Sunday, August 29, 2010
Jim Hunt was a two-term NC Governor, two different times, serving 16 years as Governor. The ironic thing is that when he first become Governor, no NC Governor had served more than one term, or four years, (by law NC Governors could not succeed themselves). Hunt got the law changed and served 16 years. ('76 to '84 and '92 to '00).
I recall the first time I met Hunt. I had a glass of wine in each hand and was unable to shake hands with him. We were at a Democratic reception and Jay Rockefeller (John D. Rockefeller, IV), U. S. Senator from West Virgina, had ask me to go get he and I a glass of wine. When I returned, Rockefeller was with Hunt and he introduced Hunt to an embarrassed guy whose hands were both occupied with spirits (Hunt was a teetotaler). I was fortunate to met him on several other occasions and we recalled the incident with fondness.
Hunt was a very accomplished Governor, greatly improving education standards in NC and successfully recruiting much high tech industry to the state. He created the NC School for Math and Science (the first of it's kind in the nation) and the NC Biotechnology Center. He ran a very close race and a bitterly fought campaign against Jesse Helms in 1984 for the U. S. Senate. Helms slipped in on the coattails of an incumbent President, Ronald Reagan.
Hunt was on the short list for Vice President in 2000, and was highly considered for Secretary of Education by President Obama. Among many other national involvements, Hunt chaired the Carnegie Commission on Education, which created the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.
In retirement, and at age 73, Hunt chairs the board of directors at two institutes named for him, and he practices law at one of the state's largest and most prestigious firms, Womble Carlyle. In my humble opinion, Jim Hunt ranks as one of the 3 greatest and most accomplished North Carolinians on the past 50 years, along with Terry Sanford and Billy Graham. Kudos to Jim Hunt, for a life of service well lived.
Friday, August 27, 2010
James holds a law degree from LSU and is an ex-Marine. He now lives with his family in New Orleans and he teaches political science at Tulane University. Some of his more humorous quotes include, " Wars is like an affairs, they're easy to get into and hard to get out of." And, "I was against gay marriage until I realized I didn't have to have one."
James, at age 65, has worked as a political consultant around the world, including for heads of state in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Now an actor, commentator, attorney, media personality, and liberal pundit, as well as professor, James has gained a reputation for his toughness, directness, honesty, and intellect. He is a pleasure to follow....a character of our time.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Facts don't necessarily have the power to change our minds. Researchers found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Facts could actually make misinformation even stronger among the misinformed as they "dig their heels in" to justify their factually wrong positions.
Research found that many people already have beliefs......a set of facts lodged in their minds. When notions they hold are proven false, instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they entrench themselves even deeper. "The general idea is that for some people, it can be absolutely threatening to admit you're wrong. The phenomenon - know as backfire - is a natural defense mechanism to avoid cognitive dissonance", the lead researcher on the Michigan study said.
We often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. Rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. Worst of all, our preconceived notions can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we're right, and even less likely to listen too any new information. The effect has been heighten by the information glut.....endless rumors, misinformation, etc. on the Internet and cable TV. In other words, it has never been easier for people to be wrong, and at the same time feel more certain than ever that they're right.
How can we have things so wrong, and be so sure that we're right? Because people tend to interpret information with an eye toward reinforcing their pre-existing views. The research suggests that once those facts, or what are thought of as "facts", are internalized, they are very difficult to budge. It was observed that politically sophisticated thinkers were even less open to new information than less sophisticated types. These people may be factually right 90% of the time, but their confidence makes it nearly impossible to correct the 10% on which they're totally wrong.
It is unclear what drives the behavior. It can range from simple defensiveness to how we are wired. But research found one interesting, rather clear driver. It involves self-esteem. In other words, if you feel good about yourself, you'll listen, you'll be open to the ideas of others, to new information. If you feel insecure or threatened, you are less likely to be open to new information and dissenting opinions. This is why voters who are fearful, insecure, and feel threaten, are so easily controlled and manipulated by politicans.
An interesting book related to this topic is, "On Being Certain - Believing You Are Right Even When You Are Not", by Robert A. Burton, M. D. Dr. Burton, a neurologist, shows and argues that feeling certain - feeling that we know something - is actually a mental sensation, rather than evidence of fact. His work suggests that feelings of certainty stem from primitive areas of the brain and are independent of reasoning. In other words, the feeling of knowing happens to us, we cannot make it happen.........a discussion for another day, but recommended reading.
The University of Michigan study is an interesting study in a time of information overload. The lesson may be to feel good about yourself, be willing to listen to new information, be willing to challenge your preconceived notions, and as Dr. Steven Covey would say, "seek first to understand, then to be understood."
(Source for this piece, "How Facts Backfire", by Joe Keohane - Boston Globe)
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Some of his simple wisdom:
- Never slap a man who is chewing tobacco.
- There are two theories on arguing with a women....neither of them work.
- There are three kinds of men: the ones who learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the one's who have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
Some of his observations about aging:
- The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
- When you are dissatisfied and want to go back to your youth, think algebra.
- One must wait until evening, to see how splendid the day has been.
- I want people to know 'why' I look the way I do. I've traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren't paved.
Will was an important early 20th century character.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The image comes from the photo collection of my facebook friend Fran Tarkenton. Fran is a very interesting guy. After a very successful Hall of Fame career at the Minnesota Vikings and a great college career at Georgia, Tarkenton became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the history of the NFL. Fran has written a number of motivational books and has been a prominent speaker on the motivational speaker circuit. He founded and sold a software company, has hosted numerous TV infomercials, has written a novel, and he founded and still operates an annuity marketing firm, among many other projects. We are certainly not talking about a slow, former football player here. :)
Tarkenton and his wife make their home in the Buckhead community of Atlanta.
A great photo of three great football legends from a by-gone era.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
As my friend Richard Johnson said, "anyone who doesn't think American Muslims should be allowed to build a $100. million interfaith community center and Mosque near ground zero should watch the above video." American Muslims fight and die for America, just like other Americans. They fight for our way of life, for religious freedom, for the Bill of Rights, just like other Americans.
President Obama, said, "As a citizen and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with laws and local ordinances."
Yes, the proposed site is two blocks from ground zero. But American Muslims had no more to do with 9/11 than American Christians had to do with the 1993 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. Over the years, intolerant religious groups have opposed other houses of worship being built in America, from Jewish synagogues to Catholic churches. A Christian church cannot be built in Saudia Arabia. Do we want to lower ourselves to that standard? Or are we better than that?
Republicans, very vocal in their opposition to the Mosque, seem to have abandoned the constitution on both the re-writing of the 14th amendment and on the mosque issue. They want to use both issues for political purposes as both issues are polling in opposition to the view of the party in power.
Public opinion really does not matter on these issues. We do not, we cannot, put the Bill of Rights, especially freedom of religion, to a vote. Freedom of religion is basic to who we are, to what we are about.
Today, 40 prominent religious leaders in America released a statement condemning the opposition to the Islamic center and Mosque. (See the statement and the names of the 40 below). The statement concludes, "Mr. Gingrich and Ms. Palin and other prominent voices who are fortunate to have the ear of the media would make a more lasting contribution to our nation if they stopped issuing inflammatory statements and instead helped inspire a civil dialogue between Christian, Jews, and Muslims committed to a future guided by principles of justice, compassion, and peace. Fear-mongering and hate rhetoric only undermine treasured values at the heart of diverse faith traditions and our nation's highest ideals."
In 1967, the great Senator Sam Ervin took to the Senate floor, with his best Senate speech, arguing for religious freedom and for separation of church and state. I am reminded of, and in total agreement with, his simple closing line, a basic American tenet for those who love religion and love the 1st Amendment. Sam said, "I revere religion. I revere religion because it gives us these promises and this hope. I would preserve and protect that right of religious freedom for all men."
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
But we should not consider tampering with the 14th Amendment which grants birthright citizenship. The history of the 14th Amendment goes back to the post-Civil War era. It was enacted to make certain that former slaves were granted full citizenship. Then it became a means by which babies of immigrant citizens would be granted full citizenship. Now it is being used as a wedge issue by the Republican Party to shore up their base with the use of terms like "drop and leave", (as if describing animals), in referring to Latinos allegedly coming to America to have their babies.
America is truly unique as a nation of immigrants. You come to America and you can become American. You cannot immigrate to France and become French, nor Italy and become Italian, nor Spain and become Spanish, nor Poland and become Polish. But you come to America and you uniquely can become American. What a great legacy, heritage, uniqueness of America.
Certainly there are challenges related to it today. There have always been challenges and resistance to the concept by some. We need only think back to the time of the signs which read "Irish Need Not Apply " during the early 20th century.
But the advantages have always outweighed the challenges. It is who we are! The creativity, initiative, intellect of our immigrant population is our strength. Yes, there has always been a criminal immigrant element, those who assimilate less well than others, those who require public assistance. And a segment of established immigrants have always taken issue with and had resistance toward new immigrants. That is human nature.
But this movement to repeal the 14th amendment, and the current movement to crack down on illegal immigration, has seeds of total opposition to immigration in America. As fiercely as it is denied, of course, there are also elements of race involved. There are elements of fear, race, resistance to change, and the attitude of "give me my country back" that are pervasive in the movement.
We must remember who we are as Americans. Unless we are Native Americans, we are all grandchildren of immigrants. As Americans, we need to be about the business of creating jobs and commerce with the same vigor, creativity, innovation, and initiative of our immigrant forefathers (whether they be bootleggers or bankers).
We need to insist that our borders be secured and that our laws be inforced. We need to recall clearly that, when ask, the Lord made clear that the most important commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Any actions or initiatives beyond these are flatout un-American.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Jabbar (Lew Alcinder in high school before his conversion to Islam in college) was so dominant that the dunk was banned in college basketball from 1968 to 1976 as a result of his prowess. Walton, quite a character, kept close company with Patty Hearst in those days. He has attended 650 Grateful Dead concerts, including accompanying The Dead to Egypt for their performance in front of the Great Pyramids.
These guys had 5 NCAA National Championship between them and stellar, Hall of Fame NBA careers.......two interesting characters of our time.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
President Obama's Energy Advisor Carol Browner (eerily close to "Brownie", Bush's failed and fired FEMA director), appearing on "Meet the Press" today, said "I think phase one is over because the well is not leaking. We see this as phase one and not the end by any means. This is the largest response ever to an environmental disaster. We had over 6,000 vessels, 40,000 people. There was skimming, there was containing, there was burning....it was very successful. The good new is that we are not seeing huge amounts of oil on the beaches and in the marshes. But there is still much work work to do."
Not only has the response effort been successful, but I believe my son, who is a political communications professional, would say the communications rollout, such as the above effective statement, has been superb. Effective communications with the public and getting the accurate message directly to the public, (around bias media outlets), quickly and often, is hugely important in such an endeavor.
Browner went on to say, "BP will be held absolutely accountable. There will be a large financial penalty. They will be responsible for paying to clean up the natural resource damages." Regarding the Gulf coast senator's proposal that 80% of the BP fines go to the Gulf Coast recovery, Browner said, "I think that makes alot of sense. The President is in favor of returning it to the region."
It is interesting how the three "small government" Republican Governors of the affected Gulf coast states (and the senators) were very welcoming of assistance and coordination from the federal government during the crisis. This is very understandable. But it certainly flies in the face of their constant call to limit the federal government's role in our lives. This is a perfect example of conservatives opposing government involvement until and unless the program or effort directly benefits them.
Browner went on to say that the deep-water drilling moratorium would be lifted if and when appropriate (good news for the "drill baby drill" group). She says an energy bill could be done during the lame duck session coming up. A comprehensive energy bill to address drilling safety, to promote alternative fuel development, to raise the cap for damages oil companies have to pay as result of spills, and to provide financial incentives to weatherize homes, would be a real plus for the American people and for the Obama Administration.
Hopefully Republicans will be on board for the energy bill now that cap and trade has been removed from consideration. And hopefully we can all give the administration a bi-partisan commendation and thank you for an effort well done in the Gulf oil spill crisis to this point. We still do that don't we?
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The "Liberal Lion" they called him, among academics he ranks right up there with Henry Clay of Kentucky, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, Robert Taft of Ohio, and Lyndon Johnson of Texas, as one of the greatest United States Senators in the esteemed history of the body.
The photo was taken on September 8, 2008. He died about a year later, August 25, 2009.
(Photo compliments of Robert G. Swan)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Governor Sanford was very influential with President Kennedy. In 1960, he was the first southern Governor to endorse President Kennedy, and he gave the seconding speech for Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic convention.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Fareed Zakaria, August 1, 2010 -
"George W. Bush's massive tax cuts are the largest single chunk of the structural budget deficit. This chart shows deficit growth over the next ten years and the dark orange strip shows just how much the Bush tax cuts add to the deficit.
Were the tax cuts to expire, the deficit would automatically shink by 30%......$300. billion+.
Republicans are adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts. They say it would weaken the economy. They also argue that what is weakening the economy is the prospect of an unending budget deficit.
Federal tax receipts as a percentage of the economy are at the lowest level since 1950. Half of all Americans pay no income taxes.
We have to be willing to pay for the government we want, which by the way is among the smallest of western industrialized nations. Or we have to drastically cut government, which means cut programs popular among middle class Americans, since that is where most of the money is.
Let the entire slew of Bush tax cuts expire. That would take us back to the Clinton era rates where the American economy had its strongest growth in 3 decades and the first balanced budget in 4 decades.
Everyone wants the congress to act. This would require the congress to done nothing. LET THE BUSH TAX CUTS EXPIRE."
(The debate over the expiration of the Bush tax cuts will be spirited and critical as we continue to move out of this economic turndown. The off-year elections in November will further complicate the discussions. I will hope for, and look for, some courage and statesmanship from those in congress, as well a some strong leadership from the President. It should be interesting).
Although the cost for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are accounted for in the chart above, I add the link below for emphasis.
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- A Great North Carolinian - Jim Hunt
- A Political Family - The Carvilles
- Facts Versus Beliefs
- Picture of the Day
- The Great Will Rogers
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- Rickwood Field: Oldest Baseball Park in America
- Picture of the Day
- The Ground Zero Mosque Debate
- Provincetown, Mass.
- Picture of the Day
- America Is An Immigrant Nation - Oppose Repeal of ...
- Picture of the Day
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- Quite Another Time, Another Day
- Obama Administration's Response to Gulf Oil Spill ...
- 45th Anniversary of Voting Rights Act - August 8, ...
- Picture of the Day
- Pictures of the Day
- America is Still Just An Experiment
- Senator Kennedy - Reflecting, Toward the End
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- Bush Tax Cuts and The Federal Deficit
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