Almighty God, Blessings in Schools, and Religious Homeschooling

Over the past couple of days, three news stories have caught my eye, and I wanted to bring some attention to them.

In the first, apparently Kentucky has several references to ‘Almighty God’ in several of its laws, and a judge has ruled this unconstitutional, per
this AJC article. One quote in particular from the judge sums up my feelings on the matter quite well:

Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now.

Key words being “choice” and “force”. People have their own beliefs on religion, and those beliefs may be different from yours or mine – and that is perfectly OK. What is NOT OK is for either side to use the force of government to dictate its beliefs to the other.
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‘VeritasThorn’: The Explanation

I’ve recently changed my ID on twitter from ‘swgalibertarian’ to ‘veritasthorn’, and several people have asked me why.

It is essentially a continuation of a change I made several months ago on Peach Pundit of going away from having the word ‘libertarian’ in my ID, just to make it absolutely clear that even though I am a Libertarian, my opinions are not necessarily those of the Party. On some issues, I am honestly a bit more extreme than many in the Party are comfortable with, and on some issues I am a bit more conservative than many in the Party are comfortable with.

So to cut those concerns off at the head, I changed my twitter ID.

As to the specific change to this particular new identity, here is the backstory there:

My path to Libertarianism began several years ago, as I began to struggle with legalism in the Southern Baptist Church. One of the books I read in that era was Shaunti Feldhahn’s Veritas Conflict, a This Present Darkness-like novel centering around ideological diversity at Harvard. This book played a key role in pushing me towards Libertarianism, as it began to free me from the chains of “christian” legalism. (The next fiction book from Mrs. Feldhahn, Lights of 10th Street, would push me even further down that path.)

So that’s where the ‘veritas’ part originated, with paying homage to that early influence.

As to Thorn, it also comes from a work of fiction. In this case, it was Dale Brown’s President Thomas Nathaniel Thorn, who first came to power at the beginning of Warrior Class. Thorn was a self-styled Jeffersonian Republican who skipped his own Inauguration ceremonies because they weren’t explicitly in the Constitution. He was also my introduction to non-interventionism, and while Brown himself thinks that philosophy is pretty much slap crazy, I found I very much agreed with Thorn, for the most part. (Thorn was a full-blown isolationist, I am simply a non-interventionist, and there IS a significant difference. Isolationists don’t want ANYTHING to do with other countries, non-interventionists simply don’t want OUR men and women dieing in THEIR wars. We’re perfectly cool with international trade, and many of us more ardently support free trade than many of our pro-interventionism brothers and sisters.)

In other words, from Veritas Conflict I first truly learned about ideological freedom, and from President Thorn I first learned of non-interventionism – two ideas that would merge and lead me to finally separate from the Republican Party and join the Libertarian Party and work for genuine Liberty.

Hence, ‘veritasthorn’.

King Cotton or 21st Century Growth?

Lee County Commissioner Dennis Roland is a farmer who apparently still thinks Cotton is King in these parts.

He says in this article from Sunday’s Albany Herald that “Farming always has and always will be the No. 1 industry, the No. 1 employer and the No. 1 tax producer in this county”.

I’ll admit, I’m a recent transplant to South Georgia. I first moved to the area in July 2006 and first moved to Lee County in September 2007. And it is only recently – within the last couple of months – that I’ve really started paying attention to Lee County politics. I even went to my first Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting two weeks ago, and I’ll be going back tonight. (6pm in the building to the left of the courthouse when looking at the courthouse from the railroad tracks, for those that don’t know).

But believe it or not, I DO have some experience with this kind of thinking. You see, growing up in Bartow County, there were many who felt that way about our small town. In my childhood, Bartow County was about the same size – both in area and population – as Lee County is right now, with similar demographics in terms of people and land use.
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‘A Tale of Two Hurricanes’: The Backstory

About 8 days ago, I wrote a piece for SWGAPolitics.com I called ‘A Tale of Two Hurricanes‘.

As I suspected it would, it has drawn a bit of criticism, including most recently from a friend.

So let me explain a bit of my internal thinking and experiences regarding the matter.

First, one of the the traits about myself that I hold in highest regard is my ability to survive ANYthing – even things that many people let destroy them, mostly spiritually/emotionally/mentally, but sometimes even physically. Point blank, I will take on any challenge, and I WILL NOT let it overcome me. I may look defeated from the outside, but I will not give up until I have overcome the situation, if just in my own way. I even take this to the level of occasionally intentionally making a situation far more difficult for myself than it need be – just to prove that I can do it. (For example, walking 10 miles with Austin Scott last month with ZERO preparation – and that was one of the milder and more recent examples.)

Thus, seeing people that appear to be healthy adults standing around at the Superdome in the aftermath of Katrina is absolutely beyond the realm of anything I would ever think to consider for myself. Instead, I would be moving ever forward OUT of the city and area, working my way around or through any obstacle I encountered. If I died, it wouldn’t be sitting in the parking lot of the Superdome waiting on someone else to come to my aid.

But about the experiences that also shaped that post:

The first was during the days after Katrina itself. At that time in 2005, I didn’t have a job, I was still living with my parents. My church got heavily involved in sending aid down to the Gulf Coast, and because of my lack of a job, I did what I could – I volunteered at the drop off point doing whatever needed to get done to get the supplies in, palletized, loaded, and on their way. Because I didn’t own a gun, I wasn’t allowed to go with the people who were actually delivering the supplies, but we had two trailers running back and forth, and as one was completely filled, we had several men from the church grab their guns and Bibles and head straight down, unload, and come straight back. For the first couple of weeks, it got to the point where we would have the second trailer filled by the time they got back, and they would head right back down. In the few minutes they had to talk between loads, they would tell us of the massive destruction they saw – and how the towns were already coming together to work to rebuild. Our guys couldn’t get anywhere near NOLA, but were going instead into the areas of Mississippi that had taken the direct hit from the storm. For those first couple of weeks, most of us slept very little, but we got the job done. We did what we could with what we had to help our fellow Americans as much as we possibly could, and to this day nearly four years later I am still proud of my involvement in that – and even moreso of the men who had the honor of actually going down and helping the people directly.

The second experience I had though was a slap in the face to the first. A few months after Katrina, in January 2006, I finally got a teaching job. This was in Covington, on the outskirts of Atlanta. One of my students in particular was a refugee from Katrina – and she let you know it any time she didn’t come to class prepared or didn’t do her homework or failed a test or slept or talked in class etc etc etc. It drove me crazy then and it drives me crazy thinking about it now. I met her 4 months after Katrina, when she had had so much given to her and done for her, and yet she was STILL trying to blame her own inadequacies on her “victimhood”. When I left that school 6 months later, she was still doing the exact same things as when I had met her – and this was nearly a year after the storm. I have no doubt this student – who I believe would have been voting age last year – voted for Barack Obama, if she voted at all, and I have no doubt it was because he promised ever more government programs for all the “victims” out there.

The final experience was my first trip to NOLA itself, just this past April – 3.5 years after the storm. Tonya and I were taking a Carribbean vacation aboard the Carnival Fantasy, and we were porting out of NOLA. Driving down the highway from Slidell into the port area of NOLA – literally in the shadow of the infamous Crescent City Connector – I was absolutely astounded to see the amount of reconstruction STILL waiting to happen in the area – including one downtown skyscraper in particular that still had DOZENS of windows (at least) with plywood over them.

Going back into the way I think in closing, I genuinely believe that there is not a single situation a human will ever face that cannot be overcome in some way – but the individual has to choose to survive it, and choose to do whatever is necessary to overcome it. Once they make that choice, I spring in to action in whatever way I possibly can to help them – but I cannot help someone until they choose to help themselves. I know there are situations FAR more difficult than any I’ve ever seen, much less any I’ve ever experienced. But I still hold to that belief about the human condition.

If you’re still breathing, there is still hope – no matter what.

Hopelessly optimistic and naive?

I’ve been called worse.

Center of Government But Not Center of Business

Recent discussions from both the Georgia House of Representatives Transportation Committee confirmation hearings of Todd Long as the new State Planning Director, discussions of where to place a new high school (or library/conference center) in Lee County, and even the discussions swirling around downtown Albany have got me thinking.

One thing Long mentioned several times both in the subcommittee hearing that was chaired by SWGA’s Ed Rynders (R-Leesburg) and in the full committee hearings yesterday was that Georgia has no “second major city” and that is why Atlanta is so powerful as an economic engine.
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Davey Crockett’s “Not Yours To Give” Speech, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1…

“I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go to talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, for the fact is, I was so fully convinced that he was right, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him: Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I did not have sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it fully. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.

“He laughingly replied: ‘Yes Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around this district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied that it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and perhaps, I may exert a little influence in that way.’

“If I don’t [said I] I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am earnest in what I say I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.

” ‘No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute to a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting up on Saturday week.. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.’
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Davey Crockett’s “Not Yours To Give” speech, Part 1

A friend of mine, Ben Brandon, posted this very interesting historical account on his Facebook page a couple of months ago, and in light of the discussions GriftDrift and I are having re: “A Tale of Two Hurricanes“, I finally decided to post it here:

For those who may have never heard the story of Davy Crockett’s “not yours to give” speech. here it is. You might mention this any time someone tells you that the founding fathers intended Congress to have carte blanche to take care of the “general welfare.”

“It is a precedent fraught with danger for the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it and no security for the people… … the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred and rigidly observed in all its provisions.”
— Colonel David Crockett member of the U.S. Congress 1827-31 & 1832-35, AKA Davvy Crockett

History’s immortals sometimes offer a glimpse of their greatness in events other than those that granted them immortality.
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A Tale of Two Hurricanes

Four years ago, “Katrina” had never been used as a hurricane name. Hard to believe, aint it?

I was watching a Weather Channel story on Katrina last night, where they had NBC’s Brian Williams talking about his experiences covering it and showing footage taken at the time.

Before I go any further, I want to say that those were truly some horrific situations many, particularly in New Orleans but not exclusive to that area, found themselves in. As my wife said when we were watching the show, there is truly no way you can see those images, even now, and not be moved by them.

But I found something particularly disturbing about the footage that was shown, something I didn’t pick up on at the time as we were first seeing all these images come out.
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Looking for Possible Sites for a New Lee County High School

What good is having your own ‘major’ political blog if you can’t kick-start a conversation or two about a local issue?

The issue in particular I want to look at today is the need for a second Lee County High School and a discussion of where it should go.

Reports of overcrowding at the current Lee County High have apparently been rampant for at least a few years now, and quite simply, the school has pretty much maxed out its available space. Every addition to the current building now is taking away from some other aspect of the school that needs that space for its own purposes. For example, the addition of extra parking at the front of the school has cut into the band’s practice field, rendering it ineffective for full-blown practices and/or limiting what the band can do in their halftime show as far as movement goes.

Indeed, these reports are still rampant, even with the freshman being placed on their own separate campus.
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Equal Ballot Access: Three Proposals

Over the summer, I took two issues to heart and have begun working on talking to various members of the General Assembly and the public about them. Those two issues were Georgia’s ballot access laws and daytime meetings by local governing bodies.

I have my own ideas on each of these subjects, but this post is specifically directed at the ballot access laws.

My friend, Jason Pye, has his own bill proposal that basically lowers the petition requirement from 5% of the registered voters in the district to one percent of the registered voters. It also has provisions so that even that lowered number can be further reduced or waived if certain conditions are met.

My ideas all center around a different tack to solving this problem: Whereas Jason strikes at petition requirements, I strike at the very distinctions between political ‘party’, ‘body’, and ‘organization’. I also offer a very mild, pragmatic bill that I like better than current law, but is still far from what I would actually like to see.
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