West Virginia Plays The Fool



GORDONVILLE — Good thing I’m not a good Catholic – or Catholic at all.

I would have spent a lot of time confessing to the sin of taunting and teasing, with the only excuse being that they asked for it.

I didn’t make life hard for the kid with a physical disability or the kid with thick glasses or the one with acne.

They couldn’t help it, and I really tried to look past that stuff.

I was also aware of my own vulnerabilities. I had fuzzy hair that grow to the cloud instead of down to my shoulders like Roger Daltrey. I had some serious buck-ass teeth. And the occasional zit would rear its ugly head at the worst times.

We are all not perfect.

If I had been a state, it would have been an insignificant one – like one of the Dakotas (which should be combined anyway, but that’s another story).

Good for hockey, and not much else.

Who would have been open to my teasing?

West Virginia comes to mind.

Why? Because West Virginia – at second to the bottom in life expectancy — brings a lot of its troubles on itself.

It asks — practically begs — to be teased.

It’s not like it didn’t try to improve its lot in life – the equivalent of seeking tutoring – but going for JFK in 1960 and Bill Clinton in both 1992 and 1996.

You could argue that its self-made mattress on the floor would not full of bed bugs was not made any better by going for the Democrat winner, but you could also argue that it had the right instincts to continue its own momentum by going for Democratic losers in 1968 (Hubert Humphrey), 1980 (Jimmy Carter) and Michael Dukakis (1988).

Those guys didn’t win, and neither did West Virginia under Republican regimes rolling back what the Democrats tried to do.

Instead, by waffling back and forth, it finds itself where it is now – in an embarrassing scenario of fading into oblivion while worshipping at the altar of the current president it helped to elect with 68 percent of the vote in the most recent presidential election.

They most recently cheered him on like blind loyalists a high school pep rally crossed with a bible revival while he spoke of “falling in love” with fellow loon Kim Jong-un.

Maybe they saw a messiah in this bronze idol, and maybe you can’t blame them at the time – especially since their Democratic choice in the primary season, Bernie Sanders, wasn’t on the ballot (and Hillary Clinton had bad-mouthed coal mining beyond repair).

If their hearts were in the right place then, their heads need to follow now.

If not, they are living up to their stereotypes of imbeciles in overalls.

If not, I have no choice but to pull their chair out from under them when they go to sit down or stick that handy “kick me hard” sign on their ass in the hallway.

Turns out, the wool has been pulled over the eyes of the state that ranks 43rd in poverty and 45th in education.

If this state had a collective brain, the cheers should be turning to jeers, as several news reports – you know from the purportedly evil “Jew-run” mainstream media – reveal that things are getting worse under the current regime.

Last year, for example, West Virginia’s poverty rate went up (that’s not a good thing) to 19.1 percent from 17.9, making it just one of four such states.

What makes it ironic was that the president went to West Virginia with the plan to boast about his accomplishments that, along with his love affair with a leader who allegedly doesn’t defecate, are economic.

He proclaimed that he pound his chest about how he “turned West Virginia around.”

I guess he figured, after getting laughed at in the more astute UN, that he would find a more willing audience in West Virginia.

And he did – meaning some just cause for placing some pre-chewed bumble gum in its hair – in Social Studies class.

When liberals such as I like to point out conservatives – about 98-99 percent of them – who don’t vote in their own best interests, West Virginia is Exhibit A.

The nation is bitterly divided along all kinds of lines, and yet West Virginia finds itself in a vicious cycle serving as cannon fodder for a president while life gets worse there.

How so? Its workers – cashiers, retail clerks, service people – are the fastest growing in the state. It points to an upward arrow in employment rates – despite factors like inconsistent hours — but a downward spiral in the poverty rate.

Want the type of numbers that never get cited at these presidential pep rallies? A soup kitchen in Charleston, W.Va. served 9,700 meals in January. Come August, try 10,800.

“There’s a direct correlation between the hopelessness and the lack of jobs,” Director Tara Martinez was quoted as saying. “The jobs that are available are minimum wage and part time — they don’t have benefits. When you have that, coupled with the hopelessness of, ‘How do I get out of this cycle?’ and having to go to a soup pantry, it’s like a hamster wheel.”

And there is the elephant in the room – and the only social issue for which the president has shown any concern – that being the opioid crisis.

The brother of an addict, the president claims sensitivity to this, but has yet to make any really connection at the core of the issue. He remains too much of a single-issue president – almost a savant – with that issue being economic indicators indicating he is the “best ever.”

But poverty in places like West Virginia goes hand in hand with its ongoing battle with the opioid crisis woven into its culture as much as coal mining used to be.

Maybe I should take more pity on West Virginia. After all, it is in the hook of that wonderful John Denver song and all, but I can’t get past its infatuation with the president and the reasons it exists.

Consider that West Virginia is:

-Around 95 percent white. That, in and of itself, is not a crime. But we all know what base was played to during the election after eight years of Barack Obama allegedly holding the country hostage from itself.

-On the education thing, just 21 percent of the state’s residents between 25 and 64 have college degrees. Again, not a crime. However, whether you have a 4.0 in school or a 2.0, you learn critical thinking skills that make less gullible to con men and hucksters. Don’t think for a second that the president doesn’t keep biting into this like a KFC chicken thigh. This sad fact also puts West Virginians way behind the curve, in terms of joining their bronze idols alleged recovery that is weighted heavily toward those with any sort of degree beyond high school.

-Beginning this month, as the president exited from after chest-pounding routine, the state’s indigent face the burden of new work requirements for food stamps that will only mean longer lines with those in MAGA hats outside soup kitchens like the one run by Martinez in Charleston.

“It’s frightening and I’m worried and I’m doing everything I can to make sure our doors are still open,” she said, noting that she expects demand for meals to rise by 30 percent. “It’s going to be a lot of fundraising and pleading.”

And while I would have never mocked anyone getting a free lunch in my school daze or yore, I would have to mock them for not knowing enough to realize that they are placing their faith in a scam artist.

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