Thursday, December 28, 2006

Column for December 28th, 2006

If Troy ruled the world

I often think about things that I would change if I could. I run across many situations where I think to myself, "Self, if you ran that [insert noun such as business, town, state, etc.] you would certainly change a few things". I decided to share a dozen of my list items that shall become effective the moment I rule the world.

1. Sporks, those stupid fork/spoon plastic ware utensils that you get at select fast food restaurants are hereby banned. Give me a fork or a spoon, not a useless hybrid.

2. Basic classes in speech and enunciation shall be taught at all high schools, maybe earlier. Few things are more annoying than listening to some low wage earner fresh out of high school that has no command of the English language, much less the ability to enunciate words.

3. English shall be the official language of the nation, state, and local governments. Taxpayers should not be burdened with the expense or annoyance of multi-lingual publications or offering services in anything other than English.

4. The only tax increase that I totally support is to raise the gas tax by 1/10th of a penny to eliminate the cursed 9/10th of a penny pricing. That is just plain deceptive advertising. $2.299, in all practice, is $2.30. It shall be illegal to charge less than a full penny for anything. We do not mint anything smaller than a penny, so it is not possible to charge less than a penny for anything.

5. The United States Postal Service shall cease being a monopoly in the mail delivery business. The USPS has the ability to track all packages, just as its competitors, but does not do so without paying extra. Priority Mail or Parcel Post shall automatically include tracking services. I have a package that I mailed for Mothers' Day via Priority Mail in 2003. To this day, my mother and I would love to find out where it is. If the USPS can not compete, it shall be privatized rather than stay a government run and protected monopoly.

6. Election ballot access laws shall be changed to allow easier access to all viable and legitimate political parties. The prevention of a wider field of candidates severely limits the choices of potentially great candidates. Remember that Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) was a third party candidate once, too.

7. Non-partisan elections shall be abolished. The notion of elections being non-partisan is a fallacy.

8. Selma shall change its town charter to elect only its mayor at-large. All other town council members shall be elected by ward or district. We shall increase the number of council members from four to six at a minimum. Two council members from each of three wards plus the mayor would offer better representation of the town and give us a better chance of actually having a quorum at meetings.

9. The 16th and 17th Amendments to the US Constitution shall be abolished. Maybe the 19th. The 24th Amendment will be amended. Those citizens that receive long term public assistance for income, food, and housing shall not be allowed to vote. It is a conflict of interest to vote in any election where your personal benefit would come above that of the rest of your fellow citizens. Locally, only property tax paying citizens shall be allowed to vote in towns, counties, or states that use property taxation as a primary means of revenue. Only those who show proper identification and proof of citizenship shall be allowed to vote.

10. A secure, hard to violate wall of concrete, razor wire, and electronic detection shall immediately be erected at our nation's southern border. A moat filled with piranha and barracuda type fish may also be dug for good measure.

11. U.S. highways henceforth shall be built like the German Autobahn with similar quality, access points, slopes, curves, and speed limits.

12. The LaPlante's Rants column shall be required to be placed on the front page of "The Selma News". We all know that it is the first thing you want to read and the main reason anyone wants to get this newspaper. Just kidding, Rick Stewart. But still, it is not a bad idea.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Column for December 21, 2006

Wanted: An effective political party

Within the last week or so, former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr quit the Republican Party and joined the Libertarian Party. Mr. Barr is certainly not the first one to be disillusioned with the G.O.P. Mr. Barr finds himself in good company, including myself.

Some time ago, I also quit my affiliation with the Republican Party. The party that brought us Abraham Lincoln has brought us great disappointment over the last decade. That same disappointment has resonated across the nation, as we found out last month, and as I have written here.

On a national level, under Republican leadership, we have seen spending increase dramatically. The party that once had a plank on its platform to abolish the Department of Education ended up expanding that department, giving us No Child Left Behind. The Republicans, who were in the minority for four decades, could not muster the strength to take charge and actually lead. With little exception, they allowed the minority party to run most things under the guise of bi-partisanship.

When in leadership, tough decisions need to be taken. This will not always be popular with either constituents or fellow representatives. It is just sad that few of the Republican Congressmen had the resolve to take a strong position of leadership. Basically, they blew their chances of continued leadership because of a dozen years of ineffectiveness. It did not help that they G.O.P. leadership tolerated graft and corruption in the ranks.

In North Carolina, the G.O.P. is rather ineffective at the state level. The state legislature is controlled by Democrats. The Republicans have done little to inject themselves, with minor exception.

Locally, I have found the Johnston County Republican Party to be just as leaderless and ineffective. Great apathy is in the ranks of local Republicans. There are a few with great zeal, but I can count them on one hand and still have enough fingers left to count to three. Locally, I saw interpersonal political and power struggles and lethargy sufficient to cause me to leave the party. The sad part is that I have heard much the same sentiment from others in the county party. Some of these people have been candidates for office and some are even currently in office.

What is there for an alternative? I honestly don't know. I tried the NC Constitution Party. My membership expires this month and I will allow it to do so. The ballot access laws in North Carolina are among the toughest in the nation and the party's state leadership is worse than the local G.O.P. leadership. Ergo, the Constitution Party will never get on the ballot in any election in North Carolina. That is sad, since I have followed that party since its inception and love the party platform. If there was an effective leadership base, I would strive to make them a force to reckon with. Unfortunately, when you only have a dozen or so people to work with across the entire state and some of them are just bitter Republican rejects, what can you do? I waited a while to see the direction of the leadership prior to diving headlong into the water. I am glad that I did. Little can be accomplished, and I am not going to waste my time or money attempting change in that manner any further.

I won't become a Democrat for certain. I do believe I would rather be stabbed to death with a plastic fork than become a Socialist (I mean Democrat). The Democrat Party has slid far to the left, creating a leftward moving vacuum into which the Republican Party has slid.

I am very close to the Libertarians in ideology, but there are some key issues with which I disagree. Chief among these are legalizing the currently illegal drug trade, abortion rights, and homosexual rights. I personally don't care what my neighbors or fellow citizens do in the privacy of their own home. However, I find that contributing to public delinquency, slaughtering the unborn, and granting special, legal status for Sodomites is bad public policy and unconscionable.

What does this leave those of us who are independent thinkers that are willing to "swim upstream"? I don't exactly know. I have never been one to be afraid of going against the mainstream. I am open to a better solution than those I have found or that of former Congressman Bob Barr. I doubt I will find one, though.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Column for December 14, 2006

I mistakenly thought I could be wrong

After last week’s column regarding false claims of homophobia, I attempted some form of penance by making myself sit down and watch the movie "Brokeback Mountain". I sat through the entire movie, until the credits rolled. A few things came out of this experience.

First, my commitment to my belief in traditional marriage and male/female relationships has been strengthened. The whole "Adam and Steve" concept just does not register with me as being in the order of nature. It is still not an irrational fear, but an appreciation for the order of creation.

Next, I am more committed to the concept of marital fidelity than I was prior to watching this movie. Infidelity is not a victimless act, regardless of the sexual orientation of the person with whom you cheat. In the movie, I really did feel sorry for the women that were married to the two main characters. The degree of unfairness to them just seemed degrading. I can not imagine causing that mental torment for my wife.

Lastly, I sure want to visit Big Sky Country like was depicted in "Brokeback Mountain". The scenery was just plain gorgeous. I would love to be able to wake up in the morning and see the mountains, streams, and rolling hills with nothing around for miles but wilderness. I have actually pondered purchasing a tract of land for a vacation site over the years for this very reason.

If you have never seen the movie called "Unfaithful" with my favorite actress, Diane Lane, I do highly recommend it for the very reason I stated earlier. That movie, too, demonstrates the human side of marital infidelity. The anguish and anger shown in the husband character portrayed by Richard Gere was evident and caught my attention. The betrayal by a spouse causes an intense emotion and pain. All couples who are about to get married or are newlyweds should, in my opinion, watch the movie for the sake of putting a face to their possible actions. It sure strengthened my commitment to my bride when I first saw it. "Brokeback Mountain" just girded up that commitment.

Speaking of my beloved bride, she and I had the occasion just within the past week to take a lengthy trip together. On that trip, as couples often do, we had the opportunity to talk about various topics. We discussed things such as family, politics, our upcoming plans, where to get dinner, and the like. Being that she is the person closest to me, she gets to (or more correctly, has to) hear LaPlante’s rants more than you get to read them.

One topic that came up was her frustration with her perceived lack of regard for the average citizen by our elected representatives. She pretty much feels powerless. Though the recent Congressional election results may seem disappointing to many conservatives, there is no reason for despair. It is entirely probable that the voice of conservatives will be even more ignored by our new Congressional leadership, but that should not stop anyone from making your wishes and opinions heard.

I encouraged her, just as I encourage you, the reader, to express your dismay, your approval, and your opinions on the topics about which you have a passion. My wife is still upset about the method of euthanasia employed by our county animal control personnel. My advice was for her to make her voice heard. Yes, others with a like opinion have been ignored in the past. That does not negate her ability to express herself to her government. When enough people express themselves, perhaps something may get done.

Whether the issue is the use of a gas chamber to whack cats and dogs, bond issues, water tower demolition, Christmas lights in July, national border security, or trash collection services, then it is up to you to make your opinions count.

My opinion was expressed that if one does not vote and then does not make elected representatives aware of one’s concerns, then one does not have the moral right to complain. Rest assured that I don’t give myself carpal tunnel syndrome from typing on my computer and not employ within my own family the views I espouse here. Just ask my beautiful bride.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Reader feedback and my response

In October, I wrote in my column about a problem at one Selma Town Council meeting with council member Jackie Lacy. I never really got any feedback about that column...until the last issue of "The Selma News". In today's Selma News, there was a letter to the editor responding to my column. Click on the picture of the letter to read it.

Below is my response that will be in the mail in the morning.


December 11, 2006

Mrs. Yvette Lacy Grantham
308 Fox Ridge
Louisburg, NC 27549-9769

I am writing to you pursuant to your letter to the editor of “The Selma News” that appeared in the December 7th, 2006 edition of the paper. You took exception to my column from way back in October regarding comments made in an open town council meeting by your mother, Jackie.

For the record, I like your mother on a personal level. She and I have never had anything but pleasant words for one another. However, I do believe that comments like the one made by your mother are entirely inappropriate, regardless of who made them.

You were obviously not in attendance at the council meeting in question. I was, as were dozens of others who heard the actual comment. Furthermore, the council meeting was audio taped by the Town Clerk. The recording is public record and available for the public to review. I obtained a copy of the recording, knowing that I would have just such a reaction from a reader as you have shown. I took the EXACT quote from the tape. I also took the exchange between Charles Hester and your mother and put it on the internet so that anyone could hear the comments for themselves.

Mrs. Grantham, Jackie Lacy’s comments were in no way taken out of context. You mentioned the comments that I made on the internet, as well as in my column. Had you actually taken the time to read the comments on my web site, you would have had the opportunity to hear the comments yourself, in their context. Your argument about contextual error are just plain inaccurate.

If you took the time to listen to the audio, you will find that your mother was not provoked into her comment. Again, I was there and I have an actual recording of the meeting, neither of which can be claimed by yourself. I can understand wanting to defend the honor of your mother, but please do not make up excuses for her behavior. She is an adult and can either take responsibility for her actions or not. If she can not, then she does not belong in public office and does not need fallacious excuses from people who were not eye witnesses.

I would appreciate an explanation as to why you believe that your mother is deserving of an apology in this situation. She made an inappropriate and racist comment in an open governmental meeting. A concerned citizen and media figure, such as myself took note of it. Wherein is an apology warranted TO your mother rather than FROM your mother? This idea is beyond my comprehension.

Furthermore, if as you state, she deserves an apology, please explain from whom an apology is due. Certainly you can not mean that she deserves one from me. I am the messenger, not the one who created the message. Should a newspaper apologize for reporting news? Should an opinion columnist apologize for giving an opinion? Factually, I was correct and took great care in making sure that I was correct. Ergo, there should be nothing worthy of an apology. Your mother, on the other hand, has yet to issue any sort of apology for her inappropriate and racist behavior.

Your assertion that your mother may have said something other than what I have quoted is just plain erroneous. Your assertion that someone else would have said the same thing just because Mayor Hester is from an “affluent area” of town is not only speculation, it certainly does not provide a sufficient excuse for inappropriate behavior.

If my mother made such a comment, I would not be making excuses for her. I would rather politely and respectfully rebuke her. If the situation was reversed and it was a Caucasian individual making such comments to a Negro, there would be great outrage over it. I would be included among those so outraged.

Please explain to me why it is fine for a Negro to make a racist comment but it outrageous for a White man to do so. This is an inequity that I find totally hypocritical and deplorable by those in the Negro community who are of such mindset. Making excuses for bad behavior does the Negro race and local community a disservice. It is comments like yours that cause people like me to despise characters such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. I hope that Jackie would have raised someone with higher standards than those of Misters Sharpton or Jackson.

Please show me where I am wrong in anything I have said and I will apologize immediately. If you do not have the audio I referred to, you can obtain a copy at Selma Town Hall as I did, you can download it off the internet, or I will even make a CD copy for your listening pleasure.

Respectfully Yours,

Troy LaPlante
Author of “LaPlante’s Rants” column in “The Selma News”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Column for December 7, 2006

So they call me a homophobe. So what?

I have been labeled all sorts of things over the years. I have been called a religious fanatic, a zealot, a right winger, a conservative, a Zionist, a heretic, a false prophet, an Absalom, a racist, and numerous other things I am not even allowed to list in this newspaper. The one that seems to be the latest fad in America is the label "homophobe".

All of the terms I have listed thus far have to do with the ideals that I have stood for. Some have not liked the issues for which I took a stand. Many choices have had consequences such as the loss of relationships with friends, family, and associates. None the less, the stances were based upon principle. The label homophobe has been earned in the same manner by myself and many others whose stance is for old fashioned values.

For the vast majority of the six thousand years of human history (yes, I said 6,000), the concept of homosexuality has been seen as heterodoxy. Only in the last sixty years or so has the push to normalize a behavior once seen as abhorrent been so prevalent. What was once a sin is now deemed by many to be preferred behavior. I find terms amusing sometimes. I love the irony of how homosexuality is actually heterodoxy. The beautiful thing is that I didn't have to look those terms up in a dictionary or thesaurus.

I have even heard Libertarians "jump on the bandwagon" with the term homophobe, or the descriptor, homophobic. I tend to be very Libertarian in my views. Personally, I don't care what people do in the privacy of their own homes. However, I will still find the action (and lifestyle) an abomination, consistent with traditional values since the dawn of time. I will not take the time to write a theological treatise on this topic, but I will at least make my commentary known.

I have heard such gems such as Rosie O'Donnell throw the term homophobe around with reckless abandon in an effort to justify her sinful life choices. I have read a bunch of people professing to be "homosexual Christians" do the same. Besides being an oxymoronic term, it is absurd to profess a belief system and live the antithesis thereof. Of course, I have been called ignorant, hateful, bigoted, and of course, homophobic for saying that. As for me, I will continue to stand for what is right.

Homophobia is "an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals". For the record, I took that definition directly from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for the purpose of having a standard by which to judge. That definition is exactly what I believe and always have. One is not a homophobe because one disagrees with the homosexual agenda, finds it abominable, and takes a stand against its advance. There is nothing irrational about having sufficient spine to withstand the onslaught against a values system that is not only traditional but Godly. Note that the definition does not encompass having opinions contrary to homosexuality and the agenda being pushed by its modern day adherents.

Don't be fearful of taking a stand for the things which you believe to be correct and true. When counseling a young man on spiritual matters over the years, I have constantly said one thing to him. "Stand by what you know to be true." If you stand above the crowd, you will have tomatoes thrown at you from time to time. If a tomato comes in the form of the latest fad of tossing around the term "homophobe", then know that you are in good company.

I know that this is a bit different for my column, but I have heard this same "homophobia" mantra repeated time and again this past week. It just annoyed me to the point that I decided to make this a true "LaPlante's Rant" topic.