Let’s talk about abortion

Last updated: April 08. 2014 9:49AM - 1272 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com



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Let’s talk about abortion. Apparently, that’s the only thing state Republicans have on their agenda in 2014.


Months ago, I wrote that West Virginia Free, the pro-choice group, would do better politically to stick to their concerns about clean, safe drinking water. I still believe that.


Meanwhile, state Republicans are determined to blow any chance of taking control of any house of the legislature by hammering, harping on and placating those who see abortion as the major concern of West Virginians. They also are playing into the hands of alleged pro-life Democrats who are up for re-election to the legislature. While abortion is a divisive issue, Democrats can still claim the high ground by pointing out that they are “pro-life” when seeking votes. In that regard, what makes them any different than Republicans who claim the same thing? While I will agree that most Republicans are more sincere in their beliefs, I don’t think the average voter notices that. The only thing accomplished by Republicans who take center stage with a pro-life stance is that they further alienate moderate state voters who do not agree with their position. Surely any viable Republican will get the vote of right-to-lifers every time. Nobody needs to remind a staunch pro-life advocate what the GOP position is.


Regular readers know the history of 2014, so I will not go into detail here (editors, please note: no detail). A 20-week unborn baby protection bill was overwhelmingly passed by both houses of the legislature after Democrats tried every trick in the book to bury it. Their ace in the hole, er statehouse, was Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Although Tomblin has always campaigned as the pro-life candidate, he vetoed the bill.


Enter Republicans who fall for the Democrat bait. They rail; they rant; they storm about the veto. They pray for Tomblin, while implying — or, in some cases directly saying — that he is bound for the pits of hell. Instead of talking about the state’s failing economy, the budget crisis, mishandling the water contamination in Charleston and a dozen other issues troubling West Virginians, the Republicans appear to be the crazed, right-wingers Democrats claim they are. Their behavior disturbs the average state voter, who doesn’t agree with the GOP position on abortion.


Free advice, then, to Republicans: you can criticize the governor for vetoing the baby bill but make that a background issue. Tell voters who are pro-life that you passed a pro-life bill and the governor vetoed it. Tell them Republicans will enact the bill again in 2015, particularly if they are in the majority in a house of the legislature. But stomp, stand and campaign on something else. Everyday voters will agree with the GOP on the economy, family values and many other issues. The house is simply divided on abortion.


* * * * * *


Meanwhile, as noted, the Democrats have played a pretty good hand recently on the abortion issue. A majority voted for the pro-baby bill knowing the governor would rescue them by vetoing it. The national Democrats for Life have even issued strong statements condemning Tomblin and calling for a special legislative session to deal with the issue. Conveniently, they never mention that the Democrats are in the majority and could call a special session of the House with only 13 Democrat votes, if all 47 Republicans called for one as well.


Note to Republican legislative leaders: 47 Republicans are NOT going to sign on for a special abortion session. Not even close.


* * * * * *


And does anyone see the irony of Governor Tomblin signing the bill to increase the minimum wage, noting there are problems with the bill “that can be fixed in a special session”? But he vetoed the pro-life bill because he thinks a part of it is unconstitutional. Why did he not sign IT and call a special session to “fix” it?


* * * * * *


At least one longtime friend says I have become too cynical in recent years. I am suspicious of his motives.


Anyway, call me cynical if you wish but I want one and all to know that insane politics is not limited to Mingo County and Southern West Virginia.


Picture with me the Wheeling area, about as far north as you can get in this still-Southern state. There, Delegate Ryan Ferns has decided to challenge State Senator Rocky Fitzsimmons of the First District.


For the moment at least, Ferns is a Republican. Fitzsimmons is the incumbent Democrat. Ferns, 31, is serving his second term in the house. He was elected as a Democrat but changed to Republican after being re-elected. He was re-elected by the wise voters of Ohio County after being charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) when his blood alcohol level was found to be triple the allowable limit to drive in the Mountain State.


When arrested, Ferns announced he would resign his House seat. But he changed his mind and stayed on the ballot. Fitzsimmons was Ohio County Democrat Chair at the time and apparently showed Ferns only moderate support in upholding the man who had been charged with DUI. But Republican County Chair Elgine McArdle enthusiastically endorsed Ferns, even though he was a Democrat at the time.


“Good for him,” she said when Ferns announced his decision not to resign. “I think he should stay in.” So much for Tea Party Republicans. So much for those who claim to support law and order. Ferns had neither and it was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who jumped to his defense. Figure that out.


That could have played a role in Ferns’ decision to switch to the GOP after winning re-election to the House in 2012. So what if he is a lawbreaker? So what if he’s a drunk? That apparently sets the standard for Ohio County Republicans.


All of this is meant, once again, to point out that political corruption and deceit — or stupidity — are not confined to Mingo County or the Southern coalfields. And it is surely not totally dominated by Democrats. Republicans can behave like imbeciles, as well. They often do.


* * * * * *


It was interesting to watch coverage of the “Give America a Raise” stop in Charleston last week. Neither Charleston newspaper apparently noticed that the bus, labeled as the reason for the gathering, was chased from its parking space on the capitol side of Kanawha Boulevard.


While the huge recreational vehicle, billed as a “mobile billboard,” somehow managed to travel from the state of Maine to Washington, D.C. by way of Charleston (I’d like to see that Mapquest route), organizers of the Charleston stop had not secured a permit to park the bus near the rally. After the bus pulled up for mere minutes, capitol police informed the driver that it had to be moved. The driver quickly exited, stage right, while organizers insisted there had been a “misunderstanding.”


The bus returned for even less time to pick up its six passengers and then vanished toward the West. I can only assume that the next stop on the way to D.C. was Louisville.


Meanwhile, The Charleston Gazette’s “investigative reporter,” Paul Nyden, stumbled across the Boulevard, asking anyone he saw, “Where is the rally? Is that it across the street?” He apparently did not notice the bus had vanished because there was no mention of it in his story. Likewise, the Charleston Daily Mail made no reference to the cameo appearance by the bus, choosing instead to post large pictures of it during the brief time it was there.


As far as I can tell, yours truly is the only one who reported the confrontation and eventual departure of the bus during what capitol police clearly did NOT believe was a “misunderstanding” but rather a violation of parking spaces reserved for the legislature.


Someone on Facebook last week questioned The Morning Sickcall’s “credibility.” How dare they? i will guarantee you, however, that The Gazette would have made a big story about any instance where a pro-life bus was ordered to move by capitol police. We’d probably still be reading all about it and there would have been at least one inane editorial. Wait a minute … has there ever been an editorial in The Gazette that wasn’t inane and self-serving?


* * * * * *


The new prison reporting date for Mingo Commissioner David Baisden is after the primary election in May. There is no way I think legendary District Court Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr would make a political decision on the bench, so i don’t join those who suspect something amiss.


The U.S. Attorney’s office did not dispute Baisden’s request to move the report date from April 4 to June 13. Copenhaver did what he would normally have done under the circumstances for any defendant and granted Baisden’s request. Copenhaver apparently had also seen evidence that Baisden must continue to receive radiation therapy until May after which he will need time to recuperate.


While the report date has been extended, skeptics think it is political. Again, if you knew Judge Copenhaver, you wouldn’t think that. A Mingo County election would never interfere with his judgment. It simply didn’t happen. And I would dutifully tell you if I thought it did.


* * * * * *


What may not be coincidental, however, is the sudden “need” to hire people to “clean up” Mingo County in the days leading up to the primary election. County commissioners, who may have heard from God on the issue as they so often do, voted to hire individuals to clean up trash around the county. Those hired can work up to 40 hours per week at $8 an hour and will be employed for “six to eight” weeks. That, amazingly enough, coincides with the election, where “election day workers” are normally only paid $75. Hmmn.


How many county commissioners are running for election in the primary? Oh, yeah … two.


* * * * * *


What’s the story on the Logan school board’s credit card perhaps being misused? Inquiring minds want to know and inquiring columnists will continue checking.


* * * * * *


Let’s all gather around the microphone, take our hats off and … enter confession time. I have told you so much, I will just say this week that I sometimes lose my temper too quickly; I still adore my friend Jackie; and I am more concerned about my granddaughter than yours. NOW, do any of you have anything to tell? Then, let’s grab the hymnal and turn to page 218 ….


Comments, story ideas and rumors are always welcome at my email address or by calling my cell, 304-533-5185.


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