Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Things Nobody Wants To Think About

I heard difficult news from a number of people this week and it reminded me of some things we need to think about before we are too preoccupied to think about them.

There are some choices we might want to make before we can’t make them. I am talking about death and dying. An uncomfortable subject for most people.

Writer Robert Test did his thinking and this is what he wrote:

 “After I die, don't call it my deathbed. Let it be called the bed of life."

 Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise. Give my heart to the person who has nothing, but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car so that he may live to see his grandchildren play.  Take my bones, every muscle fiber, every nerve and try to find a way to make a crippled child walk."

Burn the rest and scatter the ashes to the wind to help the flowers grow.

If you must bury something, bury my faults, my weaknesses and my prejudices against my fellow man.

If by chance you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or a word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever."

Thank you Robert Test.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Herman Cain Again!

Mr. Cain, it is time to stop the charade.

This is the third time I have written about the alleged assignations of GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain.

This time it is a Georgia woman who alleges a 13-year affair with Mr. Cain.

I don’t need to go into the details in this post; you can do that for yourself if that is of interest to you.
What I find difficult to accept is that Mr. Cain continues to call all of these allegations political skullduggery.

Ginger White said her relationship with Cain was simple. It was consenting and it was fun. She said she decided to go public because she felt sorry for the other women who were being demonized because of their sexual harassment charges.

I don’t know if any of the allegations with the other four women or Ms. White are true. I don’t care.
I do care that Mr. Cain wants to be my president. There are now too many unknowns for me to support him. There are too many suspicious relationships for me to ignore as “dirty politics.” There are too many denials from Mr. Cain for me to ignore. Character is the issue and that’s the criteria for me.

Mr. Cain it is time for you to end your quest to be president. You have two choices. You can continue to speak your innocence and many will support you in that endeavor and join you in the fight for the nomination. Or you can withdraw without admitting any culpability.

Only your heart will know what’s true.

Our hearts and quest for sustainable leadership will look elsewhere.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Emerson's Essay

I hope everybody had a happy Thanksgiving. I did with family and grand children.

Here is something a few of you might be interested in getting. I recently recorded an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was part of his lecture series in the late 1800’s. It’s called, The Uses of Great Men.”

Emerson uses the word “men” in this case to refer to all of humankind.

His text is convoluted and a bit foreign to our modern declarative ear, but it has always been one of my favorite essays of Emerson.

My friend, Brett Barry of Silver Hollow Audio did the recording and is offering it on his commercial website, It will cost you about three bucks to download. It runs about 49-minutes.

I had fun doing it. If you get it please let me know what you think. Not of me reading it, although you may do so if you choose, but of what Emerson is saying.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Driving Home

I'm driving home from family time in Boston. This blog will resume on Monday. Have a great weekend.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

JFK's Assassination

November 22, 1963. Forty-eight years ago yesterday. For those of us who were alive then it does not seem possible that this kind of time has passed and so quickly. For those who were born after Kennedy was killed it was an historic event, for me it is a personal history.

There is a significant psychological difference between someone’s personal and professional history and what is historic for another.

I was a college student when John F. Kennedy ran for the presidency and I was a young journalist when he was assassinated. I was news director for a radio station in Syracuse, New York. I was also associated with a television station and needless to say the focus for days was on the assassination.

In those days no one had the technological abilities we have today to get an instant picture or a report from the scene. To get a live picture from Dallas took time and telephone landlines. It was not easy.

The late Walter Cronkite of CBS did most of his reporting from what was called a flash studio. There was a stationary camera in a small studio and the camera was always hot; ready to go if something major warranted breaking into regular programming.

Dan Rather was a local crime reporter for the CBS affiliate in Dallas. Through his local contacts he confirmed to the CBS network that the President was dead. The wire services, very prominent at the time, also reported and confirmed his death.

NBC News had David Brinkley and Chet Huntley. ABC, a young fledgling network at the time, had Murphy Martin and I believe Howard K. Smith.

It was a time of great turmoil and fear. It was, to use only half of Dickens’s opening line in a Tale of Two Cities, “it was the worst of times. Speculation was rampant with conspiracies and rumors.

Today, television outlets have the ability to get a picture from just about any spot on the globe and to do so quickly; a feat unheard of 48-years ago. In many ways I’m not sure which is better, instantaneous reportage and unbridled analysis or dogged reporting skills with proper and thoughtful analysis.

I will think about this, but not for very long.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame on the congressional “super” committee. They were called to do a hard job and they failed.

They failed because they put party before our country.

 They failed because they put themselves before the American people.

 They failed because not one of them understands the global ramifications of their failure because they are snuggled into an elitist congressional comfort that protects them from their failure.

The public pillory should be brought back just for these twelve ineffectual, cowardly and politically  selfish members of congress.

You should know their names:

In the Senate:

Max Baucus, John Kerry, Jon Kyl, Patty Murray, Rob Portman, Patrick Toomey.

In the House:

Xavier Becerra, Dave Camp, James Clyburn, Jeb Hensarling, Fred Upton and Chris Van Hollen.

Know their names, commit them to memory and if they are in your sphere of influence do not vote for them when they are up for re-election.

I am ashamed of congress and these congressmen and women. The rest of us know how to make the hard decisions of life because we make them everyday. We cut here and we cut there to make ends meet.
There needs to be a radical change in Washington, a radical about face from all representatives, including President Obama. He needs to step up and be an active leader for the greater good of our country, not for the partisan good, but for the greater good of all of us.

Finger pointing and verbal blame must cease. Congress you are the problem and we the people have the solution.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pepper Spray

The right of assembly and peaceful protest is a basic and sacred tenant of our constitution.

What happened at UC Davis is another tear in the fabric of freedoms and rights. Protesting students sitting on the ground arms locked together fits the criteria of assembly and protest. The students were not violent and not threatening in any way.

Two UC police officers in riot gear trying to break up the demonstration walked along the sitting students and sprayed them with pepper spray. Some students were able to keep their heads down to keep the stinging and caustic spray from their eyes; some did not and they were taken to the hospital. All of this was captured in photos and videos.

The spraying sequence has been seen by millions on the Internet and has energized the spreading the OWS protest movement around the country. It has also angered many and generated calls for the policemen to be fired and the University chancellor to resign.

The action by the campus police was cruel, uncalled for and a flagrant abuse of authorities’ power. The two officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Fortunately this was not a Kent State, but it is a usurping of constitutional freedoms and individual rights and the video sends the wrong message and image of what America is like to the rest of the world. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile. It was approved in the Bush Administration with the active support of Vice President Cheney. The process, the torture, was probably developed decades earlier as a way to extract information from a captured enemy.

At the GOP debate this week Bachman, Perry and Cain were for the use of the water boarding torture to force information from prisoners.

Paul was not. He declared that water boarding is torture. He also reminded the applauding crowd (audience) that seemed to lust after the process that it is illegal under both United States and international laws. He also called it un-American.

Huntsman agreed with Paul and said that torture diminishes our standing in the world and the values we project.

Senator John McCain who was tortured when he was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam said to his republican colleagues in a letter that water boarding is torture.

Torture is not part of the American ethic. It is not and it has never been part of what we stand for. IT IS WRONG! It is wrong morally and ethically.

Bachman, Perry and Cain are wrong and because of their belief they should not be President of the United States.

The argument on the part of the pro water-boarding folks is that none of those tortured by water boarding are combatants under a single flag. They are a rogue enemy intent on killing anyone under a banner of religious or political beliefs. It is therefore acceptble to prevent further death and destruction. The argument makes us all pause and reflect, but in the end torture of any kind is inhumane and goes against the basic beliefs of the Oneness of humankind. It is inimical to the sharing of spiritual hopes and actions of peace. It destroys the decency within each of us who embrace democracy as a method of life and liberty. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stone Wisdom - Now available again

Hi Everyone...I am pausing for a commercial message.

Stone Wisdom is now available. We did a second printing through They are very good and fair. If you'd like a copy please go to their website and order it. Basically Stone Wisdom is a collection of some of these posts plus some poetic commentary.

The following article was unsolicited and written by  Charlene Rubush “author and book lover” (Donalsonville, Georgia). I've never met this woman, but I thank her for her kind words.

"Rolland G. Smith has lived a life that most of us can only dream of. He has over forty years of professional broadcast experience as an anchor, reporter, producer, and commentator.

This book is a wonderful combination of his insights and views on the issues facing the world today, and his poetry. He writes from both a practical, and spiritual perspective.

Smith covers a lot of territory in this slim volume. From subjects such as “Integrity”, “The Media”, “Courtesy,” “The Middle East”, “Hidden Prejudice”, “The Use of Power”, “Thoughts on Global Warming”, “Irish Thoughts”, and so much more, Smith offers his observations, conclusions, and hopes for the human race.

The author writes of Courtesy (p.6): “In the communities of America today the elderly, the young, the weak, the poor, the ordinary, the different, are often held hostage by the misdirected actions of a few who confuse rudeness with strength, insults with wit, and profanity with intellect…this is not something we can legislate, this is what we need to teach our children by example”.

On the Media (p.3), he observes “What we in the media need to remember in our quest to tell the story is civility, courtesy, kindness, and most of all, compassion”.

On Character (p.61), he notes “Character, the essence, the heart, the spirit of a human being, is the only criterion that determines one’s hierarchy”.

On Race (p.61), he states “Race does not and cannot give its members an advantage. Race does not make one smarter or stronger; only the grace of the divine within each of us can do that, and even then it is an individual choice to embrace that gift and then be the evidence of it”.

Smith’s sharing of his experiences and deep thoughts on society and life are rich indeed. This is a lovely book. Enthusiastically recommended!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chelsea Clinton - Reporter?

What ever happened to paying your dues?

In almost every profession you start at the bottom; the entry level doorway that may or may not lead to a long career depending on your skills, your education, your talent and luck and if you love what you do.
Chelsea Clinton gets to start at the top! NBC has hired her as a reporter.

What about all those young reporters who have been “paying their dues” in the hinterlands of America? They’ve worked hard and with little pay to gain the experience, practice their craft, make their mistakes in the small markets in the hopes that someday they’d be given a chance to work in the majors; at the networks.

What makes Chelsea get the “big break?”

Celebrity. She’s the daughter of a former, yet politically active President. Her Mom is the high profile Secretary of State. Chelsea is used to privilege and protection. NBC hired her for her name only, not for any journalistic skills that she may possess.

Chelsea has for years disdained the press, the media, and understandably  the paparazzi. I can’t recall any interview she has ever given either on camera or in print. She did work on her Mom’s presidential campaign, but would not talk to the media. She has ignored them and now she’s one them.

Chelsea is a well-educated successful young woman. She has degrees to prove it, but she does not have journalism experience. She will have skilled producers and all she has to do is front the stories upon which she reports.

That’s not being a reporter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hal Holbrook

Once again I'll have the pleasure to listen to actor Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of American humorist and raconteur Mark Twain. He is lecturing at the LOTOS Club in New York City. I have seen him perform his Mark Twain many times over the years.

In some of his performances Holbrook goes into Twain’s “The War Prayer”. Twain wrote it around 1905. It was rejected by his publisher and then found after his death among his unpublished manuscripts.

Twain apparently wrote it as an opposition to the Philippines War of 1899-1902.

The whole story is too long for this post, but its essence is not. The story is a messenger from “The Throne”, shows up in a small church that had been praying for victory and safety for their young who are going off to war. The messenger says God wants them to know the unmentioned results, the unspoken part of the prayer, that must follow victory in war.

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(*After a pause.*) The messenger says, "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

Twain ends the story with this line. “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When The Warriors Come Home

Last night on my radio program we discussed Veterans Day and its ramifications of honor, horror and heroics. My radio partner is a Vietnam Vet and we invited an Admiral friend of mine (retired) to talk about how we as a nation have changed in the way we honor our servicemen and women.

After the broadcast, I remembered that my Uncle Jack fought in World War One with a Canadian infantry regiment.

I don’t know much about him accept he was a stepbrother to my Father. He was ten or so years older and certainly a great influence on my Father. I never met Jack; I just heard stories about him.

Jack survived the war, but like too many of our returning combat veterans from the Gulf and Afghanistan Wars, he could not survive coming home. He committed suicide sometime after the war ended.

War does things to those who are asked to fight it. Perhaps it’s because it is an unnatural condition in which to live. Some make it through OK and go on to lead productive lives. They bury their unpleasant memories in a mind vault that’s rarely, if ever, opened.

Other veterans like my Uncle Jack could not let go of the pain, the fog, and the psychological wounds of battle with images of dead buddies and slain bodies and no bandages to heal the hurt.

I often wonder about the Uncle I never met, and I also wonder why we haven’t learned very much in a hundred years.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11 @ 11:11

11/11/11 @11:11

In numerology it adds up to 10, which is a sign of completion.

I’m not sure what the world is completing today, but it is a significant number and I have been awaiting its effect, if any, for some time.

I do think it is significant, but beyond that I have no idea. I do plan to spend some time in meditation and positive thought for our collective future. I think more of us need to hold a positive vision of what the future can look like especially when I read the headlines of negativity.

* Iran working on a nuclear bomb and is close.

* The Arab Spring tends to swing toward an uncompromising religious ideology.

* Israel’s ultra orthodox is gaining converts and power possibly limiting freedoms for women.

* The global economy is in shambles with Greece needing to create severe economic austerity measures and the public doesn’t want it. So does Italy and who knows from there where it goes. The Euro is in trouble.

* The GOP candidates fluff and bluster, state and attack, always criticizing the Democrats or in particular President Obama. Few, if anybody, see the necessity and value of compromise. Absolutism in all corners of the world seems to be the prevailing passion.

Guess what?

That may be the appearance in the world for the old will always grab the headlines, but the new is hidden just below the surface of reality. The vision of peace, prosperity and positive thinking is bubbling to the surface of our awareness and it will manifest if we give it the energy of thought.

11/11/11@11:11 will happen two times today.

I hope you join me in the meditation of what can be by acknowledging that all is as it should be.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I was in the big apple yesterday. I was there for a nice event in the evening. I decided I buy a new tie and walked into the men's clothing section at Bergdorf Goodman.

Once again I got a confirmation of why this country is in the economic sewer. GREED!

The tie section was festooned with hundreds of colorful neck ware. I looked at one tie that caught my eye and turned it over to see the price.


I was shocked. There were no gems on the tie. The stitching was not done with gold thread. It wasn't silk from a rare worm in Asia. It was a cloth tie that probably used less than a half yard of material made by cheap labor somewhere.

$195.00! Are they crazy? And that was before applicable New York City and state taxes.

No tie is worth that kind of an outrageous price.

I walked out and will never shop Bergdorf's again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Herman Cain once again

OK, back to Herman Cain for a moment. He has been accused by a forth woman of sexual harassment, this time of groping. The dictionary defines groping as the following.

grope [grəʊp]
1. (intr; usually foll by for) to feel or search about uncertainly (for something) with the hands
2. (intr; usually foll by for or after) to search uncertainly or with difficulty (for a solution, answer, etc.)

3. (tr) to find or make (one's way) by groping

4. (tr) Slang to feel or fondle the body of (someone) for sexual gratification

the act of groping

[Old English grāpian; related to Old High German greifōn, Norwegian greipa; compare gripe]

gropingly  adv

Meaning number one is a possibility for Mr. Cain. He was allegedly feeling and searching for something with the hands.

Number two: probably doesn’t apply, but it could.

Number three: that works.

Number four” ahhh….Eureka! (Allegedly)

Yesterday at a news conference Mr. Cain had this response to the allegations that he groped Sharon Bislek, the woman who accused him of the action. The question asked was would he be willing to take a lie detector test to refute the accusation?

His answer was yes, but…

 "But I'm not going to do that unless I have a good reason to do that..."

I am wondering what is a good reason for him to do that?

Come on Herman….go home, you’ve had your fifteen minutes in the sunlight of fame.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Do Not Call"

This is “rant” Tuesday.

Today is Election Day. In my community I have been deluged with political telephone calls from various candidates and it is always around dinnertime the night before.

I thought I was on the “do not call” list, but guess what? Congress has exempted themselves and all politicians from that annoyance because they can exempt themselves.

(It’s time to change the rules and people who make up the rules.)

If you haven’t made up your mind by the day before an election than you ought not to be able to vote. It is not hard to ascertain a candidate’s policies. It is not hard to discern their philosophy or their proclivities to be conservative or centrists or liberal. Read the literature, read the local newspapers, listen the commentators and digest the information. It will or should supply enough information with which to make a fair determination and a reason to cast a vote.

If you’re a diehard something or another then it doesn’t matter. You vote party no matter what truth the other candidate is speaking. (For me that’s another rant for another time.)

So why all the calls at dinner time the night before the election? Because they think we are illiterate, lazy and will pull the lever because they called personally. I have a lot of trouble having a personal relationship with a non-personal automatic device that says, “ Hi, I’m so and so and I’d like your vote tomorrow.”

Try asking a question to the recorded voice and see where you get.

I have made a list. I will not vote for any of those candidates who called. They should know better. I repeat, they should really know better. It’s offensive. It’s intrusive. It’s part and parcel of Congress' elite position to exempt itself from everything the rest of have to experience.

Once again, I’m tired of it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Andy Rooney

As Emerson wrote in his “Uses of Great Men,” …within the limits of human education and agency, we may say, great men exist that there may be greater men. The destiny of organized nature is amelioration, and who can tell its limits? It is for man to tame the chaos; on every side, whilst he lives, to scatter the seeds of science and of song, that climate, corn, animals, men, may be multiplied.

Andy Rooney is gone and the eternal light is now brighter. His greatness stays with us for it will be awhile before we see his like again.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Master's Thought

© 2011 Rolland G. Smith

What is our spirit telling us
When we true listen to its words?
Is it a truth where we adjust
Or phrases for the bees and birds?

Both what I know and what I think
Are different from my spirit mind
Where thinking oft connotes a wink,
But knowing is a thought refined.

The Masters always speak of Now
And let the past and future go.
Be elegant and disavow
The thoughts that held us long ago.

Illusion is the ego’s force
A construct of our human mind.
It tis a path and compass course
For sleepy souls of humankind.

The Masters tell us to awake
And thus embrace the inner heart
And live the NOW to not forsake
What spirit’s heart will true impart.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Herman Cain

The claims of sexual harassment with Herman Cain when he was with the National Restaurant Association in the 1990’s is serious despite his denial and attempts to pass them aside.

His character is in question as is his integrity.

It is now three female former employees that have accused him of inappropriate behavior toward employees.

Some people say I don’t care and others say it’s important for the individual in the oval office to be above reproach.

The oval office requires a stellar character. It is power and power will corrupt if the occupant thinks he or she can get away with it or if he or she does not recognize that some personal behavior is morally corrupt. Any abortion of character in the oval office has the potential to subvert the sacredness of the presidency.

Herman Cain has much explaining to do.

He cannot claim this is a Perry plot or a racial witch-hunt and pass it off; the stakes are too high for our country. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emerson's Essay

I suppose this post could be called a promo and a heads up.

Today I am recording with my friend Brett Barry at his studio Silver Hollow Audio an essay that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote back in the mid 1800’s. It is called, “The Uses of Great Men”.  (Emerson uses the term “men” to mean all of humankind.)

I was first exposed to this essay in high school as an assignment in an advanced English class. When I read it at that time I did not understand the gestalt of the essay, but I loved so many of the phrases such as, “other men are lenses through which we read our own minds,” that I embraced Emerson’s essay as something profound throughout my adult life and career.

I was telling Brett about the experience and he said, “let’s record it.”

Silver Hollow audio is recording this bit of archaic prose to offer it as part of their collection for sale. I hope you will bookmark, “” and see their roster of audio considerations.

Thank you for your indulgence in this joy of mine.

I'll let you know when it is complete and available.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


In Paris, at the United Nations Headquarters, UNESCO, the UN agency we have supported for years is now a persona non grata in the diplomatic and monetary largess of the United States.

UNESCO voted yesterday to admit Palestine into the agency organization as a member. Guess what we did? We responded by cutting off funding for the agency.

Here’s the explanation from an article in the Washington Post.

“Acting under a legal requirement to cut U.S. funds to any U.N. agency that recognizes a Palestinian state, the State Department on Monday announced that the United States has stopped funding the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization because of the vote. Department spokesman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the Obama administration would not make a planned $60 million payment to the agency due this month.”

I understand the need to support Israel. The Middle East has been a volatile region since ancient Egyptian times, but perhaps it is time for sensible heads to end the exchange of violence. It is the only way a change can take place.

Two days ago rocket exchanges and airstrikes between the two sides have left 13 dead. If you were to place thirteen bodies on your front yard or in your living room you would have a perspective of loss not understood in any news report.

It’s time to talk. It’s time to let go of the hate and embrace the only thing that can take its place. LOVE, RESPECT and COMPASSION.

I once asked the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir what it would take to have a lasting peace in the Middle East. She said, “When Israeli Mothers teach their children not to hate and Palestinian Mothers teach their children not to hate then we will have peace in the Middle East”.

The United States needs to rescind it non-payment order. UNESCO is an education, scientific and cultural organization, not a political entity or a pawn. We, the United States, need to be an arbiter of peace not a contributor to the perpetuation of violence.

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