Home, Sweet Home
On Sunday, I returned from a 16-day road trip that took me 3,721 miles through the South and then attendance at the enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
It all began with my registration for the annual five-day Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The NCSL Summit was held in New Orleans this year and I was joined in attendance by Delegate Jim Scott and Senator Mary Margaret Whipple.
Instead of flying down and back, I decided to drive and make the trip a civil rights pilgrimage, as well as a Blues pilgrimage.
Righteousness Like a Mighty Stream
With the five-day NCSL Summit sandwiched in between, I visited civil rights sites in Montgomery, Tuskegee, Selma, and Birmingham, Alabama.
My civil rights pilgrimage culminated with a visit to the Lorraine Motel and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
The most impressive of the museums I visited was the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, which has a spectacular multimedia display.
Of course, there is nothing like traveling over the Edmund Pettus Bridge or looking into Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel.
Having been born a few months after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and having lived through the civil rights era, this trip was extremely meaningful to me.
Like a Rolling Stone
In my Blues pilgrimage, I visited Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Beale Street in Memphis, and traveled down Highway 61to the crossroads.
I spent two days in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and was immersed in the Blues and the culture that spawned the music.
I visited Graceland in Memphis and traveled to Tupelo, Mississippi, to visit Elvis’ boyhood home there.
I also traveled to Nashville to see the Ryman Auditorium and the Ernest Tubb record store. As a devotee of traditional music, this was all a great experience.
Home of the Bulldogs
From Nashville, I drove north to Canton to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to see the enshrinement of Darrell Green and Art Monk.
Redskins fans must have comprised three-quarters of the attendees there and our presence was made known many times.
That included cheering wildly whenever Joe Gibbs or another Redskin was mentioned and booing any reference to the Cowboys.
The reception by the fans of Art Monk was especially loud and long. Before he could speak, he was given a standing ovation that seemed to last for 10 minutes.
It was an expression both of our love for this humble football player and for the joy of seeing him finally get into the Hall after seven years of eligibility.
This was my third trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although the first for an enshrinement ceremony, and it is well worth a visit.
I was also able to extend my musical journey by taking another look at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.
I have visited there numerous times in the past and it brought my odyssey to a fitting close before returning home.
It Is What It Is
At the NCSL Summit, I heard a number of informative discussions. Two presentations were particularly noteworthy.
They were both given by David Wyss, chief economist for Standard and Poor’s, the bond rating agency.
He discussed how both international and national economic trends are affecting the states and state budgets.
Dr. Wyss made it clear that we are in a recession. He said that this is a hard recession and not a “soft” one which only reduces growth.
The only thing that has propped up the U.S. economy in the past few months has been the economic stimulus checks that taxpayers are spending.
But, that should be over by the end of the year, he stated, and he thinks that the holiday season will be a bad one for retailers.
He expects the Federal Reserve to start increasing interest rates by March of next year and that home sales should start to pick up about the same time.
The November election could have an interesting stimulative effect by the end of the year, he said, if Senator Obama wins.
If he wins, then investors will probably choose to cash out their assets instead of waiting to do so in 2009 because Obama wants to increase capital gains taxes.
If that happens, then state and federal revenues will increase for the 2008 tax year. It sounds like another example of strange bedfellows.