Regionalism: Unrepresentative, Unaccountable and Hardly Elected

After the recent Braves debacle, and yes, regardless of what side you were on, it truly was a debacle, regionalism has once again been brought to the forefront in our state. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand regionalism, if they’ve even heard of it before. They fail to see the unconstitutional premise of the initiative and the failed outcomes stemming from the increased level of bureaucracy and unaccountability.

The concept of regionalism, while the term seems rather self-explanatory, is actually quite complex due to its continuous evolution. Beginning in 1998, legislators began working to formally structure government on a regional level by implementing HB 1650 and establishing a 21-member Regional Advisory Council (RAC) which was refined with different ‘region lines’ the following year. In 2008, the legislature, through HB 1216, again reorganized and divided our state into 12 regions with elected and appointed representatives which were to be limited to one county commission chair and one mayor for from each region. In 2010, this project was expanded by HB 277 to include another 12 regional transportation councils which would have taxing authority and eminent domain privileges and a self-selected executive round table. In addition, a citizen review panel is appointed for each region, yet they have little authority to control the actions of the councils or roundtable. The Atlanta Regional Commission, known as ARC, was created on the premise of uniting 10 metro counties and is now the trailblazer for many of the tragic development projects we hear about every year in Georgia and dates back to 1947 but has evolved significantly since.

Arc.2013Sure is pretty, isn’t it?

It’s true that most people support counties working together and it’s true that most counties enjoy ‘sharing’ costs. It’s also true that many voters want to see their elected officials working as zealous advocates for their communities. But most wouldn’t support the concept if they knew it was mandated and involuntary. Counties are forced to work together to support initiatives and share funds that may never offer any benefit to their citizens or businesses. Essentially, regionalism reduces local control, circumvents the Georgia Constitution (Article IV, Section IV), reduces (and sometimes eliminates) transparency, diminishes accountability, redistributes wealth, creates an unnecessary [4th] level of bureaucracy and applies a one-size-fits-all approach to development that allows appointed members of a board to evade the whole ‘representative’ aspect of governing. Elected officials bring in vested ‘friends’ as appointees and the commission quickly becomes a one-way (light-rail, of course) train headed to Spendersville at our expense.

“We have a significant number of “citizen” members on the ARC Board who have absolutely no accountability to the voting public at all,” says Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown. “The thought of a mandated regional governance and taxation structure producing the likes of the regional T-SPLOST and Concept 3, by unanimous votes, no less, is a worrisome proposition.”

Regionalism isn’t all that popular, either- mostly because Georgia cannot execute the necessary engines, if you will, correctly. Maria Saporta of Maria’s Metro (who is very pro-transportation spending) recently said, “Regionalism is about investing in regional assets that serve the entire 10-county or 20-county region”. While this, like most things, sounds like a sound solution to so many local problems, regionalism requires county participation and an intermixing of funds that most taxpayers don’t even know about. It allows governance by an unelected, unchecked board with no recourse for voters, citizens or taxpayers.

Earlier this year, the GA GOP voted in favor of a resolution rejecting regionalism as a whole and supporting legislation that would repeal applicable measures. Americans for Prosperity has shed a critical light on issues surrounding regionalism and their own Matt Roy summed up an exemplary explanatory article asking, “When has more or bigger government resulted in an efficient outcome?”

Proposed remedies are lacking. Representative Ed Setzler currently has HB 195 in the hopper, which allows regionally cohesive projects without the mandate by allowing forthcoming initiatives to be at the discretion of the voters in the affected counties. Cooperation would no longer be mandatory, and elected officials would again be accountable to the people who elected them to work on projects that are in the best interest of their area. Wouldn’t that have been nice with the Braves stadium? And wasn’t that a more representative way to decide the fate of the T-SPLOST?

We don’t need regionalism. We see often why these things don’t work. A government close to home is the most effective, the most accessible and the most responsive. It’s the same reason the states don’t team up by region to accomplish things. Cooperation isn’t a bad thing and as Andre Jackson of the AJC stated, “Such cooperation where it’s mutually desired is in keeping with current best practices”. Arranged marriages are nice, but everyone usually ends up happier when you get to pick your own spouse.

Innocence Denied in a Victimless Crime

It’s that icky topic that makes you cringe when you even hear the term: child molestation. It’s a devastating and disgusting crime, one that society condemns so much, we often convict the accused in our hearts and minds before we even hear the evidence. Often times these are just and sound assertions, but what about the times when it is not?

What would you do if the police showed up at your door and accused you of child molestation? What would you do if you were then arrested for charges that spawned because of the actions of someone else? And how would you handle being incarcerated for two years with 18 left to serve? And after conviction, would you find faith to push forward to continue to fight for your freedom and the vindication of you and your innocence? And one last thing to ponder: how would you cope if you were denied a new trial after the evidence used to convict you was found to be false?

If we were to fog bubble back in time to 2011 when this whole debacle began, we would meet a gentleman named Scott Dean. Scott and his wife Renee had a quiet (as political ones can be), quaint life in Columbia County where Dean served as a Harlem City Council member before being elected as a County Commissioner. Dean and his wife had two biological sons and five adopted children from Guatemala. Life was simple and though Dean had some indiscretions at work, Dean was well-liked in the community and a charitable man of faith. Cue mirror-shattering moment.

In February of 2011, Dean was accused of exposing himself by dropping a towel (though the accuser did later state she wasn’t sure if Dean even saw her in the room when he dropped the towel) and inappropriately touching his adopted teenage daughter. He was charged with child molestation. (The link to the child molestation section of the Georgia code is here. It is worth reviewing so you may analyze the “parallel” between code terminology and the acts asserted in this case.)

From the get-go, it was evident the State was on a one-track mind. The prosecutor made it known that he planned to introduce evidence of “similar acts” from the past. ADA Parks White referenced a supposed 1984 Virginia incident (when Dean was just 14 years old and two young females (age 12) with a group of other young females) that was never pursued or prosecuted. No charges were ever filed. The prosecutor presented this information to the public before the Judge ever ruled on the admission of such at trial. It was ultimately permitted at trial but what went ignored were the “similar acts” of the victim and her prior false claims against another guardian, as well as her use of similar allegations to have her and her sister removed from their home in Guatemala. It seems the young lady simply used false allegations to leave a home whenever she was unhappy…and she was truly unhappy with her adopted mother, Renee Dean.

In 2011, Scott Dean was convicted of two counts of child molestation of his adopted teenage daughter based on her statements and the ‘inappropriate act’ as a 14 year old boy with a 12-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison (the maximum) followed by 20 years probation.

A few months after the conviction (but prior to the sentencing), daughter Silda Dean told a DFCS worker that the allegations were a lie. The social worker informed her supervisor and DFCS legal counsel but no further action was ever taken. In March of 2013, Dean’s adopted daughter formally recanted (in a letter) her statements claiming he sexually assaulted her, admitting everything was a lie. Testifying in early October that her allegations were indeed false was legally not enough to grant a new trial.

Scott Dean made a couple bad decisions. He chose to wonder outside of his marriage and away from his wife in an inappropriate relationship with a county employee and he chose to rub some folks the wrong way as a politico in Augusta, but neither of these acts render the incessant persecution of a man for such heinous crimes. We utilize due process and the presumption of innocence for a reason. When we allow a case to spiral out of control without discretion and checks, lives are destroyed. The Court of Appeals claimed that “Absolute Proof” isn’t required. Instead, the judges believe that the testimony of the two witnesses met that burden of proof. That testimony has since been retracted. Now what?

There is still an opportunity to rectify the situation. We must question the District Attorney, the Judge, the Courts and demand an answer as to why, in light of such vindicating, game-changing evidence, a man still sits in prison with no hope and no chance of a new trial. If a now ADULT victim, freely and willingly admits that no improper acts occurred , why is a man in prison? How can a man be charged with a serious, life-changing felony with no victim? I charge you to consider if this man was your husband, your brother, your father. At a minimum, you would want a fair and just trial with the pertinent evidence. If the prosecution’s case is airtight, a second trial should yield the same result.

Keep in mind that if the Courts fail to seek justice, even just once, the wheels will eventually fall off wagon for the entire legal system. While you mull that over, Mr. Dean waits in Georgia State Prison in Reidsville.

I Can Spend! Spend! Spend!


When I was 18, I applied for a credit card because I was told that’s how you build credit. “No credit is worse than bad credit” they say. So I applied and received a $500 credit line on the first try! I was ecstatic. I filled up on a tank of gas using my card and the next month they raised it to $1,000 with a “Congrats!” letter. This was excellent news considering that was about the amount I made monthly at my rinky-dink church job while in college. Even though I was an adult and knew everything at a mere 18 years old, my mom always cautioned “Don’t run it up! But don’t pay the whole thing off either. Just keep a “very, very low” balance”. So I did.

Over the next year or so, I made a valiant effort to ‘make smart decisions’ with my $1,000.00 credit line and didn’t use it much at all. Fast forward to age 20 and my car unexpectedly needs new tires. (I am a female and don’t normally give any vehicle the attention it needs. Truth is, it probably needed tires for a while) I put a whopping $700 on the card and the next  month, I had a big credit increase –$4,000! Congrats!! Paid off the tires completely and it doubled again…$8,000 with yet another congratulatory letter.

I’m not sharing this credit information because I’m proud. I’m sharing it because I am absolutely appalled. I managed to hold steady at the $8,000 limit for a couple of years but yesterday I logged in to pay my bill and found that my limit had been extended to a colossal (to me!) $11,200. I am 25 years old. I have no business having a line of credit like that. Whether I’m making $25,000 or $100,000 a year, we are talking about AT LEAST 10% of income dedicated to credit card debt. With so many people my age unemployed, a majority of millennials carrying a massive amount of student loan debt and  the whole ‘well, we don’t really give a rootie-pa-tootie about personal responsibility”…we are headed down a dark road of personal and economic destruction and everywhere we turn, there is a crutch to put of the debt for just a little while.

Now, I will say, I struggled with this internally because I certainly don’t want younger people to be discriminated against or denied anything because of their age, but there has to be some benchmark for credit. It’s just like the mortgage bubble and the student loan bubble. Not everyone needs a credit card. Not everyone needs the same credit line. Not everyone needs the same perks. In that capacity, the responsibility is on the company. Stricter income-to-debt ratios? Or maybe don’t increase the credit limit unless someone asks? I never once asked for a credit line increase, the company just did it for me. And for goodness sakes…can we please stop rewarding people for spending on someone elses dollar? My credit score went up over 50 points when I took out my student loans.

I don’t want more regulation for private companies who are lending out the credit, but it comes back around when we, as taxpayers, have to bail them out again- not to mention, we don’t know where this ‘loaned’ money is actually coming from.  We preach and preach and preach about the national debt and say ‘Americans live off of what they earn, why won’t the government?” but in reality, we’re perpetuating a cycle of transferring debt to different boiling pots that are all about to overflow. Credit cards aren’t sexy and neither is debt. It’s time we start characterizing spending a little differently and stop being so careless.

Don’t Take My Power, That’s Mine!

From my article originally posted on Peach Pundit:

As the 2014 legislative session approaches, we’re all gearing up for the “hot button” issues that will rise to the forefront and be the buzz for all the bloggers. With the possible May election, it would be a surprise to no one to see session shortened in an effort to get back to important things, like fundraising. Legislators will hopefully evaluate meticulously in selecting the legislation they choose to push, which will likely include several recommitted bills from 2013.

HB 100 in particular, relating to the state-level executive powers of firearm confiscation during a state of emergency caught the attention of many but dwindled quickly amongst the campus carry drama. Representative Delvis Dutton (R-157) introduced HB 100, which is more comprehensive and thorough than previous legislation of the same nature, in what has been a growing trend since the unconstitutional seizure of firearms following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Specifically, HB100 states,

“No official or employee of the state or any political subdivision thereof…,while acting during or pursuant to a declared state of emergency, shall: temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize the seizure of any firearms or ammunition…prohibit possession of any firearm or ammunition or any component thereof…prohibit any license holder from carrying any weapon…or require registration of any firearm.”

In also adding a few definitions and procedural matters, HB 100 would essentially protect second amendment rights during a declared state of emergency when rules and rights are often skirted.

HB 100 had, and continues to have, extensive support. Currently there are 47  House signers, both Georgia Gun Owners and Georgia Carry support the measure and it falls in line with similar NRA-backed legislation that has been enacted across the nation. Organizations like ALEC and NAGR have jumped in to help with legislation in several states, including, but not limited to, Oklahoma, Virginia, Missouri, Maine and even Michigan and California…but somehow HB100 did not wiggle down the pipeline in Georgia.

Interestingly assigned to the House Judiciary Committee (and not Public Safety or Judiciary Non-Civil), HB100 passed through subcommittee and full committee with bipartisan support but did not make it out of Rules by day 30 even after requests by multiple Representatives. The rumor is that Governor Deal, and his minute-men, worked to stop this bill from the beginning and plan to do the same in 2014.

It is a tad surprising that following Sandy Hook, Aurora and tragedies of the like, when responsible gun owners are literally clinging to their guns AND in a season of a contested primary, Governor Deal still has not come out in full support of our second amendment rights and HB 100. Gubernatorial candidate David Pennington, when asked about his position on such legislation, said he is “100% adamantly opposed to any bill or behavior that restricts our freedoms” and would support legislation that would remove the executive power to confiscate firearms. Calls to Governor Deal’s office regarding this issue were not returned. John Barge for Govenor also chose not to offer a position on the issue, but I imagine he is busy with his spelling flashcards.

::cue Liberty Drum::

BooHooing and Finger-pointing in Senate 14

crying babyUPDATE: 12:21 P.M.
The Georgia Campaign Finance has removed the ‘fines owed’ for Bruce Thompson and Matt Laughridge.


Cherokee sure does have a knack for lying candidates.  Or those that leave out a large portion of the facts.
Matt Laughridge has put out a hit piece video of the sort of resembles something a democrat would do. Read below and you too will feel the irony.

Don’t try to fool us, Mr. Laughridge. ALL 5 (4 REPUBLICANS and 1 Democrat) CANDIDATES in the Senate 14 race outstanding fines.
If you’re asking if it upsets us, the answer is yes. We want all candidates to pay their fines and file their paperwork in a timely fashion but since you haven’t either, let’s call it a wash and move on. What is not included in that ‘wash’ is the sneakiness of trying to exclude himself from claims of ethics fines. So I present to The People, Exhibit A:

Mr. Laughridge, in his video attacking Dwight Pullen and Bruce Thompson, also said “Both claimed to be Republicans but their voting records don’t support the claim.” I present The People Exhibit B which shows a  few points:

  • Bruce Thompson has NOT voted Democrat in any election dating back to 2004.
  • Dwight Pullen did pull the lever on the Democrat side in the 2010 primary.
  • Both Thompson and Pullen have voted MORE TIMES than Mr. Laughridge who seems to be new to this whole voting thing as a whole. He is young, so maybe he voted out-of-state at college or something (I would like to know where he was in 2008, but I digress), but his claims about his opponents are disturbingly inaccurate.

SD14_Voter_History_1179x155                                                                                   (h/t to Bartow Politics for the most excellent graphic from the Georgia voter database)

What this says to me is that Mr. Laughridge is grasping for straws…probably because of a last-minute poll showing him in 3rd place and not headed to a run-off. That’s just speculation but all the other candidates are out there working to meet voters and Mr. Laughridge is stomping his feet and pressing videos that evoke the same emotion of the anti-Big Bird videos from the Romney election.  I have confidence that the voters in Senate District 14 have enough common sense to see past this ridiculous unsubstantiated video that was clearly produced out of desperation.

There’s a nice little voter guide from Bartow Politics here.
I’ll also note that this video was produced by that same ol’ company that was dissolved by the pesky Secretary of State.

I’m No Accountant, But That’s A Lot of Dollars, Sir.


So, I started a little controversy on my Facebook page (which usually leads me to post a blog) last night after discovering that Matt Laughridge, who is running for State Senate in district 14 to fill Barry Loudermilk’s vacated seat, spent $73,873 on one consultant, M.C. Collier Productions Inc., after paying two other consultants $10,000.00 and $1,100.00. Now, I’m no accountant, but that’s a lot of money! $84,973 on ‘general consulting’ fees in a shortened special election.

I can’t really appreciate that someone may or may not be purchasing other items (like billboards, mailers, pens with his name on it, coozies, jar openers or customized Laughridge boxers) through the ‘consulting fees’ because when it’s not broken down by expense, that leads many of us to believe Mr. Laughridge is paying for something other than ‘general consulting’. I fail to see why further information is not provided in a district/county/area-what have you that emphasizes ethics and transparency. If not, that’s one hell of a strategy plan and kind of sounds like a slam dunk in the district, no? I guess we’ll see.

I also can’t really appreciate that M.C. Collier Productions is no longer licensed through the Secretary of State to conduct business and hasn’t been since dissolution in 2002. I don’t know about you but when I fork out cash to various organizations, I do a little research to find out who I’m paying and what their background is. Paying that kind of money to a company that was dissolved over 10 years is unacceptable and smells a tad fishy to me.

Regardless, at least it’s mostly his own money.

That is all. Discuss.


From Greg’s List….

Travis Roberts is a 38 year old husband, father of three and founder of Hemma Concrete – recognized as one of the 50 largest concrete companies in the country. In April, 2013 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). Our mission is to get Travis Lee Roberts on ESPN’s College Gameday in Athens, GA on September 28.

Please retweet the following:
#TravOnGameDay RT @joey_pett: @CollegeGameDay @KirkHerbstreit @davidpollack47 @cbfowler

Statistics are cold, faceless numbers which describe and predict wide swaths of human behavior with stunning accuracy. They surround us, they define us, they follow us, they haunt us. For those who can remember back to their high school days, or for those who are currently in high school, you’ve likely been exposed to the cruel teacher who spouted off a myriad of statistics and localized it to your graduating class, or maybe even a smaller sample, like your homeroom. According to USA Today, approximately 30% of students drop out of high school. Your freshman homeroom teacher could have looked around the room and said, “30% of ya’ll won’t be graduating in 4 years…” Now, he wouldn’t win any awards for positive encouragement, but that doesn’t mean he would be wrong. In fact, statistics and actuarial evidence would prove him correct. Perhaps this hypothetical teacher might throw out more fun figures, like “The girls in your graduating class have a 3.4% of becoming pregnant before the age of 20 (teen pregnancy), a circumstance which is another fact, according to the CDC. Ok, now I’ve got your attention. The Teen pregnancy number, a number that resonates with a class of 200 females, where the gals could look around the room and picture 7 of them as teenage mothers, humanizes the statistic. Our intrepid educator could also employ a different tactic, highlighting the abject futility of your dreams by quoting depressing but true stats like, “Your odds of winning an Olympic medal are 662,000 to 1 (so you’re sayin’ there’s a chance!). “Dr. Doom” could conclude his deflating diatribe with other statistics about your chances of winning the lottery, playing professional football or winning a Poker tournament in Vegas.

There ARE some statistical occurrences so rare that a bloviating high school teacher wouldn’t bother introducing to a corps of fresh faced frosh. Statistics like the odds of a 38 yr old male in good health contracting Bile Duct Cancer.

What are the key statistics about bile duct cancer? About 2,000 to 3,000 people in the United States develop bile duct cancer each year. Bile duct cancer is much more common in Asia and the Middle East, mostly because of a common parasitic infection of the bile duct. Bile duct cancer can occur at younger ages, but it is seen mainly in older people. The average age of people diagnosed with cancer of the intrahepatic bile ducts is 70 and it is 73 for cancer of the extrahepatic bile ducts. Almost 2 out of 3 people with bile duct cancer are 65 or older when it is found.
When you extrapolate these figures, you come up with an Infinitesimal number of 990 persons in the USA out of approximately 310 million that are under the age of 65 years old when diagnosed with Bile Duct Cancer. This is a .00003% chance, which is likely even lower for someone under the age of 40. The point of this statistical exercise is not to bore you, its to illustrate just how infrequent this horrible disease manifests in someone under the age of 65. The odds of even knowing somebody that knows somebody that contracted BDC are minute (We ARE actively changing this dynamic, read on to find out how you can help). At the end of the day however, these arithmetical values are just numbers. Cold, faceless Statistics that have no prejudice, no remorse, no sympathy, no boundaries. There is hope though. The mere fact that you are reading these words means you now see a face, comprehend a life and know a person that defines these numbers.

The people that have known Travis Lee Roberts for the past 38 years know that
There is a miniscule 990 incidences of BDC per year in the USA for people under the age of 65. Travis ranks INFINITELY higher on the rarity scale. He is one out of 7.114 billion humans here on Earth, a microscopic percentage too small for my HP Laptop calculator to compute.
Those of us who have known Travis the longest remember when he preferred using his middle name, “Lee”.
We know him as a Christian, A husband, a Father, A successful Business Owner, a Georgia Bulldog, a Community Leader and many other positive monikers that would describe one Travis Lee Roberts. BDC is rare in the United States, but Travis Lee Roberts is truly one of a kind and frankly, I don’t like the odds of BDC winning this one. This cancer picked on the wrong guy. I have been amazed by the outpouring of support, prayers and goodwill from people that have never met Travis. Perhaps they heard his story from the Concrete Faith blog, an amazing, tear jerking, uplifting reservoir of information and updates about Travis and Carrie’s battle. Or perhaps they saw it through the power of social media, on Facebook or Twitter, where a growing number of supporters are coalescing to make a dream happen. #TravOnGameday has become the rallying cry for family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers that know only the story, nay, the fight of his life, in which Travis is engaged.

Joe Pettit, Travis’ brother in law, wrote this on the morning of Wednesday, Sept 25.

Joe Pettit (L), Carrie Roberts, Travis Lee Roberts (r) #TravOnGameday

“I have known Travis Lee Roberts for over two decades. He is definitely one of my closest, if not my best friend. He is electric. Nobody is more fun, nobody is funnier, nobody is more interesting and no one else can get away with the things he says and does. People always tell me, “Yeah, I know this guy and he’s just like Travis,” or “We get along cause I’m just like Travis.” Even if I don’t do it physically, I am rolling my eyes every time I hear that sort of claim. I know a lot of people, but I don’t know anyone like Travis, except Travis.
I haven’t met one person who believes Travis can be beaten. He doesn’t lose. That is what makes him different from all the people who are supposedly “just like him.” He is will and perseverance and fire.

The last couple days have been hard. The last couple days have brought bad news and then worse news. His chemotherapy is failing, and the cancer is growing.
MD Anderson in Houston has a brand new clinical trial, and Travis is a shoe-in for the treatment.

Travis said tonight that this is his Doug Flutie moment. Travis didn’t say that this is his Hail Mary, because a Hail Mary is a long shot. Travis said that this is his Doug Flutie moment, because Flutie won.

Winners don’t compare themselves to long shots. “Winners win,” has been his refrain as long as I’ve known him, and I don’t see any reason for that to change now.”

Travis is UGA alum and fan. Joe has started a campaign to get him on ESPN GameDaythis Saturday in Athens, GA for the UGA-LSU game and help tell all of those fighting for something that in the end, you have to win. You can help by following and retweeting Joe’s account. The hashtag #TravOnGameDay is being used.

An avalanche is a rapid flow of snow down a slope. Avalanches are typically triggered in a starting zone from a snowpack when the forces on the snow exceed its strength but sometimes only with gradually widening. After initiation, avalanches usually accelerate rapidly and grow in mass and volume as they entrain more snow.
What this means is the phrase “a snowball’s chance in Hell”, really depends on the girth of the aforementioned Snowball.
We’re going for an Avalanche.
We are asking you to join our Avalanche of Support for Travis Lee Roberts.

Please RT to support #TravOnGameDay RT @joey_pett: @CollegeGameDay @KirkHerbstreit @davidpollack47 @cbfowler

A Picture Worth 1,000 Words/Dollars/Haters

photodogs(A puppy mug shot, because they really are guilty)

Something I’ve struggled with a for a long time? Internet mug shots.

Over the last few years, the explosion of private companies posting mug shots on the internet has been devastating for almost every one who has been arrested. These companies post your ever-so-flattering photo with your charges with the only remedy being your contacting them to have it removed by paying a fee. Problem is, there are handfuls of companies doing this, making a fortune and the cost of ‘clearing your name’ can end up costing thousands of dollars. Another problem arising from this ‘public information’ is the name recognition on Google. An employer searches your name, your photo comes up with charges, yet the charges were dismissed/nolle prosequi/dead docketed, and suddenly it looks as if you lied. (I recognize there are plenty of arguments regarding pending charges and disclosing that in a job interview but most applications inquire about convictions. I also recognize that some counties make their court calendars available online, but this usually doesn’t come up on Google)

When I worked at the Capitol, we received call after call asking for legislation banning the companies that do this and/or help in rectifying false information. At first, I thought it was pretty crappy on the part of the company, and maybe it is, but the Liberty in me says there is nothing you can do. Is this a path we want to start walking down? Banning entrepreneurial companies? The idea is brilliant and a perpetual gold mine. When folks are desperate to get those photos down, they’re going to pay whatever is necessary. Especially those folks who weren’t convicted.

So here is where I’m at now:

  •  We do not need any more legislation, mostly because the issue does not stem from the companies. It’s coming from the police agencies
  • I’m all for public knowledge and private entities. After all, it is public information and it’s often times printed in the paper (but I’m not really on board with that concept either). Do we REALLY need mug shots of pending charges? I understand that companies will remove the photo, however, we are circumventing the whole ‘presumption of innocence’ thing.
  • We are supposed to operate under the notion that you are ‘innocent until proven guilty’, so why are we exploiting people’s charges and photos when things are still in the “allegations” stage? Why are we not pressuring law enforcement agencies to only publish records of the ‘guilty’ ones. There’s a reason the Sex Offender Registry is just for the convicted folks. (#liability)

I don’t want restriction or regulation, I just want to see our police agencies focus on punishing those who are convicted of a crime instead of tarnishing those who have the unfortunate privilege of wading through the justice system. Everyone knows someone who has been a victim of our legal process so we can’t say these things are rare occurrences. I am real tired of people associating charges with guilt. And most of them won’t change their mind unless they are under the gun (pun intended) and charged with a crime they did not commit.

How To Be Conservative & Not Despise the VMA’s

Here we are again. Another post-MTV-VMA morning and everyone is all up in arms over the vulgarity and promiscuity of the show and I’m just standing over here like, ‘Where have y’all been?’

MTV hasn’t been appropriate for anyone under the age of 18 AT LEAST since they began airing ‘Undressed’ in 1999. And I’m not exactly sure how what we saw on the VMA’s is any different than Jersey Shore, The Real World or the latest and greatest music videos- all things we don’t consider society’s best. What you allow your children to watch is your business, but it may be a tad hypocritical to permit Beyonce thrusting in a music video and then be mortified by Miley. Personally I was more upset over what she did to my favorite song, but I digress.

I actually had the privilege of attending the a “Bridging the Gap” Women’s Conference in Charleston, SC this weekend and I was impressed by the excellent messages conveyed throughout the summit. Everything from standing up when your time is right to challenging to the liberal media to holding elected officials accountable, all in an effort to restore our great nation. But one issue that was neglected in the conference, and in every other speech, conference, summit and convention I have attended, is the role of pop culture in today’s society. It’s no secret that it’s skewed to the left. Between Lady Gaga’s everything-but-policymaking songs and Barack Obama tweeting Katy Perry post-performance, it is evident this is no small thing we are up against. But pop culture will always be there (unless we start banning and censoring) and it will always present underlying messages to children, teens and uneducated adults. The remedy is circumventing the message they are sending.

There is this new radical approach- it’s called parenting. When I was in middle school, Eminem was all the rage. I was allowed to listen to one *radio edit version* of his songs (The Real Slim Shady, of course). The album was not allowed in our home. My mother explained to me that the music did not reflect our values and did not reflect well on me to be listening to it. Of course I was irritated at the time and told all my friends that  my mom didn’t want me to be cool or have fun but somehow I still managed to absorb the message she was sending. It’s amazing what parenting can do. I’m a firm believer that when you’re instilling the proper values in your children, the outside ‘noise’ is irrelevant. You can also like a song and not become some terrible society-ruining citizen. Being exposed to the ‘badness of pop culture’, going home from school alone sometimes because my mom had to work and hearing about promiscuity from friends had zero effect on me because of what I learned early on from home. And I’m not the exception.

We, as conservatives, also need to stop publicly condemning things we can control for but simply don’t like. When you make it acceptable for your children to look to the media for role models, you’re going to lose. And so will your children. Start by teaching them what you want them to know.

A Reflection on My 1st Quarter of a Century

Today I turn 25. A quarter of a century. I feel like I’m handling it fairly well. Besides thinking I look ‘old’ in my Facebook profile picture, cringing at the idea of someone telling me I look “28 or 29″ and the ever-increasing pressures of real life, I’m of sound mind.

Birthdays have never really been a ‘reflection’ point for me, but 24 was so wonderful and 25 marks some huge milestones for me. I’ve come to grips with the how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve grown, both recently and as a whole on my first quarter around the sun. Some good lessons, others not so much. Regardless, a few perspectives I would share with up and coming early-twenties folk:

  • First and foremost, formalized education doesn’t prepare you at all for the real world. The Masters is where my education space station stops. I’m done. Experience is my next money bomb.
  • Titles are meaningless, success is relative and, like money, you cannot take either with you when you leave this earth.
  • Friendships and laughter will always be able to fix everything- even if only for a moment.
  • The statement ‘You are in control of your own emotions. No one can make you ‘feel’ any way” is truer than most of us would like to admit. We always have the option to remove negativity from our lives. We make the choice to let people affect us.
  • Delivery of opinion is everything. I stand by everything I’ve said but there are a few things I would probably say more eloquently. You can dish it out all day (especially in politics) but bet your bottom dollar there will come a time when you will have to look them in the eye, say hello and pretend like you don’t want to crawl under the table.
  • Dogs are the best judges of character. Untrustworthy, sneaky, smelly…they can sense it all. And they’ll let you know, too. You can’t get honesty like that anywhere else.
  • You will always need your mom because life isn’t getting easier. ( I also, surprisingly, remember the “little things” she taught me, like, to make sure to go to bed with clean underwear and nice pajamas in case you have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. This actually happened and I was pleased with my night-time attire in the ER)
  • Your faith will never let you down.

Most importantly I’ve learned that you cannot determine anything. You can’t even try to steer the path. At 18, I was certain about what I wanted: job, kids, family, income, the works. When that plan didn’t work, I implemented a new plan. Then another. The only thing all this planning taught me is that the more you plan, the more out of control you spin. When I finally got out of my own way, the “right” things happened fast and just how it should. My ‘oopsies’ and ‘on accidents’ have become glorious achievements.

This blog has been a huge part of my ‘growing pains’. The confrontational aspect of it has pushed me to be confident in what I say, research what I hear and explain why I say things that disrupt harmony. The ‘public’ side of it has forced me to come out of my shell, which is much more fun than hiding behind a computer. And the ‘feedback’ side has ensured that I stay humble and grounded, but most importantly, true to my convictions.

It’s a big week for me. 25. Graduate school is complete. Lots to learn and a long way to go, but life’s been (overwhelmingly and undeservingly) good to me so far…
::insert liberty drum:: then, this: