A Voice Of Reason For The Age Of Trump
Posted on 11.12.16 by Danny Glover @ 12:05 pm

On Tuesday, Americans elected Donald Trump as their next president. He won a convincing majority of the Electoral College vote, but Hillary Clinton won more popular votes than Trump.

That reality alone would be enough to irritate Clinton’s supporters under normal circumstances. Now add to that the fact that few political analysts expected Trump to win and that many people rejected Trump as a candidate not only because they disagreed with his political philosophy and policy ideas but also because they deemed him unfit to be president.

That is a recipe for the kind of hostility Americans are seeing in the days since the election, be it in street protests that sometimes turn into riots or bitter and angry online exchanges. Some students were so distraught by Trump’s election that colleges canceled classes. It’s ugly out there right now.

The country needs voices of reason in this atmosphere, and one of them emerged a couple of days after the election in an unexpected place — West Virginia, the heart of Trump territory. Every county in the Mountain State voted for him, with Oklahoma being the only other state where that happened, and 69 percent of West Virginians voted for Trump.

Three days after the balloting, as news of post-election angst and turmoil mounted, West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee issued a statement to encourage free speech, responsibility, tolerance of all views and open debate in the WVU community. Here’s an excerpt:

Our community must be a safe, supportive home for all Mountaineers. It must be a place where we celebrate the freedom to speak and accept the responsibility to listen and understand.

On our campus, we will come together to argue and rebut, debate and debunk, learn and teach. We can accept nothing else. The only thing we will not tolerate is intolerance.

We will be what a university must be. Not an echo chamber that reinforces fashionable thought. Not a talk-show spectacle where the loudest and most vulgar voices prevail. But an incubator for open and respectful discourse regarding even the most contentious issues.

The statement is full of progressive buzzwords like that aren’t always as open-minded as they sound when uttered within the context of 21st-century academia. “Incivility,” “hatred” and “discrimination” too often are used to describe those with conservative values, for instance, and only conservatives are expected to show “respect” and “empathy” toward those who are different from them.

But the principles are sound if applied fairly across the political spectrum, and America will be a better nation if they are. Let’s hope leaders like Gee mean what they say for a change and model those attitudes for the country.


Filed under: Education and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

A National Anthem Prophecy Fulfilled
Posted on 09.22.16 by Danny Glover @ 10:48 pm

To hear many Americans tell it today, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been a cherished anthem of national pride almost since the day Francis Scott Key penned it in 1814. But the government-sanctioned reverence the song enjoys in the 21st century actually didn’t take root until the start of the 20th century — and not everyone thought it was a good idea then.

The song gained plenty of attention, particularly in the military, after Scott wrote it to celebrate the American victory over the British at Fort McHenry in Maryland. But even the military didn’t start incorporating “The Star-Spangled Banner” into its flag-raising ceremonies until 1889. It took another 27 years for Woodrow Wilson to give the tune the stamp of presidential approval in an executive order.

The song’s evolution from battle hymn to national anthem still wasn’t complete, though, and the final hurdle on Capitol Hill wasn’t easy to clear. As the National Park Service noted in its history of the national anthem, 11 lawmakers tried to push 15 different bills and resolutions through Congress between 1910 and 1917, and all of them stalled.

Even after a determined Rep. J. Charles Linthicum, D-Md., adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as his personal cause in 1918, he had a years-long fight ahead of him. Congress didn’t clear the bill to President Herbert Hoover until March 3, 1931, a day before adjournment would have killed the idea yet again.

That brings us to a surprising editorial that the Baltimore Evening Sun published the day after Hoover signed the bill. With the amateur poet Key being a favorite son of the city, the newspaper had good reason to celebrate the patriotic development. But it saw cause for concern instead:

It must be pleasing to all Marylanders to have a Maryland song thus honored, and yet the occasion is not yet quite one for unreserved joy. Unofficially, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has long been recognized as the national anthem, so nothing much is added to its dignity by this act of Congress.

On the other hand, now that it has official standing, we formally prophesy that not six months will pass before someone comes forward with a proposal to inflict pains and penalties upon those who do not accord the song what the proposer regards as a proper measure of respect.

That is to say, “The Star-Spangled Banner” will now become another excuse for badgering people who do not conform to the patrioteers’ idea of decorum; and this seems a somewhat unfortunate prospect for a fine old Free State song.

Eighty-five years later, the paper’s prophecy has been fulfilled. The new country that repelled the British in the Battle of Baltimore and the War of 1812 is now embroiled in a tense debate about police shootings of black Americans, and the anthem that united us then divides us now.

It’s not enough that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played at memorial holidays, military ceremonies and athletic contests across the country, or that the vast majority of the nation’s 324 million people (including me) solemnly stand for it, sing it and revere the symbolism behind it. Every single American must embrace that norm or be reviled as an un-American outcast who should shut up or leave the country.

This, indeed, is an unfortunate fate for a fine song written in a Free State, for a free country.


Filed under: Government and History and Holidays and Media and Military and News & Politics and People
Comments: None

Felled In A Flash of Lightning
Posted on 08.29.16 by Danny Glover @ 5:16 pm

One of the most interesting yet tragic stories in the news today happened in Norway, where government wildlife officials found more than 300 dead reindeer on the top of a mountain. Here’s the story as told by NPR:

The Norwegian government says 323 reindeer were apparently struck by lightning last week and died. The animals lived on a mountain plateau in central Norway called the Hardangervidda. The rugged alpine landscape is (usually) a good place for a reindeer — delicious lichens grow on exposed rocks, and the area is protected from development because it falls within a national park.

The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate wrote in a press release that officials discovered a field of carcasses on Friday while they were supervising hunters in the area. The agency estimates about 2,000 reindeer live on the plateau each year. Now, about one-sixth of them are dead, including at least 70 calves.

This catastrophe is interesting in its own right because it raises all kinds of questions in people’s minds. But it was even more compelling to me because it reminded me of another incident in West Virginia on July 2, 1990.

I have a notoriously bad memory, so the fact that I can recall a news story from 26 years ago, one that I didn’t even report myself, should tell you something. This story also involved a lightning strike — but the victims were amateur archers who took shelter under a pavilion during a pop-up thunderstorm. Twenty-four of them ended up injured.

I was a reporter at the Dominion Post in Morgantown at the time, but my beat was covering city, state and federal government and political campaigns. Plus the incident happened on a Sunday, when I wasn’t working. But I remember being enthralled by the story upon reading the details when I got to the newsroom the next day.

The reindeer story triggered that memory, so to get the details, I reached out to the Aull Center, a branch of the Morgantown Public Library System that has old copies of the Dominion Post on microfilm. Librarian Gary Friggens was kind enough to look up the front-page story and send me an electronic copy.

“Victims had been tossed into the air and suffered burns, cuts, contusions and internal injuries,” one of the three stories said.

One father said the lightning strike lifted his son off the ground and knocked him 10-15 feet away. He lost his hearing for a few minutes and heard only the groaning and moaning around him when his hearing returned. Another victim, whose heart stopped temporarily, lost feeling in his legs and had burns on his chest.

“All I could see were blue streaks all around us,” said one victim from the Kingwood Pike Coon Hunters Club. “We were all so close together under there that we were touching shoulders. The lightning just passed right through us. I remember the blue streaks, then everything went black.”

A year later, Keith Dalton recounted his experience that day as part of a broader AP story about people who have been struck by lightning:

“I was hanging from a beam when the next thing I knew the lightning picked up my feet and pulled me up toward the roof,” says Dalton, a 24-year-old welder from Morgantown. “It was all lit up,” he says. “It looked like a spark plug coming off the roof and going through everybody’s heads. Everyone had blue sparks coming from them. It was really something to see.”

After the strike, Dalton thought his companions, most of whom lay moaning on the ground, were dead. “It seemed to take a long time, but it was really only a second,” Dalton says. “One guy was choking on his chewing tobacco and turned black.”

All 24 lived. Only one was admitted to a hospital overnight for observation. “It kind of felt like you were in a microwave,” Dalton says. “You got real warm inside. All I wanted to do was drink water afterward.”

Nightmare scenarios like that, along with tales of golfers being struck by lightning and childhood memories of being stuck outside and by myself during thunderstorms, are the reason I am terrified of lightning to this day.

My storm-watching wife loves to tell people about the time, on our honeymoon no less, that I abandoned her because of my fear of lightning. We were in the parking lot at an Outback Steakhouse in Asheville, N.C. A bright light flashed in the sky, a ground-shaking boom followed, and I high-tailed it to the restaurant without her.

To this day, she insists that I jumped so high and bolted so quickly, I looked like Wile E. Coyote running on the air. I think she embellishes the story a little more each time she tells it, but I can’t dispute the basic facts. My terror, which I’ve unfortunately passed along to our youngest child, is that great.

Now my daughter and I have the memory of 323 dead deer to add to our anxiety.


Filed under: History and Human Interest and Media and News & Politics and Weather and West Virginia and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

Beard Flattery Will Get You Everywhere
Posted on 08.16.16 by Danny Glover @ 7:31 pm

A salesman for an exterminator company visited our home yesterday. He complimented my beard. I bought an annual contract.

The events did not happen in that order — the compliment actually came after I signed the contract, which was a given because we have an ant problem — but they could have. The way to a redneck’s wallet is through flattery of his beard.


Filed under: Culture and Family and Just For Laughs and Rednecks
Comments: None

How Air Force One Got Its Name
Posted on 08.05.16 by Danny Glover @ 7:24 pm

Originally published on the FAA’s internal website and at Medium
By K. Daniel Glover

Piecing together history can be as difficult as solving a complex jigsaw puzzle, and sometimes you never can fill all the slots. So it is with determining the exact role the FAA played in naming the president’s airplane — but the agency definitely was part of the discussion back in 1954.

The origin of the call sign Air Force One became newsworthy this past March when a restored Lockheed Constellation took flight for the first time in more than a decade. The aircraft’s given name is Columbine II, but it was also the first presidential aircraft to be called Air Force One. Now the plane’s new owner, Karl Stoltzfus of Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Va., wants everyone to know the true story behind the name, not the myths floating around the Internet.

“I’m not interested in a ‘better’ story,” said Stoltzfus, who has contacted presidential and Air Force historians and the former personal secretary of Air Force One pilot William Draper. “I’m interested in accurate history.”

Columbine II takes off from Marana, Ariz., in March. (Photo: Ramon Purcell)

Columbine II takes off from Marana, Ariz., in March. (Photo: Ramon Purcell)

The history of Columbine II began at a Lockheed factory in Burbank, Calif., in 1948. It left the plant with the tail number 48–610, a designation that would become important six years later. Lockheed Air Service used the plane for shuttle flights between New York and Iceland for a few months in 1949, but it was converted from military transport to a VIP aircraft in 1950.

This particular Constellation served the U.S. Air Force secretary until Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president in November 1952. The plane’s first mission for the president-elect fulfilled his campaign promise to personally visit Korea in an effort to end the Korean War. Weeks later the plane officially became Eisenhower’s aircraft, and he named it Columbine II after the flower of wife Mamie Eisenhower’s adopted home state, Colorado.

The transfer of the plane to presidential service set the stage for a momentous air traffic control encounter involving Columbine II and a commercial flight with a similar call sign. But nailing down the details of that incident is a herculean research task.

“There are about six different urban legends out there on the Internet,” said Air Force historian Robert Spiers, who started the legwork in 2007 after numerous queries about how Air Force One got its name. Some stories, like the fanciful tale of a mid-air collision that damaged the undercarriage of Columbine II with Eisenhower on board, are far-fetched.

“If that had actually happened,” Spiers said, “it would have been all over the media.”

Read the rest of the story at Medium.


Filed under: Aviation and Government and History and Human Interest and Military and People
Comments: None

The Pokemon Path To Peace In America
Posted on 07.10.16 by Danny Glover @ 12:30 pm

This morning I saw a story on Facebook about Pokemon Go, the latest mobile gaming craze. It goes like this:

  • A 40-year-old white guy can’t sleep, so he heads to a nearby park at 3 a.m. to hunt Pokemon.
  • Two 20-something black guys see him, recognize what he’s up to and give him tips on where to look because they’ve been on the prowl for Pokemon.
  • They chat for a while, and the white guy agrees to join their red team in Pokemon Go.
  • Someone sees the three men talking in a park in the middle of the night, thinks it’s a drug deal and calls the cops.
  • A policeman shows up to investigate and ends up downloading the game and getting tips on how to play.

I like this version of America better than the one in the news last week. Plus I hear hunting Pokemon is good exercise. I may have to download Pokemon Go and give it a try — if I can manage to log into the game.


Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Human Interest
Comments: None

Redneck Exception To The ‘Christian Sabbath’
Posted on 07.05.16 by Danny Glover @ 5:45 pm

If you’ve never heard of Nathaniel Bettes, read this story about his contributions to the cause of American Revolution. He was a true patriot.

But my favorite anecdote from his life has nothing to do with the sacrifices he made for liberty. Instead, I liked the answer he gave the deacons of his church when they scolded him for hunting on a Sunday, a violation of what many Americans consider the “Christian Sabbath.”

This was Bettes’ defense:

Brethren, I started for the meeting on Sunday morning and had gone but a short distance when I saw a nice, fat buck standing right in my pathway,” he told the board. “Being rather short of provisions, I asked the Lord if I might shoot that deer, and the Lord said ‘yes.’ So I went back to the house, got my Revolutionary rifle, killed the deer, took it home and dressed it, and then continued on to the meeting.

Surely that is somewhere in the Bible.


Filed under: History and Hunting & Guns and Rednecks and Religion
Comments: None

West Virginia History 101 For Journalists
Posted on 07.02.16 by Danny Glover @ 4:24 pm

The ignorance of the media when it comes to West Virginia never ceases to amaze those of us who are from the Mountain State. We’re impressed when journalists, especially those who cover sports, even know that West Virginia and Virginia are separate states or that Charleston is the name of our state capital, not just a coastal city in South Carolina.

This week, two members of the media (broadly speaking to include Hollywood) displayed their ignorance of West Virginia’s history on the same day, both of them in reference to the state’s birth during the Civil War. The culprits were:

  • Philip Bump, a political blogger for The Washington Post, who referenced West Virginia’s secession from Virginia within the context of a discussion about Britain’s vote to leave the European Union;
  • And Gary Ross, director of the new movie “Free State of Jones,” who isn’t a journalist but who made his faux pas in a video for The Huffington Post about myths of the Civil War.

With their commentaries in mind, now is a good time to revisit one of the most interesting statehood stories in American history. Consider this the CliffsNotes version of West Virginia history for the dummies in the media and entertainment complex.

In fairness to Bump, he was technically correct when he said “Congress consented to the creation of West Virginia as a new American state,” but he left out important context. The Congress that consented included a reconstituted Virginia delegation with a pro-West Virginia slant. The Virginia that existed before the Civil War joined the Confederacy and had no votes in Congress. Neither did any of the Southern states that presumably would have voted against West Virginia statehood.

The war, in other words, created a political and constitutional mess that tilted the balance of power in favor of West Virginia statehood.

Although ardent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, R-Pa., voted to create West Virginia, he thought it was “a mockery” to say that splitting Virginia was constitutional. President Abraham Lincoln also had doubts. He thought the idea was “dreaded as a precedent” but also “made expedient by a war.” His answer to charges that the Union in effect endorsed secession in one case while going to war over it in another: In West Virginia’s case, it was “secession in favor of the Constitution.”

I understand why Bump didn’t include all of that information. His story was about the potential legality of secession in America today, and West Virginia’s path to statehood was only one aspect of that topic. But his shorthand account of the events could mislead people into thinking West Virginia’s secession from Virginia wasn’t controversial. It was. The Supreme Court didn’t settle the issue until a 6-3 ruling in 1870.

Ross’ gaffe was more egregious than Bump’s. In trying to dispel one myth that “the South was monolithic” during the Civil War, he repeated another one — that “the State of West Virginia broke off from the State of Virginia because they were not in agreement with the goals of the Confederacy.”

That simplistic analysis is similar to arguing that the Civil War was about states’ rights instead of slavery, one of the myths that Ross tackled. Southern rebellion was more of an expediency for western Virginians to accomplish a goal they had long desired than it was a rejection of the Confederacy.

This is evident in the number of West Virginians who fought for the Confederacy — 18,000 of them compared with 32,000 for the Union. The one thing that even those who are ignorant of West Virginia associate with the state is the Hatfield-McCoy feud. What many of them don’t know, or have forgotten, is that the feud has its roots in the Civil War and that “Devil Anse” Hatfield of West Virginia fought for the Confederacy.

The division of the country over slavery in general, and Virginia’s decision to side with the South in particular, just created an atmosphere for a rebellion within the rebellion. West Virginians always were and always will be different from Virginians, and the war gave our ancestors the political clout they needed to create a geographical split that had existed along economical, ancestral and cultural lines for generations. Ross’ myth-busting video for The Huffington Post distorted that reality.

The mistakes that Bump and Ross made weren’t as superficial as getting the name of West Virginia wrong or forgetting about its capital city. But coming as they did only seven days after West Virginia Day, they were worth noting.

Maybe in the future journalists who care enough to research West Virginia history before they write or talk about it will find this blog post and get some much-needed education.


Filed under: Blogging and History and Media and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

Katie Lee’s Perverted Pepperoni Rolls
Posted on 07.02.16 by Danny Glover @ 12:07 pm

I was excited this week when Matt Lauer headed to “The Today Show” kitchen for a segment with food critic Katie Lee on West Virginia’s state food, the pepperoni roll. The Mountain State rarely gets good press on a national scale, so a plug on a popular morning show couldn’t be a bad thing, right?

Then I watched in horror as Lee, a native of Milton, W.Va., proved that she is more foodie than hillbilly. She perverted the perfect simplicity of the pepperoni roll — homemade dough, slices or chunks of pepperoni, cheese and sometimes a little sauce — with a recipe that includes broccoli. Yes, broccoli!

To make culinary matters worse, Lee didn’t even craft her concoction into the form of actual rolls. She fashioned something that looked more like a stromboli, cut it into “12 even rounds” and then cooked them in a casserole dish. She served the meal with banana peppers and marinara sauce on the side.

News flash to Billy Joel’s ex-wife: That is not how you make pepperoni rolls! You’ve been living in the big city too long.

I’m not an anti-broccolite like George H.W. Bush, who famously banned them from the White House menu during his presidency. I might even like the recipe that Katie Lee invented. But she needs to pick a better name for it than pepperoni rolls.

The history behind the redneck delicacy exposes the flaws in Lee’s recipe. The inventor of the pepperoni roll, Giuseppe (Joseph) Argiro, got the idea from watching his fellow coal miners on their lunch breaks.

“A common lunch for immigrant miners, according to Giuseppe’s younger son, Frank Argiro, consisted of ‘a slab of bread, a chunk of pepperoni, and a bucket of water.’ At some point between 1927 and 1938 — nobody seems to know exactly when — Giuseppe began placing the spicy pepperoni within the bread, and the pepperoni roll was born.”

The food came into existence because miners needed something that was meaty enough to get them through the day and practical enough to take into a mine. Lee’s version is not the least bit practical.

The State of West Virginia may need to create the mountaineer equivalent of a “man card” for expatriates like Lee just so the card can be revoked for egregious behavior like this:


Filed under: Entertainment and Food and People and Video and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Congressional Martian Caucus
Posted on 03.19.16 by Danny Glover @ 10:41 am

Last week a man named Kyle Odom sent to the media a manifesto that accused several members of Congress of being “noteworthy Martians.” Until then, Americans might have assumed that all members of Congress were from outer space.

Now we know there are just a few dozen members of the Congressional Martian Caucus. Here’s a helpful photo guide (and an alphabetical list) to spot them when you’re on Capitol Hill:


Filed under: Government and Just For Laughs and News & Politics and People
Comments: 1 Comment

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