Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lil' David Wins Again!

President Obama vs. House RepublicansI can't resist blogging about this. By now you've heard about the modern-day David and Goliath battle that took place a few days ago when the president, all by his lonesome, with secret service in tow, of course, went up against Republicans, on their own turf--a Republican retreat in Baltimore of all places.

I'm thinking it's a good thing the secret service was there, or they may have tarred and feathered him and run him out of town on a rail. Such was the beating Republicans received at the hands of this lanky president from Chicago, standing before them in all his Lincolnesque glory, taking question after question, queries meant, at times, to embarrass, deflate, and reveal his ineptitude as president.

I don't think I overstated their intentions. Perhaps a smidgen.

Not only did he not backdown and fold, he stood tall, showed his command of the subjects, and was fearless in his answers--even when, on one occasion, the mood turned a little contentious. One blogger called him an "idiot" for his use of teleprompters. It's clear that this blogger was more intent on demeaning the president than presenting a "fair and balanced" assessment. He didn't want to credit the president's grace under fire, his ready access to a storehouse of facts, and the eloquence, and occasional disarming humor, he brings to off-the-cuff moments when he's entertaining questions at Town Hall meetings, or before a hostile crowd of Republicans in a Q and A setting.

If you didn't hear the Q and A, I'm not going to embed it here, but give you a link to the location. It comes with an excellent analysis by Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Matthews. It's a must see. I'm hoping that it signals a turning point in the president's strategy to take a more frontal approach, an attack posture, to manage those challenges he face, knowing that a strong offense is the best defense when it comes to negotiating with an adversary that's not going to play by Queensberry rules, but will hit below the belt, and sneak a bite or two from any exposed part of his political readiness, or lack there of.

Here's how MSNBC presents this historical moment:

"Obama speaks to Republicans

"Jan. 29: Keith Olbermann shares highlights from President Barack Obama's address to a gathering of House Republicans and the opening question from Congressman Mike Pence. Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews join for analysis."

It's not surprising that Fox News didn't run the whole Q and A, seeing that their beloved Republicans were taking a drubbing at the hands of the president. Instead, they chose to break away, and offer an analysis without allowing their viewers the opportunity to see and hear the full encounter.

I guess they didn't want to expose them to this Republican woodshed chastisement.

It's probably best that the president turn down all future invites (not saying the Republicans will again), but next time they'll be prepared with a strong noose of questions, and a strong limb of questioners on which to hang him.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

All The President's Men

I wanted to get out ahead of the president's State of the Union address, with several observations.

The president would do well to jettison his closest advisers. I prefer to call them handlers, however. One reason: They're too much involved in the critical decisions he's required to make on a daily basis, and are more concern with the political fallout of those decisions, rather than the rightness of them.

On Haiti, the president made a good start. He pledged a hundred million dollars, activated the military, and other support staff, sending his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, early into the relief effort.

But then came the criticism from the Right, Rush Limbaugh, for one. He criticized the president for his quick actions, and his response. He accused the president of making some kind of appeal to the black community, those from the dark and the light community, as though blacks live in some kind of apartheid community that's divided up along colorlines.

And as other criticism came in from the Right, the president left the stage, and he hasn't spoken on the matter since (nothing that I've heard, at least). Perhaps he'll talk about the Haitian crisis and relief efforts during his State of the Union address tonight. Maybe not.

I suspect that additional troops are being dispatched to Haiti to quell a potential major outbreak of violence that might be used by the Right to further criticize the president. Although no such violence appears imminent, it quiets the Right, but the action is heavy-handed, and unnecessary. The relief effort is now being seen more as an invasion of Haiti than a relief effort. This is unfortunate, but predictable, given the counsel he's receiving from those around him.

And there's no coordination of the relief effort. All the aid groups in the country are pretty much operating from the seat of their pants, and on the fly, without one group knowing what the other is doing.

To be truly effective in the future, the nations of the world, upon whom such relief may be sought, will have to come together, along with major private relief providers, and develop responses that are targeted to the disaster, coordinated, and strategized. This will require the development of an international relief response under one umbrella, with everyone talking with the other, and answerable to one central agency.

With the threat of global warming looming, such disasters are only a few years away. If we don't develop a coherent, international response, more Haities are sure to test our limited resources, and relief responses will prove to do as much harm as the natural disasters that called them forth.

The president need more men that speak truth, and not politics, and fewer like Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke (who will probably win another term), and Larry Summers. These men are of the school that says all ships rises when one rises. That's not necessarily true. We're seeing a rebound for Wall Street, and the stock market, but the economy, especially the housing market, is still in a slump, and unemployment still stands nationally above 10 percent, and higher in some regions and states than that.

His supposed plan to call for a "spending freeze" for some government programs is nothing more than a concession to the Tea Partiers, and smacks of another failed attempt by his handlers to navigate shark-infested waters unscathed.

When the president follows his own mind, he's his most effective. When he listens to Rahm Emanuel, and his other advisers, he goes into reactive mode, rather than proactive mode, and he's seen as weak, and perennially on the defensive.

As I observed in another blog entry Jump (For My Love):

"Democrats, and the president in particular, can't jump each time Republican critics attempt to use an event to make them look soft on terrorism, dovish on war, and weak on national security. Jumping is not going to make Republicans love you more, nor diminish their attacks. Republicans have a plan: to take back the seats of power by any means necessary. And the method they're using now is to make Democrats and the president look foolish, and ineffective."

Jumping is not good for their health. It's one exercise that is sure to kill their agenda, as well as a second term in the White House, and control of the Congress.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Whose Country Is It, Anyway?

To whom does the country belong? I think we know the obvious answer, but how accurate is it? Does it belong to corporations, Big Corp, as I call them, when I refer to them as a collective body? Or to labor unions? Or small business? Or any number of sub-groups within these groups that have a special interest in influencing government?

Perhaps the government belongs to the government. All the various departments that comprise the government and the bureaucrats that run them. How about the military, and the Military Industrial Complex, that Eisenhower warned his countrymen of in 1961."?

How about Congress? To whom does it belong? Does it belong to the country? The people? We elected them right, all those various senators and district representatives, and sent them to the Congress, didn't we? Sure we did, or did we?

And then there's local government. To whom does it belong? And state government?

The obvious answers to the questions--"Whose country is it?" and "To whom does the country belong?"--is: "It's the people's country. It belongs to them."

I'm not so sure, now.

Perhaps the people's ownership of the country has always been a myth. A bedtime story told to the gullible, and the overly-trusting. Perhaps the Bill of Rights was added, not only to address the concerns of states like Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York, but to give the people a false sense of ownership, not only of their individual liberties, but ownership of the nation We, the people, formed to promote, in part, the "general welfare." We read:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The people, we're told, ordained and established the Constitution on behalf of the people of the United States.

If that's the case, I'd say we need a return to a people-centered government, to people-centered institutions, and a people-centered country, but I'm not sure if we've ever had such a government.

To document how this assault upon the people's rights has eroded our individual and collective rights, would require a book all its own.

No, this blog entry is not going to be a history lesson, nor a analytical treatise of the U.S. Constitution. It's merely a reminder of how far the institutions that the people formed--as a way to balance the use of power, through a system of checks and balances, and to discourage abuse--have conspired to coalesce power, and to deny the people the rights ascribed to them by the document we call our constitution.

Today, Thursday, January 21, 2010 (and I don't exaggerate), could go down in our history as the day this country's democracy became saturated by corporate money, and influence, and the people's welfare was supplanted by "corporate welfare." And since I'm not a constitutional scholar, I'm going to let those who're called the fourth branch of government to run it down for you.

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I included the Jonathan Turley video clip above to show you how a constitutional scholar viewed today's decision. I imagine it might have been similar to what the designers and builders of the Titanic might have rationalized when hearing that the ship sank: "How could it sink! It was designed and built to be unsinkable."

Despite Turley's hope that something can be done to offset the political advantage given to corporations, he doesn't address what, or how; he merely states that we have to develop more competing political parties, and use the legislative process to circumvent the potential of abuse around today's decision. But when you can buy off politicians, and as many as you'd like, either with threats, or outright support through political ads, don't expect too much opposition.

Now, take a look at this next video segment. At first you may be tempted to call it hyperbole, and unrealistic. But then before you do that, I want to remind you of the damage that corporate money, with some restrictions, has already achieved. We now have a health-care reform bill in doubt, the result of Republican delay tactics, and the diluting demands from politicians who held the bill hostage by threats of voting against the bill, giving the Republicans a filibuster majority. These politicians to the man and the woman have been bought by the Health Care industry, and weren't about to pass a bill that offered real health reform without adequate monetary compensation, the promise of millions of new members (customers) for health insurers.

Here's the next video:

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This Supreme Court decision is so far-reaching, so potentially disastrous for our democracy, so all-inclusive in its sheer magnitude, the only recourse we may have, unless ways and means can be found (not ruling out an amendment to our Constitution, provided corporate gods will allow it to go that far), will be for the people to rise up, and overthrow the government it installed, and the Constitution it formed, to wrest from corporate hands the democracy upon which this country was built.

Unless means are found to rein in this potential corporate hegemony, we may be seeing the end of our civil liberties, and the beginning of a new government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.

Here's what the president, himself a Constitutional scholar, released today when the Supreme Court Justice's ruling was announced:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 21, 2010

Statement from the President on Today's Supreme Court Decision
With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.

And if you think these corporations will act with restraint, then think back over what has transpired over the past several decades, culminating in a shadow banking system, and unscrupulous financial practices, that nearly bankrupt this country, and brought it to the brink of economic collapse, a collapse that we usually refer to as a depression. And not just us here in the United States, but the entire world. The trend is to give corporations greater access to government, and a louder voice, usually to drown out the wishes of the populace.

A hat tip to Ernesto over at Sevens Devils Dead for first bringing this issue to my attention

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

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I'm in a confession mood again. Tonight's results in the Boston election for a replacement for Senator Kennedy's Senate seat, have me scratching my head. Like many other Democrats, this was one seat I believed was safe. You'd think Teddy Kennedy's memory alone would serve as a shoo-in for a liberal candidate. (Is anything sacred, anymore?) You'd think that a state with three Democrats for every Republican wouldn't have to worry about a real challenge from the Right.

But Martha Coakley went down to defeat (47%), while Scott Brown (52%) scores a stunning upset.

And already a postmortem is taking place. As one pundit observed: "There's blame aplenty to go around."

Some are blaming Martha Coakley herself. They say she allowed Scott Brown to define her, and the scope of the election. Others are saying she took too much time off (I hear three weeks.). And during that time, Brown had the field to himself, and he took advantage of it.

Still others are blaming Coakley's failure on local politics, the unhappiness of Massachusetts' electorate with the economy, and recent tax increases. Some have observed that the state's health-care system, although expensive, has broad coverage, and people are happy with it--suggesting that maybe they didn't want Washington tinkering with it.

Perhaps the most optimistic message some are seeing is this: Voting in Brown is sending a message to the Democratically-held congress that it's not going far enough in its efforts to reform health care, and that they want their representatives to get tougher, and pass real health-care reform, and take up other progressive legislation.

That seems a bit naive to me. You don't give your opponent another loaded weapon (in this case, a filibuster majority), if you're down to your last few bullets.

Whatever the reason, the Republicans have scored a major upset, and I'm left in a quandary. As painful as it is, I have to admit: I don't understand the mind of the electorate.

Here we are struggling with a seesaw economy inherited from the previous administration. Two wars inherited from the previous administration. An international black eye inherited from the previous administration. A gaggle of do-nothing Republicans, waging an obstructionist war against Democratic incumbents. And what do Democrats do for an encore? They besmirch the memory of Teddy Kennedy, possibly depriving him of his dream for health-care reform, and elect to his seat, not a Blue Dog Democrat, but another do-nothing Republican who claims he's fiscally conservative, and will vote against tax increases and the looming health-care reform bill.

Frankly, I don't see the logic.

With liberal friends like this, you don't need Republican enemies. Democrats are their own worse enemy. Republicans need only resist, whine, and persist to be rewarded. Unlike Republicans who can circle a wagon train, all going in the same direction, Right. Democrats, on the other hand, don't know their Left from their Right, and keep bumping into each other.

Okay, perhaps the health-care reform bill in the Senate is nothing more that a give-away to Big Insurers. We haven't seen the final version. It has been secreted away, at least the finalizing moves, to wed it with the Senate version, ostensibly to prevent more Republican stall tactics.

Perhaps it should be scrapped and replaced with Medicare for those fifty and above--Democrats possibly hammering out something in reconciliation. Because Democrats play fairly, more fairly than Republicans, I'd be shocked if they hold up the induction of Brown. If they don't, and if they don't find a way to pass some kind of health-care reform bill, before Brown takes the oath of office, health-care reform is dead on arrival.

Will the Democrats run even more scared now--now that a Republican from an ultra-blue state has become a senator, and abandon health-care reform altogether, as well as a progressive agenda?

And what about President Obama's agenda--keeping his campaign promises? Will he have to scrap that, too, now that the filibuster proof senate has gone bust?

Are we seeing a referendum on the president and the Democrats' progressive hopes for the country? It's going to be twice as hard now to get anything of a reform nature or a progressive nature through both houses of Congress.

I heard one woman remark that she was voting for Scott Brown because she wanted to equalize the power in the Senate. What she failed to observe: the minority party wields most of the power simply by sticking together, and doing nothing, but allowing the democrats and the blue dogs to battle it out.

Republicans can win more through inaction than through action. Who would have thunk it: Sitting on one's ass can open up more opportunities for success, than actually getting up off of one's ass and doing something? I guess doing nothing is tantamount to doing something, just as not to decide is to decide.

What is the message Democrats need to take from this election, if any? You have the floor, now.

I'm on CREDO's mailing list. They've composed a letter you can send to friends, if you choose, and a link to sign a petition (No, I'm not giving up.):

--The CREDO Action Team

Here's a sample message to send to your friends:

Subject: Message from Massachusetts: Pass a public option with 51 votes

Dear Friend,

The voters of the ultra-Blue state of Massachusetts have decided to elect Scott Brown, a conservative Republican to the Senate in a special election. With the election of a Republican senator from Massachusetts, the Democrats' so-called "filibuster proof" majority in the Senate is officially dead.

The loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat sends a clear message that the Senate health care bill does not go far enough. While the message might be lost on the power brokers within the Democratic Party, the message of the Massachusetts special election is clear.

Voters did not elect President Obama and a Democratic supermajority in the House and the Senate so that health care reform could be written by the likes of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson.

I signed a petition telling President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid that the Senate must use reconciliation to pass a better health care bill with a strong public option. I hope you'll follow the link below and take action, too.

Campaign For Reconciliation Petition Drive

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Get M.A.D.! Really M.A.D.!

In my last blog entry, I presented the idea that being happy all year long was a matter of choice. I said, further, that that choice was not at the mercy of adverse conditions, or implacable situations. I told you that each year I resolve to do just that--to be happy, to take everyone's wish for me, and extend it throughout the year. But, being happy all year long, doesn't mean I have to give up mad, that is M.A.D.--the drive to Make A Difference in my world.

Frankly, the madder you get, the better.

So now, I'm inviting you all to become as M.A.D. as I am at the moment, to Make A Difference. You see, just being angry can take you only so far, but M.A.D. can take you a long way toward ameliorating conditions on the ground--the remedying of social and political ills with which you and your fellow citizens may be struggling.

I don't know if you saw this segment on MSNBC yesterday, but even if you did, I'm inviting you to watch it again, and get M.A.D. It describes those forces that conflated to created the financial mess we're in now, and how that mess almost brought the world to its economic knees, dragging us down with it. And we're not out of the woodshed yet. We're still taking quite a financial beating, some folks more than others.

If after watching this, you're not M.A.D. as hell, and not going to take it anymore, then brace yourself: the ride ain't over.

I was aware of much of the information presented here, but not all. The segment structures that information so that laypersons can follow the connecting of the dots, a connecting that demystifies the problem--a problem that charlatans would have us believe is beyond our intellectual capacity to understand, and beyond the government's power to supervise and regulate.

In part, it's about the derivative market, a 750 trillion dollars strong market worldwide, greater than the combined annual GNP (Gross National Product) of the world's nations.

That's scary stuff. After watching and digesting the video clip to follow, let's discuss it.

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We have to remove this Damocles sword, lest we find ourselves in this economic predicament again, made worse by our inaction. Talk to your neighbors about it, have them watch the video, not necessarily here, but on the MSNBC Web site.

The MSNBC video clip that follows is not THE solution for fixing the problem. But it is a beginning. Peter Welch, Congressional Representative from Vermont, is garnering support (sponsors) for a bill that will tax bank bonuses over $50,000.00 at 50% (a windfall profits tax). Write your congressperson, e-mail, snail mail, or fax your support for such a bill.

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You know the problem. Now, I invite you to get M.A.D.

The acronym, M.A.D., has other meanings. It can also mean, Mobilize And Defeat, as well as, Mobilize And Defend. Oftentimes, we're called on to do one or the other, or both simultaneously.

If we're going to Make A Difference in our world on behalf of our neighbors--those who live next door, within our state, our nation, or the entire world--we need to get M.A.D., Mobilize And Defend, and, where necessary, Mobilize And Defeat. Which tactic we use, will depend upon the situation or circumstance we face.

But if we don't get M.A.D. at all, it won't matter. The key to success is to get M.A.D. and stay M.A.D.

If a corporation, or a business, is too big to fail, then it's too big to exist. Our government is as complicit in creating this economic disaster as the rapacious corporations who fought for the passage of laws, and the reduction of governmental oversight, to create it. We must hold our government officials accountable--now, and in the future.

If you decide to get M.A.D., here's a sample letter. E-mail, snail mail, or fax (Revise, augment, or personalize as needed.):

Dear Sir or Madame:

Please support Vermont Congressman Peter Welch's proposal to impose a 50% windfall tax on bank bonuses that exceed $50,000.00. That money can then go toward small business loans so desperately needed in this struggling economy.

Banks could have used Federally provided zero percent interest money in a couple of ways--to lend out, or shore up their balance sheets--but, instead, they chose to line their pockets.

This is an unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars. The money should have been used to revive our economy. The passage of a windfall tax on bank bonuses will send a strong message to those who would use public monies for their own private gain

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year! All Year Long?

At the beginning of each New Year, many people make New Year resolutions.

And I'm no exception.

Each year I make the same resolution--the resolution that I made the year before. Perhaps you're thinking, "Boy, that's stupid! If you're making the same resolution year after year, then you ought to throw in the towel, and just ride out the upcoming year. It's clear you're not making much headway with your resolutions."

I could do that, but that would be uncharacteristic of me.

Here's what I resolve to do each year. I resolve to follow everyone's wish for me: to have a "Happy New Year." "But," you may say, "People don't really want you to take that literally. Sure they wish you a Happy New Year, but it's said out of tradition, out of their hope for you, not that they think it could actually happen. And if events come together to make a Happy New Year really a happy one, then that's all good. But the chances of that actually happening is farfetched and remote, and dependent on many things, many of which can't be controlled--such as, external events, implacable situations, and hopeless outcomes.

Why, then, would anyone want to make the effort to be always happy, or to be joyful, which is merely an exultant state of happiness? There's a very good reason: It's a God state. Despite the deplorable condition of our world, God is always joyful, and not moved to be discouraged. He's totally accepting, and giving. He's always blessings us, and loving us unconditionally. And He is always grateful for all that is.

In a similar fashion, I don't allow conditions to dictate my state of mind. I don't wait until I'm prosperous to be generous; to be in good health physically, or financially, to be in high spirits--to be happy, or joyful; to receive something of value to be grateful; to have others behave in certain ways, before I'm accepting, and loving; to have things go my way, or exist in certain ways, before I extend my blessing.

And from whom do I get the inspiration to forge ahead? Here's a little secret: I get it from those of you whose blogs I visit on the regular. Many of the names in my blogroll are of those who, in some way or another, inspire me.

Blinders Off is one. She writes about herself in this way: "Love myself first and most. Avoid negative sources, people, place, things, and habits. Believe in myself. [...] Take control of my own destiny. Visualize it. Want it more than anything. I am a one of many unique child of God creations, nothing can replace ME. I will continue to zero in on my target and go for it!"

Great stuff! I hope she won't mind me quoting her here. Here's a blog entry that she wrote some time ago. It sums up why I consider her an inspiration, and a heroine.

And then there's GrannyStandingForTruth. Here's what her profile states in part: "I am an ordinary woman who has lived an extraordinary and somewhat colorful life. I've been there, did that, done that. Many people have told me that I should write a book to share my life story and the many experiences I've had. However, I can think of way more people than me that have a story to tell that needs to be heard. Besides which, I just couldn't see my whole life on pages bound up in book being the free-spirited person that I am because stories have endings, and I'd like to think that every day I wake up is a new beginning with new experiences and many more new people to meet."

I like the "free-spirited person" that she is, with the courage of a lioness, and an eagerness to face each day with anticipation and a sense of discovery. Here's a blog entry, speaking out against the terror from within, that gives an indirect, word picture of the compassionate, and wise person, that she is.

Miriam, over at Black Fire, White Fire, lives in Israel. What a singularly beautiful black woman she is. I'm going to link to one of her blog entries to give you a taste of her blog, and her uncommon spirit and courage. After reading this, here and here, you'll understand why she's on my blogroll, and why she's an inspiration and a hero to me. I like the word heroine, but the word is not currently in vogue.

Blackgirlinmaine's weblog is another that inspire. She's funny, witty, human, and loving. Her humanity shines through her blog entries, and here is a recent one, written around the holiday season, that encapsulates the wonderful human being she is. It's called The Ugly Side Of Helping Others.

c.c.-kathy is another. She tells me that I inspire her (She calls it having a "positive influence". She doesn't know that she inspires me, as well. Here's a blog entry over at cognitive continuity, her blog's name, that will tell you everything I'd want you to know about kathy--her humanity, her ability to empathize, and her willingness to recreate herself in the grandest version of the greatest vision she's ever held of who she is, and who she might be.

Seda is yet another who I admire, and who's an inspiration. She writes about her own experiences with such nakedness (bearing her soul with such pure honesty), you can't help but be touched and inspired. I selected this blog entry to illustrate what it is about her that touches me. I think it'll touch you, too.

And then there's msladydeborah and her blog, From My Brown Eyed View. Would you like to know why she inspires me? Take a look at her first blog entry of the year. She's a fighter with a strong spirit, and a pluckiness that would inspire anyone.

Ernesto--not blogging as much as I'd like, his blog entries revealing a sharp intellect, and perspicacity--challenges me to bring to my writing that depth of thought that's reflected in his own writing. Here's a sample of why I find him, too, to be an inspiration. Published only a day after Christmas, it augurs for him greater adventures ahead.

And I mustn't forget sisterstation. She hasn't blogged since September, 09, but she's another blogger that tells it like it is, and does so with style, and panache. She uses words like so many knives--sharp and pointed--drawing blood with deft cuts across the American political and social corpus that even the victim slightly notices. Kathy is a regular visitor to her blog, but she clearly deserves a larger readership. Her humor, her humanity, and, best of all, her incisive intellect, keep me returning to her blog. If you'd like to know why I'm high on her, and find her an inspiration, read, not just one blog entry, but several. Here's a link to her blog.

Finally, there's daddyBstrong. I say finally, not because I couldn't include others--many of whom, in small or large ways, have inspired me to hold firmly to the high ground of my choosing--but I wouldn't want to tax your patience, or lose the focus of this piece.

DaddyBstrong personified strength and courage under fire. Little did we know--most of us who visited his blog regularly--that he was waging a silent war against cancer. Some knew, but most didn't. In the end, he lost his battle, but in many ways he won the war. His life is a testament to how to live on your own terms, despite knowing that each day may be your last.

I always wondered about his handle, daddyBstrong. Now I believe it served as a kind of mantra, a reminder of the state of mind he wished to maintain daily as he faced his mortality, and the inevitable. The man he was permeated his writings, especially his poetry. How he approached death inspired me as much as how he approached life.

DaddyBstrong showed us all how to fight a battle and win. You see, cancer may have taken him, but he didn't lose. He may have lost the battle, but he won the war: daddyBstrong lived and died according to his choosing.

Here is some of what he had to say on the first page of his blog: "But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

If you've never read his blog entries or his poetry, I would encourage you to acquaint yourself with this extraordinary individual, not by sitting down in his physical living room, but his virtual one, and catch up on conversations already in progress, conversations that will be with us for as long as his blog remains in cyberspace. There, in that electronic world, daddyBstrong will live among us forever.

Like each of you, I have crosses to bear, and challenges to meet. Yet, the crosses, and the challenges are not in charge. I am. I'm in charge, because I get to determine my state of mind in the midst of those challenges, and I invariably choose happiness, and even joy. What a blessing that is. Even pain doesn't have to cause suffering. As many have observed, they're not one and the same. Pain may not be an option, but suffering is. We get to decide how we'll contend with it, how we'll behave in light of it, what our disposition will be because of it, and how we'll act and react as a result of it.

And although I seek to maintain these God attitudes always, I'm not oblivious to the suffering of others, or the pain they're experiencing, nor the struggles that define their day, their hardships, their obstacles, their burdens, nor the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with which they contend. I'm keenly aware. I empathetically aware. I'm profoundly aware. And that awareness directs many of my actions, as I dig deeper to become more loving, more accepting, more joyful, more grateful, and more blessing--as I seek to bring these treasured attitudes to others, fully aware that, as I bring others to the experience, the more I get to experience the very experience I'm seeking to impart.

Please don't read this as a prescription as to how you should live your life. It's not that. It's how one person has chosen to live. Nothing more than that. Don't think, either, that my revelation here suggests that your life is not well, just as it is, and that you should adopt my approach. It's not that, either.

I have no preference in how you live your life. I have no preference in how you live out your years, and how you choose to confront life's many challenges. I have no preference as to what resolutions you make, or whether you make resolutions or not. I have no preferences at all.

That would take away your freewill--your prerogative to shape your life as you see fit, and to construct your world as you would fashion it. That is not to say that it wouldn't be gratifying if something I say here resonates with you, and you choose, as a result of that resonation, to adopt an idea or two presented here.

Notwithstanding all I've said, I wish you all a Happy New Year! all year long.