Loranne Ausley’s “Southern Project” Praised in “The Atlantic”

In an instructive piece in The Atlantic, “Can Democrats Win Back the Deep South?” RP Loranne Ausley’s work in creating the “Southern Project” was highlighted.  Check out this excerpt:

Loranne_Ausley_Official_Headshot2In 2000, a national Democratic consultant named Jill Hanauer moved to Colorado and decided the West was ripe for political change. After helping Democrats take the Colorado legislature in 2004, in 2007 she started a company called Project New West to help other Democrats in a region where demographic changes and the Republican Party’s shift to the right had altered the political equation.

Since the days of Arizonan Barry Goldwater, the Southwest had been solidly Republican. But that changed in the last decade. Western Democrats like Brian Schweitzer and Harry Reid won by emphasizing quality-of-life issues like education and the environment, neutralizing the culture war (often by professing love for the Second Amendment), and mobilizing the growing Hispanic vote. Far-right Republicans like former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo helped Western Democrats make the case to moderate suburbanites that the GOP had gone off the ideological deep end. Now, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado have voted Democratic in two straight presidential elections, and the party has even managed to win statewide elections in Montana and Arizona.

“We moved into the Southwest on the theory that the demographics were changing and Republicans had gone too far to the right,” Hanauer told me. Two years ago, she detected the same thing starting to happen in the South. She changed her firm’s name to Project New America and quietly began to research a new region.

In the coming weeks, Hanauer and Loranne Ausley, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, plan to launch something they’re calling the Southern Project, which will conduct research and formulate messages that can help Democrats win over Southern voters. A pilot study conducted in North Carolina in February, for example, concluded that under the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, “there is a clear sense that hardworking taxpayers are getting the short end of the stick at the expense of big corporations and the wealthiest.” The set of talking points advises progressives to make arguments “focused around fairness and accountability,” whether the issue is tax reform or charter schools. The Southern Project will equip Southern Democrats with similar examples of messages that have been poll-tested to resonate with voters.

Obama lost North Carolina by just 2 percentage points in 2012, but Republicans took the governor’s mansion and a supermajority in the state legislature, helped by a multimillionaire named Art Pope who poured money into the party and its candidates. After the election, McCrory put Pope in his administration’s budget department and began pushing a highly ideological agenda through the state legislature, sparking a backlash that has resulted in weeks of protests at the statehouse in Raleigh.

Ausley, who ran unsuccessfully for statewide office in Florida in 2010, said Republicans across the South risk alienating voters with their hard rightward turn. Every Republican-led Southern state has rejected the federally funded expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, she noted; in Florida, Governor Rick Scott tried to accept the funds, but his own Republican-dominated legislature blocked the move. Southern Republicans have recently decried women’s entry into the workforce and advocated teaching schoolchildren about proper gender roles.

“Republicans are doing the same thing over and over again to appeal to their base, and at some point it has to come back to bite them,” Ausley said. Southern voters are generally conservative, but they’re not extremists, as Mississippi showed in 2011 when it overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have declared a fertilized egg to be a “person” with rights. Genteel Southern moderates like Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia find themselves increasingly endangered by Tea Party primary challenges; Chambliss has chosen not to run for reelection next year, setting up a race that will test Democrats’ ability to win in that state.

The Democrats working in the South emphasize the long-term nature of their project. “The South is not where the West was” a decade ago, Hanauer told me. “But there is a lot of infrastructure starting to be built, and Republican legislators are going further than the Southern public wants. There’s going to be a backlash.”

Click here to read the full piece.

Erica & Matt Chua: Climbing Above Old Cairo

How do you distinguish “old” in a city that was founded over 1100 years ago?  When some of the “newer” areas are older than the United States of America, it’s all old to me, but to the Egyptians there is an old and new Cairo.  The old part is called “Islamic Cairo”, which seems like another redundant name in Cairo, one of the largest Islamic cities in the world.  To learn more we set off to explore this “old” Islamic Cairo…here’s what we found.

Signs such as this begin to get old, I mean really old, as almost every building was constructed before “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” which marks old for me.

Old Cairo isn’t a dead city or closed off to be a museum, rather it’s as alive today as it ever was, full of homes, stores, restaurants and mosques.

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Erica & Matt Chua: Climbing Above Old Cairo

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Amazing

Thought for the week

This week I will do something amazing —something that will stun others and impress myself

Ok. I gotta be honest. I wrote the first paragraph two weeks ago and got sidetracked by something.

I found out while getting coffee (which is when I write my posts) that The Summit shopping center go bought and they are trying to thinks of a new name.

No one asked me but I tried to …think up new names but didn’t come up with any really good ones. I figured “Apex” was too close in meaning.

By that time I had already gotten back in my car and then other things happened and, well, I just lost track of time

So back to the doing something amazing thing I was talking about earlier (in this post two weeks).

jyb_musingsHmmm. I am now out of the mood to do something amazing. That thought happened two weeks ago and has run it’s course.

I mean… if I do something amazing this week by accident that stuns others and impresses myself , I am happy to pretend like I planned to do it. I can do that. But I don’t want to try to do something amazing now. I’m not feeling it. Maybe it will come back later today and I’ll amend this post

Maybe my goal this week should be simply to focus better and not get so easily distracted. That’s actually a good idea for me. I’m going to hold that thought for a couple of weeks –like I did the “do something amazing” thought –and come back to it when I have more time.

What about NuLu? That would be a cool new name for the Summit.

Shoot! I just realized I forgot to put Splenda in my coffee and have to go back to the coffee shop now.

I can’t even remember what this post was about ….Oh, yeah, doing something amazing in, like, two weeks. Right? No? Look. I can’t do this now. I have to get my coffee right first

Michael Steele: “The is not a ‘Litmus Test’ Party”

From MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt:

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Saul Kaplan: Innovate Through Connected Adjacencies

Don’t go to war with current models and systems.  Too many are in love with them and you will lose.  Create the future through connected adjacencies.

Why are innovators so quick to go to the mattresses?  Like a scene right out of The Godfather innovators are wired to assume a war footing.  Innovators start from a premise that intransigent models and systems are the enemy and the only way to win is to gear up for an inevitable fight.  Status quo is the enemy in an innovator’s cold war and must be vanquished.  Innovators prepare for war by steeling themselves, building large armamentariums, and recruiting passionate soldiers to join their fight.  War cries may get people’s attention but taking to the warpath, as a theory for change, doesn’t work.  There are too many people in love with current models and systems. Going to war might feel good but in the end you will lose.

Saul KaplanExisting business models and systems have evolved over a long period of time.  It’s true most were built for an industrial era that is long gone.  It’s also true we need to design, prototype, and test new models and systems if we are going to solve the big social challenges of our time including health care, education, energy, and entrepreneurship.  However going to war with the current systems will not work.  Too many people are vested in them. Anything threatening status quo is too scary to contemplate for most.

Big bang approaches to change seldom work.  Occasionally we see examples of organizations that disrupt and transform themselves because they are either one payroll away from crashing nose down into the K-Mart parking lot (IBM comes to mind) or they have an other-worldly leader that personally wills the organization to transform (Steve Jobs comes to mind).  For most organizations transformative change is elusive and we need another way.  To enable transformative change consider creating connected adjacencies as innovation platforms.

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Saul Kaplan: Innovate Through Connected Adjacencies

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Weird Habits

Weird habits I have.

Whenever I buy a hardback book I always–always-pull off the book’s glossy jacket. The book dust jacket feels funny like its something to look at only —not read. More for show.

But after ripping it off and throwing in the wastebasket, it now looks like a book ready to be read. For the substantive and thoughtful person….like me.

And for about 3 days the jacket-less hardback book sits on my desk at the ready–for some real reading.

But about the third day I realize I’m not going to really read the book and check my wastebasket to see if the crumpled dust-jacket is still there. I pull it out and un-crumple it and read the book synopsis. There’s always a great synopsis on the book on the book jacket.

jyb_musingsI read it carefully until I know enough to have something intelligent to say about the book if ever asked.

And then put it away on my bookshelf…without the jacket. And crumple and throw it away one more time.

And the oddest thing of all is I still feel like I am a little deeper and more serious –in other words, slightly superior–than people who leave on the jacket and just place the book on their bookshelf. Without ever even reading the dust jacket.

Julie Rath: How to Wear Mandals: Tips on Avoiding a Fugly Fashion Mishap

Mandals: the name alone evokes snickers, sneers, and talk of Volvos and wheatgrass. Urban Dictionary defines them as, “An unfortunate fugly fashion mishap involving sandals.”  But I’m here to tell you that the wearing of mandals doesn’t have to be such a hot mess. If you choose wisely, you can avoid embarrassing questions like “how was your hike?” when all you are doing is riding the cross town bus.

When it comes to mandals, less is more. Think fewer straps, buttons and buckles, just say no to velcro, and you’ll be in good shape. As Tim Gunn says, “The more seriously one takes the mandal, the more ridiculous one looks.” Here are some of my fav options available now…

$100 and under

Barneys Sanuk Saddle Up Thong $29

You can’t go wrong with a classic leather thong sandal like these. They’re simple, easy and summery but not as informal as your standard beach flip flop. Throw them on with jeans or chinos, and it’s a done deal.


J Shoes Mirage Sandal $49.99

I’m also very into these Mirage Sandals from J Shoes. The stitching, canvas and rivets give them a cool industrial feel. Originally $148, they’re now marked down to $49.99. Check them here.

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Julie Rath: How to Wear Mandals: Tips on Avoiding a Fugly Fashion Mishap

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Facebook Reality Check

Facebook Reality Check.

If you are a middle-aged male and get a friend request from a 20 year old very attractive woman along with a breathless message about how much she likes your profile picture and would like to meet you and sends you her private email address, be careful.

I don’t respond to these annoying friend request/messages because I’m happily married and tell them so. But I know not all of my middle-aged male peers are in a marriage/relationship and might find this generous invitation appealing. I’d like to offer some friendly peer advice that I can give objectively.

Sure, these young women have tracked down our overweight, under-toned profile pictures on Facebook and find us every bit as irresistible as we know they should. That’s a given. And, sure, they are probably going to keep stalking guys like us, because, you know…we got it going on and they can’t help themselves and are essentially powerless to our feeble and imaginary charms.

jyb_musingsSo…. as realistic as this offer for Facebook friendship and romance probably seems to you, just remember that no one is as great as they sound on Facebook and she probably looks better in their picture than she looks in person. And may be really hard to talk to after you have a torrid romance. And, let’s face it, you’ll probably end up getting bored and have difficulty hanging out with her 20-something friends. And then there are the awkward Facebook status decisions about whether you “are in a relationship” or not to deal with.

All I am saying is: think it through.

Especially before you respond to her faux personal email by sending a digital picture of yourself flexing your flabby, withering physique.

I’m just saying, as a friend, in the long run, if you are going to strip down and get in bed with anyone today, just stand in front of a mirror and take off your dark patent leather dress shoes, white tube socks and short plaid pants——and get in bed and take a nap alone. You’ll need the energy to mow the lawn later today. You just don’t have time for a tryst with a beautiful 20 year old this afternoon. As much as she is wanting to, it’s probably going to be a pain and keep you from going to CVS to pick up your medications after spending that traditional 30 minutes every Saturday browsing your favorite hardware store. She’s just going to have to deal with that.

Maybe next weekend.

Josh Bowen: The Power of the High Five

It is said that 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. It is also common knowledge that there is a psychological effect to touching. In fact there are several scientific research articles stating that when a person is touched by a person they trust, it elevates oxytocin levels and decreases the stress related hormones. Touching has also been shown to develop relationships between two people. However, in the Western Hemisphere touching can often times be looked at as inappropriate and taboo. While that may be correct, one form of touching is always acceptable and has the power to show appreciation, respect, care and develop the trainer/client relationship we are all after; the high five.

Right, wrong or indifferent I touch my clients. I give them high fives to show they have done a good job; I give them a hug when I feel they need it and I tap them gently on the muscle being worked. The power of the high five allows me to do the following:

josh1. Develop a great relationship- when I give a high five to a client I show them respect and gratitude for the work they are doing. Sometimes that message is difficult to convey through words. For my super competitive clients this takes them back to athlete days and puts them in an environment they are use too. For everyone it shows appreciation for their work, something sometimes their out-of-the-gym life doesn’t supply.

2. Conveys to potential clients my relationship with my clients- In a gym setting, during a 60 minute session on average 14 people will watch at least 20% of the session. This is marketing at its highest! I want to produce the vibe that I care about my clients, especially for potential clients watching me.

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Josh Bowen: The Power of the High Five

James Gandolfini, R.I.P

My favorite actor on my all-time favorite television series.  Thanks for your extraordinary portrait of the dark side of humanity.

From the NY Daily News:

James Gandolfini, the New Jersey-bred actor who delighted audiences as mob boss Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos” has died following a massive heart attack in Italy, a source told the Daily News.

“Everyone is in tears,” the source close to the 51-year-old TV tough guy said.

James Gandolfini (center) is best known for his role as Tony in HBO's 'The Sopranos,' acting alongside Tony Sirico (from left), Steven Van Zandt, Michael Imperioli and Vicent Pastore.


James Gandolfini (center) is best known for his role as Tony in HBO’s ‘The Sopranos,’ acting alongside Tony Sirico (from left), Steven Van Zandt, Michael Imperioli and Vicent Pastore.

A press-shy celeb who got his start as a character actor and became famous relatively late in his career — thanks to his breakout role on “The Sopranos,” Gandolfini has largely avoided the spotlight since the last season of the beloved show aired in 2007.


James Gandolfini (right) with 'The Sopranos' creator David Chase.


James Gandolfini (right) with ‘The Sopranos’ creator David Chase.

The burly Westwood, N.J. native has appeared in several supporting roles since then, playing the director of the CIA in “Zero Dark Thirty” and the gruff blue-collar father of a wannabe rock star in “Not Fade Away” last year.

Gandolfini hit Broadway in 2009 with the Tony Award-winning comedy “God of Carnage.”

James Gandolfini and his wife Deborah Lin, who gave birth to a baby girl in October. The couple married in Hawaii in 2008.


James Gandolfini and his wife Deborah Lin, who gave birth to a baby girl in October. The couple married in Hawaii in 2008.

“I seek out good stories, basically — that’s it,” he told The Star-Ledger last December.


James Gandolfini (from left) played a tough-guy mob boss on 'The Sopranos' with costars Steven Van Zandt and Tony Sirico.


James Gandolfini (from left) played a tough-guy mob boss on ‘The Sopranos’ with costars Steven Van Zandt and Tony Sirico.

“The older I get, the funnier-looking I get, the more comedies I’m offered. I’m starting to look like a toad, so I’ll probably be getting even more soon.”

Gandolfini’s wife, former model Deborah Lin, gave birth to a baby girl last October. The couple married in Hawaii in 2008.

The Sopranos family from the wildly popular HBO drama series 'The Sopranos.' The series ran from 1999 through 2007 and starred Edie Falco (from left), James Gandolfini, Robert Iler and Jamie-Lynn Sigler.


The Sopranos family from the wildly popular HBO drama series ‘The Sopranos.’ The series ran from 1999 through 2007 and starred Edie Falco (from left), James Gandolfini, Robert Iler and Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

Gandolfini — who spent part of his early career supporting himself as a bartender and nightclub manager — also has a son with his ex-wife, Marcy Wudarski.


Actress Edie Falco (left) and actor James Gandolfini attend the premiere of 'Boardwalk Empire' at the Ziegfeld Theatre in 2010. Falco and Gandolfini played opposites in Broadway's 'God of Carnage' in 2009.


Actress Edie Falco (left) and actor James Gandolfini attend the premiere of ‘Boardwalk Empire’ at the Ziegfeld Theatre in 2010. Falco and Gandolfini played opposites in Broadway’s ‘God of Carnage’ in 2009.

His first break came in 1992 when he landed a role in a Broadway version of “A Streetcar Named Desire” that starred Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange.

Smallish parts in major films followed — Gandolfini played a submarine crew member in “Crimson Tide” in 1995 and a gangland bodyguard in “Get Shorty” the same year.

James Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his role as Tony Soprano.


James Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his role as Tony Soprano.

Fame came for the Italian-American actor after 1999, as “The Sopranos” garnered critical acclaim and cult popularity on its way to becoming a TV classic.

Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his sparkling depiction of protagonist Tony Soprano, a mobster trying to balance the mundane stresses of family life and his unusual occupation: organized crime.


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