Thursday, August 30, 2007

Progressives and Liberals

Two people have accused me of being a "progressive" in the past few days. Well, I'm not and what's more, I really detest that label. I'm not liberal, either. Nor a Conservative, although popular belief seems to dictate that I be one or the other. Either that or the dreaded middle of the road "moderate." I'm not one of those either.

I have a friend that is very opinionated about people who label themselves. He gets very irritated with people who identify themselves as "conservative" or "liberal" because, as he says, "people let the label inform their ideologies." He says that people who proudly proclaim they are a liberal will nearly always reserve their opinions on a new issue until they ascertain what the correct liberal stance should be. Same with conservatives.

I dislike labels, too; some more than others. I really dislike that people who used to call themselves "liberals" now call themselves "progressives." To call oneself a Liberal used to mean that you ascribed to certain ideologies that challenged the status quo. It meant that you were one of the revolutionaries that would throw off the shackles of tradition and push the envelope of socially acceptable mores. It meant burning your draft card or your bra, and being against any effort to preserve traditional controls on society. In other words it meant refusing to act like a grown-up, and being damned proud of it.

"Progressives", it could be assumed, are for progress. Well, who isn't? Why do people formerly known as liberals have a corner on this word?

When people advocate for change, such as implementing a new law, they usually do so because they feel it will bring progress. But in today's label obsessed lexicon we ascribe different labels to different laws based on how they fit into our understanding of political ideologies. For example, if the law was for stricter gun controls then it would be called "progressive." But if the law was to increase controls over people who commit crimes by using illegal drugs it would not be called progressive; It would be called "conservative". Why? Both are to make a safer society. Both would be progress, wouldn't they?

The real reason that liberals are calling themselves progressives these days is because Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have made "Liberal" a dirty word. I know very few people these days who proudly say they are a liberal. Thus the switch to "progressive." It was a smart move, I confess, because who can object to someone being for progress?

But it still ticks me off. Especially when Mayor Jones says things like "our City is progressive" like he did in the days after the recent table games vote. Don't lump me in, Mr. Mayor, with people who vote for table games for no other reason than the money it will bring. Don't label me as a "progressive" that would vote to ignore the pleas and warnings of people whose lives have been destroyed by gambling in favor of a larger balance in the B&O fund.

Progress? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Demand A ReKent!

Kent Carper came as close as I've ever seen him get to smiling this afternoon after he realized that the recount of the table games vote didn't change the outcome. After all the fuss, delays and expense the aginners gained only 4 votes. Let the games begin!

Kent has been a picture of anxiety since the election, seemingly terribly afraid that the canvass or the recount would uncover too many "no" ballots. This evening he said he didn't mind if his support of the initiative cost him political points. That's probably because the cash he got from Tri-State Casino (in the form of campaign contributions) will more than make up for the lost votes. Now he can relax since Big Gambling won't be sending The Boys to visit Kent to express their disappointment with a loss.

Now, who wants to bet that Jay Goldman's old idea of annexing Cross Lanes gets resurrected by Mayor Jones? While he can't annex the casino itself (since it is in Nitro) he can surely get his hands on the user fees of the employees of the hotels and restaurants that will pop up nearby.

Our political leaders are so happy they can hardly count.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Sorry State of Local Talk Radio

I've been listening to local talk radio since the advent of "The Morning Exchange" on WCHS 580 in the early 1990's. It has undergone many changes over the years and I have found something that I liked about each new expression of the medium, at least until now.

Other than a couple of different sports talk shows that are scattered through the weekly schedule, 580's talk show offerings are:

1. The infomercial-like "Ask The Expert" show where local egomaniacs and narcissists pay money to be on the air for an hour a day to promote their particular interest; or

2. "58 Live" in the afternoon where neo-con Mike Agnello and flaming moderate Rick Johnson host 3 hours of milquetoast banter every day. Agnello is always bringing on conservative guests who spew right-wing propaganda about the hot topic of the day, but the listeners and callers seem to only want to talk about the most innocuous of topics. The result is 3 hours of nothing every day. It is the single most dreadful show I have ever heard. While on the way home from work most days I will switch to one of our two sports stations to listen to commentary on the latest misadventures of Pac Man Jones or Michael Vick, ad-nauseum.

The other talk station, 950 on your dial, has Andy Albertini's "Andy & Company" that I posted about last week. The good thing about this early morning show is you only need to listen to it for about five minutes per hour to hear everything they have to say. You could pick up a copy of "Conservatism for Dummies" and pretty much figure out what Andy's going to say about everything. Andy's co-host and one-man "Amen Corner" does little to create interesting counter-point. The incessant drumbeat of "our government is oppressing us and our leaders are selling us out" gets very old, very quickly.

Even Jerry Waters, the nattering nabob of negativism that he was, was at least entertaining because his rhetoric raised the hackles of enough people on both sides of an issue to induce them to call the show. His downfall, in my opinion, was having school board member Pete Thaw on the air virtually every day. Pete's laugh (which, incidentally, sounds just like The Penguin from the Batman TV series) was grating and his commentary was beyond dull.

I can't believe it, but I am actually nostalgiac for the days of Danny Jones' show on 950 every morning as it was in the late 1990's. He was so much better as a talk show host than he is a mayor.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cash Crop

Police made an interesting agricultural discovery on an obscure little street on the West Side.

Lt. Chuck Carpenter of the Metro Drug Unit said "They were very, very nice plants."

The plants were later burned before several high police officials.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Black and White World of Andy Albertini

When Jerry Waters was unceremoniously removed from the airwaves of Charleston talk radio earlier in the year, his spot was soon filled by one Andy Albertini. Andy is a transplant from Ohio County and his show is described as "Hard Core Patriot Talk Radio." His shtick is basic neo-con with a little bit of motivational speaker rhetoric thrown in for good measure. Andy has a sycophant sidekick, whose name I don't recall. His job is apparently to make Andy sound smarter.

Lately Andy has been really out there against the smoking ban. He claims that any regulation of smoking in private buildings and businesses is tantamount to being forced to have government as one's business partner. I believe he is a cigar smoker, which would explain his commitment to smoker's rights. He isn't swayed by any theory of public health and smoking. When a caller recently tried to advocate for the public health aspect of the smoking ban, Andy accused the caller of being "the pleasure police" and against anything enjoyable. He was, in my view, unnecessarily harsh to the caller, who was only trying to explain the public health ramifications of second hand smoke.

Andy is a classic "aginner". He's against just about anything any governmental unit says or does.
For the past couple of days he has been on the Regatta Commission pretty hard because of their decision to ban the use of lawn chairs in front of the stage during Regatta performances. He has really gotten a kick out of the phrase "mosh pit" that was used to incorrectly describe the area directly in front of the stage at the concert, and he has been relentless in his ridicule of the person who used the term. Andy thinks that the logic behind the lawn chair ban is stupid (the logic being that emergency workers would have a harder time reaching the stage if there were a sea of lawn chairs to wade through), and the "mosh pit" comment is apparently proof-positive that city government is hopelessly out of touch.

In Andy's world, there is no merit in anything he doesn't understand or agree with. If he's against it, it's the most ludicrous thing in the world. If he's for it, there is no way anyone with a brain could disagree with it unless they have ulterior motives.

At least that's the impression I get from his show. Andy's world is all black and white; no shades of gray.

Seems like an uninteresting place to live.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Our long nightmare is not over...

Remember last week when the prevailing sentiment about the table games vote was "I can't wait until Saturday so this thing will be over with!"? Well, it's Tuesday and it's not over with.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, as is his manner and custom, has put himself in the middle of this controversy by:
  • Demanding the County Commission vote on a resolution supporting table games, and then;
  • Joining Danny Jones in beating the drum to pass the table games resolution, and then;
  • Prematurely announcing that all ballots had been counted, and that the measure had passed by 60 votes, and then;
  • Announcing that the final numbers meant that the measure had passed by 33 votes and proclaiming it a "great day for Kanawha County", and then;
  • Saying that he felt the 64 ballots found on Monday should not be counted.
While he later relented and said the ballots should be counted, it was his shoot-from-the-hip original answer that reveals his true thoughts on the matter.

Could it be that his allegiance is swayed by the money that Tri State Casino donated to his election campaign?

I don't seriously think Commissioner Carper is corrupt, but he would be the first to exclaim, "Avoid the appearance of impropriety!"

He should practice what he preaches.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Table Games Pass

44,000 people in Kanawha County went to the polls to vote for or against allowing table games at the Tri State Greyhound track in Cross Lanes. A razor thin margin of 33 votes passed the measure. With a bunch of provisional ballots to be counted this thing is still close enough that it could turn out differently, but for now it seems Big Gambling has won.

Time will tell if this was good or bad for the economy, but I know already it is not good for the soul of our community. We have one of the greatest places in the country to live, but our government officials want to live beyond our means. They want multi-million dollar arts centers and libraries even though we can't afford them. They want to spend more and more money on a population that is shrinking. So they look to an economic development project that, in order to succeed, it's customers have to lose.

Certainly there are people who gamble for entertainment and can afford the losses they most likely will incur, but there are many people who can't afford it that will lose the grocery or rent money because they can't control themselves. No worries, though, because their grocery money will help finance the next big project and we'll all benefit.

But what happens ten years from now when we've gotten used to the gambling income and our government begins to live beyond its means again? I guess we'll have to look at other revenue sources.

It will be interesting to see what those are.