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Opinion

During a recent drive to Black Mountain, I noticed a roadside sign that indicated that they were a “Certified Entrepreneurial Community (CEC).” This jogged my memory that I had seen the same sign in Franklin. The wheels (in my head) started spinning. How does a community get certified as anything? I understand the processes for certifying individuals or even businesses, but an entire community? This particular “certification” for business savviness, is provided by a non-profit company, in conjunction with local government. The quasi-governmental process of certification is not free of course. Non-profits may not make a “profit,” but they certainly are in the business of taking in money with a little help from their bureaucratic friends.

The idea of uber-certifications is intriguing. Not-for-profit status is the way to go, since otherwise, someone might get the idea that your “certifications” are being sold. The possibilities abound - just fill in the blank of “Certified _______ Community.” Happy, humorous, friendly, funky, etc. There would, of course, be an extensive vetting process with the appropriate paperwork to fill out and the ubiquitous references to “public/private cooperation.” Most of all, a cool, official looking sign would proudly be available for display.

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For once, I would love to hear a government official reject a call to war because it is immoral; because we have greater needs here at home that require our attention and our funds; because we’re already $1 trillion poorer due to these endless, mindless wars; because America should not be policing the world; because we refuse to enrich the military industrial complex while impoverishing our nation; because endless wars will never result in peace; because we have meddled enough in foreign policy in the Middle East and cannot risk any further blowback; because we’re sick and tired of fomenting civil wars in far-flung places; because we’re not going to assist rebel fighters in overthrowing a foreign government, only to later unseat those same forces when they can’t be controlled; because using the overused fear tactic about “weapons of mass destruction” doesn’t carry much weight anymore; because the only “compelling national security interest” right now is taking back control of our run-away government; because in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die”; because while there may be causes worth dying for, there are none worth killing for; because Gandhi was right when he asked “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”; because all war is a crime; and because there are never any winners in war, only losers.

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The surveillance state has arrived, but does anyone care? The National Security Agency (and others) has its sensors on virtually all phone and internet transmissions made in this country as well as conducting extensive surveillance abroad. Many rationalize it as something they deserve, like someone trapped in an abusive relationship do. “Maybe it's not that great, but I'm kept safe.”

Back in March, NSA Director James Clapper was asked (under oath) during a Senate hearing whether or not millions of Americans were having any kind of data collected on them. He answered no. After whistle blower Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA were published, Clapper “revised” his answer without admitting to lying. He made a bizarre claim that he had given the “least untruthful" answer possible. Congress could save time by skipping oaths since perjury does not exist as a crime for certain people and agencies, especially for those who specialize in deception.

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“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives. Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms.”

—Jessica Bennett, “The Pornification of a Generation”

There’s a strange irony to the fact that on the same week of the 93rd anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a milestone achievement for the women’s suffrage movement which resulted in women finally being able to vote, the headlines are dominated by the antics of pop star Miley Cyrus, who used this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) as a forum for twerking, gyrating, stripping and other sexually defiant acts. Curiously enough, apart from concerns about Cyrus’ questionable taste in dance moves, no one else seems to find this convergence the least bit jarring or incongruent.

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