Plan the work, work the plan.

Plan the work, work the plan.

Paul Clenen Bishop said this over and over, as advice to himself and to others.   Assembling train sets as a kid, as a high school student on a Liberty Ship, for more than 40 years in the United States Navy and as a Navy civilian, and as a small business owner working for the Navy, Paul would plan the work and work the plan.

His work was noticed, whether “inventing the Internet”, or keeping sailors and sea lanes safe, or helping with the Navy’s newest ship, or working with the Panama City Chamber of Commerce, and a wide range of other efforts. The Navy awarded him the Superior Civilian Service Award. He was a Senior Member of IEEE, and founding chair of its Marine Systems Coordinating Committee.

Away from work, though, he would sometimes go without a plan.  One familiar treat was a good meal on the road.  Often he would trust that treat to the waiter or waitress.  And what would you like, sir?  “Please bring me something good.”  Uh…. Can you give me guidance? What do you like? “No, I trust you. Surprise me,” handing back the still-unopened menu. I dont remember him ever being disappointed with what came.

Perhaps most, though, was his distinctive laugh.  With family or at work, it would be crisp and vocal, full-bodied, head back, giant smile, sometimes also slapping his two hands against the chair arms.  There was always some great satisfaction in whatever he was laughing at – not only was he entertained but also smarter.  And you could see in his eyes that there was some question to follow – gentle or probing, personal or intellectual, but a moving on from “that was really good” to “what’s next? “

“His Lord said, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”

For Kim, Brad, Bobbie, Nancy, and Tina.

Visitation 4-5pm, Memorial Service 5-6pm, Wilson Funeral Home, Wednesday.  Funeral Friday, 8am, St John’s Catholic Church, Panama City, followed by burial at Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola.

Forgetting the Presidents?

What Presidents will we forget – or our grandkids never hear of at all?  In AAAS’ Science, Washington University of St. Louis scholars Henry L. Roediger III and K. Andrew DeSoto offer one analysis.  But I’m guessing they’re wrong.

Their idea is based on the idea that people are good at remembering the beginning of lists, and the end, but only remarkable items along the middle of the list.  Using data collected from surveys of undergrads in 1974, 1991, 2009, and an adult survey in 2014, they found that Washington,  Lincoln, and recent presidents are recalled, but those more than a couple of generations past are forgotten.

 But there are a number of advantages that recent and all future presidents will have over McKinley and Fillmore:  video, a strong executive branch, and global authority.

Washington was first and is iconic.  Lincoln “saved the Union” and “freed the slaves” (critics of these phrases we’ll leave for another time).  Washington and Lincoln were critically important historical figures, objects of study and admiration worthy of giant memorials and federal holidays.  They have been recreated so often, from Chautauquas to school plays to mattress commercials, that we have “living” images of them.

This “living image” is something that Polk and Jackson and others don’t have.  But every President from now on (indeed, from FDR), does.  We need only one “hook” to place them in their historical context with their historical legacy.  FDR will remain a permanent fixture with his New Deal’s “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself” and World War II’s “December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy.”  John F. Kennedy will live on with the distinctive accent in his immortal call to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  Ronald Reagan’s challenge to the Soviet premier, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” highlights the coming end of the Cold War.

Roosevelt delivers Day of Infamy speech

Video doesn’t ensure immortality, or greatness.  Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” is notable, but not remembered as great film.  LBJ and Gerald Ford might not have popular video.  And not all memorable video is good.  Nixon’s might be “I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow,” George H.W. Bush’s might be “read my lips, no new taxes,” and Bill Clinton’s might be “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

It might still be too early to tell, but the audio that accompanies George W. Bush’s bullhorn at Ground Zero with firefighters, “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon” paired in our minds with the Iwo Jima-esque flag raising will likely trump the seemingly voiceless “Mission Accomplished” banner.  Barack Obama still has nearly two years left in office, but his mark might come from his “citizen of the world” campaign speech in Berlin. (If so, there is something remarkable that Obama, Reagan, and Kennedy (“Ich bin ein Berliner“) each have memorable Berlin video.)

The second advantage that recent and future presidents have is that the Office of the Presidency is greater, relative to the Congress, than it was in the 19th century.   Senators Calhoun, Clay, Webster, and Seward, and House members like Thaddeus Stevens and Williams Jennings Bryan, were as large or larger than anyone but Lincoln.  Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR began the 20th century ascendance of the White House as the dominant political force, concurrent with the beginning of the film era and the rise of American power.

It is this rise of American power that gives recent and future presidents a third advantage in being remembered.  With “leader of the free world” status, (whatever that means today, and with apologies to E.F. Hutton), when the President of the United States speaks, people listen.  For more than 70 years, and for at least the near future, U.S. Presidents are global news.  What they do is important, and it is noticed.  From newspapers to satellite television to social media, the words and deeds of U.S. Presidents matter.  This is related to the previous items: the ubiquity of presidential video and the centrality of the presidency as the global representative of the United States.

Together, video clips, a shift to executive authority, and the global leadership role of the United States (and therefore of the President), might change how well Presidents are remembered in the future.  Yale’s class of 2060 might not connect Harry Truman to Hiroshima or Jimmy Carter to malaise, but they should remember many more presidents of the video and superpower eras than today’s students remember from the 19th century.

“Forgetting the Presidents,” Science, 28 November 2014: Vol. 346 no. 6213 pp. 1106-1109,

DOI: 10.1126/science.1259627, abstract

Washington University of St Louis press release


Back to Bosnia, on France24

Based on earlier posts here, France24’s Les Observateurs shared this version on their web site.

Back to Bosnia

All photos taken by our Observer Jim Quirk in Bosnia.

By Jim Quirk
After 17 years away, I returned to Bosnia in October as part of the OSCE Election Observation Mission. It was in part exciting, rewarding, and disheartening.With the ballots counted, the presidents named, and the parliamentary coalitions in the making, we can begin to make notes about the future of Bosnia.

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Back to Bosnia, Part 2


OSCE briefing, Sarajevo

With the ballots counted, the presidents named, and the parliamentary coalitions in the making, we can begin to make notes about the future of Bosnia.

The OSCE election observation mission consisted of a professional staff and nearly 300 observers, most of whom were in-country for one week or less, but dozens of whom served for several weeks.  Together, these observers generated data for a Statement of Preliminary Findings the day after the elections.  A final report is due in December.

The short-term observers (of which I was one), mostly from the United States and Europe, were briefed in Sarajevo on several items before their deployment to the regions.  Based on these briefings, on the Preliminary Report, and on my own conversations with Bosnians that week, several tentative conclusions can be drawn.  *Judgments here are my own and not those of OSCE unless otherwise identified.*
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Airlines and Sick Passengers – updated

Update:  United Airlines responded as well, with the following email.  The reply from Austrian Airlines, posted here earlier, is further below.

“Thank you for contacting United Airlines; we appreciate your sharing your concern.

“To answer your question, yes we do have records in place of all incidents that happen on the aircraft and have methods in place for tracking.

“If in fact that an individual from your flights on October 7th were found to be contagious, and it affected any passengers direct health you would have received a phone call directly from United Airlines.

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In Response to the Perception of Electoral Integrity Index


Voters in Bosnia, October 2014.

In the current issue of PS: Political Science and Politics (47:4, October 2014), Pippa Norris, Richard W. Frank, and Ferran Martinez i Coma announce a new dataset for “Measuring Electoral Integrity around the World.”  In the spirit of Freedom House, Transparency International, and other global indices, the Electoral Integrity Project surveys experts on 49 indicators for a particular election, and generates a PEI index on a 100-point scale.

The authors anticipated relationships between electoral integrity and liberal democracy, democratic history, and  economic development.  They found these, with some interesting exceptions.  They also find that media and campaign finance, not just ballot box integrity, are important.  To be sure, this effort will become an important contribution to the study of elections, political development, democratization, and more.  But it risks suffering from a serious flaw – one that might have a simple, partial solution.  Continue reading