Freedom Of Religion

I keep hearing people talk about the US being founded on ‘Judeo-Christian beliefs’, to quote John Oxendine.

No it wasn’t, it was founded by people who had been persecuted for the religious beliefs in their homeland and were fleeing that persecution, and they literally had to go halfway around the world to get away from it. The colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut – and possibly a couple of others in the immediate Massachusetts area – were founded because a couple of generations later, the people of Massachusetts had begun persecuting those with religious beliefs different from THEIRS. Hence my comment in the John Oxendine and Liberty, Part 1: Transportation and Georgia Values post that Mr. Oxendine probably needs to go back to middle school, because it seems that is roughly when I learned those lessons.

But getting to what I really wanted to say in this post:
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Reflections on ‘Good’ Friday

As we enter into one of the most holy days of Christianity, I wanted to share my thoughts on the concept of ‘Good’ Friday.

You see, to me, most people get lost in either the genuine holiness that is Easter Sunday – which is a good thing, so far as it goes – or they get lost in the traditions and celebrations that are only marginally connected to the day itself, such as the Easter Bunny and all of its trappings.

But by and large, ‘Good’ Friday is largely ignored. Sure, there are cross walks in many towns across this country where local dignitaries carry a large cross from some point to another, with the typical destination being the town courthouse. But these are rituals, nothing more, and are largely ignored by the public at large. Indeed, I can’t even tell you whether or not such events are happening in either Albany or Leesburg, and I’ve lived here for nearly three years!

To me, ‘Good’ Friday being ignored is perhaps one of the single greatest tragedies to ever occur. YES, the celebration day is undoubtedly Easter Sunday. But without a deep reflection on the events of ‘Good’ Friday, there is no deep understanding of the true power of Easter Sunday. You cannot fully appreciate a perfectly sunny, cloudless day without also having experienced the darkest of dark nights, and the same holds true here.

You see, there was nothing ‘good’ about the original Good Friday. I may have my timeline slightly off, but I believe the Last Supper happened on Thursday night/evening. Towards the end of it, Christ calls out Judas Iscariot as his traitor, and basically tells him to go do what he is destined to do. He then retires to the Mount of Olives with the disciples to pray, and even at this point – even as Iscariot is leading the men who are about to arrest Jesus to him – Jesus of Nazareth begs his Father to find some other way to redeem mankind. This is a man who knows he is about to die but wants to live. He KNOWS his death is the only way to redeem mankind, but he is still BEGGING for another way. And he knows all of this even as he KNOWS that his human death only releases him back to his full glory as God the Son, one third of the Trinity yet fully God. Even knowing this, he still doesn’t want to face the full pain he knows is coming, but he readily accepts it anyway. Could you say you would do the same? Don’t answer that blindly. Deeply consider it. Knowing everything that would happen – and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, for all of its brutality, probably STILL doesn’t come close to what actually happened – could you WILLINGLY endure that to save a single life? Christ did.

But I get ahead of myself. Once at the Mount of Olives, the disciples are tired. They’ve traveled a long way, and they’ve just had a very emotional meal with the man they deeply love and consider the Messiah, the man who will overthrow Rome – and he says he is about to die. So they get to the Mount of Olives, and they fall asleep. I dare any of you to say you would have actually done any differently, knowing only what they knew at the time. Jesus comes to wake them a couple of times, urging them to prayer and telling them that his time has nearly expired. Yet they still fall asleep, even while their Messiah begs for his life.

Finally, around midnight – against Jewish law, by the way – the Jewish leaders, led by Judas Iscariot, come to the Mount of Olives to arrest Jesus. Peter is so alarmed (and so belligerent by nature), that he draws his sword – but he is so tired that while aiming to cut a guy’s head off, only gets his ear. Jesus heals the ear and allows himself to be arrested. I can’t help but think of how Frank Peretti would probably describe the scene, with hoards of demons ready for all out war and relishing in their victory over the Son of God readily submitting to them, all the while as the entire Host of Heaven stands by, their weapons sheathed at the command of the Father. If an angel cries at the sins of one man, how much more sorrow must they have felt watching the Son of God submit himself to the full fury of Lucifer.

The next 18 hours or so fly by as the disciples are scared out of their minds. The Messiah has been illegally arrested on false charges, and yet he is being sentenced to die, and the Romans are playing along with the Jewish leaders. They’ve been seen as Jesus’ closest friends for the past 3 years, and they could be next! They are afraid for their lives, yet at least two of them hang back in the crowds as Jesus is tried, tortured, and executed.

One of them, Peter, denies three times knowing Jesus, even going so far as to curse and swear that he does not know the man – just as the rooster cries. You see, 12 hrs earlier Peter had said that such would NEVER happen, and Jesus told him it would. He hangs his head in shame and we don’t hear from him again until Sunday. My bet is that he went into hiding somewhere where much alcohol was available, but no one on this side of Heaven knows exactly what he was doing in this period.

The other, John, follows the crowd even to Golgotha. There, Jesus tells him to watch over Mary, Jesus’ mother. What love must he have had, and what strength, to watch someone he so deeply loved tortured and executed in such a brutal fashion. And the same goes for Mary, who we haven’t heard much from since the Christmas story 33 years earlier. She knew from the beginning that her first son was God’s Only Son, yet he was STILL her first born. And she was having to watch him be beaten beyond all recognition as human, only to then be crucified along side common thiefs.

Finally, we come back to the view from Christ himself. Up until he goes up on the cross, he has enjoyed constant communion with he real dad, God the Father. But once Jesus is on the cross, all of humanity’s sins from Adam until the very end of time are placed on Jesus. Everything the worst people in history have ever done, God considered Jesus to have done it. Every lie we tell today, every affair we have, and any other sin we to today in our every day lives, God considered Jesus to have done it. And he was so incredibly repulsed by it that even He had to turn his back on such vileness. When Jesus was on the cross, in his hour of most desparate need, he was so despicable to his own father that he could not look at him. No one else in all of history has been so despicable to God as to warrant such an action, and because of Easter Sunday no one ever will be.

The next days are again a blur, we know nothing about them. The disciples, presumably, are in hiding at best, drunk and/or suicidal at worst. The man they love most, who they genuinly believed would overthrow Rome, has been arrested by the Jewish leaders and executed by Rome, and they could be next.

Finally, the very darkest hour arrives. After all of the weekend’s prior events, some of the ladies go to where they laid Jesus’ body in a borrowed tomb, only to find the tomb unsealed and the body missing.

Not only has everything else happened, now someone has stolen the body! This is rock bottom, things can absolutely get no worse.

And they are right. For there in the garden with them is a lowly gardener. They probably saw him as they walked in. The ladies run to Peter and John with the news, and Peter and John come to investigate – because they don’t believe the ladies that such a terrible compounding of their situation has happened-, only to see exactly what the ladies saw.

Finally, Mary comes back. She encounters a couple of angels who tell her that was Christ had said would happen has happened. Puzzled and still in the deepest of sorrows, she walks back into the garden, where she encounters the gardener. He asks her what she is looking for, and she basically says that if he has taken the body, PLEASE tell her where she can find it, and she’ll put it back in the tomb. She is DESPARATE at this point, and she is begging just for the body. She knows the Christ is dead, but she still wants to at least give his body a proper burial.

But the gardener says one single word instead:

‘Mary’.

He calls her by her name, and she instantly recognizes him. HE’S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!! JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH IS ALIVE!!!!!!!! WE SAW HIM TORTURED AND EXECUTED, BUT HE IS ALIVE STANDING HERE WITH NOT A SCRATCH ON HIS BODY!!!!!!! HE’S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That, my friends, is how you get the full impact of the story of Easter Sunday, and it is why the song ‘He’s Alive’ is one of my all time favorites. Growing up, I heard it sung by Mike Lemming live in concert several times, and it truly sums up Easter. I leave you with the lyrics:

The gates and doors were barred and all the windows fastened down;
I spent the night in sleeplessness and rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow and half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin’ thru to drag us all away

And just before the sunrise I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle and a voice began to call;
I hurried to the window and looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches and the sounds of soldier’s feet

There was no one there but Mary so I went down to let her in;
John stood there beside me as she’d told us where she’d been.
She said “They moved Him in the night and none of us knows where;
The stone’s been rolled away and now His body isn’t there!”

We both ran t’ward the garden, then John ran on ahead;
We found the stone and empty tomb just the way that Mary said.
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in was just an empty shell;
And who or where they’d taken Him was more than I could tell.

Well, something strange had happened there,
but just what I didn’t know;
John believed a miracle but I just turned to go.
Circumstance and speculation couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him, then I saw Him die.

Back inside the house again the guilt and anguish came;
Everything I’d promised Him just added to my shame.
When at last it came to choices, I denied I knew His name;
And even if He was alive, it wouldn’t be the same

But suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume;
Light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room.
Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide;
And I fell down on my knees, and just clung to Him and cried.

He raised me to my feet and as I looked into His eyes,
Love was shining out from Him like sunlight in the skies
Guilt in my confusion disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had just melted into peace

CHORUS
He’s alive! He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven!
Heaven’s gates are open wide:
He’s alive, He’s alive, oh He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive, He’s alive, hallelujah He’s alive

Abortion

This is also from the email series that generated so many of the other posts here at SWGA Jeff so far…

Again, the LP-Ga position (under ‘Sexual Rights and the State’) first:

Recognizing that abortion is a very sensitive issue and that libertarians can hold good-faith views on both sides, we believe the government should be kept entirely out of the question, allowing all individuals to be guided by their own consciences. We oppose legislation restricting or subsidizing women’s access to abortion or other reproductive health services; this includes requiring consent of the prospective father, waiting periods, and mandatory indoctrination on fetal development, as well as Medicaid or any other taxpayer funding. It is particularly harsh to force someone who believes that abortion is murder to pay for another’s abortion.

This was one of my personal sticking points, even after I joined the LP. I actually had a good discussion on the issue with a high-ranking LP official, and this is what he pointed out to me:

Some people believe (as I personally do – Jeff, not the official) that life begins at conception. However, in the absence of conclusive scientific proof either way, it is possible to also genuinely believe that life begins the moment you leave your mother’s body.

The LP position is that said life should not be terminated from the point that you personally believe it to have begun, and that the government has no right to dictate that decision either way. Nor should the government help you pay for it.

Note that I personally still have an issue with the LP-Ga position in that even as a minarchist, I believe that decisions such as abortion should have the consent of both the mother and the father. They both worked together to create that baby/fetus/whatever you want to call it, they should both work together to decide how best to handle its needs and their own. I believe an exception should be made for this in the case of rape or other actual, physical abuse. (If I haven’t made it clear yet, I believe mental/emotional abuse to be non-conclusively provable at best, and malarky at worst.) In other words, I wouldn’t force a woman to have an abuser’s baby simply because he wanted to continue to torture her, nor would I allow a male who conceived a child through force to have a say in anything that happens to that child. At the same time, I wouldn’t accept that the two simply couldn’t get along or couldn’t agree. HOWEVER, if the mother wanted to abort and the father did not, I would have them sign a binding contract saying that her parental rights would be terminated at birth, and that the father would have to accept full parental responsibility for the child. To my mind, in such a situation the female actually gets off easier in that she has to deal with the child for 9 months, and the male has to deal with it for 18 years. Yes, I know abortion-advocates will accuse me of making the mother nothing more than an incubator, but nothing could be further from the truth. One of the key components to Individual Freedom is its opposite, Individual Responsibility. In the situation where she would be a so-called ‘incubator’, she chose to have sex if nothing else. Clearly, sex has as a known product pregnancy, and she took that risk when she excercised her freedom to have sex. Therefore she bears the responsibility of the pregnancy.

But hey, that’s just one guy’s views. Like I said, I’m comfortable accepting the LP-Ga position, even though I have a few objections on the specifics.

Do Third Parties really stand a chance?

This one needs the setup from the email that kicked off the response:

Another obstacle to overcome is the fact that Americans are not used to a third party.  Conservatives may agree with the issues and like the candidate, but we are conditioned to think that we are throwing our vote away when we vote for principle rather than the elephant.  How can we help to change that paradigm?

On the paradigm shift front, we’ve hinted at it in our discussions earlier. People are politically unaware, and because of this they tend to accept the current ‘two’ party system. I hold that these days, there is actually only a SINGLE party, composed of two halves that basically want the same things, they just want their particular brand of those things. Like the ‘Coke vs Pepsi’ debate, you’re still talking about a dark carbonated beverage with similar composition and taste, whichever you choose. The so-called ‘third’ option is really a SECOND option, say… tea. It is somewhat similar to the first option (somewhat dark in color, in the South it is sacrilege if it is not cold and sweet), can be adjusted to taste, and is CLEARLY a different and healthier option that you control yourself, or you can choose to have someone else control for you, if you like the way they do it.

Thus, with people consumed by the Coke War, is is our job as tea drinkers to convince them that there is actually a better, healthier alternative. Our victories will usually be small, but they will be real. And the more people we convince about tea, the more people know about tea, and even more people come to drink tea. This continues until relatively soon you reach a point where you no longer have a Coke War, but a Beverage War. At this point, each of the 3 (2) beverages have roughly a third of the populace that prefer their beverage, and both of the original beverages must pay a healthy respect to the wishes of the tea drinkers, even though the tea drinkers aren’t actually in a majority position yet. This is the point where the tea drinkers actually have to become the most vigilant about convincing people their drink is best, as at this point – and maybe even sooner – the Coke and Pepsi producers will try to offer their own tea flavors in an attempt to retain market share.

Thus, I believe that the best way to shift that paradigm is to talk to people, one on one preferably, in groups if needed. Build relationships. Convince them you know what you’re talking about and that you can be trusted. Because once they begin to trust you, they’ll begin to seriously consider what you’re saying.

And I’m a firm believer that once someone starts really looking at the Libertarian positions, it is only a matter of time before they become a libertarian, even if they never become a full-fledged member of the LP. And yes, I know that sounds kinda arrogant, and I do apologize, as that is SOOOO not my intent here!

Gay Marriage

From LP-Ga, on ‘Sexual Rights and The State’:

We hold that individual rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of sex or sexual preference. We call for repeal of all laws discriminating against women, such as protective labor laws. We oppose all laws likely to impose restrictions on free choice and private property or to widen tyranny through reverse discrimination. We affirm the right of adults to private choice in consensual sexual activity.

Government must neither dictate, prohibit, control, nor encourage any private lifestyle, living arrangement or contractual relationship. We therefore call for repeal of all legislation and state policies intended to condemn, affirm, encourage or discourage sexual lifestyles or any set of attitudes about such lifestyles.

and the LP-National position on ‘Personal Relationships’:

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

My comments:

The LP-National position is more explicit in that government doesn’t have the authority to regulate adult relationships, period, and this is the school of thought I subscribe to on the issue.

As I’ve told Doug in our own conversations before, the issue to me is not civil unions or marriage for homosexual couples. The issue to me is why the Hades is government involved in relationships to begin with? Marriage should be left to the individuals in question and the religion of their choice. Government should offer no restrictions on any consensual relationship, nor should government offer any benefits to particular types of relationships and not others.

Personally, I have the marriage license from the Probate Court, same as any of us who are married. But that isn’t the authority my marriage is based on. My marriage is based on our relationship with God, and the State (government in general) cannot control that and has no business trying to.

Personally, I cringe every time I hear a homosexual couple using the term ‘married’, but I know of some religions and even some Christian denominations who are willing to perform such ceremonies, and if such a ceremony has in fact been performed, then they are in fact married according to their religious beliefs, and the use of the term is perfectly valid whether I like it or not. Again, I would rather they have the freedom to do something I personally find distasteful rather than any of us live with government making decisions for us.

The War on Terror

Again, starting with the ‘official position’ of LP-Ga from their site, followed by my own thoughts:

While all Americans have a legitimate concern about terrorism, we believe that the new “War on Terrorism” is being used by politicians and demagogues to promote extraordinary and unnecessary increases in government power. Most of these powers had been previously proposed and rejected as part of other government efforts such as the so-called “War on Drugs”. It continues the false rationale by which the state seeks to restrict our 4th Amendment right to privacy, without securing our lives or property in any meaningful way. Therefore, we call for the repeal of the misnamed USA Patriot Act and its successor legislation.

In addition to that LP-Ga position, here is the LP-National position on National Defense from their website:

We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

My thoughts:

From the LP-Ga position, we see that their main concern isn’t so much the international aspects of the War on Terror as the domestic aspects, particularly the domestic spying that the Bush Administration began via PATRIOT (and later expanded through a variety of laws), and had even been occurring to a lesser extent long before then. And I completely concur. The National government used an emergency to grab unprecedented powers that it otherwise would not have been granted. And I would argue that had LP-National’s position on Defense been adopted prior to September 2001, there may not be a gaping hole in the ground in NYC right now.

Going back to the domestic spying, there is no reason for the government to have the ability to spy on a ‘suspected’ criminal without a warrant and due process. If the government thinks that a person is involved in criminal activity, they already have a procedure for being allowed to spy on that person, and it involves going to a judge and getting a warrant. This is the Constitutional method, and it should not be changed.

And back to the defense issue: I personally believe that we should pull every single troop from every single overseas station and place them within 100 miles of the borders, pointing out. Have the Navy establish patrols from the Aluetians to Hawaii to San Diego, from Maine to Miami, and base an entire fleet in the Carribbean as well. Let the Army and Air Force take the Canadian border, with combined Army/Air Force/Marine bases spread throughout the 100 mile border zone.

As it exists right now, our military is spread too thin in too many places, and has necessitated such illegal moves as Stop Loss. It also leaves our nation genuinely at risk, and indeed a West Coast invasion could get to the Mississippi River before it could be effectively stopped, if then. I’ve heard people say ‘but our citizens would resist’. With what? The average American citizen doesn’t own a gun, and most could barely distinguish between an M16 and an AK47, much less the various types of tanks, planes, troop carriers, and other assorted weapons platforms. We don’t have artillery shells lieing around to make IEDs out of, and the military bases that would have the hardware needed to steal and provide a somewhat effective resistance would be the first ones targeted.

Indeed, I don’t know if any of you have read the works of Dale Brown, but he actually puts forth what I believe to be a reasonable theory for how a nuclear attack on the US could be achieved in his ‘Plan of Attack’, he put forth some reasonable theories on drug wars in both ‘Hammerheads’ and ‘Tin Man’, and he actually put forth an idea for a September 11-style attack in his ‘Storming Heaven’- published in 1994, even earlier than Clancy’s ‘Debt of Honor’ which is widely credited with the idea due to its concluding scenes.

Again, I tend to fully concur with both the LP-Ga and LP-National beliefs in these areas.

The Drug War

Drugs:

Here’s the ‘official position’ of LP-Ga, from the platform page of their website:

“We believe the so-called “War on Drugs” is more accurately described as a war on freedom and the U.S. Constitution. It has provided a rationale by which the power of the state has been expanded to restrict greatly our 4th Amendment right to privacy, and poses an especially grave threat to individual liberty and to domestic order. Therefore, we call for the repeal of all laws establishing criminal or civil penalties for the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs. We wish to see an end to “anti-crime” measures that limit our rights to keep and bear arms and that restrict individual rights to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Furthermore, the ‘War on Drugs’ serves as a subsidy for illegal drug dealers by driving up their profit margin, and has the unintentional effect of increasing crime in our society.”

My own thoughts:

I was a goody two shoes in school, and still am for the most part. To this day, I can’t tell you what pot smells like and have never known where to get drugs of any form other than from a doc/pharmacy, and even then I’ve never known how to get illegitimate prescriptions. I know some of y’all, maybe all, are roughly old enough to be my parents, and you may have fallen under the 18 yo minimum drinking age, but I am 26 and it has been 21 all my life. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol until my 21st birthday. I’ve drank quite a bit since then, but never enough to be of any concern to anyone.

That said, my aunt that died a couple of weeks ago has battled drug addiction for most of my life. I have a cousin I believe to be in jail right now over methamphetamines, and possibly another cousin (the first cousin’ brother) in jail on similar charges. I also grew up in Bartow County, in what was always described to me as the meth capital of GA.

For a very long time – indeed, my views have only within the past 12 months or so changed on the issue – I believed very firmly that those who did drugs should go to jail, pretty much the same as the GOP. What changed me, I do not know, but I believe it came about as I began to realize the full scope of Freedom. A person who is using drugs recreationally is no danger to anyone but themselves, which falls within the Punch Principle and is therefore allowable. Now, if a person is high and causes a wreck, we should hold them fully accountable for doing so, and I even support making the laws for actual, provable physical harm FAR more stringent than they currently are. These more stringent laws would apply equally to the guy that was high and caused the wreck, to the guy that was drunk when he caused it, and to the guy that fell asleep behind the wheel and caused it. He violated the Punch Principle, and he needs to answer for that. Such is a legitimate excercise of government.

Therefore, government should not have a say in whether a person uses drugs, and if a person on drugs violates the Punch Principle, they should be held accountable for the violation of the Punch Principle, not for the use of drugs, which they were perfectly free to do.

Recently, we’ve begun to hear of all this unrest in Mexico caused by the drug cartels. And yes, it is US Drug Policy, including the Drug War, that has caused this. I completely concur with the official position that “the ‘War on Drugs’ serves as a subsidy for illegal drug dealers by driving up their profit margin, and has the unintentional effect of increasing crime in our society.” In a free market unincumbered by laws banning certain substances, prices would be low and profit margins relatively tight. The Cartels would become Corporations, and armed violence over the market would cease as corporations sought better market share through non-violent means, in similar ways that ‘legal’ drug companies currently operate.

Also note that I personally wouldn’t mind a tax on these drugs at a similar level as the current alcohol and tobacco taxes. I don’t have a problem with these taxes currently, as I believe the use of those products to be completely voluntary and therefore if you don’t want to pay the tax, don’t buy the product. I also object to the idea floated by some liberals and moderate conservatives to ‘legalize it and tax the hell out of it’. If you tax it similarly to the current alcohol/tobacco taxes, you achieve a solid balance of providing a solid stream of revenue to government while also allowing the open market to thrive. Yes, you have a level of black market activity, but it is minimal and inconsequential. (BTW: I also don’t believe in prosecution of this black market, even under these ‘legalize and tax’ theories.) HOWEVER, if you ‘tax the hell out of it’, you inevitably drive people back to the black market just as surredly as if you had outright banned the substances, leading once again to most of the problems we already have.

Note that I’ve talked for quite a while on the subject here and haven’t even touched on the jail overpopulation and related issues that would be solved by legalizing drugs.

My First Trip to the Capitol

Most kids take a trip to the Capitol while in school. Most politically inclined people take a trip there at some point due to their political actions, assuming said actions are at a State level.

I took my first trip at 26 yo and it had nothing to do with my budding actions with LP-Ga. It had to do with work, and I kept my personal politics out of it for the day, treating it as an opportunity to support the office with my presence as well as get a general feel for the Gold Dome and maybe do a bit of non-specific networking.

Here’s how it went:

Upon arriving in Atlanta from Albany, my group hiked over to the Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) for a brief meeting before proceeding with the rest of our day. From what I saw, the hallways of this building are fairly small for the amount of people passing through them. Sen. Preston Scott (R-Rome) was walking out of the building as we were going through security. I recognized him based solely on his grilling of freshman Sen. Butterworth last week, but didn’t speak to him.

Next, we went to meet with Rep. Winfred Dukes. When introduced as the office tech guy, Rep Dukes commented that I ‘look like one’. A comment that STILL stings! I thought I looked pretty dang good, as I was wearing the exact same suit as one of the best pictures from my honeymoon a year and a half ago. Of the 10 of us in the group, I was the only one he said anything negative about. Anyways. Moving on.

After the meeting with Dukes, we proceeded to the House gallery where Rep. Ralston had a resolution read recognizing the larger group that my group was a part of. From a techie standpoint, there were a FEW open laptops (2 genuine laptops and 2 netbooks) during the morning devotion, but from a Christian standpoint I would have ignored the guy if I could. He was of the school of TD Jakes and claimed the title ‘Apostle’. I knew that from the introduction, and I knew immediately that there would be little to be gained from listening to the guy. I was right. During the resolutions, a LOT more laptops came out, probably around 20 within my view from the second row of the gallery. Most genuine laptops, a few netbooks.

After our resolution was read, we left the gallery and did the whole ‘stand here and wait’ thing for a few minutes before having a photo-op with Governor Perdue. I got to shake his hand, which was really cool. Yes, I’m probably about the 3 BILLIONth person to do so, but I had never had a Governor within my eyesight before, much less standing roughly 5′ from me or even shaking my hand, so it was cool for me dang it!

After the photo-op with the Governor was more ‘stand here and wait’ waiting on a press conference. Did the press conference and went to a luncheon. The press conference made Lawmakers, but I wasn’t in any of the footage they used. (Yes, I watched a few minutes ago to check!)

At the luncheon, ran into several people. It turns out that freshman Rep. Carol Fullerton had met me before, which I’m assuming means she goes to the church I used to go to before I met my wife since I try to keep a relatively low profile in town. I also ran into Rep. Battles (R-Cartersville), whose wife is one of my former teachers in both middle and high schools. I’ve also known Rep. Battles for most of my life, as he and his wife were consistently on the fringes of my life growing up. (Note that he has only recently became a Representative, I never knew him as Rep Battles until today.) He could have just been doing the ‘politician’ thing of making you think he recognizes you, but when when I told him where I was working he seemed to be genuinely happy that I had done good.

I also met Rep. Mike Cheokas (D-Americus) at the luncheon, and he was a genuinely nice guy to meet. Again, I’ll allow for the possibility that he was just playing ‘politician’, but my honest opinion of the guy right now is that while I may disagree with him politically (and honestly, at this point I can’t tell you anything about his politics other than the D next to his name), he is certainly a very active representative and a very cool guy. He actually seemed interested in this blog as well, we’ll see if that still holds after he reads this thread! :)

So that is a 750 word run down of my first trip to the Georgia Capitol Building. The biggest conclusion I drew from today in terms of the overall direction of my own political activity is that while I definitely like the State level of politics, I’ll let others actually go to the Gold Dome. I’ll stick to watching the live feeds and calling/ emailing whoever needs to be contacted (as well as blogging, obviously). I may also visit their local offices, but I’ll cross that bridge at a later point. Honestly, while I could probably handle haunting CLOB or even showing up in a committee meeting for public commenting, the crowds/business in chambers was simply astounding, and completely NOT my style.

So to Reps Fullerton, Battles, and Cheokas, and Dukes, and to Governor Perdue, thank you for making my first trip to the Capitol a memorable one.

Thoughts and Musings From Jeff