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We should look at the political situation in Georgia by the numbers…my numbers.  Of course, the two Staceys –Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans would be the first two numbers and all other numbers are relative to them.

Point #1:  Stacey Abrams is positioned to win the Georgia Democratic primary for Governor because Whites exited the party for the GOP.  Most Georgia Democrats are Black voters but that doesn’t or shouldn’t mean that they would vote for a Black candidate simply because she is highly qualified and looks like them.  Other points and factors need to be taken into consideration…primarily endgame.

Point #2: Stacey Evans stands a better chance of actually winning the general election.  An Abrams victory in November would require turning out Black and progressive voters in historic numbers.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t get the Black numbers Abrams would need to win without a certain percentage of the Non-Atlanta vote.  Ms. Abrams strong statement about sandblasting the Confederate memorial off Stone Mountain means that working class Whites who once voted for Dems as labor union members won’t be voting for her.

Point #3: We have three Georgias.. Metro Atlanta; the five Other Cities (Augusta, Savannah, Macon, Columbus and Albany); and Rural Georgia.  At this point, the battle for Georgia starts to feel like the American Civil War..the classic oxymoron.  In the War Between the States, the North had superior numbers but the South had farm boys that grew up hunting and killing outdoors…better troops.   Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” opened with a 1967 quote from Thomas “TNT” Todd that stated “Yet our best trained, best educated, best prepared troops refuse to fight! Matter of fact, it’s safe to say that they would rather switch than fight!”

Blacks in the South have the numbers on paper to change everything politically on the local, state and national levels.  For some strange reason, the segment of the community most affected by public policy refuses to vote.  Middle class Blacks are growing weary of fighting political battles for them.  The matter is exacerbated by the opinion that certain Blacks aren’t striving for success…that the hip hop culture has inadvertently perverted the Black American dream.

Point #4: The “Head of the Snake” theory created by this writer is that a snake can be six feet long but without it’s head, the rest can do nothing.  Actually, this idea relative to Blacks comes from Dr. W.E.B. DuBois’ s Talented Tenth.  What would happen to southern Black voting power if the most successful quarter of Black voters functioned as a separate unit?  Of course, we would still care about all southerners of every race but could tip the scales of elections in either major party.

Point #5: Endgame.  The ultimate goal isn’t success for a political party or race.  The goal is forming a more perfect union… a union that started on the corrupt foundation of human bondage.  The more direct endgame is wrestling control of the White House from the scary segment of the Republican Party.  The Public Enemy quote above ended with “they rather switch than fight.” In 1967, Todd was referring to assimilation of Blacks with Whites.  Today, we are at a cultural crossroads..many Blacks are put-off by the criminal element of our race; some Whites are just learning about the meth-loving element of theirs.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the lyrics from the Police’s song “One World (Not Three).”

“I don’t want to bring a sour note

Remember this before you vote

We can all sink or we all float

‘Cause we’re all in the same big boat.”

Georgia is a big boat and our next generation of leaders needs to be about the business of more jobs, better education, growing the economy and competing in a global market.  A focus and prepared labor force are vital and international businesses want to locate in a place without ongoing historic drama.  How in the world is the head of Germany the leader of the free world rather than the president of the U.S.A.?

Point #6: Post-election Staceys:  The political blogging community thinks Stacey Abrams is destine for national fame—this contest and the governorship are stepping stones.  Some wonder if she could be congresswoman after Rep. John Lewis retires but I think that is small potatoes for her.  Abrams will be the head of the D.N.C., national leader of the Progressive Movement or host her own MSNBC show in the future.  On the other hand, Evans won’t leave Georgia for D.C. because she is a mom.  Remember, members of the General Assembly with children normally seek higher offices in Atlanta because flying home from Congress on the weekend is rough on parenting.  After public office, Evans will likely land in a Georgia based international law firm…balling on the next level.

Point #7: The Elephant In the Room:  Since Georgia is a red state for now, the next Governor might be decided in the GOP primary with little involvement from the Black community.  However, the abovementioned most successful quarter of Black voters could tip the GOP primary to the most reasonable Republican candidate…if there is such a thing.

We need to discuss these points now on the grassroots level.

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While the Trump Movement (Tea Party) is taking over the Republican Party and the liberal Progressives are doing the same to the Democrats, my sensible center of the political spectrum stands idly by.  What is a moderate Blue Dog Democrat to do at this crossroad?

Remember, this time last year, we were saying that Trump could actually win the presidency but it wasn’t as important as supporting high school football in my community.  Some of the players on the field last year are unemployed on the street corners this year while others are serving in the military under a questionable president but our community refuses to take 20 minutes to vote—football halftimes last longer.

Every election is important because local elections are the building blocks to state elections and both are the foundations of federal elections.

To me, it’s all about three R’s: resonance, residual and referendum.   In the Georgia governor’s race, candidates Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans have maybe six months to create a message and mission that resonates with Georgians—who will catch fire with enough voters to win a general election.   We really need a surge of new voters and/or a riptide of Obama-Trump voters.  Yes, a considerable number of voters were with Obama (labor union members) but bounced on Hillary.  To be honest, getting those blue collar voters back seems more possible than getting grown folks to vote for the first time.

If the Obamas and Clintons couldn’t get you to vote, you can’t be reached and deserve Trump’s peculiar policies, statements and actions.

Elections have residual benefits.  Local elections produce campaign networks that are used in contests for higher offices.  I remember when the Democrats had strong candidates for mayor, city council, county commission, state representatives and state senators.   Candidates for U.S. congressman, U.S. senator and president stood on their shoulders.  Real talk: the Georgia governor’s race is important because it has the residual benefit of driving other elections on the ballot and vice versa; and the 2020 presidential race could come down to the Democrat nominee benefiting from the 2018 Georgia governor race network and field-tested message.

Another form of residual benefit is the fact that candidates for high office who don’t win position themselves well for other endeavors.   What happen to Sarah Palin, Herman Cain and Michelle Nunn? They got crazy paid.  Former Congressman Jack Kingston was defeated in a U.S. Senate race but is on CNN nightly.  Don Lemon recently told Kingston that his profile on-air is his greatest stage for change.   So, some of these candidates for high office have a side eye on Buckhead offices, Georgetown/D.C. firms or a hosting desk on MSNBC.  Can you blame them?

Since he walked onto the national stage, the Republicans have made every election on every level a referendum on Barack Obama.  Well, turnabout is fair play.  A test of any candidate’s soundness could be if Obama or Trump was/is good for America and Georgia.  To me, if you think Trump is a capable leader, you have issues and are in my prayers…as is he.  Remember, local and state officeholders work on issues and problems with Congress and the White House.

Obama is a good man; one of the best in American history.  President Trump functions on the opposite end of the moral spectrum.  Trump is a marketing expert and a master of branding but not suitable for bringing a nation together.  If you are running for dogcatcher in Ty Ty, Georgia, the voters should ask your opinion on Trump because agriculture is the biggest industry in Ty Ty and in Georgia and Trump wants to cut many of the programs at USDA.

The presidential race of 2020 starts with building blocks in 2017 and 2018.  Every political segment should be at the table but the progressives and Trump people seem to have little interest in the sensible center.  Newsflash: the center is larger than those two groups combine and could sway the Republican or Democrat primaries.  The longer term objective of the three R’s mentioned above is having someone other than Trump win the White House in 2020.

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More than football and hip hop, we must develop an understanding of politics and governing.  It’s a matter of life and death.  First, I am not angry at President Trump for being exactly who he said he would be nor am I ticked off at Republican voters for using him to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House.  I am overwhelmingly pissed at my community for not voting in five or six pivotal states.

Oh, non-voting Blacks escorted Trump into the White House and handed him the nuclear codes.   Our Black –sses will be the first ones drafted into an ego-driven Trump war.  Being drafted by your nation puts you in an awkward situation.   My brother was in the Vietnam War while we weren’t allowed to swim in the local pool or check out books from the library—for the record, he volunteered.

We know that the victor writes history and I have fairly felt that the South in the American Civil War was the most dangerous threat to the United States—more than any power from Europe, Asia or the Middle East in history.  But, I don’t put military personal in the same category as political leaders normally (notable exception being Nazis.)

To me, General Robert E. Lee was a gentleman who strategized for a wrong cause.  Remember, Lincoln offered him command of the Army of the Potomac but his heart was with Virginia.  So, if we are talking about military skills, Robert E. Lee, World War II German General Erwin Rommel and William T. Sherman get military praise.  On the other hand, I am glad Lee and Rommel were on defeated sides and Sherman was so nasty to former slaves during his March to the Sea.  Confederate Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was brilliant on the battlefield but helped found the Klan after the war.  Why do Black guys play football with Jeff Davis County High in Georgia?

Spending 25 years in military service could have been a great career for me but I wasn’t prepared to hear who the president or pentagon saw as the enemy—not while Mandela sat in a cell.  Much of America’s military focus was and is based on the financial interests of fat cats.  America never respected self-governing in Africa or the oil-rich Middle East.  There are some people with legitimate reasons to dislike us but terrorism isn’t the answer.  Blacks in south Georgia see the Klan as more of a concern than the ISIS.  Oh yea, why do we get upset when folks in the Middle East try to have a faith-based government but the conservatives in America seek to do the same thing with our Christian faith.

It never crossed White southerners’ minds that items honoring the Confederacy would be hella offensive to the Black population…the same Black population who built the South for free. But, I say don’t remove anything nor level any Nazi concentration camps…lest we forget.  I am writing this blog post on Lee Street in a small southern town and the street wasn’t name for Bruce Lee.  Finally, Dr. Martin Luther King is turning over in his grave about the trashy ways we carry ourselves on streets name for him…where the good weed can be scored.

To this day, I think Donald Trump is a world class opportunist who never imagined actually winning the White House (which brings forensic examination of his shady business dealings.)  But, his followers on the far Right knew what “take this nation back” meant to them.  They should hug him tightly and not let him go.  Normal Republicans have a few months to figure out how to remove him from their ranks…and when they try, it’s going to be on and popping.

Sociology: Not Politics

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Sociology and not politics should be the discussion topic first.  With secondary consideration for elected officeholders on all levels, how we function as a society and or as a culture is much more significant.  Sociology is the study of the development, structure and functioning of human society.

America is a free society and you can make several puns from that statement.  Yes, a citizen is free to select a line of work and decide when and with whom to have children.  However, the consequences of those decisions can affect employability and employability affects the ability to care for children…innocent children.  When blue-collar workers go on break, lazy rascals who are too cool to work for minimum wage is a popular topic of discussion. “….and we get taxed to feed their kids while they sit around smoking and playing video games….looking for a free check.”

In my subculture, you want to help someone who listens, is cautious and doing their best to help themselves.  Democrats support policies that provide opportunities (leveling the playing field) for working class families and that is cool.  But, those who are shady, who love struggling and who don’t even vote are getting less sympathy from me.

We can’t continue as a society that constantly looks to mayors, governors and presidents to dramatically fix what we broke in our lives.  Congressmen and senators didn’t force you to be silly in school while others applied themselves.  The police didn’t persuade you to live a life of crime.

I am a moderate/centrist Democrat who would love to hear a candidate say that officeholders are limited in their roles and missions.  The political system is broken because our society is broken.  Everyone is a victim but the real culprit is in the mirror.  We need to spend this year listening to innovative social scientists and brace ourselves for their solutions because the truth hurts.

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Hillbilly Elegy is a good read for those interested in understanding rural people.  I have always thought words like Hillbilly and Ghetto can only be used as terms of endearment by members of those groups.  Attorney and author J.D. Vance gave us a fascinating look into life in Appalachia.  For me, the parallels to the Black community in rural Georgia are: Hillbilly=Ghetto; Holler=Hood; Hew Haw=Good Times.

We all know rich kids who crumble at the first problem in adulthood but not J.D. from the holler and not the folks from the hood who stayed positive.  Hillbilly Elegy feels like Boyz in the Hood to me.  At the end of that movie Tre and Brandi left south Central Los Angeles for Morehouse College and Spelman College in Atlanta.  They were better prepared for college and corporate America than bougie classmates that grew up with money because they had that “seasoning” J.D. also had.  On a recent episode of OWN’s Queen Sugar, a nice, rich Black teen Micah was arrested for simply driving while Black; he wet himself in the local jail.  Prep school and millions didn’t teach him want we knew.

Of course, we want all children to have safe, nurturing environments.  Surprisingly, the old segregated Black community was striving and culturally rich.  This blog often complains that the inmates are running the asylum today; thugs and thug elements are glamorized over clean living in our community.

Some of my friends are concerned that the Black elite selected as leaders simply aren’t familiar with the struggle of every aspect of Black life.  Once and for all, we are happy that we have generations after generations of Blacks with higher education and wealth.  Those people and liberal Whites from New England aren’t necessarily suited to understand the plight of the hood or the holler (holler is a corruption of hollow as in Sleepy Hollow.)  Every Black person doesn’t have knowledge of  welfare, the penal system and Section 8 housing.

Blacks and Whites who are living right often have disdain for those who can’t or won’t break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

Georgia’s most famous Hillbilly might be former Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller.  Like J.D. Vance, Miller tested his mettle in boot camp on Paris Island, South Carolina. He wrote a book called “Corps Values” in which he said everything he needed to know about life, he learned in the Marine Corps.  Miller says, “The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging.”

In summary, J.D. Vance’s hard youth seems like Joseph from the Bible who was sold by his brothers into slavery but rose to wealth in Egypt.  Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”  When Joseph told Pharaoh there would be seven years of plenty then seven years of famine, the sage advice seem like J.D.’s steelworking Papaw’s wisdom.  The Rust Belt and the South saw many high school graduates earning great wages but felling to spend wisely and save.

Vance’s life from the holler to Yale Law could make him the next Obama; you must buy his book.  He should help answer this question: How much energy and resources should society and the government spend on people who insist on pulling themselves down?   That question looms over the Georgia governor’s race in 2018 and the presidential race of 2020.  What shall become of the hood and the holler?

 

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

  1. p. 4 While reality permits some degree of cynicism, the fact that hillbillies like me are more down about the future than many other groups- some of whom are clearly more destitute than we are suggests that something else is going on.
  2. p. 127 As a teacher at my high school told me recently, “They want us to be sheperds to these kids. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves.”
  3. p. 138 Working as a cashier turned me into an amateur sociologist.
  4. p. 139 I could never understand why our lives felt like a struggle while those living off of government largesse enjoyed trinkets that I only dreamed about.
  5. p. 139 At least as often,, our drug-addict neighbor would buy T-bone steaks, which I was too poor to buy for myself but was forced by Uncle Sam to buy for someone else.
  6. p. 140 …it was my first indication that the policies of Mamaw’s “party of the working man” – the Democrats – weren’t all they were cracked up to be.
  7. p. 144 William Julius Wilson’s “The Truly Disadvantaged” : As millions migrated north to factory jobs, the communities sprouted up around those factories were vibrant but fragile: When the factories shut their doors, the people left behind were trapped in towns and cities that could no longer support such large populations with high-quality work. Those who could – generally the well-educated, wealthy, or well connected – left, leaving behind communities of poor people. The same was true of Charles Murray’s seminal Losing Ground, another book about black folks that could have been written about hillbillies – which addressed the way our government encouraged social decay through the welfare state.144 It would be years before I learned that no single book, or expert, or field could explain the problems of hillbillies in modern America. Our elegy is a sociological one, yes, but it is also about psychology and community and culture and faith.
  8. p. 147 We don’t study as children, ands we don’t make our kids study when we’re parents. We might get angry with them, but we never give them the tools – like peace and quiet at home- to succeed. “I don’t care if you got into Notre Dame,” we say, “You can get a fine, cheap education at the community college.” The irony is that for poor people like us, an education at Notre Dame is both cheaper and fine.
  9. p. 150 Consider my life before I moved in with Mamaw. In the middle of the third grade, we left Middletown….’
  10. p. 177 I’m not saying ability doesn’t matter. It certainly helps. But, there’s something powerful about realizing that you’ve undersold yourself- that somehow your mind confused lack of effort for inability.
  11. p. 191 But the president feels like an alien to many Middletonians for reasons that have nothing to do with skin color. Recall that not a single one of my high school classmates attended an Ivy League school. Barrack Obama attended two of them and excelled at both.  Nothing about him bears any resemblance to the people I admired growing up: His accent – clean, perfect, neutral- is foreign; his credentials are so impressive that they’re frightening.
  12. p. 192 With little trust in the press, there’s no check on the Internet conspiracy theories that rule the digital world.
  13. p.193 If you believe that hard work pays off, then you work hard; if you think it’s hard to get ahead even when you try, then why try at all?
  14. p. 194 There is a cultural movement in the White working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.
  15. p. 214 Social capital: The network of people and institutions around us have real economic value.
  16. p. 226 Adverse childhood experiences or ACEs are traumatic childhood events, and their consequences reach far into adulthood.
  17. p. 228 By almost any measure, American working-class families experience a level of instability unseen elsewhere in the world.
  18. p. 231 How much of our lives, good and bad, should we credit to our personal decisions, and how much is just the inheritance of our culture, our families, and our parents who have failed their children? How much is Mom’s life her own fault? Where does blame stop and sympathy begin?
  19. p. 242 In places like Utah, Oklahoma, and Massachusetts, the American Dream was doing just fine – as good or better than any place in the world. It was in the South, the Rust Belt, and Appalachia where poor kids really struggled.
  20. p. 244 These programs are far from perfect, but to the degree that I nearly succumbed to my worst decisions (and I came quite close), the fault lies almost entirely with factors outside the government’s control.
  21. p. 245 But, it was there, and studies now show that working-class boys like me do much worse in school because they view schoolwork as a feminine endeavor.
  22. p. 254 People like Brian and me don’t lose contact with our parents because we don’t care; we lose contact with them to survive. We never stop loving, and we never lost hope that our loved ones will change. Rather, we are forced, either by wisdom or by the law, to take the path of self-preservation.

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Campaigning and governing requires putting policies and situations in terms people can understand.  The policy wonks and campaign advisors on Capitol Hill and in Buckhead aren’t about is life in  “G. A. red clay.”  I have a few popular culture references to explain what’s what.

In the Geto Boys’ hit “My Mind Playing Tricks On Me,” Willie D said “Or is it the one I beat for five thousand dollars.  Thought he had caine but it was Gold Medal flour.” While I am no lawyer and intent is different in different states, Donald Trump Jr. thought he was about to getg dirt from a foreign government that could change the election….intent like thinking you purchased cocaine but got flour.  You tried to do something very wrong if not illegal.  If Watergate and Bill Clinton’s drama was a pebble, this mess is a basketball sized rock.

“I make big money. I drive big cars.  Everybody know me. It’s like I’m a movie star.”  President Ronald Reagan was a movie star turned governor but we shouldn’t forget that he was head of the Screen Actors Guild, a big union.  The Trumps thought making a lateral move from the private sector to public sector fame would be simple.  Running for office is like a Madison Avenue marketing campaign but actually governing with 300 million bosses is something else.

This nation owes a collective apology to Jeb Bush.  Donald Trump saw seeking and maybe being president as another project.  Jeb knew how hard being in high office was from watching his family to being governor of a big, diverse state.  Jeb said that he wouldn’t run if it required the sneakiness and lies that basically Trump used.  And may I say, the Black community will never support Trump because of his dirty treatment of Obama and will never support anyone for any office who thinks or thought he is presidential material.

Between a Transformer movie and the Terminator franchise, characters that can morph into something else puts me in the mind of some politicians.  Yea, these Decepticons run for office under one flag and switch.  The current Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was a Democrat a few years before he switched to the GOP and became governor of Georgia.  Nathan Deal is the governor now but was a moderate Democrat congressman.

Shakespeare wrote “what’s in a name, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Matthew 7:15-20 spoke of false prophets, ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing.  You will know good leaders by the fruits they bear because a corrupt tree can’t produce good fruit.

The skill set that got the Trumps rich disqualifies them to run the White House.  It’s the White House..not the oligarch-run Kremlin.

The mid-term elections of 2018 will be the first step for Republicans and Democrats in getting back to a normal government.  Regular Republicans are having second thoughts and some folks are discovering that deep federal cuts will hit them hard.  Their minds are playing tricks on them.

Obama and Hillary Clinton were about a strong defense but when possible soft power—using goodwill and temporary foreign assistance to help nations help themselves.  The Geto Boys sang “I live by the sword. I take my boys everywhere I go, because I’m paranoid. I keep lookin’ over my shoulder and peepin’ around corners.  My mind is playin’ tricks on me.”

That sounds like Trump, his sons and son in law to me (Ivanka is cool because she is down with Chelsea Clinton).   Trump and North Korea’s Kim live by the sword but Isaiah 2:4 spoke of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks—learning war  no more.

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Scriptures and southern sayings do more for you than the government.  The roles of the federal and state governments need to be reexamined during this non-election year.   My idea is that the best life doesn’t depend on what governmental officials do and we need to hear some of them say that.

Free Milk and a Cow: The Georgia Satellites use this saying as the central theme in their hit “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”  Beyoncé sang something similar in “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It.)”  Grandmothers once taught girls to hold “the cookie” hostage until a young gentleman (literally a gentle man) presented a long term, whole life package that included caring for future children.  America will always provide a little temporary food assistance to needy families but the government is not now nor should it be your baby’s daddy for 18 years.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-15: Paul broke that thing down in this letter.  “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

And if any man obeys not our word by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet, could him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Society wants to help the needy but how do we have young parents who are too cool to flip burgers and toss watermelons.  But, you love your kids so much.  Hogwash.  We grew up with parents who had a job and a side job.  Paul’s “Disorderly” would be current thugs but Democrats shouldn’t consider them as the enemy…just brothers who never learned the right way.

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime: You help those who help themselves.  Unfortunately, we have a large number of half-raised people in this country.  Georgia Governor Nathan Deal was surprised to discover the amount of money our state spends on corrections.  I love calling the prison system “corrections” because that is what it is.  If a fraction of that money could have been spent on better college, technical schools and K-12, we would need less funding for corrections and have fewer crime victims.

Know who you are and whose you are: Back in the day, our community had pride.  You represented yourself, your family, your community, your race and your church in everything you did.  In his first book, Secretary Colin Powell wrote that we need to bring the concept of shame back in America and I agree.  If your kids are hungry but you won’t pick tomatoes as a job, you should be ashamed.  If that same person plays Xbox all day, he should be ashamed.  If you sell dope on the corner which poisons the community and creates a violent illegal commerce, shame on you.

Look, the American way should be an equal opportunity at success for everyone..a fair shot. If you blow off your shot with your actions (playing in school, disrespecting your family, being lazy), you are messing up an opportunity slaves and sharecroppers would have died to have.

They did die to have the right to vote but too many people in our community blow off voting.  Wait a second..the same young people getting temporary assistance don’t vote. Amazing.  The Trump Presidency is reality and  his plan is simple: Reduce government assistance to needy people, they can do the work currently done by illegals…the work Americans won’t do.

Black Lives Matter: Okay, I always thought this movement should have been Black Lives Matter Also but what do I know.  It’s not saying that other lives don’t matter..they do.  As a southern moderate, I find the progressive movement to be a little aggressive with the whole “what government did and what corporate America did” thing.  But, I was hyped to see a You Tube video say Black Lives should matter to Black people.

 

Yes, sir..there it is right there.  Jesus said one of the two greatest commandments was love your neighbor as yourself but you don’t love yourself.   If we took care of our community, the government would be secondary…”defend the borders and deliver the mail” is one more southern saying.

Oh, liberals don’t want to read this blog’s year-long treatise the Best Interests Initiative.

https://bestinterestsinitiative.wordpress.com/long-term-bii/