A Call To Action

November 2, 2008 at 10:40 am (Politics) (, , , , , , , , )

Dear America:

As our election looms, I turn my eye toward the future. A future, regardless of who is elected, that will  encourage and fund Green Energy.

Before that time, I ask for your help in preserving what is left of the natural beauty of the Appalachians. I ask that you help in perserving clean streams and rivers by writing to Congress, the EPA, and the Federal Office of Surface Mining as the “Stream Buffer Zone” rule is under attack. The “Stream Buffer Zone” rule has been in effect since 1983 and was meant to protect the nation’s headwater streams from being buried by valley fills from moutaintop removal and radical strip mining.

The Bush Administration and The Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement have proposed a bill to seriously weaken this stream protection. If they are successful, it would be extremely difficult for either Senator Obama or Senator McCain to roll it back when either becomes President.

I am 100% opposed to Mountaintop Removal. It destroys the natural beauty of my state and surrounding states. It destroys the environment. The list of environmental impacts is staggering. Yet, the coal companies, through powerful lobbyists, have been able to continue and still cry about regulations.

I love West Virginia. I understand how important coal is to many, many communities, but coal is on its way out! The Appalachians reached peak coal production years ago. The U.S. will reach peak coal production in 2025. That’s not really far away. Many of the mountains in West Virginia are tall enough that there is constant wind. Even rural communities are savvy to the fact they can put wind farms on those mountains. All their asking is – take the coal from under the mountain but the leave the mountain so that we can have our wind farms. Clean, renewable energy, energy for our future, jobs for our youth, a clean environment.

The coal companies use scare tactics to push their agendas. People get scared when the coal companies threaten to move out, that its too expensive to mine underground, that there’s more death from black lung. There’s more death from black lung because MSHA has loosened the dust regulations because of Big Coal Companies who don’t want to follow regulations to ensure the health and safety of our miners!

When they take our mountaintops, they take our future. Mountaintops cannot be regrown. They are gone FOREVER. Then they push the remainders into the valleys to pollute the streams. When it rains, there’s no vegetation to quell the runoff, so the flooding is worse. It goes on and on.

Greed normally has a silent face, but in West Virginia, it is very visible.

Active and reclaimed mine sites in Mingo and Logan Counties, WV. Photo by Katherine Chandler.

Reclamation? There is no reclamation. The land will no longer support native vegetation. It becomes an entirely different landscape. Again, you cannot regrow a mountain. You cannot put it back. It will never be the same again.

Please go to ilovemountains.org and send a letter. Write to Congress. Write to Senator’s Obama and McCain. Write to the EPA. Please let your voice be heard. When we invest in keeping our mountains, we invest in keeping our environment clean, in the future of Green Energy, and in the natural beauty of our lands. They have some great videos at I Love Mountains. Please watch them, especially the one about Blair Mountain.

Thank you.

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Using My Degree…

October 23, 2008 at 11:35 pm (Politics) (, , , , )

One more time. I signed up to work in Voter Protection for the Obama/Biden campaign a while back. They had a call for lawyers and paralegals to help with voter protection in swing states, three of which WV borders. I received an e-mail today asking that I work in the Youngstown area of OH, which is about 4 1/2 hours away, depending on how I roll up the Appalachians.

I actually believe I’ve been assigned to the Gallipolis area, which is only about an hour away, but hell, I’ll still go to Youngstown if that’s where I’m needed. The way the early voting is going in WV, perhaps I should stick around here and do voter protection!

I did e-mail the Gov’na and The Secretary of State about the voting issue and received a response from the Election’s Division of the Secretary of State stating that anyone who had contacted them about the problem was able to have their vote cast as they intended and they are working closely with county clerks and the makers of the voting machines to ensure everything is fair and clean with our election.

At least my voice was heard.

My father was always very adamant about his children receiving college degrees. My brother decided to work for his guard unit for a while and then secured a job with a helicopter manufacturer before obtaining his degree in some long-winded something about helicopter mechanics/design/engineering. I obtained both my Associates and Bachelors degrees in Criminal Justice in the Spring and Fall of 1994, respectively.

The best teacher I had at the college was a local lawyer who taught the 2 hour 45 minute Political Science class. I guarantee had Sarah Palin had Professor Woods for Poly Sci, she would have no doubt as to what the position of Vice-President entails. She would know a shit-ton about the Constitution, important Supreme Court cases, and the judicial process.

Professor Woods was also the kind of educator that made you think. He expected participation, he expected you to have an opinion, and he expected you to think critically. Not only were we expected to know the important points of Supreme Court cases like Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education, he expected you to be able to discuss, dissect, and debate said cases. Rote memorization? Hardly. His 15 page, three hour tests? Infamous.

Even though it has been 14 years, Professor Woods has stuck with me. He opened the door of critical thinking, to look past the surface, to look past sensationalized headlines, and dig deeper and deeper. He taught me to take the source into consideration, the political climate, and my own prejudices and biases.

I find it rather ironic that the person who pushed for my education is the one who shakes his head when we butt heads over politics. I know my father has already voted early for McCain/Palin. I know I’ll vote early for Obama/Biden. My poor mother is still sitting on the fence.

When I left the legal realm after 12 years, my father was displeased. I told him, “You got your money’s worth.” He got his money’s worth from Professor Woods alone, even if he doesn’t like it when I counter his political arguments with ones of my own.

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Voting Problems in WV… *Updated

October 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm (Crazy Shit, Politics) (, , , , )

Nothing new here, just a bunch of old school politics that just can’t seem to be routed from the WV political scene.

The Charleston Gazette lead with the story about voters in two counties casting early ballots on voting machines having those votes cast to “McCain” when they touched “Obama” on the screen. More early voters have come forward to attest to this problem. Naturally, our good WV government says, “Everything’s okay, my little lemmings, just follow the others over the cliff.” (The evening paper – The Daily Mail – stuffed the story to page 5.)  * More voting problems reported in Martinsburg!  IF THE MACHINE YOU USE PICKS THE WRONG CANDIDATE, ASK FOR ASSISTANCE. DON’T GIVE UP UNTIL YOUR VOTE IS CAST CORRECTLY!

Of course, the biggest brouhaha is because the two counties this has happened in are Republican counties and the ones in charge of the election are Republican.  However, it shouldn’t matter what county it is, who is in charge, or what political party they are affliated with, everyone should be outraged. What if it were the other way around? Would you McCain supporters want your vote switched to Obama? Certainly not.

But, to say I’m shocked, I just can’t bring myself to say yes. West Virginia has been and perhaps always will be associated with some of the most corrupt politicians this side of New Jersey. For $20 and a pint of whiskey, votes can be bought. Hell, in this economy, $20 would probably do it. Our former governor, Arch Moore (father of current Congressional Representative Shelley Moore Capito), was found guilty of accepting graft and sent off to the Federal Pen for a sojourn. (He was a Republican, by the way.)

An associate of my old boss was also investigated, indicted, and plead guilty to a whole rash of vote tampering, corruption mongering charges and is currently doing time on Uncle Sam’s dime. (He was a Democrat, by the way.)

One would think that our government would attempt to bolster the image of our vastly underrated Appalachian state. Attempt in some way to erase the negative stereotype of toothless, ignorant hillbillies with one leg shorter than the other married to their cousin, spitting out babies, living on welfare in a trailer park in squalor, accepting a 20 and a pint to vote one way or the other.

West Virginia, per capita, has given more of her sons and daughters in the pursuit of freedom and the protection of the American way, than any other state in the union, yet allow those very freedoms to be trampled upon. For once, West Virginia, STAND UP FOR YOURSELVES AND STAND UP FOR YOUR FREEDOMS! HOLD YOUR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE THAT EVERY VOTE IS CAST CORRECTLY AND EVERY VOTE IS COUNTED AS IT WERE CAST! 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re blue, red, black, or white, STAND UP WEST VIRGINIA!

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Shake Me Awake! *Updated*

August 28, 2008 at 11:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I was really tired tonight and went to bed with the wedding of Mikey and Randi on my mind. Right now, their friends and family are gathering to celebrate their marriage and all I wanted was sweet dreams. Sometime within 15-20 minutes after I fell asleep, it sounded and felt as though the Jolly Green Giant fell off of my roof with a half ton of bowling balls strapped to him.

The house shook, the windows rattled, scaring Nate clear out of his little skin. I awoke with a start, bewildered and wondering if someone was messing with my house. Nate and I went from window to window looking for someone and finding no one. I heard my neighbors jabbering outside and went on out. They pointed to a big cloud of smoke in the sky. Nate and I walked up the street but couldn’t see anything. We got in the car and heard on the radio that a transformer blew.

My ass. No transformer could light up the night sky like that. No transformer could send a plume of smoke into the air like that. And no fucking transformer could create a boom equal to that of the sonic magnitude, that we have now found was felt in a neighboring county.

Nope, that could only have been caused by one of the chemical plants blowing. And that’s what happened. Right now, the Bayer CropScience plant across and down the river from me is shooting flames 50 feet in the air. High enough that you can clearly see the plant around it. Its bad. Its real bad. The plant is about a mile and a half down river from me. The four lane that runs in front of my house was clogged with cars, police cars, and fire trucks being called out from all corners of the county.

The nearest bridge across the river is through my town. The next nearest is below the plant in the town where Nate’s dad lives. The Interstate is shut down, as is the two lane that runs in front of the plant. An official shelter-in-place has not been issued for our town yet and the urge to flee is immense. I know some of the chemical plants around here make the same chemical that killed all of those people in Bhopal, India. I have heard that the building the explosion and fire is occuring in makes pesticides.

Memories of Oklahoma City just flitted through my mind. We’ve always known we’re on the Radical Muslim Hit List, but our population is not sufficient enough to make us a major target. But, its a thought.

They keep saying they aren’t sure if there were any workers there at the time. Bullshit. Its a 24 hour plant. All of the plants are 24 hour.

We are under a shelter-in-place now. I have heard conflicting stories about the area that Blonde Goddess lives in. I’ve heard they are sheltering in place and I’ve heard they are being evacuated. The shelter-in-place sirens are going off right now. Its an eerie sound that I’ve only ever heard on the last Wednesday of the month at noon.

I’ll update as soon as I know more.

*UPDATE*

Just waking up this morning to find the roads open and the shelter-in-place lifted. One worker was killed by the blast and another has been flown to the Burn Center in Pittsburgh. Six other workers in that area were in a “safe area” and were not harmed. They were held in the hand of the Higher Power. No doubt about it. With an explosion that sent a fireball 300 feet in the area and shook homes for miles… its like walking away from Ground Zero.

As you can see, this is how I handle emergencies – the same way I handle thunderstorms – I sleep.

All is well, at least with us.

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