Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Christians and the Pagans

I found two editorials published today in the Asheville Citizen-Times to be deeply offensive. One by Bruce Steinbicker and another by Jean Franklin.

According to these two guest editorials, the vigorous defense of a Christian Christmas can be described either as "pitching a hissy fit" or a "sideshow" or a "tempest in an eggnog cup."

I'd like to see these writers apply their arguments to all those people who claim to be offended by Christian religious symbols during this season. Are they pitching a hissy fit? And can we apply this same argument to those who are offended by racial epithets. Are they engaging in a sideshow or stirring up a tempest in a teapot? The simple fact is that some things are worth defending. And the preservation of the distinctly Christian character of this seasonal holiday is one of them.

Also, in her editorial, Jean Franklin arrogantly digresses into a lecture on the etymology of the words Christmas and holiday which I found condescending and irrelevant. This is commonly known as a "red-herring" argument. It’s a way of introducing a divergent topic in order to change the subject. And change the subject she did by then quoting a Leftist, anti-Walmart propaganda film as her source of information for the purpose of reiterating tired anti-capitalist clich├ęs.

Bruce Steinbicker, in his editorial, refers three times to "right-wingers" and disingenuously asks that they explain themselves in all of this. I had not considered that the defense of Christmas was the exclusive charge of the Right. Now I know.

Steinbicker concludes his snarling editorial by suggesting that we Christians should emulate an even better holiday than Christmas: Kwanzaa. That’s the phony holiday cooked up by a Black militant in Los Angeles in the 60’s specifically designed to compete with Christmas and divide people along racial lines.

The central subject, which Mr. Steinbicker and Ms. Franklin work so hard to obscure, is the intentional and aggressive de-Christification of a specifically Christian holiday by a cultural elite that is emboldened by the passivity of the complacent faithful. Now that that passivity has been shaken off and a campaign to preserve a valued cultural heritage has been successfully mounted, they want to cry foul and lash out with sanctimonious sarcasm and juvenile, hate-filled rhetoric to denigrate all those who would dare to speak up in the face of their transparent assaults.

It sounds like somebody's having a hissy fit and needs a "time out."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bowen Can't Take Yes For an Answer

In a recent letter to the Mountain Xpress ("Why quote Mumpower, when he stands alone?" 12/21/05), Mountain Area Information Network, (MAIN) Director Wally Bowen complained that TV station WLOS quoted Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower, and no one else, even though the motion to waive market-driven pricing on antennae placements and offer MAIN a discount was approved 6-1, Mumpower dissenting.

Mr. Bowen, claiming that the report was incomplete, although not in error, first charges that Mumpower brought to Council's attention that MAIN is a decidedly political organization; a factual claim that Bowen reinforces himself saying, "nonprofits are not prohibited from engaging in political speech." The problem here is that no one has disputed MAIN's right to promote a distinctively partisan political point of view--which indeed it does. On any given day, you can find some mention on MAIN’s website of the standard Leftist complaints and tired arguments. Mr. Bowen then admits that "Mumpower is entitled to his view." So much for argument one.

The reason Dr. Mumpower was quoted by WLOS was because he pulled the item off the Consent Agenda and was the only Council-member to comment substantially on the matter. “Why quote Mumpower when he stands alone”—asks Bowen? Mumpower should have been quoted precisely because he stood alone. That was the story: Mumpower’s dissent!

Second, Bowen takes pains to explain that his monthly rent would be, not $200, but $200 thrice, since MAIN intends to employ three antennae at the discounted rate. Here again, Bowen is not presenting any new compelling information. As he states himself, rent would be set at $200 per unit, as factually reported by WLOS. This is well under the $600/month normally required to compensate the City for their cost of doing business. And who picks up the tab for the difference between cost versus discounted rent payments? The already tapped-out City residents who generate tax revenues..

That city taxpayers will subsidize three antennae instead of one is a bookkeeping detail that does not significantly alter the facts as reported by WLOS. MAIN will be paying a reduced $200 per unit no matter how many they choose to rent, one or one hundred. So much for argument two.

What Bowen fails to appreciate in his misapplied rejoinder is the essence of Mumpower's dissent: MAIN, being primarily a partisan political media organ, in this case on the Left, should not be afforded the consideration that Council majority has given due primarily to its explicit intellectual bias and its rather transparent motives.

Bowen’s intent, it seems clear, is to extend his influence beyond Asheville and across the mountains by supplying a seemingly innocuous service to needy subscribers that will then draw them to his websites, newsletters, and radio programs with the aim of immersing a captive audience in his political bias. This will be the first step in putting the imprint of Leftist Asheville onto a greater Buncombe County and sets in motion the fulfillment of Bowen’s vision—one presumably shared by City Council—which is to insidiously convert county residents to his political persuasion and then deliver them to a national Leftist movement—ideally, in time for critical elections.

Our new progressive City Council has allowed a nonprofit organization that shares their own partisan political leanings to offset their expenses using the property of the hard-working tax producers of Asheville. Then certain Council-members turn around and reap the benefits of their own largess by subscribing to services provided by MAIN whose operating expenses have now been reduced by direct Council action. Mayor Bellamy and Council-members Jones, Davis, Freeborn and Newman all have accounts with MAIN; and Robin Cape used to host a program on MAIN’s radio station WPVM: The Progressive Voice of the Mountains. In the vote to allow subsidies for MAIN, these Council members should have recused themselves. That would have left Mumpower alone to decide the matter. (Would it were so.)

So it would seem we have expanded our working definition of what it means to be a progressive on City Council: To cavalierly hand out sweetheart deals to their pals at our expense as they laugh all the way to the Westville Pub. (Oh, for joy.)

Despite Wally Bowen's insistence that we thoughtlessly treat his own private Wally-World as just another generic, run-of-the-mill nonprofit—in the end, we cannot. And, indeed, must not.

And City Council should not be in the business of handing out favors to its favorites, Left or Right.


UPDATE
Bowen's letter to the Mountain Xpress has been reprinted in the Wed Dec 28th edition of the Asheville Daily Planet (pg. 14).

Bowen's letter to the Mountain Xpress has also been reprinted in the Wed Dec 29th edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Wal-Mart Forum

Last night, the development team for the proposed west end Wal-Mart Super Center held a public forum at the West Asheville Community Center to share their plans for the project and field questions and concerns and take any other input on their large development initiative that the community might want to provide.

One Leftists in the crowd rudely interrupted the opening presentation by insisting that he be able to begin the question-and-answer period on his own timetable rather than allowing the speakers to finish the overview.

The question period having now begun, other angry voices piped in to express their own personal resentment regarding general issues related to Wal-Mart and its operations. This was not the intent of the forum and I took the opportunity myself to shout down these interruptions and point out that this was not an activist session.

Shortly afterwards the most vocal Leftists walked out and the civil portion of the meeting got underway. There were still some passionate questioners and some hostility sprinkled throughout the rest of the meeting, but by-and-large genuine concerns were being raised about noise, light, traffic and housing displacement. These concerns were all addressed by the development team, which included a Wal-Mart attorney for the project.

It appeared that many in the audience did not understand the process of zoning, regulation and city government in general and I can certainly sympathize with that. Catching that tiger can require a certain stamina. But it seemed that the disgruntled minority simply thought that they could disregard the systematic process that brought us to this point and show up at one meeting, express a few tight little anti-capitalist bromides, sign a petition or two and then this would all go away.

And while all this confusion and cross-talk proceeded, we actually had a member of City Council sitting quietly in the audience with us through the entire meeting: Bryan Freeborn. Mr. Freeborn had nothing to say on any subject but instead listened attentively while citizens discussed buffers, tree-planting, zoning, business development, net job loss, the morality of the marketplace, and a host of other issues; many of which the developers were not there to discuss but which would be more proper to bring to planning boards and City Council.

Finally, one last lonely Leftist (sitting next to Freeborn, by the way) spoke up saying, "I don't think we need another Wal-Mart. I won't be shopping there and no one I know will be shopping there."

In response, I raised my hand and said, "I love Wal-Mart and I love shopping there every day." This elicited a smattering of laughter and some goony looks from the crowd. Then the developers decided to wrap the meeting on that positive note and we adjourned for the evening.

Afterwards, Leslee Kulba and I compared notes and agreed that Asheville has a long way to go in understanding basic economics, the law of supply and demand, and that, contrary to one questioners complaint that the voice of the people was not being heard, the real voice of the people could be found in the poster-sized architectural renderings and photos of the new proposed Wal-Mart destined to rise up on the west end and satisfy a felt need that they would only be happy to fill.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dump Freeborn

this is an audio post - click to play
General congratulations are in order for the winners of our recent city elections, hard fought and handily won by the so-called progressive political element in Asheville. The remaining question before an empowering public now is who should properly fill the two-year City Council vacancy left open by the transference of Ms. Terry Bellamy from Council-member to Mayor.

Even though failed candidate Bryan Freeborn received the fifth-highest number of votes overall, with 7,319 just behind Dr. Joe Dunn's 8,004 votes, sheer popularity among partisans cannot be made the sole criterion for selecting a candidate to represent a diverse body-politic until the next election offers that citizenry an opportunity for course-correction.

I contend that the extreme left-wing activist Bryan Freeborn is unfit for service on the Asheville City Council due mainly to his well-documented character flaws, his juvenile flouting of municipal authority, and his demonstrated disdain for the sober process of the law.

In view of Dr. Dunn's new-found revulsion for local politics, I suggest we look for another grown-up for this important post. And, in my view, that grown-up is Chris Pelly.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Best Little Town in the South?

"The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." -- Thomas Jefferson

IN THIS GENTLE AUTUMN SEASON, as the trees shed their colors, we find ourselves once again looking deep into the landscape to spy what nature’s unveiling reveals.

Every shack and chalet, once hidden, peeks through a naked row of trees to announce themselves to our consciousness. We are again reminded that things long-concealed by cover can quickly lose their seeming distance and rejoin a visible scenery.

And winter's closing in.

Now, in our fair town, the revelations of nature find their counterpart in the stark arena of human action. An election season has come—and passed—and it has brought with it a similar shedding of cover that lays bare something long-suspected but only just out of sight: A creeping statist vision of command-and-control that seeks to aggressively plan the minutiae of your life, to further constrain individual liberties, and to control dissent through media puppet-masters and the raw exercise of governmental power.

In many ways, Asheville has readied herself for this moment. Committee after committee has churned out page after page of reports and recommendations that address every aspect of the life we used to freely choose. Now those choices will be made for us. And our talents and creativity will be brought to heel to serve the vision of a rising New Class and the Prophets of Order who cheerfully propose to engineer a better life for your own good. Their methods, among others, will include interference in the marketplace, oppression through taking, coercion through regulation, and relentless demands for conformance. Coupled with this approach is a cool indifference to property rights and an overt hostility toward the regional values and traditions that have carefully built up a foundation of permanence and hope.

Let’s look at some of the several ways the elites plan to reconstruct and micromanage your lives:

The HUB Project
Sustainable Economic Development Strategic Plan
Asheville City Development Plan 2025
Downtown Asheville City Center Plan
Greenway Master Plan
Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness
Pedestrian and Bicycle Thoroughfare Plan
Eng Dept Addendum to the Pedestrian Plan
Long Range Transportation Plan 2030
Consolidated Strategic Housing and Comm Dev Plan
Coming Soon: The $40,000 Bike Plan (yes, merely the plan)

I challenge you to read and fully comprehend the consequences of any of these monstrosities. The HUB Project alone will leave your head spinning with its sweep and ambition.
“The 2025 Plan is one of things I first want to look at.” –Terry Bellamy

“The city already has a good plan [the 2025 Plan], but the current majority of council chooses to ignore it.” –Robin Cape

“Ride more bikes.” –Bryan Freeborn
Yes, rather than tend to the proper role of city government—which is to provide basic services and protect individual rights—the giggly inmates are running the asylum and they have their eyes on your change-purse.

The chief activity conducted by the Asheville City Council consists of civil piracy. I'll be damned if they think they can take my private property and money so they can build a network of bike paths for Bryan Freeborn and the Speedo concession. Yes, we want your money--"AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO!"

And they have the gall to call themselves progressive. Progressive?! Hey, look: Cancer is progressive. Seriously though, "progressive" is a just a euphemism for “Leftist.” What the progressives are advocating is a hundred years old--and it didn't work then. The Leftists are about as progressive as the Piltdown Man.

When they do ask for input on how best to spend their greedy accumulation of tax dollars, my response is simple: “Give it back and then stop confiscating it. It's not the role of government to take property from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not. If you want to help people afford housing, stop forcing people to live in high-density like lab rats, stop raising taxes, stop scaring away businesses, development and jobs and give up your overblown pipe-dreams of yellow-brick bike paths and rickshaws to Utopia.”

The day when these elitist visions were held in abeyance is over. The voices of reason have been sent packing; or allowed to stay and bark in a darkened corner. Joe Dunn has been voted off City Council and Carl Mumpower is in the extreme minority of one. There is little left now to stand between the tax-producers and the tax-consumers.

The voters have spoken and you would think that they want you to live in a crunchy-green Disneyland scrubbed clean of the flesh-and-blood serendipity of human action; the open process of free minds operating in free markets that dares to craft its own path to happiness without the arrogance of effete intellectuals trumping the common sense of free men and women at every turn.

You can relax your fervor and passion for life lived on your own terms. Remember folks, the expensive reports listed above are not simply lovely suggestions on how the free market ought to operate. These are P-L-A-N-S for Y-O-U. They are enforceable only by the iron police power of government. You must conform to the directives of your betters or suffer the consequences. You can have it “any way you like it” as long as you like it the way we make it.

If you had any thoughts on how you want to live your lives free from government interference or how you’d like to preserve the lifestyle you have come to cherish, forget it. It’s all been done; it has already been thought of. You are no longer needed. When the newly-formed City Council convenes this month, you will be officially in the way. If you can’t get with the program, City Council will certainly be about the business of thinning the herd. They can do what they like. After all, they have received a mandate.

What the City of Asheville is rushing toward is not unknown in history.
"Socialism is the doctrine that no person has the right to exist for his own sake; that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, and that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good." -Ayn Rand
This doctrine denies that rights belong to the individual; specifically, the right to use and dispose of your property as you see fit within legal limits.

Socialism claims that all life, all liberty, all property, all money—indeed, all constituents and products of an individual's life—are commodities of the state to monitor, regulate and distribute at its whim and pleasure without pain of consent.

This political ideology defines you, in fact, as chattel; a servant of the state: a slave; with no say ultimately in how the products of your achievement are to be valued, used and disposed of. Your life—your very being—is a resource to be measured and constrained, or parceled out to you as the government sees fit to satisfy its ephemeral whimsy. All property belongs to the state and government will determine to what extent you may possess any remnants.

Anyone denied freedom in his person and the use of the fruits of his labor is a 'de facto' slave at the end of a chafing leash. The names and faces of our masters change from time to time with each election but in the end we are only haggling over the length of the leash.

So, as you drive your favorite privately-owned vehicle through the winding streets and washed out roads in and around greater Asheville, take the time to peer out into the landscape to see how autumn has uncovered the little secret bits along the roadside that now come into full view.

And also reflect on that other secret that is now coming clearly into view: That under a local government that blithely relishes lurching toward socialism, the New Class is fast at work fashioning “the best little town in the South.”

The air here is now cooling. The chilly winds will supplant the sun’s warming rays. The unfriendliest season is fast upon us; where the snowbirds--and others--get the urge for going.

And winter's closing in.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fourth Way Website

Here is the website that I created many years ago for a couple of Fourth Way teachers: Fourth Way and Esoteric Christianity.

It seems to still be up. How 'bout that.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Shindig on the Green

Well, you asked that I report on any new fun in Asheville.

I just attended another evening of Shindig on the Green and it was certainly a golden time. This time I arrived early and set up a folding lawn chair close to the front of the stage. The sun was still up and I knew it would set around a quarter after eight. So I hoped to relax for an hour or so listening to the formal presentation on the main stage. Included were some motley ensembles and a few dance teams. It was enjoyable enough.

After sunset, I collapsed my chair and went in search of fairer game. Passing up the kielbasa stand, I toured the grounds at City-County Plaza park and casually took in what variety of picking was offered. But I knew where I would land: In the "old-time" section of the park, nearest the main fronting street. Apparently it is a tradition for the bluegrass jams to take place around the inner side of the park and the old-time jams to have their own area at the other end. Up to four or five ever-changing ensembles will strike up a tune or two of droning acoustic mountain instrumentals to be followed by nothing in particular; but perhaps some light conversation until another tune comes to mind and is take up with enthusiasm and a fair amount of onlooking.

With dusk securely behind us, the little bands slipped into a comfortable rhythm of playing and resting. During any rest, onlookers could take in another fine tune simply by pivoting in place and taking a few steps forward; where faint noise now becomes a rich concert with fingers and wrists bending strings with energy and feeling.

As I listened, arms folded, to one muscular ditty showcasing four fiddles, two guitars, one mandolin and a bass, I heard "the laugh." This is the most distinctive laugh in the burgeoning hamlet of Asheville: the rapid, mousy titter of Cary Fridley. Slowly I turned. Yes, it was her. Then I knew that the night had begun.

fridI hovered around her little grouping like a gnat and came close whenever they struck up another tune. Of course, she was there with another innovation: An old-time, dixieland hybrid music including a kazoo-playing banjoist. This time Fridley was on the bass, plucking out a strict rhythm for her fellows on fiddle, mandolin and guitar.

These spontaneous offerings were later punctuated by Phil Jamison's flatfoot shuffling. How did Phil accomplish this feat in a city park? Why, by bringing his own floor. While the band played on, Phil simply plopped down a thin four-by-four slab of wood in front of the players, and, child-like, hopped on it and tapped out with precision his own percussive beat. Afterwards, others were invited to trip the light fantastic on this four foot dance floor to the lead of the commanding hard beat of Celtic-Appalachian string music played by the anonymous stars of the unruffled mountain acoustic music community of Western North Carolina.

A half-pivot reminded me that the main stage was still churning with tight bluegrass and joyous clogging performances. And looking up into the far distance from time to time, I could see lightning silently flash-flashing; briefly suggesting the silhouetted mountain skyline that surrounds the valley -- this oasis that is Asheville in summer; where the loveliest mountain music plays hushed and steady underneath low trees.