So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Friday, November 6, 2020

Gracious Winning - Gracious Losing

Roger Carlton wrote this article  before election day. It is about winning and losing. He is a columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper.

Writing this week's column presents a real challenge. Timing is everything. The election voting will be over before the Graham Star appears. The election itself may not be over for weeks. The Supreme Court did not decide Bush v. Gore until December 12, 2000. Simply stated, the decision was that Florida could not do a statewide recount because the process violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This was because every county in Florida utilized a different process to manage the recount. The Supreme's decision was by no means unanimous and there were more conservatives than liberals on the Court at that time.

So, this column is about winning and losing with grace and dignity. In sports this is called sportsmanlike conduct. In life, how you handle defeat may be called courage to start over or it may be called sour grapes. How you handle winning may be called gloating or it may be called bighearted. In politics winning may result in a scorched earth winner takes all scenario or a generous realization that shared power in a democracy enhances solving challenges. Where we go over the next few weeks in these polar opposite possibilities is anyone's guess.

There are many examples from which we can learn. The Lincoln Douglas debates were a series of seven verbal contests that took place in 1858. The issue plain and simple was slavery and the state's rights to decide. The debates were intense and civil. There was a dignity about the arguments that we just don't enjoy today.

Lincoln and Douglas ended up as the main Presidential candidates in the 1860 election. There were two other candidates from the Southern Democratic Party and the Constitutional Union. Lincoln won with 180 Electoral College votes against 123 for his three opponents. His inaugural speech was made after seven states had left the Union and formed the Confederacy. Steven Douglas' concession speech graciously stated "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you Mr. President."

Al Gore was gracious after the Supreme Court decision. The very act of conceding demonstrates love of Country more than love of self. Mr. Gore said " What remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside."

President Ford pardoned disgraced President Nixon. This was done because the Country needed to heal from the Vietnam conflict and from the Watergate scandal that sank Nixon's presidency. Many historians think that the pardon was a major factor in President Ford's loss of his second term election. The pardon was a selfless act.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote. She conceded by saying "We must accept this result and look toward the future. Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead." That must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

It is part of our soul as Americans to be magnanimous winners. World War II was won at great cost. We knew that it was our responsibility to rebuild a devastated world. Hence the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and the occupation of Japan which helped the former enemy to restructure their government and create a democracy. 

We can only hope that the next few weeks will demonstrate gracious winning and gracious losing.

Monday, October 26, 2020

A conversation about the candidates

Roger Carlton is our guest today. He is a columnist with the Graham Star Newspaper. 

The best conversations with someone of opposing views begin with the discovery that there might be some areas of agreement. For instance, we might all agree that political ads painting your opponent as the devil incarnate don't garner many votes. These ads do more to demean the candidate who campaigns on their opponent's alleged faults rather than their own strengths.

We might also agree that the Biden Harris ticket and what it stands for is the polar opposite of the Trump Pence ticket. We can also most likely agree that any more debates will shed no illumination on the candidates and be thankful that the final two debates have been called off.  

So, maybe these agreements can form the basis for a conversation that doesn't expect to change your mind - just to give you something to think about before you vote. Following are some characteristics that this columnist thinks are important for the President of the United States and the leader of the free world to demonstrate: 

  • Trustworthiness is critical. What is the ratio of truth to outright lies, distortions, political hyperbole or just plain gaffes? Reviewing the past four years, there is one candidate who has a demonstrable record-breaking track record of excuses, blaming others and distortions of the truth. When caught, we hear about fake news or walking something back or it was just a joke. This criterion is pretty easy to judge.
  • Developing a great leadership team. Expertise that is listened to, people of integrity, people that our allies respect and our enemies fear, people who are not afraid to tell the President that he is wrong and people that are loyal because the loyalty has been earned are all characteristics of the leadership team we should expect. The group surrounding the White House incumbent has come and gone voluntarily, been fired or indicted and convicted. Hardly the team that should be continued for a second term.
  • The ability to respect expertise and develop policy based on scientifically proven facts. For those of us with friends and families that have had their loved ones die , who are experiencing the economic impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic or have their children and grandchildren failing in school, the sad conclusion is that the White House has failed to develop a national program to deal with this tragedy. No, it is not the Chinese disease. It is the world's disease and we are part of the world.
  • Showing empathy.  Empathy means you care about those less fortunate than yourself. This means the 30 million who remain unemployed and may soon be evicted. This means immigrants who want to come to this country and are willing to follow the rules. Desperate people do desperate things. To separate them from their children is not empathy. It is inhumane.
  • Having the foresight to recognize that we need to address climate change and sea level rise. Consider people in California or along the Gulf Coast. Continuing to support fossil fuel use rather than alternate energy sources will put us behind a world that is quickly moving away from the old technologies.
  • The ability to acknowledge the pain of others. Calling the folks who want to find a solution to police abuse of force a "bunch of thugs" ignores the reality of both the Black and Blue Lives Matter movements. Branding your opponent a "socialist" because he won't abandon the 20 million people who have taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act does not solve the issues of improving medical care for all our citizens and taxpayers. There are 440 people in Graham County who would not have insurance without this program and every one of them should beware of the White House goal of killing this benefit. 
  • Respect for the voters' intelligence.  Dissing a patriot like Senator McCain because he was a prisoner of war and showing disrespect for Gold Star families is a slap in the face to our military. Abandoning treaties and organizations causes our allies to lose their trust in us and our enemies take advantage. Bragging about a tax reform package that made the rich richer and did nothing for the middle class. Ignoring income inequality only angers the workers who see the corporate titans become wealthy as Midas while they struggle to put food on the table and provide a better education for their children. Paying your fair share of taxes is not being a "sucker and a loser."  It may be "smart" but it is not right and certainly does not earn my vote.

Many of the residents of Graham County rely on the Good Book for guidance when conflicts occur. Consider Mathew 7:15. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Predictions of massive voter fraud, unwillingness to agree to a peaceful transition if you lose, creating distrust in wearing a mask until you get the disease, wild conspiracy theories that stoke up hate groups are all behaviors that seem to define false prophecy. 

We all need to look deeply into our hearts and have a conversation with ourselves and people we respect. Are the lifelong mountain values inherited from generations past best continued by the incumbent? Was America made great again in the past four years? Should we trust the next four years to someone who has had few leadership successes and many failures? The unavoidable answer to these questions is that the risk is too great. That is why the Biden Harris ticket is the best way forward.



Monday, August 17, 2020

Don't Politicize Our TVA

Roger Carlton
Guest writer - Roger Carlton, columnist for The Graham Star newspaper

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was established by Congress in 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development in seven states that were heavily impacted by the Great Depression. 

TVA is a business owned by the government. Fiscal 2018 revenues exceeded $11 billion and profits were $1.1 billion. The Board of Directors are nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. The Directors appoint the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). All in all, this construct provides a nice balance and has worked extraordinarily well for the southern Appalachian region and its people.

So why would the White House fire the Chair of the Board and a board member? The ostensible reason was a decision by TVA to lay-off more than 100 contract workers and outsource the function to three big companies including Accenture, Capgemini and CGI who make their billions using many foreign workers. This political misstep followed TVA's decision last year to shut down two coal fired power plants despite undelivered 2016 campaign promises to rebuild the coal industry. 

Terrible timing right before an election in which the plight of 30 million potential voters who are unemployed and suffering greatly will certainly impact the outcome of the election. Perhaps this public flogging of an agency that provides service in some deeply red states over losing jobs might have something to do with the re-election campaign.

The White House also threatened to pack the Board with members who would in turn fire TVA CEO Jeff Lyash while making great hay over his $8 million salary. A government employee making $8 million even though he runs a multi-billion profitable enterprise doesn't play well in an election year.

To save the day, Lyash and his new Board Chair jumped on one of TVA's corporate jets and supplicated their way into the Oval Office. On second thought they said, the outsourcing deal might not be the best approach and the 100 jobs were saved. Everyone declared victory and there is peace in the valley - at least the Tennessee Valley.

So, what does all this mean to the people of Graham County? TVA owns Fontana Dam and leases out the operation of Fontana Resort. The recent closure of Fontana Resort by our local operators due to the impacts of COVID 19 required the rapid location of a new operator. TVA's business-like approach has allowed the retention of a new operator to happen quickly and the 2020 tourist season will be saved along with a lot of jobs. If TVA ran like a bureaucracy, we would be lucky to have a new operator by the summer of 2021.

While TVA does not own Cheoah and Santeetlah dams, it controls the spillways in order to regulate the flow of water during potential flood situations. This is important because all three dams in Graham County are part of a system that must be operated by expert hydrologists and weather forecasters in a cohesive, regional data-based manner. This is very important to Graham Countians. Politicizing an organization that has the awesome responsibilities assigned to TVA is a great mistake.

In some small way, TVA's CEO deserves an apology for the bashing he took over salary.  A division of a multi-billion-dollar Canadian company, Brookfield Renewable Corporation, owns our two dams and Lake Santeetlah. They do a good job by and large. By way of comparison, the CEO of the Brookfield division that owns our dams, Sachin Shah, made $3.8 million in 2018 and roughly $12.6 million in 2019. That is serious money even by TVA standards.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

From 26 to 2....the Democratic Presidential Candidates Have Dwindled

Thanks to Roger Carlton for this post where he gives his thoughts on the political situation of today. 
Roger is columnist for Graham Star newspaper in Robbinsville, NC.

Roger Carlton
Remember the ant and the rubber tree plant. 
That ant had high hopes and so did a whole bunch of Presidential candidates. In that popular song by Doris Day the ant moved the rubber tree plant because he had high hopes. So what happened to those political high hopes held by so many candidates of promise?

Let's start with the debate debacles: The format was horrible. Point counterpoint is no way to inform the voting public of the character of the candidates or the merit of their proposals. Raising your hand for recognition demeans the office. It is what elementary school students do. It would have been so much better to give each candidate five minutes to express their five top problems and solutions. Brief and to the point. Frankly it means nothing to this writer to hear what one candidate thinks about another. Would you expect a candidate to say that their opponent's position is better than their own?

The pundit debate monitors did a terrible job of focusing the issues and controlling the screechers. Half the debate time spent on Medicare for all and no questions about climate change and the explosive growth of mass murder borders on malfeasance by someone who calls themselves a journalist. In this environment, the candidate with the best one liners seemed to be heroic to the debate monitors and the candidate with manners and who followed the rules was labelled weak. Did anyone make their decision on who to vote for based on debate performance? Doubtful.

The billionaire factor. One candidate spent $250 million starting nearly a year ago with a single message. He was the best person to beat President Trump. Could you figure out what he would do once elected? Another candidate spent $500 million in a few weeks telling us his role as Mayor of New York gave him the credentials to be a good President. Probably true but his total of 20 minutes of debate performance negated a lifetime of business, philanthropic and political success.

Please keep one thing in mind. The total primary expenses through Super Tuesday were nearly $900 million. The money went mostly to media so this kumatai slugfest was a source of untold profits for the media moguls and their stockholders. No wonder the Wall Street Journal vilifies one of the candidates as being a Socialist without explaining what that means. To put the dollars into perspective more money has been spent so far than the taxable value of 80 percent of the property in Graham County.

With all due caution to avoid political incorrectness the gender, gay, racial and religious factors remain top of mind with many voters. Let's be honest. It took 143 years from the end of the Civil War to elect an African American President and it has been 100 years since women were granted the right to vote. While the two remaining candidates don't fit into the definition of diversity, let us hope that they will select a capable Vice President running mate who comes from one of the groups that made capable candidates available but could not put them across the line for the top job.

The fire in your gut concern. 
Many of the candidates had great resumes but bland personas. Bernie consistently railed against the oligarchs on Wall Street and the outrageous profits made by the medical companies. He wanted you to believe that the money changers needed to be thrown out of the Washington temple and he was the candidate to do that. Joe Biden said wait a minute. We can't afford all this. He was calm and did not point his finger at you. All the rest of the candidates fought for a place in the continuum of recognition by the media and failed to find a sweet spot. 

Finally, voters saw through the opposition dirt researching and did not hold a candidate responsible for some stupid behavior or slip of the tongue 30 or more years ago. Who among us hasn't said or done something that they regret. Joe Biden helped his son with getting a lucrative job for which he was unqualified. Bernie praised some political strongmen with whom he was enamored many years ago. Has not the current incumbent in the White House done the same for his children and their spouses? Does he not cotton up to the current strongmen of the world? 

All these factors taken together whittled down a broad and diverse group of candidates to two old white guys. 
Perhaps Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest best describes the primary process to date. There are a few more big primaries. It seems that all the debate smoke and mirrors will now pare down to who has the best chance to beat President Trump. Is that any different than four years ago when the question was who had the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton?  

Monday, December 30, 2019

Politics, Property and Political Correctness

Closing out the year with some humor by Roger Carlton

If I learned one thing from more than 50 years of public service, it is that the most intractable problems are often solved with humor. 

Today we are very polarized. People are addicted to using electronic devices and social networks to yell at each other. After all, such means of making a point does not require facing your opponent and looking them in the eye.

Here are a few thoughts meant to be humorous at the end of this very polarized year.
1. A conservative believes that “What is mine is mine and what is yours we can negotiate or take.”
2. A liberal believes that “What is mine is mine and what is yours belongs to everyone.

3. An independent believes that “What is mine is mine and and give me some time to think about yours.”

The Founders believed in certain inalienable rights unless you were a slave or a woman. It took four score and seven years for President Lincoln to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation and an additional two score and 17 years for women to be granted the right to vote. That is 87 and 57 years for those who don’t count in scores.

The prehistoric cave dwellers communicated with grunts and pictures on cave walls. As technology progressed, native people used drums and smoke signals. Some people think the smoke is still used. 

Early technology included the Pony Express, telegraph, hard line phones, television, newspapers and magazines. Once our Tennessee neighbor, Al Gore, invented the Internet, Facebook and Twitter soon followed.

Frankly, this columnist thinks tweeting is for the birds. When people tweet, it is an insult to our avian friends except perhaps the goony bird. That noble American bald eagle doesn’t tweet. He hunts with the goal of feeding his family and he mates for life.

So my friends, we come to the end of a “year of discontent.” Here are a few suggested New Year resolutions. 

Turn off all communication devices at dinner. It breaks my heart to see parents and children having dinner at a restaurant while all are clacking away  on some device. 

Second, ban all family responses that use the word “whatever.” The word defines disrespect and not caring.

Finally, if you must tweet, the victims of the tweet should be allowed to finish their sentences before the send button is mashed.

My best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.