Panhandle Progressive

How Secure Are West Virginia Elections?

The Mueller Report released earlier this year detailed numerous ways that Russian operatives sought to interfere with U.S state and local election apparatus in 2016. A Russian entity called the GRU targeted state boards of elections, secretaries of state and county governments with the intent of gaining access to databases of registered voters. In June 2016 they compromised the voter database of the Illinois Board of Elections and extracted information on millions of voters before the intrusion was blocked. Hundreds of outsiders probe West Virginia’s election computer security system daily. Just how secure will the West Virginia election process will be in 2020?

Making Sense of the Rockwool Controversy

Plans by Rockwool (formerly Roxul USA, Inc.) to construct a 463,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in the City of Ranson have recently met with a firestorm of opposition. The facility, to be constructed on the old Jefferson Orchards property, will manufacture mineral wool insulation used in home and commercial construction.  Opponents argue that the plant will emit huge amounts of toxic air pollution in close proximity to schools, and claim that the approval process was intentionally under-publicized to avoid opposition. Proponents argue that this is the single largest development project in Jefferson County since the Penn National Casino, and that it will create 150 well-paid manufacturing jobs, boost ancillary business and generate tax revenue for a substantial future period. To a large extent, this has become a contest of values.

Immigration and Our Prosperity

With so much heated rhetoric about building a wall at our Southern border and the cruel separation of families who seek asylum, it is easy to overlook what is perhaps the fundamental question in the immigration debate. That is whether immigration has a positive or negative effect on our collective prosperity.  Are we are better off with more immigration or less?

The Environmental Disaster of Mountaintop Removal Mining

Coal has contributed substantially to the development of civilization over the last 250 years. The steam engine was designed and first used to pump out flooded coal mines.  The railroad was first commercially used to move coal from mines to towns and river transportation. Coal powered the industrial revolution in England and the United States.  But burning coal produces the greenhouse gasses chiefly responsible for global warming. It also produces noxious particles that cause heart and lung disease and many deaths. And in West Virginia the search for cheap coal has led to mountaintop removal mining, a practice with an entire catalog of harmful environmental effects.

Coal Is Killing Us

On June 1, 2018 President Trump directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take all necessary steps to stop the closure of coal-fired power plants on national security grounds. This directive was issued simultaneously with a draft memo arguing that the reliability of the nation’s power grid will be threatened if coal-fired plants are allowed to disappear through market forces that now make them the most expensive method to generate electricity. Trump’s directive was roundly criticized by many as an unprecedented intrusion into the market for electricity that “picks winners and losers,” something Republicans have long criticized Democrats for doing. But none of the debate about Trump’s directive has focused on the undeniable fact that small particulate matter emitted from coal-fired power plants is killing thousands of Americans each year.

What Campaign Contributions Tell Us About Congressman Alex Mooney

The Federal Election Commission recently published the 2018 First Quarter campaign contribution filings by candidates for federal office. Among these was the filing of our own Congressman Alex Mooney. Mooney has been very successful in raising money, both for the primary just past (he was unopposed) and for the general election coming up in November. Running for Congress is expensive and anyone who hopes to be elected must raise money. But the sources of Mooney’s contributions for this election cycle raise substantial doubt that he will be much interested in the welfare of West Virginia and her citizens.

The Left, the Right, and the Center

Socialism, or its less incendiary cousin, Progressivism, conjures up in the minds of some people images of dysfunctional societies doomed to decay through inefficiencies, corruption, restrictions on business, and constraints on freedom. But then when you look at the "happy socialist leaning" countries of Denmark, Norway (one of the President's favorites), Canada, and so on, you have to wonder what's there to be afraid of? I'm personally more frightened that the prevailing and dominating conservative politics we have in government today is turning us into a mean, uncharitable, and violent society. Aiming to be richer and more powerful than the rest is not a way to be better than the rest. And, because it alienates and denigrates so many of our own people, neither is it a pathway to continuing prosperity.