John Y’s Musings from the Middle: A “Mark Twain” American

Facing up to major shortcomings in what you know. And don’t know.

I like to think of myself as what I’ll call a “Mark Twain American.” An American who understands our culture in common sense terms and isn’t a person who is especially impressed with pomp and circumstance –and someone who easily amused by those who are slaves to creating impossible public images for themselves and the things they value.

Sure part of that is a surly juvenilism….but part is surely authentic, too.

An example. I know a man about my age (who shall remain nameless) who was at Keeneland the other day and was served lunch. This friend of man (err..this man…who isn’t me), was searching for his eating utensils and unraveled his table napkin and out tumbled the silverware. As people nearby stared–part perturbed; part irritated with me.

I tried quickly to organize–properly set– the forks, knife and spoon in hopes of going unnoticed. I may have gotten it right. But even a “Mark Twain American” ought to know where silverware goes on a set table. I knew they eventually went in my hands and then the food. But will research tonight where they begin our next dinner.

John Y. Brown, III: “The Business Model Innovation Strategy”

About a year ago I met an unforgettable fella, Saul Kaplan, from Rhode Island who visited KY to help us explore ways to help Louisville and Lexington realize their entrepreneurial potential.

He spoke in a bracing and engaging way about making cultural changes to communities that lead to an organic improvement in leadership and to an accelerated entrepreneurial culture–both in the private and public sectors.

Click here to review

I just got word earlier today that the hyper-energetic Kaplan has completed a new book titled, “The Business Model Innovation Factory.”

It will help us reingeneer business strategically to stay ahead of the trends and challenges.

I plan to buy today and hunker down for a day or two (or three) to pore over myself!

Listen to Outstanding “This American Life” Podcast f/t Jeff Smith

When I learned that my good friend and our contributing RP, Jeff Smith, would be the featured guest on National Public Radio’s “This American Life,” I was thrilled.  My favorite radio program was taking on the story that Jeff first wrote about here at this site in a series of provocative, hilarious and sometimes moving stories.

The program exceeded all of my highest expectations.  In thirty minutes, the program provides a new, independent look at the career, scandal and recovery of Jeff Smith.  And, while I am obviously biased, I think it demonstrates that despite his serious setbacks, Jeff’s voice will continue to educate, provoke and make us laugh for many years to come.

Click here to listen to the podcast: “The Postcard Only Rings Once.

Jeff Smith on NPR’s “This American Life”

We are really thrilled to report that contributing RP Jeff Smith will be the featured guest this weekend on National Public Radio’s “This American Life,” the wildly popular radio program hosted by Ira Glass.

Jeff will be discussing his unique career trajectory — from rising political star, to federal prisoner, to college professor on the journey toward redemption.  It’s a journey that he first discussed exclusive at The Recovering Politician.  And soon, we will expect a bestselling book on the experience.

The show sounds very interesting:

Religion makes it pretty clear what differentiates mortal sins from venial ones. Mortal are the really bad sins and venial the lesser ones. But in our everyday lives, it can be really difficult to determine just how bad we’ve been. This week we have stories of people trying to figure out that question.

Check your local NPR schedules this weekend for “This American Life,” and/or the podcast will be available on Sunday at 7:00 PM EDT by clicking here.

So please tune into Jeff this weekend!

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the Planet

New polls show that the US is split just about evenly on energy subsidies. []


A slideshow of the 5 cities in the US with the highest level of air quality. []


Is it possible for a tribe of people and their lifestyle to be protected and preserved in today’s world?[]


As the popularity of urban chicken farming rises there is now the issue of “retirement” for those chickens, which can be pets as well as livestock. []

The RP: My Daughter Registered to Vote Today. As a…Democrat!

Last week’s we featured a piece by our newest Friend of RP, John Y. Brown, IV (son of contributing RP John Y. Brown, III) in which the 18-year-old Brown announced that he was breaking with family tradition to be a Republican.

We never could have imagined how popular the piece would be — but at 5,000 readers and growing, it is the most popular piece this blog has ever published that didn’t discuss prison sex.

Well, another 18-year-old Kentuckian registered to vote today.  My daughter, Emily.  And I’m proud to say that she registered as a Democrat.  Woot!

Unfortunately her father embarrassed the family name by taking her picture in the County Clerk’s office.  Oh well.


John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Perception Matters

Perception matters. Sometimes more than we want to admit to ourselves.

An example. On vacation last week my 17 year old son and I played pick up basketball several days–playing three on three.

The first day was rough. We got beat 2 or 3 games.

The second day, however, we did very well…and won 2 out of 3 games–and won convincingly.

As we drove back to our room I told my son how well he played and noted that I played much better too.

Adding, “We did pretty darn well out there today, didn’t we, Johnny?

“Dad,” my son said quizzically, “They were 10 and 12 years old.”

Sometimes it’s good to have a friend or loved one gently help you perceive things clearer than you seem to be at the moment.

The RP’s Breaking News: The Politics of Pigskin

The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books and it was the most exciting one in recent memory. The beginning of the draft last night was full of trades and very quick picks. The second and third rounds continue tonight and the fourth through seventh rounds conclude on Saturday. Click through to read an in-depth analysis of each first round pick. [Fox Sports]

Artur Davis: The Shrinking Obama Vision

There is the conservative critique of Barack Obama that contends that he has grown the size and scope of government too much; then there is the liberal charge that he has moved to the middle and forfeited the progressive moment. The first is more true, the second more stinging to an administration that believes it is on the verge of breaking the political right.

There is a third case, however, that is tied not to a theory of how big or small government should be but to the idea that a leader has obligations to speak with precision and clarity about the nature of the country’s burdens. By that elusive standard, the famously slippery Bill Clinton still fares well on an issue like welfare reform, where he reminded his base that an entitlement that penalizes work is a social disaster. Jimmy Carter, for that matter, deserves points for an energy policy that meant to cap the rising dependence on foreign oil at 1978 import levels, which had future presidents stuck to his efforts, would have us paying $2.25 at the gas pump.

President Obama gets low marks on the precision and the clarity scale when he outlines a budgetary vision that treats Medicare and Social Security as asterisks and not the biggest driver of deficits, and trusts the future of Medicare in particular to the old trope of going after “waste, fraud and abuse.” He gets similarly low marks when his defense of healthcare reform channels Newt Gingrich’s tirade about unelected judges trumping our venerable elected congressmen (whose job rating bats .100) And he gets barely passing grades on his case for the Buffett Rule, a kind of minimum tax for millionaires that would trim the deficit next year by the grand sum of a tenth of one percent while diminishing charitable giving much more.

Read the rest of…
Artur Davis: The Shrinking Obama Vision

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Pigskin

The Politics of Pigskin

The 2012 NFL Draft is tonight and todays WWG is all about the mock drafts. We’ll start off with the only mock draft that’s Mike Mayock did all year. []

Walter Football has done fantastic work keeping their mock draft updated this year. Here is the most recent iteration. [Walter Football]

Drafttek’s mock is fine but make sure to check out the other information they have available like team needs and positional rankings. [DraftTek]

Here are the combined mocks from the experts at CBS. [CBS Sports]

Don Banks has submitted his 7th and most recent mock draft to SI. [Sports Illustrated]

Finally, here is you complete draft order for reference. [ESPN]

The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show