This photo of Central Baptist Church, 57 Sixth St., N.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven, Fla., makes several statements. Can you count them? Go here for a larger photo and a list of the statements. (Photo by Joe Braddy)

To the detractors,
it’s not about race

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Early and considerable support for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is great new evidence that GOP and conservative opposition to President Barack Hussein Obama is not about race but about policy.

Cain is a straight-talking Atlanta radio show host and former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive officer.

And, if you haven’t noticed, he just happens to be a black man.

On Friday (Oct. 21), Cain won the Western Republican Leadership Conference straw poll of GOP presidential contenders. (Texas Gov. Rick Perry finished way behind in fifth place.) In September, Cain was the surprise winner of the Presidency 5 straw poll in Orlando.

Politicians and pundits on the left of the American political spectrum have consistently cited race as the prime reason for hefty conservative opposition to President Obama. From this perspective, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

President Obama is bad for America not because he is black but because his socialist (dare we say Marxist?) political philosophy and policies are bad for America.

NOTE: Here’s an update (Oct. 27, 2011) on the theme of this post.

The editor’s father, Harold Braddy, right, is shown with his first grandchild, Courtney Renee Braddy, at his home in Conway, Ark., during the summer of 1987. Less than a year later, Harold Braddy was dead, the victim of a second heart attack. (Joe Braddy photo)

May everyone live
to be at least 75

Friday, Sept. 30, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Today, Sept. 30, is my father’s birthday.

Harold Dean Braddy would have been 75 years old, but he didn’t live to see this birthday. He didn’t even live to see his 52nd birthday.

A heart attack cut Dad’s life short at age 51 years and about nine months. He died on June 19, 1988 — on Father’s Day of all days — at his home in Conway, Ark.

He died before I even had the chance to call him that Sunday after church and wish him a happy Father’s Day.

The heart attack that killed Dad was his second. The first, if I recall correctly, came in 1980 when he was serving as an alternate delegate for Ronald Reagan at the Republican National Convention in Detroit.

Dad didn’t do anything to help himself health-wise before and especially after the first heart attack. A lifelong smoker and heavy consumer of alcohol — Dare I say he was an alcoholic? — he continued both vile habits right up until the day he died and didn’t do anything to get and stay physically fit.

I realized the other day, on the 51st anniversary of my birth, that I’m almost the same age my father was when he died. But, because I didn’t pick up the smoking habit, because I have never once consumed a drop of alcohol and because I exercise daily and eat moderately, I expect — short of a fatal accident or the return of Christ for His Church — to see the 52nd birthday Dad never saw and many more birthdays after that.

Do what Dad didn’t do: Take care of yourself, give up the unhealthy vices and live a life bountiful in years and blessings.

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 celebrated its 100th birthday on Sept. 28.

The column appeared in a special section in the Sept. 11 issue of the News Chief. It’s also online at

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

‘Loser’ enters the
Gator vocabulary


That’s the shout today from fans of the University of Florida sports program after the not-so-“Fighting Gators” lost their fourth straight football game.

This time, the victors were the Georgia Bulldogs. In a game they could’ve and should’ve won, the fumble- and penalty-prone Gators were on the short end of a 24-20 score in Jacksonville.

Who can recall the last time the Gators lost four straight football games? Who really wants to recall it? We who are Gator fans don’t want to see this ever happen again. — JB (Oct. 30, 2011)

Quiet time lends
itself to thinking

In the course of the past several months, I've almost totally shunned the radio, CDs and other background noise while I'm traveling alone in the old Buick sedan or the even-older Chevy pickup.

In a world full of noise and distractions, I've come to value any opportunity for quiet time. It gives me time to think, ponder, reflect and medidate (with eyes wide open on the road, of course).

If I’m alone at home, the television is seldom on. Is there really anything but Florida Gators football (and that might be a stretch this season) worth watching? I’m a news guy by trade, but even TV news and commentary, with its leftist slant and just plain idiocy, is too maddening to watch, so I don’t.

I write this as perhaps a too-long and convoluted lead-in to my main thought, which came to me during a Monday morning drive to the dentist’s office in Winter Haven.

With the radio off and the only noise being that of the Buick's engine and the muffled outside traffic, it occurred to me during the drive that a job, however necessary and appreciated, can really interfere with the important things in life, such as family, church and the truly meaningful things one most likes or wishes to do. And then this statement came to mind:

“If your job gets in the way of your work, a change in your life might be in order.”

Original? I hope so. Worthy of consideration? Maybe. Just maybe. — JB (Oct. 26, 2011)

‘W’ (‘Bush 43’) gets some mobile praise

I was in the family sedan the other evening, riding east on State Road 540 near Eagle Lake, when we came up behind an SUV just ahead of us.

I noticed something small, round and black on the left rear glass of the SUV and didn’t make out what it was until we were right behind the vehicle.

It was a sticker, about 3.5 inches in diameter. And in the middle of it was a big “W” with the small words “Thank you” underneath it.

Putting 2 and 2 together brought a smile to my face. It was a simple message of thanks to former President George W. Bush (“W” or “Bush 43”) for his eight years of service in the White House and, presumably, for his tireless efforts to keep America safe after the horror of Sept. 11, 2001.

About the sticker’s message, I say “Ditto.” — JB (Oct. 20, 2011)

An excellent resource for conservatives and conservative ideas:

Another good source of news from, for and about the right:

An interesting read on our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln:

For great and trendy technology:

A good movie: It’s a low-budget film called “Fireproof,” starring Kirk Cameron. You'll cry — if you have any kind of heart at all.

For breakfast out: Fred’s Southern Kitchen, 1551 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven. The breakfast buffet is wonderful — even after the $5 special has run its course.

For supper out: The wife and I tried the new Manny’s Original Chophouse at 1100 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), in Winter Haven the other day. And I like it — well enough to recommend it here. If it hasn’t done so already, Manny’s will eat (pun intended) into business at Winter Haven’s Longhorn Steakhouse, a place with great food but always-rising prices.

A marquee outside a local personal storage business: “Land of the free because of the brave.” (It’s on bumper stickers, too.)

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

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

Still another area church sign: “God isn’t withholding anything from you. He’s holding it for you.”

An open invitation to attend:

Stars: To the Central Intelligence Agency and its drone strike teams teams for taking out another bad guy. A missile fired Friday (Sept. 30) from an aircraft piloted remotely by the CIA over northernYemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the fiery U.S.-born Islamic jihadist and propagandist for al-Qaida. The world is a better place without al-Awlaki and certainly a better place without Osama bin Laden, the long-sought al-Qaida leader killed in a lightning strike by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan in May. Yea for the good guys! Yea for our side in the fight against Islamic terrorism!


Oh, the irony of it all

This piece of art, created in the wake of the recent protests against corporate America and Wall Street, is making the rounds on the Internet. It shows well the irony of the protests and the hypocrisy — idiocy? — of most of those doing the protesting. We have a few things of our own to say about these protests, so check back soon. In the meantime, go here for a larger version of this illustration.

What’s the truth about Social Security? Is it a Ponzi scheme or is it a perpetually viable and dependable financial safety net for older Americans? (Illustration by Joe Braddy)

Social Security (1935-2011): Where is the rage?

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Recently, there has been some controversy regarding the administration of Social Security. One Republican presidential candidate had the audacity to suggest it was a Ponzi scheme. Another Republican presidential candidate suggested otherwise.

Let history be your guide. Since 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, the trillions of working-men and women dollars, placed in trust for their eventual retirement have, indeed, been faithfully doled out to retiring workers.

For several decades, more dollars flowed into Social Security than required for disbursement. Naturally, our elected officials (aka “politicians”) couldn’t help but notice the mounting pile of (formerly) silver certificates. They were fast to take advantage. Rather than expose these silver certificates to the vagaries of the (gasp!) stock market, where, from one day to the next, who knew what fate awaited the innocent!

Read more of the commentary here

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 servicemen killed in Iraq. (U.S. Department of Defense handout photo)

Casket flags rekindle thoughts of Charlie Jackson

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

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.

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

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 for publication of this cartoon series. No other publication is permitted without written consent of the artist.)


Have a
Oct. 31

I’m not big into Halloween. I don’t recall being big into Halloween as a kid.

As an adult with children and now my first grandchild, I’m of the mind that fall festivals and “Trunk-or-Treat” events are more wholesome and safe for kids than trick-or-treating, ghosts, goblins, witches and all that other demonic stuff.

Having said that, there’s nothing wrong in wishing people a “Happy Oct. 31” — with or without a connection to Halloween.

And just for fun, here’s a link to a digital greeting card that made its way into my e-mail inbox the other day. It was described as the “greatest Halloween card ever.” I don’t know about that, but it is kind of clever and amusing. — JB

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Great Britain

“Ask yourself this question: ‘Will this matter a year from now?’ ” — Richard Carlson, writing in “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”

“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 retired husband is often a wife’s full-time job.

Sign in a police station: It takes about 3,500 bolts to put a car together; but only one nut to scatter it all over the road.

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.

It’s getting
a bit scary

Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican member of Congress from Texas and GOP presidential candidate, is warning Americans about a truly frightening new invasion of our personal privacy and liberties by the federal government.

You can read about it here:

TSA Releases
VIPR Venom on Tennessee Highways

New FBI tool is alarming

From, we learn that the FBI soon will activate a nationwide facial recognition service that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos.

And Florida is one of four states that will serve as testing grounds for the alarming new technology this winter.

You can read about it here:

FBI to launch nationwide facial recognition service

Are you ready?

The pastor preached a powerful message this glorious fall morning (Sunday, Oct. 2) in Polk County, Fla. It was about the absolute certainty of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The bottom line to the message was this: Are you ready?

It’s a question that has to be asked. — JB

Little ones
to Him belong

It was a blessing on a recent Sunday morning (my birthday, no less) to witness the baptism of not one, not two but five little girls at church.

The girls were giddy with excitement as they hopped into the baptistry pool. And, after giving a public “Yes” to the question “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?” each was “buried in the likeness of His death” and “raised in the likeness of His resurrection.”

Baptism won’t get anyone to Heaven, the Bible teaches, but it is commanded by Jesus as a symbolic and public acknowledgement that one has received Him by faith as lord and savior.

Heaven and Christians rejoice when anyone — young, old and anywhere in between — is saved, but it is a particular joy to see children commit their lives to Jesus when there is so much life and service to the Lord ahead of them. — JB






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