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Gary’s stepfather, Joe Dickerson, was interviewed by David Crabtree of WRAL last week.  To watch this moving interview, click the link below:

The WRAL story follows:
As D-day anniversary approaches, survivor recounts vivid memories

Joe Dickerson nearly died twice in 1944 – first from a near drowning and then from shrapnel.

Dickerson, 91, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, was at Omaha Beach during the Normandy campaign – the largest amphibious invasion in history. The offensive, known as D-Day, was the turning point for Allied forces in World War II.
Born and raised in eastern North Carolina, Dickerson, then a 20-year-old, led a group of 30 men into battle – many one or two years younger than him.
“They dropped the gate and there were so many getting killed going out the front that I hollered and told them to go over the side of the boat,” he said.
That decision saved several lives but, at 5 feet 7 inches and 110 pounds, nearly ended his.
“I went over the side of the boat and when I did, I went to the bottom,” he said. “I had 60 pounds on me and the water was over my head. Two men were with me...they were 6 feet (tall). If it weren't for them I wouldn't be here today. They pull at my shoulders and pulled me up to keep my head above water.”
Dickerson made it to shore, but then had to make it to the base of the cliffs.
“That was a long 400 yards,” he said.
He crawled inch by inch, his bayonet in front of him while he searched for land mines. Dickerson and two of his men made it to the cliffs, but many were left behind.
“We decided we had to go back and help the guys hurt in the bad,” he said.
Dickerson made the trip back to the water, passing dead and mortally wounded soldiers along the way.
Fourteen of his men didn’t make it.
“Holding a young soldier that was dying...asking for his...mother,” Dickerson said. “’I want,’ he said...’to mother.’ All you could tell him was ‘someday you'll see your mother.’ That was the worst part of it...I think about that often.”
Dickerson was wounded by shrapnel the next day. He was injured three more times en route to, and during, the Battle of the Bulge.
He received four Purple Hearts for his injuries.
The medals, along with many others, are hanging on a wall in his Hertford County home. The more recent came from the French government three months ago.
Dickerson has returned to Normandy several times, the last in 1979. He brought back sand from Omaha Beach.
He uses that sand at the funerals of his Army friends.
“When they say dust to dust and ashes to ashes, I pour this sand on the casket,” he said. “I’m glad I brought it back.”
Operation Omaha is sponsoring a free trip for veterans to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. on June 6 to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The Triangle group will leave Raleigh on Thursday, June 5 at 1 p.m. and return the following evening. Transportation, hotel accommodations and meals will be provided. Each veteran will be accompanied by a guardian. Family members between 21-65 are encouraged to accompany their vet and the guardian. The trip is funded through donations.
First priority will be given to veterans who participated in the Normandy campaign between June 6, 1944 and August 31, 1944.


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**Gary is taking a break from blogging and he asked a few Tapsters to post a few blogs. Here is another one a Tapster sent in:


The biggest day of the 2012 political calendar is August 10.
No, that’s not the start of the much-ballyhooed and underfunded Democratic National Convention, nor is it the first day of the Republican National Convention or even election day in this great country.
It’s premiere day for the new movie “The Campaign”!
Lobbyists, politicos, pundits and others are eager to see the new Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis comedy flick about a fictional North Carolina congressional campaign.
For a change, we can laugh at somebody besides our state’s real-life political comedians who spent much of the last decade in courtrooms, handcuffs and prison cells creating drama and spectacle beyond even Hollywood's imagination. 
Bring on the popcorn! Can’t wait!



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**Gary is taking a break from blogging and he asked a few Tapsters to post a few blogs. Here is one a Tapster sent in:
The rankings of the allegedly most influential lobbyists were released last week by the NC Center for Public Policy Research. This biennial joke was greeted by the usual laughter and derisive snorts from knowledgeable insiders who see the list for the pitiful sham that it is.
Most pros concede that top-ranked lobbyist Dana Simpson probably deserves his spot, as do some of those in the top 10. After that, it’s pretty sketchy. The top half of the list includes a handful of nice people who couldn’t pass or kill a bill if they had to, and includes some treacherous backstabbers who spend more time lobbying for their spot on the list than on issues for their clients. Some folks in the bottom half of the rankings are complete nobodies.
So, here’s a sincere call to Center boss Ran Coble to come clean. Be transparent! Tell us how many votes each lobbyist received from legislators, lobbyists and the media.
Ran, you really need to do this. The 2012 fantasy list hurts the credibility of your organization. It’s simply not believable that the list published by the Center reflects the actual outcome of the vote. It looks contrived and manipulated.
If you are unwilling to be transparent, then quit doing the poll and leave the comedy lists to Letterman.


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Gary is taking a break this week from consulting, blogging and politics. He invited several TAPsters to contribute blogs during his hiatus. Here's one of them:

Art Pope likely has never thought of himself as allied with the oft-bashed-as-liberal news media, but the mainstream media has succeeded in giving undeserved credibility to Pope’s squadron of institutes that serve as cheerleaders for partisan Republican causes.
News media now regularly quote the Pope-bankrolled Civitas Institute in news stories with no hint of its conservative orientation.
Moreover, smaller newspapers around the state, desperate for content after the newspaper business laid off reporters in droves, have begun running Civitas reports as news stories, even though the biased reports lack opposing viewpoints.
Mind you that Civitas is unlike some of Pope’s other dollar store think tanks, like the John Locke Foundation, which publishes agenda-driven research and news stories. Civitas has an appendage that funds, operates and executes campaigns to defeat Democrats, while maintaining the defense that its campaign operation, Civitas Action, is separate from the institute. Never mind that the same guy runs them both. This is like a McDonald's manager arguing that the drive-through is a separate operation.
Even larger mainstream publications, like the News & Observer, are providing credibility for Pope’s operations. The N&O’s John Frank recently wrote a front page story on the Republican-led legislature’s midnight session – the one devoted to passing legislation that undermines the state teachers association after the group stood up to GOP education cuts. The story examined whether, among other flaws, the legislature’s session was constitutionally convened. Frank quoted two experts: a scholar at UNC’s Institute of Government and a top lawyer at Pope’s N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. The Pope lawyer (who, not surprisingly, said that the General Assembly's procedure was fine) was quoted without any qualifier about NCICL, such as Pope’s funding or its six-member board that includes two men who held state office and one who ran statewide – all as Republicans. Frank failed even to mention that House Speaker Thom Tillis' legal counsel, whose job would include advising Tillis on issues such as the constitutionality of the 1 a.m. session, was hired directly from – wait for it – NCICL.
Congratulations, Mr. Pope. Your institutes have arrived, and what’s left of the mainstream media paid for the ticket.


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Gary is taking a break this week from consulting, blogging and politics. He invited several TAPsters to contribute blogs during his hiatus. Here's one of them:

Mitt Romney’s reluctance to turnover his tax returns proves yet again how important it is to FALL FORWARD FAST in politics.  What started out as a refusal by Romney melted into a “maybe” that inevitably became a “must” three days after a thorough drubbing in the South Carolina primary.  Now front page news, we learn that yes, indeed, Romney is among the .01 percent of the 1 percent. His effective tax rate is a modest 15 percent and his charitable contributions include a $1.5 contribution to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In addition to offshore funds in Ireland, Germany and Luxembourg, Romney’s wife has a cushy $3 million cash account in the United Bank of Switzerland. Ooh la la.

When will they ever learn? The one thing that still unites Americans of all persuasions is that they want their politicians to tell the truth, and tell the truth now.

As Barney Frank said in a 1/22/12 New York Times Magazine profile when asked about his encounter with a male prostitute in front of George Bush’s locker in the Congressional gym, “ When I was confronted, I told everybody everything.  Lawyers are very, very good at keeping you out of prison, but they will sacrifice your reputation and credibility to do so.  So don’t be evasive and don’t be cute.  And unless you think there is a serious chance you’re going to jail, don’t listen to your lawyer.”
Newt Gingrich, are you listening?

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Gary is taking a break this week from consulting, blogging and politics. He invited several TAPsters to contribute blogs during his hiatus. Here's one of them:
One of the most distasteful and useless public policy efforts in North Carolina is underway,  and hardly anyone knows it.
The NC Center for Public Policy Research has launched its tawdry, biennial process to rank the effectiveness of the state’s lobbyists. The Center sends a paper ballot to lobbyists, reporters and legislators so they can vote for the lobbyists who they think have the most clout. After the conclusion of the short session, the Center will publish the results as an alleged ranking of the top 50 lobbyists in the state.
Here are the reasons that a dignified organization like the Center should cease this sham, which is nothing more than a job fair for lobbyists.
1.       The rankings are meaningless. Lobbyists vote for themselves and their friends. Legislators vote for who twisted their arm or gave them money. Reporters screw this up like most everything else. The pitiful, mediocre lobbyists lobby friends and colleagues to include them on their ballots. Any lobbyist who asks for this vote should be drummed out of the business.
2.       The best lobbyists are near the bottom of the list or not on the list at all.  The truly best lobbyists do their work quietly and with dignity and don’t care whether they are on the list or not. And, never in a million years would they stoop so low as to ask someone to vote for them. Indeed, some of the highest ranked lobbyists in past years were fools whose sole source of influence was from a large PAC or the economic clout of their client.
3.       Contract lobbyists who make the list use it when they are trolling for clients, suggesting (and lying) to naïve prospects that a high ranking is a validation of influence and political expertise. At the very least, the Center should prohibit the use of the rankings to generate business. 
4.       Electing a high school prom queen is more sophisticated than the Center’s process. There’s nothing scientific about it at all and nothing to prevent a lobbyist from making dozens of copies of the ballot and stuffing the ballot box with their name. And, for years, there’s been the unfounded assumption that the Center staff “adjusts” the list to make it look politically correct.

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