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Tharp case still makes me cry

I initially blogged about this case as it unfolded, then re-titled the blog and condensed my comments. As far as I know, nothing has ever ...

Friday, September 14, 2012

The joy of refusing to vote

"If Americans had any sense, no one would vote in the November election." From an article by former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts.

Just gotta say: Refusing to participate in America's electoral system has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. What a joy it is to be rid of Democrats, Republicans, and those would-be contenders running as Independents or - worse yet - clamoring for the "write-in" victory. Uncle Sam and the corporate thugs who call the shots in this country don't care who you vote for. Repukes and Demagogues are their puppets. Other candidates don't stand a chance. The objective is to sucker people into conforming. Get 'em to wear a red, white, and blue "I Voted" button on Election Day.

If you ever have time, read Anthony Downs' "An Economic Theory of Democracy." Ah, that beautiful touch of sarcasm in the title. Politicians don't worry about goodness or badness. They try to maximize their votes. Period. Its the only political behavior that's rational 'cause they gotta get votes to be in office. But maximizing votes takes money. And money is monopolized by about one percent of the population. Champagne sippin' bigwigs. Folks entrenched in perverse corporations that profit from stuff like American imperialism and taxpayer-financed bailouts for big banks. Crystal glasses tipped in a toast to "rich man's war - poor man's fight." Ever notice how the Repukes and the Demagogues always get together when it comes to that sort of thing? Shhh...

Grateful Dead legend Bob Weir put on a frantic effort to get folks to vote. Wonderful soundtrack. Misguided cause. I love it when people point out the role money plays in politics while simultaneously claiming they've found a candidate who'll beat the system. Win without corporate backing. Change the world. Save the planet. Happens every election. One of the best parts of the show. Twitter offered real-time feedback to Bob's effort, and I tweeted a link to my post titled "Why I don't vote."

Let's face it. America's military-industrial complex is in control. Power that ain't gonna be handed over at a ballot box. Look no further than recent legislation (NDAA) giving ol' Uncle Sam the right to incarcerate U.S. citizens for as long as he so desires without even filing charges. Wanna send a message to the warmongering thugs that run this country? Simple. Refuse to vote. Let 'em know you've caught on their two-headed one party sham.

I'm reminded of the notion that in times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. Whatever. Come Election Day, at least I'll save the gas money it would cost to get to the polls and back.

Update 3/9/2017 - Ron Paul has it right: Voting is just a means of pacifying the public, the Deep State calls the shots.

Update 11/10/2016 - Real hoot watching the Electoral College make a mockery of this year's presidential election. Kinda fun watching an outsider "win," but no candidates were worth my time, and the one with the most votes wasn't elected anyway. It was also nice to see Big Brother's mainstream media exposed as a tool of the 1%. Talk about the absence of a free press...

Update 11/13/2014 - Hooray for the LOWEST national turnout in 72 years for mid-term elections. Newsday's article offers an apt summation from the field of Political Science: "It's moving away from a worry to a crisis," said Gerald Benjamin, distinguished professor of political science at SUNY New Paltz. "We are not talking about a natural ebb and flow. We are talking about a deep dip. . . . This could be a harbinger of a fundamental shift that we need to think very hard about." Maybe - just maybe - folks are indeed waking up to the government's voting scam. 

Update 11/7/2014 - I'm delighted that South Carolina's voter turnout for mid-term elections is the lowest in four decades. Hopefully, folks are wising-up to the government's voting scam.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paper blocks criticism of SC Highway Patrol

Update 9/24/2014 - One of the state's gang of glorified revenue agents shot an unarmed motorist - Levar Edward Jones - earlier this month. Lance Cpl. Sean Groubert was fired and has now been charged with assault and battery. Anyone other than a cop would have been charged with attempted murder. Shocking dash cam video and audio features the bewildered motorist asking why he was shot.

Update 9/27/2014 - We now learn that trooper Groubert was also caught on audio lying to his supervisor about what happened.

See more updates below this post.

I had it out with the State newspaper when they refused to report the bloodcurdling details surrounding the death of Marine recruit Jason Tharp. Got so mad I cancelled my subscription, trashed their newspaper box, and stopped submitting comments.

Enter a spate of egregious criminal misconduct and other eyebrow raising incidents by the South Carolina Highway Patrol. 2010 started off with a trooper busted for being part of a big grow-your-own marijuana business, using his cruiser to transport the stuff. The year ended with a trooper caught distributing cocaine - talk about patrolling the "high" way - and a DUI charge for an off duty trooper who had been drinking at a bar, drove through an intersection, and crashed into a wall. June of 2011, another trooper had been drinking at a bar, was being driven home, and from the moving vehicle suddenly started shooting into a residence. The following month, Homeland Security caught a trooper with thousands of photos of child porn, along with a number of photos he took of underage girls at Myrtle Beach.

2012 saw sentences handed down for the cocaine (three years), the marijuana (5 years), and the child porn (three years). Also this year, a former trooper pleaded guilty to February's armed robbery of a bank, and a trooper wrecked his cruiser - upside down, on fire, in a ditch - while endangering everyone on the road by chasing a motorcycle at speeds over 100 mph. In another incident, it's "unclear" if a trooper was wearing his seatbelt when he lost control of his cruiser and slammed into a tree. Further details - such as road conditions (likely wet) and how fast the trooper was going - were kept quiet. Questions remain regarding the Patrol's response - or lack thereof - to an apparent DUI involving a Sumter sheriff's deputy, and the investigation drags on regarding the death of a black, unarmed motorist shot twice in the chest during a traffic stop.

The Patrol has troublesome history galore - beyond the scope of this post - from the racially charged Orangeburg Massacre in 1968 to such heartwarming events as an off duty trooper robbing a gas station and the beating of a karate expert after he passively allowed a trooper to handcuff him. Videos show troopers slinging out the "n" word, using a cruiser to bump an unarmed black guy, and dragging an unarmed black female from her car, shoving her to the ground. A cadre of troopers got caught at a bar featuring topless entertainment, and a motorist called 911 to report what turned out to be an off duty trooper dressed like a woman, complete with bra and wig. The trooper refused a breathalyzer, failed a field sobriety test, and was charged with DUI. Prior to the 911 call, another trooper apparently identified the suspect and neglected to take action.

When news broke about the sentence for child porn, I made an exception to my policy of avoiding the State and posted the following comment:

"Police State USA's glorified revenue agents of the SCHP. Now we can add possession of child pornography along with cocaine distribution, DUI, marijuana distribution, no ticket for Lt. Gov. Bauer goin' 101 mph, no breathalyzer, charges or arrest for an apparently drunk as a skunk Sumter sheriff's deputy - narcotics division - and the list goes on ad nauseum. Its way past time for this taxpayer-funded gang to clean up its act."

The comment was removed, and resubmission prompted a "subject to moderation" message but no publication. Curiously, only three comments were displayed. One focused on computer technicalities and how crimes should be categorized. The other two toyed with feigned indignation regarding the attire of underaged girls at the beach.   

Enough of online trolls and politically motivated censorship. Police misconduct is rampant all across America, and there's no excuse for mainstream media protecting these jack booted thugs from the public's justifiable outrage.

Update 8/29/2012 - I sent the State a copy of this post and published links to the post on Twitter and Facebook.

Update 10/18/2012 - It's turning out to be quite a year for South Carolina's state troopers. Last month, a trooper lost control of his vhicle, flipped upside down, and was ticketed for driving too fast for conditions. This month, a trooper was fired after his mistress called police and alleged that the trooper shook her and choked her when she ended a 12-year relationship. The ex-trooper has now been charged with assault and battery.     

Update 12/3/2012 - Talk about disparity in sentencing. The troopers - talk about armed and dangerous - involved in big-time drug trafficking get sentences in the three to five year range, while "other folks" get sent away for 30 along with supervised release for life upon completion of the sentence.

Update 12/4/2012 - Bringin' things up to date for 2012, on Friday, November 30th, a trooper was arrested for disorderly conduct, and the following Sunday, a trooper allegedly hit three pedestrians in the wee hours of the morning and fled the scene. Charged accordingly, he has resigned. Whew. Too much to keep up with, and the year isn't over yet.

Update 3/11/2013 - Starting off a new year, the issue of racial profiling has again surfaced - in a big way - at the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Stay tuned.

Update 8/222014 - Lance Corporal R.S. Salter was fired after the trooper went berzerk while arresting an NFL player for a traffic violation.

Update 9/17/2014 - Troopers endangered everyone on the road by chasing a maniacle former cop - Howard Henry "Hank" Smith, Jr. - through traffic at speeds over 110 mph as the suspect fired shots. The SCHP is notorious for high speed pursuits, ignoring the horrific facts associated with such outrageous behavior. SMITH charged with attempted murder? If anyone ought to be charged with attempted murder, it's the gang of police state thugs.

Update 9/19/2014 - Trooper who had been with the department off and on for over 40 years was arrested for assaulting his wife and was charged with criminal domestic violence.

Update 4/3/2015 - The state's gang of glorified revenue agents is off to a spectacular start for 2015. The gang has ventured into narcotics distribution, which is no surprise considering the gang's rap sheet for cocaine and marijuana. We await further word on this latest episode of the gang's fascination with selling controlled substances.

Monday, March 12, 2012

WAYLAID at Sugar Mountain Ski Area

Update 3/18/2012: SkiNorthCarolina.com and SkiSoutheast.com are defending Sugar. That's Banner Elk resident Mike Doble's right. But to clarify remarks he's posted, I contacted Mr. Doble in his capacity as a website designer for High Country Webcams. I'm not familiar with the ski sites he's associated with nor do I wish to be.

'Bout 36 years ago, North Carolina's Sugar Mountain ski area ripped me off for a lift ticket and lodging. Slope conditions advertised as "excellent" turned out to be solid ice, unskiable unless you happened to be an expert. At that time, I was new to the sport, and I still remember duped customers idly staring out at the slopes, where only two or three skiers were able to ski. Complaints were met with a "Not our fault. We have no way of knowing what level you ski at." Refunds were not given. I never went back.

Fast forward 36 years.

This season, a few days after a snow storm - played up to the nth degree on Sugar's website - I gave 'em a second chance. And that was a BIG mistake. These people are dyed in the wool con artists. This time it was dirt, rocks, etc. unavoidable on open terrain, and a risk of damaging skis even when getting on or off the lifts. An absolute nightmare. Two efforts at skiing down from the top, and I simply wasn't willing to take further risk of tearing up my expensive, one year old, K2 skis.

Second time up, after negotiating - as best I could - the muck at the lifts, I started down Sugar's "Tom Terrific" trail, and was forced to stop after about 15 boring yards to avoid skiing thru muck that extended all the way across the trail and continued downhill for at least several yards. By labeling the trail "expert," perhaps Sugar is referring to the level of misrepresentation. That trail - if not the entire ski area - should have been closed down and so designated on Sugar's website. Wound up takin' my skis off and hiking back to the top in order to get down - and off - the mountain. That meant another "run" down Sugar's "double black diamond" dubbed "Whoopdedoo" which had already proven to be a bitter disappointment. And not only from the surface conditions. Touting such terrain as a "double black diamond" is nothing short of an outright lie. Closer to a green than a double black, it barely qualifies as average intermediate. Tom "Terrific" and "Whoopdedoo" indeed.

Beyond the muck at the lifts, an attendant delayed things by zapping each person's lift ticket with a laser gun. Another attendant ignored my efforts to steer clear of the muck, grabbin' my arm and ushering me forward even after I voiced my concern. Brown Sugar Mountain would be a better name for this lousy operation, and a whole lot more disappointment was yet to come.

I asked the girl at the ticket counter for a refund. She conferred with the other agent, refused to grant a refund, and then they both giggled loudly, exhibiting rude delight that people were being ripped off. I then complained to management, and things got even worse. Another customer walked into the office, asked how my day was going, and when management (identity kept secret) overheard me describing the slope conditions, I was told to remain silent or be escorted off the premises. At management's behest ("Get him outta here."), Sugar's resident thug (another secret identity) lunged at me from the other side of a counter. The guy is a double fisted, twice my size bully. I'm 66 years old, five feet five inches tall, weighing 128 pounds.  

Apparently, this is Sugar's modus operandi. Sucker folks into buyin' a ticket, get 'em over a barrel, and then browbeat 'em if they dare to complain about anything. There I was in a strange place with my credit cards, some cash, and over $1,500 worth of ski equipment - much of it loosely secured outside - surrounded by Sugar's employees. And I figured the Banner Elk cops were a sure bet to take Sugar's word over mine regardless of what happened. The only rational choice was to leave quietly (management told me to "keep walking") and plan a future response. As I left, I did, however, inform folks who were approaching the ticket booth about the slope conditions.

Sugar Mountain Resort is a cheap shot. Initially, I couldn't find the locker area, and two people I asked didn't know where it was either. Loaded down with ski gear, I looked through a glass door, saw a slew of lockers and someone putting on ski boots, so I entered, assuming the notice of "no ski equipment allowed in lodge" applied to a different area of the building. That was when Sugar's resident thug first appeared, ordering me to leave my expensive skis outside. My tough luck if someone took 'em, right? With help from the person putting their ski boots on, Sugar's resident thug finally understood that I had mistaken that room for the locker area. If the guy ever went to school, he musta thought the first recess was the end of it and never went back.

Once inside the locker area - its outdated, complete with a gritty, bare concrete floor - a Ski Patroller came by, noticed my nice skis with towels wrapped at both ends, and remarked that I was takin' way too good care of my skis for what I was gettin' ready to put 'em through. But alas. At that point I simply had no way of knowin' what he was talkin' about.

'Cept for slick advertising, Sugar is the epitome of poor design. The locker area is accessible only by climbing stairs, and when you exit, its a lengthy uphill trudge - likely to be muddy - from the bottom of those stairs to the ski area. By all means, try it in ski boots. Tacky little dump that it is, Sugar obviously doesn't have sufficient snowmaking equipment, and its doubtful they have the expertise. Factor in their lack of integrity, and it all adds up to one glorious mess. Keywords: exorbitant prices, ripoff. Unlike 36 years ago, at least I didn't pay for any of their food, lodging, or beverages.

Now I know why ol' Sugar doesn't have a Facebook page. They'd have to monitor it constantly to remove postings from outraged customers. As for me, my credit card company - Chase - agreed to dispute the lift ticket charge, and gave me a credit for the full amount. Rakin' people's skis thru muck is a bad idea. And by the time I'm through spreadin' the word about ol' Sugar, they're gonna wish they'd cleaned up their act.

Depend on it.

Update 3/12/2012: I e-mailed Sugar a link to this blog post along with copies of references I posted on Facebook and Twitter. 

Update 3/16/2012: Thank goodness this lousy excuse for a ski resort is now closed for the season. Maybe if it hadn't been for my blog post, ol' Sugar would still be suckerin' folks into buyin' a ticket. At any rate, Sugar Mountain Resort has now underscored its contempt for customers by blocking future e-mails sent to them from my account. Be warned: Sugar is still open for warm weather activities. Avoid Sugar at all costs.

Update 3/19/2012: I've sent links to this blog post to various business oriented websites in Avery County and Banner Elk, most notably Chambers of Commerce whose websites promote Sugar Mountain Resort as one of the centerpieces of the area. As businesses in these areas bask in the spinoff from folks who wind up visiting Sugar Mountain Resort, I'll keep my hard earned dollars out of the vicinity and advise others to do likewise.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Massacre's whitewash - America's shame

The military proceedings have been a sham from the get go. From the time the Marines initially lied about what happened, to this week's plea bargain, which means not one single participant will serve even a day for the horrific killings of 24 civilians at Haditha, Iraq, back in 2005. Women, unarmed men - one 76-year-old amputee in a wheelchair - an infant, and children.

Including toddlers.

What kind of cowardly country is this, anyway? The facts were never in doubt, and former congressman John Murtha summed them up as "cold blooded murder." But before I go any further, I want to commend movie producer Nick Broomfield for his meticulous efforts in documenting what happened, and for his candor regarding the mentality of America's armed forces: "Its a thought process that justifies wanton, crazed killing, that demands a high five when a soldier announces they've killed an innocent child." Nick's award winning movie, "Battle for Haditha," needed to be produced.

One aspect of all this struck an especially strong chord with me. The final coat of whitewash was applied after troops involved in the massacre began to make connections between the massacre and the kind of training they had received.

The kind of training? Really?

My mind flashed back to the case of Marine recruit Jason Tharp, and the fact that this trainee's drowning - and previous assault - took place in front of other recruits. An ill, teenage recruit forced into a pool, screams unheeded by Marine swim instructors as he went under possibly six times, finally bobbing to the surface unresponsive. At one point, a swim instructor had even shoved Jason's head deeper into the water. Training indeed. What else are America's Nazi style storm troopers indoctrinated with before they're turned loose to terrorize those hapless inhabitants of foreign lands? And another thing. Like the victims in Haditha, Jason was poor. Defenseless. Pathetic.

I won't belabor the bloodcurdling facts of Haditha, the fraudulent war in Iraq, or the military's shamful (sic) response to an obvious massacre. That said, I ponder the notion that America has "gone too far" and is beyond redemption. Beyond reason.

Beyond sanity.

2/15/2015 update - I've come across two articles by ex-Marines exposing the way the Corps turns people into mindless killers: "Marine Corps Recruit Drownings: Dying to Serve Your Country" and "Learning to be a Killer." Apparently, I was right on target about Jason Tharp's drowning - sadistic, cold-blooded murder if ever there was - taking place in front of other recruits.