Beltway Bubble in Tampa – RNC Convention Days 2 & 3 – Lesson on Politics

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Welcome to all of the new readers and people following this blog after the GOP Convention. I met a lot of really nice folks from other states and other countries, and I’ve been pleased that some of them have found their way to this site. I want to take some time to tell you what my last two days around the convention were like and share some photos, but I am also trying to paint a picture for another purpose, and that is to describe my perspective of politics, which was broadened this week.

I’ve never been naive about politics and its effect on government, but up until now my visits inside the Beltway have been brief, and I have scurried out as fast as I can. This time, the Beltway came to us here in Tampa, and I decided to immerse myself in it. But since I wasn’t a delegate, I didn’t have planning meetings and other official events to go to. Instead, I was hopping from special interest party, to media event, to book signing, back to special interest event, and stopped at some of my favorite Tampa hot spots along the way to mix and mingle.

The experience was complete with lots of interaction with some of the GOP’s top candidates and past leaders, but it made me realize what a bubble these people live in. I’ll save more for another post, but I think when you see the pace and influences of the people in this realm, the dysfunction of our government becomes more clear. I am confident that they have best intentions in mind, it’s just that a whole lot of other junk gets in the way…primarily in the green paper variety with our founders’ faces on them!

The photo at the top of this post has little to do with my observations above, other than the fact that it is of a panel I attended by a grassroots special interest group with a great purpose — to uplift women and the issues that matter to them. Many of these special interests, especially in my opinion the ones at this convention, have a good purpose. This National Defense and Security panel featured KT McFarland, a defense department advisor to Ronald Reagan that I greatly respect. I was really pleased to talk with her after the panel and get this photo. Her message that a strong energy and economic policy first, is the foundation of a strong security policy made a lot of sense. I also met Jennifer Carroll our fantastic Lt. Governor of Florida.

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After wandering around the Channelside area and realizing that I was one of six people that weren’t part of the MSBC crew broadcasting there, I decided to make a break for a real lunch spot, the newly reopened Floridan Hotel! This national historic landmark that my grandfather owned during World War II was at one time the tallest building in Florida. It had been shuttered since the late 80’s, and after many false starts by other developers, a local family purchased and renovated the hotel and opened it two weeks before the RNC.

I’ll do another full post on the Floridan soon, but I wanted to share a few photos so that you can see how beautiful it is. As I was hoping, it was reminiscent of the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta!

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I had a wonderful lunch in the dining room and was so pleased to have as my waiter one of the nephews of the Floridan’s owner who spoke with me at length about the renovation efforts and all of their hard work in decorating and preservation. The place was beautiful and the food was incredible. It was so important for the city to show it off, that NBC was assigned the hotel for its crew and commentators.

Sitting next to me in the quiet dining room was none other than Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, opinion writer for the Washington Post, and MSNBC contributor Eugene Robinson. We had a really nice chat, and although I hardly ever agree with anything that comes out of his mouth on TV or paper, he was such a gentleman. I look forward to sharing some of his observations of Tampa with you in future posts, he seemed very impressed.

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That experience made me realize that despite all of the political disagreements, these folks living in the world of politics are generally nice people who are real and actually have to eat food and go to sleep. (when, I don’t know) The thing is politicians, lobbyists, and the press, they all know each other and they are all truly in one business, and that is promoting themselves and their agenda. They enable each other and feed off of each other. Because there is a camera in their face all the time, they begin to believe they are experts on everything, and everyone they come in contact with shows them a level of appreciation that may be real or it may just be a show as well, but reinforces that idea in their head. The culture is so immersive I don’t see how many can avoid it. They just do their best to grow gills and swim.

Look at this event I went to with Rick Santorum. You can hardly see him because of the mass of press surrounding him asking him and his family questions along with adoring fans trying to touch him. Even the most honorable man has to be affected a little by this…I would think.

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Even I had to get in on the action and stop Gretchen Carlson for a photo. After all, we have the same last name. I told her this and she dryly responded, well good you’ll be able to remember mine. She was so gracious. The fact is, who doesn’t remember her name? Everywhere she went she was barraged by people wanting to take photos with her. It is amazing how clearly these people can focus once they are in front of the camera. I wonder if they feel like they live in two worlds, one in front of the camera and one behind it. Or if the two have just merged into one.

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Question: Is my portrayal accurate, and is this endless cycle of promotion at all healthy for getting our country back on track?

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Moulthrop Studios

Fashion-plate Fridays!

Seems like everyone has a theme for Fridays, so my plan is to share local Tampa or Atlanta art, style, fashion, and home decor on Fridays. The south is full of all kinds of treasures and in my opinion some of the best artists and interior designers in the business.

To start with, today I am featuring the craftsmanship of a local Atlanta celebrity and a former classmate of mine from Georgia Tech, whose work is renowned throughout the world and especially the U.S. My buddy Matt Moulthrop has been turning wood since he was a child. You see it runs in the family! He is a third generation wood turner following in the footsteps of his grandfather Ed Moulthrop and his father Philip Moulthrop. Moulthrop vessels came along at a time when modern art and craft traditions were merging, creating the perfect opportunity for bold new work!

The family is committed to using only regional timbers, often from notable sources, and forms that best share their beauty. They’ve found an audience that ranges from leading art collectors, museum curators, and those who specialize in the field of wood turning, to your casual collector who just happens into a gallery and likes what they see.

Anyone who was anyone at Coca Cola in the 70’s and 80’s owned a Moulthrop piece. The permanent collection at the Coke world headquarters on North Avenue and at the homes of American Presidents is a testament to this! These days it is not uncommon to see them at a Miami Beach house or a rapper’s condo in LA. I was at a dinner party earlier this year at one of south Tampa’s finest homes and was pleased to see a table of over ten Moulthrop’s from all three generations prominently displayed.

The bowls come in all shapes and sizes including some of Ed’s large bowls that are 5′ tall and a person can sit in! According to Michael Shapiro, the Director of the High Museum of Art, “The Moulthrop family is an Atlanta treasure who literally have turned wood into art for three generations.” Permanent collections can be viewed in the  Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Chicago Art InstituteRenwick Gallery,Museum of American ArtSmithsonian Institution and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to name a few. Ed and Philip’s pieces were even shown in the White House Collection of American Crafts.

What I like about the bowls is that in a world that gets turned upside down with technology, this beautiful family work brings everything back down to earth. It is natural, yet it still looks modern and cool sitting in a high-rise loft on a glass table next to an i-pad! At Moulthrop Studios or a gallery near your home, you can purchase the piece that perfectly finishes off the decor in your pad, and that you will one day generously decide to donate to a local museum.