Apr 27 2007

In the Hour of My Content…

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Just flew into DC this morning, after a good night of chatting with my liberal pals. I’ve been to DC more times than I can count for work in the 10 years that I’ve been doing events, but I’ve never had the time to get out into the city and REALLY look around. Today, I did.

Walking around in DC reminds me of San Francisco. Not in the climate, or architecture, or any of that, but in the ability to walk around and feel a sense of place. DC isn’t like anywhere I’ve ever lived. There are areas that are connected by something other than strip malls. There are people WALKING (oh the horror). The streets are disorienting at first, but eventually work out into some rhyme and reason. DC feels like a place, not a scattered collection of places. It’s outside of my experience.

I finally got to take a picture at the White House. Tomorrow, if I have more time, I plan to go to some of the monuments. I wish I had time to go to the Capitol and sit in the gallery. That’s just the kind of thing that gets a political goob like myself off.

I see that John Ford got convicted. That’s a good thing for Memphis, despite any of the worries of Hatch Act violations and all. John Ford was a tool for the power structure in Memphis. His whole family is. I hope that, in the coming months, the citizens of Memphis won’t allow themselves to fall into that Ford name recognition comfort zone.

I’ve got a lot of other things on my mind that I would like to talk about, but I just don’t seem to have the will to write them right now. I’m feeling the kind of overwhelmed by my brain activity that only one thing can fix.

See ya at the bar.

Apr 23 2007

Our Tragic Love Affair

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

I am perplexed. When’s the last time we had an ugly President? Taft? He wasn’t pretty, but had a commanding presence. Johnson? Not pretty, but he had moxie…until they messed up Vietnam and he got tired (realized he couldn’t win). Nixon? He looked weird all right, but how weird for 1968? Not all that weird.

I think you have to go all the way back to Lincoln to find a President to qualify as “ugly”, at least for the standards of the time. Even still, he was a brilliant orator, well before TV, and 24-hour news cycles, and back when optometry hadn’t really reached the masses.

There just aren’t any. None. Nada. Back in 2000, there was a poll that stated that 58% of people would have rather had a beer with Bush than Gore. Guess who “won”. Policy was a secondary consideration. In 2004, Kerry seemed like Frankenstein, eclipsing any real policy initiatives that he might have championed, that and the spandex…ewwwwww.

Why is ANY political race more of a beauty contest than an honest debate on the issues? Is it because we are shallow? Yes, that’s part of it, but more because we’re egotistical. We expect our “leaders” to look and sound like us, to share our interests, to be a well manicured and overly fluffed…but not too much, a reflection of ourselves. It’s part comfort level, part self-affirming/deprecating crap.

There’s been this artificial flap going on about John Edwards’ $400 haircut. Those of you who know me know I’ve never seen a pair of shears that I don’t HATE. But I don’t blame John Edwards. He’s doing what he has to do to get elected, and a BIG part of that is looking good. That his $400 hairdo has come out is more of a political attempt to make him look like Bill Clinton, more than anything else. It’s brilliant strategy Hillary, considering that he has 10 times more defined policy out there than any of them (for the record I have no horse in this premature race…yet).

The problem is not the ridiculously priced haircut (though I still maintain, you get paid what you can negotiate), the problem is that some of us are buying it. Are we that stupid?

Apparently so, we’re weak, primarily because we allow ourselves to be, and need someone or something to justify ourselves. We need counseling…or just another re-run of Grey’s Anatomy to show us how messed up we aren’t, or what Dr. Mc Dreamy is wearing.

Come on people. Is this what the “American Dream” has become? A cathode ray tube (or LCD if you’re really hi-tech) induced slobber fest over the pretty face of the moment? I highly doubt this is what the founding fathers had in mind while debating our form of government.

If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. If you don’t pay attention you get what you deserve. If you judge based on appearance, you get a pretty cake that tastes like crap. Get the picture?

We’ve all got a bone to pick with the gubament, even when our “guy” is in there. I look at it a different way. Are we mad at the government for not doing what we want, or are we mad at ourselves for being too damn lazy to get it done.

At best, it’s both, but in reality, if you don’t like what’s going on, you have no one but yourself to blame. Get out there and do something, or shut up.

…and to all, a good night.

/righteous indignance

Apr 18 2007

On staying in front of IT

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Due to the overwhelming response I received from my last post on leadership (/snark, but seriously, thanks for the email mention Cracker), I thought I would continue to riff on that leadership theme. See, to my way of thinking, there are two ways to deal with a problem; react or anticipate. Both have their plusses and minuses. Maybe I’ll have a point here, keep reading to find out.

Reacting is a passive stance, but reactions are important. Your reaction defines the outward perception of not only your position, but also you. Bill Clinton is a MASTER at the reaction. His management of the government shut-down in ’94 was a testimony to his ability to react and make the aggressive Republican Congress look like a bunch of tools. Truly brilliant. Still, his reaction did little if anything to help the Democratic Party at large. Sure, it made HIM look good, but the party was still spun, as it is to this day, as a faltering mass of indecision. Don’t get me started about the Monica thing. That was a bad moment…

Reaction is your fail-safe. Reaction is where you go when you have nothing else. Reacting does not allow the opportunity for “re-definition”, except in very rare cases. Reaction ties you to your opponents definition of you, and in most cases, strengthens that position.

Then there’s anticipation. Spell it out, just like Dr. Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror…AN-TIC-I—-PATION. Anticipation is daft sexy. There’s a perception about anticipation, and that’s that you’re on the ball and covering your bases. Anticipation is what a leader needs to truly succeed. It’s like that old debate idea that if you can’t argue your opponent’s position then you’re not ready. Anticipation needs some preparation, but when it comes right down to it, that’s life. If you can’t anticipate your opponent’s next three moves, then you not only don’t know them, but you also don’t know yourself.

Get with the program people, this ain’t rocket surgery, as a former employer used to say. Get in front of it, and drive!

Apr 16 2007

Leadership is…Leadership is not…

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Leadership is:
Having a clear vision for the future
Knowing how to articulate that vision
Knowing how to motivate the stakeholders in your (community, business, or other organization) to support that vision
Building consensus
Speaking to the people, not at them
Recognizing when you’re wrong
Recognizing when your right, but perceived wrong
Knowing what that is, and how to manage the difference
Being flexible within the limits of your values

Leadership is not:
Strangely absent
Meticulously “right”
And a whole host of other things that just piss me off to think about.

We haven’t experienced true, good leadership in this country, or this city for many, many years. Indeed, finding a true, natural leader is a rare and amazing thing. Unfortunately, because finding leaders is such a rarity, people get caught up in the minutiae, the personalities, the political garbage, which LEAD to stagnation.

I’m tired of following weak people with strong personalities. I’m over it. Where are the REAL leaders? You’ve got a whole city/state/nation, of people waiting for you.

Bring it!

Apr 10 2007

This is What I Was Talking About

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Waaaaayyy back on March 29th, I posted a little rant about the US Attorney scandal. In this post, I focused on the over-politicization of the US Attorney offices and specifically with the firing of Carol Lam, the San Diego US Attorney, who has put a good deal of Republicans in the pokey(Duke Cunningham, etc.).

In yesterday’s Commercial Appeal, Marc Perrusquia gives us this little gem: Probes tied to Politics?. The article speaks of a study that accuses the Justice Department of “political profiling” in the choices of cases that US Attorney’s pursue. Though the study has not yet been released, early indications assert that four times as many Democrats have been investigated as Republicans, and that this is a political attempt to discredit Democrats.

The early results of this study plays into the suspicions raised both by the firing of Iglaseas in New Mexico for not investigating bogus voter fraud cases, and the indictments of some key players here in Memphis, most notably, John Ford.

Democrats and lefties, like myself, have been claiming for many years that this Administration has been slowly destroying long held policies that have served to keep certain departments under the Executive Branch neutral. These “neutral” policies have served our nation well by giving the people the impression that “political” appointees, such as US Attorneys, are simply trying to uphold the law, not further some kind of political agenda. This too has been damaged by the Bush Administration. What’s worse, in doing so, this Administration may have critically wounded our ENTIRE SYSTEM OF JUSTICE.

I will not say that all is lost, any more than I will vouch for John Ford’s guilt or innocence. I will say, that in a city of conspiracy theorists, ANY appearance of impropriety is going to get some headlines and raise suspicions. That alone is reason for concern. Without impartial justice, our nation, and the ideas that it was founded on, wither.