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POLITICIANS often take their lumps for unpopular positions. This year, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., passed out some lumps as she sent a bucket of coal to President Obama.

When it comes to coal, the Obama administration has not been nice.

"Each piece of coal represents the concerns of West Virginia families who are especially struggling this holiday season because of the president's anti-coal agenda," she said in a statement.

Coal affects more than miners and people who work in coal-related industries such as towboat crews and truckers. Aluminum mills would not exist along the Ohio River without the cheap energy provided by coal.

West Virginia have been sending politicians to the nation's capital for nearly 150 years. Capito is one of the few who has not gone Washington.

The president should consider that gift very carefully. The state needs the jobs coal provides and the nation needs the electricity that coal generates.

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MANY parts of Southern West Virginia remain cut off from the rest of the world for lack of access to high-speed highways.

That is why the King Coal Highway is important, and why backers are concerned that funding might dry up as the federal government tries to curb its massive overspending.

Mike Mitchem, executive director of the King Coal Highway Authority, remains optimistic, pointing to a possible continuation of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants.

"We are hoping some more money will come down. We didn't get any from the last transportation bill, but we hope there will be a push for more transportation funds on the state and federal levels."

The administration and Congress have an obligation to slash non-essential spending so it can concentrate the nation's resources on projects that deserve priority attention.

Roads are one of them.

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IN the midst of a presidential campaign, Libyan militants killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi. Four State Department officials "resigned" in the wake of the scandal over grossly inadequate security in Benghazi.

Three months later, the New York Post reported that the most senior official, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, had not resigned at all. Instead, he was transferred to a different job. The other three were placed on administrative leave.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., was outraged.

"Now we see that the discipline is a lie and all that has happened is the shuffling of the deck chairs."

Ros-Lehtinen speaks for many Americans.

Congress needs to find out why, despite repeated requests for more security, courageous individuals were left defenseless in Benghazi.

The people responsible for that outcome need to be held accountable.

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A survey of 2,000 children at the Westfield

London and Westfield Stratford City shopping centers in London found that the No. 1 wish of children was for a baby brother or sister.

But No. 10 on the Christmas wish list was disturbing: Dad.

No. 23 on the list? Mum.

That reflects a society in which half the children are raised by a single parent. The statistics are roughly the same in the United States.

To an adult, a person may merely be their baby daddy or baby mommy.

But to the child, that person is Daddy or Mommy. All the presents in the world — no matter how expensive — cannot erase that fact.

Let us make a better effort next year to give

children what they really want for Christmas for their sake — and our own.

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SEAN Trende, the numbers cruncher for Real Clear Politics, has some bad news for West Virginia:

 If population trends in 2012 hold up for another eight years, West Virginia will lose another congressional seat.  

That would drop the state to just two members of Congress. Since West Virginia was granted statehood on June 20, 1863, it has never had fewer than three congressmen.

But there is hope. The projection has West Virginia falling just a few thousand residents shy of maintaining three congressional seats.

That should put pressure on the Legislature to continue to enact legislation that will bring jobs — and families — to the state.


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