Thursday, May 26, 2011

Column for May 26, 2011

It feels really weird typing right now. I just got back from my doctor’s office a little bit ago and my left middle finger is totally numb. I had an infection build up in my finger for some odd reason and went to my doctor to have it checked out. Well, I had to get my finger numbed with a shot and the abscess cut open. I was sent home with a Band-Aid and a prescription for an antibiotic. It just feels really weird banging on the keyboard and not being able to feel the keys below my finger. I keep having to go back and fix typos as I go along.

One neat thing I observed while driving back into town to go to my friendly neighborhood pharmacy in “Uptown” Selma was the sure sign of the beginning of summer in this sleepy little town. Just before Memorial Day, the town puts up American flags all up and down the main thoroughfares. I noticed it this past weekend, but got to enjoy the sight of fresh, crisp flags adorning the town yet again.

I have to admit, I love the sight of dozens of flags up and down Pollock Street and Anderson Street. The only down side is that we don’t put up the sort of poles and flag fasteners that are tangle free. Here is what I propose. I will be willing to sponsor a flag every year in Selma if other people and businesses are willing to do the same. I would love to see the flags continue flying, even in bad economic times. I would also like to see the flags fly freely without being bound up on a cheap little pole like I would use in front of my house.

I am not the sort who needs my name attached to a sponsorship of a flag. I am sure that there are others who would like the recognition. For instance, I am a member of The Friends of Fort Macon. They have a current fund raising drive to purchase some replica cannons for display there. Personally, I love Fort Macon and its historic value. That is why I got there at least once a year, patronize their gift shop, and joined their support organization. I don’t need my name on a plaque proclaiming my support of a cannon purchase. I am sure that is an enticement to others, so if that helps them, fine. I don’t need a Selma flag plaque or anything, but I am willing to bring about the idea and lead by example. OK, so my offer is now public for all to read. I hope to spur interest by others, as well in so doing.

Speaking of nice flags, it is probably time to replace both the American and State of North Carolina flags in front of Town Hall.

The longer it takes me to write my column, the more feeling is returning to my finger tip. After two and a half hours, I am glad to feel the keyboard. Taking off the Band-Aid helped some, as well, and my rate of typos has been cut down, though still not perfect. I am sure that tangent was of great interest to somebody, just probably nobody reading this.

On July 4th, Selma will put on a nice fireworks display, if all goes according to previous years’ tradition. I read that the town was looking for private donations and sponsorships for that display. So the flag idea is not entirely original. The town does well on displaying its joy of independence and pride in America. This is commendable.

Here is my hope, though. My hope is that residents and government officials at all levels would take the show of patriotism one step further. Take the time to learn more about the history of America, her values, and the truths that have buttressed this nation for a few hundred years. Get to know the sacrifice and morals that brought this country her independence and what makes her stand out from all of world history. Feel free to contact me for some recommended sources of great information.

My toddler, who is in my office, is grabbing my hand and pulling on it. I can definitely feel the pain killer wearing off and painful sensation return to my sliced open, infected finger. I guess it is time to stop typing and re-bandage my red, swollen digit. I think we have some cool Scooby Doo bandages somewhere. Hey, I have two young children at home.

God Bless America...and may he bless all Americans in the context of Acts 3:26.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Column for May 19, 2011

Today was a very frustrating day at work. I didn’t get anywhere near the amount of work accomplished that I had hoped. The past several days have been long and tediously frustrating, as well. My computer, which used to work well, started to get slower than cold molasses. I did some basic maintenance on it and it sped up nicely, but then started giving me massive problems with a connection to my company’s private network. It was one of those days.

Then I started thinking about some of the other things in my life. My television show lasted a little over six months and just recently went off the air because of a few different circumstances to which I can only shrug my shoulders and speak of my gratitude for the opportunity.

Occasionally I turn on the radio and listen to a disc jockey or talk show host and know that I am better at it than the person to whom I was listening, but still give thanks for the career that I have and realize that I am making more money now than I would be if I had pursued my broadcasting career. I have never been the best at any job I have had, but have always done well at most jobs and businesses I have held or owned. Some jobs I was not so well suited for, some businesses were not sufficiently successful to warrant my continued efforts. Nevertheless, I learned from them all.

I think about how the whole time I was growing up that I never won an essay contest, science fair, or craft fair but sure did have a lot of second place finishes. I think about how when I played Little League baseball, municipal league flag football, and high school football, I was never on a winning team. I learned a lot about teamwork, but I spent a lot of time watching other people play while I sat on the bench or stood on the sidelines. I was never a tremendous athlete, but I competed as I was able.

I think about how I have never won an election of any consequence (not counting some small club or organization) in school or in government, though I was always good at civics and social studies. I was always the one involved in youth government activities, reported on government affairs in my first media job, and did get the top overall social studies award in my graduating class. Though I have never gone further than I have, I am grateful for the influence that I do have in this little column, in my circle of friends, and on the internet.

I think about how my finances have gotten tight since my wife has been out of work for two years and I have had to take on another car payment recently out of sheer necessity. Then I give thanks that my wife is able to stay at home with my children rather than have some day care center raise my boys, that I have employment sufficient to meet all of our needs, and that I have been able to provide a happy, loving home for my family.

I think about how much work there is to do around my little quarter acre patch of earth. The hedges need trimming. The lawn that is looking shaggy. The house, shed, concrete drive and walkways, and fence all need power washing. I have a roof leak and some repair work to do in my kitchen. I have a finite amount of time in which to get it all done and don’t know how I will be able to accomplish any of it. Then I stop and give thanks that I have a temperate, dry house in which to live.

My wife and I are both getting older but have still been talking about having more children. I think about the stupid things I did as a youth that would make me a father of children the same age as the waitress I had the other night. I think about how my first marriage yielded no children for some thirteen years and how my present wife and I have suffered through two miscarriages just this past year. Then I stop and give thanks for the family I have. I have a dedicated, loving bride, a step son I love dearly, and a toddler that is truly the cutest baby I have ever seen. I have also been able to give my boys much more of a father than I got to have my own self when I was young.

You can usually find out where my thoughts are going from day to day on Facebook or Twitter on the internet, and today is no exception. I “tweeted” simply, “At least with Christ, I am always on the winning team.” In all the thoughts about how some things in life have not been as stellar as I would have hoped, I have other thoughts that can be summed up in this: His grace is sufficient for me, and for that I am grateful. Thank you, Father God, for your grace and for your son that you sacrificed for me, someone who never knew a winning team until you took me on as one of your teammates.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Column for May 12, 2011

In a time when governments are running a deficit and having to make budget cuts, I am amazed at the mentality of many people who are on the government dole. The elections of last November were supposed to send a message to the state and federal governments that we have had enough of reckless spending. To stop spending means just that. It means that we have to cease spending in some areas. The whole “not in my program”, “but it’s for the children”, and “leave my entitlements alone” stuff just ticks me off.

I have in front of me three different news stories about whining people who decry spending cuts for their own benefit or that of pet projects. Make no mistake that most all opposition to budget cuts is not about the “overall good”. It is almost always about personal gain.

About a week ago, thousands of teachers gathered in Raleigh to protest possible budget cuts. The funny thing is that some of these public school employees were not smart enough to realize that states don’t fund the military. Some were carrying signs whining that we should fund public services, not wars. Why would one protest state government spending cuts by whining about federal military spending? And these people are educating our children?

What were thousands of “educators” doing at a protest rally instead of teaching our children, anyway? If they were really about the children rather than their own personal benefit, they would have been in the classroom instead of chanting while carrying signs on sticks. Of course the rallying cry, “It’s for our pockets” is not as effective as “It’s for the children”. I don’t buy the claims of catastrophe and dire consequences for cutting spending in education along with all other areas.

Education funding is not the only controversial subject of potential cuts. The North Carolina health fund is a program that is under scrutiny. It is a trust fund that finances anti-tobacco and obesity programs for children and teenagers. The argument against cutting that program is that the prevention efforts will be cheaper than the cost of health care later.

Call me crazy, but I figure that the responsibility of raising children is that of a parent and not the government. It is not the job of the state to keep teenagers from smoking or dipping snuff. It is not the job of the state to keep kids from putting on a few extra pounds. That is the job of a parent. As to the idea of health care later, is it not also the job of a parent to take care of a child’s health needs and not that of every other taxpayer in the state? I have two children under the age of nine. One of them has a birth defect and I do not expect the government to pay for his treatment. That is up to me as his parent and not everyone else reading this newspaper. By the same token, any other parent bears their own responsibility for their children’s health care. And truth be told, the effects of the use of tobacco products or obesity in children will probably not be felt until the children reach the age of an adult. Then it is their own responsibility, not that of the taxpayer.

I read another article about some very selfish people. In November, America overwhelmingly elected conservative legislators in the federal and state governments. Recently, Congressional Republicans went home on break and many of them held town hall style meetings to meet their constituents. Some Congressmen were booed, shouted at, and jeered by older citizens whining about any possible cuts to their Medicare, food stamps, and Social Security benefits.

I have sympathy for them, I really do. But I have said it before and I will say it again. If your plan in life was to rely upon the government to take care of you and you made no provision for your own retirement, then that is your own fault. If you bought the lie that was handed to you that you can coast in life when you reach a certain age at the expense of the taxpayer, then you have used poor judgment in life. It is not my responsibility as a taxpayer and citizen to take care of you or anyone else outside of my family. We as a people simply can no longer afford to keep doling out the cash.

In 1753, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday and St. Tuesday will soon cease to be holidays. 'Six days shalt thou labor,' though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.” It is as true today as it was 258 years ago. To demand or expect otherwise is selfishness.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Column for May 5, 2011

Proverbs 11:10 “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.”

I am writing this on Monday close to noon time. I just got back from UNC Children’s Hospital where my son had minor surgery. Because of that, we were up very early this morning to have him checked into the hospital by 6:30. I tried to go to bed early as well. That means that I cut myself off from all media at an earlier hour than normal last night. When I woke up early this morning, I found the big news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. I was elated.

I listened to the news, read some quick news reports online, and even put something on Twitter and Facebook about my “shouts of gladness”. With my gladness, I must give credit where credit is due. President Barack Obama continued the policy of engaging Al Queda and gave the order for the raid upon the compound where intelligence sources say that Bin Laden was hiding. I am proud of our military for the job they did and grateful that President Obama had the courage to whack this scumbag. Congratulations.

The Defense Department has said that this was a kill operation, not a capture operation. From what I have heard thus far, Bin Laden’s body was given a rapid burial at sea to accommodate the Muslim custom of burial within twenty-four hours. So, to quote my all time favorite movie, “The Godfather”, Osama “sleeps with the fishes”.

Personally, I had hoped that Bin Laden would have been captured alive. Granted, he has been fairly ineffective and out of play for a while, mainly because of the manhunt for his head. However, his capture would still have been a great symbolic victory. I would love to have had him paraded like a captured king. Then, I would love to have had him executed and the execution be made available on a pay per view basis on television and the internet with all the proceeds thereof to go to the families of the victims of 9/11/2001 and the families of the US soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.

Since Bin Laden’s execution has already happened (and ultimately I am OK with that), I would have preferred that his body not been buried at sea. This is first and foremost to deny him any consideration towards Muslim tradition. Most Muslims seem to deny that Bin Laden is a true Muslim (as I just heard on the radio yet again from a Muslim cleric) and not representative of their false religion. Thus, why bother giving him that dignity? I would rather the body have been preserved in some liquid preservation tank like he was an alien at Area 51 and taken on a road show across the country like a carnival sideshow. We could have charged admission to see his corpse with the proceeds again going to the families of the victims of 9/11/2001 and the families of the US soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. I would have even liked the idea of his corpse being permanently on display at the new World Trade Center when it is rebuilt in Manhattan.

I listened to one whining liberal woman today decry how much money it cost the US to find and kill this one man. When I got the chance to speak to her personally, I told her that it was worth every penny. She decried how other radicals will just take his place and we will have some retaliatory attacks against our country as a result. Well, there was a string of replacement waiting anyway, and I say, “Bring it on”. They attacked us ten years ago (not the other way around), and I have not forgotten. I have also not forgotten all the other attacks by the likes of Al Queda and other such groups belonging to the falsely so called “religion of peace”. I am so tired of the “let’s not tick off the Muslims lest they retaliate for the least little offense” mentality.

Legend has it that in 1911, General John “Black Jack” Pershing used brutal tactics in The Philippines when dealing with Muslim warriors, including burying their dead with pig entrails and dipping bullets in pig blood. It is said that to some Muslims, dying with unclean animals like will deny them entrance to Paradise. I am all for such intimidation tactics if they work. It is worth a try today. Radical and extremist Islamic zealots only understand the use of brute force. Since the days of the Crusades (which were in response to Muslim invasion and slaughter) all the way up to the Somali Pirates of present day, we have found this to be true. I am glad that we just showed the resolve to follow through. I pray that we have the spine to stay the course. Either way, I rejoice in the death of a scumbag and found the celebrations in the streets of New York City to be just fine with me.