Reflections Blog


Swallowing the Bitter Pill of Compromise

As parliamentarian governments around the world have long known, governance frequently requires compromising with one’s opponents in order to get anything accomplished, and a contrarian minority can wield substantial influence beyond its size by casting its votes with one coalition or another—and being coy with all sides about which way it’s going to vote until its intransigent demands are met by the coalition most willing to bend to the minority’s will.

We have now seen this power play in action in our federal government’s recent prolonged debate over raising the debt ceiling.  The insurgents our case were the minority Tea Party lawmakers in the House of Representatives who stood belligerently firm in their mantra of “no new taxes” and effectively held John Boehner and other mainstream Republicans hostage until the Tea Partiers (mostly) got their way. 

Debra Parmenter's Online Photography Exhibit

This month, the Durango Arts Center initiated online exhibits of artists’ works, and the first artist they chose to feature is Debra Parmenter.  I have been showing viewers some of Debra’s beautiful photographs for some time, but this is her first online exhibit by a gallery.  The Arts Center asked her to submit digital images of her (mostly) floral photography.  She sent them sixty images, and they selected twenty to exhibit online. 

You can see the Durango Art Center’s online exhibit of Debra’s photos at

This photo is called "A Study in Scarlet."  She took this image in the Koi pond at the Japanese restaurant at the Hilton Waikoloa on the Kohala coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.  She was using a Canon 50D digital camera.  Part of the beauty of this image is the color of the flower reflected in the small bead of water floating on one of the silver leaves.

Bluegrass at Telluride

We are just back from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and what a wonderful four days it was.  This was the 38thseason of the festival and the seventh consecutive year that our Colorado family has used the occasion for a mini-family reunion.

Three things stand out for me on this trip.  First was the pleasure of spending four days with five of our grandchildren.  The oldest, Bryn, was just seven when we started coming to this festival; the youngest, Asher, hadn’t been born.  It’s wonderful to watch as their experience of the festival changes from year to year—from rock and face painting to hula hooping, from playing catch to dancing, and from sharing in the cooking to photographing the musicians and listening seriously to the music.  They will grow up with an abiding love of bluegrass, partly because of our annual family pilgrimage to Telluride, and that will be one of our greatest gifts to them.

By Terry R. Bacon
Music in the Mountains

On July 11, music returns to Durango, Colorado, and the beautiful San Juan Mountains in the southwestern part of our state as the 25th anniversary season of Music in the Mountains gets underway. 

Each year, we commission a special work of art to represent the spirit of music in the mountains.  Traditionally, the featured art is a painting, but this year it is an original sculpture by New Mexico artist Joe Cajero, called The Koshare and his Music in the Mountains.  “I thought a Koshare would be the perfect representative for the Festival,” Cajero said, “dressed appropriately for the occasion with a bowtie.  I wanted to create an expression on his face that conveyed a feeling of love of music.  For the butterfly and the music stand, I chose to place designs that reflect images of prayer, meditation, and oneness with nature.”

By Terry R. Bacon
I Stole Roger Penske's Welcome Mat

It was a hot, humid evening in Key Largo.  Steam rose off the sidewalks, and mosquitoes circled us like Navy fighters waiting to land on an aircraft carrier.  We were desperate.

They’d broken the twenty members of our leadership workshop into four teams, allowed us just one hour to complete our mission, and given us a list of difficult items to find:  things like a hymnal, a beer mug with a Bud Lite emblem, a clothespin with an item of clothing attached, a tricycle, a bowling pin, and, worst of all, an item from one of three of the luxury yachts now in port bearing the name of the yacht.  Most items were worth 25 or 50 points each, but the item bearing the yacht’s name was the grand prize.  It alone was worth 500 points, enough to tip the scales heavily in favor of whichever team snagged that prize.

By Terry R. Bacon
The Ethics of WikiLeaks

I have to confess that I was not familiar with the Web site WikiLeaks until last April when it posted a video that purported to show U.S. forces killing Iraqi civilians. Then in July, the site released an Afghan War Diary that included nearly 77,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan, many of which had been classified documents, and some of which allegedly reveal wrongdoings by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst, was arrested for leaking the documents. It’s not clear at this point whether Manning was responsible for the leak or what charges the government might eventually bring against him.

By Terry R. Bacon
Tags: Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, documents, classified, Pentagon, U.S. Army, al Qaeda, Taliban, war crimes
Sarah Palin Superstar

Sarah PalinWhether you love her or hate her, it would be hard to argue that Sarah Palin is one of the most fascinating people to arrive in the public arena in some time. When John McCain picked her as his running mate in 2008, it’s fair to say that most people outside of Alaska had never heard of her. Now she is a contributor on Fox News, gets a hundred grand for speaking engagements, has a media following that puts her in the spotlight whenever she appears in public, and tops at least some people’s list of candidates for the presidency in 2012

How powerful is this woman? And could she become our next president?

Looking at her sources of power helps illuminate why Sarah Palin became a populist sensation and whether her star will shine brightly in the night sky for a long time to come or whether, like a shooting star, she will fizzle out after a spectacular display of pyrotechnics.

By Terry R. Bacon
Tags: Sarah Palin, John McCain, Fox News, power, influence, knowledge, character, attraction, reputation, network, information, role, resources, history, expressiveness, Dancing with the Stars, Bristol Palin, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, Barack Obama
Peyton Manning and a Moment of Silence

On September 20, 2010, 23-year-old Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead in his home.  Investigators have since called his death a suicide.  Like many Broncos fans in Colorado, I was saddened by the death of this young man and perplexed about why he would take his own life.  He was one of the few college athletes who had made it to the pros.  He appeared to be living his dream, but he must have been haunted by something that led him to make a desperate decision.

Six days later, my wife and I were in Denver to see the Broncos play the Indianapolis Colts at Invesco Field.  Sitting near us in the stands were two young men wearing Broncos tee-shirts.  They introduced themselves (I’ll call them Joe and Mike).  Between gulps of beer, Joe told us that he disliked the Colts and especially hated Peyton Manning.  (In case you don’t follow American football, Manning is the quarterback for the Colts.)  Some of what he said about Manning was so bizarre that we tried to ignore him and just enjoy the spectacle of the pre-game activities on the field.

By Terry R. Bacon
Tags: Denver Broncos, Kenny McKinley, Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning, NFL, football, Lincoln, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Civil War, Gettysburg, Chamberlain, Union, Confederate, Appomattox, Kyle Orton, Superbowl
William Shatner and the Art of Self-Reinvention

I was struck recently by a photo of William Shatner on the cover of USA Weekend magazine, which was enclosed in my local Sunday newspaper.  The caption beside Shatner’s photo read, “A panel of TV’s funniest stars, including William Shatner, reveals what will make you smile this season.”   William Shatner?  One of TV’s funniest stars?  When did that happen?

I first saw William Shatner in the 1958 film The Brothers Karamazov, which starred Yul Brynner, Maria Schell, Claire Bloom, Richard Basehart, Albert Salmi, and Lee J. Cobb.  If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend it highly.  Shatner played Alexi, the youngest Karamazov brother, who is a monk.  Throughout this drama of love, betrayal, crime, punishment, recklessness, loyalty, intrigue, and redemption, Shatner plays his role with the brooding intensity that befits a classically trained actor, which he was.

By Terry R. Bacon
Tags: William Shatner, Star Trek, Brothers Karamozov, Quebec, Shakespeare, Charlton Heston, Gene Hackman, James Dean, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, T. J. Hooker, The Practice, Boston Legal, Miss Congeniality, 3rd Rock from the Sun, comedy, television
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