Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Column for March 26, 2009

Being a gentleman does not equate to being a good representative

For years, I have been both critical and complimentary of our United States Congressman, Bob Etheridge. My philosophy is that if you are willing to complain, you had better be fair and be willing to give credit where credit is due.

I have been very willing to credit Mr. Etheridge positively when he voted against a gun control bill in the House of Representatives. I have also been sharply critical when ol' Bob sponsored bills that are patently unconstitutional or causes that are left wing and socialistic.

I remember when Bob Etheridge ran for Congress years ago. I was working in radio and interviewed him on the air immediately following the Railroad Days Parade in Selma. He dodged straight questions. After election to Congress, he did the same thing when I would interview him on the air. He would call the station asking to be put on the radio but did not want to have anything other than fluffy, soft questions thrown his way.

Last week, a liberal shill for the Democrat Party and staunch supporter of Bob Etheridge wrote a scathing letter to the editor impugning a regular reader and letter writer, David Speckhardt. Leon Lucas of Kenly skewered Mr. Speckhardt accusing him of basically being totally ignorant and uneducated about Mr. Etheridge and stated that the criticism was unwarranted as well as out of touch with reality.

I went back and read Mr. Speckhardt's short letter to the editor. He dealt with the recent voting record of Bob Etheridge. The fact that Mr. Etheridge has aligned himself with Nancy Pelosi and the far left wing of the Democrat Party is not debatable. Mr. Etheridge has continuously voted for and sponsored pork barrel spending that is not allowed by the Constitution, including two bail out bills amounting to trillions of dollars in spending.

Mr. Etheridge recently was quoted as saying, “Traders on Wall Street should not be able to get rich at the expense of folks on Main Street who are struggling. Taxpayer funds should not be used to pay bonuses to the very individuals whose excessive risk-taking caused the financial crisis that has harmed thousands of North Carolina families. When AIG has repaid taxpayers and is footing the bill, it is entitled to award compensation as it sees fit. However, I cannot allow the company to use taxpayer dollars for its executives greed.”

I say that you, Mr. Etheridge, should never have voted for any such bail out scheme at the expense of the taxpayers to begin with. It was government pressure and control upon mortgage companies and system that helped cause the problems. It is government involvement in the economy that is going to prolong the recovery, not help it.

I agree with Mr. Etheridge that it is imprudent of AIG and other companies to pay millions in executive bonuses to leaders of failing companies. However, I find it horrendously hypocritical to be outraged at the paying of executive bonuses that are a mere fraction of the money that the government is bilking out of the taxpayers of this nation in a scheme that is patently unconstitutional to begin with.

Mr. Lucas should perhaps read the United States Constitution. If he does not have one, I will gladly mail him a free copy at my expense. The same offer applies to every reader of this newspaper.

I am not going to defend Mr. Speckhardt's position, as I do not see that he needs any support. The facts do that for me. I will say that as ignorant as he was accused of being towards Bob Etheridge by a shill for a liberal representative, Mr. Lucas is far more ignorant of Mr. Speckhardt. David has actually read the Constitution. I have actually conversed with and met Mr. Speckhardt on several occasions and read his many letters to the editor in this and other newspapers. He is an ardent supporter of one of my favorite proposals, the Fair Tax plan.

In his letter to the editor, Mr. Speckhardt did not call Bob Etheridge names. He only questioned his support of whack jobs like Nancy Pelosi and the far left agenda. I do not care that Mr. Etheridge, "visits Kenly several times a year to check on his people and to determine what our needs and feelings are," as Mr. Lucas stated. I care that Congressman Bob Etheridge is voting totally against his oath of office regarding his support of the Constitution and is aiding the slow death of America with his votes.

Whether you like a politician or not is not the issue. The issue is proper performance. One can be wonderful at being wrong, as is the case here. It just means that ol' Bob is a good politician. It does not mean that he is a good statesman.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Column for March 19, 2009

Trying to not be weary and not faint in my column

I was just asked if writing a column each week wears on me after a while. To be perfectly honest, sometimes it does. Today is one of those days in which it does wear on me.

Sometimes ideas for columns just present themselves to me and I find easy fodder. Other times I start to bang away on my keyboard only to re-write with something else altogether. My biggest challenge is sometimes not what to include in a column, but what to leave out. I often have to go back and take things out of the column and still get the idea across. The newspaper's editor will attest to the idea that I can sometimes just keep typing like the Energizer Bunny bangs a drum. Sometimes, before I know it, I have doubled my allotted space. I have gotten chastised for that more than once. I thank the editor for his criticism and keep on typing with the intent to do better in the following column.

What wears on me at times is the wonder as to whether or not the effort is worth the energy and having any influence or not. I obviously have a set of ideals, cling to them like a pit bull, and am not afraid to express them. I have lost friends because of this very thing. I have lost acquaintances and connections with old friends, coworkers, classmates, and the like as a result. I have been kicked out of churches for the same tenacity to what I believe…nay, know to be truth.

What I can say in hindsight is that I have in almost every such case been vindicated. I have been proven correct, men have come to me later (sometimes years later) and apologized, or the facts just bore out as such. There have literally been times when I "knew that I knew that I knew" what I was pontificating was the honest truth. I have clung to that and when deep in my gut I know I am right, I am almost never wrong. When I am wrong, I am man enough to admit it, make corrections, and press forward.

So, with that being said, why would I be weary? I grow weary from time to time when I am so exasperated at the things I see around me and feel powerless to do anything about them. Usually it is when I am profoundly disgusted in general rather than at a specific principle.

What do I mean by in general? When I see trillions of dollars wasted on programs that will do little except get us into tremendous debt. I mean when I see terrorist prisoners about to be released from a prison to fight another day. I mean when I see this country announcing in advance to the world and to our enemies when they can expect to get no more resistance from the United States. I mean when I see the state of North Carolina raid the lottery budget to balance the state budget and yet spend like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

I mean when my taxes go up and see no real relief in sight. I mean when I see local spending at the municipal and county levels at an all time high. I mean when I see an invasion of this nation by illegal aliens and no desire on the part of our elected officials to stop it. I mean when our elected officials totally and blatantly ignore the Constitution. I mean when our system of government is usurped and we become a socialist nation. I mean when I see the Communist Manifesto played out before my eyes in the United States and I want to move to Iceland or Canada.

Sure, all these thoughts cause me to grow weary, make me want to throw up my hands in disgust, and ask, "Why bother?" However, if I am anything, I am tenacious in my beliefs. When I know something to be true, I latch on and hold fast. I admire those who are the same way. God made me stubborn about some things and it is my lot in life to hold fast. If it were not so, I would not be writing my little column about big ideas here in this little newspaper in this little town. Thank you, Lord God, for my opportunity and responsibility to do so.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Column for March 12, 2009

Why do I wake up scratching so much? Some canine logic for thought.

In my home, my wife and I have a baby gate placed in our bedroom doorway. Because of the construction of the hallway and the door jams, I have not installed the locking mechanism or hinge on the plastic swinging gate. It wedges in the niche at the door frame nicely. The gate is not in place to keep a baby in or out, but rather to keep my dogs from coming into the bedroom at night.

I have two dogs. One is a Pekingese that I have owned for about three years. Because she is white and beautiful, I named her Daisy. She was a special needs animal that was abandoned and was even on WRAL TV, which is how I found out about her story. I adopted her after she was rescued from certain death at the animal shelter. Daisy's news story and follow up story are on the internet on her page or My other dog is a mutt that was rescued from being chained to a clothes line in below freezing weather last year. I named him Slime Dog because when I rescued him, he was full of the slime of mud and his own bodily waste. I affectionately told him that he was a slimy dog. He responded to my calling him that, hence the name. He is part black and part white, so I have pondered renaming him Barack Odoga in honor of our new President.

The two dogs became best friends and are a source of both joy and frustration at times, as all pets are. The Pekingese used to be rebellious and still has some fits of insubordination when it comes to her being housebroken. One of her favorite spots was on my bedroom floor, hence the gate to keep her out. Barack Odoga has become very affectionate towards his humans over the past year he has been living here, and loves the indoor comforts of a house pet. He also still enjoys being in my fenced backyard and to go on walks. He loves to jump on my bed or my son's bed and snuggle. My wife, however, seriously dislikes sharing a bed with Barack Odoga, so the gate stays in place.

Besides the dogs, I've had two cats even longer. The two sweet felines are able to jump over the gate quite easily and love to come say hello, get or give affection, or sleep on the bed or dresser. Old Slime Dog could probably jump over the gate if he wanted to, but he has yet to discover that part. Sometimes when the cats jump over the gate, they will push off with their hind feet in mid jump and nudge the gate open just a little bit. As dumb as he is (I often call him "Stupie" and he responds nicely), Slimy is smart enough to know how to get his paw or snout in the slightly cracked open gate and push it open. That is when the fun begins.

I am a very light sleeper and am often have insomnia. I have for decades. When I hear the gate get kicked open, I know the dog will get his snout through the gate rapidly and will end up jumping on the bed, take up real estate on my king size bed, pull down covers, and inhibit free human movement. I can tell you from experience that a semi-conscious, annoyed pregnant woman is a she-bear and old Slimy gets shoved, kicked, and fussed at until he relents and leaves the bed. I, on the other hand, am more tolerant of canine snuggles and dog breath. Besides, Slimy does does not complain about snoring and will toss and turn less than my wife does.

What is the object lesson here? We have allowed the gate to be cracked on a lot of things in our government, family, and religious lives. We allowed money to be taken from the "locked" Social Security fund and now that money is part of general revenues and expenditures. We allowed money to be raided from the highway trust fund in NC and now Governor Perdue is illegally raiding the state lottery trust fund to balance the North Carolina state budget. We allowed no fault divorce, single parent homes, welfare programs, tax increases, homosexual agendas, liberal sex education programs, illegal immigration, gun control, worldliness, and so many other issues to enter through a crack in the gate instead of locking it down. Now we have to pay the consequences of a wide open gate and wake up with fleas.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Column for March 5, 2009

Here is your chance to sound off or get involved in your town

I wrote recently that "Selma is a great town but…" seems to be a familiar phrase I hear. I had one email conversation recently in which I was asked for a list of things I felt needed attention or were problematic.

I figure that it is time that we hear from some of our citizens as to their concerns here in town. I strongly encourage each of you to write the newspaper and take advantage of the "letters to the editor" section and express your thoughts, complaints, compliments, problems, suggestions, and desires for your home town.

For the sake of brevity, I will share just some of my own recent list.

1. Selma leadership seems fixated on expanding the town through forced annexation rather than attracting people to move and/or build here. Forced annexation is unethical, it is confiscatory in nature, and past efforts have been expensive as well as illegal.

2. The town neglects some simple and inexpensive things that will enhance its image such as fresh paint on flag poles, no parking zones on curbs, town facilities, and the like. Not all improvements are expensive. Let's take care of the little things we can do on the cheap before pursuing dreams of grandeur.

3. Almost three years ago, the town worried about liability over a free standing water tower that was abandoned and left alone for years but ignores the broken, uneven sidewalks that are used every day. Common walking surfaces are a much greater liability risk. Why strain at a gnat and swallow a camel?

4. We have sewer lines that are 100 years old and in disrepair and yet the town seems to want to add more area to the town that will require additional infrastructure including water and sewer lines. Why seek to add area to the town and yet ignore the upkeep of existing infrastructure?

5. The town attempts to exert undue influence on people who live in the ETJ, outside the city limits. I have written on this extensively.

6. We have over 60% renters in the town. That leaves the primary property tax bill on absentee landlords who do not care about the town in which their properties are located. A minority of citizens actually own property, live here, and have a stake in the town. This leads to little pride in the town and attracts a low quality of citizenry. Though this was addressed in the Strategic Plan, I am not convinced that the action of outlawing duplexes that limits freedom and ran contrary to the Planning Board's wishes was the best method of stemming the tide of rentals.

7. By and large, the town council and mayor disregard what the citizens express at public hearings or what may have been recommended by citizen advisory boards, and have even been openly critical of those opinions. This does not instill the desire for serving the community or to get involved with one's town. I will say that Councilman Eric Sellers, in general, is courteous enough to read and respond to emails. Thank you, Mr. Sellers. I believe in contacting my elected officials.

8. I have witnessed bullying and intimidation tactics employed on council members and on citizens, which is just unacceptable behavior. I have also witnessed pontification of one thing at town council meetings and then a pontiff's turn around vote for exactly the opposite.

9. Selma is full of illegal aliens. At town hall, employees must cater to those who are here illegally and/or do not speak the common language of the land. Failure to discourage immigrants from moving here results in low quality renters and neighborhoods, raises our crime rates, costs money for the time and materials in two languages, and just plain needs to stop with the drain on our budget. This problem is even greater at higher levels of government and affects our taxes, our education system, our health care system, and our culture. If we had sufficient resolve even at the town level, we could make a difference in this problem.

These are just some of the items I shared, but with a little sanitizing of content for public consumption and space constraints. What would be in your list? Write the newspaper and let the town know. Get involved. Speak out. Exercise your freedoms. Here is my one suggestion in pondering your items. Be prepared to offer items for which you believe there to be a viable solution.