Friday, October 16, 2009

The Last Friends of Coal Bowl

This may be the last Friends of Coal Bowl.

It's not that West Virginia and Marshall will stop their series this year. The contract still runs for a couple of more games. However the game will have to locate another sponsor. West Virginia's coal producers and related industries have seen discouraging drops in revenue. This did not happen because energy prices dropped that much. Their efforts to expand production and jobs have hit a federal brick wall.

Perhaps the Environmental Protection Agency will step forward to pony up some money. After all, some of the proceeds and financial; support go to both of these great universities. The EPA has embarked on a mission to assassinate King Coal. They denied seventy-nine surface mining permits this year, killing off uncounted thousands of jobs and millions in revenue for state government, local authorities, and West Virginia schools.

This does not reflect real issues, but a determination by an increasingly dictatorial presidency to control the economy and livelihoods of individuals. It is unfortunate that Senator Byrd, a long time supporter of miners, has chosen this instance to muddy the waters by attacking Massey Energy's refusal to build with its money in these tough times a brand new school in a county where they pay a heavy percentage of property taxes.

Anyone who fights this outrage against our state, Democrat, Republican, independent, union or company, must join together. Believe me this attack, let's call it what it is, against a state that voted for John McCain must be met with action.

Have the coal companies always been saints? No. Shouldn't West Virginia continue to work on creating a truly diversified economy that does not rely so heavily upon one industry? Absolutely! However this is a bald faced assault on an industry and a state that dared to vote against The Won almost two to one.


Another conservative blog has argued that state Republicans have not appreciated the urgency of this issue. I can speak for no one else, but the Potomac Highlands Conservative has addressed this issue repeatedly in the past. We support Congresswoman Capito's "all of the above" energy plan and oppose attacks on coal. We have not done so on as regular a basis as other pundits because the left wing in this country seems to present us with a new, different, and occasionally bizarre outrage every day of the week and twice on Sunday.Bookmark and Share

V Is For Vendetta and I Is For Incompetence

Obama has never liked Fox News. Obama's court of supporters never have either. Naturally it serves as a media center rallying the opposition, according to studies more partisan than CNN, but much less so than MSNBC.

Obama has personally tried to undermine his media opposition, what there is of it, from the start of his presidency. Rush Limbaugh got the first taste of Obamavective and his ratings skyrocketed. People who had not listened in years started tuning in again. Then he turned his guns on Fox News who now routinely dominate their competition among 24 hour news organizations.

The president tries to make it a battle of personalities and wills, something that he usually won in the past as a senator and candidate. He has yet to realize that the presidency is something else. It is a position of dignity, partisan, yet expected to be above the petty frays of the day. Obama has so little political experience that he is not aware, or does not care, that the Democratic National Committee's job is to smear Fox News. It is the pit bull of a Democratic administration, attacking opponents and taking the hits.

Even left wingers shake their heads in dismay every time they see the White House or the president himself go after legitimate news organizations. The liberal media actually rouse themselves to fact check Obama's inaccurate assaults on Fox, criticizing his inability to distinguish between opinion artists and hard news reporting (Fox was actually the first to reveal an October surprise story against President Bush in 2004.) Liberals dislike Fox, but respect the freedom of the press. President Bush had few friends in the press, but never hit back against much more personal criticism levied against him by even hard news reporters.

Obama has revealed himself, as John Nichols of The Nation, put it (thank you Don Surber for the link) as "whiner-in-chief." He expects media love, as in the preposterous Time article that rated his presidency an A-, but has no clue how to take criticism or dislike in a presidential fashion.

Perhaps because he had no business being president in the first place. The Democrats nominated snake oil for the presidency and we all suffer for it now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) Senate Floor Remarks on Afghanistan

Congresswoman Raises Discussion of West Virginia Mining Permits With EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

ASHINGTON – During this morning’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on the Clean Water Act, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., questioned U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson about the ongoing controversy surrounding Appalachian surface mine permits.

(Note that video of the congresswoman’s exchange with the Administrator can be accessed here, and video of the her opening statement can be accessed here.)

At the outset of today’s hearing, the congresswoman made the following opening statement:


“Thank you Mr. Chairman.

“It’s clear that protecting our nation’s water is important to all of us and we depend upon Federal and State agencies to monitor water conditions. As Members of Congress, we have a responsibility to exercise legitimate oversight of those agencies.

“With that in mind, I would like to thank of all of today’s witnesses. Administrator Jackson, I appreciate you being here.

“As you are well aware, your agency is engaged in an elevated review process for coal mining permits pending in the Appalachian Corps Districts. Generally speaking, the process of obtaining federal mine permits is complicated and can involve years of coordinated effort between the companies, interest groups and state and federal agencies. Now the EPA has added another layer of review – in essence a do-over – further delaying any permitting decisions at a cost of West Virginia jobs. We are very frustrated.

“This new process is second guessing decisions made by qualified experts in federal and state agencies including permits on which the EPA has already commented. The EPA is essentially holding back critical permits until national headquarters reviews and approves them. The way I and many in my state see it, this is a veiled attempt to block coal-mining.

“Over the course of the summer, I met with officials from your agency and highlighted the stakes associated with continued delays in the permit review process. In my discussions with officials at the EPA, I've regularly stressed that their decisions stand to have real implications on West Virginians. I was, however, repeatedly assured of an expedient review process.

“Administrator Jackson it has now been 18 weeks… added to the years these permits have been active and there’s been little or no movement.**

“And it’s now been two weeks since the EPA announced the final list of permits subject to your Enhanced Coordination Procedures and your agency has yet to even release the permits to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

“Administrator, West Virginians are becoming more frustrated and they have a lot of unanswered questions. We’re concerned about our jobs, our families and our communities. We are hearing what you say, but we are watching much more closely what you do and we are extremely concerned.

“Miners across Appalachia want to play by the rules. They want clean water. They want to work with your agency to resolve these permits in a way that protects both jobs and the environment. But as it stands right now, we don’t know what rules you want us to play by. And your agency’s indecision is jeopardizing many jobs in my state.

“I look forward to your testimony clearing up this uncertainty.”

The Great Myth of the Capitalist Rape of West Virginia

The Democratic Party has gotten a great deal of mileage out of a myth.

West Virginians have a predisposition, due to their brand of Democratic thinking dating back to Andrew Jackson, to mistrust both Big Government and Big Business. They generally vote for whichever ideology seems least threatening to their liberties at the time. Republican opposition to Big Government makes sense nationally while Democratic opposition to Big Business helps Democrats locally.

Democrats in West Virginia look back to history to build their case against those that support capitalism. They cite corporate manipulations of law and culture to purchase millions of acres of land for timber, railroads, and coal, leaving the people with a pittance as a result. THIS, they say, proves the evil of capitalism!

Not so fast. All capitalists are businessmen, but not all businessmen are capitalists. Ronald Lewis, former West Virginia University professor and dean of regional economic historians, wrote in Transforming the Appalachian Countryside that many businessmen involved in industrial and extractive industries sought out the prestide of state sanction for their operations. In the 1870s and 80s Democratic party leaders such as Henry Gassaway Davis and Johnson Camden dominated the business and political affairs of the state.

A famous economist wrote harshly about the business monopolies assisted by the state, talking about "the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers, who neither are, nor ought to be, the rulers of mankind." Was this Karl Marx? No. Frederick Engels? No. Some other vile Communist? No. This was Adam Smith, the first articulator of capitalism, who warned against the alliance of business and government.

Once again we have met the enemy and it is government. All West Virginians have to do is look back in their history, read Wealth of Nations and understand that the problems that occured had nothing to do with the capitalism that Democrats and Michael Moore attack. It has to do with lurking mercantilism, the alliance of some businessmen with the power of government. Build the same kind of wall between capital and business that the ACLU wants between church and state. That would have prevented so many of the economic ills faced now and a hundred years ago.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

House Passes Capito-Sponsored Airline Safety Bill

By a wide bipartisan margin, the House of Representatives today passed the Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009, legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

The congresswoman, along with a bipartisan group of her colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced the bill in July following hearings and discussions surrounding the tragic crash of Colgan Air flight 3407 in February of this year.

“Passage of this bill is a victory for airline passengers across West Virginia and the nation,” said Capito. “These are common-sense reforms that will improve pilot training, enhance safety protocols and create a more uniform set of standards across the airline industry. I applaud the work of my colleagues and I’m very pleased to see this bill pass the House.”

The legislation approved this afternoon includes provisions to improve pilot screening procedures, boost pilot training and establish a more streamlined records database on pilot training and safety. The bill will also establish an Air Carrier Safety and Pilot Training Task Force to recommend best safety practices and monitor airline implementation.

The Capito-sponsored bill also includes a new mandate that Internet-based ticketing agencies disclose the air carrier serving each segment of a booked flight. This move stemmed from concerns that passengers on Flight 3407 purchased tickets for a Continental Airlines flight when the route was actually operated by Colgan Airlines.

Still other components include updated fatigue management rules and a provision calling for the complete implementation of National Transportation Safety Board recommendations for airline safety.

A one pager about the legislation is available here.

B&O Tax Does Not Mean Revenue From the Railroad

I woke up this morning thinking about the now closed coffee shop "On Common Ground." It was a terrific place to get a really cheap lunch and they had about as wide a variety of different kinds of coffee as anyone could ask for. They even made Christmas shopping simpler by creating gift baskets.

The ownership faced a lot of obstacles, including an economy in fast decline. The one problem they ought never have faced was the business and occupation tax levied by the City of Keyser.

Keyser is one of a minority of towns that impose this tax on businesses. Like most cities they experience problems in their revenue flow. They have thousands of reasons to keep this tax on the books. However, the one reason to remove it outweighs every other consideration. The B&O tax drives away business.

I have a friend who is in the process of relocating out of town. Simply put, they expect bridge construction to kill downtown business and they are tired of paying the tax. They have constructed a new facility south of city limits. A new development near Wal Mart awaits any others that wish to follow.

Some proposed that Keyser simply annex the US 220 corridor. Is that really the answer, acting as an imperial power, conquering and despoiling new territories? No. Keyser needs to think like a business. They have geographical advantages that the B&O tax nullifies. They have a moderate sized reservoir of government employees that are not gong anywhere. Also taxation discourages the kinds of low profit niche businesses that usually pop up around a college campus.

Keyser and towns like it need to step back from taxation, an easy fix that is addicting to governments as crack is to addicts. Get rid of the tax and find ways to encourage more business to come to town. If not, the jobs and residents will continue to flow southward.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mollohan Caught Again

More Mollohan earmark muck disclosed by West Virginia Watchdog by the Washington Examiner

Shifting Gears on the Issues of Gays

Thousands of protesters marched on Washington DC this weekend to pressure Barack Obama and Congress into changing their stances on gay issues, particularly marriage and the military.

Gays have grown disenchanted with the Democratic Party for treating them the same way as they treat other minorities, with platitudes and promises but no action. Likely many also beneath the surface worry about the impact of the higher taxes passed and proposed by the Democratic Congress that will harm small businesses and professionals.

On the issue of marriage the GOP should switch gears. We are at our best when defending freedom and attacking government intereference. As I have stated a few times before, the small government solution is to have civil unions for any two people who wish to create a legal bond. Marriage is left as a religious sacrament (or ritual), and/or a cultural and social event. I do not even have a problem with unsanctioned polygamy, provided that consenting adults are doing it. How is it that government ignores every other alternative lifestyle combination, but doggedly pursues people who practice polygame for religious reasons (not that I want government investigating those practicing alternative lifestyles of any sort if they are consenting adults.) That is a slap in the face of First Amendment religious rights (again, provided that all involved are consenting adults at the time of the match.)

The gay population is much more likely to be entrepreneurial than most other recognized groups. This leaves them very vulnerable to rises in taxes, overregulation, and economic downturns. If purely left to their economic interests, they would vote Republican or Libertarian.

As far as the military is concerned, it ought to be left to that institution itself to determine what its policy is. They have a legitimate fear that sexual relations can break down discipline on an individual and collective basis. Individuals get thrown together and subjected to stress for extended periods, encouraging illicit sexual behavior. That being said, the military ought to find a place for gays somewhere and enforce rigorous discipline upon all while examining whether or not to put acknowledged homosexuals into combat situations. It is not as if people join the military to hook up with other servicepeople. However discipline must be preserved, especially in time of war.

Does this mean that the whole gay agenda should be swallowed hook, line, and sinker? Absolutely not! Extremists that want to teach about gay sex in elementary school need to be stopped. Sexual discussions are inappropriate at young ages. Also sex education later needs to stick to talking about reproduction only and not delve into lifestyle discussions. I also have a problem with legislation that punishes those that attack gays and minorities more than other violent crimes. So-called hate crimes statutes violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. If I hit a guy upside the head with a 2x4, it means that I don't like him regardless of his race, creed, ethnic background, or orientation.

Society has changed considerably in the past twenty years. The Republican Party has an opportunity to seize the anti-Big Government mandate again. It cannot do so if it gets bogged down in enforcing social restrictions. Will we lose the social conservatives if we make this shift? Not if we couple it with a reaffirmation of our anti-abortion position. Everyone deserves the right to life. Thomas Jefferson wrote it and most Republicans still believe it. There is no such thing as a situation that is too poor or dysfunctional for a child. Read about Alexander Hamilton's birth and upbringing. Some of our greatest people have come from much worse situations than that and used the lessons learned growing up to make themselves great.

The point is that our party wins when it supports freedom and rights. Backing off the gay mariage issue will only help, especially with young voters.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ten Questions for Obama from the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition

Time to Make a Constitutional Challenge Against the Czar System

West Virginia mining operations filed for almost eighty permits to begin surface mining operations within the state this year. Obama's administration denied every single one of them. Denied permission to mine. Denied the state needed revenue in hard times. Denied countless West Virginians good paying jobs. The Environmental Protection Agency officially denied these permits. However a known "globull warming" expert, Carol Browning, serves as czar of the environment and climate change.

Here's the question. What role did she play in denying these permits? A Freedom of Information Act request should be directed at her office and the EPA to try and find any causal links between Obama's "special advisor" and these denials. If there is a definite link, then coal companies and miners should launch a federal case.

These special advisors skirt the Constitutional requirement that the Senate confirm every presidential appointment. We have seen bewildering appointments, such as a "safe schools czar" who proudly admitted to encouraging a fifteen year old boy to have sex with an old man at a bus station, but only if he used a condom. Sean Hannity revealed FBI transcripts of a seminar he attended that described how a man could have intercourse with an eighteen month old baby. If for no other reason, this is why the Founding Fathers wanted Senatorial participation in the appointment process. We also need congressional oversight over these appointments for policy reasons.

Senator Byrd complained several months ago about these appointments. Democratic Senators have launched hearings into the practice. They requested that Obama send a representative to explain his position; he so far has failed to respond.

Someone at some point needs to challenge the "czar" system. Few people worried when a handful of special advisors worked for presidents on extraordinary problems. Forty-one appointees and counting demonstrates a willful avoidance of the Constitution. Time to bring this presidency back to reality.