Never Forget

It’s been 15 years since 9/11. 15 years since America watched a jet plane crash into the second World Trade Center Tower on live television. 15 years since we watched in disbelief as first one tower and then the second crumbled to the ground. 15 years since a third plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth taken down by passengers in a field in Pennsylvania before it could hit it’s intended target in DC.

Never forget. That has been America’s mantra since 9/11. In the early days, the country came together like no other time in modern history. In our collective horror and grief, we weren’t Republican or Democrat, we were only American.

Never forget. This weekend the phrase is popping up on Facebook and it’s a trending hashtag on Twitter. Lots of hearts and flags.

Never forget. But we have forgotten. One only has to peruse social media to see we have forgotten. No, we haven’t forgotten the horror of 9/11, but we have forgotten what it’s like to be a country united. We have forgotten that it’s not a Republican or Democrat thing. Tomorrow Facebook posts will no longer mention 9/11. #NeverForget will no longer be trending on Twitter. It’ll be replaced with friends and strangers saying hateful things to each other about topics they don’t agree upon. With people questioning each other’s patriotism. With little to no understanding of different perspectives.

This 15th anniversary of 9/11 happens to coincide with the discovery of 11-year old Jacob Wetterling’s remains who had been kidnapped while riding his bike in the small Minnesota town of St. Joseph in 1989. For 27 years Jacob’s parents, siblings, and the people of Minnesota held out hope that Jacob was alive. This week we found out he was murdered the night he disappeared.

We didn’t have the internet in 1989. 15 years ago on 9/11 there was no social media. When people asked Patty Wetterling what they could do to help, she asked  everyone to do 11 things that nurture kindness. Her request could not be more timely.

In memory of Jacob and in memory of all the lives lost on 9/11 let our actions show we have not forgotten.

  1. Be fair.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Be understanding.
  4. Be honest.
  5. Be thankful.
  6. Be a good sport.
  7. Be a good friend.
  8. Be joyful.
  9. Be generous.
  10. Be gentle with others.
  11. Be positive.

Never forget.


Lesser Of Two Evils

The 2016 election has come to be described as a choice between the lesser of two evils. Evil seems like a pretty strong word, so I decided to look up the actual definition.

adjective: profoundly immoral and malevolent. “his evil deeds”
synonyms: wicked, bad, wrong, immoral, sinful, foul, vile, dishonorable, corrupt, iniquitous,depraved, reprobate, villainous, nefarious, vicious, malicious
noun: profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force. “the world is stalked by relentless evil”
synonyms: wickedness, bad, badness, wrongdoing, sin, ill, immorality, vice, iniquity, degeneracy, corruption, depravity, villainy, nefariousness, malevolence

Wow. If you’re gonna label someone evil, you’re saying they’re profoundly immoral and malevolent, not to mention vicious, malicious, wicked and depraved.

I’m gonna be honest. I’ve never been a fan of Hillary Clinton. I didn’t vote for Bill in either of his Presidential campaigns. I’ve also never been a fan of the current GOP candidate**. One thing that always stood out to me on his “Apprentice” franchise is how he seems to enjoy pitting people against each other. I don’t see that as a smart way to run a business.

There are a lot of accusations and investigations out there for both Hillary and the GOP candidate, but if we go purely on what we hear from their own mouths over the years, whether that be interviews, debates, rallies, etc.—you can substitute most of the synonyms for evil when describing the GOP candidate’s behavior and the literal words he’s spoken—or tweeted. Bad, wrong, foul, vile, dishonorable, villainous, vicious, malicious, malevolence—and the list goes on. And I’m not just talking about this election season. This applies if you go back over the years and look at what he’s said about any number of topics, individuals or groups and continues through the writing of this post.

Am I saying Hillary is innocent of any wrong-doing? Absolutely not. There are plenty of examples where she isn’t so keen on admitting to her mistakes or taking full responsibility for them. However, while accusations and inferences may point to something evil, according to the facts that would be stretching it a bit.*

What I see is a lot of people who hate Hillary Clinton. So much so they’re willing to go against their values to make sure she doesn’t get elected. They’re standing by their political party at the cost of abandoning the principals of their faith. Hindsight is 20/20. Most of us think we would never have been bamboozled like the Germans were by Hitler, but I’m watching it happen with my own eyes in the year 2016 in America. The only explanation I can see for this phenomenon is the fact it’s rooted in hate. Hate is a strong word too. But if the shoe fits…

verb: feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone). “the boys hate each other”
synonyms: loathe, detest, despise, dislike, abhor, execrate
noun: intense or passionate dislike. “feelings of hate and revenge”
synonyms: hatred, loathing, detestation, dislike, distaste, abhorrence, abomination, execration,aversion

For the past 32 years, people have hated Hillary Clinton with a vengeance. Is it data and facts or opinion and gut feeling? Have we each done our own due diligence when it comes to research or do we just go along with reports in the media or opinions and baseless claims on the internet believing anything that lines up with our own biases? I admit I was surprised to recently learn Hillary’s never been convicted of anything. That’s a fact*. But she tends to be defensive and private so there’s an assumption that lack of transparency translates to being corrupt. Nevermind that the GOP candidate’s supporters don’t apply this rule to him when it comes to his taxes or the many irregularities in his business practices.

I’m not saying Hillary’s never lied or stretched the truth. But according to PolitiFact* she’s the most honest of ALL the candidates who ran for President in both parties this election season. Are we holding her to the same standard we hold other politicians to or is there a higher threshold? Many believe President Bush (#43) lied about WMDs—despite the lack of proof. Sound familiar? If you’re holding Hillary accountable for her husband’s extramarital escapades are you also holding Jackie O responsible for JFK’s? What about the support for former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert by his Senate colleagues after his sexual abuse conviction of minors? The very nature of what he did was evil based on the definition. The wives of many politicians (and church leaders) who have been caught in affairs have stood by their men. Not only are they not described as evil—there’s sympathy and forgiveness—but for Hillary there’s suspicion.

I didn’t know Hillary’s long history of championing for kids and the underprivileged until the recent Democratic National Convention*. Apparently, I’m not the only one as I’ve heard any number of commentators, journalists, and talk show hosts state their surprise as well. We all know about the supposed lies and investigations, but how could we have missed this long, consistent history that goes back to her college days of diligently working on behalf of others?

Maybe we didn’t want to know. Maybe it’s easier to demonize someone who belongs to the wrong party. Someone who’s willing to stay with a philanderer. Someone who’s not the perfect public image. Hillary identifies herself as Christian and has a long history in the Methodist church. One of her favorite sayings attributed to John Wesley is, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” And while much of her life’s work seems to support this mantra, she is not extended the same grace as her male counterparts—often for lesser transgressions.

Many die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters hate Hillary so much they’re voting for the GOP candidate even though he’s the polar opposite of what Bernie stands for. And despite the fact, Bernie has point-blank asked his supporters to vote for Hillary.  Many Hillary-haters who fear the GOP candidate’s presidency are willing to risk voting for a third-party candidate who has no chance of winning because they wouldn’t be caught dead voting for her. Let’s be honest, if Bernie couldn’t get the votes with his huge grassroots momentum, voting a little-known third party for the sake of your conscience or not voting at all means the highly probable risk of putting the GOP candidate into office. Can your conscience live with that?

I haven’t been registered with any party for quite some time. I’m unspecified (which is different than independent). I did not watch the GOP convention—it was just one way for me to protest their presumptive nominee and the leadership of those in the RNC who have endorsed the GOP candidate. When I heard the replays of Chris Christie leading his mock trial of Hillary it made me shudder. I had visions of mobs taking their perceived justice into their own hands. It reminded me of the Bible’s description when the people went into a frenzy and demanded the criminal Barabus be freed because they hated Jesus. What about the Salem witch trials? Or the lynching of black people? Both scenarios take justice into their own hands and proclaim guilt based on emotion, not facts. This country is supposed to be built on the premise of innocent until proven guilty, but the RNC had a former prosecutor who is also a governor and a former presidential candidate whipping the Republican crowd into a frenzy over things Hillary’s never even been charged with.

Do I think she’s never lied? Nope. Have you ever lied? I have. Has she made bad judgment calls? Been there done that too. I get so frustrated with email—too much spam, lost emails, emails that I find in my draft box that I swore I sent. If I could have a server in my basement that didn’t go through Google, I’m pretty sure I would jump at the chance. In hindsight, Hillary realizes it was a mistake (I’m sure she wishes she’d just gone with the inconvenient government server), but are we really supposed to believe she was trying to compromise national security? Clearly, the address was not .gov so everyone who received or sent an email to and from Hillary knew wasn’t the secure government network—it’s not like she was trying to hide the fact. At least she learned a lesson as Secretary of State—back when hackers weren’t as good as they are now.

For those of you who like the GOP candidate because he’s not afraid to speak his mind. This is the very reason I would never vote for him. Because I know his mind based on the words he’s spoken. Using the same criteria on Hillary—she is not just the lesser of two evils. What is sometimes used against Hillary—the fact she cares about her image and what people think of her—actually helps keep her in check and more balanced. The President is supposed to represent the people, not themselves. She has shown a capability to evolve and adjust her policies based on the will of the people—even if sometimes it takes a nudge from Bernie Sanders.

I get it. You never thought you’d be voting for Hillary Clinton. I didn’t either. I sure didn’t expect to ever write a blog post defending her. But I’m willing to admit a lot of my “gut feelings” were based on media hype and my own bias—not actual knowledge. I still don’t consider myself a fan, but I have learned enough to be more than comfortable with casting a vote for Hillary Clinton this November.

** Given his penchant for publicity, as a matter of principle I have made an effort not to mention the GOP candidate by name this election season. I have edited this post and removed all mentions of the GOP candidate’s name and only refer to him as the GOP candidate. 

*A few fact checking articles 


If you don’t know who the title refers to, there is no mistaking it once you read the definitions of megalomania, narcissist and bigot. Other than his hate speech, the one thing he’s fond of repeating over and over are his poll numbers. A narcissist has “unconscious deficits in self esteem”—so while he would like us to believe he is confident, his behavior suggests otherwise. Policy isn’t a priority, he’s only obsessed with his poll numbers and how many people are at his rallies.Bigot

We collectively wring our hands over this megalomania, narcissistic, bigot, acting as if there is nothing we can do to stop him, but two of the definitions lay it out quite simply. If we take away his platform, we take away his power. Stop talking about him. Stop writing about him. Stop posting his words. Stop posting articles that talk about him. Stop posting his picture. Hide the posts about him that come through your newsfeed—and resist the urge to comment. Delete any posts you’ve made about him. Change the channel if someone is talking about him or he’s being interviewed. At this point there is absolutely nothing new to learn. So even a post that denounces him—if it says his name or has his picture—hide it or delete it!

The first amendment may protect his right to free speech, but it doesn’t guarantee him an audience. STOP LISTENING! Ignore him AND anyone who gives him a voice. Effective social media is measured by engagement. If posts have no likes, comments or shares, if tweets have no RTs or replies—surely the lack of engagement can turn the tide.

We don’t need to be hateful. We don’t need to be violent. We can virtually (yes, pun intended) take his power away with a simple click of a button. If his name were to disappear from the internet, television, radio AND our lips, the only audience he would have are the measly 15% who actually support him. We can show the world he doesn’t speak for America by taking away his voice. Are you up for it?

Social Without Networking

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. What I love about it can just as easily become the thing that exasperates me—it all depends on the nature of the posts that come through my newsfeed. The last few days one of my friends has been posting about his trip to London. Nothing braggadocious like I might be tempted to post if I was traveling abroad. Just a check-in at the airport and a couple quick videos of his various daily commutes, including one of those infamous red double-decker buses as it passed by him. I couldn’t resist asking him if he was camping out at the hospital in wait for the royal baby—I’d seen another post that said this is what the locals were doing. Today I was surprised to see he was already back stateside, but the post announcing his wait at Heathrow made me smile and ponder at the wonder of what I had just read. He gave me permission to share his experience.

So…I get to the London airport early to make my flight and see if I can improve my seating location for maximum comfort. It didn’t work; but it was worth a shot. I’m sitting, on the phone waiting on my flight to board and I see the airport services people lead an obviously blind man to the seat next to me. A few minutes past, I get off the phone and the new guy immediately says hello. He ask’s what time is boarding. I tell him and he continues to make small talk. I suspect he is nervous about flying and wants to talk. I run into these folks frequently. He makes a corny little blind joke about knowing more about people as a blind man than the seeing. I ask, “what does he know about me.” Without hesitation or stutter he says you’re an american, born in the south. I said that’s easy, my accent is a dead give away. “I’m not finished,” he interrupts. You’re black, 40 to 50 years old with a graduate degree level of education. You travel international frequently for work and you’re a sales type person.” Now, I’m impressed. He’s dead on accurate! How did you know all this? He says, “I heard your conversation on the phone when I walked up. That gave me most of the information. And, you’ve been asking me questions since we began talking; that’s what sales people do.” We laugh. I’m astonished as though this was a circus trick. How did you know I was black? “I’m familiar with black speech patterns and dialect. I know what black folks sound like,” he says. “I’ve worked with black folks all my life.” I see, I reply. What do you do?, I ask. “I’m a political consultant. “You know Maynard Jackson, correct?” Yes, I do. “Well, I worked on his campaign to be the first black mayor of Atlanta.” At this point I shift in my seat to look directly at this man. For the next 40 minutes I hear the most phenomenal stories about the civil rights movement from a blind white man. He was a campaign strategist to elect black officials to political office; mainly mayors. Maynard Jackson, Harold Washington, Coleman Young, Richard Arrington, Harvey Gantt. My mouth is slightly agape. He had an interesting little antidote about each person and each election. “Now boarding!, the lady says and the airport services guy comes for my “friend.” It was great talking to you I said. He smiled and reached out his hand and said Alabama, right? I shook his hand and said “you’re right. I was born and raised.” He said the accent is almost gone but I still hear it. We both belly laugh and walked off.
Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 10.47.10 PM
I immediately commented on my friend’s post, “I hope you got his business card!” He didn’t. In fact, after further conversation my friend told me he didn’t even get the man’s name, something he so regretted. He said it all happened so quickly. When I chided him asking, “What sales guy doesn’t ask for a business card of someone like that?”, my friend said he was stunned by it all. I have to admit when I pondered this further, I kind of like the fact my friend was so enthralled in the conversation that trying to network with this man didn’t even dawn on him. He thought of so many more things he would like to have asked him, but unfortunately they were headed in different directions.

I wasn’t the only one to marvel at what’s almost becoming a lost art—socializing face-to-face. “Wow! He just put on a clinic about what a person can learn from others if they took the time to closely listen.” exclaimed another friend. “Very interesting……..It’s amazing what you can hear with your eyes closed.” was another wise observation. And probably most profound, “Interesting, he knew stuff about you that some of your friends are still trying to figure out.” Just goes to show real conversation is something we should not be so quick to replace with social networking. As my friend said, “It was a great encounter though. And if his story is completely true, it’s remarkable.” Next time you’re tempted to bury your nose in your phone so the stranger sitting next to you doesn’t bother you with idle chatter, you might want to reconsider. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the man knew my friend took their picture.

Why Can’t They Just Pay For it Themselves?

If this is your first reaction when you see those Kickstarter and other crowdfunding campaigns come through your Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds, I’m sure you’re not alone. Especially when it comes to musicians—seems like every couple years they come to you with their hand out looking for money to make another new record.


But is it really a handout they’re after? Take a closer look—what are they offering in exchange for your donation to their campaign? The minimum pledge of $10 on PledgeMusic, gets the pledger a digital download of the album. PledgeMusic is solely for musicians so a digital download of the album is actually included with EVERY reward. While each artist has the discretion to offer other items at any price, many offer their potential new CD for the same price it will sell for on their website once it’s released. Sure, there are always those fun, one-of-a-kind rewards and experiences available at a higher price, but a smart artist won’t set a goal amount they can’t reasonably expect to raise based on their past digital downloads and CDs sold, combined with the growth of their fan base and how engaged those fans are.

We all know the music industry has changed drastically in the last decade or so. One no longer needs a record label to make and release an album, but if you don’t have that traditional music-industry backing, an artist is fighting an uphill battle to make a name for themselves and be heard. Independent artists generally don’t have the extra funds to cover the cost of professionally recording new material, but it’s kind of a catch-22 because a current CD is vital for touring artists. If you see someone in concert but can’t purchase the music they’re performing, chances are you’ll forget about them—especially if they’re independent. No amount of clever Facebook updates and tweets are going to replace being able to listen to current recordings that are competitive with anything else you have in your playlist.

Have you ever heard a new artist and found yourself saying, “I really like them, why aren’t they on the radio?” The odds of being “discovered” or having a song or music video go viral are similar to winning the lottery. Most independent artists’ success is based on a combination of how hard they’re willing to work—and the level of support they are able to garner from their fans—the people who really believe in them.

So, if you like an artist, go to their concerts, buy their CDs, spread the word about them—and by all means—donate to their crowdfunding campaigns. If you’re thinking you’ll wait to buy it when you see them in concert, or get it on iTunes after it’s released, there’s a good chance you AND they, will be left empty-handed.

Full disclosure: I am the manager of Nashville-based sister duo, Chasing Lovely, who has a campaign on PledgeMusic to fund their second EP that ends on Thursday, November 20, 2015 at 11:58pm. Chasing Lovely has sold over a thousand copies of their debut EP, released in Nov. 2012. They have 2,070 followers on Facebook, 543 on Instagram, and 385 on Twitter. Click on their PledgeMusic widget below for more information on their campaign.


Show the Ladies Some Love

When it comes to March Madness, most people are talking about the men—I admit, I’m guilty. In fact, until this year—actually this exact weekend—I didn’t even realize that both the men and women of the NCAA have their Final Four on the same weekend.

To paraphrase a line from the late Rodney Dangerfield, can’t the women get any respect?

When Warren Buffett offered a billion dollar pay-off for anyone who could come up with the perfect bracket, that road to the Final Four only included the men’s teams, not the women’s.

When I saw Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery, were scheduled to play for the women’s tournament here in Nashville, I made a comment to my daughters about whoever booked the entertainment didn’t know their target audience very well. When they asked who I might suggest, Chloe and Taylor laughed out loud when I mentioned Carrie Underwood or Jason Aldean. Seeing who was booked, they didn’t think the women’s tournament had a chance of getting someone at the level of those two country chart toppers and clearly the organizers didn’t either.

Then a post came through my Facebook newsfeed on Friday about the Eli Young Band and Jason Aldean doing a concert for the Final Four! Since I live in Nashville, and the friend who posted lives in Nashville—I naturally assumed they were playing for the women’s Final Four, since that tournament is IN Nashville. Naturally I gloated to my daughters that my earlier suggestion hadn’t been so ridiculous.

But, I couldn’t have been more WRONG!

Last night when I saw folks posting about Kentucky and UConn making it to the championship game, I knew the women hadn’t played yet, and Kentucky was not one of the teams in Nashville. Thus my first realization that both the men and women have their Final Four on the same weekend. With that came the realization that maybe the Eli Young Band and Jason Aldean also hadn’t played for the women here in Nashville.

It gets worse. Not only did I find that those two played in Dallas, TX for the men’s tournament, I also found out their weekend festivities included a THREE DAY MUSIC FESTIVAL! Who is playing in Dallas you ask? In addition to the other two top names they also had Bruce Sprinsteen, fun., Tim McGraw and LL Cool J.

Nashville is frickin’ MUSIC CITY and the best they can do is a couple of winners from The Voice? I’m all for supporting female artists. If women (and girls) supported female artists the way they do male artists, women would rule the world—but that’s a whole different blog post I need to write. Why wasn’t Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kasey Musgraves, Sheryl Crow, and Kelly Clarkson booked for the women’s tournament? Heck, I bet some of the ladies even have Luke Bryan on their playlist. Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery could still be on the bill as support, just like the men had Jack Ingram and Pat Green.

Sad to say, this is just one more arena where women are not treated with the same respect as men.

As I admitted earlier, I myself am at fault for not having realized the big dance for both the men and women takes place on the same weekend. However, not only is the women’s Final Four in Nashville this weekend, my daughters’ best friend from Cedar Rapids, IA is playing for UConn. Yep, UConn made it to both the men’s and women’s Final Four! We’ll be cheering on the Lady Huskies’, Kiah Stokes tonight. I’ve got memories (and videos) of Chloe, Taylor and Kiah having sleepovers during which they belted out Earth, Wind & Fire tunes after discovering the timeless band through Ricky Smith on season two of American Idol—now where are those videos?


Crying Foul–Time For Fans to Play a Little Defense

As a sports fan, it makes me sick if the allegations in Inside ‘The Decision’: Miami’s coup was a ‘surprise’ built on long-coveted goal of James, Wade and Bosh are accurate. “The premise that the trio had been talking about teaming up for months hinted there was a plan in place. That potentially would be against rules, and could raise concerns from the league since Bosh and James were playing for teams battling for the playoffs in Toronto and Cleveland”.

Is this the reason despite having the best record in the league, LeBron James was unable to lead the Cavaliers to the finals? It would be pretty hard for the league MVP to justify leaving had his team gone to the final round two years in a row. Nick Arinson, son of billionaire Heat owner has had access to the three since the World Championships in Japan back in 2004, and is now a “rising executive with the Heat”. Was Heat GM, Pat Riley, really taking a risk the last few years in not signing key players in order to save up the team coffers for a deal such as this, or did Arinson and Wade provide him an inside track to the plan years ago? So much for parity in the NBA (the reason for the draft lottery); David Stern better look into the allegations.

Who knew parties and high paying jobs for athletes friends are part of the bargaining with these mult-million dollar contracts? “It was also made known to James that the Heat would take care of his friends the same way the Cavs did — special treatment at the arena, changing practice and travel schedules to allow for money-making late-night parties in various cities, and perhaps even hiring a James associate in a high-paying position in the organization”. I doubt it’s just the NBA.

No matter what, I say the buck stops with the fans. How, you ask? Fans buy the tickets or watch the games on television and fans buy the sponsors products. Without the promise of fans, there is no such thing as a lucrative professional sports world. One only need look back as recently as the early eighties. The book When the Game Was Ours, points out an NBA rep couldn’t get past the front door of McDonalds and Sprite to make a sponsor pitch before Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came into the league. If there is no fan interest, there is NO MONEY! It’s no coincidence a struggling little company, one of the first to jump on the NBA sponsor band wagon, is now billion dollar sports drink, Gatorade.
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