Random (but not really)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why the Consumption Tax Is a Terrible Idea

The governor wants to switch from an income tax to a consumption tax. Since I am pretty sure this is, if not the dumbest thing a WV politician has suggested, it’s certainly close, I decided to take a look at the census data and see what that told me.

A tiny bit of background.

West Virginia is surrounded by five other states: PA, MD, VA, KY, OH. [A]

West Virginia has four Interstates running through it: I64, I68, I77, I79. For towns along those interstates, it should be no more than two hours to a bordering state. [B]

West Virginia has 14 counties that contain major food deserts [C]–cities are were more than 20 miles from “grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.” The entire county of Gilmer is a food desert. Nine (9) of those counties with food deserts are NOT along the state border, and nine (9) of those counties also have a mean yearly income less than $50,000.

WV has seven (7) counties with a mean household income over $60,000. With the exception of Kanawha, all those are border counties, meaning residents can easily drive to another state to make purchases. There are 16 counties with a mean income over $55,000, [D] 12 of those counties are border counties. Of those remaining four, only Nicholas and Taylor counties do not have an Interstate running through them.

There are 18 counties with a population over 30,000. [E] 13 of those counties are border counties. Of the remaining five, only Logan county does not have an Interstate running through it.

With me so far?

When you step back and look at the big picture, you see that the wealthiest and most populated counties tend to be border counties, where people can easily drive to another state to shop.

Of those interior counties, nine (9) have areas that are food deserts, four (4) have unemployment rates over 5.5%, ten (10) of those counties have a mean income of less than $50,000, and eleven counties have populations of less than 20,000 people.

Those who will be contributing most to the taxes to keep the state afloat are predominantly going to be those who can least afford the extra burden, while the wealthy will be able to avoid paying the consumption tax by easily driving over the border to another state. [F]

This idea could only have been come up by someone either profoundly ignorant of the population of the state, or profoundly ignorant of human nature.

Either way, it is the poor who will get screwed.

This is the Excel file I used to collate the data downloaded from the Census bureau and USDA.

[A] OH is somewhat problematic, since there the Ohio river is the border between WV and OH, and thus you can only cross at bridges, which are predominantly in the wealthier counties.

[B] There are other major roads that criss-cross the state, but most are good roads for only a portion. FREX, Most Rt 50 from Clarksburg to Parkersburg is a relatively flat and straight divide four lane divided highway. From Bridgeport East to the border, it’s two lanes, windy, and with several 7-9% grades. So I only counted Interstates with consider ease of access to other states.

[C] Food Deserts: Barbour, Fayette, Gilmer, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Mingo, Monroe, Roane, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel

[D] Income over $55k: Berkeley, Brooke, Cabell, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pleasants, Putnam, Taylor, Wood

[E] Population over 30k: Berkeley, Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Wayne, Wood

[F] And I do mean driving. Public transportation is abysmal in much of the state, and in rural areas, you are trapped without a car; you cannot get a job, go to the doctor, get groceries, etc.

All data from:
US Census Bureau – WV
USDA – Food Deserts

Written by Michelle at 2:15 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why We Have the EPA: Water

In 1952 and 1969 and at least 11 other times, the Cuyahoga along Cleveland Ohio caught fire. (Ohio History Central) (Washington Post)



Let’s take a look at something that’s a little more personal–the water quality of the Monongahela River, which runs past Morgantown and is the source of my water. The Mon River also has had a long history of pollution, especially from acid mine drainage.

The Monongahela River watershed was considered to be one of the region’s most intensely polluted by acid mine drainage in the United States until about 1970. (USACE)

Look at the change in pollution from 1974 (1) to 2000.

Morgantown

1974

1999-2000

pH

4.8

6.3

Alkalinity

2.5

14.2

Acidity

24.4

12.2

Total iron

4.9

2.7

(WVU Extension Service)

See also: (1964 Department of the Interior Report) (Morgantown Utility Board 2015 CCR)



Access to clean water is not a problem for 3rd world countries, it is a problem in many areas of West Virginia (and elsewhere in Appalachia). (Inside Appalachia)

Clean water is something many take for granted nowadays, but this is something that has come about through regulation and work. It does not come through the actions of private industries who don’t give a shit about those living downstream.

(1) The Clean Water Act was implemented in 1972, so this sampling is from two years after that.

Written by Michelle at 6:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Science, Health & Nature  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why We Have the EPA: Air

In 1952, England had a Great Smog that killed at least 4000 people (History.com) (The Guardian), although the history of killer smog in London dates back to the 1800s. (Guardian)



In 1966, at least 50 people were killed by a smog that covered the city of NY over Thanksgiving weekend. (Business Insider) (US Dept of Health, Education and Welfare Report from 1966)



In 1948, smog killed at least 20 people in Donora PA (a town south of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River, north of Morgantown). (History.com) (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) (NPR)



Current smog in the western US comes from uncontrolled emissions from China (Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics), and it’s possible that one third of deaths in China come from smog. (Business Insider)



Why do we need the EPA?

Because industry will not regulate itself. Because without regulation people die.

Written by Michelle at 11:28 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Science, Health & Nature  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quid Pro Quo: Something Given or Received for Something Else

US Constitution: Article I Section 9

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

 

Nations whose citizens have committed terrorism against the United States in modern times:
Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon

 

Nations targeted by Trump’s ban:
Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya

 

Nations with whom Trump has business interests:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar

 

And a quick bit of history. Nations whose governments have been toppled / destabilized with US interference / assistance:

Korea (1945), Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979-1989), Nicaragua (1981-1989), Panama (1989), Haiti (1991), Somalia (1993), Iraq (1994-1996), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Haiti (2004), Somalia (2007), Syria (2005-2015), Lybia (2011)

 

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
– George Santayana

Written by Michelle at 9:33 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Voting My Conscience

There are a lot of posts going around FB about how it is essentially immoral to vote for a third party candidate.

Mind you, most of those articles are directed towards the presidential election, but still the statements are broad and sweeping.

And I do understand these statements, for I’ve given friends a hard time for voting for Ralph Nader over Al Gore, and giving us W (something for which WV continues to suffer, as the recession hit us later and harder than the rest of the country, and never mind the lives lost in Iraq).

And so I understand these statements, for this presidential election is terrifying.

But still, it is their right to vote for whom they please, and to vote their conscience. And at least they’re voting, which is something many many people can’t be bothered to do. Which makes even less sense to me. Because when we vote in November, the presidential ticket is just one of the contests, many of which will have as much if not more influence on our day-to-day lives. (1) (2)

Which brings me the article that started off this rant.

The governor’s race in WV.

Billionaire Gubernatorial Candidate Owes $15 Million in Taxes and Fines

His mining companies owe $15 million in six states, including property and minerals taxes, state coal severance and withholding taxes, and federal income, excise and unemployment taxes, as well as mine safety penalties, according to county, state and federal records.

In the past 16 months, while fines and taxes went unpaid, Justice personally contributed nearly $2.9 million in interest-free loans and in-kind contributions to his gubernatorial campaign, according to state campaign finance reports.

I cannot in good conscience vote for either major party candidate.

I simply cannot. I don’t believe that either candidate truly has the good of West Virginians and the future of our state in mind. Not only do their words show a willful ignorance of what the future is going to hold, their past actions show that they haven’t held the good of the state and it’s people as most important.

Say what you will about the late Senator Byrd, but that man did everything–absolutely everything–to help the state. To make our lives better and give us a future. Not by putting his name on every building in the state, but by recognizing that without things other states take for granted, like roads that are capable of handling commercial truck traffic, we had no future.

We cannot base our future upon non-renewable resources.

We simply cannot.

We have so much to offer here, so much beauty and recreation and and so many marvels–marvels and beauty that will be destroyed if we refuse to acknowledge that our future does not and cannot lie with extractive industries.

A politician that refuses to acknowledge that truth cannot have the good of the state in mind, and cannot care about our future generations and what we are leaving them.

And that is why I won’t be voting for either of the major party candidates for governor. Because I love this state, and it doesn’t seem like the candidates even care.

——

(1) Every time we sit in horrible traffic on the Mileground, we’re sitting there because a decade ago people refused to approve the levy to widen the road. That’s hours and hours of time lost in the intervening years, as the situation got worse, and will be even more difficult and time-consuming and miserable to remedy now.

(2) And then there are the city-wide debates over land use and farming and keeping livestock within city limits. These are issues we are going to deal with the results of going forward for years. Should you have the right to grow your own food? Should you be forced to live next to a chicken coop that is both noisy and poorly cleaned? These decisions will affect our quality of life going forward, and whether you refuse to vote or not, you still have to live with the consequences.

Written by Michelle at 7:01 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day

Textile Mills

ChildrenSpinning

girl-working-at-cotton-mill-P

millgirl

Landscape

Factories

child-labor

Fields

child-labor-3

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

Triangle-Fire

triangle3

Chimney Sweeps

childsweep2

Mining

Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

youngminers

My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union
‘Til every battle’s won.

Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker Mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania, 10 January 1911, from a 1908-1912 series on...

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there;
You’ll either be a union man,
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

child-miners

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Farmington-Mine-Disaster-smoke

monongah-mine

sago

Upper Big Branch

child labor today 1

child labor today 2

child labor today 3

child-labor_idp_2

child labor today 4

child-labour-pakistan

Child_labour_Nepal

child_labour

Just a reminder what we’re celebrating today.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays,Politics  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On Swimwear and Modesty

I’ve been super confused by the recent news stories about bans in France on a certain kind of swimwear.

France’s highest administrative court is being asked to overturn beach bans imposed by 26 towns on women in full-body swimsuits known as “burkinis”.

Women are being fined for wearing modest swimwear.

Think about that for a few moments.

If you have any passing knowledge of history, you’ll be vaguely aware that less than 100 years ago, women were arrested or fined or removed from the beach for their swimsuits.

Because those suits didn’t cover enough of their skin.

Now we’re being arrested for covering too much of our skin?

Of course not. Not ALL women are being arrested, fined, or shamed for their swimwear!

Here’s a company that seems to be doing a good business selling modest swimwear to WASP women.

HydroChic’s core mission is to provide a stylish line of modest women’s swimsuits that at once combines the desire for chic expression on the beach and the consumer’s wish for modest swimwear coverage.

Here’s an article in the Wall Street Journal on the business of modest swimwear.

For years, Ms. Bolin, who is in her early 50s, searched for adequate bathing suits. Finally, she ventured out to her favorite Texas water park in a HydroChic outfit: Bermuda-length swim shorts and a three-quarter sleeve top.

Ms. Bolin said she still remembers admiring comments from lifeguards who loved her surfer look: “They thought I was the coolest.” She has never looked back

And that’s how it should be–a woman should be allowed to dress in a manner in which she is comfortable.

But yet women in France are being told that their manner of dress is not acceptable. That they don’t know their own minds and therefore cannot possibly have chosen to dress in such a manner, so therefore, they should not be allowed to dress in such a manner.

It’s 2016; how have we not reached the point where women can wear whatever the hell they want without some government stepping in to tell us they know what is best for us? That what we wear affects people OTHER than ourselves therefore we must toe the government line for how we clothe ourselves?

Why are more women around the world not ENRAGED by this?

Of course, some women are unhappy with these laws. Here’s a lovely image from France, of women who are standing up for their rights of their sisters to dress as they please:

_90932427_hi034949178

Note that none of the women are the least bit upset by how the other women around them are dressed. In fact, they seem to be enjoying the company.

Because that’s the point. We should support the rights of others to dress as they please.

Mind you, I don’t particularly want to see half-nekkid people, and the thought of sitting in a chair after someone wearing short-shorts squicks me out a bit but that’s my problem to deal with (which is why all my shorts come down almost to my knees). It doesn’t give me the right to order other people to dress in a manner that makes me happy and comfortable.

To close, here is a picture of my in MY swimsuit (no one mocked me or tried to fine or arrest me for my clothes).

20160612_Jules_Birthday_038

I don’t dress modestly because of some government or religious edict (in fact, I’m close to agnostic). I dress modestly because that is how I am comfortable dressing.

And that is and should remain MY choice and MY decision.

——

For the curious or interested, my top is a rash guard from Coolibar, which makes UPF 50 clothing and swimwear.

This does not mean I won’t mock creepy men who wear speedos and act like god’s gift to women. Because there’s dressing as you like, and then there’s being an asshole. The latter is always deserving of mockery.

Written by Michelle at 8:42 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs,Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Things that Suck

I work IT.

That means I dress in jeans and a t-shirt (in my case a long sleeve t-shirt, because I have a propensity to touch things that will give me a rash.

I dress for working on computers in rooms that process soil or other messy things.

In fact, here is how I’m dressed today.

20140623_081549

Comfortably.

Why am I sharing this seemingly inconsequential information with you?

Because of something that happened this morning.

As I stepped out of the room where I had been working, I saw two men standing in the hallway. One most likely a few years older than me, and one probably a few years younger.

They both turned towards me when they heard the door close, and then the older of the two went back to studying the bulletin board.

The younger male stared at me.

As I walked towards him, he continued to stare at me, and as I walked past, he actually turned his body so he could continue to stare at me as I went past him and into the stairwell.

The reason I’m sharing this is, you see, this is the kind of shit that happens all the fucking time when you’re female.

Shit like this is why I don’t feel safe walking places alone.

Shit like this is why I carry my keys in my hand, sharp bits pointing out.

Shit like this is why I hate dressing nicely, because then it’s worse.

Shit like this is why I always wear shoes I can run in.

No, it doesn’t “feel good” that someone thought I was attractive enough to stare at.

It feels creepy.

It feels unsafe.

And it feels incredibly unfair.

Written by Michelle at 11:41 am      Comments (4)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs,Politics  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Poverty and Dreams

Yesterday I was struck by a statement in an interview with the first Sri Lankan to go to Julliard. (Yes, the title of the interview is very wrong.)

It is such a clear–and terribly sad–glimpse of what it’s like to grow up in poverty.

I feel like people always tell me that, oh, it must be – you must feel like your dreams have come true because you’re singing, and you have a beautiful family. It’s all true. But the truth is that I didn’t really dream any of this because, for some people, there are certain things that one cannot dream. You can’t afford certain dreams…
…Because you can’t afford that dream because that’s not an option within your grasp.

When you’re poor, you can’t afford to dream.

And that’s what so many ultra conservatives don’t get. Then you are growing up in poverty, your life is not a road-map with unlimited highways and interstates and back-roads and alleys. Your life has one road–perhaps two–open to you. If you can get an education, then perhaps that road you’re on will branch out later in life, but for many, even that education is beyond their grasp.

This basic inequality is why I am politically liberal. Why I want all children to have as many roads open to them as possible, and I realize it is my responsibility to help make it so.

Written by Michelle at 9:50 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Continued Injustuce for Coal Miners

I posted this on Facebook, but I’d really like to address it more thoroughly.

I heard about this initially on the WV Public Radio, which addressed a slightly different issue, “lawyers with the Jackson Kelly law firm submitted only favorable evidence in court.

But this article, on the doctors used most frequently by coal companies to deny claims, is completely heart-breaking.

Johns Hopkins medical unit rarely finds black lung, helping coal industry defeat miners’ claims

The article is long, but well worth reading. However, if you don’t want to read it, take note of this:

“It breaks my heart,” he said. “This man has been victimized twice — once by the conditions that allowed him to get this disease and again by a benefits system that failed him.”

For 40 years, doctors from Johns Hopkins have been reading x-rays of coal miners lungs. And instead of finding evidence of black lung, they note other causes.

Where other doctors saw black lung, Wheeler often saw evidence of another disease, most commonly tuberculosis or histoplasmosis — an illness caused by a fungus in bird and bat droppings. This was particularly true in cases involving the most serious form of the disease. In two-thirds of cases in which other doctors found complicated black lung, Wheeler attributed the masses in miners’ lungs to TB, the fungal infection or a similar disease.

You read that correctly. When looking at films of the lungs of coal miners, this doctor sees a fungal infection caused by bat droppings.

That in and of itself is horrifying, but even worse is this:

(T)issue samples from miners’ lungs have proven Wheeler wrong again and again.

When they do tissue samples (which can be dangerous to the patient, which is why radiology is the preferred method of diagnosis) the cause of the disease is usually determined to be black lung.

But as I said, these biopsies are not the recommend method of diagnosis, so what happens is this:

Sometimes miners had to die to prove they had black lung.

Then the widow or other family members receive death benefits.

Cold comfort for those who watched their loved ones slowly suffocate, and were told despite years in the mines, the cause of the disease wasn’t black lung, and they didn’t deserve support and benefits from the coal companies.

But here’s what royally pissed me off.

This man, sitting in his clean office, miles from the mines, far removed from these men struggling with every breath, believes the incidence and prevalence of black lung should be low, solely because he believes the law put an end to coal dust in mines.

A pair of assumptions shapes Wheeler’s views in ways that some judges and government officials have found troubling.

In reaching his conclusions about the cause of the large masses in Stacy’s lungs, Wheeler drew upon beliefs that pervade his opinions: Improved conditions in mines should make complicated black lung rare; whereas, histoplasmosis is endemic in coal mining areas.

In case after case, Wheeler has said complicated black lung was found primarily in “drillers working unprotected during and prior to World War II.”

This is the part where anyone who grew up in West Virginia is completely incredulous.

A law was put in place to regulate coal dust, ipso facto miners don’t have black lung.

If you think that’s ridiculous, let me tell you, it’s far worse than you think.

You see, coal companies regular falsify the dust readings in their mines.

(C)heating on dust tests is common, and… many miners help operators falsify the tests to protect their jobs.

Two dozen former mine owners or managers acknowledged that they had falsified tests.

Despite laws, hundreds are killed by black lung

[An important aside: “Dust tests tend to be taken more accurately at union mines than at non-union mines.”]

(The Labor Department) received 4,710 faked samples from 847 coal mines across the country, or 40 percent of the mines that the Government is charged with sampling.

U.S. Fines 500 Mine Companies for False Air Tests

Let me sum it up like this: the doctor the coal companies turn to because he provides diagnoses that allow them to deny black-lung claims believes that mines are dust free.

Yet for decades, coal companies have been falsifying the dust test that are supposed to show they are keeping the amount of dust in the air at legal limits.

Right now, I want more than anything else, for this doctor to work at coal mines, breathing the air miners have to breathe. Knowing supervisors are falsifying dust tests, but knowing he can’t say anything about it, or he’ll lose his job. And for him to know he can’t lose his job, because there are no other decent jobs to be had.

Written by Michelle at 7:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

December 31, 1862

I missed this on Monday, but want still to make note of its passing: 31 December was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s signing the bill to allow for the statehood of WV.

It is interesting to note that the constitutionality of the creation of WV has been considered dubious. The section of note is as follows:

New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution

The legal maneuvering to get around this was the creation of the New Restored Government of Virginia.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, EXECUTIVE DEP’T, WHEELING, June 21, 1861.

To His Excellency the President of the United States:

SIR: Reliable information has been received at this department from various parts of the State that large numbers of evil-minded persons have banded together in military organizations with intent to overthrow the Government of the State; and for that purpose have called to their aid like-minded persons from other States, who, in pursuance of such call, have invaded this Commonwealth. They are now making war on the loyal people of the State. They are pressing citizens against their consent into their military organization, and seizing and appropriating their property to aid in the rebellion.

I have not at my command sufficient military force to suppress this rebellion and violence. The Legislature cannot be convened in time to act in the premises; it therefore becomes my duty as Governor of this Commonwealth to call on the Government of the United States for aid to repress such rebellion and violence.

I therefore earnestly request that you will furnish a military force to aid in suppressing the rebellion, and to protect the good people of this Commonwealth from domestic violence.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant.

(Signed,) F.H. PEIRPOINT, Governor.

This restored government then petitioned Congress to make the western counties of Virginia a separate state.

We even had our own Declaration of Independence:

Declaration of the People of Virginia
Represented in Convention at Wheeling
June 13, 1861

The true purpose of all government is to promote the welfare and provide for the protection and security of the governed, and when any form or organization of government proves inadequate for, or subversive of this purpose, it is the right, it is the duty of the latter to alter or abolish it. The Bill of Rights of Virginia, framed in 1776, reaffirmed in 1860, and again in 1851, expressly reserves this right to the majority of her people, and the existing constitution does not confer upon the General Assembly the power to call a Convention to alter its provisions, or to change the relations of the Commonwealth, without the previously expressed consent of such majority. The act of the General Assembly, calling the Convention which assembled at Richmond in February last, was therefore a usurpation; and the Convention thus called has not only abused the powers nominally entrusted to it, but, with the connivance and active aid of the executive, has usurped and exercised other powers, to the manifest injury of the people, which, if permitted, will inevitably subject them to a military despotism.

The Convention, by its pretended ordinances, has required the people of Virginia to separate from and wage war against the government of the United States, and against the citizens of neighboring State, with whom they have heretofore maintained friendly, social and business relations:

It has attempted to subvert the Union founded by Washington and his co-patriots in the purer days of the republic, which has conferred unexampled prosperity upon every class of citizens, and upon every section of the country:

It has attempted to transfer the allegiance of the people to an illegal confederacy of rebellious States, and required their submission to its pretended edicts and decrees:

It has attempted to place the whole military force and military operations of the Commonwealth under the control and direction of such confederacy, for offensive as well as defensive purposes.

It has, in conjunction with the State executive, instituted wherever their usurped power extends, a reign of terror intended to suppress the free expression of the will of the people, making elections a mockery and a fraud:

The same combination, even before the passage of the pretended ordinance of secession, instituted war by the seizure and appropriation of the property of the Federal Government, and by organizing and mobilizing armies, with the avowed purpose of capturing or destroying the Capitol of the Union:

They have attempted to bring the allegiance of the people of the United States into direct conflict with their subordinate allegiance to the State, thereby making obedience to their pretended Ordinance, treason against the former.

We, therefore the delegates here assembled in Convention to devise such measures and take such action as the safety and welfare of the loyal citizens of Virginia may demand, having mutually considered the premises, and viewing with great concern, the deplorable condition to which this once happy Commonwealth must be reduced, unless some regular adequate remedy is speedily adopted, and appealing to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for the rectitude of our intentions, do hereby, in the name and on the behalf of the good people of Virginia, solemnly declare, that the preservation of their dearest rights and liberties and their security in person and property, imperatively demand the reorganization of the government of the Commonwealth, and that all acts of said Convention and Executive, tending to separate this Commonwealth from the United States, or to levy and carry on war against them, are without authority and void; and the offices of all who adhere to the said Convention and Executive, whether legislative, executive or judicial, are vacated.

Before signing the bill at the end of 1862, President Lincoln asked his cabinet the following:

Gentlemen of the Cabinet

A bill for an act entitled ‘An Act for the admission of the State of West-Virginia into the Union, and for other purposes,’ has passed the House of Representatives, and the Senate, and has been duly presented to me for my action.

I respectfully ask of each [of] you, an opinion in writing, on the following questions, towit:

1st. Is the said Act constitutional?

2d. Is the said Act expedient?

Your Obt. Servt.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN

President Lincoln considered their responses and signed the bill on the 31st, with a memorandum containing some of the reasons he thought their legal maneuvering was successful.

The division of a State is dreaded as a precedent. But a measure made expedient by a war, is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West-Virginia, is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession against the constitution, and secession in favor of the constitution.

I believe the admission of West-Virginia into the Union is expedient.

This wasn’t the start of the process, nor the end, yet it was still a significant part in the creation of the State of West Virginia from territories that had previously been Virginia.

Restored Government of Virginia
Lincoln’s West Virginia Dilemma
Lincoln and West Virginia Statehood

Written by Michelle at 11:51 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: History,Politics  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Then What the Hell’s the Presidency for?

When the presidency has come up, I’ve half jokingly commented that I’ve got problems with President Obama–he’s not liberal enough for me.

That’s actually pretty close to the truth.

This morning I listened to an interview with Robert Caro that crystallized those feelings, yet also made me feel better about the steps the president has made with the Affordable Care Act.

Robert Caro talked about President Johnson, in the hours and days after President Kennedy was assassinated, determining what he would do with the presidency.

His advisers were telling him to forget Civil Rights, that to put Civil Rights would be a waste of political capital and goodwill, to which Johnson replied,

“Then what the hell’s the presidency for?”

If those in office do not look out for the poor and the powerless, then they are wasting their time and wasting their power.

The President has the ability to being issues to the attention of the public. The President has what Theodore Roosevelt called the “Bully Pulpit“.

Please note that the definition of “bully” has changed significantly since TR’s time. President Roosevelt meant it as something excellent. He was referring to the wonderful opportunity presidents have to set the agenda, to inform the American people of issues that need to be addressed.

Theodore Roosevelt used his bully pulpit to create the National Parks System (something for which I am grateful.)

Franklin Roosevelt used his bully pulpit to draw the United States into World War II, to pull the American economy out of the Great Depression, and to put in place a social security system that would keep older Americans from ending their lives destitute.

Eisenhower created the US Interstate System.

John F. Kennedy put a man on the moon.

Lyndon Johnson helped pass Civil Rights legislation.

The things these men created and the laws they passed are public goods–they were created to make the United States–and the world–a better place.

Which brings us to President Obama.

As a liberal, my biggest concern is for the American people–especially for those who through no fault of their own have ended up in a hand-to-mouth existence.

Despite being a godless liberal, I believe that religion (all major religions) tell us as Americans (and humans) how to treat each other.

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

–Matthew 25:34-40

Feel free to tithe to your church, but that doesn’t get you out of caring for the rest of the sick, poor and needy in the US–the ones who aren’t part of your church, or are not part of the small group of people your religious group helps.

…he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

–Luke 10:30-37

I have little use for organized religion, but I do believe religious teachings can be guides for how we should treat each other.

I believe that treating others well, and caring for those in need, is the foundation for why we have government.

Which brings me back around to what the presidency is for.

I believe that unlike Congress, which exists to look after the needs of citizens of the states they represent, the President should look after the needs of the entire US population–and of primary concern should be the needs of the poor and the powerless.

My desire is for the President to take a stand on issues that affect the poor and the powerless.

I am very glad that he took first steps with the Affordable Care Act, and my hope is that with time, these programs with strengthen.

My hope is also that the president and those in Congress will remember they are to act as advocates for all Americans, and that it is their moral duty to look out for those without power.

Otherwise, what the hell’s the presidency for?

Written by Michelle at 5:16 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: History,Politics  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

FOAD Notice

To Whom It May Concern:

Several events in the past couple months have brought me to the sad realization that I need to post this.

If you believe that you are morally superior to others simply because of your race, gender, religion, or sexuality, please un-friend me, remove me from your RSS feed, and basically never darken my door ever again.

Your possession of heterosexuality or a Y chromosome does not make you inherently better than anyone else, and if you think it does, I want nothing to do with you.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Michelle Klishis

Written by Michelle at 12:45 pm      Comments (4)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bitch

An interesting conversation occurred recently on Twitter. I was joking about my bad attitude, and said, “My attitude stems from ‘you’re calling me a bitch like that’s a BAD thing.'”

I was surprised to learn there are still women for whom that word has a sting and a bite.

When I was in college, I read (in Cosmo of all places) an article on the word “bitch,” which pretty much said that men use it as a term to put uppity women in their place. You know, like when we’re being strong, and assertive, and standing up for ourselves.

That was the point when I decided that the word bitch would never bother me, because I wanted to be a strong woman.

Of course, I spent several years confused about the term “strong woman” and precisely what that meant, (Note to my college aged self: You’re doing it completely wrong.) but eventually I came to terms with what it meant to me to be a strong woman, and I’ve been working on it ever since.

A couple years after college I came upon Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (I’m amazed that the cover on the current version is toned done from the cover on the version I have, which I love. How did a book praising strong women get its cover toned down?), which reinforced that idea.

…I intend to do what I want to do and be whom I want to be and answer only to myself: that is, quite simply, the bitch philosophy…

Here’s the thing, it’s not shocking for a man to believe and act in such a manner, but–even today–we’re still fighting over what feminism is or should be or who should make the sammich. (Every time I see one of the arguments I want to shut all participants in a very small, very dark basement, for a very long time.)

We can have all the debates about gender equality and sexism and male privilege we want, but it seems to me that as long as women are called bitches for saying what they think and for standing up for what they believe, it’s pretty clear what the state of things really is.

Misogyny still exists. Some of us still deal with it Every Single Day. And as long as it does I’ll willingly and proudly take the title of bitch. I will not sit down and shut up and be nice, just because that’s what society expects me to do.

I will laugh loudly. I will be brash and outspoken. I will tell you my opinion and you are free to debate me but you have to use rational arguments and logic. I will stand up tall and make my presence known and not stand in a corner waiting to be acknowledged.

I will continue be a bitch, and I’ll continue to proud to be called one.

Written by Michelle at 11:09 pm      Comments (5)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Legacy of Joe Paterno

They are burying Joe Paterno today.

Many many people will stand up and talk about all the good things he did, while others will stand outside and try to remind people that it is the responsibility of good men and women everywhere to fight evil where they see it.

Throughout the past century there have been many countless cases of people who were not necessarily evil, but who stood by while evil happened.

There was the murder of Catherine Susan “Kitty” Genovese.
The actions of everyday people to German concentration and extermination camps.
The rounding up and internment of American citizens during WWII.

Such evil occurs every day because people who are not bad–who are not evil–ignore it. Because people think “someone else will do something about that.” Because people believe that if someone in power has allowed it, it cannot be wrong.

But it IS wrong.

A story appeared on Daily KOS about child molestation. I warn you, it is upsetting and distressing, not just the descriptions, but the realization that what is described happened to a ten year old child.

It should be read by all those who think that Joe Paterno is a hero to be worshiped.

He isn’t.

I am not saying he was a bad man.

I am not saying he did not attempt and achieve good things when given the opportunity that came his way.

But when push came to shove, when he was confronted with true evil, he did what most people do: He passed the buck and hoped that someone else would take care of the problem.

He had the power to stop evil, but he didn’t use it.

He did not make a stand when his legendary prowess and strength were most needed.

He allowed evil to occur, thinking–hoping most likely–that someone else was dealing with it. Hoping someone else would take care of it.

That failure? It doesn’t make him evil, it just makes him a coward.

To be honest, most of us are cowards. Few people in the world are willing to stand up against wrongdoing. To speak out against injustice.

Because it’s hard.

Standing up means that you will face ridicule. Disdain. Threats. Maybe even death.

Most people don’t have the heart or the balls to see what is right in front of them and take action. After all, it’s not their loved one in harm’s way. They have to look out for themselves, to protect those they love, first. Right?

Standing up against evil, against what is wrong is so very hard. It’s something that most people can’t do.

Does that make those people evil? I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

But it does mean they most certainly are not heroes. They are not deserving of worship and adulation by strangers.

So on this day when tributes are being made to Joe Paterno, I believe we are better served considering individuals and organizations that are in truth heroic. That have stood up and said: NO. This will not happen. I will not allow such evil to pass unnoticed and unremarked.

Erika Heymann
Paul Rusesabagina
Gyöngyi Mago

Simon Wiesenthal Center
National Sexual Assault Online Hotline
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

And maybe–just maybe–next time you see a wrong, you’ll stand up and say something. You’ll do what is right instead of what is expedient. You’ll take the hard road, strewn with ridicule and danger, and think not of yourself, but of the weak and the powerless who cannot stand up for themselves.

Written by Michelle at 12:09 pm      Comments (7)  Permalink
Categories: History,Politics  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Marting Luther King Jr Day

December 11, 1964

…A second evil which plagues the modern world is that of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, it projects its nagging, prehensile tentacles in lands and villages all over the world. Almost two-thirds of the peoples of the world go to bed hungry at night. They are undernourished, ill-housed, and shabbily clad. Many of them have no houses or beds to sleep in. Their only beds are the sidewalks of the cities and the dusty roads of the villages. Most of these poverty-stricken children of God have never seen a physician or a dentist. This problem of poverty is not only seen in the class division between the highly developed industrial nations and the so-called underdeveloped nations; it is seen in the great economic gaps within the rich nations themselves. Take my own country for example. We have developed the greatest system of production that history has ever known. We have become the richest nation in the world. Our national gross product this year will reach the astounding figure of almost 650 billion dollars. Yet, at least one-fifth of our fellow citizens – some ten million families, comprising about forty million individuals – are bound to a miserable culture of poverty. In a sense the poverty of the poor in America is more frustrating than the poverty of Africa and Asia. The misery of the poor in Africa and Asia is shared misery, a fact of life for the vast majority; they are all poor together as a result of years of exploitation and underdevelopment. In sad contrast, the poor in America know that they live in the richest nation in the world, and that even though they are perishing on a lonely island of poverty they are surrounded by a vast ocean of material prosperity. Glistening towers of glass and steel easily seen from their slum dwellings spring up almost overnight. Jet liners speed over their ghettoes at 600 miles an hour; satellites streak through outer space and reveal details of the moon. President Johnson, in his State of the Union Message12, emphasized this contradiction when he heralded the United States’ “highest standard of living in the world”, and deplored that it was accompanied by “dislocation; loss of jobs, and the specter of poverty in the midst of plenty”.

So it is obvious that if man is to redeem his spiritual and moral “lag”, he must go all out to bridge the social and economic gulf between the “haves” and the “have nots” of the world. Poverty is one of the most urgent items on the agenda of modern life…

…The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these”. Deeply etched in the fiber of our religious tradition is the conviction that men are made in the image of God and that they are souls of infinite metaphysical value, the heirs of a legacy of dignity and worth. If we feel this as a profound moral fact, we cannot be content to see men hungry, to see men victimized with starvation and ill health when we have the means to help them. The wealthy nations must go all out to bridge the gulf between the rich minority and the poor majority.

In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent. The agony of the poor diminishes the rich, and the salvation of the poor enlarges the rich. We are inevitably our brothers’ keeper because of the interrelated structure of reality…/blockquote>

Written by Michelle at 9:06 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: History,Politics  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Death, Grief, and White Hot Rage

At the beginning of November I received one of those phone calls you dread–a friend was dead. She hadn’t shown up for work, and a co-worker went to her apartment where they discovered she had died over the weekend.

As we called other friends to tell them of the loss, we heard the same question again and again, “what happened?”

We didn’t know.

Over the course of the day we learned various details. She’d not been feeling well that week, and her coworkers and family had been worried about her. The thought was maybe she had pneumonia or an asthma attack, but those were all guesses. We wouldn’t know anything until the medical examiner’s report.

We talked a lot about her in the following weeks. She’d been unemployed and underemployed for the past several years, and at one point thought she was going to lose her apartment. But in the nick of time, as she was boxing up her belongings, unsure where she was going to go, she got a job offer. It wasn’t full time with benefits, but it was enough to allow her to catch up on her rent and not have to move.

She liked her job, and was delighted after so much struggle to be working again. We’d been so happy for her. Happy because it finally looked like things were turning around for her.

Then suddenly, she’s dead, without warning.

Any death is hard, but somehow it seems so much harder when it’s unexpected.

It reminds you that life is short, and you should embrace what you have while you have it, for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

It also reminded us that if we never know what will happen tomorrow, it’s a good idea to make sure your passwords and bank accounts are available for whomever comes after you and has to put away the pieces of your life.

Somehow, two months have passed, though it hardly seems like it has been that long. But it has, and the family finally received word from the medical examiner.

It wasn’t asthma.

It wasn’t pneumonia.

It was metastatic cancer.

See, when you’re unemployed and underemployed, you don’t have health insurance. And when you don’t have health insurance, you just suck it up when you get sick.

Unfortunately, there are some things that won’t go away with time. Things that only get worse if they remain undiscovered and untreated.

Metastatic cancer.

If you’re not clear on the term, that means the untreated cancer–wherever it may have started–spread throughout her body.

Spread until it finally killed her.

We cannot know whether a diagnosis and treatment would have prolonged her life. Chances are they would have given her at least a few months if not years.

But I do know one thing for certain: If she had been diagnosed, she almost certainly would not have died alone, without the chance say goodbye to those she loved.

So when politicians and talking heads claim that health care isn’t a right, when they claim that we have no moral and ethical responsibility to provide for the medical needs of every citizen, this is what happens.

People die alone.

And those who love them never get the chance to say goodbye.

Written by Michelle at 10:57 pm      Comments (7)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy,UCF  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wednesday’s Executions: Statements Presented without Comment

“If I saw (Lawrence Russell Brewer) face to face, I’d tell him I forgive him for what he did. Otherwise, I’d be like him. My mom forgave all three of them. My mom didn’t want violence anywhere.”
Betty Boatner, sister of James Byrd Junior

“What a travesty it would be if they don’t uphold the death sentence. … It’s time for justice today. My family needs justice.”
Joan MacPhail-Harris, widow of Mark Allen MacPhail

Written by Michelle at 10:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

Girls working in a box factory

Farmington

Coal miners

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Christ Church Mass Grave

Child Brick worker

Child brick worker

Written by Michelle at 9:43 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,Politics  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nuclear Reactors: Totally Suck Less than Coal Mining

As I was half listening to the news this evening, a piece came up that stopped me in my tracks.

The Fukishima nuclear problems have convinced a noted environmentalist that nuclear power is, in fact, a viable alternative.

It was very strange to hear a man delineating all the things I wrote last week about why I was undisturbed by the nuclear reactor problems.

Because as bad as things get, the amount of damage is nowhere near the amount of damage that occurs on a daily basis with coal mining.

As the world stares in abject fascination at the news coming out of Japan, no one outside of WV has heard about Massey Energy being sited for more than eighty (80) safety violations while they still claim that they were not to blame for the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, meanwhile they won a lawsuit over Marsh Fork Elementary. Did you know that a single coal slurry damn breaking has killed twice as many people as all the nuclear reactor disasters ever?

Yet we’re all in a tizzy over Fukishima, while ignoring the numerous deaths due to coal mining. Which is why I was pleased to hear that someone else had sat down and considered the actual dangers and was willing to speak out about where deaths and danger and destruction truly lie.

Written by Michelle at 8:48 pm      Comments (4)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Science, Health & Nature  
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