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Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Hamilton’

Hamilton” —  movie review
Today’s review is for the musical play-cum-film of the 2015 Broadway production “Hamilton“. The play / film was written by the starring actor:  Lin-Manuel Miranda and based on a biography by Ron Chernow titled: “Alexander Hamilton“.  For those who are not particularly “up” on their U.S. Revolutionary War period history, Hamilton is the face on the ten dollar bills in your wallet.  He was the first Treasury Secretary of the United States and one of the few non-Presidents to appear on U.S. currency.  Anyway, this is a long production (in two parts with an intermission break), so you have to be ready with a comfortable chair.
Other actors / characters include:  Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr (the man who duels and kills Hamilton); Phillipa Soo as Eliza (Shuyler) Hamilton (his wife); Christopher Jackson as George Wahington, Daveed Diggs in a dual role of Marquis de Lafayette and (more importantly) as Thomas Jefferson; Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler (Hamilton’s sister-in-law); and Anthony Ramos as Philip Hamilton (Alexander’s son), who also dies in a duel.
Before I get much into my direct comments about this film, I have a few disclaimers:
1)  I don’t really LIKE plays or live performances of musicals (in general).  I haven’t been to many in my lifetime and most of what I have been to, I’ve enjoyed enough to feel the money was well spent, but I don’t recall ever thinking:  “Wow!  I wish I could watch that again tomorrow or next week“.  Now, in fairness to these productions:  I DON’T like crowds!  I can tolerate them, but I don’t like them.
2)  I knew little to nothing about Alexander Hamilton prior to watching this film / musical. I started to read a book about him and James Madison, but never made it past the first fifty pages or so.  It was enough to jump-start me into this production, but I don’t “really” know how much was fact and how much was tabloid history.
3)  I’m not real big on “interpreting” history in modern terms.  I’m not a fan of rap or hip-hop style “singing” in movies (or in general) let alone in plays relating historic events.
Having said all of that, what did I think?  Was it any good?  Was I entertained?  Did I learn anything?
First, I think Miranda is VERY talented, if not brilliant.  He has stage presence and was definitely able to carry the starring load with his singing.  To think he also wrote the music and lyrics is particularly noteworthy as I’ve always thought of music, lyrics and performance as three fairly different skill sets.  I felt, however, that most of his tunes were songs and not raps – which may be why I liked them.
Second, Leslie Odom Jr. (as Burr) practically steals the stage with every song.  The camera loved him and (IMHO) he was the best performer in the production.  Again, though, my impression was his tunes were songs and not raps.  I’m beginning to sense a theme here.
Third, Soo and Goldsberry were okay – again more singing than rap.  I was not impressed with Diggs in either of his roles or Ramos in either of his.  I do not believe Jefferson was a clownish buffoon, which was the impression I got from this production.  I found it equally interesting that Washington was portrayed with extreme dignity in the entire production.
Final recommendation:  strong to highly recommended!  I would like to see this made as a “real” movie without songs and with serious acting instead of as a musical.  If it gets remade as a musical (at some point), I would like it re-done with typical movie type sets instead of the single set stage with minor modifications.  I’m not sure why, but I found the use of the single set even more distracting than the rap / hip-hop.
This movie / production is well worth viewing as a history lesson in its own right.  To the extent it reaches a younger population with its trendier musical style, well, as someone who loves learning about history, that’s a trade-off I’d make any day.  My take-away (what I learned) was about Hamilton’s burning desire to make something of himself and to make a mark on history.  It was interesting to me that Burr was portrayed not as someone seeking to make history, but rather as someone who simply wanted to be present when history was made.  Burr passion was just to be “in the room”.  Again, without knowing more about both men, I don’t know if my impression is historically accurate.
One final note:  both of my daughters have seen the live productions and my oldest was anxious to get me to listen to the music in advance of the play / movie.  Both have also listened to the songs repeatedly – maybe not quite to the point of memorizing them, but pretty close.  I feel as if this (going back and listening to the lyrics) is something I need to spend some time doing as I don’t feel I got much from the lyrics as a first time viewer and listener.
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On This Day In:
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2017 Open Your Eyes (And Your Heart)
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2014 Fundamentals
2013 Proof – ing
2012 Deluge, n.
2011 Hail, Caesar!
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5 February 2020
ROMNEY SPEECH (AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY) REGARDING HIS VOTE TO CONFIRM THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP:
The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it.  The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days.  We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it.  We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.
The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious.  As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.”  I am a profoundly religious person.  I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.  I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced.  I was not wrong.
The House Managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case.  In addition, the President’s team presented three defenses: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the President’s actions; and third that the judgement of the President’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defenses.
The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the Founders and my own reasoned judgement convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office.  To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.
The President’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.  If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the Vice President should have recused himself.  While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.
With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime.  Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit.  There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would never have done what he did.
The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters.  While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president.  Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize — to the extent possible — the partisan sentiments of the public.
This verdict is ours to render.  The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty.  The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”
Yes, he did.
The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.
The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.
The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.
The President’s purpose was personal and political.
Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.
What he did was not “perfect” — No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values.  Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.
In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts.  Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.”  I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind.  I support a great deal of what the President has done.  I have voted with him 80% of the time.  But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside.  Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.
I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced.  I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters.  Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?
I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.
Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence.  I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character.  As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction.  We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.
I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office.  The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgement of the American people.  Voters will make the final decision, just as the President’s lawyers have implored.  My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate.  But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.  I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial.  They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.
We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history.  But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.
Senator Mitt Romney
(R) Utah
[I was torn between titling this post as “Profile In Courage” and / or “A Candle In The Wind“.  In the end, I chose to emphasize the individuality of the speech / act rather than the courage of the decision or the political precariousness of the position.  I believe history will judge Mitt Romney as more than just a “footnote” and somewhere there is a dad (George W. Romney) looking down on his son with pride.    —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
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2012 Build New Worlds
2011 I Grok Elegance
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Below you will find the U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 489 condemning #45 for his racist remarks (on Twitter and in public speech)…   The Resolution appears as 1) individual images (click on them to enlarge them in your image viewer), 2) a link to the full PDF file (click on it to read the PDF in your viewer), and, finally, 3) the text of the Resolution…
Click on the following link to read the full pdf file in your reader: BILLS-116hres489ih

116TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION H. RES. 489

Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. MALINOWSKI submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on
RESOLUTION
Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.
Whereas the Founders conceived America as a haven of refuge for people fleeing from religious and political persecution, and Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison all emphasized that the Nation gained as it attracted new people in search of freedom and livelihood for their families;
Whereas the Declaration of Independence defined America as a covenant based on equality, the unalienable Rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government by the consent of the people;
Whereas Benjamin Franklin said at the Constitutional convention, ‘‘When foreigners after looking about for some other Country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference to ours, it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection’’;
Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, ‘‘Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists’’;
Whereas immigration of people from all over the Earth has defined every stage of American history and propelled our social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, artistic and technological progress as a people, and all Americans, except for the descendants of Native people and enslaved African-Americans, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants;
Whereas the commitment to immigration and asylum has been not a partisan cause but a powerful national value that has infused the work of many Presidents;
Whereas American patriotism is defined not by race or ethnicity but by devotion to the Constitutional ideals of equality, liberty, inclusion, and democracy and by service to our communities and struggle for the common good;
Whereas President John F. Kennedy, whose family came to the United States from Ireland, stated in his 1958 book ‘‘A Nation of Immigrants’’ that ‘‘The contribution of immigrants can be seen in every aspect of our national life.  We see it in religion, in politics, in business, in the arts, in education, even in athletics and entertainment.  There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immigrant background.  Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.’’;
Whereas President Ronald Reagan in his last speech as President conveyed ‘‘An observation about a country which I love’’;
Whereas as President Reagan observed, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors, and it is the Statue of Liberty and its values that give us our great and special place in the world;
Whereas other countries may seek to compete with us, but in one vital area, as ‘‘a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on Earth comes close’’;
Whereas it is the great life force of ‘‘each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed’’ through the 21st century and beyond and is part of the ‘‘magical, intoxicating power of America’’;
Whereas this is ‘‘one of the most important sources of America’s greatness: we lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world, and by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation’’;
Whereas ‘‘thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge’’, always leading the world to the next frontier;
Whereas this openness is vital to our future as a Nation, and ‘‘if we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost’’;  and
Whereas President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color:  Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives —
1 (1) believes that immigrants and their descend-
2 ants have made America stronger, and that those
3 who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as
4 American as those whose families have lived in the
5 United States for many generations;
6 (2) is committed to keeping America open to
7 those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from vio-
8 lence and oppression, and those who are willing to
9 work hard to live the American Dream, no matter
10 their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and
11 (3) strongly condemns President Donald
12 Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and
13 increased fear and hatred of new Americans and
14 people of color by saying that our fellow Americans
15 who are immigrants, and those who may look to the
16 President like immigrants, should ‘‘go back’’ to
17 other countries, by referring to immigrants and asy-
18 lum seekers as ‘‘invaders,’’ and by saying that Mem-
19 bers of Congress who are immigrants (or those of
20 our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immi-
21 grants) do not belong in Congress or in the United
22 States of America.
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On This Day In:
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2015 Looking For The Needles In The Haystacks
2014 The Definition Of A Gentleman
2013 Thar She Blows (Not)!
2012 Naturally
2011 Been Here, Done That
Remember
2010 Timeless Classics

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Yesterday, I developed a bad sore throat.  I made it through the work day, but it was getting progressively worse.  I woke up around 2:30am with difficulty breathing, unable to swallow, and what felt like sandpaper at the back  of my throat and a walnut under each of my jaws.  This morning I went to the doctor’s office and was told it’s viral not bacterial, so all I can do is continue to gargle and hang in there (lots of fluids and rest) for a few days and it’ll go away.
So today I completed “Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers“, written by Brooke Allen (2006©).  The book is about the religious beliefs of six of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States of America (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams).  If you’ll pardon the pun, the book has been a revelation to me!!
I had always assumed our Founding Fathers were highly religious (Protestant) Christians.  It seems this is mostly (but not entirely) untrue.  For example, Washington was an occasional church attendee, but he never participated in communion.  In fact, when communion was about to begin, he would stand and leave the service.  When confronted about this behaviour, he admitted he never considered it to be distracting to others attending the service.  Although he continued to occasionally attend services, he never attended another service where communion was to be offered.  The rest, although raised in Christian faith, appear to be mostly Deists.  The exception being Hamilton, who seems to have re-discovered Christianity late in life – but not early enough to have had it significantly affect his politics.
In any case, all were stridently against the mixture of Church and State, and so it seems strange to me to think the Religious Right in today’s America hold up the Founding Fathers as the guides in returning the United States to our religious and political roots.  It seems they (the Religious Right) either don’t read (or refuse to understand / believe) the history of our country.  Well, what else is new?
After presenting a chapter on each of the six Founding Fathers, the book concludes with two chapters describing the world which produces the Founding Fathers and some of the turmoil and issues since 1787.  Both chapters are excellent overviews of the religious / political worlds before and after our Constitution and are worth the price of the book themselves.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American History, Politics or the specific issue of the separation of Church and State.  Rest assured you will see numerous quotes from this book over the next few months…
And lest I forget to mention, this is one of the two books I purchased with the gift certificate my daughter Rebecca gave me for my birthday.  Thanks Bec, this book has brought me hours of enjoyable reading and reflective thought!!
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