What Being Republican Means to Me

Since publishing my ballot and reasons, I’ve come under fire *once again* regarding my loyalty to the Republican party. From YR chairmen to GOP county chair leaders, my worthiness (and apparently right to continue to participate) is on the line. I was even chastised for spending ‘too much time’ in the ballot box. Informed and thoughtful voters be damned! Not only that, but my principles have been called into question for committing the ultimate sin and not casting a straight ballot, so… I figured if I characterized Republicanism in my own words, maybe people would have a better understanding.


Republica state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.
Republican(of a form of government, constitution, etc.) belonging to, or characteristic of a republic.
Republicanismthe ideology of governing a society or state as a republic (la. res publica), where the head of state is a representative of the people who hold popular sovereignty rather than the people being subjects of the head of state.


I think we all (would like to think we) have a firm understanding of the political and  policy definition of ‘Republican’, but as far as within the party and the membership card, where do we stand? What does that mean?

Something I noticed since voting is that Libertarians are happy if you vote for one or for all four of their candidates on the ballot. They are truly grateful for even one of your votes, even a consideration, and express a genuine concern for why you didn’t on the others. I have personally experienced this myself. Naturally, it made me wonder when Republicans stopped doing this? When did we garner our own sense of ‘GOP entitlement’ that we deserve votes and don’t have to thank people for them? (Side note, but try to keep this in mind for later.)

If you look to the GAGOP website, it’s cloaked individualism and freedom. In giant letters, the message is resounding. 2 of my 3 favorite words. Maybe 2 of my 5 or 7 favorite…I like words. I digress.

But most importantly, I agree. As a Republican, I do choose freedom. Freedom to expand the party outside of what it has been. Freedom to question, to think, to challenge. Freedom to change my mind, to call out a wrong, to expect better. The freedom to know that I can step away when it’s not fitting just right, but return when it is. The freedom to break the unwritten rules without facing a lifetime of exile. The freedom to select various individuals based on what suits me.

I’ve yet to have a conversation with a politically-unplugged friend of any age who fits into a perfect Republican box. But I tell them to come anyway. To vote where they can and try again next time. Republicanism, to me, means that as a voter, you come as you are and we will take what we can get. Being Republican means accepting those that don’t identify as a Republican voting on our tickets. (No more of that shaming nonsense like in CD-10 runoff.)

I believe the Party stands for limited government, not limited discourse. Limited government because individually, we each know what is best for us – not anyone else in regards to anything: healthcare, taxes, social issues, voting, party affiliation. All of it.

I don’t believe being a Republican means force-feeding a plate of food when I’m allergic to all the ingredients. I believe you can hold your nose under the right circumstances. I understand the concept. I held my nose for Romney and for McCain. The candidates were not my first pick but at the time, I was able to reconcile casting a vote for them. So I did. And I probably will again.

I believe the Republican party has deep roots in strong foundations like Washington, Jefferson,  Locke and Von Mises. I believe that if you value any of those, you have a purpose. (I’d really like to ditch Lincoln, but no one asked me.)

To me, Republicanism isn’t just about government and it doesn’t just ‘happen’ during election cycles. It isn’t about telling people “you’re either with us or against us”. Being a Republican means that my definition doesn’t have to match yours. It is exactly what they keep telling us it is: individual freedom. In every way possible.

Maybe I believe in something that is already gone or maybe something that is only getting started.

So I Voted on Saturday…

LibertyVotingPants

Let’s first establish a few foundations before we get started:

  • I don’t take any of my voting responsibilities lightly. While my U.S. Senate vote was decided early this summer, I mulled over the Governor’s race for quite some time. So much so, that I stood in front of the ballot box for a solid 10 minutes before pressing the button. The decision did not come easily.
  • The fun and excitement over the chance to influence your government is nonexistent and exercising your vote is less than exhilarating. This election cycle has been atrocious. My hope for insiders is dwindling.
  • I don’t believe anyone deserves a vote. You either earn it or you don’t.
  • As a voter, I’m a hard sell. The ‘straight R thing‘, as we know, doesn’t butter my biscuit and neither does the rhetoric of ‘It’s the most important election of our lifetime’. The rhetoric just makes me dig my feet deeper in the mud to oppose what you’re saying. I’m still open-minded enough to be convinced, but I need solid reasons. Paint me something pretty.

So, with that…

U.S. Senate
I voted for Amanda Swafford. Let me offer a little ‘why’ context since this has easily been the bane of my existence in the GOP this cycle. I  couldn’t hold my nose to vote for Perdue because ‘we need control of the Senate’. Should he lose (though I don’t believe he will), feel free to blame me, shame me, or kick me out…but his complacency with Dodd-Frank and his belief that the Second Amendment has exceptions were both deterrents for me. (While I understand he will likely never address ‘campus carry’ in office, a principled conservative would never make such statements. And I fear for what is beyond that statement) I’ve also not seen him address what he believes the role of a U.S. Senator to be or the effect of the repeal of the 17th Amendment. Amanda Swafford proven to me that she has a better understanding of these things, and that is why she earned my vote. It was not a wasted vote.
(I tried really hard to not put Perdue down while lifting Swafford up, but it was difficult. His team and his supporters with their shaming people for thinking differently played a huge role in my abandonment of the ship. They never tried to win me over, only shut me up. And also “Because not Michelle Nunn, therefore Perdue” has never been an acceptable reason for me.)

Governor of Georgia
Nathan Deal
I know, you’re all shocked that I have the ‘mental capacity to think critically‘ about the role of this office and the repercussions of a Republican not holding it. (I would like to make it perfectly clear that my reason for voting for Deal has nothing to do with the reasons Rep. Coomer offered and if there was ever a deterrent to steer anyone from Deal, it was that dismal interaction.) I would also like to say that I still believe our legislature would be much more conservative if we had a democrat governor, despite the fact that I don’t want a democrat governor. I have, though, seen first-hand that the Governor can be open-minded with the right amount of pressure coming from the right places on legislation. I don’t buy into the attacks from the democrats simply because one man cannot fix everything – similar to Obama not being responsible for everything. I do believe – ethics aside- Georgia is a great place to build a business and raise a family. Deal can’t fix it all nor is he the cause of it all.
Additionally, the rest of our state isn’t solid enough to host a Dem Governor. I do want to see legislation signed into law, so Jason Carter was never an option for me. Recently, Andrew Hunt made a few teensy-bit-too-progressive statements for my small L leanings, however, I support his initiative as a 3rd party candidate and am thankful for his purpose this cycle. I also still hope a large percentage of people vote for him.

Lieutenant Governor
SKIP.
His relationship with the Board of Regents, among other things, makes it impossible to support Casey Cagle. And I won’t if he runs for Governor. Write that down.
(I actually wrote in Delvis Dutton. Something about LG office reform legislation.)

Secretary of State
I did cast a vote for Brian Kemp because I can’t imagine the atrocities of a liberal Secretary of State. I also don’t think he’s done a horrible job with his budget. I am hopeful for a working website and smaller photos in a second term.

Attorney General
While Sam Olens hasn’t exactly been kind to me, my friends in the political realm tell me he is incredibly responsive and I respect the battles he has chosen to fight on behalf of our state. I know he has a tough job considering synchronization between his office and the legislature is virtually non-existent. He has done a good job on the battlefield.

Commissioner of Agriculture
SKIP.
Between the battle against Glennville farmer Delbert Bland and his Liberty onion war and the whole bout bringing corporate farmers to the raw milk hearings during the 2014 session to squash conversation concerning freedom of choice, I found it was best to sit on my hand in this race. (If you would like me to elaborate on some of the food freedom problems, email me.)

Commissioner of Insurance
Ted Metz, a Libertarian. The incumbent, Ralph Hudgens, lost my vote several weeks ago and here’s why. The photo below is from an elevator in my office building taken 10/24/14. You can see that the permit is expired and by several months. I have phoned Mr. Hudgens’ office not once, but twice in the last month – both following the times I was trapped in said elevator. *Twice* I have not received a call back. (I recognize the responsibility on the property but clearly there is a disconnect) Responsiveness is key and it will cost you votes.

hudgens.elevator

State School Superintendent
Richard Woods because I am looking for a candidate who will oppose intervention of the federal government at all stages whether it be guidelines, standards, recommendations or mandates. I also met him in person during the primary and liked what he had to say.

Commissioner of Labor
Finally, a person for whom I was proud to cast a vote. Mark Butler has done nothing but make the Department of Labor more efficient… from labor costs within the office to streamlined electronic processes (which were lacking before)…he deserves a slow clap. He has earned my vote for another 4 years.

Public Service Commissioner 
Doug Everett (R)
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (R) 
Because, meh.

State Senate District 6
Hunter Hill. He’s doing just fine.

State Representative District 52
Joe Wilkinson, bless his heart, was one of a handful of Republicans who voted against the comprehensive gun bill during the last session, and while I respect his ability to represent the great city of Sandy Springs all the way from his satellite constituent services office in St. Simons, I just couldn’t vote for him. I left that baby blank.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

A-  To prohibit an increase in the state income tax in effect January 1, 2015 (Senate Resolution 415)
Yes. Obviously.

B- Adding reckless driving penalties or fees to the brain and spinal injury trust fund (House Resolution 1183)
No. I don’t support imposing more fees so they may be added to another fund. If you read the resolution, you’ll see that this language is a tad, and by a ‘tad’ I mean ‘wildly’, misleading.

C- Allows property owned by the University System of Georgia and operated by providers of student housing and other facilities to remain exempt from taxation.
No.  — I don’t like “other facilities” because it is not specific enough and equally, I am rather tired of the USG and their special privileges while everyone else is taxed into oblivion. It may impact tuition, but enough is enough.

I want this cycle to be over so bad I can’t stand it. I’m tired of everyone arguing over candidates and I’m ready to go back to just disliking people for who they are, not their politics.

It would be accurate to say that I probably lost a little bit of my soul on Saturday. But not showing up to the polls is not protest, it is surrender. And I will never do that.

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Why I Can’t Care About My Vote

I knew it when I made my decision early in the summer. I knew people would be mad. I knew some GOP folks would be disappointed and I knew some ‘expected better.’

People are mad as hell about us non-straight-ticket voters. We’re wasting votes, they won’t count, it’s a vote for Reid/Obama/Pelosi/Jimmy Carter/Hitler, it’s unprincipled, it’s wrong. In reality, I’ve never publicly stated who I’m voting for in which races and I’ve been rather critical of all the candidates…because no one is perfect. I’ve been honest with those that ask. But even the idea of questioning has put me on the chopping block with people I call friends.

There are folks who have stopped calling, texting, engaging. They feel they have to distance themselves from me, politically…at least “through the election cycle.” Because that’s what a lot of political friends are…surface level. Whether they’re angry, bitter, scared, I seem to have become a threat to their credibility. Seems like most people just don’t know what to do about me…and anyone else who isn’t cut from the 2014 cloth.

It’s like I left the farm, married outside the cult, sought refuge with the enemy, branded a scarlet letter…however you want to describe it. And I’m not alone. The laundry list of folks who aren’t voting straight ticket this year and have been shunned and outcasted by their fellow party pals is miles long.

For me, 2014 is the first major election cycle where I’ve interacted with people in this capacity and on this level. In 2010, I was just a baby envelope-licking volunteer and in 2012, I was still a ‘Jessica What’s-her-last-name?” I certainly didn’t vocalize my opinions as I do now.

To say that it’s frustrating to hear 60%, 70% and 80% friends are sufficient to be accepted by fellow conservatives but then see it fail in practicality is an understatement. What’s interesting is that I’ve had SEVERAL people ask me privately who I’m voting for in specific races, but only one of them has asked me why. And that person is 21 years old. I think that speaks volumes about what’s going on in our political environment right now. The why stopped mattering months ago.  It’s war now and we’re out for blood.

Like I wrote in a previous article about the worst thing about people in politics, I can’t be angry with the people who don’t agree with me or the ones who feel I have abandoned the GOP in some races on the ballot. It’s not the first time for some other folks but it is for me, and politics certainly isn’t the end-all-be-all of life (amazing fact, isn’t it?!). But politics is personal – whether it be about candidates or issues, it’s painfully personal- and all about relationships. In the quiet, the shunned are sad about what this as all come to.

To be clear, this isn’t a ‘woe is me’ plea.  I’m just fine and I’ll continue to be just fine. I’ve yet to write something I don’t stand behind and I’m not too damaged by the political process to not admit when I’m wrong. There are plenty of people ‘protest voting’ out of anger but what about those of us who genuinely feel convicted to do something different?

I think a lot of people assumed I had ‘toned it down’ after the Delvis Dutton campaign, and in a lot of ways I have, but if I took anything away from that experience, it’s to stay true to my principles and convictions. If that means that folks within the GOP don’t ever let us seasonal and rogue Republicans back into their rodeo ring, so be it. Conscience and principle is a sword I’m willing to fall on. If that means losing friends and influence, I’m okay with that too.

The reality is that whether this election ends in November or January, it will end. Then what happens? Do we hug it out? Or is the nail in the coffin bludgeoned by a sledgehammer prepared for a shallow grave of GOP used-to-be’s who will taint the cause because of that one time we fled the compound?

The Value in Legislating a Life

A lot of folks have probably seen it by now…the articles detailing the tragic fate of a newlywed 29-year-old who’s currently battling stage 4 of an aggressive brain cancer and has limited time left to live. She posted a video explaining why, on November 1 of this year, she will end her own life using medicine prescribed by a doctor, effectively giving her a peaceful and painless exit of this life. Her other option is to endure what could be months of tragic pain and suffering  and in her words, ‘dignity is less terrifying’.

Who could blame her? Not a single soul will admit that they ever want to see a loved one suffer and end-of-life care is generally hardest on surrounding family members and caregivers. She and her family moved to Oregon at the beginning of the year because Oregon is the only state currently with a ‘Death with Dignity Act’, allowing assisted suicide.

I’m not sure if it’s the graceful photos of her on her wedding day in a beautiful dress with her new husband, the glimpses of what her happy life should look like, or if it’s the tone of her message but the story seems to be resonating with folks across political spectrums and into all walks of life.

Studies, polls, and conversation alike will show that many Americans are still wary of assisted suicide, but more willing than you would think. After all, it’s only legal in FOUR state in the United States and the circumstantial laws are so strict that in states like Oregon, only 750 people have ‘used’ the method (since 1997) as a means of ending their own life. As a society, we grieve for those who fall victim to suicide but we also condemn it. (By this, I mean we condemn the act to those before suffering. We are brought up to reach out to those in pain, but that is because it is viewed as wrong.) The taking of one’s own life in most faithful circles is sin, and we’ve seen a tremendous resistance to removing conventional, faith-based societal norms in exchange for more tolerance and acceptance in culture today.

So why are people not completely appalled by this idea this time around?  Some say it’s based on how it’s described. Are they so numb to the concept as a whole that they don’t see it for what it is? Are people accepting of it ‘just this once’? Or has the sensitivity, the pain in the tone of the story and the humanity of it all brought about a different perspective? And where does humanity take us in legislating morality, because this is a moral debate.

I think we already know…

The Worst Thing About People in Politics…

Yesterday was annoying. Mitt Romney came to town for a lunchtime fundraiser for Attorney General Sam Olens. My first thought: Who has a fundraiser at 1pm on a weekday? Second question: Why on earth would anyone attend?

Personally, I can’t stand Romney. I’m sure he is a wonderful husband and a doting father (not so good to the pups, but I digress) but he represents yet another failure of the Republican party. A complete and utter failure. Relax, we know he didn’t do it alone. He’s not all to blame, but that is what he represents. And then you add in the whole ‘Will he run again in 2016′ thing and we’re circling the drain of wasted time and painful memories yet again.

So back to yesterday. All the pictures were understandably irritating and I was once again reminded that the Republican Party is painfully and gut-wrenchingly diverse and there are still people who love him. People who idolize him. People who hang on his every moderately-purple word. And by him, I mean all the people like him because there are plenty of Romney-like figures floating around with (R).

The worst thing about people in politics that that you will never understand the real reason someone supports a candidate. Life experiences, financial obligations (or lack thereof), friendships, employment, childhood, family, physical (and mental, God love it) health status, they all play a role. And sometimes the reason is ‘just because’ and that’s hard for many of us to understand.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we don’t get any input on how others think. You can, at some point in the process, influence why they think something – and more often than not this is done by negative reinforcement (i.e. – angry Ron Paul supporting convention attendees) which I don’t recommend, but it is done that way. The positive stuff takes much more time. Generally, political people are set in their ways. It takes a system-rocking earthquake to chip away at the ole fundamental block. People in politics think the way they do because of every experience they’ve had to date. And lets not forget that the political game is unforgiving. People remember everything. If you ran that stop sign in that roundabout just that one time because you were sure you were right…it will never be forgotten.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we are always talking on different wavelengths. My way is more principled than your way. Your way is more effective than mine. You’ve been doing it this way for as long as you can remember and heck, look at all you’ve accomplished. We are so sure that we are right and we are so one-track-minded that we talk at each other and check our decorum at the door. Especially during election season – which is basically always.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we are playing the party game. But everyone has a role in the Republican party (even if it’s not in an ‘official capacity’) and those of us that don’t fit that perfect cookie cutter Republican mold are often angered by the actions of others. Us Liberty-minded folks get mad when these ‘Standard Republicans’…support Republicans? They say our candidates are too ‘Libertarian minded’ while we stomp around mad because they run a Romney or a Christie or a Perdue…someone we don’t see in our own vision of ‘conservatism’. But we can’t be mad that a party official tries to mobilize people for the nominee. We can’t be mad that an activist is spending their Saturday licking envelopes for someone who whooped your hiney in a primary. That’s their job. Just because it’s not your way doesn’t make it wrong.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we are all different and see the final destination as something unlike anyone else’s vision. The road map to get there recommends a different route, the means of which you transport yourself are different and the snacks you pack for the road probably taste like crap…in the eyes of someone else. The ones you have to worry about are the ones that don’t have goals, the ones that are just treading water and standing around waiting to put a nail in your tire.

But the worst thing about people in politics is that it’s also the best thing about people in politics.

Why the Christian Right is Wrong on Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty

Before anyone strokes out, let’s preface with this: While I struggle with how to classify religious liberty – Is it a social issue? Is it a fundamental issue? A Constitutional one? Simply something we will forever fight as the culture of society changes? – I do support religious liberty.

For the sake of ease of understanding and frame of reference, let’s consider a same-sex couple seeking to have a wedding/civil union/grand party – whatever the state allows – and they are seeking vendors for various services. They live in a moderately-sized city where there are multiple options for attire, cakes, DJ’s and venues.

We have to first consider a premise that most conservatives, but not all Republicans, would agree with: Under no circumstance should any business be forced to do anything. Whether the mandate be for hours of operation, location, employee diversity or minimum wage, the government has no place. Who you serve, how you serve, when you serve is a slippery slope.

But that slope slides both ways (pun not intended). Religious liberty is a teetering topic just perched upon the peak of the mountain waiting for anyone to slip on a banana peel forcing an avalanche down either side. When a business starts refusing business to a certain type of people, folks immediately and unfortunately jump back to the pre-Civil Rights Movement days where we saw hatred oozing from segregated areas. On the other side, we have folks operating under a system of government that neither respects private enterprise or religion. At that point, what good are we?

But it isn’t the same. While religious freedom is our first and fundamental God-given right so sacred that it is enumerated in the Constitution, religious liberty goes a tad further. Religious liberty expands to freedom of belief through practice, not just observance. It goes beyond Christianity, and much to the chagrin of the Left, it also protects the atheists and the agnostic.

So back to our same-sex couple looking for vendors. The argument that a person shouldn’t want someone who doesn’t support what they’re doing to perform a service for them’ is one of the lousier arguments out there for any political argument. Please stop using it. No, of course no one wants to consider sabotage or hap-hazard work because of, in their case, their sexual orientation and that’s likely not going to be the what happens with a business owner. I don’t see a service provider jeopardizing their reputation of quality. Perhaps principle, but not quality of a product. So what is the real protection for those who feel religious liberty protections would only spread hatred and discrimination?

The market. The free market generally cleanses communities of these businesses as citizens see fit. Consider Melissa Klein, the New York baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple and was subsequently forced to shut down her business over the controversy. The correct way for a business to be put out of business is through reduced patronage, not because the government has regulated it into oblivion and the pending legal costs from a civil suit tank the entire operation. We should pause when the federal standard is more protective of limiting government than that of Georgia (or any state). In Georgia, you can sue someone for not performing a service for you.

And in fixing it, one size doesn’t fit all. Look at the demographics just in our state. In Atlanta, we tend to be a little more tolerant. A business unwilling to serve a gay couple, for instance, would likely face substantial blow-back versus that in rural Georgia where citizens would probably pay for a one-way ticket out-of-town for a couple to be patrons elsewhere. Each community is different and blanket laws won’t solve what some would consider ‘morality issues’. And let’s be realistic: cultures vary. We support that with our “Not in our town!” mentality about everything. Why is this any different? Trying to legislate humans into being what some folks consider ‘good people’ is a recipe for failure. If a business is turning away revenue – there must be a substantial cause for that and who are we to decide if that cause is worthy or not?

While the Hobby Lobby case seems to be dominating the news market, there are many more cases like this popping up all around our state and nation. Our classrooms, our small business owners – they’re all wading through this muddied mess of law versus morality and while we’ve tried to fix it, we’re only making it worse.

So far, here’s where I think we’ve messed up:
Going back to our double-sided ski slope, we have to recognize that this is yet another issue where we are on the chopping block in the media and we likely won’t win. Having said that, we should still be sensitive to the tone and wording. ‘Religious freedom’ means something different to a lot of folks as opposed to ‘religious liberty’. Many see ‘freedom’ as ‘ability’ and ‘liberty’ as ‘protection’. We should acknowledge the distinction.

The conversation may not have started the properly. So much of legislation is first about teaching and educating. When we teach and educate, the conversation travels both ways and we ended up with better legislation. We’ve charged an issue literally clinging to our guns and our religion and it has fogged the entire debate. Hobby Lobby brought out some zealots and the media clung to them. We have to distance ourselves from Hobby Lobby and those zealots. Our argument needs to be crafted two-fold: First, that this isn’t just about Christians, it’s about all religions. We are here to protect the religious liberty of all. And second, this is about the role of government.

We also handed the note to the wrong carrier pigeon. This is where the Christian Right comes into play and can make a difference. My long-time establishment friends will be proud to hear me say this, but it seems like a more moderate person has to carry a bill and be the talking head. I commend those across various states who have put themselves in the line of fire because others are unwilling. It’s noble, but it may not be effective. It’s why Congressman Broun can’t carry the torch. Because this is about religion, but not one specific religion.

So to sum up:

  • Religious liberty at its core is about limited government.
  • The current messengers for religious liberty may not be the right ones at this time.
  • The term ‘religious freedom’ could be damaging to the cause because again, people don’t understand.
  • We’re living in an era where the ‘general public’ might not understand what the end goal is so the first step is conversation, not legislation. You can’t drop a knowledge bomb on someone without first offering a firm definition of what is to be done.

As for the couple looking for vendors, if they want to limit the role of the state for issues like, oh say, marriage, they must understand that government should also be limited elsewhere.

Is GMO labeling too much government?

Label-It

It’s rare that I don’t have a concrete opinion on an issue but I recently had a conversation with someone over whether or not GMO labeling is something that should come to Georgia. Whether you believe in the dangers of Genetically Modified food, it matters not in this case. There is a growing movement for ‘truth in food’ and labeling in states around the country and it’s only a matter of time before the conversation comes to Georgia. We should be prepared because the point of contention is the role of government in consumer information.

In a quality conversation, we should consider all sides of the legislative sphere and not just what benefits us. So let’s begin.

Currently, only Vermont, Maine and Connecticut have passed legislation requiring labeling and Colorado and Oregon put it on the ballot where it previously failed. The Center for Food Safety has a comprehensive list of states with pending initiatives, including Georgia as soon-to-be-Former State Rep. Josh Clark introduced legislation during the 2014 session.

Keep in mind that similar legislation applies only  to food grown or manufactured in that state. In considering the role of government, many would agree that this should be done at the state level (unless you’re viewing this the same way many view cigarette labeling). When considering effectiveness, one at least has to acknowledge that random states passing legislation could be disjointed and choppy. The responsibility of raising awareness would still fall on grassroots organizations and on informed consumers. In today’s America, that is a lot to ask.

So, some questions I have:

  • Would it drive food manufacturers out of Georgia? This obviously wouldn’t be an option for agriculture as their land is here but food companies who process manufactured food (food that isn’t from the earth and is made solely from…’other stuff’), would they simply up and leave the state?
  • What undue burden would this place on our farmers? By far one of the most important ones. Does it apply to produce stands? Is there a revenue bench mark? And if so, that then draws into question whether the law is just and applicable across the board.
  • What is the cost on businesses? How much will it cost them?
  • What does labeling entail? Sometimes it’s ingredients and sometimes it’s the process. If it’s simply the ingredients, that’s useless because companies will just change their process to skirt around compliance. That’s what they did with MSG in the early 2000’s.

There is already a movement called the Non-GMO Project with a lot of steam and zazz behind it. Many would say that projects such as this will weed out the -via the free market- those companies that have no desire to be transparent.
To their credit, there are a large number of companies backing labeling – currently over 650. Some of the organizations in favor of food labeling include: Odwalla, Chipolte, Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley, Eden Foods and Numi.
Some of the larger players against GMO food labeling include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Nestle USA, Hormel, Kellogg, Land O Lakes, and Du Pont.
The counter to that argument is two-fold: First, only organizations that are NON-GMO are labeling. Those are using GMO products are not indicating so. Secondly, sometimes it is indeed the role of the government to inform the uninformed so long as we are operating under the current system with the FDA and State Agriculture Commissioners.

As you can see, the possible ramifications are quite complicated and the grey area seems to muddy the black and white. Georgia doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being Liberty-minded when it comes to agriculture or food rights (see Delbert Bland’s Vidalia Onions and previous raw milks legislation) but I hope they can at least start the conversation. It would be to our benefit that this process be slow as the quick things they do generally don’t help We, The People. And I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a little part of me that wanted to stick it to big companies that are doing shady things with a lack of transparency….but that doesn’t make good policy and it still doesn’t answer the question of whether or not that is the role of government when consumers have a choice.

 

 

City Life: Not the American Dream

Depending on when you started reading this blog, you may or may not have followed the Green Acres reenactment documented here. If you didn’t, it may help with perspective if you catch up. If you did, great…let’s pick up where we left off.

Before we go forward though, let’s acknowledge that to industry standard of blogging something on here will offend someone. That’s the point. Those are the things that make us think critically. And today we will think critically about concrete jungles.

City life is suffocating. City life is suffocating and we often don’t even know why. We attribute it to the stress of our jobs, bills, the traffic, the weather, and family-work life balance accompanied by a laundry list of other things. It lacks the freedom and peace of life outside the metro areas where you embrace those around you and not only see, but feel your surroundings. You see yourself in the mirror, not the clock in the background telling your you’re late yet again.

Here in the city, we wake up and do the same thing every day. Same time, same place. Every 5th house is the same- literally the exact same floor plan- just different colors on the walls. Builders scoot by because we want what our neighbors want (or at least we think we do) and of course, it’s the cheapest way to do it and how much of an investment are we really looking to have here? It’s not like it’s our forever home. We will have to move again in 5 years because this just isn’t the right fit. We have the same car, just a different color and of course, everything is a competition.

It’s a race to and from the city to work and back. Sometimes to and from the suburbs. It matters not, though, because it’s all just miles upon hours just roasting in a concrete vacuum that literally and figuratively sucks the life out of you while you grow to hate thy neighbor because they just cut you off on your morning commute and you both needed those two car lengths but you were distracted by the slew of emails and didn’t quite stay close enough to that bumper in front of you. They snuck in and now your mood is altered.

You work all day but you don’t remember much about it. At 5 pm, you hop in the car back to the concrete vacuum because one hour in the morning wasn’t enough.  You may take a moment to think about “what else is out there” but the honking and expletives quickly shake you from that.

You return home to reflect on what you did that day, searching for something, anything tangible, that you produced but there is nothing. You go to bed early because you have to do it all over again tomorrow. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

What happened to small town America? What happened to the producers? The foundations of a quality life? I once heard that you don’t add value unless you mine it, manufacture it, or grow it. Sure, we do other things too, like provide services, but for what? What is our purpose? Some people love their job, but most either love their job or just love the fruits of their labors. I could make this immensely political, but I’ll refrain.

Mostly I want to know what happened to the longevity of a life? Establishing roots? Where is the love of community? How can we help our neighbor if we never meet them? We never meet them because we’re never home. We work hard to afford a home and things we never get to enjoy because we’re too busy earning. What are we teaching our children if we spend two hours with them before bed? How much of us is passed off to them if we’re not around? What IS our purpose? What do we want to leave behind?

If you love your city life, I suggest staying here. Don’t leave. Don’t go breathe. Don’t drive on a dirt road where the only thing that slows you down is your own fear. Because when you get back, you won’t know what to do and you’ll feel the choke hold of the rat race that is inescapable and leaves you wondering everyday, ‘What is different about today?’

These days, on the off-chance that I get to cruise on the expressway upwards of 80 mph, it’s freeing. It’s a brief escape and I can almost feel free if I close my eyes for just a couple of seconds…just before I hit the I-285 merge and it starts all over again. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

 

Setting the Record Straight

Friday I wrote a blog on third-party voting which focused on poor messaging tactics and an inability to drive voters to the polls. Nowhere in the article was a specific candidate mentioned negatively by name. All of this sparked a colorful and lengthy dialogue in the comments section. In said comments section, Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) took to a full-blown monologue for Governor Deal, essentially using my blog as a platform for the Governor, mostly because he is a Floor Leader. The retort below is a simple attempt to illustrate how people become symptoms, and then causes, of this vicious cyclical problem we call politics.

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(Photo from AJC)

In his diatribe, Rep. Coomer covered many things but what struck a nerve with me was his applause of Governor Deal’s signature on language in the comprehensive gun bill which essentially removed power from the Governor’s office during a declared state of emergency. Within the banter, he first said the media had nothing to do with this language passage and then later acknowledged that he and I discussed it in an [uncomfortable] face-to-face meeting before again saying the media pressure never happened. I know his claims to be false because I am the person who wrote the article on Peach Pundit which, within 18 minutes of publishing, prompted a text message from the Governor’s office to the sponsor of the bill to schedule a meeting about HB 100 (after years of ignoring the bill and the sponsor). I know all of these things to be true and so does Rep. Coomer – despite his attempt to tell me otherwise publicly. To be clear, this is not about me getting credit. It’s about being honest with The People, because the normal everyday people never know the inside baseball. It’s, again, about shaping a campaign message to be something that it is not. These types of things create a breakdown in trust between elected officials and citizens.

Additionally, Rep. Coomer indicated that I erred in implying that he and I differ philosophically because he and I have only had one in-person conversation. To that, I offer this: Legislators have voting records. I watch many, including his. Voting records, in turn, reflect one of two things: 1) That you’re principled and your ideology is consistent, or 2) That you’re not principled and your votes reflect yet another colorful amalgamation of who you’re accountable to. This leads me to my next point.

In my blog, I also made mention of plans to skip races on the ballot in November. Rep. Coomer took me to task saying,

“I really do believe that if any person, especially a conservative or libertarian, has a mature sense of responsibility to their state and community, has enough raw information…and has the mental capacity of critical thinking…then he or she will come to the conclusion that Nathan Deal should be reelected…”

Basically, if you don’t agree with Rep. Coomer, you’re a complete idiot that lacks the mental capacity for critical thinking. I propositioned him, asking why he had the right to sit on the House Floor and abstain from casting a vote but I was not granted that same privilege. He didn’t respond, but records show me that since being elected, Rep. Coomer has missed over 100 votes in 160 days of legislative service.

I’ve watched from the gallery as Rep. Coomer sat idly in his seat during votes, but this photo of Rep. Coomer sitting on the House Floor during the vote of Senate Bill 65 in 2014 - watching, waiting to see what everyone else is doing is quite compelling, mostly because this was controversial legislation that dealt directly with the freedoms and liberties of the mentally ill.

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In this photo, you can see that Rep. Coomer (indicated by the yellow arrow) is deeply intrigued by the vote of SB 65 (red arrow) and his name on the voting board (green arrow). When looking at the House Clerk website, you can see that he ultimately did not cast a vote, despite the fact that he was sitting in his seat. Now THAT’S intriguing.

Consider House Rule 133: “When the question is put, every member within the chamber shall vote unless the member is immediately and particularly interested therein or unless the member is excused by the House. A motion by a member to be excused from voting must be made before the House divides or before the call of the yeas and nays is commenced, and it shall be decided without debate. The member making the motion may briefly state the reason why it should prevail. In every case where the seat of a member is being contested, the sitting member and the contestant shall both retire from the House before the vote is taken.”

Coomer was also the sponsor of a bill (HB 516) during the 2014 session where the entire House Leadership got up and walked out during the vote so they wouldn’t have to be on record casting that vote. Did the gentleman from Cartersville speak up? And why not? What did he have to lose? Is this adequate representation for the people of his district?

It is a fact that in the monologue above, I made a complete example out of Christian Coomer. But that is a consequence of opening Pandora’s box. He engaged the conversation with me on my blog.  It’s not one-sided. And never did I say I wasn’t voting for his guy. I simply opened the conversation about voting tendencies this cycle. When elected, you have to be willing to answer the tough questions and I offered him every opportunity to do so while he made baseless implications against me and continued to blur the Deal campaign message into some irrelevant sloppy essay.

Elected officials are supposed to represent The People. More importantly, they are to be the example. This elected official, and a floor leader for the Governor no less, had no problem glossing over my factual points, shaming others, shifting blame and furthering the distrust and nasty image Georgia Republicans are battling right now. The image that we are out of touch, care only about ladder-climbing, and will try to squash any opposing opinion at any cost. People just want the truth and to know what to expect. Principles. If we can’t do things in a principled way, we shouldn’t do them and we don’t deserve the positive results.

When I worked on my first real campaign, I had to learn that my actions –good and bad- reflect upon my candidate. The same goes for those most closely aligned with leaders in the political realm. It’s why endorsements are tricky. But if your glass house is actually Saran Wrap, you shouldn’t throw stones. Because that’s even messier. And perhaps those stones illustrate that you aren’t the best messenger for this particular message. Perhaps some time needs to be spent evaluating the symptoms and causes of ‘the demise of the public servant’. Perhaps you should sit back quietly and graciously knowing that your constituents haven’t yet noticed that you are only carrying the torch of political expediency.

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(Photo WN.com)

Does Sexual Immorality and the Drain on the System Prompt Us to Intervene?

Trending in the news right now is a story of the once young-and-free Nick Olivas who claims that when he was 14, he had an inappropriate affair with a 20 year-old woman. Though the news headlines say, ‘Rape Victim Forced to Pay Child Support’, a real eye-catcher, the story is much more complex.

In 2012, a woman applied for public assistance and noted that Nick Olivas was the father of her 10 year-old daughter. This, of course, led to the State of Arizona ordering he pay child support – current and 10 years in delinquent payments – a total of $15,000, plus money for birth expense reimbursement and 10% interest.  That’s quite a judgment. Especially for a college grad working as a medical assistant.

Reports claim that Mr. Olivas is excited to be a part of his daughter’s life and has no problem paying current child support. His contention is with the back payments when he “didn’t know his daughter existed.”

No doubt that this is a messy, sticky case. While the tag line is great for sensationalizing, the sad reality is this: Each of these cases have their own set of circumstances that change what a reasonable outcome should be. We also can’t base decisions on possible crimes that may have happened. Certainly in this case, with a tangible child, a paternity test, and simple math, we can deduce that Mr. Olivas is, in fact, the father and was not of the age of consent (15, in Arizona) when these events occurred. But Mr. Olivas never pressed charges or even filed a report. So while it is evident that a crime was committed, there is no legal system track record to prove it. 

Every time a case cycles through the system, we set a precedent. In 1993, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a 13-year old boy who got his 17-year-old girlfriend pregnant was liable for child support payments even though he was not of the age of consent. In California, the same thing happened with a 15-year-old and a 34-year-old despite the fact that the woman was convicted of statutory rape.

In a changing culture of society – which is clearly having negative impacts on everyone involved- we are now dealing with men who go years completely unaware they have a child and the system eventually catches up with them. By unaware, I mean the mother admits she did not share the information with the father nor did she make a diligent effort to go through the court system to track him down and go through the proper channels.

Age issues aside, this also gets into the weeds of ‘responsible sexual activity’ and what is reasonable responsibility for both parties. Is it on the woman to inform the father immediately? Or just sometime before birth? Or within a year of birth? Should the man be held responsible for ‘not following up’ to see if he impregnated a woman from a one-night-stand? Or do we sit idly and wait for the system to catch up to everyone? Because it will. More often than not, a woman in this situation will be forced onto some type of public assistance and the number of people affected by situation will continue to grow – welfare benefits, the court system to ensure payment, and so on.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, we cannot legislate morality but we our society is nurturing a culture that is sucking the life out of just about every government program we have in place.