Head-Turner-in-Chief


So my blog title may make you think of our 44th president’s boyish good looks or understated, classic wardrobe, but what I’m talking about is his ability to turn silly arguments on their heads.  I adore that he is such a master of this tricky art!

Consider his Philly race speech.  The Rev. Wright firestorm would have taken any other candidate out, but not BO! Instead, he transformed this potential debacle into a racial divide/harmony teaching moment.

Now there’s the ASU speech. Instead of ignoring the flap about his ‘lack of a significant body of work,’ he made this supposed weakness/insult the crux of a commencement speech and captured the students’ imaginations with suggestions for creating a body of work that positively impacts their world.  Wow! I ain’t even graduatin’ and I’m inspired!

I’m anxious to see what other game changers BO has in store for us.  For all you haters, keep the barbs coming, cuz My President’s got a way of turning them into golden moments. Thanks for providing him the platform to make us all the best that we can be, in his role as Educator/Facilitator-in-chief.

Any guesses on his next turn-the-argument-on-its-head scenario? More False Choice 101 lessons, anyone? My money’s on Notre Dame Commencement-Pro-choice flap, but then there’s the  Transparency vs. Nat’l Security Torture pix/memos flip-flop. What do you tthink?  Let me know your thoughts!

The 9 Days of Inaug

 

Swearing-in Site Panoramic View

Swearing-in Site Panoramic View

So The Historic Event is almost upon us! In just 6 days, Barrack Hussein Obama will take the oath of office for the Presidency of these United States of American, upon the same Bible his idol, Abraham Lincoln did many decades ago.  What a  momentous and audacious occasion, so much so that I thought it appropriate to add a little levity in these final days.

I trust that Rev. Joseph Lowery will do the same during the swearing-in ceremony’s benediction, no doubt, with grand poetic flourish. But for those not familiar with Rev. Joe’s oratory, I thought I’d try my hand at a example of  his wicked-smart humor-wielding style.

Since last month, I’ve been thinking a rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas would work for such an exercise in Sankofa creativity. This morning I scavenged the internet to discern the significance of this age-old carol (see reference below) and find political facts to convey similar meaning in an 2008 Presidential Inaugural Ditty. Reading or singing it Johnny Carson Carnac-style (in descending order) speeds the process but misses the whole repetitive riff memorization thing.  At any rate, here goes:

Road-to-the-White-House Symbolism of The 9 Days of Inaug

On the 1st day of Inaug, Our Village gave to We, Obama Unity

Our Village refers to the global community

1 Obama Unity refers to not Red or Blue States but UNITED States

2 Twins, Yang & Yin refers to Obama Cabinet of Rivals Balancing Act (symbiotic deep experience & youthful energy)

3 3-Word Mantra refers to YES WE CAN! Obama Campaign Slogan

4 Landmark Speeches refers to Obama’s 2004 DNC, Race, 2008 DNC, 2008 Presidential Victory oratory masterpieces

5 Primaries refers to 5 states holding Democraticprimaries in May: IN, NC, WV, KY, & OR (source: http://politics.nytimes.com/election-guide/2008/primaries/democraticprimaries/)

6 Bouts of Sparing refers to general election candidate match-ups – 4 debates and 2 forums (source: http://www.youdecide2008.com/2007/06/13/full-2008-debate-schedule-from-dnc-and-gop-vice-mccain-obama-palin-biden-video-democrat-republican/)

7 Lands of Leaping refers to Obama’s 7-country tour spawned by McCain’s challenges to his international experience: Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Afghanistan (source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article4296994.ece)

8 Teen’s-a-crackin’ refers to August ‘08 speeches in which Sarah Palin 1st acknowledged Hillary Clinton’s 18M cracks in American’s highest glass ceiling (http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/08/30/1313178.aspx)

9 State Conversions refers to 2004 vs. 2008 Red to Blue State General Election turnovers (source: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/ & http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2004/)

In case you weren’t aware of all the religious references in the 12 Days of Christmas (I certainly wasn’t), they’re detailed below. (source: http://www.carols.org.uk/the_twelve_days_of_christmas.htm)

Religious symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas)

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

I’d love to get your feedback, or better still, hear you sing it out to determine its auditory appeal. And if you’d like to add a few more days’ lyrics, I certainly won’t object!

Transforming The Great Dole

I am alternatively amazed, amused and troubled by our political leadership’s approach to solving the economic meltdown. I was NOT in favor of the bailout bill, put together in non-deliberate, fever-pitched panicky haste, pork-ladened and misguided as it was. I had the sense it was like a quickly concocted, poorly planned meal with way too many cooks in the kitchen and no idea about which meal of the day, who , how many or what nutritional needs the starving diners had. It’s been weeks and not only have the intended credit loosening outcomes been thwarted, we’ve had 2 major stories about failed judgment by AIG corporate executives in taking ‘training/conference’ junkets at ritzy resorts. And even now, I see reports of a record 280,000 foreclosure filings, and then there’s the automakers and others starting to line up for their piece of The Great Dole.
So when will we JUST SAY NO to financial terrorism? Figure out that painting the leaves on the tree might make it look better temporarily, but won’t cure its root disease? Decide to teach fishing instead of handing out fish?
I said it before (http://jewelscharmedlife.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-balanced-approach-to-our-economic.html), I’ll say it again, the most sensible way to dig our way out of this mess is to put people back to work, 1st & foremost, not after all the large corporate cash infusions. A 90-day moratorium on foreclosures won’t really help families whose breadwinners have been laid off with no prospects of gainful employment. We have major UNFUNDED infrastructure programs, e.g., those on hold at the GA Dept. of Transportation, that could provide for better roads AND produce income for GA families. Next most sensible investment: green projects. These alternatives may not seem easy in the chronic Chicken Little environment, but they are quite simple. I’m confident that there are hundreds if not tens of thousands of such local programs around the country that could put us solidly on the road to recovery.
Let’s take a page from the Obama Grassroots Playbook, fund state & local initiatives, both public & private, and be delighted by the incredible results from BOTTOMS UP economics. Whaddya say we transform The Great Dole into The Great Investment Fund (TGIF)? I’m hoping Sarah Silverman of http://www.thegreatschlep.com/ fame will create a video about it!

A More Balanced Approach to Our Economic Crisis?

OK, so how can it be that, as far as I can tell, very little attention has been paid to the inaccuracy of McCain’s claim, during the town hall debate, of a ‘new’ proposal for refinancing homeowners’ mortgages at reduced home values? I think I hear a giant echo in the room. This plan is actually already in the recently passed Bailout Bill (H.R. 1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008). Even the Obama campaign has apparently come out against McMastercharger’s (taking credit for other people’s work) estimated $300B proposal. Well guess what, guys? YOU ALREADY VOTED FOR THIS, DONE DEAL!! Goes to show how panicking yourself into something without sufficient deliberation will have you dazed & confused.
It’s there, plain as day, in section 110 of H.R.1424. Even this section refers to pre-existing legislation, the HOPE for Homeowners Program 21 under section 257 of the National Housing Act. I suppose if a section-by-section analysis had been done, and well-publicized, we’d all know which part of this law we’d want to push our government to start moving on.

So if the price tag is $300B for this provision, that’s almost half of the Bill’s estimated total $700B cost. Put more simply: Main Street gets $300B, Wall Street, $400B. Couldn’t publicizing this fact calm many among the American public who are railing against greedy Wall Street CEOs? Another indicator that what we really need is to do is PAUSE & TAKE A BREATH.

Personally, I’d prefer a plan that invests one-third each in Main Street, Wall Street and bottom-up job creation, the last being primarily in the form of infrastructure programs (highway, bridge & road repair & construction), Small Business Administration Loans & Green Industry investment incentives. Although EESA2008 doesn’t appear to allow for these last two put-people-to-work initiatives, I suspect it could be amended. I believe this strategy would produce good results both long & short-term, a reasonable mix of rescue and stimulus. What do you think?

Emergency Economy Recovery: Crack or Methadone?

I’ve heard politicians compare the bailout situation to a heart attack, house fire, and any number of other urgent, critical analogies. We can all agree on these characteristics of the problem, though I don’t think these comparisons fit well. We know the consequences of our current economic dilemma are serious, we all agree something has to be done quickly…I know Uncle Sam has a drug, I mean debt problem that we need to address ASAP; the question is are we gonna go get more crack, I mean debt for him or take him to drug treatment? If drug treatment, which program best meets his needs? A 12-step like Betty Ford or something a bit less traditional?
We’re talking stabilization, right? Uncle Sam’s ‘fiending’ for the crack, I mean debt, now! Where can we get some methadone? How can we satisfy this desperate need most immediately with the least amount of damage? Relief for elders living on their retirement investments, folks behind on their mortgage or already in foreclosure, banks who can’t meet their Fed Reserve requirements, companies who can’t meet their payroll? What is the economic methadone we seek, and how can we find/make it?
Let’s take some representative examples of these types of situations and work them through the recently passed Senate bill, each separately, and then consider the combined/cumulative effect. Is that such a ridiculous request? We have non-partisan organizations, e.g. Rand Corp., that do nothing but this type of work; we’ve gotten it for the nominees’ tax plan, what’s so difficult about it?

Old vs. New Media: Mill Grist or Meaningful Gist?

I am constantly amazed by the ubiquitous nature of our Information Age. As a 12-year veteran of IBM, I can say I held the party line on our vision of the New Economy in the last millennium, but in the 21st one, I am awed and inspired by the power of online blogs, social networking & publishing. Legislative voting and legal records, YouTube videos and podcasts, this movement represents the great democratization of media. No longer are we limited to major media outlets like ABC, NBC, CBS, or even CNN. The American public, even the world at large, can have a say and access to unprecedented amounts and quality of information, but sometimes misinformation, thus the need for a whole cottage industry on fact-checking with concerns like Snopes.com.

Having fallen asleep with my TV watching me (this is a reference to fab recording artist Vinx’s song My TV at http://www.amazon.com/Rooms-My-Fathas-House-Vinx/dp/B000000QG1 samples), I awoke to a story about Sen. Obama’s IL legislature work, and decided to explore its online version. Though I didn’t think the TV story was particularly balanced and felt some its implications were quite misleading and sensationalistic, I was pleased to note that not only did some of the online comment-makers hail from outside the US, but they also echoed my disquieted sentiments. I then ‘googled’ a bit to find a more balance version, and was left with a story about Clinton/Obama Senate voting records (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/31/AR2006123101004_2.html
), but this piece seemed to me to be infinitely more even-handed.

Bottom line for me is this: for anyone with the inclination to ‘get to the bottom of the story,’ if you have access to the web, the world is your oyster. So don’t get it twisted, if you wanna deal with hype, take someone else’s word. If you wanna know the real deal, you gotta put in the work and do some research. You may say you don’t have the time, but I would submit that we all make/take time for that which is important to us.

So how crucial is the choice of our next president to you? Rest assured this choice is far-reaching and affects our lives at the most fundamental levels: from the quality of the air we breathe, to the cleanliness of our water, to the ingredients in the food we eat, to our access to quality education & healthcare systems. If these things aren’t important to you, then you need not fact-check. But if they are, join me in handling the business of our everyday lives and the nation’s; remember & emulate Dragnet’s Joe Friday, seeking just the facts [dismissing factoids or falsehoods], ma’am, in the biggest library I know, the World Wide Web!

Logic vs. Loyalty?

Also sometimes referred to as Head vs. Heart, Logic vs. Loyalty signifies the seemingly never-ending duel between mind and emotion. Your heart cries out for an occupation that brings you joy, but you ignore it and take a job that pays the bills while killing off your soul. Your drug-addicted child implores you to take him in after he’s abandoned a drug treatment program for the umpteenth time, and you do, only to find him indulging in this self-destructive behavior all over again. You endorse a US Democratic Presidential Candidate, your constituency overwhelming supports another, and you flounder with how to save face, and determine what word to keep, your oath of office or longstanding political tie-bound promises. What a conundrum, we think…but actually, not really.

The solutions to these vexing situations are usual quite elegant in their simplicity but seldom what we would consider easy. Not complex, these remedies may conjure up fear so great we retreat to the short-term fix that is ultimately our undoing in the long run. We do the passion-free gig for years then keel over from a heart attack or cancer mid-life; how’s that for a crisis? We succumb to the pleas of the wayward, drugged-up child, only to find the house ransacked for money. We sit on the fence with our political clout until a new, strong warrior arrives to forcefully take our power in a bloody, debilitating battle of Old vs. New Guard. If only we’d listened to the still small voice, then had the intestinal fortitude or better yet, FAITH that our highest BEING’s consistent DOING would always yield the most desirable result, perhaps even beyond our wildest imagination. That would be incorporating head, heart and hands to make a difference.

So we volunteer for work that we love and get offered a paying job we’d do any day for free. We submit to gut-wrenching family counseling and find that after some honest communication and much love, drug treatment seems like a cakewalk. We keep our oath of office, switch our support to align with that of our constituency and we find new strength in both our political and personal lives.

These shifts may sometimes be painful or perhaps not-so-much-so, but they always have the potential for great healing, if we can face down our FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) & do what must be done to restore our emotional, psychological and intellectual wellness. This way of being involves not choosing between Head and Heart, but instead looking for resolutions that sacrifice neither, that satisfy the deepest need of both with integrity, authenticity & honesty, then use our hands to take appropriate action.

Can you re-evaluate and work through some challenging, seemingly intractable situation with this new perspective? Can you act boldly and with conviction in favor of both Loyalty & Logic? I invite all of us to seek this harmonious and joyful safe zone that is available to all of us in our everyday charmed lives.

Heart AND Head: What’s Your Expression of Sexy with Substance?

Now I could have called this post ‘My Surrogate, My President, Myself – Part III,’ but it just feels more right to label it Sexy with Substance. You see, I think Kerry Washington (My Surrogate, My Prez, Myself – Part I, Jan. post) was the 1st person I heard mention bringing sexy back to politics, said she’d been touring SC college campuses with Ne-Yo and Usher when they’d discussed it. So for some of us, John Legend (http://www.dipdive.com) is one of a plethora of quintessential sexy men in the New Millennium, and here he is, at my alma mater Spelman College, using his sexy celebrity to voice his world tour experience of our country’s diminished global standing and espouse his conviction that Barack can change all that. Well, this is probably quite different from having Chelsea Clinton appear before a Spelman SGA information session, huh?

Some might consider this event a bit shallow, especially since John was almost mobbed before he was whisked away from the campus after his compelling remarks, ditty singing and gracious posing for pictures. So are we going for the head or heart here or both? I submit the Obama campaign is both mindful AND ‘heartful,’ intellectual AND emotional, sexy with substance. These sometimes erroneously perceived as oxymoronic combinations are infinitely possible, even probable, once we acknowledge them as such. Now I ask you, how will you bring the excitement back to a political process that impacts every (potentially smog-filled) breath you take, every morsel of (potentially genetically modified) food you eat, every (potentially lacking in balanced, free speech) media piece you read? Will it be through sex, drugs or rock & roll? I don’t know about you, but I’m going for sexy…with substance, you dig?

P.S. So if you want to see this & more interesting seemingly oxymoronic combos, like Style & Substance, check out my girl Tracie Howard & me, along with artist Kimmy Cantrell & DJ Drew at our (Super Monday) Obama Mixer tomorrow, February 4th. We’ll be rocking, tick-tocking and shocking the house on behalf of our Main Presidential Man Barack at SIP the Experience (www.SIPtheExperience.com) in an after-work set designed to motivate all my hipsters into a fantastic Super Tuesday. Wouldn’t wanna miss it if I were you!

How Do You Party with Passion & Purpose?

I so love the energy of people with a burning passion! Bumped into Tricia Harris & Falatta Burdette of PowerPAC (www.PowerPAC.org) at the Lexus/Essence sponsored Angie Stone concert at Underground Atlanta’s Sugarhill this week; they clued me in to an upcoming political forum that would take place in a few days. Apparently organized in less than a week, this event was a great convergence of Old Guard/New Guard that was most inspiring & motivating. Old Heads like Joe Beasley of Rainbow Push Coalition complimenting Young Heads like Rev. Markel Hutchins, respect & honor obviously flowing both ways. I saw a coming together that answered 90’s post-LA riots Rodney King’s prolific question, “ Can we all just get along??” The gathering definitely fulfilled on its positioning as a ‘multi-generational “WAKE UP CALL”, rally & rap session about the African American political agenda and how black voter turnout on February 5th can swing the 2008 Presidential race.’

I especially enjoyed the retro political rally feel, complete with vintage message music performed by Legends. Video screens flashed MLK images & speech clips. Audio clips of 2008 Presidential candidates recalling images of debates and talk show appearances, and late night TV banter. This set was like Black Woodstock without the drugs! I keep telling people Barack & others are bringing sexy back to politics, as in the days of JFK, but without that extra-marital-affair bad after-taste. It’s like I’m experiencing Sankofa, going backward to go forward, the New & Improved Black Activism informed by the Old. Loved the imaginative flyers, Race Card Sets (http://www.racecard.tv/) & peacefully co-existing campaign workers carrying signs & passing out literature to promote their candidates. Events like these seem full of respectful-difference-of-opinion unity, divine power & purpose, as was pointed out by GA State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan. Rev. Markel adeptly articulated how one’s productive focus on a well-defined political agenda can & does actually transcending age & other artificial barriers. Even Rev. Joseph Lowery was in the house, sharing his everyday man-on-the-street wisdom with always wry & pithy, sometimes rhyming humor.

So what will you do in these days leading up to and through Super Tuesday, to stir your own soul & the souls of those around you, to have all of us in King-Holiday-Regal-Yet-Regular-Style REMEMBERing, CELEBRATing AND ACTing with passion & purpose as we support our candidates in the most authentic way we can imagine? Will you plan/attend a rally? Change your voicemail greeting, call friends or send an email sharing your reasons for supporting whomever you’ve ‘heartfully’ & thoughtfully chosen? Work at the polls or canvass in-person or by phone to get out the vote? I encourage you to courageously & playfully abandon your comfort zone and exert your most empowered & empowering effort to be a part of making history on Super Tuesday. I appreciate what you’ve already done and trust that your best is always yet to come!

P.S. If you want to hang with me to get your party-with-a-purpose on this Superbowl Sunday, please join me at Vino Libro (http://www.vinolibro.com/) where proprietor John Francis is hosting a laid-back set, complete with 100-inch projection TV, $5 buffet and delectable drink specials. Obama commercials promise to be not nearly as grandly staged but at least as entertaining as the multi-million dollar ones at half-time. Hope to see your face in the place