Mann to Man

The American Condition Politically, Culturally, Economically

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Location: Williamsburg, VA, United States

Raised in rural Greenbrier Co. WV, BS Chemistry WVU, PhD Chemistry, GA Tech,Chemistry Faculty, GA Tech, 1965-1969, Dir R&D BASF Fibers 1969-1982,Sr.Exec. R&D, Burlington Industries, 1982-1986,Owner/CEO Mann Industries (formerly BASF fibers)1988-1995, CEO/Owner The Mann Group Consultants, 1987-2009, wife Carol, daughters Leigh, Susan

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WEBSITE CHANGE -- IMPORTANT

This was sent to me by a loyal friend and loyal American who started life in Cuba and fled communism as Castro came to power. It was sent to him by another American from Cuba now in Miami. I have written about this friend before. He, his wife and others came to me in 2008 out of concern for what they saw in Obama that mirrored what they experienced under Che and Castro in Cuba. They remain very concerned about the intentions of Obama and still see Marxism in his actions. My friend said to me some time ago, as I opined about the loss of traditional America under Obama, that "America is already not the country I came to in 1960." I agree, but to me it is the America I have seen in transformation since the 60s. We must resist this!
Interesting website change we see at the NEW U.S. JUSTICE DEPT.
                                       http://www.justice.gov/
Department of Justice: W E B S I T E C H A N G E - I M P O R T A N T!
Little by little, the subtle changes come until one day we
will wake up and be in the United Socialist States of America.
The 2012 elections are just around the corner, so get and stay engaged as if our nation depended on it... because it does!!!!!
U.S. Department of Justice
ditches red, white, and blue stars and stripes.

Well, how interesting!
It seems the U.S. Department of Justice
has changed its web site.
Gone are the colorful red, white, and blue U.S. Flag
decorations on the page,Replaced by stark black. Why BLACK? Hmmmm!!
And at the top of the page, is a rather
  interesting quote:
"The common law is the will of mankind, issuing from the life of the people."
Catchy, huh? Just one tiny little (too small to be relevant obviously)
point -- the quote is from C. Wilfred Jenks, who in the 1930's
was a leading proponent of the "international law" movement, which had as its goal to impose a global common law and which backed 'global workers' rights.'
Call it Marxism, call it Progressivism, call it Socialism -- under anyof those names, it definitely makes the DOJ lookcorrupt in their new website with Marxist accessories to match. See for yourself: http://www.justice.gov/

Very interesting that 'they' couldn't find a nice quote from one of our Founders. People, we have lost our Republic. This is an example of the slow, methodical misuse of power our current government is doing as they lead us to socialism, and destroying our republic as we have known it.
Bring back the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA------
                           "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak."
                               "Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen" -- Winston Churchill

OBAMACARE -- A "FOREVER MISTAKE"?


OBAMACARE – SCOTUS' DECISION THIS WEEK

It's reported that the SCOTUS will issue a decision on the constitutionality of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” Thursday, 26 June. Irrespective of which way their decision goes, in my opinion this legislation will qualify for the designation as a “forever mistake.” Why?

If the law is judged constitutional, it's very reasonable to think that it will be litigated and re-litigated forever by those who oppose it – the majority of citizens according to polls. It's reasonable to compare the law to Roe v. Wade, a divisive re-litigated issue for 40 years now. When reality hits and the costs are known, what we win, who wins and who loses, objections will mount.

If the law is judged not to be constitutional, it's very likely we'll have massive demonstrations, even riots by OWS and other anarchists (yes, anarchists). It's not unreasonable to believe that President Obama and his supporters will assure this happens. I don't enjoy thinking this way, but the president's style and that of his supporters is now rather well-known. OWS has made it known. It's the method of the “organizers.”

It is a reasonable argument that the best outcome would be for SCOTUS to uphold any beneficial parts of the law permitting it to be sent back to congress for re-work. Will it happen?

This legislation exemplifies government's ineptitude in problem solving. Decisions are made and legislation is promulgated without any formal analytical problem-solving methodology – or even thought! Issues and problems are not segmented, root causes are not determined. Rather, decisions are made and legislation developed from prejudices and for special interests, not at all from analytical thought and deliberation. Such is the way with political decisions.Obamacare exemplifies this.

If legislators dealt with issues and problems in a professional way, they would segment problems into possible causes, analyze the significance of each possible cause, assign most probable cause (s), prioritize each and develop solutions for the real and most probable causes. Such is the way with formal “analytical problem-solving” methodology used by those in private enterprise who are accountable for developing the best, most effective solutions to problems. Such methodology is used also for decision-making by those who seek excellence and the best decisions. With Obamacare, Obama and some in congress decided on a "solution" and now try to fit a problem to it!! " As Pelosi said, "We must pass the law to find out what is in it." Beyond incomprehensible! Grossly irresponsible! Abjectly stupid! Call me condescending, arrogant, whatever. Truth is truth. Have the courage to face it and call it what it is.

Disciplined, professional problem-solving and decision-making appears to be totally unknown by most politicians. How can it be different when we elect people to office who have absolutely no experience operating in the “real” arena of accountability, where excellence is sought and rewarded, mediocrity and inferiority rejected? How many in government today have no such experience? Start with President Obama! Community organizing (activism) is not a search for excellence. It's a search for special benefits, even if totally undeserved.

It's not unreasonable to characterize the “affordable care act” (aka Obamacare) as such.

Monday, June 25, 2012

THE ECONOMY -- FACTS, NOT POLITICAL FICTION


 THE ECONOMY -- FACTS NOT IN FOCUS
These comments are made to give information on the economy that is not in major focus of reporting agencies and the media. They are also made in an attempt to reveal some facts that may be reported but with a focus that does not comport with reality. 
As written here before, we must grow the GDP, but the structure of the current economy prohibits the massive growth required to satisfy the voracious appetite of the current administration and the Democrats in Congress for tax revenue. This fact is exacerbated greatly by the fact that only about 50% of people pay taxes. 

-- The current economy has structural problems that are not being addressed. As the "new" economy has evolved (devolved?) to one dominated by the Financial Industry, the metrics used for the "old economy" are largely not applicable in either elucidating the problem causes or in leading to solutions. The Financial Industry, by it's very nature, cannot provide jobs for the middle class where jobs are so vitally necessary.

-- "Job creation" has become a mantra with politicians, elected and appointed, having no real understanding of what is needed to create an economic base where jobs and middle class wealth are created. No president creates private sector jobs! Neither does Congress as a body. Government can only promulgate sensible policy that permits the private sector to flourish with job and wealth creation. Virtually every policy initiative of the Obama administration is negative to economic expansion! With his lack of working experience, who is surprised?

-- Manufacturing has declined to about 10%, or less, of GDP. Manufacturing employment is only 9% of total jobs in the USA. Manufacturing is where the whole middle class had opportunities for employment with potential for upward mobility (personal growth) to improve their lots in life, including their wealth. The service-based economy of today, dominated by the Financial Industry, has no potential for creating opportunities for the broad range of middle class people. Under current conditions, there is little optimism for manufacturing to expand adequately to make major impact on the GDP. Unions and government policies are major factors affecting manufacturing decline in America.

-- Data from government agencies are highly inaccurate and apparently even contrived to present a better picture to the public than actually exists. BLS data top the list with the last 20 reports of unemployment being revised, worsening the original report. How can this be coincidental?

To wit: National Debt-to-GDP is now 107% and increasing. Government still deceptively reports the number at about 70%! The difference? Debt to the Social Security Trust Fund of $5 Trillion isn't computed. Why? Because it is considered not owed, hence not payable -- debt to ourselves, in spite of statutory commitment, is not considered debt at all. Government does not intend to pay it back. It will be ignore, or monetized. Despicable.

To wit: "Manufacturing is surging back." No it isn't, in spite of the fact that some specialty manufacturing operations are doing well. Americans now make few commodities, products that fuel a large part of consumption. Now, when Americans consume commodities, they buy foreign goods.

-- 70% of GDP is consumption. How can we grow GDP and the manufacturing component of it with so few commodities produced in the USA? Unions have decimated some industries and killed others outright!

-- Exports are critical to trade balance and GDP. President Obama declared a goal of 50% increase in exports by end of his first term. Worse than foolish...deceptive or done out of ignorance? This subject needs a complete treatise to inform people of facts -- what we export where for example! Airplanes have been top exports for 6 years. Last year refined petroleum products topped the list. And Obama wants the petroleum industry curtailed! Even his shills should rebel at this, but they don't, of course.

-- The data bases for reporting economic changes have been changed...."updated." For example, the steel industry is said to have declined 35% but was reported to be "surging back" a month ago. Facts are revealing. The base has been reset to 1998. There's no consideration of the nearly equal decline in the 3 decades before. Even if the government numbers are used, the real story is..... the improvement in the period reported was a puny 4.3% in spite of the hype. The increase necessary just to get back the 35% loss would be 54%. How deceptive can it get?
Auto sales are reported to be surging back. NO! Not at all. In 2007, auto sales were at 17.5 million units per year. Sales slumped to less than 13 million units...26% decline. The new base for reporting improvement is 13 million units. To get back to 17+ million units sold per year now requires 35% improvement. Not happening!By the way, GM's improvement is hyped to the heavens, but their improvements are largely in China. 

-- While the economy is dominated by the Financial Industry, it is underpinned by the hydrocarbons industry (oil, gas, coal). Obama's attack on this industry is arguably the most wrong-headed effort one can imagine. The economy has serious ills, the foundation has serious defects, and Obama's policies only worsen the illnesses and defects.
Obama's actions, on oil and coal especially, can be related to one's home having structural problems.
The house needs repair and updating.....so to fix the problems we destroy the foundation! And, expect the house to stand, even to be better. How wrong can a policy-maker be?

I could go on, but more later. Our national condition is critical and worsening continuously. It has been said by some misguided people that "AMERICA HAS BECOME UNMANAGEABLE." I reject this! America can be managed, but not by the people of inadequate intellect, wisdom and judgment being elected and appointed to controlling offices. This must be turned around, but with the electorate programmed as it is today, I cannot see it happening. Sad!






Sunday, June 24, 2012

EGYPT AND THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD


EGYPT – and the Muslim Brotherhood – Clinton, Clapper and Obama

Some will remember that I wrote, during the praise of the “Democratic Arab Spring” by the Sec. Of State, Obama and the even more inept, Gen. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence that the Muslim Brotherhood would end up controlling Egypt. Clinton praised the “Arab Spring” as a “great democratic movement” and Clapper declared that the MB is a “secular” organization.” The Muslim Brotherhood, once home to Aymin Zawahiri, #2 in command of Al Queda when they attacked the USA and more, that birthed both Hezbollah and Hamas and that is already active in the Sanai, “SECULAR.” Are the declarations of these so-called leaders (who aren't) made out of abject ignorance or are they assuming we are so ignorant as not to know the truth?

Egypt will become a radical Islamic state, Iran already is, Iraq will become the same, even Turkey under Erdogan is leaning hard to a more Islamic government undoing the great work of Attaturk nearly a century ago. Syria will probably end up likewise.

Obama and his minions are saying “right on,” all is well with democracy in the mid-east. But Israel, the only democracy in the middle east, gets stiffed by Obama and will find themselves surrounded by hostile states who want to see them to disappear.

As I wrote in another piece this week, “our government is now populated with people who have neither the intelligence, nor the wisdom nor the judgment to run our country.“ How can we trust them to know what is truly going on with other nations? Some will say we don't need to know....... we absolutely do!

Our national security is being threatened in too many ways, from the outside but also from “inside our government.” As I write this, Hezbollah is on our southern border from their base in the “Triple Frontier" of S. Am. and likely already in the USA. And the leftists disparage me and anyone else who asserts it. Why?

Is it any wonder that we elect inept, improperly motivated officials and appoint people in their image given an electorate so populated with those who ignore reality and do not seek the truth?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

VIRGINIA PORTS -- letter to VA transportation secretary to suspend negotiations to lease ports


This letter is self-explanatory and exemplary of what citizens must do to influence how we are governed. There are many, many examples of national issues that we must try to deal with but find it more difficult with the current government than anytime in my lifetime. The only people or groups who are given attention today are far-left activists. It will be difficult to reverse this. if we do not, traditional America is gone.

TO: HONORABLE SEAN CONNAUGHTON, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
      COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
FROM: J. A. MANN AND PHILIP RICHARDSON
SUBJECT: REQUEST TO RECONSIDER LEASING PORTS OF VIRGINIA -- FIND OTHER FINANCING

Dear Secretary Connaughton:

We urge you without reservation or equivocation to suspend immediately the negotiations to lease the Virginia Ports and find other methods of financing transportation needs. We have the same concerns about leasing the ports that we had with earlier proposals to sell ports to investment groups, concerns which we were permitted to express at the time. We also must relate these proposals to the earlier initiative to sell ABC assets to finance a very small part of the need for transportation funding while giving up substantial general fund revenue . We are grateful that this ill-advised initiative was stopped. Please do the same with the port leasing initiative. The ports are invaluable and irreplaceable assets and must not be removed from ownership and control by the Commonwealth of Virginia. They are critically important not only to the GDP of Virginia and America but to national security as well.

We urge you to consider bond financing and reform of the outdated "Transportation Funding Formula" to finance transportation needs. Losing our ports for such funding is unacceptable.

Regarding the business model for the ports, already we have heard from two shipping companies (and more are likely to come forward) of their concerns about fairness in operation of the ports under the control of a competitor. Such concerns must be considered legitimate and compelling from a business sense.

We urge you to stop the leasing initiative and engage advisers to develop business plans to operate the ports with profitability projected in the leasing proposals, as reported in the press. If other operators can achieve the financial returns that are projected, so can a business team of competent professionals. We urge such a business plan be developed.

Our concerns are detailed herein below in a piece published in The Virginia Gazette June 6, 2012. We respectfully ask that you read it and consider the validity of our concerns.

Also, attached herewith is a letter published in The Virginia Gazette in response to two very good reports by The Gazette on transportation funding.

Ownership and operation of the ports is a critical issue for many reasons, including national security.

Respectfully,

J. A. Mann, The Mann Group, 148 The Green Williamsburg, VA 23185, 757-229-4633

Philip Richardson, CEO Philip Richardson Companies, 300 Windsor Hall Dr., A-314, 757-258-3200

VIRGINIA TRANSPORTATION FUNDING -- Example of legislative dysfunction nationwide


VIRGINIA – TRANSPORTATION FUNDING 
While this letter, published June 16, 2012, is in regard to initiatives to lease the ports of Virginia, in essence it is applicable to legislators and governing bodies in general. We have needs for revenue to fund highway improvements statewide. There are periodic pushes to increase taxes,  and to create "revenue streams" but we have a formula for allocation of transportation that is outdated and does not give priority to where needs are greatest. It's a politically derived formula of 30+ years that no longer applies. I think it is pertinent to post here, not only for Virginians, but for others at large because it shows how citizens pay a huge price because of inadequacies in those elected to represent them. Our current FEDERAL GOVERNMENT epitomizes this dilemma. It is difficult to see how it can improve. Thank you for reading below.

The VA Gazette's lead on June 6, “Funding for Roads is Way Outdated” by Cortney Langley, confirms concerns we've had for many years. The sacrosanct “Transportation Funding Formula is wrong and legislators refuse to correct it.” It's is indisputably wrong, and even egregious, that Virginians must consider losing such a valuable and irreplaceable asset as our ports in being held hostage to the funding formula by legislators unwilling to solve the problem of disparity. Those who are favored by the biased formula are self-serving while those who are disadvantaged haven't the courage to take on the issue. Neither shows concern for what is best the commonwealth – fix the formula, make it fair for all! It is not acceptable for legislators who represent those of us who are disadvantaged to fatalistically decide, without even trying, that no solutions can be found to serve the entire commonwealth. To lose our ports, or other important assets, because of such fatalistic and timid attitude is not acceptable.

The transportation secretary confirmed the formula problem with us. He commented that he “flew over many areas and looked down at 200-year roads with little to no traffic.” Cortney Langley confirmed that legislators are the problem in her investigation. Because legislators will not address the unfair formula, we get proposals to sell valuable assets such as the ports, and even the ABC operations, that are not not acceptable. Only legislators can solve this problem. And, they must! And, the governor must get involved.

Senator Norment's allusion to inciting civil war is frustrating. His comment that “no sensible legislator has the folly [sic] to fire the first shot on that one” indicts all legislators who haven't the courage to address the problem as it indicts others for being uncooperative – self-serving. Legislators are elected to serve their constituents' special needs, but all must work together to serve the universal needs of the entire commonwealth. Clearly, legislators are derelict in doing so with roads.

As a result, we get unacceptable proposals such as selling off assets from those trying to find solutions to problems that remain intractable because of self-serving attitudes of some and lack of courage of others to do their jobs. This is unacceptable and must be dealt with. Who has the courage and sense of fairness to do so?

Joe Mann
Phil Richardson
James City County

VIRGINIA PORTS -- EFFORTS TO LEASE/SALE


 
VIRGINIA PORTS -- SUSPEND THE PROPOSAL TO LEASE 

Virginia's ports are crown jewel assets not only for Virginia but for America. They are premier among ports of the world, not only for commerce but for extensive Naval Operations. They are critical to national security. They are invaluable and irreplaceable assets, hence all factors must be considered in decisions as to how such critical assets are managed. Without knowing all details of the proposed “public-private partnership,” to fund widening of I-64 seems a long stretch. It's unjustifiable, in fact, versus other methods of financing transportation needs.
The total cost-to-benefit must be thoroughly considered. What do we win, what do we lose? We understand the need for revenue for transportation funding. However, we have concerns about the current proposal as we had for the previous initiative to sell the ports. We had similar concerns about the initiative to spin off the ABC operations to raise transportation funds, while grossly undervaluing the ABC business assets. Fortunately, both efforts were stopped.

With the proposal to sell the ports, we had justifiable concerns about losing the irreplaceable asset. Of special concern was the probability the ports would end up with foreign ownership as the investors sold them to achieve their targeted ROI. Fortunately, our concerns and, undoubtedly those of others, were heard and acted on. We urge you to do the same with leasing proposals for the ports.

We have similar concerns with the current initiative. Do we lose a unique asset? Loss of control is of critical concern. It is imperative that entire business and operating plans be revealed in detail. As reported, the proposal does not seem acceptable – ill-conceived and force-fit into transportation funding, in fact.
As aforementioned, Virginia ports are vital to national security. What happens to our vast Naval operations now and in the future. This is a critical issue! The ports are important not only to the commerce of the Commonwealth of Virginia but also to the national GDP. At a time when Virginia needs economic development and America's economy has serious structural problems, limiting capability to grow GDP, is this initiative constructive? It's reasonable to think not.

What are the alternatives? We have asked previously for resolution of the “Transportation Trust Fund” and the “Funding Formula.” We believe these basic elements of funding must be dealt with before new initiatives are undertaken. We see the ports issue similarly. What options are available, including bonds?
What is the real financial return? Let us see the entire financial analysis. We are compelled to compare this to the attempts to sell the ABC operations to finance a small fraction of transportation funding needs. In that case, the financial return was inadequate and even negative to the general fund. The advisers' valuation of the business was a fraction of it's true valuation when done with acceptable methodology. Here again, we are thankful our concerns, and that of others, were heard and acted on. We ask for the same consideration of this ports proposal. It's a critical issue!

We urge you to reconsider the proposal for encumbering the ports in long term leases with the same concerns that we expressed for earlier proposals to sell the ports and the ABC operations. Other means of funding highways must be found, starting with issuing bonds. 

We want what is best for Virginia, which is also what is best for America. Losing control of our ports does not meet that criterion. 

Respectfully,
Joe A. Mann, CEO The Mann Group, 148 The Green, Williamsburg, Va 23185, 757-229-4633
Philip Richardson, CEO Richardson Companies, 300 Windsor Hall Dr., A-314, 757-258-3200
James City

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TRUTH -- MORE ON THE ZIMMERMAN CASE

 Loss of honesty and integrity portends loss of our national soul -- Mann

Since I've posted on "truth" and lack of it and on the bias in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, I take liberty to draw attention once again to bias and lack of honesty, this time by a prosecutor with memories of the media racial bias reported earlier.
 
This is not intended as an endorsement of Alan Dershowitz, with whom I have some real differences, but it is recognition that he is one who shows more integrity, even in his ideological leftist pursuit, than most. This is one case where I think it's compelling to hear him and take heed. There is no doubt that the media ignored evidence and it is now clear the prosecutor even admits to doing the same....even justifying it. What have we come to?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TRUTH -- Punishment for telling it in Obama's world

 Loss of integrity and truth portends loss of our national soul - Mann
                                                                
Never in my lifetime have I seen such disregard for truth and such willingness of so many to ignore negative reality as is now evident with “President Obama and those who shill for him. Clearly, Democrats dare not to speak any negative truth about Obama as the legions of shills all speak in unison from the same talking points. They all appear programmed with the same words, all spoken with the same tempo as rapidly as a machine gun can fire. To those who say this is normal in politics, I say, ”No!” Such blatant untruthful commentary and false claims are at a level I've never seen or heard in my years of political awareness. Democrats who dare to veer off script are dealt with immediately and apparently severely.

Also, any Democrat who dares to say anything positive about Obama's opponents is obviously dealt with immediately and, it seems, with serious consequences. Take the case of Newark Mayor, Cory Booker. When he had the “audacity” to speak critically of negative aspersions cast upon Mitt Romney and venture capitalists, and avoid the sycophantic rant against “private equity,” it's clear he was dealt with harshly. Booker is a man who presents himself well and confidently. However, in his “walk-back” of his comments, after his woodshed whipping, he looked pathetic, and not unlike a spanked puppy.

Then there is former president, Bill Clinton. In one presentation he referred to Mitt Romney as a person “with a sterling business career, surely qualified to be president.” The next day he was walking it back – Bill Clinton, a man most confident of himself, a former president and a world figure taken to the proverbial woodshed. There are other examples, but these two are illustrative of conditions more ominous and more profoundly of concern than simply “misspeaking.” Truth is suppressed! 

Who is in the woodshed meting out threats and punishments? What are the threats? Obama alone, even as president, does not have the ability to intimidate people like Clinton and Booker, but they surely are intimidated!

This is a more serious issue than pols simply misspeaking! It goes to the very essence of, “Who is really in control?” More importantly, “What is their goal?” I will sincerely hope, that every honorable America-loving Democrat thinks about this seriously and realize that Obama is not really one of them, rather he is just using their label for credibility. What are his goals and those of his “handlers?”Look at what is truth and what isn't, and reject him and his operatives. America's soul and our future depend on this.

Friday, June 1, 2012

McCAIN'S “FOREVER” MISTAKE IN 2008

                                               Some mistakes are forever -- Mann 2012

Nearly 4 years after the 2008 presidential election, I still remember John McCain's ignoring me when I asked him why he didn't define Obama. Even more memorable was Sen. Lindsay Graham's answer when I asked him the same question. I'll explain a bit of campaign goings on before giving the “rest of the story.”

In the very first post on this blog in August 2011, I explained why I came out of political “exile” to try to defeat Barack Obama, the most undefined presidential candidate in history. To repeat a bit, he had no accountable work history, no experience operating or managing anything or anybody, no attributes necessary for a CEO to have. NO, “Community Organizing” for union membership and voter bloc building is not a CEO-like job! His sealed records would, in all likelihood, give some definition that he prefers not to reveal. Why seal the records if they contain information viewed as favorable? All of these factors remain of concern, and after 3+ years in office the lack of experience is quite obvious. His prejudices drive him. All Americans are victims of this.

Of even greater concern to me and many others, was his associations with radical people – socialists, even Marxist-leaning people. In spite of claims to the contrary by his acolytes, especially in the media, he shows these leanings in most of what he does. He has, in part, defined himself in 3+ years, but there is more to surface if he is given a second term.

Now a bit on my personal experience in 2008. I took charge of the McCain campaign in my area. Many associates and friends joined me to lead the effort and 100's of volunteers came out to help. I've written this and won't elaborate more. Frequently, I urged the campaign staff to “define Obama” – all the factors mentioned above and more. They ignored me!

Late in the campaign, we had Sen McCain, Gov. Palin and others of his campaign in our area for an event. My associates and I participated. After the speech, I asked McCain face-to-face why he refused to “define” Obama. He ignored me. He was busy greeting people, but I asked the question at a propitious enough time. Late in the evening when he'd “turned in” at a local hotel, my associates and I sat together winding down and discussing the day. Most people had vacated. But, in walked Sen. Lindsay Graham, whom we had met before, to greet my wife and me and to meet the other people. He then retreated across the room to a seat alone.

I took the opportunity to speak to him one-on-one with no other near to hear the conversation. I asked him pointedly and personally, “Lindsay, why does the campaign not define Obama, why does everyone, including McCain, ignore my urgings and, I'm sure, that of others?” His response shocked me. He asked,
Joe, how old are you?” I was incredulous. I asked him, “what the h... does my age have to do with the issue." His answer, “John is a few years older than you, but you are contemporaries. You should know the answer to your question." He was drinking what looked like a white Russian. I asked him, “How many of those have you sucked down, Lindsay?” We bade each other good night and good luck and that was the end of urging McCain to define Obama.

I pondered his lack of an answer and, after some time, I concluded they were afraid of being accused of racism. In short order I had that confirmed by campaign operatives. They were totally intimidated by the thought of accusations of “being racists.” Of course, they had reason to expect that, but it should not have precluded them from doing an honest appraisal, a “definition,” of Obama. It's quite possible that McCain foreclosed on any opportunity for a future candidate, now Mitt Romney, to do so. McCain's mistake is “forever.”