DEFENDING R. KELLY, THE ARTIST

I have not watched the documentary, Surviving R Kelly, which seeks to portray R. Kelly as a sexual predator and all. I do not know the man. I cannot speak to the validity or otherwise of claims made in the documentary. And because I have not met the man and I do not know his ex-wife or any of the women making these claims against him, I cannot claim to know that the claims made in the documentary are true or otherwise.

This is what I know, I respect the work of the artist. His work, especially his 2004 hit album, You Saved Me/Happy People, was one of the greatest tools that helped form the resilient, focused, and redoubtable man that I am today. Songs like The Storm Is Over Now, I Believe I Can Fly, If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time, When A Woman Loves, and many more inspirational, soul-lifting, confidence-building, and motivational music of this artist is still doing for individuals around the world what some of his songs did and is still doing for me. Which is to inspire me, lift me up whenever I am down, encourage me, buoy my faith, and cheer me up. There are few artists whose work can do all these things.

I know this too, I have been ganged up on by multiple women. Not for similar case as R. Kelly the man. But a much more worse situation. I was married, and my ex-wife was living a reckless lifestyle that endangered the wellbeing of our baby we just gave birth to. When I could not talk her out of it, I enlisted the help of Texas Child Protective Services and when the women of CPS saw that I was an immigrant and my ex-wife is American by birth, they turned on me. All of them. They knew my ex-wife’s lifestyle posed a grave danger to our son’s wellbeing but because they wanted to make a statement, they cared less about our son’s welfare. My ex-wife told them that I had an African girlfriend and that I wanted to take our son and go and form a new family with my African girlfriend. And that was all it took for objectivity, professionalism, and the need to investigate my ex-wife’s abuse of our son got thrown out of the window. I could not believe that people whose job it is to protect the welfare of a child was enabling my ex-wife to beat drug tests, falsify reports to make me look bad, and enlist the help of her friends to give false testimonies about her ability to be a mother. At a point, when they could not discourage me to stop fighting for my son, these CPS ‘investigators’ took issues with me. They tried to muscle my ex-wife to go and get a restraining order against me on a false claim, so I can stop seeing my son. My ex-wife was a good person who made wrong choices. She said no to that. I had to fight them back through their office of consumer relations. And I eventually had to go the route of divorce to save my son from her destructive lifestyle.

What am I saying? That someone lined people up to shed tears on camera and make claims against another person does not mean that the accused is guilty. Out of our unanchored emotions these days, men and women alike, and this inexplicable and sinister need to jump in on the bandwagon, many have hastily forgot that there are laws in this land. And as far as I am concerned, no court of the land have found R. Kelly the man guilty of the claims against him. And as I write this piece, I have not heard about any charges filed against him based on these claims. So how can we just declare a man guilty and go after his life’s work simply because someone aired a documentary? Did we offer R. Kelly the man the opportunity to defend himself before we throw him out to wolves? Just as in my case against CPS personnel who chose to use their government offices to harass me because “I did not know my place,” have we tried to question the motive behind this documentary. Have we tried to look into the relationship, past and present, between the producer of this documentary and the man, R. Kelly? What is in it for her? where is the “Why”? Have we become so dumb to objectivity and skepticism?

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THE SHUTDOWN CONUNDRUM. IF I WERE THE PRESIDENT

When the president of the United States said in his press conference couple of days ago that you can’t impeach someone who is doing a good job, as you can see from the attached YouTube video, I bowed my head in shame and wept for America.

Why did I weep?

First of all, there is this called the law, Mr. President. If you break it, irrespective of the end that came out of your unlawful activity, you will still have to be held accountable for breaking the law. Our president, who is supposed to be an embodiment of the law, just said to the world, that if a robber should rob a bank, regardless of the fact that he/she broke the law by robbing a bank and enriching him/herself at the expense of the public, so far as he/she donates part of his/her loot to charity, that he/she should be let go. Just like that.

How did we get here, America?

Never in the history of these united states have I seen a public servant, much more the president of the United States, publicly, at every given opportunity, undermine the rule of law and obstruct justice. Do you need a laundry list? Of course, you do not.

I digressed. Let us refocus.

Sometimes politicians accuse their colleagues of oversimplifying matters they themselves thought were complex. But the fact of the matter remains that many problems facing our country today are matters that have simple solution. What is/are lacking is the political will to do, but more importantly, the courage to do what is right and easy to do. If our politicians should consider themselves public servants who serve for the ‘general’ public good and worry less about their job security, things will be different today. And do not call me naïve. Because we have a history of statesmen and stateswomen in this country, both living and dead, who have in the time past paid political price for the ‘general’ public good.

Having said that, if I were the president, how do I go about reopening the government in such a way that America will come out a winner, not the democrats, not the republicans, and definitely, not any extreme group.

Border security is very important to this country. We cannot live in a borderless society. And we cannot have people flooding into our country illegally. Furthermore, we cannot continue to allow the flood of drugs unchecked into our country. But that is a story for another day because if there are no demands from us, no market for their products, there will be no incentive for drug peddlers to be flooding us with drugs. And to be candid, these two-bit criminals are not sophisticated enough to be braving our security personnel and technology at our borders. There are people in high places who enable the ease with which these drug peddlers beat our system. The wall is no solution to any of these. They tunneled themselves from Mexico into a vacant KFC Restaurant in San Luis, Arizona. Think about that for a minute. The wall as is currently proposed the president and his supporters, to every sane person, is just a symbol of us versus the other. Complete politics and no substance.

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The State of America

The 116th Congress has just been instituted. Nancy Pelosi is back at the speaker’s seat, and the institution of the presidency is no longer venerated.

The state of our union is not that strong. America is as divided as has never been witnessed since the civil war. And politics has been reduced to a game of pettiness. There are literally no statesmen left in Washington to inspire leadership and mobilize their side and significant number of willing members from the other side of the aisle to come together and work out a compromise for national good. The federal government shutdown has entered its 14th day. There is no end in sight.

Democrats may not give in on President Trump’s demands because giving in on the demands of the president for a $5bn for a border wall does not sit well with majority of party faithfuls. They consider the wall immoral. The president being an egomaniac and goaded by his base may not shift grounds because shifting grounds means losing part of his base who will consider him weak for shifting grounds. And there is no one in the ranks of the republican party to encourage him to compromise since they see compromise on the wall as the demise of their party. Then comes the question of what is leadership and why is the president in the White House and members of Congress in office if they cannot do the job the American people sent them to Washington to do?

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RUSSIA’S BELLIGERENCE AND ITS IMPLICATION FOR OUR NATIONAL SECURITY

A Russian Su-24 buzzes the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea on April 12, 2016. (U.S. Navy)

CNN reported the other day that Homeland Security officials said that Russia tried to penetrate the US energy power grid, and left tracks to show its hackers had the ability to shut down the grid, but didn’t. That is to say that Russia literally have the ability to shut down our power grid, and by implication, our economy, and by implication, our defense infrastructure, and by implication, our way of life. But chooses not to do so.

Why?

Because this is not the right time for Vladimir Putin to do so? Maybe he’s preserving his cyberweapon for a time when his adventure in global disorder will be at crossroads with our core national interests. And when that time come and if the administration in power do not kowtow to his ambitions he will then deploy his weapon and cripple us. Could that be it? Just a maybe.

This is not the first time that Russia has so affronted us and got away with it. The history has existed of Russian aircrafts buzzing US spy plane in international airspace, buzzing our destroyer many times in the Black sea, and buzzing our warship in the Baltic sea. Early this year, a Russian spy ship was spotted 100 miles off the coast of North Carolina and based on historical precedents was predicted to be on a four-to-six-months deployment off the East Coast where it will be conducting intelligence operations near Cape Canaveral, King’s Bay, Norfolk and New London. Locations that are home to US naval installations.

These incidents do not seem to rattle our leaders in Washington and there has been no occasion where it was shown that any of these incidents have provoked President Obama and now President Trump to communicate to Russia in unequivocal terms that these sorts of behaviors will not be tolerated and cannot be allowed to repeat themselves without serious consequences or injury to the Russian federation.

Why?

I was not around during the Cold War but from literature that I have read and from movies that I have watched, our presidents during those trying times were clear in their message to Russia. President Kennedy couldn’t be more clear and direct with Chairman Khrushchev with the paragraphs below in his address to the nation during the Cuban missile crisis:

 

It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union. . . .

I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations. . . . He has an opportunity now to move the world back from the abyss of destruction. . .

 

Those were strong words coming from our Commander-in-Chief. And there was no doubt in the Kremlin that those words were gonna be matched with actions if need be. Eyeball to eyeball, the Russians blinked and we won the Cold War.

Since the days of Barack Obama however, courage has given way to appeasement. From President Obama asking Medvedev during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Korea to communicate to Putin that his tough talk on Russia were just mere talk, solely for the purpose of winning a second term, to President Trump idolizing the same Putin, one is led to wonder what hold, if any, that Putin have on the national security of the United States. Since the days of Obama. Such that whenever the occupant of the Oval Office becomes privy to that information will have no choice than to defer to Putin? Or did the election of Barack Obama usher America into the era of electing to power our own Neville Chamberlains?

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AN ALL-AMERICAN WAY TO FIX THE IMMIGRATION CONUNDRUM (Part I)

Illegal immigrants in the United States line up against a U.S. Department of Homeland Security bus in El Paso, Texas, so they can be unshackled and led across the border to Juarez, Mexico, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Tuesday, January 27, 2009. (Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune/MCT) (Newscom TagID: krtphotoslive342933.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]
Every nation on earth, every society, have laws that govern it. Without laws, society will descend into anarchy. It will be a free for all and the weak will always be at the mercy of the mighty. Laws, are what protect the weak from becoming ever constant prey of the mighty. Laws ensures order in a society.

The United States of America is a sovereign nation like many others and have laws that govern human conduct, human interactions, and human-government relations within its borders. Among these laws are immigration laws that stipulates how a foreigner can legally come to this country for whatever purpose, and how such a foreigner can legally become resident in this country, if said foreigner at one point or the other decides that such a course of action is what he or her wants to pursue.

If anyone should enter this country illegally by not having the proper entry documents issued by the United States diplomatic centers all over the world, that person by default have committed a crime against the United States and cannot claim protection of the law of the land because he or she broke the law of the land in the first place by entering this country illegally. And such a person should be removed from the country.

Laws are what guarantees a nation’s sovereignty and security and protects a land from being overran by mischief-makers, and hence must be obeyed. At all times. Laws are not made with anyone in mind and should not be subjected to emotions especially when one deliberately violates them. Laws are not hobbies that one can pick up at one’s whim and drop at his or her discretion. Laws, are, laws.

So, when someone deliberately enter our country illegally, there should be no doubt about the person’s intent – which was to flout our laws – and there should be no sentiment about applying the law to its fullest extent in such a situation.

I had a conversation with a Norwegian the other day regarding immigration policies in nations of advanced economy. I have lived in Europe. I have visited Israel, and I have vacationed in Mexico. And in the course of our conversation, comparing one country’s immigration policies to that of another, we came to the conclusion that the United States of America has the most benevolent immigration policy. Ever.

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REGARDING A GOOD HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

PART 1

What constitutes a good healthcare system?

  1. One that is affordable such that every citizen with a meaningful job can purchase it.
  2. One in which doctors and the legion of healthcare providers are paid well for the life-saving services they render.
  3. One in which the health insurance companies can make profits while insuring our health. By the way they are primarily profit-making enterprises and they have to stay in business.
  4. One in which there can be multiple plans such that people with varying levels of income can go for whatever plan their income can afford.
  5. One in which people with pre-existing conditions will not be denied coverage because they have pre-existing conditions but one also in which those with pre-existing and possibly expensive-to-treat conditions do not expect to be covered under the same kind of plan that healthy people have.

There are Medicare and Medicaid issues that lie in-between. There are issues of whether taxpayers’ money should fund abortion or contraception. There are issues of whether taxpayers’ money should fund organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which provide abortion, among other services, to women. There are chatter about cutting funding for WIC, the healthy-food supplement program for pregnant women. There are issues with how ridiculously expensive prescription drugs are in this country in comparison to Canada and other industrialized nations. There is a disagreement whether there should be an individual mandate to force individuals who can afford health insurance to buy it or face penalty. There are issues of having all employers, including small businesses who may not afford it, provide health insurance coverage for their employees. And then there are some other issues.

So how does a leader, whose intention is to pass a comprehensive healthcare law that will be fair to the health insurance industry, the healthcare practitioners, and the end users, go about addressing these issues?

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CONGRESS AND THE HEALTHCARE LAW

Yesterday in the US Senate, the maverick that we have long missed, returned. Yesterday in the US Senate, Senator John McCain made a passionate plea to his colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to return to the bipartisan way of doing business in the senate so that they can make real progress and avoid the constant gridlock that has characterized legislative business in Congress. Sometimes we lose our way and it will take personal pain to rediscover ourselves. So did it happen with Sen. McCain. Watch his speech on the floor of the Senate yesterday on the need for bipartisanship if you haven’t seen it yet.

For 8 years, the Republican Party campaigned on repealing Obamacare. They demonized the man behind the healthcare law. And they demonized the law itself. And you would expect them to have come up before now with alternative to the healthcare law because if you are smart to know that something is wrong with a thing, you should be smart enough to figure out the solution to the problem.

The Republican Party now controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. In both chambers, they have the majority to pass laws without needing a single vote from members of the Democratic Party. Yet, six months down the line, they haven’t come to terms among themselves on what to replace the law with. Having failed repeatedly to conceive a law they can agree on within their conference, Mitch McConnell and his horde are now set on the path of repealing Obamacare without replacing it with anything.

How can you plan to pull off a roof to a house without having a replacement in place?

That tells you that the problem is not necessarily with the generally acknowledged imperfect Obamacare. An imperfect law that can easily be fixed by bipartisan efforts. The Republican Party simply do not want a legacy for President Obama.

I am an American and I do not place any stock in petty party politics.

Obamacare is not a perfect law just like the Social Security Act and so many other federal programs that were part of the New Deal were not perfect laws. But we had statesmen who were willing to work with the government to review the laws and make them to work better for America. Statesmen who rose above party politics. If the intention of the Republican Party has been for America to have a healthcare law that is affordable and fair to everyone participating in the healthcare market – the insurance companies, the health practitioners, and the end users – they would have spent half the energy and time they spent on their futile efforts to repeal the law on working with Democrats to review the law and make it better. That is how responsible and people-oriented governance come through.

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