Sandstone Falls, WV taylor -
By now most everyone knows who Keith Judd is. MSNBC/NBC viewers know. Jon Stewart viewers know. The Washington Post readers know. The Charleston Gazette readers know. Huckabee listeners know. NPR listeners know. The WV Daily News readers know. Like I say – almost everyone knows! One of our local county commissioners – the lone Republican I might add – said “some are saying it really looked bad for West Virginia.” Mike McClung said he was standing by the Democratic voters who supported the Texas prisoner, “I would like to defend those voters. I think it’s legitimate and I think it’s totally appropriate.” OMG! Does he not care how others view West Virginians?
Before Wednesday I had never heard of Keith Judd. But when I woke up and turned on Morning Joe to get the latest news, I found out! There on the screen was a huge picture of Keith Judd, in his prison garb I might add, with the headline WEST VIRGINIA VOTES FOR A FELON OVER OBAMA! Ugh! How embarrassing! How could this have happened? (Ask the West Virginia Democratic Party or Natalie Tennant, Secretary of State.)
Well, thankfully, Greenbrier County did not overwhelmingly vote for Judd. But Judd carried 10 of 55 counties including Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Webster and Wyoming. Evidently, Obama’s energy policies and the Environmental Protection Agency’s handling of mining-related permits have incurred the wrath of West Virginia’s coal industry. When Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin —both Democrats — declined to say whether they will support Obama in November, is it any wonder others would not. But why not just leave that vote blank? Is that not a protest vote as well? Why embarrass yourselves?
Perhaps I know why. Does it have anything to do with the lack of education of West Virginians? After all, only 17.3 percent of our state’s citizens have a bachelor’s degree!! WV ranks 49th with even Mississippi beating us at 18.9 percent. This statistic is embarrassing. This truly is something to be ashamed about. Is this because those who do receive a college education leave this state as soon as they graduate? Is it because WV has so few jobs for those with degrees? Instead of Gov. Tomblin and Sen. Manchin worrying about their “Friends of Coal”, they should be worrying about the state of education in West Virginia. Former Governor Bob Wise, now the President for the Alliance for Excellence in Education, is working along with former Governor Jeb Bush, doing great things for education. This is more than I can say for the past or current governor.
Many years ago, when I worked in Washington DC, I got used to defending my home state. When my co-workers would make a disparaging remark about West Virginia… I see you have shoes on…Gosh, you don’t talk like you’re from West Virginia…Gee, you have all your teeth…and so on…I would say to them “I was educated in West Virginia and I’m smart, so don’t believe everything you hear.” But, I fear, it did little good. And even if I convinced some folks that West Virginia is not the stereotype they think, this week’s unwanted attention on Keith Judd has probably reversed it. (Read the comments to The Washington Post article.)
West Virginia has many things to be proud of – the beautiful mountains (the ones not ravaged by mountaintop removal), fabulous rivers (just take a boat out on the Greenbrier, Bluestone, or New Rivers), the awesome New River Gorge and Bridge, an affordable cost of living, low taxes, and – for the most part – warm, welcoming people. But, you know what…I’m tired of defending my state. Maybe others are too.
This is my rant today.