Call it an act of God. A visiting planning and public policy expert at UNC from Rutgers, with 40 years of experience in the field, told WRAL.com that the Triangle does not fit the requirements for rail transit, especially Raleigh. Professor John Poucher says, “the commuter rail plan and the light rail plan just don’t make sense to me,” pointing out the Triangle is a ”very decentralized, very sprawled metropolitan area.”
Really? I, and others, have been pointing this out for three decades, but the battle cry for an expensive and under-utilized system has been the obsession of area planners since the 1980s. And each plan they submit is rejected, for good reason.
But rail transit enthusiasts are like snakes. You have to cut off their heads to kill them. For 30 years, a dedicated cadre of activists has spent a few hundred million dollars studying and scheming to impose an iron mask on the Triangle community, despite the reality that the region doesn’t have the density required or the metropolitan footprint amenable to urban rail. Each effort (five at last count) to pry funds from the Federal Transit Authority has ended in humiliating rejection. Yet the faithful trudge on, perhaps because the “studies” undertaken for the applications line the pockets of consultants, lawyers and local transit employees.
These rail warriors know no shame. One example was the application turned down due to costs of construction to build the system. Undeterred, the TTA tried again, spending several million dollars in the process. They noticed there were existing rail lines in the region that could be shanghaied for commuter rail and substantially reduce the cost. Alas, when the Feds asked if they had checked with the railroads for permission to use their tracks, the answer was an embarrassing “no.”
And once again they cranked up another proposal combining rail and rail convertible buses, again paying themselves millions, only to be rejected again after losing support from North Carolina U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole’s office. A little bird told them Durham had arranged to pull out of the Raleigh-Durham Metropolitan Statistical Area, thus reducing substantially the density and geographic qualifications necessary for urban rail.
This time the rail division of TTA absconded, abandoning their offices and dispersing their files, perhaps because they got word the State Auditor was thinking of an investigation. Crushed and humiliated, rail transit activists receded, but only briefly. Now They’re Back!, just like the horror movie. Working beneath the radar, the rail cadre organized a referendum in Durham County seeking voter approval for a half-cent transit tax for rail – IF it should be approved in the future. In Raleigh, fortunately, efforts to stick rail on the ballot have been thwarted by the Wake County Commissioners, led by Chairman Paul Coble.
Coble has been presented with yet another byzantine transit scheme emphasizing rail in reply to 28 questions the Chairman submitted. The mind-numbing document throws around wooly statistics wrapped in public policy urgency. TTA says if we don’t embrace a budget-breaking rail plan, the town and county will implode under the weight of auto traffic. Coble and anyone with a brain begs to disagree.
From the get-go in the 1980s, rail transit zealots have been dedicated to a social engineering vision that combines the increasingly powerful pull of city and regional planning with the fear of environmental Armageddon. It’s a perfect storm they see coming. To them, automobiles are carbon-emitting death machines polluting the ozone and contributing to global warming. To dramatize this eschatology, the effects of the automobile culture have been extrapolated into doomsday scenarios designed to undermine public enjoyment with their patterns of life.
For example, unexamined news reports from rail sources state that “sprawl” – the green term for what we know as neighborhoods - contributes to global catastrophe due to the sun reflecting off asphalt-paved roads and shingled roofs; home construction is poisoning the water supply; and, of course, suburbs require autos, which require fossil fuels that endanger the earth’s very existence.
Yet Raleigh is voted year after year as one of the top places to live in the U.S. based on quality of life. And Raleigh became highly ranked because it used to bill itself as “the city of neighborhoods,” or a “neighborhood with a city in it.” Now Raleigh is one of the fastest- growing metropolitan areas in the U.S., and continues to be one of the most popular for quality of life. We are a decentralized and sprawling urban region because people want it that way.
So ask yourself, why would a highly successful community want to commit civic suicide by altering its time-tested patterns of development? Rail transit will negatively transform the city and region in the name of theoretical benefits conjured up by “planners,” social activists and the new breed of busybody outsiders. They move here for the quality of life, and immediately work to change it into their own vision of a city – a vision concocted in university and graduate schools by utopian activists propagandized by the progressivism that has transformed education into political action. Take a look at the players who serve on the various “improvement” agencies, transit groups and the TTA itself. They ain’t from here.
But there are local supporters, including developers. To them, officially imposed development plans offer security of risk. Rail schemes provide “corridors” of development along the proposed routes, forcing growth that is neatly defined. Cars offer people a myriad of options, including where to live, shop and enjoy arts, entertainment and dine out. As rail draws these venues to specified zones, developers lessen their risk.
But we lose our quality of life. Rail requires density, which neighborhoods defy by their very nature. Density becomes the goal, and takes on an almost religious aura by activists and planners. But suburban patterns are in the way, so they must be vilified at the altar of crowded urban corridors so that rail is feasible. It’s a self-fulfilling nightmare.
The Americans: Television Series Reveals Danger
The Americans, an eerily authentic television series airing on the FX Channel on Wednesday evenings, is about Soviet espionage “illegals”, often referred to as sleeper cells during the Cold War. These “Illegals” – meaning they operate under “no official cover” and can be arrested and deported on the spot - are plucked from their homes in their teens and intensively trained to transform themselves into Americans.
The anti-heroes of the FX series live as man and wife in Falls Church, VA during the Reagan era when the heat was turned up on the USSR with the announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative (nicknamed Star Wars) and calls to “tear down that wall”. This meant the Berlin Wall, the most evocative symbol of the political warfare between capitalism in the West and communism in the East.
The television program may have been inspired by the round-up of ten Illegals operating in the Washington and Baltimore area in 2010. The most obvious reaction was surprise that the Russian Federation - that replaced the USSR - continues to embed spies in America. And, typically, MSM coverage of intelligence ops is laced with laughter and tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, such as the media hyper-focus on Anna Chapman, the foxy female among the illegals network who went on to become a celebrity in Russia.
That spy stories elicit giggles from the pres diminishes the seriousness of the existence of Russian illegals 20 years after the end of the Cold War. Just what are the Russians up to, you may wonder? As it turns out, in the 2010 case, the FBI had the 10 under surveillance for several years based on information from a CIA source within Russia. As in most spy cases, the goal is not to arrest, rather to monitor. In the end, the gang was arrested to serve as one side of a spy swap for the US to retrieve a KGB-era defector who thought it safe to return to Putin’s Russia.
Joe Weisberg, the former CIA officer and the producer of The Americans, certainly has a sense of how illegals operate. In one episode, our anti-heroes are tasked to find out if the attempted murder of Ronald Reagan was part of a military coup. After all, General Alexander Haig appeared on television assuring the public he was in control.
To the Kremlin, the obvious conclusion was Haig was part of a right-wing take-over - which to the KGB translated into an attack on the USSR. In accounts ranging from 1990 (Chris Andrew’s and Oleg Gordeivsky’s KGB: The Inside Story) to 2013’s (George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis, it is clear the Soviet leadership was paranoid in its fear of a nuclear “first strike” by the US, and consistently ignored intelligence reports that contradicted their preconceived beliefs. Our anti-heroes in the series were worried to report anything but the party line rather than explain nuances about American political reality. Another touch of realism was the surveillance of DC office buildings at night by the illegals. The Russians figured if the lights were on during a crisis, danger was afoot.
Blueprint North Carolina Continues Manifesto
While the discovery of the Russian illegal network verified espionage operations against the US continue, an example of continuing political warfare, perfected by the KGB during the Cold War, popped up here. Blueprint North Carolina, a far left activist non-profit, accidentally leaked their plan to “eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern”, referring to NC Republicans and Governor Pat McCrory, who took over the reins of power last November.
The Soviets used the KGB to undermine democratic elections and slander western political leaders since the formation of the Comintern (Communist International) in 1919, two years after the Bolshevik Revolution, for the purpose of adhering to the Marxist manifesto that communism was a global political movement. Stalin later announced a Russia-specific plan in 1943 and the Comintern was dissolved, only to be replaced in 1947 by the Cominform to impose a uniform communist policy on the newly acquired Eastern Bloc in response to the Marshall Plan, the massive US loan to rebuild Western Europe.
But the First Chief Directorate of the KGB remained assigned to disrupt western politics, with emphasis on the “main adversary”, the USA. Today, Soviet propaganda masquerades as fact in America, metastasized by the continuing naiveté of the intellectual left, most effectively in the media and on campus. The accidental exposure of Blueprint North Carolina verifies the ongoing existence of “active measures” as practiced by our own American fellow travelers, whose meretricious jargon depicts the US as racist, chauvinistic, homophobic and imperialistic. The rhetoric of the American far Left is nearly identical to the anti-US rant by 1960s radicals and public denunciations emanating today from Cuba and North Korea.
The Last Battle Is Lost
Nowhere is the success of unremitting propaganda more dramatic than on college campuses where the liberal arts curriculum has been contorted by radicals into an anti-Western screed that - not coincidentally - mirrors Soviet active measures disinformation. According to the “tenured radicals”, as one observer called the culprits, the West and its achievements - in effect our cultural and political heritage - is stained by violations of human rights and must be banished to be replaced with a “sensitive”, multicultural course of study.
The attack on our civilization began in the late 1970s as radical professors gained tenure. By the mid-1980s, they succeeded. Women’s Studies, Gay Studies, Transgender Studies, Black Studies, Chicano Studies, Environmental Studies and related “identify politics” faux courses have replaced the traditional liberal arts.
Recently, NC Governor Pat McCrory, perhaps keying on the scandals at UNC-Chapel Hill where the African Studies program was exposed as a fraud, suggested the state university system abandon the liberal arts and force colleges to prove a diploma produced a job. McCrory is right, but for the wrong reason. A traditional liberal arts course of study is essential to a proper education. But the radicals have destroyed its essence in their effort to alter the content to meet a political goal.
So hats off to the radical scholars! You have ruined the legacy of Western culture, and in the process denigrated the liberal arts to oblivion. The university as we know it will become a polytechnic – a trade school for new generations of the proletariat.