Sunday, December 28, 2008

Column for Dec. 25, 2008

Here in North Carolina, we are taxed and hit with fees quite a bit. I read one time that North Carolina is now comparable with Massachusetts in our total level of taxation. Having grown up in a state neighboring Massachusetts, we used to call them, "Taxachusetts". The state that had "The Boston Tea Party" to protest high taxes is now an example of how to over tax the citizens.

I am glad I do not live in New York. I was just reading an article that the New York state budget has a huge shortfall. Now the governor there and the legislature are pondering numerous tax hikes to make up the difference. Their budget is short by over $15 billion. They are hoping that 88 new taxes and fees (fees are just taxes) will help fill that gap.

Residents of New York will pay taxes and fees on downloads for their iPods, movie tickets, taxi cab rides, soft drinks, beer, wine, cigars, and a host of other things. Their gas tax cap will be repealed. Basically, people are being "nickel and dimed" because of overspending. Most of the nickels and dimes will come from the working class because of the nature of the taxes.

The Democrat governor of New York is proposing cuts in spending, as well as income tax increases. It was spending that got them into the situation they now find themselves. And yet with all the talks of spending cuts, the state budget in New York is still going to increase by at least 1% over prior year.

So what does this have to do with North Carolina? First, we are heading in the same direction. The State of North Carolina is asking for millions of dollars of education funds back from counties in order to balance the state budget. We are going to see the same crisis here soon enough.

Secondly, and I am saying this as someone who migrated here from the Northeast, but many people are looking to duplicate the same mistakes that Yankees have made here. I have heard people refer to me as a Yankee, even recently. I have a French sir name and a French Canadian/Irish heritage. Many of my ancestors are indeed from New England and Quebec. But I was also born further south than most of the people in these parts and I have been a North Carolinian for just about all of my adult life, and half of my entire life. For over two decades now, I have lived and worked here by choice. I have been in Johnston County for more than half my time in North Carolina.

I have had the displeasure of talking with some brash, ignorant Yankees over the years. I understand why they say, "Well, up North, we did it this way." There are many things northerners do well and better than they are done here in the South, but that is another column for another day. Then there are some things they do not do well, at least fiscally.

A year ago, I was talking with a woman who moved to an eastern town here in North Carolina, about an hour's drive to the east and where you will find one of our state universities. She was railing about how the town did not plan for sidewalks and curbs in her brand new subdivision and how trash was collected, amongst other things. She had bragged about how things were done in her tiny New England town in terms of municipal services and decried the fact that she could not leave a refrigerator at curb side for pick up. My answer to this lady was simply that she relocated to North Carolina to get away from the high taxes and real estate prices of her previous locale.

Often, Yankees come to the South for jobs, climate, or other reason. I personally came here for a change. I had several job offers, and I chose the one in Raleigh, since it was in my field of study and chosen career, North Carolina gets less cold and snow, and I was ready for a change in my life as a young buck of 20 years. This loudmouthed woman and her daughter moved here for a job, a change, and according to our conversation, the lower cost of living.

To say that one comes here for the lower cost of living and then complains that there are not services available that one had in a more expensive area of the country is contradictory. Services cost money. Whether those services are health care, welfare, or curbside pick up of household appliances. You can have lower cost or you can have more government services. You can not have both.

If my taxes will be lower and I have to make a trip to the dump once every few years, I prefer to go to the landfill myself, thank you very much. If my taxes will be lower, we do not have so many people suckling off the government teat, and they have to fend for themselves the same way that my family does, then I choose the equality of treatment.

If we do not wake up to this soon in North Carolina, we too are going to pay taxes on cab rides, for downloads to iTunes, and get even more "nickel and dimed" to death, just like New York.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sometimes I love getting hate mail

This afternoon, I received an email from someone who read my last column. I wanted to share it here. All email I get is subject to being posted on my blog. wrote:

Dear Troy,
I just read my complimentary copy of The Selma News and remembered why I stopped subscribing. The election is over, my friend, so you can stop the "scare tactics" now. (Maybe that's why your party got beaten so thoroughly.) If there is a lesson to be learned from the failed campaign of John McCain, it is that people don't respond to the fear of gloom and doom. I would think that someone in your position would realize that and support the newly elected president at least until you have a reason not too. He isn't even in office yet, for Heaven's sake!

First of all, no one could possibly manipulate the Constitution any more than George Bush and Dick Cheney have. From illegal wire tapping to an illegal war, to Gbay, the Constitution has been mutilated under this administration. Our new president elect is, as I'm sure you know, a Constitutional Law Professor, so my guess is , he knows more about the document than you or I. I wouldn't be too worried about the Constitution if I were you. No one is going to take away your gun or your right to free speech or your freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. That one, I believe, will be even safer under the new administration.
Any person who can't see that Bush has taken us down the wrong path just hasn't been paying attention.

I knew Mr. and Mrs. Tom Davis, the original owners of the Johnstonian Sun. Mrs. Davis was one of my favorite teachers and boy, was she political! She would absolutely turn over in her grave if she could read some of the garbage being spewed in her newspaper! Conservative twaddle, I like to call it.
As a firm believer in the Constitutional right to free speech, I totally agree that you have the right to say what you want in the newspaper. Please respect my right to totally disagree with you.
Pam Bizzell

Here was my response.

Thank you for your input, Pam.

You are correct that there was much to be learned from the failed campaign of John McCain. First and foremost is that if you are supposed to be a conservative party, nominate a conservative to be your candidate, not a centrist. McCain ran a horrible campaign and he got what he deserved, defeat. By the way, the Republican Party is NOT my party. Before you make such assumptions, you might want to do a little research. I am not member of the GOP.

Scare tactics? Nah, just making observations and commentary on what actually is. It is what it is, madame. Puppies grow up to be dogs. Snakes bite. Bees sting. It is their nature. Socialists do what they do and are very predictable. All one has to do is to read "A Communist Manifesto" to see what the leftists in this country have done and will do. Obama is an avowed socialist. If it quacks like a duck, well, you know the rest.

Actually, many of the accusations of "illegal" wiretapping and an "illegal war" are unfounded, though I do disagree with much of their implementation. I did NOT support our invasion of Iraq. Why? Because we did not have a declaration of war. However, I am a Constitutional scholar, unlike Barack Obama. It is folly to buy into the notion that he was actually a professor of Constitutional studies. I teach on the Constitution and US history nearly every week and I guarantee I have taught more on and know more about the document than Obama ever thought to have realized. I understand that though the Constitution calls for a declaration of war by Congress, there is zero provision for the form in which that declaration shall be delivered. Congress did indeed authorize the use of the military. Thus, that may very well be tantamount to a declaration of war. I have had this discussion with other very learned men who could put Obama to shame with their knowledge of the Constitution, its origins, its intents, and its implementation.

If you think that Bush and Cheney have manipulated the Constitution, then you obviously have no idea of the role that Dick Cheney has in the government. Furthermore, you are forgetting people like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. They have butchered the document just as bad. This is not to take in to account the New Deal or other leftist, illegal schemes passed by previous Democrat administrations. If you are going to point fingers at Bush (and I am NOT a Bush supporter, believe me. I have despised many things he has done in his administration up to and including wanting to slap him silly just today) then to be fair, you have to point fingers at LBJ and FDR. They have done far worse than W ever thought of doing in mangling the Constitution. Fair is fair.

You say that nobody is going to take away our freedom of speech or right to own firearms. They thought the same thing in 1930's Germany. They thought the same thing in Australia, England, and Russia. Yes, I would be worried about The Constitution, since if it is re-written, any such freedoms can be just as easily removed as they were penned into the document. That is the bottom line. If a socialist President who believes that the problem with the Constitution is that it does not provide for redistribution of wealth (this statement is well documented), a complicit Congress that will appoint delegates to a convention, and an ignorant public lacking any sort of civics knowledge or ethics is going to have a say, then we will indeed have a rewritten constitution. It is what it is.

I find it interesting that you would find The Selma News to be full of conservative twaddle, since for a long time, they had leftist columnists and the majority of the pages are news, not opinion. You are welcome to disagree with me all you wish. You have every right to be wrong.

Troy LaPlante

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Column for Dec. 18, 2008

The end of days for America if we have a new Constitutional Convention

I have heard for years about signs of the end of time, and that we are living in "the end times". People have thought that same thing in every generation since the first century A.D. I do believe, however, that we are living in the end times of the United States of America. America as we know it will cease to exist.

For those who do not know, I regularly teach along with two cohorts in a project called The Patriots Pub. In The Pub (as I call it), we have taught about American history and what led to the writing of our Constitution. Currently, we have been teaching through the day by day account of The Constitutional Convention of 1787. There are some 50+ hours of narrative and commentary available on the internet thus far.

There has been a call for another Constitutional Convention. That is nothing new. What is new is that we may actually get one this time. At the time of publication, 32 states have already signed on to the idea. Only two more states need to agree to the concept before Congress has to call for a convention. Once 2/3 of the states agree to call for a convention, it is required under the existing constitution to have one (Article V).

Make no mistake that if there is a new convention, our existing constitution will be tossed out the window. Congress gets to decide how delegates to the convention would be chosen. We currently have liberals in charge of Congress. We are going to have a flaming liberal (rated as the most liberal Senator in the entire Senate) as our president.
I have had the discussion lately with those who support the automobile industry bail out about its merits. My repeated question was to show me where in the Constitution that the government was allowed to make any sort of loan to the automobile industry, much less the financial system bail out that is 57 times larger. Alas, there was no answer found. Such an idea may end up in a new constitution.

In a constitutional convention, there is no limitation on the scope of the convention. In the 1787 convention, the Articles of Confederation were to be revised for better efficiency in government. Instead, the convention eventually scrapped them in favor of an entirely new constitution. We could see the same thing happen in our day.

If this were to happen, know that your First Amendment rights could be curtailed if the amendment is either stricken or amended. The same goes for the Second Amendment. Our gun rights, freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom of press, and reservation of rights to the states, to name a few, could all be wiped out. We could easily lose the requirement of natural born citizenship for eligibility to be president. We could have someone from nations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, or any other place in the world run for and be elected as the chief executive in this nation. The wisdom of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 was to ensure a nationalistic tendency and loyalty.

When corrupt men write documents to justify or further their corrupt ways, it can only harm a nation. I have read extensively through the notes of James Madison about the first convention and the fears of government getting into the hands of corrupt men. Thus, we have some of the provisions and methods of government we have today and have had for well over 200 years. I can foresee the Constitution being rewritten or replaced to adapt to the whims of the ethically challenged.
President-elect Barack Hussein Obama has himself criticized the Constitution "because it fails to address wealth redistribution". Wealth redistribution? Folks, did you get that? He believes that the Constitution should allow for the government to forcibly take away your money at gunpoint and give it to those who have less of it than you do. Does this give you just a hint of what his supporters in Congress (who are in the majority) are going to do when appointing convention delegates?

I guarantee that we are going to have written into a new constitution provisions for homosexual marriage, abortion rights, gun control, a provision for the currently absent "separation of church and state" (only in the Supreme Court's opinion does this separation exist. It is not in the present constitution, just as with abortion rights), and a host of other liberal twaddle. Obama has said that the Constitution "needs to be interpreted through the lens of current events". That is indeed liberal twaddle.

Our own state, North Carolina, has already voted in the call for a new convention. If just two more states call for the same, then America may very well cease to exist as we know it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Column for Dec. 11, 2008

There is nothing wrong with questioning governmental spending

I have been reading about the pending departure of the county's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Anthony Parker. I read with interest the commentary in another newspaper about Dr. Parker retiring from his post. The writer said that by his retiring, Dr. Parker was actually saving the county money and was putting the county's interests above his own. I personally doubt that seriously, since I have also read from another media source that Dr. Parker is not indeed retiring, but seeking employment at another school system in South Carolina. He probably read the handwriting on the wall, so to speak, of a Republican majority coming aboard the county Board of Education and his probably forcible exit.

The Superintendent of Schools in Johnston County makes more money than the Governor of North Carolina. For that price, we have gotten a dubious performing leader and school system, in my opinion. We can make it better. We can do so with determination and not necessarily with money. We can find ways of saving money, especially after the state has demanded the return of millions of dollars worth of money they sent to counties for education. The State of North Carolina is required to balance its own budget. State government's spending has gotten it into trouble financially yet again, but that is another story for another day. We need to question governmental operational efficiency from time to time and the use of our tax dollars.

In my column that was published last month, I questioned school fund raising tactics and its necessity. I must give appropriate credit to the principal of the school, Ms. Janice Jett. Ms. Jett was kind enough to have read my column and wrote me in response to my column. We corresponded about that issue and I am glad that she took it as her responsibility to do so. For that, I publicly thank Ms. Jett. I was told by other parents that she was a "class act", and thus far, I can not argue with that assessment at all.

I recently emailed again about another issue. This time, it is about potential wasteful spending. I am going to share this with the readers since I also shared my concerns with most of members of the Johnston County Board of Education. At the time of my deadline for this column, I have not received a response, but there has not been sufficient time transpired within which to reasonably expect a response. Just as with the other column, I am going to share my concern. I do this to encourage others to do the same. My concerns may be unfounded in this situation, perhaps not. Time will tell. Either way, I always find it wise to question and scrutinize spending, waste, fraud, abuse, or any potential malfeasance at any level of government.

Here is my question of the school board and a school principal:

"My kindergarten aged son has come home several times with workbooks that we have been told we could keep, that were not required for school work, and did not need to be returned to the school. Just last week, he came home with a couple more of them. He has come home with one or two before. My question is simply whether or not these books are being paid for by the school with tax dollars.

If these books are being purchased for students, why are they not being used in the classroom, why are students not required to study from them, and why are we buying them if they are not going to be used? If these books are samples that are supplied by publishers (and I doubt that they are. I have never heard of any such thing for an entire class or for giveaway with no evaluation or usage), they why are they not being used and wasted on giveaways?

Please enlighten me on this topic. I get annoyed each time I see something that is as potentially wasteful as this and am being asked to buy classroom supplies, pay more taxes, swallow a salary for a county Superintendent of Schools that is higher than the salary for the state's governor, support bond issues, and support fund raisers."

What is my point in sharing this? It is not to disrespect any school official. It is to ingrain into my fellow citizens that it is appropriate to make phone calls, make inquiries, question authority, question expenditures, question accountability, and question ethics when we are the ones paying for it and are in essence, the only check and balance system against such abuses. After all, it is YOUR money. Make yourselves heard.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Column for Dec. 4, 2008

The political and family woes of a conservative Black man

I truly feel sorry for a good friend of mine. We talked this weekend and he is not having a fun time at home. There is a bit of strife in his household, and it is tough on him. My long time, close personal friend is a Christian and a staunch conservative. His wife is a Christian, as well.

To protect the innocent, I will call my friend Mr. D. Mr. D and I have been through a lot together. We founded a church congregation together, had home Bible studies together, traveled a little bit together, and have been there for each other through a lot of tribulations in life. Even if we do not talk as often as we both like, we are still good friends and have a great love for one another. Over the years, we have had the chance to extensively discuss issues like politics and religion. We have debated doctrine and world affairs. We have very similar views on most subjects. Mrs. D also has many of the same religious views. So why are they having division in the home? Mrs. D will shout "hallelujah" right along side Mr. D. However, Mrs. D is a Barack Obama lover and a strong Democrat. To top things off, Mr. and Mrs. D are both Black.

Mr. D is practically an outcast within his family for his lack of support for a fellow Negro's run for President. My friend decided that his faith and his values were going to decide which candidate and party to support. His family can not fathom why he would not support "one of his own". It is not just Obama, though. I have heard Mrs. D say that Republicans don't care about Black people whereas Democrats do. My response, not wanting to cause strife, is usually just, "Really?"

Mr. D is aware of the history of the Democrat Party. He knows that it was primarily Democrats who refused to give up slavery in America. He knows that it was the Republican Party that became the voice of the Abolition Movement. The Republican Party was started in Exeter, New Hampshire in October of 1853 by former Democrats who wanted to fight against the evils of enslaving an entire race of people. I used to live in the next town over from the birthplace of the only successful abolitionist political party in America. My brother was born in Exeter.

Mr. D is also aware that it was Democrats who started the KKK and later stood against school integration. It was Democrats who got us involved in Vietnam, came up with social engineering programs such as Social Security, welfare, and affirmative action. Such programs are nothing more than modern day enslavement. It is the Democrat Party that falsely told Mr. D's family that they can not make it in this world without the help of the government; they were not smart enough, did not have enough ability, and could not overcome any disadvantages without the government helping them along.

Make no mistake that any government operation or program that gives money to others for any length of time is nothing more than an effort to enslave the masses. When a person looks to the government for a paycheck, for a monthly stipend, or other benefit, then he is beholden to the source of his personal revenue. A political party that is responsible for feeding money to those who did not work for it is going to be held in esteem by those who receive the cash. They will falsely be seen as caring for the recipients but rather they hold the recipients in contempt and bondage all for the sake of power. These facts are not lost on Mr. D. This, of course, is contrary to the prevalent paradigm within his family and hence the source of strife.

I am no apologist for the Republican Party in its current form. Several years ago, I told the GOP to shove my membership card somewhere about which I can not write. They have drifted so far from their genesis, it is not funny. I am, however, a fan of the early Republican Party of the 1850's. Like William Wilberforce of England in the late 1700's, they stood against slavery and oppression in any manner and stood for freedom. Rather than standing true to their roots, the GOP has slid left to where the Democrats were in the 1960's while the Democrats have slid towards the Socialists of the 1930's.

Mr. D has a daunting task ahead of him called perseverance. I can personally relate, since I have gotten a lot of flack from friends, relatives, and critics for my political and religious views. It is especially tough, though, when it comes from one's own household. For that, Mr. D has my full support and sympathy. To stand for what is right is not always easy, but it is nonetheless, the right thing to do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Column for Nov. 27, 2008

I am actually pretty liberal about the whole drug thing.

As I sit in front of the computer, staring at a blank screen, wondering what to type and enjoying a few Vicodin pills, I continue my reflection on life. Yeah, I am on Vicodin for about a week. I pulled a tendon in my knee and it has been very painful for the past three days. The more I reflect, the more I am thankful that I live in a day in which God has allowed man to create things like hydrocodone. Hopefully in a few days, with the treatment the doctor prescribed, I should be back to normal and not limping and wincing in pain.

The effects of the hydrocodone provoked a discussion with my mother-in-law. I was joking about taking up a drug addiction sometime soon as a hobby. She laughed, scoffing at the prospect of me doing so. She knows me too well. This has not been a good year for me health-wise, actually. I have had bronchitis twice, with the last time lingering over two months. I have had two colds, a pulled back, pancreatitis, and now a pulled tendon in my knee. This has just been one of those years that remind me of "A Tale of Two Cities". It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The good thing is that I have been able to try some great drugs this year, including a lot of Vicodin, Percocet, and Demerol.

I am not one that supports illicit or illegal drug use. Then again, it is also one of the areas in which I have always been a bit more liberal than most of my fellow conservatives. I have long thought that the D.A.R.E. program has been a tremendous waste of time and money. The alleged war on drugs is one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer funding we have going. I am more a fan of personal freedom when carried out responsibly.

Out of the five brothers in my family, I do believe that I am the only one who has not been a pot head or experimented with drugs. When I went to my brother's wedding several years ago, it was in the middle of a heat wave in Upstate New York. Some of us went into the basement to cool off and my brothers broke out a bag of pot, much to my surprise. Though not for me, I was not tremendously offended, and thought that they are welcome to do what they want as long as it does not compromise me, my health, or my freedom. I have never tried illegal drugs and do not plan on starting now.

The interesting dichotomy for people who are very conservative is that there are few choices left for voters of my ilk. This past election cycle, I could not in all good conscience vote for John McCain. Though I love Sarah Palin's politics, she was not going to get me to vote for McCain. I certainly would not vote for Barack Hussein Obama. That left me with the Libertarian Candidate, Bob Barr, or a write in. I voted for Bob Barr. I know his politics and figure that anyone who ate Borat's cheese just may be worthy of my consideration.

I am on board with much of the Libertarian platform with the exception of two major points. Unfortunately, the Libertarian Party has become a haven for those pushing a total legalization of recreational pharmaceutical use and supports total access to and rights for abortion services. Though I am fairly liberal on the drug policy, I am 100% against abortion. One would think that a party whose intent it is to secure "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" would take the true path of securing life first and foremost. That is where the responsibility part comes into play with the exercise of individual rights. If you can not take the responsibility, you should not take off the clothing.

I was annoyed when my five year old came home from kindergarten one day and proclaimed that we had to dispose of any pills in our medicine cabinet and condemned the adults of the household for enjoying an adult beverage, as infrequent as that is done in my home. We were informed that we were doing evil drugs, even the prescription ones, and that any consumption of alcohol was taking drugs.

Such over simplification and misleading teaching grates on my patience, especially when I am paying for said education. I am attempting to proffer the teaching of balance and temperance in my home, which is not only the responsible perspective, but also the Biblical one. Just this past week, the men's Bible study group in which I am active studied the subject of temperance in life.

For every freedom we enjoy, there can be over indulgence and abuse. Whether the subject is the consumption of legal or illegal pharmaceuticals, alcohol, sex, or even holiday delicacies and feasting. With freedom comes responsibility. With that in mind, I am going to go pop another few Vicodin pills.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Column for Nov. 20, 2008

Retreating is not a bad tactical move at times. I have been studying the American Revolutionary War, seeing the tactics used by various generals of both sides. There were a lot of tactical victories for the colonials seeking independence, though the traditional thought was that securing the field of battle at the end of a conflict was considered victory. In the economy of life, however, retreating can itself be victory.

I don't know if it is just a phase I am going through or what, but I have personally decided to retreat from many things and activities that have frustrated me, taken up time I felt was more valuably spent elsewhere, or just not really meaningful in the grand scheme of things. For a long time, I knew that there were changes coming in America. I knew the form in which they would come. I have even made some predictions i this very column. In today's time, I am watching them come to pass. The prophets of old did not always get to see their prognostications come to pass. Often, their prophecies would take hundreds or thousands of years to come to pass. One did not need to be a prophet, however, to see where this nation has been headed; just a casual student of history and a little bit of politics.

As much as I have desired to be more active in my community, I have decided to concentrate on those areas that have a more permanent or even eternal consequence. That does not mean that I have lost passion or opinion. I have just decided to retreat from other things like blogging, talk show hosting, memberships in ineffective organizations, etc. Sure, I still want to reach for the imaginary death ray or missile launch buttons on my car's dashboard when I see an Obama bumper sticker on the back of a car driven by some ignorant supporter. To be fair, I do have an adverse yet less visceral reaction to McCain bumper stickers.

Knowing that this nation is heading into a downward spiral, I have stayed the course by picking away bit by bit on the mountain of ideas. I pray that I have been effective to some degree. In the grand scheme of things, I wonder if it will make any difference.

I wrote one time about the quotation attributed to Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor from the 1700's. "A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship." We are seeing that very thing right before our eyes with massive federal and state spending, bailouts, entitlement programs, and the promise of government run health care.

Tytler also wrote that on average, the age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During the 200 year cycle, each great civilization always progressed through the following sequence:
1. From bondage to spiritual faith
2. From spiritual faith to great courage
3. From courage to liberty
4. From liberty to abundance
5. From abundance to complacency
6. From complacency to apathy
7. From apathy to dependence
8. From dependence back into bondage
I believe that we are in the apathy to dependence stage right now, and have been losing ground in that stage for the past 20 years or so.

What is it that yields a nation that looks to raid the public treasury for their own benefit? Power and money. The root of all sorts of evil, we are told by scripture, is the love of money. How then, can people who claim to support or uplift those same scriptures vote for someone such as Barack Obama? I have wondered that myself and seriously doubt the spiritual Moxie of anyone who did vote for him or anyone else of his ilk. I make no apologies for the position. I have had people question my staunch position as such in the past, though not necessarily dealing specifically with Obama. Usually I get an accusation, I reply with reasoned answers and citations for my faith or positions, and get either no or emotional responses. That is fine. I know where I stand and why.

With our slide towards apathy and dependence rather than concern and independence, I have been preparing for quite a while for the apostasy of not only spiritual values, but also of this nation's civil values upon which it was built.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Column for Nov. 13, 2008

NOTE: Because of a publisher's error, this column did not run on November 6 as scheduled but ran on Nov. 13th, instead.

Singing the school fund raiser blues

In general, Americans are a generous people. Statistically, they are the most generous of any nation. There are causes and organizations for just about everything you can imagine, all of which are looking for funding. Many get a lot of support from the generosity of Americans. If it were not so, then most of the sweaty, screaming televangelists, most of whom could use a course in systematic theology, would not be on TV today.

In my four decades on this planet, I have been involved with and/or solicited by most every sort of organization imaginable. One thing for certain is that I generally am not fond of fund raisers. There are entire industries dedicated to helping groups raise money. My favorite approach is simply a statement of need and the method of being able to help. That, however, would not help the businesses that expertly craft manipulation tactics and schemes to get money out of people's pockets.

When I was in Cub Scouts, we had fund raisers. We carried around these big, cardboard Tom-Wat kits full of cheap trinkets for the home. I also played Little League baseball. We dressed up in our uniforms and stood outside storefronts with containers in which we begged patrons to drop loose change. We sold chocolate bars, candy coated peanuts, light bulbs, had car washes, and whatever else could fund our endeavors. I have heard of co-workers having fund raisers for school soccer teams. We bought a cookbook recently to help a local high school band go to New York City to be in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, I love buying my share of Thin Mints from little girls.

There is one common thread with all of the above. Charities, religious groups, the Boy Scouts of America, extra curricular activities at school, and baseball leagues are all organizations people either give to or participate in of their own volition. The most heinous sort of fund raiser is the one that has captive participation, is already by a group funded by force, and that the proceeds are not disclosed as to their designation.

I always hated school fund raisers. Every student was expected to sell magazines, expensive candy, over priced trinkets, wrapping paper, or some other sort of expensive stuff I can find at the dollar store. Now that I have a five year old that just started kindergarten, my wife and I have been hit with two recent fund raisers. Quite honestly, I am disgusted.

The first one was an annual event that seems to be a nation wide effort for a gigantic restaurant chain that has three hours set aside one day a year. On that given day, local elementary school students are asked to bring their families to patronize that establishment and a portion of the proceeds (probably a tax deduction for the business) will be donated to the school. The flier that is on my desk says nothing about what the money will be donated for or why it is needed.

The part that disgusts me is the absolute manipulation tactic used. We all know that a child loves to go to a fast food restaurant with cartoon characters, a playground, and chicken nuggets on the menu. When the event is hyped to young, impressionable children, a parent will be given a guilt trip to spend the money at that restaurant in order to placate a whining, crying child that can barely tie his own shoes. Ask me how I know. And yet we parents are supposed to trust that the money is going for a good cause.

My kindergartener brought home a catalog full of over priced stuff we do not need and expensive candy. I do not need fudge that I can personally make better at home or chocolates that I can buy far cheaper at Rose's.

School children are a captive group of victims. They do not participate by choice. Of course the parents are supposed to feel obligated to help their child succeed so they carry a catalog to relatives and to work. Ask me how I know. But a five year old? A kindergartener being conscripted as a sales representative? Have school administrators no shame? Children being manipulated into selling garbage nobody needs to raise money for a reason no parent is told? I hate being manipulated for money, especially for unstated reasons.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Column for Oct. 30, 2008

This is the last column before the upcoming Presidential Election. By the next time my column appears in this paper, we should have another President Elect, unless we end up attempting to count hanging chads somewhere in the nation.

Once again, we already see problems with military ballots not being counted. There were absentee ballots filled out by thousands of military men and women that may not be counted in Virginia because of a state law requiring the name and address for a witness to the vote, yet the ballots only had a space printed on them for a witness name. A petty thing like that is either an oversight that need to be immediately rectified or a deliberate tactic by some sharp political gamesman.

I am looking over the choices I have on the ballot this year, not only in my own district, but in others. Overall, I am not impressed. Perhaps the more I read, the older I get, and the more I experience, the less tolerant I get of the status quo and of political games.

I have become a hard core conservative, by today's description. More accurately, I am a classic liberal, id est, I am a supporter of liberty and personal responsibility. I got that way after reading, living, and learning. The more I read, the more I am strengthened in my convictions. I used to be a somewhat liberal democrat with some conservative leanings, but I used to align myself with the Democratic Party years ago. Then I grew up.

For years, I aligned myself with the Republican Party, often holding my nose, so to speak, when I went to the ballot box. Seldom did I run across a candidate that I truly liked and for whom I wanted to cast my ballot. Over the past twenty or so years, the GOP has slid further and further towards the left whereas the Democratic Party has sprinted towards becoming a totally socialist party. Hence, my total withdrawal from the GOP. Oddly enough, the Democratic Party was once known (in the late 1700's) as The Republican Party.

I would rather be stabbed to death with a plastic fork than vote for Barack Hussein Obama and I detest John McCain. Where does that leave me? With the rest of the people who liked Ron Paul or are third party leaning voters. Though I have some serious issues with a few topics relating to abortion and absolute and total legalization of drugs (their keystone subject matters, oft times) I may end up voting for Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party. Any man who ate cheese in the Borat movie may just be worthy of my vote.

No, I do not believe for one minute I am wasting my vote in going for a third party candidate. I believe I have to sleep at night and have bad enough insomnia as it is. If I want slumber, I can not help put John McCain in office. I don't believe that it was Ross Perot and his supporters that got us Bill Clinton any more than I believe it would be a Libertarian that would get us Obama as President. It would be poor leadership and fielding of candidates on behalf of Republicans that would get us Obama as President.

For Governor, I was leaning towards Bill Graham for the office, but he never made it past the primaries. Even after reading about him and watching his campaign, I still don't know much about Pat McCrory. I liked a lot of what I saw in Libertarian Michael Munger until I read his positions on issues like capital punishment. However, I did like a lot of his fiscal policies.

For Lt. Governor, I liked Robert Pittinger from the start. For Congress, I already said I really like the underdog, Dan Mansell. Then there are a lot of state races that should probably not be up for election but should rather have an appointment with senatorial advice and consent as we do not he federal level, such as Commissioner of This and Auditor of That. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the man who wants to be held in the public trust as State Auditor is named Les Merritt? I realize the spelling differences, but I still laugh whenever I see the name. And he seems to be the better choice for that position.

We have a bunch of judges nobody ever heard of running for office on courts of appeals and for district judgeships. We have some of the same men running for State House seats who will be in the minority if elected. I see some of the same names for County Commissioner that did not see fit to show up to public hearings on the ETJ law and can not say no to increased spending. Then again, increased spending seems to be at every level of government.

With the current crops of candidates, I see us going backwards rather than forwards in regards to liberty, financial gains, and education. I certainly do not see a Presidential candidate that will properly "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States". In taking that oath, many presidents have broken that promise shortly after inauguration. In this election, it seems that neither candidate has any intention of doing so, everyone knows it, and nobody seems to care.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Column for Oct. 23, 2008

I am amazed. The more I read, listen, and see about the upcoming election, the more I am just amazed. This election year is not the worst in terms of dirty politics. I recall reading about some serious issues in the election of 1800 that make candidates today look like altar boys. Just last week, I just got a book in the mail on the events surrounding that election. I ordered it after reading an article by Robert Novak in "The American Spectator" by about that election.

Still, I have a hard time watching most of the political ads and even the debates on television or listening to them on the radio. I can not count how many times I have shouted at the TV or talked to my radio in disgust. I am not a fan of dirty politics.

Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has, in my estimation, been on the receiving end of a lot of personal attacks that are unwarranted. She has been criticized as unqualified, for her stance on abstinence teaching yet having a teenage daughter who strayed and got pregnant, for alleged abuse of power as Governor of Alaska, and for numerous other issues. As to the qualifications, she is actually more qualified to be President than is Obama. She is the only conservative in the race. Still, as brilliant a political move as it was for John McCain to pick her as a running mate, the choice is still not enough to get me to vote for him. Personally, I like Palin for her conservative views. She is not candidate for President, though.

I understand dirty politics' gossip and slander, as well as its results personally. A year ago, I was on the receiving end of such dirty tactics in just a municipal election. I heard from numerous sources of slanderous attacks and accusations about me personally that were patently false. I got hate mail, heard rumors, and got feedback of its confirmation. That is the price one pays for sticking one's head above the crowd. When you do so, expect a few tomatoes to be thrown at you, deserved or not.

I applaud those who are willing to take a stand and run for elected office. There are some people left who are willing to put action to their words and attempt to do something about it. Been there, done that, got the half dozen t-shirts. I spoke to a few of them recently and I wish them well.

Effective or not, falsehoods and slanderous attacks are often inappropriate and in fact sinful. Still, that does not stop those who wish to win an election. Ruining someone's reputation through character assassination is despicable. It is despicable but effective. All one has to do to prove that concept is listen to the ads on TV and radio.

Elizabeth Dole has been on the receiving end of a lot of mud slinging. Kay Hagan has as well. Barack Hussein Obama has not only been guilty of slinging the mud but has been on the receiving end. John McCain, as much as I do not care for him as a candidate, has been on the receiving end for things as ridiculous as criticism for not being able to send email. What the attacks do not say is that he can not do so because of the lack of dexterity because of injuries sustained while a prisoner of war. Stretching the truth to create the illusion of incompetence is deplorable.

I am an issues voter. I look at what someone stands for when I vote. I will not vote for candidate for US Senate, Kay Hagan because of the issues. If I lived at the coast, I would not vote for Marc Basnight because of the issues. I ate at his restaurant last week and I can say that he is a much better restauranteur than he is a legislator. His Lone Cedar restaurant has awesome food.

One man I will vote for in a minute because of the issues is Dan Mansell, who is running for the United States Congress. Last year, I interviewed him at length for a column I was going to write. I also invited Bob Etheridge for an interview. Mr. Etheridge's staff did not even respond yes or no to the request.

I have been very critical of Bob Etheridge in this column as well as on the internet. This is not because of anything personal, but because of the issues. I give him credit where credit is due. I am no different with other political figures or leaders. I love Dan Mansell's stances on taxes, energy, defense, and spending. I think he stands as much of a chance of beating Bob Etheridge as a snowball on a hot sidewalk in August, but I applaud him for his efforts and will vote for him nonetheless.

When voting in a couple of weeks, I beg of you to become informed and vote for the best candidates for the nation, state, and county rather than those of your party, racial group, good old boy network, "yellow dog", or preconceived ideas.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Column for Oct. 16, 2008

Johnston County's ETJ law scrutinized at public hearing

I wish that I was able to attend the recent public hearing on the two mile Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) law in Smithfield. Unfortunately, I work the sort of job in which I am a technical support type guy. When there is a problem with the equipment I maintain, I have to go take care of business. Even if I only sit in front of my laptop at home and monitor the progress of rectification, I have to do it. As life would have it, I worked late the night of that public hearing. I had it on my calendar and was ready to go. Then a problem with an upgrade to my company's software caused a major problem with our server, and instantly I was transformed from someone free for the evening to an employee chained to a laptop.

That sort of problem will not be happening to me all this week, however. As you are reading this, I am securely locked away in an undisclosed location with my new bride in our love nest for our honeymoon. God has truly blessed me this year. I wish I could tell more, but that is not what this week's column is about. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I find it disturbing that for a public hearing on something that profoundly effects Johnston County that only one county commissioner took the time to attend. Alan Mims, according to reports, was the only one who thought it worthy of his time. I understand scheduling conflicts and getting bogged down with the day job, as I just described. However, one would think that more than just one commissioner would be there. Our state representative, Leo Daughtry, was there, though. So was J.H. Langdon. Thank you, gentlemen, for your interest and your courtesy.

I have written previously about the ETJ issue. I had given some thought and even made notes about what I would have said at that hearing. Since I was not able to attend in person, I am publishing my public comments for further consideration by our elected representatives.

Most every Monday night, I teach about U.S. history and the Constitution. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, there were many debates about suffrage for the states. Great concern was expressed about being able to be properly represented in both houses of the legislative branch of government. These concerns were well founded, considering the history of the colonial response to England in which the cry of the day was "no taxation without representation".

In our case, citizens outside of the town of Selma are crying "regulation without representation". Taxation is a form of power, so is regulation. At least people in the Selma Fire District, yet outside the town limits get a service for the taxes they pay. Those who happen to live within the ETJ get regulation with no real benefit. They by default would already be within the county's jurisdiction. The county's plan was sufficiently similar to the town's that the town was going to merely adopt the county zoning and redefine it in accordance with corresponding town zoning requirements.

For a town of only 3.5 square miles, as is the case of Selma, to reach its tentacles of control out two full miles beyond its borders is unethical. Why should a town control more than its own square mileage outside of its political borders?

The argument in favor of the ETJ that the ETJ population is entitled to having representation on the town's planning board is fallacious for two reasons. First, the individual(s) chosen to serve on the board are selected by officials that ETJ residents are not able to elect. Second, the planning board has zero authority. None of the decisions taken by the board are binding in Selma and the town council that ETJ representatives can not vote for still has the final say in all matters.

When people are subject to a government that can regulate their lives and subjugate their private property rights with no recourse or choice, it violates the spirit of Article IV section 4 of the United States Constitution, which guarantees a "Republican Form of Government" for each state. In a republic, those who have the rule over the people are chosen by the people. This is not the case if you live in the extra-territorial jurisdiction of a town in North Carolina.

When Johnston County towns are allowed a two mile ETJ because of a 1985 bill written specifically for the county and sneaked in by local legislators while the rest of the state's municipalities have no such authority, it is patently unfair to the rest of the state. A two mile ETJ law, and all ETJ laws for that matter, should be repealed.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Column for Oct. 9, 2008

Right is right, and wrong is wrong. You have heard it for years.

Racism, according to Merriam Webster, is defined as "a belief that race
is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that
racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular
race". That is obviously an erroneous world view and obviously wrong.
I do not care who you are. Notice, however, that the definition does
not refer to cultural or behavioral superiority. There is a huge
difference between race and culture.

Merriam Webster also defines racism as "racial prejudice or
discrimination". That works two ways. It can be a particular race of
people being discriminated against or being discriminatory towards
anyone not of their race.

I despise racism. I don't care whom it is from, in what direction it is
from, or at whom it is aimed. Equally, I despise those who prostitute
race for personal gain. For years, I have watched people like Jesse
Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the NAACP deceptively act as "race pimps" that
exploit the downtrodden of their own race for their own power, for
profit, and fame. Here in North Carolina, the race pimps of the NAACP
are very active.

We heard the NAACP erroneously speak out about racism when Mayor Chucky
Hester made his now infamous lynching comment. I was there in the room,
and in the front row. I know the context and the target of the comment,
and it had nothing to do with race.

The NAACP partnered recently with a bunch of Latino advocacy groups in a
prayer vigil held on the Johnston County Courthouse steps "to pray for
healing and reconciliation in the community" over the off the cuff
remarks by Sheriff Steve Bizzell about illegal immigrants. Of course,
the pimping was done by Rev. William Barber, President of the North
Carolina NAACP. I do not know Rev. Barber, but I find it interesting
that almost all race pimps in the Black community hold the title of
Reverend. In listening to the majority of them speak, I rarely hear the
gospel. That is just an observation in general, not specificity.

One man who I know personally had the guts to stand in support of
Sheriff Bizzell. A local pastor, Leroy Hargett, participated in a
counter protest of sorts, in support of Sheriff Bizzell. I emailed
Leroy after I read the news story, having known him for years. I told
him that I was proud of him for taking a stand for what he believes. He
happens to be on the right side of the issue, and I let him know. Rev.
Hargett happens to be a Black pastor of a predominantly Black
congregation. He not only exercised discernment about right and wrong,
but stood up for what is right. For that, I congratulate him publicly.
He lives right here in Selma, and I am proud to know him as a man of
courage and conviction. It is not easy to stand against another man of
the same faith, especially when he purports to speak on behalf of an
entire race. It is even more difficult when it is the juggernaut of the

The NAACP was out for more power by its recent demonstration this past
Sunday about an event that happened in 1898. People, we are not talking
about the 21st Century, or even the 20th Century. We are talking about
the 19th Century. The race riots in Wilmington were an interesting yet
shameful series of events in North Carolina's history. They are
interesting and shameful, but they were 110 years ago.

The NAACP is demanding that the North Carolina General Assembly make
payments of reparations to descendants of the 14 men who were killed in
the race riots. Tragic and wrong as the deaths were, I find it
inconceivable that the taxpayers of the state should fork out money 110
years after the fact for something done in a single city, not done by
anyone still alive today, and not done to anyone that is contemporary to
our time. This is merely pimping the race issue for personal lucre. If
that is not exploitation of a race and racist issues, I do not know what is.

I have this same disgust for the Arian Nation, The World Church of the
Creator, the KKK, and the numerous Hispanic advocacy groups that have
popped up. If a group is so interested in "healing and reconciliation
in the community" then they need to stop picking at the scab and allow
the great strides against racism that have been made in this nation take
their course. In 1898, did anyone envision a Black man possibly
becoming the President of the United States, as may happen in just a
month? I think not.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Column for Oct. 2, 2008

Bailouts suck

As you may well be aware, the big buzzword in the news today is "bailout". The federal government has been busily creating financial bailouts for mortgage companies, insurance companies, and automobile manufacturers. I have been reading about and commenting upon the various maneuvers that the government has been concocting just within the last couple of weeks. On Monday, The House of Representatives surprisingly defeated a $700 billion dollar package to make the government the largest mortgage holder in the nation. The government has already been bailing out AIG, one of the world's largest insurance companies, and is making $25 billion in loan guarantees to the automobile industry.

Forget the fact that automobile manufacturers have been slow to adapt to the changing economy, to fuel efficiency customer mandates, and have been run into the ground by labor unions. Let us just look at the concept that we as citizens of the United States already support these same companies by our purchases and ongoing maintenance of their flawed products. Now we have to potentially pay for loans to these same incorrigible companies. GM, Ford, and Daimler/Chrysler have all floundered while Toyota has flourished. Because American companies have been too stubborn to change, U.S. taxpayers may eventually have to bail out loans made to these companies. General Motors is on the brink of insolvency and we are stuck paying for their mistakes? I am not much of a GM man, anyway. I have never really liked any GM product I have owned or driven.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are government created entities. They wrote a lot of mortgages themselves and guaranteed mortgages written by other companies. Because of worries about risky mortgages, the United States taxpayer would have been on the hook for the reckless lending practices of mortgage companies that were spurred by government threats of regulation. People who had absolutely no business purchasing houses did so or bought more house than they could afford. Some in Congress along with President Bush wanted the rest of us to foot the bill with a purely socialist move, allegedly to save our economy. Personally, I believe it would have done more harm than good.

If Warren Buffet, the world's richest man and leader of Berkshire Hathaway found it to be a good move to buy Goldman Sachs as a private venture, then I am sure that many more such deals could be reached. If we can allow the private sector to operate in a truly free market economy without government intervention, then every issue could be resolved. Berkshire Hathaway is the epitome of success in such things. Their current holdings include Dairy Queen, GEICO, Helzberg Diamonds, The Pampered Chef, Clayton Homes, Fruit of the Loom, and many other fine companies.

Just looking at the AIG bailout of $85 billion dollars, I found the following. If we take that dollar figure and divide it by the entire United States population of +/- 301,000,000 people, then this represents approximately $282.39 for every man, woman, and child in the nation. Keep in mind that about a third are not even 18 years or older and are not tax payers. Even at that 18 years of age figure, a smaller percentage still actually pay taxes, so the figure is going to be higher per tax payer than that, but for the sake of argument, let's use that $282 figure. That figure represents approximately $44,458,634 to just Johnston County residents, based upon 2007 population figures.

Using the same methodology, the $700 billion package would have cost Johnstonians $366,132,558. The automotive bail out could cost every Johnstonian another $83 for a total of $13,076,162 from our county alone. Just these three bailouts alone would have impacted Johnston County potentially as much as $423,667,354. People, that is a bunch of money. The entire county's annual government operational budget is only $149 million by comparison. Keep in mind that that is based upon the idea of $x per capita, not per tax payer. When you divide out those figures, the total gets much higher per person.

When is this going to stop? I do not know. I guarantee that though the $700 billion bailout failed in The House of Representatives, it will come up again. We spend a bunch of money overseas in foreign wars, building foreign nations, policing the world, paying people to not work here at home, we pay farmers not to grow crops, and now the government is trying to pay businesses for failure. It all ends up on the backs of the United States tax payers. If we keep trying to save mortgage companies and mortgagees, we would have mortgaged the future of our children by saddling them with a huge debt with socialist policies and bad economic decisions. Whether through political courage or cowardice, at least one gigantic spending bill failed with a 228-205 vote to reject the bill. We'll see it come up again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Column for Sept. 25, 2008

So Selma finally has a new Town Manager. Richard Douglas does seem to have an impressive résumé. Along with that résumé, however, expect impressive results.

The Town Manager serves at the whim of the Town Council. This means two things. First, he/she can be hired and fired at the Council's bidding. Next, it means that the employee is subservient to the Council and should take direction on administration while at the same time providing expertise to the Council for their authoritative decision taking.

Looking back, I see that we have had several town managers with diverse personalities and methods. Bruce Radford, now in Apex, was a bit more flamboyant and outgoing. Jeff White was much more reserved, and despite the heavy criticism he received, still served at the direction of the town council and mayor. Stan Farmer and I got along well and I thought he carried out his financial mission well, but I found him a bit obsequious, often afraid to offer a strong opinion. My interactions with interim Manager, C.L. Gobble have shown him to be articulate and knowledgeable, yet bold enough to offer insight and be contrarian if necessary.

I remember when the town laid off the entire Planning Department a few years ago. In talking to Mr. Gobble at the last Planning Board meeting, I learned that there were a lot of planning items left lacking with Stan Farmer's departure. Whether that was because of the lack of a planning department, the lack of planning expertise, or because of Mr. Farmer's general work load, I do not know for sure. What I do know is that Selma is only 3.5 square miles in territory and can not be so swamped with planning issues as to backlog the town's progress. After all, we do have plenty of Planning Board meetings get canceled because of a lack of agenda.

I recently got notice that the Planning Board would not be meeting this month until the new Town Manager and Planning Director are in place. I wonder, however, if these two positions need to remain and the same. If our interim Town Manager can push through the new Walgreen's project with it never coming to the Planning Board for a formal vote or review (not that the Planning Board has any authority whatsoever other than to recommend action to the Council either in the affirmative or negative), then I wonder about needing a separate employee to do so.

Jeff White was paid in the low 70,000 dollar range, if memory serves correctly. Stan Farmer was paid in the sixties to start. We just hired a new manager for $90,000 per year, and Mr. Douglas has a Master's Degree in planning as well as a good amount of experience in that field, from what I read in this very newspaper. If we are going to hire someone for that much money more than we were previously offering, and we are now in a time of an economic slow down, then I believe that we, as tax payers should expect more for our dollars, which are harder to come by. This is especially true when we have been hit with nearly a dime's increase per $100 valuation in property tax with another property valuation coming around the corner.

I have seen towns with a lot more square miles and close to 100,000 population paying not much more than what we in little old Selma will be paying for our new manager. Don't get me wrong, I do not begrudge any man getting as much salary as he can negotiate. This is absolutely nothing personal with Richard Douglas, since I do not know him and probably have never met him before. It is, however, an issue of public trust. My mortgage escrow rate just went up because of a higher tax rate (again), I see areas of neglect in town (as I have previously addressed in this very column), and yet I see that we are going to pay well over a third more in salary to our next Town Manager than we did our last one. For that, I expect more effort and customer service. We, the citizens, are the customers.

One request that I would have for Mr. Douglas as he starts his new job is not to allow the political bullying that we have seen in this town for the past three years push him too far. I would hope that he would not let strong personalities railroad him into taking wrong decisions or going contrary to what he knows to be the proper course of action according to Selma's best interest. I would hope that he would show the same degree of boldness shown by Mr. Gobble and speak on behalf of the taxpayers, the future of the town, and not be obsequious.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Column for Sept. 18, 2008

So called "racial profiling" is a misnomer and is not necessarily a bad thing

Well, the saga of Sheriff Steve Bizzell just keeps getting better and better. Now our old "friends", the NAACP and the ACLU are attempting to investigate Sheriff Bizzell's department to see if he is guilty of "racial profiling" in law enforcement efforts.

Folks, I do not care who you are, there is common sense that must be in play. When I look at airport security efforts, I see the effects of political correctness run amuck. Little old ladies and toddlers are being screened as if they are in the same class as young Muslim males. The last I looked, no terrorist acts were perpetrated by mad grannies or diaper wearing children. As of this writing, there have been 11,849 deadly terror attacks perpetrated by Muslim males, usually of Middle Eastern descent just since September 11th, 2001. This does not take into account the events of 9/11, the USS Cole, the first World Trade Center bombing, and a host of other acts. The point is that it makes sense to look to a certain group if they are the ones primarily responsible for crime and acts of war and not those who do not fit the profile.

It makes sense to me that if our population of illegal aliens has been growing and the crime rate also grew disproportionate to the overall population of the group compared to the whole county, then there would be a reason to profile. If 30% of all DWI arrests (and those are just the ones caught) are from about 14% of the overall population, then there is a reason to pay heavier scrutiny to that population. Hence, Sheriff Bizzell's success in lowering the crime rate in Johnston County.

If there is a group of people who are known to violate the law (not including making the first illegal step on American soil by crossing the Rio Grande), then it makes sense to enforce the laws where the violators are known to be. If there is a bar where a lot of Gringos (White guys) are known to congregate and drive drunk after visiting the establishment, then I would hope that Sheriff Bizzell and other local law enforcement would constantly frequent that spot until all violators are caught or they simply cease said behavior. It just makes sense.

My previous columns and expressed opinions have drawn a lot of commentary from readers. One just this past week said (direct quote, so spelling errors and grammatical mistakes left as delivered to me). For the record, this comes from a Black man who takes issue with Sheriff Bizzell.

"Troy..I'm not trying to insult you…I'll explain it to you this way...Bizell's apology expalins that he didn't mean to talk about all mexican people..there are law abiding mexicans..just like there are law abiding black people..and black people who are jerks...and white people who are crazy..and whte people who are great. But I can't buy into hating a whole race of people..sorry man. There's no need to repeat mistakes of the past. Sorry..but it's a lot deeper than you make it out out to be..especially for people of color. I'm not going to argue with you about it. It's something you'll never understand, which isn;t a bad's just your point of view. But I served my country to protect the freedom of all americans and the flag that flies over this nation promises freedom for all. there. I have enough sense to know right from wrong and hating people based on color or race is wrong. The underlying thing is racism. If I say all white people in johnston county have wrecks on i-95 and have atv accidents..that's not accurate...and it would be racist. I hope you can understand why..if not..let me know I'll suggest some books you can read to get a better understanding."

I sympathize with the man in that he has a victim's mentality, which is hard to shake off. However, I do believe that there are things that transcend race. Behavior is not race based. It is culturally or personally taught and has nothing to do with the color of one's skin. It is not an issue of skin but is often an issue of sin. I have never been fond of those who see everything through the lens of racism and especially those who profit off the fears and race fears of others, such as the NAACP.

Here was my reply to the gentleman with a few edits for the sake of brevity and for a few details that would reveal identity. The individual is a fellow member of the media and would be known to some readers had I mentioned his name.

"I wholeheartedly disagree with your assumption that it is all about racism. Not everyone who hates to see 52% of our school growth come from people who are here illegally, see one third of our DWI rate come from people who are here illegally, see our emergency rooms packed with non-English speaking people who are not here legally and are ripping off our system for free health care that we are paying for, or just plain have a problem with people breaking the law are inherently racist.

I can't stand young men who walk around with their boxer shorts showing and their pants around the cracks of their butt or lower. Does that make me racist? No, it makes me someone who has respect for our society rather than be obnoxiously offensive to the rest of the community in defiant fashion.

I do not and can not ever support a candidate such as Barack Obama and think that TD Jakes' endorsement of him is racist. Does that make ME racist? No, it makes me observant and one who stands for principles in the candidate of his choice. For the record, I have strongly supported people like Allan Keyes and Clarence Thomas because of the principles for which they stand. I could not care less about a person's skin color. I care about character.

I understand the racism cry all too well. I run across it routinely from people who find it behind every tree, every comment, every action... When I make a comment based upon common sense and rational observation, I get the accusation hurled at me.

I spent the better part of a week listening to a disciple of Martin Luther King, Jr. scream at me and a few of my coworkers about how we are inherently racist because we are White. I have heard it all over the years, just in different forms and from different sources.

Yes, I can understand it. When I first moved to NC, I got flack from both Whites and Blacks. I was a big White guy from New England. I got the comments from the rednecks that I was not from around here and I got the hate from some Blacks that I was a big White guy and therefore worthy of hate. Racism comes from BOTH sides and is never unilateral.

When I was ordained by an all Black church (the only White boy there) do you think I gave a whit about what color the skin was of my fellow brethren? Heck, no. I cared about what we had in common.

I spend time talking to a lot of people, having a background in media. I was in radio for years, have been an active blogger, have been active in politics, a columnist, and a few other interests. That has gotten me involved with a lot of civic leaders, it has caused me to meet a lot of star athletes, politicians, actors, writers, and high profile preachers. I often get to spend time with some of the leaders, especially. I have run across a lot of LEGAL immigrants who are now elected officials and heads of advocacy groups that think exactly as Steve Bizzell does in terms of the blight upon our society caused by rampant illegal immigration. Are you going to claim that Honduran, Peurto Rican, and Cuban men I have met and fellowshipped (even teamed up with to lobby our lawmakers in Raleigh on immigration issues affected by NC legislation) are themselves racist? No, they are about the rule of law. They want illegal immigrants to be as legal as they were and follow the rules, too. But let a White man say that and he is racist?

Take a drive with me sometime to the same trailer parks that Steve Bizzell [referred to]. Stay at my house on a weekend and see the chickens running around in the yard of a home rented by illegal aliens while they drink beer, do the laundry on their front porch, let the grass grow two feet high, and play Mariachi music until after 1 AM. Visit my town where 60% of the residents are renters, not homeowners, having no respect for the taxes paid or cost of government. Come with me to my 5 year old's kindergarten class and see how 60% of his classmates are Hispanic, mostly the children of illegal aliens that do not speak English, are anchor babies, their parents do not pay taxes here, I am furnishing the classroom supplies because their parents refuse to buy them for their own kids, they are getting free lunch while I pay full price and in actuality, pay for their kids' lunches, too. Is any of that racist? Hardly. It is called simple economics, common sense, and respect for America and society. To find a racist thread in that is looking for goblins where there are none.

Why can one not refer to a problem with a particular group of problematic population without it being deemed racist? Bizzell used the term "trashy". Considering that I have plenty of trashy relations, I can definitively say as Forrest Gump would have, "trashy is as trashy does". Does that make me racist? No, just observant."

Obviously, I encourage Sheriff Bizzell to continue in his efforts in law enforcement, regardless of the ethnicity of the perpetrators involved.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Column for Sept. 11, 2008

There are some things for which our sheriff should not apologize

The past couple of weeks, I wrote about Selma becoming a third world nation, being a microcosm of the entire United States. This is reflective of what the US will become if we do not get a handle on immigration issues amongst other things. I shared some feedback from column readers and have even gotten more in the mail since last week. Thanks to all who wrote, by the way.

Apparently, our county sheriff agrees with me and has taken some heat for his impassioned stance. Steve Bizzell has been under fire for saying that "Mexicans are trashy" and that the illegal immigrant population is "breeding like rabbits". Steve is not alone in his thoughts.

Sheriff Bizzell did apologize for his comments, which were made in an interview with a large regional newspaper based in Raleigh, the name of which, like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies, can not be spoken (or in this case, written). He said, "I made broad statements that reflected on the legal and law-abiding Hispanic population – that was never my intention".

Obviously, I personally have made comments in this very column that reflect the same thoughts of some immigrants being "trashy". I make no apologies for that, nor should I. As Forrest Gump might say, "My mamma always says, trashy is as trashy does." Believe me when I say that there are trashy people who are kin to me. Trashy is a behavior, an attitude, and often is embedded in a culture. Unfortunately, many Hispanic immigrants to the United States bring their third world culture and ways with them, refusing to assimilate into the American culture. Furthermore, they often carry a blatant disrespect and disregard for America, seeking only to benefit from her hospitality and liberality offered them here rather than taking responsibility for the welfare of their new communities.

In Sheriff Bizzell's apology, he did say that he did make broad statements. Like Steve, I do not have a problem with law abiding and legal immigrants. I don't care where they are from or what they look like. All I care is that they come here legally, abide by our laws, and do not trash our country. One particular Hispanic advocate, however, is livid with Sheriff Bizzell's words, even saying he "wants his badge".

The call for Bizzell's resignation is out of line, but that is what I expect from selfish people. Being an advocate for illegal immigrants is like lobbying for the right to drive while intoxicated, in my opinion. There is always a self-interest in such advocacy.

This summer, I got the opportunity to meet with the founder of the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee and with the founder of The Minuteman Project. I joined these two men for a morning of lobbying lawmakers in Raleigh to support an agenda that is hostile to illegal immigration. That day, I also got to meet representatives from two different organizations that were founded by Hispanics and vehemently oppose illegal immigration.

Like the advocate who wants Sheriff Bizzell's badge for his comments, Roan Garcia-Quintana is an immigrant from Cuba whom I had the pleasure of meeting. Roan works with the organization "Americans Have Had Enough!" which is on the internet at Roan is a legal immigrant, now living in South Carolina. He has been very active in state government there and has been elected to the SC Legislature. Another man I met is Lee Nieves, from the Charlotte area, who is a Hispanic man affiliated with the organization "You Don't Speak for Me", found on the internet at They are both staunch advocates for sealing the American borders and coming down hard on illegal immigration. They believe just like Sheriff Bizzell that the American culture is being polluted by illegal immigrants, that illegal immigrants do not belong here, that our society is in danger from the increased crime by these people, and that they are multiplying like rabbits.

Sheriff Bizzell, I have read your comments. I have read your apology. I have read the comments on the internet by web readers of the publication in which you were quoted. I agree that your initial comments may have been broad, but trashy is as trashy does. Your eyes simply bear testimony to what is. That is the bottom line. You see more of it than most citizens, since you deal with the crime problems, help with deportation, and have a responsibility for the public well being.

Steve, I have been one of your strongest advocates for years. That is not to say that I agree with all of your decisions. I personally have one issue with you, feeling that you violated the United States Constitution on a few things. That is a major issue in my view, though overall I think your job performance has been outstanding. You need not apologize for stating the obvious. Like the many legal immigrants I know personally, you abhor illegal immigration, the crime perpetrated by those who started out their journey in this nation with their first covert and illegal step across our border, and the disregard for our laws and our culture. You hate paying for anchor babies and the cost to our society. For that, never apologize. Just keep working and hammering away at the mountain of the problems caused by illegal immigrants with your pick axe.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Column for Sept. 4, 2008

Last week's column evoked some interesting feedback from readers

It would seem that my column last week struck a chord or assent or dissent with some people. I have received some interesting feedback from readers this week. As much as I would love to comment on the Republican's error of making their convention short because of an impending hurricane or the brilliant selection of a gun toting beauty queen as a vice presidential running mate for John McCain, I will stick with the current train of thought.

I wrote last week about the possibility of Selma becoming like a third world nation if we do not take the reins of our own town and protect our American culture and town from degradation. Selma is just a microcosm of the rest of the nation. Apparently, that idea has really registered with some folks. Therefore I asked permission to share some commentary from readers. I believe strongly in using spell check functions in my email and word processor. However, I am preserving the format of the messages as they were delivered on purpose.

The first commentary I received was from someone who only identified him or herself as "royalblkrose".

"This issue is not new or news to Selma, Berkeley, Jacksonville. Take your pick of cities and it's the same issues. Immigrants, looking for a better life bring with them the only life they know.. the one they left, with all of its' oddities. Cities, states and the country are in an ethical fix where these new aliens are concerned. On the one hand, there' cheap labor. Cheap labor is good for employers but bad for employees, Because another component of cheap labor is IGNORANT labor. Most immigrants are not aware of their rights in the workplace, and because they are illegals, they will work under any and all condtions in fear of losing what little they do have.On the other hand, once they do know their rights, it then becomes harder for these immigrants to keep their jobs because they know their rights and it is therefore more expensive to have these individuals on the payroll! Don't believe me? Ask any Union rep what happens when an employee speaks up when something's out of whack!One of the worst things that happend in this country was when air traffic controllers union was busted and NAFTA was signed, giving large manufacturers a legal reason not to invest in keeping skilled people in the states working.just a couple of thoughts...."

My response to "royalblkrose" was the following:

"One of the major issues, as I have written, is the losing of the American culture. I absolutely agree that this is not new to my town. Keep in mind that the article was specifically written as a newspaper column for the local newspaper, so I have a local centric perspective in my writing. This is, however, as you pointed out, just a microcosm of the rest of the nation. The issue is lack of assimilation. I grew up in a French family. Though there was still a Quebecois mindset and French was spoken in the grandparent's home, they assimilated into the culture. It is the absolute accommodation and coddling of immigrants to woo a potential voting block or to succumb to political correctness that is killing this nation and will put us in a position of weakness, lack of unity, and a perpetually schismatic means of living."

Someone who called himself "ColdWarBaby" had this to say:

"The assimilation of immigrants also means being prepared to pay them at least minimum wage and perhaps even provide minimal benefits and marginally safe working conditions. This would not be good for the “economy” as it’s defined by fascist capitalism. Once u.s. workers have been reduced to accepting the same working conditions as those in china, mexico or vietnam, the “illegal aliens” will be gone.If the ruling class has its way, property values will be of little concern. Only they will be allowed to own real property. The only way a laborer will be allowed access to private property will be as a menial, a slave. Workers will be confined to labor camps or factory barracks, out of sight, out of mind.This is the Utopia of fascist corporatism, a world of masters and slaves."

I found the commentary by ColdWarBaby interesting. I replied to him or her this way.

"No, the assimilation of immigrants does not mean paying them minimum wage. They are here ILLEGALLY to begin with. They are not entitled to the same protections under the law, nor the benefit of citizens or even migrant laborers here legally. Period. Once we enforce our existing laws, protect our borders, value our culture, and stop committing national suicide, the illegal immigrants will stop coming. It is ridiculous to think that our standard of living would have to lower to their level in order to keep them from showing up. Your assumption that a ruling class believes that property values are of little concern is fallacious for several reasons. First, the revenue that the ruling class obtains is through valuation of property and taxation thereupon. Furthermore, their property would be subject to the same eventual fate of others, whether it is lower taxation value, lower retail value and profit margin, lower rental rates, lower dividends on investments, or even eminent domain. Fascist corporatism? Whatever."

I got one last commentary from someone who asked not to be identified, so I am editing out any information that would reveal clues as to the writer's identity.

"I look forward to reading your weekly commentaries in the selma news. I pass thru selma daily and sometimes stop at a couple stores on my way home, honestly i am looking over my shoulder the whole time i'm there…i cannot believe all the crime that goes on around selma,it is unreal. The infrastructure of most of the town reminds me of something i seen on a ghetto movie,it really needs a makeover. I know the people that have been here all their lives hate to see all the crime that goes on ,and to me it seems like an attraction for all the mexicans as you wrote about this week. I'm not saying all the drugs come from mexicans but a large part of them do,then that gets on the streets and leads to more crimes such as robberies etc. i believe to get the town back as it was before all the drug and criminal activity, it starts with town officials taking and showing action instead of just talking about it. I realize it is not just selma it is everywhere,but since i moved here and started reading your articles it has opened my eyes. well i've been on my soap box long enough now. I look forward to reading your future articles."

As you can tell, not everyone who reads my columns necessarily agrees with me. I enjoy reading from people on both sides of an issue, generally. Many people are interested in civil discourse. Others are merely interested in bashing. Fortunately, this week's feedback has been from those who chose to be civil but wanted to express themselves in response to my ramblings. I have gotten a lot of hate mail, as well as fan mail over the past two years. Some of the hate mail has been full of anger. With some people, I have been able to engage in meaningful dialogue. Some have simply been spiteful; others had their say and I never heard from them again, even after answering their emails. Rest assured that if your email hits my inbox, I am willing to respond.

What are your views? Do you have opinions about my column, about a news story, or about how things are in your community? If so, I encourage you to write. Even better, I encourage you to write your opinion as a letter to the editor of this very newspaper. I don't always like being the sometimes the only opinion on the editorial page, even if I am always correct in what I have to say.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Column for Aug. 27, 2008

Are we letting Selma become a third world nation?

I truly want Selma to become "A Charming Place to Be". I am sure most of us who pay attention and especially pay taxes want that for our little town. Sometimes I wonder if this can be accomplished, though. Recent observations make me wonder. After visiting the homes and neighborhoods of friends in Garner and Clayton and then coming home to Selma, I wonder if we can be so charming.

The past couple of weeks have given me some interesting views from the comfort of my own little quarter acre of land. Right across the street from me live some immigrants of dubious legality. There have been some loud parties with plenty of cerveza and Mariachi music until 1 AM. There are chickens running around in their yard (which is contrary to town ordinance), and they do not go to the laundry mat. Instead, they hand wash their clothing in a tub on the front porch, dump out the wash water, and hang their wet laundry on the fence in the back yard. They allow their two or three year old daughter to run around stark naked in their yard and in the inflatable wading pool.

I applaud the industrious nature of the woman of the house in washing clothes. I am just glad that I am not the neighbor with whom she shares a fence. The chickens have not been seen quite as much the past couple of days, so I wonder if they ended up on the grill. I have no problem with little naked children in the privacy of one's own home or way out in the country. Bath time with my five year old features a little naked bottom running around my house. Such is the beauty of having children. He just is not allowed to do that in public, or even in my front yard.

If someone drove through my neighborhood looking for a new home and saw chickens, naked toddlers, a Mexican beer bash, laundry being done on the front porch and/or tossed over the fence, I would be looking elsewhere.

A few other things of which I took note are that the town recently did some tree work right next door. The tree was probably dying in some areas and needed to come down, not to mention being a threat to the power lines. I was quite honestly glad to see the town taking down the old tree. It is a remnant of the whole streetscape concept from a half century ago, so I hear. It demonstrates what can happen to nice ideas for which follow through and long term planning have been neglected.

The tree was taken down section by section, and I could feel the entire house shake when trunks and branches hit the ground. It was a sizable tree trunk. Now there is a sizable stump in the front yard of the neighboring house. There are huge gouges in the lawn of the affected lot from falling branches. The sidewalk has been smashed and a large sink hole is in the sidewalk. I have personally stumbled in it a few times while walking my dog.

I have often lamented the lack of sidewalk maintenance in this town. I find it to be a worse liability than some old, rusted water tower that stood vacant for decades and was torn down two years ago. I used to do risk management and liability mitigation as part of my career. Instead of making the sidewalk better, the town has left the sidewalk in worse shape than it was with the tree standing in place and created a greater walking surface hazard than existed previously, not to mention an unsightly blight upon the already ugly sidewalk and often uncut lawn. I am thinking about going to the tree trunk and counting the rings to find out just how long ago that tree has been neglected. The big, ugly stump and pulverized sidewalk have been there for a few weeks now.

If I was driving around town looking for a new home in a charming place to be, saw the big old tree stump sticking out of the ground, the knee high grass of the abandoned home in front of which the tree was removed, and walked on a broken, sunken sidewalk, I would think twice about buying in Selma. I know that I would certainly think that Selma had become a third world nation if people have to do laundry on a porch in a scrub bucket, there is knee high grass, and chickens roam the streets and sidewalks. I would think that the town does not take care of its infrastructure if I saw the broken sidewalks and a stumpy streetscape.

One aforementioned issue is because of allowing third world illegal aliens to invade our nation. We are in danger of losing our culture if we neglect our duties to the nation, to the rule of law, and have to "press one for English" constantly. We are in danger of losing potential residents if we neglect the enforcement of tall grass ordinances and laws against barnyard animals in the town limits. We are in danger of losing our infrastructure and liability lawsuits if we do not take care of our town assets such as sidewalks and public walking surfaces.

I know we can do a better job as a town. I commented a few months ago upon the strategic plan, as proffered by the mayor's planning committee. The plan had rightly listed a lot of strengths and weaknesses of the town. These are a few of the weaknesses we have, which are mostly self inflicted or inflicted upon us. A little extra effort in enforcement, in making Selma an unpleasant place for illegal immigrants to reside, and in taking care of our own town property can go a long way towards improvements in making Selma "a charming place to be".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Column for Aug 21, 2008

Leave your self righteousness at home and Oktoberfest alone

I know that this is not going to be a popular subject with many readers, but I have never been one to shy away from tough topics. I am going to deal with personal opinions and "sacred cows", so to speak.

Months ago, I was pleased to see the Selma Town Council give their vote of support for Edelweiss Cafe here in town to put on an annual Oktoberfest. Edelweiss is a unique restaurant with a unique cultural flavor and flair. Having been to Germany and experienced some of the culture, I fully appreciate what Steve Reed has done with his restaurant. Later, the town council decided to wait for a full public hearing on the changing of an ordinance that would permit the sale of alcohol on town property, such as on a closed off Raiford Street. That delay almost cost the town the festival this year, since there was a lot of money and planning on the line in order to pull off the event. Fortunately, the town council decided to pass an ordinance that would allow the sale of beer on the street. The ordinance has tight restrictions, and the proposed event had the same sorts of controls over the distribution and consumption of alcohol.

When I first moved to Johnston County, we were effectively a "dry county", with sumptuary laws that disallowed sales of liquor by the drink. It was fine for the county itself to sell liquor apparently, just not bars to serve it. That was a huge double standard. What that meant was the one could only find a limited number of restaurants in the area. Johnston County had plenty of barbeque and fast food joints, but nothing like Outback, Texas Steakhouse, Applebee's, or even Sweetwater's when they were in business. I lamented the lack of restaurant selection for a long time. I moved to Johnston County after living in North Hills in Raleigh for years, and was quite used to upper quality dining establishments.

I remember that I worked for the local radio station in town when the subject of liquor by the drink was up for discussion. A local pastor who ran the radio station argued against the passing of the law on reasons of temperance and a feared rise of DWI and resulting fatalities from automobile collisions. Of course sumptuary laws (prohibition) in the United States did not work out so well after the passing of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Well meaning but misguided Christians (primarily Protestant) and temperance organizations lobbied hard for their version of holiness to be forced upon everyone in the entire nation. That lasted only thirteen years before the 18th Amendment was repealed, but not before thousands of people died from the black market forces and organized crime created by the sudden illegality of alcohol manufacturing, distribution, and consumption. Al Capone made millions of dollars from his illegal distilling operations. Similar laws failed miserably in Canada, Russia, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Ironically, Muslim nations often impose harsh penalties for violation of prohibition laws even today. And yet many Christian ministers are critical of Islam (as am I) for their intolerance to any paradigm other than their own.

The same sort of false holiness was pitched to the Selma Town Council in the form of opposition to the ordinance change to allow such alcohol sales "for the public good" by local clergy. I find it interesting that the very people who preach about the first miracle of Jesus, turning water into wine, are the same people who want to limit or prevent anyone from access to the same beverage or others like it. I have had the theological discussion with ministers on the "evils" of alcohol consumption. However, the very nature of the concept of temperance is not abstinence, but the avoidance of excess. I have seen ministers who argued tooth and nail against alcohol preach a fiery sermon then go eat like cultured hogs. That not only is hypocritical, but is gluttony, and the antithesis of temperance. The Apostle Paul warned us to "be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess", not to abstain from wine all together. The Corinthians were admonished for getting drunk during communion, not against imbibing said beverage. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, not control of others in the name of the public good. If it was not a sin for two thousand years of church history to consume alcohol, except in those circles in which busy bodies wished to foist their personal convictions upon others. It certainly is not for the reason of properly interpreted scripture. I am not much on mass consumption of alcohol, but I usually do choose the wine over the grape juice each Sunday during communion just to stand by two thousand years of church tradition.

I have long heard it said that when it comes to dealing with the faith, we should handle things thusly: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. This is one of those areas in which pet doctrines can be muscled upon others in the name of holiness or public good, since it is easy to fall for the concept. Nobody who is highly moral believes that drunkenness is a righteous thing. Furthermore, I have seen some build a case from the Bible, however unfounded or inapplicable the verses turned out to be, especially when placed in their proper contextual setting. The consumption of alcohol in and of itself is not sinful, nor is it righteous to attempt to ban others from partaking therein. There are some explicit and obvious truths that are issues of sin and appropriate public policy, such as prohibiting the slaughter of innocent life. Prohibiting someone from having a beer in downtown Selma at a well regulated event is not one of those obvious truths. If to you imbibing alcohol is a sin, then to you it is sin, according to the Bible. That does not mean that your personal conviction is good public policy or holy, much less applicable to others.