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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

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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The primary elections next month will place the foundation for what kind of Georgia we want to have.  With secondary consideration for party politics, I want to point out a different view of a few candidates.

Helen Blocker Adams, Augusta Mayor: Helen has a heart of gold and I have never ever known a person so committed to a place.  Augusta is an old boys city but Helen is about bridging the divide between regular folks and that is a good thing.

Aaron Johnson, Dougherty County School Board: We hear too much about elected officials who aren’t smart or those who don’t spend time explaining policy and budgets to the people.  Well, Aaron Johnson can break macroeconomics down so smoothly that I can understand it.  Look, one of the biggest problems with personal responsibility is that regular folks don’t get the limited role of government or grasp governmental fiscal constraints.  Well, you have an econ professor who has sat on a dozen citizen boards running for school board and he is neck and neck with a nice Country Club type lady who attended private school.  Really?   Actually, Johnson’s opponent did a fine job in the candidate forum at Darton College but she would be a better city commissioner than school board member.

The big picture about Aaron Johnson tossing his hat into the ring is that his hat should be in another ring in a few  years.  He likely doesn’t like the speculation but I don’t care.  His students emailed this blog years ago to say that he should be considered for Congress when Rep. Sanford Bishop retires.  Dude clearly loves his wife, baby, college, and church too much to start that fly to DC every Sunday night stuff.  But, I hate the Georgia congressional map because I want Albany to have a congressman, Macon to have and congressman and Columbus to have a congresswoman.  We don’t need to share.  To me, the election of Aaron Johnson to school board would give  him years to work in K-12 education and preps him to be one of our best shots at having congressman from our part of Georgia.

Vivian Childs, U.S. Congress:  The GOP is giving lip service to wanting to dialog with the minority community.  Who better to do that than someone from said minority community?  During the primary season, I have personally seen Mrs. Childs warmly discussing issues with Black voters who welcomed her to the discussion table.  Okay, they didn’t know she was a Republican because they never met one who wasn’t angry or ticked off.  Oh, she is just as ticked off as the rest of them but as a Black woman she knows how to channel that energy into productive action.  Why is Vivian Childs a member of Delta Sigma Theta who hasn’t use that bond as a campaign opportunity?  I think she is too nice to play the soror card but that niceness is her best tool at breaking Rep. Sanford Bishop’s lock on the second district. Well, she has gotten her foot into doors that never would have opened for other GOP candidates.

 

U.S. Senate Race:  First of all, the race for U.S. Senator from Georgia is really a midterm referendum on the Obama White House.  Control of the Senate by the Dems or the GOP will likely come down to this one seat.  I have choice words for people who help put President Obama in office but aren’t wise enough to know that he needs Dem control of the Senate to finish his presidency properly.

If this Senate seat stays with the GOP, I hope it will be a Republican who doesn’t ignore Blacks folks because so many of us are with the Blue team.  Yea, I will be a Democrat voting in the GOP primary to select a quality person if Michelle Nunn doesn’t win in November.

Karen Handel, U.S. Senate: GOP candidates seem to be running away from Blacks who know them and who have supported them in the past.  Karen Handel graduated from Frederick Douglas High in Maryland but you don’t hear about that from her team.  Plus, she was chairwoman of the Fulton County Commission.  Black folks know her but her handlers must equate Black with liberal and are trying not to alienate the far Right.  Check this out right here, if she had some of those Black friends a few years ago, she would be governor today.

Jack Kingston, U.S. Senate: Savannah is a chocolate city and Jack has had a functioning relationship with the Black community on the coast for over 20 years.  His knowledge of agriculture and the military makes him the GOP candidate best suited to serve the interests of Georgia south of Atlanta.  But, Jack is alienating Black voters in the process of impressing the far right with his level fiscal conservatism.  Jack is still a good dude.

David Perdue, U.S. Senate:  First, Perdue is an outsider who made me laugh with his ad about the congress being made up of babies and his opponents being babies.  The Karen Handel baby was wearing her signature pearls.  Funny.  But on a serious note, a Black GOP friend, yes I have those, told me that Perdue came to Albany and sat down with 32 local pastors.  So, he seems to be the only GOP Senate candidate who is talking with my community during the primary process.

Summary: Voters should consider the big picture next month because politics as usual simply isn’t working.

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This election year is an important opportunity to change the mindset of policymakers and citizens.  Most elections aren’t contested and seem more like coronations.  But, fighters should continue to fight the good fight because the stakes are so high.  We should use the debates and campaigns as platforms to unveil new and better approaches to old problems and situations because status quo simply isn’t working.

Status quo:  To me, status quo with candidates, political parties and policymakers involves the far Right telling everyone what they should do as you would address children and the far Left trying to help everyone with their problems after the problems occur.

Solution:  We need lawmakers  and policy makers who speak clearly and frankly to the people about the role of government and about personal choices, decisions, and consequences.  We need a fresh and different mindset about how we carry ourselves.  “Carry ourselves” is old school Black heritage; it harkens back to the days when we knew who we were and whose we were; times when Black people sought the opportunities to achieve and strive without encumbrances. Today, many of our encumbrances and obstacles are self-made.

Most politicians know that their abilities to improve our nation are limited by reality and fiscal constraints but those so-called leaders are reluctant to say that.  Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Obama basely said the same thing: ask not what this country can do for you, ask what you can do for this country; government is the problem.  Some might be surprise that I put President Obama on that list but I think he is a “do for self” person who is hamstrung by party politics.  The post-presidential Obama will be so beneficial to the spirit of this blog post.

The good fiscal news is that my solutions are free, cheap or low-cost.  It’s all about K.S.A.  Oldheads will remember that Knowledge, Skills and Abilities requirements were once part of the federal government employment application process. But, I still think in terms of young people getting knowledge from those who went before them, developing skills to function smoothly in life and understanding their God-given abilities.  Politicians and candidates always speak to youth about soaring like eagles and bla bla bla—there is plenty of that “wind beneath my wings” talk out there.

But, it’s time for some substances…some tools….some meat.  I wrote a blog post years ago called “A and B before C and D” that asked leaders to encourage if not demand that government spend more resources and energy preventing problems and life crisis than addressing the growing numbers of people with messy situations.  To be honest, most people with troubled lives walked right into their circumstances.  Did momma, daddy, school, church, friends and the police beg them to get on the right track?

(Here is the part when a moderate Democrat admits that the conservatives are right about something.) You almost want to say forget them; they made their beds when they ignore the warning and stop signs.  But, you can’t because idly watching human suffering isn’t very Christ-like.  What about 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

U.S. Congressman and Senate candidate Jack Kingston is one of my favorite lawmakers.  I kicked it with Jack at a RNC Club one night for 15 minutes alone 20 years ago and he outlined his career-long efforts to advocate for Southeast Georgia.  It blew me away to learn that Kingston wants to consider having kids who eat free school lunch clean the school or cafeteria to pay off their tab or whatever.  Come on, Jack…that’s jacked up.  I think Jack is really thinking that parents without lunch money for their kids should be shamed into going to work…. “get off your fat behinds and provide for yours.”  What ticks off reasonable people are the fact that people who need help are sometimes the same people who are too good and too proud to flip burgers or harvest vegetables.

We are approaching this wrong.  We must find a positive way to encourage personal responsibility and achievement.  To be honest again, leaders need to speak knowledge and wisdom to help replace the home training that isn’t taking place anymore.  At the same time, that old school home training needs to take place and young people should delay starting families until they have themselves together.  The writers of this blog welcome the opportunity to talk with any campaign staffers seeking to mix our thoughts and ideas into their approaches.

And the first mindset change involves video games and hip hop music.

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There is more than one way to skin a cat and the Republicans have recently taken the worst ways to address outreach.  First, their outreach reeks because policy, techniques and branding is being driven by their most vocal and most angry.

For years, I have been telling conservative friends that 20% of the Black vote was prime for the taking and that those 20% were actually the head of the snake (the political, economic, faith and social leadership of my community.)  Without the deep thinking 20% of the body, the rest would be aimless. But, talk radio and the Fox News types get paid not for creating good policy and solving problems but for keeping up drama and mess.  I am starting to believe that MSNBC does the same thing on the left.

If the GOP conservatives listened to me years ago, they would have allowed a moderate, centrist segment of their team– a segment that would outnumber the far right and would counterbalance the centrists on the Dem Team.  I wanted to call them Red Dogs like the Dems’ Blue Dogs.  Basically, the Red Dogs would be the traditional conservatives who deliberate and compromise with others.

When I staffed on the Hill, Rep. Paul Ryan staffed and was a waiter a Tortilla Coast.  The guy is old school like me and we remember the days when lawmakers knew each other; when state delegations had a weekly meal together and the dean of the delegation was respected by both sides of the aisle.

During this holiday season, there are minorities and women sitting down with family and discussing the possibility of running for office as a member of the GOP.  Of course, many conservatives don’t realize that people other than those who look like them are also moderate to conservative.

You don’t need to skin a black cat because old superstitions are silly.  Cats are cats and if the GOP spent a little more time getting to know Blakc cats and less time being ticked off, they would have a new segment of their team.  That segment would be just right to approach my community about the sensibleness of personal responsibility and life choices.

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We are in the middle of local elections and my thoughts turn to the days when preachers, barbers and funeral directors were the community leaders because “the man” couldn’t quiet them since their money came for us.   Today, retirees should be added to that list because those on pensions are free to speak their minds and have plenty of free time to do it.

A friend from high school who is a vocal leader of the Tea Party Movement gave me the Beatles greatest hits cd a few years ago.  While listening to the lads sing “get back to where you once belonged” the other day, I thought about getting back to what my community was the 60s and before the mean-spirited approach of the ultra conservatives.

My community before the 1970s was a place of proud, deliberate people.  While we need the federal government to enforce basic human rights and to end Jim Crow, the well-intended assistance of the government when from temporary help to something debilitating.  The next crop of leaders, whose who come after the “I marched with MLK” ones, should be more life coaches than cheerleading politicians.  After elected leaders ensure that essential governmental services are functioning, they should get about the business of explaining to the people what the people should do to help themselves.  It starts with personal responsibility because “the man” and the Klan aren’t damaging my block as much as the people in the mirror.

Stats in the Albany Georgia newspaper blew me away the other day.  The president of the local technical college says that only 62% of people in my region are functionally literate.  Huh?  We spend millions on schools and teachers’ salaries but the folks can’t read.  Wait a dam minute!  We aren’t talking about advance subjects from high school like trig, chemistry and Lit.  We are talking about reading, writing and arithmetic; stuff that was supposed to be taught in the first few grades.  Of course, educators will say that home isn’t supporting the learning process and I agree on some level.  Once and for all: you can’t be the parents of K-12 kids speaking poor English around them all day. Double negatives, ending sentences with prepositions and leaving the “g” off of “ing” are simply the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2013/sep/17/parker-says-adult-literacy-is-key-to-area8217s/

The governor should fund a program I designed while working with a welfare to work project.  The program refreshed grammar skills for adults in a few days because education is a lifelong endeavor.  Oh, there is no money for such programs but get ready for the second alarming statistic.  The new head of the Georgia department of juvenile justice says that a youth offender cost the state $91,000 a year.  What the blank!  We are spending money on the wrong people at the wrong times.

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2013/sep/17/new-law-to-alter-juvenile-justice/

I took my nieces to a Black college football game last week.  One of the girls is a high school cheerleader who doesn’t understand football.  Let me get this right: you are cheering for an activity you don’t understand.  By the end of the game, she understood first downs, passing, rushing and the fundamentals of the sport.  We have all attended games when the cheer was “defense” while we had the ball.

Some of these elected officials are like those confused cheerleaders; they are cheering without fully understanding the situation and goals.  To me, President Obama never had a stomach for the older members of the Congressional Black Caucus for this reason.  If conservatives spent time getting to know Obama rather than tripping about Kenya, they would have learned that his conservative roots are in the Midwest.  Obama is a moderate with equal distain for the far left and the far right but most importantly, he feels that leaders should tell the people that change begins with them.

So, local elections should be the selection of those who would help Barrack Obama, Jon Huntsman, Colin Powell and Cory Booker turn the nation around with positive energy.  You hear the saying “speak truth to power” use frequently these days.  Well, the people are the power and someone need to tell them the truth about why their situation isn’t what it should be and what can be done to address it—again, the mirror.

Since football and cheering are themes in this blog post, I want to end with them.  If you can sit in a stadium for hours watching football, you can take ten minutes to go vote—vote for whomever but vote.

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We need to remember that more is on the table than Obama’s or Romney’s political career; those guys will be fine.  It’s all about jobs, the economy, gas prices and the role of government. 

The election is too close in more ways than one.  The occupant of the White House could come down to 15,000 or 1,500 voters in a few states.  The election could be won if that number of people took 15 minutes to early vote.  

The future of the Democratic Party in the South is also in the balance.  If this president isn’t enough for you, we should toss in the towel.  After Clinton-Gore helped the nation so much, Gore’s election to the White House should have been easy but is it ever easy when dealing with some folks.  The working people alone should be enough to win reelection for Obama but those same people (people who can freeze for three hours at a high school football game) can’t take half an hour to hit the polling place for president, other offices and ballot initiatives.  

Moderates and centrists have no future home in a national party with the Tea Party but being a free agent is a possibility.  We are too close to a presidential second term and those who remember the Clinton years know that that is when a president loosens up and starts swing for the fences—looking to make history.  Obama’s first second term historical move should be to tell the people that they suck out loud.  He should start with the Kennedy line about “what you can do for your country” then read them/us the riot act.

In the first debate, the president was being too cool.  He had a vibe that said, “hey, I am not begging…I did what I could and if you are feeling it…nice…if not, peace.

Governor Romney isn’t the issue—he is a decent guy.  Those around Romney should scare folks to the polls.  I can imagine being ticked on Thanksgiving if we drop this election by a hair.  We need to have the energy and zest of that guy in the “Too Close” video.   “So I’ll be on my way.”

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It’s madness to do the same things year after year and expect difference results.  So, I decide to acknowledge the brilliance of the guy who started the Khan Academy to reform education.  But first, I would like to invite anyone to join our ESPN NCAA basketball groups for the men and women tournaments.  The group names are “Jawja Hoops” in both contests.  Let the basketball and rethink ranting begin.

Rethink Education: Clearly, our education system needs retooling and Salman Khan has a fresh approach.  In my community, I simply wish parents would start with using better grammar 24/7 to stop contradicting what is taught at school.

Rethink College Basketball: College basketball shouldn’t be a stepping stone for the NBA and we should have a farm system in smaller cities (similar to baseball) for those who want to be pros.  Student athletes should be just that.  In other words, the NBA D-League should be developed.

Rethink Politics and Religion: In America, we have the freedom to select our faith and politicians’ faith walks should be the foundation of their character.  They shouldn’t attempt to force their particular church on the population as a whole.  So, Mitt Romney should put the nutty factions in his party in their places about his church and any other faiths that they find “different.”

Rethink Political Leaders: The next crop of political leaders should be much better than the current ones.  On the Right, conservatives should get back to being pro-business and smaller government rather than the promoters of the next Civil War.  On the Left, liberals are actually limiting personal development with their socialist policies.  We need leaders who will speak to the people (straight, no chaser) about the limited role of government and importance personal responsibility.

Rethink Campaign Finance:  My new congressman is Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia and he was a true campaign finance rebel as a candidate for governor.  He spoke wisely of limiting the amount of contributions and that got me thinking.  Everyone knows that money runs campaigns and that those who gave money will later want something from officeholders.  If I designed a congressional candidate from the ground up or from day one, I would tell my guy to take the average income in the area, add a few zeros and that would be the total amount raised for the campaign.  (For example, 32K in average income = 320,000 funding limited.)  If elected, that person would belong to the people and wouldn’t spend time kissing up to lobbyists. 

Rethink Black Conservatives: Peace to my brothers and sisters on the political Right…I feel you…I really do.  To me, your side is right (pun intended) more often than not; but the ugly ways and methods of the far Right make the GOP unacceptable for most Blacks.  There is no place for less bitter, moderate Americans in that party.  If Jon Huntsman won the GOP nomination, I would have strongly considered voting for him in November but you cats gave cool people the boot. 

Rethink Black Liberals:  At some point, it’s not about “the man” holding us down.  It’s about us holding us down.  We must return to the driven African-Americans who beat Jim Crow; the people who knew who they were and whose they were.  The next generation of CBC members must honestly inform the community that improves start in your house…not the U.S. House.   

Rethink Hip Hop: Most of current hip hop stinks out loud.  The music glorifies the worst elements of our community and I can’t tell college students from thugs and strippers.  I know artists are free to express themselves but come on now.

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