Dec 10, 2015

Tired of Being Told "Who We Are"?

Americans are independent, free-spirited, and strongly opposed to being told what to do or who they are by anyone.  A few years ago this became apparent to the world when President Obama stated that "We are not a Christian nation."  Within minutes of his statement, Christian Americans flooded social media with statements like "This country was founded by Christians,"  "We are too a Christian nation," and "What does he mean telling the world that?  He doesn't know us."  It did not matter that we are a nation of nations, who happens to have been dominated by Christian views-the President told us and the world we are not Christian and received immediate backlash from Christians.

A few years later when the President announced that we had killed Osama bin Laden he again told the nation "who we are".  The President, his cabinet, Seal Team Six - whose name should never have been revealed to the world - and a handful of others had watched the action live.  They had the confirmation, allegedly in hand.  While they celebrated, the President once again told us who we are when he stated, "We do not spike the football.  That is not who we are," in reference to his reasoning for not allowing pictures of bin Laden to be released.   Sorry, Mr. President, as you again tell us "who we are" you seem to forget that we invented spiking the football and yes, we most certainly do that.

As recently as a couple of weeks ago, the President again reminded us of who we are when he told us that we take people from around the world as refuges.  His reference was to cries to not take Syrian refuges after an apparent terrorist attack in France by refuges.  Again, the President seems to forget that we know very well who we are.  Anytime the country has been concerned about a group of people entering, then we have almost always taken special precautions to stop them.  If this is not the case, then why do we even have a Border Patrol Agency?  Once again, we have done this so many times in the past, but the President seems to forget the history as he tells us this is not who we are once more.

Finally, just a few days ago headlines blew up around the world about Trump.  Donald Trump, the leading presidential candidate for the Republican Party said that he suggest we stop all Muslims from entering the country.  Immediately President Obama again pointed out that is not "who we are," many of the current presidential candidates did the same, and some in the Republican party even called for Trump to drop out of the race.  Everyone did it because that is not "who we are."  The first thing that should be noted is that Mr. Trump's full statement included the following "until we can figure out what is going on."  In other words, he said we should halt Muslims from entering the country until we can figure out what is happening - for example how did two radical Muslims slip into the country, obtain firearms (from a friend we learned now) and conduct a terrorist attack with all the current measures in place to stop them from doing just that.  In other words, regardless of where you stand on people entering the country and firearms, the fact is the government failed to keep these two out.  Trump is saying what many Americans have been saying.  He is saying, let's stop a minute and look over the process to see how we can fix it.  He is saying the same thing that President Carter said when he stopped anyone from Iran from entering the country without special approval!  Trump is saying the same thing that many Governors were saying when they said to stop the refuges from coming to their states just within the last month.  He is saying very similar words to what Republicans in Congress were saying when they introduced stronger security measures to screen refuges-a measure rejected by the President.  So what exactly is wrong with what Trump said?  This time everyone from Republicans to Democrats are telling us that the statement that Trump made is "not who we are" yet we have a long history of doing exactly what Mr. Trump is suggesting and just a fews before they were all suggesting almost the same measures!   

The bottom line is our government (Republicans and Democrats) seem very good at telling us "who we are".  It's impossible for them to tell us "who we are" because we are simply a nation too big and too diverse to be any one type of design.  We are gun owners and gun haters.  We are Christians and we are Muslims.  We are Republicans and we are Democrats.  We are pro-abortion and we are anti-abortion.  We are simply put "many".  This is what has made us strong for years.  We have been strong because we are many - imagine how confused the Japanese were in World War II when they could not figure out what the Navajo code Talkers were saying - not everyone was Navajo, but because Navajo is part of who we are, just as Cherokee and all other American Indians are part of who we are, we had a code that the Japanese never understood or translated.  We are many, period.  

It should be interesting to note that despite the Democrats and Republicans bashing Mr. Trump for his statement and telling him that is not who we are-even though it has been many, many times before-Trump rose in the polls again.  Maybe Democrats and Republicans need to stop and figure out that WE are tired of being told "who we are."  At least for now Trump has continued to rise in the polls despite his  refusal to allow political correctness, media bias with partial truths, and those in power to dictate to him how to act.  Trump is not only in the forefront of polls, but has been given standing ovations, growing support, and allowed to capture headlines around the world more than any other Democrat or Republican candidate.  Right now, "who we are" appears to be a nation who wants someone to stop political correctness and stand up to government for us, and Trump seems to have his corner in that group.

Dec 7, 2015

Media, Social Media, and the "No Compromise" Attitude

The fact is media, social media and our own stubborn inabilities to compromise have lead our nation down a dark and stagnant road where little can be accomplished without an overriding majority of one party or the other.   I recently saw a cartoon where a man was standing in front of a Democrat flag saluting, another was standing in front of a Republican flag saluting, and a third flag-the United States flag - had nobody standing in front of it.  The message was clear, we are often more dedicated to our party than we are to the nation.  This is a problem not unique to Republicans or Democrats.  It is a problem that has been propelled to the forefront in recent years.  There is no need to point fingers at who started it or who did not start it.  The fact is everyone seems to be in on it.  We have people from the President pointing at Republicans, clear down to local and county Republican Committees pointing at Democrats.  It's a division that is driving an "Us" v "Them" attitude right down the middle of our country, and we need to do something to stop it soon.

The media has always been a driving force behind the countries attitudes and outlooks.  It is a fact and never before have we seen in full swing as we have today.  Thanks partly to the growth of the Internet, everyone can have a news outlet.  Fox can support Republican causes with their views, MSNBC can support Democrat causes with their views and we the people can decide which we want to hear.  The spin the media plays with us makes most of us confused.  Look at it this way - let's say President Obama has a speech and says, "I believe milk is good for you unless you are lactose intolerant, then you should not drink milk."  Sounds easy enough and logical doesn't it?  I believe that Republicans and Democrats alike could agree that this is a reasonable statement from the President.  Now, along comes MSNBC and they post this headline:  "President Obama supports dairy industry".  Then Fox jumps into the fray with "President Obama states you should not drink milk".   Now, if you are a Democrat dairy farmer and you read MSNBC, you think the President is a great guy.  If you are a Republican dairy farmer and you read Fox, you suddenly feel like the President is out to get you and destroy your business.  It's all about how the media spins the story....make no mistake, this example occurs on Democrat and Republican liked news media equally - nobody is better or worse than the other - they all simply do it to rouse us up.

Once the news media has stuck a stick into the pot and stirred it around to rouse us up, all they have to do is watch social media's response.  Those of us participating in social media read our favorite news outlet and then we immediately shoot off our own opinions online - I know I do.   Once that opinion is out there, others are going to respond, and they don't always respond nicely.  I have been called names, told I'm stupid, and even cursed through social media - all uncalled for in my opinion, but then again that's my opinion.  The media has people so stirred up that they are angry.  I have heard people say, "You should not be friends or even associate with Democrats," and they are serious!  Now I have several friends who are Democrats and several family members who are also.   I can tell you that the thought of not associating with my parents, for example, is really upsetting for me.  But, that kind of thought pattern is what leads people to a blind dedication to a party and not to the nation.

Finally, perhaps due to the media and social media, our elected leaders often seem unwilling to compromise more than ever before.  Not too many years ago, and ahead of instant news and instant social media, politicians - Republicans and Democrats-worked together and compromised.  Reagan worked with a dominant Democrat Congress.  Clinton worked with a dominant Republican Congress.  Both of these Presidents -one Democrat and one Republican- had huge successes during their years as President.  We may not all agree on those success, but the one thing we can agree on is that Clinton and Reagan are both popular Presidents and had overall good terms as President.  What made Clinton and Reagan different?  Remember, they worked with a Congress that was dominated by the opposite party for much of their terms, so why were they successful?  Compromise.

Compromise and the willingness to work together for the common good of the nation is the reason that Reagan and Clinton were so successful as Presidents.  Yes, we could spend time looking at Iran-Contra and yes we could spend time looking at Clinton's Impeachment, but overall they learned and implemented the use of compromise.  Clinton and Reagan realized what many of us in the social media and following mainstream media do not these days and that is we are not all going to agree on everything, but we can agree on some things.  The key to compromise is setting aside what you know you will not agree on, and focussing on what you do agree on to get something done.

Recently, I had a twitter conversation with a man who was anti-guns.  This conversation naturally happened right after one of the recent shootings.  What we found was very interesting - he believed we did not need guns and I believe we do - we simply could find no way to get around this point.  We could have spent hours arguing statistics, where shootings happen, and how bad it is or is not going to be if everyone is carrying guns on their hips like the old west.  We could have allowed our conversation to rise to name-calling, cursing, or even serious negative post about each other's views - we did not.  Instead we decided that we were not going to agree on gun ownership and even gun carry issues.  We decided to set those items aside and look at what we did agree on.  Here is a short list of what we agreed on:
 1.  Regardless of the name (mass shooting) any shooting of people is bad.
 2.  Something needs to be done to stop these shootings.
 3.  Current background checks have been ineffective in stopping these shootings
 4.  Something needs to be done in gun free zones to ensure mass shootings do not or can not occur in them.

There were four areas that we agreed on almost immediately.  Now, I will admit that we had different views on some of the individual parts of each area, but overall we decided in our conversation that we knew we would disagree, but that we would be civil, polite, and respectful of each other's opinions and ideas.  By the end of the conversation we were friends who simply disagreed about certain points, we found that we both liked some of the same sports and even had other things in common.  We even joked that our politicians should have to use 140 characters to discuss issues.

It is not that hard people.  If we set aside what the media tries to make us believe and get the entire story for ourselves, we can be better.  If we use our social media in a constructive and respectful way, we can do better.  If we demand that our representatives work together and not against each other, we can move forward.  Finally, if those elected officials would realize that they were elected with the support of a party, but they were elected to represent everyone, then we would move much further in the right direction.  Maybe it's time we once again look at the flag and realize that there is not a Republican, Democrat or any other party picture or name on any part of that flag.   There are fifty stars, representing fifty states - regardless of who is in Congress, regardless of who is President, we are still all in this together - let's start thinking for ourselves, cut out the media influence, respect and remain positive in social media, and remember it's "I pledge allegiance to the flag or the United States of America," and not to a specific party.
from: Source

Dec 5, 2015

Obama's Poor Response to San Bernardino

from: source
Whenever terrorist attack a country, the people expect their leaders to rise up, denounce the attacks, and strongly support immediate action to ensure the same type of attack does not happen again.  This is just what people expect.  Even on local levels, people expect city governments, county governments, and state governments to do the same in the event of any terrorist attack.  Sadly, the Obama Administration has not taken this approach for the United States after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.  In fact, this administration has taken the exact opposite approach and appeared to be more supportive of the terrorist than of the American people.  It has left many wondering exactly where this administration's loyalties are now that the president no longer has to run for any office.

In Obama's book 'Dreams of My Father' Obama clearly says that if "political winds should shift in an ugly direction" against the Americans who appear to be Arab or Pakistani, he will "stand with them."  While one can appreciate this stand for American Arabs and Pakistanians within reason, this administration seems to take this stand to a level that borders on violating the Bill of Rights.

One day after the attacks, Obama's AG Lynch spoke to Muslim Americans and reassured them that they will prosecute "Anti-Muslim" speech - specifically "Anti-Muslim" speech that leads to violence (News).  Lynch further told Muslims to contact her if their children were bullied in school.  Now, everyone can agree that no speech should lead to violence - like nobody heard any speeches before the Boston Riots, right?  People would almost certainly agree that no children should be bullied in school (Bullied) But is such things as reporting a potential bomb in the form of a clock really bullying?  (Investigation) - why is the AG investigating people who reported a concern and took pro-active action to protect others?  It can do nothing but lead to more incidents like the one in San Bernardino where people refused to report what they thought was suspicious actions for fear of being called racist! (Fear)  People in the San Bernardino area saw what was going on in Texas, and they decided that rather than have their names plastered all over the news, possibly be investigated themselves, and even having to hire lawyers that they would just keep their mouths shut.  The message is clear - no longer report any suspicious activities if you believe it could be related to radical can be no other message to the American people.

Establishing that AG Lynch is going to protect Muslims in America is fine.  Establishing the limit of that protection is another thing entirely.  As stated above, is bullying going to be defined as reporting potential terrorist activities or suspected activity?  Now consider "Anti-Muslim" speech that leads to any potential violence.  Will the AG be pro-active in this area, and if so to what extent?  If a cartoon is drawn of Muhammad and Muslims complain, will the AG prosecute?  If a pastor or Christian says they believe Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, will the AG prosecute for "Anti-Muslim" speech?  Lynch's wide open statements, just one day after a terrorist attack by radical Muslims, is leaving many American's wondering exactly whose side this Administration is on now.

Within hours of the attack, President Obama stated it was too early to know exactly what happened - which after almost eight years in office he has apparently finally learned not to shoot his mouth off as President before he knows the facts.  However, he immediately said that this would not have happened if we had stricter gun laws (Gun Laws)  Now the President did not speak of striking back at the terrorist, and he did not give the type of supportive speech expected by Americans from their President.  Instead, he simply used this terrorist attack to stress how we need more gun laws.  This President seems to forget that California already has the strictest gun laws in the entire nation (CA Gun Laws), and he wants more!

So within hours of the terrorist attacks, the President calls for stricter gun laws.  Within a day of the attack, the AG - appointed by President Obama- informs Muslims that they will have extra protections afforded them that other Americans do not have while throwing out much of the Bill of Rights - after all, haven't we been told that the Bill of Rights protects other radical groups in the United States?  Does Lynch not think there are any other radical groups in the United States?  You'd better look again - here's a short list of groups that don't seem to concern Lynch in the least, but have a long history of "Anti" speeches and hate:

Ku Klux Klan 186 organizations with 52 websites
Neo-Nazi – 196 organizations with 89 websites
White Nationalist – 111 groups with 190 websites
Christian Identity – 39 groups with 37 websites
Neo-Confederation – 93 organizations with 25 websites
Black Separatist – 113 organizations with 40 websites
Anti-Gay  - 90 groups of hate with general hate speech 172 websites

While Obama runs around pushing for more gun laws even when a state with the strictest gun laws failed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorist, his Attorney General apparently threatens to throw out the Bill of Rights and extend special protections, not afforded to many other Americans, to Muslim Americans.   Since this President's Administration does not seem supportive of the victims of a terrorist attack in California, the people there should know that the rest of the nation does not feel this way.  We support the people of San Bernardino, California, continue to pray for them, and extend to them that you are not alone - fifty other states stand firmly with you.

Nov 10, 2015

Rusty Latham's Meet and Greet

Rusty Latham, candidate for Arkansas House of Representatives District 1, held a meet and greet at El Chico Restaurant in Texarkana, Arkansas Monday evening.  Rusty was present and presenting flyers and information to guest in the restaurant and spending time with a  gathering of
friends and supporters.  Rusty spoke briefly about his work as a youth minister and his desire to make a difference for the citizens of District 1.

Among a gathering of supporters local attorney Carolyn Whitefield expressed positive support and praise for Rusty and his leadership abilities.   Rusty presented his information and noted that he is Pro-life, for traditional marriage, and wants to see less interference from the federal government in state issues.  Rusty noted that he is "not a career politician, but rather a servant".  He feels there needs to be a "restoration of traditional family values in" the community and government.

Rusty is a graduate of Genoa Central High and a veteran of the National Guard where he served as a combat medic.  He currently serves as assistant director of youth at Unity Missionary Baptist Church and works for Windstream Communications.  Rusty entered the race and will face opponent Carl Darby in the March primary to determine who will serve as Representative for District 1.  Mary "Prissy" Hickerson currently serves as District 1 Representative, but is not seeking reelection.

Nov 2, 2015

Using Social Media for Campaigning

Social media can be a powerful positive or a powerful negative for a political campaign.  A few years ago a young, unknown man from Northern Arkansas launched a bid for Lt. Governor based almost entirely on social media.  At the time the most powerful social media available was Facebook (  This young man owned a pizza place and was unknown to most of the members of the Republican Party outside his own region.  In a short amount of time he gathered a huge Facebook following, began to travel the state and post updates, and ultimately he won the office.  At the time, I called him an “Internet Lt. Governor” and he truly was just that.  Without the power of social media, many people may have never heard the name Mark Darr.  Thanks to the speed of the Internet, the number of people joining the social media outlets, and the power of some positive words, Mark not only won, but also gained friends around the state that he might not have otherwise.   Today, social media continues to be a powerful alley for any campaign.  While nothing can replace good old fashioned hand-shaking and face-to-face campaigning, there remains a large number of voters that will only hear about a candidate through social media.  Not only will they hear about a candidate through social media, they will come to connect with that candidate through social media.   That knowledge, gained through social media, about a candidate can be positive or negative.  It’s up to you as a candidate to decide how it is going to be used.

The first thing to know about social media is that it is always changing.  There’s always something new on the horizon and people always have their favorite to use.  Some use Facebook, some use Twitter, some use Snap Chat, or Tumbler, or any other number of outlets.  At this time, Facebook seems to be more popular with middle-aged voters.  Twitter has a good number of young and middle-aged voters.  The younger generations seems to be leaning toward Snap-Chat, Tumbler, and Pinterest.   Even with all these media outlets, each one changes from time-to-time.  They have updates, policy changes, and in some cases entire format changes.  Here are a few things you need to know about each of the more popular outlets:

Facebook (– You can set up a page for yourself – “John Doe”, but you can also set up an election page “John Doe for County Pirate”.  If you elect to set up a “Page” then you will have control over post, follow up post, and can announce such things as events, parties, etc.  You will need to invite people to your page first.  If you decide to set up group, anyone in the group can post.  Keep in mind, with a group, you can have post like, “John is the greatest guy in the world and he should be elected Pirate.”  However, you could also end up with post like, “I hate John, and would not vote for him for Dog do-do pick-up officer!”  I suggest that you first have a page for yourself and then set up a page for your campaign.  You can adjust the name of the campaign page later after you have won….or have not.  In most cases, you will find a large number of your middle-aged voters on Facebook.

Twitter (– Twitter allows you to make a short burst of 140 characters at a time.  You can basically get out information about your campaign quickly.  Twitter is instant.  You have to notify people of your Twitter account and gain followers.  With Twitter, anyone can comment back, but you can block them if they become too much to handle.  Also, anyone can follow you and see what you post.  Twitter is not the place to post “Secret Campaign meeting at McDonald’s at 5:00pm” because there’s a good chance it’s no longer secret.  Your opponents can follow your account just like your supporters.  A nice little touch though is that all Tweets made are being stored in the Library of Congress.  This is to allow future generations to study our social media and language, styles, trends, etc. somewhere in the future.  Imagine if you started tweeting now, and eventually became President…your tweets could be studied as the foundation of a long and eventful political career. 

Pinterest (– A quick run through Pinterest and you’ll find this social media deals a lot with pictures.  You will find jokes, how-to’s, cartoons, Gif’s, and hundreds of other post.  The best thing about Pinterest is the picture ability for your campaign.  You can post a flyer, event, or even pictures after an event. 

YouTube ( - YouTube is now owed by Google-so you have to have a Google account to run this social media.  You’ll want that anyway so that you can use “Google +” with your campaign.  YouTube allows you to upload or watch videos.  This is your opportunity to make your own commercial for your campaign, upload it, and share it for free.  Anyone can then listen to what you have to saw, watch you on the computer, and make a determination about voting.

LinkedIn ( - LinkedIn is an online social media focused on networking and business.  This site allows you to set up a resume of your qualifications, and then connect with other like-minded people or people in the same field as you work in on a regular basis.  Setting up a campaign page here can be done, but in my opinion you would be better off to simply post your resume and then move on.  These pages do show up in search engines.

Google + -( - Google + for many people will be the new Facebook of the future.  You can set up campaign pages, visit other pages, and share your updates and post.  Here you can also set up a BlogSpot Blog if you wish, and share updates on your campaign.  One of the best things about Google + is that once you set up a campaign, you will find it will be indexed in the Google search engine.  In the United States, Google search engines are one of the most popular search engines used.  This will help your visibility in a short time.

There are naturally dozens of other social media sites, but for the most part the ones above will likely be your best benefits.  I would suggest setting up the following:

Facebook – a campaign page for your campaign as soon as possible
Google+ - this helps your search engine position and will lead to YouTube
YouTube – see above, but if you are comfortable in front of the camera, then by all means make a video.
Twitter – you can quickly notify people about what’s going on in your campaign.

Once you have this set up, focus on branding yourself as a candidate.  You need an angle that will draw the search engines (all of them) to you if possible. 

Consider this for example – Take a moment to pull up your Google search engine.  Now do a search for “Clinton Thomas”.  You will have results of baseball players, medical doctors, lawyers and no telling how many others.  When I did this I even found a Rear Admiral named Clinton Thomas. 

Now, get your Google search engine out again and do a search for “Clinton S. Thomas, Th.D.” – don’t worry about what it all means right now, just do the search.   First, thank you for doing the search as you are helping me rise in the Google search directory, second take a look at the results.  It is likely you’re going to see things like The Four States News, some poetry sites, some political sites and even my company (My QIDP) is going to show up.  To the right, you may even see a picture of me with some basic information from my Google+ page.  You’ll find publications I have wrote, pages I have worked, etc.  As you can quickly see, I have the first three pages of the Google search.  Why?

The answer to “Why” is simple – branding.  I looked around the Internet and found that “Clinton Thomas” was a pretty common name.  I had to decide how to set myself apart.  “Clinton S. Thomas” was not enough as that pulled other people as well.  I decided that I would add my degree my name.  While I could go by the formal title “Dr. Clinton S. Thomas,” I knew that would draw results for chemist, physicians, etc., so instead I went with the accepted written form adding the “Th.D.” on the back – Doctorate of Theology.  The degree is even more unique than a “Ph.D.” for search engines.  The result was a brand that throws me into the forefront of a search.  My business cards have my name exactly the same, I sign document the same, and I share my information the same when telling others about my company (which I even used this post to share with you-notice that?). 

If you are going to build your brand on the Internet to have voters find you easily, then you must build your brand name.  For example, if your name is “John Doe” you will find that name pulls hundreds of people.  So instead of setting up your Facebook page or Google + page as simply “John Doe,” you are going to set it up as “John T. Doe for County Dog Catcher.” You could even focus the name down more and set it up as “John T. Doe for Johnson County Dog Catcher, Arkansas.” Once people start doing searches for this name, they will pull up your website, Facebook and Google+ pages.

Another question to consider is “Who are you now?”  If you already hold an office, let’s say you are a Justice of the Peace and you’re running for reelection, you want people to know that.  You may want to build your brand based on “J.P. John T. Doe” or “John T. Doe, J.P.”  There’s a good chance people will more readily find you this way.  If you don’t believe it, then do another Google search right now for “Judge Larry Burgess”.  The first thing you will find is the Miller County website, followed by articles about Judge Burgess.  Naturally, Judge Burgess has somewhat of a unique name.  If his name was “John Thomas,” you might have to search “Miller County Judge John Thomas” instead.  You can see that Judge Burgess fills up most of the front page. 

As a candidate for office, you should at least consider how social media could impact your campaign.  It will likely reach some voters that you simply cannot reach otherwise.  Any campaign running now would do well to address social media and what it can do for the campaign.   Many candidates have been running the tried-and-true handshake, public meeting, newspaper publications, and signs for sometime now.  Those are all-strong, especially in Miller County, and should still be employed.  You should still consider social media too though.  If you do not consider social media, there’s a good chance that your opponent and his or her supporters will consider it.  You may soon find information about your campaign in the social media world and if you have not addressed it you may have no defense against the information an opponent may put out.

Oct 28, 2015

Carol Dalby's Meet and Greet

Candidate Carol Dalby and Curt Green
On Tuesday night, Curt and Diane Green along with several sponsors opened their home for a meet and greet session with candidate Carol Dalby.  Dalby is running for the Arkansas House of Representatives District 1 seat.  This seat is currently held by Prissy Hickerson who will leave office in 2017.

Curt Green and Rep. Hickerson both shared in the introduction of Dalby to a gathering of about seventy-five people.  Local politicians, business leaders and friends gathered to hear Dalby speak about her campaign and her vision for District 1.  Dalby shared a vision that has a wider focus on growing jobs for the entire area.  Dalby noted that what affects one side of the border ultimately affects the other.  Because of our unique location, it's important to Dalby that both Texas and Arkansas thrive in the Texarkana region.

Rep. Hickerson noted that Dalby, who is an attorney and a former member of the Arkansas Supreme Court, would easily be able to read and understand proposed laws in Little Rock that might affect Texarkana.  Dalby placed high praise on Hickerson's service and noted that she would be serving as campaign manager.  Rep. Hickerson stated that she "fully endorses" Dalby and feels that she is the best choice for District 1 and the strongest choice to preserve the things important to the district.

I had the opportunity to speak with Carol Dalby briefly during the event.  A couple of things stood out immediately about this candidate.  First, she already has a firm grasp on the issues important to Texarkana and she already has solid ideas on how to continue the work of Hickerson.  The second thing that stood out is her strong personality.  I can only assume that this no-nonsense and willingness to stand up for what she feels is right has been instilled in her from years of service on the Arkansas Supreme Court.  However, there is always the chance that the trait also came from serving as an Arkansas teacher.  It is clear that Dalby is well prepared to deal with everything from our education issues to our legal issues and that she will likely make a positive impact in Little Rock on behalf of Texarkana.

Oct 21, 2015

Democrats Overboard!

Imagine for a moment that you are on a sinking ship.  People are grabbing life vest, jumping into boats, and basically trying to get off the ship anyway they can.  Nobody wants to say they were friends with the Captain; after all he’s 90% of the reason the ship is sinking.  Your friends are leaving; your business associates are leaving.  You look, and grab the nearest person and yell, “It’s time to go!  The party is over and this place is a disaster.  If we are going to survive, we have to jump now!”  You leap into the unknown and hope that somewhere, somehow, somebody will pick up you and save you.  Is this the latest makings for a movie?  No.  It’s a true story.

You see, the story you have just read is based on the good ship U.S.S. Democrat, and in Arkansas everyone is jumping off that ship and looking to be picked up by another.  The major problem is, the nearest ship to the disaster is the U.S.S. Republican, and everyone is fighting to get a seat on that fine liner.  In other words, it’s a “Grand Old Party” again.  While this is good news, that the Republican Party is growing and gaining support, it is also disturbing for others.

Many Republicans have sat back in Arkansas for years and listened to the horror stories.  “Don’t run as a Republican, you can not win,”  “You’ll only win if you are a Democrat,” and “I always vote Democrat…it’s the south and that’s what we do here!”  We have been told for years that you simply cannot survive in Arkansas as a Republican.  Recently I even learned that so few are Republicans in some counties, that the filing fees are a single dollar…yes, one dollar (Doyle Webb).  There are counties where there has never been a Republican run for Judge or any other major county office.  Those counties have been die-hard Democrat.  The Republicans in those counties have been looked upon almost as leapers.  But now that’s all changing.

The same Democrats, many who have spoken negatively about the party for years, are suddenly switching gears.  They are jumping off the good-ship Democrat and joining the grand old party.  It’s happening all across Arkansas as a wave of Republican pride swells.  Even in Miller County, there have been several Democrats cross the lines to the Republican side.  Unfortunately, in Miller just as many other counties across the state, not everybody is happy about the sudden switch.

Most people on the good ship Republican have been fairly happy to stick close together.  They have their own little group of supportive friends, they have parties together, they go to church together, and they badmouth…well, they badmouth Democrats and their polices together.  It is really a grand little party, but now the Democrats are crashing the party.  A lot of people feel that Democrats should remain Democrats and Republicans should remain Republicans.  It’s a tough line to cross and a tougher issue to deal with for chairs, committees and the state.

In dealing with the Democrat wave, we almost have to consider them war refuges.  They have fought long and hard and their own leader has abused and abandoned them.  Many of them who promoted Obamacare as the best thing next to apple pie, now feel that it belongs with last week’s apple pie in the dumpster.  Bottom line, their party betrayed them and now they are looking for a new home.  However, this search for a new home does not ease the feelings of Republicans who have fought long and hard against Democrat policies and views.  We can remember a time when Democrats proudly pushed through their legislation and told us to “deal with it,” or “it’s now the law, so deal with it.”  They were not exactly friendly to us then.  Sadly for them, the American voter has awaken and realized that the party of Clinton and Obama is no longer the party for America.  They have realized what many of us Republicans have known for a long time….we are the party for America.

So how does a county committee deal with the flood of Democrats?  Well, according to our own bylaws and rules, we really don’t have a way to deal with them.  Every two years anyone living in the county can seek membership in the county committee simply by filing during the filing period (this year 11-2 to 11-9).  Potential, major office holders can file at the county level for Judge, Sheriff, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, Treasurer, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Coroner, JP, or even Constable.  All they have to do is fill out the paperwork, pay the fee and submit it.  The committee can do very little to stop either a potential member or a potential elected official.  Basically the committee has three choices:

1.     They can set up county rules to deal with Democrats jumping ship and hold elections during non-filing periods on new committee members-this may present problems though (see below)
2.     They can openly accept the people filing, but watch them for signs of Democrat support and then bring them up on committee charges that they are not working in the interest of the Republican Party.
3.     They can accept them and move on.
4.     During the filing period or after, they can hold a special meeting with proper notification, and have a 2/3 vote to remove the person from the committee.

This all sounds fine and dandy; however, as noted in number one above there is a potential problem.  The fact is the problems rise if number one or four should be implemented by a committee.  According to Doyle Webb, if a committee decides not to accept a Democrat joining from the Republican side, there could be a lawsuit.  In other words, the person or persons that the committee threw out could file a lawsuit against the committee.  This would mean that the committee would be named in the lawsuit with the executive officers listed first – Chair, vice-chair, second chair, secretary, treasurer, state committeeman and state committeewoman.  While the executive officers would be named, the entire committee could stand to suffer from the lawsuit.  The committee representatives on a membership level and individually could find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit. 

For most committees the answer should be simple.  Accept the person and move on with business.  Most committees cannot afford a major lawsuit, and certainly they cannot afford the negative press that would surround such a lawsuit.  While accepting the people may be hard medicine to swallow, it should be noted that you can still watch the way they vote, how they conduct themselves, and how they deal with Republican issues.  As a friend reminded me today, “We could find ourselves with these folks voting their Democrat agenda while calling themselves Republicans.”  This same friend also suggested that we share the platform with these new Republicans and see if they can tell us why they want to be Republican.  I think he’s right….even when I switched parties, I had a solid cause and answer when that question was presented to me, so why shouldn’t our new Republican friends know a little about the party they want to join?

Oct 20, 2015

Judge Larry Burgess Leaving Office in 2017

Judge Burgess with AR Gov Hutchinson
Judge Burgess working with AR Gov. Hutchinson
Judge Larry Burgess is a unique politician and judge in a world full of people who make questionable campaign promises and sometimes-underhanded deals.  He is different in that he did not participate in the outrageous campaign promises that some potential county judges make, such as “You can get your driveway paved by voting for me!”  He simply avoided and refused to do anything that would bring his character or the office of county judge into question.  As a judge, he has been direct, honest and open.   Even when he has come under fire from the newspaper and others, Burgess stood by what decisions he made and explained them in detail to anyone interested.

I have watched Judge Burgess from his first announcement to run for the office, through the recount of his first election, and through his following victories.  I have seen his name on the front page of the paper both for what the paper considers good and bad.  I have seen him face difficult questions and I have seen him work to improve Miller County.  One thing I have always noticed about Burgess is that he threw 100% of himself into the job.  He made sure the courthouse is neat, updated as it can be, and he worked diligently to ensure Miller County continued to grow in a positive manner.  He has worked to see grants come into the county, and improvements to all corners of the county.  He has answered the call of emergencies as well as the call from local citizens to complain. Judge Burgess has proved a campaign cornerstone that he wanted to be a judge for the people of Miller County.

Today’s article in the Texarkana Gazette indicating that Burgess will not run for reelection was sad news for the county and for Republicans.  The article also noted that the judge would be spending more time with his wife.  This is a positive win for Burgess’ family.  Amber Burgess, the judge’s wonderful and faithful wife through all these elections and the work of the judge, has been a backbone of the judge’s campaigns and has even been a constant worker at the Republican headquarters.  During the last election cycle, she almost single-handily ran the campaign headquarters on Arkansas Blvd.  It must be assumed that as the judge and Amber step out to spend more time with family and friends that they will back away from the political spotlight.  For the committee, this means not only the loss of a great judge, but also the loss of a campaign worker that simply cannot be replaced. 

Judge Burgess has a little over a year left to serve Miller County.  During this time, the county would do wise to not dismiss him as former judge.  The wise thing to do would be to watch him, learn from him and follow his lead.  The next judge will need to be honest, loyal to the citizens of Miller County, and will need to work to improve everything from the county parks and roads to the county courthouse.  If the next judge does not watch and learn from Burgess, then Miller County will be on the losing end.   The sad truth is, regardless of whom the next judge is, the county is already on the losing end simply by Burgess leaving.  There will be large shoes to fill under the desk of County Judge come January 2017.  On a personal note, I will miss the thrill of the campaign season with Judge Larry and Amber Burgess.