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Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

You can’t think about public policy for the needy in the South without coming across several related Bible verses.  2 Thessalonians 3:10 says “For even when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

But, we should also consider Psalm 82:2-4 “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Look, no one thinks of themselves as wicked and I am not calling anyone wicked.  However, some good people in politics and policy will do some somewhat devious things to win the battle and hopefully the war.

Everyone hates seeing hungry people and particularly hungry children.  Reasonable folks fairly state that those people got themselves into their circumstances with questionable life choices and personal responsibility.  It burns a taxpayer up to get into an old truck to leave a shift at a plant after standing 12 hours in steel-toed shoes then past grown fathers standing on the corner—guys who are too proud or crazy to do manual labor, pick crops or flip burgers.

The radio in that old pickup is blasting far Right talk radio in that worker’s ear.  “Your tax dollars provided those assistance checks, food stamps and free school lunches…you are sweating over a drill press while that bum plays video games all day in government assisted housing and sips malt liquor that was purchased with money intended for hungry kids.”  Dam, I am writing this stuff too easily…have I been watching Fox News.

We live in a free society; this isn’t North Korea or China.  Dictating better living isn’t legal.  So, children are born into struggling situations but Jesus wouldn’t want us to let them starve because their parents made bad choices.

The Farm Bill is the law that directs USDA programs and therefore seriously impacts the South.  Back when members of congress talked across the aisle, the farm bill supported commodity programs (which helped farm families) and provide food assistance programs (which helped farm families by creating  additional markets.)  Today, the far Right wanted to end most food assistance to force needy people to work and stop having kids they can’t afford.  Social media was a buzzed this week with the story of a seedy woman with 15 kids who upset that the government wasn’t doing more to help her.  Say what? I watch the news video about this family but paused it to say a little pray for those kids.

http://nation.foxnews.com/homelessness/2011/12/01/homeless-lady-15-kids-somebody-needs-pay-all-my-children

 

The school lunch/breakfast program ensures that needy kids have two meals a day five days a week during the school year.  Without those meals, the hospitals would be packed with malnourished kids and that cost would be astronomical.  Of course, hungry kids can’t focus on classwork so the labor force would be untrained and looking for ways to make fast money.  Fast money leads to prison at a cost of $35,000 a year.

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston is the best House Republican from the Georgia but as a Senate candidate even Jack started tripping.  Kingston has represented chocolate city Savannah for 20 years, he was worked in chocolate city D.C. for the same 20 years and he has served during that time on the House Ag Committee and/or the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Agriculture.  Jack is UDSA food programs like the back of his hand.

If Kingston really said that needy kids should work at the school to pay off their free lunch, he was saying that to get Senate primary votes.  He knows that would never happen nor would he want that to happen.  So, poor people, people who grew up poor (Black, White and Brown) and those of us with compassion for the poor make up a bloc of voters who some in the GOP are simple writing off.

I watched the GOP Senate primary like a hawk and waited to see how much campaign would be done in the Black community.  Karen Handel had a wealth of supporters in the ATL and Jack has always shown the flag in every community in his district.  I never heard these two candidates making overtures to the Black community because there are few primary voters there.   For the record, I am a moderate Dem who voted in the GOP primary because that was where the action was.

Surprisingly, former Dollar General executive David Perdue was the only GOP senate candidate that my Black GOP friends said reached out to the non GOP Black community; he supposedly met with 32 Black pastors in the Albany area.  I like that right there.

I told those same GOP friends that they can mark my word:  the school lunch comment by Kingston would drive out thousands of occasional voters—it’s a hornet’s nest.  Voters sometimes vote for candidates and sometimes vote against candidates.  Remember, the confederate flag drama drove some people to vote against then Governor Roy Barnes….hell, some of them didn’t know David Perdue’s cousin Sonny at the time.

People who live off checks provide to assist kids are seedy.  Blue Dog Democrats supported Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s welfare reform that included work or training requirements.  As Justice Clarence grandfather taught him, public assistance makes people weak and dependent.

However, Democrat blood will boil when the T.V. ads run next fall featuring kids mopping schools as their friends laugh.  I think control of the U.S. Senate for the last two years of Obama presidency hang on that school lunch comment.  Oh, it’s going to be on and popping when child nutrition supporter Michelle Obama and Orpah see that YouTube video.   School lunch programs also teach kids about healthy food choice and that education leads to better eating as adults.

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Everyone has agendas this election year and there is much to sort out.  My agenda is based on the best interest of Georgia and the South but the word trump has always been a cornerstone of this blog.

To me, some factors “trump” other factors and the factors of race, faith, region, country, money, and gender can be prioritized 100 different ways by 100 different people.  For example, a local congressional candidate from a different party knows person X’s interest better than a candidate from X’s party from the other side of the area.  At the end of the day, Colin Powell and Condi Rice care more about Black people than the Red party.  Actually, they joined the Red party because in their hearts they felt they were helping every American.

If I won the sweepstakes, I would use some of that money to convene a summit on the Black agenda for this election year in middle Georgia.  The meeting would include folks from both major political parties and of every racial background.  While the “Changing Mindset” outline found as a tab at the top of this blog would be the central theme, some other matters need to be put on the table.

http://projectlogicga.com/changing-mindsets/

 

Voter Suppression: It’s clear that some leaders of the GOP plan to counterbalance changing demographics by making it hard for certain people to vote. President Obama recent comments on this topic should be heard.

http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/obama-takes-on-assaults-to-voting-rights-223929923741

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-the-real-voter-fraud-is-people-who-try-to-deny-our-rights/

 

Georgia 2nd Congressional District race:  As quiet as it is kept, many Black Republicans know that the voter suppression efforts from their party is hogwash.  These good Americans believe that the conservative agenda is in the best interest of everyone and that silly tricks and shady methods drive reasonable people away from their party.

GOP primary voters have the opportunity to select a candidate, Vivian Childs, who might plant the seeds that change the whole political arena.  Let’s be honest, the GOP often pushes Black candidates who seem a little bland on the Black hand side.  With the trump matter in mind, Vivian Childs, Andrew and Deborah Honeycutt, Karen Bogans in Savannah and Michael Murphy are Black Georgians who are conservative but they lived in the Black world, attend Black churches, and likely have Black gold fish.  I personally saw Mrs. Childs in fellowship with her sorority sister, the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta.

Fraternity and sorority trumps political party in my community and you can best believe that the Childs campaign will never function in a way that dishonors her bond.  Okay, I worked for Rep. Sanford Bishop and I was dumfounded by the ugliness of some previous campaigns—hell, if they kept the debate civic they would have won.  Childs vs. Bishop would have a residual benefit of showing how to disagree without being disagreeable.

President Obama On the Ballot: Oh yea, the primary this spring and the general election in the fall are referendums on the president in some way.  The Republicans want control of the U.S. Senate because with both houses of Congress they can make the rest of his hair gray.  If the Senate candidates are constantly attacking Obamacare, their election is a vote on Obamacare.  To me, the people who elected Obama in the first place should vote this year also.

Senate Candidate Breakdown:  I want to put a few points about these candidates on the table…as I see it.

Michelle Nunn- Don’t sleep….she can win.  While she will be running from Obama, she can’t win without a massive pro-Obama turnout.  Her father wasn’t big on being a political party person and hopefully is the same way.  She might do well with suburb Atlanta GOP soccer moms.

Paul Broun- The Democrats so so so very much want him to be the GOP nom because he has a record of being ugly to candidate and President Obama.  He would drive large numbers of ify voters to the polls for the dems and the national fundraising for Nunn would be huge courtesy of his youtube videos.

Jack Kingston- If region trumps party with me, Kingston is the people’s champ from south Georgia.  Georgia political power is now centered in north Georgia and that is scary because you can count the Black folks up there.  Jack served Black Savannah and Savannah State University for years and dude has lived in part-time in D.C.  Because he likes to play that Andy Griffin role, Kingston knows Black and White rural Georgia inside and out.  The economic engines of our state outside of Atlanta are agriculture and military.  Those Tea Party people would cut both of those areas to the bone but Jack knows what’s up.  He should come to our summit and explain that statement about free lunch kids cleaning the schools.

Karen Handel- She would hold the GOP women vote against Nunn.  She should play up her hard knock life story.  Who knew that she attended Fredrick Douglas High School in suburban D.C.  The lady was chair of the Fulton County Commission.  Her campaign clearly doesn’t want to tap her potential support in our community.  Did I mention that she went to Doug?

David Perdue- this political newcomer is was balling in the private sector. Perdue was CEO at Reebok and at Dollar General.  DG sure brings revitalization to some rough areas and heaven knows the jobs are needed.  His campaign website contains a list of companies he has helped: Rockport, Hanes, Levi’s, Polo, Coach, and Greg Norman.  I kid you not; I can get dress in a Polo shirt, a pair of Levis, Hanes drawers, old Rockport Dressports, and Greg Norman footies.  Look for forward to Dems asking if these companies gave back to our communities.

Governor race: This race will be a referendum on Governor Nathan Deal and the GOP in the state houses refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.  We need to hear the GOP alternative to Obamacare because current the uninsured are using the emergency room as a doctor’s office and that’s costly.

State House and State Senate:  With secondary regard for party, stay on your state legislators’ behinds because voter suppression and stand your ground start with them.

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An old southern adage states “be careful what you say out loud.”  Everything you think isn’t supposed to be said when and where you think it—maybe it shouldn’t be spoken at all but it’s clearly understood.   I wanted to touch on a few of those “out loud” matters.

 
A leader in the Democratic Party of Georgia recently got in hot water for saying that the party must “clear the field” in next year’s primaries. Everyone knows that the Dems here are poorly organized.  I want to say out loud that Dems create policies that support people who don’t vote—oh, they can go to every local high school football game but they can vote on the regular.  Non-voting working folks have no right to complaint governmental actions and laws.  Hush.

 
The only hope Dems have in southern red states is to go into those legendary, smoke-filled backrooms and decide who their candidates should be without primary contests.  I forgot that people can’t smoke inside anymore but you get the point.

 
For U.S. Senate, Rep. John Barrow and Michelle Nunn are the best options but they have zero hope if they battle in the summer.  Actually, their only hope is that the GOP primary voters will select controversial Rep. Paul Broun.   I am not supposed to say this out loud but the Dems should switch over and vote for Broun in the primary because he would be the easier target in the general election.   The Obama machine would be in full force in November against Broun.  Money would pour into Georgia from sea to shining sea.

 
I am not supposed to say that I voted for GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss in the past because south Georgia regional interests (ag, military, transportation) are more important than party politics to me.  I can’t believe that GOP voters won’t admit that Rep. Sanford Bishop has their backs on these issues—dam it, say it out loud.  Oh, Bishop is the enemy and Broun is a conservative super hero.  Yeah, “Senator” Broun would likely ended most farm programs.

 
I am not supposed to say out loud that non-GOPers better consider voting for the best available candidate in the GOP primary because that is where the senator might be chosen.  Personally, I like candidates like Jack Kingston who- while being full-blooded conservative- have a history of explaining their views to those who vote against them.  That is called the democratic process.

 
Finally, I shouldn’t say out loud that we should cultivate the next crop of leaders now because waiting until they decide to retire is too late.  Who is next when Rep. John Lewis gracefully concludes that he has fought the good fight.  In southwest Georgia, the replacement for Rep. Bishop should be the next generation Black leader—someone who teaches about the limited role of government.  We have some folks in mind but we aren’t saying…out loud.

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/fearing-another-bruising-primary-democrats-seek-to/nXS7q/?icmp=ajc_internallink_textlink_apr2013_ajcstubtomyajc_launch

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My thoughts on the future of Black political centrists in the South have been two weeks and/or two decades in the making.   So, brace yourself for an unusual brainstorm.  The open U.S. Senate race in Georgia next year forces us to plot our best plan for representation.

 
Senator Saxby Chambliss is an establishment Republican and I have appreciated his service regarding the regional issues of agriculture, military and veterans.   Rep. Sanford Bishop, Rep. Jack Kingston, now Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and those who went to congress in the early 1990s worked together on issues of vital importance to the peach state.   In this Progressives vs. the Tea Party era, I miss that old school dialog.

 
For two weeks, I have been hearing that the Democrats won’t likely field a viable Senate candidate and the practical part of me says that moderate to conservative Georgia Dems could and should vote in the GOP primary next year to ensure that we don’t have a divider  representing our diverse state.

 
I was thinking about who is a “natural” Democrat or “natural” Republican last week and it made my head hurt.   While watching to the T.V. show TMZ, a story came on about Raspberry favoring of food.  It turns out that a food can be labeled as naturally Raspberry because it is natural and taste like Raspberry but it comes from the backside of a beaver. http://www.befoodsmart.com/blog/tag/raspberry-flavor/

 
That isn’t natural to me and it’s not natural to force everyone in a big state like Georgia into two political parties and expected them to naturally and neatly stay there.   A few years ago, the Georgia Dems lost two rising young stars to the GOP.   Ashley Bell of Gainesville and blogger Andre Walker of Atlanta were on CNN explaining their rationale and it seemed natural to me.   Before, they were my brothers and today they are still my brothers.   Walker once wished happy birthday on facebook to the naturalized American actress Charlize Theron, whom he considered an African-American because she is an American born in South Africa. Huh?

 
I personally like the No Labels political movement because we shouldn’t run away trying to put people neatly into boxes and categories. Like they say at church, we should look at a person’s “thoughts, words, and deeds.”

 
A Black conservative from the ATL told me yesterday that Rep. Tom Price looks good to him in the race for U.S. Senate.  I asked about his track record for explaining conservatism to non-conservatives and dude could say anything.   Remember, the wave created by the Tea Party doesn’t cotton well to conservatives talking with others without yelling.  Moderates and liberals are often viewed as the enemy.

 
Look, on Capitol Hill, I worked for Rep. Charles Hatcher, Rep. Don Johnson and Rep. Sanford Bishop and all three strongly insisted that we listened to and served everyone in the congressional district—not just the people who voted for them.   I was personal friends with a staffer in Rep. Kingston’s office and would hang after work with her at conservative functions because she was a natural hair wearing, smart Spelman College woman.   Yeah, Jack had a Spelman grad in a major position on his legislative team.   I talked with Kingston alone at a reception one night for 15 minutes and came away with an appreciation for his commitment to southern Georgia.   He mentioned that he promoted south Georgia colleges and universities during his time in the Georgia statehouse because students should get quality educations in our part of the state also.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/59464/october-18-2005/better-know-a-district—georgia-s-1st—jack-kingston

 
We would trip about Kingston going to political forums at Savannah State University without staff.   The guy loves the lively debate. Actually, he was the first member of congress to brave Stephan Colbert’s “Better Know a District” segment.   Because Kingston briefly lived in Ethiopia as a child, Colbert decided that he is an African American—like Charlize Theron.   There you have it; Jack Kingston is an African American who might run for U.S. Senate next year.   Some wiseacre is going to Kingston knows as much about the southern African American experience as my man President Obama.   I will leave that alone but he like knows more than most GOP candidates for Senate.

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I could do more for the future of young Americans with this blog post than Obama and Romney combined.  The central concept is live a simple life.  With secondary regard for whom is or isn’t president, folks need to develop their faith, eat right and exercise, grow their career and minimize lust for material things.

Obama is the key—Michelle Obama.  The first lady’s personal history is the story of a Chi-town girl who got her homework, focused in class and honored her parents with her actions.  As we would say back in the day, I like how she “carried herself.”  We spend billions of state, local and federal governmental dollars addressing personal problems that some Americans went out of their way to create.  They should have been living the simple life. 

Last week, a country song came on the truck radio called “Alright” and it was all about enjoying a basic existence.  I don’t want to get side tracked about how country music is really blue-eyed blues, and rock and roll is blue-eyed soul which was stolen. 

Anyway, I searched the net for the song and it is actually by Darius Rucker, the brother who turned to country after fronting the pop/rock group Hottie and the Blowfish.  Peace, love and happiness to Brother Rucker and his song is similar to the rural vibe of many tunes in that genre.  As quiet as it is kept, my favorite cd of all time is Lynrd Skynyrd greatest hit compilation called “Gold and Platinum.”  Rucker’s song feels like Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and both songs seem to be based on what you tell kids at home and at church. 

On that same cd is the mellow cut “Comin Home.”  It’s all about missing being at home.  While cities are nice to visit, living 10 to 15 miles from an urban area is cool to me.  As more rural Americans move away from direct involvement with agriculture, opportunities persist in food inspection, processing and distribution.  When people grow weary of the congested North and the struggling Rust Belt, they should consider Georgia other than Atlanta (someone needs to pick up that city and shake it until some of those people fall out.) 

Bottonline: if you live a simple life, you can limit drama, stress and strain.

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I am sick and tired of national folks taking political jabs at my south Georgia congressional delegation.  The fellows need to jab back.  My rural south agenda focuses on agriculture, education/jobs, military/veterans and transportation.  If they take care of those areas, other stuff is secondary because all politics is local.

My Georgia is the area south of a line from Columbus to Macon to Savannah.  “JABS” could be Jack, Austin, Bishop and Saxby as in Rep. Jack Kingston, Rep. Austin Scott, Rep. Sanford Bishop and Sen. Saxby Chambliss.  Of course, Senator Johnny Isakson is the coolest of the cool and we appreciate his ATL-based service as well.  Party politics requires these guys to publicly act combative with each other but we know that JABS circle the wagon when Georgia issues are on the table.   

Sen. Chambliss catches heat from the far Right when he negotiates with Democratic senators but kuckleheads should know that negotiating is what leaders do.  Jack Kingston can throw policy jabs with the best of them but coastal Democrats will admit that Jack will go anywhere to explain his rationale and many African American conservatives have worked in his D.C. and district offices; the same can’t be said about most GOP congressmen.  

The Austin Scott and Sanford Bishop areas of south Georgia are interesting because the recent changes to the congressional map made Bishop’s district more Dem-friendly and Austin’s area more GOP friendly.  Does this mean Bishop is going to become more liberal?  No.  Actually, Bishop, as an appropriator, has become more of a fiscal educator during his Georgia visits.  Of course, he isn’t as fiscally conservative as Austin Scott but considering SDB’s district he does more than expected and hears it from real liberals. 

The new map will move my hometown from Bishop’s district to Austin’s district but that is fine with me because interests don’t stop on political lines.  Kingston has always protected Naval Air Station Jacksonville because many employees from that base live in southeast Georgia and a similar situation exist between the 8th district and the 2nd district.  People live in rural towns but work, dine and shop in Albany, Columbus and Macon.  So, the conditions in both areas are contingent or mutual.  

I am keeping my eyes on JABS and would love to see them use the basketball fundamental technique called the jab step to get the national haters off them.  In basketball, this moved is used to create space from the opposition before executing one’s next scoring move.  Jack, Austin, Bishop and Saxby deliver or score for south Georgia but I need them to be more vocal about their achievements.  And if an occasional misstep occurs, Georgians can weigh the good vs. the nots-so-good and decide.  For example, we heard a lot of drama about candidate Nathan Deal but he has been a decent governor who is about to overhaul the expensive criminal justice system in this state.  We spend too much money on criminals and change starts with education. 

Look, people have agendas and you can detest folks for working their hustle. But, national groups can’t tell me that JABS are wrong; those guys are fellow Georgians and we will make that determination on our own.  As a matter of fact, regular Georgians should use the web and public events like our unlikelyalliesproject.com meetups to discuss our elected officials.

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Should USDA programs be deeply cut?

Some budget crunchers want to put agriculture spending on the table with other discretionary spending.  While there is fat at USDA, I say we must remember that everyone eats food.  We all need a safe and affordable food supply and the Obama campaign promise to use ag research and technology as “soft power”–bread rather than bullets around the world. 

Richard Hass with the Council on Foreign Relations recently said that one million dollars is the cost of having one soldier in Afghanistan for one year.  But, farm and nutrition programs are about to get the ax.  Less than 2% of the American population is involved in farming but that 2% feeds the nation.  In Georgia, we have ag research colleges at UGA, ABAC and Fort Valley State.  The ground-breaking techniques from these institutions are amazing.  Farming is hard work and hard financially.  Without USDA programs, family farms would be endangered and huge corporation farms would be the future.

High schools, vocational schools and four-year colleges should help students prepare for careers in food and fiber production that doesn’t require tilling the soil.  Food is big business and kids could prep for jobs like Wal-mart distribution managers, meat inspectors and Whole Foods managers.

Federal food programs are win-win because farmers get to produce more crops and kids shouldn’t be hungry.  Yes, it’s the parents’ job to feed their children but hungry kids are too much while we spend trillions on other things. We know that people who have healthier diets cost less in medical expense (bad eaters are digging  their own graves.)  

Former House Ag Committee chairman Kika de la Garza often told the story about touring a nuclear submarine and asking the officers what forces the vessel to come up from the bottom of the sea.  The officers said that could desalinated water and the boat produces its own energy but they come up for food.  We all eat.

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