Monthly Archives: May 2010

Stout And Stealthy

There is a group of people living in Robertson County that are committed Democrats, meaning that they not only vote for the Democratic candidates, they also contribute money, volunteer, and keep themselves informed on issues.  I know a handful of them pretty well.  Recently, four of us attended the monthly meeting of the County Party (which swelled the ranks of attendance by a third) and got to meet Ben Leming, our candidate for U.S. Congress.  It was swell.

We were also looking forward to hearing from our candidate for the Tennessee House, who our State Chair referred to as “about as stout as you can get.” Who am I to argue ?  If Chip says this guy is stout, (assuming, of course, he wasn’t referring to the man’s physique) I have no reason to disbelieve him. When you consider, though,  that Ben drove up from Murfreesboro, easily 40 plus miles, it does make one question why our candidate couldn’t be bothered to saddle up and travel two blocks to our meeting.  Then it hit me…he knows its in the bag.

In my mind, I’m imagining the strategy session at the candidate’s H.Q….

Candidate:  “Alright people, let me illuminate the ground upon which we currently find ourselves deployed.  This is a mid-term, so we all know voter turn-out will be at an all time high.  In addition, our opponent, Josh Evans, only has around 40k raised in the first quarter, and we all know that the State Republican party has little interest in saving this seat in the House.  All he has is the backing of wealthy Republican contributors and a solid evangelical base. Fortunately for us, very few if any voters outside of Springfield know who I am, and its not like the county has been trending Republican or anything, so, we’ve got that working for us as well.  Last election, when over 70 percent of registered voters turned out, our incumbent lost by only 1295 votes!  Why, there are two precincts that carried Josh Evans by a total of 1400 votes, so I’d say we’ve got them by the balls now!  All we have to do is hunker down and let the State and County parties go to work, after all, they are the ones with inexhaustible funds and rolls and rolls  of potential volunteers!  I need ideas for how to stay out of the way!  Lets go around the room.”

Campaign Strategist:  “Um, we could take down our Facebook page.”

Candidate:  “Easy enough, since I don’t have one.”

Campaign Manager:  “Well, we could use GoDaddy to not register a domain in your name. I hear they are very reasonable to work with if you don’t actually launch a website.”

Candidate:  “Excellent.  Obviously, we can let our Social Networking and Media person go.”

Campaign Manager:  “Well, we never actually had one.”

Candidate:  “Superb job at anticipating my needs! But I feel like we’re just nibbling at the edges here…I need more ways to stay under the radar!

Campaign Strategist:  “My counsel would be to avoid public events, especially those where there might be voters.  I’m happy to compile a list of events you should steer clear of…”

Candidate:  “Not bad.  What about ways to ignore local activists?  Got anything?”

Campaign Manager:  “This should go without saying, but naturally, you’ve got to skip the County Democratic Party meetings.”

Candidate:  “But there aren’t any activists there.”

Campaign Manager: “Oh, Right.  Um, how about not answering emails offering help?”  Also, we could make an ad buy in the Robertson County Times and the Bargain Browser and not actually place an ad!

Candidate:  “You’re on a roll!”

Campaign Strategist:  “I’ve got one!  What if we hired every guy with a pick-up truck in the county to just keep hauling whatever they normally do, and NOT one of our campaign signs?”

Candidate:  “With that, fellas, I think our work here is done.”

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Qualified To Chime In

Rather than quote the article, I’m simply going to link to this letter sent to Talking Points Memo.  Its short, so go read.

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H.A.G.S.

All the school kids are signing yearbooks with that.  I think it means “have a great summer.”  At least I hope it does…

I think its fair to say that both kids lost interest in school right after T-CAP tests, as they do every year.  Spring semester is a whirlwind of activities, so we have been busy to say the least.  Alena and Noah both made Honor Roll, and Alena excelled this year in her R.I.S.E. class by both placing third at Future Problem Solvers, and 6th in the State with the writing scenario.  Noah received an award for highest average in Math, and was edged out for first place in band.  Me and The Primary Wife are pleased with their achievements, of course.  Just had to brag a little.

Both the 6th grade and 8th grade classes are chock full of great kids.  Its been fun getting to know all of them.  Alena heads off to High School in the fall, and her schedule will be unbelievably full.  She has taken on a Tennessee Scholar course load, and will be in both marching band and chorus.   Feel free to mail me some Valium.

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Ben Leming For Congress

Mission first.  Those two words describe how Ben Leming intends to lead as a United States Congressman.  I have to admit, I’m pretty jaded, and I am usually wary of those that use military parlance too frequently.  I remember, as a young man, hearing men like my father talk about duty and honor and the words seemed to fit the men that used them, probably because so many men in my neighborhood had served our country during WWII.  I hate that I frequently feel as though the words and their meaning have been so diluted that we tend to hear them without affording them the esteem they deserve.  Anyway, I was prepared to be less than impressed when I and a throng of almost 12 people (sorry, Robertson County Democrats, but you dropped the ball again) settled in after dinner to hear our would-be candidate speak.

Ben stood up and talked about his 15 years in uniform, from the time Congressman Bart Gordon awarded him an appointment to Annapolis, to his tours flying helicopters for medical evacuations in combat zones, to his experiences as an intelligence officer throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean. then finally to his time teaching at the Naval Academy.  To hear him tell it, he joined the Corps for the promise of adventure in exotic places, and while he certainly got that, he found something even better…his true self, or what he calls his core values.  Really, values is yet another word that many unscrupulous politicians cheapen by misuse, but when spoken by this retired marine officer it’s authenticity rang true. I started to let my guard down a little.

He then asked for questions, and right off the bat got three tough ones to field.  Each time, I expected him to dodge and weave  and pivot back to safe ground, but he didn’t do it.  What I found especially surprising was his willingness to take a leader’s position on each issue, rather than pander to the people in the room.  It was quite apparent that the mindset of mission first guides him and helps him clearly define his position.  If it isn’t useful for our efforts, there is little time wasted on it.

I won’t try and report what he said about every issue he was asked about, because I think people need to go see and hear him for themselves, but I want to point out two things I found incredibly honest:

When speaking about our need to develop alternative energy sources, he flat out said he just returned from fighting in a war for oil, and doesn’t want to send anyone’s kids to fight another one.  Rare that we hear the “war for oil” phrase from a former military officer.  That is gutsy, and honest, and what one should expect from a leader.

When asked about an issue he didn’t know a great deal about, he just admitted it, and asked the questioner what they thought.  I admire smart people who know what they don’t know, and who are willing to listen and learn from those who are passionate about a particular issue.

Ben Leming has shown me that he indeed possesses the core values that I look for in any leader; honesty, integrity, compassion.  In addition, he is intelligent and focused. I’m going to send him a few bucks, because I believe he is head and shoulders better suited to help solve our future challenges than any of his opponents.   If you are a Democrat, look him up on Facebook or go to his website, and make the time to go meet him.  If you are a Republican, do the same.

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Call To Arms (oh, the irony)

Dear Tn66th Democrats, I’m too old and too jaded to worry about ruffling feathers.  Here is where we stand:

We are about to be gerrymandered into oblivion.  We lost this house seat by 1295 votes last November.  An honest man with a solid record of community service and a lifetime of professional experience and conduct was beaten by a completely inexperienced political opportunist whose sole mission is to ensure your right to bring a gun into Applebees.  Now, he is the incumbent, and he has a huge head-start with respect to money.  I believe he has roughly 40k to spend so far, mostly given to him by PACS and wealthy Republican donors.  His base is primarily in the Ridgetop/Greenbrier/Whitehouse precincts.  This is where the fight will take place.  GOTV efforts must be successful or we lose, period.  DO NOT WAIT FOR THE STATE PARTY TO ACT.  Get to the meeting tonight in Springfield, and ask the candidates where they stand on the issues, (or even what they think the issues are) and if you like what you hear, get to work.  Some of us are willing to work outside of the County Party apparatus (such as it is) and work on our own.  If you want Robertson County to be represented by experience and intelligence, you’ll have to work for it.  And believe me, its work.  Or, you know, you could just stay home and watch TV…

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I Never Tire Of This

Sometimes I sit and watch this when I’m a little down.  It always lifts me right back up, I think because I try to imagine how much fun Matt and his girlfriend had doing this.  Oh, and I always laugh at the DMZ scene:

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Echo Boomers Not Pious

Reading this, it seems as though a “Millennial” is likely to start their day by lighting an incense stick, then eating a kosher breakfast before heading off to yoga class.  Seems that generic spirituality is replacing rigid Christian fundamentalism in the 18-29 age group.  No surprise whatsoever.  Some of the churches are apparently content to wait them out, on the belief that a tour of earthly temptations will eventually result in them returning to the fold, born again hard.  That belief is grounded, I believe, in the notion that once a person has had enough negative experiences with drugs and sexual promiscuity, they will be more likely to embrace a philosophy that promises to not only cleanse their spiritual palate, but also provide a path to salvation.  For some, that will indeed be the case.  I’ve seen it happen with life-long friends.  But I don’t think it is likely to occur in large numbers.

A larger group is likely to be turned off by the polarization that occurs when fearful people cling together for support…the us vs them mentality appeals to only a fraction of people over the long term.  The internet will certainly affect the status quo, as instant communication isn’t something the church, at least in its current form, is ready to handle.  Hypocrisy is a serious offense in this age-group.  If you lie to young people, you lose their confidence forever.  Knowledge is feared by the church, yet the web is fast-tracking the process of cataloging all human knowledge in digital format.  A sermon can be fact-checked, in real time,  from the front pew.

There is some mention that the young take a “buffet” approach to spirituality, that is, sampling from an assortment of beliefs and/or practices.  I’ve heard many Christians complain about this tack, while they take that same buffet style approach to Christianity itself.   That won’t sit well with youngsters, especially those participating in most forms of social media, where there are people of all beliefs integrated everywhere.  I’m thinking that the churches may try and co-op the social media movement, perhaps by offering a Christian based social application, called, possibly, Gracebook?  (I’m hereby staking claim to that)

I’m not particularly interested in figuring out ways for the church to keep young people engaged.  From where I sit, the church seeks to control by containment, rather than act as a guide or support group for one’s growth in a particular religion.  If the numbers in that poll hold true…the next wave of 18-29 yr olds will be even less tied to specific religious dogma.  So, I’m hopeful.

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Four Dead In Ohio

40 years ago, and I’m still pissed.  What kind of person shoots unarmed students?  This was an event that helped shape who I am, probably more than Kennedy’s assassination, because I was much older when this occurred.  I remember how devastated my sister and brother were on that day. Tell some young people what happened at Kent State, it should at least be a cautionary tale.

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Glad I Named My Son Noah

The great flood of 2010.  There has been a great deal made about the fact that, well, that a great deal <i>hasn’t</i> been made by the National media reporting on our flooding.  I completely understand why the our troubles wouldn’t get much play.  There were more significant news events over the weekend.  The Gulf oil spill and a car bomb in NYC to name just two.  Shoot, just two years ago a dozen people died and billions of dollars in damages occurred throughout the Midwest, particularly Missouri.  I don’t remember  much coverage of that disaster.  Its home for us, of course, so we are naturally sensitive to our neighbor’s plight, but there is no shortage of supplies or any massive relocation effort going on.  We are lucky.

That said, I was grateful that friends came by yesterday and helped me address the damage we had, particularly to our driveways, both of which were all but washed out.  We moved over a thousand toaster-sized rocks out of the creek bed and used them to shore up the banks alongside the drive.  After helping me, my friend Travis went to Nashville to fill sandbags.  How cool is that?

Beale has a post up today about two neighbors who lost their lives over the weekend driving to church.  She also mentions how devastating the flood will be to the local economy.  Times are hard right now, but I have no doubt we will bounce back in record time.

Meanwhile, heres a look at Saunders Ferry Park, hole number 14.  (H/T Cloud Nine Disc Golf)

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