Thursday, May 27, 2010

Column for May 27, 2010

I recently took a lot of heat for a commentary I made on former First Lady Laura Bush. As some of you may know, she now has a book that has been released and she has been doing the national talk show circuit to promote her book. During the course of an interview with Larry King, she revealed that she had strong personal disagreement with her husband on the subjects of homosexual marriage and abortion. She was in favor of both. She also later came out in support of the nomination of Elena Kagan.

My initial commentary consisted only of sharing the video clip with my online readers and saying that Laura Bush has lost a lot of respect from me. You would have thought I accused Laura Bush of twisting the heads off newborn kittens. Simply saying that she lost a lot of respect is apparently harsh, judgmental, and cruel.

Personally, I find her revelatory opinions to be extremely hypocritical and an endorsement of both Sodomy and murder, which I later expressed. In this I don't mind being seen as narrow. There is no excusing the killing of innocent babies or for the redefinition of marriage. It is not a matter of being open minded. It is a matter of being accepting of sinful behavior and destruction of the innocent.

If there is one thing with which Laura Bush should be familiar, it is that if you are going to put yourself in the public spotlight and stick your head above the crowd, you are going to have a few tomatoes thrown at you. I have had my share of them, too. In the case of her husband, a lot of tomatoes flew his way. Some of the tomatoes thrown at George W. Bush were justified. Many were patently unfair. When the views that someone publicly expresses are contrary to the faith of the majority of Americans and contrary to the majority of even secularists, then there will be some expressions in contradiction.

As a Christian, I personally believe that it is the duty of believers to do as Proverbs 31:8 states, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves". That would include the unborn, whose wanton slaughter Laura Bush just openly endorsed. We are to cry aloud and spare not. Woe unto Laura Bush or any other who believe as she does. Isaiah 5:20 says "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." I for one will not remain silent in order to be seen as proper in the eyes of anyone who thinks that a Christian is to be quiet and "nicer than Jesus".

Just last month, my wife and I were in her OBGYN's office watching the ultrasound and listening to the heartbeat of our seven-week-old fetus. Just seven weeks and we heard its heartbeat! Nobody can convince me that my baby is not a living creature and to remove it from the womb would not constitute murder.

This begs the question about whether or not it is horribly judgmental to speak out against not only the case of Laura Bush, but about other topics that we know to be a matter of right and wrong. Should we stay silent in order to avoid accusations such as judgmental against the wrongs in our society? Is it wrong for Christians to acknowledge the presence of unrighteousness? Absolutely not. If that were the case, then we would still be a group of British colonies. Preachers like George Whitfield and patriots like Samuel Adams would have been considered heretics in their day. If it were the case, abolitionists of the 1800's would have remained silent and the Negro slave would have been allowed to stay in bondage.

If anyone thinks I just get paid to stir the pot with outlandish statements to attract and maintain readers for the newspaper, try asking the publisher how much I have received in compensation over my nearly four years of writing this column. Yes, I am opinionated and outspoken. But I have been faithful to write every single week to fill this space because I am committed to and passionate about a set of principles. I am committed to the difference between right and wrong; and to long standing values that made my faith, my country, and my God the greatest to have ever existed.

Whether it is Laura Bush, the federal government, a state governor, a local politician, or even clergymen, take a stand for what is right. It is not arrogant to stand on what you believe, especially if you are on the side of righteousness. God has blessed this nation with a form of government in which you have the right and the duty to take a stand. I encourage you all to do so.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Column for May 20, 2010

I see that Selma had yet another working fire over this past weekend. At one point, with as many buildings that caught fire in our town (and in my neighborhood in particular), I began to wonder if that was someone's method of "urban renewal". Seriously though, my heart goes out to the folks at Free Spirit Church.

If there is a program for town renewal that comprises fiery destruction, I jokingly suggest that the list include the house next to my own. It has been abandoned for about six years now, is in a state of disrepair, the grass is almost waist high, and looks like Herman Munster lives there. It is a charming place to dwell.

Speaking of renewal, my amazement is renewed every time I hear from people in town. We have seen buildings condemned and torn down. Some have been fixed to habitable status. The idea is to make Selma more attractive to residents to keep them here and to attract new ones to our town. I am fine with the idea of condemning some properties that have deteriorated into unsanitary slums, unfit for human inhabitation. There is a responsibility that goes along with property ownership. When one's abridgment of responsibility affects the community, then it is time for a community to act.

We are not going to attract or keep residents in our "Charming Place to Be", however, if we tell them that they are not valuable to our community. When residents are told at a Town Council Meeting that the town would rather lose 25 residents over inappropriate utility disconnection and keep a company on the outskirts of town that employs mostly people from out of town like Sysco, then we have a problem.

I was not personally at the recent Town Council Meeting, but I have been told by reputable sources that this is exactly what people were told when they spoke about their electricity being cut off over a misunderstanding of the grace period recently extended to pay extremely high utility bills. I was no different in that I had the highest bill I ever had while living in Selma, and I wrote so right here in this column. Fortunately I was able to handle that extra burden. Not everyone in town could, and I fully understand why.

Right across the street from the unfortunate fire at Free Spirit Church is what some in town (and I chuckled when I heard it referred to) as "The Mayor's Sandbox". I am in full support of the idea of development of the plot of land that has been "raped and scraped". However, for about two years now it has sat barren and undeveloped. I am told that the abandoned site is in violation of state land quality regulations and has been for a long time. This is why a local citizen has filed a formal complaint with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Land Quality.

People who can not afford to fix up their homes have them torn down. Citizens who can not afford to pay electricity bills in full have their utility services cut off. Properties deemed as eyesores or public nuisances are being threatened with being torn or shut down. Is it right that a development that can not be finished for similar reasons be allowed to be raped, scraped, and out of state regulatory compliance for a couple of years be allowed to remain? I guess it is all in who is doing the finger pointing.

If the goal is to truly make Selma "A Charming Place to Be", then perhaps leadership should be by example. I will be the first to be congratulatory if and when the development project intended for the Mayor's Sandbox is finally built. If it helps with the local economy and with an eyesore being alleviated, then I am all for it. I am fully in support of local business and in development of our fair town.

Selma is not so charming, however, when citizens are told that they are not as valued as a business on the outskirts of town that employs few Selma citizens. If we are talking solely about revenue to the town and disregard all other facets, then perhaps that perspective is accurate. However, a town is comprised of a group of individual citizens, not businesses and revenue streams. They deserve dignity and equal treatment.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Column for May 13, 2010

I already miss the month of April. Besides being a pretty girl's name, April is a pretty month and perhaps my favorite of the year. Each year, I look forward to the first part of the old, "April showers bring May flowers" expression. At least here in North Carolina, April showers bring April flowers. Once it hits May, the flowers are pretty much gone and the temperature gets uncomfortably hot.

March can be rough or mild, but when April 1 rolls around, I just plain enjoy North Carolina for at least 30 days. This year, as soon as May 1 hit, the weather turned hot and uncomfortable. April weather is sufficiently mild so that we can open the windows during the day and enjoy a temperature that is cool enough to not run the heat and warm enough to not have to run the air conditioning. Because of that, April is an economical month because we don't have to pay as much for Selma's over priced electricity to make the house comfortable.

Each April, my lawn starts to come to life after its hibernation. I have to get out the old lawnmower and get it running for the first time. I pick up a lot of limbs in the backyard after stiff winds blow out old, dead wood from my ancient pecan tree. Of course we can not forget the pollen that comes along with April, either. My pine tree in my back yard was just a sapling when I first moved there, and "Little Tree", as I call it has grown tremendously since then. Little Tree also covers my automobiles, car port, and yard with nasty yellow pollen. This year seems to be about the worst I remember in my 22 years here in the Tarheel State.

I have put more bird seed into my wild bird feeder and put more fresh water into my birdbath in my front yard than in any other year I can recall. I am not an avid bird watcher as my step-dad used to be, but I enjoy watching the doves, cardinals, robins, and black birds come and partake of the feed I put out for them. I also get to watch the psychotic but persistent squirrels attack my feeder. I have tried several different types of feeders in times past. I have found two kinds that squirrels can not totally destroy but still can steal from. The one good thing about these cute rats with bushy tails is that they cause a lot of seeds to fall to the ground so that the doves can eat. Doves seem to be too clumsy and stupid to get on the feeder so they scavenge off the ground. Basically, they seem to be retarded pigeons, but are still neat to have around.

My bird bath has gotten quite a work out this year. I sometimes have to fill it twice a day, and usually every day at a minimum. I laugh when I see birds jumping in and out of the bath. There is a group of black birds that love to all come to my bird bath at the same time. I affectionately refer to them as the "town council". They all sit in a semi-circle on the ridge of my bird bath, chatter at each other, and take turns jumping in to the center of the bath, making quite a splash. When one has taken its turn, the bird hops out and another chatter box hops in the bowl to splash around. This may go on for quite a while. I can never anticipate how long their council meeting will last or whether or not there will be enough members to have a quorum, just as I have seen in times past here in Selma government.

Spring is symbolically a time thought of as a renewing or of new life. The Bradford Pear trees come to life with gorgeous though short lived blossoms. My dogwood trees and azalea bushes in my yard come to beautiful, fragrant bloom, although the dogwoods did not have as nice flowers this year as usual. In the vein of new life, my wife and I also found out in April that a new LaPlante will come into this world at the end of the year.

Because of the pleasant weather and the sheer beauty of nature during that month, if every month could be April, I would never want to leave North Carolina.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Column for May 6, 2010

Sometimes I just do not get Republican leadership. Several years ago I left the GOP because of their unorganized, hypocritical ways. For a year or so I affiliated with a third party that turned out to be nothing but a bunch of ineffective, disgruntled former Republicans who thought they were breathing fresh air. Instead they were in a dank, dark cave and were fewer in numbers than most endangered species. From that point on, I became just "unaffiliated".

With the pendulum swing towards radical socialism by so called Progressives, there has been a groundswell of ticked off citizens who have been protesting against big government and the change to a socialist nation. Quite honestly I relate to them greatly but have not joined their numbers at Tea Party events or protest marches. Instead I sat here in front of my computer monitor and have been proclaiming this since before people like Glenn Beck came on the scene and long before the Tea Party Movement got started.

I started becoming disenchanted with the GOP in the early to mid 1990's when I saw big government growing and spending increasing under Republican leadership. I was certainly not going to go to the Democrat Party. I believe that I would rather be stabbed to death with a plastic fork than become a registered Democrat.

Unlike in 1994 when Adolph Hitler could probably have gotten elected if he ran as a Republican, we probably will not see that easy a battle in 2010. The Progressives are too well organized and have too much experience with Joseph Goebbels style propaganda to be that easily defeated. The ironic thing about the Progressive Movement is that they keep trying to characterize right wing adherents as Nazis. Folks, Nazis were leftists, not right wing extremists. They were the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Did you read that part? Socialist was right in their party name.

By the time that this column is published, the 2010 Primary Election will be over. Here in our little county, I saw the worst of GOP disorganization and foolishness. This past weekend, I got in my mailbox a post card from the county GOP. It listed the candidates who were being touted as being "conservative". I am all for conservative candidates. Unfortunately, the local GOP was not pimping the best, most conservative, or most qualified candidates in each election.

In the non-partisan school board election, the GOP recommended incumbents Larry Strickland (who got my vote) and Butler Hall (upon whose campaign signs I already commented in a previous column). They also recommended Jamie Guerrero and Bruce Frierson, neither of which I am familiar. They may very well be conservatives, I don't know. The Republicans did, however, neglect one of their longest standing loyalists and perhaps the most conservative candidate, Dave Tuttle. Dave and I go back many years and are close friends because of our similar polotical and religious views. He also has a track record as a former school board member unlike some other candidates. I was disappointed that his name was not even on the little post card.

One would think that if the GOP wanted to ensure that a Republican/conservative got elected, they would have let everyone know who all of their candidates were, even in a non-partisan race. I just hope that Johnston County is not a microcosm of the national GOP.

I left the county GOP because of neglectful stuff like this. I went to regular meetings at a local restaurant and the turnout was regularly low. One time I was the only person who showed up besides the guest speaker. That was the last straw for me as a member of the local party. I have not been to another meeting or fundraiser since.

Yes, this is a rant in the truest sense of the term. I fully admit that, and I hope that it wakes up someone in the county Republican Party. I have been told that the GOP wants me and people like me back in their camp to help fight and make changes from the inside. However, if Republicans, the only real choice I am left with in a two party system, do not wake up, change tactics, organize better, and seize this opportunity to take the leadership role, I predict that many more people will drop off their voter rolls.