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  • 02/12/15--08:59: #wvlegislature
  • Waste Virginia. Open for Business.


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    I'd only heard of Teach for America, but didn't know anything about them. But as soon as I heard the WV legislature was writing a bill just for them, I  knew it had to be bad.


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    Can we have cider too? I like cider.


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    Clouds. Climate change is because of clouds!


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  • 02/24/15--21:44: slam that closet door HARD
  • Thurmond, a town of FIVE, recently passed an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against LGBTs. This sent our WV legislators into a tailspin right into the closet.


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  • 02/26/15--21:02: don't piss off the fairies
  • you don't want to mess with the hillbillly homos. they're gonna gitcha.

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  • 03/04/15--21:43: mean people suck
  • i just wanted to enjoy this rare sunny winter day.


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    re: her chirpy weekly email that you can read here if you want to
    Dear Senator Capito:
    You are going to kill us.
    Voting against the EPA rules is denying climate change, as well as hampering any movement towards embracing 21st century realities: 1) coal is not going to be around forever; 2) other countries and states are implementing amazing technologies to replace environmentally harmful fossil fuels. Why do you insist on putting the future on the back burner? Science tells us that climate change is real with potentially disastrous scenarios: the rising heat could bring on illnesses, crop failures, droughts, the possible extinction of 1/4 of earth's species by 2050...I'm sure you've heard all of this and more.? Why aren't you listening?  Furthermore, if we could move forward with new exciting jobs in renewable energy, maybe West Virginia could get out of the crap hole Big Coal has put us in. It's estimated that 7.7 million people are employed world wide by the renewable energy industry, and it's projected to grow at 18%.  Solar alone attracted $149.6 billion in the US in 2013In WV, our state budget has been cut by 2% across the board because of the loss of coal revenue. This decrease is not because of the EPA AND YOU KNOW it. I suppose, however, the fact that you've received $211,000 from the coal industry in campaign donations could excuse you, but it does not. It makes you a hired killer.
    Not only did you vote against the Clean Power Plan you also voted against expanding background checks for gun sales ON THE HEELS OF ONE OF THE WORST MASS MURDERS IN AMERICAN HISTORY. I have no words. Except this. If any of you NRA lovers ever lose a loved one to gun violence I will be sure to send my "thoughts and prayers." I did notice that you neglected to mention this in your email. While contributions from the gun lobby were not relatively significant (compared to your motherlode from the Coal industry and what the gun lobby has given others), I expect now that the NRA is angry at poor old Joe for daring to promote sane gun control laws, I predict you will reap what they don't give him. I'll be watching OpenSecrets.org.
    And this business with ObamaCare. Come on, Shelley. How many times are you Republicans going to run that hamster wheel? You are wasting the salaries the people of WV are paying you by voting relentlessly for a bill that will die on the President's desk if it ever makes it there! After all the other stunts your party has pulled (let's see. Starting an illegal war in Iraq with a lie - leading to Middle Eastern unrest, countless deaths of women, children, and American soldiers; pretending the trickle down economic theory and cutting taxes to business will create jobs; the aforementioned climate change denial... I could go on all day here) I simply don't trust the Republicans to come up with a decent plan. As the practice manager of a small family practice, I have seen more people come in with their brand new Medicaid card to see a healthcare provider for the first time in years. The problem with ObamaCare is, it does not go far enough. While allowing our more vulnerable citizens to qualify for Medicaid, the middle class is suffering from higher premiums and deductibles. I myself decided to raise my family's deductible from $5000 to $8000 to avoid a $300 increase in my premium -- which now is more than my $1185 mortgage. This is shameful in a developed country. We need to EXPAND Medicare to cover all Americans. You don't understand how much time and money is wasted in medical practices trying to deal with the hundreds of plans we accept, and the claims denials for stupid things like patients not responding to a Coordination of Benefits questionnaire (this one holding up at least 2 claims every day in my small office where we see 30 patients a day). If we could eliminate all the plans in our country and consolidate into one national plan, we could save $150 million in paperwork alone. Furthermore, it would make the US more competitive in the international game, since most developed countries don't have to saddle their businesses with the additional cost of healthcare. 
    There are so many better things we could be doing, from the fairly radical to the more mainstream.  West Virginia has the perfect climate for growing marijuana. Just across the river in Hancock MD, a medical marijuana grow facility has been proposed and everyone from the mayor to little old ladies are applauding it. It could be just what that little town needs to pull it out of the funk it's been in for years: 125 jobs and $11 million in investments. What does Berkeley Springs get? A new Dollar General store, complete with more junk from China and minimum-wage jobs! And then there was this article that I read today.
    But you just keep doing what you do, Senator Capito. Keep smiling and waving. And I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
    bibi Hahn
    Berkeley Springs, WV
     
    Beauty will save the world

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  • 01/21/16--20:15: Bernie and ONLY Bernie!
  • Daily Kos wrote me an email and asked me if I’ve ever changed my mind about a  candidate. I had to think about that. And I realized, that in my 40 years of voting, no, I have not. When I was a teenager, my family was all about Eugene McCarthy and spent evenings stuffing envelopes. Later, I supported Bill Clinton from the very beginning. I was a loyal supporter of Ralph Nader in 2000, not an easy task. Then I supported Kerry, and then it was Obama. I wasn’t always wildly enthusiastic about my candidate, but once I decided, I stayed committed, my level of commitment commensurate with my enthusiasm. That is, if I loved someone, I volunteered for them, talked to my friends about them, etc. If I didn’t, not so much (ie, John Kerry. I liked the guy, just wasn’t crazy about him like I was about Obama.) I am crazy about Bernie. I’m currently phone banking, working as a telephone monitor, and organizing sign waves and debate parties. I will be fairly devastated if Hillary walks away with the nomination, mostly because I don’t really think she deserves it. She’s gotten where she is on the coattails of her husband, and her flip-flopping is enough to make me dizzy. I don’t admire her tactics. Because of all the money she’s taken from the banks and other corporate entities, I can’t trust her to make good decisions. And then there’s the email thing. Anyone who’s ever worked for the government, no matter what their grade, knows you never use personal email for work correspondence, especially when shuttling around work files. It shows poor judgment and possible laziness. Bernie has worked long and hard, and has been consistent with his opinions and causes. I love that he’s for single payer, and the way he’s brought the idea of income inequality out of the shadows. I admire that he walks the walk and not just talk the talk. Rather than accept millions in speaking fees from industries, he does things like donate proceeds from his books to charity. He’s the Real Deal. If Hillary takes the nomination, I will vote for her begrudgingly. But you won’t see me waving Hillary signs on Main St.


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    People prejudiced against anyone because they’re from a different background make me physically ill. Ever since I was a child listening to my dad rail about the "Negro" (as they were called then) children being killed in the South during the civil rights era of the mid-60’s, I feel sick when I experience this kind of ignorance. People around here still think nothing of calling African Americans “the colored” and worse. I do realize that some of their prejudice is simple ignorance and fear of the unknown and the different. Living in West Virginia, I’ve met people who have never been outside the state. In our medical practice, patients get upset if we send them to a specialist who speaks with an accent because they’re so unused to hearing anything but an American accent. It’s just too much for them. There are pockets of West Virginia where all you see are white people. In fact, according to one study, Tucker County in West Virginia is the least diverse in the nation, with a 100% white, non-Latino population. But is there really any excuse for being ignorant in this day and age? We have TV, movies, the internet, music -- many many ways to connect to people of different cultures and beliefs — if we want to.

    The recent suspicion that refugees and migrants might be terrorists, or come over here and sponge all our wonderful entitlements, is rooted in this ignorance and augmented by the hateful puke spewed by Infowars, Fox "News," Sean Hannity and their like. In reality (something those folks know too little about), this threat is  magnified out of proportion from the minuscule chance that a Syrian refugee, some of whom have walked more miles than certain West Virginians travel in their whole lifetime, might come over here and put some American out of job….Or that a terrorist will disguise him or herself as a Syrian refugee and come here to wreak havoc. Remember, most of the terrorist attacks on American soil were committed by WHITE AMERICAN MEN.

    The argument that migrants are going to sap our resources? First of all, I will ask these unevolved, callous hacks how they think the Native Americans felt about us coming and killing all their buffalo and cutting down all their trees. And then I'd ask them what Jesus would've done with the refugees. You know, just to be the smart ass that I am. I'm talking about Syrian refugees, running, swimming, boating, crawling, from a country where, among other atrocities, 12000 children have been killed. That is, more children killed than people living in my county. I'd love to drop the haters into Syria so they can see what these people are running from. They wouldn't last an hour.

    The fact is, migrants might actually be GOOD for the economy. I'm thinking of all the little bodegas, nail salons, and other small businesses started by immigrants. Those businesses are paying taxes and hiring people, which is more than I can say about the top 1% in this country. And listen to this statistic from Time magazine: if rich nations around the world were to admit enough migrants to expand their labor force by a mere 3%, the world would be $356 billion richer.

    Considering our leading role in the tragedy that was the Iraq war, the one that caused much of the unrest in the Middle East, we should bear at least part of the responsibility of resettling these innocent refugees whether or not it stretches our vast resources. 

    There. I'm done.


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    Both legislative representatives from our area here in Morgan County, West Virginia, Delegate Cowles and Senator Trump, voted for the "The "WV Workplace Freedom Act" (SB 1), as it's disingenuously called. And it passed today. Even if our Governor vetoes the bill as he said he would, our legislature is now Republican-heavy enough that they can override.
    Otherwise known as a Right To Work bill (yes, I used ALEC’s website on purpose —  feel free to compare this “Model Policy” to SB1), among other things, makes it illegal for unions to collect dues from employees who choose not to pay, even though they’ll still enjoy the benefits enjoyed by labor contracts negotiated by the union. SB 1 is opposed by unions, and favored by industry and business. Opponents claim this bill will weaken unions' power by destabilizing them financially. Unions are responsible for guaranteeing safe working conditions, good benefits, and reasonable wages. Unions raise the bar for all employers, so even most non-union employers in the same area find they need to offer at least what the unions are in order to attract workers.
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 1 million new jobs have been created between 2010 and 2014 in RTW states. However, another study reports that wages are lower in RTW states. So, maybe more jobs, but less pay. Who gets rich like that? Right, the shareholders and CEOs, because they have more worker bees making less money. In the meantime, Wisconsin has lost 10,000 jobs since implementing their Right To Work law. 

    This is not a bill that will attract smart people to our state, or keep our young people here once they’ve finished college. Given a choice of working for $19 an hour with few benefits or working for $24.25 an hour with good benefits is a no-brainer. We'll see our good workers fleeing the state for better paying jobs. And think about this: Do you want your car fixed by someone making $19 an hour or $25 an hour? I want the better paid worker, because, honestly, they'll work harder because they know they're respected and valued. Do you want someone taking care of your mother who has good health benefits, or someone who has to scrape together the money for a doctor's visit? I want the happy, healthy worker taking care of mom.

    If our legislature were serious about attracting new business they could do so much better than providing businesses with underpaid, unhappy workers. How about making sure our kids are getting a good education, and making it an attractive place to relocate for new workers with families ? We are now ranked 47th in the country for education. Our teachers are the poorest paid in the country, and West Virginia was recently voted the worst state for teachers.   Will businesses be happy with our infrastructure? I doubt it. No company is going to come to West Virginia when the average internet speed is 5.35 Mbps, making us 45th in the country. We have no public transportation to speak of, no trains or major airports. And as a manager, frankly, I’d be afraid of coming to a state where not only are accidental drug overdoses the biggest killer of young people, but we also rank #1 in drug overdose deaths! Let’s do something positive to address these and the many other issues facing our state today instead of dumbing down our workforce.
    Among other speeches on the floor, was Senator Karnes calling folks in the gallery "freeloaders" because they weren't at work that day (they were there protesting the bill!). This kind of contempt for hard working people in WV, while not always this obvious, should not be tolerated. We need to do everything in our power, even run for office ourselves, to get a West Virginia we can truly be proud of.

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    So. Our legislative priorities here in West By God Virginia so far have been 1) pay people less, in fact, pay them as little as possible (Repealing the Prevailing Wage) 2) break up whatever power the unions have left (“Right to Work”) 3) Give any wingnut an excuse to do something, or not do something, in the name of the Lord. (WV Freedom of Conscience Protection Act). In fact, the first two bills were vetoed by Governor Tomblin, only to be overturned by the bullies in the WV legislature.

    Good going, guys. You just keep it up.

    Ask Wisconsin, which has lost 10,000 jobs since implementing “Right To Work” just a year ago. As far as repealing the prevailing wage, I’m wondering why any talented, hard working person would stay in, much less move to, a state where wages are already low, and not at least be guaranteed a fair wage? The argument that West Virginia’s cost of living is lower than surrounding states is bogus. We have the 47th lowest wages in the nation, but we are in the top 20 when it comes to cost of living.

    And why on earth would a major or emerging company want to come here once West Virginia is lumped in with all the other states that have legislated their bigotry? Sorry folks, but that attitude is just not identified with intelligence out there in the world that you are supposedly trying to attract to our state! Well, we can only hope our voters will “remember in November.” They have in other states. For example, in Indiana, which passed such a law recently, 75% of all likely voters think that the law has hurt their state’s economy; and the governor’s popularity has sunk by 20 points. The state has had to spend $2 million to repair the state’s image.

    So, Charleston. What’s next? A voter ID bill? That’s great for jobs, too!


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  • 02/28/16--21:20: This has been a tough week
  • I have to confess, lately instead of day-dreaming about Bernie winning, I allow myself to day-dream about moving to Vancouver. Start a whole new chapter in our lives. Maybe see how medicine really works up there, at least until this madness is over. It might give Matt some interesting perspective for a new book, who knows. But not everyone has that option, so is that fair? I believe Donald Trump will win. He’ll make sure of it, the guy’s a thug! And he gives validation to every mean redneck (I happen to also know nice rednecks too) out there to do whatever the hell he/she wants. Carry a gun into school. Make fun of the Jewish girl in your class and make all the other kids do it, too. Mean girl Extreme.

    If they want to accuse us “libtards” of being extreme, it’s nothing they don’t do in their wild-eyed descriptions of Socialist. As they drive their RVs on the public highway to the state park to camp. Whatever.

    And now this shitstorm of a legislative session here in dear old West Virginia. Hatin’ on the gays. Making it ever harder for our girls and women to get a safe, legal abortion. You know what both those things have in common? They’re both about sex. What is it about the mostly Southern states that they’ve all wasted time on these useless, ludicrous, issues? Especially considering so many of them are having other huge problems. Like us, threatened with yet another assault on the budget that will lay off 350 professors at state-owned colleges and universities, give $71.5 million less to schools — forcing layoffs…. don’t make me go on. It’s so depressing. 

    A Remember in November rally is convening on the last day of this sad, sad legislative session. March 12. Come to Charleston. Spread the word, because I can’t find anything else about it except the Facebook page. I’m sure we will as time gets closer. 

    Guttmacher-Mid-Year_State_Update_line__map_Infographic-June_2015_v03-490pxl.png
    from Guttmacher.org...

    I’ve got to read this tutorial to position these maps but I so tired….

    religfreedommaps-1_v2-feature.png
    from Dailysignal.com

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  • 04/06/16--11:33: Democracy, misunderstood
  • I just don't understand this....

    Is it the superdelegates? Or just an unimaginative assumption? Why can Cruz potentially overcome Trump, and Sanders can’t overcome Clinton? I’m actually getting a complex about this, and I don’t get complexes. I’ve started getting personally offended when on the news, discussing the race between either Cruz or Trump, it’s always them running against HILLARY. Always HILLARY. Never a possibility that it might be Bernie. I minded John Kasich the least of all the Republican candidates until he said “Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic candidate.” It would serve them all right if he wins! In bibiWorld, I would make Chris Matthews, Jonathan Capehart, the entire nasty editorial board of the Washington Post, and the NY Daily News watch every known clip of Bernie-denial, over and over again. And then they’d peel me grapes while I soaked in the hot tub. But that’s another story.

    I admit I’m pretty much a Bernie wench. I’ll be really sad if he’s not nominated. I really think he is the Gandhi of our time and place. I’ve admired him for a long time, clear back from the time of his tenure as the wildly popular mayor of Burlington. I found this article about that time of his life, a reminder that this is, indeed, a man who can form coalitions, face down the nay-sayers and get things done. 

    I’m really excited to see how he does here in West Virginia on May 10. People are not too fond of the Clintons here for one reason or another, but probably mostly due to Hillary’s insistence on riding Obama’s environmental coattails. I suppose most of the “not affiliated” will probably vote in the Republican primary. So Bernie might actually stand a chance here, who knows. 

    Stay tuned!


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    West Virginia, don't be fooled by Trump. He can't "bring coal back." If he can, then I can bring back dinosaurs. Out of my butt. Our only hope is to get a President who will invest in our badly battered infrastructure: our bridges, our roads, our broadband. These projects will create jobs. Jobs where people can learn new skills, skills that will earn a real living.
    As I type this, I know it's hopeless. WV is FAMOUS for voting against its interests. Look at the horror that made up our state legislature this year. All we got were
    * restrictions on voting (thanks, Charles Trump and Saira Blair)
    * union busting (Thanks to nearly ALL our fine Republicans)
    * one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country
    * allowing us all to carry concealed weapons without a permit (thanks, Saira Blair)
    * an attempt to dumb down the science curriculum for our students (thanks, Daryl Cowles, for proving once again you don’t believe in modern science; thanks to our Governor for the veto)

    * wasting money on drug testing entitlement recipients (thanks Craig Blair).

    And GOD KNOWS that prohibiting park commissions from disallowing firearms on the facilities (thanks again to Charles Trump, and double thanks to Governor Tomblin for vetoeing) and making English our official language (more hate to our Latino friends, you're welcome, from a state where citizens can’t tolerate anything sounding foreign, they “can’t understand him ‘cause he talks funny”) are far far far more important than making sure our public employees have their PEIA benefits.

    Welcome to West Virginia, Mr Trump. I'm sure you'll be welcomed with open arms. Arms in both senses of the word, btw because we love our Open Carry!