Friday, October 31, 2008

Really, Joe?

Here's a quick Friday post, my response to some random person on a friend's Facebook page about this dumb Joe the Plumber nonsense. I've changed the poster's name to protect him from further ridicule....

Original statement by my observant friend...

Record profits for Exxon Mobile. We should give them a tax cut cause they need it, as McCain suggests. Maybe they will grace us with some good trickle down wealth?

"Fan of regular-Joe caricatures and plumbers" at 9:14am October 31

PLUMBER: “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more. Isn’t it?”

OBAMA: “It’s not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Spread it to WHO? Ladies and Gentlemen, the last time I checked, this strategy was defined as Socialism!

Will Hill at 1:02pm October 31

Well... In Alaska for decades every citizen has received annual dividend checks from oil profits. I wonder if Joe and Sarah also believe that to be socialist....

No "spreading of wealth" unless it's in Alaska? Funny :-)

Trick-or-treating might actually be more profitable than trickle down trickonomics.

Tax breaks for big corporations do not directly result in more jobs (the theory itself is an indirect possibility at best). Exhibit A - executive salaries, Exhibit B - the George W. Bush corporate tax cuts have increased jobs by exactly how much?...

By the way Joe actually makes $40K per year and every analyst agrees he'd benefit from Obama's tax plan. I know Joe's looking for any reason not to like Obama but these aren't very intelligent ones.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Will you posed some good questions on my last post. I agree that this is very complex and I'd have to dedicate some serious time to figure out what would work. I respect those who do it every day. I know its not easy so I wouldn't disrespect them by simplifying it. For me, the fact does remain that we do need to create a regulations that makes sense for today's global economy. We can get in the lab on that off-line.

Moving on....

During the debate, Tom Brokaw asked the candidates if they thought the ecomony would get worse before it gets better. Neither candidate was willing to be honest about that question. I understand why. Why take the risk? This is they type of thing that makes my earlier point about trust salient. Tell me what you think about this:

What if Obama gets elected, gives a speech and in the speech talks about the election process. He takes responsibility for not being completely honest about the economy getting worse before better for the reasons we all know, apologizes, and makes a pact with us that he's going to give it to us straight from this point forward. Part of his platform is based on being honest with the American people, telling us what we need to hear vs want to hear. And while no one expects him to be perfect, he can correct errors and make a sincere effort to move our politics in the direction we all know it should go. If we're the ones we've been waiting for, then we have to operate based on what we know to be true and proceed accordingly. Does anyone think taking a stance like this would be detrimental in the long run?

The #1 reason I believe Barack should do this is because its right. The second reason is because I believe he has to be transcendent while in office. That's a tremendous burden I know but that's what this time in calls for.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Three Cheers for "Maybe You Shouldn't Vote"

I'm somewhat new to the blogsphere and still unsure of "Blog Etiquette." So forgive me for using this post to draw your attention to a post on another blog. Bill Folman wrote a very insightful blog that appeared on the Huffington Post yesterday as well as on his blog. He writes:

"Voting is a skill. It's like basketball. Not everyone is good at it. Sure, everyone likes to think he or she is a good voter, just like everyone likes to think he or she is attractive and has a sense of humor. Sadly, the numbers do not support these claims. If everyone was a brilliant voter, we would never elect bad leaders, and the last eight years might have turned out quite differently. So this election year, before you step into a voting booth and possibly screw things up for the rest of us, I ask that you take a moment to answer the following questions and determine whether you have the skill and the know-how to vote responsibly for our next president."

You really should read the full article. But if you're short on time, check out Folman's list of questions he uses to determine a voter's skill:

  1. Do you feel you made a mistake in 2004 when you voted for George W. Bush?
  2. Do you believe Barack Obama is a Muslim? Do you believe he "pals around with terrorists"?
  3. Do you believe any of the following to be unbiased and even-handed sources for political news: The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post, Air America, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, or the Fox News Network? (Worth noting that his blog appeared on the Huffington Post)
  4. Are your political opinions easily swayed by forwarded e-mails, messages on your answering machine, or frightening campaign commercials?
  5. Do you vote based on who you feel is the more "patriotic" candidate? Do you worry about having a president who is a member of the "elite?"
  6. Are you planning to vote a certain way because of Barack Obama's skin color or Sarah Palin's gender?
  7. Are you afraid of accidentally electing a socialist president to the White House?
  8. Do you want your president to be just like you?
  9. Are you upset because you don't know where the candidates stand on the major issues?
  10. Do you feel there is no real difference between the two candidates?

Again, check out the article. It's a quick, fun read. Folman created a great blend of humor and insight.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Even The Sun Goes Down…

My final thoughts on a 72 year old running for POTUS.


I love the fact that my observations have sparked some thought and disagreement among the bloggers. The observations that I put into my post caused so much thought that one of my fellow bloggers felt it was not enough to leave a comment, but instead took action and posted a response. This is a first for this blog and hopefully not the last. So as we count down the last seven days of this blog here is my closing argument...

Only the old and quixotic and the young and immature truly believe that “age ain’t nuttin’ but a number.”

Why? Because the old and quixotic don’t realize that their time has come and gone. They don’t see that they have had their moment to lead and their season has passed. Although their knowledge might be still relevant they don’t comprehend that their ability for leadership is all but extinguished.
The young and immature simply don’t know what they don’t know. They believe that the parameters of the world they comprehend encompasses all there is to know of the world. The complexity of the world is unknown to them and their ignorance is bliss.
Therefore both groups conclude that they have a current leadership role when in reality the former group is an advisor and the latter group is merely an apprentice.

Mama’s and Marathons

A 61 year old mama’s ability to complete a race at one point in time is a great example of what this nation does not need. A person with only enough focus and energy to step up one time, even if it is at the right moment and do a decent job, all things considered. Your mama’s accomplishment speaks wholly to her ability to train mentally and physically for a discrete event. But are you really trying to compare one 61 year old woman’s physical ability to run marathon to a 72 year old former POWs physical and mental ability to run this country?

Clearly, being the POTUS is not a discrete event. However, if you want to describe it as a discrete event, then it is the culmination of discrete events, one following the other in a constant barrage; minute by minute, day by day, monthly, annually until your term is complete.

That is the equivalent of running a marathon a week, followed up by a daily 10k run, with some 200m sprints at noon and midnight for 4 years straight starting at age 72! Could a 72 year old do that, I doubt it. Regardless of your ideology, transformational leadership requires a high level vitality that is not common at age 72. In fact it would be wrong to even suggest that this required level of vitality is rare at 72 because to say that the required level of vitality is rare at age 72 would make it seem even more commonplace than reality supports.


One of the great fallacies that revolve around leadership is that it is important or even required to involve everyone in the process. That is simply untrue; the offer is for everyone to participate, however, true involvement is only for the select few that can actually bring about change. Our global society has always had incredible challenges to face, together and independently. This year does not mark the beginning or the end of those challenges. The question that remains unanswered is whether the transformational leadership that is necessary to navigate the current circumstances can be found in 72 year old body?

At end of the day it does not appear that McCain will be getting either of our votes. The difference is that for me my check list of desired qualifications for POTUS includes an additional box to be checked before I get to the box where I consider ideology and that box it simply reads:

-Eligible for Social Security? ___ yes ____ no

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Monday Moment

The End of Integration and The Start of Assimilation

In a previous post, I suggested that Barack Obama represents the evolution of a black man and everything that we as a people should strive to become. Today I want to take that idea one step further and ask aloud whether Obama’s ascension to leadership signals the beginning for us to assimilate into the mainstream, and as a result, also marks the end of the Civil Rights movement and the struggle to integrate with mainstream.

Let me start of this discussion by saying that I believe that holding of the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson was correct in its ruling, but its execution was entirely destructive. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), is a United States Supreme Court which upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation even in public accommodations under the doctrine of "separate but equal". The "separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its final repudiation by Brown v. Board of Education, (1954).

Just imagine for a second, how things could have turned out if things were truly made separate but equal. Instead of the degrading Jim Crow laws of the Reconstruction period, think of a situation where every white accommodation called for and mandated an equal but separate black accommodation. Wherever there were clean and functioning white facilities, there had to be by law equal black facilities. For every properly funded white school, there was an equally funded black. All this mandated by the Constitution and in place starting in 1836.

Even in light of Jim Crow and other similar segregation practices, we as a people were still able to establish and matriculate through our own institutes of higher education starting with Cheyney University in 1837, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania in 1854 and Wilberforce University in 1856. Just think where historically black colleges and universities would be today if our ancestors during that time were given access to public grants and private funding to build colleges and universities equal to their white counterparts. Even in light of the failures of the Reconstruction period, by the turn of the twentieth century, back when we were colored, the African American community had established their own middle class. We were entrepreneurs and professionals. We established our own neighborhood, held ourselves to our own moral standard and built our own social constructs. We experienced the Harlem Renaissance and a continuing expansion of African American culture in this country. Just imagine what we could have accomplished if everything was truly separate but equal.

But then came Brown. The Brown case mandated integration and repudiated the “separate but equal” doctrine as inherently unequal as applied to education. This case mandated that two cultures that historically did not care for one another had to go to school together to the extent that a state provided a public education to any person. As a footnote, under Brown, a state only had to provide equal access to schooling to the extent it provided any public schools. I find it interesting that no state decided to eliminate public schools entirely rather than integrate them. From the Brown case, the Civil Rights Movement was born which pushed forward the notion integration into all aspects of society. So instead of building and supporting our own. We as a people sought to get whatever we thought mainstream received. Instead of attending Howard, Morehouse or Spellman, we have the option to attend Harvard, Stanford and Yale. Yet today, we are still struggling to integrate public schools, still struggling to ensure equal opportunity in a integrated society. Yes, some of us individually have prospered but what of the least of us. Comparing the Civil Rights Era to our Renaissance Era – in which period where we better off as a people?

Now with Barack so close to becoming our next president, and we as a people down the road of integration and to far gone to turn back to separation, I simply through out the idea that it may be time to end the experiment of integration and embrace the notion of complete assimilation. Indeed, Barack’s rise to prominence is in large part due to him putting himself as far away from anything even remotely connect with the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement. No Jesse Jackson, No Al Sharpton, No Tavis Smiley, No Michael Eric Dyson, No Cornell West. Instead, Barack's whole message is that we live in one America, no blue states, no red states but one United States of America. So in supporting this candidate shouldn't we give this change a try? Isn’t this the change that we as descendants of slaves need? Assimilation has been successful for Asian Americans and even for Latin Americans to a lesser degree – is it time for us to give it a try? Why hang on to the various levels of consciousnesses that I have described in previous posts. Let us set aside our masks, cast away our burdens and embrace the idea of a melting pot rather than a mosaic.

I mean do we still need black history month? Seriously.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama's Loss Traced to Me

Talk about political campaigns in the 21st century. Check out this personalized video a friend, my mom, and a fellow blogger sent me to encourage me to vote for Obama on November 4th. Two quick thoughts:

1. I think the 2000 Bush-Gore election debacle is still close to the surface for all of us. We were collectively stunned and reminded that our votes actually do make a difference.

2. Technology is really transforming how we reach potential voters. I was amazed to see my own name on the screen. I was strangely compelled and felt as though I held the political fate of our country in my hands.

How crazy cool and empowering is that?

Day 9 and counting.

Age Ain't Nothing but a Number


On Friday, one of my fellow bloggers made a very valid point that the President’s job is more stressful than any CEO’s job at any point in history. And for this reason, he asked how anyone could consider a 72 year old guy for the biggest job in the World.

He concluded by saying: "At the end of the day, you can’t be 72 and get my vote for leadership. Sorry like Atari, John."

Love the Atari reference, but I'd like to argue the point that age ain't nothing but a number. I hear 70 is the new 50 (or maybe that's just what they tell people like me fast approaching 40).

Today, I watched my mother finish her seventh Marine Corps Marathon. I ran a marathon once the summer I turned 30. It took me the equivalent of an entire work-day WITH the lunch break included to complete what my mother did in half the time. As much as I hate to admit it, even at age 61, my mother can run circles around me and look great while doing it. Check her out at the finish line in 2007 and 2008.

Truth be told, if it was clear to me that John McCain:
  • proposed doing something more than "trickling on" the working poor;
  • made an attempt to actually engage people of color, especially those living in our nation's most challenging rural and urban communities
  • seemed disturbed or even vaguely aware of the fact that 50% of Black and Latino young people are dropping out of our nation's schools, essentially cementing their fate and earning potential before the age of 17;
  • appeared as interested in rebuilding, safe schools, reliable infrastructure and peace-keeping right here in the states as he appears to be about nation-building in Iraq; or
  • placed as much emphasis on diplomacy and peace than he did on maintaining some John Wayne, tough guy, American dominance at all costs, Cold War mentality

...if John McCain were all of these things and more, AND 72, I wouldn't mind him being at the helm of this American enterprise.

But John McCain won't be getting my vote on November 4th--not because he's almost eligible for his 20-year AARP membership pin. He won't be getting my vote because I disagree with his fundamental philosophy about the role of government, his tax policy, and his seemingly disregard and ambivalence for anything having to do with domestic and social policy.

For me, if you demonstrate a more than a passing interest in and are ready to address the needs of ALL of the people (especially those most in need of assistance), you could actually get my vote for the biggest job in the world whether you're 47 or 72.

Our nation--in fact our world--has incredible challenges to face. We need the active civic participation, energy and idealism from people of all ages, from our very young to our marathon grandmas, and even our 72 year old mavericks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Relax and Take Notes...


The number above does not represent the top home run hitter in baseball stats right now. Nor the famous rule in finance to double your money. Not even the number of basketball games Michael Jordan and the Bulls won in their historic NBA season.

No ladies and gentlemen… I’m talking about the age of John McCain.

Why is his age an issue? Here’s why…he could pass away at any moment! I use the term pass away because at his age, death is not usually a violent act. You don’t fall over shaking as your spirits lifts slowly from your body. Your vitality is not being ripped from you at 72. At 72 you pass away gracefully. Your vitality all but gone, slowly transfers out of your body. Your spirit, weakened from being a POW, lifts away effortlessly. Bottom line, at any minute this dude could go in his sleep and nobody would be shocked.

You want to talk about taking calls at 3 in the morning and who do I trust to take that call? I trust the guy that doesn’t need a nap at 3 in the afternoon, regardless of the night before.

For comparison purposes here are some stats for you...Currently, the average age of a Fortune 500 CEO is 56. And that average age has been dropping steadily since the ‘80s, when it was over 60. Of the current Fortune 500 companies only a handful of the CEOs are over age 69 and they are all founders in their respective organizations. These CEOs are the people that run the largest companies in the world. These people make decisions that can ruin major companies, markets and countries. Do those responsibilities sound familiar?

You want to know why that average age of a CEO has been dropping because being a CEO is more stressful now than it has ever been in history and I am not even talking about the immediate financial meltdown around the world. CEOs have to manage to quarterly financials. That means that investment projects that should pay off in 5 years have to be scrapped for the idea that will pay off in 3 - 6 months. There is no luxury of long term vision as a CEO today. Results are expected immediately and consistently.

The President’s job is several factors more stressful than any CEO’s job at any point in history.

At age 62 most corporations don’t even ask you to leave…they force you out. The Board all but tells you when your last day of work will be and if you planned your retirement out correctly, you won’t be welcoming me to Wal-Mart at 9 at night.

I don’t care who you are…you wouldn’t want a 72 year old running the multi-national company you work for or for that matter you have stock in…so how can anyone possible consider a 72 year old guy for the biggest job in the World?

The Presidency is not the last job you have, it is not the place where after a long tenure of public service in another arena people get appointed to. That job is called “Special Liaison to (insert small island country)” or “Special Correspondent on (insert obscure military or financial event)”, that is where people in public service go out to pasture.

Here's what's treal (true and real for the uninitiated) unless John McCain is an Old Testament saint you can’t have me believe that he is now just starting to peak. At the end of the day, you can’t be 72 and get my vote for leadership. Sorry like Atari, John.

Check out the link below for USATODAY’s thoughts on the subject:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What the Historical Moment Seems to be Calling For

What Barack Obama seems to have accumulated in greater measure than his opponent is likability. His supporters seem to genuinely like him. I'm not certain if John McCain supporters truly like Mr. McCain or if they merely agree with his political stance. There's a difference. It remains to be seen if this is accurate or relevant, but clearly we have a choice between two distinct ideologies.

McCain seems to be guided by a loosely interpreted foundation of principles on government, economics, morality, individual responsibility, etc. Ultimately he realizes that in order to actually impose that perspective on the world he must actually win the election. That realization may have led him to allow tactical flexibility which seems to have blurred the lines between what he believes, what his party believes, and what is most effective at increasing his poll numbers.

Obama is certainly guided by his own philosphical interpretation of government and individual empowerment. But he doesn't come across as being overly constrained by populism. In fact, his popularity has risen organically as a result of a consistent vision that appears to be intelligent, fair, and sincere.

Obama is hopeful not only for his candidacy but for the future. He displays the necessary "intellectual vigor," as Colin Powell described it, to carefully lead America there. He chooses to loosen past preconceptions of society and attempt to understand the ordinary person, admitting he is not necessarily one. His opponent seems more obsessed with a "caricature of ordinariness" personified by his reluctant campaign mascot Joe the Plumber.

In a recent interview with Bill Maher, Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman suggested that George W. Bush has governed for eight years based on fear and force and we see the consequences. But now is the time, he argues, for optimism and expansive vision. Christopher Buckley, one of many who have gone against the grain and endorsed Obama despite existing political leanings, described the Democratic nominee as "what the historical moment seems to be calling for."

I agree wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

“I’m vexed, fuming; I’ve had it up to here…”

Well, I don’t know where to begin with the number of things that have got me going these last several weeks, so please indulge me as I go off on a number of subjects…

Is Alaska Socialist?!?
These talks of Barack Obama's (BO) policies on redistributing wealth leading us to socialism are simplistic and naïve -
BO’s tax policies (and I encourage everyone to read them) simply try to rollback the Bush tax cuts that have proven not to work. I wish the average American would wake up and not get caught up in the charade that they'll be paying more in taxes. Sadly, they believe that they fall in that <5%>Jesse Jackson, Would You Please Go Now (With apologies to Dr. Seuss and Marvin K. Mooney)

A lot has been said/done recently over Jesse Jackson’s recent remarks about potential changes to America’s foreign policy under an Obama presidency. Jackson believes that “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" would lose some of their influence with Obama in the White House, and that "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would come to a close.

So here’s the deal. I’d like to believe that these comments were either taken out of context, made up, or something, but since when did Jesse Jackson become a spokesperson or confidant for that matter with Barack and his foreign policy?!? But, the bottom line is that realizing the sensitive nature of a BO presidency especially given the concerns raised by folks in Florida and by others who still believe he’s Muslim, why would you even put yourself in a position to raise Israel as a hot-button issue. Why?!?

Unfortunately, this is just a pattern of disturbing history by Jesse Jackson especially as it relates to Barack’s ascendance in the political scene. It’s amazing to me that folks like Jesse Jackson, Sharpe James, Al Sharpton, and others are simply not ready or willing to let go of the mantle, still believing that they are the preeminent individuals to speak for and lead Black America. Unfortunately, what they have also failed to realize or do is simply evolve and keep up with the times and realize that the focus and priorities of our generation, our parent’s generation, and those younger than us have simply passed them by. They’re still mired in outdated tactics that simply are ineffective. You can’t tell me that something that worked in 1960’s is going to have the same amount of effect/impact in 2008. Now don’t get me wrong, racism IS NOT DEAD and definitely has an impact on our society today (despite the rhetoric against Rev. Wright). But, we’ve got to be smarter about how we respond and address these issues. We all know that Israel is a very “hot” and “sensitive” topic. So, why even bring it up?!?

Unfortunately, this smacks too much of the ol' “crab-in-the-barrel” analogy. Rather than rallying around an individual in our own race, we’ve got to disparage or put them in a defensive posture (can you say “friendly fire”). I just don’t get it. You’d think that in everything that has been said and done, the primary individuals who were “close” to Dr. King would be elated to see his dream coming to fruition and do everything in their power to support and assist. But, noooooooooooooo, instead, we’re worried about someone stealing our spotlight raising ridiculous claims over the “inability” to address “black issues”, which is simply straight up nonsense.

What is “victory” in Iraq?!?

Ummmm… what exactly is victory in Iraq?!? I know that at one point, McCain had a dream about what a future society in Iraq would look like but no one who is a proponent of this war has been able to explain in any detail what exactly victory in Iraq is or better yet, when we should get out and under what terms. As you may recall, on May 1, 2003, President Bush proclaimed “Mission Accomplished” ( indicating America’s victory over Iraq. And yet, five (5) years later, we’re still there. This is and was not the case after the first Persian Gulf War. We were very clear in our objectives and the administration and senior military forces realized the need to maintain the infrastructure of that society in order for us to be able to leave and move forward. Yet, this Administration didn’t learn or pay attention to this critical point in our STRATEGY.

We don’t even know why we’re still there and the reasons that we’re given are constantly changing... weapons-of-mass destruction, preserving the rights of the Iraqi people, terrorist cells, protection of the world’s global resources (i.e. oil), the need to restore democracy...I could go on.

It amazes me that this continues to be a contentious point on the campaign circle by those who are very passionate that we should not “cut and run” or not “surrender” and remain and fight the good fight until we are victorious (then again, it doesn’t amaze me considering that there is still a portion of our society still fighting the Civil War (see Yosemite Sam for reference)).

So, the next time someone tells you that… just ask them these very simple questions… “What is victory in Iraq?" "Would you sign up or send your son or daughter to fight?", and "When should we leave?!?”

Alright, I'm done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Life in a Swing State

'Twas two weeks before the election and all through the state
Non-stop robo calls and door knockers since the final debate.

I, in my car, driving home with my kid
Was listening to him recount all of the things that he did.

When what did I spy sprawled out on a lawn?
But a Christmas light display praising Candidate John.

"Are you kidding?" I yelled as I stomped on the brakes. Was this lawn only proof that this race is high stakes?

...okay...enough of that (at least for now).

Thought others might enjoy images from life in a swing state. Believe it or not, there's even more to the lawn display than the little camera on my cell phone could capture.

I've been searching for the words to accurately reflect the range of emotions/reactions I felt when I happened up on this little "display" last night on our way home from swimming lessons. Twenty-four hours later, I'm still at a loss for words.

I'm somewhere between disbelief and annoyance to LMAO and absolute joy. For years, voting and interest in public affairs among most folks has hovered at embarrassing levels. At least this time, I must admit that I love that average people (even the ones crazy enough to bust out the holiday lights about two months too early) care enough to have an opinion and take the time to express it (even when I disagree or secretly hope they stay at home on November 4th).

Right now, we're sort of collectively obsessed with Sarah Palin, Tina Fey, Johnny Mac, Bradley and his effect, and of course, a skinny kid with a funny name. For a society that is usually talking about Brangelina and baby bumps, Lindsay, Brittany, or INSERT NAME HERE of the latest celebrity train wreck waiting to happen, I appreciate this brief window of time when the nation turns its attention to the civic life of our shared community.

14 days and counting!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Monday Moment

The Audacity of Hope Tempered by Racial Paranoia

I give thanks and blessings to the American Negro, conceptualized in 1897, educated through modern HBCUs, still relevant today, for the inspiration for this post.

Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. Hope is the desire for a better result without any proof that a better result is even possible. Hope is a yearning for something without regard to whether that something is obtainable. It follows, therefore, that an objective observers typically describe those having hope as irrational, quixotic, arrogantly self-confident, insolent and audacious.

Why believe or feel your situation will improve or better yet “turn out for the best” when there are no markers to evidence your hope. Why feel like “what is wanted can be had” when you cannot conceptualize that what can be had or how to get it. It is madness indeed!

"Now faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things unseen.” Hebrews 11:1. It seems, therefore, that faith is a product of hope. Faith is a conclusion based on additional factors that what we have hoped for will happen even if that something hoped for is yet unseen and the factor acting upon our hope is unquantifiable. As an example, I may simply hope for the healthy birth of my second child, but because I am a Christian, and, therefore, have accepted God’s grace in my life and been a witness to His blessings in the lives of others, I, therefore, have faith, based on the factor of God’s grace, that what I have hoped for, the healthy birth of my second child, will come to pass even though my second child has yet to be born and God’s grace acting upon me is beyond quantification.

I apologize. I lost you. That’s me being unapologetically Christian. Let me slow down.

In secular terms, hope is feeling that we shall overcome – when who knows, how who knows – but some day we shall overcome. As late as 2004, hope was the idea that a black man, with a funny name can one day be President of the United States of America. Today, in 2008, I have faith that a black man with a funny name will be President of the United States even though the election has yet to come to pass based on several factors some quantifiable and others immeasurable.

My faith in a black man’s ability to win this or any presidential election, however, is not unwavering. I am indeed playing the role of Simon Peter during these last days before election. (I know I lost you again). But why am I hesitant? Why am I not extremely confident in this election? I can admit that I have been far more confident in situations that offered far less expectations for success. So why do I secretly pump my fist with every debate victory, hold back my smile every time I look at the Electoral College map? Why am I hesitant when my critical thinking skills lead me to the conclusion that Barack’s election is inevitable? The answer, I believe, is paranoia.

I have been of aware of my own paranoia for years. Paranoia based on the color of my skin fueled by the confidence in my speech. Paranoia based on the inexplicable sequence of events that have occurred in my life that defy logic or explanation. Paranoia that have been justified by events that can only transpired because I was the biggest and darkest thing in the room, blessed with the gift of speech, limitless confidence and not an ounce of modesty. (See Stanford University, Ujamaa Hall, May 2004). Lessons of the past, manifest into paranoia of today where I cannot forget that no matter how much I transcend I am still a black man in this country. I, therefore, smile when I should speak my mind, nod when I should swing, accept when I should change. Cause bad things can and do happen to black folks in this country.

This paranoia makes me waver between the audacity of hope and the confidence of faith that Barack will prevail. I submit that because I have been witness to enough success in my life that I can afford the luxury of opting between hope and faith. For others similarly pigmented, this same paranoia minus the witness of success prohibits them for even having hope that Barack will prevail. Professor John L. Jackson, Jr. in his book Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness that describes this paranoia as racial paranoia.

Jackson theorizes that racism is characterized by hatred and power: the hate people express for other racial groups and the relative power they possess to turn that hatred into palpable discrimination or material advantage. The concept of racial paranoia, however, is the fear that targeted people harbor about other groups potentially hating or mistreating them and the resulting actions that other groups may take because of that hate.

Back in the day, it was perfectly acceptable to be a racist. Today, being a racist is no longer acceptable, but none of us would be so naïve to believe that the hatred of yesteryear has simply dissipated. In a post-Civil Rights environment, however, where readily identifiable sources of discrimination such as Jim Crow laws have been largely eliminated, how are we to quantify that existing animosity between the races? Where subtle practices perpetuating social inequities along lines of racial and ethnic identity persist without a larger narrative to explain them, the descendants of slaves are left only to pontificate conclusions or conjecture up conspiracies to explain the unexplainable. Some of our conclusions are correct other conspiracy theories less so, but that indeed is the very nature of paranoia.

Examples of these conclusions and conspiracies include the theory that the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers had deliberately dynamited the dams near black neighborhoods in New Orleans to spare white neighborhoods from the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina; that the US government created the HIV virus to target homosexuals and blacks; that one can and will be stopped as a black man driving the wrong type of car in the wrong neighborhood, that an unarmed black man can and will be shot by police in a hailstorm of 41 bullets.

Racial paranoia is that x-factor in this election. Take away paranoia, I believe Obama wins in a landslide. Black folks distrust the rhetoric of political correctness, and continue to see the threat of hidden racism lurking below the surface of America's public conversations. White folk fear that a black man in power will work to rectify the inequities in society that they know to exist but have been taught and socialized not to acknowledge in public.

Why else would any part of the 95% of Americans who makes less that $250,000 a year support John McCain? Is Joe Black thinking “I am not falling for it, not this time, there is no way a black man can be president in this country. What do Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy all have in common? Do James Byrd Jr., Emmett Till, and Radio Raheem ring a bell?” Is Joe the Plumber thinking “Look, I know I’m not rich today, but I’m white and because I’m white I have hope, no I have faith that I can one day be rich. Why? Because others white folks with no more talent than me have become rich based on an unspoken system that rewards me for simply being white. As a result, I fear that if I let a black man in power, even though it will help my situation today, he will further erode the system that I have benefited from for generations.”

Are both sides suffering from paranoia? Aren’t both sides justified in their positions?

How do you feel about Barack’s chances? Pessimistic? Hopeful? Faithful? Optimistic?

Why am I paranoid about anything? This is America people. We live in a democracy! We are not like other countries where wealth and nepotism rule the day. Where one can have more people vote for you, but yet still lose the election. Where properly cast votes can be trashed, disqualified and not counted. Where one’s brother can unilaterally decide a presidential election in his favor and where the highest court in that nation can inexplicably uphold that family decision holding that the recounting of properly cast votes is unconstitutional and that no constitutional method of counting votes could be established within an acceptable timeframe.

Now how do you feel?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When Colin Powell Speaks...

Personal confession #2: I am a Democrat who would have quit my job to work for free if Colin Powell ever decided to run for president.

I have always admired Colin Powell. In my professional life, I even wrote a blog titled "I Heart Alma Powell" because I believe in the great work General Powell and his wife Mrs. Alma Powell are leading through America's Promise.

I don't know the Powells personally, but I trust Gen. Powell's judgment. He impresses me as someone who truly does put Country First and is the maverick we often hear about, but rarely see in American politics.

This morning, I woke to find out that General Powell is endorsing Senator Barack Obama for president. Check out his endorsement made during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press.

Friday, October 17, 2008

McCain At His Finest...Seriously

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the video clips from last night's Albert E. Smith fundraiser for the Catholic Archidioces of New York. Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama provided terrific political comedy for the masses. While there's no need for Chris Rock to worry about job security, both candidates, in my opinion, gave solid performances and were a lot of fun to watch.

This 30-minute break in the madness of the ongoing brawl for the White House reminded me of the reasons why John McCain was always "My Favorite Republican." For the 14 minutes he had the mic, Senator McCain seemed--well, like Senator McCain again. Not the McCain of recent days who has done whatever was necessary to secure and reassure the base of his political party. But the McCain we all remember and (frankly) miss.

For 30 minutes, I caught a glimpse of the type of campaign these candidates promised to give us. It was civil. Yes, they disagreed about policy and were definitely taking jabs at one another, but no one was going for blood. They were honest about their own shortcomings, especially if the joke was at their own expense. They sat next to one another and laughed with their mouths wide open. And when the comedy was over, the words and respect they had for one another as public servants was evident and seemed to be thoughftul, genuine and from the heart (...or perhaps I was just hoodwinked).

I'm sure both candidates will retreat and hunker down in their respective corners today and we'll get back to the political back-biting and name-calling that has become routine for this campaign. But, in the midst of what often feels like global doom and gloom at every turn 24/7 (especially if you watch cable news), I really appreciated having even just a brief timeout from politics as usual.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“Make it Rain”

I don’t know about most Obama supporters, but I’m still worried that McCain/Palin will win. But – I’m not as worried as I was a month ago. During the first debate, I sat and watched on pins and needles, as if my hoping would stop a election-ending gaffe.

Even during the second, while I was more relaxed, I still found points to criticize for Barack because I thought they created openings for McCain. Luckily, McaCin was busy wandering around the stage and preparing his next serious of “My friends” or “I know how to do that” responses. (seriously, at times he reminded me of William’s son – ask him to do something and you get “I know how to fix social security,” Or “I know how to win this war.”)

But during this third debate I watched with a glass of wine. WINE! The ultimate sign of relaxation as opposed to stress. What created this shift in concern? Well, it wasn’t sudden comfort with Obama’s debating style – that still scares me to death. Instead my comfort came from John Stewart.

On Tuesday night’s “Daily Show” John Stewart gave a quip to describe why the public at large distrusts trickle down economics. I’m paraphrasing here – but the basic explanation is that people who had spent years hearing that if we provide tax cuts and incentives to the wealthy the benefits will trickle down to them, these people were realizing that they are still bone dry. So is it any wonder that they find it appealing that someone has come in and said “make it rain, bee-yitch” (that part was a quote),

While funny, this comment is of-course completely racial. Most democratic candidates who favor progressive taxes support policies similar to Barack’s. However, I can’t see Stewart making this comment about John Kerry on his wind-surfer. But that’s beside the point.

The fact is I’m willing to excuse the racial implications, in part because he delivered the line so well, but mostly because this is the best articulation of the comparison between the two extremes of tax policy that I have heard in a very long time. Sure, I think most people could agree that the optimal solution may be somewhere in the middle. But until we understand the boundaries on our choices, and the trade-offs, I’m not sure people can really understand what’s at stake.

My take is that the basic theory of trickle-down is that it assumes a best-case scenariou where we as a society can all benefit, but to accomplish this there needs to be the specific sequencing of the benefit. Basically, let the rich folks bake a bigger pie, take their pieces first and what’s left gets passed down.

On the other hand, progressive tax policies assumes a worst-case/zero-sum situation, and thus if there are only so many benefits to go around, recommends some forcing mechanism to allocate the benefits with some concept of underlying fairness. Here the pie is baked, cut and passed out by a third party. There’s a hope that the new pie is bigger than the old one – but even if it’s not, we’re cool with that too.

Now I realize that’s a gross simplification, but that’s the way I see it. Both of these theories have both costs and benefits. And both are completely theoretical. The pie that America is baking right now is not growing. That’s issue number 1. Let’s figure out the best way to bake a bigger pie.

As a life-long democrat, one who can still hear my father deride Reagan in my head, I have basic distrust that trickle-down can ever work. Right now I’m a beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts. While I’m not being taxed, I’m also not creating any jobs to help others. And more importantly, I’m not alone in that.

But more than my distrust of the alternative, I actually have an appreciation of the immediacy of the progressive choice. I believe that how we treat the least of us is a reflection of our moral compass. I have travelled more in the last three years than the previous 34 combined, During these travels I’ve been struck by the fact that I without my US-centric, liberal-arts education, I’d never list the US as the wealthiest, most advanced country. Only the oil countries that I visited had more visible divides between haves and have-nots – and that includes India.

Now before I start being called unpatriotic, I have to say, I had no desire to move to any of the places I visited (which may change with a bad result on Nov 4th). I am proud of my country. But that pride has as much to do with the potential of the country as the reality of it. We could be incredible. We could once again have the moral high-ground. We could have the best education system in the world. We just don’t, at least not yet.

So my question to the electorate would be – is Joe Biden really out of line in suggesting that people of means paying more taxes could be seen as an act of patriotism? To use McCain’s example from the last debate, what could Joe the Plumber do to help our country? His argument is that if we repeal the Bush tax cut Joe would not be able to hire an extra employee. If that’s true, if the higher taxes legitimately cause him to not hire one extra employee (an argument I doubt), wouldn’t the tax receipts from him and others like him allow us to invest in creating that job and many more in the public sector? And if that’s true, isn’t this argument not a theoretical one about economic theory, but instead one about whether we trust government to create that job or not?

But if that’s the case, how does one campaign on the slogan “government’s not to be trusted, so put me in office.” I think this election is one for the record books in terms of blatant hypocrisy, but that would really take the cake.

ACORN Shmacorn

Why all the attention on ACORN? Is Barack Obama really linked to some grand voter conspiracy? Is anyone really taking this diversion seriously? Let me tell you about the time I worked voter registration in the Summer of 1988.

You remember 1988. It was "Run Jesse Run" instead of "Yes We Can." Race relations were tense. Rumors spread of the economy trickling down but the news had yet to reach my neighborhood. Eight years of a reasonably popular Republican Presidency were coming to a close. And there I was 15 years old and in need of work.

Okay I'll be honest I did pursue many other employment options before landing this coveted political gig. TARGET was not hiring, or at least they weren't hiring me that summer. No luck at the mall either.

I thought I had struck paydirt after securing a job as a telemarketer selling print toner. No such luck. My first week ended rather unceremoniously with an abrupt, "Thank you Will but you did not sell any toner, so here is your check for $67 and good luck to you."

You would think I'd be discouraged at this point. But this payday occurred on a Friday! And of course my theme song for the summer? You guessed it! "Just Got Paid" by Johnny Kemp. That was my "Eye of the Tiger" and I was on a mission. It was my battle cry, the theme music in the background as I pounded the pavements seeking out another $67 payday.

Even with all the rejection I thought very highly of my retail qualifications. I concluded that the economy must be in a severe recession and therefore I needed to take a stand, so I joined the ranks of an ACORN-like outfit (it might have been ACORN for all I remember).

Voter registration became my cause either by default or by destiny. My crew proceeded to canvass the supermarkets, the churches, anywhere we could find potential non-registrants.

Here we are twenty years later and I am utterly shocked to discover that I could very well have been part of an elaborate voter registration conspiracy (that obviously failed) to illegally thrust Jesse Jackson and/or Michael Dukakis into the Presidency. I am aghast to find out that I may have been working with such conspirators without my very knowledge. After all, I was simply an activist trying to transform the economy. The economy!!!

I worked tirelessly to register voters in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles not at all concerned about the size of my paycheck. The luxuries provided by the $1 commission per registrant was NOTHING compared to the satisfaction I felt after logging one more potential vote for Jesse, who of course did not get the nomination but fueled my enthusiasm nonetheless.

We hit the ground I tell you, educating voters about their rights and the importance of registering. Yes I was only 15 and had never voted and only took this job as an alternative to watching Gilligan's Island reruns the rest of the summer. And yes I did the math on how many people I'd have to contend with in order to match that $67 coup, but I was doing the work of the people!

Now, twenty years later, I am utterly shocked. Utterly. I am flabbergasted now to discover that the compensation I reluctantly accepted for doing the work of the people is apparently not enough for some of my colleagues in the struggle.

Um... you mean rather than deal with the arguing and rejection of supermarket shoppers and church goers who had no interest in registering to vote (for fear of being cornered for jury duty or who knows what) that I could have simply mailed it in? You mean I could have simply taken the liberty to register Mr. Donald D. Duck or Ms. Minnie A. Mouse and pocketed the extra cash with a clean conscience knowing that this would not at all interrupt the voting process?

Certainly these phantom registrants would not actually show up to the polls so the sanctity of the election would of course be safe. So did I miss out on the extra cash because I was too naive to recognize the opportunity? And even if caught, you mean to tell me they would have simply blamed it on the community organization itself, Jesse Jackson and/or Michael Dukakis leaving me in the clear anyway? What was I thinking?!?

And so here we are in the midst of such a "conspiracy." Voter registration fraud, and the McCain camp is desperately trying to link the actions of these conspirators, these 15 year old Target rejects, unsuccessful telemarketers looking for a quick buck, to Mr. Obama himself. Hmph.

Laughable. If the media spends one more minute on this issue I’ll be convinced that this is all a circus. Can we move on to real issues?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Monday Moment

Triple Consciousness and Barack Obama

Thanks to all of you who emailed me concerning my last post. In particular I would like to thank Ms. Lhea J. Copeland for introducing a third world to me. Actually, I knew about this world but this world is in part made up of and sometimes dominanted by those folks you tend to not want to recognize in mixed company. This world known as the greater black community. The intersection of these now three worlds is what Ms. Copeland calls tresconsciousness or triple consciousness alluding to W. E. B. Du Bois's notion of Double consciousness. In 1897, DuBois wrote of a two-ness, of being "an American, a Negro; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

Triple consciousness is an expansion of DuBosian double consciousness. It is the balancing the world of power and privilege, the upward mobility and ambition of those who have survived and the traditional values and struggle of the greater black community within a single black person. As Du Bois spoke of two “warring ideals” over one century ago, today I suggest that Barack Obama is our single best example of how each of these three levels of consciousness can coexist in one person, and, therefore, provides a blue print for all of African descent for evolution and prosperity in America.

The greater black community contains several sub-cultures that from time to time dominant, but at its heart is what Dr. Cornell West described as Black Nihilism. A “lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and (most important) lovelessness. The frightening result is a numbing detachment from others and a self-destructive disposition toward the world. Life without meaning, hope, and love breeds a coldhearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys both the individual and others.”

This is a world where folks are encourage to stop snitching, where keeping it real never goes wrong, where street credibility means everything, where if your status ain't hood folks ain't checkin' for you, where a man is looking for a project chick, a hood rat chick, or a bust-it baby and where a woman needs a soldier, a ruffneck, “a rude boy that's good to me, wit street credibility.”

Admittedly, this is a world where I haven’t lived from some time, but with which I have kept my citizenship and have enough stamps in my passport to make a comfortable visit for extended periods of time. This is also the world where the black middle class resides, where my parents reside, where the Civil Rights Movement brought us and left us. This is a world where a young man dressing as an old woman is still funny, the where the deacons and woman’s missionary circles meet, where old time religion requires no less than 3 hours on Sunday and another 2 hours on Wednesday, where Jesus is on the main line and your arms aren’t too short to box with God.

This is a place where we wear the names and faces of those who have passed on t-shirts, where we shall overcome – not today but someday, where dreams are deferred, where mediocrity is praised, where violence typically ends a gathering and frustration prevails; a place where I received my greatest strength and my biggest weakness – rage (also known as Angry Black Man syndrome).

What makes Barack so unique is that he possesses all the strengths and ambitions of a black man along with the heightened intellectual capacity and amplified eloquence found in many survivors, but yet he somehow avoids two of biggest pitfalls which face black men – rage and white women.

Have you ever seen Barack display anger? He has been faced with stinging criticisms, questioned like no other has been questioned, dealt with enemies from within his own camps, handled (Reverends) crabs in the barrel, but he has yet to even furrow his brow. Instead, he has displayed confidence when challenged, he asserts himself but doesn’t scare the white man (or woman). He’s been direct yet engaging, enthusiastic yet warm and inclusive. In addition to not displaying any signs of Angry Black Man syndrome, Barack doesn’t have a white woman on his arm despite his success. Indeed, He got a beautiful, brown-skinned wife, with two gorgeous brown-skinned girls. Obama is at the height of the black male evolutionary chain. A family and background that the greater black community can respect, the temperament and diplomacy that the white man can tolerate, and the credentials that validate the survivors.

So what does all this mean? A fellow blogger passionately called for more people to get involved in government from the private sector. I humbly suggest that we need don’t need more people in government we just need different people in government. People who can reach across the aisle of class, of race and of temperament. One who can to walk with kings but yet not lose the common touch. That different person embodied within Barack Obama. I believe that Barack is the best candidate for the job not because of his political stance – is his stance really any different than HRC, Kerry or Gore? – but because he represents black men and everything we should be striving to become.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's Up With That?: Beware of Election Polls and Focus Groups

I watched last week's presidential debate on CNN. I'm usually an ABC Girl, but it's hard to resist a grown man who can make the name "Anderson" sound cool.

Anyway, CNN featured a focus group of undecided voters who used some thinga-ma-jig to captured their perceptions of what the candidates said during the debate in realtime. Through the magic of modern technology, I watched the squiggly lines inch up and down at varying degrees throughout the debate--instantly gauging the degree to which members of the focus group felt positive or negative about what the candidates said.

Now, to a layperson (at least this layperson), I thought the focus group members hated John McCain. Okay, so maybe hate is a strong word. But, using admitedly unscientific methods, it appeared as though the "all knowing squiggly lines" PLUNGED almost every time Sen. McCain took the mic. Even I wondered if CNN had stacked the deck with Undecideds with Democratic tendencies.

But get this.

Immediately following the debate, the reporter asked the focus group for which candidate they would vote if they had to do so in that moment. The majority--YES--the majority said McCain.

Did I miss something?

They clearly did not like what they heard. It was documented for the world--or at least us groupies of cable television's Best Political Team--to see in live and in living color. And yet, when asked, they were inclined to vote for Sen. McCain anyway.

I don't get it.

The Sunday news shows and commentators are all talking about Sen. Obama's 10-point lead over Sen. McCain in some new poll. But in the timeless words of Public Enemy: "Can't truss it."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our Time is Now

I'm doing this off the cuff so bear with me on any typos :-)

I want to use my day to talk about how we, as citizens, can make government work better. Everyone has a different expertise so I'd like people to weigh-in and make my ideas better, throw them out for a better alternative or offer your own in areas I don't cover.

While I agree that these needs to be more regulations, I think it needs to happen in a particular way that minimizes the role of government and politicans to creating incentives and oversight, and allows for the private sector to take more of a lead role. I think each industry should establish ethical committees made up of its leaders to create its own standards that they agree to abide by. That way the experts in each industry can do what they know is best and keep each other accountable. Second, I think the Congress should establish a policy that stipulates that various audit firms will conduct random audits on all industries. The random nature allows for it not to be too intrusive to the point of stagnating business, but provides enough fear that people act right. In addition, companies should be given a time frame to get themselves in compliance. That way the government and businesses are being proactive instead of reactive. Lastly, I'd prefer the industry committee members have term limits, multiple audit firms engaged in regulation w/o working with the same companies for more than a specified number of years, and some way to make this a non-partisan effort. I think one issues that sends things down hill is the comfort and temptation to collude when relationships are built and sustained. That's why there has to be term limits, randomness, and non-partisanship. That's how we deal with human nature. I don't think this requires a new government department. I'd rather it be a new initiative that can be lead privately w/ gov having a seat at the table.

I think one of the major issues we deal with regarding politics is trust. Having worked in an education and service capacity my whole career, save the failed attempt at playing ball :-), I can honestly say that I love what I do and I do it for the love (clearly), not the money (there is none). I think ethics reform is very necessary. In my job, there are strict regulations on gifts, information sharing and anything that could compromise the integrity of my work. In that way, I think the gov should run the same. While C. Dodd and B. Frank have been very vocal in this bailout mess, my understanding is they played a role is us getting in this mess to begin with. Whether they are or not, they can't expect us to trust them when they're taking tens sometimes hundreds of thousands dollars from the likes of fannie and freddie. In the same way that I shouldn't be trusted if one of our TV partners gave me gifts and one day they end up with all the best games for a season. Leaders have an even greater obligation to be transparent and free from the appearance of foul play. Politicians need to become servants again and I think Washington has become a place where they become rich first and serve second. That needs to be fixed and right away. There is too much at stake right now for Americans to continue not trusting its gov because we need citizens to be more involved regardless of who wins.

Read the following:

1) I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.
2) I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
3) I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.
4) I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.
5) I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.
6) I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
7) I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.
8) I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

Then this....

1) We believe that the promise of America is equal opportunity for all and special privilege for none.
2) We believe that economic growth generated in the private sector is the prerequisite for opportunity, and that government's role is to promote growth and to equip Americans with the tools they need to prosper in the New Economy.
3) We believe that government programs should be grounded in the values most Americans share: work, family, personal responsibility, individual liberty, faith, tolerance, and inclusion.
4) We believe in community; that we can achieve our individual destinies only if we share a commitment to our national destiny.
5) We believe in an ethic of mutual responsibility in which government has an obligation to create opportunity for citizens, but citizens have an obligation to give something back to the commonwealth.
6) We believe America has a responsibility to lead the world toward greater political and economic freedom.
7) We believe that as advocates of activist government, we need to reinvent government so that it is both more responsive and more accountable to those it serves and to the taxpayers who pay for it.

These are the ideals of our two political parties. It shouldn't be hard to figure out which is which. I shared that because I don't think many of us disagree with either side. I consider myself a moderate because I believe the differences are not in the ideals but in the execution. I don't believe we have to be either or but both and. I watch mostly CNN, and Glenn Beck on Headline News mostly. I try to watch Fox and MSNBC but they're both too extreme for me. I try because I want to understand the point but it gets lost in the partisanship. Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs are equal opportunity IMO so I can at least understand both sides.

Its sad to me that news is so opinionate now. They're just as bad as the politicians. That comes back to my point of trust. If we can't trust our media to be objective and hold our politicians accountable, we lose the very essence of the role they're supposed to play. And on the politicians end its sad to me that during the debate, neither candidate could say that the economy would get worse before it gets better. We all know that to be true, but saying so could lose them the elections. In an ideal world, we as citizens would demand to hear the truth and not support partisan news outfits. If we want to trust gov again, we have to force the issue. We can't expect it to just happen out of the kindness of their hearts. That's our personal responsibility and a way we can contribute to making our country better. Now I know that pie in the sky (i'm an idealist) but I believe if we know where we want to go, we at least know its possible and can work toward it.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Obama's Historic Opportunity

America stands at the precipice of a depression. Approaching from behind are the winds of global financial disaster and the army of threats to our national security. There at the ledge we ALL stand, for once (or once again) bound together across race, class, and gender by the weight that crushes our collective shoulders.

There on the verge of losing balance at the worst possible time, we have what I consider to be an opportunity. A chance to brace ourselves, take a swan dive into new waters, then after a period of submergence to emerge and breathe again while reaching new ground. It is the kind of opportunity that either frightens you into a panic or motivates you to address it head on.

We must admit that American exceptionalism has taken a hit. Are we really as good as we say we are? Remember last season the New England Patriots were absolutely convinced that they were second to none. And yes, the Greatest Nation in the World is now in need of a comeback, with the clock running out, a bitterly fought race coming to a dramatic conclusion, and Obama having the momentum.

This election carries with it a significance even greater than the financial crisis itself. In fact, the global banking meltdown serves as a mere backdrop to the critical challenge of identifying the man whose job it will be to manage it.

Is Diddy involved? Because this is like "Making the President" and the winner will enter office after having achieved victory in one of the most compelling political competitions in decades. If this election is the conference championship, then the imminent domestic and global challenges are the Super Bowl. An incredible opportunity now presents itself to a nation that once took for granted that it was "all that."

Barack Obama has taken on a confident, energized, shall I say presidential demeanor. He seems to believe that he is about to win this. He wants Americans to know that as a minority from modest upbringings he understands firsthand those who struggle. Obama understands them emotionally and empathetically, unlike his opponent who might only comprehend those struggles intellectually, if at all. But still this will not guarantee a victory. Whichever way the election ends up, it will be a defining moment for America.

If Obama loses... it will be because despite the obvious necessity of changing course, America is not ready to follow a man like Barack Obama. America will have decided that gifted intelligence is not a must-have for our next President. It will demonstrate that quantity of experience matters more than quality of experience.

But if Obama wins, well that's another story. It will be because Americans are indeed bold enough to make new history. It will mean that we are in fact fed up with recklessly managing our domestic affairs, and bullying our way around the globe.

An Obama win will say that we have mentally processed the idea of having the first Black President of the United States. He would also be the one who presides over perhaps the most important global matter (or set of matters) that many of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. That is a huge task, far more significant than winning the election itself which would already have been a feat of historic proportions.

Barack Obama will either win or lose. We have the power to choose our own adventure. Then after voting on November 4th we will certainly know which of the above truly describes America at this time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is there a way to Palin-proof the country?

So let me put my cards on the table - I see the entire world through the lens of a new mother. My world view has changed in the last seven months, and while sometimes I think of apologizing, I ultimately decide screw it. I'm a new mom

Yesterday I came home from work and my apartment had been child-proofed. I’m not inclined to trust myself on such an important matter, so I hired “Safety Matters” to come and go ceiling to floor and do whatever needed to be done. I'm not sure if it was to protect Ryan from the dangers of my condo, or to protect it (and us) from him. All I know is that when I got home I couldn't touch my television, open my kitchen drawers, or wait until the last minute to go to the bathroom, lest I risk an accident. It was so bad that I broke the drawer latch trying to get out a fork.

As I examined the broken spring-loaded device, I realized that this was kind of interesting. When you applied indiscriminate strength, the lock would resist for a long time and/or break - loudly. Instead, it invites and insists that the user think critically about how to operate it correctly. In particular, the lock on the toilet takes two hands to operate. You have to focus! Honestly, I think this is an excellent model for us to attempt to replicate as we go forth in this election.

I’d like to protect our country from the possibility of having a President and Vice-President who has absolutely no position on the economy. Because I feel like that’s the extent of the Mcain/Palin philosophy. Basically, “Whatever works, just let it work. And if it doesn’t work, that’s fine too.”

If there was a one-way latch to put on our energy policy, I’d encourage us to buy it. Let’s find a way to ensure that whatever the next president does, it can’t expand our use of fossil fuels. Otherwise I’m scared of what could happen with complete focus on “drill, baby, drill” and not advancing our energy plans.

Mostly I’d like to find a large prophylactic to put around either the Republican ticket or the country itself. Either way, I’d like to make sure that the allergic reaction to thinking that Palin seems to have is not passed from her to any individual in the country. We already have enough problems with our education system without our leaders undermining, belittling even, the importance of being educated (meaning basic noun verb agreement).

Basically, I’d love to hire a “Safety Matters” organization to protect the country. I guess I have to hope that the Democratic ticket can serve that role. Either that, or that someone finds out that Palin is actually black. Because we know that as a black woman, her ignorant mess wouldn’t be tolerated.

Hockey Moms, Joe Six Packs, and Me

Governor Sarah Palin is now well known for her constant references and shout-outs to Hockey Moms and Joe Six Packs. We all know who she's talking about. (But if you don't, I recommend watching re-runs of a Jeff Foxworthy sit-com or a good flick by the Coen Brothers, like O Brother Where Art Thou? or Fargo. I think there's even a Blue Collar channel on satellite radio if you're rolling like that.)

I work with folks from around the country and some of my favorite people are Hockey Moms from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. I've had a Hockey Mom over to my house for dinner at least once. Heck, I grew up in Sapulpa, Oklahoma with Joe Six Pack. I send that guy Christmas cards every year.

While I've always been crystal clear exactly who was nearest and dearest to Gov. Palin's heart, it just dawned on me, in no uncertain terms, that I am not.

I'm not the person Gov. Palin was talking to when she winked at the camera one too many times last Thursday. If she cared at all about appealing to me and winning my vote, she would've known that I think professional women playing to the camera like a Homecoming Queen on the back of a convertible is neither folksy nor charming during a political debate.

I'm not the person Gov. Palin talks about when she jumps to the defense of Joe Six Pack. She would know that I don't drink beer and, in fact as the P.D.D.--Permanent Designated Driver, I actually worry about folks who do drink beer in six pack increments...which, if I'm doing the math correctly, is almost two times the quantity of a 40-oz, right?

The closest I've ever been to a hockey game was watching The Mighty Ducks on cable television. As a child of the 80's, you know I can't resist any film that features a member of the Brat Pack or Breakfast Club. But I digress.

Weird thing is...I work hard for the money too. Most of my family is working class or on the cusp on either end. I'm buying it and frying it up in a pan just like the Hockey Moms I know.

My mini-SUV is in the carpool lane every morning at school trying to make it before the tardy bell rings. I use as much gas driving to and from work as I do our community rec center because the four year old boy I'm raising has dreams of becoming the next Cullen Jones, Michael Phelps, LeBron James, or Antwoine Somebody-or-Other.

I even go to church, can recite the 23rd Psalms, John 3:16, AND Phillipians 4:13. Truth be told, I love God as much as the next person at Saddleback Church or Fox News.

Nevertheless, I just don't think I'm on Sarah's priority list and for the life of me, I just can't figure out why. I guess it is and will probably remain just one of those things that make you go hmm.

Hockey Moms, Joe Six Packs, and Me. "One of these kids just doesn't belong here..."

Day 28 and counting.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Monday Moment

“We don’t live in different worlds. We live in the same world.”

- Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Co-host of the View on ABC mornings.

I could not disagree more with this statement. Back in 1987, Dr. Cosby admonished me that as I transition from being an adolescent to an adult that “[i]t's a different world [being an adult] from where you come from [being an adolescent].” But now as an adult, I am convinced that there are indeed two different adult worlds co-existing in this country the likes of which Jaleesa, Whitley, Dwayne, Ron, Freddie and Kim did not foreshadow. Am I alone in this conclusion that there are indeed two different worlds co-existing? I guess the best way to decide if there are indeed two different worlds is to examine both proposed worlds and then make a determination. With that in mind, please allow me to introduce you to my world.

In my world, a world where I have lived all my life, it never rains in Southern California. Cash rules everything around me and although I know the words to the “Star Spangled Banner,” I sing “We Shall Overcome” (only the first verse) but I prefer to hear “Raise the Flag.”

My life in this world is often times described as or compared to a hunt where I am the prey and my single expectation, therefore, is survival. Very quickly, I am taught that survival has nothing to do with who am I as a person, who I know, or who my parents may know. Instead, survival is only obtained through achievement be it a physical accomplishment – running, jumping, catching, throwing, hitting, dancing, singing or entertaining; or an intellectual accomplishment – education or hustling. The great poet Christopher Wallace described survival the best when he said “. . . the streets is a short stop. Either you're slingin crack rock or you got a wicked jumpshot.”

In this world, the road for survival is treacherous and dangerous metaphorically described as having tacks, splinters in it as well as boards torn up, but yet I am commanded not to turn back on this road, not to sit down because survival in this life in this world ain’t no crystal stair for no one.

So I persist and progress through perspiration to survive all the while being profiled, prosecuted, probed and plotted against.

In this world only the strong survive and of those who survive we jump higher, run faster, throw farther, sell more records, perform before the largest crowds and/or have twice as many credentials than anyone else from the best Universities and institutions in this country having overcome improbable odds .

And as our reward for survival we are hated on by other survivors (for both surviving and for recognizing how one is “hated on”) and set aside by those who did not survive.

Having survived and now daring to thrive, I am still questioned and quizzed concerning my qualifications and I am still made to answer the same question on a daily basis: “What is the difference between a black man and a nigger?”

Well that’s my world in broad strokes with room for nuances around the edges. Now let me attempt to described this other world that I had a feeling existed my entire life and have been acquainted with since 1990, but was not formally introduced to it until August 29, 2008.

In this world one who is a 4-year member of a small city council, a 6-year major of small town and a 18-month governor of a state is sufficiently qualified to become Vice President of United States of America.

In this world, one can participate in a nationally televised debate concerning significant issues troubling our country today and yet never be called to defend ones qualifications having enrolled at Hawaii Pacific College but leave after the first semester. Transfer to North Idaho Community College for two semesters, then transfer to the University of Idaho for two more semesters only to then attend Matanuska-Susitna Community College. After one term at the second community college return to the University of Idaho and complete a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism after only five years.

In this world, one can go from a loser of a reality television show to co-host of a nationally televised morning talk show and, as a result, given a platform and audience to share and be an advocate for even the most benighted of thoughts and ideals.

In this world, who you know in power and who in power knows you or your family means everything. It doesn’t matter where you went to college, how you did in college or what you’ve done since college. In this world, survival is assumed. Thriving is the measure of success.

This is a world where privilege presides over paper.

Entitlement trumps achievement.

Currency is defined by power and influence not dollars and cents.

I am convinced that these are two different worlds.

In my world, I am an aberration, a rare breed, an endangered species having survived. In the other world, I am an invisible man. In both worlds, I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. But in the other world outside of my own, I am invisible because people refuse to see me.

Do you agree that there are two worlds out there? Are there more worlds out there? Are these two worlds that I described indeed two separate worlds or simply extreme nuances of the same world?

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of this other world, I would refer you to an article written by Tom Wise for some additional easy-to-understand examples of it located at

One final note, the difference between a black man and a nigger is that only a nigger would attempt to answer the question, where only a black man could answer the question without using the word “nigger,” but I simply asked in response, why can’t I be both?