Panhandle Progressive

West Virginia Has Always Been for Sale. Why Should Now be Different?

West Virginia has had one long history of selling valuable natural resources and public lands to commercial interests. When the dust settles from these transactions and they can be viewed without the hyped rhetoric of the moment, we often deeply regret them. But it has happened again. The West Virginia Legislature recently passed bills that would permit the auction to the highest bidder of pore space underneath sensitive state-owned forests and wildlife areas for the purpose of sequestering carbon from industrial processes. It did so without committee review or opportunity for public comment.

The Framers Never Intended to Bind Us Forever to 1789

The essence of the doctrine of originalism is that the only proper way to interpret the Constitution is to determine the original intent of the Framers. But what if the original intent of the Framers was actually that the Constitution should live and breathe in each period of our history and not be limited to what it meant in 1789? There is considerable evidence that this is exactly what the Framers intended. They knew that without a supple Constitution, that very document risks creating the conditions for its own replacement, and how that happens may not be pretty.

Our Supreme Court in the Grip of Originalism

Our Supreme Court is in the grip of a doctrine that is having a profound, pernicious effect on the whole country and there is no end in sight. That doctrine is originalism. Originalism is a political tool to being used to achieve the political goals of the conservative right. It is merely dressed up as a serious doctrine of Constitutional interpretation.

The New Civilian Climate Corps

Immediately upon assuming office, President Biden issued an executive order addressing his climate objectives.  Prominent among these was the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps to tackle climate change resiliency and provide job training to underemployed youth.  The new CCC would be modeled on a popular New Deal program that put thousands to work on conservation projects during the Depression. From every angle the new CCC seems like a good idea, but its uncertain future is bound up with the stalled Build Back Better legislation.

The Hot Air About Methane

When President Biden left for the COP26 meeting in Glasgow recently, his primary plan for reaching the greenhouse gas reduction goals in the Paris Accords was in disarray.  The cause of this disarray was mainly the opposition of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.  But Biden had Plan B, which involves a two-pronged approach to sharply reducing methane emissions. 

The Big Lie Conspiracy

The Declaration of Independence was based on a conspiracy theory. That theory was that the King of England and his high ministers had secretly agreed to deprive the American colonists of their rights as English citizens and to impose tyrannical rule. This type of conspiracism, which tries to make sense of a disorderly world by asserting that powerful people are controlling events behind the scenes, can be quite useful in a democracy. But this useful type of conspiracism has been replaced today by an insidious type not concerned at all with facts. The leading example is the Big Lie -- that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected President in 2020 because the election was stolen from Trump.

Higher Registration Fees For Hybrid Vehicles – What’s Up With That?

Awhile back, a good friend of mine spent half an hour complaining to me about having to pay an additional $100 when he registered his Prius hybrid vehicle. That caused me to wonder why West Virginia would want to discourage the ownership of these vehicles with a whopping big tax.  Hybrids consume lots less gasoline and emit proportionately less greenhouse gasses from the tailpipe. That’s a good thing, right?  The answer, of course, is not so simple.