May 13, 2016

It's not all bad

There's been plenty of bad news lately for those who care about social justice, but there's some good as well. Starting June 1, the state of Louisiana will implement Medicaid expansion. This was a top priority of the recently elected governor John Bel Edwards. The move is expected to bring health care coverage to over 300,000 state residents and save the state millions of dollars. I think that every time a holdout state decides to show some humanity it's a big deal and gives a nudge to other states.

On the other hand, things aren't all that great. Here's a 20 years after look by Marketplace on welfare reform in WV. I hate to say I told you so...

May 12, 2016

Poetic interlude

I haven't read much of Seamus Heaney (aside from his Beowulf, which was great), but I think I need to read more. By accident yesterday I came upon this selection from his Cure at Troy, which is his rendering of Sophocles' tragedy Philoctetes.


Human beings suffer.
They torture one another.
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

History says, Don’t hope
On the side of the grave,’
 But then, once in a lifetime
 The longed for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea- change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles.
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing,
The utter self revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
And lightening and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

Obviously, we're not there yet, but it's good to recall that such moments sometimes exist.

May 09, 2016

Is it over yet?

West Virginia's primary election is tomorrow (Tuesday, May 10). I don't know about you, but I'll be kind of glad when it's over. Maybe. Anyhow, here's a bonus section of The Front Porch with a focus on the state supreme court race.

Also, this column by E.J. Dionne has some interesting things to say about empathy and Appalachia. I think it's worth a look.

And speaking of wanting something to be over (in a good way), I'm dreading next week's special session of the legislature to deal with the budget. It promises to be a true goat rope.

May 08, 2016

Interesting times. Unfortunately.

Sad to say, WV has been politically interesting lately. One thing we talked about on this week's Front Porch podcast is Hillary Clinton's apparent fall from favor since 2008. Gazette-Mail political columnist Phil Kabler relates some of the other weirdness here. And, while we're on the topic of interesting things, this lawsuit by labor groups against WV's new right to work for less law could be as well, especially in light of this week's state supreme court race.

If you read this blog regularly or listen to the Front Porch, you may recall this segment on transgender rights (and the loopy bathroom predator myth). Here's more coverage on that by the Gazette-Mail's Erin Beck.