Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hide Your Presents, The Liberals Are Coming!

It's once again the most hallowed time of the year for many people. All across the United States, furtive groups will be meeting in secret under cover of darkness. These brave souls are risking persecution; nay, even death, to observe the forbidden holiday of Christmas.

Jackbooted thought police are out in droves to ensure the birthday of Christ is a topic that crosses nary a lip. They're stomping on manger displays, setting afire Christmas trees in public places, and hanging generic "Happy Holidays" banners everywhere that bear the image of Big Brother.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Is Right-to-Work Good for West Virginia?

If 2015 was a preview, the 2016 legislative session in Charleston is going to see heated debate on a variety of issues. It’s a safe bet that one of the hottest topics is going to be right-to-work legislation.

Right-to-work gives workers the choice of not joining a union, even if their workplace is unionized. Workers already in the union can elect to leave it if they desire.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ben Carson Isn't Fit to Be President

If presidential candidate Ben Carson was still active in the medical profession, he’d need a special sign to hang on his office door during lunch breaks:

“Sorry, the doctor is out. Way, way out. So far out he could have starred on the old television show, Lost in Space.”

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Red Party" Means Party of Red Ink

Republican politicians love to campaign on promises of financial restraint. They insist that less government spending and lower taxes will promote economic growth and thus increase revenues to the states. We’ve had a lot of states flip Republican lately - in fact, 24 states now have Republicans owning the governor’s chair and majorities in the legislature.

Those 24 states should be humming along, bursting at the seams with new jobs and awash in cash, right? Wrong.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Reality Check for West Virginia Politicians

It's no secret that among most West Virginians, animosity towards the federal government runs high. What's ironic is that so many of the state's residents rely on funding from the same bunch they profess to hate.

With a population that is poorer, sicker and older than most, West Virginia could not survive without government help of some type. And this rather depressing fact didn't just suddenly pop up because Barack Obama was elected president.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Friends of Coal": Shill for Mining Interests

The name "Friends of Coal" conjures wholesome, all-American images of hard-working miners, banding together with their peers, friends and neighbors in a grassroots movement dedicated to educating the public about the important role coal plays in our economy.

Friends of Coal's influence is felt throughout Appalachian coal-mining country and extends into the halls of state and federal governments. Now that's the power of the people! Right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

West Virginia AG Morrisey Hires Political Operative

West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey
Just when you thought West Virginia's Republican leadership couldn't get any cheesier...

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has created a new position of Deputy Chief of Staff (although he doesn't even have a full Chief of Staff) and filled it with one Lance James Henderson.

What are Henderson's qualifications to oversee the state's largest legal firm, namely the office of the Attorney General? None whatsoever - he's never practiced law and has absolutely no legal background.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Republicans Again Reap What They Sow

Attention, America! The GOP has finally created a job in this country, something they've been promising since the 2014 elections gave them control of both Houses of Congress.

The problem is, the job happens to be for Speaker of the House, and no one seems to want it.

Some time ago, I wrote about how the Donald Trump debacle was largely the creation of the Republican Party. The same can be said about the current crisis of conservative leadership now found on the Hill.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

West Virginia Should Support Power Plus

President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan has received a lot of attention recently, and in coal-dependent states like West Virginia, the attention has been mostly negative.
One example of this criticism is a rather poorly written opinion piece that recently ran in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. attacking the President's stance on fossil fuels and dismissing global warming as bogus because our area's summer has been a bit cooler than normal.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dollar Signs in Kim Davis' Eyes?

Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis
To absolutely no one's surprise, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, has seen her mugshot become a rallying banner for religious wingnuts and various conservative presidential candidates.

Davis, as you may recall, was recently sent to jail on a civil contempt charge for defying a judge's order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She's become a symbol for those who believe Christianity is under siege. They can point to her mugshot and paint her as a victim of persecution; a hapless believer willing to suffer for her convictions.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Common Core Highlights Educational Failures

When our esteemed Republican state leaders here in West Virginia aren't chasing away companies wanting to do business here, or demonizing Workforce West Virginia for releasing honest data they happen to dislike, or wasting state taxpayers' money on a robo-dial system so Attorney General Patrick Morrisey can spam potential voters, they're denouncing Common Core.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Inciting Butthurt Among Local Conservatives

When your letter to the editor garners the condemnation of area conservatives, you know you've done your job.

I submitted my recent blog post about the Donald Trump presidential campaign to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (itself a bastion of anti-liberal thought), and they actually published it! Reaction from local GOP loyalists and Tea Potty people was swift and fierce. Here's a sampling:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trump: Bastard Child of the GOP

Unless you're a reality television junkie, chances are that, until recently, your knowledge of Donald Trump was mostly a mental image of a billionaire with a bad hairdo. The odds now are that if you don't know who Trump is, you've been living under a rock, or cast away on a deserted island.

"The Donald" is all over the media, both conservative and liberal, and not for good reasons. Buffoonish behavior makes for great headlines and sound bytes. It doesn't make a person qualified to be the President of the United States.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Basic Misunderstanding of Military's "Gun Free Zone" Policy

Ever since the shootings at two Chattanooga, TN military recruiting facilities, many columnists have again clamored to do away with the supposed "gun free zones" at US military installations.

Despite what many conservative columnists have written, including Smokey Shott of our local paper the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, this policy was actually Department of Defense Directive 5210.56, enacted in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush, and not under the Clinton administration. That policy strictly limits the military and civilian personnel who can carry firearms at military facilities to those in law enforcement or security roles. U.S. bases and recruiting centers have been "gun-free zones" ever since.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Real Killer of Appalachian Coal

I continue to be disappointed by our local paper's lack of research and continued reliance on tired Republican talking points when it comes to editorializing about the state of the Appalachian coal industry. They should do their readers a genuine service and dig for hard facts rather than pulling out the same tired anti-Obama, anti-EPA rhetoric they've run numerous times over the past few years with only minor changes in wording. And with the "new" EPA regulations being tossed out by the Supreme Court, who will they blame now?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New EPA Regulations Just Icing on the Cake

Many voices, including the editorial voice of our local newspaper and one or two of their guest right-wing scriveners, have uttered howls of protest at new EPA regulations intended to cut back on pollution resulting from the operation of coal-fired power plants.
Such protests are undoubtedly heart-felt by many (and probably just suit the agenda of a few people who could really care less), but it never hurts to do a little research before pointing the finger of blame at a relatively small group of people.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Clown Car of GOP Candidates Needs Scrutiny

A recent letter to the editor of the local newspaper complained of the media's supposed harsh treatment of the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls. Those poor, poor conservatives, having to endure the scrutiny of the press, how horrible.

Given the current Republican clown car of candidates, it's easy to see why so much negative press is generated. From "Havana" Ted Cruz to Mike "Huckleberry" Huckabee to Rand "Plagiarist" Paul, the announced and yet-to-be announced conservative candidates comprise a rogue's list of people with a history of saying and doing stupid things and espousing beliefs and values embraced only by the likes of the so-called Tea Party, in and of itself a collection  of whackjobs, kooks and misfits.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

GOP Presidential Wannabes Sneer at Facts

As the Republican presidential clown car continues to pick up passengers, several candidates are deserving of special attention, none more so than Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Havana Ted announced his presidential candidacy at Liberty University saying, “… imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare,” Just weeks later, Cruz signed up for it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lazy, Sloppy Shit Makes Me Angry

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm not anal-retentive about neatness. I'm not a slob but I'm not OCD about cleanliness. My house isn't always immaculate and neither is my office at work, but they don't look like something from Hoarders either.

Things have their place. Things, for the most part, should be put in their place when you're finished with them. Leftover things and scraps of things and useless things and broken things need to be put in the big round thing. If you use up a thing that others use, replace that thing with a new thing.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Smokey Shott Clueless About Net Neutrality

Our local newspaper, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, employs a Glenn Beck wannabe to "write" a Thursday column. This waste of good page space is an endless rant against government overreach, Democrats, liberals in general, the EPA and Barack Obama. Most of the time, James "Smokey" Shott (who is published only because his family founded the paper decades ago) relies on the Heritage Foundation and other right wing sites for the supposed facts he references.

His most recent kook-rant was an anguished hand-wringing over the FCC's net neutrality vote. According to Shott, net neutrality will be the downfall of the Internet - read his tear-filled meltdown here.

After I got over my laughing fit, I fired off a letter to the editor and took Shott to school on various points he mentioned in his weepy column. Of course, it came as no surprise to me when it never appeared in the paper's print edition or online.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Decline and (Possible) Fall of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

I'll preface this post by letting you know I worked for the newspaper in question for nine years. When I left in 2007, it was on good terms and I'm still friends with many people there.

That said, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph has become a mediocre shell of its former self, for a variety of reasons. It saddens me because I remember how things were just a few years ago. So, what happened? There's a laundry list of things, and not all of it has to do with the management of the paper itself. The finger of blame can also be pointed at the owners of the publication.

In 2000, Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. purchased the Bluefield Daily Telegraph from Canada-based Thomson news. CNHI has a less than stellar reputation in the industry. In essence a moneymaking venture funded by retired Alabama education professionals, their speciality is buying small local papers and squeezing them for maximum profit, while cutting staff and investing as little as possible in facilities, equipment and software.