The 2011 Gators truly disappointed

Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011

By JOE BRADDY

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The oldest daughter invited me over to her place Saturday night (Nov. 26) to watch the annual football rivalry game between “our” Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles.

It’s a good thing I had the granddaughter (all decked out in cute little Gator garb) to play with, otherwise I would’ve been a man most miserable.

While the Gators played a fairly good game on defense, the UF offense was worse than inept, and the result was a 21-7 victory for the ’Noles on UF turf.

The loss gave the Gators and first-year head coach Will Muschamp a 6-6 record, the worst for the program in many, many years.

With six victories, the Gators qualify for a bowl game, but no UF fan should be content with that. I’m certainly not.

If Muschamp and his players have any respect at all for the UF football and its rich recent tradition, they will decline a bowl invitation this year — even if it’s to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. That’s the bowl game that, if I’m not mistaken, was created especially for the Gators in the “old days,” when bowl committees rarely paid attention to the UF football program.

I fear that Muschamp is out of his league as the head man for the UF football program. It’s one thing to be the “coach in waiting” as the No. 2 coach for the University of Texas. It’s quite another to be the head coach at Florida.

We Gator fans, spoiled or not, expect annual success, even excellence, from the football team. Among the Gator Nation, a .500 season is anything but success.

UF gave former head coach Ron Zook (the man who followed Steve Spurrier) three years to build his program and then summarily dismissed him — and Zook had a better first season than Muschamp did. Will Muschamp get more than two years to turn things around? We’ll meet back here a year from now to talk about it.


Harold D. Braddy, the editor’s father, was little more than a kid when he joined the military in the early 1950s. This photo only recently became known to the editor.

We love our veterans — especially those close who served

Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

By JOE BRADDY

I would be remiss on this Veterans Day 2011 if I didn’t say how much I am thankful for our U.S. veterans — those who served our nation honorably in the past and those who currently serve in war zones and in peaceful stations around the world.

I am especially grateful for two veterans most close to me: My late father, Harold Dean Braddy, and my younger brother, Dwight Richard Braddy (named for a U.S. president and a vice president who went on to become president).

Dwight served in the U.S. Marine Corps for a hitch that began not long after he graduated from high school in the early 1980s. I remember traveling up to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for his graduation from boot camp.

Also at the boot camp graduation was Dad, who then was about eight years into his retirement from the military. He was really just a kid when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s. He was in the U.S. Army when he completed more than 20 years of service in 1975, having earned the rank of chief warrant officer. I’ve never known for sure why, how and when the move from the Air Force to the Army occurred, but it seems to have worked out OK for Dad.

Unless you count my many years as an always-moving Army brat (twice the family lived on base at Fort Riley, Kan.), I never served in the military. But, I wanted to.

In the early 1980s, not long after my wife and I were married, I went down to the Winter Haven Armory, inquired about joining the National Guard and went to far as to pick up the enlistment papers. But, the wife would have nothing of that and any talk of enlistment talk was off. Forever.

I’ve fussed on this site about Dad and the unhealthy smoking and drinking habits that I believe cut his life very short, but I couldn’t be more proud of his military service and his two tours of duty in the Vietnam war zone in the 1960s.

My many years around but not in the military have left a soft spot in my heart for the institution and for those who have honorably and bravely worn the uniform.They have my undying respect and gratitude.


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. Below is a Nov. 20, 2011, photo of the church with a facelift construction project almost complete. (Photo by Joe Braddy)

Nine months after
the big change,
contentment holds

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011

By JOE BRADDY

Today is the eighth day of the month. It’s also a Tuesday.

Exactly nine months ago, on the eighth day of the month, a Tuesday, I worked my last day for the News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven.

It was a tough decision to leave my employer of many, many years — my employment comfort zone, if you will — and it carried considerable financial risk because I didn’t have another job lined up.

But I took a leap of faith that everything would work out well in the end.

Today, just as that day nine months ago, I have absolutely no regrets about my big move — my “retirement” from daily newspaper editing and publishing.

Why?

There are several reasons really, but the biggest is that the job was consuming me — and in all ways negatively.

The regrets I have now are about all the things — the really important things — that I ignored, sacrificed and missed out on in my attempt to do an excellent job for my company, the newspaper and the community.

Those really important things of life are faith, family, friendships and even simple daily pleasures. And work, as my dear and late father-in-law used to tell me, is just a means to an end.

I value work, especially the kind that is meaningful, enjoyable and personally satisfying and enriching, but the desire of my heart is to place more value on the God who created me, the Christ who saved me and the people most close to me.

Once I made the decision to leave the paper, I made a promise that at the very first opportunity following my last day of work there that I would be back in church. And I kept that promise. I have since realized how much I missed being in church, missed the singing and missed the preaching and teaching. I also have realized how very important all of those things are to my spiritual and personal well being.

Now that I’ve resumed regular church attendance, it truly hurts when work — yes, the Lord has blessed with many new opportunities and new sources of income — and other unavoidable matters interfere with the service times.

Nine months ago, despite the uncertainty then ahead of me, I was content and at peace for the first time in a very long time. Today, because I value more the really important things of life — and because I know God will provide — I remain that way.

And in the end, at least so far and at least as far as I’m concerned, everything has worked out. It has worked out quite well, indeed.


Delay of USF Poly independence probably prudent

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011

By JOE BRADDY

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The future polytechnic university set for Polk County won’t get immediate independence from the University of South Florida.

But, there are steps USF Poly leaders can take to lead to eventual campus independence.

That was the result of a 13-3 vote Wednesday by members of the State University Florida Board of Governors.

The benchmarks set by the board for USF Poly independence include separate accreditation for the branch campus, implementation of programs listed in Phase I of its business plan, a threshhold of 1,244 full-time equivalency students and minimum conditions related to campus construction.

This all means that the polytechnic campus will be under the wings of USF leadership for quite some time.

And that’s probably a good thing. No good will result from rushing into independence unprepared and without a solid foundation of facilities, curriculum, programs, faculty and students.

There’s also this matter: The name of the future independent school.

The interim steps to independence will give USF Poly leaders time to come up with a good and solid name for the school — something minus USF.

What we don’t want to have is something like Polk Polytechnic University, generating PPU (Yuck!) for short, or even worse, something like Florida Polytechnic University or just Polytechnic University.

Can you imaging the fun people would have with PU or FPU?

Yep, the name for and marketing of the school will have to be given a lot of thought. A lot of thought indeed.

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)

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

Another good source of news from, for and about the right: http://www.1776coalition.com/

An interesting read on our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln: http://lincolnlaughing.com/

For great and trendy technology:
http://www.apple.com/

A great community project: http://ritzoncentral.com/

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: http://centralbaptistchurchwh.com/

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!

 

Those in news media excel in negativity, scab-picking

Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011

By JACK MURPHY

FROSTPROOF, Fla. — The depth of this recession has left all Americans in a mood just as deep as the economy around us. I maintain that the collective world of media, both print and television, has failed miserably in its contribution to our nation’s welfare. Far too many of its members are more interested in profit than public service. The public, remember, is the source of their profit.

With the destruction of Republican Herman Cain’s bid for the presidency, we see the media at its worst. The period leading up to the presidential election is the time when we need to learn as much as we can about a candidate’s leadership skills, his political strengths, his knowledge of world affairs and plans for our future.

Instead, when a salacious story surfaces, the tabloid-style media vultures descend on the subject to find the scabs to pick. The most important qualities of a candidate get lost in a feeding frenzy of malevolence.

One does not have to go very far back into history to find evidence of presidents with checkered backgrounds who managed to serve out their times in office successfully. Presidents Kennedy and Clinton come to mind immediately. Despite moral failings, they had enough of the right skills to serve their citizens appropriately in matters most important to the post they held.

The tabloid vultures would have us place private weaknesses before all else. Those of us who have read the Bible know that it teaches us to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. I don’t say these are acceptable qualities, but these things are God’s to handle.

Politics is the area that is Caesar’s realm. We must not let these vultures remove our choices to structure our political landscape to their liking.

If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich emerges as the Republican choice for president, you wait and see, they will pounce on him for more scab picking.

Our economy desperately needs positive leadership. We need the good, decent ethical members of the media, and there are more of them than vultures, to come forth and show the proper course of action.

We need investigative reporters to scout for any business that has hired anyone. It doesn’t matter whether it is a fast-food restaurant, department store or a junkyard business. On a daily basis, we need to see interviews with the new hires and hear their stories. We need to hear how long they were out of work and living on macaroni and cheese,  and how happy they are now to be better able to provide for their families.

We need these stories facing us every day of our recession-dominated lives. We need the good journalists to swamp the scab-picking vultures with solid, positive evidence of a recession turnaround.

Let us stop feeding the fantasies of peeping Toms. We, the people, deserve better than that.

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


Alabama shouldn’t be
in the BCS title game

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011

By JOE BRADDY

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I’ve never liked the rule — or lack of one — that allows a college football team that hasn’t won its conference title game to play for the Bowl Championship Series title.

(The BCS title game usually decides big-time college football’s mythical national championship, or MNC.)

There was a big ruckus, and rightfully so, following the 2003 regular season when Oklahoma got to play for the BCS title against LSU despite losing decisively to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game. (Southern California was the more deserving team to play LSU.)

Now, at this writing on a Sunday morning, it looks like Alabama will get to play for the BSC and MNC titles despite not even reaching its 2011 conference title game.

’Bama lost to LSU during the regular season and LSU represented the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division in Saturday night’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

LSU, the No. 1-ranked team in the land, overcame a sluggish first half to defeat SEC Eastern Division champion Georgia, 42-10, and, with its unblemished record, earn an automatic BCS Championship Game bid.

I don’t know what team is more deserving to be in the BCS title game against LSU, but Alabama shouldn’t be there. I don’t care how the final numbers come out in the crazy BCS points-ranking system.

Maybe the BSC rules should include this stipulation: If, in the final BCS rankings, the No. 2-ranked team hasn’t won its conference title, the team that plays the No. 1-ranked team will be the one that has the next best BCS ranking AND a conference championship.

The ONLY good thing about a matchup between LSU and Alabama in the 2012 BCS title game (Jan. 9 at the Superdome in New Orleans — almost a home-field advantage for Louisiana State) is that it will guarantee another BCS and MNC title for a team in the SEC, the home of my favorite team, the Florida Gators (two-time BCS title game winners and three-time overall national champs). Of late, the SEC has absolutely dominated in the BCS championship games.

Speaking of Florida, it looks like the unspectacular Gators (6-6) will be playing their postseason football game up the road in Jacksonville in the Jan. 2 Gator Bowl. How appropriate. The opponent could be Ohio State (6-6), the team the Gators drubbed 41-14 in the 2006 BCS title game.

If Ohio State is Florida’s Gator Bowl opponent, I predict another loss for the Gators and their first losing season in many years.

UPDATE: The Florida-Ohio State matchup in the Gator Bowl was confirmed Sunday evening (Dec. 4).

And now, about Urban Meyer ...

It just makes me sick to know that Urban Meyer, the former Gators head coach (and winner of two national titles), is getting back into coaching as the top guy at problem-plagued Ohio State.

It was less than a year ago that Meyer announced — for the second time in as many seasons — his resignation at UF for “health” and “family” reasons.

Baloney.

The guy was burned out at Florida but didn’t have the integrity to be honest about it. (And he didn’t leave the UF program in good shape.)

The next time I hear a coach, particularly a young one like Meyer, say he’s resigning for “health” and/or “family” reasons, my first thought will be: “Yeah. Right.”


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.


True, Barack Hussein Obama is the president of the United States, but can Americans trust this man to keep the nation strong, well defended and free? (U.S. government photos)

On cue, ‘Obamaspeak’ follows failure of budget ‘Super Committee’

Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011

By JAMES W. MacMEEKIN III

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Recently, President Barack Hussein Obama proposed a “Super Committee” to provide the nation that which Congress could not. Namely, a federal budget that would simultaneously reduce America's $15 trillion indebtedness while continuing the expansion of Barack Hussein’s entitlement programs.

By definition, there could be no budget acceptable to both the Sociocoms (aka “Democrats”) and alleged conservatives (aka “Republicans”). There should be no surprise at this ideological impasse. It came off as planned by the Sociocoms.

How’s that again?

More


Daily commute pleasant, full of interesting sights

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011

By JOE BRADDY

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this site the five-day-a-week drive to my “day job.”

It’s about 25 minutes one way, but it’s not a bad drive. On the contrary, it’s very pleasant most of the time.

For much of the journey, I take the easternmost leg of the Polk Parkway (State Road 570), the approximately 10-mile section that runs from Winter Lake Road (State Road 540) north to Interstate 4.

The end of the section, from about Mile Marker 21 to Mile Marker 24 (I-4) has been under construction for quite some time. It’s been interesting to watch since mid-May the daily progress of the work as crews widen the parkway and put in a major interchange leading west to the future University of South Florida Polytechnic campus (which, for now, will keep its USF ties) and east to Berkley Road, north of Auburndale.

More


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

By JAMES W. MacMEEKIN III

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!

More


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.)

 

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” — Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, founder of General Electric

“The cement of this union is the heart-blood of every American.” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), American patriot, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. — 2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunities.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” — Lee Greenwood, singer, “Proud to Be an American”

“Nothing will work unless you do.” — John Wooden (1910-2010), college basketball coach

“What doesn’t kill you won’t hurt you. — Author unknown (but it sounds like a Yogi Berra-ism)

“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, mathematician and physicist

“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)

“Never give an order that can’t be obeyed.” — Douglas MacAuthur (1880-1964), U.S. Army general

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — John Powell, British statesman

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.” — Billy Graham, American evangelist

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” — Author unknown

“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

“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)

What did the tie say to the hat? “You go on ahead. I’ll just hang around.”

“If you had to specify, in one word, why the human race has not, and will never achieve its full potential, that word would be meetings.” — Dave Barry

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

I’ve got to get in shape. Yesterday my imagination ran wild, and today my arms and legs are sore. — From the collection of Jack Murphy

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.

Car bumper
displays ignorance

For good and bad, for better or worse, a vehicle bumper sticker usually will be a reflection of the person behind the wheel.

Here is what I saw on the bumper of a white sedan I parked next to recently in front of a Walmart store in Winter Haven:

“Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?”

I take from that the owner or driver of the car is ignorant, just mean or some of both.

The driver obviously has no idea what being born again — “saved” in the Baptist vocabulary — means. He or she doesn’t understand that a person who is born again actually is very mature — mature enough at least to realize that there’s no way a person can earn a home in Heaven by his or her own accord, by his or her own deeds or behavior.

Here’s what else the bumper sticker tells me: The person responsible for it has an anti-Christian disposition and a life that requires some kind of divine intervention.

If there was ever a time to have a Bible tract to stick under the windshield wiper of a car, that was it. — Joe Braddy


New FBI tool is alarming

From Nextgov.com, 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

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


“He was there all the time ... waiting patiently in line.” – From “He Was There All the Time,” a contemporary Christian song

 

 

 

 

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