Racism and Sexism: West Virginia Politics At Its Worst

I generally try to avoid the stereotypes of West Virginia (inbred, racist, un-educated, etc.) because for the most part they perpetuate a myth that the state itself doesn’t live up to.  We are not inbred redneck white-supremacists like a lot of the common jokes and stereotypes suggest.  However, much to my disappointment, racism is still alive in West Virginia.  It comes as no surprise because, frankly, you are bound to find racism anywhere in the United States (thankfully not to the extent of what the U.S. saw during the civil rights movement).  I’d like to believe that we live in a post-racial America, but sadly this is far from fact.  Our country has gotten better, and racism is detested for the most part by the rational portion of our population.

Even if someone is what one would describe as “racist,” they typically aren’t outwardly voicing this belief (we’ll leave out the skinheads etc. since they are in a league of their own for this).  However, sometimes people just let it slip.  One man vying for the GOP nomination to West Virginia’s Gubernatorial election did just that.

Larry Faircloth (R-WV) is one of several people gunning for the GOP nomination, and may have just killed his chances of winning.  Faircloth spoke at a candidates forum hosted by We the People of Hampshire County, an Eastern Panhandle Tea Party-affiliated organization.  Faircloth touched on the subject of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and decided to try his hand at a comedy.  Not the best idea Faircloth has had.

Faircloth referred to Pelosi as a “bimbo.”

“Is she not one?” Faircloth said in a Tuesday evening telephone interview. “I mean, a lot of people think she is a bimbo; that’s why they replaced Congress with Republicans, and they removed her as speaker. I don’t find that as anything different than a political poke at her.”

He also referred to Obama as a “Sambo,” a term many consider racist.

(Charleston Daily Mail)

When your joke offends the tea party members, and its in reference to Pelosi and Obama, you know you’ve made a huge mistake.  If this public gaffe weren’t bad enough, Faircloth only exacerbated it.  The Charleston Daily Mail reported that Faircloth initially refused to apologize publicly for his awful joke, even after being asked by the hosts of the forum where it occurred.  Faircloth claimed to have heard the joke from a poll worker earlier and decided to recycle it in order to garner some type of comedic support.  Its bad enough if someone doesn’t realize they made a racist joke, ignorance is still alive in this country.  However, Faircloth’s remark was met with gasps from the audience and caused one man to walk out in protest. No excuse for Faircloth not knowing now.

Terry Craver asked Faircloth to put an ad in the Hampshire Review to apologize to the community.

“His reply was a resounding NO,” the email said. “He is afraid that if one of his opponents were to get a hold of this information, that it would damage his campaign. He doesn’t want his reputation to be hurt. Terry told him with the National Media already trying to make the tea party out as a bunch of racists his ‘joke’ would do more damage to the reputation of the tea party.”

If his opponents got ahold of the info he was afraid it would damage his campaign?  Logic tells me that, even if he hadn’t been contacted to issue an apology, the incident would still have spread quickly.  Faircloth has really moved his way up the bigot ladder, and doesn’t show any sign of climbing down soon.  Thankfully, the primary is soon and  West Virginia Republicans would be wise to vote for someone besides Faircloth.

I commend the members of the Hampshire County-based Tea Party for actively denouncing this inane man’s comments.  I don’t find myself agreeing with any part of their platform (for the most part), but when push comes to shove we must all stand up for what is right.  Sometimes, if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.  Lets hope that the WV GOP has enough sense to send Mr. Faircloth packing on primary day.

(cross-posted on MyFDL)

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Where Unions Are Imperative

Its been a long time since I've been on MyDD, but its good to be back.  

The talk of the town these days seems to be unions, and Wisconsin is center stage.  Thats old news of course, just judging by the sheer amount of times the word "union" is mentioned on a single page alone here at MyDD.  Unfortunately, when the talk involves unions you will have those who want to throw them under the bus.  Many label union-members as "lazy" and "thuggish."  Sadly, this totally misrepresents the vast vast majority of them (there's a bad apple in every bunch, lets be honest).

Nothing gets under my skin quite as much as when the GOP brings up the subject of unions.  This may be a bit of a generalization, but I'll take the heat if any comes.  I'm biased and can't help it.  My family has been supported by a union for my entire life (21 years) and much longer.  It runs in our blood.

Naturally, I understand that with everything there are setbacks.  Unions have their drawbacks, theres no doubt.  At the end of the day however, we need collective bargaining for workers in this country.  Its a fundamental RIGHT that may not be explicitly stated in plain English for Republicans to read and comprehend, but its true.  

To better understand the situation, I  would like to offer a bit of a unique perspective to the importance of unions.  In case anyone has forgotten (or never knew in the first place), I am from West Virginia and have lived here my entire life.  The coal-mining industry is still thriving and powerful as ever (despite the departure of Don Blankenship).  

Take a look back to April of last year, when 29 miners lost their lives in a horrible explosion.  The mine was run by Massey Energy, a company notorious for not allowing unions or labor organization at all.  In fact, the CEO at the Time (Blankenship) was famous for union-busting.  

In the last five years, fatal accidents at three non-union West Virginia coal mines have resulted in 43 fatalities.

These deaths are causing some to question the safety records of mines where workers are not in the miner’s union.

"I think the obvious evidence in the last few years is that currently it’s more dangerous to work in non-union mines than union mines," he said.

Source: WV Pubcast

When workers aren't allowed to organize and collectively bargain, they lose any clout they have against a big corporation (in this case Massey) and are unable to refuse work because of poor working conditions.  Unions provide that kind of safety net.  They allow the laborers of this country to proudly stand together and not just be a number for a corporation, they are given a voice in a place where they would otherwise have none.

In the words of United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts (Paraphrased), the miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine should have had the right to say kiss my ass, I'm not working in these terrible conditions.

This is just one of many examples detailing just how important labor unions are.  We need them in this country.

 

Ron Paul Goes Lone Wolf Again and Defends Wikileaks as Assange Calls for Obama's Resignation

(cross-posted on MyFDL)

The US Government isn’t too fond of Wikileaks, that much is obvious.  However, the US government isn’t the only one going crazy over the newest cable dumps with the Australian government up in arms as well.  Any chance of shutting down Wikileaks?  Doesn’t look like its going to be possible.  I checked Wikileaks’ twitter page today and found a hyperlink to a page containing over 200 mirror sites(EDIT: the number has been bumped up to 355 now 12/6/10) containing the files and documents the organization has leaked in the past.

The domain name of Wikileaks is under considerable watch, and has reportedly been changed at least once in recent weeks since the controversial cable release.  Wikileaks and their followers are determined to keep the site up and running.  Donating to the site, however tempting it may be given your views on the organization, would most certainly warrant some type of government attention.

 

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Is Anyone Else Frightened By Tea-Partiers in Congress?

Recently, I've come to the realization that it is inevitable we are going to have a few tea party "patriots" in Congress after the midterm elections tomorrow.  Whether it be the rabble-rousing 5 o'clock shadow known as Joe Miller in Alaska, or fundamentalist Floridian Marco Rubio, a candidate bearing the tea party dark mark will no doubt find themselves inside the hallowed halls of the Capitol building.

The regressive, and sometimes radical, views of candidates like Miller are what genuinely scares me a bit when discussing their potential to get elected into the major legislative body of our United States of America. Miller holds strictly conservative, and many times embarrassing, views on homosexuality.  He came under fire earlier in October when it was leaked that he had an anti-gay activist on his campaign's payroll. 

According to Miller's campaign disclosure forms, Miller has paid Terry Moffitt of High Point, North Carolina, $2500 for consulting services. Moffitt is not known as a political consultant. But he is a man of many interests. He's been a dean at a Christian high school (where hetaught creationism), and he has traveled around the world to promote Christianity. (He refers to himself as the "Christian Indiana Jones.")

Moffitt's Family Policy Network runs a project called "Hope for Homosexuals"  that encourages "practicing homosexuals to 'come out' of that destructive lifestyle, and to 'come home' to the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ…While the homosexuals celebrate their perversions, they are confronted with the truth that there is hope for deliverance in Jesus Christ."

Source: Mother Jones

And then you have people like John Raese, who is currently running on the Republican ballot in West Virginia for Senate.  Raese believes we don't need public education, and therefore is in favor of abolishing the Department of Education.  This is a horrible and preposterous idea, and for a state like West Virginia it would be detrimental to the entire education system.  West Virginia would fall even further down the education ladder.  What would happen to the children who receive free and reduced lunches at schools that are publicly funded? Raese's plan is a "voucher" system with many private and charter schools being instituted.  Nobody knows where the money will come from.  The kids who can't afford it will, I suppose, not attend school.

Raese is also in favor of getting rid of the minimum-wage, Department of Energy, and would rather make money than create jobs.  Class act. 

Are these really the kind of people we need in Congress?  No, but unfortunately some of them may be on their way to Washington.

 

What We Restored Sanely and Kept Alive Fearfully

(crossposted on MyFDL)

I, like most people, had no real concrete idea of what The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was to entail when we packed ourselves onto the D.C. metro cars early Saturday morning.  My expectations were high for the event, and I assumed I would be surrounded by open-minded free-thinking individuals whose passion for such an event was as wholesome as mine.  I was not disappointed.

Feeling guilty for complaining about the miniscule hour drive to the Shady Grove metro station, there were groups of people bussed from Oklahoma, New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between.  I hauled my sleep-deprived butt out of bed at the unfamiliar hour of 4 a.m. to attend what I hoped would certainly be a fulfilling day of cooky signs, facetiously witty humor, and maybe some cupcakes.

My expectations were blown away (except the cupcakes, I never found any…)

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are two alternating comedic personalities who have managed to garner some clout when it comes to events such as this and media cavalcades alike.  Upon the heels of Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, one looked down highly upon from the “left-of-center” audience, Stewart and Colbert cooked up their respective rallies in what most thought to be a moderate response to Beck’s piss and moan festival.  Contrary dear reader, it was not. Err… well not directly so to speak.

So what were we rallying and marching for Saturday in the nation’s capital?  The answer is what you make of it.  Here’s what I made of it.

Fortunately, a good friend scored an extra VIP pass so I managed to see the stage and be very close to the action.  What I saw, for the most part, ended up being good bands, great comedy, and a very selfless awards ceremony.  It was not until Stewart’s final speech that I felt truly enlightened and knew what the purpose of this gathering was.

Stewart gave an impassioned speech, lined with some comedic instances, that truly spoke to the thousands (CBS estimated 250K) of people in attendance.

The message:  We are Americans, we are diverse, we will never all agree, but we are one people.   The political discourse in this country has grown to such immense proportions, and not only just the partisan divide but the division of people in general has multiplied to great proportions.  Why are we here?  To show a sane, moderate, reasonable attitude and prove to people that we can unite as peaceful terms.  We are not Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Blacks, Whites, Jews, Atheists, Christians, Muslims; We are Americans.  We are working together every day to get things done as Stewart pointed out.

I’ve never been so taken by any one speech in my life.  Maybe I’m a sap, or maybe just a naive college student,  but Stewart’s speech was something so unreal.  Jon Stewart was not a comedian on Saturday.  He was not a Television personality, former supporting actor to Adam Sandler in Big Daddy, or the author of two best-selling books.  Jon Stewart was one of us.  Not a creepy Christine O’Donnell type one of us, he was truly just like us.

Is this an over dramatization of the rally?  I don’t think so.  Some may read this and see these words as just that of an amped up latte-sipping liberal college student and his rants about some hip event he went to.  I hope there is more depth to it than this.  This event is honestly something I’ll tell my children about; something I went to and witnessed.  No, it will not gain the notoriety of the Million Man March (nor should it), or the numbers of Obama’s Inauguration, but it was something that was necessary, awesome, and inspiring.

“We work together every damn day to get things done in this country.”

 

 

Where is the Coverage for the Contentious Races?

(cross posted from MyFDL)

Christine O'Donnell isn't a witch, she's one of us.  That's great but she is currently trailing Chris Coons by an average 17 points. Carl Paladino enjoys e-mailing bestiality videos with a horse and a women to his friends.  Thats all well and good but Paladino is the only one getting plowed, in the polls.  Andrew Cuomo leads Paladino by a monstrous average of 27 points.  

These two races are some of the least contentious in the country (if you consider how many races are exponentially closer than these two).  Its understandable that the Carl Paladino e-mails and Christine O'Donnell's constant gaffes make good television and provide decent entertainment, but why can't we get decent coverage on races that are actually up in the air?

Its disappointing to see the lack of coverage in races that have a lot at stake.  For example, look at the senate election heating up in Wisconsin.  Russ Feingold (D-WI) has been in office for 17 years and is looking to lose his seat to a little-known businessman, Ron Johnson.  Feingold should have had a safe seat, but due to the growing discourse among Democrats this season, a good Democrat could face an early end to his Senate career.  

One of the most exciting, and one that could define this election cycle, is the Illinois Senate race.  Barack Obama's Senate seat is up for grabs and this time its not being sold by Rod Blagojevich!  Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D-IL) is running a close race against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL).  Both candidates have a lot of baggage that has crippled them in their campaigns to an extent.  Giannoulias has been in hot water due to allegations of shady banking operations with his family bank, Broadway Bank.

*Giannoulias was pressed by Gregory over what he know about loans made to organized crime figures by the Giannoulias family owned Broadway Bank when he was a loan officer. Kirk has made those loans by the bank--which failed in April--a centerpiece of his campaign.

Asked if he knew that there were crime figures the bank was loaning money to, Giannoulias said "We did not know the extent of that activity," and when asked again, said "I did not know the extent of their activity."

(Source: Chicago Sun-Times Blog)

Rep. Kirk has also seen his fair share of controversy during this campaign, regarding his military service record.  Kirk claimed to receive the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award, when in fact he didn't.

But Kirk first drew scrutiny when he claimed he was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year. It turns out he didn't win that award. Rather, in 2000, the National Military Intelligence Association awarded the intelligence unit led by Kirk the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Navy Reserve Intelligence Award, which honors exceptional achievement by outstanding intelligence professionals. And Kirk was tapped to physically accept the award at the National Military Intelligence Association’s annual awards banquet.

Kirk has since acknowledged that he incorrectly referred to himself as the "Intelligence Officer of the Year."

"Most importantly, I wasn't thinking," Kirk said in a press conference. "This was a carelessness that did not reflect well upon me."

(Source:  Politifact)

Again, another great race overshadowed by the stupidity of people like O'Donnell and Paladino.

 

Another great race, and one near and dear to me, seeing very little coverage is the West Virginia senate race.  This is a special election, and the term being fought for is only to finish Byrd's term (2 years; 2012).  John Raese, probably one of the most divisive Tea-Party candidates in this election season, has barely seen the light of day among the media with the bat-shit crazy likes of Christine O'Donnell hogging the coverage.

With a week left before election day, Joe Manchin III has expanded his lead over Republican candidate and Tea Party backed John Raese.  The West Virginia Senate race has seen a shift in support recently to Raese, as Joe Manchin has been painted off as a "rubber-stamp for Barack Obama."   Manchin, of course, was quick to fight back with his opposition to the Cap and Trade Bill as well as his adoption of the term "Obamacare."

Recent reports from Watchdog.org show that Manchin has outraised Millionaire Plutocrat John Raese by a significant margin, and polls are starting to lead towards Manchin's way once again.

With just over one week until West Virginia voters pick the successor to Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democratic candidate, is bringing in more campaign contributions than Republican opponent John Raese.

According to Federal Election Commission campaign disclosure reports, Manchin brought in $2.8 million in donations between the beginning of August and the end of September. Raese, on the other hand, brought in $1.9 million; nearly a million less than Manchin.

It is important to note that of the $1.9 Million Raese has raised, $1.42 has come from his own pocket.  Raese's personal financing of his senate bid may end up netting him losses given the current polling trend.

Manchin, as it is also worth mentioning, receives heavy endorsements from coal and energy firms such as X-Coal Energy Resources, Patriot Coal, Kanawha Eagle Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, etc.  It is clear who big coal endorses in this race.  That doesn't stop Raese though, who is the owner of Greer Industries (which operates one of the biggest limestone producers in West Virginia).

Raese has built his campaign's foundation on his opposition to President Obama.  His most well-known ad features him trolling the streets while proclaiming "I won't be a rubber-stamp for Barack Obama."  This has sat well with West Virginia voters given their opposition towards President Obama.

What has been peculiar is the tightness of this race.  Joe Manchin, for the most part, has seen a very high approval rating for himself (averaging at about 70% for his stint as Governor).  So why is he having so much trouble?  The D next to his name.  Voters in West Virginia are increasingly apprehensive to vote for a Democratic, which most can assume is attributed to Barack Obama's Presidency.  Voters in the Mountain State generally aren't supporting the President's policies, and they see electing another Democrat as an endorsement of these policies.

This is why Manchin has been quick to distance himself from the President, much to the same tune as other Democrats across the country are as they fight for their respected seats.

The latest PPP poll shows Manchin 6 point lead heading into the week before election Tuesday.  That, on top of a +10 margin produced from a Marshall University poll last week, has put him slightly ahead of Raese.

Personally, we need a blug dog Democrat more than we need a Tea Party Patriot representing West Virginia in the Senate.  A vote for John Raese is a vote endorsing the former regressive policies of the Bush Administration, eliminating the departments of education and energy, and a slew of other extremely right-wing policies.  A man who lives in Florida and Colorado, in addition to West Virginia, and received an endorsement from Former-Governor Sarah Palin for his race in Pennsylvania (where she thought Raese was running) is trying to take over the Senate seat that was once held by the late, great Senator Robert C. Byrd.

It would be a shame to see Raese take hold of Byrd's old seat.

Yes, Christine O'Donnell and Carl Paladino (and of course the Rent is Too Damn High Party's Jimmy McMillan) are all interesting and entertaining.  However, neither of these races hold any competitive value anymore.  There needs to be more focus on the races that still matter.

Elections and the God Factor

By now most have seen, or at least heard about, the ad that Jack Conway (D-KY) is running to attack Rand Paul (R-KY) on religion. Conway took, what I consider to be, an objectionable last-ditch effort to discredit Rand Paul. In a race where Paul has been consistently leading Conway by 4-8 points (depending on the poll), Conway was clearly desperate to hit Paul and hit him hard.

For those who are not familiar with the ad, Conway attacks Rand Paul’s membership in a “secret society that mocked Christianity” and allegedly called the Holy Bible a “hoax.” The ad also mentioned references to the now famous Aqua-Buddha supposed worship.  

Make no mistake, this post is in no way an endorsement for Rand Paul. I find myself agreeing with Jack Conway on many more things than Paul, however this lowball attack ad campaign is ridiculous. Religion should be disregarded from political elections and a heavier focus should be placed on policy issues, and what candidates are going to bring to the office they are wishing to hold (however that would be in a perfect world).  

On the other hand, from a recent episode of Hardball Chris Mathews (like him or not) pointed out that what Conway used in his ad, albeit distasteful, has yet to be proven wrong.  Rand Paul avoids discussing the issue and the voters in Kentucky don't seem too distraught by the accusations (at least not enough to put polls in Conway's favor).  

This provides a perfect segue for the latest installment of religious-based smear tactics, courtesy of everyone’s favorite millionaire: John Raese.

Raese, who has already piled a wholesome $2.4 Million of his own money into his campaign, is starting to realize he’s in trouble. The polls show Manchin up anywhere between 2 and 5 points, and Raese has begun to panic. Where to turn from here? How does a plutocrat of questionable residency appeal to the West Virginia voter base?

With just ten days before the November mid-term elections, one of the closest and most important Senate races in the country has entered the realm of “silly.”

Republican U.S. Senate John Raese affirmed his support for Lance Schultz, president of the West Virginia Conservative Fund. Mr. Schultz criticized Mr. Manchin, saying the governor supports cap and trade legislation. He added that any candidate that supports such legislation “denies the existence of God, denies the truth of His work.”

“Well I tell you, you can’t have any better support than Lance Schultz,” Mr. Raese said following the event.

(Source: The State Column)

Granted Raese did not claim directly that Manchin denies the existence of God, he didn’t denounce it either. The most baffling part of this quote is that Joe Manchin is an outspoken critic of the Cap and Trade Legislation (he literally shoots a hole in the bill)

Hopefully, John Raese will take the higher road and not pursue the issue any further. It’s a shame when candidates get so desperate that they have to question the opponent’s personal faith in God to score political points.

(cross-posted from MyFDL)

WV-Sen: Raese's Residency Issues Continue

Cross-Posted on FDL Seminal 

The Republican candidate for US Senate in West Virginia is John Raese, a wealthy businessman who owns properties in Colorado and Florida in addition to West Virginia. Raese has received heat from his Democratic challenger, Governor Joe Manchin, for not being a true West Virginia resident, to which Raese denies vehemently.

However, CQ Politics released an official statement showing some very interesting news that will no doubt hurt the Raese campaign. John Raese’s wife, Elizabeth Raese, has been registered to vote in Palm Beach County, FL since 2001 and is unable to vote in West Virginia because of this. Raese continues to claim that he holds limited ties to the Sunshine State, however this news certainly doesn’t aid that argument in his favor.

Roll Call confirmed Friday that Elizabeth Raese is registered to vote in both states but has not voted in West Virginia since 1998. But in an interview this week with Time magazine, she indicated that she would be — and has been — voting in West Virginia.

“We are West Virginians,” Elizabeth Raese said, according to Time reporter Jay Newton-Small. “We live here, we vote here, people know that. We also have a home in Colorado, but we’re not residents there either.”

Raese campaign spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said Elizabeth Raese does not remember the conversation with the Time reporter, but he added that, “If she did say this, she obviously misspoke.”

Though John Raese’s campaign has repeatedly confirmed that he lives and pays taxes in West Virginia, an investigation by the nonpartisan PolitiFact.com showed that his wife has been registered to vote in Palm Beach County, Fla., since 2001 and voted there in 2008.

(Source: CQ Politics)

Raese is an outspoken critic of the Department of Education, and does not even enroll his children in West Virginia schools. His daughters attend private school in Florida. John Raese continues to distance himself from base voters in West Virginia and has failed to present anything about himself that relates him to West Virginians in general (besides flaunting his lifetime NRA membership and general disapproval of Obama). Raese has attempted to take advantage of his "residency" in the past by running for office against the like of Jay Rockefeller, Robert C. Byrd, and former West Virginia Governor Arch Moore. He has failed to gain the respect of West Virginia voters so far, and has continued to inadvertently distance himself in this campaign.

Expect Manchin to gain more of a lead because of this recent news.

The West Virginia Senate Race has been everything but typical, and the latest Marshall University poll perpetuates this. Joe Manchin (D), who was down by as many as 4 pts on the RCP averages earlier this month, is now up by 2.5. This was due to the Marshall University poll that has Manchin leading GOP opposition John Raese by 10 points. Granted this poll only had a sample size of 450.

The Marshall University poll shows Manchin taking 48 percent to Raese’s 38 percent, with 12 percent still undecided.

The new poll is the latest this week to show an uptick in support for the governor. The survey tested 450 likely voters on Oct. 11-12, just after former President Bill Clinton held a Morgantown rally for Manchin on Monday. The poll was conducted using live interviews and has a 4.6 percent margin of error.

Manchin, the popular two-term governor who Democrats expected would have an easy path to succeed the late Sen. Robert Byrd, has been a victim of a toxic political environment. Raese, a wealthy mining company owner, and national Republicans have spent heavily to tie Manchin to an unpopular President Obama.

(Source: Politico)

So this looks good for the Democrats right? Well… sort of. Joe Manchin is a popular governor and a conservative democrat. His recent ad touts his NRA endorsement and criticizes the healthcare bill (which he originally supported) and the cap and trade bill. Some are labeling Manchin as a DINO (Democrat in Name Only) and many will find themselves voting for 3rd Party Candidate Jesse Johnson (Mountain Party).

Joe Manchin would add another D to the list in the Senate, but may break with party lines on issues he is more right-leaning. Manchin has faced a ton of heat from the more liberal electorate in West Virginia, criticizing his environmental policies and lack of action against Mountaintop Removal mining.

The West Virginia GOP released this statement: (also found on Politico)

“This poll is from Obama’s and Manchin’s lips to your ears,” West Virginia Republican Party Chair Mike Stuart said in a statement Friday. “We are saddened that a beloved institution like Marshall University has been inserted into a partisan effort to advance the Obama agenda by electing Joe Manchin. Mr. Wilkerson needs to publicly apologize to Marshall University and the people of West Virginia for this obviously partisan poll.”

 

GOP Senate Candidate Suggests Abolishing Dept. Of Energy, Education

I mentioned John Raese in a post just a few days back.  He is the GOP Candidate for the US Senate special election in West Virginia.  Robert C. Byrd's vacated seat is up for grabs.  Raese is running against Current West Virginia Governor, Joe Manchin.  

Raese hasn't been shy about his staunchly conservative background, and made it known even more in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review earlier this week.  

Raese would advocate paying for tax cuts by eliminating the federal departments of Education and Energy and the Internal Revenue Service, along with such other cuts as freezing federal workers' salaries for a year. In place of the IRS — whose agents he said would be of better use guarding the U.S.-Mexico border — he supports either a flat income tax or a national sales tax.

(Source:  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

 

Raese coins the token position of Conservative "Almost-Jesus" Ronald Reagan when posting his views on the aforementioned departments. Reagan apparently wanted to abolish the department of Education as Raese claims.  In the interview, he is quoted as saying:

"What does the Department of Energy do?  I don't know.  Does it drill any wells?  Does it mine any coal? ... do we need it? No."

It might be helpful, Mr. Raese, to know a little bit about the Departments of the Federal Government that you want to get rid of.   Raese is currently trailing Joe Manchin (D) by a slim margin of a -2 spread, according to polling compiled on RCP.  Manchin had previously held a sizable lead, but in the last few months that lead has dwindled and the Governor is now having to play catch-up.

 

Rally Against Mountaintop Removal in DC This Weekend

(crossposted on FDL Seminal)

I have lived in West Virginia my entire life. In this beautiful mountainous state, one economic horse drives the economy: Coal. Coal mines employ many people in West Virginia, and across Appalachia, and are a crucial part to the region’s economic sustainability. It is coal that employs the people and powers the country, and it isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

-A little bit of background is necessary-

Most can probably remember the horrible Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster earlier this year in Raleigh County, WV. The devastating catastrophe left many dead, and federal investigators searching for answers to the root causes of the explosion. Now I’ve done my fair share of blasting Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship (Massey Energy is one of the largest coal companies in the country) on the Seminal, but it has been completely necessary. The negligence with which his mines are handled have cost the lives of several miners. This is only one of many unfortunate consequences brought on by coal mining in the region known as Appalachia.

Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR) is a cheaper and more efficient way of mining coal, and works exactly like it sounds. Mountains, quite literally, have the tops blown off of them in order to expedite the coal mining process and make it more efficient. The mental image itself does quite a lot to illustrate the horrible effects it has on the mountains. Where once beautiful rolling hills full of plush green forest stood, now appears as leveled off dirt "quarry-like" areas of surface mining.  . . .

Appalachia Rising is an event which is starting to catch on in the national scene. Here’s a piece of pertinent info mentioned on their website (AppalachiaRising.org)

Appalachia Rising, an event which will take place in Washington DC, September 25-27, 2010 is a national response to the poisoning of America’s water supply, the destruction of Appalachia’s mountains, head water source streams, and communities through mountaintop removal coal mining. It follows a long history of social action for a just and sustainable Appalachia. Appalachia Rising strives to unite coalfield residents, grass roots groups, individuals, and national organizations to call for the abolition of mountaintop removal coal mining and demand that America’s water be protected from all forms of surface mining.

An important group that makes things like Appalachia Rising happen, and that bring MTR awareness to the people of Appalachia, is a foundation called The Keepers of the Mountain. The Keepers of the Mountain was created to help fund the efforts of "preserving and fostering the culture of mountains" and to help educate people about MTR by a man named Larry Gibson. Gibson lives next to Kayford Mountain, located in the southern part of West Virginia. He has been forced to watch the destruction of Kayford Mountain for several years, due to MTR mining on the mountain.

The destruction of these mountains comes at a price, not only aesthetically, but to the toll taken on the people who live near the sites. Many health related problems have come as a result of coal ash, and coal slurries etc. that make their way into the surrounding towns and cities near an MTR site.

Perhaps one of the worst ramifications, as described on ilovemountains.org, is that of sludge dams.

Sludge dams represent the greatest threat to nearby communities of any of the impacts of coal mining. Impoundments are notoriously leaky, contaminating drinking water supplies in many communities, and are also known to fail completely. A sludge dam breach in Martin County, KY, in 2000, sent more than 300 million gallons of toxic coal sludge into tributaries of the Big Sandy, causing what the EPA called, “The biggest environmental disaster ever east of the Mississippi.”

I hope those who read this don’t just write it off as something that they need not care about. The issue of Mountaintop Removal Mining is one that destorys communities, permanently effects the health of thousands, and eradicates the beautiful mountains that make Appalachia what it is.

If you’re around DC this weekend, take a trip to Capitol Hill and see what these people have to say. Appalachia Rising will be a great event, although I will not be able to attend it. To raise awareness for something so dire, action must be taken directly to where it will get publicity. The people of Appalachia need the help of not just others from around the country, but of the lawmakers in Washington as a whole to stop this catastrophe.

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