The Nashville Flood, Self-Reliance and the Mainstream Media

Published by Parcbench, May 7, 2010:

Judging by the inexcusable lack of coverage of one of the most devastating non-hurricane weather events in American history, the mainstream media apparently rates self-reliance, the quintessential American virtue celebrated in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay, somewhere between capitalism and Christian on their list of most despised things about the United States. What else can explain the paltry 15 minutes of reporting about a storm that killed several people and caused billions of dollars in damage?

If not for the fact that one of my brothers is a longtime resident of Music City, along with his wife and four children, I might not even have known about the 500-year flood as it unleashed its devastation in real-time. And as I followed his reportage in links and photos posted on Facebook, I read and saw the unimaginable: Famous landmarks, including The Grand Old Opry and the Opryland Hotel (site of Paul and Angela’s wedding reception) were basically ruined. Motorists died in their cars sitting in traffic on the interstate.  Entire areas of the city were underwater. And yet, barely a peep from those self-ordained purveyors of all the news that’s fit to print or broadcast.

So why exactly is that?

Well, as this excellent We Are Nashville post so eloquently explains, middle Tennessee residents are a resilient sort, embodying the characteristics that have helped shaped this nation. Rather than whine about the unfairness of Mother Nature or point the finger of blame at the White House or any government entity, they channeled their inner American Pioneer. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Neighbors helped neighbors. Volunteers flooded the Hands On Nashville phone lines to sign up to help with emergency food-relief efforts (when Paul called to offer his services, he was asked to call back, as all slots had been filled).

What didn’t happen?

Unlike what transpired in another southern city hit by a crippling storm a few years back — a city deemed by the media as worthy of ad nauseam coverage — there was no crime spree. In the aftermath of heart-wrenching destruction and chaos, there were zero reports of looting, assault or rape. Oh, and neither the mayor, nor any elected official in either Nashville or Davidson Counties got on national television and shrieked about how it was all Barack Obama’s fault (although the least the President of the United States could’ve done was issue a statement of support). They were too busy actually doing their jobs and fulfilling their responsibilities to the locals who elected them.

Funny, but the residents of middle Tennessee bear a striking resemblance to Louisiana’s neighbors, Mississippi and Alabama. Parts of those states were hit just as hard as New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, yet they barely merited any mention on the nightly news either. And instead of looking for a scapegoat, these American citizens also went to work. Side-by-side, neighbors of all colors, races and creeds rebuilt their homes and their lives. They also had competent governors who executed well-planned disaster recovery procedures, in fulfillment of their obligations and responsibilities as CEOs of a state.  And in stark contrast to the myth perpetrated in the media and in pop culture, southerners proved that they are for the most part, decent, caring, generous folks — not wild-eyed, Bible-thumping, card-carrying KKK racists.

All things considered, it’s no wonder why Nashville’s unprecedented flood went purposely unnoticed in the mainstream media. Because if it’s one thing they cannot abide, it’s the American spirit  of resilience, generosity and self-reliance in action — particularly when demonstrated by Christians who happen to live in the land of Dixie.


Is Professionalism Passe in Cyberspace?

Published by Parcbench, April 18, 2010:

Alright, so this is not a necessarily a political rant (although there are a few thinly veiled references to the current White House occupant), but nevertheless a topic of cultural import in the age of social media marketing. It’s something that has been bothering me for quite some time, after having read some pretty idiotic twitter updates and blog posts from allegedly professional, busy and successful members of the business community. It doesn’t seem to matter how educated, knowledgeable or hard-working some people are; in their minds technology, unlike real life, simply does not demand a certain set of standards.

For example, why is it that we’d never purposely spell a word incorrectly in a business correspondence, personal letter or even an email, yet some of us think it’s cute (or worse, cool, as if middle-aged men should still be concerned with such things) to do so in a 140-word character status? I am not quibbling with the necessary use of abbreviations when limited to such a low word-count — I am talking about deliberately misspelling common words.

For example, a guy whom I know for a fact to be a full-grown adult, constantly uses werkin instead of working to describe what he’s doing at that specific point in time.

Perhaps he’s attempting to be humorous; perhaps he’s going through a mid-life crisis, but whatever the case, it’s not an appealing use of language. Why not abbreviate as workin if hard-pressed for characters, instead of presenting yourself as an immature surfer dude pretending to be a formidable businessman? Maybe it’s the English Major in me, but in an age when we’re already dealing with the consequences of a dumbed-down electorate, the least intelligent people can do is set a good example.

Which leads me to another quibble with another supposed grown-up, a woman who describes herself as an advertising professional and award-winning graphic designer. While I understand the valid point she’s attempting to make when discussing the importance of a logo for branding purposes, somehow titling a post “Don’t Screw with the Logo” seems to negate her purpose and detract from her character. Why not something along the lines of “Don’t Mess with the Logo”? It makes the same point without being crude and insulting.

But judging from the lengthy tirade she launches against a competitor in the body of her post, perhaps that was her intention. While the author of the blog probably believes otherwise (and I do credit her for not actually naming the competition), she comes across as petty and petulant — hardly someone with which any reputable organization would want to do business. There’s a fine line between promoting one’s own talent and skill, and presenting oneself as an entitled recipient of clients, based solely on one’s own subjective opinion. Thus, the legitimacy of her premise is an unintended casualty of the snarky tone of her piece.

Or is it just me?

I had a discussion with another adult professional, a friend for over 15 years, who told me about the use of the word “dude” in a marketing email she’d received. Since the product had been aimed at both a male and female demographic, she took issue with being addressed with a term typically reserved for males. When I questioned the credibility of “dude” for marketing purposes even for males over a certain age, she felt it was still appropriate, that her only problem with it was the gender factor. I respectfully disagree, believing that “dude” is a juvenile title best reserved for kids under the age of eighteen. It’s also a symptom of the larger cultural problem of an over-extended adolescence. No wonder style trumped substance in the 2008 presidential election!

Other inane twitter updates I’ve seen include such gems as “getting ready to strangle mom in law” (wonder how that went over with the wife?), descriptions of the number of times an owner’s dog did his business during a walk and the urgent need for holding a beer in one hand while grilling with the other. Ok, the latter two are lame attempts at humor, but really, the mother-in-law comment? Very bad taste, no matter how justified (if at all) the author might be.

And in an especially egregious status update given the state of the economy, a small business owner with pressing deadlines laments about being summoned for jury duty when so many others are unemployed, implying that those “lucky” souls should be the ones inconvenienced by civic responsibility, not important people like her. Pardon me, but if you’re a  busy entrepreneur during a difficult recession in which nearly 10% of Americans are out of work, I’d say a little gratitude — not to mention tact — is in order. Yes, jury duty can be a detriment to the bottom line, but creating a status update bemoaning a minor obstacle and simultaneously taking a potshot at others in retaliation is just plain rude and insensitive.  As is the case with real life, there are times when silence — or in the case of modern technology — a silent keyboard, is golden.

Or is professionalism passé in the world of social media?


Tea Party in Paradise

I wrote the following account for Parcbench on April 19, 2010:

I had the honor and pleasure of being asked to speak at the Martin County, Florida Tea Party in Hobe Sound on April 15, marking a new milestone in my political activism. I’d never given a speech of this type before, designed to energize and inspire a crowd, but the good folks of the county just to the north of mine were warm, welcoming and most of all, fired up and ready for “change”.

According to TCPalm News, the event drew a crowd of more than 500, who came out to show their support for freedom, strong national defense and individual liberty. Connor Lanser, South Florida’s 14 year-old political superstar, also gave a rousing speech, along with several others.

I want to gratefully acknowledge my friend and fellow Parcbench writer Don Smith for his input and assistance, particularly in reference to the Samuel Adams quote at the end. I am hoping to find video of all the day’s speeches, but thought I’d post my full remarks in the meantime:

Thank you Shona, Cindy and Gloria for the opportunity to speak today. It’s great to be surrounded by so many patriots here in Martin County. I hope you guys don’t mind, but since I am not a professional speaker, I brought along my teleprompter (in a tribute to Sarah Palin, I held up my palm, on which I’d scrawled a few topics I’d planned to cover). Oh, and just in case that fails, I also have my back-up teleprompter (here I held up a small notebook, in which I’d scribbled the entire speech).

Side Note: thank goodness, the crowd laughed at both jokes!

You know, it has been an incredibly trying 15 months for those of us who love our freedom, and are actually paying attention to Washington D.C.’s assault on everything we hold dear. It seems everyday the radicals in charge find yet another way to attack and weaken the Judeo-Christian principles on which the greatest nation on Earth – the United States of America – was founded. For all of us who’ve been watching and fighting back, it has felt like a never-ending nightmare.

But there’s also an upside to all of this, at least for me. And that is, having the opportunity to connect with so many like-minded Americans, not just here in Florida, but all around the country.

Today, I want to single out a few of them, starting with Edward Lynch and his team. Ed is a man of integrity who would’ve made an excellent representative for the voters of Florida District 19, had they chosen to send him to D.C. To Ed, Jessica, Tim, Steve (referring to fellow PB contributor Steven Rosenblum), Ellen, Lisa and all of the Lynch for Congress volunteers, thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication. We are very proud of you!

Steve Rosenblum is also my co-host on Conservative Republican Forum on Blog Talk Radio, and it has been my pleasure working with him over the past year. On both Conservative Republican Forum and my own show, The Liberty Belle Hour on WAFS-TV, I’ve had the privilege to interview people who represent the very best of America – from Florida’s grassroots candidates like Robert Lowry, Corey Poitier, Colonel Allen West, Bernard Sansaricq and Marco Rubio to Illinois’ David Ratowitz and Iowa’s Steve Rathje.

While I cannot possibly single them all out by name, I can report that with so many great patriots running, we will have much to celebrate come November, 2010. And speaking of the best of America, let’s have a round of applause for the honorable men and women of the United States Military, both veterans and those actively serving. We love you and support you!

The other silver lining in an otherwise devastating year and a half is being reminded of exactly why my grandparents immigrated LEGALLY to this great republic so many years ago. They came in search of freedom, not government handouts. They embraced the language and culture of their new homeland. They instilled a love of America in their children. They worked hard. And when a neighbor or family member fell on hard times, they believed it was their duty to help them back up on their feet – not Washington D.C.!

I am blessed to have so many shining examples of the American Dream in my family. My mom is very proud of the fact that her father, my grandfather, Raffaele Cauterucci, who came here at the age of eight with his widowed mother and two brothers not knowing the language, eventually graduated from Temple University School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia in 1919 – a time when such accomplishments were nearly unheard of for immigrants. She’s also very proud of the fact that her dad was always a staunch conservative Republican who rejected FDR’s big-government statism and ran his own corner drugstore for many years in Germantown, Philadelphia.

My dad – affectionately known as “Dr. Al” around the blogosphere – grew up the son of a humble tailor. But he had a big dream of becoming a surgeon. And in spite of his economic circumstances, he pursued that dream with passion, working several jobs to get through high school, college and medical school – always with an attitude of gratitude for the country that made it possible for an immigrant’s son. He didn’t whine about how unfair it all was; he was thankful for the opportunities afforded him as a citizen of the USA.

My parents passed along the same love of country to my four siblings and me. My mom has always been an activist, which explains why I am standing here before you today. Growing up, she’d take me along to the polls where she’d be handing out literature and persuading her fellow citizens to vote the right way. For years, she served as a committeewoman in our township, and hosted countless gatherings at our home in support of freedom-loving candidates.

And everyone assembled here now is here because we love our freedom and are willing to fight for it. We will never submit to tyranny. We are NOT racists; we are people from all walks of life who believe in the promise of America.

So I have a message for a popular Fox News host – someone I am sure you are all familiar with – who recently stated and I quote:

“Most Americans are not ideologues. They are just folks who want a fair system and a noble country.”

Well Mr. O’Reilly, I’ve got a message for you: We ARE most Americans. And yes, we ARE ideologues. Our ideology is the United States Constitution, and our heroes are those noble men who conceived of a country that would recognize every individual’s God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! And just like our Founders, we will do everything in our power to preserve the greatest nation on Earth – the United States of America.

I’d like to end with a quote from one of my favorite ideologues, Samuel Adams:

“Let us awaken then, and evince a different spirit – a spirit that shall encourage them to persevere in this glorious struggle, until their rights and liberties shall be established on a rock. We have proclaimed to the world our determination to die free men, rather than to live as slaves. We have appealed to heaven for the justice of our cause, and in heaven we have God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had our cloud by day and our pillar by night. We have been reduced to distress and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up. Let us still rely in humble confidence in Him who is mighty to save. Good tidings will soon arrive. We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid and protection.”

In the spirit of this tireless patriot and ideologue Samuel Adams, I say, let’s not be despondent, but look to our Founding Fathers for inspiration while we continue to emulate their example. God bless all of you, and God bless the United States of America!



Welcome to Bill O’Reilly’s Left-Right Contortion Zone

Published by Parcbench, April 2, 2010:

For a guy who prides himself on “looking out for you” and maintaining a very strict “no spin zone”, Bill O’Reilly sure can twist himself into contortions. In his never-ending quest to play it down the middle, Ol’ Bill seems to have forgotten the concept known as standing up for one’s dearly valued principles.

During his March 30, 2010 Talking Points monologue, the self-proclaimed champion of the “folks” apparently overlooked a few facts when discussing left-wing media reaction to Governor Palin’s rousing speech at the Tea Party rally in Searchlight, Nevada. After playing a clip of the event, Bill opined:

“So you can see what’s emerging. The most ardent critics of President Obama are going to be labeled racist and extremist. Ironically, the extremist label is used by some on the right against the president.

Last week’s awful confrontation outside the Capitol where charges that the n-word was used by anti-Obamacare demonstrators signifies how intense this issue has become.

As The Factor reported, there is no proof of any racial invective, but we do believe harsh words were spoken by a few demonstrators.

The Tea Party would be wise to publicly disassociate itself from hateful rhetoric.”

He went on to proudly remind the audience about his clearly unheeded advice to the Tea Party Movement, stating, “Most Americans are not ideologues. They are just folks who want a fair system and a noble country.”

Sigh. Where to begin?

I’m not sure why Bill finds it so “ironic” that people on the right correctly chastise President Obama as an extremist. Since his election, among other dubious accomplishments, he’s spent more taxpayer money than every one of his predecessors from George Washington to George W. Bush; alienated our staunchest ally, Israel; gone on worldwide apology tours on behalf of the USA; appointed radical and unaccountable czars like “Safe Schools Czar” Kevin Jennings; and — lest we forget — arm-twisted, threatened and bribed members of his own party into ramrodding a hostile government takeover of one-sixth of our economy with the recent passage of the virulently unpopular piece of legislation known as “Obamacare”.

If it acts like a socialist, walks like a socialist and spouts rhetoric like a socialist, chances are it is a socialist.

Tea Party members — a great number of whom actually did their homework prior to the 2008 election and were thus fully aware of his “spread the wealth” tendencies — are merely stating a fact when they refer to Obama this way. Further, the media’s chosen candidate boldly proclaimed this to be the case just three weeks before  his “historic” ascendancy to the Office of the President of the United States of America, thanks to a willingly ignorant, “anyone but Bush” electorate.  Quoth the Chosen One, “We are just three weeks away from fundamentally transforming America!”

I don’t know about you, Mr. O’Reilly, but the folks who were paying attention knew exactly what he meant. And many of us were also disgusted by your kid-glove treatment of then-candidate Obama, once you’d sufficiently groveled enough for him to deign to sit down with you for an interview. At least back then we could take comfort in the fact that the adults were still (mostly) in charge in D.C. Those were the days!

Furthermore, there has been zero evidence of any such racial epithets directed at any black members of congress by Tea Party activists. Zilch. Nada.

Have you even bothered to watch the videos that have been posted on sites like Gateway Pundit? Cause if you’d had, you would have noted the presence of a few of these elected leaders openly taunting the crowd from a nearby balcony as if they were actually trying to egg them into shouting unacceptable, bigoted insults. One thing you would not have heard? Even just one utterance of the “N” word. And no, “Kill the Bill!” does not count as “incendiary rhetoric.” Rather it is a pithy (as you are wont to advise us when crafting our communications) metaphor for “We don’t want this onerous legislation, Mr. President and Congress!”

So your “both sides have their crazies” shtick simply does not apply here. Show me the evidence! Andrew Breitbart is still standing by with blank check and pen in hand. Alas, it looks as if the United Negro College Fund will not be the recipient of the new media mogul’s largess, at  least not as a conciliatory gesture for something that never took place.

Which brings me to Al Sharpton. Why on earth does The No-Spin Zone give credence to a notorious race-baiter who’s made a lucrative living manufacturing stories of the white man’s inhumanity toward his black brethren? In spite of a lack of evidence in this particular case, just like Talking Points Memo,  Al is pretty darned sure some “hateful rhetoric” was spewed that day. He even swears he’s seen the non-existent tape, though for the life of him, he cannot produce one to back up his claim.

My advice when seeking to represent the point of view of black Americans? Book more appearances by people like Kevin Jackson* and Lloyd Marcus, both of whom have been involved with the Tea Party effort from the beginning. As with your interview of Kevin on March 31, 2010, your grateful audience will actually learn something from an intelligent, thoughtful contributor.

As for your belief that “Most Americans are not ideologues. They are just folks who want a fair system and a noble country,” do you suppose said Americans would be OK with the United States Constitution being upheld by all members of our government? Because when you get right down to it, that’s what’s at the heart of the Tea Party movement. We want our leaders to abide by the Constitution, as written and conceived by “noble” men like James Madison. If that makes us “ideologues”, then we are in good company indeed.

And another thing, if you’re going to bring on a bright star like Mary Katharine Ham, would you please allow the woman to complete at least a few sentences?  On the following night’s broadcast, Ham was once again given short-shrift in favor of left-wing ideologue, Juan Williams, who had nothing of substance to add to the Tea Party debate. I credit you, Bill, for pointing out the absurdity of Juan’s remarks vis-a-vis the Gadsden flag, but your annoying interruptions of Mary Katharine — who herself seemed justifiably perturbed –  did not go unnoticed.

Finally, as angry as I am over your left-right contortions, I do salute you for offering to pay the legal fees for Albert Snyder, father of fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, most definitely the act of a patriot. God bless you for your generosity.

Now please dispense with the painful contortions and bring back the No-Spin Zone for real — before you break an arm!

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill O’Reilly did have the good sense to have an interview segment with Kevin Jackson the following night. Kevin is the author of The Big Black Lie: How I Learned the Truth About the Democrat Party.

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