Tag Archive: John Raese

Sometimes I want to hide my face in my hands.  Indefinitely.

A couple weeks ago, West Virginia’s John Raese made national news by telling an audience of Putnam County Republicans that the requirement that he post a sign banning smoking on his business property was the same as Hitler making Jews wear a Star of David.  Mr. Raese will be running against Joe Manchin in the fall for the U. S. Senate seat once held by Robert Byrd. In a YouTube video, Mr. Raese is shown saying that he believes everyone ought to be able to do as he or she pleases, “’cause I’m an American,” he reasons.

Today, I’m feeling numb as I read dozens of Facebook posts expressing shock, sadness, but mostly embarrassment that once again, a great many West Virginians, 57,081 of them to be exact, have proven themselves to be braying asses too stupid to understand the value of their individual vote.  They squandered their votes on an imprisoned Texas felon crafty enough to get on the presidential ballot in the State of West Virginia. (Not much craft involved, since West Virginia’s ballot laws are lax.)  No doubt, those West Virginians will be the inspiration for much hilarious commentary on this evening’s satirical talk shows.

But what about the rest of us?  The ones who have either elected to stay in West Virginia, or have come back, often because of family ties? Some of us are deeply committed to a clean environment because it directly correlates to better health for human beings. Some of us are working hard for a diversified economy that will allow entrepreneurs to create opportunity for many years in the future.  Some of us see the beauty of West Virginia that is too often obscured by careless industrial practices, the same practices and attitudes that apparently also dull minds.  We’re the ones who insist that West Virginia and its people are worth making sacrifices for.

Today, some of us have to be wondering why we bother.


This political season is particularly difficult in Appalachia-As-We-Know-It.  Charlatans are force-feeding the naïve the cheapest brand of boloney and telling them it’s steak, and people who have thrust themselves into leadership are failing us because they feel they must, to maintain their positions. And indeed, we shudder to think of what may happen if Fool Number Two or Three gets into an office where he would wield the least bit of power.



Sailing the Seas, by Ian Bode

West Virginia’s Governor Joe Manchin, a candidate for the late Robert Byrd’s Senate seat, is suing the EPA because the agency’s new policies under President Obama are “threatening our way of life” in Appalachia.  This news caused an eruption of black mirth around our breakfast table.  It was reported not long ago in the same paper that, statistically, the greatest levels of poverty are found in the Appalachian coalfields. Poverty is short-hand for ignorance and the brutality it breeds against the land and people. It seems to me that a threat to that way of life would be welcome.


Then I see that John Raese, the Morgantown, West Virginia, limestone extractor and news media tyrant who keeps trying to get into some office somewhere, is being aided in his efforts to win Byrd’s seat by national Republican money.  The National Republican Senatorial Committee paid for an ad depicting flannel shirted, ball cap-sporting actors playing hicks—their word—fearing for their jobs if that rubber-stamping Democrat Joe “Obama” Manchin wins. 


Everywhere I go I am bombarded by propaganda, distortions, prevarications and lies. They’re smeared on billboards, ooze out of the teevy, and seep into print.


So I went to the movies looking for a little relief.  I was there to catch the late show of “Social Network.” While waiting in the empty theater for the movie to begin, I was treated to a pitch from Southern Community and Technical College in Logan, West Virginia, to come train for a career in the coal mining industry. I was shown footage of heavy equipment pushing dirt around on what appeared to be a massive mountaintop removal site. Millions and millions, and millions more, of Federal dollars have been dumped into the State of West Virginia to train people for new careers, and what does the current leadership do with that money? They refuse to recognize that the smart money is going to train people in jobs where they use their minds, not their backs. The bureaucrats who control training money are saying to our people, “Look deeply into my eyes, and repeat after me:  I have no choice. There are no jobs except coal mining jobs.”


Then the movie started.  I watched the story unfold of how a 19-year-old college student who knew how to write computer code imagined himself into the reality of becoming the world’s richest man and the youngest billionaire in history. Meanwhile, our young people are told, repeat after me:  I have no choice. There are no jobs except coal mining jobs.


“Social Network” tells how a brilliant outsider kid upended the cool kids who casually assumed the nerd would be grateful to be used in their new Internet start-up. When the cool kids complained to Harvard’s president that a mere nerd had trumped them by not playing by the rules, the president told them to man up, that every Harvard student is an entrepreneur who is starting up some kind of company, and you don’t win just because you think you ought to.


What do our bureaucrats and politicians tell us?  You have no choice. There are no jobs except coal mining jobs.


One has to wonder—whose way of life is threatened if things were to change in Appalachia?  Mr. Manchin’s?  Mr. Raese’s?  The bureaucrats who pay for the Southern Community College ads with money that was meant to expand horizons? 


I left the theater that night having caught a glimpse through writer Aaron Sorkin’s lens of how even fledgling power brokers do the deals, and it hit me harder than ever:  To the rich and powerful, and the would-be rich and powerful, a place like Appalachia is only good for what they can suck out of it. The people in leadership positions here, and that includes bureaucrats in charge of funneling money to pet projects, conspire to keep Appalachian people right where they are:  working for The Man, playing by The Man’s rules. 


Meanwhile, in the sleek penthouses of the towers of commerce, the game is rapidly changing. You can bet Appalachian coalminers will be left on the slag heap when The Man moves on to smarter technology.