POINTS OF COLOR
October 2, 2015
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
—Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was larger than life. He was a historian, an artist, and a prolific writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature 1953. But it was as Great Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II that Churchill achieved his finest hour. His soaring speeches and inspiring leadership were beacons of strength that sustained the British people when they fought alone against Hitler. He also gave hope to all people, everywhere, that victory over Nazi barbarism was inevitable and that good would indeed triumph over evil.
The single most famous political ad to appear on television ran just once–on September 7, 1964. It made certain that Lyndon Baines Johnson would defeat Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election in a landslide of epic proportions. The ad portrayed Senator Goldwater (R-Arizona) as someone whose outlandish conservative policies would murder a cute little girl and reduced the election to those who wanted peace (LBJ) or thermonuclear war (Goldwater). The cynical reality is that just one month after his inauguration, Johnson escalated the Vietnam War by bombing North Vietnam. So much for the “peace candidate.”
When I was a 19 year-old student, I moved into a new apartment. It was a railroad flat, long and narrow, with one room flowing into another. I decided to use high-gloss enamel to paint a wall white with vertical color stripes. The inspiration came from Mondrian, the Dutch abstract artist. Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) pared down his art to what he believed to be universally recognizable essentials. There was also a spiritual component to the style he made his own. Mondrian painted only with primary colors, emphasized vertical and horizontal lines, and ensured that his art would remain vivid, relevant, and contemporary. He certainly is one of my favorites. Some of my art reflects Mondrian’s insights, such as “Geometric Quilt” (shown at left, 2012). To view more than 20 of my pieces–each available as an art print–go to the WordsandAbstracts shop on Etsy.com.
The latest corporate sleazoid is Volkswagen. VW is charged with employing sophisticated software in 11 million cars that falsified a vehicle’s true pollution output when it was being tested. The company posed as green when the cars it tampered with weren’t. But don’t be surprised: corporate crime happens all the time. On September 17, General Motors agreed to pay a $900 million fine for the faulty design of ignition switches that killed 124 people; the firm had known about the flaw since 2005. In banking, “too big to fail” J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc pled guilty in May 2015 to foreign exchange manipulation. They–and three foreign banks–were fined $5.7 billion. On September 21, Stewart Parnell, the owner and president of Peanut Corporation of America, and other executives, received long prison sentences (28 years for Parnell)for knowlingly shipping salmonella-infected peanut butter that sickened hundreds. In May, Duke Energy, the nation’s largest untility, admitted violating environmental laws and agreed to pay a $68 million fine. Also in May, 14 people, including leading executives at FIFA, a governing body for soccer, were indicted for racketeering, money laundering and other charges extending back two decades. In an age of deregulation, corporate crime is as inevitable as boom and bust cycles.
On September 30, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood. The GOP knew that their misogynist bill would never pass the Senate and would be vetoed by the President if somehow it did. But this is just more wacko and surreal theater from a Republican Party that specializes in doing nothing more that throwing temper tantrums. In February, these fools voted for the 56th time to repeal Obama care. As they strut and boast, displaying their selfishness and ignorance, the nation’s genuine problems receive no attention. In 2013 and 2014 Congress passed fewer laws than at any other time in history–296 and 284 respectively. In the preceding ten Congressional sessions, the average number of laws passed was 464. So it’s not at all surprising that the Gallup Poll pegs the approval rating of Congress at 15%, near its all-time low.
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