The Quick and Already Dead

As reported by the AJC, Representative Regina Quick has decided to not run again for her seat, Georgia’s 117th House District, occupying parts of Barrow, Jackson, Clark, and Oconee counties.  Instead, predecessor Doug Mckillip and newcomer Houston Gaines will challenge one another in the Republican primary and local attorney, Deborah Gonzalez will run on the Democratic ticket.

Georgians may remember my post about HB 51, primarily sponsored by Dean of the House Republican Caucus and Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman, Earl Ehrhart, this past session that Rep. Quick heavily defended.  As a female, Republican, attorney, and someone who has the ability to be both intelligent and respectful in committee hearings, Quick was truly the best thing HB 51 had going for it.  Yet the legislation was largely opposed by UGA students and ultimately was defeated in the General Assembly.  However, carrying water for the longest serving Republican member of the Georgia House has its benefits, (along with Quick’s own legal chops) and Georgia may yet see her awarded a judgeship.

“Your honor” has a certain ring to it, I am sure. Continue reading “The Quick and Already Dead”

Brain Drain: The Southern Response to Ed and Business Atrophy

The challenge of brain drain has existed for years in areas around the nation.  The South is no different, although perhaps more exaggerated and slower to respond.  As I grew up in Social Circle, all I wanted to do was get the hell out of my small town and find a job, home, and surroundings that seemed to fit me more than from whence I came.  Many college-age kids and younger are the same.  This is not to say I do not deeply love Walton County (God’s country) and recognize the idyllic childhood I had there.  I grew up recognizing I was a square peg in a round hole, and I felt like an escape would provide the upward mobility I sought while not interfering with/ ruffling the feathers of those within the cultural climate I was reared.  The early recognition that I was a bit different forced me to reconcile that staying in my small town would mean a constant outsider feeling accompanied with a general uphill battle for any of my ideas and presence in certain circles.  So like a number of youth across the nation, I left and come back for family visits, events of friends who stayed behind and not much else.  I wait with baited breath for Walton County’s prosperity and commercial growth.  I sing its praises as often as I am able and I encourage as many to move there as possible, yet the struggle to be accepted as I am (more progressive, assertive, and business oriented) will always halt any dreams of returning.

But what if an entire generation chooses to leave their home towns?  What if few decide to come back?  What happens to the rural small towns they leave and how do those towns sustain themselves over time?  What happens when my generation reverses white flight and we all move back into urban areas?

You may have noticed it in your own town and among your own neighbors.  My generation has little patience for lack of amenities and we frankly do not comprehend how you work or live without reliable WiFi.  This isn’t unique to a certain area of the Southeast.  This is representative of a larger generational shift across the nation.  The opportunity to be something other than someone’s child has its own draw, and readily available choices of higher paying jobs is incredibly seductive.

In the last six months I have engaged in a leadership class called Georgia Forward.  Initially a nonprofit offshoot from Central Atlanta Progress, this organization partners with cities around Georgia to produce solutions to the local community’s challenges.  These challenges are identified by a steering committee of local officials (namely the local Chamber, from what I can tell), and are then posed in the form of questions to the group of fifty class members, a third of which are locals.

The area to which my class was partnered is Troup County.  Rich in textile history and manufacturing industry jobs, Troup County is an ideal location for Georgians to stake their claim and build their dreams.  Yet the cities of LaGrange, West Point, and Hogansville are finding it challenging to attract and retain young talent.  With little to no quality of place attributes (nightlife, retail establishments, civic organizations), I found myself both very familiar with and appallingly shocked as to why the residents could not recognize their own challenges.   The juxtaposition of those who enjoy the non-urban lifestyle that Troup County offers is in direct contrast to the preferences of those they wish to attract and retain.

This is not new, or foreign to me.  It is becoming so damn common across Georgia I often wish to beat my head against the wall in frustration.  I have seen this manifest in Macon, Augusta, Monroe, on recent visits to Americus, Albany, and certainly in my hometown of Social Circle.  There is a generational difference that contributes to the challenge, but also an ever-present racial one, and at its roots, economic.

I did not think of it as a generational problem across the nation until I recently finished the memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance.  The book was so incredibly gripping- painfully so at times.  The tome spoke such truth to the life I have known here where, albeit less violence and drugs as represented in Vance’s life, my own experience knows well the depth of family loyalty, the need for escaping one’s hometown, and the ties that forever bind us by the heartstrings to the challenges we try to leave behind. Continue reading “Brain Drain: The Southern Response to Ed and Business Atrophy”

Research like a reporter, Part 1: Who’s giving your candidate money?

It’s election time and you may — like many — be pulling out your hair wondering where to get good information about non-presidential candidates and state ballot measures. I am going to go through some of the tools I’ve learned to use as a freelance reporter, to help you get some baseline information about the people and issues on your ballot.

First up: who is giving your state candidates money? (Obtaining local candidate’s campaign contributions disclosures requires going through your local elections office).

Fundraising efforts across the state can range from the anemic $2,450 of Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) to Speaker David Ralston’s (R-Blue Ridge) $110,100.

Digging through campaign contribution disclosure reports requires equal parts googling, channel your inner Mafioso, and taking it all with a grain of salt. What this information tells you is who your candidate is connected to. Are they people and organizations that share your values? Are they people and organizations trying to build relationships with legislators to influence them? Are they people and organizations trying to repair relationships with legislators after some contentious legislation was passed? How does this information compare to what your candidate says about them self?

It’s worth mentioning, too, that sometimes powerful people just know each other and do things for each other without an immediate benefit. Relationship building is a huge part of the game, and elected officials underestimate (or don’t care) just how much it influences their judgement.

Let’s first walk through what the campaign contribution disclosure reports look like and what kind of information they contain, and then dive into how to find them yourself for your state candidate. As an example, let’s look at Rep. Andrew Welch (R-McDonough), who is running unopposed.

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Here is the document you will see (link here). The first page is basic information about the campaign. Then, you’ll see a summary page that goes over the total figures. After that is the itemized breakdown for contributions, expenditures, and loans.

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Next up is the summary page. Quite frustratingly, candidates aren’t consistent in how they calculate “previously reported” (i.e. cumulative) figures. Some candidates start fresh at every new campaign cycle, while others may keep the tally running from campaign to campaign. You may have to go back through old filings and do the math yourself to figure out which method your candidate used, especially if you are going to compare between candidates.

Also, Welch is running unopposed and will clearly be reelected, so it’s no surprise he has so little fundraising and expenditures to report. Candidates that are running unopposed, but hold lots of power, however, would likely see more activity. And, of course, candidates that are actively campaigning against another candidate should be fundraising at least $10-30,000 just to print signs, print flyers, get their website designed, maybe pay a staff person or some phone bankers. Candidates also fund their campaigns sometimes by loaning themselves money, which I just think is weird (but I’ve also never had a “spare” $45,000 that I could just do whatever I want with).

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Now the fun stuff: itemized contributions. For Rep. Welch, here’s what I notice: these are mostly out-of-state donors, so guessing these are big corporations or PACs working in all states (or key states) on particular agendas, and so probably just donating pretty widely. I’d definitely contextualize these by looking at what committees Rep. Welch is on (here) and what legislation he’s sponsored (here).

Alkermes, Inc is a biopharmaceutical company with a Georgia office, I’ve seen them on several candidate’s reports. Biomedicine is actually quite big in Georgia, especially with the CDC and big research institutions, like Emory, located in Atlanta.

GUCA Political Action Committee is the Georgia Utility Contractors Association, Inc. PAC. I’m not very familiar with them, but I suspect a little bit of googling would help establish a baseline of who they are and what their goals are. (There also is a way to see everyone who GUCA has donated to, that view would definitely provide interesting information into the kinds of elected officials they are targeting).

Looking at the TitleMax donation, I’d want to find out if he serves on a committee that is important to them or sponsored legislation that would impact their business. Alternately, they may be proactively building relationships with key legislators. These title pawn and paycheck loan companies are starting to come under higher levels of scrutiny around their exploitative business practices, and states are looking to more tightly regulate what they do.

I also notice that someone who works for the Nelson Mullins & Scarborough law firm donated separately. I am not familiar with them, and it could be interesting to investigate more about this firm and who that employee is in relationship to state politics.

Other things you may see on your candidates report: expect lots of PACs, especially for businesses with big stakes in Georgia law, across all people and all parties. Medical associations, insurance companies, telecommunications, hospital groups, lawyer groups are all quite common. The folks trying to allow breweries to do direct sales are also making selective investments. Also, candidates donate to each other. It’s a way to bolster someone who isn’t a great fundraiser, but is a party favorite, a “team player,” or someone whose seat is being meaningfully challenged by the other party.

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Itemized expenditures. For Rep. Welch, here’s what stands out to me: Alright, we see him donating to fellow Rep. Brian Strickland, who I think he’s fairly politically aligned with. Both are very principled conservatives. Deidra White is the conservative running against incumbent Dexter Sharper. Looking at her campaign filings would tell you more about what other Republicans, if any, have donated to her campaign. If it’s just him, then this may be his personal decision — she may be a friend, they may be politically aligned — or, if many Republicans are donating to her campaign, then it could be the donations are being solicited from the higher-ups in the party.

Apparently he was a Ted Cruz fan. Also, not surprisingly, a supporter of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson‎ (R-Ga).

Super weird that he donated from his campaign (rather than personal) funds to the Georgia Life Alliance Committee. GLA is a pro-life group (the official Georgia chapter of the National Right to Life) and they lobby at the capitol. I haven’t seen this practice a lot and it just strikes me as ethically murky…to donate to a group that directly lobbies you and your colleagues. That also says a lot about his politics: (1) that he is pro-life, and (2) that he is aligned with GLA over Georgia Right to Life, which is ideologically more rigid in their politics.

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If you are interested and looking at these reports for your own state candidates, here’s how to do it:

(1) Go to ethics.ga.gov, which is the home of the Georgia Government Transparency and State Finance Commission, formerly known as the State Ethics Commission. Along the black bar at the top of the page, select “Search.”

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(2) Select “Campaign Reports” from the list.

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(3) You’ll be taken to a page called “CAMPAIGN REPORTS – NAME SEARCH.” Type in your candidate’s name in the box at the top of the page, and click “Search for Candidate.” As an example, let’s look at Rep. Andrew Welch (R-McDonough). Note: You can always navigate back to this page at anytime by selecting “Search By Name” from the menu on the sidebar.

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(4) Now select “View” for the appropriate candidate. Some things to note here: some candidates run under a middle name or nickname, and file under their legal name. Try searching just their last name if you don’t see them in the list. Alternately, some candidates will file under different variations of their name for different campaigns they’ve had. You’ll have to click around to find the current campaign documents you are looking for.

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(5) Double check you found the right person. The “Office Sought” should be for the position they are currently running for on your ballot. “Status” should be “Active.” If it says “Terminated,” then the candidate is no longer running for that office. Under the first box, there is a tab that reads “Campaign Disclosure Reports,” and another tab that reads “Registration Information.” Clicking on the second tab will take you to some basic information about the campaign, we’re interested in the first tab right now.

Select “Campaign Contribution Reports – EFiled (Click to Expand Information).”

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(6) Now you’ll see a list of all the reports the candidate has filed. Rep. Welch has reports going back to 2010, when he first ran for his House seat. Candidates have different reporting requirements for election years and non-election years.

  • Note: If you like diving deep into numbers, it can be interesting to compare the same time period across campaigns (e.g. looking at the “September 30th – Election Year” reports for 2016, 2014, 2012 and 2010) in order to understand if the candidate is more or less active in fundraising at this point in the campaign cycle when compared to previous years. It can also be interesting to look at just the most recent two or three reports to see what’s changed over the course of one campaign. If a candidate had a primary opponent, but no general election challenger, then they may have more aggressively fundraised early on in their campaign. Also, state Senators and Representatives are not allowed to engage in fundraising or campaigning during the legislative session, so that often means big pushes from folks currently in office for donations before and after session.

Let’s take a look at the most recent filing. Select “View Report” next to the first report, “September 30th – Election Year.”

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(7) Select “View Report in PDF,” to take a look at the entire report. (The other options are more excel friendly versions of the same information, broken into segments).

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Phew. Okay, that was quite a bit of information. Just a reminder: you absolutely don’t need to be an expert to vote. Dig into this as much as is interesting to you (certainly freelance reporting is my profession because this work fascinates me). In this case, it may be enough for you to know Rep. Welch is so committed to pro-life politics, he’s giving them money.

As I wrote earlier, definitely be willing to channel your inner Mafioso, but don’t get carried away thinking that every dollar donated is a vote bought.

Next post, I’ll look at who is spending money on the four constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Comment with any questions, and I’ll do the best I can to address them, as well as your own experience looking through campaign contribution disclosure reports.

Will HRC Really Win Georgia?

redclay

I enjoy discussing Presidential campaign politics as much as I enjoy tilling the red clay in my backyard when it hasn’t rained in a few weeks.  It’s tedious, gets me hot under the collar, and only has marginal capability of providing me with anything of beauty or worth in the end.  So I tread carefully when discussing our Presidential picks.  I leave that to my friends in the District.  I keep my feet firmly planted in state and local affairs.  Yet my ears perked up when I was listening to FiveThirtyEight’s podcast some time ago on Hillary making ad buys in Georgia.  And then again today when the DPG emailed out the NY Times front page line indicating Georgia may be a swing state for HRC.  First, the NY Times knows little about Georgia politics.  Yet FiveThirtyEight is a strictly data oriented site.  If you are unaware of FiveThirtyEight, it’s really a fantastic podcast and the analysis of polling is really both delightful and heartbreaking, depending upon how you perceive the results.  Nate Silver, Harry Enten, Claire Malone, and Jody Avirgan are the political nerds people like me look to for the cold hard numbers to back up or destroy our assumptions.  I find their humor engaging, their discussions meaningful to understanding the macro in our nation’s politics, and I always find their insights thought provoking.

It should be said, aside from admiring this team, their work and their expertise, I admire data above all.  I trust the 538data more times than not.  If the numbers tell you something, believe it.  In their August 29th podcast, Nate Silver encourages the listeners to look beyond the numbers though, for the inevitable “swing” where Clinton’s lead across the nation will inevitably fall in certain areas.  The group discussion centers around where that swing and fall may occur. You can click on the link and at about minute 29 they get into the Georgia discussion.

Spoiler alert: I disagree. Continue reading “Will HRC Really Win Georgia?”

How Do We Define Open Access?

How do we define open access?

periscopeThe ever present use of social media and the ability to self- report the ground breaking as well as the mundane has caused me to ponder these tools a bit.  I am grouped into the millennial age group, albeit on the older side.  I have recognized my generation’s preference on certain things alters our expectations.   This age group around the globe seems to be less and less interested with ownership of things, or with developing status through accumulating material goods and more the access to them.  Think of Über and Airbnb instead of buying a car or house.  So too, my age group seems to enjoy dabbling in multiple jobs, rather than focusing on life-long careers in one profession or another.

So, if we applied the same principle to politics, what would that look like? 

For my parents, it is important to have access to their elected officials on a city and county level.  For them this means attending meetings in the evening and if need be, catching a moment with decision makers at the local watering hole or breakfast spot.  EVERY small town has a local hangout where the older men sit and discuss the events of the day over biscuits and coffee.  Where you will find a good biscuit in a Southern town, so shall you find folks sitting in clusters discussing the way things “should be”.  My parents’ generation’s expectation of access was determined more by their own efforts, namey because there existed no other options.

Yet as we see so many of the long-held seats being vacated by members retiring, I wonder aloud what the future will bring.  Many of the old guard’s replacements are closer in age to me, if not even younger!  So what shall these young guns bring?  Perhaps more of the same status quo, with little transparency, the same glacial pace of addressing actual challenges faced by Southerners, and little actual informed engagement of the voters…or maybe not.

I remain more optimistic because our options have changed. Continue reading “How Do We Define Open Access?”

“So…What do you do?”

On a personal note….

I haven’t written in some months due to the fact that life got in the way.  An engagement, a house renovation, a move that combined two households, a death of a grandfather, a near death and hospitalization of a grandmother, identity theft, vehicle theft, and loss of health insurance will do that to a woman….even Steel Magnolias bruise and bend.  Yet I am consistently like a bad penny: I just keep turning up and will continue to offer my opinions (for whatever they are worth to others) for as long as I am able.  I intend to spend the next little bit writing through all of the topics I have wanted to cover and yet did not have the time to do so in the last few months, so bear with me as I bear witness and I hope that I can offer insight/ explanation as we go along together.

And now back to the reason you’re here….

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“What do you do?”

People ask this of one another because we search for common ground and for safe topics in small talk.  Alas, my job description usually isn’t anything like that.  People see the term “political consultant” and “lobbyist” as a loaded gun, aimed at their rights, their perceptions of how things should be, or they see me as some sort of elite class.

I repeatedly have to tell them it’s really not anything remotely like what you see on House of Cards. 

I am sincerely not powerful and my work is more on the side of being kind to everyone- even when they are not kind to me rather than passionately debating legislators or playing puppet master behind the scenes.  I am not debating that the Remy Denton types of lobbyists exist, I am just here to tell you: that isn’t me.

I typically answer that question with a shoulder shrug and the factual statement, “I talk to people.”  Many times before I have also asserted that I think a monkey could do my job.  To be honest, there are probably primates that are more fully functioning than a LOT of people in their jobs, but I digress…Now that I have had the fortune of meeting a number of people who are very book-smart but have zero ability to communicate effectively nor manage a filter on themselves, I have come to value my own diplomacy skills a bit better.  Not everyone can take rejection well, nor know they are being purposefully left out of conversations and still try to make a difference.

I would say these are my greatest gifts. 

Hearing “no” is simply part of the process.  Brush it off.  The more important question is always, “what will get you to “yes”?” Continue reading ““So…What do you do?””

Rules, Shmules!

rulesToday is the last day of the Georgia legislature, and I am ever the optimistic populist.  So if you are watching from home, or from the galleries and have a bit of confusion about what’s going on, I thought it might be helpful to have your own copy of the Rules.

House Rules

Senate Rules

Click on the links above and you will find the rules governing the chambers.  The Senate Rules are online at legis.ga.gov, but the House Rules were updated back in 2013 and never made it back online.  With the gracious assistance of a transparency-loving House member, I scanned and copied the above for your reading pleasure/assistance before you head to sleep.

While these are the Rules governing the chambers, it would also be helpful to note that the House’s parliamentary procedure most closely follows the American version of Robert’s Rules of Order and the Senate more closely follows Mason’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure.  I’m a fan of Robert’s, but Mason’s was explicitly designed for state legislatures.

Here’s NCSL’s take on the differences.

Now the key portions to pay attention to are terms like “germane”, “engrossment”, and paying attention to which floor votes are performed by a show of hands.  These procedures are what make the action on the floor more interesting and volatile.  Transparency is not the populace’s friend on Sine Die, and so I would encourage all Georgians to come out after work to watch the floors, if you want to really know what happens.

Want real time floor notes?  Twitter is your friend.

Senate Press

House Floor Notes

You can also get feedback from individuals and media on legislation by following #gapol on Twitter.

Happy Sine Die, all!

Mike Griffin: The Baptist Who Will Call You Hitler at the Liquor Store

white patentIt seems that Mike Griffin has finally pissed off Baptists other than just me.  Even the white patent shoe wearing, floppy-Bible-toting stock get irritated when you compare them to a totalitarian.

Aaron Gould Shenin of the AJC quotes members from the floor in his post, identifying his comparison of lawmakers to Hitler as beyond the pale.  There are many more Baptists than those quoted at the Capitol, many who have long considered Griffin to be Satan incarnate, but I am rather glad to invite others to the party.  All are welcome at this table!

On the matter of being Baptist: I have been and cannot imagine myself to ever separate from the title of Baptist, no matter how many Mike Griffins, Jerry Falwells, or Westboro Baptists there may be.  In addition to that preference, I also have always loved my scotch neat, I rarely miss a chance to break it down on the dance floor, have been and will forever be solidly pro-choice, and as for my card playing abilities? My middle school girl friends can vouch for the repercussions of our serious games of five card draw.

If you are of the misconceived notion that Baptists are unilaterally characterized by the opposite of the above mentioned actions, I am here to tell you Baptist is a big, broad tent that welcomes sinners of all stripes.  Like all Christians, we believe devoutly in the salvation of our souls given mercifully and unconditionally by God.  There are some who believe in the sacrificial atonement of sins in the death of Jesus the Christ, and there are some who do not.  Yet Baptists go further beyond the belief of merciful salvation and are somewhat unique in our deeply held convictions around full immersion baptism and regarding a term called congregational polity, where every church is self-governed, autonomous from the fold as a whole, and independent.  Quakers, Puritans, and many of the congregational churches created in the American colonies were cut from this cloth.  Unitarian Universalists, some synagogues, and mosques employ a version of this as well, but Baptists are often the denomination to be identified with this in mainstream Protestantism.

For this reason alone I have deeply held convictions against ANYONE saying they represent all Baptists.  We are organized differently for this VERY reason.  So for Mr. Griffin to assert he speaks for “us” is to be not only challenging to comprehend, it is organizationally impossible. Continue reading “Mike Griffin: The Baptist Who Will Call You Hitler at the Liquor Store”

In Defense of Canada

Canadian Flag
Even The Canadian Flag is cool. Maple leaf, maple syrup? Consistency!

 

Apparently, The Donald has a problem with Canadians.  Not sure why he has this atavistic hatred for our friends in the North.  I mean, annexing the whole thing and making it one, giant snow park would be cool, but I’m not one to invade other countries.

In my little part of the world, calling someone a Canadian is not an insult.  Never have I been irritated with someone and said, “Man, you are soooooo…Canadian,” nor have I told my children, “Don’t play with them; they’re Canadians.”  Thems just not fightin’ words. In fact, I love Canadians.  I love Canada.  It worries me and makes me a little sad, really, that The Donald has a problem with Ted Cruz due to his Canadianism (which he forsook to become solely American, an act which I will never understand).

I am here today to extoll the virtues of all things Canadian.  Maybe Mr. Trump will read this little dittie and change his tune. I doubt it, though; he’s a little busy combing his barely-noticeable-toupee and being angry and…weird.  He’s weird.  Weirdweirdweird.

Here is The Dropout’s top ten list of  why Canada is Cool, and why Trump should take a chill pill:

10.  Canadians have Maple Syrup.

I could stop right here and be done with my list.

9.  Canadians are NICE.

Whenever I visit up to the Great White North, I am treated with kindness.  Even in Montreal, where the Francophones love the French language, all I have to say is, Bon Jour and then start speaking English.  No harm, no foul.  With those two words, it is understood that I tried to do the French thing, and everyone is pleased with my southern drawl efforts.  I never met a person there who was not helpful or who refused to switch over to English or whatever language the person was speaking to them (for me, it’s English…it’s all I got).

8.  Canadians Speak, Like, Seven Thousand Languages

So my Canadian friend Tom (also very nice, although I don’t think he grows his own syrup) speaks Italian, French, English, Hebrew, and Spanish.  I mean, come on!  Canada is as big and as landlocked as the US, and we Amerkuns speak English. Many of us haven’t quite mastered that language.  I was visiting a place in Montreal, when a lady said to her husband, “Oh, look, baby!  Even the little ones speak French!”  The boy switched to English and apologized for insulting her.  See?  Even the little ones are nice!  Tom’s kids, who are eight and six, speak three languages.  My kids, who are the same age, speak broken English.

7.  Canadians have Poutine

Check it:  French Fries covered in gravy, and sprinkled with cheese curds.  It’s like bacon and cheese fries but oooooooooh, soooooooo, much bettttttttter!  I have dreams about Poutine, and when I wake up and step on the scale, I’ve gained 12 pounds.

6.  Canadians are Rule Followers.

I was visiting there Before Children (BC), and while driving some folks to a ski resort, I think I may have been a touch over the speed limit (the metric system never stuck with me; I don’t think I ever really learned it, to be honest).  All three passengers reminded me to slow down!  I was going over the speed limit by like five KpH, but I was told to slow down!  What if I hit someone? We were on the highway, and no one was to be seen walking along the clean highway (another thing about Canada:  it’s really clean-I guess everyone follows the rules and puts trash in the trash can).

5.  Canadians Understand Both the Metric System and the English System.

It cracks me up that we Americans are the only ones who use the English System of measurement.  Even the English don’t use it anymore.  But Canadians, because they are so nice, use both. Even the baking mix boxes have both.  See?  NICE.

 4.  Canadians Aren’t Down with The Man

At dinner one night (also BC) while out in California, I struck up a conversation with a Canadian, and she had a theory as to why many Americans are so anti-establishment, but Canadians are so…not.  Her theory was that while American settlers forged their own path to land and wealth out west, the Canadians had their Mounties to go first and make sure it was a good place to settle.  Right from the start, the police and the settlers were pals.

3.  Canadians are Versatile

Let’s go back to the gloriousness of maple syrup, shall we? And slather it on a French pastry…umm, hello! But first, let’s have a plate of Poutine.

2.  Canadians Are Just as Capitalistic as We Are

Okay, I am making a gross generalization here, but every Canadian I have met likes money just as much as I, a capitalistic American, do, and believes that hard work will get you where you need to be.  My friend Tom likes money even more than I do, and that is saying something.

1.  Canadians Don’t Take Everything So Seriously, and Neither Should Donald Trump

Canadians laugh at the folly of humanity just like everyone else, but they don’t get all worked up about stuff. They don’t even get worked up when someone makes fun of them for being Canadian.  I’m sure that every Canadian out there in the free world is laughing at Donald Trump’s issues with The Great White North, eh?

So let’s show our Northern Friends a little love, and tell The Donald that there are bigger, less Canadian fish to fry.

Freedom!!! Nope, not for you, Mr. Spencer.

Ah, Jeremy…JEREMY!  What were you thinking, dude?  Well, we all know what you were thinking, but did you really have to say it?  Did you have to post it?  Did you have to keep the photos up on your Facebook page? Jer…e…my.  Jeremy, you, my friend, are what we would call an idjut here in my part of Georgia.

So, Mr. Spencer, a DOE Official (political favor by Mr. Woods for helping him with his campaign), put some pretty vitriolic posts about anyone who is not a straight white Protestant male on his Facebook Page.  I will give him credit for being an equal opportunity hater, but a hater all the same.  But here’s what I think (and since my salary from this blog seems to continually get lost in the mail, I can say what I think):  I think Mr. Spencer has the right to believe what he wants to believe, however distasteful those thoughts may be.  I believe he shouldn’t have gotten the job in the first place (so he passed around a lot of campaign ads for Woods, and he’s brothers with a Georgia Representative.  Those are not resume pieces that will get you hired where I live; just sayin). I also believe that we have become waaaayyyyy too politically correct here, there, and everywhere.

Where do we draw the line, though? At what point do we say, enough is enough, and let folks think what they want to think and say what they want to say? At what point does a company or an entity dismiss a person’s thoughts as just that:  thoughts?  I am of the philosophy that you can swing your arms around in a circle until you are blue in the face.  I may find it annoying, but you shouldn’t be arrested for swinging your arms around, even though you look stupid.  But the minute, the second, you hit me, we have a problem.  At that point, your arm swinging interfered with my right to go about my business.  At that point your annoying little arm swinging game turned into a hitting game, and I am the victim.

There are so many stories out there where some yahoo with too much angst spouts off about inappropriate (read: NOT ILLEGAL) stuff.  Recently, a teacher from Johns Creek High School was fired resigned from Fulton County because she posted about a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) taking too long on a final exam (to which he had extra time by law).  She was pissy because she wanted to go home at noon with all her other teacher friends, but the student took his time on his exams entitled to him through his IEP.   A teacher in Winder, Georgia went to Germany and took a photo of herself with a beer in her hand at pretty much every stop she took (She sued and won, by the way).  Are these things illegal?  No.  Neither of them is illegal, and, although I am not a lawyer, the way I read the Professional Code of Ethics, not a one of them defies those ethics either.  Neither does Jeremy Spencer’s gross misperception of humanity.

So Jeremy Spencer is an idjut, and he should not have been hired…but should he have been fired resigned for having thoughts with which others disagree?  He was swinging his arms on his personal Facebook Page, and he did not take down a post that I would consider seriously offensive (I’m not easily offended by much), but his arms didn’t do any physical damage to anyone or to anyone’s property while swinging.  At what point does the old saying about words not hurting anyone begin to take hold in grown folks?

At what point do we simply say to those people and about those people, “Bless your heart” and keep it moving?