July 22, 2016

Smoke signals

It is taking most of my self control not to indulge in one cheesy pun or another about the subject of this week's Front Porch podcast which features Delegate Mike Pushkin as a guest. The subject is marijuana legalization, medical or other. I'm going to quit while I'm ahead.

July 20, 2016

The moon is being howled at

WV Delegate Michael Folk got into hot water recently with a tweet calling for the public hanging of Hillary Clinton. It would seem he has some company these days from the Trump camp, although there seems to be some disagreement as to the method of execution.

(Milder voices would be content with prison.)

The most bizarre, not to say bloodthirsty comments so far come from Ben Carson, who links her to Lucifer (by means of Saul Alinsky). From the NY Times coverage:
Digging into her college thesis about Saul Alinksy, the left-wing community organizer and radical, Mr. Carson suggested that Mrs. Clinton admired him. Then he pointed out that Mr. Alinsky had acknowledged Lucifer on the dedication page of one of his books, suggesting that such an association was somehow damning for Mrs. Clinton.
“Are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?” Mr. Carson asked. “Think about that.”
....“If she believed that at that time — and now you look at her actions — you look at what she advocates, the killing of babies, the dissolution of the traditional family, all these kinds of things — those are pretty consistent, quite frankly,” Mr. Carson said on CNN.
Demonization on politics is nothing new, but usually it's a metaphor. Holy literalism, Batman!

July 18, 2016

Of flooding, the role of government and such

The Charleston Gazette-Mail recently ran an editorial that hit the nail on the head. Here are the opening paragraphs:

THE RECENT deadly floods offer clear examples why it is so important for West Virginia lawmakers to figure out how to fund a healthy and responsive state government as the state’s traditional sources of revenue shrink.
A storm like the one in June would cause anyone to dip into the Rainy Day Fund to keep services running. That is what the fund is for. But in recent years, West Virginia has been relying on its savings account too much just to cover its usual bills.
West Virginia would have been hurting anyway with the drop in coal severance taxes and other fluctuations. But making matters more difficult were $300 million worth of business tax cuts in recent years. By now lawmakers should have figured out how to make up that lost revenue. Instead, the state has been cutting spending.
Gazette reporter David Gutman recently pointed out that many of the agencies being cut are precisely those that could help people deal with the flood. This includes:

*the State Police, which will see a cut of around $2 million, 11 percent below 2014;

*The WV National Guard. With funding flat since 2013, this amounts to a 5 percent cut if you factor in inflation;

*the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which has had flat funding for the last five years, another cut when inflation is factored in;

*the state Early Warning Flood System, which is down by 11 percent since 2013 and will get a $25K budget cut next year;

*the Bureau for Public Health's aid for local water systems has been flat since 2013 and will be cut by 24 percent next year.

Other state agencies that have been cut include the Department of Environmental Protection, which among other things regulates nearly 400 non-coal dams and the WV Conservation Agency, which maintains 170 flood control dams as part of the Department of Agriculture. It will cut by around $450,000 and will be funded at about 25 percent less than in 2013.

This is just nuts, a needless disaster waiting to happen due to bad decisions of the past and the anti-tax mentality of the WV legislature's majority.


July 17, 2016

Tough times

The latest Front Porch podcast, which was recorded before the latest shootings in Baton Rouge, looks at race, Black Lives Matter, police-community relations and more.

Meanwhile, this Washington Post item by Jared Bernstein talks about what racial injustice in the US looks like.

And now, from way out on right field, this is another example of what uncivil discourse looks like these days: a Republican member of the WV House of Delegates calls for Hillary Clinton to be "tried for treason, murder, and crimes against the US Constitution... then hung on the Mall in Washington, DC.”

That's yet another reason for my campaign to update the state motto from "Mountaineers are always free" to "You can't make this **** up."