Posts Tagged ‘tea party’

At the end of this rough election cycle, we realize that the 2012 cycle starts before the freshmen members of congress can be sworn into office; it’s a never-ending process.  Some blogger friends are assessing the amount of “free time” spent online and hearing the advice of friends and grumbling family about doing for free what other get paid to do.  It’s like that free milk and the cow bride advice.  

I can’t understand while some in the political arena are eager to battle in the next election rather than positioning their guy in a manner that discourages future opponents.  In Georgia congressional politics, former Senator Sam Nunn is the gold standard because he created a situation in which his service was uniquely his; the man transcended political parties.  With the fluid nature of politics these days, tradition is a thing of the past and anything can happen.  

I will tell you what I want: a political cafeteria plan where citizens can pick and choose aspects of candidates, officeholders, parties and groups without buying the whole blue plate special.  For example, my favorite budget fast food lunch is Taco Bell’s seven layer burrito (.89 cents) on top of a Burger King side salad ($1.00).  If you toss in a bag of nacho chips from the grocery, you have a tasty balanced meal that is easy on the wallet.  To me, the best burgers are from Wendy’s and the best fries are McDonalds.  The ultimate fast food meal might involve stopping at several places but you get what you want.

We should do the same with politics and policy; one party is good at several things and the other major party is better at other issues.  If you toss in the Tea Party, the Green Movement, Progressives and Libertarians, the process gets much-needed range. 

I support politicians who make every effort to have their decisions reflect the views of all area voters.  My concern with the far Right is that they often believe they are always right about everything and ignore those who disagree.  Mind you, the far right might actually be right but ignoring folks isn’t cool in a region with our troubled history.  The endangered southern Blue Dog Democrats has a well-earned reputation of serving their Democrat base yet also serving their conservative constituents as much as possible.  So, urban liberals in Blue Dog congressional districts allowed this flexibility because it is the fair sharing of elected officials. 

With half of the House Blue Dogs gone, we will see if the same courtesy is given by freshmen GOPers or will they follow tradition by ignore those who voted for the other guy.  To form “a more perfect union,” leaders should work together and reach for common ground. I, for one, want the House and Senate freshmen to study the word comity. 

Lastly, the surviving Blue Dogs need to be more vocal in the Democrat Casus or the real liberals will take over and move the party too far left for most rural Americans.

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It’s 5:15 a.m. on Day Lights Saving Time Sunday morning and my clock just fell back.  In American politics, it feels like we are falling back in time also.  Are we near a cultural Civil war and isn’t “civil” war the ultimate oxymoron.  The one thing that is sure is that we need to have a better understanding of other’s points of view and the governmental process under which we function and live.

The Tea Party is a good place to start.  By Tea Party, I mean the original Boston Tea Party.  We have conveniently forgotten that the British taxes at the center of the debate were to recoup funds spent on the colonies’ defense during the French and Indian War.  War and defense cost money. The Boston Tea Party wasn’t a protest inside the current form of government; it was an effort to overthrown the current form of government and some current protest today have the same thing in mind.

President Obama and most reasonable Americans know that the fundamental concerns of the Tea Party Movement are valid: federal spending and debt; size and role of government; and grow of entitlements. The nation would be better if all America “carried themselves” with a moral compass and a sense of shame as we did in the past.  The government currently addresses problems that shouldn’t be problems at all.  However, extremists on both ends of the political spectrum would ignore the U.S. Constitution and the foundation of this great nation. 

It would be socialism if the government provided a nice house for every American.  The government should provide a fair climate where every American has an opportunity to grow and prospers but if that doesn’t happen, you deal with the cards resulting from your actions or inactions.  On the other hands, extremists on the far Right would interweave church and government for better moral fiber.  Would America be better if we all followed a faith?  Yes.  But, the question becomes should the government mandate this faith and which one?  As much as we respect them, the founding fathers at times goofed. Slavery is one obvious time and some believe that Christianity should have been the official faith with tolerance for other faiths.

We shouldn’t play with the intent of the founders or the foundation of this country.  We are in a mini Civil War in the South base largely on energy policy and health care policy.  President Carter was correct in the 1970s: we need a comprehensive energy policy to end our dependence on foreign oil.  The Cap and Trade provision of the energy legislation passed by the U.S. House fueled the Tea Party protest. New York Time columnist Thomas Friedman has written several great books on our energy futures and we must make tough decisions and changes.  Of course, the agriculture community gets my deference because we all must eat the food they grow but we must figure out farming methods that use less energy.  The last Farm Bill promotes research on producing renewable energy.

I must be half asleep because I am about to type: the problem with President Obama.  Okay Tea Party people here it is: We Obama supporters and President Obama himself know that some things could have been done better or differently. The same could be said about Bush 43 who I actually liked on some level. President Obama is real…straight real…too real.  We elected him to implement big changes but the adoring crowds weren’t listening to the guy.  He constantly said, “It won’t be easy…It’s won’t happen overnight….I can’t do it alone…we must do the hard part.” 

As quiet as it is kept, Michelle Robinson Obama was raised in the model conservative family environment and if she starts speaking freely and sternly about how we are “carrying ourselves,” her importance in history might overshadow her husband.  The residual benefit Sanford Bishop’s congressional service was always his positive image for the all kids.  The Huxtables on the Cosby Show and the Obamas in the White House have the same benefit.  The Georgia GOP botched the opportunity to have Dr. Deborah Honeycutt in Congress as a conservative example from a southern family but Mario Rubio and Austin Scott will be there to provide a fact-base form of conservatism that moves the nation forward with dialog rather than fear.

Obama’s The Audacity of Hope outlined problems and solutions with healthcare.  He pointed out that preventive care that comes with having every American seeing a doctor regularly could save billions and fund changes.  Obama was half right because what was also needed was far Right teeth. I don’t mean a dental plan; I mean public policy with teeth, bite or strong consequences.  The kids in my family love their Uncle Teddy and their uninsured Uncle Teddy has made diet and exercise adjustments to stay under 240 pounds.  A doctor would tell me that 260, 280 or 300 pounds would trigger health problems that require expensive treatment. 

Wait a second; if the doctor and the healthcare plan told Uncle Teddy that buffets could lead to a certain point where expensive treatment would be self-funded or not administered, I basically dug my own grave and they should spend that money on a nice fat double-breasted suit for my funeral.  It sounds cold but that is the reality of avoiding taxing or charging some people to pay for life choices of other.  While we are working out on the tennis courts, cats drop by with triple cheese burgers in hand. “What’s up, man.”   What’s up?…your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure…that’s what’s up.

These mini Civil Wars could be avoided if good conservatives worked with moderates sincerely.  In the South, we often find those individuals who feel they are more American than others for some reason.  I am proud that I had a dorm assignment at UGA and briefly attended grad school at  UF (Go Gators) but I knew that I want to be at my HCBU to study from people who reminded us that we helped built this great nation for free while not free.  We actually toiled in southern fields for over a hundred years before America was America in 1776.  How difference is “go back to Africa” from “I want my country back.”  President Obama  likely thinks that we can all join hands and sing “This land is your land…this land is my land” but he did grow up in my dirty South so he doesn’t know that no one is giving up or shares money and power without a struggle.

Oops, I am flashing back to those revolutionary days of youth when radicals hit us with too much “knowledge and wisdom.”  That stuff could come in measured dosages.  From the Boston Tea Party to John Brown to George Wallace to the Black Panthers to the current Tea Party, Americans must remember that our opinions and plans must be coordinated within our framework of government and among all Americans.  If the people decide to move slowly, not at all or in another direction, we must respect the process.

After the ballot drama Bush v. Gore, Democrats acknowledged President Bush as leader of this nation.  When President Bush decided that military actions in Iraq rather than Afghanistan only was the course, I respected that jacked-up decision (Cheney lied to 43).  Oh, but don’t let regular people elected Obama; folks start talking about second amendment remedies and secession.    

Big corporations, unions and lobbyists are fueling these civil wars…pitting Americans against Americans.  It is shame that some politicians on both sides think the objective for the next two years is winning the White House in 2012.  The clear objective is to reduce federal spending while growing the economy and creating the climate for job creation while keeping us safe.

New members of the congress should put the best interest of the nation above partisan politics because the people in this fast internet age have no problem tossing those guys out every two years…work together.  

I need to go because it is communion Sunday at church.  Yes, Democrats and moderates go to church and try to practice what is preached during the rest of the week. During my lifetime, overhyped people killed folks while they were worshipping in church…be careful with that fun rhetoric because civil wars are nothing with which to play.  


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The Albany Herald endorsed Mike Keown for congress in Georgia’s second district over Sanford Bishop.  I think that newspaper is wrong because Bishop is uniquely qualified and appropriate to represent the urban/rural; liberal/conservative and yes Black/White hodgepodge that is the 2nd District.

Keown is a conservative pastor from a very rural area and speaks with a command similar to a stern father chastising a wayward child.  That type sternness has been at the center of the far Right’s reaction to the election of President Barrack Obama.  In our system of government, most American adults have the right to elect officials and the actions of those public servants should reflect the will of the people.

That concept sounds clear in theory but we know that a more detailed explanation is that elected officials do the work of those Americans that vote, vote, vote.  President Obama and the Democrats did well in southwest Georgia in 2008 and those election results gave direction to Rep. Sanford Bishop.  For some reason, the Tea Party division of the conservative movement feels their votes count heavier that other Americans’ vote.  It must because they are smarter or something.

If Rep. Sanford Bishop did everything the Tea Party Movement wanted during the last two years, he would have been functioning in an unconstitutional manner because he would have ignored the desires of the majority that put him in office.  As a moderate, I could accept a Republican taking this swing seat if the guy was a policy wonk like Austin Scott or a conservative with a personal history of talking with various communities like Rep. Jack Kingston, Senator Johnny Iasakson or former Senator Sam Nunn.

Bishop came to congress 18 years ago after serving in a majority White state legislature seat; he prides himself on relating to and having a comfort level with everyone.  As a blogger, I watched the Keown campaign from day one and rarely saw them working to build relationships with my community.  The tone in Tea Partiers’ voice when then say “Barrack Obama,” “Sanford Bishop” and “Nancy Pelosi” is something different from regular Republicans.  You know the tone and if you have forgotten it shame on you.  Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Keown ran a strong race but some other congressional district or statewide position would be better for him and better for us.  Bishop won’t win this election if the people who gave him a mandate in 2008 don’t vote on November 2. 

An Albany city commissioner, who is also a Darton College professor, told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call that Rep. Sanford Bishop was a $100 million dollar industry in south Georgia based on this position on the House Appropriations Committee.  In one of the poorest areas of the nation, the voters shouldn’t drop a congressman who secures funding for economic development, training and job creation. 

This hard campaign has served the purpose of making Rep. Bishop aware that he must be in the middle of helping President Obama shape more-moderate policy if he wants a second term.  And that’s it; the reason far right conservatives want Bishop gone from the Democrat Caucus is so the remaining Dems are so liberal that the presidency will go their way in 2012.  The Tea Party candidate for president will be Sarah Palin and keeping Palin out of the White House starts with voting for Bishop on Tuesday. 

Did the Albany Herald ever ask Mike Keown about his opinion of a possible Palin presidency?   Keown keeps bring up my old boss Rep. Charles Hatcher, who Bishop defeated in 1992.  As one of the last loyal Hatcherheads, I can say Hatcher always said you don’t get rid of committee chairs and appropriators because they deliver for home.   Hatcher knew the Farm Bill like the back of his hand and wouldn’t  jeopardize the provisions of interest to south Georgia by bouncing Bishop during tough times.

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I have never seen so many whining southerners in my life.  From think-they-are-victimized Tea Partiers to lethargic Obama supporters, a relatively small percent of the population could change the game as others sleep.  While driving an old pickup truck in middle Georgia this weekend, I came across a country song on the radio called “Lucky Man” by Montgomery Gentry.  The guy in the song basically stated he couldn’t complain when you break it all down.

The luckiest man in Georgia politics is GOP governor candidate Nathan Deal.  He might win the election on November 2, or take the contest into overtime with a runoff.  Libertarian John Monds is benefiting on some level from voters disenchanted with the negative campaign ads from the two major parties’s candidates.  Former governor Roy Barnes must be getting the message because in his new ad he sits behind a desk and ask the voters to make him governor again.

If or since Democrat voters are slow to come out for the general election, the Democrat ticket must “go hard” now.  The traditional GOP establishment must be watching the clock and eager to get this thing over before the political center notices that the Tea Party has commandeered their party and those cats are out there…really out there.   

There is an old joke about a football game between the insects and the bugs.  The insects came from behind in the second half once the centipede came in as running back.  The surprised coach asked the centipede “Man, where were you in the first half” and the centipede said, “In the locker room lacing up all these shoes.”  It’s the second half and fourth quarter, the Democrat team needs to lace ‘em up and get in the game or the next two years will be rough Coach Obama.  I don’t want to hear a word of whining from Democrats who didn’t push, pull or drag their friends and family to the polls.

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Could it be true: are some people too dim to vote.  I just noticed a comment on a post about John Monds, candidate for governor in Georgia from the Libertarian Party.  The comment said “he short as hell” and I did not know if the writer was referring to my picture with Monds or with Rep. Sanford Bishop.  Monds, Bishop, and MLK are all Morehouse Men and like Dr. Benjamin Mays of Morehouse they emphasize achievement and intellectual stature over physical stature.  

John Monds is taking the high road in a governor race that has seen negative ads after negative ads from candidates who aren’t generally considered negative people.  I think a cottage industry has developed in which people are more interested in making money from fundraising and media ads than actually winning the elections.

Monds has represented the LP movement well and introduced a southern style of the LP.  Nationally, the LP generally stands for freedom and liberty from government regulations and involvement.  Monds has pushed those principles without bringing up the marijuana card that could spicy up his numbers with some voters.  I am not for smoking cannabis or for gambling personally (gaming being another hot button issue) but many political observers would play that card with the current changes in California in mind.

Monds is a powerful man in Georgia politics because his governor bid could provide ballot access to the LP for future elections and his run will likely force a runoff.  Former congressman Nathan Deal is fighting to hold his base and former governor Roy Barnes is fighting to turnout the Dem base while attracting moderates.  Politicos I bumped into during the local HCBU’s homecoming all said the same thing: why are Democrats spending 30 million dollars on media buys and very little on the streets. 

“The streets” or Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations have traditionally been a method of awarding those with great community networking skills and those with well-earned reputations as community problem-solvers.  Today, that money goes to run more and more TV ads and the real winners during election season are HBO and Showtime—no commercials.

Mark my word and file this post: the down ballot Democrat candidates are suffering from a lack of GOTV and if the governor race goes into a runoff, Democrats are not coming back out because getting them out now is unbelievable hard.  Some Democrats are rumored to be voting for Monds as a protest for Barnes taking them for granted while courting conservative voters.

Again, are some people too dim to vote?  You have Dems who cried when Obama was elected but won’t vote in the mid-term elections.  We also have conservative voters whose views are shaped by TV and radio talking heads and the Tea Party Movement rather than seasoned public servants or policy wonks.  When did experience become a bad thing?   Rep. Charles Hatcher told me that lobbyists like dumb candidates and heavy turnover because congress is complex and under those conditions the lobbyists have the knowledge and power.

Recently, former governor Roy Barnes bumped into 8th district GOP congressional candidate Austin Scott and Barnes joked that a picture together would ruin Scott’s reputation.  Barnes was so right because the GOP voters want candidates who detest Democrats and Scott must cloak the fact that Democrats and Republicans down here consider him a bright and likeable guy.  Of course, there can be zero mention of the fact that Scott voted to change Georgia’s flag when Barnes was govenor.  If Scott wins next month, his history of voting his mind will put him at the top of the list of freshmen Republicans that President Obama wants to know.

That last line means that the conservative Austin Scott would be better for this White House than the current Democrat congressman Jim Marshall who is slamming Obama and Pelosi every chance he gets.

Come to think about it, I am taller in pictures than Austin Scott, Sanford Bishop, John Monds, Rep. John Lewis, Senator Johnny Isakson and Rep. Jack Kingston but that doesn’t mean a thing when we remember MLK’s line about contend of character.  (The same could be said about U.S. Senate candidate Michael Thurmond, who I never met.  He would be a great asset in the U.S. Department of Labor.)

In America, no one is too dim to vote.  However, we clearly have those who are too dim to realize the importance of voting but I am not worried because they didn’t read this long blog post.   If weed was legal or decriminalized, those dim cats would be even dimmer.  Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders is off on the marijuana issue.

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I watched the movie The Blindside on cable on-demand with my mother yesterday and she enjoyed the first football film of her eighty years on earth.  Watching a movie was a welcomed departure from the political campaign ads but that movie still had me thinking about election season 2010 which is more like the movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Moms understands football blocking and protecting the quarterback now.  Big Mike’s Crusaders football team seems like the Democrats and that would make either President Obama or Rep. Sanford Bishop the quarterback. 

The massive, quiet and undeveloped talent of Big Mike brings to mind Obama supporters.  While we are in the proverbial fourth quarter and the clock is ticking, the gentle-natured giant that is the Democrat base needs to get aggressive and start blocking.  In sports, few things are more gruesome than watching an unsuspecting quarterback get hit on his blindside.  Rather than staying in the pocket, his first inclination is to start running up field alone.  As the rapper rhymed in “Walk it Out,” even Jesus had twelve disciples and don’t start that Obama Messiah talk again.  But, it does seem like that gospel song that say “must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free…there is a cross for everyone…there is a cross for me.”  Mr. Luke could raise that hymn at St. Johns in Poulan, Georgia, during my childhood.   My point is everyone needs help.

The coach and the quarterback can only do so much; they need blocking and play execution or the game is over.  While continuing the football parallel, we must acknowledge the tenacity and determination of the other team.  As we say in the South, it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of fight in the dog.  The GOP and their injection of adrenaline/steroids known as the Tea Party is undersized but hard-working and crafty. 

About size, it burns my britches to hear Tea Party folks (some of whom are my friends) say,  “All I hear is this,” “everyone I know thinks this” or “Obama and the Democrats never listen to people because I told them what to do and they didn’t do it.”  Do you hear yourself?  Like Sandra Bullock’s character in that movie ,they seem to be living in a bubble on one side of town with zero knowledge about the existence of other parts of town.  But for God’s grace and mercy, Big Mike could have been any of us. 

Big Mike’s tutor (Kathy Bates) was the only Democrat the Tuohy family knew.  When Michael saw that famous Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting, he wanted to have a family holiday dinner for the first time.  I couldn’t help but think that some people realize the painting isn’t realistic because an old woman couldn’t hold a turkey that size at that angle without falling over. We should leave a tender moment alone because the same type ugly people who point out that turkey fact are the type people who spent November 2008 saying “it won’t work….America can never come together…I hope the young president fails with this hope and change crap.”  Norman Rockwell would have enjoyed the Blindside and likely voted for President Obama because the social progressiveness in his art is legendary.   From that old lady to Obama supporters, we should never underestimate our strength.

As President Obama repeatedly says, the Tea Party Movement Republicans have valid concerns about the size and role of government but I share the president’s concern with the TPM’s” my way or the highway” mentality.   They seem to ignore the people who voted for the other guys and want officeholders to do the same.  Okay, the ugliness of the TPM seems like the loudmouth football player that Big Mike eventually blocked off the field and into the stands. 

We have two weeks to start blocking for the Democrat quarterbacks or it’s game over.  I have always favored political teams and groups that look like a microcosm of America or my southern state.  Ask yourself if the TPM protest looked like Georgia.   While they are acting sweet and nice now, they showed they natural -sses during that healthcare debate and it seemed like 1968 all over again.  Oh regular Republicans like Senator Isakson and Austin Scott have a variety of supporters across the state but most of these TPM candidates listen and learn from people in their circle of friends and associates only. 

In The Blindside, that family and Michael learned about different ways of life and everyone grew.  That situation is similar to the positive energy that catapulted President Obama into the White House.  We were hopeful after lifetimes of ugliness, division and bitterness.  What kinds of people thrive on bitterness and smirk at every little misstep someone makes.  Is that really how someone wants to live life?  Who wants to carry rage and anger constantly in their hearts?  I know the national debt is too large and owing China keeps me up at night but did Democrats go crazy when Bush 43 made costly decisions about Iraq.  I, for one, respected the president and I would appreciate the same courtesy from my friends on the Right now. (And people in hell want ice water but they are not going to get it.)

That family in The Blindside must have been thinking about the benefits of developing that gentle giant; we shouldn’t be naïve.  President Obama, Roy Barnes, Sanford Bishop and other high-profile Democrats will be okay personally but I am more concerned with regular people like me who want to see our South move forward with positive energy rather than falling back into that classic “us reverse them” mindset.  President Obama sought counsel from the conservatives in congress when he took office but few would break ranks and enter a dialogue. 

I know for a fact that Rep. Bishop has always cultivated relationships with every type southerner.  While some aren’t watching the congressman’s blindside, many still have his back because he has had their backs during decades of public service.  You might get knocked down but just don’t stay down.

At this point in the game, we can’t blame the other team or the referees.  It’s time to collect ourselves, focus and start blocking for our team—play your position and the rest will take care of itself.  In football and in life, size and raw talent can be defeated by a determined and focus smaller opponent.  Winning at football and at this political game also requires good coaching, a little cheerleading and some motivational pep rallies.   Hell, Obama must quarterback, block, cheer and drive the team bus.  If we lose, we deserve it because we didn’t do our parts.

Some old friends recently started the facebook page Georgia TruthSquad and we will be having a few pep rallies—better later than never.  Sandra Bullock’s character has nothing on the lady who create GTS because she simply refuses to have her hometown represented by a TPM congressman.  I know too well that the coach of the GTS has no problem “motivating” the team.

Sidenote: I wrote the blog post below during the healthcare debate protest in the summer of 2009.  I turns out that I was wrong about the GOP creating a moderate section to balance the Blue Dogs.  That protest movement know as the Tea Party actually took over the GOP and they might win next month (if unchecked) by using time proven techniques.  It’s called winning ugly.  My daddy took a train from Macon, Georgia, to study agriculture and play football at North Carolina A&T in the 1930s when one of the best ag schools in the nation was just up the road in Athens.  He had to attend grad school years later at Tuskegee when one of the best ag schools was just up the road in Athens.  Oh, we have been down this road before and we are heading back to the future.  He was proud of Sanford Bishop but he never would have imagine Barrack Obama in 2008 or our complacency in 2010. 


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What in the world could get Obama supporters voting this election season?  Watching Fox Cable News for one hour.  That’s it; I have done it again and gratis I unfortunately add. 

The word unbeknownst comes up in conversational English rarely but many southerners work with people who “unbeknownst” to their neighbors are being brainwashed by the Rightwing media.  We aren’t talking about extremists or separatists; I am referring to average hardworking Americans who have been whipped into a frenzy by a constant dosage of well-crafted propaganda designed to pit Americans against Americans and drive T.V. and radio ratings.  Dig this: the ultimate goal isn’t necessarily winning elections.  The goal is getting gold..staying paid.

The propaganda is rooted in truth but amplified to a dangerous level.  For example, we all had radical phases in college but had to back off that “knowledge and wisdom” before we went too far.  Too much Public Enemy would make you slap someone and like get shot with a deer rifle.  (Flava Fav is dating whom again…and Ice Cube is America’s dad.)  

On the morning after the talent rich Atlanta Braves ended another season without a championship, the talent rich Democrats wonder why we can’t win when obviously helping hard-working people weather a rough economic storm.  It’s because Fox Cable News has twisted voters’ minds so well.  Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are collectively the anti-Christ or something.  Those people at Fox know what they are doing and they are very good at it. 

If you voted for Obama/Biden, you should have someone ducttape you to a chair that is out of arms’reach from the remote control and watch the national Fox cable channel for one hour.  The methods and ugliness of that channel will close the enthusiasm gap with a quickness and make you vote.  If not, you are doing the president wrong by voting for him but being ghost when the heavy lifting starts; he can’t do it alone.  The cats on Fox News are smart people and they know deep inside that Obama isn’t the things they are saying.  To be fair, MSNBC is fast becoming a Left version of Fox so turn to CNN and toss the remote out of the window.  

For the college kids, watching Fox News could be a new drinking game; take a shot every time you say “Say what” “Dam” or “Nasty.”  The Tea Party type Republicans aren’t your daddy’s GOP and as freshmen members of congress they would commandeer that party like the inmates running the asylum.

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I feel like Chicken Little but would perfect a little chicken—smoked with some John Boy and Billy barbeque sauce.  It’s hard for a brother to publicly admit a love for yardbird but it is time to tell the truth.  After watching a zillion campaign ads a month before the election, I wish those fellows would spend 5% of that money on some good old fashion barbeque chicken rallies so real folks can talk about the real mess we are facing.  The folks on the Right are out hustling moderates with those events this years.  

The Chicken Little thing comes from running around say that we should diversify our political portfolio by understanding moderation and some elements of conservatism.  Well, the Blue Dogs became the closest thing to Democrat conservatives and that put big Election Day targets on them.  Because political portfolios are like my nonexistent stock portfolios, we thought we should also hedge our bets my investing in some reasonable Republicans, those slightly over the political centerline.  That stock would have dropped like BP stock because the GOP got rid most of the few moderates in their ranks as they drove farther Right…scary far Right.  

Barrack Obama is Jimmy Carter and Sarah Palin is Ronald Reagan.  Like my homie Carter, Obama is the smartest guy on the planet but not smart enough to realize that our party doesn’t deserve him.  From Georgia Tech and the Naval Academy, Carter was a brainy president who campaigned telling the truth and wanted to govern the same way.  If we listened to Carter and changed our energy consumption in the 70s, our involvement in the wild Middle East could be limited to wanting peace rather than needing their oil. 

President Obama, like Carter, is too nice for the rough, sneaky world of politics.  Obama planned to help regular people and watch them show their appreciation my supporting Democrats at the polls.  Sugar, Honey, Iced Tea.  People didn’t appreciate Carter or Clinton and November 2 will be Obama’s unfortunate wake up call. 

You can’t help people who won’t help themselves.  President Obama and the congressional Democrats have done a good job during a terrible period and history will realize that fact.  Jimmy Carter has a vibe about him that seems to say, “If you would have listened to me.”

I can’t understand why the current GOP is loving on Ronald Reagan so much because everyone knows that the conservative movement has moved so far right that Reagan wouldn’t pass their purity test.  Reagan would be a Blue Dog.  But boy, ole boy, President Reagan had Hollywood style charisma; dude was a natural leader.   

Which brings me to natural leader Sarah Palin.  The GOP actual has quality presidential material sitting on the bench in Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.  But, No…that would be too much like right.  They want Palin and she is like butter because you know she is on a roll.

Sarah Palin, who has as much business being president as I have, is using this mid-term election to take control of congress and give President Obama hell.  But checking this out: she isn’t creating an army of regular Republicans—regular Republicans wouldn’t be too much different from Blue Dogs.  Palin is taking over with the Tea Party Movement and if she were successful next month she would be the GOP candidate for the White House.  If moderates don’t vote, we are greenlighting President Palin. 

I think Reagan would reject the whole witch hunt technique of the far Right and the birthers.  When big money and power are on the table, people will resort to anything.  As President Obama often states, the TPM is primarily regular Americans concerned with the size and scope of government.  But the brains behind the movement are nasty nerds who didn’t study political science in school; they studied marketing and got really good at it.  The same ad men who design marketing plans for soap, burgers and cars also design political plans that whip people into a frenzy of hate and divide this nation.  

Before his political career, Ronald Reagan was one of the few Americans who stood up to the witchhunting red scare of  Senator Joseph McCartney.  As Gil Scott Heron sang, “When other celluloid saviors were cringing in fear from McCartneyism, Ron stood tall.” Reagan went before the congressional committee and said that as a young actor he had various friends and some had usual political affiliations.  If Reagan were alive today, what would he think about the attacks Obama took during the 2008 campaign?

Gil Scott Heron broke it down in his classic “B Movie.”  The political song was about America’s desire to have a president who rode to the rescue like John Wayne in B Movies.  “..but since John Wayne was no longer available, we settled for Ronald Reagan.” 

The first line in “B Movie” (just before the righteous bass playing started) was “And the first thing I want to say is mandate my ass.”  He went on to say, “we have been convinced that 26% of the registered voters—not 26% of American people- forms a mandate or a landslide.”

Almost thirty years later, Heron’s grasp of political numbers is still important.  How big is the Tea Party Movement.  What the hell difference does it make because the most salient statistic is this: 100% of them vote.  Do we need chicken, fried fish, and one of those kid bouncy room things to entice regular folks to vote?  If we do, we deserve the Tea Party as mean-spirited leaders of this nation.  How is this for enticement—President Palin.  Beck and Limbaugh will tell you in a minute that their jobs aren’t running the nation but generating ratings. If a cultural civic war happens as a result, ratings will be off the chart—more money. 

We listened to Gil Scott Heron vinyl and tried to understand trickle-down economics.  A rich guy needs to be richer so he can get a bigger pool and I get my money as his pool cleaner.  They get the rest of the masses with church stuff; like Democrats are godless heathens. 

Democrats help people who don’t vote or follow politics but don’t let a football game come on the box.  I came up with a little test this morning:

Ask a southern guy to name as many SEC football head coaches as possible then ask him to name the same number Supreme Court justices.  Ask him to name as many NFL starting quarterbacks then name one U.S. Senator from that player’s teams’ state. 

My point is football is important but voting and good leadership directly affects your family and your wallet.  Conservatives generally aren’t bad people but their plans for leadership center on allowing people to suffer and struggle to encourage them to prove their condition—tough love style.  Vote for those you want to govern but by all means vote. 

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A Pyrrhic Victory is a victory offset by staggering losses.  King Pyrrhus’ of Epirus Army suffered tremendous casualties in the defeating the Romans in 280 BC—winning at all cost.  As a student, studying the massive loss of human life during the American Civil War was rough. 

Some observers have liken the current political battles to Pyrrhus’ situation since there are those who want to win with little regard for functioning after the election.  The GOP has been tossing out quality conservative incumbents because the likeable lawmakers have histories of attempting to serve all the people.  While it might be selfish, I have supported a Georgia senator from my area because his knowledge and leadership on agriculture and military issues helps key economic engines in rural Georgia. 

The Blue Dog Democrat who represents southwest Georgia is in a serious mid-term battle and the far Right is giddy about their chances. They should remember Pyrrhus or better, Pickett and Lee at Gettysburg.

While I am busy be selfish, I can’t understand why more voters in swing congressional districts are standing idly by as a relative small group of very involved activists, Tea Party, shape elections and policy. From President Obama down to my city block, Democrats are too freaking nice…to each other.  I have seen the enemy and it’s the complacent face in the mirror.  We should find solace in the fact that our lack of voting produced the coming results.  

A bust of Pyrrhus in a Copenhagen museum is missing it’s nose. I couldn’t help but think about wild voters in 2010 who seem eager to cut off their noses to spite their faces.  That Georgia Senator has a staffer who evidently wrote something ugly on a blog when he or she should have been protecting the farm bill provisions on crops, nutrition programs and renewable energy so our southwest Georgia troops can return home soon rather than being entangled in hostile oil-rich regions of the world.  Pyrrhus and I wouldn’t have been cool because I am selfish and hella practical.  

I am pleased to see the White House finally pushing their supporters to the polls with references to their legislative record–talk about your Pyrrhic Victories.

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People who skip voting this year are nuts who should be shunned.  In rural Georgia, we spend hours every Friday night at high school football games but early voting takes less time than a marching band’s halftime show.  What’s up with this one or two tubas stuff?  We had an army of tubas back in the day but today I can’t feel the bass.  In the political arena, I am hearing too much from the highs and little from the bottom (the bass or base).  We are selecting decision makers and nothing tickles off your fancy boss more than knowledge that his vote carries as much weight as yours. 

After the success of the Clinton’s presidency, Gore should have been a shoe-in if the working people they helped simply would have voted.  If you don’t vote, you have zero right to gripe and moan about governmental policy.  Hell, we should have paid attention to the process starting in the primary season because good candidates from any party should be heard. 

South Carolina GOP Rep. Bob Inglis has spent the time since his primary defeat telling it like it is. He should have spoken sooner because some of the cats about to take power are out there–really out there.  As President Obama says, they are concerned Americans and their commitment is admirable but let’s be civic.

Support reasonable candidates from both major parties because those people Inglis calls the Flame throwers are reckless.  You don’t want to win a high school football game in a dirty manner and the same should apply to elections and governing.  After winning elections, winners must then govern.


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I was in a discussion this weekend about the worst-case scenarios for election night in November; the situations and outcomes that should have been debated and considered now. 

Lately, the GOP in Georgia has been taking heat in my community because African American (AA) candidates Dr. Deborah Honeycutt and Melvin Everson couldn’t make it out of their primaries; the GOP voters spoke and the message bounced from GA to DC. 

Former Governor Roy Barnes, who beat a field that included long-time Attorney General Thurbert Baker, heads the Democrat big ticket.  The Black community supported Barnes for governor over African American Baker because they thought he had the best chance of winning.  Frankly, a Black president and a Black governor at the same time just weren’t going to happen in the Deep South.

Barnes’ strategy seems to center on adding White moderates to the Dem base.  But courting the center requires running from President Obama and national Democrats.  Once again, the base gets taken for granted.  Barnes and conservative Democrat Jim  Marshall are slamming Obama’s health care reform with a risky passion but hey, what can the AA voters do since they won’t vote for the GOP candidate? The wild card in the race is Libertarian John Monds who is a Morehouse Man and Omega Psi Phi just might get enough votes to tip the election. 

The big Dem ticket includes AA candidates Michael Thurmond, U.S. Senate; Darryl Hicks, Secretary of Labor; and Georganna Sinkfield, Secretary of State.  While I think every candidate runs to win, my friends feel these candidates real value is to get out the Black vote and to help Roy Barnes secure the Governorship. 

We must read the signs…literally.  If you see a campaign yard sign for the GOP candidate for governor, you also see a cluster of other GOP signs.  The same situation is true on the Dem side in my community.  On the other side of town in areas of people who don’t look like me, you see Barnes signs and that’s it. 

In other words, the White support Barnes will receive could only be for Barnes, the White and Black congressional Blue Dogs and that’s it.  Is it every man for himself?  The Dem ticket is D.O.A. without new voters who love President Obama and we are noticing the slighting he is receiving from his team. 

That slighting seems to justify the vigorous campaign for Sanford Bishop’s seat.  Okay, let me get this right: one of the most conservative Black members of Congress gets the biggest target.  Mind you, Rep. Jim Marshall’s district was won by John McCain in 2008 and Austin Scott, the GOP candidate against Marshall, has a functional relationship with Blacks in his district and Blacks in the state legislature.  Bishop must be flattered because the GOP really wants to remove a moderate CBC member so that the CBC will be as liberal as possible as they prep for 2012.  The GOP is good at being bad. Dam good.  Marshall isn’t catching the heat that some Blue Dogs are experiencing because he remembers Polonius’ speech from Hamlet—To thy ownself be true- and he votes “no” on major Dem legislation before bragging about it back home.  They must think real Democrats won’t notice. 

The worst-case scenario would be that all of the big ticket Blacks will end up having a bad election night while Marshall and Barnes win.  If the governor’s race goes into a runoff, you can best believe my community would not come back out.  Barnes is a smart guy and has time to adjust his approach.  I am going to need President Obama himself to personal explain why we should care about Marshall. 

Another worst-case scenario would be far Right conservatives taking over the congress; people who have little involvement or past interaction with folks different than them.  On Meet the Press today, David Gregory played an old clip of Rudy Giuliani talking about the big tent that is the GOP and their numerous moderates.  When asked if that was still the case, Giuliani didn’t have much to say.  Rep. Jack Kingston under congress as a firebrand in the early 1990s but the tide as changed so much that GOP Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina, who lost to a Tea Party candidate, rightly points out that Kingston is now one of the only the voices of reason in South congressional politics. 

On the bright side, President Obama’s White House might be pulled toward the center after election night or maybe before.

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You should take one for the team.  That’s what a baseball player (like on the Bad News Bears) does when letting a pitch hit him.  In the 90s, Chelsea Clinton’s new mother-in-law did just that to help pass Bill Clinton’s budget plan by one vote.  As a congressional freshman, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky knew the plan was good for America and that it was political suicide in her district—always try to do the right thing.

Texan J.J. Pickle voted for civil rights legislation after famously saying, “Lyndon, I can’t vote for that…that’s political suicide in Texas.”  LBJ then listed all the appropriations projects he was going to pull from Pickle’s district.  Pickle survived had a sweet suite in the Cannon House Office Building for years—his constituents could stand behind him while he sat at his desk and get a photo with the Capitol dome in the background in the window.  All politics is local at the end of the day.

On a trip back to D.C. a few years ago, I met Georgia Rep. David Scott on the corner outside Pickle’s old office.  He was nice to my friends and me.  I hate that Dr. Deborah Honeycutt and Scott are in the same congressional district because I think she could add a Black woman’s calmness to the House Republican conference and heaven knows they need it.  If given the opportunity to support less enraged Republicans, our community should take a good look. 

I had to get around to Chairman Charlie Rangel.  He was the epitome smoothness when I was a staffer.  We said he sounds like a Black Ralph Karmden from the Honeymooners.  “Norton….Norton…pal of mine.”  Today, we wonder if Rangel has any pals on Hill.  People who read his book “And I Haven’t Had A Bad Day Since” or who saw him promoting it on Cspan know he survived some of the bloodiest fighting in Korea and was hero for leading other troops out of a Chinese encirclement in freezing weather.  He should cut a deal with the House to make this situation go away and then he should gracefully retire to the Dominican Republic.  (I kicked it in Sosua, D.R. and had a fine time…muy bueno.)

Rep. Rangel should take one for the team because his minor infractions could tip the balance in November.  He was a mentor to my southwest Georgia congressman and other members of the CBC.  Let me say this in no uncertain terms: if Sanford Bishop doesn’t win in November, the CBC and the White House will gut farm programs like a fish.  Rep. Mike Espy of Mississippi and later Bishop championed these programs inside the CBC and over time members learned that farms and agricultural operations are vital to rural America’s local tax base—farms fund schools.  While the Tea Party Movement would love that seat, south Georgians should think hard before bouncing a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. 

I think Bishop’s opponent knows that redistricting is around the corner and a strong showing in 2010 might convince his former colleagues in the statehouse to put his county in a more consevative district.  Of course, he wants to win now but the power and knowledge of SDB is important in this struggling region.  When or if the Democrats hold the House, SDB could be an appropriations subcommittee chairman—we called them cardinals.

At church yesterday, I was thinking about Abraham, Isaac and sacrifice—you know, the Ram in the brush story.  Like in a lifeboat at sea, the collective must decide who should be sacrificed so most can survive.  I am a moderate who will admit that Isakson is the Republican in the Georgia delegation with the best relationship in the Black community and Bishop is similar in our party.  Bishop has caught heat from city liberals and CBC members for supporting issues of importance to rural America.  If someone must take one for the team, lean into the pitch or be the Ram in the brush, it should be the Democrat who is the least Democrat.  That would be Rep. Jim Marshall of Macon.  This White House and the DNC should protect loyal members like David Scott, Sanford Bishop and John Barrow first. 

In 1993, a snowstorm caused the House of Representatives to have a half day and I went to the Union Station to see Schindler’s List.  My goodness, I could tell by the support from family members that a few people in the crowd were actual Holocaust survivors.  While that was one of the roughest movies of my life, one somewhat comic scene relates to this blog post.  A ruthless German officer had prisoners lined up and he shoots a man while trying to discover who stole a chicken.  A teenager step forward and reveals that he knows who the food taker is.  The teen points down at the dead man and the German believes him. 

The boy was wise enough to think that this poor fellow is already gone; let him be a sacrifice so that no one else dies over a chicken.  The Democrats aren’t crafty enough to think that if a member of the Georgia delegation must be sacrificed, it should be the one who is political gone already. 

Let me tell you what might happen: the GOP could be within a few seats of controlling the House and offer Marshall a chairmanship to switch parties.  Of course, he will take it and Democrats will come across as schmucks.  By the way: the second coolest Republican in Georgia behind Isakson is Jim Marshall’s opponent.  Is Michael Steele reading this?  Bro, this is the seat to get.  Say you want them all.  Right, and people in hell want ice water.

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The NAACP Scholarship Banquet in Tifton, Georgia, “advanced” me profoundly last night but then again, they say the hardheaded never learned.  In college, we were too radical to be involved with this organization.  It was all about Public Enemy’s lyrics like “Mandela..cell dweller…Thatcher, you should tell her.”  In retrospect, the grassroots chapters of the NAACP have brought us from a mighty long way.

Rodney King was at my table.  Not that Rodney King but a 20-year-old fellow who won’t hesitate to tell you about the good works of his church.  Both Rodney Kings spent a lot of time in the hospital but this R.K. is employed a Tift Regional Hospital.  When I told him that my mother was there last year for several weeks and that he was luck because that camp is “full,” he looked at me as if too say “I am protected my check rather than being concerned with that stuff on the job.”

Young people from King’s church served the food at the banquet while other young people sang and praised dance.  Two young students from the community received scholarships and words of wisdom from Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham.   Justice Benham told the audience that they were in the wrong place if they wanted to hear negative information about the community because he would be speaking about positive experiences.  While he spoke, a slide show of Black history flashed images from the March on Washington to Little Rock to Medgar Evers to Obama speaking to the NAACP.  Justice Benham remained us that the NAACP has been fighting the good fight for years.  In his official capacity, he has ruled for and against the organization’s positions but he appreciated their efforts. 

Justice Benham was introduced by a long-time friend of his who isn’t Black and several of the honorees weren’t Black.  I remembered that Whites have always been involved in the NAACP.  I also remember that like any organization the NAACP has local chapters that are as different as leaves on a tree (that is what Helen Blocker Adams says about the Augusta Tea Party events.)   President Rev. L. Chris Solomon and the Tifton NAACP chapter seems to emphasis community improvement and encouraging the youth. 

Since I am often alone, I thought I mastered taking cellphone pictures of myself—I had to get one with the anti-lynching slide.  When I when to take a photo with Justice Benham, who told me he married an Albany State University grad, a women asked me why would I take a picture of myself when she could have the professional photographer do it.  Again, the hardheaded never learn that some things require the help of others; it’s called community. 

One of the honorees was a county commissioner with a long history of cleaning up the community street by street.  I met her a dozen years ago and told her husband and her congrats on their civil efforts.   Morehouse student Ambrose King help organize a fine program.  With old friends at NAACP events and the other contributor on this blog speaking at Tea Parties, community involvement is happening while I am sitting at his keyboard….blogging.  

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I don’t care what anyone says; President Obama is exactly the president “candidate Obama” said he would be.  The problem is people don’t know how to listen.  He isn’t big on party politics because he didn’t spend that much time in the national arena before ascending to the top.  That’s why he is constantly looking for Republicans with whom to work.  He thinks that is natural and logical in D.C. 

Of course, the GOP leadership dares their members to seriously dialog with the White House—let them fail so the Red Team can take the presidency in 2012.  Can any good American really say “let them fail”?  “I hope Hurricane Katrina kills thousands so the Democrats can win in ’08.”  “I hope BP’s oil reaches Key West, turns and goes up the East Coast so we can get the White House back.”  How sick can someone be to think those thoughts? 

I don’t know the plans of the Democrats or Republicans but we Obamacrats still believe in changing the way Washington works.  (Okay, this is just me thinking out loud.)   First, we must remember that Obama is not Superman or the second coming.  He is a very smart person and I think he is malleable.  The president would come toward the center if it produces results and keeps decent conservatives from drifting into radical ranks on the far Right  The center is mandatory to lead in America–belive that.

The situation with Mrs. Shirley Sherrod shows what I have always known: Obama is not familiar with the plight of southern Blacks because he thankfully has not been through our troubled past.  I am glad the brother grew up around sweet people and it reflects in his considerate nature but is he mean enough to scrap like Clinton—Bill and/or Hillary.  Mrs. Sherrod’s Baker County, Georgia, is similar to Hope, Arkansas so Bill knew how nasty things could get.  Speaking of nasty, we should discuss the fact that thuggish youth of all colors are more of a domestic terror threat than the Klan and the  Taliban put together.  In the public policy arena, one must have a certain amount of nasty in them. 

How can we help our community during this election season?  We should support our traditional candidates but develop a line of communication/dialog with a select group of reasonable conservatives (wrestle them from the Far Right.)  If a candidate is lock-step with the far Right’s approach of misinformation and hate-speak, they should be defeated for pitting Americans against each other and scaring folks for political gain (the same applies to the far-Left.)  

In the 90s, our community overwhelmingly supported the Democrats. When Newt Gingrich and company took the Congress, we were toast.  Conservatives vote when the only election on the ballot is a run-off for dogcatcher but our community is fickle about hitting the polls. 

Obamacrats (Republicans, Democrats, and Independents) should dialog on understanding, policy and logic. Personally, I could trade a few anti-Obama Blue Dogs for conservatives who are about dialog with the whole community.  Senator Johnny Isakson would be the best example of such a Member of Congress and moderates should have as much influence with him as the Far Right.  Those conservatives would be essential for this White House over the next two years and the people will decide in 2012. 

President Obama is one of the smartest people in American history but he can’t know everything.  We remember governing without our community’s input and must work to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  The African American community is very diverse and our conservative brothers and sisters believe in a limited government than in many ways makes good common sense.  They should talk with their other family about the questionable methods and techniques of the recent past because maybe we can make progress or at least peacefully function. 

I still believe in the version or incarnation of Newt Gingrich that simply stated that the limited role of the federal government was to foster an opportunity for children to grow, learn and achieve if they focus, work hard patiently and keep it clean.  If not, the life they get will be the life they made.  I can live with that. 

I can’t live with people who benefit from the Obamacrats but ignore us or worst slam the White House.  Obama is a nice guy but the rest of us grew up with these scrappy Tea Party people.  Scrapping and calling someone out is nothing new to us.

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If Sarah Palin is Mamma Grizzly, I am naming Mrs. Shirley Sherrod the Brown Thrasher because since Palin and I were college students, Mrs. Sherrod has been fighting the good fight patiently. Notice how you can’t say “Shirley” or Sherrod anymore than you can say “Rosa Parks,” “Lena Horne” or “Nancy Wilson”—that’s how we do it in the real South.  “Mrs.” and “Mr.” are signs of respect.  The lady in the cafeteria is “Mrs.” and it is “yes madam”  –a lesson one Capitol Hill intern learn the hard way from yours truly.  It was a teachable moment. 

The Thrasher is the state bird of Georgia but most people did not know that until Atlanta’s hockey team took the name.  Mrs. Sherrod and Mr. Charles Sherrod have been encouraging Georgians to want more from themselves and aim higher for years–basically transition from the plantation mentality.  Their efforts to keep Black farmland in family hands were noble but as soon as granddaddy’s body was cold, that land was sold and the greedy grands were heading to the BMW dealership.   Land: they are not making any more of it.

Mrs. Sherrod taking that position with USDA was seen as the crowning event in a long career since she had been working for “rural development” her whole life.  Why do people sleep on the USDA?  Every person needs safe, affordable food; clean water and fresh air.  While urban improvement generally falls under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USDA covers the farmland and rural communities.  If you want to slow the flight of rural people into the bulging cities like Atlanta, it starts with Mrs. Sherrod and others (like me) who haven’t given up on small town America.  We can’t forget about the suburbs are which are blurring the line between city and country.  If you travel north on I-75, Atlanta starts about 15 miles above Macon.  There isn’t a wildcat in your backyard; you are in the wildcat’s backyard.  Watching young professionals move to rural areas, tend their own gardens and telecommute with their laptops is too cool.

Mrs. Sherrod should think Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Dr. Howard Dean, and Mike Huckabee then passing on that USDA job.  These former candidates are doing bigger and better outside elected office or governmental employment.  Book deal, T.V. show, and the lecture circuit—it’s her turn to have a victory lap and thanks to the tape-cutting blogger who made this all possible. 

We shouldn’t forget that Mrs. Sherrod was speaking freely on the mic about race—a little too freely when you work for “the man” —even when “the man” looks like you.  You want to have a national discussion about race relations in America.  Let’s do it.  Let’s put the NACCP in the room with the Tea Party and toss in the moderates.  They will discover what wise people already know: we are all Americans with common interests who have plenty reasons to be mad.  But, blowing a gasket will not help anything…so simmer down, have some Sweet Tea and let’s get a better understanding of each other. 

Coming soon, The Sherrod Show on Fox News.  It’s fair and balanced.

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Lincoln and Booth

This drama about the Tea Party movement and the NAACP has me thinking.  Are racists at Tea Parties?  Yes.  Are racists at NAACP rallies?  Of course.  If you get a big group of people together, heaven only knows who is in the crowd.  Anyone who says Blacks can’t be racists is delusional.  Is that racism justifiable?  Is the thug mentality more detrimental to our community than racism?  I better leave that alone.     

PBS’s brilliant documentary about the assassination of President Lincoln includes a photo with John Wilkes Booth in the crowd at the second inaugural.  The last paragraph of that great speech reads:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 

As a congressional staffer who lived blocks from the Capitol, I found myself stopping by any rally on the National Mall on Saturdays because I was compensated to serve as a conduit of information between all the people and my congressional bosses.  From pro-gun to gun control, pro-choice to pro-life, treehuggers to drill in the tundra, I listened just so I could say I listened.  The fetus pictures at the pro-life rallies were as rough as the concentration camp pictures at the Holocaust Museum. 

The Million Man March was a historic event but without doubt there were some people in the crowd who had considered taking the fight to another level; that’s what zealots on both sides do. I like to think that positive messages from that event introduced peaceful options to them. 

All of my African American friends who are conservative have attended and/or have spoken at Tea Parties.  When they looked into the crowd, they were hoping that no signage when overboard.  Like President Obama, I understand and respect their concerns with the size and role of government.  Of course, I also have moderate African American friends who wonder if leaders of the traditional civic rights organizations are battling for equality or seeking to stay paid.  That’s the thing: organizers of groups on the right, left and center often have their personal income in mind before anything– this blogger needs to get paid also.  A ruckus is good for donations and the NRA guy and the Handgun Control lady could be dining together in a D.C. tony eatery…. private dining room of course.

As I say weekly, our community should be supportive of a few sensible conservatives or those really nutty folks will be running things.

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The term alienation of affection appears in divorce documents but it could apply in politics.  People grow apart or the person you thought you married doesn’t actually exist.  You wedded the image or façade created by that person.  Since we should avoid the victim role in America, it is your fault for not being a better judge of character or turning a blind eye to the obvious. 

“He is just not that into you” describe the divorce-like conditions between some incumbents and voters this year.  If you tell someone to do something and that person ignores you, the cat should be in the wind….out of here like last year…I am not saying you go to go home but…

Of course, the other party might argue that the relationship should continue because while not perfect he or she is the best available in the area.   In my community, we say it is better to be alone than in the company of fools.

If the Tea Party is busy divorcing candidates on the Right who go against their wishes, we should have similar discussions and action in the Center.  This idea could be the focus of proposed the Coffee Party or just Ghost Vote incumbents who assume they have us and hang with the Right too much.  Hey, uncles and aunts will tell you that you must take care of home or someone else will.

In politics and in life, you must “rehumanize yourself” if the machine or “the man” sees you as a statistic; remind those fancy people that the masses across the political spectrum are restless and why should the Tea Party get to have all the radical fun.

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Do you know about the cuttlefish?  I woke up at 4 this morning and an ABC News report introduced me to the cuttlefish, an amazing sea creature that changes itself to it’s surroundings in a classic defense technique.  This fish has no shell and is strangely colorblind.  You can make all the political comparisons to Blue Dogs, Scott Brown or Arlen Specter but the cuttlefish’s technique has worked for him for millions of years.  So, there.

In nature and politics, survival is key.  I have had fun in the past comparing Tea Party people (my old friends) with Howler monkeys and Blue Dog Democrats with chameleons but everyone must find what works for them.  First, most creatures in the political arena have America’s best interest in mind.  The questions are over how to get there and what techniques are fair and healthy.  The Tea Party starts with sound ideas and real concerns as stated by President Obama but they wisely sound loud which gives the impression of a much larger beast.  We will learn their  real size in November.

Centrists shouldn’t be labeled as chameleons in a negative way.  They simply reflect their surroundings.  Some marketing focus groups have discovered  that advantage can be gain by painting long serving elected officials as “career politicians” or “professional politicians.”  I personally want a professional  correcting my teeth, fixing my old truck and making my public policy.  An old school congressman once told me that if we had term limits the only experts on Capitol Hill would be the K Street lobbyists—and that is what they want.  He also said we have term limits; it’s called elections. 

(The following is only for my half dozen Tea Party friends)

Enough with the flip flop stuff and enough with the “those congressmen don’t listen to me” stuff.  Check this out right here: there are other folks in the South with you and they have opinions also.  These so-called career politicians must gauge the consensus of the area and make decisions.  At times, those decisions are a bit contrary to that official’s personal views but they were elected to serve the people…all of the people.   Average voters prefer leaders without the “my way or the highway” mentality.

When those officials let the vocal minority outweigh the “too busy to be vocal” majority, it’s time to consider new leadership.  That cuttlefish is a cuttlefish inside.. no matter what.  The political comparison ends when the fish that mastered camouflage is discovered.    

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In the film classic Purple Rain, Morris Day’s character laughed at Prince’s father attempted suicide.  Day’s band The Time (the best band ever) walked pass Prince’s dressing room singing, “let’s go crazy…let’s get nuts.”  Of course, the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy” starts with the line “when you call up that Shrink in Beverly Hills—Dr. Everything Is Going To Be Alright—instead of asking him how much of your time is left…ask him how much of your mind.”  I love the part that says “And if the elevator tries to bring you down..go  crazy…push a higher floor.” 

Some political observers see the Tea Party Movement as folks gone crazy while others see them as fed up good citizens.  I ask my TPM friends how can they question the legitimacy of the Obama presidency when I never question W Bush (Bush v. Gore, Weapons of Mass Destruction, spent surplus.)  

With any large movement, you have intent and methods.  You have the core and the fringe.  The TPM basically has sound concerns (as President Obama repeatedly states) but the methods of their fringe are sometimes Machiavellian or the End Justifies the Means.  I attended the Million Man March and dug 90% of the message but knew that I would bounce out the second I heard any hate speech.  As a congressional staffer covering judiciary issues, my Saturday afternoons were spent listening to rallies on the National Mall for and against gun control and abortion.  It seemed like the right thing to do—I was paid to listen to all sides.

Quick…name a leader with whom you agree 100%.  Now name one you disagree with 100%.  It’s a big person who admits that the loyal opposition has a right to govern if they win fair and square. Moderates and centrists are encouraging to me because we take elements of both sides into policymaking.  I have some close friends who are very conservative and I constantly ask them why they want to govern with a “winner take all” mentality.  They have no problem saying that they should govern that way because they are 100% correct—and we thought Kante West had the biggest ego.

I think I owe Rev. Jeremiah Wright a sincere apology.  Rev. Wright, I am sorry for punking out on you during the drama.  Come on now, we have all said wild things or attended events where a few statements were questionable.  But, the speaker or movement were fundamentally well-intended.  At different times, every member of the Georgia congressional delegation said something they wish they didn’t say…oh, they meant it but wish they didn’t say it. 

Rev. Wright gets leeway because he is a senior and a veteran.  In the South, there is no telling what Black or White seniors might say and we understand because they are from a different time.  The funny thing about Black nationalism is that the principles of self-determination, limited governmental involvement, achievement, shame and community are actually similar to the far-right. For example, Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich have found that they are singing from the same hymnal on education reform. 

I wonder if the same people who said President Obama should have walked out of Rev. Wright’s church if he heard one questionable word think people should leave a Tea Party behind one word or bad poster.  President Obama and I would say find the common ground, seek positive dialog and solutions, and at the appropriate time point out that some of the rhetoric was straight nasty and counterproductive.

Toward the end of Purple Rain, Morris Day knew he was dead-ass wrong for joking about mental illness and a guy’s family problems but he redeemed himself by cheering for Prince’s grand finale.  If Obama is successful, will the Tea Partiers acknowledge it?  No, they will say did it was bought with our grandchildren’s money.  Did the Right admit that Clinton’s budget actions were great?  No, they don’t roll like that.

Purple Rain ended with Prince’s “Baby Im A Star.”  I wonder if young Barrack Obama listened to this album, watch the movie and told his crew that he was going to be president because he “wasn’t gonna stop ‘til he reach the top.”  


Prince- Baby Im A Star

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I had the honor of submitting a Guest Column that ran in today’s Augusta Chronicle.

We can all embrace limited government and personal responsibility

Guest Columnist

Why is there so much resistance among a large number of African-Americans to the idea of limited government?

Is it because of its association with a party they are disproportionately not affiliated with? From a pragmatic point of view, if businesses were able to operate in the most efficient manner with as little government intervention as possible so they can grow and become more profitable, that would be reasonable.

Personal responsibility is another term that conjures negative images among many African-Americans, with its association to one political party. How and when did this happen?

I grew up in a household where we had to make up our beds before we came to the table for breakfast. The notion of lounging around the house with our pajamas on, on a Saturday, was not going to happen. Each of us (I have three siblings) had responsibilities and chores, and there was no discussion about that.

There is something liberating to me about personal responsibility. I remember having a baby-sitting job in my early years so I could have my own money. I also recall applying for and receiving scholarships and grants for college so my parents would have to fork out as little money as possible to help me, which allowed my siblings at home to have more. As long as I am able, I am going to do my part. I believe most people think the same way. But somewhere over the years, I believe too many of our elected officials have gotten in the way.

THIS COLUMN was not written to debate the argument of having government-funded social programs or the need for them. I believe we are all aware of those conversations and have heard them ad nauseam . But with all of the divisiveness and in-fighting among our national political leaders and political parties, I don’t see many of the social issues decreasing, do you?

Here are some statistics plaguing the African-American community.

– Black males lead the nation in incarceration. According to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, about 60 percent of Georgia black male high school students don’t graduate.

– In 2009, Richmond County had 26 murders; 15 of the victims (57 percent) were black men. In that same year, of those murders, 17 of the victims (65 percent) were black. Eighty-two percent of those arrested for these murders were black men.

– The largest number of people contracting HIV/AIDS is African-American women.

– In 2009, 77 percent of the known people having abortions in Richmond County were African-American women.

– Georgia has the eighth-highest teen birth rate in the nation.

l Richmond County has two ZIP codes in the top 10 with the highest number of incarcerated prisoners — 30906 and 30901.

There is simply not enough progress in resolving these social ills. It seems to be getting worse. With these statistics, ask yourself: Do you think they are going to get better if we maintain the same type of thinking or if we continue doing the same thing we have been doing? I think not.

This Thursday, April 15, there will be an event at Augusta Common — the Augusta Tea Party. Thousands of people will attend, and you probably also will be able to count on four hands the number of African-Americans present. What’s wrong with that picture?

Are there some overzealous individuals who may say and do things that are offensive and a little extreme? Maybe. Will there be talk against President Obama and Democrats? I would think so. There also will be discontented people who will have a lot to say about most of our congressmen — no matter their political affiliation.

But will the primary message of the Augusta Tea Party on Thursday be limited government and personal responsibility? I think so. Why? Because those are two cornerstones of the conservative ideology. And, yes, there are more conservatives associated with Tea Parties than anyone else. But why does it have to be that way?

LET’S LOOK BEYOND the negative images the national media project about Tea Parties. Let’s look beyond party affiliations and put our affiliation blinders on. What if we did something different? What if we embraced and implemented this train of thought of limited government and personal responsibility for, say, 30 days? Statistics have shown that when one does something for 30 days, it can become a habit.

What do you think would happen? Would the mind-set of an individual change a little? What would be the harm in taking personal responsibility and taking safer precautions with sex? Or encouraging kids that getting an education is really cool? Or finding a better way of dealing with anger and jealousy, and turning the other cheek?

What do we have to lose by trying and doing something a little different so we can better address the concerns that plague African-Americans?

Look at the big picture. Listen to the message of limited government and personal responsibility. I don’t believe these concepts should be a political or divisive issue because they affect all of us. Ask yourself: Is there a way I can wrap my arms around these concepts, along with what I already believe?

I am asking you to step out of your comfort zone and expand your thinking to embrace concepts you’ve never considered before.

I’m not talking about changing your political party, because frankly I believe it’s political parties, in part, that have gotten us in the mess we’re in now. I believe they have helped cloud our ability to engage in a civic dialogue too. It’s time to start bridging divides.

But I do want you to think about the statistics I’ve shared. Consider the questions I’ve raised, and try the 30-day exercise I’ve described. What do we have to lose?

(The writer is an Augusta entrepreneur and the host of a local radio talk show.)


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