Black Lives and Blue Lives

There’s a meme going around complaining that while mothers of “Young Men” (sarcastically printed in quotation marks) who were killed by police spoke at the Democratic National Convention, there were no family members of fallen heroes who were killed by “Thugs” (quotes mine).

Image described in paragraph above

But there were no family members of fallen heroes at the Republican National Convention, either. Family members of fallen heroes didn’t speak at either convention because we already agree that the deaths of police officers are tragic. That’s why we have severe penalties for violence against the police and compensation packages for family members of fallen heroes.

Those compensation packages would be more generous if Republicans didn’t fight against police unions. It’s only Republican lies that suggest Democrats are against the police. Democrats do more to support the police than Republicans do, but we all agree that the police deserve our support.

What we don’t all agree on is that something should be done about the few rogue cops who murder or brutalize the citizens they’re supposed to protect. Republicans seem to feel that the lives affected by dangerous or murderous acts committed by police don’t matter, as long as it’s not happening in their own neighborhoods. They claim that it’s best to just shut up about it, and that even mentioning the fact that sometimes people are murdered by police is the same as calling for the deaths of good cops.

Except for a few bad actors, nobody is calling for attacks on the police. That’s why Hillary Clinton praised the 500 applicants who wanted to become police officers in the aftermath of the Dallas murders, and why she said of the police, after Baton Rouge “They represent the rule of law itself. If you take aim at that and at them, you take aim at all of us. There can be no justification, no looking the other way.”

In my city, where “Police hugs make Sydnee smile”, community leaders and the police are working together. For those in Suffolk, there will be a Unity Parade, during National Night Out, and community leaders and police departments across the nation are working together in similar outreach efforts.

Dead cops isn’t the answer, but neither is ignoring the problem. It’s too bad that the phrase “All Lives Matter” was born as an attack on the Black Lives Matter movement. Indeed, all lives do matter, Black lives and blue lives included.

Drawing for Redskins Game in support of the Suffolk Democratic Committee

The Suffolk Democratic Committee, Virginia is having a drawing for Four Tickets and a Parking Pass to the November 4th Redskins vs Panthers game.

The drawing will take place on October 7th, at four O’Clock, in the Suffolk Democratic Committee’s tent at the Suffolk Peanut Festival.

You can purchase tickets online from Act Blue

You will get an automated reply from ActBlue confirming your shipping address, but the drawing ticket will not be shipped to your address. Instead, the ticket with your name on it will be entered into the drawing for October 7th. We’ll contact the winner and confirm mailing information after the drawing.

Paxus of Twin Oaks

I’ve been using more graphics as per the advice of Paxus, of the Twin Oaks community in Mineral, Virginia. I enjoy reading about Twin Oaks and occasionally think about joining such a community, but Sasha and I are going off in our own direction, and when I stop obsessing about politics and economics I’ll get back to writing more about our farm.

What I like most about Twin Oaks is it proves that people can are motivated to participate in fulfilling the needs of their community even without the promise if individual wealth (or threat of being sent to the Gulag). Right wingers often accuse the Left of having so little faith in humanity that we need an authoritative government entity to force people to do the right thing. But at Twin Oaks, they have so much faith in humanity that they’re willing to base their success on the idea that people will willingly work for the common good.

The So Called American Problem

A friend of mine, on facebook, posted a link to a book by Philip A. Muhammad called The HipHop Nation: Willie Lynch’s Newest Slave. I did not read the book but I have read some of Brother Muhammad’s writing. Brother Muhammad says his book unearth’s the “truth and reality of governmental and corporate America and the slave master role they play on a global scale”. In other writing he makes clear who he blames. His website states that the “so-called American Jew is using the HIPHOP Nation and its Music, to transform slavery from a physical thang to a psychological thang”.

Brother Muhammad’s words are offensive and untrue. And yet they’re not baseless. Many Jewish people are movers and shakers in the entertainment industry. Many movers and shakers in the entertainment industry profit from Hip Hop. Hip Hop, at least in its worst form, is detrimental to the Black community. Therefore, many Jews are profiting from from the troubles of Blacks. But that’s a far cry from suggesting that there is a conspiracy of “So Called American Jews” to keep Blacks psychologically enslaved. Mr. Muhammad correctly describes behaviors that are detrimental to the Black community, including: “Referring to each other as Niggers”, “Growing ignorance of the world and the politics that govern it” and “Calling women bitches”. It is an absurd stretch of the imagination to lay the blame for this behavior squarely on the “So Called American Jews”, even if many Jews, along with non-Jews, promote it and profit from it.

But the blame for troubles in the Black community should not be laid exclusively at the feet of Black people, either. Doing so denies that slavery, followed by a century of Jim Crow, followed by good-hearted but detrimental efforts to alleviate poverty have lasting effects throughout generations. Slavery and the institutionalized bigotry of the past continue to cause problems today. The most lasting effect slavery had on the African American community was the destruction of the family. This was, and to a degree is still worsened by misguided efforts to help. When the best thing a poor man can do for his family is disappear, that creates long lasting detrimental effects.

Muhammad’s hateful rhetoric, along with that of non-Blacks who assume no responsibility for problems in the Black community, deny the “American” in “African American”. Communities are willing to help those people that they consider their own. But many Americans don’t see Black people as part of American society. That includes African Americans like Philip Muhammad who primarily blame non-Blacks for their troubles and who prescribe isolation from the American community as the solution.

What should be done? Improve schools in poor neighborhoods. Put more cops in high crime areas and support programs that improve relations between the police and the neighborhoods that they patrol. Provide health care to children. Support programs like Head Start, which not only provide education and developmental services for young children but also provide daycare to allow single parents to find work. According to one study, the “society receives nearly $9 in benefits for every $1 invested” in Head Start programs, but Head Start and similar programs are on the chopping block of Republican budget reforms.

What should not be done is laying blame for Black troubles at the feet of any single racial, religious, or ethnic group. We are all Americans. The troubles in Black communities are an American problem.

Memorial Day

As we enjoy the holiday and the beginning of Summer, let us take time to remember that some people fought and died in service to this country. Whatever your feelings about any particular war, our security depends on the strength of our military, derived in part by the willingness of our warriors to put themselves in grave danger without hesitation. We have been served by their bravery and sacrifice.

The purpose of this holiday is to give us, the citizens of the United States, time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by others in service to us. Let us spend at least a moment today doing so.

A Next of Kin Relationship

In “An Unfinished Life”, there are two wifeless but heterosexual men who are very close. They are so close that one of the other characters assumes that they are lovers. But they’re not. And that’s good, because if there’s one thing I don’t want to see it’s Morgan Freeman having sex with Clint Eastwood. The movie is worth seeing. Jennifer Lopez looks good as always, and if you do fly other way, you might like the cowboy hats.

With or without sex, two people can be closer to each other than they are to anyone else. They could be injured war buddies who are unable to have normal relations; They could be old friends, each of whom has lost their husbands; Or, possibly, they could be gay lovers. The point is, nobody has to ask. Why couldn’t two people who are closer to each other than any member of the opposite sex, and are committed to sharing their lives together, enjoy the benefits that come from a next-of-kin relationship?

The various domestic partnerships that have been proposed as a substitute for gay marriage received hostility from anti-equal-rights advocates because even though they weren’t called “marriage”, they were framed as a marriage with a different name to appease homosexuals. The hostility was hateful and wrong, but it was powerful. And the way the domestic partnerships were framed as vehicle exclusively designed for gay couples meant that they would not be used by others who could, and should, be allowed to take advantage of them.

I would call the relationship a “Next Of Kin Agreement” or something like that. I realize that there would be little more than a semantic difference between that and a “domestic partnership”, and I realize that most of the people who would take advantage of it would be gay lovers. But framing the debate differently would support gay couples while allowing other deserving people to take advantage of a legal acknowledgement of their relationship.

I also realize that my timing for this post is pretty lousy. It’s too late now to prevent the travesty that has occurred in Virginia, a wide sweeping law which not only prohibits gay marriage but anything “bestowing the privileges and obligations of marriage”, even if granted in a different state. But if the issue comes up again, maybe we come up with something even better and more inclusive than what marriage equality advocates were hoping to achieve in the past.


Recently, I was trying to make a right turn but was blocked by the car ahead of me. That car would be going straight but was blocked by a traffic jam on the other side of the intersection, and the traffic jam was caused by a passing train. Since trains move kind of slowly through downtown Suffolk, this was probably going to take a while. If the driver would just move up about a foot, I could get by. But my presence, as my left headlight got closer and closer the other car’s right taillight, wasn’t enough to motivate the driver to budge.

I sat fuming for a while. There was a car behind me also signaling for a right. Then I stopped fuming. I got out. I walked over to the driver’s door, and politely asked her if she could give me about a foot. She did. As I passed I gave a little “thank you” wave, and she waved back.

When I told my wife about it, we started talking about how afraid people are to talk to each other. It’s not without cause. My wife remembered a Dear Abby letter, written by a woman who regretted pushing her husband to confront a group of loud teenagers. One of the teenagers shot and killed him.

Bad things happen, but I think the chances of getting shot because you decided to speak up to a stranger are pretty low. Compare that to the actions of people who take real risks in service to others. We say we honor our heroes for their sacrifices to make our country better. How can we truly honor them, besides talking and slapping stickers on our cars? I think we can honor them by assuming a little bit of risk ourselves in order to make our community a little more friendly. I’m not suggesting we all go out and confront everyone about everything. I’m not about to do so myself. I’m just going to do a little less fuming and a little more engaging.

It’s important to be polite. Spreading anger won’t help much.

Our fear, or aversion, to engage each other is feeding a cycle of fear and mistrust, and those occasions where we’re forced to confront each other will become more and more unpleasant. If we make an effort to increase our involvement with the people around us, our country will be a better place. It’s a small risk to take, but it’s worth it.