Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thoughts after the break

After writing a hundred posts already, I took a break yesterday. My mind did not and I have a couple of items I want to address.

One, the police officer in Dallas, Robert Powell, who stopped Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats and his family for running a red light as they were hurrying to attend the bed side of his dying mother-in-law, should never be allowed to be a law enforcement officer ever again. We ask people to serve and protect their communities. It does not give you a license to go on a power trip.

Because Powell was white and Moats was Black, many people want to believe that this was a blatant case of racial profiling. Listening to the tape and the interview of the deputy superintendent over Powell, I just believe we have a guy whose ego is attached to his badge. I honestly believe that if Moats was white, Powell still would have been the same ass he was on March 17th.

It was petty to detain a driver that said he was going to the hospital for an emergency in the hospital parking lot, but to then lecture him on how he should have showed respect to you was asinine. When a nurse and a hospital security show up to say let him go, you, Mr. Powell, should have let him go at that moment.

If your judgement and sensibility is that impaired, you are not worthy of being a member of the law enforcement community.

The other thing on my mind is this notion that the Federal Government is going to guarantee the warranties of GM and Chrysler cars. I understand that the President is trying to provide some financial leverage for those automakers to keep the doors open, but I think this spells out that GM and Chrysler are no longer viable as independent companies.

This action comes after the ouster of GM CEO Rick Wagoner on the suggestion of the President. As President Obama attends the G20 Summit this week, he should seriously think about the reality of a merger between GM and Chrysler. It seems like now the only viable solution.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cleanse your heart to follow the light

Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-12, Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-33

The Scriptures presented this week show how we have entered a new covenant with God. Prior to this covenant, God showed little mercy to those who sinned. After He delivered His people from Egyptian bondage, He asked for devout loyalty to Him through praise and living a sin-free life.

However, He knew that His creation was falling short of that high mark, thus He made a sacrifice so that all could believe and seek redemption through His sacrifice. That sacrifice was His son, Jesus. Jesus came to us in the flesh to die, rise again and prepare a place for us all in Heaven, closer to God. Jesus was also given the charge to intervene to help God forgive our sins and receive His grace and mercy.

We, however, have to show our gratitude for that sacrifice in our daily lives. We have to cleanse our hearts and seek God's forgiveness of our own volition. We have to be followers of the light in our daily walk on this earth. If we do not do this, we will be lost in the darkness that continues to rule this world. We will be sucked up in earthly gains while losing our very soul.

As stated before, the favor of God is more important than life itself. We must constantly circumscribe ourselves to this premise. If we do not, we will not have the strength to overcome any trials that will come our way. We will suffer needlessly because our faith will not be replenished and renewed.

We must seek forgiveness daily. We cannot take our blessing for granted. God have given us the advantage in seeking eternal life with Him, as well as a modicum of peace on earth, especially in our own households. As we draw closer to celebrating Easter Sunday, we must recommit ourselves to be children of the light. We must seek forgiveness thus cleansing our hearts. We must be vigilant and faithful to perform the calling God has for us, no matter what obstacles may cross our path.

When the Psalmist asks for a right spirit to be renewed within him, he is asking for God to guide his path and help him on this mortal journey. In order the receive what is rightfully ours, we all must humble ourselves in this manner.

God showed no greater love for us than to offer His son as a sacrifice so that we could benefit completely from His new covenant. Let us properly celebrate Easter Sunday by fulfilling our end of the agreement.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Illusion of Unbiased Journalism

The title is not a misprint. There is no such thing as unbiased journalism, just like the term "political science" is an oxymoron. There is no quantitative scientific formula for winning an election, for the variable of the voter's mind is too inconsistent, and thus there is no such thing as unbiased journalism because of that same human factor.

People perceived things differently and they process that information as uniquely. What actually happens or what someone actually says is only documented by a higher power. Even the disciples of Jesus that wrote down their accounts of the Gospels have a different angle than any of the others, each account unique and biased toward their theological focus.

So if the disciples of Jesus were biased in their accounts, then why would we think that modern day journalists would elevate themselves higher than that? It would be nice but it is unattainable because it is unrealistic. The histories of newspapers in America have always been about shaping public opinion, leading Thomas Jefferson to equate the press as the "fourth estate of Government".

Now in this era when everyone has the capacity to be a journalist, thanks to the Internet and blogging, bias in telling the story is more an accepted practice than ever. It is also profitable, can we say Fox News and MSNBC? People create newspapers and magazines to make money and to make their voices heard, period. For those journalists that are offended by this analysis, get over it. It is what it is. Everyone has an opinion, even those that contend that they are unbiased, because they are biased in thinking that they are not so.

Objectivity is a more realistic goal but that just means that you give both sides the chance to tell their side of the story. To actually get an accurate detail of the facts is totally elusive, primarily because the human attention span cannot maintain that intense level of detail orientation. Some folks reading this article have already moved on before reaching this point.

So when you hear any news organization state that they are unbiased, they are as trustworthy as a carny trying to get you play a game at the state fair. It is a hustle to sell newspapers or boost Nielsen ratings, it is not the truth. This is not a phenomenon that one should get angry about. Again, it is what it is. Since man is not perfect, why should we expect the way man communicates to reach perfection?

Fair and balanced reporting, defined as objectivity, is not unbiased journalism. It is just an illusion of such. There is an old saying that "the pen is mightier than the sword." Why would we think that one who possesses such a weapon would wield it with just dispensation? Even I am not that altruistic.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Working through adversity

When you go through some adversity in your life, may I suggest a couple of things. First, remember a moment that was tough for you in the past and how you persevered through that.

My moment was when I played baseball in Chicago. I played first base for a team that lost every game we played for two straight years! It was not the fact that we totally sucked, but more or less the ball did not bounce our way. We gave it everything we had, but we always managed to come up on the short end.

Nevertheless, the nucleus of the team hung together. We kept pushing ourselves to improve. Then our moment happened. We played a predominately white team from the suburbs at the beginning of our third year. Everything just suddenly clicked and we demolished them. From that point on, we went on the win our division that season and the league championship.

Those same lovable losers now were champions, with the same core players we started with two seasons earlier. Our perseverance was rewarded. We overcame the odds and stayed focused on our goal.

If all of us could remember those moments, we should know that no challenge is impossible to conquer. The other thing is to focus on the One who can lay mountains low and make crooked places straight. The One who made the heavens and the earth. The One who is Alpha and Omega. Whenever adversity rears its ugly head, we must always keep our heads focused on the One from which comes our help.

As we acknowledge our own strength and the One who gives us strength, we have the weapons needed to triumph over any adversity thrown into our path.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My $50,000 a week rant

A Swedish countess wants to divorce a chairman of a Fortune 500 company. She wants to continue to live her lifestyle which includes limo service, beauty treatments and maintenance of several homes throughout the globe.

She believes she is entitled to $50,000 a week. I will not reveal their names, as they have gotten enough name recognition already with their sordid details revealed in court papers. Nor should I reward them for their repugnant behavior.

In this time of global economic chaos, this woman who was guaranteed $38 million in a post-nuptial agreement, now claims she was coerced and wants $100 million. What a bunch of bull! This explains the mindset of people who feel that they are entitled to things instead of earning them. I can see having a place in the states and one home in Sweden, I'll give her that, but do you have to have limo service, do you have to have beauty treatments? Whatever!

Whoever is the judge in this case, please hurry up and settle this so we won't have to be reminded about these greedy jerks and the greedy women who marry them, when I, and others, are making life impacting decisions at our kitchen tables.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eminent Domain

The practice of eminent domain is used to legally obtain private land for public projects like expanding highways or building railroads. It is not designed for private enterprise to profit from, even if, for example, it is defined as a "public good" like creating jobs. Even President George W. Bush got that and issued an Executive Order a year after the Supreme Court in the Kelo case ruled otherwise.

Private investors should not be allowed to use the government of a state or local municipality to bully property owners into selling their land away. In Mississippi, however, Governor Haley Barbour vetoed a bill last week that would protect property owners from this practice. Barbour defends the veto by saying it is necessary to broaden the eminent domain provision in order to compete for large economic development projects.

Fortunately, the Mississippi House voted to override the veto and hopefully the Senate will do the same. The high profile case that stuck in the minds of lawmakers was the Archie family's resistance to Nissan in Canton. As the Nissan plant was being built, they decided they needed to expand their buffer zone from the original plan. This put the Archie family's land in the mix, including the family cemetery. The Archie's put up a fight that enlisted civil rights groups and Washington, DC attorneys and beat Nissan in court.

After that case, legislation to protect property owners like the Archie's were filed and co-sponsored by a unique coalition of the Conservative Caucus and the Black Caucus. This legislative session, one of those bills made it through the process and landed on the governor's desk. Now he wants to ignore the wishes of his constituents in the name of profits.

Private investors can purchase land the old fashioned way, through fair negotiation. The weight of the government should not be brought to bear in those negotiations, regardless of how vigorously one argues that profiteering is a public good.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

101 years and counting.

I am a Chicago Cubs fan. There I said it. I enjoyed the World Series run by the Chicago White Sox and as a native of Chicago, the Sox Championship of '05 is of great significance like the Michael Jordan era or the '85 Bears Super Bowl win. But I can tell you the greatest achievement in Chicago sports will be when the Cubs return the World Series and finally win it, something they have not done as a franchise since 1908.

1945 was the last time the Cubs even played in a World Series. Meanwhile, the Florida Marlins, a franchise that started after I graduated from college has won two World Series. As a matter of fact, the Marlins had to get past the Cubs in 2003 to get their chance to win a second championship. Who can forget the infamous Bartman play?

Being a Cubs fan is a lesson in endurance and hope being crushed to the ground. Can we say 1969, 1977 and 1984? The Cubs have been billed the lovable losers, a moniker that many major league players and managers have tried to shake off. They have over a dozen Hall of Famers that never played in a World Series in a Cub uniform, but ironically have World Series rings.

It is a tough burden, but it is one I gladly bear every time this time of year rolls around. The beauty of the game of baseball is something unto itself that makes springtime in America a great moment in the lives of many. But to see a competitive Cubs team take the field is a sight to behold. Every year 3 million fans show up at the second oldest professional baseball stadium to see if this team has the magic. I do my best to follow them online and on television when they are on WGN or ESPN.

It is something about those blue pinstripes and that big red "C" that gives me joy. When they take the field, I start my roller coaster ride of emotions. The high and the lows guide me through the spring, summer and fall with an incredible sense of purpose. It is tortuous pleasure.

Some people make fun of those of us who live or die with the fortunes of the "Cubbies". I don't care. I am honored to be a fan of one of the most storied franchises in history. There is no experience in sports greater than watching a day game at Wrigley Field. Instead of being ridiculed for supporting futility, I should be envied for being a member of the clan that bleeds "Cubbie blue." I mean who else can claim that their outfield walls come alive in the summer time?

Now , as we approach year 101 of the drought, I am more pumped than ever. The Cubs have made it to the post-season two years in a row. They have the most feared pitching rotation in Major League Baseball. They are one of the best offensive teams in the game. The potential is there, now certain things have to fall into place.

In 1984 and 2003, a wicked bounce ended the dream of achieving the ultimate sports moment. This year, I believe the ball will bounce in favor of the Cubs. But that is the belief I have every year and will continue to have until that fateful day when a player with a big red "C" on his blue baseball cap hoists that World Series trophy over his head.

Hope springs eternal. Let's play ball!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Revolt in the MS Democratic Party

This past Saturday, as revelers from all over the country were enjoying the festivities of the Mal's St Paddy's Day Parade, members of the Mississippi Democratic Party's Executive Committee were staging a coup less than a mile away. At issue, the hiring of Sam Hall as the new Executive Director and the seating of Ike Brown on the committee.

Last month, Hall was hired by a racially split vote, as all of the white members voted for Hall, while the Black vote was split between the current interim director Rosalind Rawls and Chris Smith, field coordinator for the historic Travis Childers congressional campaign. Both Rawls and Smith are Black.

Hall, a former publisher of the conservative Scott County Times, had his first stint with the party as communications director. I was a candidate for the United States Senate for the first time when Hall was the communications director, and he was not a friend of my campaign. Fortunately, he was gone before the November election in 2006, and his replacement, Terry Casserino, proved to be invaluable in his advice during both of my senatorial efforts. Hall has seved as director of the Mississippi House Democrats' PAC and was involved with Jim Kitchens' successful election to the Mississippi Supreme Court, with a stint as an editor at an Alabama newspaper in-between.

Brown has been a strong ally for Democrats for years. Known as the absentee ballot guru, Brown , the former chair of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, was removed from that position by a federal judge as a settlement of a federal voting rights lawsuit. Brown was accused of discriminating against white candidates and disenfranchising voters in Noxubee County with his actions. Noxubee County is majority Black. Brown was not re-elected to the state executive committee last year due to his legal troubles.

Democratic Party Chair Jamie Franks, a former colleague of mine in the Legislature, was out of town for this meeting, so vice chair Barbara Blackmon, also a former colleague, conducted the meeting. Franks claims he was unaware that a meeting was called and questioned the legality of its actions. Blackmon contends the meeting was duly called, thus its actions are official.

Now it seems that the racial tensions of generations past are re-emerging in the Mississippi Democratic Party, reminiscent of the days of the Regulars/Dixiecrats and the Loyalists/Mississippi Freedom Democrats. That division eventually played out on a national stage, at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. This current rift could also have national implications, as the DNC has been funding the state party for the past four years and it is questionable whether the DNC will continue that arrangement.

So far the revolt has not become an all-out war, but if it is not resolved soon, it could and thus have devastating consequences for the upcoming Congressional and statewide elections in 2010 and 2011. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We are what God made us

Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21

We are the most unique creation of God because we were created in His image. We also all were given the ability to reason and to do good works. God did not intend for us to be perfect in this world, especially after the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

We are going to be tempted in this world. We lose our faith at times, and become afflicted. However, if we regain our focus and reclaim our purpose, we have the grace and mercy of God to build upon and become renewed.

The Scriptures today remind us that we are designed to do good works to prove to the world that there is a loving and mighty God. Our actions are a testimony to the One who created the universe we live in and learn from. For those who exhibit faith in all they do, everything in the world is at their disposal.

You don't have to be wealthy by worldly standards, but with faith, you will have unlimited access to a world where people can witness how blessed you really are. You will overcome the adversity that the enemy places before you, even death can't claim any victory because of Christ's sacrifice for us.

Our faith is our 401K plan for all eternity. The major deposit was made on a hill named Golgotha some two thousand years ago. It is up to us to make that investment grow. It is up to us to become what God made us to be.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

25 years already

It has been 25 years since the premiere of "The Cosby Show." Wow! I remember the end of the first season with the Huxtable family performing "The Night Time" by Ray Charles. It was humorous and enlightening at the same time. It was a perfect send-off for a show that broke all the stereotypes and barriers about African-Americans on television.

Up until that time, "Good Times" was the definitive Black family sitcom. That show was positive in its message about family, but the show was set in the projects. "The Cosby Show" changed all that because they set the story around a Black family that was upper-middle class and professionally successful. It was timely because that was the era when the growth of the Black middle class was reaching its zenith.

The stories were written on a consistent family-oriented theme, based heavily on Bill Cosby's stand-up comedy routines. Cosby had already been a ground breaker, from being a male lead on a television action/drama to the "Fat Albert" cartoon show. But this will always be his crowning achievement.

The show gave us a new sense of pride, not just because it was the best show on television, but because it showed us going through our day-to-day struggles without the element of crime and poverty. It showed that all families are the same, despite our cultural differences. Cosby used the leverage he gained with the show to highlight African-American culture, from jazz to black college life, and it helped bring some understanding of us for others, using comedy as the medium of communication.

It was a definitive moment in television and in American culture and 25 years later, we are still laughing at the episodes and talking about its significance. Cosby has become a lightening rod as of late and the other actors have moved on the make a name for themselves in the entertainment industry. But "The Cosby Show" will always be an achievement that will be a part of the legacy of African-Americans' contribution to the growth of America.

25 years. Wow!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama in prime time

It is obvious which setting the President is the most comfortable with. Last night, on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, President Obama showed the serious, yet approachable side of him that the voters fell in love with in the campaign of 2008.

He was so relaxed in that format that he even let slip a comparison of his bowling prowess with that of a Special Olympian, which he quickly apologized for. Obama is a very human President, who does not like "the Bubble" that insulates him from the rest of the world. Prior to his West Coast trip, he invited ESPN into the White House to broadcast his bracket for the NCAA Tournament. He fought to maintain his personal Blackberry so he could stay in touch with his close friends.

Obama does not want to be the stuffy administrator of the nation. He is more at-home being the guy next door given the awesome responsibility of running the country, and with a little help from his 300 million neighbors, he will do what is asked of him.

Many of the Beltway reporters took umbrage to his comparison of Washington, thus they pounced on the Special Olympics gaffe just to put him in his place. Nevertheless, the President spoke the truth about Washington and will take more opportunities in his presidency to do what he did last night, find a venue where he can be in his element.

It is something the Beltway pundits will have to get use to during these next four years. It is how he got to the White House in the first place. Obama is the ready for prime time President.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Be good to each other

Just a brief thought. The recent tragic death of Natasha Richardson reminds us again how fleeting life is. Ms. Richardson and I were around the same age, so you never know what will happen to you tomorrow.

One of my Facebook friends always end her status reports with the phrase, "Love each other." That is a good thought to remember in this crazy, cruel world we live in. No matter how bad people may act or how bizarre things may get, focus on love, which is equal to focusing on God.

If we are to be the best we can be, we must be faithful to God and kind to His greatest creation, us. Since there is no promise that we will see another day after today, show love and be kind to each other.

May God continue to bless you, be with you and keep you in His favor always.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Stress of Politics

Last night, I witnessed something that made my wife wonder out loud why do I participate in politics at the level I do. She said that it is too stressful for her. I understand, based on what she has been privileged to, just being in my life.

I told her that it can be stressful and frustrating and even depressing, but the reward when you win an election or make public policy that has a positive impact on people's lives is worth the stress. See, there are people in Mississippi politics that want to be in politics because they need validation in their lives or are addicted to having some kind of power. Others are in because they think that politics is a financial treasure just waiting to be plundered. Serving the greater good is not their priority, although in a warped sort of way, they think it is.

In the long run, when you see the bigger picture, you cannot let those people deter you from reaching the higher mark. You have to press on if you want to improve the general welfare of your community while protecting each individual's rights. It is a delicate balance that needs your full attention. If you have delusions of riches and power or have self-esteem issues, you cannot be truly focused on what is best for your constituents.

There are sacrifices for that commitment, but when you think about the prophets of God, those sacrifices pale in comparison. To be in politics for the right reasons is a calling from God. When God is in the midst of your political endeavors, you will attain the wisdom and experience the vision needed to effectively and justly lead your people. You will make mistakes, but your faith in God will remove all reproach, even from your enemies.

The world is a cruel place and humans are fickle, but fixating on God takes away those distractions and guides you to a place of protection that allows for clear thought and sound judgement. The pettiness of Mississippi politics has ended many great political careers. Because my strength comes from a higher source, I will not be one of those casualties.

Whether I serve in elective office again or not, I will continue to fight for the citizens that need help, in spite of themselves. I will continue to support visionary people, no matter how much they have been maligned. I will continue pressing for that high mark, no matter how rough the journey.

I believe that if more people that had that understanding and commitment would get involved, then Mississippi, America and the world would be a better place and we will come closer to attaining that goal we recite every Sunday at our respective churches, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The New Left-Wing Conspiracy: GOP implosion

First, Rush Limbaugh said he wanted President Obama to fail. Then, GOP Chairman Michael Steele challenged Limbaugh, but later backed down. Steele then says to GQ Magazine that he would accept an invitation to work in a bi-partisan fashion with President Obama, even though Steele does not believe in bi-partisanship, and believes in a woman's right to choose, bringing on the wrath of the right.

Now, Meghan McCain, after criticizng Ann Coulter's divisive rhetoric, was called a fat Valley Girl by the other GOP blond bomshell, Laura Ingraham. After McCain hit the talk show circuit responding to Ingraham, Laura replied with this nugget on her home web site:

"Memo to Meghan McCain: Enjoy the media coverage while it lasts, but know you're being used. You are the flavor of the month in left-wing media land because you are a Republican bashing the GOP. Likewise, your dad is most popular among the same people when he is slamming his Republican brethren in full-blown "maverick" fashion. At least he backs up his views with a lifetime of sacrifice and public service. What is Ms. McCain's own political, business, or real-world experience that lends credibility to her argument that the GOP needs to "moderate" (read: abandon its core principles)?
Now the Left is seizing on one satirical line from our show to paint Meghan as the victim of a right-wing hate crime. This comes from the same playbook responsible for the ongoing demonization of Rush Limbaugh -- where his take on President Obama's economic policies are misrepresented as some kind of attack on America. Their goal is to malign outspoken conservatives (specifically in talk radio) as members of a radical fringe movement whose right to free speech is questionable at best.
The left's indignation in this instance is manufactured and totally phony. If any off-the-cuff remark about a woman's size was condemnable, then where was the outrage when President Obama made a passing reference to Jessica Simpson's "weight battle" during his Super Bowl interview with Matt Lauer? And of course they look the other way when obvious personal attacks are levied against conservatives. Remember when Al Franken was the toast of all media for his book "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot"? Last month The View's Joy Behar called him a "fat guy"; and when I was a guest on The View a few years back she ridiculed Ann Coulter and me as "peroxide" blondes on Fox. I laughed it off. If you can't stand the heat...get out of the punditry business.
Next time, just for fun, Meghan should pretend that she's had a change of heart and is now a pro-life conservative. Then she'll really see how the Mean Girls treatment feels."

Hmmm....so the recent GOP implosion is part of a vast Left-wing conspiracy designed by the media elite to destroy conservative free speech? Well, if it is a conspiracy, then you have fallen into the trap perfectly, especially with your desire to be heard on the hottest microphone you can find. Here is a tip, when you write books, appear on talk shows, host radio shows and grant interviews, people will pay attention to what you say. Some folks will agree with you and some will be offended.

So basically it is not a conspiracy on any front, it is human nature at play. The conservative movement since President Reagan has used this factor to their political advantage. Now, a new generation of liberals are mastering what they have learned from their conservative brethren and the tables have turned. They have effective messengers and are fighting back, much the same as the conservatives did in the 1980's.

When Hillary Clinton claimed there was a vast Right-wing conspriracy, conservatives painted her as paranoid and not ready for prime time. Now, when the other shoe drops, the conservatives are now playing the paranoid card. I have to admit, it is kind of cool to see those who have made their careers criticizing the left with derogatory, divisive commentary getting hit with those same bombs, especially from within.

However, it should be a wake-up call to all of us that we should not allow these entertainers on either side to play us. We can laugh at Jon Stewart (my favorite) or Laura Ingraham if our sensibilites find something humorous, but it should be because we have defined our political thought, established our political self-determination. It is entertainment after all.

The danger is when these entertainers think they are more of a player in the process than what they should be. These lines should not be blurred anymore. In other words, the court jesters should not be running the kingdom. President Obama and GOP Chair Steele are the leaders of their respective political parties, their opinions and strategies should define the political debate in America.

Meghan McCain versus Laura Ingraham makes for great entertainment, not effective political strategy. No conspiracy needs to be contrived to understand that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

AIG gets over

As a shareholder of the largest insurance company in the world, I felt compelled to make a comment on the latest news from AIG. It seems as though AIG executives felt that they needed to give some $160 million in bonuses this weekend to certain employees because of contractual obligations. They have said that if the bonuses were not given, lawsuits that would bankrupt the company would ensue.


Really? What kind of contract allows a bonus to anyone that puts the 18th largest publicly owned company in the world in a liquidity crisis? AIG was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in September 2008, who deserves a bonus for that?


Now add these bonuses to the tab that included a million dollars in retreats and hunting trips, plus the dubious history of the company since 2005, and you have basically a big mess. It makes you wonder did the Federal Reserve do the right thing in giving AIG $170 billion to "right the ship."


Because of its niche in high-margin corporate leveraging, it is believed that if AIG went belly up, so would most of the businesses in America that depend on that high level of insurance coverage. At this point, I am willing to cut my losses. Despite the fact that the CEO and others have agreed to only receive a dollar in salary this fiscal year, the thought that anyone can be given a bonus after this financial disaster is repulsive.


It would seem that those entitled to the bonus would defer the bonus until the ship is righted. But it was greed that got us into this mess, and it seems that some habits are just too hard to break. Most folks trying to break an addiction go through a step program. Here is my two-step program for AIG: Everyone that receives a bonus gets a pink slip and cut off the money from AIG until they institute best practices that show they are really acting in good faith.


Have you ever had a cousin that was addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, but they were the best handyman in the family? Did you give some money or a six-pack of beer to fix the gutter or paint that room you did not have time to do for yourself? If you have, then you understand the relationship between the Federal Reserve and AIG.


That is what makes this so troubling. Supposedly, we need AIG, and more specifically, the people who are getting the bonuses, because they have to prop up other companies and they have the "expertise" to help us out of this financial crisis. However, you eventually have to cut your cousin off so he can do better for himself. Maybe it is time to do the same for AIG.


Until then, it seems as though AIG will get over on us again. As a shareholder, that is disappointing news.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Leeway

Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2:13-22

It used to be a time when God did not give us a lot of leeway. If we did not worship Him, He promised to punish us and our children for at least four generations, however, if we did worship Him, he promised to bless our families for a thousand generations.

But then He sent His son, Jesus Christ, whom we destroyed through crucifixion. Three days later, Christ's resurrection, and eventually ascension into Heaven, provided us with the cover we needed from a wrathful God. Christ's love for us gave us the forgiveness from God we needed to grow as human beings to be able to understand and love God.

In the past, if we did not fear God from the moment of cognition, we were doomed to be devoid of His blessing. Now, we have time to accept God as God, to live a life worthy of His blessing. In other words, we have a chance to get our act together, even when we do stuff that is not worthy of God's blessing. We can be redeemed.

We, as human beings, have defiled our bodies, our Earth and our church. In the past, those transgressions would condemn us with no mercy. Now, because of Jesus Christ, we can retain the favor of God and be blessed. However, we still must believe, we just have a little more time to come around.

There is an eventual reward for belief in God, but there are immediate benefits as well. Peace of mind, confidence, courage and a greater understanding of our purpose are some of those benefits. In these uncertain times, those are commodities that are invaluable.

I am glad God is now more forgiving and I am thankful to Jesus Christ for His grace and mercy that makes it so.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We need a St. Patrick now

Legend has it that a man named Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea. For his efforts, he was canonized by the Pope as a saint. Every March 17, we honor that legend by celebrating St. Patrick's Day.

I wonder if there is a St. Patrick in Jackson, or Mississippi that matter. I say that because we have a lot of "snakes" here in Mississippi, especially in politics. I have said that if certain people went on home to meet their maker, our politics, especially on the progressive side would be much better off here.

There are only 2.9 million people in Mississippi, so when anybody offers themselves for public office, it is welcome. However, with such a small pool to choose from, we end up getting folks who would not be worthy of being in the political process in more populated areas. In other words, those snakes would be driven out.

Unfortunately, we don't seem to have that luxury, and the voters seem content to allow those folks to continue to influence the process, whether in elective office or not. I have always been a believer in God's word and he has said that vengeance is His. All we have to do is apply justice for all those that need it fairly and let Him work His will. Therefore, we must be His instruments in driving these snakes out.

Poverty seems to be the catalyst for our snake problem in Mississippi politics. Whether it is the hustler's mentality that many have to get over, the lethargic mentality just to make do and get by with mediocrity, or the pimp mentality, taking advantage of our impoverished state and not seeking any real change, poverty seems to be the common connection. As a point of reference, poverty in our state is not just economic, but also we collectively seem to suffer from a lack of enlightenment. For us to do better, poverty must end, in all its forms.

It has been my goal to challenge these snakes and sometimes I have won, but many times I have lost. Yet I still fight. I am not a St. Patrick by any means, but I don't like snakes, political or otherwise, so I will do my part to drive them out of Mississippi.

I believe that if we can end poverty as we know it now in Mississippi, maybe that can charm those snakes out of existence. It is a struggle that is worth fighting for, because as we all know, the reward for struggle is progress. The progress of Mississippi depends on how successful we are in driving the political snakes out.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A father should be with his son

Here is what I know about this case, an American man, David Goldman, married a Brazilian woman named Bruna and they had a son named Sean. Bruna took Sean with her to Brazil, divorced David, and married a Brazilian lawyer. While having birth with the lawyer's child, Bruna died. David sought to retain custody of Sean, but the lawyer used the Brazilian court system to his advantage and kept Sean in Brazil.

Here is the problem, the Geneva Convention Accords says that the actions of the Brazilian lawyer are a violation of international law. Following a basic precept, the child should be with his surviving biological parent. So the question that needs to be asked is does Brazil want to jeopardize relations with the United States over a child custody case, in which the Hague will rule in favor of David Goldman?

Apparently, the Brazilian lawyer does not care about that. After a U.S. Congressman intervened and Secretary of State Clinton has actively taken an interest in this case, the lawyer has hired an attorney to fight this case. Now President Obama will meet with the President of Brazil on this matter, as well as other matters, in a scheduled visit.

Now that Brazilian lawyer may have manipulated David Goldman's ex-wife and his country's legal system, but he is in deep water now. To strain the future relations of his country with the U.S. is not worth his selfish interests. Even if there was no clear legal standard, a moral decency should take hold. The child should be with his biological father, period, end of discussion.

Goldman warned viewers of the Today Show that some ugly things may come out about him and he is willing to take them on. That sounds like the lawyer's team of attorneys will try their best to paint a picture of Goldman that will present him as an unfit parent. If I was Goldman I wouldn't worry about it, considering the circumstances as to how that Brazilian lawyer gained custody of Sean in the first place.

The manipulator in this situation is the lawyer, not the father. Goldman has been fighting this battle for four years, it is time the odds swung in his favor. David Goldman is the father of Sean Goldman, therefore Sean should be home with his dad. If I was in that situation with my Sean, I would do exactly what he is doing, fighting for what is my blessing from God.

I remember growing up in Chicago, there was a case where a young Russian boy wanted to defect to the United States to live with his sister, who had become a U.S. citizen. This was during the Cold War and my sensibilities were a long way from parenthood. I guess I was secretly wishing that I could emancipate myself from my parents, especially my father at the time, but that is another tale for another day.

I made my argument to my father that this boy was seeking the freedom he desired and could not get in an oppressive Soviet Union. After I made my case, my father simply replied, "A father needs to be with his son." That was it. What I thought was terse then is now so profound. Political boundaries and ideologies should never separate a child from his parents, for no matter what one may think about another nation-state, the love a father has for his child has no boundaries or ideology.

It is my hope that when the President of Brazil shows up in Washington, DC to visit the President of the United States, he has an announcement as to when Sean Goldman will be where he rightfully belongs, with his father.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't discourage the spirit

I heard a story this morning about a young girl, who is a Girl Scout, finding an ingenious way to sell her cookies. This budding entrepreneur decided, with the help of her dad, to set up a site on Ebay to meet her quota of cookie sales. Normally, parents take the order forms to work and church and get the necessary sales. I commend the young lady for her creativeness.

However, not every one shares my sentiment, especially the other parents of this young lady's Girl Scout troop. They complained to somebody, I assume the central office for that city or state, and the young lady had to pull her site off of Ebay. That is unfortunate. If parents have a natural network to get sales, why would you care if one of the scouts used the new technology to help her out? This was just jealousy, plain and simple. The younger folks refer to them as "haters".

We all encounter these haters, but it is really bad in these groups that are suppose to benefit our children. We have all seen the bad behavior in Little League and Pee Wee Football. We have seen it in school candy sales and Boy Scout popcorn sales. These groups and activities are suppose to be building the character and encouraging the spirit of our youth. When parents behave badly or employ the "hater" card, what lessons are they suppose to learn from that?

I hate that some adults are shallow like that, but it is what it is. I would encourage those that can be reached to get out of the mindset that would discourage the spirit of our young folks when they show creativity and initiative. In other words, stop drinking the "hater-ade."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Abandonment

Yesterday, a mother left her six-week-old child on a front porch in Jackson. It has to be someone from the neighborhood because she left the child with family of six children. I guess the mother of that child felt someone else with kids could be a better parent than she could.

When I was in the Legislature, I co-sponsored a bill that would allow a mother to safely leave her child at a hospital, police station or fire station if she felt she had to abandon that child without any legal repercussions. My motivation was the abandonment of a newborn in a landfill located in my district.

When I heard about the newborn being abandon in the landfill, I felt deep sadness. It is presumed that the mother dumped the baby in the trash and then was discovered in the landfill. What could have compelled a mother to abandon her child in such a way? How desperate was her situation that she could not deal with the consequences, whatever they were?

I attended "Baby Doe's" funeral a month later. The Jackson Police Department conducted the funeral as if one of their own had fallen. Seeing that tiny casket was the image in my mind that compelled me to push for legislation to discourage that type of desperate action for ever happening again. We cannot legislate human emotion, so we cannot stop abandonment totally. What we felt we did, with the blessings of the state's Attorney General, was to make it so that any abandoned child would have a chance to live, to grow up in a home where they were loved and cared for, not discarded like trash.

The incident yesterday reminded me of how times are and brought back some painful memories. I look at my son and just wonder how anybody could forgo one of the greatest experiences in life, to be a parent. I am so thankful to God that I was blessed to be a father. To see him take his first breath, take his first steps, utter his first word, get his first haircut, attend his first day of school, etc. is something that can never be erased from my memory. It is something that no one that has been given that gift should ever abandon, no matter the circumstances.

I pray that this child that was abandoned yesterday will have a loving home to go to. All children deserve that much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teens need to be responsible with the new technology

All of us like new toys, especially the electronic ones. We like the new gadgets that make us seem cool and help us with this ever changing world we live in. But we also can become victims of our infatuation, especially teenagers.

Case in point, the new phenomenon of "sexting", the sending of sexually explicit messages and pictures through their cell phones or other handheld devices. Most commonly, this is an act of vengeance against an ex, designed to embarrass them. A young lady named Jessica Morgan killed herself because nude pictures of herself sent to her boyfriend in private became public after their breakup.

Teens are entering the second stage of human development, preparing mentally and physically for adulthood. They are constantly given mixed messages about sex. Now, with the help of technology, they have a new tool to "express themselves", for lack of a better phrase.

The problem is, as they are in this stage of development, ethical decisions and long-term consequences are not necessarily their primary concern. They react emotionally and do things that are devastating to them.

Many teens are now being arrested and convicted of sex crimes because of this sexting craze and they feel it is unfair for them to be labeled as sex offenders. It may be unfair, but right now it is the law. Therefore, teens need to show restraint and parents need to offer guidance around this issue.

They should talk to their children about relationships and sex so that they understand what they are getting into and can make rational decisions that will help them throughout their lives. Parents cannot trust their children to their own judgement, they must play an active role. If they don't, more than likely it will lead to dire consequences.

One final note: Sexting is not innocent fun. It is a crime in most states, being considered child pornography. Teens should not engage in this behavior, either as an instigator or a recipient. The new technology can be a powerful tool that even can save lives. But with great power comes great responsibility. I encourage teens to use it wisely.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The end of trust and talent in America

I am disturbed about what is going on. We have reached a crisis in America which I believe is beyond repair. We have lost our trust in one another and we don't value the people we have at our disposal.

There have been a number of personal experiences recently that have made me come to this conclusion. Since I have been given the privilege of knowledge with an agreement of confidentiality, I cannot divulge details. However, based on what I know, it is evidence that the trust and the value of others have eroded.

We used to respect people for their talents and reward them with the opportunity to utilize them to the fullest capacity. With the advent of this disposable society, those talents are undervalued and under appreciated. Those who make the sacrifices to achieve are mistrusted for their success and despised for their confidence.

It is definitely apparent in all walks of life, but even more so in the political arena. In politics, if the talented are treated like trash, the inmates get to run the asylum. If that is the trend in American politics, the future of our democracy looks as bleak as our current economic system. However, the government can't attempt to bail us out of this one, nobody is talented or trusted enough to do it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I want what is mine

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38

The aforementioned Scriptures today remind us that we have an inheritance that we all should desire. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that they would inherit the promised land if they remained faithful.

Jesus went further by asking the question which is more important, the riches of the world or your life? Our reward for our faithfulness is not earthly riches, but salvation. That may not pay your bills, but it will give you peace of mind to deal with the challenges you face on earth.

Because God is a provider, He will place at your feet the resources needed to take care of yourself and your loved ones. All it takes is our focus on Him. It is His promise, it is our inheritance.

Therefore, I want what is mine, what God promised me, and that desire alone will keep my enemies at bay and my troubles in check. I hope that those who read this make that commitment of faith as well. Joshua made the declaration a long time ago, "As for me and my House, we shall serve the Lord." It is an expression of faith that we should all emulate to get what it ours.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Let the chaos begin

The deadline to run for mayor of Jackson, Mississippi has past. Eighteen people have filed to run for the office. EIGHTEEN! Twelve of them will run as Democrats, two as Republicans, and four as Independents.

One of those twelve Democrats happens to be the incumbent. That many people running for one office would imply otherwise. I know that the current mayor, Frank Melton, has been under fire, especially with a federal trial, which is now rescheduled for May 11, but now that he is running for re-election, it is going to look bad for a lot of political egos.

With that many people running, there will be candidates that will only get single-digit percentages, which never looks good on a political resume. I, for example, have only had one single-digit return, and that was my first time running, at the age of 25.

We have a former mayor, a sitting city councilman, a former district attorney, a sitting state senator, a former police chief, a sitting county tax collector and a union president amongst the candidates. We also have a number of candidates who have run for political office before and have never won an office, but have a distinct following.

If 70,000 voters show up to vote in the Democratic Primary on May 5th, an even draw amongst the twelve candidates will be a little more than eight percent of the vote. EIGHT PERCENT! Of course if one candidate can get 35, 700 votes, or 51 percent of the vote, that candidate will win the primary outright.

It is going to be hard to hold debates or forums with that many candidates, so the voters will have to be very diligent in trying to decipher all of the propaganda that will hit them in the next 57 days. Then they have to be prepared to possibly go to the polls two more times after that.

It is going to be a fun time for the pundits, but a potential nightmare for the candidates and the voters. Let the chaos begin.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Accepting challenges

I believe that in life you have to accept challenges, despite the naysayers and the critics. If you stay static and safe, you will never fully enjoy the life that God entrusted you with. This is not a license to live a life full of danger and sinful behavior, but your life should never be bland.

All my my life I have taken those challenges, like running for the United States Senate twice. Despite the odds, and the ultimate results, it was a great learning experience to has helped me grow professionally and personally. I learned about my limitations and capabilities, as well as my level of maturity.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that I am 44 years old. But when I look back at my life, and all those challenges I accepted, just remembering the place I was mentally some 25 years ago seems like an eternity away. I have learned to be friendly with my enemies and careful with my friends. I have learned to dream big and not be discouraged in failure.

I don't expect everyone to agree with my decisions, nor do I even expect them to continue to be my friend based on decisions I make. However, I must be comfortable in those challenges and make sure that they do not compromise my core beliefs. It is alright to go after the unattainable prize, but it is never okay to forget who you are, or to whom you belong to, to seek that prize.

These last few months have been a brief test in humility, love, perseverance and loyalty. These next two months will be a test of endurance and courage. I am ready for this challenge because I am prepared.

The Apostle Paul once said that suffering builds character. I can testify to that. But I am proud of my journey so far and I look forward to the next challenge.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Warner stays

Sudanese President Bashir was indicted on war crimes by the Hauge today. The Supreme Court ruled that drug companies cannot hide behind FDA approval today. Two major victories for those who stand for human rights and dignity. I wanted to acknowledge those events before I got into a lighter, but significant, subject.

The Arizona Cardinals, two minutes and thirty-eight seconds away from winning Super Bowl XLIII, re-signed the quarterback that got them there, Kurt Warner. Warner, who in the 2007 season was the back-up, will get a guaranteed $19 million, over a two-year period. The total contract is worth $23 million.

It is significant because the Cardinals organization have been notorious in their lack of building and maintaining a competitive franchise, whether it was in St. Louis or Phoenix. The Bidwell family were the poster children for owners who were more concerned with revenue than they were with winning. Then their team played in the Super Bowl. Their signing of Warner proves that they get it.

There are a couple of more pieces to secure like wide receiver and running back, but the leader, the grizzled veteran, is back. Warner, in his storybook career, has played in three Super Bowls, and has the three highest passing yardage games in Super Bowl history. In other words, when Warner makes the Super Bowl, he lives up to the hype.

He is the presence that this young contender needs to continue their push to win a championship. I am glad the Bidwells rose above everybody's low expectations and secured Warner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

History repeats itself

Yesterday, I was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff here in Hinds County, Mississippi. Eleven years ago, as newlywed in my first marriage, I became a member of the Hinds County Sheriff's Department, leaving a career in journalism.

Now, as a newlywed in my second marriage, I am on my second tour with the Sheriff's Department. The reason that I left the first time was to begin my decade in elected office. Could history repeat itself even more, meaning that I will start a second decade as an elected official? Only time will tell. Right now, I am focusing on my new career move and my new marriage.

Any election that I would be interested in won't be for another two years. Meanwhile, I can recoup mentally, physically and financially, in other words being selfish. People do not realize what a sacrifice it is to serve in elective office. They see you on television, or in the newspaper, and think there is some glamour associated with that.

All it does it make you a target and takes time away from personal needs and desires. Nevertheless, I would never trade my experience with anyone. I enjoy public service and I still believe it is the highest aim of mankind.

Therefore, I will never rule out a possible run in the future. Right now, my focus is on me and my family. Technically, I am still in public service, and I have been travelling the state speaking wherever people invite me to come. As long as I can be an inspirational figure for folks, I will continue to offer myself in that capacity.

I am still working on my 2009 goals set forth in my first blog entry and, more importantly, I am still a work in progress on my Christian journey. My faith has gotten me through some tough days in my life and my personal testimony is that God has never failed me yet.

I know that He will protect me during my current tour with Sheriff's Department as He did the first time. I also know that if He opens a door for me to go back into elective politics, that it will be another successful venture.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for me and have expressed kind comments over these last few months. Keep me, and my family, in your prayers and may God continue to bless you, be with you and keep you in His favor always.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Strange Pets

Never mind that a chimpanzee that had done television commercials went berserk and attacked a woman viciously, people are still making chimps pets. They are in a state of denial, stating that attack was just an isolated incident.

Here's a point of fact, any animal that is ten times stronger than you is not a pet you have confined in a house or apartment. They are wild animals, and if you are not a trained zoologist, you should not try to handle them.

Famous folks, and not so famous folks, have had pets that go beyond the traditional dog, cat and canary. I remember growing up, reading Ebony magazine, and seeing an article about boxer George Foreman and his pet lions. Yes, lions. Foreman, then the undefeated heavyweight boxing champion of the world, admitted during that time in his life he was using drugs. If you have lions as pets, I believe that.

My most vivid memory about a strange pet was when I was in the state legislature. There was a woman in Mississippi who wanted to have a white-tail deer as a pet. She found the deer on her property and started feeding it. Since it hung around, she decided to claim it as a pet. The town where she lived said that she could not keep the deer as a pet. So she decided to take it to a higher authority, the Legislature.

I can't remember who actually introduced the bill that would allow this woman to have this deer as a pet, but I do remember how angry I was that the bill made it out of committee and we actually had to vote on the bill. There she was sitting in the gallery, the press focused on her, and members of the House of Representatives speaking in the well on her behalf. I had planned to be silent and just vote my belief, but after about three speeches telling about the virtues of this woman and her good heart, I had to speak.

I spoke with passion and clarity of the health risks this legislation would create, especially since there was an outbreak of Lyme's Disease that year. I admonished the members that Mississippi had more pressing issues than the selfish interest of one woman. Thank goodness others stepped forward to bash the bill and the bill was defeated, never to be heard from again. I remember seeing her dejected face after the vote and as she walked away from the gallery, one of my colleagues was yelling at me, playfully, that I was cold-hearted.

My response was that she had her fifteen minutes, now we need to go to work. However, I did feel kind of bad, but I knew I took the right stance. Animals and humans were designed by God to co-exist, but not to have all of them domesticated. Animals are really created to survive their natural environment. Humans have encroached so much of their space, that instances like the aforementioned deer story could be more common. We have to control ourselves and realize our limitations in our relationships with the other creations of God.

Deers, lions, alligators, tigers and chimpanzees are not pets. They are living creatures that need to be in their habitat, not ours.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hedge of Protection

Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15

We ask every day for God to watch over us, to protect us. Fortunately for us, He has a vested interest in His children. He keeps us from total devastation, even if some afflictions hit us. We are built to withstand the suffering that does come, as long as we maintain our faith.

His hedge of protection is strong. It help us when we are travelling in stormy weather. It keeps us from breaking bones every time we fall. It shows us the rainbow at the end of our gloomy days.

Many people believe that they are the captain of their own destiny, the master of their fate. If that were true, the human race would have been wiped out long before these words could be written. The truth is that God protects us, not just from principalities and powers sent to afflict us, but from ourselves. How many of us could have withstood forty days and nights, in the wilderness, daily tempted by Satan? Jesus was able to sustain, not because He was the Son of God, but because He was a child of God. Since we are all God's children, we have that same strength, that same power, to abstain from demonic temptations.

As Langston Hughes would say, "Life ain't no crystal stair", but with the hedge of protection from God, that stairway of life is manageable and navigable. We will not falter because we have faith. We will not fail because have faith. We will see the rainbow at the end of the storm because we have faith.

Be faithful and stay within the hedges.