On this day, a website is born

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — We are pleased, proud and excited today to launch Polk County's newest website, polkcommentary.com.

We couldn't think of a better time to introduce the site than on this day, Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the wicked attacks on the United States by Islamic extremists.

This site is just what the name implies, a place for commentary — in long form, short form and everything in between — about local, state, national and international events and issues. About social, political, economic and religious issues. About life itself.

While it isn’t a news site, we hope to provide, through the words here, some useful and relevant information about current events.

The commentary that appears here will be, without shame or apology, conservative in content and tone. We are pro-America, pro-democracy, pro-liberty, pro-U.S. Constitution, pro-capitalism, pro-military, pro-family and pro-traditional values.

We will praise and promote all the positive qualities that made the United States — founded without doubt on Judeo-Christian principles, — the best and most prosperous and most free nation on Earth.

We will promote hard work; thrift; common sense; and personal, business and government responsibility.

We will support a U.S. policy of peace through strength.

And, also without shame or apology, we will lift up the Lord Jesus Christ as the light and savior of the world and promote the good news of His Gospel.

While the commentary here sometimes will be tough, sarcastic and biting, we will work diligently not to be cruel, viscious or hateful.

We begin modestly today with a single Web page and a just a few pieces of commentary and reflection, but look for this website to grow into something much larger and with more “bells and whistles.”

Contributions from like-minded individuals and institutions are welcome. For now, communication can be done through e-mail by writing to jd2braddy@gmail.com.

Enjoy, and may God bless.

My reflections about the News Chief

If you have the whim to read it, I’ve written a column about my almost-35-year relationship with the News Chief, the Winter Haven newspaper that celebrates its 100th birthday this month (Sept. 28).

The column appeared in a special section in the Sept. 11 issue of the News Chief. It's also online at http://tinyurl.com/6j82zt9.

The published version was edited down a bit to fit the space the News Chief had for it. I’ll post the longer version here soon.

Many thanks.

Joe Braddy

Obama in the polls

By way of the 1776 Coalition (www.1776Coalition.com), we learn that President Obama’s approval rating has dropped to all-time low.
A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that Obama’s overall approval rating has dropped to 43 percent and that his disapproval rating has reached an all-time high of 50 percent.

All of this is not surprising, given the persistently poor state of the U.S. economy, failure by the administration to deliver on job growth, worries about the effects of a disastrous national health-care plan and a generally restless public.

What is surprising is that, despite all the problems our nation is facing and ineffective leadership at the top, Obama’s poll numbers are still as high as they are. — JB

Choked employers

Via UPI: “U.S. employers are being choked into unprofitability by ballooning federal regulations, Rep. Peter Roskan, R-Ill., said in the party’s weekly address Saturday.”

Can we get an “Amen” to that?

Instead of making employers jump through more and more hoops to comply with this and that new mandate, Congress and federal agencies should be loosening their stranglehold on businesses so they can put people to work and get the U.S. economic train back on the tracks. — JB

So, which is it?

Look at these headlines, found on the United Press International (UPI) website:

“(Democratic adviser James) Carville tells Obama it’s time to panic”

“Obama confident going into 2012”

It’s a study in contradiction, an apparent battle between Chicken Little and Pollyanna. — JB

Enjoy a 3-0 start

We who are fans of the Florida Gators had better savor well the football team’s 3-0 start and its 33-23 victory over Tennessee in The Swamp on Saturday.

The Gators have their first road test of the season next Saturday night at Kentucky (anything can happen on the road, even against the Mildcats) and then a brutal schedule (with Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia) awaits them in October.

Florida easily could be 4-4 or even 3-5 by the time Halloween rolls around. Oh, the horror of that scenario!

About the Tennessee game, it was great to see Lakeland’s Chris Rainey have such a productive performance for the Gators (more than 200 yards rushing and receiving and a blocked punt). — JB

A marquee outside a local personal storage business: “Land of the free because of the brave.”

A local church sign: “In the dark? Follow the Son.”

Another church sign: “Questions are in life. Answers are in church.”

An excellent resource for conservatives and conservative ideas: http://www.heritage.org/

Strikes: To recycling-pickup workers with Republic Services-Florida Refuse who, with their rough handling, absolutely destroy the heavy-duty plastic recycling bins provided to Polk County residents.

Stars: To Brooks Stayer, Juanita Delgado and others with Polk County Waste Resource Management for their very quick response to my request for a recycling bin to replace a destroyed one. The county staffers outdid themselves by providing not one but two bins. A public “Thank you” to you. (An aside: We recycle at our house. Do you?)

Stars: To the much-maligned “rednecks” of our community, county, state and nation. (Can we call them “outdoor laborers”? Nah.) Without rednecks, who would build our roads, construct our houses and offices, plant and harvest our crops, dig our ditches, string our utility lines, lay our sod and then cut our grass once the sod has matured? We need our rednecks. We love our rednecks.

Stars: To our nation’s first responders — police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel and others — who go into harm’s way daily to keep the public safe. Very special stars to those who risked everything — some gave everything — 10 years ago when our nation was attacked on two fronts.

Strikes: To those silly folks among us who still contend, after all this time, that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center were, for whatever strange reason, the result of a U.S. government or Jewish conspiracy. Puh-leeze.


In a photo dating back to at least January 2009, U.S. military personnel stand respectfully around flagged-draped coffins resting aboard a cargo plan in Dover, Del. The coffins contained the bodies of troops killed in Iraq. (U.S. Department of Defense handout photo)

Casket flags rekindle thoughts of Charlie

Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011


Charlie Jackson had served in World War II on the deck crew of an aircraft carrier. The noises encountered in that work led to him wearing hearing aids later in life.

I first met Charlie when he moved into my neighborhood in Maine. It turns out he had known my wife Bette when she was a girl back in Massachusetts. In those days, insurance salesmen, like a lot of salesmen, came to one’s house to collect time payments. He also took a part-time job as a policeman in the next town.

As chance would have it, Charlie rescued a boy from drowning. When the story broke in the newspapers, he lost the insurance job he had held for 18 years. The company had a policy of not allowing employees to hold a second job. Those were tough times.

As a result, Charlie became a full-time police officer and, before too long, the department's chief. In time, he relocated to Maine as chief in two other towns. His last position was as executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, a job he held with distinction. He spearheaded the erection of a monument next to Maine’s statehouse to honor officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. 

We became good friends.Charlie was a very energetic, well-organized, decisive and hard-working man. In 2008, he lost his life to cancer, the only thing that could ever slow the man down. Close to the end, because of a mix-up when his doctor was out of state on vacation, he had to wait 16 days for a bed to open in the Maine Veterans Home Rehabilitation Center.

I lived with him those 16 days to help him out and never heard the man complain. Interestingly, after he was admitted, I had my left knee replaced and found myself just two doors down the hall from him while I had my physical therapy. We enjoyed each other’s company for several weeks at meal time. The Maine Veterans Home, one of six private rehab centers in the state that contracts with the VA, served fine meals, in addition to its comprehensive therapy program.

After several days of being too weak to come out for meals, Charlie died. There was respectful hush on the ward and in the open cafeteria as his body was moved out of his room by gurney on the way to the undertaker. I was surprised to see his body bag covered with our nation’s flag. I have seen many flags on caskets, but one rarely sees a deceased person exit a medical facility room, let alone with a flag as a respectful cover.

The flag should not have surprised me. The MVH is a first-class institution. It gave me a lump in my throat to see it. To this day, a casket flag reminds me of Charlie, and the lump returns.

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can be reached by e-mail at jackmurphy27@gmail.com.

In crisis and tragedy,
God is far from absent

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Before the quickly passing days put too much distance between now and the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, let me share with you some awesome comments a preacher had to say on the anniversary morning at church.

The preacher is the Rev. Gene Wiggins, my pastor at Central Baptist Church in Winter Haven. I’m more than a bit biased when I say that he’s a wonderful pastor, Bible teacher and leader of the church.

Pastor Wiggins said that a common question asked following the attacks and resulting carnage was: “Where was God?” He said the question was asked by people who don’t understand the nature and character of God — that He’s existent or here (always has been and always will be), that He’s sovereign and in control, that He’s eminent and transcendent (superior and higher than we are), that He’s loving and that He’s powerful, more powerful than sin, Satan and death.

Pastor Wiggins said that God’s presence during and after the attacks was very much on display — in the form of Christians (indwelt with the Holy Spirit) who sacrificed themselves so that others might live; in the form of Christian first responders (police officers, firefighters, Port Authority personnel, paramedics and others) who heroically did their jobs; in the form of Christian doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who worked feverishly to save lives; in the form of preachers and pastors who prayed and comforted the injured, dying and distraught; and in the form of ordinary Christians who served water and meals to anyone who needed it.

A final point: Pastor Wiggins said that some people — many people — believe in a loving God but deny His justice and judgment. The fact that God is in control doesn’t mean that this is a perfect world, he said. Man brought sin and wickedness (like the wickedness of the Islamic terrorists) into the world, not God.

My summary here doesn’t do justice to the great message — the great lesson about God — that Pastor Wiggins brought to us the morning of Sept. 11, 2011. I wish more people had been on hand at church to hear it.

This photo shows the mighty and magnificent Grand Canyon. (U.S. government image)

The words to ‘America the Beautiful’ are, well, beautiful

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Have you ever paid attention to the words of “America the Beautiful”? I mean really paid attention?

I was thinking about that Sunday morning as we sang the song as part of a 9/11 remembrance event at church.

As wonderful as music is, it sometimes gets in the way of the lyrics and the power and beauty of the words within.

Here, without the benefit of music, are the lyrics to “America the Beautiful.” Soak ’em up — and don’t be ashamed to shed a tear or two.

America the Beautiful

(Lyrics by Katherine Lee Bates;
music composed by Samuel A. Ward)

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves
of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Where were you when the towers fell on 9/11?

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Momentous events ingrain in our memory where we were and what we were doing when we first first heard about them.

The first “big event” I recall is the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission in July 1969. I remember, as an 8-year-old, sitting in front of a black-and-white television in the living room of my house in tiny Green Forest, Ark., looking at a grainy picture from the moon and listening to astronaut Neil Armstrong as he said: “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I recall, just after moving to Lake Alfred, Fla., in late April 1970, the ill-fated Apollo 13 space mission and keeping up with the effort to bring our astronauts home safely through newspaper clippings on the classroom bulletin board. I remember that I was paying a telephone bill in downtown Winter Haven, Fla., when I got word that President Ronald Reagan had been shot in an assassination attempt.

And I recall where I was and what I was doing when our nation was attacked without warning by Islamic terrorists the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

I was working at the News Chief newspaper at the time but, for some reason, was still at home when the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York occurred. Not having yet turned on the TV that morning, I received a phone call from my wife, Lana, who told me “They've attacked the World Trade Center.” She didn't specify who “they” were. We could guess who the attackers represented, of course, but no one at the time knew for sure.

I turned on the TV while my wife was still on the phone with me from her workplace and got up to date with whatever news was being reported at the time. And then there was the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

I’m a career journalist, but I wasn’t working in the News Chief newsroom at the time. Even so, I quickly got ready for work and rushed down to the office to see what I could do to help with any kind of newspaper special edition or special section the editors might have been preparing.

I remember first being numbed by the attacks and then feeling the numbness give way to anger and a need for retribution. (I've deliberately avoided all the 9/11 anniversary TV news shows and documentaries because I don’t want to be bitterly angry or sad for most of my days.)

That's what I remember from that fateful day 10 years ago. Where were you and what were you doing when the twin towers fell?

Joe Braddy, of Winter Haven, Fla., is a 35-year journalism veteran and a former managing editor of the daily News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven. He can be reached by e-mail at jd2braddy@gmail.com.

Lincoln vs. Obama

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — After his inauguration as U.S. president, Barack Hussein Obama chose several items provided to 16th President Abraham Lincoln, including the desk Lincoln used in the Oval Office.

Lincoln provided the slaves of the South with their freedom and our great nation with certain immortal truths:

  • You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
  • You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot build character by taking away people’s independence.
  • You cannot help people by permanently doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Several pictures have been taken of Obama leaning comfortably back in his chair, with sleeves rolled up on his tie-less shirt, and feet and shoes planted atop Lincoln’s legacy to our nation.

That, ladies and gentlemen of the voting public, is all you need to know about Barack Hussein Obama.

James W. MacMeekin III, of Winter Haven, Fla., is an author with five books to his credit. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he is a former investment manager and educator. He can be reached by e-mail at jameswmacmeekin@yahoo.com.

Keep watching this space and see the bird as it takes on new personalities in a series drawn by James W. MacMeekin III. (Exclusive rights are granted to PolkCommentary.com for publication of this cartoon series. No other publication is permitted without written consent of the artist.)


“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” — Albert Einstein

“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.”
— Unknown

America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people.” — George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president (2001-09)

“Every artist was first an amateur.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“Work spares us from three evils: Boredom, vice and need.” — Voltaire

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau, American author

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” — Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president (1981-89)

“By associating with wise people, you will become wise yourself.” — Menander, Greek dramatist (342-291 B.C.)

“The devil is not afraid of a Bible with dust on it.” — Unknown preacher

“Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.” —
George Washington, American patriot and first U.S. president

“When you invite trouble, it’s usually quick to accept.” — Quoted in “P.S. I Love You,” compiled by H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“Lost time is never found again.” —
Benjamin Franklin, American patriot, statesman and inventor

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” —
George Washington, first U.S. president

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. — Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

A boss with no humor is like a job that is no fun.

“My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.” — Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a libertarian-learning GOP candidate for president, speaking during the Sept. 22 Republican “debate” in Orlando. (We hear that radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh used a similar line earlier in the day.)

Did you hear about the two radio antennas that got married? The wedding was terrible, but the reception was excellent!

It’s not hard to meet expenses ... they’re everywhere.

You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.

Government philosophy: If it ain't broke, fix it ’til it is.

A big, bright and beautiful full moon in the eastern sky was spectacular enough tonight (Sept. 11, 2011) from Central Florida. But there was more — much more — to see.

Driving on U.S. Highway 92 east from Lakeland to Auburndale, I saw the moon seemingly hung in the sky above a thunderhead cloud, with other thunderheads scattered around.

Adding to the light produced by the moon, lightning danced in and behind the storm clouds, providing new evidence that oftentimes the best shows are the absolutely free ones produced by nature and the rest of God's universe.

Joe Braddy




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