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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: West Virginia
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 19,964

About Me

Cantankerous by nature, aspires to a genteel misanthropy. Interests include carpentry, organic gardening and sustainable living, history, genealogy, astronomy and paleontology, visual arts, lgbt activism. Caretaker for a brace of Scotties and several ungrateful, rescued cats. Addicted to watching sports and cheers for perennial losers. Education: I suppose, though some might think an MFA doesn\'t really qualify as such. Partnered for 24 years to a saint. Just lucky, I guess.

Journal Archives

Climate change & Appalachian politics: the clash of party and principles

Why is it, come election day, so many of us who identify as Democrats and progressives feel as if we have to hold our noses while voting? Even when the Republican candidates on the ballot would make a Strom Thurmond look like Dennis Kucinich, too many times I feel as if I'm casting a ballot for any alternative, which of course is the person who simply has a (D) beside their name. Unfortunately, in Appalachia too many of the most liberal Democratic candidates could barely impersonate a moderate Republican elsewhere. Nowhere is this more evident, perhaps, than in West Virginia, a state run top to bottom by Democrats. Or so they say.

Look, we all know the money behind the politics here is Big Coal. There's simply no way to explain to anyone looking towards Appalachia from the outside just how completely their political clout has devoured us. So much of the economy of the region is dependent on coal that even nipping at the margins -- a rational discourse on climate change, for instance -- can cost an election. I was reminded of this once again when Alison Lunderson Grimes, who has a real shot at Mitch McConnell's Senate seat, declined to say whether she would participate or even support her fellow Democrats in their recent "Talk-A-Thon" on climate change and how human activity is the cause of changing weather patterns. Rather than proposals about how to wean the Appalachian economy from its dependency on coal she offered more rhetoric about "clean coal technologies" in response.

Long-range plans and proposals hold little sway over unemployed miners and all the businesses that depend on their income in what has been a co-dependent coal economy. It matters not that sooner or later, the Appalachian economy must diversify or die. The expected Indian and Chinese markets for coal have not met expectations due to global economic instability and the most sought-after low-sulfur coal from the Appalachians is also the most expensive, even as market prices have steadily dropped for years now. Developing countries with an insatiable appetite for coal don't really care if their own mines provide a high-sulfur product or that their workers are paid a dollar a day under abysmal conditions. We simply can't compete with that mindset, not unless we're willing to live in a cloud of perpetual, lung-burning smog as many Chinese do, or so poison our environment that we have nary a drop of clean water to drink.

The solution is not to become even more desperate for the cheap way out -- mountaintop removal, lifting of EPA regulations, or undercutting the UMW. The time has come to face facts and challenge the future. Long term investments in education, green technologies and manufacturing, et al could pull Appalachia from its addiction to coal but plans and goals don't put money in the pockets of the very people who could help us to realize those goals. All the best intentions in the world can't foot the bill for political campaigns. Further, since there is absolutely no incentive for Big Coal to encourage a more educated workforce and a technology or manufacturing-based economy, those long-term goals are not going to be promoted even by the standard bearers of our own party. It is a fact that if you keep people poor and dependent, if you deprive their kids of a decent education or even the possibility of a way out, if you keep men and women in constant fear of the next layoff or the next mine that closes, you control them all the way to the statehouses.

What's a progressive Democrat to do in the face of what appears to be such an entrenched force, one that doesn't even recognize it's on the road to extinction? I really don't know. Come November I'll once again cast a ballot for the Democratic candidates not because I'm excited about voting for them but because the alternative is even worse. In the end, I feel ashamed to vote for Democrats who can't even bring themselves to talk about climate change but concern themselves with passing even more restrictive laws against reproductive choice, who can't muster even a meek challenge to those who poison their own citizens en masse but can lead the same masses in revolt against sane gun laws.

And yes, I will wish Alison Lunderson Grimes well in her bid to unseat Mitch McConnell. Pray, who wouldn't? Still, there's a part of me that acknowledges, sadly, that she simply can't do it by throwing down the gauntlet at Big Coal. Not in Appalachia.

For more on this subject, see this recent article:
Alison Lundergan Grimes Unclear on Supporting Senate Democrats Climate Change 'Talk-a-Thon'

Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Mar 13, 2014, 09:11 AM (2 replies)

(Ret.) Archbishop Desmond Tutu, speaking out against homophobia

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on homophobia and anti-gay laws:

"I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.
I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid," said Tutu, an Anglican archbishop who was a prominent force leading to the racist policy's eventual demise. "For me, it is at the same level."


"One thing that Ugandan legislators should know is that God does not discriminate among members of our family," writes Tutu. "God does not say black is better than white, or tall is better than short, or football players are better than basketball players, or Christians are better than Muslims… Or gay is better than straight. No. God says love one another; love your neighbor. God is for freedom, equality, and love."
"It is with supreme sorrow that I witness, to this day, the subjugation and repression of African brother and sisters whose only crime is the practice of love," writes Tutu. "Hate, in any form or shape, has no place in the house of God."
Tutu also challenges the notion that LGBTI Africans are a product of Western influence, pointing out that "LGBTI Africans have lived peacefully and productively beside us throughout history."

"We must be entirely clear about this: the history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste, and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God. There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever. And nor is there any moral justification. Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, among others, attest to these facts."
Posted by theHandpuppet | Sat Mar 1, 2014, 09:47 AM (3 replies)

Colorado "Personhood" Measure, 2014

Colorado "Personhood" Measure

In 2014, Colorado voters will once again vote on an anti-choice, anti-birth control "personhood" measure. It would amend the state's constitution to change the definition of person and child to include "unborn human beings" under the state's criminal code. This measure would have a far-reaching impact and insert the government, lawyers and the courts into Colorado womens' personal lives.


Previous attempts to pass "personhood” measures in Colorado and elsewhere, including Mississippi, have failed overwhelmingly.

What You Can Do

For more information on this ballot measure and to find out what you can do, please visit NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado's website.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Fri Feb 28, 2014, 07:03 PM (2 replies)
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