Watchtower Is Down

I’ve taken down twitter and Facebook for at least a day, possibly a few days. In that time, I’m going to try to excercise control to barely look at politics in general.

I can’t explain the reason in a way that will make sense to my non-Christian friends, and even to many in the churches I’ve gone to won’t get it.

Essentially, I’ve got an idea for a post, one that will probably go far and do much good – but in order to do it right, I’ve got to remove myself for a few days and get myself in exactly the right place spiritually. I’ve got to focus my chi, if you will.

I’ll be back in a few days, and when I come back I’ll unleash a defense that few others could. In the mean time, prayers/good thoughts/etc would be much appreciated.

In Store Promos for Jeremy Robinson’s INSTINCT

One of my favorite authors, Jeremy Robinson, has a contest going right now for a signed hardcover of his new book due out next month, THRESHOLD, or even just a non-signed hardcover. I have a couple of his self-published paperbacks (ANTARKTOS RISING and DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY), which is pretty cool – those were the first two books of his I ever owned.

The contest is simple: Take a pic instore of INSTINCT’s latest incarnation as a mass market paperback to be entered into a drawing for a signed advanced reader copy of the next Chess Team book due out in March, THRESHOLD.

Note that beside my elbow is the other copy the store had, on the center aisle display after I moved it there from being hidden in general fiction.

The other way to enter the contest, and get a free copy of THRESHOLD, was to shoot a video of telling someone about INSTINCT and Jeremy Robinson.

Here’s my in store video, as shot from my Black Berry Bold2:

For those who don’t have an e-reader and therefore can’t get some of Robinson’s titles such as THE LAST HUNTER: DESCENT or THE ZOMBIE’s WAY (as Ike Onsoomyu) or his friend Jeremy Bishop’s TORMENT, the INSTINCT mass market paperback is an excellent introduction to an amazing author. Go pick it up!

Emotions and Immigration

Imagine this scenario, if you will:

Your son is traveling through your hometown peacefully. He has never committed a crime and is the ideal son. Suddenly, with absolutely no warning, you are thrust into a coma for weeks. When you awaken, you learn your darling son was killed in the same tragedy that placed you in the coma and you have missed his funeral. You also learn that as a result of your injuries, you will never walk again. You learn that the tragedy was committed by someone in your country illegally. You vow then and there to bring justice to your son, whatever the price.

Now, what is Justice? In America, rational citizens see it as presenting their case before a court that a person has committed a crime before a court, and having that court determine the guilt or innocence of a person based on the facts presented. If guilty, justice is served by some form of punishment – anything from a fine to jail time to even capital punishment. Any of these are allowed for even a crime that results in death, depending on the circumstances.

But others don’t see Justice that way. They take the Mosaic command of an ‘Eye for an Eye’ literally, and demand death when a death is caused. They find the person they feel has committed the crime, and they impose their own sentence their own way.

The tragedy I referred to above is both very real and a very real tragedy. Unfortunately, it has a direct implication for the debate surrounding illegal immigrants in this country.

You see, the above tragedy is the basic story of the Inmans, whose son Dustin was murdered in a traffic accident nearly 11 years ago. It was this tragedy and others like it that led to the foundation of the organization that bears their son’s name – the Dustin Inman Society. Many of its followers have similar stories of tragedies befalling them because of the criminal actions of an illegal alien. Indeed, a good friend of mine told me last night that he agrees with the DAS because he was hit in a hit and run accident where he believes the driver was an illegal.

Here’s where the tables get turned:

I wasn’t just speaking of the Inmans in the scenario above. For more than a decade, we as a nation have been firing missiles into other countries suspected of housing people we call terrorists. Throughout that time, we have accepted “collateral damage” as being perfectly ok because “they’re terrorists”. The problem is that just as the vast majority of Americans simply want to live their lives in peace, so do the vast majority of people throughout the world – even those with a different religion from us. There are firebrands and radicals of ALL stripes and colors who would use violence to further their cause, and no people is immune to this.

The problem is, what we call “collateral damage”, someone who lives where that missile detonated calls their “ideal son”. The person we killed was someone’s loving brother, husband, friend, father. And like the Inmans, they have vowed to bring Justice to their loved one. Because they do not have the tradition of Liberty that we in America have, they immediately work towards what their law allows – murder for murder. Because we did not care about “collateral damage”, neither do they. Indeed, because we do not care about “collateral damage”, they seek to CAUSE “collateral damage” to prove a point to us.

The tragedy I began this post with is indeed a tragedy. But if we are to address the problems surrounding it, we CANNOT allow ourselves to indulge our pain. We MUST think about the issue as rational adults, and we MUST present a solution that works for ALL involved. An emotional knee jerk response, be it “no amnesty” or “kill the infidels”, will only make things far worse, and will only delay our healing.

We need an adult conversation about immigration, and it needs to include the areas where we ourselves have caused the problem. I pray that this conversation can happen soon.

One Hot Summer

I used to be very pro-violence. Not sociopath level pro-violence, but I had a hot head and didn’t mind using my fists to settle my differences. I didn’t mind sending in the military to invade a country who had done nothing more than made fun of the US, I didn’t mind the cops “roughing up” the bad guys. In other words, I was very typical GOP – which was exactly the Party I identified with at the time.

Now, I’m not. And that is an understatement. Now, I prefer a defensive ONLY stance towards violence: So long as you don’t harm me, I won’t harm you. I will NEVER be the first to go violent – no matter how heated the rhetoric gets and honestly, no matter how much I may WANT to deck you.

What I am now is almost a polar opposite from what I was then – although I still retain the ability to get down and nasty when absolutely needed, I try EVERYTHING else first. Back then… yeah, I was known to get into fights over nothing more than a kid staring at me wrong.

So what changed between then and now?

I realized tonight it was a time and a place. It was One Hot Summer – the Summer of 2005.

At the time, I was fresh out of college and smack dab in the middle of my Year of Failure. Nothing I touched that year was going right. I couldn’t keeo a job, the only reason I had my degree was because I had finished it a year and a half earlier, I was single with no prospects ANYWHERE. It really was one of the most hopeless years I’ve ever experienced in my now 28 of them.

Even the Summer of 2005 was an immediate failure.

I landed a job I thought I could handle. It was as a wilderness counselor for a Juvenile Justice linked correctional program. I was good with working with kids – I was trying to become a teacher at the time fercryinoutloud! So I thought I could handle it.

I thought wrong. I lasted a month at that place – one of the most physically brutal times I’ve ever experienced. We were outdoors nearly 20 hrs per day, including when sleeping. Out living arrangements were tents made out of tree trunks, tarps, and twine. It was 98 degrees at 10pm a night, and you began to BEG for a thunderstorm just to make it easier to sleep.

The last week I was there, the week I left, was to be the first week of a month long training course. I had already been at the camp for 3 weeks before this, but was limited in what I could actually do due to not having yet received this training.

Part of this training was in the physical aspects of the primary part of the overall camp philosophy – it was a no punishment camp. Kids could run away from the group at will, and a counselor had to follow them and talk them into calming down. ONLY when they presented a clear and immediate danger to themselves or others were they allowed to be restrained in any way – and the proper techniques were one of the primary things we studied this first week. Everything from gentle verbal commands to arm bars to sitting total control manuevers to team holds where the kid is on his stomach with two adults on his back, as well as the proper application of handcuffs and shackles.

I went into this week calling this physical training “Combat training”, as my philosophy at the time associated it with. Remember, going into this summer, I was very pro-violence.

But it was here, after having lived the no punishment philosophy for 3 weeks and being trained in purely defensive physical restraints, that I actually came to see the benefit of a less violent philosophy.

I don’t know that it was an immediate change – actually, I’m almost certain it wasn’t. But I did come to realize based on this brutal, HOT summer, that there were other philosophies out there.

I still don’t agree with the overall “no punishment” philosophy of the camp – in fact, I often favor very draconian punishments, even now. But that summer WAS a turning point, and I don’t know that I’d be where I am without it.

Kinda crazy how One Hot Summer can change your life without you even realizing it, huh?

Like It Or Not, Bobby Franklin Was Right

Per this AJC article, yesterday Bobby Franklin made his yearly hara kiri. As he has done at least one other time since I have been watching, in addition to at least once between 2004 and 2008, he made one of the most dangerous and least successful parliamentary moves available – he challenged the ruling of the Chair (Speaker Ralston).

GPB doesn’t have video archives yet this Session, but here’s what went down, so best as I have determined so far:

Last year, both the House and the Senate passed SB 1, Senator David Shafer’s Zero Based Budget Act. After the Session was over, Governor Perdue vetoed this bill.

Last week, in a VERY rare move, the Senate voted to override that veto, and did so unanimously, 52-0-6. They only needed a 2/3 majority, or 38 votes (there are currently 36 GOP Senators).

That same day, upon learning of the Senate’s veto override, Speaker Ralston let it be known that the House would not take the measure up, but would instead push its own ZBB measure, Rep Steven Allison’s HB 33.

Yesterday, the House got the veto override, and apparently th Speaker assigned it to the Rules Committee. I don’t know exactly what transpired next, but it ended with Rep Franklin making an EXTREMELY politically boneheaded move – the aforementioned challenging of the ruling of the Chair.

Here’s the problem:

Per Article III Section V Section XIII(d) of the Ga Constitution (emphases mine):

During sessions of the General Assembly, any vetoed bill or resolution may upon receipt be immediately considered by the house wherein it originated for the purpose of overriding the veto. If two-thirds of the members to which such house is entitled vote to override the veto of the Governor, the same shall be immediately transmitted to the other house where it shall be immediately considered. Upon the vote to override the veto by two-thirds of the members to which such other house is entitled, such bill or resolution shall become law. All bills and resolutions vetoed during the last three days of the session and not considered for the purpose of overriding the veto and all bills and resolutions vetoed after the General Assembly has adjourned sine die may be considered at the next session of the General Assembly for the purpose of overriding the veto in the manner herein provided. If either house shall fail to override the Governor’s veto, neither house shall again consider such bill or resolution for the purpose of overriding such veto.

In other words, per the Constitution of the State of Georgia, Rep Franklin was absolutely technically correct in challenging the rule of the Chair, if a political idiot.

And the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives has apparently violated the Constitution of the State of Georgia.

Like it or not, Bobby Franklin was (technically) absolutely correct.