Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marcellus shale

The voters have spoken and they demanded a national relapse. With the impending stampede of Republicans into the circus that is our Congress, will their “Hell No!” hubris further force the hapless hoards into hopelessness?

It’s na├»ve to believe a pro-business, anti-regulatory Congress will have any compunction to slow down the juggernaut that is Marcellus shale exploitation. The question then, is, will West Virginia cave in to Megagas? If history is any indicator, we will once again travel down the low road, overshadowed by outside entities who own over 85% of West Virginia’s natural resources. While urban America suffers from gas pains and clamors for cheap gas, rural America suffers from anemic wages and poverty, and clamors for more and better jobs. With farm earnings depressed, gas lease signing bonuses and royalties are manna from heaven.

Will the glitter of gold blind the masses, leaving us all living in a gilded cage? Will the malodorous and toxic “King Coal” be forced to abdicate the throne to Megagas? In what is our corruptocracy, money talks and good intentions walk, leaving the voice of money to resonate throughout the halls of Congress. The elephants in the room can no longer be ignored as they dance to the sounds of sordid money, filling their coffers in preparation for 2012. Cha ching, Cha ching, Cha ching!

By the way, I can see a Marcellus gas well from my house.

--Jim Dodgins

Capito thanks jobless

What a wonderful Thanksgiving blessing, to learn that Rep Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV2) is going to have a monthly corner on the website for Hampshire Review, in which she will be “sharing…how what is going on in Washington affects West Virginia.” Her first posting to “The Capito Corner” was to wish us all a safe, warm, and happy Thanksgiving, enjoining us to give thanks for our blessings, for our ability to pursue our dreams and to work toward a better life. Reading between the lines, we can be sure that she means to include in these best wishes those 800,000 persons who will lose their unemployment benefits at midnight tomorrow night, Tuesday Nov 30, because of her vote against extending unemployment benefits. And we can be sure her Christmas blessings will go out to those 2 million who will be cut off at the end of December.

What do you suppose are the chances that the opposition could get a “corner” in which to respond to her corner, with their version of how West Virginia is affected by what is going on in Washington?

--Windy Cutler

WV "most socialist" state

By the standard that the CNBC Stock Market News blog uses to measure "socialism"--that is, the proportion of annual government spending to the state's gross domestic product--West Virginia easily ranks as the "most socialist" state in the Union. I'm sure this comes as a shock to the Blue Dog servants of coal who inhabit the legislature. But congratulations anyway to all my fellow leftist hillbillies.


--Michael Hasty

Monday, November 29, 2010

All governments lie

The contents of the US State Department diplomatic cables released yesterday by Wikileaks offer a convincing reminder of the dictum of the late iconoclast and journalist, I.F. Stone, that "all governments lie." Especially imperial governments.

I was particularly interested by the numerous requests for American "diplomats" to supply DNA and other biometric and electronic data that would assist intelligence agencies in monitoring the behavior and actions of the various ambassadors and other officials targetted by their snooping. It gives you some idea of the totality of information awareness these intelligence agencies are doubtless exercising domestically as well.

Here's a link to the Wikileaks home page, which doesn't seem to include the diplomatic cables yet, but which you can find at the New York Times, the UK Guardian, al-Jazeera and Der Spiegel, who all have stories on the document dump.


--Michael Hasty

Sunday, November 28, 2010

American fascism, revisited

There are likely some readers of this blog who might think my description of America as "totalitarian" is a touch overwrought. But that description--including the "F" word--is even starting to find its way into mainstream (albeit liberal) media. Here's the conclusion of an op-ed about the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision (which allowed corporate money in this year's elections), by WVU Tech professor John David, in this morning's Charleston Gazette, titled, "How do you take over a republic?":

"What we have here is a plan to institute fascism. Fascism, according to Webster, is 'a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of the opposition, the retention of private ownership under centralized government control, belligerent nationalism and racism, and glorification of war.' Over 60 years ago, many West Virginians paid the ultimate price in a war against Hitler's and Mussolini's fascism.

In fact, with the existence of the 527 Political Action groups and the recent Supreme Court decision, we could be creating in this country an elite group, elected by nobody, that can and will do what it wants while giving lip-service to the democratic process.

As former Louisiana Governor Huey Long noted, 'what people of this country must never forget is that when fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in an American flag.' "


For a thorough analysis of the infrastructure of American fascism, here's a website done by a friend of mine:


--Michael Hasty

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good little totalitarians

One of the saddest aspects of living in a totalitarian society like the 21st century United States of America is watching the totalitarian ethic creep down through the population, to the local level.

No doubt there are those who would blanch at the description of “the world’s greatest democracy” as a “totalitarian” state. So let me be clear about why I think that characterization is appropriate.

In America today, we have a government that claims the right to: conduct warrantless surveillance on every email and phone call a citizen makes, and has the technology to do so; set up police checkpoints at will, where citizens are required to produce identification or be arrested; treat every citizen, no matter how innocent, as a potential criminal suspect; require a urinalysis as a condition of employment or education; subject innocent travelers to virtual nude photo-scanning and/or genital fondling by government agents; hold suspects, including American citizens, in indefinite detention, without trial, and subject those suspects to various forms of what would be considered, in a less Orwellian environment, as torture; assassinate American citizens without due process; and hold no official accountable for any crimes committed in the course of this ongoing betrayal of American ideals of liberty.

Adding to this portrait of 21st century American totalitarianism is the greatest disparity between rich and poor in this nation’s history, where the richest 5 percent of citizens own twice as much wealth as the other 95 percent combined; a seamless convergence of the agendas of private corporations and the state (the very definition of “fascism”); and a cooperative relationship between government and mainstream media that ensures that truly dissenting opinions are rarely given a chance to enter the public dialogue, and media is effectively censored.

(For a more nuanced picture of the exact nature of American totalitarianism, I recommend the book by Sheldon Wolin, emeritus professor of political science at Princeton University, titled, “Democracy Incorporated.”)

America started on the path to totalitarianism long before September 11th, 2001. The police state tactics that have become the hallmark of the “war on terror” were first pioneered in earlier campaigns of fear, the anticommunist crusades of the Cold War (which spawned the FBI’s COINTELPRO program of spying on American dissidents) and especially the “war on drugs,” which laid the foundation for the wholesale desecration of the 4th Amendment to the Bill of Rights (which is supposed to protect us from “unreasonable searches”) that has become standard government policy today.

There is, in fact, a direct connection between the outrages committed against the American traveling public this Thanksgiving weekend—and their sheepish acquiescence to these outrages—and the vote of the Hampshire County WV Board of Education last week to institute a new drug testing program for students.

The statements from the school board, and the fact that in three hearings on the proposed policy, the board didn’t receive a single comment from the community, provides a measure of just how successful the program of brainwashing the American public to accept the loss of liberties required by the national security state has been. In a time of limited school budgets, the president of the school board is reported lamenting the fact that there is still enough constitutional protection for student rights that the board cannot require all of the students under their care to pee into a cup for government inspection.

If anyone in the future is curious about how the modern world’s first experiment in popular government became a police state, they only have to look at the public schools.

We are training our children to be good little totalitarians.

--Michael Hasty

Friday, November 26, 2010

A reason to be thankful

An old friend of mine sent me a Thanksgiving greeting, in the form of an excerpt from a speech by Jim Douglas, who spent his life in the religious wing of the peace movement, and whose book, “JFK and the Unspeakable, “ presents a comprehensive view of the evidence that Kennedy was murdered by elements of the US government. The assassination was the coup d’etat that Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address three years earlier. Ike had an unmistakably worried look on his face as he described the threat to democracy from “the military industrial complex.”

On November 22nd, 1963, the US national security state effectively replaced our traditional democratic republic. The half century since has been a continual process of acclimating the public to their new circumstances. You only have to imagine George Washington standing silently in line to have his privates fondled by a government agent to realize how far from the Tree of Liberty we have fallen.

At any rate, I’m sure Mr. Douglas won’t mind us sharing his spiritually informed perspective on why this truth should not be unspeakable. He also gives us a reason to be thankful for the important influence that Jack Kennedy did in fact bequeath us:

“At a certain point in his presidency, John Kennedy turned a corner and didn’t look back. I believe that decisive turn toward his final purpose in life, resulting in his death, happened in the darkness of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although Kennedy was already in conflict with his national security managers, the missile crisis was the breaking point. At that most critical moment for us all, he turned from any remaining control his security managers had over him toward a deeper ethic, a deeper vision in which the fate of the earth became his priority. Without losing sight of our own best hopes in this country, he began to home in, with his new partner, Nikita Khrushchev, on the hope of peace for everyone on this earth – Russians, Americans, Cubans, Vietnamese, Indonesians, everyone – no exceptions. He made that commitment to life at the cost of his own.

What a transforming story that is.

And what a propaganda campaign has been waged to keep us Americans from understanding that story, from telling it, and from re-telling it to our children and grandchildren.

Because that’s a story whose telling can transform a nation. But when a nation is under the continuing domination of an idol, namely war, it is a story that will be covered up. When the story can liberate us from our idolatry of war, then the worshippers of the idol are going to do everything they can to keep the story from being told. From the standpoint of a belief that war is the ultimate power, that’s too dangerous a story. It’s a subversive story. It shows a different kind of security than always being ready to go to war. It’s unbelievable – or we’re supposed to think it is -- that a president was murdered by our own government agencies because he was seeking a more stable peace than relying on nuclear weapons. It’s unspeakable. For the sake of a nation that must always be preparing for war, that story must not be told. If it were, we might learn that peace is possible without making war. We might even learn there is a force more powerful than war. How unthinkable! But how necessary if life on earth is to continue.

That is why it is so hopeful for us to confront the unspeakable and to tell the transforming story of a man of courage, President John F. Kennedy. It is a story ultimately not of death but of life – all our lives. In the end, it is not so much a story of one man as it is a story of peacemaking when the chips are down. That story is our story, a story of hope.

I believe it is a providential fact that the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination always falls around Thanksgiving, and periodically on that very day. This year the anniversary of his death, two days from now, will begin Thanksgiving week.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year, with autumn leaves falling to create new life. Creation is alive, as the season turns. The earth is alive. It is not a radioactive wasteland. We can give special thanks for that. The fact that we are still living – that the human family is still alive with a fighting chance for survival, and for much more than that – is reason for gratitude to a peacemaking president, and to the unlikely alliance he forged with his enemy. So let us give thanks this Thanksgiving for John F. Kennedy, and for his partner in peacemaking, Nikita Khrushchev.”

Speech delivered to the Coalition on Political Assassinations in Dallas, November 20, 2009.

--Michael Hasty

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Technology addiction

There was an article posted yesterday at Information Clearinghouse by a West Virginia writer, Charles Sullivan, who lays out a good case for being ambivalent about the effects of electronic technology on how we organize, both socially and politically. Here's an excerpt:

"The pervasive addiction to complex technology has led to the evolution of a passive consumer culture that is incapable of acting in its own self-interest. It has rewired the human brain and significantly reduced attention spans. As a result, skills such as reading and writing are diminishing. Intricate social interaction is on the wane. People are becoming increasingly withdrawn and isolated from their neighbors and from their communities. They are alienated from nature. People inhabit virtual worlds because they no longer possess the psychological capacity, spiritual fortitude, and social skills required to live authentically in the actual world.

We Americans are being entertained to death. Having lost our visceral connection to nature, we can no longer differentiate between the real and the artificial. We think that we can believe whatever we want, regardless of the facts, and that ignorance will somehow protect us from the consequences of false consciousness. We ignore the exponential effect of witlessness at our own peril.

Behaving as if the laws of physics do not apply to the actual world does not bode well for our long term survival. We choose to live with our heads up our asses rejecting reality because it is too complex for us to comprehend. Being informed makes us too uncomfortable. Knowledge and understanding are too burdensome. Possessing them would require us to live better and simpler lives, and that requires too much effort. We do not crave a life of meaning and purpose but a life of ease stretched out on the sofa drinking beer, eating cheese and watching TV. "


Like most of you, I'll be stretched out on the sofa tomorrow, but still craving a life of meaning and purpose. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you travelers enjoy your pat-downs. Baaa.

--Michael Hasty

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Acts of rebellion

One of the most prophetic voices in alternative media--and I mean "prophetic" in the Old Testament sense of someone who gets to the heart of the truth--is that of Chris Hedges, who was a war correspondent for the New York Times for many years, and also has a master's degree in religious studies. The reason he now writes for alternative media is that he no longer fits into the mainstream media paradigm, which is based in falsehood.

Whenever I'm suffering from a particularly bad case of Cassandra complex (see http://radicalpantheist.blogspot.com/2008/12/cassandra-complex.html), it's comforting to read Hedges, and know I'm not alone in my thoughts.

However, I don't agree with the basic premise of his latest essay at Truthout, "Power and the Tiny Acts of Rebellion." He thinks the level of corporate control of the American government is so complete that all avenues of change in the system have been closed, and all that is left to us is resistance, doing what we can to clog the system's works, until it collapses of its own dead weight. I think there are still avenues open. But it's going to require some political jiu-jitsu to find our way through them.

Aside from his loss of hope, though, I agree with Hedges' analysis of the truly dire political situation we are in, with which he opens his essay:

"There is no hope left for achieving significant reform or restoring our democracy through established mechanisms of power. The electoral process has been hijacked by corporations. The judiciary has been corrupted and bought. The press shuts out the most important voices in the country and feeds us the banal and the absurd. Universities prostitute themselves for corporate dollars. Labor unions are marginal and ineffectual forces. The economy is in the hands of corporate swindlers and speculators. And the public, enchanted by electronic hallucinations, remains passive and supine. We have no tools left within the power structure in our fight to halt unchecked corporate pillage."

It's time to get creative.


--Michael Hasty

Monday, November 22, 2010

Democratic Christmas caroling

To all Hampshire County Democrats, friends, and families:

Please mark the date:

On Monday, December 13, which would be our regular meeting night, Hampshire County Democrats will be singing carols at the Hampshire Center on Sunrise Drive at 6:30, accompanied by Mike Hasty. Following that, we will meet for dinner at the new Table 41, on Main Street in Romney, next to the old Court House. Details on menu and cost are forthcoming. Also, we will be taking a collection for the Warm the Children program. For further info call please call Dorothy at 304-496-7168, or Windy at 304-492-5185.

--Windy Cutler

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Community radio

This is a letter from the Free Press Action Fund, a nonpartisan organization working on media reform, urging people to contact our senators about a bill to get more voices into the public dialogue, via community radio. The letter also asks people to spread the word about this campaign via social media, and to check out their allies in media decentralization, the Prometheus Radio Project, www.prometheusradio.org.

In these times of extreme partisanship, there’s at least one thing Congress can agree on: We need more local voices on the public airwaves.

A bill that could create thousands of local radio stations has united political foes like Barack Obama, John McCain, Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders. But despite this bipartisan support, the Local Community Radio Act has been stopped in its tracks by a secret hold in the Senate.
And now time is running out, which is why we urgently need your help to get the Senate to pass this important bill.

Call Sens. Rockefeller and Manchin now and urge them to ensure Congress passes the Local Community Radio Act — before the clock runs out on the 111th Congress.

Imagine what we could do with all of the local radio stations this bill would help create:
-Communities could air shows about the issues that matter to them, instead of being subjected to channel after channel of shock jocks and predetermined playlists.
-Local music could replace the endless cycle of corporate record labels pushing the same songs day after day.
-We could flip the dial to finally hear our own neighbors talking to each other about the things that affect our lives.

This is what local radio could sound like, but only if this bill passes. Otherwise, radio will be exactly the same — bland, monotonous and disconnected from our communities.
Congress needs to know that we want better radio in our communities. Please call Sens. Rockefeller and Manchin immediately and tell them to vote for local radio before the clock runs out on this Congress.

--Submitted by Windy Cutler

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A biblical solution to the deficit

People are always talking about how they’d like this to be a Christian nation, but the way the early Christians lived was more communist than capitalist. That’s the way it’s described in the Acts of the Apostles, with all the Christians pooling their belongings, to make sure everyone was taken care of. Karl Marx got “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need,” practically verbatim from the third chapter of Acts.

Christianity in its purest form is a radical idea, born as an antidote to empire, and practically impossible to practice in a competitive economic system like 21st century hypercapitalism. It is built on the ideas of social justice preached by the ancient Hebrew prophets. It’s built on the idea of a community taking care of each other. Humans are meant to live in small groups, not in masses. It is only by empowering communities that America will be able to return to democratic self-governance—as opposed to our present rule by transnational corporations.

If we were serious about being a “Christian nation,” we could find a simple solution to our deficit “problem” (which is really only a problem for the global elite, who are just trying to figure out how to squeeze more blood from the American middle class turnip) by turning to the book of Leviticus, wherein God says in chapter 25, “The land shall not be sold forever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.”

Since the land shouldn’t be sold forever, I recommend we adopt the solution described in Leviticus, and declare a jubilee year. In Leviticus, you’re supposed to have a jubilee year every fifty years: “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”

The solution to our deficit problem is to declare global bankruptcy, and start over. The only people truly inconvenienced would be the high rollers in the investor class, who have been piling up mountains of wealth built on everyone else’s debt. But then they can just work for a living, like the rest of us. And we can all continue our lives living on God's earth, not the banksters'.

Let’s have a global jubilee. It’s the Christian thing to do.

--Michael Hasty

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some of the people, all of the time

Real national defense spending should be in the USA, rebuilding everything that's falling apart and creating real jobs here--not in China.

A nation that "wastes" more money year after year on military junk (that even the military doesn't want) than it spends on social needs, is a nation that will destroy itself.

There is enough solar power potential in Nevada to provide power for the entire United States--jobs, jobs, jobs. All the other renewably produced electricity, we could sell, to balance our budget and evaporate our national debt.

So simple you'd think even a fool would know it.

--Bill Arnold

9/11 insider trading

The intelligently leftist Foreign Policy Journal (www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/) posted an article yesterday by Kevin Ryan, an engineer whose work in investigating the events of September 11th began when he was fired by Underwriters Laboratories, for revealing that their own physical tests disproved the conclusions of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—that the fires in the World Trade Center were hot enough to weaken the steel to the point where the buildings would collapse. That’s why NIST had to rely on computer models to rationalize the official story.

Since he was fired for whistleblowing, Ryan has applied his scientific logic to other aspects of 9/11. The FPJ article lays out the evidence for the multiple connections among those who seemed to profit from the 9/11 attacks, with both the Bush and bin Laden families—whose own connections go back to Bush Junior’s first company, Harken Energy, and Bush Senior’s even earlier dealings in the oil industry.

Poppy was meeting with the bin Ladens (he’s described them as “lovely people”) on the morning of September 11th, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, with other investors in the Carlyle Group—one of the beneficiaries (not directly, of course) of the 9/11 insider trading. The lengths to which corporate media has gone to ignore these connections—the nexus of the intelligence community and the finance, defense and energy industries—is a measure of just how totalitarian a propaganda system we live under, with our “free press.”

Ryan documents how the FBI never really investigated the highly respectable suspects in that insider trading. As the 9/11 Commission explained it, there was no conceivable connection between any of the investors and al Qaeda (we’ll just ignore the CIA, thank you), and therefore no reason to suspect anyone of anything.

But Ryan shows just how close those connections actually are.

The evidence that the public has been deceived about 9/11 continues to pile up. It will be a rude awakening—if they ever wake up.

--Michael Hasty

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another fracking law

There's a post from environmental reporter Ken Ward in the Sustained Outrage blog at the Charleston Gazette this morning, mostly consisting of an Associated Press report on yet another law being drafted to regulate gas drilling in the Marcellus shale, this time by a subcommittee in the WV House of Delegates.

Predictably enough, the industry is howling about the fees being proposed for well drilling, which are significantly higher than the $600 "shallow well" fee they have been paying. As usual, industry concern is for that eternal victim, "small business." The victory that environmentalists won in the last legislative session, that prevented gas wells from being considered "shallow wells" for purposes of regulation, is paying off for the public now.

But once again, the legislature will be the target of tremendous pressure from industry as this bill moves through the process. The public must be vigilant, if we want to preserve our water from the prospect of catastrophic blunder by an under-regulated industry blinded by the potential for profit in the new "gold rush" of the Marcellus shale.

Here's the Gazette link: www.wvgazette.com/

--Michael Hasty

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

West Virginia Blue

One of the websites I check regularly is a loyal Democratic progressive state blog called West Virginia Blue (www.wvablue.com/). Obviously, being a Mountain Party member, I don’t agree with them 100 percent, but they’re usually right on the issues.

They’ve got some interesting illustrations at the top of their page today concerning global warming and the greenhouse effect, as well as a blurb about the “2009 State of the Climate Report” from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which says, “The scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.”

Of the ten indicators that NOAA uses to measure climate, from atmospheric temperatures to shrinking polar ice, all ten point to not only a changing climate, but an entirely different set of climatic conditions—a new climate norm, consistently warmer, with more extreme weather events. The prospect of the anti-science crowd moving into the House of Representatives in January fills me with a kind of bemused horror. There are none so blind.

WV Blue also has some interesting comments about our new acting governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, who also remains, due to a constitutional fluke, the president of the WV Senate, and who in that position was the single person most responsible for the fact that we never got to vote in a referendum on changing the Hampshire County government. So perhaps I’m biased in my opinion that, since he gives every indication that he has no intention of supporting a special gubernatorial election in the next two years, the honorable course would be for him to resign his Senate seat. But honor is what I least expect from any politician in these corrupt times, especially from longtime loyal servants of the coal industry. And an enemy of popular sovereignty, to boot.

--Michael Hasty

Monday, November 15, 2010

WV fracking law drafted

The Associated Press reported yesterday that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has drafted a 100-page law requiring “gas companies to submit comprehensive water management plans for future Marcellus shale drilling operations,” which often involve a process known as hydraulic fracture (using high-pressure water to break the underground rock and release the gas), known popularly as “fracking.”

The proposed legislation would mandate that companies “ identify when, where and how much water they withdraw for drilling operations… what chemicals they add, how much wastewater they produce, and when and where they would dispose of the waste…[and] requires companies to replace any water they contaminate.”

The AP also reports that the Secretary of DEP, Randy Huffman—who is generally viewed by environmentalists as being a creature of the coal industry—says “the document will change before it goes to lawmakers in January,” and that Huffman handed over the draft to AP “to avoid any appearance of secrecy.”

It looks to me like the draft was leaked this far in advance to give the gas industry plenty of time to grease the proper wheels in the legislature. But if it does what it says, it would make this one of the most progressive laws on fracking in the country. It’s definitely moving in the right direction. This is one of the most immediate environmental emergencies we face in this state, and county. No water, no life.

--Michael Hasty

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Health care reform explained

This is a letter to a constituent from Senator Jay Rockefeller, explaining some of the benefits of the health care reform law (aka "Obamacare"). It's remarkable that the Democrats couldn't turn these benefits into a winning campaign. But there was no hiding the sellout to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. -MH

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts about the passage of health care reform. I know there are a lot of questions about this new law, and I appreciate this opportunity to be in touch.

On December 24, 2009, I voted to support passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590). My vote reflects the urgent need to improve the health care coverage people have today, expand access to affordable care for the uninsured, control runaway health care costs, and end unfair health insurance industry practices. H.R. 3590 was subsequently passed by the House of Representatives on March 21, 2010, and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. A second bill, which included improvements to our health care system – the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (H.R. 4872) – was signed into law by President Obama on March 30, 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, will provide Americans with more affordable and comprehensive coverage options, improve the quality of health care that all Americans receive, and reduce the federal deficit by $143 billion over the next ten years.

The legislation is not perfect – no law is – and it may not address every concern. There are many who thought we should go much further, and there are many who thought we should do far less. However, there has always been broad agreement that reform is necessary because our current system is broken and needs to be fixed. The health reform law gets us much closer to that goal.

Many have asked what health care reform will mean for West Virginia. As we begin the process of implementation, I truly believe this groundbreaking new law is major step towards building a stronger health care foundation for our great state. I am proud to share that West Virginians are already seeing the benefits of health care reform, including:
o West Virginian seniors that fall in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap will receive a $250 rebate. Medicare covers 75 percent of the first $2,830 in prescription costs (in 2010), but seniors must pay the full cost after that until out-of-pocket spending reaches $4,550. This gap in coverage is referred to as the "doughnut hole." Health reform will completely eliminate the doughnut hole by the year 2020. In the meantime, the new law will provide financial help to seniors who fall into the doughnut hole each year. Seniors who hit the doughnut hole in 2010 will receive a $250 rebate, and the doughnut hole will be completely closed by 2020. Already this year, 12,800 West Virginia seniors have received the rebate. For more information, please call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11464.pdf to view a brochure about this rebate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

o Tax credits to make health coverage more affordable for West Virginia's small businesses. This year, small businesses in West Virginia will have access to tax credits for up to 35 percent of the cost of health coverage for their employees. This law will help as many as 20,000 small businesses in West Virginia afford to offer health coverage. For more information on small business tax credit eligibility and enrollment, please visit http://www.irs.gov.

o Financial Assistance for West Virginia's Employers to Help Them Maintain Coverage for Early Retirees. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program provides $5 billion in temporary financial assistance to employers and unions to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. As many as 41,500 retirees in West Virginia could be eligible for assistance. Applications are being approved each day, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources has already approved several organizations in West Virginia.

o West Virginians who are uninsured due to a pre-existing condition now have access to affordable insurance options through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). You can learn more about and apply for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan online at https://www.pcip.gov/.

o As of September 23, 2010, health care reform brought some of the worst abuses of the insurance industry to an end. Insurers are not longer be able to:

o Deny coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions. Health plans cannot limit or deny benefits or deny coverage for a child younger than age 19 simply because the child has a pre-existing condition like asthma.

o Put lifetime limits on benefits. Health plans can no longer put a lifetime dollar limit on the benefits of people with costly conditions like cancer.

o Cancel your policy without proving fraud. Health plans can't retroactively cancel insurance coverage – often at the time you need it most – solely because you or your employer made an honest mistake on your insurance application.

o Deny claims without a chance for appeal. In new health plans, you now have the right to demand that your health plan reconsider a decision to deny payment for a test or treatment. That also includes an external appeal to an independent reviewer.

o As of September 23, 2010, West Virginians now have new health care rights, benefits, and protections. Consumers in new health plans are able to:

o Receive cost-free preventive services. New health plans must give you access to recommended preventive services such as screenings, vaccinations and counseling without any out-of-pocket costs to you.

o Keep young adults on a parent's plan until age 26. If your health plan covers children, you should now be able to add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old if they do not have coverage on the job. Young adults just starting out will no longer be ignored by our health care system, and will have more affordable options available to them.

o Choose a primary care doctor, obstetrician or gynecologist and pediatrician. New health plans must let you choose the primary care doctor or pediatrician you want from your health plan's provider network and let you see an OB-GYN doctor without needing a referral from another doctor.

o Use the nearest emergency room without penalty. New health plans cannot require you to get prior approval before seeking emergency room services from a provider or hospital outside your plan's network – and they cannot require higher copayments or co-insurance for out-of-network emergency room services.

These are just some of the benefits that are available from health care reform now, and this is only the beginning. In the coming months, even more provisions will be implemented that will have real benefits for West Virginians. To learn more about the new health reform law – including the text of the bill, descriptions of specific provisions, and an implementation timeline – please visit http://www.healthcare.gov. If you do not have a computer in your home, you may access the Internet at your local library, free of charge.

As we continue implementation of this new law, your views and experiences will be critically important to me. Thank you again for writing. I wish you all the very best.

With Warm Regards,Jay Rockefeller

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Undeserved smiles

Anyone who sheepily believes that George Bush's out of court book testimony relieves him (while he smiles) of responsibility for allowing thousands of American children to be callously slaughtered for a dishonest reason are out of touch with parenthood.

Watch "War Torn" on HBO beginning tonight.

--Bill Arnold

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Public banking

Wall Street's latest insult to the public's trust is paying out billions of dollars in bonuses to their executives: 4,793 bankers and traders with more than $1 million each in bonus payments.

These bonuses weren't tied to national economic growth or some reasonable percentage of company profits. Morgan Stanley, $1.7 billion earnings, paid $4.475 billion bonuses; Goldman Sucks $2.3 billion earnings, $4.8 billion bonuses; JP Morgan Chase $5.6 billion earnings, $8.69 billion bonuses (plus, 1,626 of its execs (that’s a lot of execs for one company) got $1 million or more.

Today we hear so much about a public option for healthcare. How about a progressive public option for banking?

A bank's charter brings with it the privilege of creating "credit" simply as an accounting entry on the bank's books. The flaw in the private banking scheme is that banks create the principal portion of their loans but not the interest, which is continually drawn off the top as profit.

New borrowers must continually be found to take out new loans to create this extra profit, making private banking effectively a pyramid scheme. And like any pyramid scheme it has mathematical limits. Today those limits have been reached. Personal and government debts have gotten so large relative to incomes that it is no longer possible to maintain the fiction of solvency. We soon won't have the money even to pay the interest on our existing debts, let alone to incur new ones.

Public banking does not suffer from that flaw because interest is not drawn off the top but is returned to the public's coffers. Public banking is thus mathematically sound and sustainable.

In several large countries (Canada, India, and China), publicly owned banks have operated alongside privately-owned banks for decades. In those countries the current crisis has served to show that public banks do a better job of serving the people and protecting their interests (mortgages, small business loans) than their private counterparts (1% startup loans for farms).

North Dakota has owned its own bank for nearly a century and is one of only two states (Montana) that are currently not facing shortfalls (WV is close). Ever since 1919, North Dakota's revenues have been deposited in the state owned bank (BND). Under the "fractional reserve" lending plan open to all banks, these deposits are then available for leveraging many times over as loans.

--Bill Arnold

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Superpower in Decline

This is a fascinating, though disturbing view of America's decay, from a European perspective, headlined "A Superpower in Decline: Is the American Dream Over?"


Here's a paragraph, early in the piece, that stands out in the wake of last week's elections:

"The country is reacting strangely irrationally to the loss of its importance -- it is a reaction characterized primarily by rage. Significant portions of America simply want to return to a supposedly idyllic past. They devote almost no effort to reflection, and they condemn cleverness and intellect as elitist and un-American, as if people who hunt bears could seriously be expected to lead a world power. Demagogues stir up hatred and rage on television stations like Fox News. These parts of America, majorities in many states, ignorant of globalization and the international labor market, can do nothing but shout. They hate everything that is new and foreign to them."

Definitely worth a read.

--Michael Hasty

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just wondering

This is a letter that Virginia Lynch Graf sent out after the election to her supporters. -MH

The voters of West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District decided to reward Representative Shelley Moore Capito with two more years in office. As her opponent, I wondered why. Was it her continual votes for war funding? It's now over 3 trillion dollars. Perhaps that makes West Virginians feel secure. Was it her ties to special interests to perpetuate her campaigns? I guess that takes the burden off of ordinary contributors to elect a Congresswoman. Could it be the fact that corporations get tax breaks, loopholes, and other financial incentives from her votes that enable them to trickle their wealth down to the rest of us? Maybe it's the fact that she opposes unions and stimulus money to keep Americans working. After all, if we got rid of unions we could return to unbridled labor laws, which would make all those lazy people work longer and harder for their salaries.

And we all know stimulus money was bad, so Ms. Capito opposed it. Clearly, she knew better than most economists who encouraged an even bigger stimulus to avoid another Great Depression. Ms. Capito knew wasteful spending when she saw it: a tax break for the middle class and small business owners and funding to keep policemen, firemen and teachers at their jobs were just too expensive. Nonetheless, she did get her picture taken each time stimulus money was awarded.

Did our citizens like the lack of oversight for banks or corporations; and did they agree that unemployed workers didn't deserve an extension of benefits in these hard times? Even though Capito said during the campaign that she would protect Social Security (she is on record for wanting to privatize it), I guess it was just a slip-up when she voted against equal pay for equal work for women. Lack of pay equity negatively impacts not only women's current earning power but their future Social Security checks too. We all know how disastrous for society it is if women are paid as much as men. Does it feel good to see Ms. Capito challenge the EPA and keep us fixed on the Fifties? If we deny climate change, then we have no carbon problem.

On the other hand, I wondered why I didn't get more support for my campaign. I didn't even win in my own county of Jefferson where I was sure phone calls would be made in my behalf. Was it the fact that I wasn't born here, but rather chose to make West Virginia my home? Was it that I took no special interest money in my campaign, and the sages knew I couldn't possibly win if I didn't seek mega bucks? Many prophets made sure their prophecy bore truth by not even contributing ten bucks to my campaign. I guess they couldn't believe in a publicly funded campaigner who knows the issues, cares about WV, has a plan to improve our economy, supports unions, and favors revamping our tax system! Why waste your time calling neighbors to support a retired educator who was determined to transform our educational system so that our children and grandchildren could find a career in West Virginia! Why support a candidate who wants our farms and food protected; believes that mountaintop removal is destroying our beautiful state and poisoning our water system; wants to continue working on health insurance reform so that four West Virginians don't unnecessarily die every week?

I’m perplexed. Perhaps I should have skipped sticking my neck out, and just colored my gray hair blond!

--Virginia Lynch Graf

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Appalachian Art for Appalachian Families

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. – Appalachian Art for Appalachian Families (AAAF) is on a mission to raise funds for the Sludge Safety Project's purchase of water testing kits for West Virginia communities concerned about the water quality impacts of coal slurry injection and coal sludge impoundments. This month, AAAF will raise funds for the kits in two ways:

· The organization will hold an Art Exhibition at the Shepherdstown Train Station on Friday, November 19, 2010, and is announcing a call for art submissions. (Artists will receive 50 percent of proceeds from their art sales; AAAF will apply 10 percent of art proceeds to the cost of venue and food preparation; and the remaining 40 percent will be designated for the Sludge Safety Project.) AAAF encourages artists who live in the Appalachian mountains — and those inspired by them — to submit their arts and crafts (all artistic mediums welcome) by its November 15 deadline. The exhibition opens at noon on November 19, with the artists’ reception at 6 p.m.

Artwork collection will occur in the Charleston, W.Va., area (phone: 540-535-8458), as well as in Shepherdstown, W.Va. (phone: 304-876-9900).

· AAAF will also host a "Deers & Beers" Fundraising Dinner at the Shepherdstown Train Station at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 20, 2010. Cost of the dinner is $25 and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Sludge Safety Project. The dinner will feature locally brewed beer and wild game.

AAAF remains concerned about toxic slurry injection, drinking water quality and the safety of West Virginia residents. As a result, proceeds from the above-mentioned events will benefit the Sludge Safety Project (www.sludgesafety.org), a nonprofit organization that advocates for West Virginia residents' access to clean water and safety for communities at risk from coal slurry injection and coal sludge impoundments.

About Appalachian Art for Appalachian Families
AAAF's mission is to stand with families of southern West Virginia and pool its resources to help ensure clean water and healthy, safe homes. The nonprofit organization, based in Shepherdstown, W.Va., builds unity among all West Virginian families by showcasing the arts and crafts that celebrate West Virginia's mountain region. AAAF aims to bring people together across county lines so that their lives may be enriched with unity, pride, artistic expression and a shared commitment to human rights.

About the Sludge Safety Project
The Sludge Safety Project (SSP) is a collaborative effort of the Huntington, W.Va.-based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Whitesville, W.Va.-based Coal River Mountain Watch and West Virginia communities concerned about the quality of their drinking water, coal sludge impoundment safety and slurry injection hazards.

SSP (www.sludgesafety.org) educates and advocates on issues related to slurry-based health and safety dangers and access to clean drinking water. The group is currently calling for a ban on ban of wet slurry production in West Virginia.

--Submitted by Viv Stockman

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Republicanization of Hampshire County

When I first moved to Hampshire County almost two decades ago, the conventional wisdom was that if you wanted a choice in local candidates, you had to register Democratic, because Democrats invariably won county elections. (Even then, however, Republicans were beginning to appear on the county commission, although all the other elected county offices were filled by Democrats.)

I used to joke at that time with my friends back in DC that Hampshire County was so conservative that it was still registered 2-1 Democratic (I haven’t looked at registration figures lately, but I’d be surprised if that ratio still holds.) The joke was, even with the predominance of registered Democrats, in national elections especially, Republicans usually won about 60 percent of the county vote. Hampshire County is solid Bible Belt country, the most Confederate county in West Virginia during the Civil War. But even though most of the South had turned Republican in the wake of Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act, Hampshire was so traditional that most people here kept their Democratic registration, but voted Republican.

In fact, I’d describe Hampshire County natives as more traditionalist than conservative (although they’re plenty conservative). You can see this phenomenon in some of the voting anomalies. In a year when Republicans dominated county voting, Democratic state senator Walt Helmick and commissioner Steve Slonaker, both incumbents, carried the county easily (like Robert Byrd used to do). These victories can be seen as the last vestiges of the old Democratic machine, a manifestation of both the old southern feudalism and legacy politics that complicate any political analysis.

But a true picture of where the Hampshire electorate is trending can be seen in the vote for US Senate, where Hampshire was out of step with the rest of the state, and voted overwhelmingly for Republican John Raese, despite the fact that Joe Manchin is in the same mold as the conservative Democratic legacy candidates that usually get Hampshire County votes. But here the legacy politics were trumped by the racial politics, and why we saw a resurgence this year of the old Republican “southern strategy,” in their effort to nationalize the election. This was pure and simple an anti-Obama vote. Manchin stopped the erosion of his early lead by “taking aim” at “Obamacare”—that was no accident. (Another indication that Hampshire is more conservative than the rest of the state is that Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson got about a quarter of the percentage of votes here that he got statewide.)

The Republican trend in Hampshire also showed itself in the overwhelming vote for Ruth Rowan for delegate against a strong candidate with long experience in the community, Mitch Davis; and in the capture of yet another county office, the county clerk position. This leaves Democrats holding only two county offices: one county commission seat, and the county assessor. I think those seats will remain safely Democratic until Steve Slonaker and assessor Norma Wagoner retire. But after that, if the trend holds, they’ll go Republican, too.

What explains the inexorable Republican trend even more than traditional southern conservatism is the changing demographics of the county. The old New Deal yellow dog Democrats here are dying off, and being replaced by Republican transplants, mostly retirees, from the cities. So whereas the young people of Hampshire County (the under-30 demographic is the most progressive group in the US population) are moving away for jobs and college, retirees of the postwar generation (the parents of the boomers, and more conservative than either the generation before or after them) are moving in, and vastly outnumber the progressive “creative class” transplants. There’s a certain inevitability here.

The biggest problem for the Democrats, both here and nationwide, is that the national party has abandoned its working class base, in service to its corporate funders (why I, personally, changed my party registration to Mountain this year). The degree to which the corporate Democrats of today have diverged from the party’s traditional principles can be illustrated by an FDR quote from his famous “Four Freedoms” speech:

“The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:
Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.
The enjoyment -- The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.
These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.”

The phrase, “ending of special privilege for the few,” has particular resonance today, in a Democratic administration dominated by Goldman Sachs and the Trilateral Commission. We have been sold out to a corporate plutocracy. The only Americans who seem unaware of this fact are Limbaugh dittoheads and Obamabots. But until the Democratic Party returns to its working class roots, no one should look for any resurgence of the Democratic Party in Hampshire County. Progressive interests will be better served in the meantime by working on specific issues that transcend party lines.

--Michael Hasty

UPDATE: To put an exclamation point on this analysis, AP published an article yesterday with the headline, "Election nearly wipes out white Southern Democrats." It said, "Republican efforts to win over the South, rooted decades ago in a strategy to capitalize on white voters' resentment of desegregation, is all but complete." When the final races are decided, there may be as few as 14 white Southern Democratic members of the House of Representatives, out of 105 total seats in the region.

The important thing to remember about Hampshire County is that, even though West Virginia is the only state to secede from another, it never seceded culturally.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And to the republic for which it no longer stands

The corporate establishment’s degree of media control has sufficiently and ignorantly relieved and excused those people responsible for our current ecomalaise. Hence, crazies surfaced politically and deceitfully captured the public’s discontent, driving that discontent to fool most Americans into justifying meanness and diminishing the understanding of others’ unfortunate plight.

This creates the foundation for the plutocrats to institutionalize the increasing wealth gap, necessitating even larger majorities in Congress to correct.

--Bill Arnold

The benefits of equality

Living in a society with massive income inequality—the US has greater income inequality than any other developed nation—makes people anxious, depressed, even physically sick.

The wealthiest and most unequal societies lag behind countries with fewer obvious advantages in every measure of health, happiness, and well-being. Rates of diabetes, hypertension, cancer, lung disease, and heart disease are higher than they are in more equal societies, such as Greece, Finland, Holland (where you can smoke), and Japan. Infant mortality rates are shocking.

Income inequality is the biggest cause of ill health in the world. The bad health effects of inequality are not confined to the poor, but spread like a pollutant throughout society. Having more poor people is not what makes more unequal societies sicker. Greater equality helps those at the bottom. Rich people and poor people alike are less healthy in more unequal countries.

Everyone receives roughly proportional benefits from greater equality. In more equal societies, everyone is better off. The vast majority of the population is harmed by greater inequality. Cooperation and friendship stimulate the reward centers in the brain, while the experience of social exclusion involves the same areas of the brain as physical pain. People who live in rich countries are under constant hormonal assault from the competitiveness and lack of connection in their lives.

One explanation for our poor health; the most powerful sources of stress affecting health seem to fall into three intensely social categories: low social status, lack of friends, and stress in early life. Add to that a culture based on competition for status, class-stratification, and criminalization of the lower class, and you have a sort of cycle of violence that ruins everyone's health. Violence is generally a response to threats to status: disrespect, humiliation, loss of face.

An experiment in India showed that boys of high and low caste performed at about equal levels on puzzles, with the low-caste boys performing a bit better. But when the boys were asked to state their fathers' names, where they were from, and their caste, the low-caste boys' performance plummeted. Likewise, in this country, African American youth lose confidence and their scores decline on tests, when told they are being evaluated against their white counterparts. It's a form of violence.

Despite historic heights of luxury in our modern societies, we talk as if our lives were a constant battle for psychological survival, struggling against stress and emotional exhaustion. Celebrities and the super-rich have a toxic effect on society, by inducing feelings of inferiority in the rest of the population. Their income should be redistributed in the name of public health.

--Bill Arnold

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In defense of Jeff and Jesse

One of the most remarkable aspects of the campaign to fill the remaining term of the late West Virginia senator, Robert Byrd, is how little attention has been given to the fact that half the people sitting at the table at the CSPAN-televised candidate debate, were 9/11 truthers.

Both Constitution Party candidate Jeff Becker and Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson have made public statements questioning the official story of the events of September 11th. Becker features his skepticism at his official website; Jesse Johnson is apparently so embarrassed about having been associated with 9/11 truth in an AP story in the Charleston Gazette that he doesn’t even list it in his press clips. But he does have a video endorsement at the top of his page from former US Senator Mike Gravel, a noted 9/11 truther (who doesn’t mention it in the video); and the national Green Party, with which the Mountain Party is now affiliated, has re-opening the 9/11 investigation in its platform.

You can see why Jesse is playing down his association with truthers, in the reaction that Jeff Becker got when he brought up the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7 and other anomalies in the official story during the debate. Everybody looked at him like he’d just cut a piece of really smelly cheese, and then proceeded to ignore everything he’d said. It was my one moment of hope in the debate that Jesse would, having been passed the opportunity, step up to the 9/11 plate. But he failed. I’m voting for him, anyway, because he’s still the closest candidate to me, ideologically. I’m a Mountain Party member. But it was a disappointment, however smart it may have played strategically.

As you can imagine, my heart went out to Jeff Becker, the very portrait of the courageous nerd as he plunged ahead with his suspicions, transparently aware of the disapproval of all the establishment types, politician and journalist alike, sitting with him there on the podium. Being a 9/11 truther myself, I’m used to being the oddball in the room. The concept of “conspiracy theory,” invented by the media after the JFK assassination to ridicule the growing skepticism among the populace about the credibility of the Warren Report, has proven to be one of the most durable and successful psychological operations ever launched against the American public. The rigid censorship of corporate media, where 80 percent of Americans still get their news, keeps any real questions about what scholar Peter Dale Scott calls America’s “Deep State”—the nexus of finance, intelligence and the criminal underworld—safely enclosed in the conspiracy ghetto—just another eccentric subculture in the national cavalcade of pre-apocalyptic weirdness.

But given the fact that the only consensus in the 9/11 truth movement is the call for a new investigation, that broad a definition of the movement includes most Americans. You can test this on yourself by taking the following quiz*:

All researchers of the destruction of the World Trade Center, official and skeptic alike, agree that the fires in the WTC never got hot enough to melt steel. Yet in early 2002, the US Geological Survey released a report which included an analysis of the WTC dust by RJ Lee Associates, which found that, whereas the dust from a normal office fire contains 0.04 percent of iron “microspheres,” formed by the propulsion of molten metal through the air (you’d expect a little of this phenomenon in every fire), the percentage of iron microspheres in the WTC dust was 5.87 percent—almost 150 times what’s expected. The USGS recommended follow-up study; no further research was done.

Also in 2002, the Federal Emergency Management Agency did a study on the steel girders of Building 7. Their research found “intergranular melting” of the girders, with “Swiss cheese-like holes” in the steel and one-inch steel flanges reduced to “razor thinness.” Remember, officially, none of the fires got hot enough to melt steel. The New York Times called FEMA’s discovery the “deepest mystery” of 9/11. FEMA recommended further analysis of the WTC steel. None was done.

Now we’re not talking about “theory” here. We’re talking about cold, hard physical evidence, as reported in official US government documents. So here’s the quiz: do you think those follow-up studies should be done?

If your answer is yes, you’re a 9/11 truther. Welcome to the oddball club.

*Links to both of the reports mentioned here can be found in David Ray Griffin’s excellent article, “Left-leaning despisers of the truth movement: Do you really believe in miracles?” at:

--Michael Hasty

Monday, November 1, 2010

Election controversy

This account of a local Tea Party meeting last Friday night comes from Tom Lewis, a Democratic activist. Since it’s so inflammatory, and comes just before the election, I asked Rob Wolford to send me his version of the events. He didn’t have time to write anything, but characterized Tom’s piece as “inaccurate.” About the only thing he agreed on was that Mitch Davis, Democratic candidate for state delegate, spoke last at the meeting.

I decided to post this, late as it is, because there has been some justifiable complaining from Democrats about Mitch’s treatment by the Review, and this provides some context in answering Commissioner Bob Hott’s accusations in last week’s paper. Since I wasn’t at the Tea Party meeting, I can’t make any judgment, but anyone with more information is welcome to comment. Comments will be deleted for incivility. -MH

(Romney WV October 30, 2010) -- Hampshire County Republicans continued a strident, last-minute counterattack against the candidacy of Democrat Mitch Davis last night at a forum sponsored by the local Tea Party affiliate, "We the People of Hampshire County." Davis is a candidate for the 50th House of Delegates District now represented by Republican Ruth Rowan.

The counterattack began on Tuesday, when Republican County Commissioner Bob Hott, during an official meeting of the county commission, attacked Davis for not being truthful in a campaign statement listing Davis's contributions to the county over many years. Hott's rant, which misrepresented Davis's statements, was run verbatim in the Hampshire Review in the last newspaper to appear before the election. The newspaper made no attempt to contact Davis for his reaction to Hott's misstatements.

The counterattack continued Friday night when Mrs. Rowan's son-in-law and campaign manager, Rob Wolford, asked every candidate who spoke (until he was stopped by the master of ceremonies) to comment on what he said were lies by Davis.

By lot, Davis was the last speaker of the evening. Wolford asked him for an explanation of his statement, but as Davis began to speak, Wolford, Ruth Rowan herself and her husband Tom Rowan began shouting at Davis, refusing to let him speak. (Meanwhile, members of the Tea Party listened to Davis respectfully and expressed their disapproval of the Rowans' tactics.) Eventually, when order was restored, Davis said he stands behind every statement he has made about helping the county in various ways, and offered to provide anyone who contacts him for details with confirmation of each one, along with many that were not in the published statement.

Davis's accomplishments, as published in the Cumberland Times-News and the Weekender, are:

In recent years, Mitch has become known as the "go-to guy" when it comes to making sure Hampshire County gets what it needs from the state government. In recent years he has played a major role in:

· Moving the $2.5 million Interconnector Project -- the sewer and water line from the Hampshire County High School to the Romney treatment plant -- from number 67 on the state's list of projects to be funded up to number 14, and assuring that the funding would be 100 per cent of the amount applied for;
· Persuading the Hampshire Building Authority to apply for, and then making sure it received, an energy conservation grant of $200 thousand toward the remodeling of the old county jail;
· Getting state money for two pickup trucks for the Central Hampshire County Public Service District;
· Obtaining half the funding to replace the roof on the Hampshire County Senior Center;
· Getting the Capon Bridge Rescue Squad the money to pave its parking lot;
· Arranging a grant of $15,000 for the Capon Springs Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad to get the trailer they needed to transport their cascade (breathing-air supply) system;
· Facilitating a meeting of Governor Manchin with representatives of Valley Health System and the Hampshire Memorial Hospital at a time when the deal leading to the sale of the hospital and the building of a new facility was in jeopardy (the meeting resolved the problems).

"You didn't see any pictures in the paper when these things got done," Mitch says, "because I didn't want credit then and I'm not looking for credit now. All I want is a chance to get more things done for Hampshire and Mineral Counties."

The Republican counterattack has had the effect of bringing to many peoples' attention the fact that Mitch Davis, as a private citizen, has a remarkable track record of getting things done for his county, while Mrs, Rowan's six-year record is one of doing nothing much.

--Tom Lewis