Friday, December 28, 2012

Year-End 2012 Reflection

I occasionally find assessing my place in the world to be helpful, even inspiring.   As I reflect back on 2012, my clear conclusion is that I continue to be very blessed.  2012 was just a wonderful year.  I became a Grandfather.  How wonderful is that?  My health, and that of my immediate family, remains stable.  My little business continues to move along nicely and Bunny continues to enjoy her work. 

I literally loved following the 2012 Presidential election.  The outcome was very much to my liking and the road to November was so exciting and intriguing.  Barack Obama engenders hope, confidence, and excitement in me for America. I was lucky to get to Charlotte to the DNC for a day.  Also, a related political joy for me was my trip to the National 2012 APIC (American Political Item Collectors) meeting in Columbus, Ohio.  That is always fun and this show and meeting was no exception.

Bunny and I once again got to baseball Spring Training in March and it was a joy.  The weather around Tampa was perfect and the games, hotel, beach, food, entertainment, etc. was wonderful.  This is always a great way to spend a week in the Spring after a long Winter, and a great way to get away with Bunny.

We got to Chattanooga to visit with Elizabeth, Scarlett, and Brandon 3 times.  We love Chattanooga, the wonderful baby, and the great couple.  The trips make for relaxing vacations for us.

I got to Rob's in Columbia twice, once for the Presidential primary in February and another time for the PGA Championship on Kiawai in August (we were in the Governor's box on Sunday for the PGA).  Rob is always a hoot to be with.  I love Rob, Jamie, Columbia, and their work is so interesting and exciting to hear about and discuss.

Then there was my 45th HS Reunion, my Wyndam volunteering, my ACC Hall of Champions volunteering, my Elon University classes, my enjoyable time on Facebook and my blog, and our meaningful and important time at the wonderful First Baptist Church of Greensboro.  In addition, a trip to Virginia Beach with cousin Billy Berkelhammer to visit with brother Billy was wonderful.  Eddy came down from Maryland and we were able to visit with Jimbo and his children as well as with Eddy's children, Ashley and Joseph.  It was a wonderful road trip.  I would be remiss not to mention the great summer evenings Bunny and I spent at the beautiful downtown minor league baseball park. 

This has been a wonderful year in every way.  As I said, I continue to be so blessed.  We, of course, never know what the coming year will bring.  But I will pray for peace, prosperity, and contentment for my children and their families, and I pray they will be the people of service that God would have them be. 

In 2013, I have high hopes for my family, for America and her leadership in the world.  I am excited about every facet of what 2013 may have in store.  I will joyfully and gratefully take it one day at a time.  Yes, I realize there may be setbacks, but I will do my best to handle the challenges of each day, thankfully, with God's help and direction.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

William Mangum Art

"Early Winter" by William Mangum.  He is one of my favorite artist.  This reminds me of my father's old home place in the rolling hills of Piedmont North Carolina in early winter.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Humor For the Day

The Appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to the U. S. Senate

The symbolism should not be lost on a Rep. Tim Scott, an African American from Charleston SC, being appointed today to the US Senate from South Carolina, the first black member of the Senate from the South since reconstruction, by an American Indian female South Carolina Governor, at a South Carolina State House where numerous Union cannon balls landed in 1865, on the grounds on which stand a confederate flag and statues of  "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman and Strom Thurmond.

My hope would be that Rep. Scott may change ideologically over time, and that he might bring along the less educated, rural, deep south citizenry with him, including their views and attitudes towards economic justice, health care, gay rights, gun control, immigration reform, strict separation of church and state, and climate change recognition.  What a profound way this would be for Rep. Scott to live out and honor the dream of previous African American leaders who paved the way for his opportunity.  Who knows?  Such moves toward moderation and progress, such transformation, has certainly taken place in the political arena in the past.

In any event, as a native southerner, sensitive to our history, I feel a sense of pride in his appointment.  My son Rob, a top aide to Governor Haley, is a close personal friend of Rep. Scott.  Rob was standing only feet away as the very historic appointment was announced by the governor in Columbia. 

Carl Cannon points out in an excellent piece that, "it was neither an accident nor happenstance that the Civil War broke out in South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union. Among the political class, including its congressional delegation, South Carolina was where racism burned brightest, where the skeletons of Jim Crow were buried the deepest, and where the ghosts of slavery have taken the longest to exorcise."

Believe it or not, Cannon further points out, "Tim Scott defeated Strom Thurmond’s son in a 2010 Republican congressional primary. It was a nice historical footnote, but its true significance may have been that Scott’s election wasn’t about race, but about fiscal probity within the GOP. This is a reminder that history doesn’t move in a straight line, but rather takes an uneven course. Sometimes it follows a bending arc, a rainbow that exists in many hues and which ultimately returns to earth."

It is my guess Rep. Scott will be a very long-term serving U. S. Senator from South Carolina.  May God be with him.  I will be watching attentively for signs of the future Senator Scott bending that moral arc of the universe, to which Dr. King often referred, towards justice and fairness, and to him bringing much of his southern citizenry with him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tragic Day in America

Tragic day in America as 26 killed at an elementary school in Connecticut, mostly 6 and 7-year olds. God be with us.

Monday, December 3, 2012

"What We Used To Be"

Yes, without question.  The divisiveness needs to stop.  We must come together around the table of compromise and collaboration with the best interests of all Americans at heart.  No, all of the divisiveness doesn't come from the "right", but my observation is that it is heavily weighted to the right. We can do better. We must do better.  It needs to start with each of us.  I believe this President will lead us out of it.  If he can not do it, there may be little hope for it in the foreseeable future.

Friday, November 30, 2012

BShep Photography Studios - Chattanooga, TN

Brandon Shepherd is an excellent, talented photographer.  This is a photo of my beautiful granddaughter playing with Christmas lights which Brandon took.  If you are in the Chattanooga, Knoxville, or Atlanta regions, give Brandon a call.  His studio has a facebook page with his information.

Thought For The Day

Monday, November 26, 2012

Favorite Quotations

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity--- but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony."~ Thomas Merton

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." ~Cory Booker (old African Proverb)

"Out beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." ~Rumi

"The most important political office is that of private citizen." ~Louis Brandeis

"Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box." ~Italian Proverb

"When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." ~Helder Camera

"If you are going through hell.....keep going." ~ Sir Winston Churchhill

"You have to learn the rules of the game.....and then you have to play it better than anyone else." ~ Albert Einstein

"It's not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference." ~ Muggsy Bogues

"And in the end it's not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years." ~ Abraham Lincoln

" Two roads converged in the woods. I took the one less traveled, and that made all the difference." ~Robert Frost

"I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." ~Harry Truman

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." ~Anonymous

"The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held but in how they are held: instead of dogmatically, they are held tentatively, with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment." ~Bertrand Russell

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." ~Mohandas Gandhi

"Be peace, Think peace, Feel peace, Speak peace, Act for peace, Create peace, Share peace" - Deepah Chopra

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in." Greek Proverb

"My advice to you is not to inquire why nor whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate." - Thorton Wilder

"Let justice roll down like waters, and righteous as a mighty stream." Amos 5:24

"It's the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

"The most important thing a man can do for his children is to love their Mother." - The Rev. Dr. Billy Graham

"Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" - Unknown

"Some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue."

Some good cowboy advice..."never miss a chance to shut up." - A Texas cowboy to Rep. Joe Barton

".....And what must I do to inherit the Kingdom (the most important commandment)? '..... Love your neighbor as yourself.....Now go ye and do it.....'" Luke 10: 25-28

"Things turn out the best, for those who make the best, of the way things turn out." Art Linkletter

Humans were the only species that refused to save themselves because it wasn't cost effective." Kurt Vonnegut

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." - Barack Obama

"Here on Earth, God's Work Must Be Our Own." - John F. Kennedy

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." -Winston Churchill

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required." - Luke 12: 48

"We made too many wrong mistakes." Yogi Berra

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only at such moments that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways and truer answers". Scott Peck

"First, they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out -- because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out -- because I was not a trade unionist. Then they can for the Jews, and I didn't speak out -- because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me...... and there was no one to speak out." - Popular poem about the inactivity of German intellectuals in the 1930s.

"In the South, the past is never dead, it's not even past". Falkner

"One of the marks of a gentleman is his refusal to make an issue out of every difference of opinion". - Unknown

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." - Plato

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Random Thanksgiving Reflection - 2012

Today I'm reflective as Thanksgiving 2012 approaches.  I sit in Raleigh at my favorite lunch spot here next to a large bearded guy in jeans who I thought was a hippie/hillbilly.  He talks into an iPhone 5 and receives voice response back. Wrong.  I passed by PNC Arena as I came into town.  I didn't know it had changed names. Been to alot of hockey games in there.

 I first started coming here to work 34 years ago, just after my 6-year tenure as a high school guidance counselor had ended.  That's 40 years in the marketplace.  Time has passed.  Raleigh was a good and a fun market to work 34 years ago.  I still have an account or two here. That's why I am here today.

It is so satisfying to still be 'in the mix' of the marketplace. Actually, after 40 years in the marketplace, it is my family, being out in the community, the internet and social media, reading, following politics and sports, spending time at Elon U in the winter and at the ballpark in the summer, and my church that give me the most satisfaction. 

Heard a great synopsis on a new Evan Thomas' book on President Eisenhower on the way in on NPR. Looking forward to picking it up. Recently finished Steve Jobs biography, Grisham's 'The Racketeer', and still working on Caro's latest LBJ book.  Can't wait to get a new 17.3 in. screen windows 8 laptop computer soon which I've been shopping for.

I'm having a good run in the marketplace.  If I'm lucky it will continue for another 10 years.  As I mentioned first, it is my family of which I most proud and blessed.  My son does what he loves to do for the second highest profile governor in America.  My daughter is loving her role, and is doing an astonishing job, as a new Mother of my first precious grandbaby.  My wife does an amazing job balancing her work and her health and being a wonderful mate and friend.  I love my church and my faith and wish I were a more committed servant. 

I am blessed as this Thanksgiving approaches.  There's nothing like stopping and reflecting on that which is right and good in your life, on where you've been and where you're going.  And if you end up next to a large bearded guy in jeans, don't be so quick to judge.  It's late 2012.  He's probably tweeting about you or headed back to work at a high tech company he owns.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thought for the Day

"We're mired in the mud even more because of hardness of heart than because of error or weakness of principle. Change always occurs from the center outward, beginning with a willingness for MY heart to be softened, even before it becomes incumbent upon the other person to change his or her seemingly wrong-headed position. Standing on principle is a great virtue, but rigidity and an unyielding spirit is a great weakness."

My good fb friend, "BBQ Bob" Garner

Friday, November 9, 2012

Republicans Have Lost Their Way

The following is one of the best, most concise summaries regarding what happened to the Republican party on election day.  It is a comment in response to a piece in the Washington Post regarding how the party has lost it's ways.  I recommend the piece, but here is the comment:

"While rebooting back to Reagan is a nice try, you're still not understanding why you lost. You LOST, because America basically isn't interested in what the Republicans are selling right now. ...not just the really bad parts, like racism, xenophobia, billionaire worship, military adventurism, religious intolerance, and many other very bad things the Republican party embodies...

No, not only are we not interested in the very extreme views of some far-right Republicans - we also aren't particularly interested even in what the Republicans think are the *good* aspects of your party; we're not willing to trust the states to do, well, anything they should do whatsoever ("Let the states handle it" right now is code for "Let the baby freeze to death on a mountainside.") We're not willing to gut the EPA, not willing to cut education, reject Medicaid, not willing to crush unions. We're NOT WILLING TO SAY "Hey, times are tough pal - you're on your own!"

The Republican party is morally and spiritually bankrupt. You have no good ideas to salvage, and we're leaving you behind. You'll be losing by greater and greater margins in the future".

A Huffington post piece struck a similar theme.  Here the author points out:  "Mitt Romney could have easily won the presidential election if he and his party had realized that they were turning people off, according to Matt Taibbi.  Modern Republicans have so much of their own collective identity wrapped up in the belief that they're surrounded by free-loading, job-averse parasites who not only want to smoke weed and have recreational abortions all day long, but want hardworking white Christians like them to pay the tab.  Their whole belief inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can't win votes when you're calling people lazy, stoned moochers."

That pretty well sums it up.  Heed GOP.  Soul search.  You're 'out to lunch' as a national party. We need a strong two-party system in America.

The 'Southern Strategy' Has Come Full Circle

The infamous "southern strategy" has now come full circle and has defeated national Republicans. This is a fascinating subject for those of us who grew up in the 'Jim Crow' south and watched and experienced it happening. It is highlighted nicely in this Washington Post piece.

The writer says: "Lyndon Johnson knew when he pushed through civil rights legislation that the Jim Crow South he’d grown up in would reject the Democratic Party for decades to come as a result. But somewhere, L.B.J. is smiling today, because the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy to capitalize on racial animus has now worked so completely that it’s turned back to bite Republicans, with Romney overwhelmingly losing the growing share of America’s minority voters. President Obama captured 93 percent of the African-American vote and 71 percent of the Latino vote."

Those numbers, and the insufficient number of white votes for Romney, were decisive for Barack Obama........44 years after Strom Thurmond went on TV across the South to encourage white southerners to vote for Nixon in '68, as Strom put it (speak through your nose with your best South Carolina accent) "because he can win, and he thinks just like George Wallace" (the Third Party candidate).......32 years after Ronald Reagan kicked off his '80 campaign in Philadelphia, MS, where 4 'freedom riders' were murdered in the 1960s (a state, ironically, where riots are occurring today at the state university over the election of Barack Obama).

We're getting there.  That 'arc of the moral universe' which Dr. King talked about, the one that Barack Obama acknowledges, but says WE have to bend, was bent a little further towards justice on November 6.  Yes, we're getting there. As well as LBJ, my guess is Dr. King is smiling too.

Monday, November 5, 2012

One Last Thought Before Election Day 2012

On April 4, 2008, Senator Barack Obama, speaking on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, declared:

"Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. It bends towards justice, but here is the thing: it does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice...."

Life is not a sprint, it's a relay.  Let's do our small, but meaningful, part.  Vote For Barack Obama.

(Picture taken in 1967.  A 25-year old Jesse Jackson and Dr. King in Cleveland to meet with Carl Stokes who was campaigning to become the first black mayor of a major American city.  The irony was that Stokes could not afford King's help, for fear of a white voter backlash. Stokes was elected).

Eagerly Anticipating Election Day 2012

Tomorrow we collectively speak as Americans.  It is our most important day as a democratic republic.  The day attests to the fact that "the people" in America are in control.  Yes, you can be cynical and say that special interest money and 'the lies' and 'half-truths' of a campaign overly influence the process and skew the results.  But I feel strongly that the wisdom of the vast majority of Americans see through it and that the will of a more informed majority than ever before speaks.  I cannot imagine bright, educated Americans not participating in this nearly sacred process.

As for the result of the process tomorrow, America will certainly survive and more forward regardless of the result.  I do feel strongly that for the sake of health care reform, women's issues, a more fair tax structure, a continued committment to a strong central government, and for the sake of future Supreme Court appointments, an Obama win is critical.

I predict a strong Obama win.  I predict a 303-235 electoral college win for Obama, and a 52% to 48% popular vote win.  My electoral college prediction is down from last week as I do not think Obama will carry my home state of NC.

It is a great process.  I'm glad I live in America.  I hope you vote.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Federal Gov't Delivers - The October Surprise

Conservatives sometimes amaze me.  They run down the federal government until they need it.  Whether it is student loans, farm price supports, SBA low interest loans, a stimulus contract, Medicaid, prescription drug coverage for seniors, a tax credit .......and now, of course, FEMA........... help for those in harm's way and in disaster's way in the northeast.

The irony of this election is that the October surprise which is going to push Barack Obama across the line, is a climate change-driven event, an event that necessitates a strong federal government response........ all of us chipping in to look after our neighbor......... as it should be.  Above, the conservative New Jersey Governor, who delivered the keynote address for Mitt Romney, looks mighty appreciative, as he certainly should be.  Oh, the irony........

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vasilli Arkhipov - "The Man Who Saved The World"

Yes, one person can make a huge difference. What a story.  50 years ago today, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, second-in-command Vasilli Arkhipov of the Soviet submarine B-59 refused to agree with his Captain's order to launch nuclear torpedos against US warships and setting off what might well have been a terminal superpower nuclear war.

The US had been dropping depth charges near the submarine in an attempt to force it to surface, was carrying nuclear arms. The Soviet officers, who had lost radio contact with Moscow, concluded that World War 3 had begun, and 2 of the officers agreed to 'blast the warships out of the water'. Arkhipov refused to agree - unanimous consent of 3 officers was required - and thanks to him, we are here to talk about it.

His story is finally being told - the BBC is airing a documentary on it.

Raise a glass to Vasilli Arkhipov - the Man Who Saved the World.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Springsteen and Clinton on the Stump For Barack Obama in Ohio

Say no more.  Two of my favorites.  Working in Ohio for the re-election of Barack Obama.  'Great Americans' doesn't do them justice.  I pray for their success.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Picture of the Day

Me and my 5 month old granddaughter, Scarlett!  What a joy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Elon University's 'Multi-Faith Religious Program' - What a Wonderful Endeavor

I could not be more proud of Elon University than I am today.  You see, I attended Elon in the late '60s and was an athlete.  Elon athletics is often a source of my pride in Elon.  Today, my pride in Elon is based of my exposure to Elon's Multi-Faith Religious Life Program during my weekly Life@eElon course.  What a beautiful program it is.

Construction is under way on campus of a new multi-faith center in the Academic Village. The magnificent center will be a place for prayer, meditation and reflection in the heart of campus, respecting the differing customs of students' religious and spiritual traditions. The multi-faith center will encourage a robust dialogue about religion on campus, exploring what unifies us in our common humanity and promoting the values served by deeper interfaith collaboration. The program will include, among others, a Campus Muslim Coordinator, 8 students interns (4 interfaith and an Atheist interfaith), and a graduate assistant for Christian unity.

The program will be coordinated by The Rev. Dr. Janet Fuller.  A dynamic speaker and leader, Janet
is the new campus chaplain, after having spent 24 years in a similar role at Hollins College, and a number of years as Baptist Chaplin at Yale University while serving as a Professor in the Divinity School there.  As a child, she grew up in Lebanon where her parents were American Christian missionaries. 

The program at Elon is the result of a letter President Obama sent to all college and university presidents in America asking them to establish laboratories to promote multi-religious understanding and respect (although a similar program had been envisioned).  Elon President Leo Lambert wholeheartedly embraced the concept and became a leader in President Obama's effort. 

Janet told a wonderful story about, as a child, sharing prayer time in the Muslim tradition with her best friend, a Lebanese Muslim little girl in Beruit.  The little girl, likewise, shared in Christian prayer time around the table with Janet and her devout Christian family.  Each grew to embrace and respect the religious tradition and faith of the other, while remaining firmly committed to their own faith (throughout life).  That, said Janet, is the goal of the Elon Multi-Faith Religious Program.

I can think of no more important and worthy endeavor for a college campus than to help young men and women embrace and develop respect for religious traditions of others, while holding firm to their own.  Toward the end of class today, I had a rather simple, although somewhat counter-intuitive thought, with which I will close ............'We are going to save the world and achieve God's Kingdom, not by better embracing and honoring our own faith, but by embracing, respecting, honoring, and embracing the faith of our neighbors.' God Bless Elon University's effort to that end, and kudos to The Rev. Dr. Janet Fuller for her leadership and to Presidents Leo Lambert and Barack Obama for their vision and leadership in this crucial endeavor.

Wisdom from Dr. Billy Graham

One of the giants of the 20th century.  In my view, his great name and legacy have been somewhat tarnished by it's inappropriate use by his son, Franklin, but in no way has it diminished the influence and the great contribution of an American icon.

Monday, October 1, 2012

BB King at the White House

One of my very favorite photos.  'Blues Night' at the White House, including BB King and other greats, such as Derek Trucks.  In addition to a wonderfully effective White House, in my humble opinion, but it's a very cool one as well!

(I just noticed that this wonderful photo is a re-post on MyPoint.  Oh, well.  It's indeed a good one).

Thought for the Day

Important sentiment indicating how important it is for one to feel good about oneself and love oneself, before one can be effective with, and love, others. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Greatest Orioles of All-Time

The greatest Baltimore Orioles of them all: Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer. This was taken in Baltimore on Saturday night for the unveiling of the statue honoring Brooks. Got to see 'em all play (or manage) with O's. (Associated Press photo).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pew Research Survey - Obama vs. Mitt (9/12-16, 2012)

Polling can lend great insight into how candidates who are running for office are viewed by the American people.  This Pew Research Center survey indicates the gap which exists between Mitt Romney and President Obama in many areas critical to the electorate.  This survey, along with the outrageous 47% video, reinforces my view that Mitt Romney may be the worst Presidential candidate in quite some time. 

A CNN blog today by Gloria Borger bottom lines Romney from my perspective.  "Romney has a businessman's approach to politics. Which means: He sizes up a situation (or an audience). He figures out what he needs to do to cut the deal. Then he does it, and expects it to work. Ergo, Romney speaks to a group of conservative GOP fat cats, and tells them what he thinks they want to hear so they will cough up the dough. Belief is almost beside the point. He was closing the deal."

BINGO, Gloria Borger. I know many think America can be run like a business. A business is run to maximize shareholder value. America is run by a leader who's able to carve together a coalition from a mosaic of different people, cultures, and interests with a wide range of needs and objectives. Very different skill set from businessman. (That's why Perot, Trump, Iacocca-types don't work).

This should continue to be an interesting election cycle.  The best out thing to come out of this election cycle is the fact that we seem to be starting to have a national conversation about what and who we are as Americans as it relates to our responsibility to each other and the nation.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Job Growth

We have now had 30 consecutive months of private sector job growth.  This comes on the heels of a loss of 750,000 jobs the last month of the previous administation.  It follows the largest economic turndown since the Great Depression.  The clear question is will we continue on this path of recovery or whether we will return to policies which contributed to the severe economic turndown of 2008.  Yes, we've had an increasing number to leave the workforce altogether, but this is inevitable in a transitioning global economy.  If what the Romney campaign is proposing worked, George W. Bush would have been the keynote speaker at the Republican convention.  He was nowhere to be found.  Stay engaged and VOTE.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lester Maddox......... And a Brief Thought

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1: 9

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day Two at the DNC - Elizabeth Warren Rocked

Next to the speech by Bill Clinton, which Alex Castallonos said will likely deliver the race to Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren was my favorite speaker.  They following is a good example of her meaningful message:

"No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And all that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that's why we need Barack Obama."

Good stuff. Another good night for the Democrats.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Few of My Observations from Night One at the DNC

"What a night at the DNC. The orchestration, the content, the intelligence, the quality, the enthusiasm and energy is amazing. And to see the 'mosaic' which is America across the audience is right and good. If it is possible to get a "bounce" from one night of a convention, they get one, big time. Michele so personalized it, so humanized it."

"David Gergen says two more nights like this and Obama could break the race wide open. Unbelievable night at DNC."

"Michelle Obama’s Tuesday night speech about her husband and the Obama family at the Democratic National Convention drove 28,003 tweets-per-minute at its peak, nearly double the 14,289 mark reached by Mitt Romney‘s acceptance speech at the Republican convention last week."

"Mayor Castro was just as good as it gets. The future of America is in very good hands."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Elon U. Poll and Panel at The Democratic National Convention

I was fortunate to be in attendance at the press conference yesterday where the current (Aug. 21-25, 2012) Elon U. poll was released.  A panel discussion was lead by my friend John Robinson.  The heavyweight panel included David Gergen, Charlie Cook and Rob Christensen. As you can imagine, it was a very high level, informative political discussion.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Presidential Campaign's Most Important Hour

According to David Gergen, the Dean of Presidential political analyists, the most important hour of a Presidential campaign, by far, is the 10 o'clock hour on Thursday night of the nominee's convention.  This is the prime time hour meant to introduce the candidate to the American people.  It is meant to humanize and reveal to the American people "the person" who wishes to spend four years 'in our living room', not necessarily his policies.  David Gergen, who I was fortunate to hear during a panel discussion at the release of the Elon University Poll at the DNC in Charlotte today, said that the Romney campaign could not have done a worse job with this critical task during the final night of the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa.

The opportunity which was lost with the Clint Eastwood fiasco and the complete lose of control of that hour on Thursday night in Tampa cannot be regained, according to Gergen. The debates are not meant to humanize or personally 'connect' the candidate with the American people like that Thursday night hour.  The debates are about substance and policy.  That is not Romney's weakness.  His weakness is likability, a lack of human 'connection'.  That was the point of the lost hour on Thursday night at the convention.  The Romney campaign has been as poorly run as any in memory. 

Gergen told a great story of the the introduction of Jimmy Carter at the 1976 Democratic Convention.  He said it was genius, and the Ford campaign, of which Gergen was a major contributor and advisor at the time, never recovered.  He said the 10 o'clock hour at the DNC was a beautifully orchestrated production, which included a film followed the introduction of a very warm candidate who connected perfectly with the an American people who were "taken" with the candidate.  He said that Gerry Ford fail 30 points behind immediately following the convention and never was able to catch up from that experience.

One last related point.  A panelist today pointed out that the most "likeable" Presidential candidate ALWAYS wins.  The one exception was Nixon in 1972, according to a "light" moment from Gergen.  If you think back to about 1928, that is exactly the case.  That bodes well for Barack Obama, who is way ahead in the likeability area.  But again, this is a unique year, so we'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The GOP and the Empty Chair Fiasco

And here's the best quote regarding the Clint Eastwood empty chair fiasco:

"The Democrats should put an empty chair on the stage for their entire convention, and when someone asks who it belongs to, they can say Osama bin Laden." ~Chris Rock

Some Final Thoughts on 2012 GOP Convention

Well, the GOP Convention is behind us.  It will be interesting to see if any poll "bounce" results for the ticket.  The Clint Eastwood empty chair fiasco is dominating press coverage.  Mitt did not mention the Afghanistan war, foreign policy, nor our troops.  According to all accounts, this was the first time since 1952 that a GOP nominee has not mentioned war or our troops in an acceptance speech.

At this point in the campaign, I like how my friend, Professor Laura Roselle, Distinguished Professor at Elon University and Visiting Professor at Duke puts the race (Laura was a student assistant to Condi Rice at Stanford where she got her PhD and was an early director of the Carter Center in Atlanta):  "This is what I see: under Bush 13 months of job losses - under Obama 27 months of job growth -- .... under Bush DOW 7000, now 13000
.... under Bush my retirement earnings had crashed, now recovered ..... under Bush auto industry crashing, under Obama back on their feet ... and let's not get into Osama bin Laden .... Sure we all want things to recover faster - Maybe if members of Congress - especially the Republicans -- had tried to work together rather than seeking only short term points, we would be further along what promises to be a long recovery. I don't think Americans are stupid - I think we all want things to be better sooner rather than later and we forget what an absolute disaster Obama inherited."

I do not see this as "blaming Bush."  I see this as intelligently reminding ourselves where we have been, and where we are.  The choice for me is simple: 'Do we continue to move forward with this administration, or do we go back to policies from which we are attempting to recover?'  Pretty easy choice for me.  We'll see how the Democratic Convention goes.  I look forward to being in Charlotte on Monday for the release of a Elon University Poll and a panel discussion at the Charlotte Observer building lead by friend John Robinson. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The RNC and Brief Election 2012 Comments

Here's an unintended, humorous, graphic from the RNC last night, but there is plenty of truth in it.  Not much truth from Paul Ryan last night, according to most 'fact check' type websites and most commentators.  "Ryan must have amnesia, said Meet the Press host David Gregory.  “He is a man who voted for the auto bailout, he voted for TARP, he voted for both wars that were not funded, and he voted for Part D of Medicare (not funded), and he’s spent his entire life in government,” Gregory said. As a ranking GOP member of Bowles/Simpson, he voted against the deficit commission findings.

So goes the RNC.  It will be good to have the conventions behind us, which today are just large infomercials, and to get the campaign in full swing.  The debates will be critical as always, as will as voter turnout.  Hopefully voter turnout will not be impacted the concerted GOP efforts to suppress turnout.  If you have to suppress the vote to win, your ideas must be lacking and weak.

This will probably a close election.......and it is certainly an important one.  My strong recommendation is stay with President Obama, who has charted a strong course resulting in steady recovery from the 2008 Great Recession.  We really do not know who Mitt Romney is due to his very fluid positions on critical issues.  REGISTER AND VOTE.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Picture of the Day

Barack Obama singing a few notes with the great Blues artist B. B. King in the White House.

ACA Medicare "Cuts" Clarifications

As the rhetoric about Medicare continues as a part of the presidential campaigning, questions come up frequently about the reference to the $716 billion reduction in Medicare spending due to the Affordable Care Act. Many have asked for a clearer explanation about the reduction. Listed below is information supplied by Sarah Lock with the AARP Office of Policy Integration from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities about the "cuts".

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan score keeper on federal budget issues for Congress, determined in July 2012 that the health law is expected to reduce Medicare spending by $716 billion from 2013-2022. But that DOES NOT MEAN the health reform law is cutting the Medicare program. Medicare spending will STILL increase each year, but it is growing at a slower rate than it would have without the new health care reform law. According to Kaiser Health News, instead of Medicare growing by 6.8% in 2010-2019, as it would have before the health care reform law passed, it is now expected to grow by 5.6%. Nothing in the health care reform law takes any money from the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund either.

Kaiser Health News reports that the $716 billion reduction in future growth of the program from 2013-2022 comes from reducing payments to providers:

$260 billion less for hospitals
$156 billion less for Medicare Advantage, the private insurance plans in Medicare
$66 billion less for home health
$39 billion less for skilled nursing services; and
$17 billion less for hospice.

Kaiser says the health care reform law “does not make any cuts to the amount of benefits beneficiaries receive and adds some new benefits, including closing the "doughnut hole" gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage, and new preventive services, such as an annual wellness visit with a physician.”

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney says that he would rescind the $716 billion of reductions to future Medicare spending.  In addition, the Romney campaign continues to imply that the cuts are cuts in benefits to beneficiaries.  Again, they are not.   They are cuts in provider reimbursements.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wisdom for the Day

Picture of the Day

My wonderful daughter Elizabeth and my new granddaughter, Scarlett, on the banks of the Tennessee River in their beautiful hometown of Chattanooga.  The river runs through the middle of this old southern river / railroad / mountain city steeped in Civil War history on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wyndham Championship 2012

Here I am working 'shotlink' at the Wyndham Championship greenside on hole nine.  This is a great way to spend a day volunteering at a great golf tounament in Greensboro NC.  I do it every year.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Nice beach photo!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Al Smith and Babe Ruth........As I Head to APIC Convention

I am headed out to Columbus Ohio tomorrow for the 2012 National Convention of the American Political Item Collectors (APIC).  It will be a wonderful time of visiting with collector friends, educational breakout sessions, and numerous displays, exhibits, and vendor tables of great American political memorabilia.

The picture above combines two of my great passions, baseball (Yankees baseball especially), and political  collecting (especially Democatic political collecting).  In the picture, Babe Ruth visits with New York Democratic Governor Alfred E. Smith, for whom Ruth campaigned extensively in 1928 when Smith ran against Republican Herbert Hoover for the presidency.  Great photo.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Myth of America's Decline

There has been much written of late about America's decline.  There seems to be hysterical nostalgia for the 'good old days'.  Frank Rich writes thoughtfully about the topic in the latest issue of 'New York', the magazine, in a piece entitled, "Mayberry RIP".

Rich points out that the declinist panic is nothing new in America.  He refers us to political scientist Samuel Huntington who points out, in the Journal of Foreign Affairs recently, at least five other decline panics in recent decades. The first being the Sputnik moment of 1957, then the economic rise of Europe and Japan in the late sixties, the OPEC oil shock of the 1973, and a cornucopia of woes of the 1970s (Watergate, defeat in Vietnam, and the Iranian hostage crisis).  He then reminds us of the celebrated peace, booming economy and surpluses during the Bill Clinton years, only to be followed by the tech bubble burst and market crash, soon to be follow by 9/11.

Rich seems to feel much of the decline hysteria revolves around a sustained and rabid opposition to President Obama, a culturally 'different' President.  Intertwined is a new concept coined by 'the right' as 'American exceptionalism' which, in the eyes of  'the right', is a concept to which this 'different' President does not seem to subscribe.  The 'American exceptionalism' idea is actually a proxy for patriotism, as coined by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, of course, a concept used to plant doubts about the President, a concept, bought into by the less thoughtful 'far right' in America only, who are already predisposed to dislike the President.

I leave you with Rich's closing thought as he ties his theme of the declinist panic into the Mayberry theme:

"Lost in all our declinist panic is the fact that the election of an African-American president is in itself an instance of American exceptionalism—an unexpected triumph for a country that has struggled for its entire history with the stain of slavery. “Only in America is my story even possible,” Obama is understandably fond of saying, knowing full well that as recently as the year of his birth, 1961, he would not have been welcome in Mayberry, let alone the White House. That his unlikely rise has somehow been twisted into a synonym for America’s supposed collapse over the past four years may be the most disturbing and intractable evidence of our decline of all."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Great Worship at First Baptist Church - Greensboro NC

Sometimes I am more struck than other times with worship themes.  This morning I was particularly struck with the theme, and scriptural basis, for the sermon by the gifted servant, Interim Pastor Dr. Mike Queen.  For me, the somewhat familiar Old Testament passage spoke in a unique way to the issues and challenges of the day.

Micah 6: 6-8 

6With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  8He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

"......To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Old Soldiers Shaking Hands

Great image of two old Civil War soldiers, one blue and one gray. It was taken in 1913 at Gettysburg during the 50th anniversary reunion of the battle. Looks as though there could still be some bad blood between them. Wonderful, historic photo.

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