Thursday, November 29, 2007

Column for Nov. 29, 2007

The AARCLU strikes yet again

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"… What is so hard to comprehend about that statement? Obviously, it is the beginning of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There are those who are attempting to use both the court system and intimidation to rewrite not only the definition of religion but of the act of Congress making a law.

Our old nemesis, the American Civil Liberties Union, falsely so called, has been at it again. These God hating secular communists have continued to attack the Carolinas. I have talked to leaders from two different anti-ACLU organizations that have confirmed that the ACLU has been targeting towns, counties, and schools in both North and South Carolina for action to remove any vestiges of Christianity from our lives. I did say that the ACLU was full of communists. In looking at the origins of the ACLU, you will find that the organization does, in deed, have communist roots.

Two more North Carolina school systems have now been attacked by the ACLU. Earlier this month, Harnett County Schools knuckled under to the ACLU's demand to stop allowing The Gideons to distribute Bibles to elementary school students. The ACLU claimed that it was a violation of Constitutional rights to allow Bible distribution in the schools, and the school system decided to comply rather than resist. The very concept of forbidding the distribution of religious materials is actually the abridgement of Constitutional rights, not the allowing of the activity.

Allowing the Gideons to distribute Bibles does not comprise Congress making a law that establishes an official religion, or respecting one religion over another. Congress had nothing to do with the Harnett County School system or the Gideons. Why is this so hard to comprehend?

In Fayetteville, a mother of a fifth grader filed a complaint with the ACLU about the fact that Bibles are available for the taking in her son's classroom. The Bibles are not being pushed on the children, mind you, they are simply sitting there and available for children to take one if they want one. Of course, the ACLU says that this is against the Constitutional rights of the students.

How does the mere presence of a Bible violate the rights of anyone or establish a national religion? Why do Americans readily accept this garbage from a bunch of God hating communists? Why do we allow the courts to destroy over two hundred years of Constitutional procedure, principles, and tradition? I say it is because Americans are woefully ignorant of their own form of government, which is a planned thing. For years, American students have been "dumbed down" by a long term, planned process. When people fail to understand their history and heritage, they can not defend, appreciate, or even know to look to it for guidance.

Lately I have been reading through James Madison's notes from The Constitutional Convention and I am amazed at how some of the same arguments we have today were going on in 1787. The difference is that the people at that convention realized what they just came out from and some things to avoid. I doubt that the vast majority of people in this nation today have any clue what we are, where we truly came from, and why things are set up the way they are. Groups like the ACLU prey upon that situation and such an ill informed, secular populace.

The Anti-American Restriction of Civil Liberties Union (AARCLU, as the ACLU should be renamed) is not into the preservation of civil liberties. Nowhere is the Constitution is the freedom from being offended by the mere presence of a religious artifact, symbol, or book considered to be a civil liberty. There is a guarantee of freedom OF religion, but not freedom FROM religion. To claim absolutely that Bible distribution on school grounds is against Constitutional freedoms is absurd, intellectually dishonest, and nothing but a communist heathen agenda meant to crush your own freedoms.

If anyone wants to learn more about the original intent of the Founding Fathers, the writing of The Constitution, or get your own pocket copy of the document, feel free to contact me and I will gladly assist you.

Don't let the AARCLU bully your schools, your towns, and your counties into falling for their agenda or suffer the threat of lawsuits. They tried that with Selma and Forsyth County already. Tell your leaders to take a stand and tell the AARCLU to go pound sand.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Column for Nov 22, 2007

Thanking God at Thanksgiving

This week, we as a nation celebrate a sacred holiday. It is not as big a holiday as it should be. Thanksgiving is a day for just that, giving thanks. I am often dismayed at the idea that it is simply a day to have a feast, eat domesticated turkey, gorge ourselves on the abundance with which this nation has been so blessed, and watch football. To many, it is but a day or two off from work and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

It is bad enough that three radio stations in the Raleigh market have already started playing Christmas music full time. Wal-Mart has already started injecting Christmas music into its store public address system. Many stores started putting up Christmas decorations the day after Halloween, almost negating the sacred holiday in between.

This often over looked time of giving thanks has been maligned as to its purpose and frequency. In 1541, the Spaniards exploring the North American continent declared a time of thanksgiving in what is now Texas. I would be thankful to have gotten through Texas and finally found food, myself. As Coronado found out, Texas is a nice place to visit, but I would not to live there.

In the Revolutionary War period, there were multiple days a year set aside during which to offer thanks, such as after the Battle of Saratoga. Of course we read about an earlier time when the Pilgrims set aside time following the harvest in 1623. By the way, having grown up in the land of the Pilgrims, I can tell you for certain that the harvest did not take on the fourth Thursday in November and the feast would not have been outdoors as typically portrayed. It is too darn cold for either, so don't think that we celebrate Thanksgiving based upon the time frame of the activities that are in every elementary school re-enactment skit. Actually, early celebrations of thanksgiving entailed fasting rather than feasting.

A national day of thanksgiving was declared by George Washington for celebrating thirty years of nationhood in 1789. Another Washington proclamation came in 1795. Numerous presidents declared days of thanksgiving observances during their administrations. There was a thanksgiving day declared following the end of the War of 1812 as well as a day declared during the Civil War.

I look with disgust at the annual tradition of the President pardoning a turkey and think how far we have strayed from the precepts of a once hallowed tradition. What is the root of the tradition? Yes, to give thanks, but to whom and for what?

Just by way of research, I started to look up the history of Thanksgiving in America. One thing I find is the lack of to whom thanks was given. The pilgrims were said to have given thanks for the harvest. Of course they were thankful for the fruit of the harvest, but whom did they thank? Who did George Washington thank? Abraham Lincoln? Did they intend for us to have a day off to watch an annual parade and football on television? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with football. I enjoyed watching the greatest NFL team in history, the New England Patriots, destroy the Buffalo Bills just the night prior to typing out this flimsy column.

What was missing from my research source material narratives was the emphasis of the entirely religious nature of taking the time to offer our thanks. The Proclamation of Thanksgiving by George Washington on October 3,1789 gives the purpose at its beginning. " Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…"

This week, let us not forget to humbly take time to thank Almighty God for his benefits, His mercy, His love, His salvation, His grace that He has bestowed upon us, the blessings He has given our nation, our state, and our town. Let us thank Him for our safety and security, our liberty, and our provisions for health as no other nation has been able to enjoy these past few centuries.

I performed a quick search to see how often the words "give thanks" occur together in the Bible. The list is long and should tell us something about having an attitude of gratitude. I have a long list of things for which I am thankful, and I do express them to the source of my blessings, God Himself. May we all take the time to actually give thanks at Thanksgiving and have the courage to declare His glory.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Column for Nov 15, 2007

What part of "NO WAY" don't they understand?

I wanted to start out this week with a correction of a typographical error in last week's column. It was pointed out to me that the figure of 1% was supposed to read 10%, something I overlooked. Spell check and proof reading doesn't always catch errors like that. To make the matter worse, as I was writing the column, I looked back over what I had already written for a reference of my earlier statistic and referenced the typo. I chuckle over the mistake, but at the same time, I kick myself for making it. Hey, at least I admit when I make mistakes. If I am willing to be vulnerable to making them publicly, I had better be ready to admit it publicly. And thank you to those of you who pointed out the error. I would have missed it myself yet again in just reading over my column later. Before I even got my copy of the paper in my mailbox, I got emails pointing out the typo. Wow, y'all are quick, and very little gets by some of you. That is a good thing.

OK, back to my regularly scheduled programming. On more than one level, I was happy with the election results from last week. The one outcome for which I was thrilled was the resounding "No. Nix. Nyet. Nein. Fuhgedaboudit!" vote against the land transfer tax and one quarter cent sales tax increase referendum items. The vote was not even close. It went down in flames most everywhere it was on the ballot to the tune of seventy to 90 plus percent against the idea of tax increases. You would think that if sixteen counties soundly defeated the referendum items that the idea would be dead. Not in North Carolina or with liberal spenders. For them, it is "Yes. Si. Oui. Absolutely. I'll be back." Think "Rocky" and "The Terminator" for those last two.

I have heard several reports from the very day after the referendum was defeated that state and local officials are vowing to keep pushing the agenda until it passes. That means that we have to keep saying NO each and every time. It only takes one time to say yes. It does not seem to matter that a minimum of seven out of ten people have said that they are not for funding growth related needs in this manner.

I was in Greenville a few times this last week and saw one sign still standing along the side of the road saying to support the quarter penny increase for school construction. My understanding is that Pitt County did actually vote in favor of that increase, as did four other counties full or dullard voters, whereas it was soundly defeated here in Johnston County. Could the reason possibly be that we just voted a $90 million dollar bond and have seen sales taxes increase over the past several years? Even here in Selma we have seen a local five cent increase in property taxation. I would say that those had a bearing on the vote. I also believe that people are darn tired of having the complete burden for all of these growth and school items placed on the shoulders of the property owners. We are taxed on our income. With that taxed income, we buy a house in which to live. We are taxed every year on the house. When we sell that house, the thought of paying yet more tax upon a taxed investment payed for with taxed dollars is a repulsive and unethical notion.

It would be one thing if North Carolina did not already have the highest gas tax in the Southeast, a state income tax, and a property tax on top of that. In a few states, there are high property taxes but the corollary is that there is not a sales tax or income tax. Here we have all of them. North Carolina is becoming the "Taxachussets" of the South. Sure, we need to pay for growth some how, but I thought that growth was supposed to be a good thing and pay for itself. We are constantly being told that is what we need to increase the tax base. Yet we end up paying for growth rather than the growth paying us dividends, it seems. Something is seriously wrong with that concept.

I guess it would be too simple to look at profligate spending as a problem instead of a lack of revenue stream. Here in Selma, some simple things such as cutting spending went a long way in controlling our budget, even if we did have a corresponding tax increase. If we can do it on the local level, so can the county and state. Instead of myopic leaders in the state and county governments wanting to ramrod yet another tax burden down our throats until we swallow, it would make more sense to deal wisely with the monies coming to them at present. That should be normal fare, but apparently it is an afterthought to raising taxes. Does anyone run their own household that way? Some do and have ended up in bankruptcy court as a result. We can not collectively afford to do the same. No government ever taxed its way into prosperity.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Column for Nov. 8, 2007

To vote or not to vote

I was asked to write a commentary for a popular Triangle area web site about elections in general. Since by the time that this column is published, the municipal elections will have taken place, I figured it was safe to talk about the topic. I want to first take the time to thank everyone who voted in the election, regardless of for whom you voted, even if some people will always vote amiss, in my humble yet always most accurate opinion. You are the people who keep our republican form of government working. I don't care who is running or what the ballot initiatives (referendums) are to be voted upon, I am thankful for people who actually vote.

I was talking with an internet video producer and writer about voting, and as usual, ol' "ask me my opinion and you are bound to get it" Troy gave it. She then asked me to share those sentiments with her readers. I agreed, but I also wanted to hold off until I could fulfill my primary obligation to my own readers first. As a result of that discussion as well as a subsequent discussion with a candidate in a Johnston County municipal election, I figured I would punch some keys on the old IBM Net Vista (yup, I still have an oldie but a goodie).

Two years ago in the Selma election, there were, according to the Johnston County Board of Elections, there were 2853 registered voters in the town. That is almost 42% of the population. Only 22% of those registered voters actually showed up to the polls to cast ballots. That means that less than ten percent of the total population of the town actually decided the town's leadership. Does that strike anyone besides me as a sad statistic? Only time will tell the final totals this year.

When I compare this to the images we all saw in 2005 in the first genuinely free election in Iraq's history, I about weep. Regardless of your stance on the war in Iraq, the fact is that the first free election there was held just two years ago. Iraq had a 79.6% voter turn out. In Selma, less than 10%. 12.3 million people in Iraq walked for miles, stood in line for hours, and cast votes under the threat of death from insurgency groups opposing the election process and freedom itself. Despite the obstacles, millions of voters walked out of polling places with a purple inked finger, a sign that they had actually voted in their election. Why, in the most free nation on God's green Earth, do we have such a disparity of participation by comparison? Is it apathy? Is it the malaise of cynicism? I really can not answer that one, since I have voted in every election for which I have been qualified to vote since coming of legal age to do so.

Something I have commented upon for years is the total lack of accountability of the precious few votes that are cast. By that I mean that one does not have to prove identity in order to vote. In some areas of the country, dead people have voted for years. In other areas, people who are not citizens have been voting. Some people vote more than once. If one is not required to show identification to prove who is voting, someone can literally take your vote away from you by impersonating you. Someone I spoke with just last week decried this very thing when performing early voting at the Board of Elections office. No ID was required. That means that anyone who just came across the Rio Grande can possibly vote in our elections.

Of course some group like the ACLU would claim some esoteric form of discrimination if we did the obviously sensible thing and required people to prove their identity when exercising such a sacred right, nay, duty. Not only should we not be glib about taking our right to vote seriously, we should be vigilant about protecting the process from those who would perniciously violate it. We must protect the process and the right to vote. We must also shake off apathy and paradigms and actually participate in our electoral process.

I know, you are wondering why I would write this for publication just after an election. I am not late for the recent election, I am merely early for the upcoming primaries in just a few months. I can never remind people too much or too often.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Column for Nov. 1, 2007

Local patriots, local dissenters

I wanted to share some of my experiences this past weekend. As you will recall, I commented about an anti-war/anti-torture taxi march and rally that was scheduled for this past Saturday, and sponsored by NC Stop Torture Now. I decided that I did indeed wish to attend and observe. I had a plan and I stuck to it. My plan was to talk to people on both sides of the issue that showed up. I say both sides since I knew that there was coming a sizable counter protest from The Gathering of Eagles and Rolling Thunder.

I had a digital voice recorder and a microphone that works surprisingly well for the whopping four dollars I paid for it. I have microphones that cost a hundred times that amount, but this one is fine for the application. I decided to record audio clips of the protesters, the protesters protesting the protesters, and the whole ambiance that is little old Smithfield under siege. I actually got some great interviews, speeches, confrontations, background noises, and commentary recorded for use on my internet talk show. I wanted to be like a segment reporter at National Public Radio, but I am sure that many of you realize that I am usually incapable of such restraint. That leads me to a few things I wanted to bring out for public review.

One fantastic thing I witnessed at the rally is that passion is not dead in the hearts of many Americans. Whether I personally agreed with them or not, I was glad to see that so many people were willing to express their convictions openly. There are so many apathetic individuals in this nation, many of which are willing to be obsequious. Hundreds of people were unashamed of their convictions and to take a stand for what they believed to be right. For this very reason, even if I vehemently disagree with someone, I am willing to give someone the courtesy of a civil discourse if they are willing to reciprocate. Obviously, I have no problem with being expressive of my beliefs, and admire those who have the same "Moxie". For those who don't know, Moxie is a New England expression for spiritedness. Moxie is a regional, strong tasting cream soda that has been around for over 130 years. The expression is derived from the early marketing claims that the beverage gave one "spunk".

One thing that I do not do is question the love of country by those who protest Aero Contractors, George Bush, the Iraq war, or allegations of torturous acts, regardless of how misguided or ill informed many of them may be. What I do have a problem with is the automatic assumptions that any activity performed by the CIA is evil, all Bush administration members are liars, and that all interrogations are torturous. I heard one very nice and sincere lady discuss having a memorial for all those who died of torturous acts committed by our government, but when asked about numbers, she could only name one known case of such a death. One. I heard venomous rantings by highly educated individuals that just defy logic, in my opinion. I heard people defending the Communist Party and blaming George Bush for far more than he is capable of doing. I am no Bush defender, as many of you already know. On the other hand, I heard protesters referred to as scumbags, losers, and various other terms I can not publish here.

Another thing that I witnessed was the continued love of country and support for our military by the local citizenry here. The Gathering of Eagles was stationed along Market Street in front of the county courthouse. They were waving flags and holding signs that said to honk if you support the troops. For several hours there was non stop horn blowing and tooting in downtown Smithfield.

There is so much to share but so little space in which to write. There are plenty more details of sheer humorous ingenuity, passion, personal heroism, sacrifice, and soul searching that I would love to relay, but alas, print space is finite. I have recorded much of these for posterity in as fair a means as I can muster at present. Anyone wishing an audio copy, just contact me.

It is good to see that the proper exercise of freedom of speech, the right of assembly, and passion of commitment have not perished in this nation.