Congress gave its approval for an additional 460 billion to Bush's nice little war
and Hallliburton /KBR will only get richer despite its record breaking fraudulent contracts
and we in the Ohio Valley and in places like this across Ohio and the midwest, continue to
become Mingo Jct.
What is Mingo Jct? Its the town where the opening scenes of the Deer Hunter movie
was filmed and the infamous bar/pool table shooting scene was filmed w/ actors Robert Dinero
and Angelo Jolie's father among others.
Its also the ugly 'living' example, if living can describe a word about the dead, and how
southeastern Ohio and many small towns people, in a different but not too distant past,
paid a price during another bad western misguided war of adventurism in another era, about
what Vietnam did to many in such area, was a tragedy on the level that the Oscar winning film
captured on film as few others could before or since.
However, back to reality and back to the real town called Mingo Jct, in this era and what we
find now is this time such a similar serious national imperialistic war has basically ended this
town's existence as a once thriving, if not locally proud blue collar struggling economic
center of a border County mill town of over 75 yrs old, closely situated along the banks of the
Ohio river where every main street business and bar, save one or two are shuttered and/or
measured in the number of broken windows among its basic mainstreet buildings,
which help create the image of something out of a war torn shell of a former steel proud
downtown and local once vibrant area.
Not everything present has to do with the recent War in Iraq. The decline began decades ago.
But the sheer expenditures on the war in Iraq make literally no sense to the towns people and
families of those who have memories that date back to when Meryl Streep, Robert Dinero,
Christopher Walkin, Angela Jolie's dad and many others demonstrated their early Oscar level
acting talents on the big screen while staying at times among the homes of those families within
and often then were walking down the now defunct main street, of this same city just some
thirty years ago.
What happened here started long before Bush took the Whitehouse, but the last eight years
have decapitated or better stated, placed the coupd grace' on whatever hopes such small proud
mill towns across Ohio's eastern boarders like Mingo were clinging to for themselves. Long term
Republican rule inside our state only promoted serious declines for our region.
While Ohio's largest cities have held their own, mainly by infrastructure and local business
spending, many of Ohio's smaller cities have falled not only on hard times, but have actually
almost completely collapsed, literally failing to operate on any relevant social, economic
or cultural centers of a once proud modern american industrial history.
Taking a walk or simply driving through such cities, is an experience out of an almost surreal
landscape, especially if one has any personal ties or memories of this once extremely labor
Its not that people of the area still don't have a still strong work ethic and have by some
miracle managed to find a way to survive amazingly among the measureable decrease in their
respective towns and cities mainstreets, but its simply symbolic of an american era that has not
only all too quickly faded but somehow has completely been obliterated in less than a generation
since Angela Jolie has grown up to become a tabloid cover girl.
Its literally not only sad and tragic to see what has become of many of Ohio's smaller towns
and cities as functioning centers of once vital local economies but its beyond moral to speak in
the name of spending 450 billion dollars on the operational theatre of the Iraqi wars and having
to do "development initiatives" inside a sand driven culture and nation, but one which is so far
away from the Ohio River towns which now themselves not only need millions to just get
back to what they were before the recent steep decline inside Ohio in the past 10 years, but just
to begin to sense they are even part of any social or economic progress of a nation even capable
of expending this type of funding on a 'small war'...6,o00 miles away from Ohio.
The sheer stark differential in seeing one's own regional decline amidst a community which
gave so much to this country's industrial and infrastructural and even former world war
development by literally providing the very elements upon which that steel based growth
occured, is beyond one's own imagination. the scene reminds one of the ghost towns that littered
the west after the gold rush or after the railroads by passed a given community in the last
Its hard to believe this is east of Chicago by five hundred miles and yet it looks like some part
of southern montana or the dusk bowl of Oklahoma and Nebraska of almost acentury later.
What changed this landscape and what caused this delince? There is some local blame
undoubtedly for the same. However, much of the macro economics has to do with the national
industrial and economic policy of the United States itself.
Now, its sinister to suggest that these same remaining older generations have to live in and
amidst a dead and dying local culture and mainstreet which is literally boarded up like an old
crack house, across the entire small town and city mainstreets, and yet watch on our brand new
HD digital television cable news stations our present congress and president give hundreds of
billions of dollars to supposedly "save" a foreign nation or two for "democractic interests".
Even The Deer Hunter could not capture the emptiness of the meaning of such a misguided
war any better that to promise democracy in a culture which resisted the same for over a
thousand years. Not even Diniro driving deep into the nightlife to try to save a friend from the
culture of corruption in Saigon, could better display the true meaning of what war does to
individuals from small towns in the midwest than that of the stories coming out of Iraq today.
To say these present billions are "for our troops" is as about as cynical as it is immoral to
those small towns where most of these troops derive from across our country.
Its certinaly not being spent for the troops hometowns economies from where they mainly
derive. And if such soldiers today are lucky enough to come home without post trauma wound
or a real serious physical handicap, or in a body bag, like some modern day Diniro, to find
life changed, they will indeed, come home to the same dour, dying small towns with no real local
economy and which resemble in large measure, in certain respects, some of those war towns
and areas they have just fought within.
For those who merely were film auteurs in one's youth, inspired by a friend's obtaining an
extra part on the set of the Deer Hunter, today, hearing of these expenditures, its like living
within somekind of real life rod serling major production or sequence.
One can not imagine what a billion dollars is if one comes from this region of Ohio. Yet to
hear of 450 billion going to defense military contractors and then as one turns off the news and
drives ten mintues from the front porch of one's parent's home and takes a dark and foreboding
ride thru the same opening scene of the Deer Hunter's mainstreet of Mingo Jct, where one
cannot find a single operating business, for its entire length, save the last remaining tavern
or two, which stubbornly remains open at the still same operating but diminished yet surviving
steel mill gate , that was capured on film w/ Diniro forty years ago, such is a very surreal
experience for any sentient being.
It isn't that the people of Mingo and surrounding area are any less human, any less layered
than today, than those depicted in the Deer Hunter in the after math of yet another war brought
to us by Brown and Root from Texas. We however, thought that such major hollywood films
had in fact taught America and our present generation and its leaders that such western
adventurism had real serious consequences on real, geniune american lives from areas found
along the small towns of the midwest and our country.
This is a lesson that has been forgotten, if ever contemplated or even understood.
What is sad, its not just the people and the individuals that are still sacrificing themselves for a
misguided major national mistaken militaristic policy but its the fact that these among us, at the
congressional level can allow such a significant portion of our american fabric of small town
america to fall into outright decay and become engaged in their own homeland death cycle
fight, as is occuring within entire regions as they dissapate into abject poverty and social
decline, as if these parts of america matter less to them and were but pieces of a capitalistic
nightmare gone bad for these same proud regions, who have sacrificed their labors and poured
their sons and daughters blood in the name of american patriotism more than many other places
and yet today...are simply both forgotten and considered as expendible parts of the economic
"transformation" and inevitable "dislocation" of america's recent domestic and foreign policy
and its grostesque expenditures.
The symbolism of this stark reality is bigger than life and is something that needs to be made
visible and known to the nation if not the world
When a nation spends the kinds of billions on a foreign adventure and says its going to have to
spend billions more on development of those nations' it has destroyed with its misguigded
military adventurism, is it speaking rationally and reasonably when it does so, as if it show
casing something to the outside world that it itself has hidden to its own?
Is Mingo Jct and all the small towns of american who have experienced such serious delines in
recent era, been actually written off? The answer lies in the outward appearances of the cities
and towns and in the way the politicians both local, state and federal give lip service to the
notion that such areas are "ripe for a rebound" or "turnaround" but everyone knows they are
more likely ripe for their burial into the lost memory of a bygone era of a former recent but
lost american industrialism.
Its nothing short of an epoch historical change in the heartland. Yet, the billions spent in Iraq
are but a cold silent slap in the face and witness to the true immoral nature of yet another
seriously misguided expensive "little" modern American war. Its a shameful act of brazen
military spending when so many places in eastern Ohio are so desperately seeking merely to
find a way to literally survive as a corporate/social entity.
Nothing needs to be further stated about whether or not this war is to come to an end, when
one visits this entire region along Ohio's eastern border cities and towns.
If we spend billions to rebulild Iraq, as we seem to be committed to as the aggressor into that
nation's interior, then what is to come of Ohio's border's towns and cities?
What if any national committment to spend billions on rebuidling these areas of our own
nation is going to be committed to the families and individuals and towns and cities which have
simply given so much they are literally used up and worn down and completely ground down
into a fine dust, as if the mill itself, has now devoured even the life of the very cities they have
operated near to for four or five generations ?
It is almost beyond description to capture the ethos of hearing the nightly news reports of
how another 60 billion is going to be spent on this war, and yet to have lived long enought to
witness the serious decline of Ohio's infrastructure of many of its smaller towns, like those
along the eastern border from along Lake Erie itself, in the northeastern portion of Ohio like
Conneaut down thru Jefferson onto Warren, and Struthers on thru to Toronto, Steubenville
and Mingo Jct and Bellaire and beyond. Its a vast region
This governmental indifference breeds regional depression, citizen disdain and strong
antigovernmental sentiment, along with a geniune cynicism of America's present political
direction and even our institutions and our leader's continued vague promises.
One begins to also sense there is a serious irrational disconnect occuring inside our
congressional appropriations and the real world of real american individual and family life.
The same serious disconnect represents the precise size of the moral deficiency of the cost of
doing war as a major nation, against the interests of a small nation which otherwise had no
intention of attacking our country and no ability to do so.
Its simply not only irrational but is something that is completely devasting to any true
meaningful purpose and sense of even some geniune patriotric pride of doing what is right for
america as fellow americans.
If we allow such border cities and towns to literally fall into the river of our darkest dreams
and wasted expenditures of yet another new generation's gravely mistaken militarism, we will
not be having such a discussion in another twenty years. Instead, its far more likely whether
there will be even any such cities or towns that exist to save or to call home or perhaps, make
an award winning epic era/war film within.
To some, this is fine. To many its just another era passing and to many who never have seen
much less the contribution these areas have given to the nation, and to those who control the
purse strings of this war machine it matters very little.
But to those who as teenagers watched Meryl Streep and Robert Diniro do something on
film that we knew we were going to remember for the rest of our lives, and watched them doing
it from the very environment of an area like Mingo Jct, it won't be just these regions which
will have lost something immeasurable but our very American experience itself will be seriously
dinimished, if not irrationally disregarded and made poorer.
All of America will suffer if one region is allowed to sink into such oblivion. What will replace
it? More plastic and larger metro regions? Greater militiary power? Regional influence among
the Arab nations? Perhaps. A safer democracy? Perhaps not.
But at what true moral cost to the nation? At what significant price will the lives of such
communities be allowed to disappear, like those of the Indian nations which once proudly lived
in these same parts along the Ohio, like the tribes for which this very city was named?
While we spend the lifeblood of another generation in the sands of the mideast and the wealth
of our nation is wasted on the dessert sand towns and cities of a region, our forefathers never
dreamed that their sons and daughters hard earned savings and taxes were to pay for
such elite adventures into unimaginable lands requiring gross overwhelming amounts, to the
grave detriment of providing any possible hope for an economic miracle coming to these same
hard working and once proud regions who have provided the very lifeblood of a nation.
Our country is now is so eager to forget eastern Ohio completely from the Lake to the River
and the powerful military regional, economic and present political influences of this nation are
poised to discard this part of Ohio and the entire valleys that once made this nation so strong.
Nonetheless, before it completely dies off, they will be courting once again, very soon, like one
dates the corpse's bride, our regional swing votes and there will be those who are willing to sell
the vulnerable for a nice small but handsome, personal profit.
All the same may happen without a serious consequence. But a nation which forgets such a
culture and region as substantive and signficant as entire eastern half of Ohio and surrounding
valleys, this, so soon, even with completely arrogance and indifference, will be a society that
will itself, possess little if any actual soul.
Such a nation may not be fit actually to inhabit, whatever material successes if may later
acheive. Such a nation itself, may not long survive, if its 'expenditures' on such immoral wars,
becomes but a conduit for providing elites such disproportionate amounts of capital and
taxpayer dollars to the complete exlusion of doing anything remotely on scale to its own
challenged and even dying communities and towns....
Only the leadership in high places in Columbus and in Washington, and particuarly in
Congress from these regions can make any difference and make their region's people's voices
and serious dire straits, literally, heard.
Only the area itself, can perhaps make the case against further decline and exploitation.
The question is, are our present leaders capable of doing so even when they come to Ohio
to help determine their own political career's and our nation's destiny from our critical
bellweather state. Are we going to again sell ourselves cheaply like the girls do on
the dark abandoned sixth street of Steubenville?
Will we rise to the challenge and demand more of our leaders and our government than this?
This is the real issue and like the need for serious regional development and funding itself,
all remains as dark and dimly lit as a political possiblity as does mainstreet, tonight, in Mingo
Perhaps, again, as did Streep, Diniro and Angela' dad, do we need again search for our friends
among the ruins of yet another american foreign policy disaster before, time runs completely out
on our better memories of a better time, among all of us, not just in our personal lives but in our
region and perhaps, even in our nation's life. Perhaps, we can by some miracle find the way
back to regional standing and solid ground and with it, lift this nation once again to a new and
different place past yet another serious national misadventure into a strange foreign land
where we do not belong and a president lied to get us to not only go there but to remain.
We need to stop the literally insane, over heated, no holds barred funding of this bizarre
military effort and start investing in boarder long suffering towns and communities which once
made this nation gain its true strength and character and broad standing in the world. We do
not need another president or state leader of any political party demanding our loyalty at the
ballot box and then promptly forgetting us when it comes to economic and social development.
The era of remaining silent but compliant ought to be over and must come to an end;
a new day of accountability even from among some of the poorest regions of our state, [as
poor as they never were ever before, even before Angela Jolie's dad was filming with his
fellow actor's epic period drama about Vietnam and our troubled modern perchant for
getting involved in foreign wars and regional disputes causing not only economic but terrific
human and personal losses as well] has arrived. It is time to watch the Deer Hunter again
and realize we are our neighbor's keeper and we are indeed, involved in a serious mistake
overseas again, as a nation thirty to forty years later and its unnecessarily causing this nation
and our state, if not our political leaders to bleed our small towns' lives and hopes to death,
We must end this war and we must put away the sword now and elect leaders who do not
espouse more billions in spending for any more regaional conflicts, except of course those for
which are occuring inside the heartland of America; where they all still continue to come and
seek, even in our hardest and most dark of times, our region's swing voter margins for their
personal political benefit.
Lets make it clear; our support means true assistance in return and not merely our suppliant
obedience to any one party line or political personality cult among the state or national
representatives or the leaders we decide to elect to high office today.
Its time to get over our fears of being rejected politically....in our region, because, in a word,
we have been already....just take a drive w/ me tonight to where the guys in the movie scene I
most recall, played pool and sang along w/Sinatra, at Welsch's, (now boarded up), near the south
gate, and see if you would not agree....there is no time to waste.
We must as citizen's protest this multi-billion dollar bleed. We must as persons who grew
up in this historic Valley and region, stand up.
If we do not speak or act up now, our children will not have any town or region left to
remember or for their generation to realize something of value was portrayed inside
such a region as ours once and it was truly uniquely American... as Diniro and all those
artist themselves, came to realize and understand personally over thirty years ago.
If we can not understand this, then our entire region is doomed to be as wasted as are the
billions being spent in Iraq today, by our present government in D.C. We must make a noise
even if its as we lay bleeding and dying from the wounds of our friends and some enemies
in high places.