Saturday, December 1, 2007

  • November Programs at the Clinton School

    I realize that I missed quite a few opportunities in November while deep in the trenches of the end of the term and FINALS!!!

    Michael Brown, CEO and co-founder of City Year
    Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
    – Brown leads City Year, a program for 17 to 24-year-olds to give 10 months of full-time community service to their community and country. The success of City Year helped to inspire President Clinton to create AmeriCorps in 1993.

    10th Anniversary of Clinton Presidential Center site selection
    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
    – A panel of city leaders discussed the economic development impact of President Clinton’s decision to locate the Clinton Presidential Center in downtown Little Rock. Panelists included City Director Dean Kumpuris, City Manager Bruce Moore, developer Jimmy Moses and Dan O’Byrne, CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    Steven Brill, founder of Court TV
    Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)

    After September 11, 2001, Brill became a columnist for Newsweek and an analyst for NBC on issues related to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

    Michael Beschloss, Bestselling author and NBC’s Presidential Historian
    Monday, November 19, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
    – Beschloss was recently appointed NBC News’ Presidential Historian – the first time any major network has created such a position – and appears regularly on Meet the Press, Today and all NBC News programs, providing viewers with expert analysis of the executive branch.

    Lou Dobbs of CNN
    Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 7:15 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
    – Dobbs is the anchor and managing editor of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight. He also hosts a nationally syndicated financial news radio report, The Lou Dobbs Financial Report, and is a columnist for Money magazine and U.S. News and World Report.
    His affect and attitude reminded me of George Wallace!

    Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU
    “Why Arkansas doesn't have Casinos or a Lottery"– Michael Nelson, professor of Political Science at Rhodes College
    Kevin Sack, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times
    Little Big Minds: Teaching Philosophy to Kids – Marietta McCarty
    Arkansas Smart Core with Ken James, director of the Arkansas Dept. of Education “Life Interrupted: The Japanese American Internment Camps in Arkansas” – Rosalie Gould

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    October Programs at the Clinton School

    October 1: Ocean McAdams, Vice President and Director of MTV News McAdams discussed youth activism in philanthropy and the work of MTV to incorporate pop culture into the youth activism movement.

    October 2: Kemal Dervis, Head of the United Nations Development Program
    The third highest ranking officer of the United Nations, Dervis has had a distinguished career in international development. The former minister for economic affairs and the treasury for Turkey, Dervis also worked for more than 20 years in various positions with the World Bank.

    October 11: "Korea and Nuclear Proliferation," a seminar in partnership with the Korea Economic Institute
    This seminar focused on a variety of issues facing the Korean Peninsula. Participants in the conference include Daniel Poneman, former senior National Security Council official; Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, mission manager for North Korea; Jack Pritchard, ambassador to the People's Republic of Korea; and Stanley Roth, former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific.

    October 12: Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee
    McAuliffe is the author of What A Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals. He spoke about the 2008 election and his life in politics.

    October 16: Kevin Klose, President and CEO of National Public Radio
    A career journalist, Klose is a former editor and reporter for The Washington Post. National Public Radio is the largest nonprofit radio outlet for news and cultural programming in the country.

    October 16: Wesley Clark, Retired Four-Star General
    In his new book, A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country, Clark sets forth a need for change and a new direction for America. Clark served in the U.S. Army for 34years, becoming NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    October 23: Alan Keyes, conservative intellectual and politician Keyes was ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations under President Reagan.

    October 25: Brett Kavanaugh, Federal Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Washington, D.C. A former staff secretary in the Executive Office of President Bush, Kavanaugh is considered to be on the shortlist for appointment to the Supreme Court.

    OPPORTUNITIES I MISSED THIS MONTH:October 17: Judith Stiehm, Author of Champions for Peace: Women Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize
    October 19: Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami
    October 29: Craig Minassian, media consultant for HBO and Comedy Central
    October 30: Joseph Wu, chief representative of Taiwan to the United States

    Monday, October 1, 2007

    • September Public Programs at the Clinton School

      2008 Arkansas Artist Calendar
      Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe

      To benefit the Governors Mansion Association, First Lady Ginger Beebe launched the 2008 Arkansas Artist Calendar, featuring art from throughout the state, with a reception and book signing at the Clinton School.
      The calendar is really great. Wonder who I will give it to?

      September 12: Covering Little Rock: A Panel Discussion on the 1957 Crisis at Central High and the Press -
      The Associated Press unveiled its Central High 1957 archival exhibit, “With All Deliberate Speed: the AP in Little Rock” at the Clinton School with a panel discussion entitled: “Covering Little Rock".
      The coolest part of this was hearing Kathryn Johnson, former AP civil rights reporter, talk about being invited into the King home for several days following his assassination. She played with the children and was around when many of the decisions regarding the memorial service and funeral were discussed. A very personal story.

      September 24: Harold Ford, Jr., former U.S. Congressman
      Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., spoke about civil rights and the Central High commemoration. Elected to Congress in Memphis, Tenn., at age 24, Ford served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before running unsuccessfully for Senate in 2006. The current chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, Ford was recently appointed visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University where he will teach a class on American political leadership.
      My classmates and I met with Ford backstage before his talk and he kept calling me Mrs. WEST. Then, during his speech he thanked the School, the Dean, Patrick Kennedy and Mrs. WEST. I was embarrassed but it was really funny. Sanford did a great job introducing Ford and I got Sanford's autograph afterwards so that I can prove that 'I knew him when.' Meeting Sanford's parents was the highlight of the day.

      September 18: Presidential Power in a Time of Crisis
      John Yoo, author of the 'torture memos'

      One of the leading conservative foreign policy minds in the country, John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkley, and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. As a deputy assistant to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft from 2001 to 2003, Yoo authored a number of legal memos arguing for unlimited presidential powers to order torture of captive suspects. Often called the "torture memos," these documents shaped Bush Administration policy for interrogating prisoners in the War on Terror and made arguments to protect officials from war crimes charges under the Geneva Conventions. A key contributor to the USA Patriot Act, Yoo is the author of several articles and books on foreign affairs, including War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terrorism (2006).
      My classmates and I also attended a student session with Yoo at the Law School. We were all so frustrated that he would not in any way admit the impact of his opinion on the course of history. He would not even discuss the complexity of the situation.

      September 17: Celebrating the Untold Stories of African American Scientists
      Diane Jordan, author of Sisters in Science
      A professor of biology at Alabama State University, Diane Jordan interviewed prominent African American women scientists for her book, Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists on Race, Gender and Their Passion for Science. Jordan studied at Tuskegee University, Alabama A & M University and Michigan State University, earning her Ph.D. in Environmental Soil Microbiology. I had the privelege of introducing Diann. Funny how you get nervous in front of the hometown crowd but not in front of a national audience. It was her birthday and her sister was travelling with her. It was fun to watch them tease each other. Afterwards, Dr. Standerfer and I took them to dinner-fun!

      September 19: Dropping the Atomic Bomb
      Dutch Van Kirk, “Enola Gay” navigator
      Dutch Van Kirk was the navigator aboard the “Enola Gay” when it dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. He is a former U.S. Army Air Corps navigator who flew 58 B-17 Flying Fortress missions with the 97th Bomb Group over Occupied France and Germany during World War II.

      September 13: Just Do It: Empowering Youth Today
      Chad Boettcher, director of corporate responsibility for Nike

      September 25: The Tavis Smiley Show -Presented by KUAR Radio and the Clinton School
      September 26: Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later -Presented by HBO and the Clinton School
      September 27: The Preacher and the Presidents, a biography of Billy Graham
      -Author Michael Duffy

    Saturday, September 1, 2007

    August Programs at the Clinton School

    August 17:Arts & Social Change, featuring playwrights Lynn Nottage and Luis Valdez, in partnership with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre
    Two of America’s best contemporary playwrights discussed the role of the arts in social change. Nottage, author of Intimate Apparel and Crumbs from the Table of Joy, is a visiting lecturer at the Yale School of Drama. Valdez, best known for the film La Bamba, is regarded as the father of the Chicano Theater Movement.

    August 21: Bob Barnett, Washington, D.C. attorney and presidential debate advisor
    Barnett has worked as a debate advisor to seven presidential campaigns and served as legal counsel to major corporations, politicians, novelists, journalists and business leaders. Known for negotiating book deals, Barnett’s client list includes Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Madeleine Albright, Dan Quayle, Lynn Martin, Bill Richardson, James Baker and others.

    August 27: Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning civil rights author
    Branch won the Pulitzer Prize for his book Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963. He discussed the Civil Rights Movement, the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School and a new book he’s writing with President Clinton.

    August 8: Panel on International Legal Systems, in partnership with the Arkansas International Center
    August 10: Imam Wallace Deen Mohammed, son of the late Elijah Muhammad
    August 22: Marie Tillman, widow of former NFL star and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman
    August 24: 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina -- Stan Tiner, executive editor of The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss.

    Sunday, August 26, 2007


    I won't embarass him by using his last name.

    I have a person in my life who is purely magical to me. Mark.

    This post will not be able to do him justice. Nonetheless...

    Mark and I met on a 'blind date' that evolved into a unique relationship that is always an eye-opening experience. Friends, yes. Chemistry, YES! Lovers, no. We are not in a box and don't wear a label, and I like it that way.

    We connect on many levels.

    Mark is one of the most self-contained people I know. I am not important to Mark, but Mark is important to me.

    Mark has the gift of counsel. Whenever we are discussing a topic, Mark seems to nail whatever is the most important. I mean, he NAILS it!

    Mark knows some of the trials I have encountered in the last couple of years, and my quest for another path. The moment I told Mark of my choice of the Clinton School he responded, "That's it. That's what you should do."

    Mark's support of my choice never wavers. Thanks Mark. You are a miracle in my life!

    Documentary Film

    The week before Orientation we received an email from Patrick Kennedy alerting us that documentary filmakers, Christine O’Malley and Patrick Creadon, would interview us and film the activities of the school in order to ascertain the value of making a film about the new face of public service.

    Patrick and Christine are producers/directors of the critically acclaimed documentary, Wordplay. Wordplay chronicles the world of crossword puzzles and puzzle enthusiast. The film was the second highest grossing documentary film in 2006, behind An Inconvenient Truth, and was nominated for an academy award. You can learn more about the movie at: The pair's current project is an indepth look at the national debt.

    We were soon to learn that, while two of the biggest names in documentary film, Patrick and Christine are the also two of the most gracious people you'll ever meet. As an added bonus, tall-as-a-tree TJ Hemelbein was with them working on the project. As it turns out, TJ is one of those sublime introverts that is a very cool person once the veil is lifted.

    With many things in life, we may know them intellectually or philosophically but are surprised by their reality when we encounter them experientially. What I am trying to say is, there is nothing like having a camera in the room all the time to teach you the reality of documentary film. One of the team was with us through almost every moment of orientation: lectures; the spaghetti and marshmallow tower-building team-building experience; receptions; pizza at Gusano's; the Travs' baseball game; you name it, they were there. Most of the time I believe that most of us successfully ignored the camera. Every once in a while, however, you'd turn around and find yourself staring down the barrel of the lens.

    As evidence of the magic of talented filmmakers, I was totally relaxed during my individual interview. Most of the class reported the same. Patrick asked me about my decision to attend the Clinton School, my perceived responsibility as a student, and my opinion of my classmates. I guess that being an expressive extrovert served me well in this situation, because the moments flew by.

    The grapevine has it that the project will move forward. The production schedule resumes in October. It will be great to have Patrick, Christine and TJ with us again!

    What a great opportunity for the Clinton School and a chance to show the world why public service matters.

    Tonight, I'll be watching Wordplay.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Last night, members of Clinton School classes 2 & 3 blew it out at the Arkansas Trav's baseball game at the new Dickey-Stephens ballpark. Assorted faculty members were there as 'chaperones.' We overcame the ballpark seating nazi who didn't want us switching from assigned seats even though the ballpark was 2/3 empty. (It was only 100 degrees at game start!) The new stadium looks out across the Arkansas River and silver arc of the Broadway bridge to the Little Rock skyline. The crisp beauty of this new venue almost overcomes my longing for the quaintness of Ray Winder Field. Historical manager and current Executive VP of the Travs, Bill Valentine, is honored by a restaurant in his name. He certainly deserves that.

    During the game, we were excited to cheer on the Hamburger Helper Toss, the T-shirt throw, the banana race and a few others I cannot recall at this time. Sanford won the top prize for continuous chatter (mostly in my left ear), and Lukman took the title of head cheerleader. Hunter came close, late in the game, to stealing Lukman's title.

    In fact, it was Lukman's rousing of the crowd that spurred the Trav's four run rally in the 4th inning. We stayed until the 7th inning stretch, all singing 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' loudly and a bit off-key. Certainly, the Clinton School group was the largest and best at the game. Another addition to our great start as School ambassadors.

    All in all a great night of baseball, beer, rowdiness and fellowship.
    And oh yeah...Arkansas Travs 4, San Antonio Missions 0.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Ubuntu Postscript

    Last Tuesday evening, a dessert reception followed President Clinton's address and the Clinton School Class 3 students were all invited to attend. Regarding the possibility of meeting the President, Dean Rutherford had warned us, " never know how it will go. Be prepared." I was already there. Having met the President while he was Governor, I had already experienced falling spellbound into speechlessness (a rare state for me - those of you who know me well can laugh out loud at this revelation) in his presence, and vowed not to be lulled into that state again. I knew I had to prepare something to discuss with him.

    As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, I had placed a label with the word Ubuntu on the lapel of my jacket. This word has been given to me as a gift three times in the last three months. A friend who had visited South Africa was the first to teach me the word and it's meaning. The second lesson came from Bishop Kenneth Hicks, leader of my church's Peace and Reconciliation group, who shared with our group the wisdom of South African Bishop Desmond Tutu. I encountered the concept a third time while reading President Clinton's blog in which he writes about his visits to review the Clinton Foundation's work in Malawe on the African continent. Being one of those weirdos who tries to pay attention to patterns, trends and non-logical messages, I felt I had stumbled upon the concept that connected me to the President.

    The dessert reception was lovely. The chocolate martinis marvelous. The room was filled with FOBs (Friends of Bill) and us...the Clinton School students. No President. And then, as Dean Rutherford later described it: ' amazing thing happened. The elevator opened and the President appeared. He stayed for over two hours, speaking to everyone there. He remained until the last man standing. Those who came down to the reception and left early...before the President's arrival...have to be sorry...' I know that most, if not all, of my Clinton School classmates were able to talk to the President.

    When my turn came, the President noticed my Ubuntu lapel label right away. Yes! My strategy worked!...well, almost. The President told me of an encounter with 10 year old boy in Africa that helped him understand the concept. I hate to admit it, but I was spellbound for a few moments and don't remember all of the details of the story. I did, however, recover to tell him how the word Ubuntu had come into my life, and to remind him of the mother-baby healthcare advocacy work I shared with him and Hillary during the Governor years. The conversation ended with me gushing about my excitement to now be Clinton School student. He responded with a chuckle, a twinkle in his eye, and a "Well, we are very happy to have you!"

    OK. So, I kept my wits about me in the President's presence much better than I had in previous encounters, but still lost my concentration for more moments than I had planned. I give myself a 'B+'. Perhaps, during my time at the Clinton School I'll have more opportunities to work on that 'A'. Or perhaps, I should resign myself to reality: the Clinton magic is for real. Resistance is futile.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Wednesday, August 8th

    After the President's speech, my friend and classmate, Sanford Johnson, wrote to me: "Are you as excited about all this as I am!?!?!" Upon receiving his message the next morning I responded, "Are you kidding? Couldn't go to sleep, couldn't stay asleep. " And that's the truth.

    It was tough to show up at work on Wednesday. Still riding the high of the previous evening, I had a hard time conjuring up any level or concern for matters at UAMS. The best thing that happened to me on Wednesday was this: Ray Latimer loaned me his father's Pat Boone sweater to help combat the chill in my office. The sweater was too far too big for me and the style was something "Mr. Robinson" would have worn in his neighborhood. But what an honor for me to wear that sweater. You see, I pretty much think Ray Latimer hung the moon. Ray is a med tech/geologist/law school alum/wordsmith/genius...with the most amazing sense of humor.

    As evidence, I give you the photo of Ray taken at the 2005 Halloween costume contest where he won the title of "Most in Character"

    Ray Latimer is one my favorite people.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2007


    As the old adage goes, "Today is the first day of the rest of my life"...except it was yesterday. Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. Yesterday, I met my Clinton School classmates as we attended the inaugural lecture of the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series held at the Clinton Presidential Center here in Little Rock. The speaker, President Bill Clinton.

    I wore a sticker on my jacket lapel with the word Ubuntu written on it. My classmates questioned me about it and I refused to elaborate only saying that I predicted he would somehow mention the word or it's meaning in his speech. More on this later.

    First, we all gathered for dinner and a briefing in the Sturgis Classroom. Funny, I noticed that all of us FaceBook folks were drawn to each other given the comfort we felt from our budding on-line acquaintances. Dean Skip Rutherford briefed us on protocol and demeanor ("Just call me Dean" "Don't drink too many of those chocolate martinis at the reception" "No cameras allowed" "Cell phones off, no text messaging in the classroom or during other activities!") and other such important admonishments. We learned that his favorite book is Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters, the story of America during the MLKing years from the '50s through 1963, and he asked for our own favorite book recommendation. The school will purchase a copy of the recommendation from each of us and place it in the glass cabinet for the public to see. Cool.

    The speech was, as are all of his, amazingly and undeniably Worldview Clinton. He stated that the most important issue facing us in the 21st century was that of identity. He asserted that most of the global problems that we need to address related to the way we view ourselves and each other.

    He cited three challenges (noting their interdependence):
    1. "It's an unequal world" - supported by citations of American and global disparities.
    2. "It's a more insecure world." - noted that the volumes of deaths attributable to political violence (including wars and other conflicts) was lower now, but that the perceived threat was much more personal now ("It could happen to me".)
    3. "It's not a sustainable world." - asserting that America and the world had to deal immediately with our resource depletion and climate issues.

    But ever (Worldview Clinton) hopeful, the President stated that these challenges facing us are "imminently meetable." Noting that we have spent $500 billion on the Iraq conflict - that's $500B on 25 million people - President Clinton asserted that the world's inequality problems are relatively "cheap to fix." We know how to provide healthcare and education, create jobs, and build sustainable communities. Supporting the idea of the interdependence of these challenges and solutions, he noted that the fight to end inequality would work to end terrorist activities. "Because we cannot kill, jail or occupy all our enemies, we must work to build a world in which we have fewer enemies."

    Fascinated by the discovery by human genome scientists that our genetic code, person-to-person, was 99.9% the same, President Clinton urged us to answer the question: "Which is more important, our interesting differences or our common humanity?"

    Reducing poverty, increasing security, and making the planet sustainable depend on "acting like what we have in common is more important than our endlessly fascinating differences. Our sense of identity - that will determine what will happen for the 21st century," the President concluded.

    He threw out more gems than I could collect off of the ground (or write down), but a few include:
    "It really does matter that you believe in argument and evidence over assertion and attack."
    "In any discussion we should start with our understanding of reality...and respect those and listen to those with a different understanding of reality..."
    "I grew up in an alcoholic home and spent years trying to become reality-based"

    [Follow-up items: Review the UN Millenium goals and read about the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Bangladesh that the President is a fan of. ]

    Back to Ubuntu. President Clinton did not use the precise word in his lecture, but it was certainly the theme. Ubuntu is all about our identity and humanity. The word has its origin in the Bantu language of South Africa and is seen as a traditional African concept. Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote this definition: "A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."

    The President told the crowd that, in parts of Africa, when members of different tribal groups encounter each other along a footpath, they don't say "how are you?", but greet each other with "I see you." Ubuntu.