Fly Fayetteville!

05FlyFayetteville The Jan. 16, 2019, issue of Up & Coming Weekly featured a Publisher’s Pen article by Bill Bowman about the virtues of the Fayetteville airport. Here are some of our readers’ unedited responses.

Hi Bill!

As usual on point! I learned the hard way about trying to save a couple of bucks flying out of RDU instead of Fayetteville. Long story short, it was a nightmare and I will never ever do it again! What really hurt Fayetteville is when U.S. Air merged with American Airlines and they cut the flights to and from Reagan National a couple of years ago.

I frequently traveled to Washington when that flight was available because I have family in Maryland. And it was cheap! Maybe someday we will get it back — along with other destinations — but until then, flying to Charlotte or Atlanta will suffice. And you are also correct, the Pentagon is only two stops away from the Reagan National on the Metro Subway system. It was very convenient for people in the military.

Have a great day!

Nelson L. Smith


Mr. Bowman is 110 percent correct in this article, “Fly Fayetteville!” I have found this airport for my wife and I to be far friendlier and more accommodating with us and her post knee surgery accommodations! Also, taking into account the almost two-hour, 90- mile trip, expensive RDU parking and time wasted, to us it makes sense to FLY FAYETTEVILLE!

Matthew Fagin


This isn’t a reflection on the airport. It’s a reflection on local government. That airport will never be more than a hub. But if they want large airlines to invest... they should give them something to invest in. They need to create industry in our community. And to do that they have to invest in our community! When you spend all of your time publicly disrespecting Fayetteville and all aspects of the community... you can’t really expect the residents to commit and you sure as hell can’t get outside agencies to commit. Local government owns that airport. They want it to be better, then they need to make it better. Or resign. Either option would be an improvement.

Liz Blevins via Facebook

Also in the Jan. 16 issue, Karl Merritt wrote about the government shutdown and misplaced outrage. Here is one reader’s response,

As I read your column on the 34th day of the trump shut do down. Yes, it’s his shut down, he said he would do it, and he said he would own it. He did it but he is not owning it. He also said that Mexico would pay, they told him that they would not pay for his wall. Thump lied, and he continues to lie everyday. To close the government is only hurting honest hard working people. For you and thump to bring up the drug and crime components is disingenuous. Placing a wall on the southern border will not solve the drug and crime problem. This is a complete shut down of the federal government and it’s shameful. It’s people like you and trump that I pray for every night that God will change your hearts.

James F. Hawkins

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Is that a cigar in your brain?

04pitt Is seeing believing? Today we are going determine the nature of reality. In America, politically, what you see is what you want to see. It’s a pretty neat trick. Alternate facts reproduce like bunnies in spring time. Today’s crime against world literature tackles why reality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have seen the video of the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial between high school students, Native American tribal elder Nathan Phillips and the Hebrew Israelites, which occurred at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. This video has it all — something for folks of every political stripe to seize as evidence that their side is correct and the other side is pure evil. The primary high school student shall not be named as he will encounter a passel of troubles for grinning at Phillips. Let’s call the student Archie. Now to explain how perception works.

The best college teacher I ever had was an English professor named Rollin Lasseter. A half century ago, Dr. Lasseter explained the nature of perception to our literature class one bright spring day by holding up a cigar. He asked us to look at the cigar and tell him what it was. The class, still having bright young minds, which had not yet been pounded by the real world, unanimously agreed it was a cigar.

Dr. Lasseter told us we were correct, but that while we perceived it was a cigar, what we really saw was light filtered through our optic nerves which was then converted into electrical impulses, which Mr. Brain then interpreted as a cigar. Dr. Lasseter pointed out, “You really do not have a cigar in your brain, because if you did, it would clog you in some fashion.” I have never forgotten this advice. What you see is subject to interpretation and filtration.

Back to Archie and Phillips. There are two opposed narratives about their meeting, which differ based upon what you think of Donald Trump. As they say, let us teach the controversy. The Beatles once sang: “Let me take you down/ Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields/ Nothing is real/ And nothing to get hung about.”

Version A, short-form video: The video of Phillips and Archie that spread across the internet like a digital flood shows Phillips surrounded by chanting, mocking students wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. The students are menacing Phillips, who is playing a drum and singing a prayer song.

Archie stands up close and personal to Phillips with a frozen grin on his face while appearing to block Phillips. Adherents of Version A were outraged by the students’ actions, intimidating a man who had served his country in war. Phillips calmly chants a prayer song while confronted by a crowd who might do him harm at any moment. Phillips is quoted saying, “When I took that drum and hit the first beat ... it was a supplication to God. Look at us, God, look at what is going on here; my America is being torn apart by racism, hatred, bigotry.”

Now let’s look at Version B, long-form video: In Version B, the high school students are shouting cheers to drown out insults from the Hebrew Israelites. Phillips then walks into the crowd of students to A, try to calm things down between the students and the Hebrew Israelites, or B, insert himself into the crowd of students to provoke an incident. Phillips walks up to Archie and refuses to go around him. Archie says, “He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. I did not speak to him, I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me ... I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”

So, you take your choice. Pick your interpretation of what happened. Archie and his friends were punks trying to intimidate an older Native American activist who was trying to defuse an escalating confrontation between the students and the Hebrew Israelites. Or, Phillips was totally at fault for walking into a crowd of peaceful high school students who were blamelessly waiting for a bus while being harassed by Hebrew Israelites.

It doesn’t matter which perception you choose, as it won’t convince the other side that you are correct. Call each other names on the internet if you like. Like cement hardening under a hot July sun, America continues to calcify into camps that get along as well as the Shiites and the Sunnis. It may be that the result of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart and America’s political arteries is not going to work out as well as either side hopes.

What have we learned today? Again, almost nothing. Better luck, next column. However, keep in mind the immortal words of the late, great singer Roger Miller, who advised us: “You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd/ But you can be happy if you’ve a mind to.”

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Hope Mills residents ask: ‘Who’s on first?’

02pub notes “Who’s on First” was a comedy routine made popular by comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in the 1940s. It was clever and funny. The act centered on Abbott trying to explain to Costello the nature of a baseball game. The routine exemplified how difficult it can be trying to communicate an otherwise simple concept when the components of the event are misleading and confusing. Hence, the phrase, “Who’s on first?” took on the meaning, “Does anyone know what’s going on here?”

That’s a question many Americans are asking as they watch our national government spiraling out of control, making innocent American citizens collateral damage to politicians’ petty and senseless personal, political agendas. Republican and Democratic parties are guilty of this pettiness — of both ignoring common sense and allegiance to their sworn responsibilities to the American people.

This belligerent “my way or the highway” style of political thinking does not produce the kind of government that will preserve the future safety, rights and freedoms of American citizens.

The pettiness of our leaders at the highest levels of government should have all Americans concerned. The 35-day government shutdown is the latest example of this. Shutdown for what? To keep from allocating $5 billion to President Trump for border security? That’s chump change in our federal budget.

Is it worth putting our country in economic jeopardy and inflicting financial hardships on hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans? I think not. Again, Americans become collateral damage to the government elite as our leaders needlessly spend time and money on issues and situations that add nothing to America’s overall safety, well-being or quality of life. We deserve better. In this situation, we surely deserve more than a three-week continuing resolution granting a threeweek temporary reprieve. Now we have 800,000 federal employees holding their breaths, waiting in anticipation for the second shoe to drop. And, over what? Again, chump change and principle?

This irresponsible behavior trickles down to our local governments, too. That is why we are paying so much attention to the Hope Mills commissioners — with the exception of Pat Edwards, who makes common-sense decisions on the town’s behalf. Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell and fellow Commissioners Meg Larson, Jesse Bellflowers and Jerry Legge are hell-bent on discrediting Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner. It comes down to not wanting her to succeed or get credit for initiating projects that would benefit the town and endear her to the Hope Mills community.

As a result, ordinances are adopted and unilateral decisions are made without citizen or staff input. This approach to politics has the town running amok, needlessly spending time and taxpayer money on an internal investigation that has yet to be defined — except to insinuate wrongdoing.

Really? By whom? When? The real purpose is an attempt to embarrass and discredit Warner and to fulfill personal agendas that have nothing to do with the well-being of Hope Mills or its citizens. If Mitchell, Bellflowers, Larson and Legge wanted the best for Hope Mills, they would spend their time and efforts working together to move the town forward and not in finding fault with Warner’s aggressive and successful leadership style.

Well, we can’t do much about the political situation in Washington, D.C. However, we can act locally. We love the Hope Mills community and will continue to support the town by being its community newspaper and its advocate. In reality, the growth, progress and opportunities in Hope Mills can overcome the negative impact of the town’s leadership — even with rumors and fake news circulation in the town undermining its leadership, progress and achievements.

Up & Coming Weekly and Elizabeth Blevins’ informational website,, are committed to keeping you abreast of news, events and information that affect all the citizens of Hope Mills and Cumberland County. Stay tuned. Good things are happening in Hope Mills, and we are pleased to be a part of it.

Thanks for reading Up & Coming WeeklySubscribe to the electronic version free of charge at www.upandcomingweekly.comStay in the know!

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Follow the money

03banknotes bills cash 164652 Almost 50 years ago, “Deep Throat” gave Washington Post investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward advice so fundamental that Americans, both journalists and ordinary citizens, have found it useful ever since. “Follow the money,” whispered the thenanonymous source in the murky depths of a Washington, D.C., parking garage. His admonition resulted in the only presidential resignation in American history, at least so far.

Money both ebbs and flows, so let’s take a look at some that is flowing — or soon will be.

China, with whom President Donald Trump and his family have conflicted relationships, has granted Ivanka Trump preliminary approval for five additional trademarks. These involve sunglasses, child care centers, wedding dresses and brokerage, charitable fundraising, and art valuation services.

Ivanka’s supporters argue the trademarks are necessary to protect her famous name from others who might seek to capitalize on it. Critics say that a Trump asking a foreign government for valuable trademark rights opens the door to pressure from that nation in all sorts of government negotiations. It unquestionably lays out the welcome mat for lucrative business possibilities in the future.

That money faucet is poised to flow. 

Money also ebbs, even disappears, for both individuals and entities. The Public School Forum of North Carolina, a nonpartisan advocate for public education, charged this month that reduced funding to traditional public schools in favor of charter and private schools has undermined public education for millions of North Carolina students. The vast majority of our children are in traditional public schools. The group urged the General Assembly to “renew North Carolina’s commitment to public schools for the public good.”

Said Lauren Fox of the Public School Forum, “Recent policy decision have served to discredit, defund and devalue our state’s public education system.”

Rural North Carolina also suffers from a money flow that has morphed into a money trickle from both public and private sources. Some small towns and rural areas are highly creative in making their communities unique in some way to combat the increasing concentration of resources — cultural, educational and monetary — in growing urban areas. Others are flattened by the lack of opportunity that sends their young folks to “the big city,” be it in North Carolina or somewhere else.

Our state, once known as “Variety Vacationland,” is blessed with one-of-a-kind nooks and crannies from Murphy to Manteo and Tuxedo to Turkey. Our travel dollars would be well spent giving ourselves special memories and helping prime our small towns’ money faucets.

And, money does indeed grow, even if not on trees. Increasingly, in the United States and other developed countries, wealth is concentrating in the coffers of the few while the many accumulate debt.

Statistics abound and vary, but virtually all find that the richest are getting richer. CNN reported last year that the top 1 percent of Americans now hold 38 percent of the nation’s wealth, up from just under 34 percent a decade ago, while the bottom 90 percent holds about 23 percent of the wealth, down from 28 percent.

Within those numbers are significant racial and ethnic gaps. The Pew Research Center reports that since the Great Recession of the last decade, white families continue to hold more wealth than other demographic groups.

In addition, while we may not know the exact numbers ourselves, we do understand our economic system is not working for many of us. The World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this month released polling results. They reveal that Americans, along with people in other developed nations, are losing faith in capitalism. Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed no longer believe our economic system is a path to upward mobility.

“Deep Throat” steered the intrepid reporters toward criminal activities that changed the course of our nation and made millions of Americans distrustful of our government. The ebb and flow of money is not usually criminal, but it affects all of us, and we should be aware of when and how. We should also press for policy changes when we believe they are needed.

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Misplaced outrage is a problem

04 Merritt Outrage seems to be constantly present in today’s American society. No matter how insignificant or lacking in justification, a group of people will be outraged at almost every occurrence. Not only is there outrage at the insignificant and unjustified events; more importantly, outrage is too often misplaced. That is, it is directed at one component of a situation when other, deserving components are met with little or no outrage.

As I write this on Jan. 10, a glaring case of misplaced outrage is reflected in what is happening regarding President Trump’s call for improved security on our southern border. His insistence on funding for measures to secure that border, including walls in some areas, has resulted in a partial government shutdown. That shutdown is continuing because Democrats will not agree, or even negotiate, to provide funding for walls.

Trump argues that there is a crisis at the border. What follows are some statements from his Jan. 8 Oval Office speech that define the crisis. Fact-checkers have challenged several of his statements, but I believe these survive the challenges:

“But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.”

“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”

“In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”

“Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States — a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.”

“America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.”

“Over the last several years, I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices and the sadness gripping their souls.”

The president made a solid case. Even beyond what he presented, there are reports of new caravans forming in Honduras. This is beyond the few thousand people already waiting in Tijuana, Mexico, for asylum screening at the U.S. border entry point. One forming caravan is estimated at 15,000.

The border situation is further complicated by the shift in who is crossing illegally. This from an article by Miriam Jordan titled “Eight-Year-Old Migrant Child from Guatemala Dies in U.S. Custody.”

“The Border Patrol apprehended 25,172 people in family units in November, compared with 7,016 the same month a year earlier.”

This dramatic increase in the number of persons illegally crossing in family units complicates processing these immigrants. A court ruling requires that children be held no more than 20 days. The facilities where illegal immigrants are held were built when most illegal immigrants were adult males. Consequently, these facilities are not suitable for holding children. Since a court ruling also prohibits separating children from parents, children are temporarily held in these facilities. There is also insufficient space for housing the numbers of illegal immigrants entering across the southern border. These conditions necessitate “catch and release.” That is, illegal immigrants are released into our country to await a hearing, before an immigration judge, regarding their asylum request. All of this speaks to migrants who are apprehended. Clearly, many more are not apprehended and go on to live in America illegally.

There is outrage from Democrats and their cohorts because of what they see as inhumane conditions under which children are held. Their outrage was intensified by the deaths of two children who died in the custody of the Border Patrol after being apprehended crossing the border illegally.

One was a 7-year-old girl and the other was an 8-year-old boy. The girl, with her father, made the 2,000-mile dangerous and demanding trip from Guatemala. The boy made the same trip with his father. Reports indicate both fathers brought their child on the arduous trip because they understood having a child with them would make it more likely that they would gain entry to America.

What has been described to this point is a crisis. Now consider how the Democrats are responding to this crisis and to what Trump proposes to do.

First, they call for investigations of the deaths of the two children and how illegal immigrants are being treated. Second, they want extensive medical examinations of children who are apprehended crossing the border illegally.

Third, Suzanne Gutierrez wrote this in an article titled “Congressman Castro demands top border official resign after migrant girl’s death.” It reads, “Democratic Rep. Joaquín Castro issued a call for the head of Customs and Border Protection to step down for failing to speedily report the death of a 7-year-old girl while in border officials’ custody.”

Fourth, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, and Chuck Schumer, senate minority leader, both Democrats, refuse to negotiate with Trump on wall funding.

Finally, in one meeting with the president, Pelosi and Schumer refused to listen to a presentation by Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security secretary, in which she would detail border conditions. In a second meeting, when Nielsen presented facts, Pelosi said she did not trust the facts.

The Democratic response to this crisis is wrapped in outrage. As of today, following the president’s Oval Office address, they have labelled his actions and position as a “Manufactured Crisis.” Note that in all of their outrage, none is directed at those fathers who brought children, for the personal benefit of the fathers, on that dangerous journey. Further, Democrats and their cohorts, especially in the liberal media, express no outrage in response to the harm, and negative impact, of illegal immigration on bona fide Americans.

The president, in that Oval Office address, painted a clear picture of the negative impact of illegal immigration on American citizens. Among what he presented was the case of Cpl. Ronil Singh. He was a police officer in Newman, California, a husband, the father of a 5-month-old son and a legal immigrant. After stopping a suspected drunken driver, Singh was shot and killed. A few days after the shooting, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, an illegal immigrant, was arrested and charged with killing Singh.

I contend a statement by Pelosi reflects the attitude and priority held by most Democratic members of Congress — and by liberal media. The following is from an article by Kerry Picket titled “Pelosi says stories like Ronil Singh’s are ‘tragic,’ but not enough to call a crisis.”

The Daily Caller asked Pelosi at her weekly presser if she would still describe the border issue as a ‘manufactured crisis’ to people who have lost relatives to overdoses from the drugs flowing across the border, or to families that have lost loved ones to crimes by illegal immigrants, like Corporal Ronil Singh’s.

‘“What I would say to families like that is what I would say to the president regularly,’ Pelosi replied. ‘These are tragic situations. There’s a tragic situation at the border. Two little children died in the custody of Border Patrol, but the plural anecdote is not data.’”

There is burning outrage in defense of people who break into this country, but pure calm when bona fide Americans are abused, killed, suffer in employment and are made to financially support people who break our laws and force their way into our country.

This is misplaced outrage, and Americans better respond with appropriately placed outrage that produces responses that are reasoned, legal, civil and effective.

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