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

Who Needs Facebook And Google?
Posted on 03.10.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:27 am

The founder of The Babylon Bee, a popular religious satire site that was in the news last week for being wrongly flagged as a purveyor of “false” news, has launched a new project designed to aggregate real news from a religious perspective.

A simple website styled like the Drudge Report, it’s called the Christian Daily Reporter. I’ll be interested to see whether the site gains any traction in light of founder Adam Ford’s philosophical decision to eschew all social media, as these excerpts from the site’s manifesto explain:

  • “The majority of people get their news from social networks. We rely on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, YouTube, etc., to such a degree that we allow them to decide what content we consume, what issues we consider important, what news is news, what is and is not allowed to be said, what’s true and what’s not. These companies shape the way our brains think by controlling what our eyes see every day.”
  • “For a few companies to have the power to control the way billions of people think is terrifying and dangerous. It is unacceptable. … These companies are increasingly hostile toward Christian content and information. This will only get worse as time goes by. It will not get better.”
  • “The Christian Daily Reporter is a source for the most important news and content from a Christian perspective — and it lives outside the tech-giant information choke hold. We are not on any social media network. We refuse to be beholden to the Internet content gatekeepers. CDR is intentionally not optimized for Facebook or Google. We don’t want social media or search referrals. We are 100 percent independent.”

As someone who has studied and reported on every content revolution in the information age, from blogs to social media, I am intrigued by this plan to get back to the basics. The great promise of the Internet has always been its ability to take power from media gatekeepers and give it to news and information consumers. The idea is to give them EVERYTHING and let them filter it as they see fit.

Somewhere along the way, huge technology monopolies figured out how to take that control back from us, with our consent but without us truly understanding what was happening or how they were shaping our mind. If we can reclaim some or all of that power, that’ll be a good thing.

I wonder if the Christian Daily Reporter could use an assist from an enlightened redneck with more than two decades of journalism experience and a passion for the Bible.


Filed under: Culture and Media and News & Politics and Religion and Social Media and Technology
Comments: None

The W.Va. Teachers’ Strike On Wikipedia
Posted on 03.05.18 by Danny Glover @ 9:44 pm

The teachers’ strike dominating headlines in West Virginia for the past week has been a relatively peaceful affair by historical standards in the Mountain State. Teachers and their allies are making a lot of noise inside and around the state Capitol, and so far they haven’t faced any crackdowns for it. The clashes have been verbal in nature rather than physical, and the rhetoric has been pointed without getting ugly.

It was a different story on Wikipedia over the weekend. Anyone can edit content at the online encyclopedia, and a few mischievous users decided to abuse that editing privilege by vandalizing the entries of at least two key West Virginia senators. Wikipedia restricted access to those pages because of the troublemakers.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who also holds the title of lieutenant governor, was the primary target. His Wikipedia page was altered repeatedly on Saturday.

Several of the edits were so childishly ornery that you had to chuckle at them. The editors accused Blair of hating pepperoni rolls, the official state food, and being either a “closet” or “verified” fan of Pitt, the much-maligned rival of West Virginia University. He also was dubbed the “Son of Voldemort,” a reference to the evil villain in the “Harry Potter” books and movies.

But other revisions to Blair’s Wikipedia page, such as changing the office he holds to “Smug Ignoramus” and his college degree to “Bachelor of Being a Big Ahole” and “Bachelor of Being a Jerk,” were downright nasty. Here are some of the other edits that were quickly stricken:

  • “He is known to hate all teachers and public employees.”
  • “He can only laugh when children cry.”
  • “Hobbies include kicking puppies and making babies cry.”
  • “His life goal is to stop all celebrations of holidays.”
  • “He is perhaps best known for his theme song, ‘Move Mitch, Get Out Da Way,’” an allusion to a vulgar song by the rapper Ludacris.

The ad hominem vandalism aimed at Sen. Ryan Ferns, on both his Wikipedia page and Carmichael’s page, was even worse. The edits mocked Ferns as being a “favorite puppet” and “in a relationship with” Carmichael and the rest of the Republican-controlled Senate.

Other changes called out Ferns for his drunken-driving arrest in 2012 and his party switch from Democrat to Republican in 2013. Here are two of the more extensive changes that were deleted:

  • “After realizing he made a horrible mistake, both by driving drunk and being elected as a Democrat, he quickly decided to mend his ways and become an ego-maniacal yes man to Mitch Carmichael. Little did he know his biggest accomplishment would be to hold the entire state of WV hostage while stroking his bosses ‘ego’ and breaking every rule of parliamentary law that WV has to offer because of a dumb bunny mistake they made.”
  • “Ryan Ferns not only looks like Sam Hunt but also has a ‘Body like a Back Road.’ He enjoys doing Cross Fit at his gym (that his rich family bought him). Ryan also is the first senator in the history of West Virginia to have two DUIs!” (I couldn’t find any news of a second DUI.)

The editing history of both pages shows that a more responsible editor protected them in reaction to “persistent disruptive editing.” If this is a sign of labor strikes to come, Wikipedia may become the picket line of the digital age.


Filed under: Education and Government and Media and Music and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Babylon Bee Stings Snopes, Facebook
Posted on 03.03.18 by Danny Glover @ 11:52 am

I’m pretty sure “no sense of humor” is a job requirement in Facebook’s censorship factory. That’s the kindest possible explanation, as opposed to anti-religious bias, for this ridiculous development:

Facebook’s attempts to crack down on fake news have targeted a well-known Christian satirical publication, the Babylon Bee.

A story on the Bee titled “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication” was ruled “false” by the fact-checking site Snopes, leading Facebook to flag it Thursday.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea for Facebook to have Snopes “fact check” satire because of how many gullible people miss the satire and share it as truth. But if they’re going to do it, they need to label these Snopes stories as “satire,” not as “false,” which implies malicious deception. And they need to limit the coverage to satirical posts that actually generate confusion among news consumers.


Filed under: Just For Laughs and Media and News & Politics
Comments: None

When Customers Are Wrong, We All Pay
Posted on 02.09.18 by Danny Glover @ 7:49 pm

There was a time when American consumers practiced honesty as the best policy and businesses rewarded them with generous guarantees and a “customer is always right” attitude. They could afford to do so because people didn’t abuse the situation.

That time is not now, as this policy change from L.L. Bean indicates:

Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.

Something similar happened at Costco when a woman returned a dead Christmas tree after using it all through the holidays. “Bizarrely, the woman apparently managed to get her money back in full despite taking the battered fir back a full 10 days after Dec. 25,” The New York Post reported.

This, as the cliche goes, is why we can’t have nice things. When customers are wrong, we all pay for their bad behavior, either with higher prices to cover the costs of their theft or with policy changes that punish ethical consumers for the sins of the crooks.


Filed under: Business and Culture and News & Politics
Comments: None

Why We Home-School: Lesson #52
Posted on 01.11.18 by Danny Glover @ 7:50 pm

We live in the information age, not the industrial age, and we educate accordingly — just like the parents of “Young Einstein” Romanieo Golphin Jr.

He was featured on “The Today Show” this morning, and the reference to him being homeschooled sent me to Google for more information. Here’s what The Washington Post said about a year ago:

Romanieo has never been enrolled in a public or private school. … Dissatisfied with the outcomes in traditional education, both parents have committed themselves to homeschooling Romanieo and preparing him for the future their way. “Enough with the Industrial Age approach to education in the 21st century,” Golphin said.

Education isn’t a static process, and neither should the systems that foster it be.


Filed under: Education and Home Schooling and Why We Home-School
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

The Two-edged Online Tongue
Posted on 08.04.17 by Danny Glover @ 9:19 pm

The story about the couple who ruined a wedding photographer’s reputation is troubling for many reasons, but one that jumped out in The Washington Post’s coverage is a subtle quote that speaks volumes about the Internet’s ability to empower malicious arrogance: “She’s a blogger. Make sure everything looks perfect.”

The photographer said that about her new client before she ever worked for the woman because she understood all too well the influence of a blogger scorned. Her words are the digital upgrade (or should I say downgrade?) to the adage about never arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.

The difference is that in the bygone era when newspapers mattered, most journalists who worked at papers still had editorial checks that prevented egregious abuses. Bloggers have no such restraints. Neither do YouTube or Instagram celebrities. Even average Joes and Janes with a twisted talent for riling the masses into a bout of public shaming can do great damage to an undeserving person’s reputation.

And the scarlet letter is now a scarlet alphabet. From A to Z, any whiff of imagined wrongdoing along the spectrum of “sin” is justification for humiliation — especially if exposing it online might bring a cruel blogger fame or fortune.

I am the guy who once penned what a colleague called an opus to the awesome power of blogs and who co-authored essential guides to Pinterest and Twitter. Teaching people how to use social media for good was my job, so the irony of now decrying the equally destructive power of blogs is not lost on me.

But such is the nature of the two-edged online tongue.


Filed under: Blogging and Media and News & Politics and People and Social Media and Technology
Comments: None

Tracking The Trout Truck
Posted on 05.03.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:57 pm

I had no idea that some of my fellow West Virginians track trout trucks to game the fish-stocking process, let alone that the problem is severe enough to warrant regulation for safety reasons:

It is not uncommon for [hatchery] personnel to arrive at a stream to deposit fish and have 15 to 20 people sitting there and waiting on the stock truck. The advancement of the smart phone and rapid communication along with social media is also fueling what has been a longtime problem. … It has been so bad, they’ve been struck in the face by flying lures and treble hooks.

These “fishermen” are like “hunters” who bait game. They’re lazy, and they give enlightened rednecks a bad name.


Filed under: Fishing and Government and News & Politics and Redneck Hall Of Shame and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

‘Hillbilly Heroin’ On ‘Law & Order’
Posted on 02.04.17 by Danny Glover @ 1:28 pm

I often start my Saturdays by watching a few episodes of “Law & Order,” and right now I’m watching one from 2002 that I must not have seen before. I would have remembered it if only for the “hillbilly” slam against West Virginia.

The episode, titled “Oxymoron,” is about a murder related to a drug dealer who specializes in the highly addictive narcotic oxycodone. About 15 minutes into the show, the main police characters in the show — Lennie Briscoe, Ed Green and Lt. Anita Van Buren — have a conversation about the drug in question. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

Van Buren: Oxycodone?
Green: Yup, they call it “Hillbilly Heroin.” Some genius in West Virginia figured it was easier to get than moonshine.
Briscoe: Yeah. Yuppies and housewives who don’t want to see themselves as users get it from their doctors.
Van Buren: And the insurance companies foot the bill?
Green: Mm-hmm. Until they stop paying. Then they got to go to the guy on the corner.
Briscoe: Pills go for about a dollar a milligram on the street. Eighty-milligram pills, 100 pills to a bottle– that’s 8,000 bucks a bottle.
Van Buren: That’s not a bad profit margin.

I get that opioids are a huge problem in West Virginia, even more now than when “Oxymoron” aired 15 years ago. The epidemic of abuse is so well-known that it appears to have motivated drug manufacturers to flood the state with hundreds of millions of pills, amounting to 433 pain pills for every state resident, regardless of age.

“Hillbilly heroin” also is an actual slang term for describing this scourge in rural America, where people looking to get high can’t afford the drugs of choice for the rich and famous like cocaine. So I have no problem with the writers of “Law & Order” incorporating it into the script.

But the wisecrack suggest that West Virginia is the home of rednecks who either drink moonshine or get their fix from oxycodon was a predictable typecast straight out of Hollywood. Odds are good that whoever wrote that line has never been to the great Mountain State.


Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Health and News & Politics and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

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