Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29, 2011

Today is the worst day of my life. I have never felt this way before, with everything caving in. However, it is from this point forward that I will move forward. I will not be defeated, I will not surrender to the principalities and powers of darkness.

Therefore, as I begin this epic battle, I will go dark and be off of the grid for a while, for however long it takes. I will be in this battle alone, for it is alone that I will find the strength to overcome.

Your prayers are welcome and your understanding and patience are needed as I sojourn on.

Take care to all who I have befriended on the previous journey. I look forward to seeing you on the other side of the mountain.

"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me." - Micah 7:8 KJV

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Innovation: A Quick Note

When President Obama spoke last night at the State of the Union, he stressed that America needs to be innovative again. Many people clearly interpreted that he was strictly referring to the science and the business community.

But there has to be innovation in one other major institution: government. In order for America to truly move forward and get out of crisis mode, politics as usual cannot continue. Those individuals that have been elected to public office, especially at the Federal level, have to be creative and innovative in addressing the concerns of the American people.

Nothing can be sacred. We must look at wasteful spending in all aspects of government. We must get more return for our entitlement investments in order for them to become self-sufficient. We must honestly look at revamping our current revenue system, that means taxes. We cannot protect earmarks that steer funds away from fulfilling general budgetary purposes. We cannot continue to point fingers at others and wait for the other side to blink.

This is the time for true, innovative leaders to emerge. This is the time for statesmen to rise above the noise and influence the masses to support creative ideas and concepts, regardless of which party they come from. This is our time to do great things. The only way that can happen is when politicians are more prone to open their minds rather than their mouths.

Innovation is not limited to industry. Government must practice it as well.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rahm's real fight

As I write this, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that they will hear the case that will determine if Rahm Emanuel, the former Illinois Congressman and White House Chief of Staff, can run for Mayor of Chicago. The ruling also has halted all ballots being printed until they make a final determination.

The issue is whether Emanuel has truly established residency to run for the office. There is a law that says a person running for mayor in an Illinois municipality must be resident of that municipality for one year before the election. There is also another law that says a person voting in any Illinois election must establish residency for one year prior to the election, unless said person is called into service for the United States of America.

Emanuel has a home in Chicago, for he was the Congressman for Illinois' 5th District from 2003 to 2009. Ironically, he replaced Rod Blagojevich in Congress. In January of 2009, he became the Chief of Staff for President Obama. He resigned in October of 2010 to run for mayor of his hometown.

Emanuel contends that he meets the residency requirement to be a voter in the upcoming election, thus making him a qualified elector, and therefore a qualified candidate for mayor. He claims that his service as Chief of Staff qualifies for the service to the United States exemption. The Chicago Board of Elections agreed with that premise and qualified him as a candidate.

However, that ruling was challenged to the Illinois Appellate Court and that court overturned their ruling. Unfortunately, I agree with the Appellate Court and I believe the Illinois Supreme Court will also. The problem for Emanuel is that while he may qualify as a voter for the election, the law concerning the qualifications as a candidate are clear and distinct. The fact that he has not been a resident of the state for one year prior to the election, and that absence is documented, Rahm Emanuel is not qualified to run for Mayor of Chicago.

It is a shame because he was the leading candidate going into the February 22nd primary. He campaigned on a positive vision for the city and was not only well-funded, but well-organized also. The main beneficiary of Emanuel leaving the race will more likely be former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, who has also campaigned as a healer, not a divider.

If the Illinois Supreme Court rules otherwise it will be a surprise, but it is a tough fight that Emanuel has to engage in and in the long run, it will bring some clarity to Chicago politics, which would be a rare, but welcome, moment indeed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dealing with the Pain

Yesterday, I was enjoying the game between the Bears and the Packers for the NFC Championship with friends. The Bears were losing but it looked like the defense had stopped the Packers' offense cold. All that was left was to see Jay Cutler, the Bears' quarterback, get his bearing and mount the comeback for the ages. That never happened.

Cutler apparently was injured just before halftime. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, today's MRI on Cutler's knee showed a Grade 2 MCL sprain. According to our eyes yesterday, it looked like something completely different. When the Chicago fans in the room saw Todd Collins come in the game and saw Cutler just standing around looking like he had given up, we lost it.

To be a fan of the 2010-11 Bears is to become an expert in body language. When Cutler is on, he looks like Gary Cooper in High Noon or Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, the confident gunslinger who can look at opposing defenses and ask if they feel lucky today. When Cutler is off, he looks like Sleprock or Glum, head down, shoulders slumped and the frustrating look of disengagement on his face. It was the off Cutler we fans saw during the championship, on and off the field.

After he missed a wide open Devin Hester in the first quarter for a possible tying touchdown, Cutler's negative body language became very noticeable. Then he was gone. On the bench. In the biggest game of his life. I honestly thought, without knowledge of the severity of the injury, he had quit on his team. It certainly looked that way when third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie was quickly scouring over the pictures of the Green Bay defense, without any assistance from Cutler.

Bears fans were not the only ones who thought he had quit. Other NFL players on Twitter felt that way as well, watching the same thing we were watching. But according to his teammates, we were wrong. Brian Urlacher, the Bears' defensive captain, said those players were jealous and that the fans were stupid. Glad you are sticking up for your teammate, Brian, but over 60,000 "stupid"fans braved bitterly cold temperatures to watch you all disappoint them yet again, not to mention the thousands upon thousands of fans across the nation. Maybe the stupidity is being loyal to a team that has only won one championship in 48 years, but that is why we are called fans which is a shorter version of fanatics. We will deal with the pain of another heartbreaking season and we will hope that next year, if the NFL has a season, will be a championship year. Stupid is as stupid does.

Meanwhile, it was the testimony of Hanie that convinced me that maybe Cutler did not quit on his team. Hanie said that Cutler came to him after the Bears cut the lead in half in the 4th Quarter, congratulated him and then told him to calm down, re-focus and take the team down the field again. That is the leadership old school players like Derrick Brooks and Mike Ditka expect from a team captain, but it is just not as fiery as they would have done it. Nevertheless, if Hanie's account is accurate, then that is all Cutler could do in that situation and I commend him for that.

So Jay, I apologize for my frustration. I am a fan. I want you and all the other Bears to do well and play with all your heart. I want you to rehab hard and take advantage of the time to listen Mike Martz and re-train your footwork. I want you to endure the pain in your knee to get better and I want you to endure the pain of this unfair criticism to make you a better player, a better leader and a better man. This may seem to be a low-point, although your cool demeanor would never reveal it, but it can be the fuel to re-ignite a new passion.

Drew Brees was told by 31 NFL teams that his reconstructed throwing shoulder was too much of a risk. New Orleans, with a new coach, decided to take a chance. Brees transformed that rejection in four years to become the most productive quarterback during that span and to become a champion. Maybe January 23, 2011 will be the moment that Jay Cutler dealt with the pain and laid the foundation for a champion to emerge.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Early 2011 Random Thoughts

Again, it is almost the end of January 2011 and I have let a lot of things go by because I have not had time to sit down and write down my thoughts. I don't even have time to jot them down then transpose it, but on this football championship Sunday, things have quieted down enough to put some things down that have been on my mind.

First, Haiti has disappointed me in a big way. Amidst recovering from its worst disaster ever, a cholera outbreak manifests because $10 billion in aid has been ineffective in improving the lives of the victims there. Whether it has not been spent or mismanaged, bottom line, our donations have gone for naught. Top it off with another controversial presidential election and the return of Papa Doc, and you have the best real-life soap opera in the modern ages. It is time for total UN intervention, as well as the OAS. This situation is why these organizations were founded and it is long overdue to get to work.

As for Africa, the audacity of the illegitimate president of the Ivory Coast is epic. Dude, you lost the election that you have put off for nearly a decade. The people do not want you. Put the guns down, get a plane ticket and get to steppin'. Any coalition government that is created because of your incredible sense of self will not work unless you no longer within the borders of that nation-state. That fact that you inaugurated yourself after the majority of the voters rejected you proves that you are not worthy of playing a role in that nation's future, period. God will keep account of the bloodshed your selfish act has caused. Meanwhile, there is hope in Tunisia and the Sudan. The Southern Sudanese people have desperately sought independence and judging from the initial sentiments prior to the official vote, it looks like that will become a reality. I hope and pray that this act of democracy will bring about a long overdue peace. To the north, the citizens of Tunisia have ousted another wanna-be dictator from the continent. Good for them and the beauty of it was, nobody really saw this coming.

Next, I want to touch on the Ted Williams story. The fact that a homeless alcoholic radio announcer has been given a second chance is what America is all about. But it was never going to be a bed of roses as some people tried to make it. A man with that God-given talent to be out of the normal loop of success and society as a whole meant that he had a lot of demons to exorcise. His reconnection with his family, no matter how caustic, was the first step. Meeting with Dr. Phil, or any psychologist for that matter, was a major step, because he has to be in the right mind frame to enjoy and blossom in this second opportunity. Now he is in rehab. To Mr. Williams: Get everything right with you and within you first. Then, and only then, will you live the life God wants you to have. Good luck to you, sir. I will be rooting for you.

In the no surprise category, the Scott Sisters are free, the Republicans in the US House repealed Health Care Reform and Sarah Palin says she will not shut up. All of those items have one connection: The 2012 challenge to President Barack Obama. MS Gov. Haley Barbour is seriously considering running for POTUS and freeing the Scott Sisters will be a feather in that cap. I am glad to see that the power of the Internet was used to make this a political decision and force justice to be enacted, but understand if Barbour had not made the calculation, then the fight would still be going on.

The Health Care Repeal vote this past week was another chapter in political theater in a time when the civil discourse was suppose improve in light of the Tucson tragedy. Knowing the legislative process, I know that changes to the Health Care Reform legislation could have been done without repealing the bill. Instead, the House Reupblicans chose an action that was just like Yul Brenner's Pharaoh expelling Charleston Hester's Moses, erasing the prophet's name from the Egyptian record and uttering the famous edict: "So it is written, so it shall be done!" Well, we know how effective that strategy was and the GOP repeal vote will be equally as effective and may have a backlash impact in the 2012 elections.

Palin's defiant stand on Fox News definitely is not a surprise, as a matter of fact it was anticipated as she is in a constant battle with irrelevance. Palin will run for POTUS in 2012. Get use to seeing her on every news channel until November 2012.

I know, I know, that was a lot, but I feel so much better. I am honored that y'all read it and I will continue to try to do better to be more timely with my thoughts.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Lost Art of Slow Dancing

I know this is telling my age and starts my descent into old fogeyism, but I just have to ask this...what has happened to slow dancing? Recently, I was given a security detail for a high school party. At the party, the deejay was bumping the latest hits and party favorites and the young people were dancing. Sounds normal, right? It was anything but.

First, while dancing to the jams, I noticed that the boys were dancing in the middle of the dance floor, imitating fraternity stepping and several other popular gyrations. Meanwhile, the girls were circling around them, either on the dance floor or the wall, just watching. I thought I was watching a National Geographic special on an African tribe's traditional warrior dance, with the females watching, trying to pick out a suitable mate.

Then, as has been normal throughout the history of partying, the deejay started playing some slow jams, to give the revelers some rest, and allow the opposite sexes to interact. There was some interaction, but no dancing. Instead, I heard one of the young men say, "This is not a happy hour club!", obviously implying that only slow records should be played at establishments that serve alcohol.

When I was that age, I couldn't wait for a slow jam to come on, especially if I had a young lady that I was interested in at the party in my sights. It was a chance to interact, use my smoothest rap, which wasn't very smooth at all, and get close to a female with little noise as possible, just letting the groove move us. If there was no connection, no problem, but if there was, what a great start!

It seems like now, the young men use the Little Webby approach ("Girl give me that!") instead of the suave, polite approach. Call me old school, but a woman, regardless of age, should be approached in the least harshest fashion possible. However, that does not seem to be the time we live in.

R&B seems to stand for Raunchy&Bold if you listen to the lyrics of the latest songs. All of the illusion of intimacy is gone, it is just raw. Therefore, I guess that love songs and slow dancing don't jive in this day and time. I have to adjust, but it does not stop me from longing for a more simpler, interactive time.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Open Letter to The Honorable Tim Scott

Reps. Allen West (R-FL) and Tim Scott (R-SC)

To: The Honorable Tim Scott
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC

Dear Rep. Scott:

This correspondence is in regards to your new tenure in the United States Congress. First, and foremost, congratulations on being elected. Your election in South Carolina, as well as the election of The Honorable Allen West in Florida, has written a new chapter in American politics. Being the first African-American Republicans elected in the Deep South since Reconstruction speaks volumes as to how far we all have come as a nation. Your election is as important to the African-American political diaspora as the election of President Barack Obama, because it shows that the Black electorate is not a monolithic one.

That last thought leads me to the second point of this correspondence. Recently you said this to Politico about joining the Congressional Black Caucus:

"I haven't really decided. I'm probably leaning against it at this point...My experience has been the whole notion of one nation - so I really shy away from things that create some kind of boundaries...It highlights the divisions I've been pushing forward to erase."

I understand why you feel that way. I acknowledge that you were a member of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus but you left because of the diverging viewpoints. I speak to you as someone who twice resigned from the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus because I felt that selfish gains were being rewarded and the uplifting of the 1.3 million African-American citizens of Mississippi were being ignored.

The lesson I learned that drew me back to the caucus was this: Change can more easily be gained inside the room rather than outside the door. As a Black man who is a Republican, you can bring a perspective that has not been heard in the CBC since 1996. Rep. West has made the decision to join the CBC. He should not be the lone voice of conservatism in the room.

Many of us who follow politics realize that there were many African-American voices in the Tea Party movement. You and Rep. West now have a chance to express their concerns, not just in the halls of Congress, but in one of the most respected organizations in American politics. To exclude yourself from that organization plays into the divisiveness that you seek to avoid.

Now grant it, I am a Democrat and I have a belief that American government should be a progressive government. However, I have never been adverse to a great idea, regardless of what party or individual comes up with it. The CBC does not need to be monolithic, it needs to be innovative. If any organization has one viewpoint expressed, it will become stagnant and irrelevant. The CBC is too valuable to become that way.

Therefore, I humbly ask you to reconsider your decision, or at least lean toward joining at some time during your tenure. Your voice will be welcomed and your principles will be upheld, because the last time I checked, the CBC seeks the goal of one nation, prosperous and secure, as well.

May God continue to bless you, be with you and keep you in His favor always...and again, congratulations being given the opportunity to serve our great nation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Perils of Public Service

"An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve." - U.S. House Speaker John Boehner

On the morning of January 8, 2011, an enthusiastic Gabrielle Giffords sent a tweet, inviting constituents to attend her Congress on Your Corner event at a mall in Tucson, AZ. Six hours later, she was just leaving surgery, fighting for her life after a lone gunman shot her in the head at point-blank range.

In Mississippi, if you assault an elected official, while they are performing their official duties, you will receive an automatic sentence of three years in jail. That law was passed for a reason. Public servants in the political arena are some of the most vulnerable people for attacks. Why? Because people, even in an apathetic, cynical culture, are passionate about their politics. For totally unstable people, political philosophy, or their concept of one, tips them over the edge.

Knowing this, elected officials go out in the public anyway, listening to the concerns and complaints of the citizens, most of the time without any type of security. I used to get stopped at grocery stores, gas stations, sporting events or even strolling through the park. People call your house with threats. People mail nasty letters. Now, in this day and age, salacious e-mails and blog postings have become the weapons of choice.

All I had to protect me was the hedge of protection God placed around me. No Secret Service, State Troopers, local police or security guards. But here I am, and I would not change a thing. Why? Because that was the peril of one of the greatest jobs in a democratic republic, political public service.

A true public servant will never be afraid to talk to the people that they represent. You must go out and communicate with the people who have given you their trust to handle the people's business. That is the spirit and heart of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Ever since 2007, she has had these type of events, informally talking with voters, explaining to the best of her ability what was going on Washington, DC. Now she is in critical condition in an Intensive Care Unit.

If she could though, I can guarantee she would have no regrets, only remorse for the six people that lost their lives in this bizarre and violent attack. As soon as she can, she will be reaching out to those families, offering condolences, even while she will be recovering from injuries. While fighting through the pain of rehabilitation, she will do her best to let the people of her district know that she is still on the case and that she appreciates all of the prayers and well-wishes.

Eventually, she will get back to work, addressing the concerns of her constituents, giving speeches, taking phone calls, reading e-mails, getting stopped at grocery stores...and well, you get the point.

I was never afraid to go where I needed to go, speak where I needed to speak, read what I needed to read. To me, talking with people was the greatest joy of being in public office, and when you are doing something you enjoy, the last thing to consider is the danger of what you are doing. You don't get paralyzed with fear when you are helping someone address a problem or answering a question that has puzzled them. You just do your job.

That is the mindset of a Gabby Giffords. That is why she will survive. That is why America will never fail. As long as public servants look the peril in the eye and stare it down, democracy will never yield to terror in any form and public service will still be the noblest endeavor of a free society.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Predictions for 2011

I am not Nostradamus, but this should be interesting if they come true...

Tiger Woods will win a golf tournament
A Boston sports team will win a championship
Lindsay Lohan will have a breakout year
Jeff Bridges will win another Oscar
Brett Favre will stay retired
Congress will not cut entitlements and will not change Health Care Reform
The MS House of Representatives will become majority GOP
Haley Barbour will announce he is not running for President
Pakistan will declare war on the Taliban and Al-Quieda
Civil war will re-emerge in the Ivory Coast
North Korea will seek a peaceful solution with all Asian nations
Unemployment will drop below eight percent
Gasoline will go over $3.50
A HBCU basketball team will advance to the Sweet Sixteen
None of the major sports will be cancelled due to labor issues
The top movie of the year will be a romantic comedy
Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj will make an album together and dominate the pop charts
A National Merit Scholar will win a beauty pageant
Kim Khardasian will make over $6 million again
The OWN channel will be a success
Violent crimes will continue to decrease
No athlete will be accused of sexting
The top selling gospel album will out perform the top selling rap album
The EVO will surpass the iPhone
Twitter will be officially declared a news agency

OK, I did mine...have fun with yours and most importantly, have the best 2011 you can control!