The Graceful Beauty Of A Colossal Bridge

In my stroll through the Flats area of Cleveland early Wednesday morning, I was struck by this view of the shoreway bridge spanning the Cuyahoga River and the gravel yards and industrial facilities along the riverbed.  The bridge, which has been painted bright blue, is a gigantic construct when viewed from below, but it nevertheless has a kind of graceful, spidery beauty as it curves away into the distance far overhead.

Bridges and other well-designed forms of municipal infrastructure can be as artistic and lovely as the most high-priced piece of public art.

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Weiner’s World, Finally Resigned To The Inevitable

Anthony Weiner finally recognized the unavoidable result of his ill-advised behavior and resigned today.  His announcement of his resignation turned into something of a circus, complete with hecklers, catcalls, booing, and cheering.  It brought to an embarrassing end the latest mystifying political scandal.

What lessons can be learned from this sordid story?  Two points seem obvious.  First, the lie and the cover-up are almost always more damning than the original misdeed.  Weiner’s behavior in sending intimate photos and messages to unknown internet acquaintances was extremely weird, but he probably could have survived it if he had not aggressively lied about his Twitter account being hacked in an attempt to avoid disclosure of his conduct.  For most people, his knowing, repeated, straight-faced lies were far more disturbing that his strange activities on the web.

Second, recognize when you are going down, then pick the time and structure the message.  Weiner’s admission that he had engaged in the unseemly conduct and lied to the public made it inevitable that he would have to leave office — particularly when Weiner must have known that other pathetic photos and internet dalliances would come to light.  By vowing to fight, Weiner only exposed himself, his family, and his party to ongoing ridicule, shame, and distraction.  If he had resigned at the outset, he would have spared everyone a humiliating spectacle.  And why publicly read a statement in a forum where you could be jeered and spoofed by shock jocks and other bottom-feeders at the media trough?  Weiner would have been well-advised to follow Jim Tressel’s lead, issue a high-minded written statement, and leave his position out of the media spotlight.

So, Anthony Weiner exits stage left.  When will the next Washington, D.C. media frenzy begin?

Our Gilded Congress

Congressional disclosure forms were released yesterday and they show that our elected public servants are doing very well, indeed.

The wealth in Congress knows no party-line boundaries; Republicans and Democrats alike are doing well.  According to the reports, the Minority Leader and Majority Leader in the Senate are both multimillionaires who saw their wealth rise in 2010.  So did the the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader.  Other Members of Congress reported on gifts they received and, in one case, a member of Congress paid herself some hefty interest on a loan she made to her own campaign committee.

There are exceptions, of course, and I am not suggesting that only paupers should be elected to the Senate and the House of Representatives.  But when Americans wonder why Members of Congress, at times, seem out of touch with bread-and-butter issues like jobs and housing prices, they might do well to reflect on the vast personal wealth in Congress and the deferential and preferential treatment our elected representatives receive as a matter of course.  It’s easy to downplay the effect of high gasoline prices or unsold homes in middle-class neighborhoods if you have millions of dollars in personal investments to reflect upon as a fellow Senator gives you a ride on her private jet.