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.