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Mark Caserta: Building a city on drug rehab is a disastrous business plan.

26 Oct

COURTHOUSE

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Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for the conservative blog,  “Free State Patriot”

October 26, 2019


 

Anyone who tells you Huntington, WV. is successfully addressing its devastating level of drug addiction via its rehab efforts, is trying to sell something.

To say that Huntington is “spinning its wheels” in dealing with drug abuse is a monumental understatement. We are, indeed, digging ourselves into a trench from which it will be very difficult to escape. And sadly, we have leadership who believes in doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

In fact, our city leaders are unable to offer any confirmable metric showing any sustainable level of success at reducing opioid addiction within our own city.

It gets worse.

Reliable sources have confirmed we now have rehab facilities actively sourcing addicts outside our city limits, encouraging them to come to Huntington for treatment.

Why? Why bring them to our city – our centers for treatment? Why not help duplicate efforts in their own communities and educate their personnel on providing treatment to their citizens rather than bring them here. And furthermore, what is their incentive to ever leave?

Well, just follow the government money feeding these institutions.

According to a recent information provided by AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans), a national association whose members provide coverage for healthcare and related services, under Mayor Steve Williams’ leadership, “Huntington has become known as the ‘epicenter of the solution’ to the opioid epidemic”

Really? Many informed individuals vehemently disagree!

Huntington has become the epicenter of the “problem” and rapidly becoming the East Coast provider for rehab services! Additionally, we offer a city-sponsored level of enablement incentivizing these people to stay, virtually living a lifestyle supported by taxpayers!

Reportedly, since 2015, the City of Huntington, WV. has acquired $4.8 million in state, federal and philanthropic grants to combat the opioid epidemic.

What do we have to show for it?

Has the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy been effective in utilizing the so-called “harm reduction program”, adult drug court and drug overdose response team to reduce the problem? Or have they simply enabled behaviors and attempted to build an “economic model” on drug rehab?

How do you build an economic model on addiction? What economic future is there for taxpayers in a business that never increases cash flow in a city, and even adversely impacts current business?

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Let’s be clear. Until people have hope in this city for a real future, both socially and economically, we are doomed to a perpetuation and ultimate increase in the socio-economic woes we’ve seen grow under the current city administration.

Don’t take my word for it! Listen to what experts have to say!

Per a 2017 report from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “The brain adapts and responds to the environments and conditions in which a person lives. When we speak of addiction as a chronic disorder of the brain, it thus includes an understanding that some individuals are more susceptible to drug use and addiction than others, not only because of genetic factors but also because of stress and a host of other environmental and social factors in their lives that have made them more vulnerable.”

The report goes on to say that while opioid addiction is an “equal opportunity” problem that can afflict people from all races and walks of life, it has particularly impacted some of the poorest regions of the country, such as Appalachia, where vast numbers of people are living in poverty. These individuals, void of economic hope, are especially at risk for addiction, and subsequent consequences like overdose or the spread of HIV.

Sound familiar?

Bottom line: A population facing increasing economic challenges and increased psychological stress are disproportionately impacted by addiction.

If we ever expect to reduce drug addiction in our city, we must improve the economic model.

Look around you. When was the last time you saw the construction of business that could provide a living wage to the inhabitants of our area? People are hurting. Many of them are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. Others aren’t even trying. They’re either leaving the area or being engulfed by the quick sand of hopelessness and despair. Yet, we have a city administration which seems oblivious to a solution.

Yes, there is definitely a need for rehabilitation and re-assimilation into society. We all care about people either bound by addiction or languishing in the hopelessness of poverty. But without economic improvement, without jobs, without hope, more and more people will fall into the calamitous abyss of addiction.

The City of Huntington, WV. will never see economic improvement until leadership begins putting people, not political gain, first.  And building a city on rehab, is a disastrous business plan.

 

 

 

Mark Caserta: Huntington, WV. wasn’t always in this condition.

4 Oct

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The “Port of Huntington Tri-State” was one of the busiest inland ports in the United States.


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Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot, a conservative blog.

October 4, 2019


 

The digital super-highway is laden with information about Huntington, WV’s rich heritage.  We haven’t always been a city nearly “last” in every measurable attribute.

Once described as a “historic and bustling city of commerce and heavy industry,” benefitting from its location on the Ohio River, it was home to the “Port of Huntington Tri-State,” one of the busiest inland ports in the United States, per online sources.

Birthed from the vision of Collis P. Huntington, a railroad capitalist, our fair city, once known as “Holderby’s Landing,” was incorporated in 1871 and renamed, Huntington, after its founder.

Growing around the railroad, which came through in 1873, the city began to prosper. During much of the 20th century it was a significant river and rail point for the nation’s business. Our resources, work ethic and geography enabled the city of Huntington to be manufacturing “rich and diverse”, producing railroad equipment, steel, coal, fabricated metal, mining equipment, rebuilt machinery, rubber products, chemicals and clothing.

Many “baby boomers” and those having grown up in Huntington recall industries such as, ACF Industries, Owens-Illinois, Fastenal and Kerr Glass. The list is as heartbreaking as it is seemingly endless. One by one, we’ve watched these opportunity outlets fade away, abiding in memory only.

Yes, there are many factors which have contributed to the demise of industry in our region, but none any more responsible than decades of failing, liberal Democrat policies.

Some things never change.

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With the eradication of good-paying jobs, “hope was sure to follow”. Hope is simply having a vision for the future and a purpose for one’s life. The Bible says that “without vision, the people perish.” I can think of no better way to describe our city. It is perishing a slow, painful death.

I’m resigned to believe our leaders are either incredibly ignorant of the situation, or they don’t care. Either way, it isn’t our city’s leadership that’s paying the price – it’s the citizens.

When all we hear are the “accolades” being bestowed upon our mayor for being on the “front lines” of the battle against Opioid addiction, yet, the situation has never been worse, something doesn’t pass the smell test. Frankly, I’m tired of agendas superseding accuracy!

Again, this has nothing to do with a dislike of the mayor or city leaders. It also has nothing to do with a lack of compassion for those bound by addiction, entombed in poverty or impacted by crime. Anyone who uses this argument against simple reasoning, isn’t being intellectually honest with you!

And it’s sheer insanity to keep going down the same road and expecting different results.

It seems to me, the only results we’re seeing is the increasing number of people being “captured” in the nets of addiction recovery houses. I have heard from numerous, credible sources, some of these recovery institutions are now actively “soliciting” addicts from outside the state of WV. into our city for treatment.

Could this be possible? If they truly want to help these folks, support efforts in their states and cities, NOT OURS! THE CITIZENS OF HUNTINGTON HAVE ENOUGH ISSUES OF THEIR OWN WITHOUT TAKING ON OTHER STATE’S PROBLEMS!  THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!

Yet, sadly, government subsidies follow these individuals right into these institutions. You be the judge as to who benefits the most. But, in no way, shape or form, could it be the citizens of Huntington.

Someone has got to “stop this wheel of absurdity!”

We must demand a third-party audit of not only the Cabell-Huntington Health Department’s needle exchange program, but the success rates of many of these rehabilitation institutions. Maybe, I’m just overly cautious, but based on what I see with my own eyes, I’m not willing to take anyone’s “word” on the success rate. Too often, perceived results can be skewed by emotion and personal investment in the project. Give us accurate data; not emotional responses!

Ultimately, the taxpayers own these programs and have a right to see where their hard-earned money is being spent! In the interest of transparency and good will, these rehab facilities, as well as the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, should willingly submit to ongoing audits. If for no other reason, to share learnings and make necessary adjustments that will make them even more successful!

No organization supported by taxpayer dollars should ever be allowed to “fly under the radar”.

The city of Huntington will never be able to return to a community filled with industry and solid work ethic until three things happen.

First, we must have leadership ready, willing and able to look beyond political aspirations, directly into the heart of the city and do what’s right for the people – not for their paycheck.

Secondly, we must change our mindset on how to effectively reduce the Opioid epidemic, rather than expanding our nets of enablement.

And finally, the people of Huntington must take a stand and embrace a sense of urgency in making these changes.

Time is not an abundant asset in this fight. We may, already, be close to the point of no return.

Don’t accept lip service. Expect accurate, unbiased information.

And then use it to turn this city around.

 

Doug Smith: Here’s some common sense perspective on all this “shouting” about President Trump!

30 Sep

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Doug Smith is an opinion columnist, historian and associate editor for Free State Patriot

September 30, 2019


 

Let’s take them sequentially, shall we?   

Editor’s disclaimer: Those incapable of incorporating logic into your mental processing, are free to return to your Sunday comics, gum wrappers and The Springer Show.  This could be hazardous to your mental stability.

1.      I started out, before his nomination, criticizing Donald Trump as an ass. Nothing to date has altered my opinion. He is rude, crude, and I would not be his buddy. However, that also does not alter my view that he was far and away a better choice than Hillary Clinton, who is vicious and utterly amoral. And based on his performance, I conclude that while I would have liked a less abrasive POTUS, he has done more than any POTUS since Reagan to roll back the progressive’s corrosive effects on the nation. I still give him a solid B.

2.      Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton, needed to be investigated long ago, by someone who had not predetermined not to bring charges against a Democrat. He is dishonest, self-aggrandizing, and, apparently, utter lacking in a moral code. He committed plagiarism in law school, shamelessly stole speeches from better politicians. One must wonder how he ever managed to graduate. He has falsely, and wildly claimed that he went to law school on a full scholarship (false), graduated in the top of his class (also false), and had 3 undergraduate degrees (he had one, like most college graduates.) Like Hillary and Barack, he consistently tries to convince that he is the smartest guy in the room, without compelling evidence that this is even nearly true. He is also stupidly dishonest. How do we know about his shady and likely criminal dealings with Ukraine s government and a gas holding company, along with his son? Because he bragged about it, on tape. He could take advice in being Teflon from the Clintons.

3.      Impeachment is a political remedy for misbehavior in office. The Democrats have lived and breathed the idea of impeaching Donald Trump since late the night of November 8, 2016, when it became obvious that Hillary was extending her losing streak. Their perspective is not that we should impeach the President because of this act or that, but that we should impeach the President because we don’t like what he says and does, and we need to find a crime to match the punishment we are determined to meet out.

4.      The Democrats have a history of trying to destroy, rather than defeat, Republican Presidents. It is not too much of a stretch to note, that the Democrats’ resistance to the 1st Republican President led to Civil War, and that a Democrat, and actor, assassinated him. But in more modern history, since WW2, there have been 7 GOP POTUS. Of these, Eisenhower doesn’t really count, because he had to check his registration to say what his party was, and he was such a national hero after the war that he was untouchable. Ford doesn’t count, because he was in office only a short time, filling Nixon’s unexpired term. Of the remaining 5, who were elected and served at least one full term, the Democrats have sought to impeach every one of them. Check your history if you find this incredible. Democrats introduced bills to impeach Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43, and they are carefully impeaching without impeaching Trump, largely because the want him gone, their lunatic base wants him impeached, but they realize that voting articles of impeachment will be a political disaster.

5.      When your irritating little brother or cousin bugs you, you may smack him. When you see 4 bigger guys jump on him and shove him down, you leap to his defense. This should explain why Trump supporters, even those, like me, who consider him an ass, but an effective ass, and OUR ass, are loathed to criticize him and quick to defend him. Like the camel sticking its nose in the tent, we realize that since the Dems and the Left attack him constantly, for everything, much of it made up, and not with the purpose of convincing him to alter course, but with the sole purpose of destroying him, we feel that we cannot give an inch in defending him. He may blunder sometimes, and his mouth may lead a life of its own, and he may be an ass, but the calculus that made him the choice over Hillary still holds, as do his results. The Dems, particularly the ones who suffer badly from the mental illness that is Liberalism, somehow have the idea that if only they can remove Trump, they will get Hillary. Of course, they don’t understand that what they would get is a fired-up President Pence, a seething GOP electorate, and, in 2021, unmovable GOP control of both Houses of Congress, and the White House, and, sometime in the foreseeable future, and 7-2 Originalist SCOTUS. Nor do they care. They are simply consumed by hate and want to hurt their enemies.

6.      As a student of history, I would urge any Leftists who still have thinking abilities unhampered by political madness to study Robespierre and the Jacobins in France. His final thought, before the guillotines that he set in motion descended on his neck must have been that it is easier to release the Kraken than to control it.

 

Doug Smith: Our veterans have earned our memory – our honor – our gratitude.

29 Sep

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It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

Gaius Julius Caesar

No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: Come back with your shield, or on it. Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome.

Robert Heinlein

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Doug Smith is a historian who proudly served our nation in the Navy aboard the submarine “USS Gato”.  He is also Free State Patriot associate editor.

September 29, 2019


 

All of us who wore the uniform have a place in our hearts, a quick tear, easily brought forth, by the memory of the guys who never made it home. We remember the guys trapped below decks on the Arizona, the 1st wave on Omaha Beach, the B-17 crews blown to bits high over a target, boys whose last sight was a dirty rice paddy in Vietnam. Yes, we remember our fallen.

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But on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, in the year of grace 1918, as the guns fell silent across the front in France, we began a tradition of remembrance of those who served, and suffered, and lived. We who lived to grow to silver hair and old age remember boys who did not, comrades, friends, youngsters, who served in some of the same places and ways that we did. Yet it is fitting that we remember those who came home now full of years, and full of memories of the things that they, and we, did.

Caesar was right: the things the veteran must endure are remarkable and much to ask. It is not easy to persuade people to endure them, even though Heinlein’s observation is equally correct: a society in which that small percentage refuses to stand to and endure will itself, not endure. We look around us and note that our numbers are small, indeed. In WW2, some 16 million served, about 12% of the population. Most numbers are far smaller, perhaps 7% at most serve. So vanishingly few know, from experience, what we know about the day to day realities that make a Veteran. Some have read, or seen movies, or heard Sea Stories, ( which of course, are never crippled by the constraints of truth or reality) but only a tiny handful know because we have seen and felt it.

But we know.

We know the loneliness. Ask any Vet, no matter where they served, and you will find nodding heads. Yes, we endured times of crushing loneliness. We spend Christmas Eve s surrounded by strangers, in places far from the familiar sounds and smells and sights that equal home. We often do mundane jobs far from parents, sweethearts, wives, husbands, and children. The jobs may demand much, or not, but they demand us; far from where we would rather be. So we trudge on and get the job done, get the mission accomplished, while feeling that aching emptiness from faces we can see, but not touch. All of us together, feeling that ache, sharing the place and the time, find that it is endurable, if just barely, because the people next to us know. They are there too. We may miss WV, while they miss Brooklyn, or Missouri, but together we form a new family: our brothers, and a new home town: the outfit, the company, the boat. The place where we endure loneliness together becomes our home, and the people, our brothers. That is how we survive. That is how we endure.

We know the fatigue. Sleep? What exactly is that? In the brief moments we try it, we perfect the art of sleeping anywhere, anytime, on anything. A torpedo skid, a gun mount, a tow motor, a stack of boxes, a hole, wet, cold, hard, hot, sandy, doesn’t matter. We get so tired that if 5 minutes comes our way to close our eyes, we sleep. Perhaps not well, or for long. From the 1st way too early morning we began our lifelong hatred of the word Reveille. This hatred was underscored by an entirely unreasonable Ape kicking a 30 gallon metal GI can and introducing us to our first bit of military poetry: grab your socks and drop your; well, you know the poem. You just finished it in your head. We began to get an inkling that an uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep was an entirely civilian phenomenon. We also began to understand that we were civilians no longer. We had no idea how poorly we would ever again fit that world. But sleep? Wake up, you got the watch. General Quarters, All Hands Man Your Battle Stations. All hand turn to, clean up ship. In the rack promptly at 2300. Up at 0200 for the dogwatch. Back in the rack at 0400. Back up at 0600 for cleanup. Chow at 0700. Muster for Quarters at 0800. Did I sleep? I can’t remember. 9 to 5 and a 40 hour week, again, were relics of that left behind world. We worked till it was done, or until we dropped. Sleep? That was a luxury, and there were few luxuries.

We should mention coffee. SSAM. Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine: we all learned about coffee. Hot, if possible. Strong? We left strong behind a long time ago. Military coffee, Navy Coffee, as I came to love it, ranged from suitable for cleaning valves, to paint thinner, to the really strong stuff. Too old? Too strong? These are, again, strictly civilian concepts. If it was vaguely brown, and had at some point been above body temperature, and could still be poured, or cut into pieces and placed into a cup, we would drink it. Lots of it. It was at first, a poor substitute for the sleep we could never get enough of, and later, our buddy, our pal, our mate, Ambrosia and Nectar, Breakfast of Champions, Food of the Gods, The Water of Life. In cups, tin cups, steel pots, mess kits, whatever would hold it for us, we moved from coffee to coffee, working, cleaning, and functioning in between on the familiar acid warmth in the guts that is our Coffee. All praise to the Coffee.

We know the boredom. The old saw is that military life is hour after endless hour of sheer, mind numbing tedium and boredom, interrupted now and then by seconds or minutes of sheer terror. We can nod our heads in knowing agreement, because we fought a constant battle with boredom. We would do anything to break up the tedium once the work was done. For we could not leave, but must just hurry with our work, then wait. And wait. Pinochle, Cribbage, Euchre, Poker, Backgammon, Acey Duecy, Chess, Checkers, these were all our little friends in the battle. Long watches at night on the Bridge, 20 questions, discussions about baseball, food from back home (a very popular subject), wives, sweethearts, girls, ( also a very popular subject.) And then there were the jokes.

How much time to we have? We have gone for a bucket of steam, 6 feet of waterline, a bag of exhaust from a jeep, a frame for the sight picture, the mail buoy watch, a jar of relative bearing grease. If we were feeling extra bored we might treat a boot to the sight of a Sea Bat, or send him to wake the CO to ask for permission to retrieve the Mail Buoy. If we were extra brutal, we could always send for a Machinists Punch. Military folks develop a truly unique and somewhat morbid sense of humor; another reason Veterans never “quite” fit in with the true civilians.

Veterans learned these hardships, and pain. Pain was a constant companion. Short hours of sleep on a hard and oddly shaped surface left sore backs, butts, and necks. Odd eating habits, working in dim light, breathing fumes or low O2 often left headaches. Aspirins or APC tablets (remember those? Aspirin, Phenylthaline, and Caffeine, an ancient and sovereign cure for what ails ye) were carried in bulk containers by Medics and Corpsman. Hands skinned on the job, knees from crawling or kneeling, ankles from walking or marching. Head, neck, back, arms, hands, butt, legs, knees, ankles, feet, stomach: something always hurt.

Food. We learned to eat what we had. We had some odd loves. And odd language. The typical civilian, offered a plate of “expletive” on a Shingle, will back away from you as if you were mad. We would gobble it up. Meals were sometimes hot and plentiful, but often interrupted, sometimes out of a can, put away for your grandfather, but still good enough for you to survive. Ice cream took on an almost mystical importance. We could sail the world, and charge the gates of hell on Spam, Peanut Butter, Ice Cream, and Coffee. Another of those things civilians never quite get about us is finishing our meal in 3 minutes. We are not here to socialize, we are here to eat. Get it down, while you can.

We come away with strange reflexes. Some of us jump at sharp noises. Some of us can’t stand anyone behind us. Some of us have to have a fan on to sleep, and wake instantly if the power goes off and that background hum ceases.

We tend to speak a common, almost English, but still very foreign language. When we speak of shit cans, bulkheads, making a head call, FUBAR, SNAFU, REMF, Short Timers, Salts, civilians stare at us, but Veterans smile and nod in recognition: Brother. We find the Anglo Saxon monosyllable beginning with F to be a most useful and versatile noun, verb, adjective, adverb, exclamation, pronoun, and gerund. It amazes us as much that civilians do NOT use it with regularity, as it shocks them that we do. It is simply the most useful and descriptive word we know.

Yes, Veterans are an odd lot. We endured a life like few ever know. By and large we chose that life. Most will never understand why we did, or, upon hearing our stories, how we stayed and endured. We were not all wounded, and unlike our honored dead, we all came home. Yet if we came home alive, and if not unwounded, at least functioning, we did not come home unchanged. We left something of ourselves behind. We may believe that we brought home a great deal, but we never fool ourselves that it was without cost.

Yet, we echo the question of President Lincoln: Can any nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the premise that all men are created equal long endure? And for the Veteran, regardless the reasons to put on the uniform, adventure, boredom, escape, opportunity, patriotism; the idea gels before long that we have , at least, our answer to President Lincoln’s question. It will endure, if I have anything to say about it. I will take my oath seriously, and through loneliness, boredom, pain, and hardship, and if necessary, placing my life between “my loved home and war’s desolation”.

So we take this moment, born when the guns of August fell silent that November morning, and remember at this time, not those who died, but those who answered the call. We remember those who said, whatever it takes, nobody will get through me, and get to you. Kids can play in the park with their folks because we will stop any evil trying to reach them. We remember the ones, who, on that November morning, looked around and said, We’ve made it. We remember those who did not know, perhaps till much later, just what they had paid, and what it had cost for them to stand to and hold the line. We remember those who determined that they would pay the cost, whatever it was, even if it were a cost that they would be paying the rest of their lives. We remember those who say, decades later, full of years, softer, greyer, thinning on top, thickening in the middle, older but still proud, knowing it all, I would still do it again. We remember what they did, what they were, what they are, and what they meant to the country we live in, and what they mean still.

It has become a more common thing these days for civilians to greet Veterans they see with the words, Thank you for your service. Many of us are not sure just how to respond to that. We are grateful that they are not showing the disrespect are brothers faced after Vietnam coming home. But we are just a bit embarrassed and not sure how to respond to the civilians thanking us.

But not so with other Veterans. We remember how it was. We remember our comrades in arms. Our brothers. We give you respect.

We remember you.

 

Mark Caserta: Make no mistake! This year’s mayoral election is the most important in Huntington’s history.

24 Sep

Conservative Christians must get engaged and vote – or we will lose our city.

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Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot

May 14, 2020


 

 

In the city of Huntington, WV. we’ve allowed a minority of liberals to dictate the direction of our city. It’s time to draw the line in the sand. Progressives are rapidly converting our once, thriving community into the East coast hub for substance-abuse rehabilitation, crime and destitution.

Understand, this isn’t about compassion. Anyone with a heart cares about those bound by addiction, buried in poverty or impacted by crime. We are simply in deep disagreement as to how it should be addressed. And conservatives can certainly love people while not condoning their behavior.

This is in stark contrast to liberals, who have proven themselves incapable of this disciplined approach to life. They equate love with an unqualified acceptance of any lifestyle, regardless of the content. They prove it every time they lash out in disagreement immersed in hateful rhetoric.

I’m convinced the only way we are going to begin winning against the progressive movement is to do so at the local level. National change must begin with individual communities rising to the occasion and refusing to be overtaken by failing, enabling liberal policies.

So, are you ready to make a difference?

Several things must happen sequentially for our city to be returned to greatness. The first, arguably, is understanding the progressive movement and its modus operandi. It will be impossible to distinguish qualified leadership until we’re able to discern their heart and genuine intent. We must be able to hear beyond eloquent verbiage, which while “sweet to the ears”, is venomous to the body.

I’ve spent nearly two decades writing about the progressive movement and how it’s destroying our nation. And while it isn’t complicated, it is resilient. The progressive movement relies upon conservatives being either ignorant of the issues or disengaged from the solution. And frankly, they’ve been working diligently in the schools and in the media, to keep us that way.

And sadly, too often, we’ve accommodated them from the sidelines.

Liberals are in the business of creating controversy, very similar to how a pyromaniac starts a fire. First, they require some sort of accelerate to spark a flame. This is usually something by which they can trigger an emotional response by a segment of the population marinated in questionable behavior, usually outside of the Biblical values upon which our country was founded.

Once the flame of contention has been ignited, they are tenacious about “fanning the flame” by striving to be the voice heard above the fray. They understand that while many people in society lack engagement and knowledge about an issue, everyone has emotions. It’s the emotional response they seek to germinate in the soil of contrariety.

It’s a fact that people will respond more often to an emotional stimulation much more than to an intellectual one. Count on liberals to seize upon every opportunity to leverage “identity politics” to rally troops to the far left. They cannot win in the theater of ideas. Truth will never get in the way of a liberal.

Hence, the promulgation and success of the progressive movement.

There are timely examples of how liberals have used this technique. One example is how they’ve converted “illegal immigration” into an emotional issue about separating families at the border. Another would be how “abortion” is all about women’s health. Every time there is a shooting, liberals use emotions, rather than common sense, to suggest taking guns away from law abiding citizens will reduce gun crime. Still another would be how Christian conservatives “hate” the LGBTQ population simply because we don’t condone their behavior or give them additional “protected” status above and beyond the protections we are all allocated by the Constitution.

The list goes on and on.

Liberals have purchased and now “own” terms like “inclusion, acceptance or tolerance.” Sadly, with the complicity of the liberal media, Christian conservatives have allowed them to do so. With identity politics, they’ve also attempted to purchase African-Americans, woman, Hispanics, LGBTQ and illegal aliens.

The only segment of the population liberals have never been able to purchase is Christians.

The liberal infestation is never going to change on the national level, until states, cities and communities stand up against leaders hell-bent on inflicting their liberal policies at the local level.

I can’t think of a better city upon which to build this change than our own city of Huntington. We are better than this!

You may have noticed the recent recognition our city’s leadership has received because they are being portrayed at being at the “forefront” of the fight only against Opioid abuse, and now COVID 19.  Really???

It’s very troubling that anyone feels our administration deserves accolades for what they’ve done to the city of Huntington.  There has been zero accountability and an equal amount of transparency.

And while we keep doing the sames things over and over, and patting ourselves on the back about achieving different results; I submit the results we are achieving are intended.  Mayor Williams and his minions have accomplished everything on their bucket list.

Step outside your door and take off your blinders. Are things really getting better in the city of Huntington? Are their fewer drugs? Is there less crime? Are you making more money? Are you proud of your city? Anyone committed to intellectual honesty knows the answers.

Next steps? Turn the sound down on your television or be more discerning about what you hear. Use our local newspaper to line your bird cage. Begin relying on reliable sources for your information – but there aren’t many.

This upcoming mayoral election is arguably the most important election in our city’s history.  We are at a crossroads – one to further destruction – another to improvement.  You MUST do your homework and vote for the candidate who will be more concerned about our city than asserting and leveraging power over you.

And once you’ve gotten the facts, make sure your voice is heard above the fray. Be diligent, committed and then go to the polls!

Understand, if Christians don’t go to the polls this primary and general election, we will lose.  The progressive movement has been far too successful at indoctrinating a generation of voters who truly have no reference as to what our city or nation can be.

So, it’s up to those who do. We can make a difference, but it will take conservative Christians fulfilling what Christ has commissioned them to do.  Make a difference in this world!

Be resolute, be mindful and be engaged.

Then, go vote!

 

Mark Caserta: Huntington, WV. must elect a Christian conservative for mayor in 2020

23 Sep

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Scott Caserta is the conservative candidate for mayor of Huntington, WV. in 2020


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Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot

September 23, 2019


 

Recently, certain political “pundits” have suggested that the fight for John Mandt Jr. and Stewart’s, of which I’ve been a part, will cripple my brother Scott’s chances for winning the 2020 Huntington, WV. mayoral election.

Not a chance, unless we listen to the same political prognosticators who told you Hillary would win in a landslide!

I suppose 5000 signatures on a petition in a little over a week means nothing???

It’s like watching a Trump rally and afterward, saying his approval rating is dropping – right.

Let me ask you; Do you want a candidate who will allow the potential loss of a vote to govern their principles?  Do you want another politician more concerned about winning an election than living up to their promises?

Do you want a candidate who will vote based on which way the wind is blowing, or do you want a candidate who will adhere to principle and be dependable in representing your values and addressing your concerns?  Do you want a fighter, or another wimpy representative?

I’ve had enough of liberal, wimpy politicians.

Haven’t you?

I want a fighter with Christian values, willing to take the fight head on!

This battle isn’t about a “hot dog”, it’s about saving our city from scavenger politicians who want to compromise the heart of Huntington simply to propagate their liberal agenda.

Stop the deep state from prostituting our city for power and money.  Stop listening to people who tell you things are getting better, just to manipulate your vote, as well as get their government grant money.

Look around you…Is this the city you want for your children? Needles, drugs and crime are now common place. Do you feel safe when you walk down the streets of Huntington after dark?

We cannot go on living like this! We must vote for change!

You should get what you pay for! And you pay your hard-earned tax dollars for results, not words!

Don’t allow Huntington, WV. to die a slow, progressive death.

Do we really want rehab to be the #1 business in our region, or would you rather have real jobs, manufacturing and a future for your family, right here in the Tri-State?

Let’s make Huntington, once again, a great place to live and raise a family.

Vote for Scott Caserta for Mayor in 2020!

It’s the right thing to do.

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Mark Caserta: Stewart’s Wars: Should Marshall University President Gilbert resign?

21 Sep

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Marshall, celebrating over 55 years as a Huntington, WV. university


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Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot

September 21, 2019


 

Just when you may think conditions couldn’t become worse in the city of Huntington, WV, it appears they may already be worse than any of us could have imagined.

Most people in our area are aware of the campaign to reinstate the 32-year contract between Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs and Marshall University to be able to sell their product during Thundering Herd sporting events. The contract was negated in August. Stewart’s, of course, is owned by Delegate John Mandt. Jr., of the 16th District. (R-WV)

Upon learning of the cessation of the contract, Steven J. Davis, founder of Concerned Citizens of Huntington, WV. and I began an offensive to return Stewart’s to Marshall’s sporting events. After all, Stewart’s and the Mandt family have been an integral part of the Marshall University family and its events for 32 years!

And frankly, Stewart’s is one of the few remaining long-term businesses still in our town, having proudly served our communities for over eight decades!

Our campaign has included several appearances on and with the support of the popular “Tom Roten Morning Show” on News Radio 800 WVHU. The Stewart’s cause has been featured on all of the local television affiliates, as well as in print. The heartfelt support throughout the region has been humbling and appreciated.

But what could possibly have caused the termination of such a viable, beneficial relationship between Marshall and John Mandt Jr.? Surely, it must have been something of critical consequence to institute the removal of the tradition of “slammin’ down” a Stewart’s Hot Dog as part of the game experience for Herd fans around the country.

The catalyst of this contractual “abortion” initially appeared to be a petition circulated by a liberal politician, Dakota Nelson, who shamelessly took credit for the cessation of the pact after receiving a “whopping” 750 signatures from unknown individuals, claiming dismay over comments made by Delegate Mandt, considered by progressives to be “Islamophobic” in nature.

On his Facebook page, Nelson calls himself a “community organizer”. Yep, that’s just what we need – another liberal community organizer representing us. That sure worked out well at the executive level!

The entire process was vague and opaque. It was, undoubtedly, retaliation birthed by his loss to John Mandt Jr. in the 2018 general election to House of Representatives.

Make no mistake, Nelson’s quest for squelching Rep. Mandt’s success had the support of several “deep state” players in our city.

Teresa Ball, Labor-Management Liason/LGBTQ and Diversity Liason to the Mayor, posted her “euphoric” support of Mandt’s demise on her social media page following the cancellation.

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE GOT HIM!,” her post stated. “What a wonderful victory! Thanks to all who led this fight and thanks to Marshall Univeristy which is truly OPEN TO ALL!!. (BTW, I didn’t misspell University, Ball did)

We’re still waiting on our city’s mayor to distance himself from these comments by a member of his staff.

Isn’t it interesting how liberals apply the term, “inclusive” or “open to all” only to those who fall within their “club of progressive reform?”

Steven J. Davis ultimately decided to circulate a more transparent, legitimate petition on Change.org calling for the continuance of the 32-year contract. He received nearly 5000 signatures in just over 7 days! Last Tuesday, Steve and I proceeded to present the petition to the office of Marshall President Jerome Gilbert with a film crew on our heels.

In the “theater of irony” nothing is surprising. Following our interviews with two local news crews, we headed across campus, up the stairs of Old Main and down the “Kelly Green” carpeted hall to the office of the president at 10:30 am, September 17th.

But as we peered into the office window, no one was there and the door was locked!  So much for “Open to all” decals all over campus, supporting the mayor’s signature progressive policy of inclusion.

Thankfully, we were able to present the petition to an administrative assistant and received an email confirmation of receipt.

So, after weeks of peeling back the layers of this rancid onion, new information obtained via a FOIA request proves this wasn’t about a “hot dog” at all. It was about politics. One thing I’ve learned about liberals is there is absolutely nothing they aren’t willing to compromise to perpetuate their progressive agenda.

Even if it’s the heart of a city.

On February 20th, 2019, President Jerome Gilbert forwarded an email to Rep. John Mandt Jr. from a “concerned citizen” questioning his voting record regarding issues such as campus carry and his position on LGBTQ issues, requesting Stewart’s “lucrative” contract be discontinued at Marshall events.

One has to wonder if this individual even understands business, calling the contract lucrative.

As you carefully read the email, you decide whether Gilbert was threatening in his remarks to Delegate Mandt.

Frankly, it would be difficult to interpret otherwise.

Rep. Mandt had previously refused to support the mayor’s “open to all” campaign by not placing the decals promoting the policy on his place of business. His position was that Stewart’s and the Mandt family have “always” been open to all and a decal isn’t needed to prove his heart for the community.

Additionally, Mandt’s conservative voting record often represented the antithesis of our current administration’s liberal agenda.

The narrative that in prior years Huntington has been anything less than inclusive is insulting and inaccurate. We just don’t believe special recognition is needed, nor are we willing to condone behaviors contrary to our religious beliefs.

In my view, this was nothing short of bureaucratic innuendo commissioned by Marshall University’s most powerful state employee, suggesting political blackmail and a “quid pro quo” leveraging Rep. John Mandt. Jr’s votes in Charleston as “ransom.”

Losing Stewart’s contract with Marshall University’s primary vendor, Sodexo, represented the dark consequence if the Congressman refused to comply by voting in accordance with President Gilbert’s support of Mayor Williams’ “open to all” policy. I submit this had the full, unadulterated support of key members of our city’s administration and supportive liberal minions.

Simply put, “We are Marshall” but “We are Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs” only if Delegate John Mandt Jr.’s votes for our agenda in Charleston.

Currently, Steve Davis is awaiting a response from Marshall and Sodexo. While Sodexo admittedly subcontracted Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs to athletic events, the primary contractual agreement is between Marshall and Sodexo. That’s how business works. Why else would Sodexo have originally subcontracted even a portion of their business to a competitor??

Marshall can fix this. The people have spoken. We demand Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs return to Marshall sporting events – now.

But it’s much larger than that. Do we want a system of politics that’s not driven by the desires of the people? Do we want our policies and city controlled by a few far-left liberals willing to blackmail, using contracts as a ransom? Do we want the “quid pro quo” of Washington, DC. right here in Huntington, WV.?

If you’re a conservative, like most in our area, you don’t want our city heading down the road we’re on. Huntington is dying a slow death. What will it take for us to take our last breath? We must seize opportunities like this to return our city to greatness.

Given the facts, should Marshall President Jerome Gilbert submit his resignation? How can his decision-making process ever be trusted again? Has he compromised his ability to lead a university? This wasn’t a simple matter of “lobbying” a politician. This could very easily be equated with political blackmail.

One thing’s for sure. This matter isn’t going away. Exposing the progressive movement in our city is becoming a full-time job.

And we’ve only just begun.

Read the memo forwarded to Delegate John Mandt Jr. from M.U. President Jerome Gilbert:

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Teresa Ball’s social media post:

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Read the letter of petition calling for Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs to be reinstated at Marshall ballgames

17 Sep

This letter, along with a petition signed by over 4500 petitioners in less than 7 days, was delivered on 9.17.2019 to the office of Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert by Steven J. Davis of Concerned Citizens of Huntington, WV. and Mark Caserta, columnist and editor of Free State Patriot.

The event was covered by local television affiliates, WCHS, WOWK and WSAZ.

 

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Seth Caserta: What is “patriotism”?

4 Sep

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Seth Caserta is an aspiring columnist and a 17-year-old senior at Covenant School

September 4, 2019


 

If I were to choose a word that illustrates the importance of our flag – I would choose patriotism.

So, what exactly is patriotism? It is defined in the dictionary as “Devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.”  In other words, it’s the love of your country. Patriotism is the foundation on which our nation is built, the glue holding us together as a nation united.

It took patriotism to build this country, to fight for its right for existence and liberty and separate from the British dictatorship. It took loyalty, devotion, and bravery, for the veterans to defend our great Nation against Germany in World War 2 and in Vietnam.

The Love for one’s country is like gas in a car, it fuels it and helps it go and progress. We, as one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, are responsible for our future and what becomes of our nation.

Matthew 3:25 states that “If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand.” If we, the American people, do not put forth what is best for our country, instead of our own political views, how can we progress?

Politics have escalated so much into what Republicans and Democrats believe is best that the question of “where does patriotism come into play” rises. It’s like a rivalry between 2 siblings, one trying to outdo the other by whatever means necessary.  

 Patriotism is the desire to help one’s country in times of need, “to make it great”, in simpler terms. It took one man to come forth, against the odds, to lead this country toward a brighter future. His name is Donald J Trump. 

Some may disagree with the president’s political views but they cannot deny that he has helped our economy grow more in 3 and a half years, than Obama did in his entire presidency! But if we focus on the mistakes our president makes, rather than the successes, where is Patriotism?

It is the job of We the People to stand beside our president and honor him, even if we don’t agree with him entirely. If we don’t, then pray for him rather than falsely accusing him of something just to impeach him.

So, once more, the question of “what is patriotism” comes into play. George Washington fighting the British for our right to be a nation, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, in attempt to unite the North and south, Veterans sacrificing everything to protect their country, a president persisting to make America great against the odds of both parties.

That is Patriotism. 

 

Mark Caserta: Will “Antifa” target Huntington, WV. next?

2 Sep

Given our current problems, how will our mayor and his administration respond?

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Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot

September 2, 2019


 

“Antifa”, short for “anti-fascist”, is the name of a left-leaning, anti-racist group that monitors and tracks the activities of local neo-Nazis, white supremacists or anyone who would be considered “supportive” of such racist activity.

In the political sense, the term “fascist” has been used in an anti-authoritarian sense to “emphasize the common ideology of governmental suppression of individual freedom. In recent years, liberals have endeared the notion of attaching the word fascist to the “far right” movement with the intent of portraying them as “oppressive, intolerant and racist.”

Up till now, Antifa has maintained a presence mostly on the West Coast, with activities designed to prevent organizations they’ve determined support any form of racist activity from gaining a platform or a foothold.

It’s come to my attention, that potentially as a result of our region’s enduring support of Donald Trump and the liberal media’s incorrect portrayal of the president as being sympathetic to the white supremacist movement, Antifa may be “testing the waters,” if you will, seeking to pursue growth to areas around the nation heavily supporting the Trump administration.

Recently, an Antifa Facebook page emerged from within our own city of Huntington, WV. and has already begun to share its propaganda using our own city newspaper.

The page is called, “Jewell City Antifa.” Huntington, as you may know, was given the nickname “Jewell City” by steamboat captains who passed through delivering lumber and coal to help fuel the growth of the railroad extension to the West.

It gives one pause to read the “about” section of the group’s page, since it is grammatically incorrect. Call me over-analytical, but I could make many assumptions as to the competencies of such an author. You be the judge. It reads:

“keeping the Fash out of HTown since 2019.”

Now, anti-fascist groups have been around for decades. In the postwar period, antifa groups resurged to fight neo-Nazi groups, particularly in Germany. They have, needless to say, evolved in our modern day, political battleground.

Understand, while Antifa operates on a platform of defeating racism, sexism and homophobia, the groups are also, by and large, socially left, anti-capitalist and against what they consider to be “extreme right-wing ideology.”

President Trump and his supporters would most likely fall into this Antifa profile.

Antifa protestors have typically donned an “all black” look, with black work or military boots, pants, ski masks, gloves and jackets. Gas masks, goggles and shields are sometimes added as accessories, but the look is basic black, no doubt, designed to intimidate.

And they don’t appear to be afraid of violence.

On June 29, violent riots between alt-right groups and Antifa broke out in Portland, Oregon, leaving several people with severe injuries. Portland has since become a hotbed for violent, left-wing groups per multiple reports.

In late August, a crowd of thousands cascaded down Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley, California, where Trump supporters were gathering under the mission to say “no to Marxism in America.” Reportedly, the march was led by about 100 people dressed in black.

Recently, President Trump reacted to the antics of Antifa.

“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,’” Trump tweeted. “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”

Given the Huntington’s mayor’s inclusion policy of “open to all”, does Antifa fall under that category? Will he properly do his job?

I submit, this is simply part and parcel of this administration’s failing policies which have contributed to the city of Huntington becoming one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, per capita. Not only do we have transients from multiple zip codes coming to our city for drug rehab, free syringes and the benevolence of liberal Democrats seeking re-election, we now face the potential fostering of a group whose intent could easily be described as threatening to the citizens of Huntington.

Folks, I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but you must take note of what’s coming to fruition in what truly once was the “Jewell City.” Given the status of our infrastructure and the disengagement of our liberal, Democrat leaders, what else could our city possibly endure?

It’s time to stand firm, Huntington. We know this madness isn’t going to end with our mayor and his current administration. It’s up to the citizens of Huntington.

This liberal onslaught ends now.

 

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