Wednesday, January 28, 2009

United We Stand, Divided We...

Can we really be this divided? The stimulus bill passed the House this afternoon nearly split right down the aisle. Does this sound familiar? Has nothing changed? I watched yesterday as President Obama went to Capitol Hill to rally support for the bill and take time to meet with Republican leaders. Each Republican praised him for making the effort and trying to help bring the bill around to something they may not like, but that they could support. And then today they voted in a block and 100% of them voted "Nay". Let's see, tell me why the next time the President should leave the Oval Office to meet and discuss something before a vote? He did it because he told us in the campaign he would. He did it because maybe he is as tired as we are of the rest of the world seeing us divided on such critical issues. There is an argument that says, "well, there were some Democrats who also voted no, so it wasn't a pure partisan vote". That would be true, but the answer doesn't stop the real question in my mind; "why all the partisan posturing?" This division is far too ingrained in our politics. Even the visible fact that we split the seating in the House and Senate to have sides across an aisle bothers me. Why not seat them alphabetically, or by state so states can work together, or by tenure, or by age so they oldest (and hardest of hearing) can all sit up front? All of this posturing reminds me of that Gilligan's Island episode where the Skipper is trying to get Gilligan to do something and he crosses his arms in front of him and says three times, "You can't make me, you can't make me!, you can't make me!!!" I think I heard that same phrase today on C-Span coming from one side of the aisle. Elected officials, please, please, please remember the words of Aesop, "United we stand, divided we fall"!

Less Is More...Is It?

It is official; not spending has become the hip thing to do. I knew it before, but last week I heard the best one so far. A friend of mine and his wife have a New Year’s Resolution; “No New Clothes in 2009”. I laughed at first when I heard it but as he explained it, it started to make sense. Enough sense that I have been thinking the same. He said that when he looked at his closet and did an inventory of what he had he had enough shirts to not wear the same one twice in 30 days. Enough pants, enough socks, enough tee-shirts, and more than enough shoes. Enough of everything to make it through a year, maybe even more. Unless your wardrobe is all Old Navy (that I swear is manufactured to wear out in one season) most of us could probably say we also have enough current clothes to make it through a year without anything new. Sure, the fashion magazines and runways will tell us that we are out of style but unless you are really vain about it, 12 months is not that far out of style to start with. And if you are me; I have flared jeans, straight leg jeans, and skinny leg jeans in my closet. I have striped shirts, plain shirts and patterned shirts. I have wide belts, thin belts and in between. Net, I have enough of everything. And the question is just how much all of us have already that lots of people will be doing the same and not buying in 2009. Retail has suffered already but I can see more hurt coming. It is clearly becoming harder and harder to find an attitude of spending to just help out. The more we look around at ourselves (in our house) the more we can see that discretionary consumption got ahead of need. And now when the economy needs just the opposite we are feeling that less is more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Finally...No Excuses

Back in the day, when I was a radio disc-jockey, if someone was having a dispute about a song, a TV show jingle, an actor in a movie, or who was alive or dead, what would happen is that my phone in the studio would ring and the person on the other end of the phone would be in the middle of argument and I would become the definitive source to end the argument or settle the bet. These days, since Google and Wikipedia, there aren't any reasons for those calls to be made (we never knew the answers anyway). But in politics those arguments still happen all the time and what happens is a half-bit of the truth gets spewed out and there had been no good source to defend what really was said or what was written. On January 20th at 12:01PM EST that changed. Have you been to yet? There it is. One place for everything President Obama says, writes, declares, appoints and signs. There is never another reason for any of us to be ill-informed or ignorant of the facts and issues. President Obama has us to take responsbility. The first step in being responsible is being informed. There is now no excuses! Go to the site now. Put in your email address and receive an email each time there is an update. And the next time someone is misinformed don't let them put the monkey on your back...pass it right back over to them and ask them if they read

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 20th, 2009...The Closing of a Circle

Today marks what would have been the 80th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Tomorrow marks the first inauguration of an African-American President of the United States. While this is an important day for many people in America and around the world it is remarkable for me personally too. You see, I was born in Kentucky and grew up in Southern Indiana during the 60’s and 70’s. Living five minutes from Louisville, Kentucky, I remember my father having a gun permit so he could travel across the Ohio River to work into Louisville as a radio disc jockey during the 70’s race riots. I remember well that busing in Kentucky, when implemented, saw families from both races flocking to Southern Indiana. It was a difficult time for everyone. I grew up around it all and have vivid memories of the hatred and unrest. What I did not know until later in life is that those racial sentiments permeated my household and family. My father would not let me wear blue jeans because Martin Luther King wore blue jeans. That should have been pretty obvious for me, even back then. But, I didn’t realize until years later when I grew up and learned political science stuff that when someone was a supporter of George Wallace and the John Birch Society that those far right ideologies at the time included racial segregation and racist attitudes. I also remember my grandparents using the “n” word freely in public and private and hearing that word in my house from time to time. I grew up with all of this around me and from the earliest days, I knew it was not me to inherit these small and close-minded thoughts. I refused to fall into the pattern. I just refused. And now, 40 years later, I have watched many things come full-circle. I happen to go to church with the son of James Meredith, the man who George Wallace ordered to not be able to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962. And, tomorrow, I will watch Barack Obama be sworn in as the President of the United States, a man I supported for election and will support wholeheartedly as the 44th President of the United States. Tomorrow, I can feel that the circle for many will be completed; the circle of all men created equal. Tomorrow for me sets so much right.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I’ve been hit hard by the death of Jett Travolta. I don’t know anything about him really other than he was not well and that the diagnosis of what was wrong with him was something I had never heard of before him. I probably couldn’t have told you before this past week what his name was and how old he was. I did know that John Travolta and Kelly Preston had two children but I couldn’t have told you their names. Now, in this past week, I have hurt (and cried) for their family. I don’t have children of my own, but when I try and empathize with what it must be like to lose a child, I begin to think I can feel some of their pain. And what a pain it must be. Celebrities get tagged with either being able to not handle it all or being above it all. John Travolta has been a guy who has been able to burst onto the scene and have wild success, disappear for awhile, then come back into the spotlight and find another gear. He did all of this and stayed grounded in his family and his religion. And this past week, he lost some of that grounding. There is nothing I can do for them but I offer my condolences and my prayers to them. What little I can imagine as the pain they are in, I know is only a prick to what the open wound that they must feel right now. May their pain be replaced with happy memories of the time they had with their son.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spectacle is the Real Deal

I've now watched three of Elvis Costello's Spectacle on the Sundance Channel. I thought the first one with Elton John was brilliant. The second one with Lou Reed not as good until Julian Schnable showing up (listening to him quote Lou was pretty cool). But, the 12/17 episode with Bill Clinton was really something special. President Clinton has always had the ability to talk like a real person, but to listen to him speak about the influence of music on his life and is depth of knowledge about Jazz was extraordinary. I also thought his summary of the four things that a President does was telling. He said the four things are: 1) Following up and trying to keep campaign promises, 2) Dealing with incoming fire and crisis', 3) Listening and dealing with Congress, and 4) Organizing how the White House works. The last one was the one that was most telling. Just like business, who you sit at the table is who/what will get attention. The White House works the same way. He described the people who were in charge of native American affairs and Faith-based organizations. As a consequence of having these senior positions and people, their issues got more attention. Thank you to Elvis Costello, Sundance and the Exec Producers of Spectacle for providing a forum where we can listen, learn and appreciate.