Thursday, April 30, 2009

Column for April 30, 2009

The fun you can have with a little boy in the house

I can not count the number of times that my lovely bride has made the comment that she already has two boys to raise and now has another on the way. She has one son, there is me, and then Troy Junior who will arrive in about a dozen weeks. My father had five boys, my brothers all had mostly boys, and I had a lot of male cousins. I am used to how boys play and interact. My wife, having only a sister for a sibling, is getting a lesson in what boys are about.

Since we married in October, there has almost never been a dull moment in the LaPlante household. With two dogs, two cats, three birds, a kindergartener, a mother-in-law, and a newlywed couple, things are often boisterous. I have wanted children for years, and I am having a glorious time being a father.

Boys are different than girls, which was actually a headline some years ago for a major national news magazine. Since I had a younger brother while growing up and was raised with a sharp, New Englander, sarcastic sort of wit, I know the fun one can have with a boy in the house, much to the chagrin of my lovely bride.

My step-son is now at the age where he is discovering new words and the fact that boys and girls are indeed different. I am constantly amazed at how children categorize things. In his words, "girls do not have pickles". This is news to a six-year-old, and I can only chuckle. I can tell that I am going to have a chat with him in the not too distant future about some things.

With my propensity towards humor in every day life, I often find humor in things that make my bride blush. The boy came up to her one day and asked, "Mommy, is _____ a bad word?" My wife was aghast with the shock of the question and I was about rolling on the floor with laughter. I was informed how I was not helping the situation whatsoever. Meanwhile, I was wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes.

One day, I was driving on Pollock Street in Selma, and seeing the establishment, the boy asked, "What is a pawn shop?" My answer was simply, "They sell chess pieces". His reply was simply, "Oh," while his grandmother fought to hold back her laughter from the passenger seat.

John has just found out that he likes showers instead of always taking a nightly bath. I love the fact that the shower curtain is drawn, because he does not see me coming like he would if he was taking a bath, instead. A cup of cold water dumped over the top of the shower curtain and onto an unsuspecting child is a favorite past time. Ah, I can hear those little screams of surprise now. I can expect some payback eventually when he gets tall enough to retaliate. I am sure he now has a new tactic to practice on a baby brother of his own some day, as well.

I wish I had my video camera ready one day when I heard a small boy's voice singing as he banged on his toy keyboard. John loves country music. He was hitting the keys with one hand while holding the toy microphone in the other. In a singing voice that would make Simon Cowell wince, he was wailing repeatedly, "I saw God today," and doing his best George Strait imitation. That was funny enough as it was. Then he proclaimed, "OK, just one more song, then y'all can leave church!" I chuckled softly as I waited to hear what was coming next. He then broke into the 1980's pop favorite, "I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt!" Ah, the things you see and hear without a camcorder in hand. So much for our appearance on "America's Funniest Home Videos".

Speaking of catching things on video, a couple of days ago, I was asked about an old movie that was on TV. "Why is that movie in black and white?" I couldn't resist. My answer was something akin to, "Well, a long time ago, the entire world was black and white. Old movies were made before the earth started to turn color in about 1939. Do you remember the movie, "The Wizard of Oz"? The movie started out in black and white and then suddenly turned to color. We have documented on film for all posterity the world's change over from black and white to color. That is what made that movie so famous."

Yes, sir, I am enjoying being a daddy. And in a few months, I get to have another victim…I mean son to play with.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Column for April 23, 2009

Congratulations to my fellow right wing extremists

Now that I have been labeled by my own government as a dangerous "right wing extremist", I have news for you. Many of you who read this column are now classified as such, too. And I guarantee that many other people that you know are also now classified by the Department of Homeland Security as extremists. What did we do to gain such an honor? We simply believe in a government following its own Constitution.

For those who oppose a North American Union, gun control, abortion on demand, illegal immigration, forced universal government service for all citizens, infringement upon United States sovereignty, and violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, you now have your own file in some government database and are labeled as an extremist.

If you think that I am making this up, there is a 10 page bulletin just released by the Department of Homeland Security that I have on my computer right this moment that says so. Apparently the socialist bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. believe that returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are potential future domestic terrorists.

The left wing has been poking fun at the right for having tax protest rallies, anti-illegal immigration rallies, and associating anyone who opposes the current governmental policies as a "skin head", racist, or neo-Nazi. I have seen and heard such comments my own self. The ironic part is that the Nazi Party in Germany was not a right wing party. They were leftists. They were The National Socialist German Workers' Party.

I have never heard of right wing radicals (now consisting of your average, everyday citizen of this country that loves freedom and a constitutional republic) being violent and inherently racist. Lest we forget, it was the left wing that opposed the Civil Rights Act. It was a leftist activist that shot Abraham Lincoln. Right wingers who attended tax protest tea parties across the nation last week were entirely peaceful.

Compare that to the left wing protesters at UNC Chapel Hill last week. Imagine that…left wing socialists at Chapel Hill. Who would have thought that could happen? An acquaintance of mine had organized an event at UNC through the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee. You may have heard that former candidate for President, Tom Tancredo from Colorado was the guest speaker. ALIPAC had a video camera rolling and put the video on the internet. I got to see the footage that no television station was carrying.

Ignorant college students were protesting the fact that Mr. Tancredo, who was my second choice during the Presidential Primaries last election season, was going to speak about the topic of states allowing illegal aliens to get in state tuition rates at state universities. Before the event began, students were protesting, illegally blocking building exits, and attempting to impede the event. During the talk, students strung a banner in front of Tom Tancredo. They would not listen to reason and only wanted to be disruptive. A protester outside the room broke out a pane of glass to the external window and chaos ensued.

The very same ideologues that have been harshly critical of "right wing extremists" and warn of "right wing domestic terrorists" themselves became a brand of terrorists of their own. They resorted to violence and attempted to squash any voice of dissent. Freedom of speech is fine if it is in their favor, but must be stopped at all cost if it is of a different perspective.

That same philosophy has become prevalent in our government. Any voice of opposition must be silenced. The opposing views must be forcibly stopped. That, my friends, is not American. It is not ethical. It is not the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is hypocrisy in action. That, my friends, is what you have elected to office at our state and national levels.

I am in good company, though. The voices of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and many others held the same freedoms dear to their hearts and risked their lives to stand by their convictions. They would have been labeled radical right wing extremists. Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, and even Jesse Helms would have been labeled as right wing extremists.

If you believe in smaller government, lower taxes, the right of a baby to be born and not killed in utero, in following the United States Constitution, and the punishment of criminal behavior, then you too are now a right wing extremist. The federal government may have a file on you by now. Congratulations, comrades, you have now been classified by your own government as a potential domestic terrorist.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Column for April 16, 2009

It is unethical to pay for someone else's irresponsibility

As a parent, I shudder at the thought of someone other than myself teaching my children about sex. I have a boy who is just now asking questions about babies, how his mother is going to get the baby out of her tummy, and wondering how the baby came to be. For those with a Judeo-Christian or even Muslim world-view, there are ethics that go along with the practice of sexual relations. Primarily, I believe that sex education should take place in the home and be received from caring parents and reinforced with the ethics and responsibilities of such.

There are interesting ethical debates surrounding the consequences of sexual activity. Just recently, I have been involved with two in particular. They are not only ethical in nature but also practical civic lessons.

A fellow conservative writer shared a news story on the internet about how an HIV/AIDS prevention program for African nations instituted under President George W. Bush has released data showing that there has been a 10% decrease in the spread of AIDS in those nations since the program began. Sure, a decrease in the spread of any disease is good news. However, I have a serious objection to the program to begin with.

My objection is simply this. I see nowhere in the United States Constitution that empowers our country to simply take money supplied by our tax paying citizens and give it away to other countries, regardless of the "feel good" or even "do good" results. The Constitution's preamble states its purpose; "…to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…"[sic] That is it. AIDS prevention in Africa does not fall under any of those categories.

It is therefore illegal and thus unethical to take the hard earned tax dollars of Americans and give them to some third world dictatorship in the hopes of disease prevention, as noble as that goal may be. Disease prevention efforts would be more appropriate if they were in our own nation, since that is more closely aligned with the scope of the Constitution. Even then, I am dubious as to its legality thereunder.

My conservative friend would argue that the program did good and thus was a good move. I argued that the disease is spread by behavior and it is inappropriate for us to spend money in another country for behavior modification. The return argument was of course that a large percentage of AIDS victims in Africa are children that got it from their parents. My retort is simple. Sex is a behavior with consequences. If you have AIDS, do not procreate.

The second example is that my wife and I were at her OBGYN recently for a prenatal checkup. While there, we saw a young couple with two children and another on the way. We heard them say that there was one other child who was not with them. Seeing a young couple having a family is a wonderful thing…or is it?

The family present consisted of a woman with a toddler, a baby no more than 6 months old, and the one on the way was 20 weeks along, so we heard. The mother was obviously taking care of the children. The father is disabled, apparently blind. The couple was paying for their visit through Medicaid. Or more appropriately stated, we taxpayers are paying their medical bills.

I am going to go out on a limb here and surmise that the couple is also getting other government assistance in the form of WIC, food stamps, Social Security disability, and who knows what else. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

For a toddler to have a baby brother or sister so close in age means that the couple procreated soon after the child was born. To have a baby six months old and a 20 week pregnancy means that they procreated yet again shortly after the baby was born. Look…we now know what causes pregnancy. Actually, we have for thousands of years now.

For the taxpayers of this country to pay for a family to live and then to pay for their irresponsible sexual activities is just plain unethical. Birth control would have been a whole lot cheaper than bringing more crumb crunching tricycle motors into this world at public expense.

I am all for helping out others, especially as friends, neighbors, family, and church members. However, when do we draw the line and say that the bad decisions taken by people are not going to be paid for by the general populace? That is a matter of ethics just as much as the moral implications of having sex to begin with.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Column for April 9, 2009

Gun control only disarms the innocent

It is tragic to see how many lives have been taken this past week in various incidents of killing rampages. There have been shootings in an immigration office in New York, shootings in Pittsburgh, in Washington State, and of course the recent mass shooting in a Carthage nursing home here in North Carolina. All of these incidents have made national news.

Of course there is the typical knee-jerk reaction to violence committed by individuals wielding firearms. What you rarely hear in such news reports is whether or not the perpetrators obtained the firearm in a legal or illegal manner to begin with. If the guns were legally obtained, then no new gun law would have helped stop the crime. If the guns were illegally obtained, then laws would have been irrelevant, anyway, since that is the definition of the word illegal.

Criminals do not follow the law by definition. For every nut job out there with a gun, there are millions more who are responsible, sane gun owners. So how do government officials try to keep nut jobs from attacking? They put further restrictions on law abiding, responsible people.

I have read about several attempts to curb your freedom in the name of protecting you. One has even been hidden in the guise of a health care rider on the spending stimulus bill. One way or another, your privacy, your freedom, and safety will be abridged in the name of safety and security.

Here in North Carolina, Senate Bill 664, deemed "The Rapist Protection Act" bill by opponents has resurrected the idea of "safe storage" of firearms. As a collector myself, I do own safes for storage of firearms. I want to protect my investment from theft. I do not want to prevent my access to them when needed. Firearms would have to be stored in locked locations, essentially with ammunition stored separate from the gun itself under this proposed law. There are numerous other insane requirements, including holding a property owner liable for what those who step foot on his property do.

In the United States House of Representatives, HR 45 is a bill that would require licensing for all people who purchase firearms as well as a record for each and every gun sale. Of course we already have laws that do that. The bill has language to seize further regulatory control under the guise of regulating interstate commerce. It used verbiage such as, "…to restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, youths, and other persons prohibited by federal law from receiving firearms…" If it is already illegal for these people to obtain firearms, then we don't need yet another law that does the same thing. Further laws only make criminals out of already law abiding citizens or seriously infringe upon their freedoms. What part of the Second Amendment's "shall not be infringed" is so hard to comprehend?

The stimulus bill signed into law requires that your health care records be placed into a huge database. People who have had any issues in the past would be heavily scrutinized and judgment calls would prohibit them from obtaining a firearm for personal protection.

I know of one person whose home was almost broken into this weekend. He lives out in the country. A burglar was at his home and attempted to get in through a window. Now this man is concerned about protecting himself and his wife, and rightly so. He wishes to purchase a gun for home defense. He served honorably as a Vietnam War combat veteran.

However, since he had a few problems coping with the horrors of war after his return to the United States almost forty years ago, his health records are available in a database and he will most likely be placed on a "prohibited persons" list maintained by the FBI. In case you think that I am exaggerating here, I also had a family member who was denied a pistol carry permit right here in North Carolina for having sought mental health care after a traumatic experience several years ago. That person's health record was available to law enforcement for determination of whether or not to infringe upon gun rights.

The bottom line is that criminals will get guns and whack jobs will use them if they want to, regardless of whether guns are legal or not. Further gun restrictions only harm law abiding, innocent people and produce victims. The story in Carthage may have been much different had someone who worked there been trained to use a firearm and had one available to stop the attack. Instead, it was a "gun free zone" and a lot of people died as a result.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Column for April 2, 2009

My family and I just returned from a long weekend getaway. I have been thinking all weekend about what to include for this week's column. I keep a list of things on a notepad from which I can draw for ideas. Other times, like last week, I find an issue I can jump on immediately.

This weekend, I was struck by several things. I will not call them epiphanies, since they are nothing new to me. However, they sure reinforced my ideals.

We went to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to do some cavern exploring. I have been there before, but my wife and six year old have never been there. I knew what to expect in the caverns, and chose to visit Luray Caverns, their car and caravan museum, Endless Caverns, and on the way home, Monticello.

I was awestruck the first time I ever visited Luray. The magnificent rock formations, the immense caverns, the beautiful colors all were incredible to behold. The site was certainly very commercialized, with gift shops, brick paved walkways throughout the caverns, DVD videos of the area, books, shirts, and every sort of "touristy" trinkets you can imagine.

Endless Caverns, on the other hand, is very "mom and pop" style. The caverns go on further than Luray, but are less spectacular than Luray's caverns. They are not as clean and developed as Luray, but still beautiful.

What stuck me was the sheer magnitude and beauty of the two caverns. I realize that I was not asked to write a column on religion. However, I do want to take the time to relay how pensive such a visit, even for the second time, truly makes me. I ponder how big God is, how he created the earth, and how he is a magnificent artist. These caverns may never have been discovered, and yet the majesty would still be there underground. They would still be displaying His majesty even if us mere humans never were able to see His handy work.

I was amazed at the contrast between those caverns and Dinosaur Land. Hey, we had a six year old with us, so we had to do some kid friendly stuff, too. Though he was amazed at the caverns, he was not as excited at the prospects of visiting the Museum of United States Presidents as I was.

Dinosaur Land was basically wood framed structures covered with chicken wire and plaster. They depicted different dinosaurs. Just as at the caverns, there were descriptions of millions of years of time and evolution. I have to admit, I used to believe that garbage, but have been persuaded to be a believer in Creation Science and have long ago discarded such drivel.

Anyway, the attempt of someone to turn their backyard into a tourist attraction was just so dim in contrast to the glory of gorgeous caverns. I almost felt that way about Monticello, as well.

The more I read, the less that I am a fan of Thomas Jefferson. I have developed a greater respect for John Adams and less esteem for Jefferson. Anyway, that is entirely a different discussion for a different day. The bookstore at Monticello was phenomenal and I was able to add to my library of historical books. I just had to be temperate in my purchasing, because I found dozens of books I wanted to acquire.

I was struck by the undertaking of the estate and the manpower necessary to build that facility on a mountaintop over 200 years ago. It was completed 200 years ago this year. I have seen greater homes than Jefferson's Monticello, but for a 1700's plantation home, it was still beautiful.

Both Dinosaur Land and Monticello paled in comparison to the magnificence of God's creation as seen in the caverns. I was reminded that no matter how great man's accomplishments are, God's are greater. When magnificent homes are built for the world to see, God still displays his splendor even though it was hidden for thousands of years.

At one time, Monticello had fallen into disrepair and had to be restored. The caverns have only been getting more spectacular as time passes, as long as man did not intervene and break off stalactites (as was the case in the caverns. The practice was once encouraged out of greed so that the proprietors could charge by the pound for stalactite souvenirs.) One way or another, the rocks did cry out the glory of God.

Yes, I know that this is not a normal column, but I am not ashamed to declare the glory of my God and King.