deceived or for some other reason it happens that they are induced to give it imprudently and in the way in which the Roman people gave it to the Ten, it will always happen as it did to them (Romans). This is easily proven, considering the reasons that kept the Dictators good and that made the Ten bad: and considering also how those Republics which have been kept well ordered have done in giving authority for a long (period of) time, as the Spartans gave to their King, and how the Venetians give to their Doges; for it will be seen in both these methods, guardians were appointed who watched that the Kings (and the Doges) could not ill use that authority. Nor is it of any benefit in this case that the people are not corrupted, for an absolute authority in a very brief time corrupts the people, and makes friends and partisans for itself. Nor is it harmful either to be poor or not to have relatives, for riches and every other favor quickly will run after power, as we will discuss in detail in the creation of the said Ten.
- Machiavelli, "Discourses on Titus Livy"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fears for Some Familiar Faces

Now wing I my way like a bird from the flaxen net, escaping an evil man by breaking the trammels; and as for thee, thou 'st lost my friendship and wilt learn my shrewdness too late.
-Theognis of Megara (1097-1100)
Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be strong. First principle: one must need to be strong--otherwise one will never become strong.
- Nietzsche, "Twilight of the Idols"