Category Archives: State Level Stuff

Let the Klan have their damn road.

The battle between the Georgia Department of Transportation and a north Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan has been raging on for over three years now, usurping valuable resources, time, and money of taxpayers.

It’s made for unusual bedfellows, including legal representation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for…the Klan. While it speaks to the integrity of the ACLU and equitable protection under the law, the criticism has not been spewed sparingly.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last three years, here’s a quick rundown:

Because of the controversy, the Georgia Department of Transportation has stopped accepting new applications for the ‘Adopt-a-Highway’ program. They are supposedly planning to restructure their policy. If I were them, I would wait to restructure anything until the courts have ruled once and for all.

To me, it seems like the solution is fairly simple. If the problem is the use of tax dollars to provide the sign and print names of organizations and groups that the state doesn’t endorse, then allow the organization to adopt the highway and then have them pay for and install their own sign.

If the GDOT, a state agency, cannot fairly and equitably apply the program policy to all applicants, the program should be suspended indefinitely, any already adopted roads should be revoked, and the signs should be taken down. Maintenance should resume being performed by GDOT.

The First Amendment – and all the others – were crafted with the intention that they would be protected even when it made us uncomfortable. Free speech isn’t always pretty. If the previous ruling is overturned, the Court is essentially saying that the concern over the possibility of hate speech trumps Constitutional rights. The Klan is responsible for indefensible things, but if they are cleaning up trash and erecting a sign, those are not illegal activities. What is the grounds for denial? You also muddy the waters between what an actual chapter is responsible for versus the people participating within that chapter.

The purpose of the program was to bridge the gap where the DOT fell short and allow the community to participate in keeping roads clean. ANYONE from the community should be able to do that – even if we don’t like them. I would imagine if you had the opportunity to get to know everyone in the state who adopted a road, there would be others you didn’t like, too. That isn’t grounds for denial.

This isn’t about the Klan. It’s about the proper role of government. The Klan should be allowed to adopt their stretch of highway.

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Gov. Deal Bakes Cake, Offers Bites to Eat, Too

Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Confederate Memorial Day has quietly been removed from state calendars along with Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Both memorial days will now be referred to using a neutral term of ‘state holiday.’

While I’m not certain I support the elimination of memorial days that are, whether we like it or not, integral parts of our state history, I’m more disappointed by the fact that the elimination of the holiday has zero consequences for the employees.

From the AJC:

Gov. Nathan Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the state still intends to celebrate the days even if it doesn’t “spell it out by name.”

“There will be a state holiday on that day,” he said. “Those so inclined can observe Confederate Memorial Day and remember those who died in that conflict.”

Democrat legislators, liberal groups around the state (and nation), and even some employees have long been lobbying for their Confederate-based state-recognized paid days off to be eliminated – at least the language of the holidays.

This decision is solely in the hands of the Governor until the Georgia legislature passes something concrete and permanent, and based on Deal’s most recent announcement, it seems those holidays will cease to exist as the history books now read. As for the state employees…they will still have their paid day off.

Here’s how this works: If you aren’t going to recognize the day for what it really means, it isn’t necessary to give state employees a day off. We close banks and government agencies for MLK Jr. Day, New Year’s Day, and Christmas, and we formally recognize the Holocaust Memorial Day and President’s Day. George Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday are all on various calendars. They’re on the calendar because they represent an era or person in history.

History shouldn’t just be erased because of knee-jerk reactions from public dissent. More thought should have been put into this issue. A loud minority is clamoring about the existence of Confederate holidays, memorials, statues, and figureheads and managed to become loud enough for the Governor to hear on this one. Action was taken, and will likely continue to be taken. But it should be done slowly and it should be evaluated for what it is.

Now, something deemed “terrible” was removed from a written calendar, disguised as something else, and used as a reward for employees.

You don’t get to have your cake and eat it, too. Either recognize the memorial days for what they are and give the employees their paid time off, or don’t. Please don’t play puppeteer. .


Photos below courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

calendarsAJC

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.

 

 

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)

A Case for Food Stamps…

I sometimes read the Huffington Post. Sometimes because I’m bored, sometimes because I love torturing myself with extreme opposition, and sometimes because I’m feeling super open-minded. Today was the latter of the three.

I came across the article ‘This is What It’s Like To Be A Single Mom on Food Stamps‘. If you have a few minutes, I recommend reading it in its entirety. The mother is from a suburb outside of Atlanta and she makes a compelling case for needing help.

I’ll preface noting that my biggest problem with the article, especially with it being featured on Huffington Post, is how it somehow manages to make it seem like this is the norm. Unfortunately, it is not. Putting that aside, I think there is some real value in what the article highlights: that this was the only option at the end of the rope.

This single mother of two details her struggle of a divorce with a financially uninvolved father, medical issues and trying to get a job after being a stay-at-home mom for 13 years in a suffering economy while chronicling the shame and heartbreak over accepting (and then using) state benefits.

I am not an advocate of the food stamp or the WIC programs and I cannot imagine that I ever will be. I would go as far as to say I believe it to be an illegal practice on behalf of the state. But I am an advocate for compassion and solutions. As conservatives, we are consistently framed as wanting to remove social programs (and we do!) but are willing to leave families and children without another option. It makes us look bad and it’s one of the reasons we lose elections. I’m kind of over it.

The non-profit sector was intended to be a third branch, a bridge if you will, between the private sector and the public sector. Nonprofit organizations were originally created to fill the gap where the government could not -or was not legally supposed to- fill in. We have far overstepped that boundary and are looking at years of reform, but why aren’t conservatives looking at specific organizations to which we can direct needy families?

Faith aside, there are lists a mile long of organizations ready, willing and able to offer short and long-term assistance to varying groups of people: young, old, male, female, veterans, those addicted to various substances, those in recovery, those unwilling to work, those unable to work. The list goes on. A quick Google search provides a list of over 37,000 nonprofits JUST IN GEORGIA with over $96,598,629,441.00 in assets. Now, we know that all of those aren’t need-based organizations, but there certainly is no shortage on available ‘help’. What’s more is that again, faith aside, more often than not, these organizations project ideologies of conservatism, individualism and ultimate personal responsibility without being overtly ‘in your face’.

So what gives? Why are we not placing a wedge between the state social programs and the people? I will say that legislating specific organizations into ‘helping’ isn’t the solution. Take MADD for example: The Georgia legislature created a monster out of that organization by mandating their services through the state sentencing programs. But we have to change the direction we are sending these people. We don’t make information readily available and then we wonder why they default to the state. Why aren’t these organizations Step 1 on the HHS websites? Why doesn’t the state first suggest what is now considered the alternative?We, as a state and a people, can connect the needy with the willing organizations. We need to make the alternative the norm. We just need a pathway and discussion to do it.

Change doesn’t happen without conversation. It’s time to tweak the conversation and shift our focus to the real solutions. Otherwise, we are only contributing to the problem and I see our fight as no more than a tug-o-war with the liberals of ‘keep a program v. kill a program’.

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.

My General Assembly Agenda. Now hop to it.

I’m not an elected official-nor do I ever intend to be, and no one ever asks me, but I’m just saying…here’s what needs to be done during the 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

I want to see a strong emphasis on the 10th amendment. Protect the rights of the states. Be proactive, for the love of Pete. Please stop waiting until something happens…act now!

  • Nullify Obamacare
  • Nullify the NDAA
  • Nullify any legislation that would restrict our 2nd amendment rights. While you’re at it, why don’t you loosen the reins on our gun laws right now. They are a bit too stringent for a freedom-loving person like myself, anyways.
  • Deny the Atlanta Falcons any funding for the new stadium. It’s unnecessary and I don’t care where the money comes from, it does not need to go to some snazzy stadium that could and should be privately funded.
  • Ethics reform. Those of us who have any clue as to what is really going on know that you cannot legislate morals or ethics. If a legislator wants to be sneaky or take bribes, they will, whether there is legislation in place or not. But the constituents want it. They have no faith in the system right now. So, just do it. We are all waiting. We’ve been waiting.
  • Continued justice system reform. Long are the days where offenders got away with anything. Our systems are inundated with harmless and meaningless offenses. The courts are bogged down with paperwork and the lags for prosecution are out of control. Reform starts in the general assembly. Why don’t we work to decriminalize certain traffic offenses and victimless crimes? I don’t know about you, but I’m more deterred from speeding by a fine than points on my license.
  • Care to try again on the Sunset Bill that our Governor vetoed last year? I’m still wondering when we are going to hold government agencies accountable.

How many of these do you think will be accomplished?? I’ll pray for wisdom, control and restraint.

Virginia & Arizona Nullify NDAA, Georgia Legislature Nullifies Legitimacy

Last week, the State of Virginia did a tremendous thing: they nullified the NDAA. Arizona followed suit yesterday. The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) is an unconstitutional act just recently passed by our lovely Congressional representatives. Each year, Congress authorizes the NDAA but this past year is far scarier. The law effectively “empowers the Armed Forces to engage in civilian law enforcement and to selectively suspend due process and habeas corpus, as well asother rights guaranteed by the 5th and 6th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, for terror suspects apprehended on U.S. soil.” You may say, hey! This is a good thing! NO. IT. IS. NOT. It is the first time since 1950 that our country has codified the power of indefinite detention into law. Have you ever thought about how discretionary the word ‘terror suspect’ is? Have you ever thought of what is truly defined as ‘terrorism’ (the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes) and what other kinds of things can be included in that category? And tell me, regardless of WHO IT IS, this is the United States and we have a Constitution for a reason. Offenders on U.S. soil and U.S. citizens should demand those rights. This law can be used by authorities to detain (forever) anyone the government considers a threat to national security and stability – potentially even demonstrators and protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.

Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson both voted in favor of the 2012 NDAA. So did Jack Kingston, Lynn Westmoreland, Tom Price, Rob Woodall, Austin Scott, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey. The only GA Republican to vote no? Tom Graves. Even 2 Democrats were smart enough to vote ‘No’, but our Republican leadership, this is how they are leading us. –You can read more about why the NDAA is unconstitutional here.–

Virginia and Arizona both established protection for their people, invoking the 10th amendment. But Georgia did not.

But do you know what the Georgia Legislature did do during the 2012 Legislative Session? THEY PASSED 500 BILLS!!! Sure, 300 of them were local and many of them had to do with the redistricting maps, but all of them had to be voted on by EVERYONE and you certainly cannot convince me that every Representative and every Senator knows what is in each and every bill that was passed in those 40 days.

Some of their wonderful accomplishments include:
John Albers’ welfare drug testing bill, which has received harsh criticism for its’ unconstitutionality and lack of good research could actually COST Georgia taxpayers money when it is challenged in court.
HB 247: Requiring fingerprinting and investigation of emergency medical personnel.
HB 253: Allowing to sell or trade surplus vehicles.
HB 398: Fulton County Board of Education -pension and retirement, correct typographical errors (Should we even have to do this in the first place??)
HB 785: Provide Insurance limitations on licensure requirements for certain health care providers (so very important).
SB 183: Education; school health nurse programs; revise provisions
SB 515: City of Americus, provide for a date of expiration of office for terms of councilmembers and the mayor
These may be important to SOME people, but are they more important than our personal freedoms and protections from the NDAA?

Through the Facebook grapevine, I found that a few Georgia Senators who hosted a Town Hall told constituents that there ‘simply wasn’t enough time’ and they didn’t know enough about the NDAA to craft legislation regarding it. Oh, wait. Then why do you represent us? Your lack of knowledge and concern for time could prove quite dangerous. We may not have until the next year. And if the people vote right, you won’t be around for the next Legislative session.

So let’s talk priorities. You (being Senators and Representatives of the State of Georgia) thought it was more important to create more government oversight through drug testing to save a mere $103,000/year, to create licensure requirements for insurance companies, to allow trading of surplus vehicles and to edit school nurse programs but you didn’t think protecting one of our CORE FREEDOMS was important enough? I guess some of you are too busy getting your shoes tied.

I encourage you to call your Senators and Representatives and ask them why they aren’t protecting you and WHAT is more important. If they tell you they didn’t have time, I suggest you get on their opponents campaign team. Contact information can be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx

The Real Detriment to Society

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most while writing this blog is exploring my own views. Trying to explain WHY I feel the way I do about certain issues has really forced me to delve into my own morals and foundations. I’ve always been conservative but I just continue to move further right as each day, regulation and policy passes.

As someone who has never tried it and has no desire to try it, I feel as though I can offer an unbiased, logical argument as to why the motion to legalize marijuana should be exercised.

Some may say this is against several conservative values. It’s not. Consider the TRUE foundations of what conservatism is supposed to be: freedoms and choices.

People seem to think that if something is ‘legalized’ that means everyone will do it. That’s simply not the case. The people who smoke marijuana will do so whether it is legal or not. Fact. So all we are really doing is creating a database of millions of extremely minor offenders and flooding our criminal justice system with pricey maintenance, paperwork and overcrowding.

The National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) reported that in 1965, there were 2 marijuana arrests an hour in the United States. In 2008, there were ~100 arrests per hour. HOW RIDICULOUS. Did you know that the majority of marijuana arrests are related to other charges like loitering and speeding? Everyone preaches about ‘victimless crimes’ yet the government monitors them through jail time and probation like they are sexual predators. Why? Police and justice system resources could be allocated to more serious violent crimes instead of needlessly sending ‘offenders’ into the system for victimless crimes.

Now, some say that medically it’s detrimental. According to the National Commission on Marijuana, “No significant physical, biochemical or mental abnormalities could be attributed solely to their marijuana smoking…Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety…” Regardless of the overabundance of research saying it doesn’t, let’s say that marijuana did cause a plethora of health problems…so does excessive alcohol use, cigarette smoking, many FDA-approved prescription drugs, McDonalds (and other fast food restaurants), pollution and sticking your head in an oven…but they are all legal and people do them. So please, government, don’t tell us you’re looking out for our best interests. And what happened to choices?

I’m surprised democrats aren’t jumping for joy to support this. The logical, financial side of legalization? Like everything else in the United States, we could just tax it. The lottery, cigarettes, alcohol…what’s the difference? Those are legal now and marijuana isn’t. (Recall that the lottery and alcohol were once illegal, though). They’d also be able to regulate it. Marijuana is a $36 billion a year industry. Illegal marijuana ‘trading’ right now funds gangs, a real problem in many areas of the country. MJLegal.org says, “We currently spend billions of dollars every year to chase peaceful people who happen to like to get high. These people get locked up in prison and the taxpayers have to foot the bill”. It’s expensive to keep up with roughly 900,000 ‘offenders’ every year!!

Now I’m not suggesting that we advertise on billboards or sell it at the local Publix and BP Stations or allow people to light up at Chili’s. But people should be allowed to do as they please on their own time in the privacy of their own property when they are not affecting others.

Marijuana’s actual impact on society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it. So it’s true, the real detriment to society is the War on Drugs. And it’s not just a detriment, it’s a complete and utter failure.

Exercising Our 2nd Amendment: A Case for Guns on Campus

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage that to prevent, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” –Thomas Jefferson quoting Cesare Beccaria
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After way too much time in the heart of downtown Atlanta at Georgia State University, I developed my own opinion on whether students should have the right to carry firearms on campus. As I was getting into my car after leaving an evening class, I heard gunshots in the parking lot above me. About an hour later, I received an email from the Georgia State University Police detailing the incident. A little late don’t you think?

This semester Georgia Tech, also in Atlanta city limits, has been plagued with some pretty brutal attacks including muggings, sexual assaults and most recently, an intense robbery that left a student badly beaten. Many of these assaults occurred at gunpoint and all have taken place on campus.

Georgia Tech, and all colleges for that matter, have a DUTY to protect the students. Countless resources from Georgia Tech Police and Atlanta Police are being implemented to no avail. Both Georgia State and Georgia Tech offer ‘Courtesy Officers’ who will escort students to their cars and campus dorms but they can’t escort everyone and they can’t be everywhere. Georgia Tech’s campus spans over 400 acres and Georgia State’s campus spans 34 acres. Both touch on some of Atlanta’s roughest areas of town.

After the most recent robbery and assault, the Georgia Tech College Republicans sponsored an event for the right to carry guns on campus. Adries Celedon, the Chairman of the GTCR said in a statement to WSBtv, “From my experience, the people who have concealed carry licenses are the most responsible people”. They face significant opposition, though. In 2009, Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson said mixing alcohol, guns and 20,000 students is a “terrible combination…I think it’s a recipe for a disaster.” You know whats a disaster? The tragedy at Virginia Tech. Or how about the shooting at San Jose State this year? Ohio State University and University of Alabama-Huntsville in 2010? The list is long. Imagine if there had been students or teachers on those campuses who were armed. The gunmen could have been stopped, or what’s more, deterred all together.

Why shouldn’t Georgia Tech students be allowed to carry a firearm? These students are being targeted because criminals KNOW they are unarmed. They are walking around a gated (in a sense that all University grounds are firearm-free) area with no protection. They are sitting ducks. Note: What’s happening on the Georgia Tech campus is EXACTLY what would happen if the right to bear arms was banned: weapons would be in the hands of criminals. The advice the university is recommending (stay in groups, don’t walk at night if it’s avoidable etc) isn’t satisfactory. Students in groups have been attacked and both Georgia Tech and Georgia State offer evening classes. So what do we do?

The Right to Carry age should be reduced to 18 in order to cater to students. If you can serve in the armed forces, buy cigarettes and purchase a home, you should certainly be able to exercise the 2nd amendment. If the school cannot protect the students, the students need to be able to protect themselves.

Update: the same day this blog was posted, there was yet another tragedy at Virginia Tech What else has to happen????

“If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying—that they must sweep under the rug the southern attempts at gun control in the 1870-1910 period, the northern attempts in the 1902-1939 period, the attempts at both Federal and State levels in 1965-1976—establishes the repeated, complete and inevitable failure of gun laws to control serious crime.” Senator Orrin Hatch

What do you think?