Vol. 5    No. 2
January 28, 2010 Archives

2010 Production Schedule


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   Congratulations to the King Coalition and to Jonathan Overby’s Africasong for producing some wonderful
tributes to the life and ideals of Dr. King. I had some family from Milwaukee visit Madison on January 18th and
they were very impressed with the observance at the State Capitol. They said anything Milwaukee does pales in
comparison. Over the course of four days, starting with the Free Community Dinner and ending with the City-
County Observance, Madison has a high-quality celebration that seemed to be attended by record-breaking
crowds this year. As a city, we must be doing something right. I hope that we do Dr. King proud.
***
   I wonder what is up with the Boys & Girls Club these days. It seems that the last three executives there have
left their employment without immediately transitioning to the next level in their careers. What’s up with that?
What is the common denominator to this pattern?
***
   It sure does seem like the past year as just flown right by. Last January, I had the privilege to attend the
historic inauguration of President Barack Obama. It was a wonderful, yet modest celebration that lasted for the
President, about 24 hours. By the morning after the Inaugural Balls, President Obama was busy tackling the
nation’s problems. And brother, did he have a mess on his hands. He was confronted with the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the financial meltdown on Wall Street and a recession that was threatening to become a
depression, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
   Now I don’t know about everyone else, but I am glad that I don’t live in a dictatorship where everyone must
kowtow to the whims of the person in charge. Sure it might be tempting to have when your guy is in power, but it
would be unbearable when the other folks are in power, which does happen in Washington, D.C. — often.
   Our system of checks and balances contributes to the stability of our country. It ensures the sifting and
winnowing of ideas and policies so that, as a country, we don’t jump off the deep-end with some hair-brained
idea or policy. While it can be a royal pain because it appears things don’t get done, it also ensures that some
policy that threatens my life or livelihood doesn’t get rushed through and irreversibly affect my life, liberty and
pursuit of happiness. Just think of the mischief that George W. Bush could have forced upon us if there weren’t
any checks and balances in place. Yet I know it can be frustrating.
   There are a whole lot of things that the President has had to deal with over the past 365 days. And within our
system of government, I think he has accomplished a lot. He has improved America’s image in the world. He
passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which restored an important pay discrimination protection. The economy did not
crash and burn and Wall Street has seen many a rally and has reached heights I didn’t think were possible one
year ago.
   There has been a lot of crabbing — especially by conservative commentators as well as some on the left —
that President Obama hasn’t done enough. Now, mind you, these are some of the same folks who have been
fighting his every move tooth and nail. They have criticized and recriticized every policy that he has enacted.
They even criticized his “date night” trip to New York for a night with his wife Michelle, ignoring the fact that
George W. Bush spent a lot of time commuting back and forth from Crawford, Texas.
   They say his stimulus package hasn’t worked because unemployment has been hovering around 10 percent.
Well, only one-third of the stimulus money was scheduled to be spent last year with another two-thirds being
spent this year. The rise in unemployment has slowed with most of the stimulus still slated to kick in this year.
You have to give it time to be effective. This economic mess took a decade or two to make. We won’t magically
jump out of a recession after only one year. We should see positive news by the summer.
   The only thing that I am really disappointed about is the stalled and maybe dead health care reform bill. I know
the President wants to change the divisive environment in Washington and would have liked to have had bi-
partisan support. But I think he never was going to get it and he should have called the bluff of Senator
Lieberman and forced him to filibuster the health care reform bill. Sometimes you just have to step out there.
Hopefully I left the ways of childhood far behind. Sure there are things that I want that the President hasn’t done.
But I have learned that I can’t always have my way as an adult. So as long as things are moving in the right
direction, I’m okay with that. I like where President Obama is taking things and I can be patient while we get
there.
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                  One Year Reality Check