Tuesday, April 28, 2009


As you probably have realized, I don't discuss personal relationships in my blog. I like to keep my private life, well, private, and the insanity of everything else seems so much more fascinating to review.

Today's entry is going to be an exception. I can't think of anything else. I am in mourning for the end of a relationship and it really hurts.

You never know how or why people enter your life, but you do know that they add something to the fabric of who you are and they leave an indelible imprint. Sometimes, the timing is just wrong for a relationship to bloom to its full potential. Sometimes happiness is an elusive butterfly, just beyond your reach but so beautiful to behold.

As a person of faith, I try not to dwell on what could be, because I know there is a reason for this path. Pain in life is inevitable, for me it means that my heart is open again where it has been closed for so many years. That is truly a gift from God.

Life is also about choices, I will take today and embrace the pain. Tomorrow I will consider butterflies.

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or...you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood.

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or....I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," he said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.

You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life."

I reflected on what he said. Soon thereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

"The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter," he replied. "Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

He continued, "...the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said John. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes', I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity!'"

Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude....I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Communication 101

Being in the Communication business, I come across way too many "failure of purpose" instances due to poor communication. They are not failing at what they are doing, they are failing at communicating their actions to their primary audience. Big difference.

I have a dear friend who has ventured into local politics because she wanted to make a difference. She is having to work extremely long (unpaid) hours at it because the municipality is in such dire straights due to long standing mismanagement. There are more dynamic figures in the game who outshine this individual, however, she is the one who is guiding the work with new solutions to old problems. She is a fresh, intelligent voice in this mix and her efforts should pay off for the long-term stability of our city.

But what happens when it comes time for reelection or election to higher positions? For those who know the behind the scenes story, it is a no-brainer. She is one of the most capable and energetic individuals on the ballot...but does the rest of her target audience know that? How should she go about communicating that on a regular basis not just at election time? I have my own solutions, but I will share them with her in private.

For the rest of you, don't ever think that because you do good work means you will get that promotion or the recognition you deserve. Effective communications, my friends, is the magic bullet. And these days, we need all the help we can get to keep our jobs.

By Schatzie Brunner • April 27, 2009 * Tennessean

Have you just landed a new role or different job in your organization? With any shift in responsibilities there are new communication issues to face.

According to executive coach Scott Eblin in his book, The Next Level, executives spend most of their time producing and dealing in ideas. "For those ideas to be of any value, they have to be well communicated to the right audience at the right time," Eblin says.

How many times have you heard the catch phrase "Know your audience"? But one of the biggest pitfalls is learning how to define "audience."

Is your message going to the entire organization, or to your boss or peers? Keep in mind that the way you craft a message has to be based on the specific person or people receiving it.

For instance, if you want to reach your boss, craft a message in terms of his or her interests. What drives the boss — is it overhead costs, ego or something else?

Those drivers will no doubt be very different from those of your peers or the team you may manage.

Start by defining those drivers and asking yourself why your message should matter to the audience. No matter what level you occupy, you are always onstage. And so is each recipient.

The more deliberate you become in your communications style, the more impact you can have each time you communicate.

Keep the energy up
Energy is such a key component to communicating a message — and yet it's easy to forget to stay engaged.

Knowing how you come across to others, whether in a written or spoken message, is critical information. One exercise I use with clients — and in keynote addresses — is to take a pen and paper and make two lists.

One is all the things, people, places and activities that give me energy, and the other is a list of what saps energy away. It's a great way to evaluate yourself so that you know when and where you are engaged, interested or attentive.

I've found in coaching hundreds of folks that self-perception and reality are never congruent; you may think you sound like a ball
of fire when someone else may experience you as less than dynamic.

The trick is to get to know yourself and your style better. Don't leave it to chance.

Even when you feel you don't have the energy to put one foot in front of the other, realize that no one else cares about your level of fatigue as you try to communicate in business.

So, even if you have to "fake it until you make it," do so in order to come across as the dynamo
you want others to believe you are.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The other day, I was listening to the laments of my 80+ Grandma Nell about her morning paper delivery being canceled (The Tennessean, bad move on their part btw on totally canceling Franklin County delivery). For someone who has gotten the morning paper for 50+ years, this was a huge big deal in her quality of life. If Grandpa Mose were still alive, there would have been hell to pay.

Being the ever-thinking entrepreneur, I immediately thought that situation was a prime opportunity for someone to come in an offer paper delivery for a fee. You have a captive, established market who was already paying for the service, you have the product ready to deliver, the only thing you needed to do was set-up the mechanisms to make it happen. Kinda brainless actually. If I didn't already have 5 jobs, I would do it.

There is always a way to make a living in any economy. You just have to get out there and find opportunities and make it happen. Surely, we haven't lost that much of our good ole American ingenuity.

Here is a great article for those thinking about jumping into the self-employed genre (willingly or unwillingly).

I accepted a severance package from my employer because I've always wanted to be self-employed. My problem is I'm not sure if the work I did for the past 30 years translates to private enterprise. With the economy the way it is, is this a bad time to start a business? In what industry will I find the greatest profits?

It depends on what your interests and skills are. What do you enjoy doing? Would anyone pay you to do that? What does the marketplace need right now, and how does that relate to what you're passionate about?

Keep these five tips in mind:

1. Remember, baby boomers are the largest generation on the planet, and they have money. They are at the prime of their lives and do not anticipate sitting in a rocking chair. Although the present economic decline may affect their portfolios, this means only that they may postpone retirement. However, they remain more affluent than past generations at their age. They need financial planning, health care and help traveling. Consider providing it.

2. Because many boomers will continue to work as long as possible, they also need help caring for their aging parents. At the same time, more elderly citizens want to remain at home. Senior services companies offer clients help such as making medical appointments, providing transportation, shopping for groceries, and taking care of banking and other financial needs.

3. Going green is hip, smart and part of a $209 billion-a-year industry. Marketing and installing solar panels is one way to tap into that trend and earn a living on your own.

4. If gadgets or electronics are your strong suits, consider a second life as a technology consultant. All businesses have computers and need someone to help keep them humming. So, why not earn money from those technical talents?

5. Finally, a sector that has gotten a boost from the federal stimulus bill is construction. Tennessee is scheduled to get millions of dollars, much of which will go to private industry to create construction jobs. An additional $150 billion is in the bill to repair or replace states' crumbling infrastructure, which includes bridges, highways, roads, public transportation and water projects. Private enterprise will play a role. Maybe you could, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rules of Engagement

I am sure alot of you have seen this email as it has made the rounds among the conservative ranks. Snopes currently says the validity is "Undetermined". Although I really try to give our President the benefit of the doubt (it is hard, but I do try), this Somali pirate scenario is certainly plausible and likely all considering.

I have recently read the "Lone Survivor" book by Marcus Luttrell who was the lone survivor of a SEALS mission over in Afghanistan in 2005. The Rules of Engagement (ROE) is a major issue in the military and even more so with these mighty warriors who are solely trained for mission success against all odds.

If recent news stories are any indication, I think the way our military "does business" will be challenged and possibly changed forever. Are we really ready for that kind of "Change"?

If you are interested in what really happened in the piracy hostage standoff this week, read the following from a friend with a lifetime in national security-related operations. I have erased the name of his personal SEAL contact as he is still on active duty and I would not want to risk career damage to him for his truthfulness. FYI, ROE= rules of engagement, BHO=our esteemed president.

Here is a note a SEAL friend sent me.

Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:

1. BHO wouldn't authorize the SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours, going against OSC (on scene commander) recommendation.

2. Once they arrived, BHO imposed restrictions that they couldn't do anything unless the hostage's life was in "imminent" danger.

3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE.

4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE. As the raggies were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.

5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams

6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3 dead raggies

7. BHO immediately claims credit for his "daring and decisive" behaviour. As usual with him, it's BS.

So per our last email thread, I'm downgrading Obama's performace to D-. Only reason it's not an F is that the hostage survived.

Read the following accurate account:

Philips’ first leap into the Indian Ocean hadn’t worked out well. With the Bainbridge in range and a rescue by his country’s Navy possible, Phili ps threw himself off of his lifeboat prison, enabling Navy shooters onboard the destroyer a clear shot at his captors — but none was taken.

Guidance from National Command Authority — president Barack Obama — had been clear: a peaceful solution was the only acceptable outcome to this standoff, unless the hostage’s life was in clear danger.

The next day, a small Navy boat was fired on by the Somali pirates — and again no fire was returned. This was again due to the cautious stance assumed, thanks to a mandate from the commander in chief’s staff not to act until Obama, a man with no background dealing with such issues, decided that an outcome other than a “peaceful solution” would be acceptable.

After taking fire from the Somali kidnappers again Saturday night, the on-scene-commander decided he’d had enough.

Keeping his authority to act in the case of a clear danger to the hostage’s life and having heard nothing from Washington since yet another request to mount a rescue operation had been denied the day before, the Navy officer — unnamed in all media reports to date — decided the AK47 leveled at Philips’ back was a threat to the hostage’s life and ordered the NSWC team to take their shots.

Three rounds and all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe.

There is an upside, a downside, and a spinside to the series of events over the last week .

Almost immediately following word of the rescue, the Obama administration claimed victory and declared that the dramatic end to the standoff put paid to questions of the inexperienced president’s toughness and decisiveness.

Despite the Obama administration’s attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the president, the reality is nothing of the sort.

What should have lasted only hours — as long as it took the USS Bainbridge to steam to the location — became an embarrassing four day standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Economics 101

Found these wonderful quotes today and thought I would share...

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." -- Author unknown

"Every time you take a rich man down, you take a 100 poor men with him."

"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it." -- Benjamin Franklin

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." -- Milton Friedman

"I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible." -- Milton Friedman

"When the United States was formed in 1776, it took 19 people on the farm to produce enough food for 20 people. So most of the people had to spend their time and efforts on growing food. Today, it's down to 1% or 2% to produce that food. Now just consider the vast amount of supposed unemployment that was produced by that. But there wasn't really any unemployment produced. What happened was that people who had formerly been tied up working in agriculture were freed by technological developments and improvements to do something else. That enabled us to have a better standard of living and a more extensive range of products." -- Milton Friedman

"Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else's resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property." -- Milton Friedman

"When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and nobody has a direct interest in maintaining or improving its condition. That is why buildings in the Soviet Union -- like public housing in the United States -- look decrepit within a year or two if their construction..." -- Milton Friedman

"(T)he supporters of tariffs treat it as self-evident that the creation of jobs is a desirable end, in and of itself, regardless of what the persons employed do. That is clearly wrong. If all we want are jobs, we can create any number -- for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs -- jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume." -- Milton Friedman

"There is all the difference in the world, however, between two kinds of assistance through government that seem superficially similar: first, 90 percent of us agreeing to impose taxes on ourselves in order to help the bottom 10 percent, and second, 80 percent voting to impose taxes on the top 10 percent to help the bottom 10 percent -- William Graham Sumner's famous example of B and C decided what D shall do for A. The first may be wise or unwise, an effective or ineffective way to help the disadvantaged -- but it is consistent with belief in both equality of opportunity and liberty. The second seeks equality of outcome and is entirely antithetical to liberty." -- Milton Friedman

"The great danger to the consumer is the monopoly -- whether private or governmental. His most effective protection is free competition at home and free trade throughout the world. The consumer is protected from being exploited by one seller by the existence of another seller from whom he can buy and who is eager to sell to him. Alternative sources of supply protect the consumer far more effectively than all the Ralph Naders of the world." -- Milton Friedman

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." -- Thomas Jefferson

"A rising tide (in the economy) lifts all boats" -- John Kennedy

"The record of economic success during the 1980's is clear: 18.6 million new jobs were created, increasing U.S. civilian employment by 20 percent. Only 12 percent of these jobs were in low-paid restaurant and retail areas, while 82 percent were in high-paid technical, managerial and professional areas. Once Reagan's tax cuts kicked in (fiscal year 1982), the country experienced 92 months of economic growth without a recession. This represented the longest period of sustained peacetime economic growth in American history. America's most successful achievers do pay a higher share of the total tax burden. The top one percent income earners paid 18 percent of the total tax burden in 1981, and paid 25 percent in 1991. The bottom 50 percent of income earners paid only 8 percent of the total tax burden, and paid only 5 percent in 1991. History shows that tax cuts have always resulted in improved economic growth producing more tax revenue in the treasury." -- Rush Limbaugh

"What pays under capitalism is satisfying the common man, the customer. The more people you satisfy, the better for you." -- Ludwig Von Mises

"Don't knock the rich. When did a poor person ever give you a job?" -- Laurence J. Peter

"We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much." -- Ronald Reagan

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." -- Adam Smith

"It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy...What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage." -- Adam Smith

"Sellers in general maintain the quality of their products and services for fear of losing customers otherwise. But, when price controls create a situation where the amount demanded is greater than the amount supplied -- a shortage -- fear of losing customers is no longer as strong an incentive. For example, landlords typically reduce painting and repairs when there is rent control, because there is no need to fear vacancies when there are more tenants looking for apartments than there are apartments available." -- Thomas Sowell

"Tariffs that save jobs in the steel industry mean higher steel prices, which in turn means fewer sales of American steel products around the world and losses of far more jobs than are saved." -- Thomas Sowell

"Four things have almost invariably followed the imposition of controls to keep prices below the level they would reach under supply and demand in a free market: (1) increased use of the product or service whose price is controlled, (2) Reduced supply of the same product or service, (3) quality deterioration, (4) black markets." -- Thomas Sowell

"Politics offers attractive solutions but economics can offer only trade-offs. For example, when laws are proposed to restrict the height of apartment buildings in a community, politics presents the issue in terms of whether we prefer tall buildings or buildings of a more modest height in our town. Economics asks what you are prepared to trade off in order to keep the height of buildings below some specified level. In places where land costs may equal or even exceed the cost of the apartment buildings themselves, the difference between allowing ten-story buildings to be built and allowing a maximum of five stories may be that rents will be twice as high in the shorter buildings. The question then is not simply whether you prefer shorter buildings but how much do you prefer shorter buildings and what price are you prepared to pay to mandate height restrictions in your community. A doubling of rents and three additional highway fatalities per yet? A tripling of rents and six additional highway fatalities per year? Economics cannot answer such questions. It can only make you aware of a need to ask them." -- Thomas Sowell

"In a small town, an idiot breaks a shop window. He's called a vandal, until someone points out that a window installer now must be paid to replace the window. The window installer then will have enough money to buy a new suit. A tailor will then be able to buy a new desk. And so on. The whole town apparently gains from the economic activity generated by the broken window. Of course, if this made sense, cities should hire people to run though town, breaking windows.

But it doesn't make sense. It's a fallacy because the circulating money is seen; what is not seen is what would have been done with the money if the window were still whole. The shopkeeper, instead of paying the window installer, might have expanded his business, or bought a new suit or a new desk. The town is worse off because of a broken window." -- John Stossel

"Minimum prices in general tend to discriminate against the lesser skilled person or the less preferred item. Let's say ten workers show up and you only can hire five. Well, you can't discriminate based on price because you have to pay them all eight dollars an hour. So you may hire according to what you like. So if you prefer Catholics to Jews or whites to blacks, you'll have a tendency to indulge your preferences. You can apply that phenomena to anything. If we made a law, let's call it a "minimum steak law", that is, fillet mignon and chuck steak both sell for $10. Well, the cost of discriminating against chuck steak would be zero, because you have to pay $10 anyway. The way that less preferred things compete with more preferred things is by having a lower price. Even though people prefer filet mignon to chuck steak, chuck steak doesn't have any problems selling at all." -- Walter Williams

"We might think of dollars as being "certificates of performance." The better I serve my fellow man, and the higher the value he places on that service, the more certificates of performance he gives me. The more certificates I earn, the greater my claim on the goods my fellow man produces. That's the morality of the market. In order for one to have a claim on what his fellow man produces, he must first serve him." -- Walter Williams

"(Tariffs) help some steel workers keep their jobs, but it turns out to be a losing proposition on balance. The reason why steel workers and their companies want tariffs on foreign steel is so they can raise the price of steel produced by US companies. So, it will save some jobs in the steel industry, but one has to look at the "steel using industry." The companies in the US that buy steel to produce their products are hurt by the tariffs. You find unemployment in those areas because of the higher costs of their inputs, which makes them less competitive on world markets. So what one has to look at is not the seen, but the unseen. Yes, you can see as a result of tariffs that more jobs are saved in the steel industry. What goes unseen are the jobs lost elsewhere because of the steel tariffs. Tariffs save some jobs at the expense of many, many, other jobs."

"Suppose I hire you to repair my computer. The job is worth $200 to me and doing the job is worth $200 to you. The transaction will occur because we have a meeting of the mind. Now suppose there's the imposition of a 30 percent income tax on you. That means you won't receive $200 but instead $140. You might say the heck with working for me -- spending the day with your family is worth more than $140. You might then offer that you'll do the job if I pay you $285. That way your after-tax earnings will be $200 -- what the job was worth to you. There's a problem. The repair job was worth $200 to me, not $285. So it's my turn to say the heck with it. This simple example demonstrates that one effect of taxes is that of eliminating transactions, and hence jobs." -- Walter Williams

"How many times have we heard "free tuition," "free health care," and free you-name-it? If a particular good or service is truly free, we can have as much of it as we want without the sacrifice of other goods or services. Take a "free" library; is it really free? The answer is no. Had the library not been built, that $50 million could have purchased something else. That something else sacrificed is the cost of the library. While users of the library might pay a zero price, zero price and free are not one and the same. So when politicians talk about providing something free, ask them to identify the beneficent Santa Claus or tooth fairy." -- Walter Williams

"Here's Williams' roadmap out of poverty: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen. Among both black and white Americans so described, the poverty rate is in the single digits." -- Walter Williams

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Parties

Wow, where do I begin.

Started the day in Monteagle where we had a Tea Party at Noon. A local business owner had asked me to host one because he was so darn fed up with everything. Of course, I couldn't say no. Direction was quickly given by the TN event organizers, I was VERY impressed with both Ken and Judson's immediate feedback and action plan.

Signs went up Saturday and the invite was pretty much word of mouth. I was thinking 15 people showing up would classify it as a success considering we live in such a small town with alot of apathy. People started arriving at 11:30am, I was a little shocked, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. 11:45am the parking lot was almost full and we were having traffic control issues. Noon, it was full-blown. I have not seen anything like it in all my days here. Some say 65, some say closer to 100, I really was too busy to get a head count.

Music by Sarah Mallory, Pledge, Prayer, National Anthem and then audience participation. So many great, heartfelt words...so many cheers of approval. All ages, all walks of life. It was beautiful. Food and drink were donated, war stories were shared afterwards. I feel hope again.

Made a quick dash to Sewanee for the T.Boone Pickens book signing (line too long, gave friend Andy my book to sign).

Then off to Tullahoma where dear friend Lynn Sebourn was on the organizing team. He had asked me several weeks ago to be on the speaker list and I was happy to comply. I pulled in about 4:45pm and the South Jackson Civic Center front lawn was covered up with people and signs. I was in awe. Jerry Anderson was emceeing and he was certainly in his element. Glib, charming and gently jabbing. Rep. Matheny kicked off the speakers, always my hero, he had just gotten in from a long day on the hill and he looked exhausted...but he nailed it as usual. Lynn Sebourn was brilliant as always, Steve Heath was rocking, Kent Greenough was rocking too, Greg Sandlin made his points so very deftly, my fellow revolutionary Chip Ramsey was passionate and inspiring. I got in there after Kent and since everyone was making such great points, I thought I would go in a slightly different direction and talk about guns and anarchy. I guess I hit a nerve, the response was pleasantly surprising.

As I sit here exhausted from so many discussions over the day, I can honestly say that what happened today was almost a miracle in my book. Can this be the beginning...?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

17 Things to Love

Happy Easter everyone! The sun is shining, the birds are singing and Jesus has risen! The power of the resurrection always gives me hope for a better tomorrow and rejuvenates my spirit and soul for the upcoming year.

Maybe that is why I was amused today at this little web diddy.

1. In the South, the word "bulls*it" has three syllables and serves as a verb, noun, adjective and, occasionally, a nickname. (There is alot of b.s. here and we call it like we see it.)

2. In fact, people down south often have charming nicknames- for example- I had three aunts: Chicken, Goat and Pig. (Roundhead, mush, bug eye, turkey...)

Sadly, only Aunt Chicken is left.

3. Down south, everything looks better in camouflage print. (Oh yea!)

4. In the state of North Carolina, it is illegal to use an elephant to plow a field. Couples staying in a hotel must have a room with double beds and they must be at least two feet apart. (Glad I don't live in North Carolina.)

5. For the Southerner, any dish can be improved with a slab of pork. Pork in your greens, pork in your green beans, pork in your Rice Krispies...(The great flavor secret.)

6. Southerners take church very seriously- a Southern church service can easily last five hours- without air-conditioning. We rate the sermons as "rare", "medium" and "well done". (We have evolved...there is airconditioning.)

7. Every part of the pig is edible. Every.Single.Part. The hog foot, the hog tail, the hog maw, the hog grammaw...(I wouldn't call it edible, but we eat it.)

8. The Southern lady is schooled in the art of hairdressing, make-up application, Christian virtue and the loading of various fire-arms. (Absolutely!)

9. Most Southerners scoff at the idea of healthy eating- they eat just what the Lord Jesus himself ate- neckbones and biscuits. (Didn't he?)

10.In Tennesse you can't shoot any game from a moving vehicle- except whales. In Tennessee. Where.there.is.no.ocean.... (Details, details)

11. The Georgia legislature once considered making it illegal for a restaurant to not serve sweet iced tea. (Was that an ethics issue?)

12. I love the way people from Louisiana talk. Can't understand what they're saying, but I love that they're saying it...(A smooth southern drawl can melt any heart.)

13. Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Zora Neal Hurston were all southerners. Yankees ain't the only ones what can read and write...(And boy, can they write!)

14. In the state of Georgia, it is illegal to keep a donkey in a bathtub. (But how do you wash him?)

15. In the state of Arkansas, a man may beat his wife, but not more than once a month. (Wouldn't want to spoil her you know.)

16. In Mississippi, it is illegal for a man to be sexually aroused in public. (Are there enough jails in Mississippi to handle this one?)

17. Every Sunday is an occasion for a big dinner, usually consisting of fried chicken, white rice, gravy, collard greens, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, fresh corn, cabbage, potato salad, fatback, fried green tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, hush puppies, fried catfish, biscuits, corn bread, deer meat, tomato preserves, homemade pork rinds- and hey where y'all goin' don't you want no dessert? (Yep, and it just doesn't get any better than that, love Easter dinner down home!)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Conservative Manifesto

Reading this book is on my "to do" list. Finally a Manifesto to believe in.

Conservatives' 'Manifesto' DestinyKathryn Lopez
Saturday, April 04, 2009

Standing between liberty and tyranny is you.

That's one of many essential lessons found in a powerful and necessary new book, Mark Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto" (Threshold, 2009).

Levin's tome sounds a call to arms for conservatives, urging every last one to realize the stakes and engage in public affairs to the best of their ability. Understanding that it's not always the first instinct of the conservative to take on Washington, he urges more focus on our nation's capital, whether by going there, running for office closer to home, or educating those in your living room. Doing your job and living your life are important contributions, Levin writes, but "it is no longer enough." America needs more from its concerned citizens.

When the actions of a Republican president set the scene for the current commander in chief's CEO-firing, it's time for a new level of attention from all Americans. In Levin's words we need "a new generation of conservative activists, larger in number, shrewder and more articulate than before, who seek to blunt the Statist's counterrevolution -- not to imitate it -- and gradually and steadily reverse course. More conservatives than before will need to seek elective and appointed office, fill the ranks of the administrative state, hold teaching positions in public schools and universities, and find positions in Hollywood and the media where they can make a difference in infinite ways."

We appear to be living in a paradigm shift, during which the government is taking over in unprecedented ways. If you're uncomfortable with what you're seeing, get to work.

There are countless historical examples of American citizens with concerns similar to Levin's who went into politics. One of Levin's contemporary favorites, as anyone who regularly listens to his syndicated radio show knows, is Michele Bachmann. She's a congresswoman from Minnesota who the left loves to hate -- she almost lost her seat last year under threat from a loony liberal barrage.

After one of her foster children (she and her husband have taken care of 23 such kids over the years, in addition to five children of their own) came home from high school with an assignment for math homework that centered on coloring, she realized there was something wrong with the public-school standards area, and started working to change things. Her efforts would eventually take her to the state senate and now the U.S. Congress. Ask her about her experiences and you'll have the sense of a woman who does not have an office in mind, but a country.

Talk to Bachmann about politics and the future, and it is clear that she has "liberty and tyranny" on her mind (both literally -- she cited the book on Sean Hannity's show -- and more foundationally). Her high-minded conversation seems to be stemming not from political ambition but from those initial concerns that spurred her into politics. She views herself as a backbencher with an opportunity and a responsibility during a crucial time in American history. She's a former federal tax litigation attorney who now sits on the Financial Services Committee. A small-business owner and an educational entrepreneur (she helped found one of the first charter schools in the country, which is still running) Bachmann brings a breadth and depth of experience to Washington tables to which "gotcha" sound bites do not do justice.

On Levin's show late last year, Bachmann was open about her amazement that anyone would want to subject themselves to the harrowing rigors and painful exposure of the political process. There's little question that she's felt that way since, as her every word continues to be parsed and highlighted by the liberal media and its legion of faultfinders and scandalmongers. Bachmann was doing more than her part before she ran for Congress, before she ran for state office, before she and her husband welcomed a gaggle of foster children into their home. But she, like Levin, knows America needs all hands on deck. Consider it the real, substantive, bipartisan "yes we can" message. It's the message of the citizen-politicians of America's founding era.

In his best seller, Levin prescribes a way to combat "the ascent of a soft tyranny" rampant in the United States today. Rather than ask the government to fix everything, we must "return to founding principles," which involve "a free people living in a civil society, working in self-interested cooperation." This is what Bachmann gets up every morning and starts doing. We can't all be members of Congress, but we each have a sphere of influence upon which we ought to be full and informed participants. That doesn't just mean a vote and a letter to the editor now and then. We need to teach our children that which is worth preserving. We need to engage with our friends in a smart and respectful way. The future of liberty depends on it -- on us.


When I lived in the high-end suburbs of Chicago, cocktail conversation usually revolved around money and politics with 90% of it being Republican politics. Democrat was a dirty word because it represented the dysfunctional thug politics found in Chicago...just 35 miles away. Everyone did charity work, were involved in school activities, went to church and joined social organizations or clubs. It was a very close, interpersonal community relationship with grievances usually taken care of quickly and efficiently...mostly to everyone's satisfaction. Government was rarely involved in our lives. They made sure we were safe and had adequate infrastructure, petty politics was involved among a select few who I personally think enjoyed that kind of thing.

When it was time to revitalize our historic downtown district, people rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The 100+ year old Chamber of Commerce worked with the local city government on an economic development plan and put it into action. We all got on committees and put our different skillsets to work. It was poetry in motion...it got done.

Major projects like a downtown parking garage and high-end condo development on top of it provided the much needed pedestrian traffic to incentize new retail establishments to invest in renovating the old vacant storefronts. We had an architectural review board and vision plan in place so that new merchants were on the same page as we were when they made their decision to come onboard.

Our historic downtown, once old and worn (and vacant) just a few years earlier became the thriving, charming hometown where families walked the sidewalks to ice cream shops, young people had their choice of parks, sweets and coffee shops, retail shops sprung up with destination quality products, restaurants became destination quality too. We had car shows on Friday nights, music on the square, our historic movie theatre was saved from the wrecking ball, a new train station was built, our library expanded.

The funny thing was...we just had the vision, everything else happened because we had a plan. The best part about all this "change"? The government didn't do it, we did it, the private sector. The local government just got out of the way and enabled and encouraged it to happen. They were partners in the process.

So when people tell me I live in a fantasy land because I think that same process could happen here in Monteagle...I just shake my head and smile. Being a true Republican means never having to say you are sorry. We just get the job done.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TWRA Holding OHV Community Hostage

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Iva Michelle Russell, iva@ivamichellerussell.com

TWRA Holding OHV Community Hostage

Nashville, TN – Legislative negotiations broke down Tuesday as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) continues to hold the Tennessee Off-Highway Vehicle community hostage over federal funding expenditures.

“I just can’t believe a governmental agency could be allowed to callously disregard the mandates of an Act that was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor of this state” comments Iva Michelle Russell, Legislative Chairman for the Tennessee Off-Highway Vehicle Association (TOHVA) and Executive Director of OHV4TN. “The last time I checked, the needs of the people of this state were more important than governmental primacy”.

The legislative negotiations revolve around the 2004 Tennessee Off-Highway Vehicle Act, sponsored by now Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey which started as a Governor’s initiative in the late 1990’s. The Act created an Off-Highway Vehicle program in the state of Tennessee that mandated a statewide system of environmentally sustainable trails as well as adult and youth safety education.

TWRA, the OHV program’s current agency home, began receiving OHV federal grant money in 2004. TWRA has been exclusively using the funds at their Royal Blue facility in East Tennessee while also taking in OHV permit fees that have risen steadily over the years to over $64,000 in 2007. Discounted Hunting/OHV permits are not included in this figure. There is still $1.1 million in unused grant funds to date. The TWRA Commission has voted each year not to create further trail systems across the state nor create the adult and youth safety education programs stipulated in the Act.

The 2009 OHV legislative agenda (SB280, HB365) would transfer the OHV program from TWRA to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), allow TWRA to keep their Royal Blue facility, and mandate an equal distribution of federal funding between each grand division of the state. “TDEC is in the trail building business and we certainly don’t want to be with an agency that has no desire to do anything with our program except take our money. There are over 880,000 OHV users in our state that are not currently being served and that is ridiculous.” states Russell.

In the Tennessee Governor’s 2002 Off-Highway Vehicle Study, OHV recreation had an estimated statewide economic impact of $3.4 Billion. Neighboring states have created trail systems that have successfully aided local rural economies as well as tax revenue. In a recent study, West Virginia saw an increase of $622,752 in state and local tax revenue, direct income of $2.7 million and 146 new jobs from their Hatfield-McCoy Trail System located in 8 WV rural counties.