No More Budget Behemonths!
Posted on 03.23.18 by Danny Glover @ 5:58 pm

President Donald Trump reached his fiscal breaking point today when Congress sent him a $1.3 trillion spending bill only hours after passing it — and without lawmakers having had time to read the 2,200-page bill before they voted on it.

Earlier in the day, Trump suggested by tweet that he might veto the bill. Then after reluctantly agreeing to sign it, he warned Congress, “I will never sign another bill like this again.”

As a nation, we’ve been here before. Thirty years, ago, President Ronald Reagan threw down the budgetary gauntlet in his last State of the Union address to Congress. Trump’s confrontation came after two government shutdowns since January and the potential for a third. Reagan’s came during another era of broken budgets.

Here’s an excerpt of his speech:

It’s also time for some plain talk about the most immediate obstacle to controlling federal deficits. The simple but frustrating problem of making expenses match revenues — something American families do and the federal government can’t — has caused crisis after crisis in this city. Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, I will say to you tonight what I have said before and will continue to say: The budget process has broken down; it needs a drastic overhaul.

With each ensuing year, the spectacle before the American people is the same as it was this Christmas: budget deadlines delayed or missed completely, monstrous continuing resolutions that pack hundreds of billions of dollars worth of spending into one bill, and a federal government on the brink of default.

I know I’m echoing what you here in the Congress have said because you suffered so directly. But let’s recall that in seven years, of 91 appropriations bills scheduled to arrive on my desk by a certain date, only 10 made it on time. Last year, of the 13 appropriations bills due by October 1, none of them made it. Instead, we had four continuing resolutions lasting 41 days, then 36 days, and two days, and three days, respectively.

All that was the buildup to a climactic, theatrical moment, where the Great Communicator masterfully used props to drive home his point:

And then, along came these behemoths. This is the conference report — 1,053 pages, report weighing 14 pounds. Then this — a reconciliation bill 6 months late that was 1,186 pages long, weighing 15 pounds. And the long-term continuing resolution — this one was 2 months late, and it’s 1,057 pages long, weighing 14 pounds.

That was a total of 43 pounds of paper and ink. You had three hours — yes, three hours — to consider each, and it took 300 people at my Office of Management and Budget just to read the bill so the government wouldn’t shut down.

Congress shouldn’t send another one of these. No, and if you do, I will not sign it.

Watch the clip for the full effect:


Filed under: Government and History and News & Politics and People and Video
Comments: None

The Story Behind ‘The Jug’
Posted on 02.17.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:30 pm

The Jug,” which is just a short drive from my hometown, is one of the many fascinating geographic landmarks that God carved into the great Mountain State. It has seen better days.

Near Middlebourne, nearly halfway along its course, Middle Island Creek meanders almost four miles southward through a jug-shaped bend before returning to meet itself, or nearly so. The meander has time-out-of-mind been known as The Jug and has been a curiosity since its discovery by European explorers in the 1700s and had certainly been so before.

The narrow neck of land that separates the winding stream is now perhaps no more than 100 feet across, depending on the amount of water being carried downstream, and in recent years the water in the Jug has dwindled into a series of long pools, which can be canoed with some portage, as much of the water has been allowed to breach the neck.

Officials with the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources have been eager to engage the W.Va. Division of Highways to replace and raise the low-water bridge that follows the neck, thereby returning water to the meander. As a result of flooding and erosion, the bridge is now impassable, and the Division of Natural Resources is no longer able to maintain the 400-and-some acres of field and forest within the Jug, and the meander, which was once a favorite destination for anglers, is largely devoid of fish.

The Jug is also the name of a bar and grill located in a bend in the road at the point where the stream meanders. I don’t drink. But I love The Jug. It’s an iconic piece of Tyler County history.

I took some aerial photos of it last fall. The owner, Gladys Fletcher, was there visiting with friends when I stopped. It turns out her daughter, Janie Spencer, was good friends with my Mom in high school. Mrs. Fletcher jumped at the chance to get some aerial photos of The Jug and asked all kinds of questions about my drone. She is in this photo.

You can learn more about The Jug from the Tyler Star News.


Filed under: Aerial Photography and History and West Virginia
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The Hunt For Disabled Hillbillies
Posted on 10.07.17 by Danny Glover @ 6:34 pm

Every now and then, journalists in the big city get the urge to head for the hills of West Virginia and hunt stereotypes. They always find their prey. Then they tell stories that misrepresent the reality of life for most West Virginians.

You can call it Hatfields-and-McCoys journalism because the tradition is at least that old. The latest installment comes courtesy of The Washington Post, which sent a reporter hunting for hillbillies as part of the paper’s series on Social Security Disability Insurance.

I have no gripe with the topic. It’s worthwhile to shine a light on the Supplemental Security Income system because of its cost and susceptibility to fraud and abuse. I also have no problem with West Virginia being part of the story because 4 percent of West Virginians get SSI benefits — more than any other state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One in five working-age residents in Logan County, which the Post visited, are among them.

What galls me are the predictably cliched portrayals of country folk, and they start with the opening anecdote about digging roots from the hills for money: “For the people of the hollow, opportunity begins where the road ends.”

The implication is that the anecdote represents the norm — not just in that hollow but in all of Logan County and the entire state. Poverty reporter Terence McCoy made that point clear a few paragraphs later when he added, “In West Virginia, getting by means digging roots in the mountains.”

No, it doesn’t! Maybe it’s OK to spout that kind of nonsense when writing the script for a reality television show like “Appalachian Outlaws,” but it’s bad journalism.

I spent most of my first 24 years in the Mountain State and still visit regularly, and the only person I ever knew who dug roots was my paternal grandfather. And he did it as much for the thrill of hunting ginseng, a rare find in his part of the state, as for the money.

Most West Virginians who fall on hard times don’t dig roots to “get by”; they turn to family for support. That’s a bit harder to do when multiple family members are on the government dole and/or are estranged from each other. The Post found a family like that not because it’s the norm but because it fit the false image that urban elites have of the state.

That’s also why the Post repeatedly called attention to the fact that Donna Jean Dempsey, the main character in its tale, lives in a rundown shack without running water. It’s mentioned twice in the story and in two separate photo captions.

The photos further reinforce the ridiculous perceptions that prim-and-proper journalists tend to have of West Virginians. The portraits include: a woman who wears the same filthy flannel and blue jeans for a week; a shirtless, bushy-bearded Bubba sitting on a porch; and a gaunt mountain man who relies on oxygen after five heart attacks and two strokes.

Then there is the closing anecdote. Having survived to another SSI payday, Dempsey treated herself to three six-packs of beer at the local dollar stores. McCoy milked that development for all it was worth, characterizing it as “the best moment of the month” for Dempsey.

“She lit a cigarette, stretched out her legs and opened a beer,” he wrote. And then a few sentences later: “She looked down at her beer and thumbed its lid. She took a sip. The moment could last a while longer, she decided.”

Save for a trip to the still and Dempsey sipping from a moonshine jug, he couldn’t have asked for a better redneck ending to this chapter of yellow journalism about West Virginia.


Filed under: Government and History and Human Interest and Media and People and Photography and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

John E. Kenna Was No Robert E. Lee
Posted on 08.27.17 by Danny Glover @ 2:57 pm

West Virginia doesn’t have a “Confederate statue” inside the U.S. Capitol, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the reports of historically ignorant journalists in Washington.

In their rush to pile onto the growing pile of maligned Confederate statues, the media recently set their sights on the National Statuary Hall Collection. What better place to prop up more straw men for knocking down than in a building with 100 famous statues?

This particular angle to the debate over the Confederacy piqued my interest when I first saw it in The Washington Post because the disparity appeared egregiously unjust at face value. “The U.S. Capitol has at least three times as many statues of Confederate figures as it does of black people,” blared the ridiculously long but seemingly fact-based headline.

The problem is that readers can’t take anything the media report these days at face value, especially when it involves an explosive topic like race. Many journalists are hard-wired to assume that racism exists whenever outrage about it grows loud enough. And they have no interest in digging deep into a story line if their research might undermine their assumptions.

So it is with the attack on “Confederate statues.”

The contempt implied in the loaded phrase may make sense when the focus is on prominent rebels like Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens and Gen. Robert E. Lee. But as a native of West Virginia, I grew suspicious of the coverage when I saw in the Post a map of states with supposedly Confederate statues.


A state riven by war
Anyone who actually knows history knows that West Virginia became a state when the North illegally ripped 50 counties from Virginia’s boundaries during the Civil War. West Virginia created five more counties after the war, naming two of them after President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, heroes of the Union.

I didn’t immediately reject the idea that elected leaders in West Virginia could have chosen to memorialize a Confederate with one of its two monuments at the Capitol. After all, 18,000 West Virginians fought for the Confederacy.

West Virginia’s Capitol also is home to a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. At the statue’s dedication in 1910, the United Daughters of the Confederacy called Jackson “the greatest and most illustrious man ever born on the soil of West Virginia, a typical soldier, patriot and Christian.”

Union troops, on the other hand, weren’t recognized with the Mountaineer Soldier statue for two more years, and a prominent memorial to Lincoln didn’t appear until 1974.

But it still seemed odd that a state formed in the Civil War would have recognized a Confederate leader in the U.S. Capitol. With that history in mind, I turned to a remarkable storehouse of information called the Internet for answers.
(more…)


Filed under: Government and History and Media and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

Bears In Space
Posted on 03.31.17 by Danny Glover @ 9:10 pm

Sometimes in my research for work, I stumble across some of the coolest bits of trivia in aviation history — like the fact that America once launched bears into space to test the short-lived B-58 Hustler, a nuclear bomber of the Cold War era. Even better is the related cover illustration I discovered in a 1962 issue of an Italian weekly newspaper.


Filed under: Aviation and History and Media and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

Katherine Johnson: A W.Va. Success Story
Posted on 01.17.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:13 pm

My wife and I watched the movie “Hidden Figures” over the weekend, and the best part was discovering that one of the three main characters, Katherine Johnson, is a West Virginia native.

Here’s what WVU Magazine had to say in a story about Johnson and other “Barrier Breakers“:

You’ve likely heard about the new biographical drama film ‘Hidden Figures,’ about a team of three black female mathematicians who helped calculate flight trajectories for groundbreaking space projects, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

The leader of the group was White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., native Katherine Johnson, also the first black woman to desegregate graduate studies at WVU in 1938. At the time, she was one of three black students, and the only female, to attend graduate studies at WVU following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that required public universities to accept black graduate students if similar courses weren’t available at black colleges.

Although her stay at WVU was brief – she spent just one summer here – Johnson was awarded an honorary degree from the university in 2016 and is widely acclaimed as an American space pioneer. In 2015, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the president. Following a historic career with NASA, Johnson, now 98, lives in Newport News, Va.”

I love learning the stories of famous West Virginians, especially those whose successes shatter the stereotypes of the great Mountain State as the land of hillbillies, rednecks and rubes. You can learn more about Johnson via NASA, which ended its story about her by saying, “Not bad, for a little girl from West Virginia.”

Here’s what President Obama had to say about Johnson when awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, followed by the text of the award citation:

Growing up in West Virginia, Katherine Johnson counted everything. She counted steps. She counted dishes. She counted the distance to the church. By 10 years old, she was in high school. By 18, she had graduated from college with degrees in math and French. As an African-American woman, job options were limited — but she was eventually hired as one of several female mathematicians for the agency that would become NASA.

Katherine calculated the flight path for America’s first mission in space, and the path that put Neil Armstrong on the moon. She was even asked to double-check the computer’s math on John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth. So if you think your job is pressure-packed, hers meant that forgetting to carry the one might send somebody floating off into the Solar System. In her 33 years at NASA, Katherine was a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science, and reach for the stars.

Citation: With her razor-sharp mathematical mind, Katherine G. Johnson helped broaden the scope of space travel, charting new frontiers for humanity’s exploration of space, and creating new possibilities for all humankind. From sending the first American to space to the first moon landing, she played a critical role in many of NASA’s most important milestones. Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.


Filed under: Government and History and Movies and People and Technology and Video and West Virginia
Comments: None

Elite America’s Irrational Fear Of Rednecks
Posted on 01.13.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:01 pm

Some Americans are so irrational that they fear fellow humans just because they work in blue-collar jobs or like the National Rifle Association. People who don’t think the way they do, embrace the causes they hold dear or even eat at the fancy restaurants they like are “white trash” worthy of scorn.

USA Today columnist Glenn Reynolds shared a few recent anecdotes and quotes to illustrate this phobia, all of them in response to the election of Donald Trump as president:

Ned Resnikoff, a “senior editor” at the liberal website ThinkProgress, wrote on Facebook that he’d called a plumber to fix a clogged drain. … “He was a perfectly nice guy and a consummate professional. But he was also a middle-aged white man with a Southern accent who seemed unperturbed by this week’s news.”

This created fear: “While I had him in the apartment, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether he had voted for Trump, whether he knew my last name is Jewish, and how that knowledge might change the interaction we were having inside my own home.” When it was all over, Resnikoff reported that he was “rattled” at the thought that a Trump supporter might have been in his home. “I couldn’t shake the sense of potential danger.”

… [A]nother piece on reacting to the election, by Tim Kreider in The Week, is titled “I love America. It’s Americans I hate.” Writes Kreider, “The public is a swarm of hostile morons, I told her. You don’t need to make them understand you; you just need to defeat them, or wait for them die. … A vote for Trump is kind of like a murder.”

… [I]n a notorious Yale Law Journal article, feminist law professor Wendy Brown wrote about an experience in which, after a wilderness hike, she returned to her car to find it wouldn’t start. A man in an NRA hat spent a couple of hours helping her get it going, but rather than display appreciation for this act of unselfishness, Brown wrote that she was lucky she had friends along, as a guy like that was probably a rapist.

As Reynolds notes, this kind of class bigotry isn’t new in America. It’s actually older than the country, as documented in great detail last year by historian Nancy Isenberg in the book “White Trash.” It is a dry read at times, but the stories in it are remarkable, in part because they stretch over hundreds of years.

The current angst among America’s elite shows that nothing has changed. Ironically, this new wave of narrow-mindedness started with the political ascension of a billionaire celebrity named Trump.


Filed under: Books and Culture and Hatin' On Rednecks and History and News & Politics and People and Rednecks
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A Farm Called Rougeneck
Posted on 12.09.16 by Danny Glover @ 6:27 pm

I spent many summer weeks of my youth at my grandfather’s property along Indian Creek in West Virginia, and as a teenager I hunted deer there occasionally. My wife and I have dreamed of owning it for two decades.

As of today, and thanks to generous parents, in life and in death, we do — all 35 acres, a house that probably should be condemned and an old shed assessed at $190 belong to us now. I now jointly own outright a piece of “Almost Heaven,” a dream fulfilled for any West Virginian.

It is a bittersweet moment, the transfer of the property coming as the result of my father’s death at age 78 in July. We’d rather have had him with us a while longer. But I smiled through the tears as we bought back into the family the half of the property that had gone to my uncle’s stepchildren after his death in 2010 and as my mother deeded her half to us.

The place we always called “the farm” henceforth shall be known as Rougeneck. It’s the perfect melding of my wife’s and my Louisiana and West Virginia family histories. (For those who didn’t know, rouge is French for “red” — think of Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, which means “Red Stick” — so the name of the property is the enlightened way of saying “redneck.”)

Here are a few pictures of the property and my family through the years:


Filed under: Family and History and Hunting & Guns and Photography and Rednecks and West Virginia
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A Postcard From West Virginia’s Past
Posted on 10.23.16 by Danny Glover @ 8:09 pm

Today’s find at an antique store in Frederick, Md. — a postcard of the West Virginia Capitol with a 1942 postmark from Parkersburg, W.Va.

Based on the note, a Mrs. R.L. Kreyling was trading postcards with a Mr. John Howe of Irvington, N.J. She asked him to send her one of New Jersey’s Capitol because that was her favorite to collect.

A side story: I searched the name R.L. Kreyling for Parkersburg and discovered that one Robert L. Kreyling received a patent for an invention that “relates to manufacture of combined paper board and silicate-clay adhesives.” He assigned the patent to Philadelphia Quartz Co. in 1946.


Filed under: Advertising and History and Hobbies and West Virginia
Comments: None

‘Sully’: The Air Traffic Controller’s Story
Posted on 10.07.16 by Danny Glover @ 9:01 pm

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

A few eventful minutes at work on Jan. 15, 2009, left an indelible mark in New York air traffic controller Patrick Harten’s mind. He constantly replayed those terrifying moments in his head in the weeks that followed, and although they ultimately ended with the inspiring tale known as “The Miracle on the Hudson,” Harten kept imagining the tragedy that might have been.

Now he is reliving those remarkable moments all over again — on the big screen via actor Patch Darragh, who plays Harten in the movie “Sully.” “I thought they did a great job capturing what it felt like to be there that day,” Harten said. “I’ve heard from some of the passengers, and they thought so, too. … Parts of it were tough to watch.”

The movie is based on the actual events surrounding the forced emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. It happened on a cold winter afternoon a few minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. A flock of Canada geese flew into the Airbus A320, taking out both engines at a low altitude.

Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger chose to land on the water after concluding that he didn’t have enough time to return to LaGuardia or to land at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Harten is the air traffic controller who talked to Sullenberger that day from the terminal radar approach control facility for several airports in the New York area. The Federal Aviation Administration’s TRACONs manage the airspace near airports, and New York TRACON is one of the busiest.

Harten, who first publicly shared his account of the incident in dramatic testimony to Congress, started his shift in the LaGuardia sector of the TRACON minutes before Flight 1549 took off. But soon after he issued a routine heading for the flight, Sullenberger reported the bird strike and double-engine loss. He headed back toward LaGuardia for an emergency landing.

Harten quickly arranged runway access there and communicated the details to Sullenberger. But 35 seconds after first reporting the emergency, the pilot uttered these ominous words: “We’re unable. We may end up in the Hudson.

Sullenberger predicted that fate more definitively about a minute later, after Harten suggested a runway at Teterboro instead. “We can’t do it. … We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”

“I’m sorry, say again,” Harten responded. He then lost radar contact with Flight 1549.

“I thought I was part of one of the worst aviation incidents in modern history at the time,” Harten recounted. He imagined the plane clipping a wing on the water, cartwheeling and breaking into pieces. Even if it landed smoothly, he figured most people on board would drown or succumb to hypothermia. “I was expecting there to maybe be a handful of survivors.”

Read the rest of the story at Medium.


Filed under: Aviation and Government and History and Movies and News & Politics and People and Video
Comments: None

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