The state of our library, university, city and union
Today is the day that Ashlanders, as well as all other Americans, are privileged to hear the leader of our nation speak to us about the state of our Union. No doubt president George W. Bush will &
as so many of his predecessors before him have done &
pontificate over the troubles we have seen as a nation. And undoubtedly he will reassure the citizenry that America is a peaceful country that seeks peace for all peoples &
which is why we must maintain military strength abroad and a continuation, if not an escalation, of a war we started in the Middle East. After all, America must win at all costs. And to win, we must be willing to sacrifice and stay the course that our leader has set for us.
A good State of the Union speech is earmarked by applause lines and antidotes for the nation's ills. After all, what good is it to articulate a problem without offering a solution? Identifying the problem is the first step toward doing something about it. In doing so, one has initiated a formula that begins with identification and ends with a proposed resolution. And that is the approach needed regarding the issues facing the residents of Ashland, its university community, and the citizenry of the United States.
STAYING THE COURSE:
THE PROBLEMS OF THE LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY, CITY AND NATION
Ashlanders are quite familiar with the notion of staying the course, even if we are steered in the wrong direction. Consider the path Ashland took in expanding the city library. It is indeed a statuesque landmark in the center of the city; a symbol of our love of books located just a few blocks from Southern Oregon University, where education is held in high regard. There can be little doubt that in Ashland, the amount of intellect is so high it keeps our noses held up above the level of foul odor emitted by the costly projects strewn down the path from which there is seemingly no detour.
The Ashland Public Library is facing a closure not because it has reached the point of obsolescence, but rather that it has over-reached its point of importance. The residents must now bear the consequences of being led down the wrong road. Therefore, the path that directed us to this destination of destitution ought to be abandoned.
Within the splendid beauty of the City of Ashland resides the deteriorating face of Southern Oregon University. Today, its economic engine is belching noxious fumes of expulsion of its staff and faculty. The twin motors of state funding and reliance upon tuition rates from a declining enrollment have collapsed from supporting such a heavy load for so long, based on out-dated modes of progress.
CITY OF ASHLAND
The City itself has displayed its own disregard for discretion. Headed down the wrong path for years, chasing a dream of good intentions, it accumulated an economic avalanche that has now buried the current leaders in massive debt. All of the good intentions today are tempered by the looming debt hanging over the head of the Council. Yet, in the midst of a disastrous economic situation, city leaders are today facing the same dilemma previous councils faced &
steps toward developing the Ashland of the future must be made at this time or risk losing the ability to determine the growth and demographics of this area.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The steady course of wrong-headedness is no stranger to our nation's leaders. From the time that Dwight Eisenhower authorized the CIA to overthrow the democratic government of Iran in 1953, every U.S. president, every Congress, and the American people have willingly or unwittingly supported ever-increasing violence against the Muslim peoples in an effort to illegally and immorally take and maintain control of their oil in the Middle East by force. Every president has supported brutal tyrants and participated in wars in that region with the over-arching goal of maintaining U.S. military presence and control of the flow of oil &
America's economic engine.
The Christian leadership in America joined forces with the political leadership in an evil marriage of convenience that pursued the powerful political posts in our government in an effort to control the wealthiest and most powerful economic engine (backed by military strength) ever known to mankind. Moral values morphed into "American values" and the words of peace from our presidents are usually followed by words of war. Today, America's children serving in its military are sacrificed upon an altar of political allegiance in congress, and forgotten among widespread apathy and public ignorance. Every president &
past, present and future &
advocates a sustained U.S. military presence in the Middle East, ensuring that every future generation of Americans will remain at war, as this nation has continued to be since WWII.
SOLUTIONS: LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY, CITY AND NATION
The Tidings proposed a multi-faceted solution to the library crisis in its Jan. 20 editorial. It offered a mixed bag of: charging a nominal library usage fee, reducing the library to its pre-expansion size, leasing out the expanded portion of the building to private businesses to generate revenues (I would add that an Internet caf&
169;, a used book store, and perhaps a thrift shop might do well alongside leased office spaces attached to the city library), and asking for a local tax that is reasonable for a city of this size and acceptable to its residents. I concur with the Daily Tidings Library Solution (DTLS).
Additionally, I would add that Ashland residents must begin to think outside the book for proper long-term solutions to the library dilemma. In a techno age, and with the speed of ever-changing information, the library offers a nostalgic environment with a slower, leisurely pace that immerses readers into worlds of wonder, discovery and escape. The library is not in competition (and cannot compete) with the whizzing wheel of computer access to virtually everything that competes for our attention 24 hours a day. The library can, and should, exist alongside the computer in order that we can take a break from the rat race and indulge ourselves in a real world with real people, even if only for a moment, before plunging headlong into another world of fantasy, adventure and knowledge &
a world devoid of commercial advertisements.
While SOU sits alone in the Mecca of environmental areas with no competition to threaten an establishment of the Southern Oregon Regional Headquarters for Environmental Scientific Research, it has yet to morph from a state-dependent institution with a college mentality, to a thriving multi-faceted operation fueled by research grants. setting SOU above its Liberal Arts competitors as the supreme destination for Theater Arts and Environmental Science, the University becomes a beacon beckoning aspiring artists, thespians, singers, and dancers alongside youth who are called to save the planet from the scourge of global warming.
Sitting across the street from SOU is Peace House, which collaborates with numerous other community organizations actively involved in local, regional and national movements to bring about peace in our time. High schools students will have a difficult time finding a university anywhere in the country that can rival the access provided by SOU to involvement in professional theatrical arts, nationally-acclaimed areas of environmental research, and historical grassroots and influential political movements. A freshman student staring out of his or her dorm window at SOU is looking at a magnificent city with attributes other cities merely dream about, all within walking distance. Berkeley would give half of its grants to be located in Ashland.
Now is the time for SOU to grow up to be the university of the future or scale back to become a college of the past. If it intends to move forward and become a progressive power, it must recognize the national and international trend toward the acceptance of global warming as a real threat. Along with that trend comes the incentive to invest in research to develop reliable data that is desperately needed in a rapidly growing industry. SOU can become one of the leaders in that industry, given its prime location at the base of Mt. Ashland, close proximity to the Rogue River, Crater Lake and a variety of unique and differing soils and sediments, climates and regions. Federal and state research grants, in addition to monies from corporate and nonprofit agencies can become a foundation of economic reserves that enable the university to weather the economic cycles of the state and student enrollment.
Promoted as the Juliard of the theatrical industry, SOU can offer incoming freshmen opportunities unavailable at most schools across the nation &
immediate access to professional theater and film. With the growing film industry in Ashland, an international spotlight continually shining upon the OSF, a plethora of art galleries showcased once a month, and cabaret to top it all off, SOU is the perfect school for aspiring artists of all kinds. Here is where they can gain access to a tough industry of many talents. And with the ever-increasing varieties of restaurants in the area, it might not hurt to focus on a cooking school as well.
SOU has much to offer the community in which it sits. But if there has been an annual SOU Festival of Arts, I haven't heard of it. And indeed, an annual event that showcases the many talents of the university to the local residents as well as those prospective students and VIPs invited to visit during the festival, would go a long way toward increasing enrollment and maintaining a vibrant alumni organization.
CITY OF ASHLAND
The first lesson learned in the difficult dilemma this city is destined to overcome, is the wisdom that comes from looking back and recognizing how important to future councils the decisions made by past councils truly are. Thus, the decisions that will be made today must be well thought out and projected carefully for the impact they will have over the next 20+ years. A serious council considering the future of this town must be made up of both visionaries and pragmatists, dreamers and realists. This council has little choice about the issues it must face. But it has a choice about the process through which it will face them. And that process will need to have public awareness and input every step of the way. After all, Ashland is a city comprised of wealthy, highly intelligent residents who must be taken into account when planning the development of their town. After all, many thousands of locals have invested many hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, to reside here.
Arresting the council's ability to establish a creative comprehensive plan for the future of Ashland is the $15 million deficit that screams fiscal responsibility is the No. — priority. In order to overcome that debt, the city must consider employing the SOU strategy of immediate drastic cuts or establish a creative investment that reaps economic rewards that can be used to pay off the debt while freeing the city to engage in futuristic development planning.
I suggest the city take into consideration a multi-faceted creative approach that will invite a collaboration with private investment, establish another regional attraction, offer more park space that also beautifies a current eyesore, and create a year-round tourism to Ashland that shuts the revolving door of businesses that come and go downtown.
In consideration of ODOT's plans to renovate and expand both exits of I-5 at some point, it seems prudent that the City establish its boundaries north of town near Exit 19 to prevent encroachment by the county and plan the development (or non-development) of that area.
Given that sustaining and preserving the land and environment is a priority for Ashland, I believe the proposed golf course in the area of the new housing development at Ashland's north edge would prove to add value and beauty to that area. If the City establishes a park similar to Lithia adjacent to the golf course's northern boundary, it could blend into the walking/running/bike paths already established along the creek. Additionally, it will beautify a busy intersection through which much of Ashland's traffic flows.
Across the freeway from the park a 20,000-seat Convention Center could be built by private investors/developers on city land through a collaborative agreement that benefits both parties. The structure itself could serve as an artistic architectural attraction built as an environmentally friendly model of integrating the necessity of business and environmental preservation. With views overlooking Ashland and facing Mt. Ashland, the new multi-use convention center could be booked for musical concerts, business conferences, political rallies, professional and educational conferences, and a host of other events that no other place in the Rogue valley is equipped to accommodate.
The external traffic heading to the convention center from Medford and Northern California cities would use I-5 to reach their destination. Visitors to the city center would patronize the Plaza and nearby businesses year-round while filling local hotels and BBs. The park would be an additional attraction, as would the golf course sitting below the freeway.
With the addition of a stunningly beautiful convention center, Ashland will attract many of the artists that pack the venues in Medford and Jacksonville. Without much effort, the Ashland Convention Center could collaborate with its northerly sister venues to book major artists in back-to-back dates, and accommodate over-bookings and overflows here in Ashland. Ashland could also compete to become the No. — destination for acts touring during the colder months of the year.
I believe the convention center would bring much-needed revenues to Ashland to pay off the debt and serve as a continuing source of income, provide new jobs along a broad spectrum of employment opportunities, and stand as a landmark to the northern entrance to Ashland while becoming a visitor destination that adds to tourism brought by the OSF.
Of course, the Ashland Convention Center isn't a panacea for everything that ails this city. But it could be a step in the right direction. And with the city facing the dilemma over planning and development of the northern boundary with zero funds to invest, and the inevitable result of lost revenues from pushing preservation without compromise, the idea of potentially resolving several problems with a collaboration of public and private investments sounds appealing.
THE UNITED STATES
Aside from the numerous tragedies impacting this nation due primarily to the absence of a moral character, we find ourselves involved in the ongoing despicable act of inflicting unspeakable horrors upon innocent peoples in the Middle East based upon the words of lying leaders and their cohorts in the religious communities and national media of our nation.
While our current president pretends America is in a war that began in 2003, even the most cursory research reveals that his father started the war in Iraq in January 1991, declared it over in April 1991 and continued to wage war without ceasing ever since. In the 16 years of America's invasion of Iraq and continued occupation and control over much of that nation, we have dropped bombs on it for 14; bombs that have killed innocent men, women and children and contaminated land, water and food resources.
George Bush (41) was an ally of Saddam for over a decade. His purported attitude changed on August 2, 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait. Yet 8 days prior, Bush had sent his ambassador, April Glaspie &
who has conveniently disappeared off the face of the planet &
to court Saddam and woo his friendship. Her recorded conversation with Saddam, in which he disclosed his plans to invade Kuwait, is widely dispersed and well known around the world. Apparently, America's newfound disgust for the brutal Saddam came on August 4, 1990 when Bush sent his Secretary of Defense to Saudi Arabia in an effort to establish permission to send hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to defend the Islamic Kingdom. No such efforts were made on behalf of Kuwait just 10 days prior, when every opportunity was given to Bush to ward off war between Iraq and Kuwait, if such a goal was desired.
But in order to have peace, America must go to war.
Peace was the rallying cry to send over a half-million Christian troops to presumably defend Islam from 120,000 Iraqi troops that Bush claimed were amassed along the Kuwaiti-Saudi border prepared for an invasion. Later, the proof would surface that Bush had told yet another lie. Still, America somehow desired peace on August 4, 1990 (through force) but failed to even ask for it on July 25, a week before Kuwait was attacked.
Since the media published headlines claiming the war was over in the spring of 1991 (as it did again in d&
vu fashion in the spring of 2003), the U.S. military has never left Iraq. It has merely re-positioned its troops in order that it could satisfy the missions of thousands of sorties flown over Iraq every year with the least amount of service members. Yet, the war continued.
Today, another Bush seeks to increase U.S. troops in Iraq. His lies continue the lies told by his father and dovetail with the lies told by Clinton, whose "policy of containment" of Saddam covered over the fact that under his administration, the U.S. military continued a war that began before he took office. The media maintains the fa&
167;ade by ignoring the 10,000+ troops that have died from combat-related injuries in Iraq since 1991, according to the Veterans Administration numbers. It offers the public a new reality based upon an old lie. Americans count the number of dead based upon the false assumption that we are in a different war, a second war with Iraq that began in 2003.
The truth is that the U.S. has sent more than 1,000,000 of its troops to fight in Iraq since 1991. Over 13,000 of those troops are now dead.
Meanwhile, leaders on both sides of the aisle will look for something to applaud in the president's State of the Union. None will express outrage over the innocent loss of brave men and women sent to kill and be killed for ever evolving pre-textual reasons. None will demand the president bring the troops home right now. None will be brave enough to fight to save the lives of our troops on the floor of the legislature while the troops fight in the deserts of Iraq. None will use their power to counter the acts of the executive branch. None will take actions of their own to nullify the president and enforce the peoples' will to bring the troops home now.
But congressional representatives will express their disapproval. They will write letters of disappointment. And they will offer speeches that denounce the president's decisions. But none will do anything that takes courage. None will use congressional power to stop the president and bring the our troops home now.
Conversely, the Executive will remain resolute, express his intent, follow through with action and declare that regardless of what Congress or the American people try to do, or how much we protest, he will not be deterred. And the people's representatives will rise to their feet and applaud.
For this egregious arrogant display of disregard for the sanctity of life, the will of the American people and the laws of this nation as well as the laws of God, there can be only one solution.
More drugs is the remedy for the drug addict who won't quit until he's had enough to hit rock bottom and decide to change. More poison is the remedy for those who seek to poison themselves deliberately. And more war is what the American public needs until she has had enough of the body bags, the bloodshed, the lies, and the pretense of fear of everyone in the world proffered by our leaders.
It is an embarrassment to witness the fawning over and worship of political leaders who are obvious liars by even the Christian leadership. To this day I hear conversations of highly intelligent and respected members of the community who reveal their reverence for lying leaders of the past; leaders whose leadership maintained policies of prejudice and arrogance and superiority, even the degradation of America's own citizenry! Such reverence is born of a disregard for the evil perpetrated by our leaders. Such callousness for the cold-blooded decisions made by past and present leaders in the White House and Congress provide a glimpse into an America that has lost its moral compass and its soul.
For such a situation there is no other remedy than more of the lies, more of the superiority speeches, more of the fear-mongering and more of the killing. Apparently, peace can only be obtained by trust in our leaders and their decisions, fear of everyone we are told is an enemy, complete faith and obedience to our government, and a willingness to sacrifice our lives and the lives of our children in order to make this nation remain on top of the world another year, another generation.
More war. That is what this nation needs. And more death is what our enemies deserve. We must maintain a steady course down this road until we can no longer hear any more screams. Just the dead silence of victory.
If, perhaps somewhere along the line of lost generations of warring children we wake up to the realization that every leader in the White House, every president since Truman, has said the same thing &
"peace through strength" &
perhaps we, as a nation of moral and truth-loving peoples will come to an understanding that America's freedoms have never been attacked.
America's "vital interests" have been the underlying rationale for every war since WWII, and every president has offered us the same words. Perhaps when we have had enough bloodshed until it has flooded our nation as we have flooded others, maybe &
and this is thinking optimistically &
maybe Americans will recall congress, impeach whoever is in office, dismantle the 16 secret agencies under the president that answer to none of the people, and call our troops to come home from the 135 of the 192 nations of the world to which they are currently deployed.
And if America is to recover her moral character and regain her soul, it will occur with the awakening of the Christian Church, which has by and large supported every political party, every congressional representative, and every president without holding our government into account for the atrocities it commits in the name of "democracy and freedom."
The church has never stood for democracy and freedom. It stands for truth. And without the power of truth exposing the evil that keeps this nation of good, honest, loving peoples in support of liars on both sides of the political aisle, there is only one solution that can hope to change America from the terrible road down which she steadily trods.
is the author of "The WHOLE Truth about the U.S. War on Terror: answers to every question you never knew to ask."