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The Daily Planet’s Opinion: Asheville’s No. 24 ranking on the ‘Escape the Rat Race’ list? Ironic, given that it typifies the Rat Race
Friday, 16 February 2024 20:38

It strikes us as terribly ironic that Asheville recently was ranked No. 24 on Joy Organics’ survey of the Top 150 Best U.S. Cities and Towns to “Escape the Rat Race,” inasmuch as, given its skyrocketing real estate and population growth in the last 10 years or so, it personifies “the Rat Race.”

We can’t stop laughing at one of the survey question, which was as follows:

“Participants were asked to name American localities where they would prefer to relocate to start afresh, far from the demanding environment of their current professions.”

Given that the rents are the highest the state, along wth the relatively low wages for the Asheville-area workforce, the so-called “Paris of the South” is ultra-demanding — and anything but laid-back and carefree for those who are not among the economic elite, meaning most of us.

Regarding Asheville, Joy Organics’ survey describes the city as follows:

“Known for its vibrant arts scene and its historic architecture, Asheville offers a unique blend of bohemian culture, craft breweries and scenic beauty, making it an ideal destination for those wishing to escape corporate life.”

While its description of Asheville is flattering, it is — more accurately — descriptive of the city at the turn of the century.

As for the alleged “vibrant arts scene,” in today’s Asheville, only artists “of means” can afford to pay for the overpriced food, housing and studio space needed to live and work here. As a result, the city could be said to have... a limited number of real artists.

Regarding the “historical architecture” (mostly art deco), we do not disagree that the Biltmore Estate area and downtown Asheville area were blessed with some of the best work by the best architects during and after the building of George Vanderbilt’s masterpiece, the Biltmore House (in the 1890s).

However, since then, no significant building worthy of architectural note has been built in Asheville. Truth be told, we’re resting on our laurels, folks! And the scenic beauty of the area is currently being bulldozed for development.

And let’s not even get started on the so-called bohemian culture and craft beer culture, leaving much of local populace unemployable, as they are either (or both) high on drugs or falling-down-drunk, in our observation.

In conclusion, we think that Asheville would be among the worst choices in the U.S. to “Escape the Rat Race.” We recommend that the Joy Organics survey readers — looking for an exit from the race — move, instead, to... Charlotte!  





The rematch nobody wanted is here: Good for Biden!
Friday, 16 February 2024 20:36


Syndicated Columnist


Political campaigns are usually fun. Fun to watch, fun to talk about, fun to take part in.

As a volunteer, press secretary, campaign manager, and candidate, I often found myself agreeing with H.L. Mencken’s wicked observation: “A national political campaign is better than the best circus you ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.”

Most political campaigns are usually fun. But not this one. No matter how hard the media tried to make it sound interesting, this year’s Republican primary was a coronation, not a campaign. And make no mistake. It’s over. In fact, it was over before it began — because Donald Trump never had a serious challenger.

Seriously, have you ever seen a more pathetic bunch of losers than Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, Doug Burgum, Mike Pence, Will Hurd, Francis Suarez, or Nikki Haley? 

Only Asa Hutchinson and Chris Christie dared take on Donald Trump directly and tell the American people how unfit for public office he was and still is, but nobody wanted to hear it. 

It won’t be long before Nikki Haley also folds her tent and kisses Donald’s ... ring.

The Trumpification of the Republican Party is now complete. Republicans wanted Trump, and they’ve got him. 

He’s on a glide path to wrap up the nomination by mid-March. Which means the dreaded “do-over” of 2020 is on. 

Absent a heart attack or some other cataclysmic event, it’ll be Biden v. Trump Round Two in November — and nothing could be better news for Joe Biden.

Now, I know a lot of Democrats don’t agree. They’re worry-warts. They’re pessimists. That’s their nature. 

But I believe that, in this case, their pessimism is wrong. Not that beating Donald Trump will be automatic. It’ll take a hard-fought, aggressive, no-holds-barred campaign. 

But Democrats have three big advantages against Donald Trump: Biden’s record; Trump’s record; and Trump’s own internal weaknesses.

First, Biden’s got a strong case to run on. Yes, he has problems: a border crisis for which House and Senate Republicans, beholden to Trump, are blocking any solution; and the Israel/Hamas war, where Bibi Netanyahu rejects Biden’s attempts at restraint. But, overall, he can point to remarkable success.

As president, Biden promised to deliver. And he has, on many important issues. Lifting America out of Covid. Eleven million new jobs rebuilding America’s infrastructure. The first gun control legislation in decades. The largest investment ever in renewable energy to fight climate change. Executive orders to protect reproductive rights. The first African-American woman on the Supreme Court. Student debt relief for 40 million Americans. More than 21 million Americans, the most ever, with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. A record-low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent. A booming economy with inflation in decline, the Dow at a record high, and gas prices at a record low. And rallying the world to defend democracy in Ukraine and Israel.

That’s Biden’s first advantage. His second: Donald Trump himself... 

Who accomplished nothing as president other than another round of tax cuts for the wealthy, failed leadership on Covid, and economic collapse. Who still refuses to admit he lost the last election. Who’s already been found guilty of sexual assault. Who’s also on trial for financial fraud. And who now faces 91 criminal counts for stealing presidential documents, for committing election fraud in Georgia, and for his role in the failed coup and attack on the Capitol on January 6.

Now, Biden’s third advantage: a closer look at results in Iowa and New Hampshire show that, while Trump is the overwhelming favorite of his MAGA primary base, he shows signs of real weakness in a general election. 

Start with the fact that as, in effect, the incumbent Republican, he won only 50 percent of Republicans in either state. In Iowa, a pre-caucus NBC poll found that 43 percent of Haley supporters said they’d vote for Biden over Trump. 

In New Hampshire, 35 percent of GOP primary voters said they would not vote for Trump in November. 

In both states, Trump ran weakest among college-educated and suburban voters, whom Republicans need to win in November.

To which I add one new surprise factor: Jon Stewart’s coming back to host “The Daily Show.” Nobody drove Trump crazier in 2016, when Stewart branded Trump “F**kface von Clownstick.” Count on Stewart to do it again in 2024.

Overall, things are looking up for Joe Biden. Donald Trump’s the easiest candidate to run against. Biden beat him once — and he’ll beat him again.

© 2024, Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Bill Press, a liberal, is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” 

His email address is: Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.



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