Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
The Intelligencer on Black History Month:
The past eight months, in many ways, have served as a new reckoning for our nation in dealing with race. The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the anger and riots that followed, were a stark reminder to the nation that, more than 50 years after the Civil Rights movement, we still have a long way to go.
That’s why all of us should use this month — Black History Month — as a time to not only learn more about our friends and neighbors but also to gain a better understanding of the issues that Black Americans face.
Black History Month 2021 reflects on the tapestry presented by Black families and the role they have played in the African American experience.
“The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity,” is the theme that has been selected by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the founders of Black History Month. It’s a multi-facted topic, and one that looks at the many layers of the family, including the reverence that has been shown, the stereotypes that have been perpetuated and the parts that have been vilified from the time of slavery to the present.
Black History Month was established by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson, born in 1875 and the son of former slaves, himself a former coal miner and educator, understood a proper education was important in seeking to make the most out of one’s freedom. He earned his high school diploma at an all-Black high school in Huntington, West Virginia and then earned advanced degrees at the University of Chicago and Harvard University. Woodson was the second Black man to earn a doctorate degree at Harvard. He later founded what is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In 1926, Woodson established what today has become known as Black History Month after recognizing a lack of information on the accomplishments of Blacks in American history. February was chosen because of the correlation with the birthdays of abolitionist author Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.
Woodson knew and understood that all men were created equal, and following college set out on a life mission to teach truth to that point.
Again, let us all use this month to learn more about our neighbors. That could go a long way to a deeper understanding of the challenges we all face and how, working together, we can tackle those issues.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail on Attorney General Patrick Morrisey:
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wants you to know he’s put the Biden administration on notice.
Morrisey led a letter from five other states to the new president to warn him of “executive overreach.” He’s standing up for your civil liberties, West Virginia, especially your constitutional right to own guns (something that has never been under serious threat, because every time even the slightest restrictions are mentioned, politicians pay a stiff price). Morrisey also has put Biden on notice that no new environmental regulations will go unchallenged.
As Talking Head David Byrne would say, “Same as it ever was.”
With a Democrat in the White House, Morrisey has reset to Obama mode. He’ll protect you from the liberal agenda — which, so far, consists of organizing COVID-19 relief and vaccination rollouts, and pursuing plans to ensure the climate doesn’t destroy humanity with reassurances that workers in the fossil fuel industry won’t get left behind.
That’s not to say there isn’t real concern over that latter priority. West Virginia is a state built on extraction, although how those industries have treated West Virginians in return is a multifaceted topic. Still, any new plan, especially one with the goal of eliminating fossil fuels by 2050, is scary for some.
It’s not like things are really booming for coal but, with natural gas, it gets more complicated. West Virginians should explore the plan and decide what they think. Republicans — and some Democrats — representing the Mountain State are going to shoot it down automatically. That’s nothing new, either.
Of course, there was none of this tough talk from Morrisey when the previous administration was rolling back environmental protections — putting West Virginians’ health in jeopardy — thinking that would bring the coal industry back. That plan didn’t work. More coal-fired power plants were retired in four years under Donald Trump than in Barack Obama’s second term.
It’s also rich that Morrisey would fire off a warning about overreach, when he joined a baseless, unsuccessful lawsuit to try and overthrow how crucial swing states counted their votes in the presidential election, eager to serve a delusional president claiming to win an election he clearly lost. The country saw where fostering those false narratives led.
Here’s the bottom line: Morrisey is going to run for something other than attorney general in 2024, be it governor or another go at the U.S. Senate. Readers might recall that one of Morrisey’s main criticisms of former attorney general Darrell McGraw was that McGraw had been in office too long.
Morrisey promised he would serve only two terms. That plan disintegrated when Morrisey failed to unseat Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in 2018. Instead of keeping his promise, Morrisey ran for a third term and was reelected, benefiting down the ballot in a state that went for Trump by 68%.
Remember that anytime one of these missives about “standing up to Biden” comes out, it’s because Morrisey has higher aims and wants to stay relevant.
The Register-Herald on Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and bipartisanship concerning pandemic relief:
With the U.S. Senate politically split 50-50, conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin has positioned himself as the go-to ringmaster, directing debate from the political center to bring bipartisan influence to the lawmaking on Capitol Hill.
First up this session, the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief. Manchin’s challenge? Convincing 10 centrist Republican senators to sign on to nearly doubling the national minimum wage and handing out an extra $1,400 to all American households regardless of current income.
Failing to clear that high hurdle, West Virginia’s senior senator must fall back into his lane and help fellow Democrats push the bill through to the finish line, regardless of how many Republicans follow.
President Biden wants to move quickly on the bill, warning of a growing “cost of inaction.” His message has been simple: Fresh and generous government aid is needed and needed now to prevent deep and lasting damage to the world’s largest economy. He argues that an aggressive push for vaccinations and aid to individuals would help put parents back to work and let children return to school.
On Thursday, more than 120 economists and policymakers signed a letter in support of Biden’s package, writing, “What our nation cannot afford is inaction or timidity in the face of what many consider to be the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression.”
The letter went on to say that the pandemic has had a catastrophic impact not just on the nation’s economy, but on families and businesses, too. Since the crisis began, the letter read, tens of millions have been forced to file for unemployment insurance, nearly 8 million have fallen into poverty, hundreds of thousands of businesses have shuttered, our nation’s industrial production has been severely damaged, and the inability of millions to make their rent and mortgage payments is threatening to plunge the country into a housing emergency.
The nation’s economy is staggering. New employment numbers show that employers shed workers and retail sales tumbled in December. Covid-19 deaths keep rising – as of Saturday night, 440,000 in the U.S.
We should not lose sight of the fact that with the government spending nearly $4 trillion in aid in 2020, the economic decline was not as severe as initially feared. Those emergency expenditures kept Americans afloat – housed, fed and – in some instances – employed and able to pay down debt and build savings amid the crisis.
Certainly, $1.9 trillion is a serious pile of cash, and, yes, Manchin and his centrist colleagues are justified in asking pertinent questions, such as if the $1,400 handout could be targeted. A family of four with an annual household income of $40,000 is in greater need right now than a couple making $300,000.
That seems like a reasonable consideration.
So, too, does a plan to gradually but certainly move to a higher minimum wage.
And if there are other considerations that can be addressed and negotiated without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, then, yes, lawmakers should take a look.
But at the end of the day our senators and representatives need to understand that the need is real out here, that people are struggling with paying the bills, and the greater risk to healing our economy and simultaneously putting a lid on the coronavirus is being timid in the face of a monumental challenge.
Sen. Manchin cannot let his pursuit of bipartisanship stand in the way of sorely needed assistance.