Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eamus Catuli

Apparently the 2008 election and the Music City Bowl wore the life out of this blog. I bring it out of de facto retirement to greet all those Cubs fans who might be looking their favorite in-fielder.

Go Cubs!

(h/t ME)

If you need more stats on me, you can try this.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2008 is the best year ever.

Enjoyed the Presidential election and all, but


Go 'Dores!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Darkhorse 13

My dad is my favorite veteran. He is my father, friend and hero. He is also now a published writer! The editor of Rotorcraft Professional asked my dad to write a story about his experiences flying helicopters in Vietnam.

My dad's story, Darkhorse 13, begins on page 13 of the virtual magazine here.

Thanks for serving and surviving, Dad. I love you.

Happy Veterans Day.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Mighty Day

Today, my wife and I voted for Barack Obama in Montgomery, Alabama, feeling the weight of history. We voted in a crowd of our neighbors of many hues, many ages, and disparate wealth, with a single calling to participate in this great American experiment. Today, we are not taking for granted the near miraculous possibility and duty to govern ourselves in this republic. I thank God for it.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Russian Vote

I spent three hours on Saturday morning with a twelve Russians, young professional delegates to the Open World program. They are here for 10 days to observe and experience American civil and social institutions, though this program to promote dialogue and exchange with young people from former Soviet states. These folks were IT and PR directors, a labor union officer, a lawyer, a real estate agent and other similar professionals.

I was the first presenter in their visit. I plied them with coffee and pastries, and they were good sports to endure my orientation to the Constitutional system, federalism, the Great Compromise, Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances, the Bill of Rights and suffrage. They asked penetrating and hard questions, and were exceptionally interested in the appointment of Supreme Court Justices, and the relationship of the President to Congress specifically related to the Iraq War. They do not like the Iraq War, at all.

Were it not an election week, I would not have tried to explain and explore the Electoral College, but I wanted the news to make sense to them on Tuesday. They were troubled and confused by some aspects of the Electoral College (who isn’t?), but they were keenly interested in the process.

In the final segment of the morning, I directed an election among the Russians. I told all the attending Americans to shut their opinionated traps, and asked the Russians how they thought that Obama and McCain differed on issues that were important to them.

First, they were most interested in foreign policy and these were their observations: They did not think that either candidate differs much on the American-Russian relationships. They thought McCain “rejects the ‘ugly American’ stereotype” but that he still is much more interested in American interests at the expense of the world, noting the “Country First” slogan. One suggested with consensus that because of McCain’s experience in Vietnam and in the military will make him more likely to go to war.

Regarding Obama and foreign policy, they saw Obama as “cautiously global,” and one delegate said he “intuitively believes Obama will be less belligerent.” They believe Obama will be more diplomatic and is more sensitive to diverse religions and cultures.

Second, they were concerned about the global economic crisis. The Russians believe that the Iraq War is about money and access to oil markets, not terrorism, and they agreed that Obama has a better understanding and is better educated on the global economy.

Third, they said McCain certainly is too old for the job but that Obama “may be” too young. They were quick to note that Obama is older than Dmitry Medvedev. (I did not quickly note the age of their starry-eyed autocrat in the next office.)
Fourth, one delegated noted that McCain has a reputation as a “principled man” and a patriot.

Fifth, and very interesting to me, another American, a conservative, asked them if they thought that Sarah Palin would be able to lead on women’s issues on the global stage. They demurred and eschewed. One Russian woman said that Palin will be used “like a cat’s paw.” Another said she doesn’t “sport charisma.” Another said she “sows no new ideas.” They said she will suffer condescension by others in the government and political leadership. They do not like Sarah Palin, at all.

I asked them what they thought about Joe Biden, and I learned something very interesting. They had not opinion about the man. They said they were uninformed on Biden. I expressed my interest that they had very strong opinions about Palin but feel like they know nothing about Biden. They replied and explained that it has everything to do with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Russians explained, with consensus, that after HRC lost the nomination Sarah Palin felt like a “wet blanket” and that there was no comparison between the two. To my surprise, they explained that many or most Russians hold HRC in very high regard, that she is a revered political figure dating back to the Lewinsky scandal, because, in their words, she demonstrated such grace and dignity. They described their disappointment when such a superstar lost and they seemed to be offered “just this other woman.” They love Hillary Clinton, a lot.

At the end of their conversation about the candidates, we voted by secret ballot. The indicated their votes on paper and passed them in. I started tallying the totals on the board, and we even had a “hanging chad” moment. I began the day with a discussion of Bush v. Gore in 2000, so it was not with a little delight that I had to call in two translators to tell me about the notes written on a ballot. I could read both names, Obama and McCain, with mysterious Cyrillic characters qualifying her vote. By the time four or five people had tried to make it out, by the time we identified her and inquired about her vote, we experienced a first hand ballot controversy. (It turns out that she was voting for Obama but stating her conviction that McCain would win the election.)

At the end of the day, polling twelve, young, Russian professionals, Obama won, 10 to 2.

Feel the hope, from the Urals to Siberia.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I love America.

I have a pretty extraordinary week ahead of me, and it makes my patriotism well up like a spring.

On Saturday, I will present a three-hour program on American institutions, civil rights and our electoral process to a delegation of Russian college students and young professionals. This is my second year to address a delegations through the Open World Forum, a project of the Library of Congress. I get to talk with these students, all of whom were born in the Soviet Union, about the Revolution, the Constitution, amending the constitution and the electoral college. This fires me up, I mean, like an SEC football game.

(And to my friends who might be worried that I'll promote a certain candiate to the impressionable young Russians, I will not endorse a candidate or party in the discussion. Even so, their next stop after my lecture is Eastdale Mall and Wal-Mart. They'll be just fine.)

As a part of that program, I plan to remark about the extraordinary phenomenon of peaceful transfers of power from one party to another, governed by the Rule of Law and a social compact that instills confidence in losers. Then, on Tuesday, we actually get to see it happen. Of course, we might not transfer power between parties, although I suspect we might, but even so, to see one governor relinquish power to another because the Law says so, to see the people engage in a process and acquiese to the outcome, peacefully and confidently, is a mighty thing to behold.

Thursday, I will travel to our nation's capital with some colleagues on school business. There, I intend to run to the White House and do a lap around Lafayette Square and the Ellipse, first, because I'm American and it's my house and I can, second, because I want to offer a prayer of blessing on the Next Occupant. He'll need it.

Last, I will spend a night in the Shenandoah Valley with some of my best friends in the whole, wide world. I hope that we raise a glass to our preferred candidate and can celebrate half-a-lifetime, so far, of political evolution with each other.

God has blessed America. May He continue to do so.