The time, the Walrus said, to speak of many things.
I write more than I speak and most of what I have written about for more than five decades concerns politics, most often about the failure of the political system that drives and — I believe — is destroying our country.
Sadly, I must share some of the blame for what politics does to our nation’s psyche.
As a political operative for a dozen years, working out of the nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C., I helped spread propaganda throughout the nation, starting in 1981 as press secretary for Congressman Paul Findley (R-Ill.), the principle writer for the “Voices for Victory” program for the Regan-Bush presidential re-election campaign in 1984 and then in various positions for The National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and — finally — vice president for political programs for the National Association of Realtors, which at the time dispensed funds from the largest political action committee in America.
I walked away from that world in 1994, stopping first to attend my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, and then starting a political news website as part of my return to the world of news, journalism and newspapers.
Today, after 23 years in Washington, another 17 years working as a full-time reporter, photographer and columnist for other newspapers elsewhere, I live in semi-retirement with my wife in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, five hours away from Washington.
“Semi-retirement” means I still work, mostly as a contract reporter/photographer for BH Media, the newspaper chain owned by billionaire Warren Buffett and owner of our hometown paper and many others in Virginia and around the nation.
I still write an occasional column about politics for Capitol Hill Blue, the Internet news site that I started in 1994 and continues today as the oldest surviving political new site on the world wide web. I shoot news videos from time to time for CNN and MSNBC and helped Washington media cover the horrific massacre of students and faculty at Virginia Tech adjacent Montgomery County in Southwestern Virginia on April 16, 2007.
Most of my news writing now, though, concerns local government actions of our county board of supervisors and Circuit Court hearings in the local courthouse. Photography is dominated by coverage of high school sports and the music that is such a dominant part of life here in the mountains, where the “Crooked Road” travels through the town on its winding route down to places like the Carter Fold (after the legendary Carter family) and various music spots of note.
Later today, the cameras and I head for the second day of an annual “bluegrass and BBQ” festival to shoot feature photography for the local newspaper. Some of the photos also appear on Blue Ridge Muse, my hyperlocal news website that I started when we moved to the mountains in 2004.
When we moved to the mountains, we expected a slower, more relaxed period of life. Didn’t happen. I work 50-60 hours a week in a profession of both love and enjoy. Politicians still show up in our part of the world and the actions and antics of the circus in Washington continues those who love and work here.