Nine One What?

Vowing to myself not to succumb to a knee-jerk reaction over the passing of the date of the most significant post-WW ll event I kept it buttoned back in September. Were it so until a November 17th piece by Kevin Ryan in Foreign Policy Journal, an expanded look at well reviewed (overseas) evidence of insider trading upstream of 9/11 that added some weighty bit of ballast to the mounting pile of evidence pointing toward a new, actual investigation. Ryan’s piece added to the fuel provided by W’s aka Whistledick’s claim to have ordered the launch of interceptors following the hit on the South Tower, a claim that the prudent analyst must entertain is based in truth. That fancy leaves 2 troubling possibilities; that both the Air Force and Air National Guard failed at their duty, or “someone” else lower in the chain of command chose to countermand a President’s executive orders. Either event in another dimension would have resulted in the military inquiry that never happened here.
Anyone out there who’s kept up with my stuff knows how I feel about the 911 myth, the one claiming that 19 guys with box cutters flummoxed the world’s most advanced defense system (@ a Billion dollars per day) and on the day when it really mattered penetrated the most stringently protected airspace in the world to put a “jetliner” into the side of the Pentagon. To accept this far-fetched story, the first of a tottering sky-high stack of coinkeedinks, leaves unexamined a similar event a scant year before when Golfer Payne Stewart’s Lear 35 lost cabin pressure resulting in unconsciousness of crew and passengers and death by suffocation. Civilian and NORAD radar operators knew of the problem almost immediately, scrambled fighters from Tyndall AND McDill AFBs and within 15 minutes intercepted the Lear Jet with enough time to mull a shoot down if the plane threatened populated areas until it starved for fuel and crashed in South Dakota.
Actual hard evidence aka unreported facts threatening the Official Conspiracy Theory are becoming so numerous and enlarged that they seem poised to coalesce into a WTC sized amoeba come to swallow the far-fetched fairy tale — if only somehow they were to be published ANYWHERE in the US media. Anyone out there read about the prominent Australian Labor leader who has taken a good look at the material available and declared the official myth to be questionable? I didn’t think so. How about the Colorado Democratic Party’s demand for an investigation? No? Figures. . How about the piece on Evidence Based Inquiry and 911?
For those just joining us, a refresher on some old news, primary pesky details that no official body has made an attempt to answer and have never, NEVER appeared in your morning paper.
In stark contrast to the 911 Commission members having rejected their own findings and declared the report to have been based on “lies,” the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) , Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA and every other official agency and person involved continue to insist on unsupportable, daft “theories” in the absence of evidence, common sense, historic precedent as well as concordance with accepted laws of physics, like:
1. That 3 steel-framed buildings collapsed, one in just 56 minutes, via office fires ignited by jet fuel, an innocuous accelerant chemically identical to charcoal lighter — kerosene, which would have cooked off in minutes. Despite official accounts and supporting data that the fires did not nor could not have risen over 1800 degrees (and then only briefly) no official agency or person (besides Kevin Ryan, a true patriot who lost his job with UL over his work on the steel issue has dared even speculate on source of the 2400 degrees required to have produced the large quantities of MOLTEN steel that persisted for weeks in the pit, attested to by people on the scene (4) including the same NYFD emergency crews pulled off the scene to make way for a creepy list of robotic specialists, some specializing in ordnance removal.
2. No US official has recognized or bothered to comment on the work of Danish scientist Neils Harriet, et al who co-authored a peer-reviewed paper that extensively reviewed the presence in the dust of the collapsed building of microspheres of solidified molten steel and fragments of a highly specialized form of thermite unavailable to anyone outside of a government or intelligence agencies.
3. There have been no ideas forwarded as to why 5 Israeli Mossad agents detained and later released were doing across the river in Jersey jiving and high fiving as they videotaped the buildings’ destruction especially in light of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initial elation to the news of the WTC destruction, ”It’s very good,” immediately editing himself: ”Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” certainly a true statement considering the US’s role as Israel’s primary patron.
4. No one has even attempted to provide a consistent explanation as to what brought Building 7 down, an event not even mentioned in the official 911 report. “It” certainly wasn’t an aircraft as the building was not struck by an airplane. History’s sole fire-induced failure of a steel framed building in history, in a major metro area no less, becomes even more curious when viewed the lack of any investigation (the 911 commission report did not even mention it) and lately the additional oddity of some, um, edited videotapes which served via the media to construct the dominate consensus reality of that day. One piece finally pried out of NIST by a lawsuit revealed both 2 snips, one that removed the frames showing the penthouse collapse of building 7, the other a piece of soundtrack that revealed a loud, low frequency rumble that synchronized with the penthouse collapse and data captured by seismic research stations up the Hudson River. The data the stations captured were to non-official geophysicists mindful not so much of a hollow object striking another hollow object but something more akin to heavy explosions heard by hundreds at the site, notably a Janitor, Rodriquez just before the airplane strike
These are just identifiable, documented facts and scientific observations that scatter the contents of the “coincidence” bucket. Good detectives look askance at “coincidences” as do authentic scientists, as should curious laymen. Yet, incredibly, here was the C word used by a senior Military official prefaced by the use of “bizarre” when he spoke of the lack of air response being caused by Vigilant Guardian, an air defense drill supposedly training pilots, yet one more in a tottering stack of the unexplained that test the limits of probability. It might be interesting and useful to contrast that detail with the presence of security teams conducting a “drill” in London for a Tube bombing, exactly the event that occurred there that same day.
Analysis of the original “coincidence,” the lack of air defense, must include a curious account rendered by former Transportation Secretary Norman Minetta, in the Situation Room that morning of a young staffer who continued providing warnings of an approaching aircraft on the radar scopes until a Doctor No drew the kid up with a scolding. Bear in mind, Andrews AFB is 10 miles from the capital.
The only question remaining for me in light of the slow collapse of the myth and repeated pressing of the 911 button that seems to have worn the paint off is: what’s next? The US is in a similar position of the Catholic Church following the bloody end of their heresy scare when to keep parishioners on edge and to retain their hegemony the church stoked up a witch craze. Now that the man has about worn the paint of the 911 button (once we finish playing mop boy on Iran for the Israelis) the US Empire of Fear will be forced to conjure up another invisible, implacable foe to foster a greater, even more unbelievable threat. Don’t look for it to be the Chinese. Who else out there is scaled to churn out sufficient tonnage of consumerist crap for mall fatsos? Nope, the US is fresh out of credible earth based enemies. Amid the military/security/industrial empire’s need for a more menacing, implacable threat, the prescient visionary must look to the stars. That’s right, I’m betting on it being flying saucers. You heard it here first.


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Bye bye Same Old

Notice the new upside-downed stars?


“The state is a fiction sanctified by Hegel and his followers to CONTROL the individual. Sooner or later people will wake up. First we have to dump the trap of right and left, this is a Hegelian trap to divide and control. The battle is not between right and left; it is between us and them.” Antony Sutton*

So, the Republicans, historic heirs of strong central government, banks and anglophile Alexander Hamilton are now the current party of (non) choice poised to finally drive the government of the people off over the edge amid the final sell-off of your country. This election heralds a larger scale version of the pillaging of perfectly good American businesses like Anchor Hocking Glass leveraged-buyout era. To that, one comment. Don’t tell me I didn’t tell you. Someone had to win and someone had to lose; the fictional money won and the fiction of popular government lost.
Me? I am over the confrontations I pursued with great zest in the past. I have been pursued by phalanxes of wall sized men in ballistic nylon, smelled the sweet tang of spillover tear gas and had my picture taken by discreetly dressed chaps enough for one life. All of the demonstrations were tidy, little pre-laid containment vessels, colossal wastes of time and resources and I have hung up my cleats. “They” sit behind their mortar proof window, sip their martinis, shoot you bird and nothing, nothing changes a jot. Shoot, the crew, ALL OF THEM, who rode in following Watergate has made me miss Richard Nixon. The US was a lovely idea and a fair shot for an experiment, but the forces that conspired to suck it dry have prevailed. Done.
It is worth at this point to remind readers that John Kerry, Dumbya i.e. most in power positions are members of various creepy, private elite organizations like the Council of Foreign Relations and its schoolyard version founded by opium smugglers, Yale University’s Skull and Bones, whose very symbol is code for terror, violence and piracy, the SS Death’s Head Division in WW Two, labels on poison bottles so forth. The US was partially founded on piracy and murder; the current leadership is just more of the same, some of the worst war criminals since the Third Reich in civilian body count alone.
I have tried over the years to describe and explain the history and implicit hazards of the Corporate model, historically how successful and murderously unbalanced is their power. Banks served the elites’ needs and then John D. Rockefeller perfected the modern corporation. Like their economic forebears, the knightly orders of the 11th century, the Knights Templar, Knights of St. John, etecera, corporations led by the “successes” of Standard Oil (and locally, American Tobacco) became so wealthy they could capitalize themselves, usurping economic might rivaling that of nations; a third force, created solely for da money. Carrying more weight than King or Pope, big biz is concerned solely for itself, profit and shareholder return.
Mega-capitalism stole the reigns of the your nation from “natural” persons primarily via a scandalous interpretation of the intent of the founders visited on this nation by a Supreme Court case involving the tax value of fence posts. Santa Clara vs Southern Pacific granted to the then nascent corporation Bill of Rights protection that gave corporations institutional sanction among other protections to lie — and a lie is protected speech. This corrupt, bogus court decision paved the way for your leaders to be seduced serially by da money and seize what was to be held in trust for “the people”.
Oh my little friends, there is vitriol to spare. For the executive branch that it has transcended the now quaint, obsolete core tenet of the Constitution. The role of the president was to be a limited executive position, its powers limited to “execute” the will of the people via congress, especially in the grave matter of War. The 1973 War Powers Act, passed on the heels of the disaster of Vietnam states very clearly that war is to be waged under very specific conditions which have been routinely disregarded before and since the law’s passing. For Congress, the same applies. The expense of political campaigns makes “by the people and for the people” and free speech mean something quite different for you and for a Boeing. You make the world you live and live the world you make.
When a nation’s primary remaining major export is death via the defense contractors who steer our government’s paranoid “defense” system, that nation is treading on thin existential ice amid moral and economic vacuity. I’d hoped we learned something from Vietnam. I was wrong. Not one of the presidents for the last several decades has shown reluctance or restraint in the use of military force to appease their contributors in the defense biz. It is worth noting here that Eric Haney, former master sergeant and co-founder of Delta Force said “There is no real threat to the U.S. in the world.” As the Cold War was WW III, perfect for the US’s purposes; trillions of dollars of instantly obsolete gear and not a shot fired, Bush and Yobama’s World War IV, begun for Big Oil and Israel, would seem to be a fine follow-up. Americans have been programmed to build their political beliefs on a foundation of fear and fear is what they will have from now on. Me, I never signed on for piracy and murder.
But far be it from me to try to dissuade others from what they do to themselves via a externally induced hallucination. Far be it from me to even attempt to influence some other’s local reality system. Really Mr. Eichenberger, how presumptuous of you. I have had some bad habits and am in no moral position to cast aspersions nor judgment on anyone for what they do. If people want to eat fried chicken and french fries and waddle from to and from their Suburbans until their hearts clog and they die, let ’em. I have no grounds to berate them while they eat themselves to an early death to a lilting serenade of lies pouring out of the television, riding the ship down, quite content with their murderous, overfed nation.
The only way to fight the monster is to deprive it of its blood, the money. If you find decreasing levels of contentment from the hollow narcotic jolt provided by the empty commercial culture, maybe just maybe you’re ready. If you have moral problems with this hustle, the most revolutionary thing you can do is strive for a smaller life and selectively starve the monster. Don’t like slave states? Don’t buy their crappy, cheap products.
For me the bell finally went off over transportation. A short list of factors made me hang up the keys to my Plymouth but a major one was what I had done in the name of fun and games, the fuel, used lubricating oil, transmission fluid and so forth with which I had fouled the planet. That I also was often consciously a public menace behind the wheel induced me to begin to undo what I had done in the name of kicks. My cavalier attitude, the damage I did to the very planet itself is something that I will not be able to unremember. The surprise was that the absence of a car for a decade has improved my life by fostering a deeper, more direct connection to the earth by walking and bicycles. This is just an example.
I’m just one guy and one tiny life but I’m not the only one who feels like this. Amid colossal levels of political dissatisfaction we are witnessing the emergence of what I call the Alternate State of America aka None-Of-The-Above. “A vote of no confidence,” says my neighbor, Mr. Jolly. Both parties have serially proven themselves perennially, malevolently incapable/unwilling at the task of responsible, legitimate government that the ASA/NOTA would probably get fifty percent of the vote, certainly along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Farfetched? Reflect that around 50 percent of voters are now non affiliated or independent. The two party system is a rigged two horse race and millions are awakening to the truth: one stable owns both nags. Send em to the glue factory.
The purest, early example of the ATA can be seen in alternative food systems, as profound a human connection with the world there is. That is just a beginning. Soon, I predict we are going to begin to witness all manner of parallel, local community-based systems which will begin to give true liberty back to the people. The big players like Monsanto (pure eeee-ville!) are keenly aware of this trend and are busy “conspiring” (there, I said it) with members of Congress to put a damper on the small scale agriculture that promise to reduce their profits via the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510). This is something both “sides” can agree on as well as a splendid position to begin to wreck the false political duality created to keep ordinary Americans distracted and at each other’s throats while the real bad guys make off with your legacy.
Industrial leaders have sold the middle class out seen in the torrent of jobs “they” are busy outsourcing following the second worst economic crunch in living memory. I say return the favor. You can begin to lessen the power these artificial entities hold over you by rejecting them, by reducing the role they play in your life. Fire em from your world along with their catamite politician butt boys. The best part is you don’t need guns. Just quietly slip away.
As an object or entity become less of a presence in one’s mind, a analog of Quantum Mechanics comes into play. Following that reality is seen by physicists as a construct of consciousness, my analogy suggests that you can make whoever or whatever you wish “disappear” via what I will call Quantum Ethics, sort of like duh holy Market force. If an entity’s actions or potential causes grievous injury to a particular dimension (this one) or its inhabitants, it becomes in one’s interest, a responsibility, to actively reject it as I did with Plymouths. Doing so will cause them to begin to fade, both from your life as well as in objective, external reality. (I have to point out that a few years after my vow, Plymouth ceased production.) Seriously, were QE to gain a substantial foothold, truly wicked agencies/people who engage, for example, in institutionalized death-for-profit might actually wink out, cease to exist. Say you don’t “get it”, oh icky ones? There is nothing to “get.” In the new world of Quantum Ethics, you simply will disappear. Poof. Gone. I’m trying to interest a mathematical physicist wiz to help me with the proof, but for now, it’ll have to be an idea.

*Antony Sutton authored 26 books, among them, America’s Secret Establishment and Best Enemy Money Can Buy. Sutton was persecuted but never prosecuted for his research and subsequent publishing of his findings although his mainstream career was shattered. In 1968, his Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development showed how Soviet technological and manufacturing built by US firms and mostly paid for by the US taxpayers supplied the North Vietnamese with armaments and supplies to kill and wound American soldiers. Professor Richard Pipes, of Harvard, said in his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America’s Future (Simon & Schuster;1984): “In his three-volume detailed account of Soviet Purchases of Western Equipment and Technology . . . Sutton comes to conclusions that are uncomfortable for many businessmen and economists. For this reason his work tends to be either dismissed out of hand as ‘extreme’ or, more often, simply ignored.”


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Dix closing is Raleigh’s loss

Raleigh’s position as as the social political center of North Carolina for more than two centuries has been challenged but never surpassed. Great movements of people and ideas, some not so pleasant, have been a part of the capital city since its founding. Our somewhat odd, self-assured little city has been the scene of triumph and tragedy, parades and invasions. Through most of it, Dorothea Dix hospital aka “Dix Hill” has provided what many would submit as a touchstone of a civilized society, a presence whose existence was just one facet of a crusade that originally moved the itinerant spokeswoman for the mentally afflicted to alternately shame and cajole state legislator until they were moved to found the institution. Dix’s simple plea/demand rested on a central pillar that no place that considers itself civilized can be truly judged so in the absence of proper medical treatment for all its people.
Prior to Dix’s appearance the mentally/neurologically challenged had an (especially) tough row to hoe. Derided, rejected and scorned by polite society, those lacking a support system who were afflicted by maladies other those of an obvious physical sort were mostly on their own. Contemporary mores and fears of the unknown set a pattern of removal and incarceration in places of punishment and separation, often jails or prisons where abuse and physical punishment were what passed as normal practice. Needless to say, the problems created by the pattern exacerbated the toll on incarcerees and on society both in spirit and cost to the public. Today, our supposedly mature, enlightened society is witnessing an unfortunate shift, a reversion to the patterns of the past.
I live in Boylan Heights, the neighborhood whose location affords a splendid view of the backsliding we as a society seem to be facing. I have been here off and on for decades and have utilized BoHo’s location as an easy laugh line that provided adequate directions for many visitors: “between the penitentiary and the nut house,” a good-natured jab that has lost most of the humor and serves solely as a locational cue. The mile post was set when a new Department of Corrections prison hospital and psych unit began to rise mysteriously unannounced from the earth oddly concurrent with the public announcement of the final closure schedule for Dix. Suddenly we began to witness the undoing of over a century of the enlightened goals of Ms. Dix as well as society.
Possessed of a juxtaposition far to too tragic for inclusion in the irony column, the region’s sole source for mental emergencies and ongoing care for those with head problems is seemingly to the casual observer being literally replaced locally by an institution that bespeaks what Dix dedicated her life to altering, a place whose institutional core screams punishment rather than treatment (although I am certain that the state has all manner of figures and verbiage lined up to dispute that.) The obvious is extent in an unintended (one would hope) psychological message backed by physical reality.
This is serious stuff, y’all. DHHS’s decision to move the remaining patients and employees will strike a blow to the heart of the area, not just to the patients but to the very gestalt of Raleigh. It has been some time since “Dix Hill” set aside days to allow the more functioning patients out to wander around the city but even with that absence having all types of people contributing, even unconsciously, to a society is one central icon of what a fully balanced society should strive for. See, I have a special interest that transcends matters of geography and real estate. I am one of the tribe now. In Dorothea Dix’s time the seizures, visions and, um, notions that are artifacts of my nearly fatal traumatic brain injury 5 years ago would have given good reason for me to be up on the Hill. Even though changes in assessment have (perhaps) denied me qualification (technically) as a “nut-job,” I feel a sense of solidarity and unity with those who do. And were the balance tipped further to the degree that I required hospitalization, the thought of being exiled to the wilds of Granville county at Butner does not engender healthy, positive feelings. Just the presence of others in ones own immediate vicinity engenders constructive, healthy feeling of inclusion, both for patients but more, for the city. Everyone deserves a seat at the table of society instead of exclusion and segregation. The choice and results are stark and present. I won’t even go into the money involved, something that should concern those paying for it, the taxpayer and those with their hands on the purse strings, legislators and administrators. This is an issue that could serve to form a bridge amid this fractious, politically hysterical milieu.
The only thing we can do, you can do, is to be a part of the growing number of people from all political stripes and socio/economic classes who have and are banding together on the issue. Let your legislators, state and city officials know how important Dix is and how strongly you feel about it keeping the facility where it is, for the people and the memory of Ms Dix. It may be too late but maybe, just maybe …

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Get Out

Group, human effort requires timely, accurate information particularly in the case of warfare. In the case of the United States, there is also a historic ideology upon which the United States rests, that of a nation built on a foundation of laws. It followed that balanced, legal military action depends on a clear definition of the floating borders between want and necessity, between accurate, timely consensus-based information and the dangerous realm of guess-work.

In the matter of the current military action in Afghanistan there is more than enough evidence on hand to question that which is pawned as “truth” spouted on the constant yammer of televised 24 hour news. The following is based on a study of Afghanistan and interviews, notably the scrupulous details provided by a long time veteran of the North Carolina US Army National Guard who I will call “Ellis,” a robust, well-preserved veteran in his 60s.

Ellis got a taste for the military via his carpenter father’s WWll experiences. In 1966, he wanted out of Ohio, signed up, shipped out and spent the next 4 decades plus in the service. Ellis retired as a Battalion Command Sergeant Major, the highest non-commission rank one can attain, having received along his journey combat service ribbons for every overseas military mission beginning with his escape from teenage boredom in Vietnam and ending with multiple, extended tours of Afghanistan. His last was  a volunteer hitch specifically for the purpose of contending with the improvised explosive devices that have become a major, deadly factor in the conflict. Ellis’s job involved locating and defusing these primitive yet bloodily effective munitions which have produced so many combat casualties.

There are similarities shared by many post WWII conflicts in which the US has become involved, similarities which evoke in some ways America’s own efforts to shake the clutch of colonialism in the 18th century. In the case of Vietnam and Afghanistan the similarities are at times striking: undeveloped nations possessed of a zeal for independence that transcends politics as well as creating a complicated, demanding situation on the ground for military operations. In both examples another similarity is an absence of substantive reasons justifying the conflict. In the case of Vietnam, the ignition event was a disputed “attack” on the USS Maddox, a Navy destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin; Afghanistan was invaded via President Bush’s simplistic and irrelevant claim that the supposed perps of 911 trained in Afghanistan, a subject for another discussion.

In order to create a recognizable comparison, Ellis likened military actions in Iraq to the WWII “ETO” or European Theater of Operations where warfare developed familiar patterns via centuries and scores of wars among similar national types and related ethnicities. The action in Afghanistan by contrast is more akin to the war against Japan in the “PTO” or Pacific Theater of Operations. As in the ETO, warfare in Iraq could be qualified as more “civilized,”whereas the Afghanistan/PTO synthesis runs counter to what we westerners recognize as “civilized” warfare, “heads getting cut off”, as Ellis put it.

Afghanistan exists in a temporal gestalt more akin to 700 AD rather than this new millennium. Its  position as a crossroad of the ancient world has left a legacy illustrated by the bewildering array of languages and ethnicities created by itinerant, hegemonic, religious leaders, various plundering hordes and a succession of empires; Persians, Huns, Greeks, Romans, Brits, Soviets and now, the United States. Once in a great while there appears on the scene a leader strong enough to forge nationalistic links but such strong-man leadership has invariably proven to be temporary. Any cohesive, national Afghan leadership remains subject to constant challenges and attack. The consistent collapse of attempts at central governments accompany reversion to tribal conflicts directed by regional warlords.

This new millennium has produced no departure from a familiar, bloody pattern. Only the weapons change, becoming more destructive that whatever there was of permanent, urban structure lies now in ruins. The Kabul of walled gardens, flowers and palaces has been reduced to wreckage. Today, street battles are common enough in most urban areas that the only place in the country one could call  “secure” are the grounds of the presidential palace and only then because of the presence of a phalanx of US guards.

Unlike Iraq, modernized via the Brits, the United States and Aramco, an accurate view of modern Afghanistan runs counter to the misleading soft-balls emitting from the corporate media. In contrast to the pretty pictures painted in Greg Mortenstern’s best-selling “Three Cups of Tea,” Western attempts at implementing non-local “new” ideas about schooling and “progress” beyond the minimally protected areas are dealt by the locals immediately and finally. Afghanistan is a tough, tough place that allows an average 800 dollar income and a 44 year life expectancy for both men and women. There is no fixed, modern infrastructure, no schools, modern roads, utility systems, hospitals, stores or large-scale agriculture (except opium) and no government outside of Kabul, affirms Ellis, making Afghanistan a place lacking even the concept of record keeping, i.e. no ID s, birth certificates, etc. The borders remain unsealed, reducing “nation building” to scratchings on paper. The griding reality of the region is enhanced by a ubiquitous warlord mentality created by millennia of internecine ethnic and religious battles which the ordinary people variously accept or flee. The only legitimate armed conflict that would bring about the great changes trumpeted in the press would be popular, armed rebellion, a means the Afghan people have not as yet displayed any sign of interest nor the organization to carry out.

The large armies and equipment which form the basis of Western military strategy are useless in a place like Afghanistan. Much of the terrain is too rough, steep and elevated for either trucks or helicopter transport. The enemy refuses to cooperate with a pattern that US and associated western forces have prepared and funded for. Afghan warriors materialize, take a few shots and vanish into the rocks before any substantive casualties can be taken, before even a response can be mustered. The only response is to “take a bite and hold on” with small unit tactics involving “3 to 8 guys.”

“One of the largest was an all day firefight that got 8 bad guys,” while the others melted into the void. “Eastern Kandahar, home of the Taliban and Wardak are the worst. You cannot get out of your hole.” Ellis mocks talk of high-tech weaponry. To prevail in combat in Afghanistan takes “guys with rifles.”

Nevertheless, the deadly hit and run tactics have forced the US to alter the nature of the infantry with enhanced use of large, wheeled personnel carriers. The so-called MRAP was introduced to counter  the Taliban’s employment of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, typically fashioned from 150 to 200 lbs of HME, a local version of a common explosive made with fertilizer and fuel oil made even more powerful by the use of local fertilizers with a higher percentage of the nitrates that supply the ooomph. The amounts typically used are capable of flipping and launching a 40,000 lb MRAP 10 yards. A common trigger consists of strips of wood wrapped in foil and buried using the weight of the overhead vehicle to complete the circuit to the detonator. If you survive, the resultant explosion will likely result in one of the three traumatic brain injuries that’ll get you on a plane home. Ellis described exiting the vehicle in the dark with night-vision equipment and performing multiple perimeter scans of the immediate area before the squad even disembarked. This sort of stuff is learned only through experience, pointing out the demands created by current rotation policies that erase much on-the-ground education. A hitch lasting 3,4 or 6 months equals a loss of knowledge that no computer file can match.

Into this cauldron of endless conflict NATO has deployed 100,000 active military (70,000 from  the US) to subdue a nation the size of Texas with an unprotected border 3700 miles in length butted up to India, Pakistan, China and several of the so-called “Ickystans” states (as they are sometimes impolitely referred to in diplomatic circles) recently released from Soviet hegemony by the fall of the Iron Curtain in ’89. A comparison that may serve to highlight the demands of the current mission would be that the US deployed 565,000 in Vietnam whereas in a hostile region 4 times that size the US currently commands a quarter the number of troops. But even that figure fails to provide an accurate picture of military force by a ratio of 10 to 1, 90% being support personnel rather than what Ellis calls “trigger pullers.” Then there’s the financial drain of the 100,000 or so contractors who in many cases provide redundant services. “They’re paying contractors 80,000 dollars a year to ladle out meals,” the contractor pay coming out of Department of Defense funding, a stellar example of “privatization.” Because of reallocation of DOD funding, more contractors equal more flag draped coffins.

Logistics are a nightmare. Undefended US military transport vehicles are instantly targeted, resulting in a necessary dependence on civilian “Hadji” trucks, the result being that 40% of materiel,   food, medicine, aircraft parts and the like become destroyed or “lost”.  Good guys and bad guys are indistinguishable although one has to assume that all are bad guys coupled with the added complicating factor of diplomatic problems caused by the deaths of civilians. And the mostly US western forces are largely on their own. The ANA or Afghan National Army is “not worth a shit,” according to Ellis. “They’ll muster and equip 10,000 and end up with 5000 minus the sign-up money and equipment.” Contractor costs and unreliable logistics wreak havoc on military operations. Ellis told somewhat bitterly and angrily of having to cancel operations because of a lack of materiel amid a general situation so common in modern American wars: contractors lobbying in Washington to keep the conflict going for the simple goal of profits.

But behind this messy quandary are fundamental detail that not only render the conflict unwinnable but negate the stated reasons for our presence. The reason the US claimed for invading the nation, to eliminate or disrupt this mysterious Al Queda, no longer applies. The best intel the US is in possession of indicates the group is no longer in nation, that they have decamped for other regions, notably Yemen. In the evaporation of the primary, “legitimate” reason for our presence the US mission has been corrupted by fall-back explanations that collapse under examination. The first, the use of the Taliban as a proxy enemy is a disingenuous ploy that obscures that Taliban is an internal force with no connection to “global terrorism.” “They want local control, not world terrorism,” according to Ellis. The second “reason” is the vaunted importation of nationhood and democracy, both abstract concepts the average Afghan neither understands nor accepts. “There is no sense of nation or nationality in Afghanistan by the Afghan people.” They simply want foreigners out of their land, the only thing Afghans have consistently wanted and fought for since the west first invaded. The actual facts destroy justification for the ongoing costly, deadly, military action.


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Open for business

Those of sufficient years may remember the myth of the New Economy, a preposterously optimistic/disingenuous model founded on gumment and industry claims of the IT world’s potential. The pipe dream of the unlimited growth of digitalia led your leaders to institute a vast program of exporting industrial jobs to the other side of the planet aided by tax ploys supported by both parties. The claim went further, that drops in paychecks would be more than balanced by the lower cost of products.
This puppies and chocolate song and dance lead to a fundamental shift in the US economy from productive, manufacturing jobs to ones based on an endless succession of meals at chain restaurants celebrating big days at the mall. The primary results are visible in the bewildering selection of cheap, imported products that today fewer are in any financial shape to afford. In the aftermath of the officially “ended” Great Recession, the United States we see emerging seems rather more like a fundamental swap of economic fortunes visible in China’s ascension to Buick’s largest overseas market mirrored by the explosion of scooters on the streets of the US.
The plan to re-channel employment from the manufacturing to service sectors worked … until the bubble meltdown of 2001 combined with the inherent imbalances and contradictions came home to roost leaving Joe America in a mud hole from where there is no simple escape. Welcome to the globalized world, one based less on nations and more on a calculated, commercial bi-stratification of the world’s inhabitants, leaving fewer prime slices for the icy, rarified top and a life of diminished circumstances for the growing mass of the schleps who actually do the physical work.
Although no one heard, I predicted one result of the US joining the globalization game. US workers, that means you, are now being forced to compete on the global market with places like Vietnam whose workers in turn exert steady downward pressure on wage levels in other nations like China. All this serves to underscore the brutal fact that under the New World Order, to draw employers back to the US, Yewessians are simply going to be forced to adapt to being poorer. That prediction is no longer speculation, quite the contrary, it is now official policy.
Initiatives to deal with the bottomless pit of lost industrial jobs are beginning to trickle in but none more telling than in North Carolina. It is now NC policy to lay out a red carpet of sorts in the form of lower wages in a ploy to attract jobs, any jobs for the suffering, frightened workers of North Carolina, many of whom were retrained for the IT jobs that were to be the panacea for the loss of manufacturing jobs in textiles and furniture. By the same mechanism, those same IT jobs are now being shifted overseas by both industries and governments, local and federal, for the same purpose – enhanced bottom lines. Meanwhile 56% of federal discretionary income continues to be shoveled into the firebox of the defense engine to pay for a succession of ruinous, illegal wars, current and past, of the same sort that bankrupted every single empire in history.
The gone buy-buy economy has been skewered and roasted by a combination of factors, the incalculable mass-psychological effects of the prolonged downturn coupled with a declining number of families able to afford a new toob and Shrimp Nite at Golden Lobster. The results can be seen in the vaunted service sector shedding jobs via decreased demand and bankruptcies of firms such as Blockbuster and Best Buys. The diminished market for consumer products has combined with pressure to increase profits by exerting similar, opposite pressure on wages creating the situation we have now, fewer consumers with the resources to afford “whim” purchases at even desperately reduced prices. Simply put, fewer are able to afford the plethora of shoddy products — at whatever the price. The results are beginning to trickle in, a sort of cycle where as people become less able to buy stuff, more and more corporations are going belly-up, leaving more people out of jobs and so forth.
The overburdened irony department verges on rupture at the perfect balance of the “greed-heads” (thank you Alan Owen) having priced themselves out of the domestic market and likely caused permanent damage to the pre-conscious consumerist triggers so carefully embedded by the media. Any humor on the current situation has to be tempered by recognition of the risks the elites are willing to nurture, visible in the vicious partisanship the Man utilizes to further divide ordinary shmoes who have more in common with each other than with any of their privileged party leaders, most of whom never knew a tough day in their lives.
Well, y’know, part of neo-optimism dictate this may not all be bad. At the risk of sounding like a troglo-conservative, a way to reduce the influence of corporate governance is to reduce the size of the pile of fun-bucks. If “they” want to make the average taxpayer finance deficits and war, war, war while those who were largely responsible for it fly off to their vacations, one way to avoid the mess is to, well, opt out. While that statement might appeal to those of a certain political stripe, the PETRBLT method involves a more encompassing strategy based on:
1. Want reduction. Isolate your needs from your wants then reducing your wants to that which really provide joy rather than just bragging rights about how much stuff you have crammed into your garage.
2. Income enhancement. In the collapse of this commercial, mass consumerist economy, people’s needs will still be present. Current conditions have created opportunities for small-fry entrepreneurs to fulfill those needs coupled with an added lure for customers/consumers, that of lasting value. Find something you can do well and present it to the local scene, at markets, on line.
Like I said, not all of this is bad. What we are detecting is the restless spirit of people like Thomas Jefferson from the beyond. Gigantism doesn’t work. The evidence is amply displayed by the tumbling empires, from the Soviet Union to any number of corporations and banks. The inevitable collapse can be viewed as a negative or a positive. You are free and responsible for the creation of your own reality. If you don’t, any number of entities will gladly step right up and create one for you. The value of that sort of thinking can be seen in the mountainous piles of ruined lives and dead innocents.

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Consciousness expansion

The old saw, “things come in threes” came calling last week. Upon rising on the 4th the first signal of something afoot was the now-familiar, post-seizure soreness and that characteristic jangled short-circuited sense persisting behind the veil of consciousness. The day before had been punctuated by “aura” including visions aka “hallucinations” of the sort that centuries past could get the unlucky or imprudent reporter drowned or burned at the stake. Nothing like a whiff of smoke to assure spiritual/religious compliance. What ever one can say about seizure, fun wouldn’t be in the list. That said, the condition does extend the value of altered vision. Think of a Carowinds ride, One of the positives of our post-theocracy is that accidental visionaries like me have less to worry from religious fascists.
This “this” I felt in the days following was akin to that which occurred on April 20th that I wrote about under the title, The Big Shift. Whatever “it” is presented itself more definitively and forcefully, a sense of a great change in the human-collective vision triggered perhaps by some titanic, external force. There was in fact a Mass Coronal Ejections, a solar storm, around the same time. Whatever the cause, the feeling Sunday morning was of peace and acceptance reinforced with fresh images behind closed eyes of what’s to come. At one level I felt as though I wasn’t coming “back”, a not particularly frightening prospect although the task of being forced to adapt to such a different world was, um, disquieting.
There seemed to have been a subtle, fundamental shift in the ordering of the physical world. The visions from April featuring serif typefaces and patterning akin to Edwardian decorative antique ironwork shifted to visions of a highly technological near-future. I have seen an elevated train station floating over Peace Street, all glistening polished metal, cast concrete and LED lighting like something from a movie set. Then I had to concede that the visions were bleeding into the present physical world, visible in newer products, cars especially, whose styling seemed to be from the same future. The message? The future is here. The question? What we do with it?
As I walked the next day, my head strained under the force of the conflicting energy gnawing at the confines, some fundamental shift the likes of which I am beginning to be familiar. The light that blinked on revealed the transcendent beauty and imagination of nature while at the same time the combined ingenuity of humans and their trite, artificial, manufactured world retreated to the background. The world became divided strongly into the natural and the artificial, the human artifacts strongly infused with the lusts and hubris of the makers (and users) while the natural world radiated a quiet graceful solemnity. The expertise and creativity displayed by modern manufacturing paled next to the displays of the myriad, ingenious methods of seed distribution; the sinuous parabolas of the structure of plants created by water, wood and gravity; the quiet grandeur of monumental, weathered rocks. Were there a sub-theme to the ongoing “roll-off” it would be that the material possessions which enticed so when new will soon enough be beat to shit, dented and rusted — and that is an eternal rule.
The second signal was admittedly of a sort of lightweight guy-land type that touched on the end of my automotive career a decade ago. Following Lucifer’s Flower Car, my 66 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible, being led out to pasture, literally, in Morrisville, I segued into a new mode that has less to do with kicks and convenience and more about the future of the rest of the planet. The dichotomy of thoughts as well as a test of my resolve was strengthened by the appearance of an old friend in possession of a freshly surplussed NC HP Hemi Charger bought at auction, just the proper sort of brawny American Peetee doted on my wild years. From the position of a former ardent materialist i.e. a auto mechanic cum industrial designer/ex Plymouth guy, this thing was everything the old ones were, plus. This Dodge’s refined, chiseled tough-guy exterior and precision fit and finish of the interior bits were paradoxically alien yet somehow as familiar as the darkly malevolent rumble that emerged from down there when I unleashed the monster. The fates could not have chosen a better vehicle to test my resolve than this refined beast, more like the product of another dimension or a dream sequence. I emerged with my faith broadened with an expanded view of the benefits of manufacturing. The industrialism I had rejected years ago coincided with the launch of my personal one man mission to save as many of the orphans of the publics’ buy/discard cycle as I could stuff into my life. This new emerging view of reality was forced to concede the value of industrial output although with a caveat of sorts, an insistence on the return of the scorned value of durability and quality, something in short supply in the aisles of your Walmart. We are going to need good equipment to excavate ourselves out of the morass we have mired ourselves in. The survival of humanity may in fact hinge partially on appropriate, responsible technology. I know, yeah, its just a car, but compared to the crude, dangerous models of yore this Dodge conformed somehow to the new synthesis of views. Like I said: just a sign.
The event seemed to have altered the brain and body, evidenced by a great thirst and a palpable sense of a lot of crunching of information required by the alteration of core perception. My disquiet/fear of this new sense faded as I, with no option, was obliged to simply accept the new range of visions and emotions. The planet continued to call, at one point beckoning me into the woods off the Rocky Branch Greenway. Amid an abandoned rock quarry on the NCSU campus I felt moved to commune with whatever spirits were in the immediate vicinity, at one point touching my buzzing head to the rock itself. The biggest mystery remaining was whether the stuff was welling from inside or had it been triggered from some outside force?
For reference, I felt moved to call a friend who has labored long in the strengthening Pagan/Magick Community. Charlene’s markers coincided with mine, one being that the very air smelled sweeter somehow, almost as if scented. The big news from her world was that a Pagan leader had been tapped for inclusion on a national ecumenical council, a position generally reserved for, you know, the same “accepted” religions who periodically beat the shit of of each other in the name of identical “higher” ideals. That a student of the predominately non-abstract, i.e. earth-based Magick received this honorary position was yet one more piece of evidence of a trend of unity growing as the days fluttered by. Amid the eclipse of those for whom differences justify murder and blood lust it feels as though humanity could be on a breaking edge, a new epoch for those who accept and honor the various interpretations of that certain “something” outside the physical realm, that they are simply different interpretations of the same power.
At 10 am on the 11th I was clasping hands with my Muslim tea merchant as we murmured “peace” to one another. The world seemed to have collectively held its breath while the spiritual awakening continued to bless the planet’s inhabitants, specifically in the case of the swamp preacher in FL who invoked “God” in his decision to cancel his idiotic, provocative side show. As I toted a weeks worth of groceries down Hillsborough, past Pullen Memorial, a bell-like voice voice brightening the golden day got me off my bicycle and inside a Christian church for the first time in decades. I sat entranced by this child reading from the Qu’ran until a gush of gathering emotions induced me to take my leave. As I rose, I received the third message, Pastor Petty saying what I had yearned for decades to hear from the leadership of a mainstream pulpit: “We are all one.” That brought it all home.
Here is the point: Religion, all religions, from medieval Catholicism to modern American Scientific Materialism (which fits the definition of a religion) are flawed, human attempts to give an address to the ineffable. Their collective failure stems from exclusivity, the presumption that only one view of creation can be tolerated, a parochial view as limiting and subjective as corporate branding. A fuller view of the cosmos and humanity requires that we accept and admit the value of other people and views. To see blue gives us a better view of green. A new role for religion(s) could be perhaps to begin forging bonds with the other faith if only to iron out the differences that are nothing more than distilled differences of individual’s perceptions. While humanity remains mired on the various messengers, the “God” prophets and followers cite exists outside of the conflicts, paradoxically rendering form (so it is said) to the various combatants who zealously consult that same creator to justify wreaking destruction on what the same creator brought into existence. Those of the various beliefs can and should attempt to found a new sort of faith based less on their prophets and more on that “something” beyond comprehension residing at the heart of all of their faiths, that which we call “God”, at the same time recognizing the term simply as one of convenience, a semantic constant. We have all evolved with the same mysterious organs in our brain which are inextricably, predictably and reliably linked to spiritual experiences of all sorts. Further, there are sub-cellular molecules organelles which although they make us us are paradoxically shared by every living thing. Where are the boundaries? God is God, vast beyond comprehension, rendering order beyond category, inscrutable.
This is the yielding of borders, the collapse of the tyranny of abstract orders. We are in the soup now. What we do with it will be the real test. Hmmmm. Freedom. That’ll be the real test, freedom in one corner, in the other, human-control systems. The path ahead is rocky and long but we are crossing the chasm now. The greatest hurdles are the ones we make, for instance the arbitrary and abstract categories of religion and politics, at best a predictable currency, at worst, a point of view we squeeze into for convenience often at the expense of what we truly believe.
Along with their gods, humanity must begin including people and the earth as worthy of the reverence and protection afforded by the fold reserved for the deities. To do less would seem to be a slur upon one’s God or Gods. Love the earth. She is our best hope for a reasonable future. To keep her healthy should be goal for the emerging age we seem to be shifting into, that which I am calling the Age of Magic or the Scented Age or Perfumed Age. The best advice might be to seize one’s faith and make it one’s own, obeying the best and rejecting the polluted, debased versions trotted out by megalomaniacs of all stripes. The average Abdul living in a tin hut in Afghanistan had as little to do with whatever happened on 9/11 as Joe Schmoe yomping a hot dog on a street corner in Benson. Seek similar hearts and begin to coalesce and strengthen the nascent, submerged strength of those kindred spirits who have either bided their time or are now becoming aware of what resides silently within … and without. Whatever is occurring is really big, the cusp of a Golden Dawn.

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Dix Hill Redux

Growing up in Raleigh, the only consistent intel on Dix was to steer clear, trepidation not so much over the inmates but from staff mistaking you for an escaped “loony” and stuffing you into a rubber room. I’d never really got to know it until my head injury 5 years ago. Early mornings I began climbing to find a still place to quiet the ringing in my head. One exploration nearly cost me a bicycle tire from a 4 point Eastern White Tail deer antler as overhead ducks honked overhead in the classic “vee” formation. I discovered a federalist era house I didn’t know existed: Spring Hill raised by Theopholis Hunter in 1815. Instead of the Yankees who took up residence after the Waw, the NCSU Japan Center now occupies the fine, aged house.
“Dorothea Dix stayed lived here,” I was told by Francis Moyer, director of the Japan Center. Outside, kids screamed and played across the street.
Since then I have a better grasp of a place I thought I knew about, this namesake of an empathetic visionary from Maine who made herself a pain in the ass to legislators around the young nation with her simple plea, nay, demand: render compassion and aid to innocent sufferers of medical conditions instead of the usual punishment by imprisonment. Five years has seen the hospital begin to wind down preparatory to the big move to Butner. Nowadays, the acres and somber institutional buildings have taken on a decidedly post-bomb feel, darkened, vacant windows gazing out on weedy parking lots. The kids are gone. The state claimed 30 million to bring Dix up to code versus 108 for the new hospital. Considering the disruptions to patients and their families lives and incidental costs of moving, does that sound like a good deal to you? No argument that Cuckoo’s Nest thinking had it’s problems but now, with the closure and removal of the hospital, this state’s capital and Wake county will have no local service for serious mental cases other than Central Prison’s spanking new psych ward, precisely what Dix dedicated her life to changing.
The world is upside down. Accompanying the growth of the Prison Industrial complex the work of this courageous warrior is being undone via this nation’s legacy of financial opportunity. Across the nation “Lunatic asylums” are being converted to condos and townhouses. One example is Danvers Lunatic Asylum in Massachusetts where Avalon Bay Communities created a “campus-like environment” with swimming pools, WiFi cafe and fitness center. Rents start around $1,400 for a one-bedroom, about a half-a-million dollars for a condo.
Two of the players at Avalon Bay and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) moved 5 years ago to Raleigh to be near a niece in Wake Forest, they claimed, stressing no interest in Dix. Compare this with a local legislator saying research on Dix led to ULI, the same organization who with J.W. Willie York launched in 1948 the suburbia mess that is Raleigh, 2010, this in light of the fact that Willie’s son Smedes attended Dix meetings as an “interested Citizen,” he then freshly returned from New Orleans as head of a ULI commission. And what about the Dix Commission backing down from removing references to “commerce” and “housing’ from a draft statement?
This upcoming Dix decision has more loose ends than a bucket of worms. Is the same fate as Danvers, Dammasch in Oregon and Northern Michigan Asylum, development, awaiting Dix? That is up to you, citizens and voters. The only way you can have any steerage over this is to hold your elected officials to their word. So much negotiation goes unnoticed and unrecorded that, sadly, the peoples’ sole bargaining chip is intimidation. We will have to make the commercial quislings that infest governmental bodies understand that their political careers could well hinge on the outcome of the Dix issue. That said, remain mindful of how little the publics’ wisdom mean in light of the Convention Center, opposed by 67 percent of your fellow citizens and now way over budget. Oh, democracy.
The only thing the ordinary people of Raleigh and North Carolina can do is to combine forces and attempt to retain some bit of what Dorothea Dix lived for, a place of quiet respite for the harried city dweller, i.e. yourself, increasingly buffeted by the psychological ravages of the toxic elements of this culture.
If we do not engage the forces making plans out of sight, your commons, that which should belong to everyone will be stolen from you. Bet on it.

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freaky freeze

Ok, August and you know what that means. Interminable hours commenting on the heat interspersed with a constant footrace from one pool of air to another. Amid a ubiquitous technology we forget that not long ago AC was a treat akin to going for ice cream.
Were one to compile a list of people who changed the world, Thomas Midgley would near the top. Midgley, head chemist for Charles Kettering of General Motors, is most famous for isolating in the twenties the lead-based gasoline antiknock compound that enabled modern high compression engines, known indiscreetly as “loony gas” for the effects of lead exposure to industrial workers. Another of Midgley’s assignments fulfilled Kettering’s dream of air conditioning. In a few days, Midgley concocted Freon, the chemical heart of modern air conditioning.
Through these compounds suddenly the world was changed although not because of the later discovered and well-publicized effects of Freon on the atmosphere and of airborne lead on the environment and children; that should have been enough. The social effects are equal to or greater than the environmental.
No one is denying the assets of improved technology. Imagine Raleigh before AC, donning office clothing, a stout three piece suit or a long dress of respectable black bombazine concealing petticoats, mounting a streetcar and clattering downtown to a solemn, dark brick building to toil for the state, the interior heat broken only by the lack of direct sunlight and ventilation via roof-top cupolas. Picture one’s office day punctuated by the despair engendered by a drop of sweat dripping from your nose to splatter a newly scribed longhand report.
Accompanying the technological improvements were some losses, most notably social effects that extended past the work day. The lack of automobiles and reliance on ice for refrigeration engendered societal exposure. Part of one’s life involved jumping on a streetcar or walking to shop for food everyday or so instead of the isolated once a week ritual it has become via Freon and gasoline. Gains in food safety and convenience accompanied losses to the public forum. Public transportation and necessity required rubbing elbows and getting to know each other. A great part of unnoticed social connections have become sundered as we run from one bubble of cool air to another to spend the balance of the hours often in solitary passive pursuits, watching television or surfing the Internet.
Few would suggest ridding oneself of these developments although it is within one’s grasp to reduce dependency on what has become a “necessity” with some simple techniques.
 Do your outdoor business before noon. That’s an easy one requiring no explanation.
 Use your AC sparingly (if your system permits it and you can) by keeping the thermostat as high as you can comfortably tolerate coupled with the use of fans.
 If you don’t have AC or don’t want to use it, employ a time-tested southern technique. When the air begins to cool in the late afternoon, early evening, selectively open windows on opposite or different sides of the space, not all of them. Enhance flow with the fans, one pulling air in, the other pushing air out. The attempt is to utilize varying pressure gradients and wind shear to facilitate transfer, evacuation and flow through the space. While opening every window may work if there is a steady wind, in times of still air having every window open can reduce airflow. When the air begins to heat in the morning, close the windows and use drapes or blinds to exclude the sun. Experiment.
 If your car has AC, give it and yourself a break. Park in shade if you can. If not, when you return open as many doors as you can conveniently, start your motor and engage the AC and. Wait a short time, 30 seconds, a minute, to allow the superheated interior air to evacuate the cabin of the vehicle. When you can feel cool air coming out the vents, close the doors, and drive.

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Marry Me

Photos 053.jpg

Photo by Chrystal Bartlett

Of the “sanctity of marriage” movement one is reminded of a quote attributed to Mark Twain’s concerning drinking: “There are two kinds of people, thems that want a drink and thems that don’t want us to have one.” What beyond that is there to say? Given the unhappy statistics surrounding US-style “conventional” marriage, fully half of which end in divorce, which lifestyle choice could further unhinge that which has proven to be as unstable and temporary a human relationship as one will find? Hey, dig it, more people stick with their jobs longer than many marriages.
That didn’t stop what could politely be called a handful of demonstrators from gathering at the Capitol grounds on Tuesday in support of the National Organization for Marriage, testifying their distaste against any sort of marriage other than the aforementioned. I stayed around to hear what they had to say. While my sympathies were with those on the other side of Morgan street who braved the August heat to confront the narrow minded zealots, the sheer numbers of the rainbow tribe ensured my absence would not be a factor. “If there’da been a rumble, them queers woulda kicked ass,” a passerby giggled.
Sheesh. Where does one start? NOM’s message is such a mish-mash of oblique, historic falsities and unsupportable “consensus” as to defy rational examination. From dictionary definitions to the facts, beginning with the claim that their mission is backed by “3000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition,” NOM’s mission is constructed on a foundation of quicksand. On the simple definition of the word “marriage,” it is worth noting that the second definition in that final arbiter of such etymological disputes, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) concerns Polyandry, everyone married to everyone. Since NOM is dependent on Biblical law, a brief examination of those laws may be in order. “ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN,” the NOMmies shrill, conveniently ignorant of a non-existent stricture that the patriarchs were likewise ignorant of. The Bible reports that Solomon sported 700 wives and 300 concubines, King David, 6 wives and numerous concubines and so forth. Likewise biblical law dictates that adulterers are to be put to death amid helpful advice about selling one’s daughter into slavery. “That’s the Old Testament,” goes the counter, leaving one to quote Jesus, who is reported to have said, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18) Were modern US culture to explicitly follow the directions in the Law, bodies would clog the streets.
But none of the above nor any other species of religious claptrap is of any consequence. NOM’s fundamental error is failing to recognize that the US Constitution trumps any religious hogwash, no matter how deep its local level of acceptance. The genius of the founders of this nation is glaringly evident in that they sidestepped the entire, murky, unprovable bog of religion via the First Amendment which as we all know (or should) forbids a religious state establishment. To the oft-expressed error of the US being a “Judeo-Christian” nation, a partial response might be to point how George Washington refused to attend church following his wife’s Episcopalian minister badgering him about taking communion (he attended church to placate her). Most of the rest, Jefferson, Franklin, were Freemasons and/or Deists, both of which are rejected as false idolatry in conflict with Christianity. That is perhaps the how and why of the nascent United States avoiding the bloody path that its sire Great Britain trod, accompanied by the great loss of life attending the Brit’s various religious civil wars (something I am not opposed to for practical reasons for the simple reason of house clearing). Christians killing Christians over dogma. Ah, now that’s the sort of intelligent design I am not automatically opposed to.
Any legal arguments that stems from religious doctrine is unconstitutional by it’s nature. Although the speakers claims that overturning California’s ban was in abeyance of the wishes of the voters is in fact true, it is of no consequence. The US is a nation of laws and judicial overrule of an unfair law passed by a bigoted, ignorant voting body is quite legal under the Constitution. Happens all the time. Although Federal Judge Vaughn Walker was loudly berated as an “activist judge” his ruling was consistent with the US Constitution. California’s Prop 8 violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of that pesky 14th Amendment. Instead of chiding a strict constructionist, religious zealots of all stripe should loudly trumpet a finding that implicitly perserves their right to spread whatever idiotic reading of the Bible they concoct. On that, the biggest laugh I had to suppress was that the counter-protesters were impeding NOM and their supporters right to express the worst forms of bigotry and intolerance.
What remains to be seen is whether Walker’s wise, reasoned review can survive the appeal process. Despite that, California Governor Ahnult Schvartsenekkah and Attorney General Jerry Brown are requesting that Walker permit gay marriage through the appeal process.

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BIG NEWS Convention Center a flop

Once again, correct. Cool. Less work in this heat.

From the N&O Aug 10, 2010
Convention center wants more to spend

RALEIGH — Faced with increasing competition for national convention business, the managers of the Raleigh Convention Center want to more than double contributions to a fund it uses to offer discounts and incentives, from $350,000 to $750,000.

Read more:

February 04, 2004 Peter Eichenberger

Look out, Minneapolis!

The convention center decision reminds me of a neighbor disposed toward the purchase of lawn furniture. A lot of lawn furniture. She wasn’t the type to have anyone over for tea, yet was more than amply provisioned with seating capacity for the garden party that never happened.

That is the plan for the publicly financed convention center/hotel juggernaut–build it and if they come we’ll have a place for ’em. Despite a flat (and in some fields, declining) convention business, cities across the country, big and not so big, are lining up to construct these glossy monsters, often relying on preposterously optimistic projections.

Oh, those troubling facts. My colleague, Todd Morman ( discovered some eye-opening details about the fruits of Music (wo)Man (i.e. head of the Raleigh Downtown Alliance) Margaret Mullen’s convention center boosting efforts in Phoenix, Ariz. –a dead downtown. Morman cites a series from Phoenix New Times ( that asks: “Why hasn’t a vibrant core city happened? We’ve got interesting people: artists, tycoons, celebrities, cultural and ethnic diversity. Why are we saddled with vacant lots and Soviet-style architecture in our core city?” Sound familiar? Of course, the answer leaders have come up with is… expanding the convention center.

I could cite multiple studies and practical examples that illustrate the ugly truth: Publicly funded convention centers usually fail to live up to “experts'” predictions. Consulting firms don’t get paid to give the bad news, they get paid to come up with rosy scenarios. It is worth noting that KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP, the firm that did the original convention center study, has been in hot water with the feds for filing false Columbia HCA Medicare cost reports as well as assisting Xerox in manipulating its accounting practices to fill a (oops) $3 billion “gap” in operating costs. Just the sort of firm sure to supply a paying client with accurate timely information, right?

Convention centers usually require city revenue to operate. The revenue shortfall for Raleigh’s is projected to start at $1.8 million a year. They can also pump cash into a local economy (bars, restaurants). The question is how much, and who picks up the tab if the revenue stream doesn’t live up to the billing? Remember, it’s not just the center, it’s the hotel spaces. Raleigh, to be fair, is factoring in the hotel with a view toward forestalling the disasters that have befallen cities that have built convention centers without adequate hotel space. But suddenly Raleigh is in the hotel business–a highly speculative trade with its own set of risks.

A big convention center is a mighty big gamble for a “third-tier” metro area–especially with the number of competing cities set to enter the market and, lest we forget, in view of Raleigh’s track record with other big-eyed dream projects–Exploris, the RBC fiasco. Two-hundred-plus million bucks is lot of dough for our version of the Eggplant That Ate Chicago–a “maybe” that amounts to a massive public subsidy for the food/hospitality biz. And let’s have a bit of clarity of the quality of jobs and average financial recompense for gigs in the hospitality business–what, seven bucks an hour (unless you’re a hooker)? That’ll just about buy the gas to drive from your trailer in Clayton with maybe a bit to send back to mamacita.

Let’s be honest. When you look at the competition: Austin, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Orlando, San Diego, Knoxville and the literally hundreds of other big venues metastasizing across the nation–one is left to wonder which organization would be drawn to Raleigh for a regular convention large enough for the new facility to accommodate.

The recent Cranium/Money Magazine’s list for top “fun” destinations listed Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill as the sixth most “fun” place to visit, and that may be true, although when you look at the city at the top of the list, Minneapolis, one has to wonder just who is doing the selecting. As far as Raleigh is concerned, cutting off the Durham/Chapel Hill part, when Lycos lists one of the features as Adventure Landing (sandwiched between Cameron Village and the Rose Garden), it becomes clear that the “fun” factor could well hinge on Raleigh’s go-cart tracks.

Nope, this is the urban equivalent of automotive power windows. You may remember when one had to actually roll car windows up and down by hand. Power windows were something reserved for your loaded granddaddy. Now it is hard to find a vehicle that doesn’t have them–a woe betide the loser who has to bear that social burden. Lord, we can’t let Charlotte (underbooked, may I add) get one up on us, by golly!

The city’s in ostrich mode: “We’re elected to make the tough choices and we’re gonna make a doozy and don’t care a rat’s keister that 60-plus percent of you voted it down the last time we put it to the citizenry.” If it is such a dandy idea, why won’t the council or the mayor and council acknowledge the studies and at least be responsive and up-front instead of insulting us? Why the secret meetings?

Back to Austin, a city to which the Triangle is often compared–state capital, a university and a tech business. They’ve got a convention center–a big ‘un. The difference is Austin has a life, a real beating heart downtown, courtesy of a city government that encourages streetlife–what a concept. There is actually a reason to go to Austin and be downtown–lots of venues serving up local culture, Texas style. Ring a ding ding–three score of music clubs, a legend playing somewhere each and every night. Compare and contrast that to our little town, a place that has, against tall odds (like our very own widdle noise compliance officer, a real buzz-killer against whom the students are about to mutiny) nurtured some big acts that were forced to pursue their careers anywhere other than Raleigh. Fun is not permitted. Stay in your houses. It is like a campfire, always smoldering, trying to spring to life, and a colossus straddling the embers, hosing down the coals and stankin’ up the woods with an endless steam of urine. The fire never goes out–and the piss never stops. So what do we get? Adventure Landing. (OK, there is always The Acorn. To be fair, how many towns have the cojones to admit to “dropping a nut” on New Years, tee hee).

Forget the Livable Streets proposal. I’ve read it and it’s the same, dreary, endless rearranging of the Titanic’s deck chairs. Vague, pre-chewed gunk, the sort of thing that boosts city planners’ self esteem–makes them feel like they’re doing something. Let’s tear up Fayetteville Street and build a mall. No, let’s tear up the mall and turn it into a street! I know–new bus routes! A convention center! That’ll fix everything!

Blowing public money to wine and dine stripper-chasin’ goobers from Dubuque while they wax about lawnmowers at Vinnie’s is a shallow and insulting way to “revitalize” a city. Meanwhile, soon the only activity on Hillsborough will be squashed to-go cups blowing down the street, a pathetic shadow of what was once the happeninest place in Raleigh–now ritually disemboweled following a slobbery wet-kiss of death administered by the city and the (shriek) homeowners.

I know I’m just a lowly columnist, but my mommy did bless me with some common sense. And I see big red flags over this whole downtown “plan.” It’s like Lucy and the football, only I’ve seen this before and I ain’t falling for it. It’s time to get radical.

Downtown housing.

Oh, I know now I’ve gone over the edge, talking all sorts of loony stuff, but that’s me–crazy like that. Geez, people actually living downtown. What a concept. And I’m not just talking about $300,000 condos. There aren’t that many people positioned to play that game, and the ones that can don’t generally avail themselves of walking life and hanging out. No, I’m talking about subsidies to make housing affordable to those who actually make cities purr–are now forced to live in threatened ghettos–you know, the regular joes, including artists, musician and writers, the ones Raleigh seems to despise despite pretty words to the contrary. Read all about it from urban visionary Richard Florida:

It is called “habitat creation.” It works for woodpeckers and it works for people. You build a place for human critters to live and, whadaya know, sooner or later they have to eat, buy shoes. You know, live. And it is not just 25 times a year like some bloated, hideous convention center–residents are there all day, all the time, all year. Plus they just might do more for the community than wake with greasy hair and a hangover, flick a butt on the street and catch a cab to fly back to Dubuque.

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