Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Good Day in North Carolina

I am struck by the fact that the finals of the U. S. National Figure Skating Championships are being held in Greensboro today and are being broadcast around the world on NBC television. The event is showcasing wonderfully the historic Greensboro Coliseum. It is bringing $10. million into the community, not to speak of the free worldwide advertising on NBC for the city. At the same time today, the National Hockey League is holding it's 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh, bringing the best hockey players from around the world to a worldwide television audience from Raleigh.

We would not have envisioned this 30 years ago. North Carolina has developed into a progressive, mainstream American state. We are no longer a sleepy, rural southern state whose economy is dependent upon textiles, tobacco, and farming. North Carolina is a vibrant state driven by a large national banking center, great universities, world class medical centers, high tech research and development centers, tourism, and entertainment.

This has been brought about by a number of significant occurrences. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 allowed the South to move into the mainstream of national economic and social/cultural activity. Progressive leadership in North Carolina, like Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt, acted as visionary facilitators in moving North Carolina in new directions. They foresaw the need for a strong community college system, for better public schools, for a research triangle park, for an effective partnership between public and private sector leaders. They recruited new progressive business leaders to help shape the state's future, leaders like Hugh McColl at NationsBank, James Goodnight at SAS Institute, Bob Ingram at Glaxo, John Medlin at Wachovia, and Jim Goodman at Capital Broadcasting to help move the state forward. Together, they charted a course for the state that resulted in a new, vibrant, 21st century North Carolina.

I never ceased to be amazed at the naysayers who continue to reject the concept of a strong public/private sector partnership. Thank goodness these people generally just stay home and complain. Specifically, on this day, I think of the Greensboro Coliseum complainers and haters. But with ice skaters from around the world in town this week, thankfully eclipsing that thought is the thought of the wisdom, vision, and hard work of those who had the foresight 60 years ago to build a great building with the help of the public.

Today's a good day in North Carolina. We owe a debt of gratitude to wise leaders who came before us.

Friday, January 28, 2011

American Political Dynasties

Assuming Barack Obama wins re-election in 2012 and Hillary Clinton serves a second term as Secretary of State.........if Hillary runs for President and is elected in 2016, and is re-elected in 2020, as of 2024, a Clinton or a Bush will have served as President or Vice-President for 36 of the proceeding 44 years. In that scenario, a Clinton or a Bush will have served as Secretary of State, Vice-President, or President for 44 consecutive years.

I am not betting against any of this happening. The Clintons (and Barack Obama) are exceedingly popular and capable, and I do not see that changing. Like the Adams of Massachusetts, Kennedys of Massachusetts, Longs of Louisiana, Roosevelts of New York, Lees of Virginia, Tafts of Ohio, and Daleys of Illinois, the Clintons and Bushes are American political dynasties.

Projecting only to 2008, a Clinton or a Bush served as President or Vice President for 28 years in a row (1980 to 2008), and 2016 will mark 36 years in a row with a Clinton or Bush serving as Secretary of State, Vice President, or President (1980 thru 2016).
(Incidentially, in 2016 Hillary would be the same age as President Reagan when he took office {age 69}, and 3 years younger than John McCain with he ran for President in 2008).

Picture of the Day

President Roosevelt throws out the Opening Day Ceremonial First Pitch in April of 1935. He is flanked on the right by Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw "Mountain" Landis, and Washington Senators Manager Bucky Harris.

(From the album of Robert G. Swan).

FDR Signs Social Security Act

Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression. Behind him is Francis Perkins of Maine, his Labor Secretary, the first woman cabinet member. Social Security was probably the greatest piece of progressive social legislation ever enacted. Social Security in 1935, Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, and Health Care Reform in 2010. America moves forward, albeit with slow and deliberate speed.

(Photo from album of Robert G. Swan).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Greensboro's First Ice Hockey Season

Here is a program (I bought it at a game) from the first year of hockey in Greensboro. It was the winter of 1959-60. I loved minor league hockey in Greensboro. The Greensboro Coliseum was so ahead of it's time, especially for the South. Can you imagine? That building was envisioned in the 1940s, and built in the late 50s. That required great vision and leadership.

We were in the Eastern Hockey League, with large, major northeastern cities. There were only 6 teams in the NHL. The talent in the EHL (predecessor to the ECHL) was superior. That's goalie Don "Soupie" Campbell, our first ever goalie, on the cover. Not only did players not wear helmets, goalies did not wear masks. It was a great time and great experience for a local kid.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson

Great painting by Arthur K. Miller, "'Shoeless' Joe Jackson." From Greenville, South Carolina, "Shoeless" Joe may have gotten a bad rap, who knows. The key figure in the 1919 Chicago Black Sox World Series fix/scandal, I do know his name, and the whole story, has certainly had "legs" over the years, as they say. Great image.

And by the way, he was a great player. In that World Series, he had 12 hits, with a .375 batting average, leading both teams in both categories. The 12 hits was a World Series record. He committed no errors and throw out a runner at the plate. And he is supposed to be throwing the Series? Pretty tough case to make, it seems to me.

Picture of the Day

Great painting by Arthur K. Miller, "Yogi Berra". Yogi is one of the very last of the "old" Yankees, from the "Golden Age" of baseball and the Yankees. When he goes, it will reverberate throughout the world of sports. He's an icon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Picture of the Day

This continues to be quite a difficult Winter. A cold weather mixture of precipitation is anticipated tonight and tomorrow. This will be a greatly appreciated Spring 2011. The opening of baseball Spring Training and the baseball openings days in general should be big hits in the Spring.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Most Significant, and One of the Longest, Home Runs Ever Hit

I am so enjoying "The Last Boy - Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood." Among many great parts, I have just read a beautifully descriptive account of what's called the most significant, and one of the longest, home runs ever hit.
The account, from the time Mantle stepped in the batters box against Chuck Stobbs, a lefty 7-year veteran out of Granby High School in Norfolk Va., until the ball was retrieved, took nearly four pages. Beautifully written.

It was a cold April 17, 1953, Griffith Stadium, opening day in Washington, DC . An embarrassing crowd of 4,206 was in attendance on opening day. Some accounts:

"They throw him a changeup, I think. He moved forward but kept his bat back and took a short step and held back because it was a changeup. Then it released: his body, arms, bat came around, everything synchronized. Everything went in a smooth swing. Everybody in the dugout got up and moved forward onto the steps. We just kept walking in unison watching the flight of the ball," said Bill Renna, a spare Yankee outfielder, as he watched attentively.

"It went up and got caught in the jet stream. It took on a life of it's own," said Clark Griffith the stadium namesake. Bullpen catcher Ralph Houk said, "You're looking for it to come down, to go into the crowd. The next thing you know, it is over the crowd and out of the stadium. There's a silence. Everyone is looking that way. Even all the infielders on the opposing team and the left fielder. He's looking for it and he can't believe it went out of the stadium."

Country singer Roy Clark, who was seated behind third base said, "It echoed in the ballpark. Even before it was halfway to its destination, you knew, that it was gone. It looked like it was in the air for five minutes." "The ball was so high that Mantle rounded second base before the ball came down," said Wayne Terwilliger, Senator's second baseman."

They said the Hall of Fame called to request the bat and the ball. The ball was stolen temporarily, but later returned so it could go to Cooperstown. Stobbs was demoted to the bullpen and would be remembered for that one pitch. It was all anyone ever talked to Stobbs about. Time magazine coined the term "Tape Measure Home Run!" as a result. The ball went 585 feet, to the backyard of 434 Oakdale Place, a modest two story row house, off Fifth Street on the southside of a one-block street that dead-ended at Fifth Street, back of the left field wall.

They said Mantle rounded the bases with his customary modesty, head down as he touched each base. It must have been a sight.

A Wise Story from Dr. Covey

The following is a simple and wise story from my favorite self-help guru, Dr. Stephen Covey. It is from his book, "First Things First". It is a rather simple metaphor, yet profound, like so much of Dr. Covey's work.

"A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about two inches in diameter.

He then ask the class if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up some smaller pebbles and poured them in the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas around the rocks. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled everything else. 'Now', the professor said, 'I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your health, your partner, anything that is so important to you that if it was lost you would be nearly destroyed. The pebbles are the other things that matter - your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff.'

'If you put the sand in the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles and the rocks. The same goes with life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical check ups. Take your wife out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, and fix the disposal.'

'Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'"

Picture of the Day

The grand Cardinal....the North Carolina State Bird.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quote of the Day

Regarding the horrible attempted murder of House Rep. Gabby Giffords and the killing of six other people:

"Last week we saw a white Catholic male Republican judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was initially saved by a 20-year old gay Mexican-American college student, and eventually by a Korean American combat surgeon, and this was all eulogized by an African American President." ~Mark Shields, PBS

On this day, in the year of our Lord 2011, set aside to memorialize the life of Martin Luther King, I am heartened by the thought that we may be moving closer and closer to the America that Dr. King envisioned.

Civil War Reunions - 1913 and 1938

Wonderful, moving footage of Civil War reunions, much of it narrated by great southern Civil War historian Shelby Foote.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy." MLK

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Great Jim Hunt and a Dirty Little Secret about Education in NC in the Old Days

Reading about Jim Hunt fascinates me. I am pleased to have campaigned for him, voted for him, and met him on a number of occasions. He was such a politically brilliant, courageous, and great Governor of North Carolina. He served two terms as governor, two different times. He was either Governor or Lt. Governor for 20 years in the last half of the twentieth century.

He knew the people of the state so well. Education was his passion. An interesting, dirty little secret, one that Hunt was out to change, was that some of the state's old-line business leaders thought too much education might not be good for the state. Those mill owners, bankers, and big lawyers put a premium on the universities, which educated their sons, and sometime daughters in those days. But public schools had never been high on the priority list of many of them. It didn't take alot of education to run machines in a textile, cigarette, or furniture factory. The owners wanted people who would work hard for low wages and who wouldn't organize unions and stir up trouble.

Tellingly, North Carolina's average manufacturing wage, like it's SAT scores, ranked near the bottom in America. Hunt knew he had to recruit and motivate a new generation of business leader who would support and financially contribute to education in North Carolina. He did just that, people like Jim Goodman Capitol Broadcasting, Jim Goodnight at SAS Institute, Hugh McColl at Bank of America, John Medlin at Wachovia, and Bob Ingram at Glaxo.

Hunt sometimes took more conservative positions such as on busing. Hunt denounced busing. He even made a point of meeting George Wallace at the airport when the old segregationist was campaigning in North Carolina. Some of Hunt's liberal friends were dismayed. But Hunt was smart enough to foresee that the Democratic Party couldn't' survive without conservative whites. He had to walk a tightrope on race, just like Terry Sanford. He had to bring the people along with him slowly. He and Sanford were both political geniuses and great progressive Southern leaders.

Regarding his educating initiatives, Hunt was asked to head the Carnegie Foundation Commission on Education in the '70s. He chaired the commission which credited the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. That was his idea and it served as accreditation for superior teachers. His education ideas were state of the art at the time: higher teacher pay, smaller class sizes, a Primary Reading Program (a teacher in every grade 1-3 classroom in North Carolina), and Smart Start for pre-schoolers. He was the first Governor in America to push for standardized testing and competency testing.

Every state needs a Jim Hunt. We were blessed.

(Source: "Jim Hunt - A Biography", by Gary Pearce)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nikki Haley

What an excellent image of Romney and Haley. I doubt it will happen, but this would be a formidable ticket for the GOP in 2012 or 2016. Romney is likely too progressive (although he is solidly conservative) for today's GOP and he will likely not make it through the GOP primaries. Other than his great poise and intellect, one of his strengths is that he is not overexposed. Amazingly, his progressive views on health care reform will be his major downfall with the GOP. It is early for consideration of Nikki, but if she is successful in South Carolina, and there is little reason to believe she will not be, she is a very attractive package for the GOP.

Below are some great photos from Nikki's inauguration on January 12, 2011.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Way Too Young

Good shot of Yankee great Thurman Munson, the first Yankee Captain since Lou Gehrig. He was a tough and gritty player. He was also a great player. He was a great hitter and had the quickest arm to second anyone had ever seen. Tragically, he died in a small plane crash at the age of 32. Lou Gehrig died at age 37.

Munson and I played on the same team the summer of 1968 at Chatham of the Cape Cod League. He signed that summer with the Yankees. He also brought Steve Stone to Chatham that summer. Stone later won the Cy Young with the Orioles and was the voice of the Cubs on WGN with Harry Caray for years. Munson and Stone were batterymates at Kent State University.

What a summer to spend in New England (I returned in '69 as well). Most people will recall or have read about the Spring/Summer of 1968. There was major cultural and political upheaval occurring in America. Just a sampling; student protesters of the escalating Vietnam War took over the administration building at Columbia University for an extended time, the musical "Hair" opened on Broadway, the Beatles announced the creation of Apple Records at a news conference in NYC, major riots broke out at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King was assassinated......the cover of TIME Magazine asked if God was dead too. And Mickey Mantle was playing his last season.

Quite a summer.......but a good summer for Munson, who became a New York Yankee, and for me , who did some growing up.

(On January 21, 2010, I wrote a further blog on the summer entitled, "I Don't Think We're Not In Kansas Anymore, Todo"; use the "Search this blog" bar to locate).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Picture of the Day

To start the year, a nice Obama/Lincoln Memorial painting made available by friend Robert G. Swan.

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