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HollywoodHell

An anachronism is defined as a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.  At Worth County High School, we were taught that William Shakespeare, the Bard, was wrong to put clocks in Julius Caesar or have Caesar say “Jesus Christ, these fool stabbed me” when Caesar lived before Christ.   Ok, I am paraphrasing.

In the military movie Heartbreak Ridge, the young Annapolis  grad Major calls Gunnery Sergeant Highway, played by Clint Eastwood, an anachronism to the modern Marine Corps.  But in the heat of battle, you need those oldheads….wait, us oldheads.  The Tea Party on the Right and the Progressives on the Left might need to watch this old film.

Hollywood, like every part of life, had a way of doing things back in the day….sometimes right and sometimes wrong.  Harvey Weinstein is an anachronism of the film industry.  We would be here all day talking about those nasty old school dudes of the Black and White era.  But, we should make a distinction between sexy cats who the ladies were all over like Ronald Reagan and trolls who used power and influence to get sex from those trying to get a head.  Of course, some of those young starlets got off the bus from the Midwest with plans to make it come hell or high water… by any means necessary.  No one should ever ever be attacked.  Period.

In some ways, official Washington was supposedly like that back in the day and the music industry still is.  Kayne West’s lyrics from his collaboration with Jay-Z on “N-ggas in Paris” must have been Weinstein favorite jam.

She said Ye can we get married at the mall?
I said look you need to crawl ‘fore you ball
Come and meet me in the bathroom stall
And show me why you deserve to have it all
Ball so hard
That sh-t cray (that sh-t cray), ain’t it Jay?

 

It’s silly season to say Democrats are connected to Weinstein’s actions if they didn’t know.  Didn’t Republicans just elect a guy president over quality candidates and they were fully aware of his long history.

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Learn A Trade..Stay Paid

Sunday Morning on CBS recently had a segment on the lack of workers in the construction trades.  It’s worth watching because evidently too many young people feel they are too good to do dirty work…manly work.  But, they can ask the government to feed their kids with taxpayers’ dollars.

Hogwash.  Oh, you can’t ask them to actually wash a hog, pick crops or do any of the jobs that traditionally go to unskilled workers.  However, they don’t want to put in the time to become skilled tradesmen or the academic effort to attend college and become a white collar office person.  If the same folks blow off military service, I am out of legal money-making options.  But, these are the same nitwits who want to drive a 60k car by 20 years old.  I have a bad feeling about half of America’s next generation and I hope I am wrong.

My friend Mr. Greene and I built my shed.  I love my shed and every tool in it because my daddy taught me the trades and agriculture.  Actually, he had my brother and me doing grown man work on family rental houses way too early.  My nephews need to learn how to cook and clean better than any women to impress smart, attractive women after college.  These good brothers are learning the construction trades to keep a watchful eye on contractors and to do much of home improvement themselves in the future.

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So, the Sunday Morning segment says that America doesn’t have enough tradesmen to repair hurricane damaged communities.  Oh boy, supply and demand dictates that pay for these projects will be crazy high.  Actually, an enterprising student can graduate high school with much of their vocational school credits and start making money in a year.  But, the homies on the corners want to get rich quickly…the fast way…. Ski mask way.  Once you are in the penal system you will be mopping for pennies an hour but nobody can tell you anything.

You can’t be a dummy in the trades because it’s all math, chemistry, physics, biology, etc.  Also, you need to know computers, logistics and proper communication.   Being clean cut with clean urine gets you in the door.

America is the land of opportunity for the smart but the rest of the world is hot on our heels.  We can’t stay number 1 refighting the Civil War and I have a feeling the Japanese are quietly sabotaging our young with video games.  Our kids prepare for battle with gaming controllers while other kids are grinding in STEM subjects.

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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.

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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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