Monday, August 25, 2008

Passing the Torch

I've never been a fan of Ted Kennedy.

But I will have to admit his appearance at the Democratic convention Monday night displayed the grit of the man. While philosophically different than me, his speech, despite brain cancer and chemo showed the ability of people to dig deep and do something unique when it's important to them.

Tonight, Senator Kennedy talked of passing the torch to new generation.

Whether Senator Obama wins the White House or not, Senator Kennedy was probably correct. The torch has been passed in the Democratic Party. To a new generation. A generation whose ideas are quite different than those of their fathers and their fathers before them.

Some are quite unique. Others I'm not so sure about.

Senator Kennedy made a pledge to be at Senator Obama's inauguration in January. Again, whether this November's winner is Senator Obama or Senator McCain, my guess is with spunk and grit Senator Kennedy will witness the swearing in.

His appearance and speech tonight was both touching and inspirational.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Purpose Driven Debate

Well it was more a conversation like you'd see on a version of In the Actor's Studio with Rick Warren taking the place of James Lipton.

Both major party presumptive candidates Barrack Obama and John McCain took an hour to sit down with Warren. Each candidate was asked a series of mostly the same questions on a number of topics. Warren was skillful though not necessarily telegenic in handling the candidates and fielding the questions.

There was a lot of hand wringing from the more extreme elements from both political parties. Each are looking for a slash and burn forum to destroy the opposing candidate. In their view, if there isn't some blood flowing and a carcass or two left along the way, then a debate isn't worth it's time.

Warren pretty much promised things would be civil. And he delivered.

Pastor Warren did an excellent job of asking relevant questions without being divisive. Maybe this forum was good start to a better creating a better dialog regarding the hot button topics of the day.

I know, I know, there's a lot of money to be made and the power brokers of the divisiveness will not be giving that up easily. But maybe the seeds were planted to get to the destination without the need to sacrifice metaphorical blood along the way.

Warren was even handed and appeared to side with neither candidate while being open and friendly during the hour spent with each. And he often in an almost empathic manner when asking the tougher questions that can easily become divisive stated that he struggles in his own house of worship on these burning issues of the day.

Both candidates did a splendid job in the format. In general and depending on your worldview, each candidate could claim victory. Obama thoughtfully weaved his way through the questions. Yes, there was a gaffe or two. But overall, for what could largely be considered a stacked audience against him, he won applause for many of his responses.

Senator Obama for the most part did an excellent job of displaying that he is deeper than just being superficial. I felt more comfortable with him last night than I have at any time prior.

Of course the proof will be in the pudding and we'll see if he's elected and who he nominates for key and critical appointments.

And while Senator Obama did a pretty good job of presenting himself to a largely evangelical audience, it was Senator McCain who probably hit a bases loaded home run.

McCain has until last night been loathed by many rank and file Conservatives, especially the Social Conservatives and more strident Republicans. After years of being pummeled by conservative pundits and talk show hosts, McCain has been swimming against the tide with many who identify themselves with pure conservatism, social or otherwise.

Most of it began in the 2000 primary elections. But it has continued to this day. For example earlier this year, social conservative voice James Dobson declared that he would not vote for McCain under any circumstance. By July he said he was revisiting his decision, but still remains uneasy. Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh, while tempering his criticism in latter days, still is delivering a daily menu of why there is a lot to not like about McCain. Geez, with friends and allies like these?!?!

Many conservative bloggers and forum participants have realized that they maybe for the first time got to see the more basic John McCain Saturday. I watched one thread from a popular conservative web site as the debate unfolded this past Saturday. Most participants are singing a new tune. The transformation as I monitored that forum in real time as the debate went on was amazing. There was a discernible change in tone.

Maybe by seeing and hearing McCain in his own words vs those being filtered through the "jaw bone media" has given them a better perspective about who the man really is and what's in his heart.

The few that aren't, and that applies to the more strident from both sides of politics, likely wouldn't be happy with a fresh and dry diaper.

Thank you Pastor Warren for this great forum you moderated.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Voice Mail Hell

I was recently reading a blog that discusses poor customer service. The example given was a recent encounter with Verizon and their voicemail operated automated attendant.

I've got to agree, Verizon has one of the worst run mechanical secretaries I've ever run into. But it also seems to be a characteristic of most land line or cellular companies. You simply have a terribly difficult time getting to a live person no matter what company you are attempting to contact. Communications companies that find it hard to communicate.

Even more insulting is along the way they ask you to enter your phone number and then when a live person is finally on the line one the first things they ask you is your phone number. Excuse me, didn't I enter it about 20 minutes ago as I tried to navigate my way through the circuitry to finally talk to you?

And what about the company that answers with "Thank you for calling the XYZ. Hey, we hate these machines too, so to get you to a real live person.....yada, yada, yada." Anyone find it ironic that even though they hate the machine, they are using the machine? And admitting they hate it!

Pretzel logic.

If they hate the machine, then why use the machine? As Dr. Phil would say "Get Real!"

Evidently they like it enough to save the salary of whoever they would have to hire to man the phone and give assistance.

But they aren't openly saying that.

I guess by saying they hate it too, they are giving their callers what I would describe as a digital Oprah moment. Digital empathy. If technology improves, maybe their automated attendant will begin recommending new age books and have an interview with Tom Cruise too!

Oddly, that's the recording you get if you call them on their dime. Their 800 number. On your dime, if you call their local number with toll charges being your burden, you get an answer by the 2nd or 3rd ring and a delightful southern voice willing to assist you.

I guess you get what you pay for.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Leader of the Band

Diana and I attended the Ohio State Fair today. While at the fair, we stopped to listen to the All Ohio High School Fair Band.

The band has something of a special meaning to me, as two of very close friends of mine, Gene Oliver and Rob Luikart,had the honor to play in the band during the early 70's. For people in the high school bands and orchestras, it was considered an honor to be nominated and selected to play in the group.

Today while watching, the show had a slight change in the program. In the audience was former Ohio Governor and current US Senator George Voinivich.

The fair is a public relations treat for the Governor. And among the honors is the Governor has the chance to lead the Fair Band in playing Stars and Stripes Forever.

Voinivich once again was asked to take the baton and do the honors.

It was good to see the Senator and as always wonderful to hear the band play.