Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year !

Well its almost over , 2008 is history , and 2009 is upon us.
Its been a long ride and the best is yet to come .
The following is a You tube clip with the Kenny G version of Auld Lang Syne .
Enjoy the music and think of the past years and of the future that is upon us.

Happy New Year !

Blago Pulls a Fast One

Governor Rod Blagojevich pulled one of the gutsiest political move in months .
The Governor Of Illinois who governs under a political mushroom cloud appointed former Attorney General Roland Burris as United States Senator . Blagojevich has not been convicted of any crimes , nor has he been indicted . In fact the Chicago U.S. Attorney has asked more time from the Federal Judge to ask for a indictment.
Now what makes this a gutsy move , is that Governor Blagojevich said that he still has the power. You know what he does ... The governor has not been removed or impeached therefore he has the constitutional right to appoint. Burris was appointed by the process that is in place , nor is he one of the individuals named by Patrick Fitzgerald .

Senate designate Burris will no doubt be tainted by his association with Governor Blagojevich .Burris 'career is quite distinguished as state officeholder.
Burris has previously ran statewide races for governor and senator ,losing races to the eventual winners Paul Simon and Rod Blagojevich. Roland Burris was the highest elected Black official in Illinois prior to Barack Obama .Burris served as the former state comptroller from 1979-1991 and state attorney general 1991-1995.
The appointment of Burris also will force the United States Senate to decide whether or not a black Senator will be seated by the duly recognized process .
Ironic that another capitol legislative body will determine whether a black official will be seated , the last time this was debated was by the United States House of Representatives in 1967 when Representative Adam Clayton Powell was denied his seat by the House. The people of Harlem reelected Adam Clayton Powell after he was expelled from the House. Ultimately Powell won his right to be seated in the Supreme Court case Powell vs. McCormack .
With this as a background , I found it ironic that Bobby Rush ,the former 1960's Black Panther ,now United States Congressman stood with Senate designate Burris and Governor Blagojevich this past week.Now the Blagojevich spectacle goes to Congress where Burris will be championed by the last successful political opponent of President Elect Barack Obama , Congressman Bobby Rush . Will the Senate , decide not to seat Roland Burris ? The Senate will probably seat Roland Burris after deliberation and consultation. Blagojevich is another matter ,that issue should be left up to the courts and the process and not the press to determine his guilt or innocence.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jazz Trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard 1938-2008

Legendary jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard passed way December 29,2008.
Hubbard was 70 years old , he passed away from complications of a Thanksgiving heart attack. Hubbard was born in Indianapolis , Indiana in 1938 it was there that he got his start working with local jazz musician Wes Montgomery in 1958 . In the 1960's he played as a sideman with jazz luminaries such as Ornette Coleman ,John Coltrane , Herbie Hancock ,and Wayne Shorter. Hubbard achieved great success in the early 70's winning a Grammy in 1972, and eclipsing such musicians as George Benson . Hubbard crossed over in 1978 playing on the critically acclaimed Billy Joel's 52nd Street album . In the 1980's Hubbard fronted his band , playing with Joe Henderson , it was during this time his popularity soared in Europe. In the 1990's as Hubbard's health began to fail him , he playing jazz sporadically. In 2006 the National Endowment for the Arts honored Hubbard with its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award . Freddie will be missed , he is now playing the trumpet in the celestial choir .Rest in Peace .....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dallas District Attorney Watkins Texan of the Year

The Dallas Morning News surprised me today . It gave its Texan of the Year honors to Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins. In the December 27, 2008 edition it recognized Watkins for being a change agent. I know him more than as a change agent , but as a long time family friend.

I have known the District Attorney since he played YMCA football to his maturity as the chief prosecuting attorney in Dallas. He has always been a serious man with a mission to succeed . Whatever the future holds for Mr. Watkins ,it will be said that his reversal of unjustified convictions by DNA placed the Dallas judicial system in a new light.

Dallas juries gave us the unjustified convictions and incarcerations of Randall Dale Adams and Lenell Geter .Two men ,one poor and white , the other middle class and black .Dallas was no place to go to jail , even if you were innocent. Justice is blind , but sometimes she is just wrong .. In past conversations with me, Mr. Watkins has cited that justice is not about securing convictions for the sake of convictions , but it is about securing justice for all. You were right Craig , Justice is more than locking people up...
Ask Lenell Geter.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt 1927-2008

Last year on Christmas Day 2007 , James Brown passed away, this year Eartha Kitt, singer and Catwoman from the 1960's Batman series passed away. Eartha was 81 and had suffered from colon cancer . Ms. Kitt was involved in entertainment industry from her 1948 movie debut until recently.The late great director Orson Wells , once called her "the most exciting woman in the world".
Ms. Kitt had escaped the poverty of rural South Carolina to reach success in Hollywood . According to wikipedia "
she had stated that her mother was of Cherokee and African-American descent, and her father, German and Dutch descent. She claimed she was conceived of rape. Kitt was raised by Anna Mae Riley, a black woman whom she believed to be her mother, but after Riley's death, she was sent to live in New York City with Mamie Kitt, reportedly Riley's sister. Eartha Kitt believed that Mamie Kitt was her biological mother; she had no knowledge of her father's identity, except that his surname was Kitt and that he was the son of the owner of the plantation on which she had been born.

In the 1960's her career suffered the blackballing of President Lyndon Johnson only to be revived on stage in Europe.

The following clip is from the classic Nat "King" Cole show .

The 1960's "Batwoman" series a favorite of mine , this is a throwback to my youth.

In the 1990 's she maintained a feverish pace as a Hollywood actress starring with Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry in "Boomearang" and also on stage plays. Eartha also had an extensive voice over career .

Eartha Kitt will be missed ,another Christmas and another legend.

Merry Christmas from Ed Gray and Donny Hatthaway

A Merry Christmas Classic from Donny Hatthaway .

Enjoy , Merry Christmas !

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gone But Not Forgotten Don LaFontaine 1940-2008

Don LaFontaine passed away this year. In this year of momentous arrivals such as the Barack Obama presidency ,there were other less momentous passings . You may not of known of Don LaFontaine but you knew his voice . He was the voice of doom ,the voice of happiness , he was simply the voice. Don ,you will be missed .

Pablo Francisco does a wonderful imitation of Don LaFontaine in this clip.

Former Mayor Dallas Ron Kirk Selected For US Trade Rep

My friend Ron Kirk has been appointed to be the new United States Trade Representative .Ron Kirk is a former mayor whose hometown of Dallas is in the crosshairs of international trade. Mr. Kirk has served as a catalyst for improving trade in the Dallas area. Mr. Kirk's campaign as the first and only elected Dallas black mayor focused on ending the blame game.As the economy is trying to emerge from the financial quagmire we are in ,we need all the political skill that Mr. Kirk can assemble .We need to put a end to the blame game in the financial trade arena .Congrats Ron !

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Michael Williams For Senate

Earlier this week I met with Railroad Commisioner Michael Williams over dinner . In that dinner conversation we spoke on the hopes and aspirations of Texans like you and me .I am proud to be a supporter of Michael but more important I am proud to be his friend .Commisioner Williams has just run a campaign for reelection to the Texas Railroad Commission , and now he embarks on a campaign to possibly be the latest Senator from Texas. I have enclosed the latest newsletter from his campaign on this blog .Run Michael Run !

Dear Ed,

With much encouragement from my fellow Texans, with the support of my wife Donna, and with firm resolve to make the America of tomorrow more prosperous and free than the nation we know today, I am announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate.

We are at a critical juncture in time, and the likelihood of a special election to replace Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison provides an historic opportunity for Texans to rekindle our can-do spirit and offer forward-looking solutions to the great challenges posed by an economic crisis, record debt, two simultaneous wars, and our dependence on foreign energy.

I have served at every level of government: in three cabinet departments under two presidential administrations, as an elected member of the Texas Railroad Commission and as a local prosecutor in the Midland County District Attorneys office. I know the honor of public service is not holding an office, but preserving the public trust.

If elected, I will address these issues that demand national and international leadership:

Economy: we need a long-term prosperity agenda starting with a tax code that rewards work, encourages saving, investment and entrepreneurship; incentives for innovation, research and development yielding to solutions for more and higher-valued jobs, steadier wages and stronger retirements.
Energy and Environment: we need to develop pro-growth energy and environment solutions for greater energy security that will produce more American energy, accelerate the use of alternative energy technologies and promote greater energy efficiency and conservation.
Education: we need to rekindle a love of learning in America’s classrooms, specifically a renewed focus on math, science, engineering and technology.
National Security: we need to ensure safer communities and neighborhoods by enforcing our laws, protecting our borders and making sure our military continues to be the strongest in the world to defend America and defeat our enemies.
Health care: we need transformational health solutions and policies that create better health care, more choices at affordable costs.
I am uniquely experienced to address these great challenges. Having served in the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice and Treasury, I know we can do so much more to unleash the power of innovation and job creation and to make education and opportunity accessible to all. And as an elected leader in the energy industry, I know we can increase exploration at home, invest in cleaner sources of energy, and protect the environment for future generations.

We can have economic prosperity and cleaner air and water. We can have financial security without our elected officials compromising their conservative principles. We can have an efficient, effective government that controls spending and lives within its means. We can have government accountable to the people.

This campaign is not about me. It’s about you. As a candidate, I hope not to be the focal point, but the mirror that reflects the hopes, dreams and concerns of every Texan.

In traveling to every corner of this state, I have listened to a great many Texans. I have heard the calls for a new voice in Washington who can bring about change and reform to a culture that desperately needs it. And I know the change Texans seek is not a blank check for Congress, but a voice of reason when it comes to your money. With your help, we can be that new voice and create a Texas with greater liberty and prosperity. We can generate a sense of optimism in all communities and neighborhoods across the state.

To me change is not just a slogan, it is a lifelong calling. Thousands of Texans have called upon me to take this step—to offer myself up in service to change the way Washington works. I take this step neither lightly nor flippantly, but with full faith in the possibilities of a new tomorrow, and undying devotion to the greatest people on the face of the earth—the people of Texas.

I ask for your prayers, your continued friendship and your full support. I look forward to seeing you on the trail.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jim Mattox : Texas Tough 1943 - 2008

I was saddened to hear about the recent passing of former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox .Jim passed away last month in Texas. I worked from Jim as young Congressional intern in the 1970's . As a matter of fact I made history as I was the youngest Congressional intern at the age of sixteen years old. That was a long time ago. I spent the summer of 1978 in the Capitol , at the Longworth House Office Building helping the citizens of the Fifth Congressional District .
Jim was a tough political operative , who made a lot of enemies by a no holds bar stand on everything . My reflections of Jim are not of a political nature , but of a politician who took interest in a young 16 year old and showed him the ropes of Beltway politics.It was a exciting summer , for a sixteen year old who every morning walked into the Longworth Building sipping his hot chocolate and the Wall Street Journal. Jim would say , "Eddie you got take the bull by the horns". With that directive I did.
That summer I met all the Congressman and Senators that served in the session .I met them all from the most junior Congressman to the Speaker of the House.I had the opportunity and pleasure to interview them for my project at the Dallas Law Magnet High School .This could not have been possible if not for the connections that I had by working for Congressman Mattox .
I came to Congress , working for the people of South Dallas with a desire to give back to the community .That desire has not been fulfilled ,because every day I think I can give just a little bit more . Jim came to Congress with that same cause , to give back to the community and fight back against injustices. In one of Jim Mattox 'last public speeches he spoke on the Texas Two Step Primary Caucus. When it came to fighting .Jim Mattox was Texas Tough.
Jim Rest in Peace , and Thanks.