Posts Tagged ‘cbc’

Clinton Crime

A million years ago, I was a congressional staffer and the 1994 Crime Bill was my baby. Since I wasn’t a high-profile staffer like the cats on House of Cards, I generally did the less sexy issues involving national parks, crops and naming post offices. But I was knee deep in that crime bill drama.

That legislation was driven by years of high crime rates and drug addiction.  In 1986, Maryland basketball star Len Bias died shortly after signing with the Boston Celtics and House Speaker Tipp O’Neill demanded that legislation addressing crack be ready after the August recess.  I was in college then but word is that a staffer from legislative counsel sat at his dining room table and just made stuff up—no hearings, no research.  That is the reason we had that crazy difference in sentencing for crack crimes and powder cocaine crimes.

Anyway, our Crime Bill was well researched and well fought over.  While Black Lives Matter is tripping on Bill Clinton, they need to see how many members of the Congressional Black Caucus crafted and voted for the Crime Bill.  And for the record, I appreciate the spirit of activism of the Black Lives Matter movement but I generally don’t care for people jumping up inside anyone’s event…there is a time and place.

The 1994 Crime Bill was a balance of prisons, prevention and policing.  I want to say that the community policing provisions could be used by local police today.  At times, I feel that the local police seem like overseers in my community—the average citizen isn’t the enemy and the average citizen hates crime more than anyone.  Some police have been hardened by the constant battle with the worst 10% of the community but that is no reason to treat the community a certain way.

With community policing, the officers develop personal relationships with folks on their beats.  They get out of the cars and pull off those mirrored Cool Hand Luke sunglasses to connect with citizens…Mrs. Jones didn’t turn on her porch light at dark, check on her.  I will always have a glass of Crystal Light Peach Mango Tea for any officer literally walking a beat.

Officers, deep inside, don’t want to see youth in jail but they must do their jobs and as Beretta said, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”  It’s the community’s job to offer options and opportunities to young people so they don’t go down that wrong path.

Finally, I can’t remember if the assault weapons ban was in the final Crime Law but I told my boss that people should have a certain amount of fire power to defend their families and to hunt.  However, military style weapons for home defense in  subdivisions is too much; good news is you got the bad guy…bad news is you blasted Mrs. Jones’ porch light across the street.

On the other hand, Worth County, Georgia, is half the size of Rhode Island and if the bad guys are at your rural house on one end of the county, your family could be cold by the time the deputies arrive.  In that case, you need to let that clip sing.  Biggie Smalls said, “Call the coroner..there’s gonna be a lot of slow singing and flower bringing if my burglar alarm starts ringing.”

So, Hillary Clinton isn’t responsible for everything President Bill Clinton and the Dems did back in the day.


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9.  Political slates: anachronisms or useful tools?

In the time of new media and 24-hour news channels, we don’t need political parties telling us to vote for a block of candidates.  While that dated process is easier (and unfortunately very effective) for the party, sharp voters can decide which candidates to support based on the candidate’s history, opinions and vibe.  South Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene is a classic example of what happens when we don’t study candidates.  If we aren’t careful, our community might completely back a slate of candidates while the other crew sweeps into power.   

10. Should we examine candidates with relativity in mind?

The dictionary defines relativity as a state of dependence in which the existence or significance of one entity is solely dependent upon that of another.  In politics, I consider candidates’ position and posture relative to their congressional districts or state.  The Congressional Black Caucus learned over time that southern CBC members from rural areas are more moderate than the rest of the caucus because their areas are more moderate.   

With relativity in mind, the Black Blue Dogs do a remarkable job of balancing conservative provincial interests with traditional Democrat views.  If those members are the targets of the far right’s fury, the conservative movement should be ashamed because they are attacking the Democrats who have worked with them constructively in the past. 

Congressional candidates in swing districts should be bridge-builders who are diplomatic.  When we look at GOP challengers to Blue Dogs Democrats, the first question is “would this person ignore votes who supported the other side.”  The next question is “ would be this person have a positive affect on other Republicans.”

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The 2010 mid-term elections will be interesting for the tone of conservative positions.  As a moderate, I share fellow Obama voter General Colin Powell’s concerns with the price and speed of White House and congressional initiatives and can’t believe that China has been holding American debt for years.  But, my concerns are positive in the same way I was respectfully trying to figure out George W. Bush’s logic. 

Bush’s father was a real man who told the truth about our interests in the Persian Gulf rather than sugarcoating it with fake compassion about the Kuwaiti people.  It was about our dependence on oil.  Black and Brown people in Texas appreciated W’s spirit of cooperation as governor but something happened between Austin and Pennsylvania Avenue.  What happened is the lobbyists gave him hundreds of millions to help win the election but after he was in office, those money boys wanted hands-off regulatory reform which lead to the financial and housing crisis of last year

Of course, there are those who think Vice-President Cheney helped his corporate friends with defense spending in Iraq by saying the wrong stuff in the Bush’s ear.  Here is a fiscally sound military plan for the next conflict with real foes: blow them up from a mile in the sky with Georgia-made F-22.

About the coming elections, I don’t understand people going after elected officials rather than educating the voters.  We had congressional elections last November and most Georgia congressmen won by overwhelming margins.  That means the majority of those who chose to vote in those districts wanted those guys.  I am enjoying the year round advocacy and debate of the Tea Parties and even the president still being in campaign mode but why would people claim a congressman wrong for voting the will of the people who put him in office rather than the will of the one-third who voted for the other candidate. 

It is un–politically scientific to gauge broad public sentiment from phone calls to a congressional office or protesters outside.  Now, the callers and protesters might make a lot of common sense with their arguments but the recent election results are better indicators for that district.  The protesters (in my opinion) are bringing attention to the issues and that information could help voters make better informed decisions in future elections.

For example, if I were a liberal living in Rep. Westmoreland’s congressional district, I would continue being vocal on the issues but understand that most voters in the district share the congressman’s view.  Westmoreland voting with me rather than this distict’s majority would be wrong.  The same can be same about a far-right conservative in Sanford Bishop or John Barrow’s districts.  If you are on T.V. saying “He does not represent me,” think about that for a second.   The logical solution would involve doing what you are doing; educating the voters.  Let’s hope this education involves facts and reasoning rather than talk radio, far-right hogwash design to produce fear and ignite a culture war. 

I look forward to fairly considering the GOP presidential field in 2012 before voting for Obama, or Clinton if he decides to bounce. But, I feel like a modern J.C. Calhoun for announcing the possible coming culture civil war with Palin, Beck and Limbaugh leading the way—don’t get be started about that Larry Elders

Let me just put this thought out there: are we heading for American Apartheid.  South African apartheid occurred when the minority controlled power and wealth; however overruling the will of the majority.  Pat Buchanan said aloud what many Americans are thinking: Whites will one day be a minority in America and Jose is the most popular male name in Texas.  As a southerner, I know that Whites were often minorities in areas before the Civil War and I remember reading about coastal Carolina areas where Blacks outnumbered Whites 9 to 1.  But, make no mistakes about it: who had the money and the guns ran things.  This apartheid thinking came to my mind while listening to a NPR discussion about the growing number of Arabs in Israel.  After the horrors of the past, Israel doesn’t play regarding safety and their future so numbers mean nothing. NPR is crazy to suggest a apartheid type state in Israel’s future. 

With that in mind, how does it sound for a vocal minority to demand certain actions from elected representatives?  But, that vocal minority can become the electoral majority if they stay at it and have “right” on their side.  I must acknowledge that Blue Dogs Democrats listen to all sides of the debate while the far-left and the far-right often don’t.  What protesters fail to realize sometimes is that Blue Dogs are not voting necessarily how they personally feel but are voting in a way that best reflects the desires of their diverse districts.  If the districts change, the representatives’ voting patterns will change or they will get bounced from office.  

Let me remind my friends on the Right that Black voters have been understanding and lenient with Blue Dogs since the early 90s because we knew that congressmen should make votes with all their constituents in mind.  Black Blue Dogs battle other CBC members over farm, veteran and military issues and over the years many of those CBC members from urban areas developed a better appreciation for positions that were traditionally considered conservative. 

Check this out: Sanford Bishop came to congress with a personal political view that was more liberal than most Georgians and Jim Marshall came with a personal political view that was likely more conservative than the Democrat base in Georgia.  But both men had to flex their voting to reflect the will of the people.  Since the Democrats took over the White House and congress, will the Republicans produce candidates similar to Blue Dogs?  No, they don’t get down like that and I can respect that.  The best moderates can hope for from the right will be a fair discussion of the issues but I doubt that will happen because every time our Georgia senators sit down for discussions with their colleagues, the talk radio nuts go nuts.  What do these extremists want…American Apartheid.  I will say that extremists on both sides are people who are deeply concerned with the direction of the nation and that concern is patriotic–look at me trying to make lemonade.

I appreciate the Blue Dogs who supported Obama and Clinton last year and I understand former Democrats like Rep. Nathan Deal who said this is not the party for him.  I wish Rep. Marshall would have stood up on some level for candidate Obama last year because he knows Obama is not what the far-right was trying to portray him to be.  I will always appreciate Senator McCain fighting that presidential battle on the issues rather than resorting to the smear tactics some love.  Some of the people who thought the Obamas were this or that have found that while the president’s policies are not their cup of tea, the Obama are good people; which should make you question those who knew that but said otherwise.  

One last thing: I was watching the History Channel recently and saw a show about the Boston Tea Party.  While I am not for royalty or taxation without representation, I never knew that the British were used the tea tax and the stamp tax to get funds because they were tapped out after defending the colonies (or British interest) in the French and Indian War. Government cost money and where were the far-right guys when W was spending big time.  If Republicans are admitting that some of the policies of the last eight years were wrong, what does that say about Blue Dogs who supported those policies then and are giving Obama hell now?   Hey, they are reflecting the will of the people.

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An old friend from Capitol Hill sent me the following email about the subgroups in Black America.  Among Black males in the Georgia delegation in the 90s, the guys would often turn to me for a certain angle because I was familiar with a range of “us.”  In other words, I did not want for anything as a child but I still had a valid Hood card.  My boyhood home was in a subdivision that was/is “hood adjacent” so I can swing if I need to and would have done a better job mama-talking than Henry Louis Gates.  In my town, the second “your mama” came out of someone’s mouth, dude was about to get slammed on the hard pavement or that G.A. red clay.

Did you happen to catch the Black in America II special? I was inspired to see our younger folks exploring that entrepreneurial spirit. However I was also disturbed by our wealthy brothers and sisters establishing cliques based upon status. To me it sends the message if you were born with the silver spoon you are in. But if you were not, too bad, and by the way our door is closed and we are not going to help you get in. But if you somehow do gain wealth (hook or crook) then you are welcome. For me and you I am not so concerned, but in the case of my younger brother I am. He has consistently been at the top of his class and is destined to be a great achiever. But unless he scores the big dollars he can’t get into the club. That is pure BS!Your thoughts?


Once and for all: fancy folks don’t necessarily related to non-fancy people who look like them and humbly-raised southerner Bill Clinton might actually have a more valid Hood card than Barrack Obama.  Remember, Obama was raised in Kansas and Hawaii by some of the nice people you will ever meet.  Clinton came from rough and rural Hope, Arkansas.  Have you ever seen the picture of Bill Clinton shaking hands with President Kennedy at American Legion Boys Nation in 1964?  I was a Boys Nation alternate in 1981so I have always like that photo and noticed that the young man in the picture waiting to shake hands with Kennedy is Tom from Sylvester, Georgia, my hometown.  Tom became an All-American football player at UGA and a surgeon but Bill Clinton had him crying in the dorm at Boys Nation.  Clinton was campaigning to make history by electing a Black kid from California the first Black Boys Nation President but Tom said he could not make that vote because Blacks were genetically different from White people according to the teaching at his high school. 


Bill Clinton and JFK

Bill Clinton and JFK


I remember this story because Ted Koppel did a show about it on Nightline in 1994 when the Boys Nation class of 1964 reunited for their 30th anniversary with a member in the White House. 

Gates, Obama, and children of Blacks who are third and forth generation doctors and lawyers have grown removed from the experience and culture of Blacks on the other end of the socioeconomic range and I am proud of Black parents who have provided better living for their children.  Some of these Blacks are unaware of poor Whites struggling and there are Whites who never knew that there have been presidential quality Blacks in America since America became America. 

As a kid reading Jet and Ebony magazines, I questioned the loyalty of Adam Clayton Powell and Thurgood Marshall because they did not looking me but I was so wrong because MLK just presented the whole “content of their character” thing.  Powell was a Harlem congressman who grew up as Black elite in New York and my daddy would tell us stories with pride about attending Powell’s father’s Abyssinian Baptist Church with it’s 5000 members.  Congressman Powell never lost his connection to average people in Black America because he was always in the restaurants and barbershops teaching and listening


Rep. Adam Clayton Powell

Rep. Adam Clayton Powell


In “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” Malcolm said that Powell told him in a Harlem barbershop that the poor people’s march on Washington was taken over by powerful people from outside our community.  Originally, the protest was designed to be poor people laying down on the steps of the Capitol and the runways of the airport.  But, some money guys came in with a peaceful plan and some big checks..with equally big checks to follow if the plan was executed properly.  The rest is history but think about it: the civil rights movement was not about poor people solely.  It started with Blacks who served in World War II returning home and wondering why they fought for freedom overseas yet did not enjoy fair opportunity or fair treatment at home.  When you look at pictures from the civil rights movement, you see neatly dress and well-groomed people protesting their systematic denial from the America middle class.

Who knows what the next phase will bring but I keep hearing that line from the old Police reggae song “One World is Enough for All of Us” that said “we can not sink while others float because we are all in the same big boat.”  Many successful Blacks are weary of certain elements inside the Black that hold back progress or actually reverse past gains.  I saw Chris Rock’s wife taking the kids to Africa on “Black in America II” and had to think about Rock’s standup routine that started, “I love Black folks but I am……”  CNN’s Black America II was nothing new to most Blacks because we all know about the Black clubs and institutions that did not want Blacks darker than a brown paper bag or those without “good hair.” 

V, we both worked as congressional staff together and knew that most Black Americans assume that the actions of Black members of congress were driven by the best interests of America in general and Black America in particular.  We knew that some of those members were primarily concerned with securing campaign funds to keep their high-profile jobs.  You know I like Obama, Artur Davis in Alabama and Harold Ford Jr. because they expanded the issues of concern for Black America to include every federal issue.  They are standing on the shoulders of Rep. Sanford Bishop and that generation of CBC members who were freshmen in the 90s.  The next generation of CBC members (in my opinion) should included more diversity from the center and even a conservative or two.   A conservative member might choose to skip membership in the CBC like former members of congress Gary Franks and J.C. Watts but we realize that there is a subsection of Black America more interested in business development and self-determination than governmental intervention.  That is nothing knew because a sizable portion of Black America has always felt that way.   


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My daddy play college football at North Carolina A&T during the one platoon, leatherhat days—let him tell it, he was on the field for every play for four years.  He taught me that in sports a guy can make head and feet moves all day but watch his waist or his belt buckle—that’s where he is going.


President-elect Obama plays basketball with the best of them.  I have been “watching his waist” on team-building and I think where he is not going is telling us the sections of the Democrat Team that he has quietly and inadvertently put on the bench.  For example, Obama is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus but Sanford Bishop is the only member of the CBC who was seriously considered for a cabinet position.  There is one school of thought that dictates that Obama is a CBC member at the top of the table so why should others be there. 


Obama clearly respects Bishop and fellow Harvard Law grad Rep. Artur Davis; but I am starting to think he wonders why other CBC members and other Democrats did not provide better congressional oversight during the Bush years.  Are CBC members mostly interested in keeping themselves in office?  Rangel, Thompson, Waters, Holmes-Norton and Clyburn are major players on the Hill but most members of the CBC could have or should have done more with policy and legislation for the years they have been in office.  How does a skinny kid with a funny name blow pass you in route to the White House in a few years?


Listen to my daddy and read Obama moves.  We had a pastor at my AME Church who uses to say she was tired of hearing people pray “Lord, they need you over here and they need you over there.” Pastor said God must be thinking, “Why do you think I put you down there…you fix it, then come back and tell me about it.”  Obama must be pissed with so-called leaders who fail to see these huge problems or messes coming and must be think how dare those guys think change starts with them when they help get us in the ditch in the first place.


Obama promised change but my friends are wondering if some oldheads will be surprised when he starts calling Dems out for being asleep at the wheel.  He can start with me: I confess that I believed Vice-President Cheney when he said that if we can get to the Iraqi oil fields before Saddam Hussein sets them on fire again, we will pump enough oil to fund the war.  Then again, I am not a baller in the game.


Before the primary season, old school Black leaders and many CBC members lined up behind Clinton and Edwards because those leaders had clout with those teams.  I like the way Black leaders did not automatically get with the Black guy.  But reading their waists in retrospect, they knew changing the politics, methods and policies of old would mean they were old dogs who need to learn new tricks.  The same thing applies to Republicans: conservatives who are sincerely interested in ensure that the new administration’s initiates include sound fiscal and budgetary provisions are good Americans.  Conservatives who want failure so they can get political power again should be ashamed.     


President-elect Obama is like Michael Jeffery Jordan standing at the top of the key explaining exactly what moves he is about to make on the way to scoring.  If you stepped into the arena with a weak game and much mouth—you better eat your Wheaties.  

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