Teaching Kids to Hate

Last night I had dinner with my mom and we spent the majority of the night discussing politics and the generational changes. As the daughter, and only child, of a single mom, I grew up differently than my friends with two parents. I grew up watching a hard-worker never ask for help, never take a handout and never miss a sporting or school event. Over the course of our talk, I tried to articulate the effect her hard work had on my own perspective and how it molded me. I never heard her complain about work. I never saw her shun someone different than us. I saw good so I wanted to do good and be like my mom.

Since high school, I’ve spent a lot of time working in my church pre-school, teaching Sunday school and also as a nanny. I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot of children speak on their perspectives of the world and I must say, overall, they have a much brighter outlook than us. They are so pure and innocent and it certainly makes me wonder the point at which they change. Is it because of what we tell them to do or what we don’t tell them to do?

Growing up, we went to church, religiously, but my mom never told me why I had to go to church. I attended, listened, but at a young age, realized that no one can dictate what kind of Christian I am. My faith was (and continues to be) mine and my relationship is personal. My mom never told me “This is what we believe and you have to believe it, too.” She never said I had to subscribe to specific denomination. She answered questions, which were plentiful, but allowed me to draw my own conclusions. She also told me that when I was an adult, it was my choice to not attend church. Somehow I always managed to stay on course and here I am…still a Christian.

I recently had a similar conversation with a state representative who was telling me about his daughter questioning homosexuality, which is not accepted in their religion. Instead of telling her what he wanted her to think, he asked what she thought. Amazingly, she subscribed to the faith-based answer.

I think back to age six, visiting with my mom at her hair appointment. Her hair dresser was gay and talked about his boyfriend during their conversation. I asked questions later but my mom just explained that he was good at his job and he was a good person. What he believed or how he lived his life didn’t change those things. I was six years old and I remember that conversation vividly because my mom put the person -as an actual person- first.

Sometimes I think we get in the habit of sharing too much with children. (Please do not mistake this for telling you how to raise your children- I am the strongest advocate for everything stemming from parental choice). But I think we teach our children to divide, judge and dissociate. I won’t discredit the victim mentality in our society, but when you teach your child that they can’t even play with the kid who has two mommies, you’re teaching a malleable child that they should choose principles over humanity when no choice needs to be made. Should you teach your children that those not like you are unacceptable as part of their life?

Children aren’t stupid. They will adhere to the values you show them. If they see you work hard, they will simply come to know that is what is expected of them. If they see you volunteering at church, they will see the value and joy you gain from doing so. They will see values at work instead of hearing values in your command. Isn’t that a better route than telling them they have to help the poor because “it’s what we always do” or “because I said so”.

If you consider the #snowpacalypse that hit Atlanta just a few weeks ago, people opened their hearts and homes to neighbors and strangers. I doubt before helping someone push a car or offering snacks if the helper asked the helpee if they voted for Obama or supported gay marriage or the legalization of marijuana. Yes, these issues are important and one should always remain true to their principles, but we are humans before politicos and we have all have enough flaws (like chewing with your mouth open and interrupting) that can be deterrents in friendships and relationships.

78% of Georgians are Anti-Second Amendment?

It’s a surprise to absolutely no one by now that campus carry is an issue close to my heart. As a Georgia State University graduate, I believe students deserve better and I feel the state is wrong in hindering their right to protect themselves. Because of this, it irritates me greatly when someone tells me “No one really cares about campus carry” or “It’s just not a hot topic right now”. Oh but it is– in Georgia and across the nation– so you can imagine my confusion upon the release of the AJC poll recently stating 78% of Georgia voters oppose legalizing weapon possession on college campuses. Well, I’ll be darned. I thought this was an interesting tidbit of information so much so that several folks did some investigating and this is what we found.

Let’s discuss by playing the circle game:

  • Jay Bookman is the AJC writer here and polling connoisseur.
  • Bookman’s boss at the AJC is Bert Roughton …the Senior Managing Editor.
  • Mr. Roughton’s wife is a lady named Melinda Ennis Roughton.
  • Mrs. Ennis Roughton holds the ever-so-ironic occupation of Co-Head for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in Atlanta.
  • She is also Executive Director for Georgia’s WIn List, (the Democrat organization looking to elect liberal women to higher offices in Georgia).
  • Georgia WIN will be having their annual Legislative Breakfast on January 30th and the keynote speaker is Jay Bookman.

Now, I am not discrediting the entire poll (which is available here: AJC POLL January 2014) but I do want to consider EXACTLY who was polled.
We’re talking about respondents of which:

  • 41% believe the Georgia economy is not in good shape,
  • 47% believe we should expand Medicare through the ACA,
  • and only 38% of the respondents had children in schools in Georgia.

Nowhere in the poll was the concept of the campus carry act explained: that it would only apply to legal weapons carry permit holders (those over the age of 21 or honorably discharged military)– meaning, people who likely already conceal carry everywhere else in the state.
People uninformed on the issue hear, “Do you want to give college kids guns to take to take to their beer pong matches?” I take great offense to firing off questions (see what I did there) to an uninformed electorate.

I simply can’t help myself in being suspicious of ulterior motives by the AJC here when the reporter et. al is in the sack with the anti-gun lobby and the questions mislead the public. The issue is a Constitutional one….and this poll leads us to believe that 78% of Georgians don’t stand for the Constitution. Again, I am just shocked to my very core that the AJC would seek to mislead.

Society: To Hell in a Handbasket With Just One App?

The “HuffPo Women” section of the Huffington Post often brings tears to my eyes. Tears from laughing at ridiculous or crying because we’re doomed…it matters not. Supposedly a page to empower women and highlight “equality” between men and women, the page is often littered with topics that distinctly make women…feminine. This week, one of the articles details “The Most Offensive Apps for Women” with the most offensive one being ‘SkinnyCam’ where you can supposedly upload a photo of yourself and “pinch” yourself thinner to see what you would look like if you shed a few pounds here and there.

::sigh::

The whole ‘body images of women are deteriorating on account of societal pressure’ really bugs the heck out of me. Allow me to turn their argument around on them: Essentially feminists are saying that women aren’t strong enough to combat the “pressures” to be thin from society. I could argue that men in magazines and on TV shows have an unreasonable expectation for their looks as well but we don’t see men caving to the pressure and crying in their clothes because they have to go purchase the next size up in jeans. So are women weak?

The reason I haven’t given feminists any credence to date is because they make arguments out of the most ridiculous things. I doubt men sit around uploading photos of women onto SkinnyCam with their buddies drinking beer and acting all manly only to then return home to show their girlfriend, wife, life partner, mate –whatever-term-is-now-politically-acceptable– how much better they would look if they would just tweak the necessary curves according to a smartphone app. (They may do it now that I have suggested it, but I digress.) Can we all agree how ridiculous that sounds?

As a person who had a ever too long period of my life where I was not thin, I can confidently say that the pressures to be fit, thin and lean do not come from men or society or the magazine covers. The pressure is a personal thing. If you take away all the magazines, the TV ads, the Victoria Secret fashion shows and every last man…women will still feel inferior. Women don’t sit on the couch eating M&M’s and white cheddar popcorn and suddenly begin to feel self-conscious when a L’Oreal commercial comes on the screen. The folded arms, keep your purse in front of you while tugging on all your clothes come from standing next to a woman you feel looks better than you. This is because WOMEN COMPARE THEMSELVES TO ONE ANOTHER!
This will never change but ignoring the concept and deflecting does nothing. So I would like to see women acknowledge that they themselves want to look a certain way.

Magazines or no magazines, app or no app, men or no men…Let’s take some [personal] responsibility here.

Constitutional Values? You will rally for these bills…

I’ll keep this short and to the point. The Georgia legislative session has begun and because of the shortened session, the gas pedal is down for legislation. If I were a betting gal, I’d put money on the bad ones getting rammed through while the ones that restore our liberties face a Christie-like traffic jam.

As Constitutional conservatives, bills worth following include the following:

  • HB100 — concerning the Governor’s executive power over firearms and ammunition in a state of emergency. I wrote a full article on this bill, which you can read here. The bill has a substantial number of legislative signers but currently lacks support from the Governor’s office. We’ll keep waiting, but some folks struggle letting go of their own power. If I had to pick *one* piece of legislation to pass this session, it would be this one.
  • HB195 — regarding regionalism. This one is complicated, so if you missed all the articles, catch up here and here.
  • HB25 — a jury nullification bill. If you don’t understand jury nullification, you can read here and see why it’s necessary in a time where our justice system is quite twisted.
  • HB512 — This is a comprehensive gun bill that died on the last day of the 2013 session and included campus carry. In order for this to be considered a “good” bill, two things need to happen: 1) the term “mentally ill” needs to be narrowly defined because as the bill currently stands, those receiving court-mandated counseling and care would not be able to obtain a carry permit (this includes alcohol and drug counseling for people who are convicted of DUI) and 2) the training mandate for students is removed. Don’t mandate me, bro.
    Some are suddenly touting this as a property rights thing. This is only what we’ve been saying for 223 years.
  • HB699 – pertaining to warrantless surveillance by law enforcement and state agencies which also has a complete article detailing the parameters and evils. What I like most about this bill, which I tell you here, is that it actually monetarily charges the people who violate this law.
  • HB 707 — which deals with the Affordable Care Act and essentially nullifies the law in Georgia. There are several arguments that the bill wouldn’t actually do anything other than make a statement to the federal government and could be turned over in court. These are justifiable concerns, but Georgians are waiting for our elected officials to stick up for us and also to show they have courage. This is an opportunity. In addition, it’s an initiative by the People.
  • HB 718 — for raw milk. This is an easy one!! Full article here, but if this doesn’t pass, I will lose all hope for the Georgia legislature. Restoring a simple consumer right should be a quick and painless vote for all Republicans.

Other notable pieces of legislation include:
HB 181 - prohibiting EBT users from using ATMs to obtain cash
HB560 - a drone bill, though I’d rather just see a resolution encouraging dealing with this with other Constitutional rights. Jokes. Sort of.
HB733 – Georgia Religious Liberties Act of 2014 for students in public schools

It’s worth noting that many of these initiatives are not new and are ones many of us have been following for quite some time. If you want to contact your legislators, you can find their contact information here. I also fully support any bill that repeals an existing law. Next week I’ll be posting the bills I would like to see fail…because everyone loves a good hit piece.

Raw Milk Sans Social Unrest

Georgia has a raw milk bill!
Representative Scot Turner (along with co-sponsor Reps Allison, Brockway, Caldwell, and Spencer) filed HB 718 on Monday.
Currently, raw milk is technically not illegal in Georgia but it can only be purchased for animal consumption (pets, livestock, etc) and you can’t sell it. You see what they did there?

If you’ve ever had raw milk, you understand that the consistency is a bit difficult and it smells like cow, but this issue isn’t about flavor. This also isn’t about the gross process of pasteurization and homogenization to get that “safe” gallon you buy ever week. This is about government overstepping it’s bounds and the legislature finally offering a remedy. Currently, we look to an organization that says alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs are “safe” but the possible dangers of raw milk are so horrific, it must be heavily regulated on the state and federal level. So allow me to articulate a few arguments in favor of raw milk:

  • Raw milk is not dangerous for you because you don’t HAVE to drink it. Certainly there is an assumed risk in consuming any type of food/drink, but we cannot fully be “protected” by any government entity. I am allergic to peanuts. They can make me very sick but peanuts are not illegal.
  • On the premise that raw milk should not and will not be illegal, citizens of Georgia should have the freedom to trade, barter, consume, sell and purchase goods and services.
  • If consumers are willing to accept the risk, they should have the freedom to choose what kind of milk they want to drink. Right now, state law forces people to take raw milk to the black market (yes, people, our government over-regulation has taken us to the black market for milk) where the “all or nothing” mentality actually allows more health and safety concerns.
  • The current law criminalizes a behavior that has been legal since the dawn of time. It’s only been in the recent progressive decades of reliance on government to tell us what is and isn’t okay that the raw milk ban has congealed (Again, see what I did there?) People survived for hundreds of years on raw milk.

This issue is about personal responsibility and making your own decisions. If you rally for lower taxes, limited government, and less regulation, raw milk legalization should be on your radar. Don’t be scared. The best thing about raw milk is that if it terrifies you, you can simply get in your vehicle, drive to Publix and purchase the milk of your choice from the grocery. Choices are good. So, we can infer that choosing to support HB718 is an excellent choice if we want more choice and less government interference. :)

Judges, Doctors Trumping Legal Contracts?

I will admit that sometimes I forget to keep up with news. Many days I rely solely on Facebook and Twitter for my ‘headlines’ and then go find out what’s going on. I don’t recommend this plan for information as you will generally miss out on many “non-trending” newsworthy items. So if, like me, you hadn’t been closely following the Jahi McMath case, you likely haven’t mulled over the legal ramifications of what is actually happening in the case.

A quick overview of the Jahi McMath illustrates a truly devastating case of a 13-year old girl put under for basic removal of adenoids and tonsils. After surgery, she began bleeding and went into cardiac arrest. She was later declared “brain-dead” by two physicians and one court-ordered physician (where this court-ordered physician came in, I’m still researching). Her heart and lungs continue to operate but she lacks brain activity. These functions are how cessation of life is determined and are also the cause of the conundrum in this case.

Little Jahi has been living (according to her family) in a ‘dead’ (according to medicine) state for 26 days (as of publishing). During a time when her family is not only grieving the damage to their daughter, they are amidst a legal battle which includes a restraining order [which is actually set to expire today at 5pm] against the Children’s hospital at which Jahi was originally admitted. She has since been transferred to an undisclosed location and is receiving intravenous nutrients as you read this.

I remember the Terry Schiavo case, though I was young for much of it, and I remember the legal battle and the slaughtering of both involved parties in the news for years and years. The problem then and the problem now is a moral one, not a legal one…and we ALL know you cannot legislate morality. Life care, medical decisions, these have personal consequences. And when no formal arrangements are made for their care, these things happen. Of course loved ones are going to hold on for as long as they possibly can. Parents have the right to do this for their minor children. Husbands and wives have the right to make these decisions, too. Any one designated as the ‘medical power of attorney’ has the right to do this. It is essentially a legal contract.

At the present time, the McMath family is not costing the California any money, either. Because Jahi was declared ‘dead’, insurance will not cover medical costs, however, pro-life and Catholic organizations as well as the Terry Schiavo Foundation have all funneled money to help cover costs.

My final concern doesn’t really warrant too long of an explanation but it is one of the most important questions we must ask: If the practiced religion of the McMath’s prohibit the removal of life support measures, should a Judge have the discretion and power to override that?

And what about the right to privacy?

It makes sense that this is one of the reasons the Affordable Care Act is so frightening. Any type of government intervention –on any level, for any reason– is a slippery slope. Where do we draw the line? Court ordered out-patient counseling? Judicial supervision and mandates for in-patient rehabilitation? Sterilization? Refusal of care against familial wishes that ultimately determine life or death?

I don’t know about you but I struggle with the desire for a legal responsibility and legal contract to be upheld and the complete insensitivity on behalf of the courts to demand people ‘pull the plug’. You cannot ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation because every case has different circumstances, emotions and religious beliefs that come into play. The question here is simple, but not simply defined: How much State is too much State?

Commuted Sentences by Executive Order?

It’s no secret that I believe Barack Obama to be the worst president of my life time. And while I’m young and often times cynical about his decision making skills, I’ll give credit where credit is due. Just last week I commended him for switching from pleated pants to flat front pants. These are positive strides.

Also last week, which I will admit I missed when it was ‘news’, was the announcement of commuted sentences for 8 convicted felons by President Obama. One of the gentleman, Jason Hernandez, was sentenced to life in prison for a drug conspiracy charge when he was 18 years old on a charge that occurred when he was 15. According to a full story by Huffington Post, Hernandez was convicted when the disparity between crack charges and cocaine charges was much more vast (100-1 versus today’s 18-1). For these reasons, I believe the commuted sentence was proper, but it does give rise to three very separate issues:
1) Despite being explicitly stated in the Constitution, does the role of the executive circumvent the judiciary by commuting sentences?
2) Do we really support the idea of commuted sentences through executive power even if it is under the right circumstances?
3) The ridiculousness of victimless crimes and the subsequent sentences is ever so present.

I’ll start with the first one. Obviously my first reaction is that the sentence is simply outrageous and even with several “priors” as a juvenile, previous charges and convictions do not compile the same way some states apply “three strikes” laws or point systems for adults.
I also believe the justice system should exemplify its name…it should be just.
Executive orders and sentence commuting seem to circumvent the justice system and though we are a system of checks and balance, I struggle with whether or not this type of action is an overreach.
According to the US Department of Justice Pardon Attorney website:

Under the Constitution, the President has the authority to commute sentences for federal criminal convictions, which are those adjudicated in the United States District Courts. In addition, the President’s clemency power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. However, the President cannot commute a state criminal sentence. The President’s clemency power includes the authority to commute, or reduce, a sentence imposed upon conviction of a federal offense, including the authority to remit, or reduce, the amount of a fine or restitution order that has not already been paid. This form of clemency is different from a pardon after completion of sentence.”

The list of of commuted sentences and pardons which should not have occurred is more than likely long. Commuted sentences can illustrate significant discretion but that discretion is not stemming from the judiciary. Is that fair and just? Bleeding into #2, the issue arises on equality. Every case has its own facts and circumstances but at what point is it just for one person to have a commuted sentence and not another? The justice system is flooded with mistaken facts, wrongful accusations and improper trials. Certainly each and every case can’t be examined by the Pardon Attorney. Is this an efficient avenue to ensure justice? If the idea is based on principle, consistency is key.

Number three goes a lot deeper, and victimless crimes could span a whole series of blogs, but to keep it short and simple…conspiracies surrounding drug crimes do not warrant life in prison. Who was harmed? Does a lifetime in jail offer retribution to society on behalf of Mr. Hernandez? Does the punishment fit the crime?
The way in which these questions are answered calls for further evaluation of the laws on the books, not necessarily review by the executive branch. It also brings to the light the problems associated with minimum mandatory sentences and the ambiguity that stems from such statutes. Life in prison. Based on minimum mandatory sentences and victimless crimes. Life. In. Prison.

So to sum up firm position between a rock and a hard place…
I believe Jason Hernandez’s sentence was unreasonable, unwarranted and unjust, however, I question the justification for use of executive authority by the president to commute this sentence (and others). And I simply don’t know how to go about fixing any of it.

Discuss.

We teach our kids that if you skip class, you’ll fail…

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the growing trend of unrepresentative and unaccountable regionalism in Georgia. If you missed it, you can catch up by reading this.

Now we move along to part 2, detailing the attendance of such members of this wonderful taxing authority with eminent domain privileges. To properly illustrate such atrocities, I present to you the following graphic:
regionalism2
The number of members on the Atlanta Regional Commission fluctuates with election cycles, appointments and the tide of political relationships but the above chart is not comprehensive of the total board. As noted, it simply details the ARC members who neglect their responsibilities the most.

One of my favorites is the row detailing the attendance of one of regionalism’s biggest proponents– Kasim Reed, who managed to miss at least 50% of the meetings every year (and up to 70% in 2012). You should also note that attendance records aren’t getting any better. While there has been some turnover in ARC membership, there has not been some improvement of attendance.
Anita Thomas of Fulton County missed 4 meetings in 2012. She was only on the board for 4 meetings in 2012. What gives? Some folks missed all the meetings and then stepped off of the board, like Mickey Thompson and Aaron Turpeau. Why bother, folks?

If all of these people are missing all of these meetings, who IS there to do the work? Essentially, because of low attendance to these not-so-public meetings, a few select members –even fewer than the glorious group of self-selected non-elected officials– are making important developmental decisions for all of metro Atlanta. Part 3 [forthcoming] will detail the incestuous occupations of such members of the Atlanta Regional Commission and the direct benefits for each member based on approved developmental projects.

Isn’t regionalism sounding a little more shady with every chart see you see? (See what I did there?)

Abortion? That’s Extra

File this under “Not a War on Women”. From the Detroit Free Press: “A controversial initiative requiring women to buy additional insurance if they want abortion coverage in their health insurance plans passed the Legislature Wednesday afternoon and will take effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn for the year.” If signed into law, women would have to purchase a rider if they believe they will possibly have an abortion in the future.

Liberals and activists alike are up in arms over the recent legislation. Democrats believe it’s an issue that should be put forth to the voters to decide and claim Right to Life went “way too far”. I am somewhat surprised to see a measure such as this come out of a state like Michigan but it seems to be a trending perspective for conservatives and religious activists who adamantly prefer not be on the hook for abortions through new ACA regulations. The argument is that one cannot know if they could encounter a horrible experience, such as a rape or incest, that would, based on their argument, require coverage. A simple response would be that, just as they exist today, women have options for such circumstances.

From my perspective, this doesn’t seem like too big of an issue. You pay extra for dental, chiropractic and women (prior to the ACA) had different coverage parameters than men based on needs. It’s also a true political divide. Those who are pro-life need not purchase the rider and those who are pro-choice will have the opportunity to purchase the plan, or pay out of pocket. I can’t help but giggle a tad as this type of legislation gives liberals a taste of their own medicine. They will now purchase a rider on the premise that they may or may not use the option. It’s kind of like men paying for pregnancy coverage under new ACA guidelines. Or group insurance plans used to “balance” the good and bad.

We cannot plan for everything in life. Sometimes our deductibles are too high when an emergency arises or we didn’t purchase dental insurance the year you need two root canals. The reality is that health insurance cannot, and never will, be one size fits all. Additional “opt-in’s” are a better way to ensure coverage and cost is catered to the person. It also appears to offer a glimmer of hope for businesses that will be required to offer health benefits but don’t want to finance things of this nature, since it would be a premium” (for lack of a better word) package. Paging Hobby Lobby.

Electronic Location Tracking: An Opportunity to Limit Warrantless Searches

spying

That pesky Constitution. It really is stirring up some controversy these days and slipping back into legislation across the states.

I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines. We all have. “Cellphone data spying. It’s not just the NSA” and “DC, Maryland and Virginia cops spying on cell phone data” or more recently “Reports: NSA and GCHQ are spying on virtual worlds, gathering data on gamers“. Private entities are speaking out against the measures, too. They’re everywhere. Literally. Every day it seems we wake to another breaking story about privacy infringements and agency tracking tactics with only stagnant blank stares from legislators on the federal level. Frustration ensues but nothing happens.

So I present to you HB699 authored by State Representative John Pezold (R-Columbus). HB699 essentially details “relating to searches with warrants, so as to narrow the circumstances of when location information for electronic devices may be disclosed without a search warrant; to provide for definitions; to provide for exceptions; to provide for a civil penalty and enforcement; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes”. You can read the full text of the bill here, but HB 699 essentially tightens the reins on the out-of control location spying and tracking by law enforcement without a warrant. My favorite part of the bill is the part where it provides punishment parameters for the government entities that violate the statute and allows for suppression of such evidence in court. (I will agree that there is no ‘price’ for our freedoms being compromised but this bill certainly does more to protect our liberties than current practices by law enforcement agencies.)

There is a slight problem, though. As of pre-filing on November 25th, it was a lonely Mr. Pezold and Rep. Scot Turner (R-21) as official signers on the bill.  I find it interesting that a bill like HB41, dealing with water and sewer fees, has more signers than one that strengthens our Constitutional rights and it’s perplexing to me that 1) there aren’t more bills to protect our 4th amendment rights, and 2) that fellow legislators aren’t calling Representative Pezold to help with the initiative. Personally, I want to know where every elected official stands on this, through the House and Senate and up to the Governor. And you should want to know, too. If they don’t support it…primary. It’s time to stop foregoing liberties because “everyone else” is doing it. The justification for “security” that is most often used in these instances is not applicable. A warrant suffices- and they’re not that hard to get, but at least it’s through a process. HB 699 will cease the circumvention of our 4th amendment rights when it comes to location tracking on electronic devices.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already said the use of such devices does constitute a search.  Montana has similar legislation too HB699 and other states have worked to push electronic privacy initiatives, but we’re a long way from where we should be. It’s time for Georgia to step up. Call your legislators. Tell your friends to call their legislators. It matters. It’s not often that we get good bills anymore and HB699 needs support. This bill is a #McWin.