All posts in Democrats

This blog post first appeared on our old website on August 1st, 2012. Yes, almost two years ago. I think you might enjoy it. I’ve fixed what links I could. Some are no longer available.

At the end of my last post, I asked you to think about what Pike County would look like in 25 years. If you’re like most folks down here, you hope it will stay the same. It won’t. Again, if you’re like most folks, you’re afraid it will look like Clayton County or Henry County. Just another sea of suburban sprawl. That’s a distinct possibility. After all, that is the accepted dynamic around Atlanta. That’s just the way it is.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I want you to dream about this a bit. And to point you in the right direction, I’m going to share my dream. Now, keep in mind, this isn’t a Democratic vision. And this blog is about the Democratic Party of Pike County. What I want you to see is that it is politics that gets people elected to make a vision come true. And getting Democrats elected is the business of this blog. Let’s get busy.

Imagine if Pike County was a place that our kids didn’t want to leave. Imagine it was a place where our kids didn’t have to leave to find a job. How do we bring that about? What would we want to bring about? What is possible? Where do you even start thinking about something this big?

I needed a starting point. I started with the land. What does Pike County have going for it? It has a lot of land. A lot of undeveloped land. I call that “developer bait”. But I don’t want urban sprawl. You might. And developers definitely do. (Don’t kid yourself, they’re already at work.) If you have a lot of land you can grow trees or you can grow crops. That’s something to explore. Timber and agriculture are already big businesses in Georgia. But my friends at the UGA Experiment Station tell me there really isn’t enough water in Pike to farm using current practices. (Note: Our proximity to the Experiment Station is an asset for the county.) So, we have land but we need water if we want to farm using current practices. (Yes, I said it twice to get your attention.)

Water. Well…it just so happens that we have a river running along one side of our county — the Flint River. If we dam up the Flint, we will have water to farm, a reservoir for drinking water and hey! we could have the next Lake Allatoona or Lake Lanier and that would bring all sorts of jobs to Pike County. Not to mention, everybody likes the idea of living on a lake. Problem solved. My work is done.

©Don Brown 2012

Not so fast. If you had clicked on the link provided about the Flint River, you would have read this:

“In the 1970s, a plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a dam at Sprewell Bluff in Upson County was defeated by the Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, whose hometown of Plains, coincidentally, is located near the Flint River.”

Now, I’m sure there are plenty of people and business concerns out there that would still love to see the Flint dammed up. But let’s think about the possibilities for a moment. Assuming that you didn’t want to get in a huge political fight, you might want to leave well enough alone and work with what you have.

“The unimpeded nature of the river above Lake Blackshear is rare among U.S. rivers. It is one of only 40 rivers in the nation to flow over 200 miles (320 km) unimpeded.”

“Rare”. Hmmm. Usually, something that is “rare” is worth some money. But to whom? Have you ever seen how much money fly fishermen spend? Just to get you thinking…

Fly Fish GA

“Shoal bass can be caught all year long on the Flint, though winter may find them in deeper water and a bit less aggressive. My favorite time on the Flint is spring through fall. Beginning in late March or early April (as soon as the spring rains subside a bit), you will find the big fish in the shoals.”

Evidently, the shoal bass is a special breed of fish. It even has it’s own Wikipedia entry. This part caught my attention.

“The shoal bass is becoming increasingly uncommon in the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers because so few shoals exist and competition with non-native spotted bass has increased. It is also known in the Chattahoochee river drainage; and is most plentiful in the relatively undammed Flint River of Georgia, as well as lakes such as Blackshear and West Point. Shoal bass are closely associated with rock shoals and are uncommon in other habitat due to its unique spawning requirements.”

“Shoal bass are also popular targets for fly fishers, who find them easy to access in their preferred river environments. The practice of fly fishing for shoal bass is becoming more widespread.”

Now, don’t get lost in the weeds here. We’re looking for ways to generate jobs and a good lifestyle here in Pike County. But it just so happens we have a rare commodity — a wild and untamed river full of rare fish. If you wanted to wrap that up in a political message…do you think the good ol’ boys down here would rather commute to Atlanta for a job or would they rather make money as a fishing guide on the Flint? Or (for the more ambitious) would they rather run a roadside fruit stand or open up an Orvis store on the banks of the beautiful Flint River — shoal bass capital of the world? (If you’ve never heard of Orvis you should click on the link and check it out. There are evidently a lot of people in this world that will pay $750 for a fancy fishing pole.)

Okay, now that you have the general idea, let’s move on quicker and you can start filling in the blanks for yourself.

©Don Brown 2012

The Tour de Pike. Have you ever seen how many people ride in that? And how much money they spend on bikes — not to mention that crazy clothing they wear? So, suppose they could ride through our beautiful, pastoral countryside every day instead of just once a year?

Check this out from another well-known store — REI.

“Although only 50 miles from Atlanta, Pike County is a world apart from the hustle of the big city, which is exactly why it’s such a great cycling destination. Life in Pike County moves at a slower, more enjoyable pace, and its small towns are quiet and friendly. This ride starts in the small town of Concord, goes south to Molena, then loops through Zebulon, Williamson, and Gay before concluding back in Concord. Pike County is one of Georgia’s smaller counties but is rich in history, Southern culture, and charm. The land is located in the Piedmont section of Georgia with gently rolling hills with abundant woodlands, farms, fields, wildlife, and wildflowers.”

That sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? And we want to keep it that way, right? But we need good jobs down here. We need to attract commerce. Why can’t we build a bicycle trail in Pike County? No sharing the road with cars — which annoys the locals and the visitors. We could build a dedicated trail. It’s been done before.

One more thing. Slow Exposures will be coming to Pike County again, soon. You may not have been but I have. It’s amazing to meet people from all over the county at this small, little-known affair. Last year I sat with one couple from California and another from New York. Right there in little ol’ Concord. They’d come clear across the county for a photography art exhibit. In Concord! Who’da thunk it? Well, the truth is that we have people in Pike County that did think of these things. And they could think ever bigger.

One of the things that bothered me when I was reading about Slow Exposures last year was this:

Where to Stay — Although Pike County does not have any lodging available, there are lots of choices, from bed and breakfasts to chain hotels, in neighboring counties.”

That’s a lot of money leaving the county, right there. All because we don’t have any hotels in the county. And it’s pretty easy to understand why we don’t have any hotels, we just don’t have enough visitors — often enough — that need to spend the night. But here we have people that can afford to fly all the way across the country to buy art and they don’t have a place to stay. So they spend that money elsewhere. Probably on dinner too. And I’m assuming they aren’t eating at McDonald’s so we’re losing a lot of money there also.

We could change that. We could start with fishermen and bike riders. We could become Atlanta’s green space. A pastoral playground for the 5 million people that live around Atlanta. And all that is required is that we keep Pike County like we want it — green, rural and peaceful.

©Don Brown 2010

Or we can let it all get plowed under and turned into cookie-cutter houses and strip malls.

This has gone on longer than I’d planned so let me keep you hanging until the next post, where I’ll tie some of these ideas together. The way to enact my vision — or yours — is through politics. You elect people that share a common vision. Or you can elect stooges for developers. One or the other will hold the reins of power. I assure you the land developers are engaged with your government, working to enact their vision of Pike County. The question is, are you?

We’ll show you how to get involved. We’re the Democratic Party of Pike County. Come join us.

Don Brown — Chairman
The Democratic Party of Pike County
August 1, 2012

(Blog Updated –March 19, 2014: You may notice that the link to “the school system’s web page” no longer works. In addition, it appears the tweet announcing this event was removed from Pike Schools Twitter feed. At the moment, the link to “the flyer” is still active.

I haven’t received any communication from any party about this event or blog post. I can only assume Pike County Schools removed the material from its site. I’ve suspected all along that most people in Pike County who were initially involved in this event didn’t really understand the group behind it.)

The Pike County Republican Party is sponsoring an event entitled “The Making of America Seminar & Constitution Workshop”. It’s amazing how aggressively this event is being promoted. Even I have been invited to go. I read it about it on Pike County Schools Twitter feed. It’s even on the school system’s web page.

I wonder how many people have taken the time to read the flyer inviting people to the event, taken note of the organization giving the lecture — The National Center for Constitutional Studies — and decided to check them out? I did. I’ve learned to check out the source of anything I read these days. It’s not that hard — once you learn how. Let me show you.

My first step is invariably to check Wikipedia. (That must be the reason my conservative friends hate Wikipedia so much.) But it’s just a starting place. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about the National Center for Constitutional Studies.

“The National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS) is a conservative, religious-themed constitutionalist organization, founded by Latter-Day Saint political writer Cleon Skousen.[1] It was formerly known as The Freemen Institute.[2]”

The great thing about Wikipedia (or any other online source) is that they have links that allow you to seek further information. In Wikipedia’s case, you can obtain internal or external information. In other words, more detailed information is on Wikipedia’s own site but it also provides links to other web sites.

For instance, if you didn’t realize that “Latter-Day Saint” was the official name of the Mormon church, you could click on the link and educate yourself. There is also a link to “Cleon Skousen”, and we’ll get to that in a minute. For now, let’s look a little deeper into the Wikipedia entry with this paragraph header.

The Making of America controversy

“In 1987, controversy erupted in California over the NCCS-published and Cleon Skousen-authored textbook The Making of America. The book quoted a 1934 essay on slavery by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Fred Albert Shannon that described black children as “pickaninnies”; another section stated that life for white Southerners was “a nightmare” due to “the constant fear of slave rebellion”, and claimed that white slave owners were “the worst victims of slavery”.[14] “

I bet you’ll follow along with me when I start quoting the entry on Mr. Skousen. But we’re still not done with this entry. Keep in mind, we’ve already bypassed dozens of links with even more information on this outfit — this outfit that is coming to Pike County and is being advertised with your tax dollars on Pike County School’s web page.

Contemporary allies and popularity

“The NCCS has found a number of new organizational allies among Constitutionalist groups such as the John Birch Society, the Eagle Forum, and the Oath Keepers.[1] Additionally, in the media, the NCCS has found a powerful voice in the form of Glenn Beck, who is a Mormon himself and used his Fox News platform to advocate for NCCS books and ideas.[1] “

I’m going to assume you know who Glenn Beck is. Many of you probably don’t know of the John Birch Society — “The society has been described as “ultraconservative”,[19] “far right”,[20] and “extremist”“. You most likely haven’t heard of the Oath Keepers — “that advocates that its members (current and former U.S. military and law enforcement) disobey any orders that they are given if they believe they violate the Constitution of the United States.“. I encourage you to click on the links provided and read all about both of them.

These are the organizational forces behind this “workshop” that is coming to Pike County. The workshop that is charging $20 per ticket. You might want to ask yourself where that money goes and who it helps. But let’s move on to Mr. Cleon Skousen’s Wikipedia entry.

“After losing his police job, Skousen founded a group called the All-American Society, which Time magazine described in 1961 as an “exemplar of the far-right ultras.”[17] Throughout the 1960s, Skousen was also admired by members and leaders of the John Birch Society, although members of the more mainstream conservative movement and the American Security Council[3] snubbed him out of fear that his controversial views would hurt the credibility of the conservative movement.”

“In 1981, the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Skousen was asked to be a charter member of the conservative think tank the Council for National Policy, founded by Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series of books.”

“While Skousen was alive, many of his ideas were met with fierce criticism, while his pronouncements made him “a pariah among most conservative activists”.[17] In one instance, the constitutional scholar Jack Rakove, of Stanford University, inspected Skousen’s books and seminars and pronounced them “a joke that no self-respecting scholar would think is worth a warm pitcher of spit.”[17] A 1971 review in the Mormon journal Dialogue also accused Skousen of “inventing fantastic ideas and making inferences that go far beyond the bounds of honest commentary,” and also of promoting concepts that were “perilously close” to Nazism.[17]”

The are dozens of links within those three quotes alone. I encourage you to visit the Wikipedia entry for yourself and follow as many as time will allow. For now, let’s move on to Mr. Lester Pearce, the individual that will be conducting the “workshop” right here in Pike County. There’s nothing on Wikipedia about him so, I Googled him.

“The National Center for Constitutional Studies Lester Pearce”

Click that link and watch how easy it is to Google something. (If you haven’t ever tried “Let Me Google That For You”, it’s fun. Trust me. Click on the link above and watch.)

The third link in the search (your search results might be different) was from “The Atlantic” magazine. I’ve learned to trust them over the years so I clicked on that one.

All Patriots ‘Know’ That Moses Wrote the Constitution

“Our instructor is Lester Pearce, Arizona Justice of the Peace and brother of Russell Pearce, author of that state’s harshly anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1070.”

I don’t have the resources to make absolutely sure the Lester Pearce in this piece is the Lester Pearce that is coming to Pike County to lecture us on the Constitution but I’m pretty sure he is.

“We are in the basement of Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Va. It is Saturday, October 23, ten days before the midterm elections. A group of 50 patriots has gathered for a seminar of “The Making of America,” presented by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. NCCS, headquartered in Malta, Idaho, sends speakers across the country to reveal the truth that liberal elites have hidden about the American form of government. The seminar is sponsored by four local groups–a Constitution-oriented meetup in Purcellville, Va., the Loudoun Patriots Organization, the Virginia Conservative Party, and the Loudon County Republican Women’s Club.”

Yep, I’m pretty certain he’s one and the same.

“Given that curiosity, it’s quite striking that the seminar, which begins at 8:30 a.m., takes until 1:30 to get to the actual Constitution.

That’s because we have to learn the basic truth about the Constitution: God wrote it. It comes directly from the government instituted by Moses when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. That system was re-instituted in England around 450 A.D. by the Anglo-Saxon rulers Hengist and Horsa. The Founding Fathers, led by Thomas Jefferson, copied the Constitution directly from the “ancient constitution” of the Anglo-Saxons.”

Please, go read the whole article for yourself. It’s amazing. (I’ve found a different flyer about the event that says a Mr. Earl Taylor will be the instructor for this event. It makes no difference, there’s an article about him too.)

I’m willing to bet there are some people in Pike County (actually, in every county in America) that are all too willingly to believe all that. (Sorry if I spoiled the seminar for you but I bet I saved you $20 bucks.) However, I believe most of the citizens have (how shall I say it?) a more reality-based education of history and the U.S. Constitution. And I bet they would want their school system to stick to that reality-based history — not promoting some extreme right-wing, religious instruction masquerading as a “workshop”.

If you’re tired of the extremists that have thrived under the one-party rule of the Republican Party in Pike County and Georgia, do something about it. You can try reforming that party (good luck with that) or you can join us. But for heaven’s sake, stop giving these people your hard-earned money. Stop voting for them. And the next time someone hands you a flyer or sends you an article, take a moment to check out who wrote it.

Don Brown — Chairman
The Democratic Party of Pike County

Letter to the Editor 12-18-13

On December 18th of 2013, the Pike County Journal Reporter printed my letter to the editor. In that it isn’t available on their web site, I’ve had several people ask me to publish it here. You will find it below. It is the original text — before it was edited by the Journal Reporter.

Was That a Threat?

In an editorial published on the December 11, 2013, Mr. Jim Nobles wrote the following:

“When it happens, Democrats better leave the U.S. for it’ll be open season on every Obama supporter.”

As with the rest of Mr. Nobles’ irate editorial, I’m not exactly sure what I should make of that statement. Is it some kind of threat?

If I’m following Mr. Nobles’ logic correctly…

Should his speculative nuclear attack on Israel by Iran actually occur, the appropriate response for me — a Democrat — would be to get out of town. Nay, I should “leave the U.S.”. I don’t think I shall, Mr. Nobles. Furthermore, in that I am indeed an Obama supporter, you should know that there won’t be any “open season” on me. Or any other Democrat.

I realize that inflammatory language sells newspapers but I must question the appropriateness of using a hunting metaphor when referring to people.

I notice the lack of similar advice (threats?) for Republicans. Perhaps Mr. Nobles is unaware that a Republican is responsible for Iran having a nuclear program? You can thank President Eisenhower and his “Atoms for Peace” program in 1957. In 1976 President Ford (another Republican) offered Iran a plant for extracting plutonium. Surely he remembers President Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal. Why no “open season” on country-club Republicans, Mr. Nobles?

What do we think, Mr. Nobles? Come to one of our monthly meetings and we’ll tell you what we think. For now, know that we Democrats are here to stay.

Don Brown — Chairman
The Democratic Party of Pike County

I was driving down Williamson-Zebulon Road, in the rain, after dark. That’s when I really noticed how bad the roads in Pike County have become. Everybody in the county knows our roads are in bad shape. But on the ugly nights, “bad” turns into “dangerous”.

I had just heard a little historical blurb on the radio about roads. Way back when. road crews only painted the center line on roads. In the dark — when it was hardest to see — people would “hug” the middle of the road because the center line was the only thing clearly visible. Somebody had the bright idea that if lines were painted at the edge of the road, people would stop driving in the middle of the road and there would be fewer accidents. It turns out they were right. Likewise, anyone that remembers driving on dark roads before the invention of those little reflectors embedded in the pavement understands what an advancement in safety they represent.

Which brings me back to my journey down Pike County’s roads. Williamson-Zebulon Road (like most other county roads in Pike) has been patched so many times that the white line at the edge of the road has disappeared in places. Likewise, it seems many of those yellow center-line reflectors have come loose and gone missing. There are whole stretches of road that all but disappear into the gloom on a dark, rainy night.

I’d rather have the patches than the potholes but what we need are paved roads, not patched ones. I hope by now you are wondering why we don’t have decent, safe county roads. It’s simple; you keep electing the Party of Potholes.

Pike County is governed by the Republican Party. Every single commissioner is a Republican. The Republican Party doesn’t like government. As a matter of fact, much of the Republican Party hates government. They want the government “off our backs” and “out of our lives”. In large part, they have been successful in accomplishing that. Unfortunately, that philosophy doesn’t keep the roads paved. It turns out it’s the government that paves the roads. Well, the government pays to have them paved. The actual paving is done by contractors. That function of the government has been mostly “privatized” (code for government spending disguised as private enterprise). You’re supposed to believe that a private company can do it cheaper than the government. Which means that we’ll be able to afford to keep our roads paved.

Let me pause here and ask a question: How’s that working out for you?

Do you want your mother driving down a dark and dangerous road in the rain? Or your daughter? How about the school bus carrying your children? Or grandchildren? Let me ask a “Republican” question. How do dark and dangerous roads promote commerce? If the Republican Party is the Party of Free Enterprise, Free Markets, Limited Government and everything-that-is-right-about-America…then why are Pike County’s roads in such bad shape?

Again, the answer is simple. Pike County doesn’t have the money to pave its roads. That’s because Pike County doesn’t collect enough taxes to pave its roads. I’ve been to several County Commission meetings where they talk about paving roads. Mostly they talk about it in confusing code but — in the end — the simple truth is always the same. The county doesn’t have the money.

The Commissioners would like for the State of Georgia to pay for the paving. And Georgia does help out with some paving projects. The Commissioners would gladly take Federal Government money to pave our roads. (As long as we don’t let anybody call it “stimulus” and it doesn’t make President Obama look good.) But the Republican Party has been at work defunding both of those governments — State and Federal — too. Neither has provided all the funds that Pike County needs to maintain its roads.

The lesson here should be blindingly obvious: People that hate government aren’t very good at running one. Again, the County Commission is all Republican. There is no opposition. You can’t blame Democrats because there aren’t any on the Commission. (You can try to blame President Obama but reality gets in the way.) Republicans in this county set the tax rate, plan the budget and execute the plan. They are in control of the government they love to hate and the proof is in the potholes.

The Republican Party hates government. And it shows.

Don Brown — Chairman
The Democratic Party of Pike County

The stimulus was too small, the debt isn’t such a big problem and a default on our debt would be a world-wide catastrophe. In other words, pretty much everything you’ve heard from the Republicans about economics is wrong. You don’t have to believe me. Believe one of most respected voices on economics in the entire world; Martin Wolf of London’s Financial Times.

Don Brown — Chairman
The Democratic Party of Pike County