Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Column for April 26, 2012

Have you been listening to the radio ads, watched some of the TV ads, or seen the roadside signs for this political campaign season?  I was amused by several candidates and their claims or position statements.  Quite frankly, I don’t know how some of these candidates can possibly run on their positions.

I often drive through Harnett County.  James Clark of Dunn is one candidate for state legislature that has some of the absolutely worst campaign signs I have ever seen.  First, they are very busy, meaning that there is far too much printing on them to be able to read while driving down the road.  What I was able to see was “support Obama”.  That means that he is basing his candidacy for state office on his willingness to be complicit with the socialist agenda of the current regime in charge of the national government.  Apparently, turning America into a socialist paradise and usurping the power of the very governmental body for which he is seeking membership is just fine with him.  I almost wish that I lived in Harnett County just so that I could vote against such stupidity.

Just as stupid, in my opinion, was the claim by one candidate running as a conservative, also for the North Carolina House.  Jim Fulghum (House District 49) is a neurosurgeon and a Tea Party favorite.  I am all in favor of a candidate that is conservative and is opposed to the whole Obamacare agenda.  However, Fulghum is running on the platform of opposing Obamacare while running for office at the state, not federal level.  Obamacare is a national government program and legislative act, not a state act.  Therefore, to campaign on the concept of fighting national health care is ludicrous to me.  Oddly enough, his web site says nothing about being against the abhorrent health care law, but that is about all that has been in his advertising thus far.

The only way that a North Carolina legislative body can combat something like Obamacare is to pull a move like South Carolina did prior to the Civil War and say that in North Carolina, Obamacare is null, void, and no law.  That is exactly what is being done in Missouri right now.  Their state house has passed Missouri House Bill 1534.  That bill states “The general assembly declares that [the law] exceeds the power granted to Congress under the United States Constitution and therefore is not law, but is altogether void and of no force.”  Personally, I agree with that quote from the Missouri bill.

I have been surprised to see some of the signs both pro and con regarding Amendment One on the ballot May 8thAmendment One, as you may know, is a proposed amendment to the North Carolina constitution.  If approved, the proposed measure would amend Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution by adding a new section containing the following:
"Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.  This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts."
Though I have been extremely busy with a newborn, work, medical procedures, and life in general, I have offered to serve as a county coordinator for one organization in support of Amendment One, since there is not one in Johnston County.  So far, nothing has transpired on that front.  I suspect that this close to the election, nothing will happen.  I am having a hard enough time getting yard signs at this point in support of Amendment One.  For what it is worth, I have seen far more signs in support of Amendment One than in opposition to it.

What amazed me were the signs I have seen in opposition to Amendment One.  One sign in particular is in the front yard of a Presbyterian church elder.  Some people simply don’t mind being apostate, even believing that they are virtuous in their beliefs of acceptance of things totally antithetical to the faith they espouse to uphold.  I, for one, fear God more than man on an issue like this.

With politicians like Bob Etheridge, Barack Obama, Senator Kay Hagan, and Governor Beverly Perdue in declared opposition to Amendment One, I find that sufficient reason to make me want to vote for it.  I have seen absolute hateful, lying garbage and false claims from those opposed to Amendment One.  A common lie is that it is a civil rights issue and that the rights of many would be abridged.  No, there is no such right to homosexual marriage in North Carolina as it is, with state legislation prohibiting it.  This would merely codify that law as a constitutional provision.  I am fine with that concept, since it is harder to overturn a constitutional provision than a state law.

This election year is sure to be one of the most important in my lifetime and will determine the fabric of American values for generations to come.  Our American culture will either be reaffirmed or rewritten.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Column for April 19, 2012

Recently, I got some feedback from a friend of mine on an old column that I wrote a few years ago and that I used as fodder last month for a television commentary.  I discussed the idea that the founding fathers of this nation debated and considered requiring property ownership as a pre-requisite to voting rights.  The idea was that since at the time, the primary taxation method was that on property, only those who actually own property are the ones who should be able to vote for those who would set taxes upon it.  That is a concept that I truly like for municipal and county voting, since that is the primary method of taxation at those levels of government.  Furthermore, I believe that those who receive a government check for their subsistence other than via employment should not be able to vote for those who set our national taxation rates.

I made the comment, “I am under no illusion that we will ever see such qualifications for the right to vote in this nation, state, county, or town.  I would settle for having all who would cast a ballot considering the good of the whole population rather than their own dependencies.”  For that, my friend chastised me saying, “Vote with the good of the whole in mind?  Think of the collective? This is what the left wants, collective thought.  I know it was a slip, but BAD TROY!  Self-interest is good, big government is bad that leads to those voting for more government and stuff.”  I knew what he meant, and he knew what I meant.  I agree that self-interest is what drives capitalism and for men to advance themselves, their communities, and their families.  This led to an interesting conversation.

I said to my good buddy, “Yes, the good of the whole.  When one votes with only the paradigm that “I want what I can get from the public treasury”, it is what the big government progressives want.  When it is the concept that even if I don't benefit the greatest from the public largesse but can take responsibility for my own actions and if everyone else does the same, that is the public good.  When taxes are lower for all, that is the public good.  When politicians don't rob responsible citizens and give it to those who won't work, that is the public good.  When the opportunity of all to succeed through the capitalist system is the goal of government rather than equality of outcome, that is the public good.”

We had a brief back and forth from there, with him saying “I know what you meant however it could be inferred as the collective good i.e. the state over the individual.”  I wrapped up my end of the friendly debate by saying, “When I wrote it (some time ago, actually.  It was an old column from a few years ago), I figured that the context of the statement was pretty much, "Stop trying to mooch off us taxpayers by voting for welfare supporting filii illegitimi!"”  The Latin expression was substituted as a euphemism for the vernacular term I actually used.

When I speak of the collective good, I am not using an “it takes a village” communistic mentality.  Even though not everything government does may be in my personal best interest, it can be for the best of all citizens.  Second President John Adams wrote in a letter to Mercy Warren exactly 236 days ago to the day of my writing this column (April 16, 1776), “Men must be ready, they must pride themselves and be happy to sacrifice their private pleasures, passions and interests, nay, their private friendships and dearest connections, when they stand in competition with the rights of society.”

In theory, government is supposed to operate toward certain ends.  In the Bible, the Apostle Peter wrote, "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good." (1Peter 2:13-14, ESV)  Paul affirms this concept in Romans 13:1-4, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.  Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?  Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.  For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. “  

I have to admit, though, that with a government that does not properly praise those who do good but rather creates and environment whereby many sponge off those who actually do good, this is a difficult thing for us that are being crushed by taxes and bad government.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Column for April 12, 2012

It is the day after Resurrection Sunday as I am writing this, and I am thinking about Tuesday morning when I will get to hold my newborn son in my arms (past tense as you read this).  Here I am almost 44 years old and my bride and I are having another baby.  I commented on my Twitter account on Sunday, as we were anxiously awaiting little Benjamin’s arrival, “Today we celebrate a vacated tomb. Sharon and I hope to soon celebrate a vacated womb.”  Just today we got the news that our doctor wanted to schedule the delivery of our baby on Tuesday morning.
To give you an idea of where my thought process was going, earlier in the wee hours of the morning, I had written on my Facebook account, “I was woken up by a coughing fit (I think that my bronchitis is coming back) and laid awake for a while thinking about my next newspaper column and TV commentary. Yeah, I write those things in my head several times before ever typing them out.  I figured since I was up and needed my inhaler [prescribed for the recent bout with bronchitis], which was at my desk, I would sit and check online stuff.  The whole time I have been thinking about the impending birth of Benjamin, whose due date is just over a week away. I kept thinking about God's love, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and how he loved me enough to give his daughter to me and entrust me with my family. This picture [that I shared online] was taken on our wedding day and is perhaps my favorite ever of Sharon and [my stepson] John.  Matthew was conceived the next day, and now baby Ben is almost here.  What an amazing journey it has been to have gotten here.  John has grown so much since this photo.  Lord, may I become the man you want me to be, the father I need to become, the husband I desire to be, and the son you have re-created me to be.  Thank you, Father God, for your grace, your love, your patience, your mercy, and your salvation through Christ, my risen Lord.”
I have given a lot of thought over the years about the values I want to teach my children.  I have my personal convictions, and some of them I will not push upon other people outside of my family, since they are just that, personal convictions.  I don’t mind sharing them, however.  I disagree with many of my contemporaries on some things, even with how one celebrates Resurrection Sunday (I don’t even really like calling it Easter).  I am amazed at how many churches, for instance, sponsor an Easter egg hunt.  I don’t equate the handling of pagan fertility symbols like colored eggs or cute, fuzzy bunnies with the risen Christ.  Nor do I personally find it glorifying to Him.  However, I am not about to condemn those who do celebrate as such. 
I don’t teach my boys about Santa Claus and I cringe when well-meaning people ask my children if “Santa has been good to them this year”.  I will teach them that what began as a great remembrance of a man of faith has been twisted into a fairy tale of commercialism and magic.  Santa will take on the same relevance as Shrek in an animated movie.  I just have a problem telling my children that there is a man who can break into everyone’s house across the entire world in just one night; that he knows when we are sleeping, knows when we are awake, and knows when we are bad or good.  I cannot in all good conscience ascribe attributes of deity (as my theologian buddies would say, incommunicable) to a mere mortal.  If I can lie to my boys about a mythical individual, whom they will eventually disbelieve, how can I expect them to believe in an omniscient God whom they also cannot see (shopping malls and parades with posers in red uniforms excluded)?
I have a hard time teaching the existence of a Tooth Fairy when teaching that Tinkerbell is only a cartoon character.  I have a hard time with teaching the existence of an Easter Bunny and yet teach the truths of Christianity over animism, and that Bugs Bunny is just a cartoon.
Again, these are only my personal thoughts and convictions, and I am not going to condemn anyone who promotes mythical holiday characters.  Every major holiday these thoughts come to mind, and especially now, since my baby boy is about to arrive.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Column for April 5, 2012

I was just commenting on Facebook (find me there at user name troylaplante) about how the one race in the upcoming election in which I have not decided for whom I will vote is the District 7 (now that we have been redistricted and out of District 2) Congressional primary.  David Rouzer, a man who has a track record of fairly conservative voting in the NC State Legislature, and Ilario Pantano, a former Marine from New York who relocated to Wilmington and ran last election against liberal Democrat Mike McIntyre are our two conservative choices.

Native North Carolinians, in general, still have a heckuva bias against people who have relocated from the North.  I ran across this, and still do my own self.  I have lived here more than half of my life, was born further south than most local rednecks, and have views that are more in line with North Carolina secessionist leaders from the 1860’s than those of most people around these parts.  And yet, I am still called a Yankee.  Sometimes I hear the occasional carpetbagger allegation.  Pantano seems to be getting that latest epithet.  He is being called an opportunist for running for Congress in North Carolina.  Sure, the name Illario Pantano sounds like something straight out of “The Godfather” trilogy, but then again, the name LaPlante sounds like some French frog straight out of Quebec, which it actually is.

Pantano has received a lot of media attention for an Article 32 hearing (military equivalent of grand jury session) for pre-mediated murder.  None of us were present, so we don’t know what happened.  What we do know is that the military legal session found no justification for the case to go to a trial, and that Second Lieutenant Ilario Pantano was honorably discharged a year later.  What I do know is that he seems to be a conservative and claims to be my brother in Christ.  Those facts make this combat veteran just fine in my book, unless there are other facts of which I am not aware.

So, on the one hand, I have the choice of someone with a track record in a state legislature, which is not a bad thing to have for reference.  Then again, Barack Obama was a state legislator before running for a US Senate seat.  That is absolutely not reflective upon David Rouzer, only an observation that state legislature voting records don’t always matter to all voters.  The good news is that Rouzer seems to be conservative, which is why I supported him in his state level candidacy, and his voting record seems to reflect that.  On the other hand, we have a man who is seemingly a bit more radical in his stances (I often like radicals), and having read his platform of ideas, have a hard time disagreeing with him.

I find it interesting that the web site still shows Renee Ellmers as my Congressional representative, which she technically is.  Since the redistricting seems to be effective for the next election, I guess that I am still in District 2 and not yet in District 7.  District 2 is oddly shaped.  The old District 7 was shaped like one would expect.  I am still a bit stymied about how Johnston County and other surrounding counties got bundled in with the coast.  I did a lot of hunting online for an accurate map of the new Congressional voting districts and found old material, for the most part.  I did find news and commentary by various newspapers, but nothing concrete.  Probably the best description of the new district was found on the NC 7th Congressional District Republican Party web site: “The new 7th Congressional District covers much of southeastern North Carolina, including all of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, Johnston, and Sampson Counties, most of New Hanover County and parts of Cumberland, Hoke, Lenoir, Pender and Robeson Counties.”

With my job, I frequently travel up and down the highways through all of those counties.  Brunswick County is two and a half hours travel time from my home in Johnston County.  New Hanover County (Wilmington) is a two hour drive.  When I think of voting districts, I would have never equated Wilmington and Shallotte with Smithfield and Selma.  Go figure.

I had originally thought to write about the upcoming ballot referendum for NC Constitution Amendment One, for which I am fully supportive.  What spurred my rambling about the Congressional race was the offer by Rouzer supporters to get a campaign sign for my yard, which I did for Rouzer when he ran for the state legislature.  I then gave the matter thought about how I had not decided for which candidate I am going to vote yet.  That is a rarity for me.